In the ongoing struggle to prevent and manage seasonal flu outbreaks, animal models of influenza infection are essential to gaining better understanding of innate immune response and screening for new drugs. A research team led by University of Maine scientists has shown that two strains of human influenza A virus (IAV) can infect live zebrafish embryos, and that treatment with an anti-influenza compound reduces mortality.
It is the first study establishing the zebrafish as a model for investigating IAV infection.
“A zebrafish model of IAV infection will provide a powerful new tool in the search for new ways to prevent and treat influenza,” according to the researchers, who published their findings in the journal Disease Models & Mechanisms.
The research team is led by professor Carol Kim and graduate student Kristin Gabor of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering, and includes four other UMaine researchers and one from Ghent University.
Most studies of viral pathogens that can infect zebrafish have been limited to fish-specific viruses. However, in recent years, four human viral illnesses have been reported to be modeled in zebrafish — herpes simplex, hepatitis C and chikungunya and now influenza A.
For studies of flu virus infection, the researchers focused on specific sialic acids and cytokines comparable in zebrafish embryos and humans. For these studies the zebrafish embryos also were kept in a temperature range comparable to the human respiratory tract (77 to 91.4 degrees F).
“The transparent zebrafish embryo allows researchers to visualize, track and image fluorescently labeled components of the immune response system in vivo, making it ideal for immunological research,” said Kim, a UMaine microbiologist and vice president for research and graduate school dean, writing earlier this year in the journal Developmental and Comparative Immunology.
In this study, visualization of a fluorescent reporter strain of IAV in vivo demonstrated that IAV infects cell lining surfaces of the zebrafish swimbladder, as it does in the human lungs.
In addition, the antiviral drug Zanamivir, known for being effective in treating influenza A and B in humans, was tested in vivo and was found to reduce IAV infection.
The researchers note that studies of IAV infection in adult zebrafish have the potential to provide valuable insights into infectious disease processes, particularly in understanding adaptive immune response and vaccine efficacy. This is critically important in light of the rapidly developing resistance of the influenza virus to drug therapies.
“This zebrafish embryo model of IAV infection will be an important resource for dissecting molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions in vivo, as well as for identifying new antiviral therapies,” write the researchers.
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.3745
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a Southern gothic supernatural musical written by Stephen King, debuts Saturday, Nov. 8, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine.
King, a best-selling author and UMaine alumnus, teamed with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp and Grammy Award-winning T Bone Burnett to create the haunting tale of fraternal love, lust, jealousy and revenge.
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is a collaboration 16 years in the making. The staging is both old fashioned, resembling an old-style radio show, and modern and unique in its interactive use of storytelling, music and singing to move the macabre story forward. Eerie blues roots music reveals the inner workings of the characters. The full cast for the musical was announced Sept. 30. Actor/writer/producer Billy Burke (The Twilight Saga) and actress/writer/singer Gina Gershon (Killer Joe, House of Versace, Boeing, Boeing) play the lead roles of Joe McCandless and Monique McCandless, respectively.
The tale begins with Joe McCandless reflecting on a past tragedy involving his two older brothers battling over a girl, which ended in the unfortunate deaths of all three. Now, with Joe as an adult and two boys of his own, he’s watching an all-too-familiar scenario play out before his eyes. With his sons at each other’s throats, Joe’s story will either save or destroy the McCandless family.
Shows at the CCA are at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9. Prior to Saturday’s debut, a 2014 season gala will be held at Fogler Library. A reception begins at 5 p.m. and a Southern-inspired dinner commences at 6 p.m. To order tickets, call 207.581.1755, visit collinscenterforthearts.com/season.php, aeglive.com or ghostbrothersofdarklandcounty.com.CAST Joe McCandless Billy Burke Monique McCandless Gina Gershon The Shape Jake La Botz Zydeco Cowboy Jesse Lenant Drake McCandless Joe Tippett Frank McCandless Lucas Kavner Anna Wicklow Kylie Brown Dan Coker Eric Moore Andy McCandless Travis Smith Jack McCandless Peter Albrink Jenna Farrell Kate Ferber Young Joe Zac Ballard Featured Background Vocalist Carlene Carter Newt Hoggenbeck / Ensemble Joe Jung Ensemble Gwen Hughes Ensemble Rob Lawhon
BAND Music Supervision, Arrangements, Band Leader, Guitarist Andy York Percussion Dane Clark Keyboards and Harmonica Troye Kinnett Upright Bass Jon E. Gee
NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES Nov. 8 Orono, ME Collins Center for the Arts Nov. 9 Orono, ME Collins Center for the Arts Nov. 11 Toronto, ON Massey Hall Nov. 13 Philadelphia, PA Merriam Theatre Nov. 14 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center Nov. 15 Washington, DC Warner Theatre Nov. 16 Baltimore, MD The Modell Performing Arts Center at the LYRIC Nov. 18 Red Bank, NJ Count Basie Theatre Nov. 20 Portland, ME Merrill Auditorium Nov. 21 Boston, MA Emerson Colonial Theatre Nov. 22 Providence, RI The VETS Nov. 24 New York, NY Beacon Theatre Nov. 26 Detroit, MI Fisher Theatre Nov. 28 Chicago, IL Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre Nov. 29 St. Louis, MO Peabody Opera House Dec. 1 Denver, CO Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre Dec. 3 Phoenix, AZ Orpheum Theatre Dec. 4 Los Angeles, CA Saban Theatre Dec. 5 San Francisco, CA SHN Curran Theatre Dec. 6 San Francisco, CA SHN Curran Theatre
Contact: Karen Cole, 207.581.1803
Science Nation reported on research by University of Maine paleoclimatologist Karl Kreutz in an article and video titled “Alaska mountain glaciers retreating due to climate change.” With support from the National Science Foundation, Kreutz and his team are working to reconstruct the climate history of the area around Alaska’s Denali National Park over the last thousand years, according to the article. The researchers are studying the relationship between temperature and precipitation rate, and the response of glaciers to climate changes, the article states. Kreutz said glaciers in Alaska could make a significant contribution to global sea-level rise in the coming decades. Seth Campbell, a UMaine alumnus and geophysicist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Abigail Bradford, an undergraduate student in the UMaine School of Earth and Climate Sciences, were also featured in the video.
