Friday, October 30, 2020

A chip with an artificial cell - research at University of Basel


Researchers at the University of Basel have developed a precisely controllable system for mimicking biochemical reaction cascades in cells. Using microfluidic technology, they produce miniature polymeric reaction containers equipped with the desired properties. This “cell on a chip” is useful not only for studying processes in cells, but also for the development of new synthetic pathways for chemical applications or for biological active substances in medicine.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Do you want to loose weight!! Simple ways of loosing weight


Exercising before breakfast or any meal burns more fat.

Food before exercise boosts blood sugars, giving the body fuel to increase the intensity and length of a workout. It also keeps you from being fatigued or dizzy but you burn more fat if you fast before exercise.

A small UK study published Friday supports the latter point of view: In 30 obese or overweight men, those who exercised before breakfast burned twice the fat as men who ate breakfast before they worked out. That's because exercising with no fuel forces the body to turn to stored carbohydrates, and when those are quickly gone, to fat cells. Unfortunately the eat-after group didn't lose more weight than the eat-before group during the six weeks of the study, but it did have "profound and positive" effects on the health of the group that fasted, researchers said.
Skipping the meal before exercise made the men's muscles more responsive to insulin, which controls high blood sugars, thus reducing the risk for diabetes and heart disease. "The group who exercised before breakfast increased their ability to respond to insulin, which is all the more remarkable given that both exercise groups lost a similar amount of weight and both gained a similar amount of fitness," said exercise physiologist Javier Gonzalez, an associate professor in the department for health at the University of Bath, in a statement. "The only difference was the timing of the food intake," Gonzalez added.

A 2017 study from the University of Bath, also co-authored by Gonzalez, looked at 10 men and found the same results -- because of lower blood sugar levels after fasting, the men burned more fat.
However, this time the men burned more calories if they ate breakfast first. A 2010 study found similar results, this time in a group of 28 healthy, physically active men. One group did no exercise. Two other groups were put through grueling morning exercise of running and cycling four times a week; one group ate before exercise and the other after. It's likely no surprise that the group who didn't exercise gained weight. But contrary to the 2017 study the group who ate breakfast before exercise also gained weight. It was the group who exercised on water and an empty stomach that maintained their weight, lost fat, and kept their blood sugars in good shape.
What's the takeaway? Obviously science needs to look at this a lot harder, with much larger study groups. But based on the science in these studies, it does seem exercising before eating may be good for your overall health, even if it doesn't always whittle your waistline.
If you do choose to work out on an empty stomach, keep these tips from the US Figure Skating Association in mind to keep your muscle tissue from breaking down:
  • Use the four R's of recovery: rehydrate, replenish, repair and reinforce.
  • Do that by drinking water or sports drinks.
  • Within 15 to 30 minutes, eat a meal with a 4:1 carb to high quality protein ratio.
  • Some good choices are fruit and low-fat Greek yogurt, trail mix, or a banana with peanut butter.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Liquid metals takes can be used to combat bacteria with AMR-research

Australian researchers are using liquid metals to develop a “bacteria-destroying” technology they hope will be the answer to antibiotic resistance.
It works by shredding bacteria and the bacterial biofilm in which they thrive without harming good cells, the team from RMIT University reports in a paper in the journal ACS Nano.
When exposed to a low-intensity magnetic field, tiny droplets of liquid metal change shape and develop sharp edges. When placed in contact with a bacterial biofilm, these edges break down the biofilm and physically rupture the bacterial cells.
In their study, the researchers tested the effectiveness of the approach against two types of bacterial biofilms (Gram-positive and Gram-negative).
After 90 minutes of exposure, both were destroyed and 99% of the bacteria were dead, they report. Importantly, laboratory tests showed the droplets did not affect human cells.
Co-author Aaron Elbourne, from RMIT’s Nanotechnology Laboratory, says the spread of drug-resistant superbugs and the growth of bacterial biofilm infections that can no longer be treated with existing antibiotics is a global health issue.
As such, we need to rethink how we fight bacterial infections.
“Bacteria are incredibly adaptable and over time they develop defences to the chemicals used in antibiotics, but they have no way of dealing with a physical attack,” he says.
“Our method uses precision-engineered liquid metals to physically rip bacteria to shreds and smash through the biofilm where bacteria live and multiply.”

Colleague Vi Khanh Truong says the technology is versatile and potentially could be used in a range of ways to treat infections.

