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Bacterial Warfare


Did you know that infectious diseases are the second leading cause of death worldwide and that bacteria are well represented among the killers? The Art of Bacterial Warfare by Brett Finlay is an article written about the fact that bacterial pathogens multiply and make toxins inside human hosts and why they elude our defenses and deliver their poisons.
To live in our bodies, bacteria will hijack our cells and work in them to serve their own purposes. Toxins that come from the bacteria are one of the sources of illness that they produce. Another is that some bacterial infections come directly from their ways of staying alive. The first step in a bacterial attack is the attachment to the host’s cells. Then the bacteria will inject their toxins to do the dirty work. But not all bacteria can affect a cell just by attaching itself to it. Some bacteria, such as Salmonella, must pass through epithelial cells that line the intestine. Most cells would normally destroy any invading bacteria but some bacteria are smart enough to get through. To thrive in a body, the bacteria need to do more than manipulate the cell and outwit immune system defences. They also have to out-compete the body’s normal, friendly bacteria. One of the most obvious ways to get rid of the competition is to cause diarrhoea and thereby flush the opponents out of the body, at least temporarily. The unfortunate thing about the bacteria with infections is that they reproduce and multiply. This makes it more difficult to get rid of them. On a good note, of all the tens of thousands of known bacterial species, only about 100 break the rules of peaceful coexistence and make us sick.

Finlay, B. (2010). The art of bacterial warfare.Scientific Americanfa=Products.ViewIssuePreview&ARTICLEID_CHAR=487784CF-237D-9F22-E8771B36B2B2E40D
, Retrieved from http://www.sciamdigital.com/index.cfm?

Post #1 (Individual)
21st Century Stem Cell Con Men

The 60 Minute Episode 21st Century Cons with the story of Mr. Stowe, Mr. Morales and several patients of theirs that they've done nothing but hurt:

Since the discovery of stem cells in the 1960’s, scientists have been busy with the incredible theory that stem cells may one day be used to cure serious diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes, Heart disease, Cancer, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) etcetera -that presently have no cure. Unfortunately, there has been cases in different parts of the world where ‘doctors’ are convincing people that stem cells are a cure today to get money. One case was investigated by the television show, 60 Minutes last year.

Larry Stowe founded Stowe Biotherapy, a treatment center that guarantees a 100% cure of the disease ALS. ALS is a degenerative neuromuscular disease that quickly progresses and destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The rapid destruction soon begins to affect motor skills and basic movements while preserving the mind and the ability to see, hear, touch, feel and taste. It is quite a tragic disease. Larry Stowe worked with a man named Frank Morales. Larry hosted the meetings at his office and once he conned the patients into agreeing to get the treatment, he sent them to Mexico- to Frank Morales. After learning that Stowe and Morales were charging the patients $100 000+ for the treatments, 60 Minutes actually found out that Frank Morales wasn’t even a real doctor and his certificate was fake. These type of men use the fact that because stem cells are new to our knowledge, most people don’t have a very good idea about stem cells and what they are and aren’t capable of. They may have only heard about their awesomeness and not why they are awesome. The fact is, there may one day be a stem cell based cure for ALS and other diseases, but this scam isn’t one of them.

Stem cells are sometimes given a bad reputation because of men like Stowe and Morales but although they aren’t being used as cures yet, they are a gateway into potential cures. It is true that one of the most exciting areas of research into curing ALS is stem cell therapy. Because of federal restrictions and the difficulty of designing studies, there have not been many studies on the treatment of ALS with stem cells. There has been some, however, and they have been encouraging. Researchers have found that stem cell treatment on mice with ALS has delayed the motor neuron degeneration and that it is safe to inject bone-marrow-derived stem cells into human ALS patients!

Alleged medical fraud in la mesa, california, by stowe biotherapy selling stem cell cure for als. (2010, September 13). Retrieved from http://angiemedia.com/2010/09/13/alleged-medical-fraud-in-la-mesa-california-by-stowe-biotherapy-selling-stem-cell-cure-for-als

Rowland, Lewis P., & Shneider, Neil A. (2001). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The New England Journal of Medecine, Unknown. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200105313442207?hits=10&andorexactfulltext=and&FIRSTINDEX=430&FIRSTINDEX=430&SEARCHID=1&searchid=1&COLLECTION_NUM=32&resourcetype=HWCIT&resourcetype=HWCIT&andorexacttitleabs=and&

Pelly, Scott (Actor). (2010). 21st Century Cons[Web]. Available from http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357912n&tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

The Wondrous Apoptosis


Apoptosis! This is a term used to describe the general normal death of a cell in living organisms. Apoptosis is a normal and constant process in the body as cells are always regenerating. For example, human embryos have way more cells that adult humans do. So as the embryo develops, cells are selected for death so that normal development takes place. If the cells do not go through
apoptosis, they may cause deformity in the embryo.

