Nobel for CRISPR

I just wanted to add my congratulations to the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners, Drs. Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier. Only the 6th and 7th women to receive the Chemistry Nobel Prize, Doudna and Charpentier received the award for making the bacterial CRISPR/Cas9 system into the most powerful genetic tool of the 21st century. [...]

Human Gene Editing – Is the Future Now?

Many human diseases are the result of genetic errors, commonly called mutations. You can think of the four nucleotides (A, C, T, and G) that comprise our DNA as the letters of our genetic alphabet with these nucleotide letters making up our genes which are the “words” of our genome. Mutations result from changes in [...]

In Other Viral News

While SARS-CoV-2 continues to dominate our news and daily lives, research on other important viruses continues unabated in research labs around the world. An important recent paper in Nature Communications used multiple approaches to decode the genome of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 causes oral lesions commonly known as “cold sores” or “fever [...]

On a Hot Summer Night ….

It’s August, and if you live in Texas like I do it’s the season to sweat. Unfortunately, along with sweat comes odor, particularly in the armpit (the axilla region). Certain hairy regions of the body, such as the armpit and groin, contain apocrine glands whose physiological function in humans remains poorly understood. The apocrine glands [...]

COVID-19 Update – The Kinase Connection

Vaccines are a critical factor for stopping the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as vaccines will help protect uninfected individuals, contribute to herd immunity, and restrict the spread of the virus. However, even after successful vaccines are developed it could take years to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses, to distribute them throughout the world, and to vaccinate [...]

How Likely Are Intelligent Aliens?

As the COVID19 pandemic surges into the summer months with no end in sight, it’s sometimes nice to forget about the virus completely and ponder other subjects, like the possible existence of intelligent alien life forms in our galaxy. As both a scientist and a long-time science fiction fan, I’ve often wondered about sentient alien [...]

Ginger As A Microbiome Modulator

Derived from the root of the flowering Zingiber officinale plant, ginger is a common spice that also has a long history as a medicinal botanical. Much of its medicinal effect has been attributed to a natural oil called gingerol that has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation and oxidation are risk factors that promote many [...]

Hayflick’s Lament Revisited

Many of us desire to live longer, but we also want to remain healthy and be physically and mentally strong. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle can contribute to health and longevity, but there is a limit to what even the healthiest of choices can do to stop the biological deterioration of our bodies over time. In [...]

Coronavirus Update – A Vaccine Primer

Vaccination is based on the concept of immune memory. When we encounter a new pathogen, we mount an immune response that helps us recover from the infection and also creates immune memory. This process typically takes 1-2 weeks to develop, so we often get sick before there is sufficient immunity to rid our bodies of [...]

One Small Step in the War on Plastic

“I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics.” Maybe some of you remember those prophetic lines from the 1976 movie “The Graduate”. Since that time plastics have become both the boon and the bane of our modern world. They are a cheap and easily adapted material used in nearly everything from [...]