Dec 7, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

The Ongoing Battle Against HIV and AIDS

December is a month of holidays and celebration, but it is also a time to raise awareness for a global epidemic that has lasted over four decades. During World HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, health organizations, including the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, serve to remind everyone about the importance of getting tested, to remember those who succumbed to the disease, and to improve access to advanced therapies.

Since its first identification and description in 1981, medical advances have offered effective therapies to keep the virus at bay, and in some cases even completely cure a patient of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and to prevent it from becoming the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, which is often catastrophic to the patient. Unfortunately, as of 2021 per the World Health Organization (WHO), there are still over 38 million people living with HIV, with approximately 1.5 million new infections and 650,000 HIV-related deaths. Much of this has to do with lack of education or proper infrastructure and often obstacles to accessibility for treatment and prevention. I hope to explore HIV with you during this month of awareness so we can do our part to mitigate this persistent epidemic.


Nov 21, 2022 12:00:00 PM       by Kin Leung

The Thing About Tryptophan…

It’s that time of the year again where we’re supposed to gather with family and close friends, talk about anything but politics, and eat monstrous amounts of good food throughout the next few days as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I used to joke with my friends that we would all be subjected to tryptophan poisoning, but just as the story about Ben Franklin wanting the national bird to be a turkey is just a myth, we can’t blame our post-feast stupor on just tryptophan either.

 

 

 


Jul 12, 2022 1:28:37 PM       by Amy Li

A Beginner's Guide to Matrix Metalloproteinases

You go through everyday life thanks to the intricate communication and interaction of tissue and organ functions between the trillions of cells in your body. Within those tissues, a non-cellular component exists called the extracellular matrix (ECM). Imagine a structure made of water, proteins, and polysaccharides that helps to give structural support to surrounding cells as a connective tissue. Within the ECM lies a group of enzymes named matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). As endopeptidases, which are enzymes that break peptide bonds, the main role of MMPs is to break down collagen and other proteins in the ECM, whether in normal tissues or in promoting cancer metastasis. MMPs are divided into collagenases, gelatinases, stromelysins, matrilysins, and membrane-type (MT) MMPs, as well as some other non-classified MMPs.[1]


May 26, 2022 11:40:53 AM       by Kin Leung

Everything You Need to Know About Tumor Immunology and CCR8

With a background in both immunology and cancer biology, I’ve always had a fascination with the interplay between the body’s immune system and any tumors that might pop up. Originally, it made sense that the immune system would actively seek out and destroy cancerous cells, but the emerging consensus is that the interactions between cancers and host immunity is far more complex. In addition to growing new blood vessels and reprogramming metabolic processes, there appears to be some imbalance between avoiding immune cells while also promoting tumor-infiltrating inflammatory cells to promote its growth. 1 (Figure 1) Trying to dissect this apparent contradictory relationship between tumors and host immunity remains a hot topic.