The Biochemist Blog

Going Viral: A Brief History of Nearly All Things Virus-related

We have all had multiple viral infections in our lifetime, be it the flu or a more serious disease such as measles. Every year, new strains of virus feature in the spot light, making it a challenge to keep up with treatment options. But when did we first come across viruses? How did we differentiate them from other disease-causing pathogens? How did the first vaccinations against viruses come about?

Why is clean meat so important?

Shaked Regev, Stanford University, California

Imagine a world where people can continue going about their lives exactly as they are, while making animal friendly and environmentally conscious choices. Clean meat, also known as cultured meat, could very well make this a reality within the next few years. The idea is essentially to create meat without necessitating the slaughter animals, by growing their cells in a bioreactor under suitable conditions, such as a medium with all the nutrients the cells need, as well as the ideal temperature and pressure for their growth. But why bother changing our food system? What’s wrong with it as things stand?

Yellow fever: Brazil’s current outbreak

Louise Corscadden, University of Leicester, UK

Most people are first introduced to yellow fever at the travel clinic; upon imminent jet-setting to a tropical destination far away, we are told we need a yellow fever vaccine. To us, yellow fever is a disease of places far away: out of sight, out of mind. However, to those in the 47 at-risk countries in South America and Africa (WHO, 2018), it is a highly lethal disease. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2013 between 84,000 and 170,000 people suffered from the severe form of the disease, with 29,000 to 60,000 dying as a result (WHO, 2018). Last year, the disease once again reared its head in Brazil in a precedence recently unseen in years.