A Gut Feeling

Our intestinal tract is a fascinating organ. As the largest mucosal surface in the body, it is home to trillions of microbes — bacteria, fungi, helminths, and viruses — that together comprise the gut microbiota, and 500 million neurons — our “second brain”, the enteric nervous system (ENS). Unsurprisingly then, recent research has unveiled what is commonly dubbed the ‘gut-brain axis’ (GBA): an extensive signaling network between the gut and the brain. With involvement from…

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EcoDystopia – Climate Change: Confronting our Reality

The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and is a growing threat to society.” – Statement on Climate Change from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006). In recent years, the growing damage to wild ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, higher frequency of natural disasters, and continued depletion of natural resources has increased public awareness of the detrimental impact that humans have on the environment. Climate…

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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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