Sarah Redmond, a marine extension agent for Maine Sea Grant at the University of Maine’s Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, was featured in an MSNBC Originals video about beer made with seaweed at the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. in Belfast, Maine. When Marshall Wharf first considered brewing a beer with seaweed, Redmond provided the company with a report that outlined what is in kelp and what components will come out when it’s boiled. Redmond calls sugar kelp, which is now used in the company’s beer, the “super food from the sea” because it is a great source of iodine and calcium.
Wanda Cunningham, an administrative specialist at the University of Maine Counseling Center, shared her personal story about suicide with WABI (Channel 5) ahead of the sixth annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Oct. 5 that she helped organize. The event is hosted by the UMaine Counseling Center and St. Joseph Healthcare, in conjunction with several area sponsors. Funds raised from the walk will benefit research initiatives of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Cunningham spoke about her husband’s death and the stigma that exists related to suicide. “What I’m left with is what I can do to go forward with my life and perhaps make things better for other people,” she said.
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, about political signs and whether they play a role in campaign outcomes. Brewer said lawn signs have been proven to influence smaller races. “There have been experiments done by political scientists and they show without a doubt in those kind of low information, low profile, low media coverage elections that lawn signs can and do affect the outcome,” he said.
Andrew Thomas, an oceanographer at the University of Maine, and Andrew Pershing, an associate professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences and researcher at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, were quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences using the Nova Star ferry to study changes in the Gulf of Maine. The data collected along the ferry route includes water temperature, salinity levels and the composition of nutrients, according to the article. The collection is called a “time series” because the data is obtained over a period of time, the article states. While researchers also use buoys to collect data in the Gulf, this is the only data set in the region that covers a large area, Thomas said, adding the researchers enter the data into a national database so all scientists can use the information. Pershing said that although the data is basic, it increases in value as time passes because it allows scientists to observe changes in the environment. “It’s really sort of priceless,” he said.
Politics in Washington — past, present and future — will be the focus of a public lecture by former U.S. Reps. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) and Mike Kopetski (D-OR) Oct. 7 at the University of Maine.
The lecture, 4–5:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room, Memorial Union, is part of a three-day visit to Orono and Bangor by the two former lawmakers, sponsored by the UMaine Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service. Gutknecht and Kopetski will spend their time on campus leading discussions in political science classes, as well as a course in UMaine’s new Leadership Studies program. Kopetski also will lead a UMaine Career Center discussion with students about working in Asia.
During the Maine visit, Gutknecht and Kopetski will offer a Bangor Foreign Policy Club lecture, “The U.S. in the World Today: A Bipartisan View from Congress,” 7:30–9 a.m., Oct. 8, Bangor Public Library. They also will meet with students at Bangor High School.
Gutknecht served 12 years in the U.S. House. He was vice chair of the House Science Committee and chair of an agriculture subcommittee that oversaw renewable energy programs. Gutknecht is an adviser to several companies, including TransparaGov Corp.
Kopetski served four years in the U.S. House, where he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee. He is an international trade consultant, with a focus on China.
UMaine’s Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service is designed to model, promote, and teach leadership and civic engagement through programs that reflect and honor the legacy of U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen’s public service. The institute is dedicated to bringing together academic experts and civic leaders from diverse political backgrounds to forge informed consensus on a range of contemporary policy challenges.
For more information, contact Professor of Political Science Richard Powell, director of the Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service, 207.581.1795.
More than 80 companies will be represented at the University of Maine’s annual Engineering Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16 at the New Balance Student Recreation Center.
Co-sponsored by the UMaine College of Engineering and Career Center, the event is an opportunity for students to learn about some of the engineering firms in Maine, New England and throughout the country; meet company representatives; and possibly find a job after graduation or on-the-job experience through a co-op or internship.
Students are advised to bring resumes, prepare 30-second introductory pitches and research the companies they plan to speak with before attending.
More information, including a list of the companies scheduled to attend, is on the Career Center website.
The event is underwritten by General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, with additional support from several industry sponsors.
The University of Maine will host the Black Bear Attack Adventure race at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4. The 3.5-mile race begins at the New Balance Student Recreation Center and will lead participants through an obstacle course in the wooded trails behind the gym. Runners will encounter crawls through the mud, tire obstacles, a climbing wall and a swamp. They will also be expected to carry pumpkins and dodge zombies. Participants must sign a waiver and be at least 14 years old. Preregistration is $15 for current UMaine students and $40 for others. More information and registration is online.