Immunology

While an alarming number of wealthy people think organic food contains no chemicals, the opposite is true. Not only is everything chemical, the most organic of organic Thanksgiving meals is stuffed full of mutagens and carcinogens, at least in environmental toxicology studies on rats.

But in the real world, outside environmental fundraising, Thanksgiving dinner is not only harmless, it might even be beneficial. The turkey Americans eat on Thursday contains Strain 115, which produces the MP1 antibiotic that targets staph infections, strep throat, severe gastrointestinal diseases and roughly half of all infectious bacteria.


If you read the marketing claims for probiotics and supplements, and an alarming number of papers that have made spurious claims to feed the fad, you might think gut bacteria were the magic bullet for a lot of diseases.

A new paper says they even determine whether or not your jeans fit this week. Pizza and exercise are hereby absolved. Instead, the  types of microbes that grow in our body, influenced by our genetic makeup, influences whether we are fat or thin, according to a paper in Cell.

The structure of an asymmetrical ABC transporter complex has been determined with the aid of a high-resolution cryo-electron microscope.

ABC transporters cause bacteria and other pathogens to become resistant to antibiotics. They can also help cancer cells to defend themselves against cytostatic agents and thus determine whether chemotherapy will succeed.   

"ABC transporters causes diseases such as cystic fibrosis, while on the other hand they are responsible for the immune system recognising infected cells or cancer cells," explains Professor Robert Tampé from the Institute for Biochemistry at the Goethe University. 


A serious epidemic of poliomyelitis that struck the Republic of the Congo in 2010 has been identified as a vaccine-resistant strain of polio.

The epidemic affected 445 people in the city of Pointe-Noire, the economic capital of the country, killing almost half of them. The researchers fear the emergence of other strains against which vaccines would have little effect.

Ebola is causing a lot of concern, a few instances in the United States were enough to lead to calls to overthrow the FDA vaccine approval process and the White House declared that the United States Department of Health and Human Services was unqualified to manage a handful of cases in America so they put a lawyer in charge as an Ebola czar. The National Institutes of Health said they could not fix the problem with the $330 billion they have gotten since 2001 but they are just exploiting an outbreak for personal gain also. In reality, the impact of disease outbreaks has been declining on a per capita basis for decades.



Flying by Shutterstock

By Stephen Goldstein, University of Pennsylvania

Not everyone who contracts the Ebola virus dies, the survival rate is actually around 30%, which means some kind of immunity to the disease is possible.

Experimental treatments and vaccines against Ebola exist but there was little interest from governments in streamlining the bureaucracy before the recent outbreak, so they have not undergone phase 2 trials - the U.S. Congress did add $90 million to the $29 billion budget of the National Institutes of Health after Director Francis Collins said money was the thing that had prevented a vaccine in the past


Antibiotics are a part of nature, as is antibiotic resistance. A study on how a powerful antibiotic agent gets made in nature solved a decades-old mystery and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules.

The team focused on a class of compounds that includes dozens with antibiotic properties. The most famous of these is nisin, a natural product in milk that can be synthesized in the lab and is added to foods as a preservative. Nisin has been used to combat food-borne pathogens since the late 1960s.



Your second brain? Credit: hey__paul, CC BY

By Clio Korn, University of Oxford