People are Swapping Poop to Improve their Health

Bryan Poo Article

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     Yes, you read that right. For long stretches of human history, we have done what we can to remove ourselves from our waste. In each stool lives many many bacteria that can infect you if they get close to you. The twist is that since the bacteria come from healthy human bodies they are likely to only have minimal effects if reintroduced. In spite of the Doo Doo Taboo, fecal medical transplants are rising as a treatment option for some of the worst bacterial infections. Known perhaps more palatably as bacteriotherapy (and less so as a shit shot), it involves changing the bacterial community in your body to combat disease.

     If you remember our video “Bacterial Friends Within You,” you’ll remember that our bodies are covered and filled with lots and lots of bacteria. Bacteria, like all of us, need some space and some food to survive. If our bodies are filled with good bacteria (like probiotics), bad bacteria (the ones that want to get you sick) have a tough time getting enough space and food. If you do something harmful to your good bacteria, bad bacteria (like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) can get in and set up shop. If left untreated, a C. diff infection can form holes in your intestines leading to frequent bloody diarrhea. C. diff is also difficult to treat because it is resistant to many forms of antibiotic treatments and successful treatments only suppress it for a few days before the bacteria come back. Instead of using antibiotics, fecal transplants use the good bacteria from other people’s bodies to fight the bad bacteria in yours. So far, it seems that the little bacterial warriors kill the C. diff with minimal chance of side effects.

Bryan Poo 2.png

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Now I know you all want more details on how the procedure is done. First, a donor gives a sample of their poop to a doctor. That doctor (or a lucky technician) will break it up in a blender and add water until it’s about as thin as paint. This is put in an enema bag and stored until the donor is ready to put it in their butt.

Bryan Poo 3.png

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     Now if you’re just a tad bit unsure about swapping poop, you can cut out the other person. “Autologous Fecal Transplant” is the name for freezing and saving your poop while you are healthy to use for another day when your body’s bacteria get out of whack. If you need to go on antibiotics that kill all your good bacteria, an autologous fecal transplant can give them all back to you. This technique requires you to think ahead and store your feces in a clinic for a rainy day, but it reduces risk of foreign bacteria causing an infection.
     While this procedure is mainly used for treating C. diff, some researchers and doctors are looking into how the bacteria in your intestines and colon can affect other things like obesity and even autism spectrum disorder. Medical trials have been done (outlined here) showing that fecal transplants prove useful in alleviating some of the symptoms of people with diabetes and people with Parkinson’s Disease. It seems that many aspects of our health are tied to the bacteria inside of us. If some condition or disease throws that out of whack, it might be useful to restore the balance.

Bryan Visser
2013-12-04 14.06.58Bryan is a 2nd year graduate student studying DNA replication. He plans 
on making a career for science advocacy working at a museum or in 
Washington, DC. In his free time, Bryan enjoys board games and ballroom 

Cool Stuff Last Week: scales and hair are related and paternal weight can affect daughter’s breast health

  1. Feathers, Scales, and Hair are all related

    No wonder dinosaurs learned how to fly! Scales, feathers, and hair are all related! They all come from a common ancestor from 320 million years ago. A group from Geneva
    published a paper in Science Advances, suggesting that the reptilian ancestor was covered with scales that came from placodes. Placodes are areas of thick tissue that happen during embryo development. These areas can result in feathers, hair follicles, skin around the nose, or specific neurons.

    Placodes have been found in mammal and bird embryos but never on reptiles. The group was actually looking for a gene that resulted on hairless bearded dragons and identified a specific gene, EDA. Interestingly, when this gene is modified in humans, hair follicles, sweat glands and teeth don’t develop properly. This gave the group an idea that reptiles do have placodes- which they found in snakes, crocodiles, and lizards!

    This new finding enhances our understanding of evolution,uniting mammals, birds, and reptiles together.

  2. Overweight fathers affect their daughter’s breast tissue development… in mice

    Daughters of overweight fathers have increased mammary tumors and delayed mammary development in mice.
    A study found that male mice that gained weight had a change in the germline causing a genetic change in the paternal sperm.

