All animals harbor a wide range of microbes, including bacteria and fungi. In the human body, microbial cells outnumber human cells by 10 to 1! Interactions between microbes affect many physiological processes within the body, including metabolism, digestion, immunity and the production of vitamins. For instance, many beneficial microbes can suppress the growth of harmful microbes within the gut. If these microbial interactions become disrupted, we can be at a greater risk of developing various diseases.
Natural killer cells, along with other lymphocytes, are responsible for finding cells that are experiencing stress. Such cellular stress can occur when a cell is infected with a virus, or when it is becoming cancerous. Natural killer cells can identify stressed cells by detecting signals on their surfaces. These signals are recognized by a suite of proteins found on the surfaces of killer cells, known as immunoreceptors. Upon detecting these signals, natural killer cells secrete toxic substances that can kill the stressed cells.
Arthropods – which include insects, spiders, centipedes and woodlice – have inhabited this planet for millions of years. They are found in most habitats on Earth – including our gardens and homes. It is in these built environments that a small number are considered a nuisance. An even smaller number damage buildings or belongings, eat our food – even feed on us – so we label them… pests! Preventing pest infestations requires an understanding of their lifestyles and requirements for food, water, shelter, and favourable temperatures. This understanding is predicated on a proper identification.
Thiamine – commonly known as Vitamin B1 – is required by almost all life on Earth. Humans and other animals need to consume sufficient amounts of this vitamin to support brain and heart health. Some organisms, including certain molluscs, fish and bacteria, contain thiamine-degrading enzymes known as thiaminases. As such, consuming these organisms can lead to thiamine-deficiency.
Do human beings have a soul that leaves after they die? While all recognised religions suggest that they do, scientists have been unable to confirm this belief. The soul remains an elusive entity, which theoretically encompasses an individual’s personality and consciousness. Through scientific experiments, Benjamin Scherlag, Ronald Scherlag, Tarun Dasari and Sunny Po at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Centre recently investigated the soul. They carried out these experiments on a dwarf form of the organism Stentor coeruleus, which has regenerative abilities.
Escherichia coli – more commonly known as E. coli – is a leading cause of diarrhoea-associated hospitalisation. However, E. coli does not always cause disease. Alongside thousands of other bacterial species, E. coli lives inside and on the surface of the human body. Numerous different strains of E. coli have been identified by analysing their genomes.
Humans inherit a version of each gene – an allele – from each parent. Through standard DNA analysis, it is not possible to know which allele of a given gene came from the mother and which came from the father. Understanding which allele came from which parent is known as ‘haplotyping’ or ‘genetic phasing’. This is particularly important when a gene has multiple changes in the gene sequence – called mutations.
Cell membranes are an essential constituent of all living organisms. They protect and organize cells, and perform a range of vital functions that ensure an organism’s survival. The two fundamental components of cell membranes are proteins and lipids, which form a diverse and complex system connecting the membrane to the wider cell. Interactions between cell-membrane proteins and between proteins and lipids play vital roles in myriad biological processes. Understanding these interactions is critical for identifying the mechanisms behind many medical disorders, in order to find ways of treating them. In-depth knowledge of these interactions is also crucial for drug design.
Professor Thomas Feuerstein | Using Mathematical Modelling to Understand Acute Heart Failure Treatment
Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death around the globe. Heart failure is a particular type of cardiovascular disease, which occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood around the body as well as it should. Over 26 million people in the world are currently affected by heart failure and this number is increasing every year.
The liver plays a vital role in keeping us healthy, by controlling levels of sugars and fats in our blood, as well as clearing the blood of toxins. Chronic liver disease affects around 25% of the population and is reported to be the third largest cause of premature death in the UK. Liver disease can occur as the result of long-term consumption of alcohol or viral hepatitis, but the fastest growing cause is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The influenza virus – commonly known as flu – is a serious public health concern. There are an estimated 1 billion cases of influenza each year, causing approximately 650,000 deaths globally.
Antimicrobial drugs treat infections by killing or slowing the growth of the responsible pathogens. However, antimicrobial resistance occurs when the bacteria develop defence mechanisms against the very drugs intended to kill them. Infections due to resistant bacteria can be extremely difficult and even impossible to treat, meaning that antimicrobial resistance presents a major threat to animal, environmental and human health.
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