Rats to the Rescue! From Landmines to Tuberculosis, These Rats Have a Nose to Help

treat3A little over a year ago, I wrote about many of the characteristics of the domestic rat that made them an unexpectedly good choice for a family pet. Since I wrote that blog, my family has welcomed three very personable rats into our home.

To my family, rats are funny, playful, treat-stealing companions. However, in other areas of the world, some distant cousins to our mischievous threesome have become real-world heroes. These rats help clear fields of landmines and, as if that were not heroic enough, significantly increase the number of diagnosed tuberculosis infections. Continue reading “Rats to the Rescue! From Landmines to Tuberculosis, These Rats Have a Nose to Help”

Autophagy: The Intersection of Vitamin D, HIV and Tuberculosis

HIV-1 particles assembling at the surface of an infected macrophage. By see Source [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
With the warmer season in full swing in Wisconsin, the grass needs mowing and the weeds need pulling. As a consequence, I am outside in the sun, synthesizing Vitamin D (and watching my freckles multiply). The benefits of this vitamin have been discussed in the news (e.g., may help prevent cancer, maintains a healthy working brain) while informing us most people lack adequate levels. A recent PLoS Pathogens article intrigued me because the researchers examined the role Vitamin D played in mitigating human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis coinfection in macrophages.

Why were Campbell and Spector interested in Vitamin D’s effect on HIV-1 and M. tuberculosis? Continue reading “Autophagy: The Intersection of Vitamin D, HIV and Tuberculosis”