An Unsterile Baby
Week of September 27

Fetus in uteroScientists believed for a century that the human fetus is sterile and only becomes infected with bacteria during and after birth. Only in recent years did we find that’s not true. I love it when we scientists are flat out wrong because it upholds the first rule in science: to question – even things we take for granted.

It was in 2010 that a researcher tested the first stool samples of newborns right after birth and found a diversity of bacteria there. Since then the focus has been on how and from where the mother passes the bacteria on to her fetus. And, do the microbes include potentially harmful specimens or beneficial ones known as our microbiome which live in and on us to keep us healthy... More »

Hope for Sickle Cell
Week of September 20

Sickle cell stampImagine a water balloon traveling down a narrow pipe when suddenly a pole inside begins expanding, stretching the balloon and slowing it down. This describes red blood cells in people with sickle cell disease. Their red blood cells are sickle shaped rather than the normal, donut shaped disks. The misshapen cells are rigid, don’t flow easily through blood vessels, stick together, and block blood flow causing pain, anemia and organ damage.

Millions of people around the world suffer from sickle cell disease with few treatment options. But a recent discovery could ease the severity of this disorder... More »

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