Beyond the Abstract

Science and research for everyone

Episode 8

Published on:

12th Feb 2020

Novel Coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV)

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The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory virus originating from Wuhan, China that has spread to many countries, causing an outbreak. Headlines on its rapid spread have dominated media and news sites globally, and a lot remains unknown about how the virus infects humans, how it spreads, and how deadly it really is. In this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek tackle a paper deposited in bioRxiv on how 2019-nCoV infects human cells with similarities to the SARS coronavirus. They may answer questions you have related to the outbreak and put many commonly cited statistics into perspective. Finally, they comment on a new age of science sharing through bioRxiv, a preprint server that has allowed for quicker and cheaper dissemination of science.

This episode was recorded on February 11th, 2020. Shortly after recording this episode, the WHO announced that the virus will be renamed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Hoffman et al. The novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCoV) uses the SARS-coronavirus receptor ACE2 and the cellular protease TMPRSS2 for entry into target cells. bioRxiv, 2020.

Episode 7

Published on:

4th Feb 2020

The Golden Phage

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Alcoholic hepatitis is a severe, life-threatening type of liver disease, but not for all patients. Some patients seem to have worse outcomes than others, but what differentiates these patients and how do we treat them? In this episode, Derek and Ellen invite Sam McCright, an MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying the microbiome, to talk about a new paper that discovers the potential bacterial culprit behind the most severe cases of alcoholic hepatitis. Even more, these scientists have found new ways to combat these bacteria. Instead of using antibiotics, they use phages, which are like little homing missiles that can target and destroy specific bacteria and are found in sewage. The secret to treating this disease just might literally be a load of crap.

Duan et al. Bacteriophage targeting of gut bacterium attenuates alcoholic liver disease. Nature, 2019. 575(7783):505-511. PMID: 31723265.

Episode 6

Published on:

15th Jan 2020

The Cancer Conundrum

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One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, but how exactly breast cancer metastasizes and spreads to other organs still isn't clear. E-cadherin is a protein that acts as 'molecular glue' that helps cancer cells stick together, but controversy exists within the cancer field about its exact role in cancer spread. This week on Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen take on a paper that lays to rest the role of E-cadherin in breast cancer metastasis. Listen in as they talk about this important paper that definitively addresses this issue once and for all.

Padmanaban et al. E-cadherin is required for metastasis in multiple models of breast cancer. Nature, 2019. 573(7774):439-444. PMID: 31485072.

Episode 5

Published on:

3rd Jan 2020

Achy Breaky Cytoskeleton

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Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day and over 2 billion times a lifetime. The heart keeps up with wear and tear because it has a strong yet flexible cytoskeleton, the 'framework' of the cell. But what happens when the cytoskeleton malfunctions, and more importantly, how do we fix it? On this episode of Beyond the Abstract, Derek and Ellen chat with cell biologist and PhD candidate Brittany MacTaggart about alterations that happen to the cytoskeleton during heart failure and how these changes affect how the heart functions.

Chen et al. Suppression of detyrosinated microtubules improves cardiomyocyte function in human heart failure. Nature Medicine, 2018. 24(8); 1225-1233. PMID: 29892068.

Episode 4

Published on:

12th Dec 2019

The Clot Thickens

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Deep vein thromboses (DVTs) are clots in the blood system that can travel from the legs to the lungs, causing severe damage and even death. This week on Beyond the Abstract, Ellen and Derek are joined by John Welsh, PhD as they dive into John's recent paper on how DVTs are formed. To our surprise, Dr. Welsh discusses how current measures in the hospital to prevent DVTs may not work as well as we think they do. Finally, we talk about Dr. Welsh's company, which is currently building a device that would better solve this problem.

Welsh et al. Hemodynamic regulation of perivalvular endothelial gene expression prevents deep vein thrombosis. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2019. 129(12). PMID: 31710307.

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About the Podcast

Beyond the Abstract
Science and research for everyone
Hey science nerds! Welcome to Beyond the Abstract, a science podcast dedicated to discussion of the coolest cutting edge, basic science research papers in a way that just about anyone can understand. We're your hosts, Derek and Ellen, two MD/PhD students at the University of Pennsylvania who are passionate about science communication and bridging the gap between science and medicine.

In each episode, we’ll dive into a paper and talk about the experiments these scientists did, what it means for the future of research, and even potential impacts on human health and medicine. We've invited experts in these fields to help us understand and dissect these complicated but impactful papers.

We can't wait to share all this cool science with you.

Disclaimer: This podcast is for informational purposes only and NOT intended as medical advice. The views and opinions expressed are those of the hosts and guests and do not reflect the University of Pennsylvania.

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About your hosts

Ellen White

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Ellen is a 3rd year MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania interested in microbiome research with the hopes of specializing in GI medicine. She is a co-developer and co-host of Beyond the Abstract. You can find her listening to Work by Rihanna (feat. Drake) on repeat, getting too invested in college basketball games, or shamelessly watching Real Housewives.

Derek Sung

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Derek is a 3rd year MD/PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania interested in developmental and vascular biology with plans to apply into Obstetrics & Gynecology. He is the founder, co-developer, and co-host of Beyond the Abstract.

In his spare time, he likes to listen to All Star by Smash Mouth on repeat, smile too big for photos, pretend to be a sommelier, and throw epic Halloween parties with his roommate.