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.


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.


Nov 18, 2020 3:00:00 PM       by Kashyap Gayathri

Autophagy: A Natural Detox

Autophagy can be understood as ‘self-eating’. In simple terms, it is a vitally important cleansing mechanism carried out by the cells in our body. It brings about the degradation of the cytoplasmic contents within membrane bound vesicles called lysosomes.

 


Nov 11, 2020 12:00:00 PM       by Kashyap Gayathri

Antibodies Served With a Side of Phospho-Specificity

Anyone who is remotely interested in biology, or has perhaps scrolled through fitness websites to get in shape, has come across the word "protein". There is, however, much more to proteins than simply being a key player in maintaining active lifestyles. Proteins are ubiquitous in the cells of the body and are the driving force for key cellular processes. In order for proteins to carry out their duties, they need to be well-armed to execute their functions. This process of making the protein competent is achieved through specific post translational modifications (PTMs). The star of the PTMs is a cellular process called phosphorylation. The conventional methods adopted for quantifying phosphorylation are highly labor intensive. The development of phospho-specific antibodies has allowed for a huge sigh of relief from researchers due to their reputation of being quick, and detecting only phosphorylated forms of proteins in a complex mixture of phosphorylated and non-phosphorylated forms.

 


Jun 22, 2020 3:01:18 PM       by Dennis Miao

A Closer Look at Asymptomatic COVID-19 Cases

As we’ve seen over these past few months, a SARS-CoV-2 infection can result in widely different manifestations and severities in the subsequent course of the disease it causes, COVID-19. Many of those infected by SARS-CoV-2 experience a mild to severe illness, with symptoms that include fever, shortness of breath, cough, and fatigue that appear roughly 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. On the other hand, some individuals infected with the virus will remain asymptomatic. 


Jul 31, 2019 1:42:45 AM       by Panyue (Penny) Hao

Tumor Immunology Targets

A healthy immune system requires a series of checkpoints to ensure self tolerance and prevent damage to other tissues during immune response. Binding of costimulatory signal transduction molecules (such as CD28, ICOS, GITR) on T cells to their receptors (such as CD80/CD86, ICOSL, GITRL) on antigen presenting cells (APCs) may contribute to T cell activation. However, in some states, inhibitory signals of T cell activation and response occur during the involvement of T cell receptors. These signals are generated by proteins involved in immune checkpoints (eg, PD-1, CTLA-4, TIM-3, and LAG3). Usually PD-1 and CTLA-4 immunological checkpoint proteins are upregulated in T cells infiltrating tumors and bind to their respective ligands, PD-L1 (ligand B7-H1)/PD-L2 (ligand B7- DC) and CD80/86, and down-regulate T cell responses. Immunological checkpoint ligands are often upregulated in cancer cells as a means of evading immune detection. Therefore, immunotherapy by blocking immunological checkpoint protein activation of anti-tumor immunity has become a popular research subject for cancer therapy.