YOKOSUKA, Japan (Dec. 14, 2009) Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Eric Pacheco, from Oxnard, Calif., administers the H1N1 flu vaccine to Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Stuart Ringrose at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew R. White/Released)

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

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Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication. The cause of autism is unknown, but several theories have been proposed. One theory speculates that exposure to stress or other cellular threats can trigger a “cellular danger response” involving purines. If this self-defense mechanism is not regulated properly, the response can remain permanently active, ultimately affecting neuronal development and lead to autism. Based on this theory, Dr. Robert … Continue reading Potential repurposing of sleeping-sickness drug for autism

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More Than Just a Sugar Pill: Why the placebo effect is real

by Benika Pinch figures by Kaitlyn Choi If you watched the Rio Olympics, you probably noticed that several athletes, including swimmer Michael Phelps, were covered in bizarre circular marks. These bruises were caused by cupping, a therapy that uses suction to pull skin upwards into a circular cup, with the intent of increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tension. While athletes maintain that they benefited … Continue reading More Than Just a Sugar Pill: Why the placebo effect is real

Formica fusca, the ant specie used in the study, feeding 
By Sedeer El-Showk [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Ants self-medicate: are even cooler than Ant-Man made them look

 2015 has been a good year for ants: Ant-Man was added to the roster of Marvel superheroes and now a recent paper has shown ants participating in zoopharmacognosy – a long, fancy name to describe self-medication by non-human animals. While self-medicating has been observed in many animals – both vertebrate and invertebrate – it is often hard to discern whether that behavioral instance should be … Continue reading Ants self-medicate: are even cooler than Ant-Man made them look