The Opioid Crisis

In the beginning, it killed the pain and it didn’t bother me. I didn’t have cravings for it or anything like that. When I couldn’t stand the pain, I would take a pill. And then one day, I woke up and took a pill; there was no pain though… It sneaks up on you, it grabs you without notice… I didn’t know I was becoming addicted when I became addicted.” This story is unfortunately becoming…

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Letter from the Editors – Volume 6, Issue 2

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” – Edgar Allan Poe. In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we open a discussion on drugs and…

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Letter from the Editors – Volume 6, Issue 2

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.” – Edgar Allan Poe. In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we open a discussion on drugs and…

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Letter from the Chair – Volume 6, Issue 2

Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, Chair, Department of Immunology, University of Toronto Ever since the idea of an Immunology graduate student-run magazine was proposed to me back in 2012, I was totally hooked. After seeing the first couple of issues, I was enthralled – addicted, you might say – by the creativity of the design and the powerful in-depth articles; it was, and remains, a real high to read from cover to cover. Having spent nine…

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The Telomere Clock: Theory of Aging

The process of aging – a nearly universal phenomenon – has long been at the forefront of humankind’s curiosity and imagination. Our ability to observe the aging process has played a pivotal role in the development of human culture and society. In early civilizations, humans who lived to an old age were seen as wise, often becoming societal leaders or given major responsibilities. In present day, a vastly increased human life expectancy allows us to appreciate the major…

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Final Destination: Research in the Floating City

‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ Sound familiar? As inspiring as it sounds, Walt Disney might as well have added: ‘…provided that you get permission’. As scientists, we seek to understand the world and create applications and technologies to benefit us. We ask questions that are followed up by rigorous and persistent research. Research, however, is not free. The limited pool of public cash designated for science funding gives funding agencies an…

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Behind Enemy Lines: Using Vector Biology to Reduce Disease Transmission

Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria infection, a mosquito-borne disease caused by the parasitic protozoan Plasmodium. Without an approved malaria vaccine, infection prevention has focused on controlling the populations of the malarial vector, the Anopheles mosquitoes. Current management relies heavily on pesticides and, with only one type of pesticide approved for mosquito control, the evolution of pesticide resistance is an imminent danger. Since there is a pressing need to develop…

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CRISPR in the Red Queen’s Court: The Evolutionary Arms Race with Phage and Other Adventures in Wonderland

The CRISPR/Cas system (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/CRISPR-associated sequences) is an adaptive immune system found in archaea (extremophiles) and bacteria. Briefly, acquired CRISPR-driven immunity is based on integration of short nucleotide sequences, called spacers, generated from homologous sequences (proto-spacers) within the genomes of invading viruses, bacteriophages and plasmids. Subsequent invasions trigger expression of complementary RNAs from the host CRISPR locus (crRNAs) that guide Cas endonucleases to cleave and destroy the foreign DNA. Repurposing of…

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Trust Your Gut: The Beginner’s Guide to Microbiome Research

THE WORLD WITHIN US: LIFE AS A SUPRAORGANISM BOX 1: Meet Dr. Susan Robertson, a trained microbial ecologist currently working as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Dana Philpott’s laboratory at the University of Toronto. Before coming to the University of Toronto, Dr. Robertson studied microbial ecosystems in the soil and is now applying this knowledge to the ecosystem of the intestine. Her expertise, guidance, and microbe-driven viewpoint are proving to be essential for the University…

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The Ethics of Embryo Editing

As the battle for ownership to the intellectual property behind CRISPR/Cas9 carries on, the gene editing technology continues to grow at an accelerated pace. However, surrounding the extraordinary research potential of this system is a controversial debate over the ethics of gene editing and genome engineering in humans. In this light, following a January meeting in Napa, California, several scientists co-authored a perspective paper in Science calling for a global moratorium on all human germline…

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