Tag Archives: Virus


Sorry, kids. No time for a big post, but here’s a poem I wrote about resident bacterial/viral flora  to tide you over.


That’s what they call it
We live
In the plains, in the valleys, in the walls
As disease-causers and bloody anarchists
Innocent life
Almost unnoticed by the self-appointed Empire

Uneasy truce
Between us and this floating isle
A grain of greed
Tempts tumbling, cascading white cells
Itchy fingers
Coiled tightly around taut leashes
Maddened by M.A.D.
We embrace awkwardly amongst sleeping dogs

A crack
as klaxons echo throughout the ranks
Peacekeepers ready their weapons
Refugees flood
Shot and sunk for the company they keep
Pioneers lost
The finest sieve finds no justice

In geological time, slow as melting glaciers
A resentful kiss
Between lovers, contains more bitterness than it seems





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Hepatitis C Virus – The celebrity hepatitis

Edit: A version of this article was published in The Advertiser on September 13, 2011.

July 28th was World Hepatitis day; the day to raise awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Both are very important diseases: together they cause >1 million annual cases of liver cancer, one of the most deadly cancers. Hepatitis viruses (A, B, … G) are completely different viruses. The thing that they have in common is that they all infect the liver.

You may have heard of Hepatitis C recently, as an anaesthetist was charged with infecting 54 women with Hepatitis C in a Melbourne hospital a few months ago.

Biohazard cookies! (Cookies by James Kleinig and Gen Sinclair; photo by Thomas Tu)

The cause of Hepatitis C, the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), was discovered very recently in 1989. But since then, we’ve recognised that 3% of the world’s population have been infected with HCV. Famous patients include Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson, the infamous Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read, and stuntman Evel Kinevel.

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Soylent brown – “Shit burgers”

Update: According to a good work-up, there’s a very high probability this video is a hoax that just recently went viral. I blame the stout for my lack of reasonable doubt. Indeed even Yahoo news and Fox news have fallen for it. Anyway, I’ll leave this post here because the idea of lab-grown meat  made from waste products is an interesting idea that has scientific merit. (Cheers to Bobster’s house)

Sorry again for the lack of activity on the blog. I am going pretty well on my thesis, thanks for asking.

Anyway, I was drinking with a couple of friends of mine who are doing their PhDs in environmental health and bioremediation the other night. Long story short, I wake up with this on my hand:

At least it wasn't a dick and balls. Picture taken by Thomas Tu

After some greasy food and coffee, I summoned enough courage to look up “shit burgers” on Google. Then it came back to me, we had been talking about a nutty bit of science where a Japanese team had created faux meat from sewage. While I’m not sure that it isn’t a hoax, here’s a video:

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I actually do some work…

Lookit! I’m in The Advertiser today with my poo transplant article. To celebrate my continuing fame (and to convince people who are visiting because of the paper that this blog isn’t completely dead), I’m actually going to put up a post.

This week, I’m putting up a new banner containing work that I’ve actually done in the lab.


Pretty colours in the liver (Immunofluorescence and photo taken by Thomas Tu)

This is a picture of a slice of liver. It has pretty colours because I’ve stained particular cells with different fluorphores: the blue represents the nucleus of all the cells; the red is the hepatitis B virus-infected cells; and the green are the stem cells and connective tissue. What you can see is that hepatitis B virus only infects the main liver cells and not the stem cells and connective tissue.  And it’s pretty!



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The bacteria in your belly Pt. 2 – Adults


In the last post I talked about babies eating poo how babies develop a gut flora. In this post I wanted to look at how that flora matures into adulthood.

As a baby grows it interacts with its environment and after about a year an infant’s flora will resemble their parent’s. This becomes particularly important as the baby starts to eat solid foods and no longer survives on a milk diet. Now any and all bacteria can have a shot at colonising. So what shapes the bacterial population from this point onwards? Tolerance dictates this uneasy state of play. Continue reading


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The Wednesday Post (10/11/10)


We try to not be alarmist here at Disease of the Week but two papers were brought to my attention by a PhD student in the discipline (this one and this one). The first response to a new paper should be that the researchers have moulded the current understanding and made some new insights. I have never approached reading papers this way, to my own detriment it must be noted. I always expect each and every paper to have changed the world.

With that preamble I present two papers WHICH CHANGE OUR UNDERSTANDING OF IMMUNOLOGY AS WE KNOW IT! Continue reading


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The Wednesday Post (03/11/2010)

Just a quick one today. Polio was a hugely disabling worldwide disease. Now with the help of the polio vaccine, we are on the cusp of seeing its eradication. This article gives a first-hand account of what it was like to live in a world with rampant polio: the fear, the segregation, the children struck down and sometimes permenantly disfigured. Really interesting stuff.






Polio: The deadly summer of 1956 by Patrick Cokburn (1999) – http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/polio-the-deadly-summer-of-1956-2117253.html

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