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Showing posts from September, 2015

Bacteria, Botulism, and Beauty

--> By Talya Klinger, MSS Intern
What do foodborne illnesses, neck dystonia treatments, and celebrities’ beauty regimens have in common? Clostridium botulinum, baratii, and other species of Clostridium bacteria produce all of the above and more. These seemingly innocuous, rod-shaped bacteria, commonly found in soil and in the intestinal tracts of fish and mammals, produce one of the most deadly biological substances: botulinum toxin, a neurotoxin that intercepts neurotransmitters and paralyzes muscles in the disease known as botulism. Nonetheless, botulinum toxin isn’t all bad: this chemical not only protects the bacteria from intense heat and high acidity, but it makes for an effective treatment for medical conditions as wide-ranging as muscle spasms, chronic migraines, and, yes, wrinkles. 

Clostridium botulinum and similar bacteria can make their way into the human body in a number of ways. Wounds infected with Clostridium botulinum or spores ingested by infants can lead to …

An Interview With Dr. Erik Foehr

By Zack Griggy, MSS Intern, San Marin High School, Novato

          In today's world, infectious disease remains a deadly concern to humanity. Some of these diseases include anthrax, Venezuelian equine encephalitis, bubonic plague, MERS, Eastern equine encephalitis, and, of course, botulism. Botulism is a disease that can cause paralysis and even death, but what makes botulism so different from the rest of these diseases is that the substance that causes it, botulinum toxin, is widely marketed as a beauty product under the name Botox. Dr. Erik Foehr, an expert in the fields of bioanalysis, immunogenicity risk assessment, and drug development, is currently investigating the toxin and how the body responds to it. Attend his presentation at Terra Linda High School, 320 Nova Albion Way, in Room 207 from 7:30 to 8:30 pm on September 30th.



In order to gain a little more insight before his talk, we interviewed Dr. Foehr about his work and research.


1. What drew you into the fields of phar…

Chemosynthesis in the Deep Sea

Chemosynthesis In the Deep Sea
by Jane Casto, MSS Intern, Terra Linda High School           The deep sea- where cold, stable pressures and darkness rule. Within that darkness lies life; a broad spectrum of biodiversity. The most fascinating thing about the deep sea, however, lays within what goes against lifeforms on land.            On land, plants and animals alike require some form of energy. The same is true in the deep sea, but one thing, particularly about plants, is quite different. Photosynthesis, the process plants use to turn sunlight into usable energy through chlorophyll, is almost always the method that plants use to get said energy. However, in the deep sea, quite a difference can be seen with that process.           One of the reasons as to why deep sea ecosystems, such as hydrothermal vents, do not use the process of photosynthesis is obvious. Little sunlight reaches that far down into the ocean. With that in mind, however, the question presents itself: how do these eco…