Apoptosis has several stages:
o During the first stage, the cell starts to become round as a result of the protein in the cell that is being eaten by enzymes that are active in the cell.

o Next, the DNA in the nucleus starts to come apart and shrink. The membrane surrounding the nucleus begins to degrade and ultimately no longer forms the layering around the cell’s nucleus.

o As the nucleus of the cell is no longer protected, the cell’s DNA breaks in uneven fragments.

o The cell goes through a process called BLEBBING- where parts of the cell begin to break off.

o Finally, the cell is completely broken into pieces and is consumed by small cells called phagocytes. We learned about phagocytes in class. They are the little cells (ex: white blood cells) that envelop themselves around a particle and push the particle into them (engulfing). There is a danger if this final step of phagocytic digestion in apoptosis is not completed. The undigested fragments can accumulate in the body and cause death.

The study of apoptosis had become important and most of our current understanding of cell death is the result of studies conducted in the 1990’s and in present day. Being able to induce apoptosis is desirable when attempting to kill tumor tissue. Apoptosis should not be confused with necrosis (cell death through disease or infection).

Christensen, T. E. (2011). What is apoptosis?. Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-apoptosis.htm

Post #2 (individual)


*The first picture is of a frog spawn in my pool. We left the cover off of it this winter and a couple frogs got in and now there is hundreds of these spawns. The second picture is just one on the ground outside our gate. It’s kind of gross but really cool.

ONE THIRD OF THE WORLD’S KNOWN AMPHIBIANS ARE IN DANGER OF GOING EXTINCT! We only know of 6,260 species, so that is a lot of lost animals. The main factor of this is the fact of ongoing destruction of the habitats of these animals but there is another main killer and it is called chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). Recently, scientists have found a symbiotic bacteria living on the amphibians skin that can protect them from this deadly fungal disease. An experiment took place in the summer of 2010 where scientists collected samples of this symbiotic bacteria and cultured them in a lab to use the product to inoculate frogs in California’s Sierra Nevada to see if it would stop chytrid in the wild.
Chytrid was first identified in 1999 as a fungal zoospore. It is estimated that it accounts for the extinction of 200 species.
In fact, biologist Vance Vredenburg at San Fransisco State University compared chytrid’s devastating arrival to the emergence of HIV in humans. He believes that, like HIV, the disease was sometime in the past, endemic to a limited population. The African clawed frog for example carries chytrid but does not die from it. African clawed frogs were once raised in captivities in the 1940’2s because they were used for pregnancy tests. After being supplanted by modern technology, they were just released. Now there are feral populations of this African frog everywhere in the United States.

Rex, E. (2010). Skin fight: could bacteria carried by amphibians save them from extinction?. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=skin-fight-bacteria-frogs

Post #3 (Individual)
Earth’s Climate and Infectious Disease


Climatologists now believe that the changes in Earth’s climate are threatening to create a potential PLAGUE of infectious diseases. The relation between Earth and the climate is highly controversial according to public health, climate and medicine experts. It is believed that rising temperatures of Earth will increase the number of mosquitoes that can transmit malaria among humans and that it is time to start trying to develop real-world strategies to curtail the potential pandemics before they start. It is not an easy task because modeling the global climatic shifts has proved to be really difficult. It is too hard to establish predictions about how infectious diseases like malaria or Lyme disease are likely to spread. Many researchers quickly point out that climate is not the only force at work in increasing the spread of these infectious diseases for the future. The other factors like expanded rapid travel are already changing the way pathogens infect people, plants and animals. Populations increasingly subject to massive migration and malnutrition are the obvious groups more at danger.

