Posts tagged microbiology

Salmonella from Glass Microbiology by Luke Jerram.
Given that these glass sculptures have been enlarged to around one million times the actual size of the original, there has been room for interpretation. Some of the distinctive features of each microbe have been exaggerated to make them more impressive. The results are truly mesmerizing.

Salmonella from Glass Microbiology by Luke Jerram.

Given that these glass sculptures have been enlarged to around one million times the actual size of the original, there has been room for interpretation. Some of the distinctive features of each microbe have been exaggerated to make them more impressive. The results are truly mesmerizing.

Wit Grit and a Supercomputer Yield the Chemical Structure of the HIV Capsid

This is some exciting stuff. We have long known about the various parts of the HIV particle, from the outer lipid membrane and docking glycoproteins to the viral RNA within. However, the intermediate structure, the P24 capsid, the shell of the delivered genomic payload when HIV particles dock has never been mapped out. The problem was always one of computational power. We simply did not have the number crunching power to solve the structure. Until now.

With the help of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, a team of researchers, armed with the petaflop supercomputer Blue Waters have finally published the structure of the HIV Capsid.

Dr. Peijun Zhang, project lead and associate professor in structural biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine explained the significance of this to BBC: “The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail could lead us to new drugs that can treat or prevent the infection. The capsid has to remain intact to protect the HIV genome and get it into the human cell, but once inside, it has to come apart to release its content so that the virus can replicate. Developing drugs that cause capsid dysfunction by preventing its assembly or disassembly might stop the virus from reproducing.”

This breakthrough in understanding the assembly and shape of the capsid could create a new avenue of therapy that can inhibit its assembly or disassembly.

"The big problem with HIV is that it evolves so quickly that any drug you use you get drug resistance, which is why we use a multi-drug cocktail," Professor Simon Lovell, a structural biologist at the University of Manchester, said. "This is another target, another thing we can go after to develop a new class of drugs to work alongside the existing class."

Read more: BBCNatureUniversity of IllinoisNational Science FoundationNIH

Researchers engineer protein containers to regulate cellular activity

The researchers propose that their system, comprised of a protein capsid and a matching arginine tagged target enzyme, is a viable method of regulating enzyme activity within a cell. Their design is simple and easily applicable to other proteins.

Once again, research has yielded many useful applications for this system as it pushes us further towards cell activity control. Think of containing and regulating tumor growth, viral dependent enzymes and others. As the researchers admit, it still needs a lot of work but these preliminary results are promising.

If all else fails, I will remember this for the exam.

If all else fails, I will remember this for the exam.

HDI, my Everest

I have taken microbiology in the past; I have taken a pharmaceutical class that is essentially what we are learning now and I must say, HDI and it’s previous permutations are the hardest courses I have ever taken.

You learn the bacteria and the different cocci, bacilli, gram staining; you learn about viruses, parasites and fungi; just when you thought you were information overloaded, you must tack on the drugs to treat every single one. The difficulty of the course has always stemmed from the memorization, not the actual material that is by itself easy.

Apparently, this course used to be even harder. The block was scheduled in an awkward manner—topics were disjointed, the lecture material didn’t correlate well with objectives etc. This year, the faculty has said they have “revamped” the course.

"Really? That’s what they said to us last year too," said a second year. That isn’t very comforting.