“It could be used as a spray coating for implants, to make them powerfully antibacterial and reduce the high rates of infection for procedures like hip and knee replacements,” he says.
“There’s also potential to develop this into an injectable treatment that could be used at the site of infection.”
The next stage for the research – testing the effectiveness of the technology in pre-clinical animal trials – is underway.
The team also plans to explore how it could be adapted for other uses, such as treating fungal infections, breaking through cholesterol plaques or being injected directly into cancer cells.
The work involves collaboration with researchers from the CSIRO and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology in Australia, and North Carolina State University in the US.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Cancer cells can be destroyed by Cannabis

Scientists working in the UK have revealed that cannabis has the potential to destroy leukemia cells.

The team – based at Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry in London – have followed up on their previous findings that the main active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has the potential to be used effectively against some forms of cancer.

Use of cannabis as a therapeutic agent continues to be controversial due to its psychoactive side effects and consequent legal status, however, leader of the team, Dr Wai Man Liu, explains: “It is important to stress that these cannabis-like substances are far removed from the cannabis that is smoked. These novel compounds have been specifically designed to be free of the psychoactive features, whilst maintaining anti-cancer action.”

THC has previously been shown to attack cancer cells by interfering with important growth-processing pathways, however its mechanism of doing so has remained a mystery. Now, Dr Liu and his colleagues, using microarray technology – allowing them to simultaneously detect changes in more than 18,000 genes in cells treated with THC – have begun to uncover the existence of processes through which THC can kill cancer cells and potentially promote survival.

The researchers hope that the findings will provide a crucial step towards the development of new therapies for many types of cancer. Dr Liu said: “Ultimately, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of these compounds will provide us with insights into developing new drugs that can be used to effectively treat cancers.”

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Thyroid tests

Thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, just above your collarbone. It is one of the endocrine glands, which make hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many activities in the body. They include how fast calories are burnt and how fast  heart beats. Thyroid tests check how well the thyroid is working. They are also used to diagnose and help find the cause of thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Thyroid tests include blood tests and imaging tests.

Blood tests for the thyroid include

  • TSH - measures thyroid-stimulating hormone. It is the most accurate measure of thyroid activity.
  • T3 and T4 - measure different thyroid hormones.
  • TSI - measures thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin.
  • Antithyroid antibody test - measures antibodies (markers in the blood).

Imaging tests include CT scans, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine tests. One type of nuclear medicine test is the thyroid scan. It uses small amounts of radioactive material to create a picture of the thyroid, showing its size, shape, and position. It can help find the cause of hyperthyroidism and check for thyroid nodules (lumps in the thyroid). Another nuclear test is the radioactive iodine uptake test, or thyroid uptake test. It checks how well your thyroid is working and can help find the cause of hyperthyroidism.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Different bacterial Cells arrangements, shapes and sizes


Bacteria are prokaryotic, unicellular microorganisms, which lack chlorophyll pigments. The cell structure is simpler than that of other organisms as there is no nucleus or membrane-bound organelles.

Due to the presence of a rigid cell wall, bacteria maintain a definite shape, though they vary in shape, size, and structure.

Different Size, Shape and Arrangement of Bacterial Cells

When viewed under a light microscope, most bacteria appear in variations of three major shapes: the rod (bacillus), the sphere (coccus), and the spiral type (vibrio). In fact, the structure of bacteria has two aspects, arrangement, and shape. So far as the arrangement is concerned, it may Paired (Diplo), Grape-like clusters (staphylo), or Chains (strepto). In shape, they may principally be Rods (bacilli), Spheres (cocci), and Spirals (spirillum).

Size of Bacterial Cell

Size of Bacterial Cells

The average diameter of spherical bacteria is 0.5-2.0 µm. For rod-shaped or filamentous bacteria, the length is 1-10 µm and the diameter is 0.25-1 .0 µm.

E. coli, a bacillus of about average size is 1.1 to 1.5 µm wide by 2.0 to 6.0 µm long.

  • Spirochaetes occasionally reach 500 µm in length and the cyanobacterium
  • Oscillatoria is about 7 µm in diameter.
  • The bacterium, Epulosiscium fishelsoni , can be seen with the naked eye (600 µm long by 80 µm in diameter).
  • One group of bacteria called the Mycoplasmas, have individuals with size much smaller than these dimensions. They measure about 0.25 µ and are the smallest cells known so far. They were formerly known as pleuropneumonia-like organisms (PPLO).
  • Mycoplasma gallicepticum, with a size of approximately 200 to 300 nm is thought to be the world's smallest bacteria.
  • Thiomargarita namibiensis is the world’s largest bacteria, a gram-negative Proteobacterium found in the ocean sediments off the coast of Namibia. Usually, it is 0.1—0.3 mm (100—300 µm) across, but bigger cells have been observed up to 0.75 mm (750 µm).

