Current Event Summaries by Megan S.

5 Responses to Current Event Summaries by Megan S.

  1. megan stark says:

    Title- New vaccine against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) elicits strong immune response
    Author(s): University of Texas at Austin
    Published by: Science Daily
    Date: August 1, 2019

    Article Summary- RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) mainly affects the very young and very old and is “one of the leading causes of infectious disease deaths in infants”. More than 100,000 people die each year from RSV and it affects millions. For over 50 years scientists have tried to create an RSV vaccine, but have had no luck, until now. A team of researchers tried a new approach to creating a vaccine called structure-based vaccine design. The F protein in RSV triggers the immune system to create antibodies. The F protein then “shape shifts” and changes shape. The antibodies aren’t very effective against the second shape. This is why it is so hard to create a vaccine for RSV. The researchers, using the structure based approach, re-engineered the F protein to take away its shape shifting ability. They tested this on mice and it protected them from RSV. The vaccine has made it through phase 1 trial, but still needs to get through phase 2 and phase 3. One of the researchers predicts that if the vaccine works well then they can save 70-80 percent of people from dying.

    Personal Reaction- I am excited and hopeful for this vaccine. I had RSV when I was a baby and it could’ve been very serious. This vaccine would save thousands of infants and toddlers. In the article it said that RSV is only second to malaria for infectious diseases for infants. I think that RSV needs to be taken more seriously by the unaffected because almost everyone knows what malaria is even if they aren’t affected by it, but not many unaffected RSV people know what it is. If this vaccine became a required vaccine for infants, it could save many babies lives.

  2. Megan Stark says:

    Title- Current vaccination policies may not be enough to prevent measles resurgence
    Author(s)- not stated, but source is BioMed Central
    Published by- Science Daily
    Date- may 17, 2019

    Article summary- According to a new study, the current vaccine policy may not be enough to eliminate measles. Researchers from the Bruno Kessler Foundation and Bocconi University in Italy used a computer model to simulate the evolution of measles immunity over time. It simulated it in 7 different countries that had a routine 2-dose measles vaccination programme, but with different vaccination histories. The countries were Australia, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and the US. According to the projection for 2050 in Singapore and South Korea, if the vaccination policies stay the same, the amount of the population that would be susceptible to measles would be under 7.5 percent. Research has shown that in order for the measles to be eliminated, the percent of the population to not be immune would have to be 7.5 percent or lower. The UK had the lowest, with a susceptibility rate of 3.7%. Only one of the countries studied was over 7.5 percent-Italy. By 2050, Italy’s susceptibility rate is projected to be 10%. In order to prevent a measles outbreak, there needs to be mandatory school vaccination, according to Dr. Stefano Merler. He says that making measles vaccination mandatory for elementary school, countries would strongly benefit from it.

    Personal Reflection- It’s concerning that the measles may not be eliminated with current policies. I’m happy they did that simulation. It shows us what we need to do and what will happen if we don’t do anything. We don’t want a measles outbreak just because people chose not to vaccinate. If every school requires kids to be vaccinated, the susceptibility rate would go down dramatically. That would prevent an outbreak and less people would be affected by it.

  3. Megan Stark says:

    Article Title- Otherworldly worms with three sexes discovered in Mono Lake
    Author(s)- not stated, but the source is California Institute of Technology
    Published by- Science Daily
    Date- september 26, 2019

    Article Summary- Mono lake is in the eastern sierras in california. It has an alkaline pH of ten and is three times saltier than the ocean. It was thought to only have 2 species living in it, until now. A team of researchers discovered eight more species in the lake. They all belong to a class of tiny, microscopic worms called nematodes. Nematodes are one of the most common animals on earth. They have 1000 cells and live in extreme environments. The eight species are very different from each other. Some of them are parasites, while some are predators. They are extremophiles, which are microorganisms that live in extreme conditions. Only a few extremophiles can be studied in labs. Nematodes have a genetic predisposition that helps them adapt to harsh conditions. Researchers are trying to find if there are any biochemical and genetic factors that nematodes have to survive in such harsh environments. This information can help us understand how toxin moves in and out of our body and cells and how it affects us. James Siho Lee says that this stuff can help us with other things. Biodiversity helped create a biodegradable sunscreen that was discovered from algae and bacteria. Lee says we need to respect and responsibly utilize wildlife so more stuff can be invented.

    Personal Reflection- I think it’s crazy that a lake doesn’t have any fish. I have never heard of Mono Lake until now. In a lake with so thought 2 species, researchers didn’t only find 1 new species, they found 8. They only have 1,000 cells and are apparently very common. I don’t get how they can survive in a lake with an alkaline pH level of ten, but that’s where they thrive. I think this research is very useful and they should keep doing it. It can help new technology, but also with medicine. If scientists can understand how the nematodes can survive in these conditions, it would be very helpful to other biochemistry mysteries.

  4. Megan Stark says:

    Article Title-The propensity to hear ‘voices’ in Schizophrenia may be established by infancy
    Author(s)- source is The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    Published by- Science Daily
    Date- October 2,2019

    Article Summary- People suffering from schizophrenia hear voices inside their head, which is called auditory hallucinations. Auditory hallucinations typically begin at a young age and are “voices” that the person thinks are real. The voices typically stress the person and may cause them to have violent actions. A team of researchers used extremely high imaging to compare the auditory cortex of a normal humans brain to one who has schizophrenia. Their research showed that people with schizophrenia had an abnormal tonotopic organization, which is the ordered representation of sound frequency. The team used an ultra-high field scanner with a 7 tesla magnet to get good quality pictures of the brain activity. In schizophrenic patients, the auditory cortex appeared scrambled. This suggests that the organization of sound in the brain is affected by schizophrenia. The researchers think that because the tootnoic map is made when people are infants, that it has something to do with an occurrence during infancy that people hear voices. This information can help doctors know who may have hallucinations before they have them. They can have an early diagnosis for people who may only have one or two symptoms. This would help the patients by getting the medicine they need before it becomes terrible.

    Personal Reflection- I think it’s great what the doctors are doing. Schizophrenia affects many people and it would be good if they could get an early diagnosis at an early age. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects not only the person with it, but also their family and surrounding people. I’m glad there is research being done on it to improve people’s lives who have it.

  5. Megan Stark says:

    Article Title- Researchers use drones to weigh whales
    Author(s)- source is British Ecological Society
    Published by- Science Daily
    Date- October 2, 2019

    Article Summary- Researchers have found a way to weight whales by using drones. The drones measure the body length, width and height of southern right whales and it can calculate the body mass thanks to a new model. Because whales are so big, we were only able to weight dead whales. This new model helps researchers track whales growth rates and energy. They can also find out how much food specific whales have to consume. The new model is currently being used to track the survival rates of southern right whale calves and the impacts kelp health has on it. This model has allowed researchers to create a 3D mesh of a whale and a full color 3D model of a southern right whale. By adjusting the model, it can be used to estimate the mass of other marine life. Blue whales are the largest animals on Earth, but scientists have only been able to weight dead carcasses because of their humongous size. This model could possibly change that. However, there are some challenges. They had to assume a constant density of the whales, when in reality they have different fat and muscle proportions. But for now, the model can still measure to a high level of accuracy, and that’s still a huge step up from what we had before.

    Persona Reaction- I think this is really cool. We finally have a way to weigh live whales. Being able to track their growth rates is also really cool. It’s crazy that a drone would be able to get the needed info to weigh them. Our old way of weighing whales was not efficient and inaccurate. This new model is a big step up and can even be used for measuring/weighing other marine animals.

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