Red Wine is Fine for Your Microbiome

The role of the human microbiome in health and disease is under massive investigation by scientists world-wide, especially the gut microbiome. There are great individual differences in the composition of the gut microbiome, which is defined as the number of different types of bacteria present and the relative quantities of each type.  Certain difference in [...]

Good News about Papillomavirus-Induced Cancer

The idea that cervical cancer might be caused by a human papillomaviruses (HPVs) was first proposed by Professor Harald zur Hausen, a German physician and virologist, in 1976.  Subsequent research over the next two decades confirmed this hypothesis and led to a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Dr. zur Hausen in 2008. We [...]

A New Factor in Pancreatic Cancer?

Around 60,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Unfortunately, about 75% of the newly diagnosed will live less than 1 year, leading to around 45,000 deaths per year. Overall, the 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is only 9%. A big reason for this low survival rate is [...]

The Season of the Prize

The Nobel Prize season starts today with the 2019 award in Physiology or Medicine. This year’s prize goes to three individuals, two Americans and a Brit, for their work on how the body maintains homeostasis during changes in oxygen levels. Drs. William G. Kaelin Jr. (Harvard University), Peter J. Ratcliffe (Oxford University), and Gregg L. [...]

Is There Life On Mars?

The Red Planet has fascinated almost anyone who’s ever scanned the nighttime sky and wondered about the universe beyond our tiny planet. Science fiction has long proposed advanced civilizations on this planet from H. G. Well’s “The War of the Worlds” (1897) through Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series (1912-1941) to classic golden age syfy such [...]

Polio – Another Step Backwards

Briefly last week there were headlines about a small number of polio cases found in the Philippines, a country declared polio free in 2000. While a few cases in another country may not seem very alarming, these cases starkly reflect a global public health failure. Polio is a very contagious viral infection that is usually [...]

Obesity – Are Ultraprocessed Foods the Culprit?

Polls have shown that weight loss is the most common New Year's resolution. The average weight of Americans has steadily increased over the last several decades with an estimated 71% of us now classified as overweight and nearly 40% of us considered obese. Fad diets and multiple theories abound, often with little or no basis [...]

The Microbiome – Your Nearest and Dearest Neighbors

A microbiome can be defined as all the microorganisms, e.g. bacteria and viruses, which occupy a specific niche or ecological location. For humans, our microbiome is the sum total of all the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies. The vast majority of work on the human microbiome has focused on the bacteria that co-inhabit our bodies. [...]

Hominins and Hominids

Everyone is interested in their ancestors, some people are just interested much further back than others. A recent paper in Nature describes the characterization of the most complete skull fossil ever found for Australopithecus anamensis.  Anamensis is one of the 5 species of Australopithecus, the genus that is believed to have given rise to Homo [...]

Can Aging be Reversed?

Living longer and being healthier into old age are important goals for most people. Certainly the availability of medications for many conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, greatly improves health and longevity. Coupled with an increased awareness of the need for a healthy life style (exercise, nutrition, weight control), medical advances have greatly [...]