Triumphs in rational drug design: Hepatitis C

English: The genome organisation of Hepatitis ...
The genome organisation of Hepatitis c virus. One open reading frame encodes a polyprotein of 3010 amino acids. This protein is cut by viral and cell enzymes to active proteins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Despite our ever-dwindling supply of effective antibiotics, there have been a growing number of drugs that are effective against viral diseases. Many of these new drugs are not the result of happy chance or serendipity, as was penicillin, but rather the result of a process known as rational drug design. Continue reading Triumphs in rational drug design: Hepatitis C

The mystery in Cambodia

English: The rash of hands foot and mouth disease.
English: The rash of hands foot and mouth disease. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, there have been a rash of stories in the news covering a mysterious disease that has appeared in Cambodia, killing over 50 children in the last few months. Currently, there is evidence that this disease is caused by enterovirus 71, a causative agent of hand, foot, mouth disease. What is interesting is that these children are presenting with symptoms more severe than foot-and-mouth that include encephalitis, high fever, difficulty breathing, and eventual destruction of the alveoli of the lungs leading to death. This is an unusual presentation of enterovirus infection, as this usually causes a mild illness that does not result in hospitalization. However, EV71 has been known to cause neurological disease in the past and would explain the symptoms experienced by patients in this outbreak.

So why did this outbreak start? Why would a virus that normally causes a mild disease kill so many children? Continue reading The mystery in Cambodia

Guest Post!

I’m happy to say that this week an article I wrote was featured on the Gradhacker website. This is a great site with a wealth of resources for graduate students ranging from how to navigate conferences successfully to how to de-stress and maintain your sanity during graduate school.

So, if you wish to get some basic guidelines on how to transition from an undergraduate to a graduate wardrobe please check out my article Dressing for Battle: Academic Armaments over at Gradhacker.

New Training for the New Science

There has been a growing concern among scientists on how to train the next generation of researchers. This last month I came into contact with an article by Ferric C. Fang and Arturo Casadevall in Microbe magazine titled Reforming Science as well as the editorial Next-generation training in Nature. As a young researcher just beginning what I hope will be a lifelong career in the sciences this article hits on so many areas that need to be addressed. Three points in this article stood out to me and I wanted to address them from the perspective of someone who is just starting out and looking for training opportunities that will prepare me to work in the modern scientific field. These areas are the broadening of the scope of knowledge of new PhD trainees, a realignment of the culture to support quality of work over quantity, as well as the call to generate more flexible career pathways for young scientists in order to prevent attrition from the sciences. Continue reading New Training for the New Science