Harmon, K. (2010). Climate change will impact infectious diseases worldwide, but questions remain as to how. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=climate-change-will-impact-infectio-2010-03-03

Post #4 (Individual)
Cancers Influenced by our Environment


Traces of chemicals that we know can cause cancer are everywhere. Did you know that more than SIXTY PERCENT of U.S. cancer deaths are caused by smoking and poor diets? It is a decade old estimate that six percent of cancer deaths are due to environmental exposures but we know now that this statistic is outdated and far too low. From the beginning of life to the end of life, people everywhere are exposed to countless carcinogens in their food, the air, water and consumer goods. Benzene, a known cause of human leukemia, is a common pollutant in vehicle exhaust. Radon, a natural radioactive gas found in many homes, raises the risk of lung cancer. Arsenic, linked to skin, liver, bladder and lung cancer, contaminates drinking water supplies. 10,000 deaths per year are linked to environmental exposers. The reason that it is so difficult to pin down how many cancers are cause by the environment is that studies that allow the scientists to link human cancers to an environmental pollutant are rare opportunities. Scientists need a setting where they can be absolutely certain about what and when people were exposed to something and then meet up with the patient many years later since cancer takes a long time to develop. Humans aren’t lab rats, they tend to move around so this is why we can’t be sure of what they are exposed to. If you ask someone about their smoking habits, they will have no trouble telling you. But if you ask a person about being exposed to benzene, chlorinated solvents or pesticides, they probably won’t know.

Israel, B. (2010). How many cancers are caused by the environment?. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-many-cancers-are-caused-by-the-environment&page=4

Post #5 (Individual)
Dark Matter


Ordinary matter (all that we can see, smell and touch) makes up just a fraction, possibly only FOUR percent, of the universe. The rest comes from a dark sector called dark matter or dark energy. Dark matter is a mysterious and pervasive energy that is suspected of speeding the universe’s expansion. Dark matter refuses to emit or interact with light in any way that we can see and is nearly six times as widespread as regular ordinary matter. But for all its mysteriousness, it is often said to be fairly bland. It is sort of a galactic deadweight and only reveals itself through its gravitational pull. Dark matter is forcing galaxies farther and farther apart, stretching space faster and faster. If unchecked, this mystery force could be the death of the universe, tearing even its atoms apart.

Matson, J. (2008). New theories may shed light on dark matter. Scientific American, Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=new-theories-dark-matter

Post #6 (Individual)
What's for dinner mom? Jellyfish.

aquapict-jellyfish-tank-led.jpg jellyfish.jpg

Did you know that you can eat jellyfish?! Jellyfish are popular to eat in Asian countries. They can be considered a delicacy in countries like Japan, Korea and China. Jellyfish can be prepared and cooked in many ways with different flavours and textures. They have a bland taste but if seasoned properly, they can convey the taste of the seasoning. Also, jellyfish are considered to be a healthy and nutritious food and is considered a health food because it is less in calories and not much cholesterol (calorie content of about 4 ounces of jellyfish is only 30). There is also no saturated fats or carbs. The protein in some jellyfish such as the Cannonball Jellyfish is also high and rich in collagen, which is the basic body building substance. Jellyfish should always be stored in the refrigerator and like any meat, should be kept separate from other foods when it is raw to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria. The best way to cook it is to soak it overnight in the fridge and then blanch it, before seasoning.

Anonymous. (2011). Can you eat jellyfish?. Retrieved from http://www.jellyfishfacts.net/can-you-eat-jellyfish.html

Post #7 (Individual)


In south-eastern Morocco, fossils of a 3.3 foot prehistoric predator have been found! It is the largest of its kind. Early findings of this evolutionary line that led to modern crustaceans look sort of like shrimp or cuttlefish. The difference is that these fossil creatures had spiny limbs sprouting from the heads as well as having circular plated mouths which opened and closed like the diaphragm of a camera. Because they are the largest scientists have found, the new shrimp or “anomalocaridids” suggest that these segmented animals have grew into bigger sizes than ever imagined. "It would have made enough scampi to feed an army for a month—it was giant, and no doubt very tasty," quipped study co-author Derek Briggs, director of the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. These fossils are surprisingly young, dating back to “only” 488-472 million years ago.

