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Tiny microbes = big dollars

06/11/2014
Gold!! Gold in them thar microbes . . .

An immune system for Algernon?

03/31/2014
I haven't read it (yet) but heard Daniel Keyes' 1960 short story/1966 novel is a sci-fi masterpiece. And it's the first place my mind went upon reading about this fascinating breakthrough by researchers at Yale.

Jelly-belly

07/23/2012
I guess it doesn't sting, which is a plus - clearly we need no more stinging/biting/blood-sucking creatures on this earth - but my real wonder is what's next, and why rat heart muscle?

All fun & no viruses make little Johnny a sick boy?

10/05/2011
This was of particular professional interest to me, as the return of young Americans to school has meant I'm now slogged with patients most every shift. Considering though that day care is a year round operation, we see less of the "September slam" from it in urgent care as ...

This is almost as bad as the movie version of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"

09/21/2011
Which, if you've seen it, means this is pretty darn bad! A study whose results were recently released found that seagulls - those playful winged scamps that flich food from us at the beach - have played an interesting role in the spread of resistant bacteria throughout the globe. Here's ...

Dr. Robot (he kind of looks like one) is telling you . . .

09/13/2011
. . . to do YOUR part to help stamp out what are now called STI's. Funny how as our knowledge of STI's and our ability to treat them has bloomed, our societal level of comfort with such PSAs seems to have withered. I used to see ...

In the beginning . . .

06/21/2011
The NIH was just one guy, one lab, but probably more than one microscope - and it was on Staten Island, not a sprawling campus in Bethesda, MD. A fascinating read to be sure.

Good news? No, Great News!

06/16/2011
Title says it all me hearties - anything, repeat, ANYTHING that we can count as a victory, no matter how small against HIV is worthy of celebration. While a new generation of anti-retrovirals have reduced (somewhat) it's status as a "death sentence" diagnosis, they have also obscured the fact ...

Coming soon to a theater nearest you? The Living Laser!!!

06/13/2011
As we speak both DC & Marvel are patenting the name, various likenesses, and a number of origination storylines to explain our hero's rise from humble microbiology lab assistant to the costumed crime-fighter who strikes fear in the hearts of evildoers everywhere.

Prozac to E.Coli, other microbes: you die now

05/27/2011
The only question we must ask ourselves is the one question every dime-store Freud asks us when we plunk down on their couches: "how do you feeeeel about this?"

Inspector Google is on the case, tracking down a most wiley quarry

05/22/2011
This is straight up, solid-gold good news. After all, I just learned today that CA (for Community Acquired) MRSA infections now account for 60% of the SSTI's (that's Skin & Soft Tissue Infections) that are diagnosed nationwide. Anything that can help track, tag, & eventually bring to ground ...

Flying Foxes to Humans: no thank you Sirs, we would not like another

05/13/2011
Once again proof positive of a narrative we've been perfecting since the first knuckle-dragging caveperson clonked some lesser species in the head w/ a fire-hardened tree branch: man meets animal, man negatively effects that animals existence, man goes on merry way. Now though, the animals have found a way to even ...

*Note to the reader: summertime is bedbug season. Cue that skin-crawling feeling . . . now

05/12/2011
Working in urgent care medicine, I freq. come across patients who complain of "spider bites", "ant bites", or "tick bites" that inevitably turn out to be MRSA infections. Perhaps though those poor souls are onto something - or maybe they just overnighted in a low-rent fleabag motel on their ...

Just when you thought it was safe to make a nice open-faced turkey sammich

05/05/2011
Thankfully I'm not over 50 yet (just feel like it!) but this still gives me pause - in addition to all the other things that meat packers & such already spray or inject into my Smithfield Deli ham slices, now I gotta worry about Listeria? Furthermore, how will I ...

Maybe the virus just wanted up-close & personal w/ their favorite teams?

04/15/2011
After all, one of the NBA's hallmarks these days is to create an experience by which "every fan" can enjoy the game - glad to see the Norovirus is getting in on the act . . .

