Field of Science

Goodbye FoS, thanks for all the laughs

Moving house again…

Well almost, moving addresses anyway. It wasn’t that long ago I moved from Disease of the Week to here at Disease Prone to take advantage of an offer from Field of Science. While I have been super happy here, an amazing opportunity has opened up for me to move the blog over to the Scientific American’s new community and so now I can be found at Disease Prone. I know a few others from FoS are moving too and I’ll let them say their own goodbyes but for me, I wanted to say a big thank you to FoS, it’s bloggers, readers and admin for helping me set up and being so supportive when this offer was extended to me.

At some point in the future this page may be removed so if you would like to continue following me you can find me here at SciAm with my new RSS feed or here on Facebook or here on Twitter.

Thanks FoS, I’ll see you ‘round.

No door? No problem. T. cruzi uses the window to cause Chagas Disease

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For invasive pathogens the only way to survive, and consequently make you sick, is to get inside your cells. This is a rough exercise as you have an immune system working everywhere in the body to prevent this and the cell to be invaded is none too happy with the idea either so invasive pathogens must use tricks.

After evading or surviving the immune system, another post for another day, some exploit a mechanism called receptor mediated endocytosis (RME), in which the pathogen binds to a receptor on the cell triggering the cell to alter its shape to internalise the pathogen. RME is used by cells to recycle extracellular components but it a pathogen can make itself fit the receptor instead it can trick the cell into giving it free access to its insides.

Another mechanism, commonly employed by membrane bound viruses, is membrane fusion. Given that membrane bound viruses contain a secondary structure called the nucleocapsid, which houses the genome, they can fuse their own membranes with the host cell which results in the nucleocapsid's release into the cytoplasm.

(a) HIV entry by fusion and (b) receptor mediated endocytosis of light blue dots ((a) modified from credit and (b) modified from credit

Anti-cancer Fungi

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Mycology, the study of fungi, is an often-overlooked member of the microbiology family. Having said that there are plenty of dedicated mycologists out there doing all sorts of cool stuff and plenty more fungal species doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things.

I have written about fungi before but only in the recent zombie posts and I feel I may have been a bit negative on fungi. Particularly when they seem to be capable of much good.

To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo

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Is it something you should do or is it taboo? What about a tattoo of a kazoo?

Okay, I'll stop now.

Recently I’ve been considering getting another tattoo or more work done to complement my existing tattoo. Its not terribly scientific like the Carl Zimmer’s Science Tattoo Emporium but it does mean something to me. I think I’ll probably wait until I finish my PhD, which means I’m looking at getting it in about a year.

Ignore my camera in the top left, the tattoo is too close to my shoulder making it very difficult to get it of of shot. Anyway, it's a raven.

Treating the Bends
Last week I wrote about the Bends, a medical problem based in an understanding of physics that results in bubbles of (primarily) nitrogen in your blood if you move from one atmospheric pressure to another to quickly, typically surfacing from depth while diving too fast.

Of course I meant to point out that decompression occurs when the external atmospheric pressure drops quickly. Most commonly this occurs in divers but also happens in astronauts. I’d never really thought about that before.

Anyway I got as far as explaining how it occurs last time. This time we are interested in how you fix it.

Physics + Medicine = The Bends
About a fortnight ago I was in the unusual position of teaching human biology to medical physicists and physics to medical students. Interestingly, during this overlapping week a disease came up in both tutes, a physics based medical condition.

Rain becomes a drizzle

Oh how I'd love to write up a blog post right now.

Instead I can barely see over the pile of 1st year undergraduate reports on Photosynthesis and next to that pile is another pile of worksheets on agarose gel electrophoresis. I also have thesis corrections and a thousand other little things to do. Oh, and from where I'm sitting I can see that I might even need to mow the lawn before it rains. So while I want to blog it just 'aint going to happen today.

Even though today is 'out' I have some really cool posts in the pipeline so we will see what I can organise for next week.

For now its back to my cup of tea to read attempts by first year students to convince me that photosynthesis occurs in the mitochondria and provides the cell with an unending supply of boiled candies...

I'm more disappointed at my inability to blog than this puppy (Credit: honzasterba)