Flu – Virus in a Wooden Horse

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 | 0 comments

We’ve talked about one major class of infectious agents: bacteria. Let’s look at the other major class: viruses.

What is a virus?
A virus is a piece of genetic material wrapped in a protein coat: essentially an instruction sheet inside a box. We’re not really sure if viruses are alive. They reproduce and evolve like life, but they don’t have cells, metabolism, and don’t react to being poked, as all other lifeforms do. They also can’t reproduce without the help of a living cell. Have a handful of scientists debate this idea at your next dinner party – it’ll be fun.

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Hives – A Body on High Alert

Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 | 3 comments

Today, we’ll be following an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen.  

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor – just a bioengineer who happens to find pathophysiology fascinating.  If you find an error, please let me know!  Als0, NONE of my drawings are to scale.

An allergy starts out very innocently.  Everything is humming along: white blood cells patrolling the blood stream, stomach merrily digesting shellfish, or medicine destroying bacteria.

Meet Jill.



Jill’s taking a particular antibiotic for the first time, and it’s working great: fighting bacteria just like it’s supposed to.

Unfortunately, her white blood cells are getting curious. 

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