For an idea of what early life looked like, look no farther - than cancer?

02/11/2011
Quite an idea here, made me think of the part in the Matrix when the nefarious Agent Smith refers to humanity as a "virus" - seems like he was a little off-base.

Use Soap?

02/11/2011
Scrub a dub-dub.

From the"weird science" files, it's gross, but amazing if it works

02/04/2011
C. Diff infections are on the rise & antibiotic potency is on the decline, so perhaps the solution is closer to us than thought - in the stool of our loved ones.

In need of companionship? Look no further than about the middle of your abdomen

02/01/2011
Really, this just takes the cake for the ultimate DIY science - culturing bacteria from your own belly button & seeing what pops up - fascinating!

Game on!

01/19/2011
In case anyone needs it, I have a copy of the classic 80's tome "The Winner's Book of Video Games" which provides several sure-fire Pac-Man patterns that ensure victory (+ maxi points) on each level. With any luck, those patterns SHOULD hold true at a paramecia level . . ...

Now cancelling my plans to pop on over there for some authentic Lamb Rojan Josh :-(

01/06/2011
Read a piece that detailed the idea that the world could effectively "run out" of antibiotics as "a nightmare scenario". No joke. Considering how often each worknight we're reaching for the appropriate antibiotic to knock out a case of Strep or a wicked Otitis Media, the possibility that all the Z-paks or ...

Rapid results test for TB

12/23/2010
TB is on the rise in the last decade, w/ London being rather hard hit. Hopefully this new testing method, promising faster results that could speed up treatment for the infected, provides some much-needed Christmas cheer to those battling this nasty bugger.

RSV - we meet again!

12/20/2010
Ahh the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus - more commonly known as RSV. The last 2 times we' ve met it's been sick infants, ambulance calls, & in 1 case a hospital admit. In the United States, 60% of infants are infected during their first RSV ...

Nuthin' fights STI's like cartoon awareness films

12/14/2010
A vintage piece of STI (or VD as they were known back then) education, courtesy of our nation's fighting sailors. Personally, I think Count Spirochete is due for a comeback - he's much cooler than this cartoon spirochete I dug up via G-image search. Props to the good people @ ...

An AIDS breakthrough courtesy of stem cells

12/14/2010
Read it & weep, AIDS virus - your days are numbered

The greatest thing since sliced bread

11/02/2010
Or maybe greater - though I'm sure the makers of the many, many OTC products aimed @ cold-sufferers might fight tooth & nail to keep this one under wraps. Well, nuts to them - shout this one from the rooftops!

Seems like we're never truely alone - even when we're by ourselves

09/16/2010
However, I do believe their incredible numerical advantage grants them something - a certain Soviet despot supposedly said "Quantity has a quality all it's own" - that demands we stay on good terms w/ them.

Got one nasty sucker here folks . . .

07/14/2010
Seen here via immunohistochemical staining of a gastric biopsy is the Heliobacter Pylori bacteria, or H. Pylori if you're in a hurry. Able to survive the intensely acidic environment that is the human stomach, H. Pylori actually gets downright comfortable there. The bacterium has flagella and moves through the ...

Why we should wash our hands regularly #3

06/29/2010
When I first saw this photomicrograph of Haemophilus influenzae via immunofluorescence, I thought of the opening days of the first Gulf War, when CNN showed wall to wall images of the bombing of Baghdad. The crude nightvision technologies available at the time rendered everything in that green/black/white style very ...

Why we should wash our hands regularly #2

06/25/2010
Because it isn't just for Establishment squares anymore! As WellBee - debuted in 1964 - so aptly illustrates, (in a slightly dated style, considering the presence of readily available finger-nail toothpicks) simple hand washing is the most important tool available to prevent the spread of a whole host of infectious characters. As ...