    This is the first study of its kind since most papers focus on the effect of maternal weight gain on daughters. The study in mice further found that if a father is overweight, the daughter will be overweight at birth and throughout development. The group hopes to continue the study with human daughters and fathers to expand our knowledge. So next time you’re thinking of eating that extra donut, think about your genetic makeup!

Michelle Rubin (Editor-in-Chief)
Photo on 3-31-13 at 9.15 PM #2 Michelle is  a fourth year biomedical PhD student. She is extremely interested in science policy and hope to pursue that after her  studies. Let her know what you think of the blog on twitter! @michellejrubin.

Cool Stuff Last Week: The thantotranscriptome, sticky chameleon spit, and a window into the second brain

1. Your genes keep working even after you die

Logophiles rejoice: you can now add “thantotranscriptome” to your vocabulary. Thantotranscriptome is defined as “genes actively expressed after organismal death.” Yep, there are genes in your body that will specifically activate after your death. All throughout life, our genes are expressed in tightly choreographed patterns. Precise gene expression patterns lay out how a child should develop, look, and grow, even before birth. All the way through adulthood, genes are responsible for our every bodily function. Now, it appears that even when we die and our cells shut down, genes continue to be expressed up to two days later.

In their preprint article (which has been submitted for peer review but has not yet been accepted), the researchers said they expected the death of a complex organism to be somewhat like a car running out of gas. “For a short time,” they remarked, “engine pistons will move up and down and spark plugs will spark – but eventually the car will grind to a halt and die.” However, this is not at all what they found. Instead of genes slowly shutting off, new genes started being turned on, even a day or two after death. “In our car analogy, one would not expect window wipers to suddenly turn on and the horn to honk several days after running out of gas.” Yet apparently they do. Genes involved in transporting molecules around the cell are activated shortly after death. Various cancer-related genes turn on between 1 and 48 hours postmortem. Perhaps most surprisingly, developmental genes that had not been activated since before birth were found to be activated, some even 96 hours after death.

All of these studies were carried out in mice and zebrafish, but the researchers expect the findings to be relevant to humans as well. While they were primarily motivated by curiosity – no one really knows how our bodies shut down after death – this research could be applied to forensic science to help pin down a more accurate time of death, even down to the half-hour.   

2. Chameleon spit is sticky

In a groundbreaking Nature Physics paper published earlier this week, scientists found that chameleon spit is sticky. Okay, but if you thought you already knew this, you’re wrong. Shockingly, until now, no one actually thought to check whether chameleon spit is sticky. Chameleons’ tongues can reach two body lengths away and capture prey up to a third of their own body weight. And they do this so fast that their tongues require built-in catapults because muscle alone physically cannot accelerate that quickly. This speed and power belie an ability to successfully grab on to prey (try shooting your hand out toward a glass as fast as you possibly can and see if you grab it successfully or just knock it off the table).

Scientists have long speculated that roughness, suction, or stickiness may help the chameleon’s tongue grab its lunch and hang on, but someone finally opened up a chameleon’s mouth and discovered, yep, chameleon spit is a whopping 400 times stickier than human saliva. The scientists who conducted the study also found that the adhesive powers of the tongue were given a boost during the retraction phase, meaning that when the chameleon pulls its tongue back, the spit on the end of its tongue is more adhesive than when the prey finally makes it to the chameleon’s mouth. This “sticky spit” mechanism may be used by other animals that use their tongues to grab prey as well, and it could even inspire engineers to develop new kinds of glue!

3. A window into the second brain

If you had to take a wild guess as to how many brain the average person has, you might say one. Or slightly less than one, depending on your level of cynicism. Actually, though, there are so many neurons in your gut that some biologists refer to it as the second brain. These neurons are the reason you get butterflies in your stomach when you see someone cute, or a sinking feeling when you see someone you’d rather avoid. Your gut also produces 90% of your body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and is often a target for treating depression. In fact, the nerves in the gut probably play a big role in all kinds of disorders, from GI problems to diabetes to mood disorders, but relatively little is known about them.

A team led by Xiling Shen implanted a transparent window into the abdomens of mice and integrated a graphene electrode to measure the electrical signals. The scientists were able to watch and record as neurons in the gut fired away. The setup could be very important for gut biologists in the future, allowing them to manipulate conditions and observe how gut neurons respond.


