Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)


Great site for tracking the SARS-Cov-2 virus evolution

How the virus transmission and virulence evolves will play a major role in how long we need or don’t need to hoard toilet paper. https://nextstrain.org/ncov?l=clock

Need an expression vector for a recombinant protein-of-interest that is fused to a fluorescent reporter protein?

Get them plasmids ffrom @Addgene courtesy of @WildImmunity


How do you fight wildlife disease on a broad scale?


Tasmanian devils are the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial and are only found on the island of Tasmania. Over the last 20 years, the wild Tasmanian devil population has been reduced by 77% primarily due to a transmissible cancer known as the devil facial tumour (DFT1) disease. Substantial efforts to conserve this unique species have resulted in several promising outcomes in recent years including several observations of natural tumour regressions in the wild and the development of vaccines and immunotherapies that have induced DFT1 tumour regressions in controlled trials. However, wild devil populations have not recovered and in 2014 a second lethal transmissible cancer (devil facial tumour 2; DFT2) was discovered. This new disease, combined with other ongoing threats to devils, such as road fatalities and habitat loss, means their future remains uncertain. Our team at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and the School of Medicine at the University of Tasmania, working with members of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and USDA National Wildlife Research Center, has developed a plan to modify a highly successful oral bait vaccine strategy to vaccinate wild devils across the state and combat devil facial tumour transmission. Oral bait vaccines wrap an oral/edible vaccine in food bait that is then eaten by an animal. Once the animal chews through the bait, it bursts the vaccine packet and gets immunised. This strategy  eliminates the need to trap and inject every animal with the vaccine and has been used to eliminate rabies transmission from several entire countries. This project is in its early stages, but this approach has the potential to control devil facial tumours transmission across the entire state of Tasmania to finally allow wild devil populations to rebound. To learn more about this innovative approach you can read the paper at (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14760584.2020.1711058) or go to the website of Dr Andrew Flies at https://wildimmunity.com/.

Animation trying to explain how herd immunity works

When enough of the population has been vaccinated, a disease is no longer able to spread effectively, protecting even the unvaccinated. The percentage needed varies with the disease.

VaccinesSaveLives https://t.co/bf8FlErEdO

Listen to our ABC radio about using an oral bait vaccine for the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease


It’s #WallabyBoxing season again!!

We bought a house in #Tasmania just over a year ago. I would sit on the back deck and watch the wallaby battles every night while my 1 year old son fell asleep. We just started season 2. #WallabyBoxing #WildTasmania #BackyardBiology

Current landscape of cancer drug trials and see development

There are a lot of them, but new approvals and progress have been steady.

Immuno-oncology drug development goes global


The deadliest tumor cell ever (arguably) can also be beautiful

This devil facial tumor (#DFT) cell comes alive with color when stained to show the nucleus (blue) and structural features. Interestingly, the green stain of the deadly tumor comes from a peptide from deadly death cap mushroom #DeathCapMushroom

How do you create a lab culture (the social kind, not just cells)

Extremely helpful advice the eco-evo eco-evo blog!