This category contains 27 posts

Ebola: What Is It and What Do You Have to Worry About?

Ebola has been in the headlines a lot lately, mostly because the current outbreak is the largest one we’ve ever seen. There have also been people transported into the United States who were infected, raising concerns about an Ebola outbreak happening in the country. However, while Ebola is a terrifying disease, it is unlikely to … Continue reading »

The Hobby Lobby Ruling: Contraceptives and Abortifacients

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that, due to religious objections, Hobby Lobby (and other for-profit companies) does not have to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives that are part of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, Hobby Lobby objected to four contraceptive methods – Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices (IUDs) – because Hobby … Continue reading »

Two New Drugs to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Because they help us fight bacterial infections, antibiotics are an amazing invention that has let us greatly improve our quality of life and life expectancy. However, their overuse has led to some extremely dangerous pathogens — antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Specifically, last fall it was found that more than 2 million people in the U.S. get infected … Continue reading »

Stem Cell Trials to Treat Spinal Cord Injuries

While human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) were originally created in 1998, it wasn’t until 2009 — over a decade later — that they were approved by the FDA for use in a clinical trial in people. It was a long wait, but the trial was quite the promising one. The clinical trial, undertaken by the … Continue reading »

MERS Update: Now in the U.S.

Since it was first discovered in a person in mid-2012, MERS (short for Middle East respiratory syndrome) has been a looming viral threat. MERS is a disease caused a type of virus called a coronavirus (CoV), which typically infects the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. (Many common colds and even cases of pneumonia are caused by … Continue reading »

Fecal Transplants and C. difficile

The bacteria Clostridium difficile is pretty terrifying — if it infects a person’s gut, it can cause severe diarrhea, bloating, and potentially death. In the U.S. alone, it hospitalizes nearly 250,000 people and kills at least 14,000 people each year. Why not just fight it with antibiotics, like we use to fight other bacterial infections? … Continue reading »

Homeopathy Debunked

While it can be easy to disregard something because it is widely believed not to work, it’s still important to do a systematic, evidence-based investigation to confirm, or disprove, any such suspicions. In this case, I’m talking about homeopathy, which is considered a pseudoscience. Recently, the National Health and Medical Research Council of the Australian … Continue reading »

What is a “Healthy” Gut Microbiome?

Which types of microbes are good to have in our guts — belonging to our gut microbiome — and which microbes shouldn’t be there for us to be healthy? It turns out that this is a very complicated question. Over the past couple of years, the gut microbiome has been found to be related to … Continue reading »

How a Substrate Affects a Stem Cell’s Fate

Much of the stem cell field is devoted to figuring out how to direct what stem cells turn into. (In stem cell terminology, the process of having a stem cell become a different type of cell is called differentiation.) By better controlling a stem cell’s fate, we can more efficiently turn the cell into a … Continue reading »

Using Electricity to Heal Wounds

When we get a cut, or a small bruise, the healing process may seem simple — our body knows how to seal up the cut, and repair the bruised tissue over time — but there’s actually a lot that goes into fixing up an injury. For example, cells have to move to the right location, … Continue reading »