Celebrating International Yoga Day: Exercising the Mind

In 2014, 177 nations of the United Nations General Assembly co-sponsored a resolution declaring June 21 the International Day of Yoga.This was the highest number of nations to date for this kind of resolution. Today is the second annual celebration. Not only are millions of people around the world practicing yoga, but to mark the occasion, the UN had a special discussion on how yoga can be used for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a global initiative to improve well-being of every person on the planet by the year 2030. This discussion focused on each person using yoga to create increased consciousness through stress reduction and greater psychological well-being in order to generate worldwide changes. How might yoga accomplish all of this?

To answer the question, let’s look at some of the recent science analyzing how yoga changes the brain. In 2013, a group of researchers from Duke University reviewed over 100 studies focusing on the effects of yoga on mental health. While the reviewers found that many of the studies used insufficient controls or did not have enough study subjects, they did identify and focus on 16 particularly strong studies. The reviewers concluded that there was significant evidence to support the hypothesis that yoga improves symptoms of many psychiatric illnesses, including mild depression, sleep disorders, schizophrenia, and ADHD. One of the common contributors to depression and anxiety is low levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Basically, GABA acts as a brake to prevent over-excitation of neurons in the brain. One fascinating study looked at GABA levels in the brain of subjects after either doing yoga or reading quietly for one hour. They found a 27% increase in GABA levels immediately after yoga with no changes in GABA after reading. This may provide some insight into how daily yoga can both reduce depression and anxiety and improve wellbeing.

In addition, evidence suggests yoga can help with later life disease. One study took older adults with mild cognitive impairment who feared progression to dementia and taught them either memory boosting mental exercises or yoga for 12 weeks. While there was significant cognitive improvement for both groups, the group trained in yoga had a reduction in depression and anxiety (including less fear of impending dementia), improved visuospatial memory, and greater attention and focus compared with the group trained in mental exercises. Another interesting study even examined stressed caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients. Having the caregivers practice a simple 12 minute yoga sequence over 8 weeks actually changed gene expression of inflammatory genes and reduced stress for the caretakers.

These are just some of the exciting studies demonstrating that yoga could make a huge difference in brain function and mental illness, in addition to the physical benefits it provides. Studies have shown yoga can lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, reduce chronic pain, improve sugar levels in diabetics, improve bone density, and lower the risk of heart attacks. While the International Day of Yoga is only one day a year, practicing yoga the rest of the year could greatly improve both physical and mental wellbeing. For me personally, yoga and meditation have changed my life completely, eliminating my anxiety and stress and making me a more productive person. For more on this, check out my journey through mindfulness post from last year!

Luna Loves good science

Cool Stuff: black holes have soft hair and autism is not just a disorder of the brain

  1.   Black holes have hair.

Forty years ago, Stephen Hawking scandalized the entire physics community when he suggested that black holes emit radiation. Although black holes are conventionally described as entities from which nothing, not even light, can escape, it turns out that some particles do escape, and they take energy with them as they do so. This means that, if nothing new falls into a black hole, it will eventually evaporate as it runs out of energy from escaping particles.

Dr. Hawking concluded that with the demise of the black hole came the destruction of all physical information about the matter inside. This destruction of information violates one of the presumed laws of quantum physics – like matter, information can neither be created nor destroyed. This is known as the black hole information paradox. Even today, more than forty years later, this paradox has not been resolved. However, in a paper written by Hawking himself and published in Physical Review Letters on June 6, one piece of the puzzle seems to have been solved.

The piece of the puzzle is the overturning of the assumption that black holes are “hairless,” a somewhat peculiar term to describe the idea that, to an outside observer, information within a black hole is invisible. Even someone like myself, whose understanding of black holes rivals that of a slightly precocious third grader, assumes this concept to be true. Anything that goes into a black hole is gone forever (unless you go into the black hole too*). Even with fancy instruments, we shouldn’t be able to tell what’s inside a black hole.

