infection

Tag archives for infection

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…

Researchers at George Mason University have created a synthetic version of a peptide found in the blood of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis). They dubbed the synthetic peptide DRGN-1. Living up to its name, DRGN-1 proved to be pretty tough against microbes (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) as well as biofilms. Bacteria stick together to create biofilms that attach to surfaces and help…

Heroic horseshoe crabs

The blue blood of horseshoe crabs contains a special chemical limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) that medical laboratories obtain from thousands of animals annually to detect bacterial infections in humans. The labs are only allowed to draw up to 30% of their blood once a year. Despite these precautions, researchers are becoming increasingly concerned that some…

The Poop Pill Cure for C. diff

You may recall a prior post about a dog that could smell when patients were infected with Clostridium difficile. C. difficile causes about 14,000 deaths per year in the United States. Recent breakthroughs in understanding gut microbes have led to the successful treatment of C. difficile  in patients. Fecal transplants, the transfer of feces from a healthy person,…

Estimating unknown viruses in mammals

An ambititous project seeks to identify all unknown viruses in mammals to determine the relative risk of infection to humans and to develop strategies to prevent and treat infections before they become pandemics. The pioneering research team is led by Dr. Simon Anthony at Columbia University and Dr. Peter Daszak from EcoHealth Alliance. The team started…

A study published in the European Journal of Personality suggests that humans infected with toxoplasmosis gondii are more extroverted compared to non-infected individuals. According to the CDC, roughly 22.5% of Americans over 12 are infected. The effects of the parasite are attributed to increased levels of dopamine in the brains of infected individuals. People can…