Zoonotic villains #6 - Streptococcus group C

06/25/2010
Mmmmm, kinda looks like couscous right? Well, though it might resemble a tasty side dish that's beloved in the Maghreb, it's actually a gnarly bacteria that causes URI's (upper respiratory infections) in both humans & animals. Humans can prevent it by refraining from drinking unpasteurized milk, especially milk taken from an animal ...

Why we should wash our hands regularly #1

06/24/2010
Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium which can cause disease in animals and humans. An equal opportunity offender, it uses a wide range of organic material for food; in animals, this versatility enables 'ol Pseudomon here to infect damaged tissues or people with reduced immunity. The symptoms of such infections ...

Corona - but not the kind a good guest brings to your summer picnic

06/23/2010
Remember SARS? Or the last time you had a nasty cold? Lay your troubles at this bad-boy's door. In fact, SARS-CoV - the Corona variant that causes SARS - has the rather unique quality of causing both upper & lower respiratory infections, and gastroenteritis. Note as well ...

Here's the one that got me, Doctor

06/23/2010
Having recently (and barely) recovered from a tangle w/ this character - the Norovirus - I've a new found respect for it's potency. After all, anything that can reduce a grown man to a weak as a kitten, aching, cursing his immune system wretch should be rightly acknowledged as ...

Rabies bonus feature/Thank you to L. Pastuer

06/17/2010
Louis Pastuer - not just the guy whose responsible for your milk (and orange juice, beer, almonds, ciders, soy sauce, & about a dozen other products) being cooked @ high temps to make them last longer - but a brilliant scientific mind whose researches into disease prevention has saved countless ...

Zoonotic villains #5 - the Rabies virus

06/17/2010
Ahh Rabies, we meet again. When I worked in vet medicine, it was amongst the few diseases that everyone - doctors, clients, support staff, human law enforcement officers, etc. - knew & feared. Maybe it was it's nearly undefeated record & lethal reputation that drove such caution. ...

Mr. Ed's bane/zoonotic villains #4

06/14/2010
The mosquito - God's cruelest instrument to ensure his creations stay in check? The mosquito - proof that Evolution is a malevolent mistress that sups on human & animal misery alike? The mosquito - spreader of VEE: Venezuelan equine encephalitis, which afflicts not only horses, donkeys, zebras, & other equine species, but ...

An ounce of prevention . . .

06/14/2010
As the old saying goes, can beat a pound of the Shigella bacteria, seen here penetrating the intestinal mucosa of some poor soul. Killing approx. 1 million people annually - most of them children, Shigella is best prevented by two simple strategies: washing hands before handling food & thoroughly ...

Zoonotic villians #3

06/12/2010
See those round, fuzz-ball looking things? You're seeing Lassa fever, up close & personal courtesy of a TEM microscope. Another of those fearsome hemorrhagic fevers, Lassa virus is a member of the Arenaviridae family. If you learn nothing more about Lassa fever, learn about Aniru Conteh. For over two decades, ...

Zoonotic villains #2- Ebola virus

06/10/2010
Since it's 1st recorded outbreak (1976) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Ebola River Valley, the Ebola virus has been known - and feared - for good reason. Why, you may ask? Ebola hemorrhagic fever is potentially lethal and encompasses a range ...

Zoonotic villains #1 - Marburg virus

06/09/2010
Saints preserve us from this one. A highly contagious hemorrhagic fever, Marburg is less well known that it's cousin Ebola, (they're both members of the deeply troublesome Filovirus family) but no less deadly.

One bad mamma-jamma

06/09/2010
The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus. Responsible for more deaths during World War I than all the bombs, bullets, poison gases, & artillery shells used, it killed more than 500,000 people in the United States, and up to 50 million worldwide. The possible ...

Negative stain smallpox virus

06/09/2010
Magnification 65,000X. Smallpox is a serious, highly contagious, and sometimes fatal infectious viral disease. There is no specific treatment for smallpox disease, and the only prevention is a smallpox vaccination.

"By golly, Jim... I'm beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!" - McCoy

05/25/2010
While Bones might be overestimating his skills there a mite bit, I think the simple "old country Doc" would see the potential for this therapy to move us more towards the sort of medicine he's accustomed to practicing. However, if he does work that rainy day cure out, I ...

