Sunday, September 13, 2009

I see the light!

......Everything is more exciting when followed by an exclamation point, don't you think?

Here's the first thing you should know --> Tuesday's speaker, Dr. Dan DiGiulio, helped write a blurb on PubMed titled "Monkeypox: an emerging zoonosis." The blurb is only a paragraph long, and covers the basics: Human monkeypox is a zoonosis endemic to central and western Africa, and it was found not long ago in the United States. Monkeypox is difficult for the average person to distinguish from chickenpox, and it is the most impending orthopox virus threat to the human species. Therefore, beware of human monkeypox biological terrorism.

But that's not even the exiting part of this oh-so-exciting blog!

I decided to dig a little deeper into the concept of zoonosis and was quite thrilled by what I discovered. First off, yes, rabbits have their own special orthopox virus, rabbitpox! Because rabbitpox is so similar to monkeypox and smallpox, rabbits are now being used as a model through which to test modified vaccinia Ankara. Cool, right? (Minus the whole rabbits being euthanized at the end of the tests thing.)

Here comes the cool part....
After more searching I was not surprised to find that our favorite lab animal (aside from the macaque), the mouse, is being used for monkeypox testing. According to a PubMed article whose url is posted at the bottom of this blog,
"Using viruses from the Congo (MPXV-2003-Congo-358) and West African (MPXV-2003-USA-044) clades, we constructed recombinant viruses that express the luciferase gene (MPXV-Congo/Luc+and MPXV-USA-Luc+) and compared their viral infection in mice by biophotonic imaging."

What is biophotonic imaging, you ask? It is probably the most awesome thing ever. According to the second url posted at the bottom of this blog,
"BPI allows biological processes, including gene expression that is both temporal and spatially defined, to be monitored longitudinally in live animals in real-time and non-invasively (1-3). The principle of BPI is that light (especially that above 600 nm, red light) passes through tissue at depth (up to several centimetres) and can be detected from outside of a live animal (4-6). To utilize this process, genes encoding specific photon emitting proteins (luciferase or fluorescent proteins) are engineered into viruses, cells (bacteria, fungi and cancer cell lines), protozoa and animals (mice and rats) enabling them to emit light that can be visualised through the tissues of a live subject using specialized imaging equipment (Figure 1). "
The proteins glow!!!! ( you see why the title of this blog makes sense)
Thanks to this incredible technology, researchers managed to discover that certain strains of monkeypox targeted the abdomen, particularly the ovary, and after 24 hours spread elsewhere in the monkey's body.

Here is an example of biophotonic imaging....


Mice Testing

Biophotonic imaging

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