Sunday, November 22, 2009

Introducing Resistance

I guess before we really get the blog rolling an introduction is in order. What is Tracing Resistance? This blog is the unholy amalgamation of to totally different fields, marine toxicology and an HIV research. When you put us together you get supertoxic HIV (er…or something like that), and hopefully an interesting read. A common theme between our research is how the cell resists challenges from the environment. We trace the cell’s resistance in different ways and from different points of view. Although we are big enough nerds to blog about what we do this will not be 100% science all the time. We will bring our personalities and
other interests to our posts.

Kevin: What Tracing Resistance means to me. I am a second year PhD student in virology. My thesis work is focused on understanding the cross species transmission of HIV and HIV-like viruses (Simian Immunodeficiency viruses, SIV). Work in this area has identified numerous proteins that have evolved to prevent infection of these viruses. HIV has evolved ways to evade and counteract these proteins and is therefore successful in humans. However, if you take HIV-1 and put it into some species of monkey they will not get sick. This is because those monkeys have evolved genes that can specifically block things that look like HIV. The protein I focus on is called Trim5α, it binds to and destroys viruses after they enter the cell. In order to understand Trim5α mediated resistance we look at the natural diversity between humans and non-human primates and the viruses that infect them. To me tracing resistance is tracing millions of years host and virus coevolution.

John: Help! I'm surrounded by fish tanks! Currently, I am a second year Masters student in marine science. My research so far has been looking at functional responses in organisms to environmental contaminants. This has included measuring toxic metabolite production, accumulation of toxicants and the affects of hypoxia. Currently, I am studying one way organisms express resistance to contaminants through the use multixenobiotic efflux transporters. These are the first line of defense a cell has to foreign chemicals and sees to it that none get in. An emerging contaminant in the last few years, are chemosensitizers which shut down these defensive pumps, compromising resistance and increasing toxicity from contaminant exposure. I study this in fish embryos. Expect to see some sciencey posts on fish, pollution and other environmental issues.

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