Spanish Flu: a warning from history

Cambridge University: Spanish Flu 30 Nov 2018


One hundred years ago, celebrations marking the end of the First World War were cut short by the onslaught of a devastating disease — the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. Its early origins and initial geographical starting point still remain a mystery but in the Summer of 1918, there was a second wave of a far more virulent form of the influenza virus than anyone could have anticipated. Soon dubbed ‘Spanish Flu’ after its effects were reported in the country’s newspapers, the virus rapidly spread across much of the globe to become one of the worst natural disasters in human history. The University of Cambridge has made a new film exploring what we have learnt about Spanish Flu, the urgent threat posed by influenza today, and how scientists are preparing for future pandemics.

SOURCE: Cambridge University

Epidemics and the end of humankind


From the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, humankind has lived in fear of a potent infectious disease that would mark its demise. Dr Rosalind Eggo is a mathematical modeller who tracks the spread of deadly viruses, in an attempt to stop them. In this talk, she combines science with humour and answers the question we all want to ask: “Will a pandemic mark the end of humankind?”

Rosalind Eggo is an Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, in the UK. She received her PhD in the dynamics of the 1918 influenza pandemic from Imperial College London, and then worked at The University of Texas at Austin, USA. Rosalind works in mathematical modelling of infectious diseases. This means she uses computational and mathematical methods to understand the transmission of pathogens through populations. The aim of infectious disease modelling is to understand the routes and mechanisms that drive the spread of infections, so that we can ultimately design interventions to prevent them.

VIDEO: TEDxThessaloniki

How to set up the PCR reaction


This video is the second part of a 3-part Getting started with PCR series that shows how to set up and run a PCR experiment. The success and failure of any PCR experiment is dependent on preparation. This particular video shows the different components that go into a PCR reaction, how each component contributes to the experiment, and lastly, when to set up a master mix.

SOURCE: Thermo Fisher Scientific

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

DNA Learning Center: Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) 22 Mar 2010


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) allows researchers to amplify DNA in a test tube. This process uses an enzyme derived from heat-resistant bacteria. The steps of PCR are driven by changes in temperature.

PCR is a process where many copies of a specific piece of DNA can be made. This is known as amplification. Double-stranded DNA (red) unwinds and separates when the temperature is increased. As the temperature is decreased, small starter sequences called primers (glowing) can attach or anneal to the DNA. These primer sequences are usually only 20 to 25 nucleotides long, and are designed to match the start and end points of the DNA piece to be amplified. Once the primers have annealed, Taq polymerase (blue) copies the DNA starting from the primer. The temperature is increased; the strands separate; more primers anneal; the DNA is copied; and this cycle is repeated many times.

In a typical PCR reaction there are 30 cycles, which can potentially create one billion copies starting from one molecule of DNA.

SOURCE: DNA Learning Center