A few years back, a team of international researchers successfully used gene editing to correct a heart defect in human embryos. This is the first successful use of the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to edit the human genome, and hints at a future where we can delete disease-causing genes from future generations. What most people hearing this astounding news might now know, however, is that the CRISPR technology is not man-made, per se - it's bacteria-made. Today's post will explore how the future of gene editing was brought to us by the humble prokaryote, the bacteria.
Despite incredible progress in the manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, there are still significant geographic areas in our country that have lagged in getting individuals vaccinated. These areas are typically rural, remote, and economically disadvantaged. These "vaccine deserts" are in fact an intersection of other significant accessibility issues, many of which have existed for decades. Where do you see vaccine deserts? The same places where you have healthcare deserts, pharmacy deserts, and internet deserts.
We live in a time of tremendous advancements in science and medicine. We can save premature babies, reattach severed limbs (how about heads?), and research looks promising to wipe out some pretty terrifying diseases. And yet even recently, humanity still believed some pretty crazy things about where diseases come from... and each of them share haunting similarities to some beliefs we encounter today.
We spend a lot of time here pointing out the dangers of bacteria. However, we're going to take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful and life-giving benefits of bacteria. These unseen organisms help us in so many ways, it would be safe to say we can't live without them. Join us as we explore the kinder side of bacteria.
Kaiser Health News and The Guardian launched Lost on the Frontline a year ago, an investigation into the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare workers. Part tribute, part wake-up call, this ongoing report represents the largest accounting of healthcare workers who lost their lives to the pandemic, as well as the conditions that led to the lives lost. Until there is an official, federal count, this important report remains the most current source of this tragedy. In today's post, we'll look at the five most important takeaways from this data.
What is bacteria?
Bacteria are single-cell organisms. Where humans are made up of, on average 1 trillion cells, bacteria are made up of just one. But one isn't the loneliest number when it comes to bacteria; they reproduce very efficiently by splitting into two, who then go on to split into two more… and on until you have a colony of bacteria. Some of these colonies are beneficial to us, some don't harm us at all, and some are downright nasty, leading to harmful infections which can threaten our lives.
Ahh, that post-vaccine feeling of relief. That glimpse of the light at the end of a year-long tunnel. The thoughts of plans for travel, visiting loved ones, and even - gasp - eating at a restaurant or going to a concert! So just what can we do safely once we have our vaccines? Today we'll look at how being vaccinated impacts your ability to gather, travel, and seek out entertainment.
Are all hospital-acquired infections due to contaminated surfaces? It turns out that some infections - even those as the result of a procedure - are not due to contaminated surfaces, devices, or heath care workers. Sometimes a patient becomes infected by germs in their environment, but sometimes the infections stems from microorganisms in or on their own bodies. Today's post will explore both types of infections and the implications for hospital infection control.