Faux fighters - researchers replicate artificial antibodies, diseases dismayed

05/20/2010
Proof that to be truly innovative, one must never accept the status quo. The idea that this process could be made easier/faster/cheaper - simply by reversing the steps involved & embracing, rather than resisting it's randomness - must have been a classic "eureka!" moment for the scientists involved. ...
05/13/2010
We've over-fished & polluted their habitats, scrambling the species to a point where you have to filet these poor creatures just know which restroom they use! Now one of our parasites is compromising their love lives - I'd say our finny friends here have a very justified bone to ...

Single folks take note - scientists say there are plenty of options

05/11/2010
And here I was worried about whether I would be able to have sushi, fishsticks, or eat at Long John Silver's in a few years. With 5,000 (or more) new species, if I'm willing to eat creatively & have plenty of wasabi/soy sauce on the side, I won't go ...

In cancer treatment, Time is of the essence

05/11/2010
It seems that cancer & I both resent the unnatural degree of control that clocks exert over our existences - though my resentment manifests as a relatively benign hatred of the alarm's keening wail every morning. Cancer's resentment creates a much more malignant problem, one that science can hopefully ...

Evolution: 1, Computer designers: 0

05/07/2010
Nothing like dynamiting a commonplace metaphor & getting some interesting research in the bargain. To be fair, E. Coli & other organisms have spent millions of years in competition to survive, while we've only been building computers for about 60-odd years. Still though, perhaps this will help software/hardware ...

Who are you, what are you, and what are your intentions here?

05/06/2010
The potential uses of this new detection array - public safety/security, rapid diagnostics, product testing, and others - are so valuable, I hope the Lawrence Livermore National Lab researchers who developed this get a very well deserved round of applause. Great work!

An Industrial Revolution in the lab?

05/05/2010
Industrial manufacturing - a process that's given us products ranging from Model T's autos to cheap transistor radios - may have gotten a toehold in the research lab now. Given the commercial potential inherent here, I wouldn't be surprised to see an IPO from the developers of this technology ...

Them bones, them bones, them dry bones

05/04/2010
As a person whose suffered mult. fractures (toes, fingers, thumb - that was a tough one, foot, wrist, etc.) due to various sports & other injuries, I can personally attest to the value inherent in this discovery. While I'm not looking forward to my next break, hoping this compound will be ...

Leptin joins the fight in the battle against Sepsis

05/03/2010
Sepsis is a highly dangerous - very often lethal - inflammatory condition caused by the body's response to microbes in the blood, lungs, or other areas. Even with ICU treatment involving antibiotics & fluids in large doses, 20-35% of patients suffering from severe sepsis die inside 30 days. ...

Another small step for man, but a giant leap for microbial-kind?

04/28/2010
Seems the microbes we share spaceship Earth with have figured out the best way to run a low-cost, no frills space program. Makes me wonder if bacteria from Buzz Aldrin (met him one time & shook his hand, so in a sense, I've gotten closer to the Moon than ...

This is the future of computing

04/27/2010
The title isn't hype - upon reading this an entire world of possibilities stretched out before me. Limitless potential, just hopefully not for SkyNet - from what I've seen that machine is nothing but trouble . . .

I'm all ears!

04/19/2010
This mechanical-chemical-biological tour through how human hearing works - or doesn't work, and the implications that has is worth the read. Here's hoping as well this research bears fruit & helps end hearing loss/deafness.

Almost out of this world life found right here on Earth

04/16/2010
Fantastic stuff! An oxygen-free environment, this lake is packed with life more adapted to Saturn's Titan than our blue planet. Furthermore, the idea that some of these micro-organisms create water by digesting the hydrocarbons they lives their lives in - maybe we can hire them to clean up ...