Thus a few bacteria are much larger than the average eukaryotic cell (typical plant and animal cells are around 10 to 50 µm in diameter).

The shape of Bacterial Cell

The three basic bacterial shapes are coccus (spherical), bacillus (rod-shaped), and spiral (twisted), however, pleomorphic bacteria can assume several shapes.

Shape of Bacterial Cell
The shape of Bacterial Cell
  • Cocci (or coccus for a single cell) are round cells, sometimes slightly flattened when they are adjacent to one another.
  • Bacilli (or bacillus for a single cell) are rod-shaped bacteria.
  • Spirilla (or spirillum for a single cell) are curved bacteria which can range from a gently curved shape to a corkscrew-like spiral. Many spirilla are rigid and capable of movement. A special group of spirilla known as spirochetes is long, slender, and flexible.

Arrangement of Cocci

Cocci bacteria can exist singly, in pairs (as diplococci ), in groups of four (as tetrads ), in chains (as streptococci ), in clusters (as stapylococci ), or in cubes consisting of eight cells (as sarcinae). Cocci may be oval, elongated, or flattened on one side. Cocci may remain attached after cell division. These group characteristics are often used to help identify certain cocci.

1. Diplococci

The cocci are arranged in pairs.

Examples: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalisNeisseria gonorrhoeae, etc.

Diplococci and Streptococci

2. Streptococci

The cocci are arranged in chains, as the cells divide in one plane.

Examples: Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus agalactiae

3. Tetrads


The cocci are arranged in packets of four cells, as the cells divide in two plains.

Examples: Aerococcus, Pediococcus, and Tetragenococcus

4. Sarcinae


The cocci are arranged in a cuboidal manner, as the cells are formed by regular cell divisions in three planes. Cocci that divide into three planes and remain in groups cube-like groups of eight.

Examples: Sarcina ventriculi, Sarcina ureae, etc.

5. Staphylococci


The cocci are arranged in grape-like clusters formed by irregular cell divisions in three plains.

Examples: Staphylococcus aureus

Arrangement of Bacilli

The cylindrical or rod-shaped bacteria are called ‘bacillus’ (plural: bacilli).

1. Diplobacilli


Most bacilli appear as single rods. Diplobacilli appears in pairs after division.

Example of Single Rod: Bacillus cereus
Examples of Diplobacilli: Coxiella burnetii, Moraxella bovis, Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis, etc.

2. Streptobacilli


The bacilli are arranged in chains, as the cells divide in one plane.

Examples: Streptobacillus moniliformis

3. Coccobacilli


These are so short and stumpy that they appear ovoid. They look like coccus and bacillus.

Examples: Haemophilus influenzaeGardnerella vaginalis, and Chlamydia trachomatis

4. Palisades


The bacilli bend at the points of the division following the cell divisions, resulting in a palisade arrangement resembling a picket fence and angular patterns that look like Chinese letters.

Example: Corynebacterium diphtheriae

Arrangement of Spiral Bacteria

Spirilla (or spirillum for a single cell) are curved bacteria which can range from a gently curved shape to a corkscrew-like spiral. Many spirilla are rigid and capable of movement. A special group of spirilla known as spirochetes are long, slender, and flexible.

1. Vibrio


They are comma-shaped bacteria with less than one complete turn or twist in the cell.

Example: Vibrio cholerae

2. Spirilla


They have rigid spiral structure. Spirillum with many turns can superficially resemble spirochetes. They do not have outer sheath and endoflagella, but have typical bacterial flagella.

Example: Campylobacter jejuni, Helicobacter pyloriSpirillum winogradskyi, etc.

3. Spirochetes



Spirochetes have a helical shape and flexible bodies. Spirochetes move by means of axial filaments, which look like flagella contained beneath a flexible external sheath but lack typical bacterial flagella.

Examples: Leptospira species (Leptospira interrogans), Treponema pallidumBorrelia recurrentis, etc.

Others Shapes and Arrangements of Bacteria

1. Filamentous Bacteria

Filamentous bacteria

They are very long thin filament-shaped bacteria. Some of them form branching filaments resulting in a network of filaments called ‘mycelium’.

Example: Candidatus Savagella

2. Star Shaped Bacteria

Star Shaped Bacteria

Example: Stella

3. Rectangular Bacteria

Rectangular Bacteria

Examples: Haloarcula spp (H. vallismortisH. marismortui)

4. Pleomorphic Bacteria

Pleomorphic Bacteria

These bacteria do not have any characteristic shape unlike all others described above. They can change their shape. In pure cultures, they can be observed to have different shapes.

