Archive for October, 2011

The fastest sneeze on record if 115 mph!

The Upside of Allergies

Are you one of those unfortunate souls who suffers from allergies? Do you shudder at the thought of spring time, with all its budding flowers, new growth and pollen flying through the air? Can’t visit Aunty Annie’s house because of the cat dander? Have to ask the ingredients of every cookie for traces of nuts, eggs, or wheat?

Well you may actually be one of the lucky ones! Your immune system’s sensitivity may be protecting you from contracting brain cancer.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago asked over 1,000 hospital patients about their allergy histories. Astonishingly, patients who had high-grade More >


Back in February, I blogged about a patient who received a bone marrow transplant, from an HIV-immune donor, that cured both his leukemia and AIDS.  I mentioned that while bone marrow transplants were impractical as a primary treatment for AIDS, I suggested that perhaps gene therapy tactics could be employed to achieve the same effect.  For the first time, scientists at Sangamo BioSciences have shown that this may actually be possible.

HIV infects white blood cells by latching onto two protein receptors, CD4 and CCR5.  Scientists noticed that people with a defect in the CCR5 gene (a 32-bp deletion) are incapable of More >

Pinus strobus EOL

The Encyclopedia of Life

Documenting the biological diversity of our planet is a challenging task. It implies information collection and organization of millions of species, their genetic diversity and their interactions in biological communities and ecosystems. It also implies coordination among multiple institutions and thousands of scientists, environmentalists, and professionals working with biodiversity.

In 2007, Dr. Edward O. Wilson’s speech as the recipient of the TED Prize potentiated the creation of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an international effort to gather together all human knowledge of Earth’s biodiversity.  EOL’s mission is “to increase awareness and understanding of living nature through an encyclopedia that gathers, generates, More >



What do you think of when someone says virus?  Most people would say infection, getting sick, germs, and other negative associations.  Not only are viruses a valuable tool in research, they offer a look into history and also our own bodies.  I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with learning more about them.  Part of it is that I thought I knew more than I did.  There is a huge amout of information just waiting to be uncovered.  Too often we think we know something and it prevents us from learnng more.  Even something simple like having the chicken pox…

I remember More >


Glow Kitties for Disease Resistance

Who would have known that a little glowing jellyfish would come to mean so much?  In the 60’s and 70’s a Japanese scientist named Osamu Shimomura isolated a protein from the pacific jellyfish (Aequorea Victoria) that allowed the jellyfish to glow.  This cylinder-shaped protein is now called Green Fluorescent Protein or “GFP.”  Shimomura also uncovered the part of the GFP molecule that was responsible for its fluorescence.  After this initial discovery, other researchers began to show an interest in the little glowing molecule, especially, Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien. 

Martin Chalfie began attaching GFP to gene promoters, hoping that GFP would More >