More good news from the world of dog saliva

04/15/2010
Fetching our newspaper & slippers, guarding the homestead from intruders, alerting us that Timmy has fallen into the old well - and now this. if we could determine which of our cave-person ancestors had the brilliant notion to domesticate these critters, that knuckle-dragger deserves an award for service to ...

In the beginning, there were Ribosomes

04/13/2010
Reading this reminded me of a guiding principle often espoused by my father: KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Fragile X marks it's spot by altering brain pathways

04/09/2010
Like many, in my pre-teen years I watched pro wrestling for it's entertainment value. Years later I came across the tragic case of wrester Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife & young son before taking his own life. Rumors had it that the highly athletic & competitive Benoit ...

Great news, if I can observe sick people via binoculars or telescope

04/06/2010
How would this affect hypochondriacs I wonder? Probably degrade their mental state whilst simultaneously boosting their immune response. Maybe videos of sick people should be shown in hospitals too, unless there is a point where the positive effect drops off. Either way, interesting stuff. ...

Bacteria versus Virus - the age old struggle

04/06/2010
Fascinating piece, something I had never really considered before - the idea that bacteria can get sick, similar to the idea can soap get dirty eh? Hopefully the anti-vaccine crowd won't get all up in arms about this, they've done enough damage in the human population already. Also ...

New kids on the molecular block

04/05/2010
Great news here - the sort of thing that should lead on CNN or Fox but never will in my lifetime. However, since this advance may significantly extend my lifetime by subduing a variety of gnarly diseases, perhaps I'll eventually be proven wrong.

Take that Dengue fever, & how 'bout some of this!

04/02/2010
As if I needed another reason to hate mosquitoes, thankfully the ones that transmit Dengue fever don't hang around the DC Metro area much. Guess this just proves that old say - "the bacterium enemy of my viral enemy is my friend" - even truer than it was before. ...

The little molecules that could . . . help us unravel TB?

04/01/2010
The more I read about Mycobacterium tuberculosis the more I'm strangely impressed by it. It's subtly devious, patient - notice how it can persist inside a host for decades - and fearsomely adaptive. A worthy adversary, to be certain.

Good for you but don't do it in public!

03/31/2010
When I worked at a vet hospital people asked me all the time whether dog's mouths were cleaner than humans. I always told them it was an old wive's tale & wondered about their personal hygiene. Turns out I was wrong!

In Soviet Russia, TB bacteria takes drugs for you!

03/19/2010
Really though, even Yakov Smirnoff would be worried about this one - bacteria put Big Pharma's R&D to shame, evolving resistances much faster than we develop new antibiotics.

"Come over baby/whole lot of shakin' goin' on"

03/18/2010
Perhaps Jerry Lee Lewis's rock n' roll classic will soon be topping the charts of virologists world wide!

Tobacco bacterias are potential cause of URI's

03/17/2010
As if another reason was needed to quit smoking, though this one is certainly a doozy.

It came from your keyboard!

03/16/2010
Its a lot more crowded in your cubicle than you probably thought eh? With these little guys, even when you're by yourself you're never alone!

"Attention FoodMart shoppers, special on Salmonella, aisle 3"

03/11/2010
Very happy all that information was put to a use other than advertising research or gathering digital dust in a data warehouse somewhere . .

Just when you thought it was safe to go out in your backyard

03/09/2010
Alien invaders is an apt description - kinda gross looking but also grossly fascinating. Proof positive about the whole worlds that are going on all around us that we are (usually or mostly) completely oblivious to. Enjoy!

Dog Flu in Virginia Prompts Quarantine of Kennel

08/16/2009
I am familiar w/ this particular disease from working @ an animal hospital, where our veterinarians fielded numerous questions about it. While the disease was never detected there, it did cause a fair amount of worry amongst local dog owners. Interesting that it is rearing it's head again ...

Dog suspected source of China plague

08/06/2009
Can anyone please explain why so many infectious diseases ("Spanish" influenza of the 1910's, SARS, the bubonic plague of the middle ages, etc.) seem to have their origins in China/that area of the world?
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