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

The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

Influenza A is the virus responsible for the Spanish Flu pandemic, which wiped out 3-5% of the human population in the early 20th century. The annual influenza outbreak occurs in the autumn and winter, although it is not normally deadly for healthy adults. There is currently no vaccine providing permanent protection against influenza A because the virus mutates and changes so often, requiring a yearly … Continue reading The Actual Master of Disguise: The Flu

A cure for peanut allergies in sight?

With peanuts being the most common children’s food allergen and the rising prevalence of allergies, discovering a cure for peanut allergies is crucial. Symptoms of an allergic reaction – such as anaphylaxis, leading to the inability to breathe – can be life-threatening and occur rapidly. While EpiPens are used to control general allergic reactions, there is no specific treatment available for peanut allergies – until … Continue reading A cure for peanut allergies in sight?

A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 is one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. This technology, first discovered in microbes, enables the cleaving of DNA in order to remove or replace existing genes. For a crash course into the history of CRISPR/Cas9 discovery and development with primary sources please refer to the footnote*. This technology will enable us cure many genetic diseases. Work is currently … Continue reading A major obstacle to CRISPR/Cas9 – preexisting immunity

Scientists Grow Turtle Skin to Study New Virus

Thierry Work and a team of wildlife disease researchers are manufacturing reptile skin in the hopes of saving endangered turtles. A virus, ChHV5, has been infecting endangered green sea turtles, causing tumors to grown on the their skin and inside their bodies. The infection eventually weakens the immune system, and leads to death. Studying this virus proved incredibly difficult. Traditional methods of growing viruses to study ChHV5 in the lab … Continue reading Scientists Grow Turtle Skin to Study New Virus

New weapon combating flu – caterpillar-grown vaccine

Growing up, every child is familiar with the pain of a seasonal flu shot. However, there is still a chance to catch the flu even with the shot, due to the flu virus’s high variability and adaptability. The major issue with flu vaccine production is a long production time. Using traditional methods, it usually takes 4-6 months for a vaccine to be generated against a particular flu strain, … Continue reading New weapon combating flu – caterpillar-grown vaccine

Human Lymphocyte

Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Results from a small clinical trial comprising 86 cancer patients have prompted scientists to rethink how different cancers are classified and treated. The drug being assessed was Keytruda, a recent addition to oncologists’ arsenal of cancer immunotherapy drugs.  Unlike traditional chemotherapies, which poison and kill cancer cells directly, cancer immunotherapy recruits the body’s own self-defense machinery to attack tumors.  Although our immune systems are very good … Continue reading Turning the Immune System into an Equal Opportunity Cancer Killer

Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

by Kimberly Hagel figures by Alexandra Was We, as humans, tend to idealize that which is bigger, better, faster, and stronger. It is in our nature to strive towards the best. To improve. To win. Indeed, the penetrance of this mentality reaches to our very core, even to the individual cells of which we are composed. A prime example of this: cancer. Today, cancer is … Continue reading Cancer Immunotherapy: Fighting fire with fire

Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis

by Tianli Xiao figures by Abigail Burrus Multiple sclerosis begins when a patient is as young as 20. It can start with blurry vision, tingling in the arms or legs, or a persistent feeling of tiredness. MS is a long-term, progressive disease that worsens over time, but there are few drugs available today. Even worse, patients diagnosed with a less common form of MS known … Continue reading Ocrelizumab: The first treatment for primary progressive multiple sclerosis