Spasers: Nanoparticles that Make Deadly Bubbles to Kill Cancer Cells

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Spasers are energy-absorbing particles that release light. Spaser stands for “surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” These tiny particles are a type of plasmonic nanoparticle. Lasers activate spasers, which can be targeted to cancer cells. Once internalized by cancer cells, spasers can selectively kill them. Galanzha and colleagues generated and tested spasers of … Read moreSpasers: Nanoparticles that Make Deadly Bubbles to Kill Cancer Cells

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Beyond Neurons: Guts and Bones Need Acetylcholinesterase and Cholinergic Signaling to Develop

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Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) is the enzyme (Figure 1) that degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is released at neuronal synapses in the brain, at parasympathetic nerve synapses in the periphery, and at neuromuscular junctions. Acetylcholine activates two classes of receptors, the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, which is an ion channel, and the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, which is a … Read moreBeyond Neurons: Guts and Bones Need Acetylcholinesterase and Cholinergic Signaling to Develop

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Resistance to Antibiotics of Last Resort

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming a major threat to human health (Figure 1). After a recent scare with a relative who contracted pneumonia while in the hospital, I began to think about antibiotic resistance and how bacteria become resistant even to those antibiotics that are rarely used, such as the carbapenem antibiotics. Bacteria can be infected … Read moreResistance to Antibiotics of Last Resort

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Challenges in Classifying Biology

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There are multiple ways to categorize nearly everything in biology. The value of an individual categorization scheme depends on the perspective of the user. As Shirley Malcom (Director, Education and Human Resources Programs, AAAS) once said, “We [Biologists] are splitters not lumpers.” This need for classification makes consensus difficult, can limit our way of thinking, … Read moreChallenges in Classifying Biology

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Can you be vaccinated against yourself?

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A vaccine may be described as medicine that stimulates an immune response with a “memory.” Many people also consider a vaccine to be a medicine that prevents a disease caused by a pathogen. Indeed, the first vaccines were ones that prevented infectious diseases, such as polio and measles. Some vaccines have been so successful that … Read moreCan you be vaccinated against yourself?

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