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Obesity and the Microbiome
A large body of evidence is emerging showing that the microbiome has a role in obesity and I cover some...
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The very real danger of alfatoxins
Food products, especially harvested grains, need to be stored carefully. Proper management means storing...
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The 6th Edition of Through the Microscope is now available
The website, eBooks, and hard copy of Through the Microscope are now available. To purchase website access,...
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The stringent response can influence antibiotic resistance
Cancer is a horrible disease, killing over half a million people in the United States every year and...
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Gut disbiosys hinders the healing of spinal cord injuries
There has been a growing body of evidence that the microorganisms that live with us on our bodies deeply...
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On the trail of bacteria - Infrared light allows characterization of pathogens

  Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have developed an efficient method in determining if a bacterium can cause diseases or if it lacks the potential.  The scientists have been studying the different strains of Staphylococcus aureus and how they behave within the host. S. aureus that lack capsules are less recognized by the host's immune system compared to those that have capsules and are more susceptible to recognition. These two different strains a...

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Cholera is Altering the Human Genome

  Cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera and is responsible for thousands of deaths every year. A study conducted in Bangladesh has provided researchers evidence that the human body has developed ways to combat this disease. Researchers have discovered that, due to the high prevalence of cholera, the genomes of individuals in Bangladesh have been altered to fight off cholera. These findings also exemplify how human evolution is still occurring in this day...

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Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine

  Scientists at Stanford University have created a useable vaccine for Type 1 Diabetes mellitus.  This disease affects many people around the globe by decreasing the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, causing high blood sugar in patients.  Type 2 diabetes (aka "adult onset" diabetes) is caused by the body's inability to use insulin properly, whereas type 1 diabetes ("juvenile" diabetes) results from the body's inability to produce insulin.  ...

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Critical Pathway in Cell Cycle May Lead to Cancer Development

  The Stalk Institute for Biological Studies has recently had a team studying the effects of a specific stage of reproduction for the cell, the G1 phase, and how it is different in cancer cells. In this stage, the end part of the chromosome, called telomeres, shorten after each replication. Eventually, in a healthy cell, the telomeres will become too short to replicate further and the cell dies. In cancer cells this process can be altered by the addition of an enzyme that allows for uncontrolled c...

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The Rise of Antibiotic Resistance: Ways of Mitigating

  Antibiotic resistance in both pathogenic and nonpathogenic bacteria is becoming an urgent topic in human health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic resistance is developing in more and more bacteria. Resistance has been the cause of over 90,000 deaths nationwide, typically from patients with preexisting autoimmune diseases. Studies have been done to determine why more bacteria are acquiring resistance genes and the origin of these genes.

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Bacterial Loads in Farmer's Market Whole Chicken Compared to Store-Bought Whole Chicken

  Concerns of pesticide use on produce has raised questions to some of the population because of new studies showing linkage to certain diseases.  As a result, some seek organic products at the grocery store.  Another alternative is purchasing fresh produce at the farmer’s market which has become popular in recent years.  The general population believes that locally grown foods are safer.  However, that might not be the case in a small-scale study conducted...

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Can Gut Bugs Control One's Mind?

  Do you know anyone with high anxiety problems? Did you recently score below average on your exam or currently looking for an excuse to not exercise? If that is the case, gut microbes will be your best friend to excuse you from your daily workouts, anxiety problems, and bad exams. The study shows that microbes in our intestines may alter brain development. Many scientists who study behavior and gene activity have seen the change in brain development as they come across gut microbes...

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Mycobacteria get the best of both worlds: Asexual and Sexual Reproduction

  Recently, it has been discovered that mycobacteria, have the “best of both worlds” when it comes to reproduction. They use a type of DNA transfer, called Distributive Conjugal Transfer, to swap genes with other mycobacteria. After the genome is thoroughly mixed, the bacteria is able to replicate asexually. Because these organisms are able to obtain a “genetic blend” of DNA from parent bacteria (a type of quasi-sexual reproduction), and also replicate individually, it...

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Prion-like protein accumulation in brain cells helps explain Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases

             When looking at the damaged nerve cells of an Alzheimer’s patient under a microscope, one observes clumps of proteins that seem out of place.  Researchers have discovered these protein masses behave much like prions – malformed proteins normally found in healthy neurons.  These contorted proteins in turn cause like proteins to misfold and bind to one another, resulting in a chain reaction or cascade that destroys entire regions of th...

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Antibiotic resistant bacteria chemically communicate resistance to less-resistant bacteria

  A new study conducted by El-Halfawy and Valvano has demonstrated how resistance to antibiotics can be communicated to other less resistant bacteria through secreted chemicals. They investigated the mechanism of resistance to a bactericide, polymyxin-B (PmB), in resistant strains of Burkholderia cenocepacia, a species that causes severe infections in patients with cystic fibrosis.   

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