Hawking and his colleagues Drs. Perry and Strominger determined that, actually, black holes are surrounded by “soft hair,” zero-energy gravitons and photons which do contain information about the matter within a black hole. What this means is that information inside a black hole may not actually disappear when the black hole does, suggesting the information is not destroyed and the law about information conservation is not broken. The information paradox still lacks a complete solution – many brilliant physicists, including Stephen Hawking, have been chipping away at an answer for years. But this discovery bring us one step closer to a “theory of everything,” a single theory which would explain why the universe works the way it does.

*I have it on good authority that you will resemble spaghetti if you attempt this.

It’s hard to explain anything in quantum physics in three paragraphs – for a bit more depth, see here and here.

  1. Autism involves more than just the brain.

If you know someone with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you are probably familiar with the social difficulties and repetitive behaviors that often characterize the disorder. You may also have noticed this person seems to have a different response to touch than you do (if you are autistic, you may be able to attest that certain touches bother you more or less than they do others). For example,  certain clothing may feel absolutely unbearable to an autistic person; social touch, such as hugs and handshakes, may be quite uncomfortable. Conversely, some autistic people have a very high pain tolerance, and for many, the feel of a heavy or weighted blanket is comforting.

We’ve known about the link between sensory dysfunction and ASD for quite some time, but still, most research has focused on how autism affects the brain rather than how it affects the peripheral nervous system (the nerves outside the brain that respond to pain and touch). A recent paper published in Cell focused on exactly why autism is associated with sensory and tactile differences.

The study used mice lacking genes that are often mutated in humans with autism. Importantly, these genes were deleted only in the peripheral nervous system, not in the brain or anywhere else in the body. The study found that these deletions were enough to cause tactile sensitivity problems in the mice, and also that the mice displayed anxious behavior and impaired social interactions.

The researchers then asked another question – does it matter when the genes are deleted? In most genetic mouse models, genes are altered from birth, but it is also possible to change or delete genes in adult mice. The study found that, when genes were deleted in adult mice that were allowed to develop normally as babies, they experienced the same problems with touch. However, they do not experience the same behavioral deficits. The paper therefore proposed that response to touch during a critical developmental window can affect behavior throughout life. Studies like this one may help therapists and caregivers understand the links between sensory experience and social and behavioral problems. This in turn could inform better strategies for accommodating and helping autistic children, especially in early childhood.

Jessica (Editor)
10891702_10152475816767115_155735200795992761_nJess is a fourth year biology PhD student who studies the liver and its regenerative capabilities. In her admittedly limited free time, she enjoys traveling, writing, and being outdoors.


Let’s Talk About Gender Transition

During the editing process for this article the LGBTQ community was devastated by the deadliest mass shooting incident in the country’s history. We were torn if we should publish this article in wake of this tragedy, but we believe that this is is valuable information that everyone should know. For ways to help the victims and their families visit this link.

Everyone is pretty fixated on the bathroom habits of
transgender people lately. The awful memes and endless Facebook arguments have made it clear that many people may not understand what it means to be transgender*.

Trans people face overwhelming social stigma, and a 2000px-A_TransGender-Symbol_Plain3.svgsurvey of LGBTQ Americans suggests that they  are the least socially accepted subpopulation of the LGBTQ community. This lack of acceptance may be a major contributing factor to the strikingly high rate of suicide among trans people. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute released results from a survey that revealed 42% of trans women, 46% of  trans men, and 36%-38% of gender non-conforming/genderqueer (GNC) people have attempted suicide. Trans and GNC people are also the victims of violent crimes, and things are not improving; the Human Rights Campaign reported that transgender homicides hit an all time high in 2015. Since transphobia may come from a place of misunderstanding, this piece aims to explain gender transition and gender identity from a biological perspective.

Gender dysphoria is a condition defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness as “a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months.” Individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria are referred to as transgender or GNC. Treatment for this condition includes psychotherapy and gender transition. Details of transition are case-dependent, but generally include hormone therapy and gender immersion (where a person lives as the gender with which they identify), and, in some cases, sex reassignment surgery (SRS).

