research

New Strategy to End Ancient War on Malaria

  Malaria is one of the most devastating infectious diseases in the world today. About 400 million people are infected each year and of those 1.2 million die. Efforts to control malaria have been held back by the lack of an effective vaccine, the alarming rapidity with which Plasmodium, the protozoan parasite, develops drug resistance, plus the failure to eradicate the Anopheles mosquito vector. Fresh approaches to fight malaria are urgently needed, to be used singly or perhaps in combination. One novel approach to a vaccine was recently discussed in this blog.   Formation of Plasmodium berghei (a rodent parasite) oocysts in culture. A. Ookinetes. B. Transforming ookinete and C. young oocysts. F. Transformation begins with a small hump on the outer edge of the ookinete. Transforming ookinetes (“tooks”) then take on a snail-like appearance (v). The entire population of ookinetes transform in 12–36 h, depending on nutrient availability. Source.   Plasmodium undergoes an unusually large number of lifestyle changes in its trip from the female mosquito to a human and back. This is one of the most complex life cycles extant, with so many details that it taxes one’s memory. Each one of the dozen or so stages is labeled with a fancy name and ought be a target for intervention but, for a host of reasons, that has proven elusive. However, the parasite is especially vulnerable in one stage, the transition from a cell called the ookinete to one named the oocyst, which...

Use of Pasteurized Bacterium to Safeguard Against Obesity

According to the World Health Organization, the rate of obesity has doubled since the 1980s, leaving more people at risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal issues, several types of cancer and premature death. Overweight individuals are those with a BMI at and over 25 and obesity occurs when BMI reaches 30 and higher. Both scenarios are generally caused by intake of high fat, energy dense foods and lack of physical activity.   Image: Source   Researchers in Belgium have recently isolated a protein that may stop the development of diabetes and obesity. If effective, this discovery would be huge as the CDC states that more than 36.5 percent of Americans are currently obese and that there are more than 29 million Americans with diabetes.  Akkermansia muciniphila is one of the normal bacterial floras of the gut. It typically resides in the mucosal layer and scientists noted that obese mice generally had lower levels present compared to healthy mice.   Source: Microbiology Society   Beginning in 2015, research began to introduce new levels of the bacteria to determine metabolic significance and a reduction in metabolic symptoms was noted.  The focus then turned to human use and methods to make it most effective were investigated. Pasteurization was used, as it allows the properties of the sensitive bacteria to be maintained while allowing it to be more suitable for human application. They found,...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #7: How Food Shapes Our Cities

Where does food come from? Given the billions of people in the world, with millions concentrated in big cities, do we really know how we feed so many people with so much food everyday? And what insight can ancient cities and their structures provide into the food networks that keep the human species fed today? Listen in to Carolyn Steel in her TED talk below for answers to these questions and more.     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and...

Millennials, Back At It Again: Changing The Healthcare Industry

The term “millennials” is in no shortage these days, referring to the generation reaching young adulthood around the millennium. With just a simple Google search, you can find thousands of articles about millennials, usually involving social media, job hopping, or the “me” generation.   There is no doubt that times are changing and, apparently, millennials have a large part in that shift. Well, I should say technology is the real catalyst for the change and with a rising technology-obsessed generation, several industries are seeing some major impacts. Just a few examples include the food, retail, entertainment, and banking industries. Less human interaction, more transparent sourcing, and a desire for more rapid transactions are just some of the characteristics involved in the shift throughout these industries.   So, why is this relevant for med students? You guessed it. Millennials are changing the healthcare industry too.   Even though many medical students today may even be part of the millennial generation, it is important to know how your industry could be changing around you. Here are some ways that millennials may impact the healthcare industry.   Image: Source   1. Skepticism of Pharmaceutical Industry As pharmaceutical companies become more and more transparent, Americans are becoming more skeptical over the drugs they are promoting. According to a recent SERMO poll, “millennials [are] more likely to challenge doctor recommendations [and] more comfortable discussing healthcare costs.” This generation is less likely...

Gender Wars in the Hospital

When it comes to medical school, studies have shown that both age and gender have an influence on performance in medical school, with older women having an edge over both men and younger women.   Now a new study has brought the gender war to the hospital ward. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers have shown that patients may be better off when treated by a female physician, raising the age-old debate of man versus woman and sparking discussion as to how gender differences can play out in a clinical setting. Image: Source   Reviewing a large sample of over 1.5 million hospital visits made by Medicare patients (65 and older), researchers examined the rates of readmission and mortality to discover that within 30 days of arriving at the hospital, those treated by a female physician had significantly better outcomes, even when controlled for a broad range of variables, including type of medical condition and severity.   The study has caused a stir with physicians, reporters and commentators all weighing in with various theories to account for the difference in performance. In their paper, Tsugawa et al suggest that female physicians may adhere to clinical guidelines more closely, but others, such as Parks and Redberg, in an accompanying editorial, point to studies which show that female physicians may have longer visits with patients, communicate in a patient-centered manner and...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #6: Cut Your Food in Half

Cooking is an art form. The chef making his or her magical touches in a long and arduous process that results in a delicious end product. However, to see the food as it transforms from its initial to final form is a true delight. In this TED talk, Nathan Myhrvold talks about his new book and the illustrations within that show cross-sections of food while being cooked.     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and what we can due as...

TED Talks For Food Lovers #5: Why I’m A Weekday Vegetarian

For all those meat-lovers out there, worry not! TED speaker Graham Hill has risen up to root for you and your carnivorous desires. In his talk, Hill argues for a middle ground between the many touted benefits of being a vegetarian versus the deep cravings of non-vegetarians. But are you ready for the challenge to strike the right balance?     Diet and health are highly interdependent. The food people eat over the course of a lifetime often plays a huge role in determining many of the ailments they incur. Referring to some recent exploration into the field of microbiomics, the large quantity and variety of bacteria in our body may likewise be acutely as well as chronically transforming due to the food we eat and the changes we make to our diets. Lastly, for aspiring medical personnel, quick food sources such as cold pizzas, Chipotle veggie bowls, and espresso shots often make up our daily sustenance. What effect do these have on our health?   Over the course of the next several articles, I would like to take you all on a run through some of the most interesting TED talks on food, some quite interesting and others downright genius. As you watch these videos, reflect on the close ties between nutrition and medicine, and what we can due as future clinicians to best counsel our patients in...