In order to adapt to their environments, it is important that bacteria be able to mix up their genetic code. One way that bacteria do this is by taking up bits of free-floating foreign DNA that can be released by other kinds of bacteria into their environments when they die. This process is called ‘transformation.’ The pieces of DNA can occasionally encode components that make … Continue reading Bacteria snatch up foreign material using specialized arm-like structures
Antibiotic resistance is a rampant problem around the world. More than 23,000 deaths a year in the US are a result of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics in several ways. The antibiotic itself can be broken down, or the components of bacteria targeted by antibiotics can mutate. Over prescription leads to the development of further resistance. With each year there are increasing numbers … Continue reading Have antibiotic resistant bacteria met their match? A new method for antibiotic discovery that could change the arms race.
Glioblastoma is one of the most deadly brain cancers because it is nearly impossible to destroy the cause of the cancer: cancerous stem cells. However, scientists are using Zika’s preference for stem cells to target and eliminate the cancerous stem cells in adults. The preliminary study shows the viability of this method, but more thorough research and a PR campaign may be necessary before Zika treatments for brain cancer can become standard protocol. Continue reading Could Zika become a treatment for brain cancer?
As mosquitoes develop resistance to insecticides used to control their populations, scientists have been developing new tools. The latest idea: infecting mosquitoes with a fungus genetically engineered to produce arachnid toxins. After infecting the mosquitoes with fungal spores, the bugs showed increase mortality within 2.5 days after exposure and fed less in the days before their death, compared to their healthy counterparts. Continue reading The war on malaria gets a new weapon: a toxic fungus
With the warm weather of summer quickly approaching, a common enemy known as the mosquito will soon make a reappearance. Mosquitoes are more than just an irritation. In many areas of the world, mosquitoes are also carriers of infectious diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus. While the mosquito is a major problem to many, scientists at Microsoft Research are attempting to exploit some … Continue reading Mosquitos: Friend or Foe? Possible use of mosquitos in modern epidemiology
The Zika virus has lately been a global focus due to its connection to deformities in newborns. A recent report by the CDC has bolstered the suspicion that Zika is sexually transmittable from men to women, which was previously only supported by a handful of reports, and viral tests of an infected man’s semen. The CDC is advising that “people returning from Zika-infected areas use condoms or abstain from sex for the duration of their partner’s pregnancy.” Continue reading Sexual Transmission of Zika Possible from Men to Women
The already thorny process of diagnosing Lyme disease may have just gotten even hazier. Lyme is a tick-borne illness that afflicts hundreds of thousands of people every year with a rash of debilitating symptoms. Three species of bacteria are known to cause the disease in Europe, but only one (Borrelia burgdorferi) lives in North America. However, after studying over 100,000 samples from American patients … Continue reading Discovery of New Bacterium Further Muddles Lyme Disease Diagnosis
by Rebecca Mandt We usually think of extinction of a species as a bad thing. But what if that species is directly causing human suffering or death on a global scale? The ultimate goal of disease eradication efforts is to target an infectious disease by completely removing the pathogen from the human population, thereby reducing the number of cases to zero worldwide, generally leading to … Continue reading The Road to Guinea Worm Eradication: Running the Final Mile
A recent study has delighted many by claims that taking the pill Truvada prevents HIV infection. The study is one of the first to test the pill in a real-world setting involving 600 individuals at risk of getting HIV in San Francisco, CA. Although promising, the applicability of the pill to other settings still warrants further analyses. The study is convincing for its testing on … Continue reading A Successful Pill for Preventing HIV?
by Katherine Wu figures by Kristen Seim We live in an increasingly wired world: with apps for every purpose imaginable, it has become easier and easier to share information and build global communities. In the wake of the recent Ebola pandemic, we have harnessed this technology to combat infectious disease, employing technological tools for diagnosis (as in the case of the parasitic disease loiasis) and … Continue reading Hold the Phone: Technology’s Role in Combating Infectious Disease