LIFE

EAT ME BEFORE I EAT YOU! A NEW FOE FOR BAD BUGS

[3.17.10]

Now we are starting to work with organisms that are more likely to appear in a hospital, like staph and influenza, and we have our sights on Clostridia difficile, Pneumococcus aeruginosa, Acetinobacter baumanii and an alarming number of other bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. We are also working on influenza, which has a convenient little feature called M2e.

Introduction

I sat down with Kary Mullis in New York to talk about his current work which involves instant mobilization of the immune system to neutralize invading pathogens and toxins. This comes into play in the fight against Influenza A and drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

"We are devising a drug that will selectively attach alpha-gal epitopes to Staphylococcus," he says, "This epitope is recognized by your immune system as a symbol for, 'Eat me.' The immune system doesn't know what the Staph bacteria is, but since the alpha-gal epitope is attached to it, it complies with protocol and eats it. It doesn't notice, "This is phony, we're being set up."

"If you're driving through L.A. and you get stopped for speeding and a cop throws a bag of marijuana in your back seat and busts you for it, you get outraged. Using our drugs, you've fooled your immune system in the same way. But it's your system; it's okay to do it, as long as you don't stick the epitope on something you need."

Mullis received the Nobel Prize for his invention of PCR, a method of amplifying DNA. PCR multiplies a single, microscopic strand of the genetic material billions of times within hours. The process has multiple applications in medicine, genetics, biotechnology, and forensics. Mullis points out that PCR, because of its ability to extract DNA from fossils, is in reality the basis of a new scientific discipline, paleobiology.

You don't interview Kary Mullis, you turn the camera on, sit back and experience him. He talks, you listen. He's fascinating, exciting. In this regard, I am pleased to present, unedited, the first half-hour of video, followed by the edited text of the complete conversation.

— JB

KARY MULLIS received a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993, for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The process, which Mullis conceptualized in 1983, is hailed as one of the monumental scientific techniques of the twentieth century.

Kary Mullis' Edge Bio Page

TOXO

[12.2.09]

 

 

The parasite my lab is beginning to focus on is one in the world of mammals, where parasites are changing mammalian behavior. It's got to do with this parasite, this protozoan called Toxoplasma. If you're ever pregnant, if you're ever around anyone who's pregnant, you know you immediately get skittish about cat feces, cat bedding, cat everything, because it could carry Toxo. And you do not want to get Toxoplasma into a fetal nervous system. It's a disaster.

 

ROBERT SAPOLSKY is a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University and of neurology at Stanford's School of Medicine. His books include A Primate's Memoir, and Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping.

Robert Sapolsky's Edge Bio Page


[24:27 minutes]

 

TOXO

Topic: 

  • LIFE
http://vimeo.com/79400027

"The parasite my lab is beginning to focus on is one in the world of mammals, where parasites are changing mammalian behavior. It's got to do with this parasite, this protozoan called Toxoplasma. If you're ever pregnant, if you're ever around anyone who's pregnant, you know you immediately get skittish about cat feces, cat bedding, cat everything, because it could carry Toxo. And you do not want to get Toxoplasma into a fetal nervous system. It's a disaster."

Why Sex Differences Matter: The Darwinian Perspective

[9.30.09]

If we want to change the world, we need first to understand it. And when it comes to understanding human nature — male and female — Darwinian science is indispensable.

HELENA CRONIN launched and runs [email protected]. She is a Co-Director of LSE's Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science. Author,The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today.

Beauty's Child: Sexual Selection, Nature Worship and the Love of God

Topic: 

  • LIFE
http://vimeo.com/80904859

"...I want to engage you in a discussion of the deep history of beauty. By deep I mean as seen from an evolutionary perspective. I am an "evolutionary psychologist".  I believe that to understand and fully appreciate human mental traits, we need to know why they are there — which is to say what biological function they are serving.  Evolutionary psychology has been making pretty good progress. But, as we say, "there are still some  elephants in the living room" — big issues that no one wants to talk about.

Beauty's Child: Sexual Selection, Nature Worship and the Love of God

[9.30.09]

...I want to engage you in a discussion of the deep history of beauty. By deep I mean as seen from an evolutionary perspective. I am an "evolutionary psychologist".  I believe that to understand and fully appreciate human mental traits, we need to know why they are there — which is to say what biological function they are serving.  Evolutionary psychology has been making pretty good progress. But, as we say, "there are still some  elephants in the living room" — big issues that no one wants to talk about. And human beings worship of the beautiful remains  one of the biggest.

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