Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Tag Archive for ‘infection’

Resisting bird flu

I just read an interesting article from the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association that explained why human cells are typically quite resistant to bird flu. Bird flu (H5N1, H7N9, H5N6) does not readily spread between infected humans. In fact, most outbreaks involve only a handful to a few hundred individuals. But, on occasion, the infection can spread more easily leading to a pandemic. New research […]

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Bee sting therapy – revisited

Bee sting therapy has been getting a lot of buzz lately. I have received a lot of questions about applications of so-called apitherapy to conditions other than multiple sclerosis, which we discussed awhile back. Let’s review the more recent evidence… While the practice of apitherapy dates back 5000+ years, only recently has this potential therapy been scientifically investigated. According to a recent review, bee venom has several peptides as well […]

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Antibiotic resistance impacting wildlife

Bottlenose dolphins and humans have a lot in common…at least when it comes to developing resistance to antibiotics. After looking at over 700 pathogens collected from 171 wild Bottlenose dolphins captured in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida, researchers discovered that 88.2% of the pathogens were resistant to at least one antibiotic. The pathogens were especially resistant to erythromycin (91.6%) and ampicillin (77.3%). The animals were likely exposed to antibiotics […]

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Ants ‘nurse’ their injured

A study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland shows that Matabele ants, Megaponera analis, lick wounds their comrades sustain while hunting termites. It is thought that this “nurse”-like behavior may help prevent infection as ants receiving such care are more likely to survive: Sources: Youtube / New Scientist Frank ET, Wehrhahn M, Linsenmair KE. Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2457  

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Viral defenses are encoded in their genes, but not ours

Through the course of evolution vertebrates have apparently lost their gene-encoded viral defense mechanisms. These ancient defenses allow plants and insects to silence the expression of certain genes by using what is known as RNA interference. This natural defense system can be manipulated to create genetically modified crops that resist certain infections. However, a new study by researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium examined over 40 organisms in […]

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Sponging up bacterial infections

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a pretty scary thing, which is why researchers are working so hard to come up with new and creative ways to fight them off. Take for example nanosponges. In a presentation from the Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago last month, researchers from the University of California in San Diego are testing the use of nanosponges (shown on the right in the figure below) to bind and inactivate […]

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