Monthly Archives: January 2010

Now viewing through an eye-piece:

Annual Review of Neuroscience
Vol. 32: 435-506 (Volume publication date June 2009)
Advances in Light Microscopy for Neuroscience

Brian A. Wilt, Laurie D. Burns, Eric Tatt Wei Ho, Kunal K. Ghosh, Eran A. Mukamel, and Mark J. Schnitzer
James H. Clark Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305; email:

Since the work of Golgi and Cajal, light microscopy has remained a key tool for neuroscientists to observe cellular properties. Ongoing advances have enabled new experimental capabilities using light to inspect the nervous system across multiple spatial scales, including ultrastructural scales finer than the optical diffraction limit. Other progress permits functional imaging at faster speeds, at greater depths in brain tissue, and over larger tissue volumes than previously possible. Portable, miniaturized fluorescence microscopes now allow brain imaging in freely behaving mice. Complementary progress on animal preparations has enabled imaging in head-restrained behaving animals, as well as time-lapse microscopy studies in the brains of live subjects. Mouse genetic approaches permit mosaic and inducible fluorescence-labeling strategies, whereas intrinsic contrast mechanisms allow in vivo imaging of animals and humans without use of exogenous markers. This review surveys such advances and highlights emerging capabilities of particular interest to neuroscientists.


English Breakfast tea has the potential to inhibit the activity of anthrax, as long as the tea doesn’t contain milk, according to an article published in the March 2008 issue of Microbiologist magazine.


Now playing:

The Mother Centriole Plays an Instructive
Role in Defining Cell Geometry


Centriole positioning is a key step in establishment and propagation of cell geometry, but the mechanism of this
positioning is unknown. The ability of pre-existing centrioles to induce formation of new centrioles at a defined angle
relative to themselves suggests they may have the capacity to transmit spatial information to their daughters. Using
three-dimensional computer-aided analysis of cell morphology in Chlamydomonas, we identify six genes required for
centriole positioning relative to overall cell polarity, four of which have known sequences. We show that the distal
portion of the centriole is critical for positioning, and that the centriole positions the nucleus rather than vice versa. We
obtain evidence that the daughter centriole is unable to respond to normal positioning cues and relies on the mother
for positional information. Our results represent a clear example of ‘‘cytotaxis’’ as defined by Sonneborn, and suggest
that centrioles can play a key function in propagation of cellular geometry from one generation to the next. The genes
documented here that are required for proper centriole positioning may represent a new class of ciliary disease genes,
defects in which would be expected to cause disorganized ciliary position and impaired function.

Phage Therapy

Once in a while, I’ll end up reading about something I haven’t read in years. That’s the kind of person I am, and I tend to do that toward things I don’t have much money nor knowledge invested in. So, let’s take a look at the advances in phage therapy.

A controlled clinical trial of a therapeutic bacteriophage preparation in chronic otitis due to antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa; a preliminary report of efficacy
Wright, A.*, Hawkins, C.H. † , Änggård, E.E. † & Harper, D.R. †
*UCL Ear Institute and Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, Grays Inn Road, London , and † Biocontrol Limited, BioCity, Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham, UK
Correspondence to Anthony Wright, UCL Ear Institute and Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, Grays Inn Road, London, UK. Tel.: 0845 680 0971; fax: 0845 680 0972; C.H Hawkins, E.E Änggård & D.R. Harper Biocontrol Limited, BioCity, Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham, UK Tel.: 0044 207 935 4579; fax: 0044 207 935 3635
Copyright © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Clin. Otolaryngol. 2009, 34, 349–357

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of a therapeutic bacteriophage preparation (Biophage-PA) targeting antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa in chronic otitis.

Design: Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase I/II clinical trial approved by UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Central Office for Research Ethics Committees (COREC) ethical review process.

: A single specialist university hospital.

Participants: 24 patients with chronic otitis with a duration of several years (2–58). Each patient had, at the time of entry to the trial, an ear infection because of an antibiotic-resistant P. aeruginosa strain sensitive to one or more of the six phages present in Biophage-PA. Participants were randomised in two groups of 12 treated with either a single dose of Biophage-PA or placebo and followed up at 7, 21 and 42 days after treatment by the same otologist. Ears were thoroughly cleaned on each occasion and clinical and microbiological indicators measured.

Main outcome measures: Physician assessed erythema/inflammation, ulceration/granulation/polyps, discharge quantity, discharge type and odour using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Patients reported discomfort, itchiness, wetness and smell also using a VAS. Bacterial levels of P. aeruginosa and phage counts from swabs were measured initially and at follow-up. At each visit patients were asked about side effects using a structured form. Digital otoscopic images were obtained on days 0 and 42 for illustrative purposes only.

Results: Relative to day 0, pooled patient- and physician-reported clinical indicators improved for the phage treated group relative to the placebo group. Variation from baseline levels was statistically significant for combined data from all clinic days only for the phage treated group. Variation from baseline levels was statistically significant for the majority of the patient assessed clinical indicators only for the phage treated group. P. aeruginosa counts were significantly lower only in the phage treated group. No treatment related adverse event was reported.

Conclusion: The first controlled clinical trial of a therapeutic bacteriophage preparation showed efficacy and safety in chronic otitis because of chemo-resistant P. aeruginosa.

I’m Superhuman


  • Last Article of Interest Read:
    β-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters

    β-Alanine supplementation aug-
    ments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during
    repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl
    Physiol 103: 1736–1743, 2007. First published August 9, 2007;
    doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00397.2007.—Carnosine (␤-alanyl- L –
    histidine) is present in high concentrations in human skeletal muscle.
    The ingestion of ␤-alanine, the rate-limiting precursor of carnosine,
    has been shown to elevate the muscle carnosine content. We aimed to
    investigate, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (proton
    MRS), whether oral supplementation with ␤-alanine during 4 wk
    would elevate the calf muscle carnosine content and affect exercise
    performance in 400-m sprint-trained competitive athletes.

    J Appl Physiol 103: 1736-1743, 2007.