The CRISPR-Cas System

It’s about time I covered CRISPR, don’t you think? It’s the hottest topic in science since space-tardigrades! Once again, no, water bears can’t live in space naked, they have to be in a dry tun. Back to CRISPR though, this new gene editing technology isn’t actually new at all. Bacteria have been using it as an adaptive immune system to remember past viral infections. Some History and Terminology CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. They are exactly what their name says they are… In 1987, scientists noticed these repeating sequences in E. Coli and eventually, other scientists…

cowpox

Ah La Vache!

Who Knew… Cowpox Edward Jenner was an English physician who lived in the 18th century. During that time, smallpox was rampant and there was no good treatment or preventative measure against it. The closest anyone got to preventing the disease was through a process called variolation. This meant grinding up smallpox scabs, inhaling the powder, and you may catch a less severe version of smallpox. Afterwards, you had life long immunity. This was a dangerous practice because while the person was sick, he/she could spread the smallpox virus to others. With a mortality rate of 30%, this practice was dangerous…

virus parasite

Parasite Evie

Obligate Intracellular Parasite When you think of a parasite, do you think of a tapeworm living in the small intestine? A guinea worm erupting from a hand or foot? Or perhaps fleas or head lice jumping from dog to dog, kid to kid? While those are all terrifyingly fantastic, there is another type of parasite that exists, unseen, all around us. I’m talking about an obligate intracellular parasite, also known as a virus. Structure Not quite alive, but also not completely inanimate, viruses need a host to grow and reproduce. Their structures are simple: some DNA or RNA encased in…