VMS at NDSU
As a department, our main concerns are exploring novel research and sharing with students our fascination and knowledge of dynamic disciplines in microbiology, including: bacteriology, epidemiology, fungal biology, immunology, molecular biology, parasitology, and virology. We work to achieve excellence in these areas by creating a student-centered environment that values diversity and encourages discovery, ingenuity, integrity, and collegiality.
VMS Research Highlights
The Pruess lab's research was recently featured in the Inforum and on Minnesota Public Radio. In both instances, Dr. Pruess describes the discovery that beta-phenylethylamine, a substance found in chocolate, can reduce biofilm formation by E. coli. You can listen to the MPR interview here.
Asthma model book chapter
Dr. Jane Schuh's lab uses an innovative inhalation model to study fungal allergic asthma. She describes the model in a chapter of the new book, Mouse Models of Allergic Disease: Methods and Protocols. Over the last 50 years, scientists have observed a dramatic increase in allergic disease across developed countries, and this collection of techniques was gathered in response to that. The book was published by Humana Press/Springer, and it is currently available in hardcover (e-version coming soon!).
Micro in the News
- Brought to you by the students in MICR 354, Scientific Writing.
Fungus-fighting drug may make mild flu meaner
Many cancer and bone marrow transplant patients are treated with an antifungal drug called Amphotericin B. Recent studies with mice have shown that this drug may prevent the antiviral protein, IFITM3, from doing its job, namely, fending off influenza A virus. When mice were exposed to Amphotericin B, they lost large amounts of weight and became very ill. These are symptoms similar to animals lacking the IFITM3 protein. Mice not treated with the antifungal drug became mildly ill and recovered quickly. This indicates that a mild illness can become life-threatening to mice if treated with the drug. In another study, IFITM3 disappeared when lung cancer cells were treated with Amphotericin B. Together, these results suggest that patients treated with the antifungal drug should also receive a flu vaccine and be monitored for influenza symptoms. Image: CDC/Dr. Erskine Palmer.
Protein triggers immune response to viruses
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a protein that may trigger the first immune response to a virus. When viruses first enter a host cell, they travel to the nucleus via microtubules that transport proteins. It was previously unclear how viruses in microtubules triggered the immune system. The scientists describe the discovery of a protein called GEF-H1 in macrophages (important cells of the innate immune response) that may control the response to many different RNA and DNA viruses. The nucleic acids of viral RNA trigger GEF-H1, which controls cytokine expression. Mice without GEF-H1 were unable to effectively defend against certain viruses. This discovery could aid in new ways to prevent viral counterblows to our immune system. Image: Susan Arnold.