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Posts Tagged "disease"

The Artful Amoeba

Cosmic Karma: Mosquitoes Have Flying, Blood-Sucking Parasites of Their Own

midge_parasitic_mosquito

In 1922, a scientist named F.W. Edwards published a paper describing a remarkable thing: a flying, biting midge collected from the Malay Peninsula in southeast Asia that he named Culicoides anophelis. What made the midge was remarkable was the thing it bit: mosquitoes.

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Extinction Countdown

A Wild Idea: Save Tasmanian Devils While Controlling Killer Cats

tasmanian devils

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) disappeared from mainland Australia centuries ago, probably not long after humans first brought dingoes to the continent. A new plan could bring the infamous, snarling predators back from the island of Tasmania to Oz. That would not only benefit the devils, which are dying out due to a communicable cancer, but [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Bat-Killing Fungus Now Found in 25 U.S. States

WNS little brown bat

The news for bats in the U.S. keeps getting worse. Last week conservation officials announced that the bat-killing white-nose syndrome (WNS) has been found in Michigan and Wisconsin. The disease, spread by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), has now reached 25 states and five Canadian provinces since it first turned up in New York State [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Sunday Species Snapshot: Panamanian Golden Frog

panamanian golden frog

These tiny, brightly colored amphibians pack a potent neurotoxin on their skin. That toxin protected them from predators, but it won’t save them from extinction. They haven’t been seen in the wild in seven years. Species name: Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). This is actually a misnomer. These “frogs” are actually toads! Where found: The [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Parasites that Cause Chagas Disease in Humans May Also Be Killing Tiny Australian Marsupials

woylies

Why are the woylies all dying? Since 2001 the populations of these tiny Australian marsupials have mysteriously crashed by as much as 90 percent. The species, which had already been driven to near-extinction in the early 20th century, had been on the path to recovery after successful conservation efforts protected them from foxes and other [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Chlamydia Is Killing Koalas—Will Genetics Find a Cure?

koala

Why do some koalas die from chlamydia and an AIDS-like retrovirus whereas others manage to avoid contracting the sexually transmitted diseases? The answer, it seems, may be in the genes. Scientists in Australia announced last week that they have sequenced the koala interferon gamma (IFN-g) gene, a discovery that they call the “holy grail” for [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Last 500 Ethiopian Wolves Endangered by Lack of Genetic Diversity

ethiopian wolf

The last wolves in Africa face a difficult road if they are going to survive. Just 500 Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) remain in the mountains of the country for which they are named. The animals now live in six fragmented populations located hundreds of kilometers apart from one another; three of these populations have fewer [...]

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Extinction Countdown

First Purebred Bison Calf Born after Disease-Washing Embryo Transfer

Julie Larsen Maher 7867 American Bison and Calf BZ 07 04 12

What does a two-month-old bison calf in the Bronx have to do with the future of its species? Quite a lot, it turns out. After being slaughtered to near extinction in the 19th century, the American plains bison (Bison bison bison) has become a bit of a conservation success story, albeit with a few important [...]

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Extinction Countdown

Chimps Infected with Human Diseases Pose Possible Risk to Reintroduction Efforts

When a wild animal is rescued from poachers or wildlife smugglers, conservationists usually make an effort to rehabilitate it and return it to life in its native habitat. But what if the animal contracted a disease from humans during captivity that could then be transmitted back to the rest of its species? Should that animal [...]

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Extinction Countdown

How Did Zebras Give 2 Polar Bears Herpes?

polar bear lars

When a polar bear suddenly takes ill and dies, the natural inclination is not to suspect zebras as the cause. But according to research published August 16 in Current Biology, that’s what happened at Wuppertal Zoo in Germany in 2010. The strange saga started on June 8, 2010, when Jerka, a 20-year-old female polar bear, [...]

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Extinction Countdown

An Invasive Plant Is Killing Wombats in Australia

When an otherwise nocturnal wombat shows up in the daylight, acting lethargic and having trouble walking, you know that animal is in trouble. When thousands of wombats turn up sick, emaciated, balding and dying, you know you have a crisis. That’s what’s happening in Murraylands, South Australia, where up to 85 percent of the region’s [...]

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Guest Blog

Practicing Narrative Medicine

Just listen. (Credit: Rick&Brenda Beerhorst via Flickr)

Since the first day of medical school, I was in breathless anticipation of my third year. I came to Harvard with a background in creative writing and the big draw of medicine for me lay in its compendium of human stories. In college, I volunteered at local hospitals where my primary responsibility was to go [...]

