(Source: ashleyjamesburnham, via incessantdelirium)
Is This the Future of Flu Vaccines?
See that picture up above? You’re looking at one of the most advanced weapons (to fight a microscopic enemy) the human race has ever created. It’s a nanoparticle (in gray) coated with synthetically produced coat proteins (HA, to be precise) from the influenza virus. Normally, flu mashes its coat proteins together like so:
The nanoparticles may be a major step toward a universal vaccine, which, of course, would be an awesome thing to have, save millions of lives, help us prevent a mass pandemic, etc.
Because flu viruses mutate, shuffle and swap their genes so frequently, the precise shape of the proteins that make up their spiky suit of armor is constantly being tweaked. It’s like how, from afar, a Sarahan sand dune might appear the same shape and height from day to day, but when you look closely, the precise contours of its windswept dimpled have been changed ever so slightly by erosion. On and on it changes, never the same twice.
Our immune system relies on sentry proteins called antibodies in order to recognize foreign invaders like flu based on their binding to those precise contours and shapes, like tiny chinks in the armor. The exact set of antibodies that killed last year’s flu are stored in your immune system’s memory, ready to keep you safe from that infection in the future. Because the flu virus shuffles and tweaks its shape from year to year, we are constantly playing catch-up, reacting to new armor every year. It’s like going home to find the lock changed, every day having to cut a new key.
If we could just make antibodies that bind to an unchanging part of the viral protein, like the trunks of those blue protein trees up there, we might be able to defend ourselves from future mutants with a single vaccination. But the virus keeps those parts hidden just enough to keep otherwise universal antibodies from attacking it.
That’s where this new research from Gary Nabel and his group might come in handy. By attaching the HA coat protein (again, the blue thing) from influenza to nanoparticles, their Achilles Heel is exposed and strong, universal antibodies are amplified and stored in your body’s defense bank. They built this nanoparticle vaccine from a 1999 strain’s HA protein, and it protected animals from a half-century’s worth of H1N1 viruses! It’s as close to universal as I’ve ever heard.
Point: humans. But, these are tricky bugs, and we shouldn’t get cocky, especially without human trials (yet). But we have brains, and they don’t. That’s really our best weapon, no?
Ed Yong has more at Nature News, and you can check out the original research in Nature.
I love animals. Growing up, the two things that made my blood boil were religious intolerance and animal cruelty. I’ve never understood it. I can’t stand to have an animal in pain. I’ve got to get it out of my head. It makes me angry, I want to cry, I want to stab someone. I don’t know where that comes from, really.
Whenever I do a thing about animals, there’s always someone that goes, “What about children dying in Syria?” Yeah, that’s bad, too—can’t we care about both? Sometimes I go, “You carry on all your good work for the fucking children in Syria, and I’ll do this.” I love the fact that there’s a hierarchy of things that you’ve got to care about. I tweeted “I love humans—they’re just not my favorite animal.” That was to annoy people.
No, I’m not a maniac. Of course humans are my favorite animal. [pauses] But I’ve never met an animal who was a cunt. —
Ricky Gervais, like many of yesteryear’s most celebrated public figures, loves animals.
On a semi-related aside of a rant, how infuriating when articles offer no single-page view option – a massive F-U to the reader, in which the publication (hello, GQ) clearly shows ad pageviews matter more than the reader’s experience. In that regard, Jaron Lanier is on to something.(via explore-blog)
(Source: , via explore-blog)
This is one of a series of characters i have been sketching in the beginning works of a short web series we are working on. This is the most recently drawn character, the owner of a deep sea tavern, this squid like character is incomplete and still full of the personality i have been working to express. I have no intention to upload anything more until the full lineup of recurring characters are complete
Edit: apologies for the poor quality, also tumblr won’t let me upload it the right way up.
my dotwork ammonite!
Aurora Borealis is an 1865 painting by Frederic Edwin Church of the Aurora Borealis and the arctic expedition of Dr. Isaac Hayes. The painting measures 56 x 83 1/2 in. (142.3 x 212.2 cm) and is now owned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The artist (Frederic Edwin Church) had to convey the experience of watching the aurora without having witnessed it himself.
Returning to this article because I wanted to add how awesome it is to know whenever one of the very authors, photographers, artists, etc. who’s work you post and source on tumblr give you props for promoting their work rather than rage about it and cry about copyright and “theft” like others tend to do.
In this case I would like to return those props and respect to Meghan Ferriter who is an interdisciplinary researcher and anthropologist and the original author of the above Wikipedia article on a 1865 painting by Frederic Edwin Church which is called “Aurora Borealis” and as you can see, is quite stunning. I think I cheese just as much as they do when this happens, it’s a mutual cheesing based on celebrating the sharing of knowledge.
Meghan Ferriter writes:
This is a fascinating example of cultural heritage content held at a museum being linked (literally) in a central and open access knowledge repository, then accessed and shared in a social networking space: overlapping forms of digital communication.
This was a social share of Smithsonian content; by way of an outreach and engagement event that sought to share Smithsonian collections by explaining their context and content through (or on) Wikipedia. Then that content was taken up by a user on a social media network and shared with his followers. Then his followers responded to that content by liking and reblogging and replying to the content. This Smithsonian-housed content was, therefore, literally linked to broader scientific debates via @ikenbot’s page and the Tumblr/social media sharing loop.
Also, as a leader in the science Tumblr section, @ikenbot’s decision to reference the Wikipedia article adds authority or credit to the validity of Wikipedia within that particular community of practice on Tumblr (science-focused bloggers).
Is this a case of “If you build it, they will share…”? Perhaps not, yet this instance is a powerfully persuasive example, even as a one-off. It demonstrates the realities of sourcing and sharing content in digital spaces; furthermore, it is a testament to the ways Smithsonian Institution and Wikipedia content meshes and unfolds across digital space through social and cultural behaviors in digital spaces. Plus, it was quite cool to have my own words cited and sourced as a part of the summarization of the image.
Thank you again Meghan and all other Wikipedia authors who provide worthwhile information for the public to indulge in!
Do you prefer the biologically accurate googly-eyes at the terminus of each arm…
…or the more whimsical pareidoliaic face?
Photo by Ed Bowlby, WoRDSS.
Crystal ‘flowers’ bloom in Harvard nanotech lab
Harvard researchers have found a way to shape microscopic crystals into complex and often beautiful structures.
There are worlds…