Multiple Sclerosis – The Search Narrows

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a serious autoimmune disease that affects about 3 million people worldwide and over 900,000 in the United States. The disease symptoms are quite varied but typically begin between the ages of 20-40. Symptoms can include vision problems, impaired hearing, decreased taste and smell, headaches, weakness and fatigue, muscle tremors or pain, …

HIV 2022 – The Battle Continues

In 1982, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) coined the term Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) to describe a new disease that had appeared in the United States. Initially mysterious in its cause, AIDS was quickly shown to result from infection with a newly discovered virus (a discovery that eventually earned Dr. Luc Montagnier the 2008 …

Did Nature Put a “HEX” on Babies?

Pheromones are chemical compounds released by animals that trigger specific reactions in the recipient, such as mating behavior or aggression. These chemicals are in essence a form of nonverbal communication that is widespread from insects to mammals. However, while the existence of pheromones is well established in animals, it remains controversial for humans. Humans with …

Eliminating Cervical Cancer

In 1976, Harald zur Hausen, a German physician and researcher, first proposed that human papillomaviruses (HPVs) were the cause of cervical cancer. This hypothesis was controversial as the few known HPVs all caused benign skin warts. Additionally, many scientists believed that herpesviruses were implicated in cervical cancer and that the poorly studied HPVs were unlikely …

Viruses and Brain Disease

Humans may produce upwards of 100,000 proteins. Each different type of protein normally folds into a unique shape (its tertiary structure) that is essential to its function. Proteins can misfold due to mutations that change the amino acid sequence of the protein leading to a defective protein. Alternatively, sometimes a wild-type protein (the normal protein) …

Cognition and MicroRNAs

In a previous blog (Calculating Dementia), I wrote about an online health and lifestyle questionnaire that could predict your risk of dementia over the coming 5 year period. The algorithm behind the questionnaire was based on data from about 50,000 men and women in Canada. However, the algorithm didn’t take into account family history or …

A No Tail of Two Alus

Nearly all vertebrate animals, including most mammals, have a tail, making tails an almost universal appendage and seemingly a very handy one. Clearly, instructions for tail development must be embedded in the genetic makeup of a diverse range of animals. A prominent exception to this developmental pattern is the great apes (gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, and …

I Taste, Therefore I Reject

Science isn’t always about far-reaching ideas or solving major issues. Sometimes it’s just about trying to understand everyday problems like why don’t kids like vegetables, particularly those of genus Brassica. More commonly known as cruciferous vegetables, this group includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, radishes, and many others. Members of this group are low in …

A Nobel Prelude

The Lasker Foundation was created in 1945 by Mary and Albert Lasker to recognize and honor advances in medical science. Albert was an advertising executive and Mary was a powerful national advocate for medical research funding. Mary was especially ardent about cancer research, and her lobbying efforts helped pass the National Cancer Act in 1971. …

Microbes and Aging

The human digestive tract, primarily the colon, typically contains between 300 to 1000 different bacterial species, collectively known as our gut microbiome. Studies from the last 20 years have repeatedly shown important connections between the composition of our gut microbiome (i.e. the number of different species and the relative quantities of each species) and various …