Dell'Amore, C. (2011). 3-foot "shrimp" discovered—dominated prehistoric seas. National Geographic, Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110526-giant-sea-fossils-science-nature-briggs-anomalocaridids/

Post #8 (Individual)


The arctic fox is a really interesting animal because it can survive super freezing arctic weather with temperatures low as -58 degees Celsius. The Arctic fox has a wonderful white coat that act as a very effective winter camouflage. What’s cool is that when the seasons change, their fur coat will change as well. It changes a brown or gray color to provide better cover among the summer tundra’s rocks. This fox has furry soles, short ears, and a short muzzle which are all important adaptations to the frigid climate. To keep warm, they live in burrows and in blizzards they will tunnel into the snow to create shelter. The colors of their fur help them hunt rodents, birds and fish. In the winter, the fox has a difficult time finding food but will follow around a polar bear eating its leftovers. These foxes will even eat vegetables if they are available. Like a cat, their tail helps it keep balance but it also helps with keeping warm in cold weather.

Anonymous, . (2011). Arctic fox. National Geographic, Retrieved from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/arctic-fox/?source=A-to-Z

Post #9 (Individual)


Australians and New Zealanders refer to the Axolotl as the Mexican Walking Fish. But the Axolotl is not a fish, it is an amphibian, a salamander, part of the order Caudata/Urodela. Because it's a salamander, it's part of one of the three branches of class Amphibia, and the mainly eel-like order, Gymnophiona, which are also known as the Caecilians. Axolotls of various colours occur in captivity, including grey, shades of brown, white with black eyes, golden albino, white albino, as well as other varieties, such as the melanoid (a near-black animal). The normally coloured axolotl, the wild type, can be near-black, chocolate brown or even creamy in colour, and anywhere in between.
The name "Axolotl" comes from the Aztec language, "Nahuatl". One of the most popular translations of the name connects the Axolotl to the god of deformations and death, Xolotl, while the most commonly accepted translation is "water-dog" (from "atl" for water, and "xolotl", which can also mean dog).
The axolotl is fully capable of complete limb re-growth. The animal has the added scientific attraction of having especially large embryos, making it easier to deal with in laboratory conditions. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva and finally to adult form. The Axolotl, remains in its larval form throughout its life. This means that it retains its gills and fins, and it doesn't develop the protruding eyes, eyelids and characteristics of other adult salamanders. It grows much larger than a normal larval salamander, and it reaches sexual maturity in this larval stage. Another term to describe this state is "perennibranchiate". The animal is completely aquatic, and although it does possess rudimentary lungs, it breathes primarily through its gills and to a lesser extent, its skin.

Kun, . (2011, March 27). Fish that walks- mexican axolotl salamander amphibian. Retrieved from http://24sevenpost.com/paranormal/fish-that-walks-mexican-axolotl-salamander-amphibian/

Anonymous, . (2011). Mexican axolotl. Retrieved from http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/axolotl/

Post #10 (Individual)Eyelash Mites
Every person has over 200 lashes on each eye. So they have become a prime breeding ground for bacteria and dangerous bacteria. These mites live in your eyelash follicles. They feed on sebaceous excretion and dead skin cells. At night time, they come out to mate and then return to the lash follicle to LAY EGGS! When the eggs hatch, there are eyelash mites everywhere in your lashes. Demodex folliculorum (the demodicid) is the tiny mite that is less than 0.4 mm long and lives in our pores and hair follicles. You can find them in the forehead, cheeks, chin, nose and roots of eyelashes. These mites have a worm-like appearance with stump legs. People with really oily skin or don’t wash their face enough after using heavy cosmetics have the most infestations. This can be bad because inflammation and infection often result when huge numbers of these mites come together in a single follicle. A female may lay up to 25 eggs in a single follicle so when they grow, they become tightly packed. When they mature to adult, these mites leave the follicle. This all takes place within 14 to 18 days. The tiny mites have tiny claws and tiny needlelike mouthparts for eating skin cells. Their bodies are layered with scales that help them anchor themselves in the follicle.

Almost nothing gets the mites out, even if you try rubbing your eyes really hard. Washing your closed eyes with baby shampoo can help keep the numbers down. They do not do any harm really unless there are too many in one follicle. The worst that will happen is the eyelash will become lose and fall out easily. One good thing is that the eyelash mites do not have excretory exits so there is no eyelash mite poop getting in our eyes!

Anonymous, . (2008, May 22). Eyelash mites, yes you do have them. Retrieved from http://people.tribe.net/annann/blog/b08bb5ee-726e-44b1-8c5a-bf89b7303c0f