Subject: IIDR eNews - November 24th, 2017

Issue 6 - November 24, 2017
This Month at the IIDR 

CMCB Facility Highlight: VirTis BenchTop Pro Lyophilizer

Freeze-drying technically - known as lyophilization - is a dehydration process typically used to preserve a perishable material or to make the material more convenient for transport. The VirTis BenchTop Pro Lyophilizer preserves samples via sublimation, using the absorption of heat by the frozen sample in order to vaporize the solid solvent. Vacuum suction is used to enhance this process, while a condenser cools the solvent vapour into ice for later disposal.

  • 9 L condenser capacity
  • Removes water, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and acetonitrile
  • Condenser refrigeration temperature: -80C
  • 12 ports available for sample attachment

Cell-surface modifications protect Pseudomonas aeruginosa from certain pilus-specific phages – and others ‘fight back’

Bacteriophages – viruses that kill bacteria – are of great interest for their potential to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, how they infect specific hosts is not always well understood. In their recent publication in Nature Microbiology, McMaster researchers found that Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria glycosylate their type IV pili surface proteins to prevent the attachment of infectious phages. However, they have also discovered several phages that may have co-evolved to breach this defense.
IIDR researchers are first in Canada to develop a humanized mouse model of HIV sexual transmission

Drs. Charu Kaushic and Ali Ashkar are the first in Canada to develop a humanized mouse model that mimics the sexual transmission of HIV-1. 
Through the use of mathematical modelling and mouse infection studies, the authors were able to reveal a significant correlation between intravaginal HIV-1 infection in the humanized mice and the frequency of human CD45+ target cells in the blood. Further, they were able to confirm that the amount of virus found in the blood after infection was based on how many viruses started the infection.

Dr. Jianping Xu’s lab finds limited evidence of fungicide-driven triazole resistant Aspergillus fumigatus in Hamilton, Canada

Over the past several years, there have been growing health concerns suggesting fungicides as a major contributor to the rise of triazole resistant and life-threatening Aspergillus fumigatus fungi (read here). In response to this concern, Dr. Jianping Xu’s lab showed evidence of decreased triazole susceptibility in both clinical and agricultural A. fumigatus isolates when compared to urban isolates, suggesting that agricultural triazole fungicide use has not caused triazole resistance among clinical samples of A. fumigatus in Hamilton. They note, however, that continued triazole selection pressure could drive some of the Hamiltonian isolates to become resistant, and that other Canadian regions could have such a link.
Human-specific mutations and positively-selected sites in MARCO confer functional changes

A common element linking ancient, deep-dwelling fish to land mammals, Neanderthals, and humans is the necessity to defend against pathogens. Hundreds of millions of years of evolution have shaped how our innate immune cells, such as macrophages, detect and destroy microorganisms. In their recent study, PhD student Kyle Novakowski and Dr. Dawn Bowdish (in collaboration with Dr. Brian Golding) identified novel sites within a macrophage receptor, MARCO, that are under positive selection and are human-specific. The team demonstrated the importance of these sites by site-directed mutation and showed a reduction in cellular binding and uptake of pathogens - findings that demonstrate how small genetic changes in humans can influence how we defend ourselves against pathogens.

Can bats help humans survive the next pandemic? Mossman & student Banerjee investigate

Coronaviruses can cause illness in humans, ranging from symptoms of the common cold to SARS, causing disease and even death. Bats are believed to be hosts for several of these coronaviruses - yet interestingly, do not develop any clinical signs of disease when infected. Arinjay Banerjee, currently completing his PhD in Saskatoon, is exploring immune responses in bat and human cells to different viruses to uncover more about the adaptations of the bat immune system that allow them to survive infections with these viruses. He will join the Mossman lab in 2018 as a post doctoral fellow to continue these studies, in collaboration with Dr. Paul Faure who runs the McMaster Bat Lab. Such research can help to discover avenues for identification of novel therapeutics to prevent or treat future pandemics.
Call for Research Participants

The Bowdish lab is looking for young (30-70) and older (70+) adults to participate in a research study. If you or an older adult in your life might be interested in participating, click here for more details or contact Dr. Bowdish (

! The January ID/ IIDR Combined Joint Rounds will take place on Monday, January 10th in MUMC HSC 4E20, and are open to all IIDR members and trainees. Click here to view the revised schedule.

The Biochemistry Grad Student Association will be hosting a gingerbread house competition on Tuesday, December 5th in Home Base at 11 to 12 pm. It will be $10 a kit. Sign up here
Upcoming Events
! Wednesday, December 6th: ID / IIDR Combined Rounds
Dr Martha Fulford & Dr. Andrew Pawlowski
"One Health - People, Animals, and the Environment"
8:00 am - 9:00 pm

! Friday, December 15th: The IIDR Holiday Party
8:00 pm
The Collins Brewhouse
33 King Street West
Dundas, ON
L9H 1T5

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in the IIDR Main Office - MDCL 2301.
Tuesday, November 28th: BBS Seminar Series
Dr. Larry Forney, University of Idaho - "Tracking woozles in our understanding of the human vaginal microbiome"
11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Wednesday, November 29: IIP Seminar Series
Stephanie Dewitte-Orr, Wilfred Laurier University
“Modulating innate antiviral immunity at the cellular level using nanotechnology”
9:00 am - 10:00 am
Thursday & Friday, December 14th - 15th: Data Carpentry Workshop
Aimed at teaching biology and biomedical researchers the data management basics they need to make their data curation and analysis skills more efficient and reproducible.
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Hamilton Hall, Room 102

*See the Website for more information
*Sign up on Eventbrite.
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