Recent Posts

Scientific journal publishing is too complex to be measured by a single metric: time to review the role of the impact factor!

  • 24 August 2016
How should scientific authors choose the best journal to disseminate their research work? If this question was formulated two centuries ago by a biomedical researcher in Europe, the answer would be quite simple: decide first in which language the message should be delivered (e.g., English, German, French, Russian, Latin, Spanish) and then pick one out of the approximately 100 science journals which in that period were publishing papers in one of those languages. The world of scholarly publishing at the beginning of nineteenth century was so small ( that scientists could quickly decide to which journal to send the manuscript.Times…

Do you need assistance? Ask for a molecular chaperone!

  • 18 July 2016
Cells are impressive machines: they are highly coordinated, extremely efficient, and very clean in their modus operandi. To perform the highly ordered molecular processes, all components of the cell must be under tight control and no substructure is allowed to waste energy. There appears to be a teleological pathway in cell evolution, but the phenomenon itself is not completely unveiled, and thus we are tempted to speculate about the cells’ past and future. Important concerns include costly mistakes in the coordination of cell activities (which can lead to cancer) and cell decay. Evolution has selected several intricate and fine-tuned mechanisms…

Zika is not a reason for missing the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: response to the open letter of Dr Attaran and colleagues to Dr Margaret Chan, Director - General, WHO, on the Zika threat to the Olympic and Paralympic Games

  • 03 June 2016
Attaran and colleagues in an open letter to WHO expressed their concern about the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the threat posed by the Zika epidemic (Attaran 2016). We agree that Zika virus is of great public health concern and much remains to be known about this disease. Care should be taken to reduce the risk of infection, especially to pregnant women. However, we argue that this is not sufficient reason for changing the original plans for the Games, in particular because of the time of the year when they will take place. The present…

Abundance, distribution, diversity, resistance...: key words for vectors of infectious microorganisms Please, sign here! Leishmania braziliensis infection and its microbial signature

  • 20 May 2016
Many microorganisms have established million-year old associations with certain insect genera and one of the consequences to humans obliges us to invest precious resources in the study of this relationship: the transmission of infectious diseases. If left uncontrolled, insect vectors and their transported microorganisms can represent a deadly threat to human populations. When only the infectious agent is considered in this association, features like distribution, diversity and resistance, though still conveying technical and conceptual challenges, can be dealt with in simpler terms. But a scenario analysis that looks at the simultaneous presence of an infectious agent and its vector elevates…

Please, sign here! Leishmania braziliensis infection and its microbial signature

  • 18 April 2016
Lately, microbes that colonise the gut and skin in humans have attracted enormous attention. Diverse physiological roles are being attributed to the human microbiota; one of the most studied is the contribution to the immune response (Lopes et al. 2016). For obvious reason these studies are targeted at human beings, but we can infer that in other animals the importance of commensal microbes should be relevant as well. Changing or eliminating some members of microbial communities may lead to undesirable systemic effects in the host organism. One practical example of such imbalance occurs with the action of antibiotics (Raymond et…

Emerging infectious disease and fast-track publication: when public health gets priority over the formality of scholarly publishing.

  • 11 March 2016
It has long been acknowledged within the scientific community that in the mid- term future the Earth will undergo important changes beyond those deduced from the past behaviour of known physical phenomena. For example, climate change due to rising temperatures is expected to influence several systems, like ocean levels, wind current and rain regimes. Global travel, urbanization, biomedical manipulation and intensive agriculture are additional factors affecting natural systems which together in turn influence the diversity of plant, animals, and microorganisms in general. As a result, zoonoses represent 60,3% of emerging infectious diseases, more than 70% of which are caused by…

In-house methods: do they still have a place in the modern laboratory?

  • 23 February 2016
To answer the question above we first need to identify the kind of laboratory we are talking about. For the typical diagnostic laboratory, the answer is no! Rigorous quality control standards demand that the methods used in the routine procedures must be thoroughly tested and validated before being used in any diagnostic test. Considering that this kind of laboratory already has a heavy workload of daily diagnostic tests, it is not cost-effective to develop in-house diagnostic procedures. In addition to these technical issues, there are the extensive and complicated regulatory standards imposed by governmental agencies in order to protect the…

Directly from the host: the road map for Onchocerca mitochondrial DNA analysis in Amazonian samples.

  • 21 January 2016
The eukaryotic life story cannot be fully reported without reference to the mitochondrion. After a bacterial origin for the mitochondrion was proposed (Margulis 1970), this organelle became one of the tools for a better understanding of eukaryotic evolution. The impact of this symbiotic relationship was enormous for the evolution of life on earth, offering the organisms that have such a “chemical powerhouse” an evolutionary novelty to deal with the complex activities required for survival in an unstable and competitive environment. For some eukaryotic parasites, the mitochondrion is not always necessary. For instance, in the parasitic protozoa Trypanosoma brucei equiperdum and…

Noncanonical science reports: to whom and what for?

  • 15 December 2015
Scientific knowledge advances by a continuous cycle of hypothesis formulation and testing, whose ultimate goal is to provide society with facts, evidence, and rigorous statements on natural phenomena. Sometimes, serendipitous and discovery research findings can accelerate the scientific pace, which has also gained impulse by technological breakthroughs starting in the middle of XX century. The result of this process is a collective intellectual effort that both consolidates concepts (the canons) and refutes them when unexplained phenomena arise (revolutions, anti-canons). In a broad sense, especially in fields other than science, a canon may define a knowledge body that has been approved…

Protozoa parasites: mind the gap!

  • 18 November 2015
From a minimal and simplified viewpoint, life is a succession of events leading to transmission of genes from parents to offspring. For certain organisms, like protozoan parasites, these events must include a meeting with someone else: another eukaryote to act as an invertebrate or vertebrate host and occasionally a human host. To get a successful gene transmission, parasites must have a positive outcome of the infection event (or series of events, as the infection for some parasites means a complex cycle between two or more hosts). But infection does not represent a one way event: it is a disruptive phenomenon,…

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