Many studies have shown improved quality of life after SRS and other health care related to transition, but not all are positive. The most recent publication indicates that 1 year after surgery mental health improves, but physical health declines. Another study of a Swedish cohort in 2011 concludes that SRS is associated with higher risk of mortality and suicidal behavior, and post-op patients need better psychiatric support. However, these authors used a cisgender (non-transgender) control group and did not account for the high risk of mortality associated with being transgender, regardless of surgery.

Despite the comparatively high volume of studies that show positive outcomes with medical support of transition, some American doctors remain skeptical and may refuse treatment. Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is a notable opponent of SRS. In an op-ed originally published in 2014 and republished last month by the Wall Street Journal, McHugh claims that “There are subgroups of the transgendered [sic], and for none does “reassignment” seem apt.” The only study McHugh cites is the one of the Swedish cohort previously mentioned. His misinterpretation of that data and lack of evidence for other claims have been criticized by other psychiatrists and the trans community.

One critical misconception about transgender people is that SRS is an essential part of transition, but that is not the case for all transgender people. This myth stems from the idea that sex and gender are interchangeable words with the same meaning, but there is a clear distinction. Sex (male/female) refers to a person’s anatomy (penis/vagina), sex organs (testes/ovaries), and/or chromosomes (XY/XX), while gender (man/woman) refers more to the societal and cultural aspects of masculinity and femininity. These characteristics are biologically distinct and one does not imply the other.  

Last year, researchers at Boston University School of Medicine published a review article that suggests that gender identity is biologically distinct from sexual identity. The authors analyzed multiple studies on people with sexual development disorders and concluded that gender identity is a biological condition unaffected by the gender to which one is assigned at birth. Moreover, neurological studies reveal similarities between trans people and the gender with which they identify. For example, a 1995 study examined the size and number of neurons in a specific area of the brain (the BSTc) that is known to differ between men and women. When the BSTc of trans women (individuals assigned male at birth, but identified as and transitioned to female) were analyzed they more closely resembled that of women than men. Since this finding in the mid-90s others have found similar phenomena in other areas of the brain. The sample size for these neurological studies are relatively small and should be interpreted with caution. However, together, they make a strong case that gender identity is a biological condition independent of gender assignment and sex determining characteristics.

Although there are some critics, the amount of studies that show positive outcomes with transition are overwhelmingly more abundant than those that do not, and current data suggests that gender identity is a real biological condition, not a lifestyle choice. Further understanding of gender transition and gender identity will improve healthcare and ultimately lead to a better life for those with gender dysphoria.

*I am cisgender and have no idea what it is like being transgender emotionally or mentally speaking. For that, you should ask a transgender person and/or check out this article. My piece will focus on gender identity from a purely biological perspective.

Anthony Barrasso (President)
AnthonyBarrasso_AvatarAnthony is a 3rd year graduate student studying retinal development. His career interests include cancer research, education, and politics. Outside of lab, he likes playing with his dog and eating delicious food. Follow him on twitter @barrasso67

REPOST: Hillary Clinton


With Hillary Clinton being endorsed by President Obama and being the presumptive nominee, we’re looking at her position on different scientific topics including climate change and STEM education.  (See Bernie’s profile here).

Name: Hillary Clinton


Via Wikipedia

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Government Positions Held: First Lady of the United States (1993-2001), United States Senator from New York (2001-2009), United States Secretary of State (2009-2013)

Education: J.D. from Yale Law School, B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College

Stance on:

Science Research: Clinton is strongly in support of federal funding for scientific research. Although she has not made it a major feature of her current campaign, it was a pillar of her 2008 platform. Specifically, Clinton is in favor embryonic stem cell research and robust federal support of NASA. Additionally, in 2011, Clinton spoke at the National Institutes of Health to call for a renewed push for an “AIDS-free generation”. Most recently, in 2013, Clinton came out strongly against the budget sequester on the basis that it significantly hindered scientific research.