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Guest Blog

Disease Detectives Investigate Outbreaks at Home and Abroad

Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer Dr. Leisha Nolen preparing to depart on assignment to West Africa in response to the 2014 Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak across Guinea, northern Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Pictured atop the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) materiel case to her left are some of the requisite medical supplies she would be taking including phlebotomy vials, and disposable face masks. (Credit: CDC)

The medical sleuths of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been thrust into the limelight with the recent Ebola epidemic. Charged with chasing diseases and stopping outbreaks, they’re a geeky bunch of young doctors, veterinarians and scientists, who prefer to work behind the scenes. I can call them geeks because I was one [...]

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Guest Blog

The Hallmarks of Cancer 9: Reprogramming Energy Metabolism

Cancer cells consume more glucose than normal cells. This is exploited when imaging cancer. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) combined with Computer Tomography (PET/CT) is used to detect the absorption of the glucose analogue fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) by tumours. In this image, besides the normal accumulation of the FDG molecule in the heart, bladder, kidneys, and brain, liver metastases of a colorectal tumor are visible in the abdominal region. (Image credit: Jens Maus, Wikimedia Commons)

The Hallmarks of Cancer are ten underlying principles shared by all cancers. You can read the first eight Hallmarks of Cancer articles here. The ninth Hallmark of Cancer is defined as “Reprogramming Energy Metabolism”. Uncontrolled growth defines cancer. Growth requires a cancer’s cells to replicate all of their cellular components; their DNA, RNA, proteins and [...]

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Guest Blog

Hallmarks of Cancer 8: Tumor-Promoting Inflammation

Tumors and their TAMs. Tumors secrete signalling molecules known as chemokines to attract circulating monocytes, a type of white blood cell. Once in the tumor, the monocytes differentiate into Tumor Associated Macrophages (TAMs). Oxygen-starved (hypoxic) areas of the tumor secrete VEGF, which attracts these TAMs. TAMs can also secrete VEGF, which in turn attract more TAMs to the tumor. / Image by Buddhini Samarasinghe.

The Hallmarks of Cancer are ten underlying principles shared by all cancers. You can read the first seven Hallmarks of Cancer articles here. The eighth Hallmark of Cancer is defined as “tumor-promoting inflammation.” We consider the immune system as our friend; it protects us by fighting infections while keeping us healthy. But there is a [...]

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Guest Blog

Mandatory Shots: Should Hospitals Force Health Care Workers to Get the Flu Vaccine?

A growing number of U.S. hospitals now compel health care workers to get vaccinated against the flu and other infectious diseases to protect patients from communicable diseases. In the case of the flu, the need is obvious: hospitalized patients who become infected have an elevated risk of developing complications or dying. Yet the vaccination requirement [...]

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Guest Blog

In Africa, Climate Change Wages War on Bodies, Not Just Lands

Dr. Kassahun Desalegn and patient

While the African Union concentrates on strategies to mitigate the devastating financial effects climate change is having on Africans, I worry instead about its impact on our bodies. As a doctor working in my native Ethiopia, I see the results of our warming planet, not just in the dry earth or the torrential skies, but [...]

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Guest Blog

Hallmarks of Cancer 7: Genome Instability and Mutation

BRCA1 structure

All cancers share ten underlying principles, also known as the Hallmarks of Cancer. You can read about the first six here. The seventh is defined as genome instability and mutation. Cancer Cells Evolve Not all cancer cells are equal. They vary, they compete, and the fittest survive to pass on their genes to daughter cells, [...]

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Guest Blog

Hallmarks of Cancer 6: Tissue Invasion and Metastasis

The Hallmarks of Cancer are 10 underlying principles shared by all cancers. You can read the first five Hallmarks of Cancer articles here. The Sixth Hallmark of Cancer is defined as “Tissue Invasion and Metastasis.” A growing tumor will eventually spawn pioneer cells; these move out of the original clump of mutant cells to invade [...]

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Guest Blog

For Diabetics, Healthy Habits Trump Medicine

syringe sticking up from a pile of granulated fine sugar

Against the backdrop of a government shutdown precipitated by healthcare issues and the rollout of the insurance exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act, a conference called Diabetes + Innovation 2013 took place in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. The gathering, organized by The Joslin Diabetes Center at Harvard Medical School, focused on prevention and [...]

