In order to isolate, study and efficiently treat a bacterial outbreak, it is vital to be able to grow, store and identify the particular strains of bacteria that cause the disease.
Natural disasters such as earthquakes can have far-reaching effects beyond the damage caused on the day they occur. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti damaged the already limited sanitation systems leading to areas without adequate toilet and washing facilities; perfect for the spread of infection diseases.
From the point of view of a micro-organism, the human body is a prime piece of real estate. For those bacteria and fungi that can avoid or fight off the immune systems, a human provides a whole range of moist, nutrient-filled little spaces in which to live.
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.
As antibiotic resistance increases the search for new anti-bacterial treatments becomes more and more important. One way to design anti-bacterials is to find specific biochemical pathways that the bacteria require to survive, and develop drugs that block off these pathways.
I’ve written previously about bacteriophages, the viruses that infect bacteria, and I studied them for my first lab project. So I was pretty excited by a lovely little pearl in PLoS Pathogens last month discussing mycobacteriophages; the viruses that specifically attack mycobacteria.
Prions are the infective agents that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow Disease in humans. All prions affect the brain or neural tissues and are currently untreatable.
Urea is a small molecule formed as proteins are broken down. It’s excreted in urine, but isn’t particularly toxic at low levels so it’s found in cells throughout the body.
When studying how infections grow and spread it is always helpful to be able to see the organism causing the disease. There are currently a range of microbial and labelling techniques available to view micro-organisms within the cells they infect, and one of the most useful is bioluminescence imaging.
Although this blog focus mostly on bacteria, I do occasionally dip out of my comfort zone into other infectious elements such as viruses, prions and fungi.
DNA is important stuff. It’s present in all living organisms on the planet (or ‘almost all’ if you wish to remain friends with virologists) and contains the information required to produce and organise the proteins within a cell.
Ever since the discovery and marketing of penicillin in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, bacteria have been developing resistance to antibiotics at an alarming rate.
Although bacteria are single celled organisms, they are capable of working together in massive bacterial colonies known as biofilms. Within the biofilm bacteria will differentiate to perform different tasks, all wrapped up within a sticky substance that holds the cells together.
Bacteria are found in large numbers all over the human body where there is a channel to the outside world, for example in the gut, lungs, and surface of the skin.
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.