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Fear Not the Fecal Transplant

Officially called a fecal microbiota transplantation, or FMT, the procedure involves the insertion of a small, diluted sample of stool from a donor into the colon of a recipient. (Clearly disgusting.) The swap imports a healthy community of bacteria, the intestinal microbiota, into the system of... Read More

Changing influenza virus neuraminidase into a receptor binding protein

The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) glycoproteins of the influenza virus particle serve distinct functions during infection. The HA binds sialic acid-containing cellular receptors and mediates fusion of the viral and cell membranes, while the NA removes sialic acids from glycoproteins.... Read More

Antibiotics Can't Keep Up With 'Nightmare' Superbugs

We're used to relying on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. But there are now strains of bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, and are causing deadly infections. According to the CDC, "more than 2 million people in the United States every year get infected with a ... Read More

Retrospective, June 2013

We continue our semi-annual ritual and post this quick tour of our blog posts published since December, 2012.

Pictures Considered

Our new section dealing with “pictures that made a difference but may be nearly forgotten by now” seems to be off to a good start. Please send us suggestions of... Read More

Scientists think mysterious virus could be a signal of a weak immune system

Genomic analysis of transplant patients finds an opportunistic microorganism whose elevated presence could be used an indicator in treatment.

More than 260,000 Americans are alive today thanks to transplant operations that have replaced their failing kidneys, hearts, lungs or livers with hea... Read More

Harvard scientists control cells following transplantation, from the inside out

Harvard stem cells scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT can now engineer cells that are more easily controlled following transplantation, potentially making cell therapies, hundreds of which are currently in clinical trials across the United States, more functional and efficient.
... Read More

Mapping The Hidden Universe In Your Kitchen

On a recent morning, Noah Fierer, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found himself standing 1,000 feet above the farmland of eastern Colorado. He was perched near the pinnacle of the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory, a cellphone-tower-like spir... Read More

Fixing 'Misfolded' Proteins for New Drug Treatments (NPR Podcast)

Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers were able to fix "misfolded" proteins and restore their function in mice. Lead researcher Michael Conn discusses how to mend an incorrectly folded protein and what this may mean for developing future therapies for a va... Read More

Mutant wheat fungus alarms food experts

JOHANNESBURG, 2 April 2014 (IRIN) - Outbreaks of a deadly fungal disease in wheat crops in Germany and Ethiopia in 2013 have had the scientific community buzzing over the threat posed to global food security. Wheat stem rust, also known as wheat black rust, is often referred to as the “polio of... Read More

Termite digestive-tract microorganisms: A resource to fuel the future

With increasing attention toward generating cost-effective biochemical conversion methods for producing biofuels, it helps to follow the leaders who have perfected the process. The mere Reticulitermes flavipes, or eastern subterranean termite, a famous feaster of lignocellulosic plant materials ... Read More

Why Scientists Are Trying Viruses To Beat Back Bacteria

Not all viruses are bad for us. Some of them might even help up us fight off bacterial infections someday.

Naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages attack specific types of bacteria. So researchers at the University of Leicester decided to try and take advantage of phages' bacteria-d... Read More

How zinc starves lethal bacteria to stop infection

Australian researchers have found that zinc can 'starve' one of the world's most deadly bacteria by preventing its uptake of an essential metal.

The finding, by infectious disease researchers at the University of Adelaide and The University of Queensland, opens the way for further work to des... Read More

Microbial ‘Starstuff’

Famed astronomer and writer Carl Sagan said in his book Cosmos: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” And so are microbes, we must add. To understand the s... Read More

Artificial Cells and Salad Dressing

A University of California, Riverside assistant professor of engineering is among a group of researchers that have made important discoveries regarding the behavior of a synthetic molecular oscillator, which could serve as a timekeeping device to control artificial cells. Read More

Innovative vaccine in trial for advanced ovarian cancer

A clinical trial of an innovative vaccine is occurring. The vaccine could offer hope to patients with advanced ovarian cancer. The vaccine, which is derived from the patient's tumor cells, is designed to jumpstart the patient's immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.

Ovarian cancer is ... Read More

Dictyostelium amoeba eating bacteria (video)

Actin is shown in red. From Clarke, M., and Maddera, L. (2006). Phagocyte meets prey: Uptake, internalization, and killing of bacteria by Dictyostelium amoebae. Eur. J. Cell Biol. 85:1001-1010; reproduced with permission from Elsevier. Honorable mention 2013 Bioscapes Competition. Dr. Margaret ... Read More

Dual virus-receptor duel

Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites: they must enter a cell to reproduce. To gain access to the cell interior, a virus must first bind to one or more specific receptor molecules on the cell surface. Cell receptors for viruses do not exist only to serve viruses: they also have cellular f... Read More

Assortment in colony biofilms

Effect of founder cell density on the spatial pattern formation in colony biofilms.
The colony biofilms were obtained by following the protocol described in van Gestel et al (2014) ISME Journal (doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.52). Briefly, GFP and mKATE2 labeled Bacillus subtilis strain were mixed in ... Read More

Clostridium thermocellum

Monolayer biofilms of the Clostridium thermocellum bacterium (in situ and in vivo).

Credit: Mr. Alexandru Dumitrache
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Olympus Bioscapes 2013 Honorable Mention. Read More

Blood test can determine whether illness is caused by virus or bacteria

Researchers at Duke University say they have created a blood test that can determine whether a person's respiratory illness is caused by a bacterial infection or a virus, with over 90 percent accuracy.

What's more, the test only takes about 12 hours to get results. Current methods take severa... Read More

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