Allergies/autoimmunity

Category archives for Allergies/autoimmunity

On Thursday, I had a post published on Scientific American’s guest Blog about claims that genetically modified food crops could contain allergens. In it, I am critical of the Union of Concerned Scientists (a science advocacy and policy organization), for what I read as misplaced opposition to genetic engineering: The UCS’s concern about the dire state of…

Every time I see an ad for some remedy that “Helps BOOST the Immune System!”  I die a little inside. It’s not just that these products are often homeopathic bull*, but (as I’ve mentioned before), boosting the immune system can actually be a terrible idea. The immune system is a finely tuned instrument, and too much can…

The vast majority of funding for biological research in the US comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and as a result, most of our grants are written in a way that plays up the clinical importance of our work. Some variant of the phrase, This research has implications in the treatment/prevention of [insert…

In honor of the great Scienceblogs migration, and inspired by Ethan’s wonderful post about the migration of the universe, I thought I would talk about something on a smaller scale: cell migration. The scale is small, but the problem is huge. Most of your organs are locked in place – your heart never needs to…

Immunity to Spunk

At the risk of seeming like a one-trick pony, and piggybacking on my recent appearance on the Savage Lovecast, I thought I would close the loop on immune reactions to semen. I’ve already written about allergens being transmitted in semen, and about women having allergies to seminal plasma itself. In the latter case, I say…

In case anyone landed here after listening to this week’s Savage Lovecast, I wanted to point you in the right direction. Please be gentle – that was my first time being interviewed for anything like that, so I was a bit of a nervous wreck. For the uninitiated – a couple of weeks ago on…

Allergies 101: Part the Third

I know this post has been a long time coming. In the first part of this series, I told you that allergies are the result of an immune response against an external, but normally not harmful substance. In part 2, I told you that allergies are the result of a specific type of immune response…

Allergies 101 – Part deux

Earlier this week, I wrote a little bit about what causes allergic symptoms – your immune system confuses pollen (or some other allergen) for a worm, and then arms your granulocytic grenades to explode every time you come into contact with it. But why does this confusion happen? This is a bit more complicated.

Allergies 101

One of my favorite places on the internet is r/askscience, a place on reddit where people come and ask questions, and a panel of scientists answer. People can ask follow-up questions, and there is often some great back-and forth (to be honest, part of the reason I haven’t been writing as much here is because…

While researching Wednesday’s post, I ran into a number of strange case studies. They didn’t quite fit into that post, but I thought they were too interesting to ignore. If you’re interested, follow me down the pubmed rabbit hole.