• Bacteria 101: 5 fun facts about bacteria

    Bacteria 101: 5 fun facts about bacteria

    Many reports have recently popped up claiming that some bacterium is going to cause the next great human health crisis, cure cancer, or even help you lose weight. Here are 5 fun facts about our microbial companions that will put things into perspective.  1. Bacteria are astoundingly small                           Bacteria are microscopic (0.5-5 microns in size). So small that […]

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  • Want to reduce your cancer risk? Take this pill

    Want to reduce your cancer risk? Take this pill

    Recent breakthroughs in medicine have shed light on an apparent scientific paradox: While inflammation is necessary for our survival, it is also a fundamental cause of death. Long term effects of inflammation are seen throughout the body, from heart disease to diabetes to cancer. Fortunately for aspiring centenarians, a common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine can reduce your risk of dying from the top three […]

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  • Part 2: Aspirin and cancer prevention

    Part 2: Aspirin and cancer prevention

    Part 1: Inflammation is a fundamental cause of death. Unaware of its beneficial effects, our ancestors only knew inflammation as the cause of pain and fever. They found a natural cure in the bark of the Willow tree. Centuries later in 1971, John Robert Vane discovered how the active ingredient from Willow bark, Salicylic acid, reduces inflammation. Salicylic […]

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  • Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

    Why do babies put everything in their mouths?

    Spend enough time around babies and you’ll notice they’ll put just about anything into their mouth. Many people pass this off as an infant’s way of feeling their surroundings. Yet, this argument does not capture the science behind the world’s cutest phenomenon. It’s a common scene for any new parent – Their baby, happily entertained on the floor, grabs a close-by […]

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  • Who’s afraid of stem cells?

    Who’s afraid of stem cells?

    The battle over stem cell research has a rich political history – one that revolves around ideals and morals rather than science. Among those most vehemently opposed to embryonic stem cell research are scientific illiterates  such as George W. Bush and conservative religious groups; individuals lacking the knowledge to make an objective decision. But beyond these misguided arguments […]

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  • Viagra – A magic blue pill discovered by chance

    Viagra – A magic blue pill discovered by chance

    Prospective drugs are doomed to fail if the first human tests prove ineffective; they are even less likely to succeed if unanticipated side effects change the patient’s quality of life. This has been the story of thousands of drug candidates – Viagra (Sildenafil citrate) among them. A unique combination of pharmacology instead rocketed Pfizer’s Viagra both […]

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  • 5 major misconceptions about GMOs

    5 major misconceptions about GMOs

    Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), particularly genetically modified crops,  have been getting a lot of attention in the news recently. Unfortunately, several people have some pretty tangled-up misconceptions about their use. Here we weed through  five of the major ones.   1. Genetically altered foods are a new thing While a genetically modified organism is one that has undergone […]

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  • First there was Ebola, then there was Marburg

    First there was Ebola, then there was Marburg

    The family of Filoviruses includes not only 5 types Ebola, but two species of a very closely related virus known as the Marburg virus. While the Ebola epidemic rages in Western Africa, the closely related Marburg virus has emerged in Uganda at an inopportune time. The Ugandan Ministry of Health reported yesterday that a male […]

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  • This little piggy could save your life

    This little piggy could save your life

    There is a fair share of non-trivial differences between humans and pigs, yet, things are a bit more ambiguous at the cellular level. Finding the differences at this resolution could potentially save the lives of millions of people in line for organ transplants. On average, 18 people die a day because they did not receive an organ transplant. This […]

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  • The real challenge for ALS

    The real challenge for ALS

    The recent ALS awareness movement has been making a huge splash all over the country. While the “ice bucket challenge” has gone viral, awareness of the actual neurological disorder has not necessarily kept pace. Here we offer a brief overview of what is known about this mysterious illness. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder which is characterized by […]

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