Advice from a professional science writer

Talking about science is incredibly important, yet sometimes risky business. Take the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo (1564–1642), for example. In 1633, Galileo was put on trial for publishing an idea that, at the time, was considered highly controversial: The Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo’s writing ticked off the Catholic Church, who clung to their belief that the Earth lay at the center of the universe. Galileo was charged with heresy, sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest, and had his publications banned from the public.

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Science can be…


New portable Ebola detector is 1000x more sensitive than standard tests

Scanning electron micrograph of Ebola virus Makona (in red) from the West African epidemic shown on the surface of Vero cells (blue). Credit: NIAID

It starts with chills, aches and pains, feeling more tired than usual. Over the course of a week, these symptoms intensify: Red eyes, unexplained hemorrhaging and bleeding.

Ebola virus disease, though typically rare, has devastated communities in sub-Saharan Africa during outbreaks. As recently as February 2021, the Democratic Republic of Congo announced its 12th Ebola outbreak. The North Kivu province is bracing itself for another emergency situation like the outbreak that ran from 2018 to 2020; 3,470 cases were reported and 2,287 lost their lives.

The disease, first discovered…


Intestinal wound healing in Crohn’s patients affected by diet

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In a recent study, researchers discovered that a fungus present in cheese, processed meats, beer, and other fermented foods infects inflamed gut regions in individuals with Crohn’s disease, delaying healing.

Crohn’s is a form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by persistent inflammation in the digestive tract. Patients typically face ongoing and repeated cycles of flare-ups that subside over time. At their peak, the inner lining of the intestines breaks out in open sores, which can take weeks or even months to heal fully.

To understand what role the intestinal microbiome plays…


The coronavirus triggers a unique inflammatory pathway in the lungs

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Purdue University researchers have made a breakthrough finding that could explain why the disease is so hard to manage therapeutically. In what was described as a surprising discovery, they found that a specific immune pathway activated in the lung tissue during COVID infection contributes to hyper-inflammation in severe cases, rendering standard antivirals ineffective.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have been scrambling to identify antiviral drugs to treat COVID patients with severe and life-threatening symptoms. Unfortunately, until now, this search has dug up very few viable options. …


Gold-studded nanoparticles continuously track biomolecules and drugs

German researchers have developed an innovative method for continuously tracking and monitoring biomarkers and drugs circulating in the body. This implantable device sits under the surface of the skin and measures spikes and dips in the concentrations of these molecules over the course of weeks and months, opening up a wealth of possible applications in personalized medicine or pharmaceutical development.

©: Nanobiotechnology Group, JGU Department of Chemistry

Gold nanoparticles embedded in a porous hydrogel can be implanted under the skin and used as medical sensors. …


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A patient undergoes chemotherapy and radiation for rectal cancer. How do doctors know whether all the malignant tissue has been destroyed?

Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a way to answer this question, using an innovative combination of photoacoustic microscopy, ultrasound, and “deep learning” artificial intelligence neural networks.

This new system, called PAM/US, allows physicians to detect the presence of residual tumors within rectal tissue, even differentiating cancer cells from other tissue abnormalities such as scars.

“Our PAM/US system paired with the deep learning neural network has great potential to better identify patients suitable for nonoperative management and…


Vaccinated breastfeeding mothers pass on protective antibodies to their infants

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Human breast milk is a rich cocktail of proteins, fat, carbohydrates and biologically active factors that shield vulnerable infants from infections and establish a healthy immune system and gut microbiome.

Early reports during the pandemic suggested that children and babies were less prone to severe, life-threatening forms of COVID. Most kids infected by the coronavirus don’t become as sick as adults, often not even displaying any symptoms at all.

However, the statistics are staggering — over a million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID. Of these, babies…


Keeping felines happy and healthy as they age

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As the proud cat parent to not one but four senior cats, I’ve spent countless hours trawling the internet for expert advice, new products, and ideas for keeping my brood in tip top shape well into their golden years.

For cats, the transition from adult to senior is a subtle, yet critical milestone. After the age of ten, like me, senior cat parents need to stay on guard for any micro-changes in their pets’ behaviors. There are also some simple strategies for making sure your cat’s retirement is a happy and healthy…


It’s lowering your body’s ability to fight germs

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In a recent study, scientists found that commonly-used chemical additives added to processed foods can have toxic effects on the immune system, contributing to conditions such as chronic inflammation, hypersensitivity, and autoimmune disorders. The study found that these immunotoxic substances cause the body to produce fewer antibodies, leaving it more susceptible to infection.

One of these preservatives,tert-Butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, is present in around 1,250 processed foods including microwave popcorn, cheese crackers, frozen pizzas, chocolate bars, and breakfast foods.

These food additives were approved by the FDA decades ago. Because of this, food…


Genes play a central role too

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Researchers have discovered a gene that is directly linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and that acts independently of cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular disease tops the list of the most common causes of death globally. Until now, treating cardiovascular disease has primarily revolved around lowering cholesterol levels. However, as researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered, it’s not just blood lipid levels that are causative factors; genes play a central role as well.

The team, led by cardiologist Nathan O. Stitziel, studied…

Tara Fernandez

Cat person, PhD-qualified Cell Biologist & Science Writer. Interested in trends and emerging technologies in the biopharma industry.

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