We are baaack! Busy as ever.

As we all know, it has been a wild ride in the past 6 months for everyone. First off, let's address the gigantic viral elephant in the room that is COVID-19. Everyone was hit hard when the pandemic begun. We have been fortunate enough in Thailand as the disease control strategy has been quite effective in the past few months with very minimal local transmission (1 local case in 100+ days). That being said, we are picking things up right where we left off. The lab is back and running again. We have implemented extra safety measures for our lab members. We are working out the work flow with the OB/GYN department at the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand, to ensure that our personnel have the lowest exposure risk while interacting with volunteers and patients in the future. As exciting as it is to be back in the lab, we are still keeping our guards up to protect ourselves and others in this new normal. Again, we are very excited to resume the project,…

Drug development: No Mom Left Behind

Historically, during drug and vaccine development, pregnant women were rarely included in clinical trials due to ethical considerations and, more importantly, concerns over safety in pregnancy and fetal health. During the recent Ebola outbreak, pregnant women were denied access to Ebola vaccines—although this decision was reversed months later in February 2019. While the safety and ethical concerns for pregnant mothers and their fetuses regarding experimental drugs definitely have their merits, this raises the question on how we can improve the drug development pipeline to equally benefit everyone later on. No one should be left behind.
As the world is rushing to develop drugs and vaccines for the new rapidly-spreading life-threatening coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we may need to revisit the topic of how we can make sure that everyone, including pregnant women, will equally benefit from the life-saving drugs and vaccines amidst a pending pandemic. Unlike previously known viruses, s…

It's Valentine's ❤️

It's Valentine's and this week's post is all about ❤️❤️❤️

 Fun fact of the week

Mosquitoes have an elongated tube-shaped heart spanning their body length. A mosquito has a heart rate of about 82 beats per minute pumping its blood towards the mosquito's head, but sometimes in a reversed direction towards the tip of its abdomen.

About the image:
Hillyer Laboratory at Vanderbilt University published an extensive study on mosquito cardiac system. The image here shows the heart tube running along the mosquito's abdomen. Here, muscle fibers are visualized by a green fluorescent dye. There is a network of muscle spiraling along the heart tube (blue arrows). The triangular bundles of muscles serve to anchor the heart to the mosquito's back (red arrows).  

More about this cool study at:
Glenn JD, King JG and Hillyer JF (2010). Structural mechanics of the mosquito heart and its function in bidirectional hemolymph transport. J Exp Biol. 15;213(4):541-50.

A mosquito walks into a bar...Bartender: What would you like? Mosquito: A bloody Mary

Fun Fact of the week

Those last couple beers at your summer cookout might make you more delicious to mosquitoes!

Studies from Japan and West Africa showed that beer consumption made the volunteers more attractive to mosquitoes. Although beer consumption is associated with higher frequency of mosquitoes landing on your skin, these studies found that increased alcohol content in your sweat or CO2 in your breath did not correlate with the volunteers' increased attractiveness to mosquitoes. The exact cause of why mosquitoes are more drawn to you after a few brewskies is still up for debate.

Twenty+ years later, I've just got this joke from Pixar. He* ordered Bloody Mary O+ !!! Ok not that I would know what a bloody Mary was when I was a preteen.

*Let's not get into the details of the fact that only female mosquitoes drink blood. That's for another post ;)

What do you call a mosquito on vacation? An itch-hiker.

Fun Fact of the Week,

Your backyard mosquitoes are from the insect family Culicida. The earliest known little bugger that fits the descriptions of this family is dated back to 10 MILLIONS YEARS ago! Its fossil was identified in one of the Burmese amberat the American Museum of Natural History, New York, in 2004.

And no, there is no report of dinosaur generated from this specimen....or is there?

Full descriptions of this specimen here

Crowdfunding for Science 2

With more and more constraints on scientific funding worldwide, researchers are having a difficult time securing supports for their work, especially among those relative early in their career like a PhD students, postdoctoral fellows or young PIs. Funding is crucial at this stage where new investigators can establish their career path.

With many startups turning to crowdfunding to help complete their projects, you are now seeing new campaigns offering all these fun gadgets and technologies almost everyday. What crowdfunding does here is to bring you, as potential customers, closer to the companies. It generates buzz for the biz, and you get a glimpse of the products you will likely purchase. Crowdfunding connects the startup owners with broader audiences who are as passionate about the projects as they are. In turn, these audiences have a chance to be a part of the projects through small donations. While money raised from crowdfunding may not entirely replace the more traditional ro…