Posts tagged: Biology

Ebolavirus – Possibility and reality

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The horrible crisis that is unfolding in Africa, with ebolavirus infection now threatening to become endemic, has its roots in many causes, of which the current state of understanding of the virus and the means of its control must be the least.

It’s not that we don’t know what to do

Ebolavirus outbreaks can be brought under control within weeks by established containment measures. But in this case, it was three months before the virus was recognized as the cause of the outbreak and another five before WHO declared a public health emergency, with the humanitarian response following only some weeks after that.

Meanwhile densely populated towns, and not just rural areas, are affected; the populations of the affected areas are …

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Rabies: What do I need to know?

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golden-retriever

Today is World Rabies Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and how we can tackle it. We asked the Kennel Club, the society behind the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, to tell us more about rabies and what is being done to protect dogs and dog owners.  Guest blogger Aimee Llewellyn, Kennel Club Health Information Manager, gives us the details.

The chances of a dog or human catching rabies are almost non-existent in many countries, including the UK and US, but it is important for owners of man’s best friend to be aware of the risks to ensure that they, and their pets, stay happy and healthy.

Everyone has heard of rabies, but most …

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Keeping up with the Jobses: the role of technology in reproducible research

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Group photo (click for full picture)

AllBio's workshop on 'reproducibility in research' saw a metaphorical bottle smashed against the bow of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)'s shiny new training facility.

Fueled by hackpads, marker pens and a mountain of tea and biscuits, the workshop (a mixture of research scientists, PhD students, coders, funders and publishers) set about asking the question: 'what are the barriers to reproducible research?'


Group photo (click to enlarge)

Running to stand still

AllBio was established to bring the technology of bioinformatics to a diverse set of biological disciplines, but with this workshop it stepped across to research's flipside: publishing.

Whether data or papers, it is clear that advances in technology have much to offer when it comes to improving …

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Females dominate throughout history

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Chromosomes

Not only do our genes hold information about us, they can also tell us a great deal about the history of our species. This includes details about ancient migrations, subpopulation size and structure, and even estimates of the overall human population size at any one time. In addition, different parts of the genome can tell us different branches of our history; the Y chromosome is passed on through the male line, and can provide information about paternal family history. Conversely, we inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mothers, providing insights into our maternal branch ancestors.

New research published today in Investigative Genetics reveals that the effective female population has been larger than the male population throughout human history, …

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Frontiers in Zoology article wins IgNobel Prize

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Body orientation in dogs from Hart et al. Frontiers in Zoology 2013

When people ask me why I like working in scientific publishing I tell them that one of the many reasons is it gives me the chance to inspire curiosity in people in some of the amazing scientific and medical research being done. This is exactly what the IgNobel Prizes are about – “honoring achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

Last night the IgNobel Prizes were awarded during a ceremony that took place at Harvard University. The winner in the Biology category was Hynek Burda and colleagues for their article ‘Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth’s magnetic field’ published in Frontiers of Zoology. It certainly has piqued so many people’s curiosity – …

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Implementing nature’s solution to dirty bacteria with the bioinspired Sharklet™ micropattern

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ethan

A guest blog from Dr. Ethan Mann, a research scientist at Sharklet Technologies, Inc, in which he discusses how different materials can prevent the spread of human disease bacteria.

Microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses  are contacted during interaction with everyday surfaces. Picking up germs from surfaces contributes to transmission of infectious diseases. Bacteria are able to survive on hard surfaces for days to weeks before they are reintroduced to a host. Once in a host, the bacteria are able to cause an illness often resulting in further propagation of the microorganism and potentially the need for treatment.

High touch public surfaces such as door handles and railings would benefit from a self-cleaning surface technology to reduce the amount of microorganisms …

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Top-predator control does not always initiate trophic cascades

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Dingo

Guest post by: Benjamin Allen, University of Queensland  &  Robert Wicks Pest Animal Research Centre, Biosecurity Queensland, Australia.

 

Trophic cascades are an ecological chain reaction, where changes to one organism flow through the food chain and indirectly influence many other organisms. The study of trophic cascades has become very popular in the last few decades. Ecological theory now predicts that where and when large carnivores, top-predators or apex predators (such as lions, wolves or sharks) are removed, smaller predator and herbivore populations increase, putting increased pressure on plants and animals further down the food chain. In short, top-predator removal = biodiversity decline. This has led to calls for cessation of top-predator control globally, which is often practiced …

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A new angiogenesis inhibitor targeting multiple tyrosine kinases offers new hope for treating tumors

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Cancercell

A guest blog from co-Editor-in-Chief of Vascular Cell, Jan Kitajewski, in which he discusses the potential of using the newly developed lenvatinib as an anti-angiogenic therapy in the treatment of thyroid cancer.

Blood vessels can be thought to function as do the roots of a tree, acting to nourish both near and far reaches of the living organism. Despite the amazing capacity of blood vessels to keep your tissues healthy, your blood vessels can be diverted toward more insidious purpose. Tumors attract and accept new blood vessels that they recruit from neighboring tissues. This process of tumor angiogenesis acts to assure that the growing tumor is nourished and provides a path for tumor cells to travel to distant sites.

Targeting …

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Was it really the barber? A look at Jack the Ripper’s DNA test

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jr

Jack the Ripper hit the headlines this week, as his supposed ‘true’ identity was revealed. It was said to be none other than Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant and hairdresser of 23 years of age. It’s not a huge shock that the public has been in uproar: ‘Jack the Ripper’ trended on Twitter, news outlets are dishing out the details, and everyone is surprised the mask has finally been lifted 126 years later. But while the media world is blowing up, we’d do well to remember these are only claims.

 

Aaron Kosminski was a relatively young barber, only 23 years old. I’ve always imagined our famed murderer to be much older, but instead we’re faced with a suspect …

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A new impact factor, a model modeler, and how to make a syllabub

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Proto_Phylo_Variants_final_RGB

This year, the impact factor of BMC Biology has increased for the second year in succession, to reach 7.4. Although like (probably) most of you, we have serious reservations about the value and validity of impact factors as a measure of quality, we know how much they matter in practice to research biologists competing for jobs and funds; so it would be silly to say we don’t care about them. And it is especially important to acknowledge our debt to all the Editorial Board members, off-Board experts, and referees, without whose help we should not have been able to achieve this.

Our saddest news this year is the loss of Julian Lewis, one of the most thoughtful and sagacious of our …

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