Climate Change and Alternative Energy: Like the majority of Democrats, Clinton believes climate change is a real and present danger to the world. Recently she announced her plan to combat climate change. Despite setting a more ambitious goal than President Obama, her plans have still receivedcriticism for lacking the necessary urgency to make real change. One major source of scrutiny from scientists stems from Clinton’s indecision on theKeystone Pipeline. While many of her democratic colleagues have come out against the project, Clinton is remaining neutral and dodgy on the topic.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Last year, at a biotech convention in San Diego, CA, Clinton spoke passionately about the usefulness of genetically modified crops. “If you talk about drought-resistant seeds, and I have promoted those all over Africa, by definition they have been engineered to be drought-resistant,” Clinton said. “That’s the beauty of them. Maybe somebody can get their harvest done and not starve, and maybe have something left over to sell.” However, Clinton’s support for GMOs have been called into question due to her ties with pro-GMO companies such as, Monsanto and Dow Chemical Company.

STEM Education: Clinton has made both K-12 and higher education a priority in her career. Most recently, she has proposed big government spending to make higher education more affordable and come out in support of making Pre-K education more accessible for low income families. As Secretary of State she addressed STEM education specifically when she launched NeXXt Scholars, an organization created to provide mentorship and networking opportunities for young women pursuing STEM degrees.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Clinton supports the ACA, but acknowledges its flaws. Clinton is especially concerned with the negative effect the system has on small business owners and their employees. However, she applauds the potential it has to alleviate job lock, allow young adults remain on their parents’ healthcare, and promote Comparative Effectiveness Research, which creates research opportunities and helps cut unnecessary government spending on ineffective treatments.

Vaccines: There is no way to more perfectly explain Clinton’s stance on vaccines than her own tweet. “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”. However, it should be noted that, on her 2008 campaign, she met with an autism awareness group and called for more research into a link between vaccines and autism.

Summary: Clinton accepts that climate change is a major cause for concern, but some environmentalists are concerned that her alternative energy initiative is too conservative, and her indecision on the Keystone Pipeline project is worrisome. Additionally, Clinton sides with scientists on key issues such as vaccines and GMOs. However, she has yet to propose specific plans to limit the right of parents to refuse vaccines for their children and her ties with agricultural business may affect her judgement on GMOs. The strongest case for Clinton as an ally of scientists is her consistent, passionate advocacy for scientific research and her dedication to making education more affordable and accessible for all Americans.

Anthony Barrasso (President)
AnthonyBarrasso_AvatarAnthony is a 3rd year graduate student studying retinal development. His career interests include cancer research, education, and politics. Outside of lab, he likes playing with his dog and eating delicious food. Follow him on twitter @barrasso67.


Cool Stuff Last Week: A blood test to personalize depression treatments and understanding Zika virus replication better

  1.     A blood test to help identify which depression medication to use

Patients with depression can now have a blood test done to help identify a more accurate treatment. In a study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, scientists found that patients with positive inflammation markers in their blood require a more aggressive treatment for depression.

When you see inflammation usually it is because your immune system is activated, sending white blood cells to help heal whatever is hurt. However, the same immune system that helps with inflammation can interact with the chemicals in the brain. This interaction can alter brain chemistry and lead to depression and make patients unresponsive to current depression treatments. Patients with increased levels of two inflammation markers did not respond to generic depression treatments such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which adjust the balance of chemical signals in the brain. This may be because although SSRIs have some anti-inflammatory function, when inflammation is too high the treatment cannot be as effective.

Although antidepressants are safe they can have serious side effects such as vomiting, insomnia, or increased agitation. It is important that patients have access to all the information they can to find the best treatments for them personally. We hope that this is the first in many steps to increasing mental health treatments!

  1.     A human protein helps regulate Zika replication

Scientists found that a human protein called interferon-inducible transmembrane protein-1 (IFITM-1) is involved in regulating zika replication.  IFITM-1 is activated by interferon, a molecule our bodies release in response to pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. When IFITM-1 was removed from HeLa cells Zika virus replication increased, while when IFITM-1 was overexpressed (produced above normal levels in cells) Zika replication decreased. Interestingly, when the protein was overexpressed, the cells were more resistant to Zika-related cell death than normal.

This helps scientists focus on developing better methods to combat Zika including boosting IFITM-1 expression.

Michelle Rubin (Editor-in-Chief)
Photo on 3-31-13 at 9.15 PM #2 Michelle is  a fourth year biomedical PhD student. She is extremely interested in science policy and hope to pursue that after her  studies. Let her know what you think of the blog on twitter! @michellejrubin.