ABSTRACT: The year 2016 marks the centenary of the death of Elie Metchnikoff, the father of innate immunity and discoverer of the significance of phagocytosis in development, homeostasis and disease. Through a series of intravital experiments on invertebrates and vertebrates, he described the role of specialised phagocytic cells, macrophages and microphages, subsequently renamed neutrophils and polymorphonuclear leucocytes, in the host response to injury, inflammation, infection and tissue repair. As a vigorous proponent of cellular immunity, he championed its importance versus humoral immunity in the so-called antibody wars. By 1908, when the Nobel Prize was awarded to Elie Metchnikoff and Paul Ehrlich, this debate was not yet resolved. Even earlier, Metchnikoff had turned his research interests to the process of ageing and the possible link to intestinal auto-intoxication, giving rise to the current interest in the microbiome of the gut and the use of probiotics to promote health and longevity. During the past century, Metchnikoff's reputation has waxed and waned, as lymphocyte heterogeneity, specificity and memory began to dominate the field of adaptive immunity, yet his benign visage continues to provide an iconic presence for specialists in innate immunology, whose studies have made a striking comeback in the past decade. In this review, I shall consider the nature of his studies and the person as well as the legendary description of his Eureka experience in Messina in 1882, a story loved by students and investigators alike, that marked, in his own words, his transformation from zoologist to pathologist.
Project description:Many reviews of Elie Metchnikoff's work have been published, all unanimously acknowledging the significant contributions of his cellular theory to the fields of immunology and infectious diseases. In 1883, he published a key paper describing phagocytic cells in frogs. His descriptions were not just about phagocytes involved in host defense, he also described how these specialized cells eliminated degenerating or dying cells of the host. This perspective focuses on key concepts developed by Metchnikoff by presenting relevant excerpts of his 1883 paper and matching these concepts with challenges of modern immunology. A new approach to macrophage polarization is included to introduce some creative thinking about the exciting emerging area of quantum biology.
Project description:In this study, we investigated the abundance and diversity of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses in fecal samples from five healthy individuals through a combination of serial filtration and CsCl gradient ultracentrifugation. Virus abundance ranged from 10? to 10? per gram of feces, and virus-to-bacterium ratios were much lower (less than 0.1) than those observed in aquatic environments (5 to 10). Viral DNA was extracted and randomly amplified using phi29 polymerase and analyzed through high-throughput 454 pyrosequencing. Among 400,133 sequences, an average of 86.2% viromes were previously uncharacterized in public databases. Among previously known viruses, double-stranded DNA podophages (52 to 74%), siphophages (11 to 30%), myophages (1 to 4%), and ssDNA microphages (3 to 9%) were major constituents of human fecal viromes. A phylogenetic analysis of 24 large contigs of microphages based on conserved capsid protein sequences revealed five distinct newly discovered evolutionary microphage groups that were distantly related to previously known microphages. Moreover, putative capsid protein sequences of five contigs were closely related to prophage-like sequences in the genomes of three Bacteroides and three Prevotella strains, suggesting that Bacteroides and Prevotella are the sources of infecting microphages in their hosts.
Project description:BACKGROUND: In the past decade, the field of molecular biology has become increasingly quantitative; rapid development of new technologies enables researchers to investigate and address fundamental issues quickly and in an efficient manner which were once impossible. Among these technologies, DNA microarray provides methodology for many applications such as gene discovery, diseases diagnosis, drug development and toxicological research and it has been used increasingly since it first emerged. Multiple tools have been developed to interpret the high-throughput data produced by microarrays. However, many times, less consideration has been given to the fact that an extensive and effective interpretation requires close interplay between the bioinformaticians who analyze the data and the biologists who generate it. To bridge this gap and to simplify the usability of such tools we developed Eureka-DMA - an easy-to-operate graphical user interface that allows bioinformaticians and bench-biologists alike to initiate analyses as well as to investigate the data produced by DNA microarrays. RESULTS: In this paper, we describe Eureka-DMA, a user-friendly software that comprises a set of methods for the interpretation of gene expression arrays. Eureka-DMA includes methods for the identification of genes with differential expression between conditions; it searches for enriched pathways and gene ontology terms and combines them with other relevant features. It thus enables the full understanding of the data for following testing as well as generating new hypotheses. Here we show two analyses, demonstrating examples of how Eureka-DMA can be used and its capability to produce relevant and reliable results. CONCLUSIONS: We have integrated several elementary expression analysis tools to provide a unified interface for their implementation. Eureka-DMA's simple graphical user interface provides effective and efficient framework in which the investigator has the full set of tools for the visualization and interpretation of the data with the option of exporting the analysis results for later use in other platforms. Eureka-DMA is freely available for academic users and can be downloaded at http://blue-meduza.org/Eureka-DMA.
