Viruses as a new form of antibiotic? A race against evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Viruses as a new form of antibiotic? A race against evolution of antibiotic resistance.

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We have a guest post from University of Melbourne M.Sc student, Ashleigh Henderson!

The discovery and production of penicillin as an antibiotic in the early 1900’s was one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of medicine. Antibiotics turned many menacing, life-threatening diseases into mere annoyances that could be solved with the pop of a pill. However, bacteria are fighting back and are rapidly evolving resistance to antibiotics. They are able to do this due to our misuse of antibiotics.

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Picture of the Week: Shiga-like toxin

Picture of the Week: Shiga-like toxin

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Recently the University of Queensland ran the annual Molecular Design Contest, where students use pymol or related software to create a stunning image of a macromolecule of their choice. This is a contest I helped set up during my Masters degree at UQ, and I am happy to see it’s continuation by the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the UQ Molecular Biotech Students Club. A huge congratulations to Vivek Narotam, a B.Sc student in the Faculty of Science who won this year’s competition with his rendering of a shiga-like toxin molecule (also known as verotoxin).

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Theileria parasites

Theileria parasites

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Parasites, in all their forms, artfully exploit their unwitting host. Theileria is similar to Plasmodium but infects cattle and is spread by ticks rather than mosquitoes.

Here, a white blood cell infected with Theileria (labelled green) is dividing into two daughter cells and the parasite has adopted a cunning disguise to get itself copied in the process. By covering itself in one of the host’s own proteins Theileria is pulled to opposite ends of the cell by the spindle (stained red) along with the dividing host DNA (stained blue). When the daughter cells split both will be infected and the parasite quickly spreads throughout the blood in this way. Scientists hope that understanding exactly how these tiny tricksters operate will inspire new ways to stop them. (Written by Emma Stoye)

Image courtesy: Dirk Dobbelaere, University of Bern, Switzerland (published on PLoS Biology here)

Brought to my attention by Susan on the World Federation of Parasitologists official Facebook page, check it out for all things parasite-related!

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A structural example of Influenza virus mutation

A structural example of Influenza virus mutation

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This is the atomic resolution top-down structure of the neuraminidase protein found on the surface of the Influenza virus (individual spheres represent individual atoms). Neuraminidase is the protein, along with haemagglutinin which allows for the nomenclature of naming strains of Influenza (i.e. H1N1). These are key proteins used by the virus to establish and maintain infections, and also mutate at a rapid rate which is why you need a new flu vaccine every year (P.S. it is flu season, get vaccinated!). In this image of neuraminidase, the yellow spheres make up amino acids within the protein sequence that are commonly mutated, whilst the other colours depict those amino acids that are conserved. As you can see, there is a lot of yellow here, and so there is very little conservation of amino acids in this protein between strains, which presents a challenge to drug and vaccine design.

 

Image courtesy of Professor Peter Colman , Division head of Structural Biology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

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Long-tailed tit

Long-tailed tit

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“This adorable picture was taken by the Norwegian photographer Dagfinn Breivik Skomsø (http://adnaturae.blogspot.no/) near Trondheim, Norway. These little birds are members of the species long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus), tiny birds (13-15 cm) found widespread around Northern Europe. Aren’t they the cutest thing ever?”

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Rocky Mountain Elk

Rocky Mountain Elk

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This week’s stunning photo was shot by Norwegian photographer Rune Gudmundsen, and it is of a Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensi nelsoni). The Rocky Mountain elk is a sub species of elk (Cervus canadensi), and is found in the Rocky Mountains (hence it’s name) and areas around in western North America.

The elk is the one of the largest species of deer.

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Brown bear in Finland

Brown bear in Finland

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This week’s photo shows a brown bear (Ursus arctos) photographed in North-Eastern Finland during midnight june this year. At this time of the year, it never gets completly dark here.

There are several subspecies of brown bear, although the exact number remains controversal. An adult brown bear can weigh up to over 600 kg. They are omnivorous, and concume a great variety of different types of food – from everything to grass and berries, to salmon and insects. Their diet varies greatly throughout the year, based on abundance and what’s easiest to catch.

The photo was taken by wildlife photographer Magnus Nyman (http://www.magnusnyman.se/).

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Blood Smear of Malaria Positive Blood

Blood Smear of Malaria Positive Blood

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This blood smear shows human blood positive for malaria infection, with a Plasmodium falciparum gametocyte (the sexual form of the most lethal of the malaria parasite species) right in the center.

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Great White Shark

Great White Shark

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This stunning shot of a great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was taken by Christian Vizl at Isla Guadalupe, Baja California, in Mexico.

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Bioluminescence Lakes

Bioluminescence Lakes

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This weeks photo is from Phil Hart, it is one of the most popular photos seen online when talking about bioluminescence and was taken at the Gippsland Lakes Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.

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