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Posts Tagged "immunology"

Food Matters

The Genetics of the Immune System

a-new-vision-for-teaching-science_1

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of students from Grandview Heights School in Edmonton, Canada. The students are learning about genetics, and the instructor, John Chase asked me to talk about how genetics impacts my field, and to give them a perspective on how this stuff translates to the real world. [...]

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Food Matters

What’s eating us?

From wikipedia (click for source)

As #SciAmFood week draws to a close, we’ve heard a lot about the food we consume, from not getting enough to astronaut nutrition (and getting too much) to tricking your brain about what it’s getting. But what about the things in our food that consume us? We humans do not live a sterile life, no [...]

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Lab Rat

Innate immunity: the first line of defence

Scanning electron microscope of blood cells used in the innate immune response. Red blood cells are the smooth ones with the dent in the middle, white blood cells are round and knobbly.

The very first line of defence against any invasion of the human body is a set of physical barriers between the inside of the body and the outer world. Defence systems like the skin, tears and the stomach lining might not sound very impressive until you start to think of what happens when they don’t [...]

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Lab Rat

Fighting bacteria with copper

So anyone who suggests that consuming or being close to large amounts of copper is good for your health is probably wrong. Image credit below.

Along with the main elements of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, magnesium and sulphur, organic organisms also require trace amounts of certain other elements, including some metals. The most useful thing about the metals required by the body is that their outer electron orbitals are very close together, making it easy for them to both accept and [...]

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Lab Rat

Cystitis: How bacteria get into your bladder

This is your bladder on cystitis. The purple dots are the white blood cells that cause inflammation. Image credit below.

Over the last year, it’s become more and more apparent that I do, in fact, have recurrent cystitis. Having cystitis is a bit like entering the matrix – until I had my first attack I’d never even known it was a disease. It doesn’t appear in books, films or classroom lessons (particularly given that my [...]

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Lab Rat

Pathogens that feed off human blood

The structure of haemoglobin, from wikimedia commons, credit link below.

Bacteria may be tiny little micro-organisms but like any other living creature there are certain molecules that they need for survival. No matter what niche a bacterial colony occupies, it eventually requires a source of iron. For bacteria that live within the human body, there is one incredibly iron-rich molecule that circulates throughout the human [...]

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Lab Rat

Gastric ulcer bacteria hide from the immune system

A while ago, I wrote about how Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and are implicated in certain stomach cancers, cause the cells of the stomach wall to die. H. pylori kills cells very sneakily, by releasing a chemical that causes them to commit suicide. It turns out that this is not the [...]

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Lab Rat

Bacteria that could pass as X-men: part 2

T. brucei

Second part of my thinly veiled excuse to research X-men and call it work. The first post can be found here. This is only meant to be a two-parter but I’ll see how I feel on Monday, and whether I can find any more X-men that are as amazing as bacteria. 4) Multiple Man Multiple [...]

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Lab Rat

Bacteria that could pass as X-men: part 1

sulphide bacteria

This idea for a post has been kicking around in my head for a while now. As I’ve been finding blogging hard to get into recently, this should kick-start me back into it by letting me write about comics as well as science. Part two is now up here! 1)  The Blob Like many of [...]

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Lab Rat

Modelling a werewolf epidemic

wolf-man

The field of bacteriology is a wide-reaching one. Blogging about bacteria means that I get to explore many different fields of science; from the highly molecular world of biochemistry and synthetic biology to the larger and more human-centred land of the pathologists and immunologists. One area that I don’t go into so much is epidemiology; [...]

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Lab Rat

MolBio carnival #14!

carnival poster

Welcome to the fourteenth edition of the Carnival of Molecular Biology! Blog carnivals are collections of writing all about specific subjects, in the case of this carnival the fascinating world of the small and cellular. For the readers it provides a collection of quality blog posts, and for the bloggers it provides an opportunity to [...]

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Lab Rat

How cytomegalovirus evades the immune system

schematic of a cmv

The human immune system is a large and complex beast, but in general it has two roles. Firstly, to prevent an infection from causing any harm and secondly to protect the body against a repeat attack. For many diseases protection against reinfection happens very efficiently, and this is the principle on which vaccines are based. [...]

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Talking back

Can Acupuncture Reverse Killer Inflammation?

The ST36 Zusanli (足三里) acupuncture point is located just below the knee joint. This spot in mice—and it is hoped perhaps in humans—may be a critical entryway to gaining control over the often fatal inflammatory reactions that accompany systemic infections. Sepsis kills over 250,000 patients in the U.S. each year, more than 9 percent of [...]

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