Project description:In the early 20th century, there were few therapeutic options for mental illness and asylum numbers were rising. This pessimistic outlook favoured the rise of the eugenics movement. Heredity was assumed to be the principal cause of mental illness. Politicians, scientists and clinicians in North America and Europe called for compulsory sterilisation of the mentally ill. Psychiatric genetic research aimed to prove a Mendelian mode of inheritance as a scientific justification for these measures. Ernst Rüdin's seminal 1916 epidemiological study on inheritance of dementia praecox featured large, systematically ascertained samples and statistical analyses. Rüdin's 1922-1925 study on the inheritance of "manic-depressive insanity" was completed in manuscript form, but never published. It failed to prove a pattern of Mendelian inheritance, counter to the tenets of eugenics of which Rüdin was a prominent proponent. It appears he withheld the study from publication, unable to reconcile this contradiction, thus subordinating his carefully derived scientific findings to his ideological preoccupations. Instead, Rüdin continued to promote prevention of assumed hereditary mental illnesses by prohibition of marriage or sterilisation and was influential in the introduction by the National Socialist regime of the 1933 "Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring" (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses).
Project description:Far too much biomedical research is wasted and ends in the so called "Valley of Death": the gap that exists between biomedical research and its clinical application. While the translational process requires collaboration between many disciplines, current translational medicine focuses on single disciplines. Therefore, educational pathways that integrate clinical and research skills in interdisciplinary and interprofessional contexts are needed. The Eureka institute (http://www.eurekainstitute.org/) was founded to address these issues. The institute organizes an annual 1-week international certificate course to educate professionals in the domains of translational medicine. Study design: This study set out to investigate the impact of the Eureka certificate course on the alumni, focusing on their ability to engage in translational activities and thus become more proficient translational professionals. An explanatory, mixed-methods study was executed. Data collection: A questionnaire was distributed to collect quantitative data on the number of alumni who were able to apply what they learned during the Eureka course and engage in translational activities. Questionnaire data were also used to inform the semi-structured interviews that were conducted subsequently. Results: Fifty-one percent of the alumni reported that participating in the Eureka course played a role in their decision to change to a different job or in the way they were accomplishing their everyday work. Ten conditions for change that either hampered or supported the Eureka alumni's engagement in translational research activities were identified. Further, the learning outcomes of the Eureka course that impacted the alumni's professional activities were explored using Personal Professional Theory (PPT). The insight that alumni gained in the full translational spectrum and stakeholders involved stimulated reflection on their own role within that pathway. Further, according to the alumni, the course provided them with the skills and confidence to pursue a career as translational professional. These learning outcomes, in combination with conditions that supported alumni's engagement in translational activities, such as supportive professional partners, opportunities to network or collaborate, and a translational work environment, contributed to the large number of alumni that were able to engage in translational activities.
Project description:Doxorubicin (DXR) has been reported to have direct cytotoxicity against cancer cells and indirect immunotoxicity by modulation of host antitumor immunity. Hence, it may prevent cancer progression by a dual mechanism. Doxil®, a formulation of DXR encapsulated in polyethylene glycol modified (PEGylated) liposomes, is the most widely used of the clinically approved liposomal anticancer drugs. However, the effect of Doxil® on host antitumor immunity is not well understood. In this study, Doxil® efficiently suppressed tumor growth in immunocompetent mice bearing C26 murine colorectal carcinomas, but not in T cell-deficient nude mice, indicating a contribution of T cells to the overall antitumor effect of Doxil®. In immunocompetent mice, Doxil® increased major histocompatibility complex (MHC-1) levels in C26 tumors, which may be an indicator of increased immunogenicity of tumor cells, and potentially amplified tumor immunogenicity by decreasing immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T cells, tumor-associated microphages and myeloid-derived suppressor cells that collectively suppress T cell-mediated antitumor responses. This suggests that encapsulation of DXR into PEGylated liposomes increased the therapeutic efficacy of DXR though effects on host antitumor immunogenicity in addition to direct cytotoxic effects on tumor cells. This report describes the role of host antitumor immunity in the overall therapeutic effects of Doxil®. Manipulating pharmacokinetics and biodistribution of chemotherapeutic agents with immunomodulatory properties may increase their therapeutic efficacies by amplifying host antitumor immunity in addition to direct cytotoxic effects on tumor cells.
