Month: February 2020

Electrocuting mosquitoes: a new hope for monitoring dengue vectors?

Aedes aegypti mosquito during a bloodmeal. Photo taken by James Gathany, CDC. Public domain: https://bit.ly/2H8Dgd0 As many of us may have experienced, mosquito bites are quite annoying and their buzz is not pleasant either. Besides this, probably the most important reason why there is so much attention on these little insects is because females of some mosquito species are capable of transmitting pathogens, many of which affect humans. Pathogens present in the salivary glands of the mosquito are transferred to the human host when the female gets a bloodmeal. For instance, malaria is a disease transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes....

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A Map for Drug Discovery

About 80% of the 7,000 rare diseases that have been identified so far are of genetic origin. In simple words, this means that a mutation in the genome (DNA) of the affected individual, often touching only one nucleotide of a target gene, is sufficient to induce the disease. Researchers survey rare disease-causing genes and mutations because they provide reliable information for diagnosis. This is important because patients often report seeing an average of 4 to 7 physicians before being diagnosed, a serious burden on the lives of the patients and their families. However, identification of target genes and mutations...

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Statistical Approach to Validate the Performance of Models for Predicting Mortality Risk Temperature in Portuguese Metropolitan Areas

Credit: Luis Ascenso / Flickr There is extensive literature that links extreme temperatures with an increase in mortality rates. In Portugal, data has shown an increase in mortality rates during cold winters and sharp mortality peaks in years with heatwaves but can we prospectively predict the impact that weather events may have on health? In Portugal, the national government formulates the developing and publishing of Cold Weather and Heat Plans. These plans play an important role in devising preventive measures to mitigate the health risks associated with extreme weather. However, in case of frequent extreme temperatures, both in the...

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Human Pancreas Organoids: A step closer to understanding biology & treating disease

Organoids represent a new technology for the organ-specific tissue culture of cells in a 3D extracellular matrix (ECM). This results in the formation of 3D cell-clusters which replicate many organ-of-origin characteristics. Current efforts to develop human organoid models will help us understand more about how our organs are formed and function and how to help in cases where diseases occur. In our study, published in BMC Developmental Biology we describe the generation of human pancreas organoids (hPOs) and show how they could be used in future research. The pancreas is located alongside the stomach and plays a critical role...

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No Country for Healthcare Equity

Rare diseases (RD) are multi-systemic, complex conditions that can cause great disability. It is pivotal to adequately address the equity in healthcare provision for RD, meeting the needs of people from diverse backgrounds. In Australia, there is a significant disparity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter respectfully referred to as Indigenous) people and non-Indigenous people. Indigenous Australians represent 3% of the total population. It is estimated that 43,000-58,000 Indigenous Australians are living with an RD. Historically, Indigenous Australians face substantial challenges accessing healthcare in comparison to non-Indigenous people. This essay offers a comparison of experiences...

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