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Guest Blog

A Journey in Sharing Science: From the Lab to Social Media and Beyond

A few weeks ago, I was graced with an honorary doctorate in social media from Social Media University, Global. My dissertation has been wonderfully received; I have been given high accolades and several once closed opportunities have opened. I have been humbled by the response and am sincerely grateful that people have been touched by [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Why We Need to Abandon the Disease-Model of Mental Health Care

A Prescription for Psychiatry, book cover.

The idea that our more distressing emotions such as grief and anger can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses is pervasive and seductive. But in my view it is also a myth, and a harmful one. Our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane [...]

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Observations

Jimmy Carter Fights to Eliminate Eye Disease That Plagued His Childhood

Pres

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was at Pfizer Headquarters in Manhattan on November 5th to honor the 15th anniversary of the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), a non-for-profit program dedicated to eliminating the eye disease as a public health concern by 2020. Trachoma is a bacterial infection, often spread by houseflies, and it stands as the [...]

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Observations

Why Don’t Helmets Prevent Concussions?

Helmets protect your head—but they can’t fully protect your brain. This helps to explain why football players continue to incur brain trauma that may lead to debilitating brain disease. Recently, a team of researchers presented more evidence of the devastating progression of a brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma. On December 2, researchers from [...]

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Observations

3-D Imaging Improves Breast Cancer Screening

stereoscopic 3-D mammogram viewing display breast cancer

The mammograms most women receive are decidedly two-dimensional. An x-ray machine takes images of the breast from the sides, and radiologists examine the resulting image to see if it offers up any hits of potentially cancerous irregularities. These tests, however, are far from perfect. Normal calcium deposits and fibrous tissue can align to create a [...]

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Observations

Web Site Tracks Mosquito-Borne Diseases Spread Globally by Air Travel

The emergence of international air travel in the 20th century enabled an unprecedented spread of ideas, cultures and communication. Unfortunately, modern aviation has also proved an effective means of spreading diseases. Air travel didn’t introduce worldwide pandemics, of course, but with tens of millions of scheduled international flights annually and hundreds of millions of passengers [...]

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Observations

Skin Bacteria Are Your Friends

skin bacteria immune infection

Americans have been on an antibacterial kick for the past several years. Our hand soap, dish soap, and body wash have morphed into an arsenal of bug-killing napalm, eliminating all but the heartiest of bacteria. And there are, indeed, some scary microbes crawling around out there—Staph and C. Diff, just to name a couple. But [...]

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Observations

4 Infective Fungi, 3 Nematodes, 2 Burrowing Bugs, and a Host of Other Tropical (Dermatological) Diseases

scabies

The tropics are a warm, wet and wonderful place for plant, animal and other life to flourish. In all of that diversity are some bizarre and fascinating parasites that make their living on—or at least find a temporary home in—us. A session called “Adventures in Tropical Dermatology” last week at the American Society of Tropical [...]

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Observations

Genetically Modified Mosquitos Mate with the Locals

In 2009, researchers from the biotechnology company Oxitec released over 18,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in a bid to reduce the wild mosquito population. The mosquitoes were designed so that in theory, when these modified male mosquitoes mate with wild females, the offspring would be infertile. Release enough mosquitoes and you could crash the native population. [...]

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Observations

Health Care Needs (More) Reform: Cancer Drugs Show How Markets Remain out of Whack

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/Druppelcilinder_%281%29.JPG/240px-Druppelcilinder_%281%29.JPG

The market for at least one class of vital drug seems to have gone haywire. Certain types of generic cancer drugs are really hard to find. In August, of the 34 generic cancer drugs available to patients, there were 14 that could only be found with great difficulty. “If you are a pediatric oncologist, you [...]

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Octopus Chronicles

Octopus Arms, Human Tongues Intertwine for Science

octopus arms

Unless you’ve eaten sannakji, the Korean specialty of semi-live octopus, you might never have had a squirming octopus arm in your mouth. But you’ve most likely had a very similar experience. In fact, you’re probably having one right now. Octopus arms might seem strange and mysterious, but they are remarkably similar to the human tongue. [...]

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Symbiartic

Graphic Guides to Ebola from the Epicenter and Abroad

14-026FEATURE

The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa continues to make the news as more cases are reported and casualties rise. A common thread in reporting is the difficulty in communicating accurate information to combat the spread of the virus when communities are gripped with fear and misinformation spreads as quickly as the virus itself. While our [...]

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