Project description:One hundred years have passed since the death of Élie Metchnikoff (1845-1916). He was the first to observe the uptake of particles by cells and realized the importance of this process for the host response to injury and infection. He also was a strong advocate of the role of phagocytosis in cellular immunity, and with this he gave us the basis for our modern understanding of inflammation and the innate and acquired immune responses. Phagocytosis is an elegant but complex process for the ingestion and elimination of pathogens, but it is also important for the elimination of apoptotic cells and hence fundamental for tissue homeostasis. Phagocytosis can be divided into four main steps: (i) recognition of the target particle, (ii) signaling to activate the internalization machinery, (iii) phagosome formation, and (iv) phagolysosome maturation. In recent years, the use of new tools of molecular biology and microscopy has provided new insights into the cellular mechanisms of phagocytosis. In this review, we present a general view of our current knowledge on phagocytosis. We emphasize novel molecular findings, particularly on phagosome formation and maturation, and discuss aspects that remain incompletely understood.
Project description:Cryobacterium arcticum PAMC 27867, a psychrotolerant, Gram-positive bacterium, was isolated from a sedimentary rock sample collected at Eureka Spurs in northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Here, we report the genome sequence of C. arcticum PAMC 27867.
Project description:The solution to a problem might manifest itself as a burst of unexpected, unpredictable clarity. Such Eureka! events, or Insight moments, are among the most fascinating mysteries of human cognition, whose neurophysiological substrate seems to include a role for oscillatory activity within the α and γ bands in the right parietal and temporal brain regions. We tested this hypothesis on thirty-one healthy participants using transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS) to externally amplify α (10 Hz) and γ (40 Hz) activity in the right parietal and temporal lobes, respectively. During γ-tACS over the right temporal lobe, we observed an increase in accuracy on a verbal insight task. Furthermore, electroencephalography (EEG) data revealed an increase in γ spectral power over bilateral temporal lobes after stimulation. Additionally, resting-state functional MRI data acquired before the stimulation session suggested a correlation between behavioral response to right temporal lobe tACS and functional connectivity of bilateral temporal lobes, in line with the bilateral increase in γ band revealed by EEG. Overall, results suggest the possibility of enhancing the probability of generating Eureka! moments in humans by means of frequency-specific noninvasive brain stimulation.
Project description:Both wild and managed pollinators significantly contribute to global food production by providing pollination services to crops. Colonies of commercially-reared honey bees and bumblebees are two of the largest groups of managed pollinators. Bumblebees in particular are increasingly used on soft fruit crops, such as strawberry, an economically important crop globally. Despite the use of commercial bumblebees in strawberry crops, there is little quantitative evidence that they provide a benefit to farmers. Given the negative impacts that commercial colonies can have on wild bee populations, it is vital that the benefits of commercial bumblebees are quantified, so reasoned management decisions can be made that provide maximum benefit to both farmers and wild bees. In this study, commercial colonies of the UK native subspecies Bombus terrestris audax were placed into June-bearer (flowering March-April, varieties ‘Malling Centenary’ and ‘Flair’) and everbearer (flowering May-June) strawberry polytunnels on a soft-fruit farm in the south east of England, and opened and closed at weekly intervals. The flower-visiting assemblage inside polytunnels was quantified, and fruit was harvested and quality assessed. In the June-bearer variety Malling Centenary, the presence of commercial bumblebees increased the amount of high commercial grade fruit by 25%. In contrast, no benefit of commercial bees on pollination or fruit quality was observed in the June-bearer variety Flair and the everbearer crop. The increase in quality of fruit in the Malling Centenary crop may be driven by the higher B. terrestris audax flower visitation rates seen in this crop in combination with varietal differences in pollination dependency. The number of flower visits by wild pollinators was not a well-supported predictor of strawberry quality, thus the benefit they provide in this system remains to be elucidated. The results presented here suggest that commercial bumblebees can greatly increase the quality and subsequent value of a strawberry crop, when deployed on a suitable variety at a time when wild pollinator numbers are low. However, the results also raise the possibility that commercial colonies do not always provide the benefits to strawberry crops that they are thought to. For growers to make informed decisions on commercial bumblebee use, further research is required into the effect of commercial bumblebees on the major strawberry varieties, in different locations and seasons. This study is an important step in gaining this understanding.