Examples: Mycoplasma pneumoniae, M. genitalium, etc.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

is Flu vaccinations linked to increased COVID-19 risk?


influenza and corona virus electron micrography

According to a recent study, the flu vaccine does not increase a person’s risk of getting COVID-19 and is not associated with severe illness and death from the disease.

The research, which features in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, reveals that the flu vaccine is the single most important way to protect people’s health this fall and winter.

Seasonal flu activity can be unpredictable, and it is common for otherwise healthy people to be hospitalized due to critical respiratory infection each year.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that during the 2019-2020 United States flu season, there were 39–56 million cases of the disease. There were also 18–26 million flu medical visits, requiring up to 740,000 hospitalizations. Furthermore, flu may have caused the deaths of as many as 62,000 people in the U.S.

Preventing a ‘twindemic’

Studies investigating the 1918 flu pandemic suggest that a second wave of COVID-19 is possible in the fall and winter of 2020. This would overlap with seasonal flu’s most active phase.

Preventive measures, such as physical distancing, have also reduced the spread of the flu. The CDC reported that positive test results dropped from more than 20% to 2.3% during the pandemic and have remained at “historically low interseasonal levels.”

As the flu season merges with the COVID-19 pandemic this fall, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever. This will help prevent a “twindemic” — the collision of flu and COVID-19.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Not every face masks can protect against coronavirus

Face masks may not protect against coronavirusUniversity of Cincinnati scientist Sergey Grinshpun has tested the performance of respiratory protective devices against biological agents for nearly three decades.

Grinshpun, Ph.D., director of UC's Center for Health Related Aerosol Studies, has a particular expertise in the effectiveness of face masks versus particulate respirators. He has been called upon in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak that began in China and is now spreading globally.

"When some major outbreak happens such as one with coronavirus or SARS or Ebola there is a lot of misinformation," says Grinshpun, also a professor in the UC College of Medicine's Department of Environmental and Public Health Sciences. "This relates to respiratory protective devices and what device to wear and also what protection level or efficiency you are paying for. People want to have something very light and comfortable, and they usually don't like military style full-scale respiratory protective systems to carry around."

Won't a face mask protect me from coronavirus?

"The important difference is the face mask was not designed to protect a wearer, instead it is a barrier to droplets and spit generated by the wearer, which should protect others," he explains.

Grinshpun says that individuals wearing certified N95 filtering facepiece respirators can screen about 95% of airborne particles if fitted correctly. Major workplaces including hospitals do a fit testing so that respirators are properly fitted, but many ordinary citizens have no idea how to properly wear the respirator. The lack of training and poor fit reduce the respirator effectiveness against diseases such as the one caused by the novel coronavirus.

Grinshpun recalls researching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans when many residents were given respirators because of mold and fungi outgrowth and its health concerns related to flooding. "When you put the respirator on your face you must make sure it fits. For instance, the nose clip was designed for a reason and must be used correctly. If not, particles penetrate through face-seal leakage and the N95 respirator may not offer the level of protection expected by its manufacturer."

"We study the efficiency of face masks and various respirators on human subjects and breathing mannequins and in terms of penetration of particles through a conventional surgical mask, it may be as much as 50% or even greater," he explains. "It is useless for people who want to wear this device to protect themselves. A surgeon in the operating room doesn't want to sneeze or cough and infect the patient. A surgical mask may serve as an adequate barrier for this purpose, but what about viruses and bacteria aerosolized from the patient during surgery? If this aerosolization occurs, the surgeon and other medical staff are not well protected against it if wearing surgical masks. These masks may filter out very large droplets, but not tiny aerosolized particles."

Virus particles often travel on water droplets and at some point the water evaporates and the particles shrink, Grinshpun says. At a smaller size, these particles can now penetrate the surgical mask.

Where can I find an N95 respirator?

Grinshpun says they are very short supply because of the demand in China and other places and the price, which used to be a little more than a dollar a piece has skyrocketed.

"This N95 was developed for workers in industry or medicine and not the general public," he says. "The workers in this country are usually fit-tested. It's done with a sophisticated apparatus which measures the concentration of particles inside and outside of a respirator donned on an individual performing certain exercises to determine the fit. If the fit is not acceptable, a worker may be offered a different size or type or respirator."

Fit-testing can be expensive with the apparatus costing roughly $10,000, and requiring a qualified operator, says Grinshpun. Proper training should also be provided for wearers. "Now imagine if you want to take care of a large population in a short time. A respirator fit testing for the general public is an enormous task."

Respiratory protection research and development is a booming area in terms of economics because the current global outbreak is probably not the last one.