Over the past few years the Zika virus has become an epidemic that effects areas in the Caribbean, Latin, Central and South America and parts of Africa. The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that thrives in urban habitats and anywhere people live. When pregnant women are infected with Zika their babies are more likely to be born with microencephaly, extremely small and underdeveloped brains. At least 4,000 infants have been affected to date. Recently an article in the New Yorker magazine described the search for a vaccine to protect people from infection with Zika. And the news is good! There are at least three vaccines in development that protect mice and monkeys from the virus and human trails are being planned. I was excited to see that a DNA vaccine is working for Zika. I did my first post-doctoral fellowship with Harriet Robinson, one of the early adopters and developers of DNA vaccines, working on vaccines for HIV. Dr. Robinson now has an HIV vaccine in clinical trials.
As the fall semester begins there's a lot going on. Some of my chemistry students looked a bit overwhelmed on our first day of lecture. We talked about tutoring, studying skills and time management, but not sleep. This article in the Guardian's science section reminds us that sleep resets brain connections and is vital for learning, not to mention mental health and enjoying life!
Sleep 'resets' brain connections crucial for memory and learning, study reveals: discovery that sleeplessness causes neurons to become ‘muddled’ with electrical activity could help develop new treatments for mental health disorders