Insights from the Past: Lampreys give teeth to theories of vertebrate immune system evolution

by Aleks Prochera figures by Jovana Andrejevic Imagine wading through the fresh waters of the Paleozoic era over 300 million years ago. You bump into various ancient marine creatures from fishes adorned with horseshoe-shaped shields to aquatic scorpions the size of a modern-day seal. Around you, however, there also exists an unseen world teeming with microbes: viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Despite their deceivingly microscopic size, these organisms pose a … Continue reading Insights from the Past: Lampreys give teeth to theories of vertebrate immune system evolution

COVID-19: from treatment to prevention

by Apurva Govande figures by Tal Scully COVID-19, the disease caused by the newly discovered virus SARS-CoV-2, is a national emergency. We need a vaccine to prevent severe outcomes of disease, to successfully combat future outbreaks of this virus, and to ensure that businesses and schools can safely reopen. Until one is available, healthcare professionals can mitigate symptoms while deploying existing drugs that may show … Continue reading COVID-19: from treatment to prevention

Racial Minorities’ Trouble with Stem Cell Transplants: a dearth of donors

by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Nicholas Lue Desimond Viray is a Californian in his early ‘30s. He works in IT support for Jelly Belly Candy Company and lives with his wife and four children. Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Each year, nearly 9000 new cases of CML arise in the U.S. While Viray — … Continue reading Racial Minorities’ Trouble with Stem Cell Transplants: a dearth of donors

The New Trojan Horse: Using tumor cells to kill tumors

Cancer immunotherapy exploits our immune system to kill cancerous cells. Recently, researchers have discovered a novel way to do this. They engineered cells that are programmed to die and injected them into tumor. They have successfully shown that the dying cells is able to kill tumor cells via recruitment of the immune system. This strategy might be a potential new method to improve the efficacy of current cancer immunotherapy methods. Continue reading The New Trojan Horse: Using tumor cells to kill tumors

A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

Researchers at McMaster University have developed a novel method for stabilizing vaccines, removing the strict requirement that the components be maintained within a specific low temperature range from development through delivery. The technique is based on drying the vaccines using two FDA-approved sugars and was shown to be successful in preserving vaccine effectiveness at elevated temperatures for twelve weeks. While it must still be validated on other vaccines, this method could be a major step toward cheap, accessible immunization in developing areas. Continue reading A Sweet Solution for Preserving Vaccines

The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

by Lara Roach figures by Rebecca Senft In Greek, macrophage means “big eater,” and that is exactly their job. Like a growing teenager or athlete after a big game, macrophages are activated immune cells whose primary focus is to “eat.” But instead of, say, a plate of pasta, macrophages take in and digest pathogenic microbes, unhealthy molecules, and even other cells in the body when they … Continue reading The Big Eater: How the immune system alters the pancreas during obesity

CHIP-ping Away at the Heart

by Sangrag Ganguli and Uche C. Ezeh figures by Rebecca Clements Every year, thousands of people are rushed into hospitals with crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. While some recognize these signs of a heart attack in time to receive proper treatment, over half a million others are not so fortunate. To combat these fatalities, doctors often warn patients about the common risk factors of … Continue reading CHIP-ping Away at the Heart