Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Germany 2010 Friedrich Loeffler Institute 100th Anniversary

This stamp commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), Germany's national research centre for animal health. The institute is the world's oldest research centre for virology and is located on the Isle of Riems, in the Bay of Greifswald at the edge of the Baltic Sea. It is founded in 1910, and named after Friedrich Loeffler. From the outset the FLI worked on veterinary important infectious diseases; besides the foot and mouth disease, more animal diseases such as swine fever, avian influenza and rabies were quickly included in the research. After German reunification, it expanded to a national research centre with multiple locations. Today it is directly under the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Its research work include animal viral disease and other related subjects like molecular biology, virus diagnosis, immunology, and epidemiology.

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Friedrich Loeffler, featured on the stamp, studied under Robert Koch, and started his research 10 October 1910 on the Isle of Riems, studying the foot and mouth disease, of which the agent was the first animal pathogenic virus to be identified, by Loeffler himself in 1898.

The stamp also features modern day structural depiction of a flu-virus, and a microscope on a background of bacterial culture.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Belgium 1993 Fight Against Cancer

In this stamp, issued by the Belgian Post on 20 September 1993 to commemorate the Fight Against Cancer, the artist has rendered a version of the surface of a cancerous cell with a sort of bull's eye target on it. In support of the fund to fight cancer, a surcharge of 3 francs is added to the 15-franc stamp.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

British Medical Breakthroughs 2010

The Royal Mail issued 6 stamps featuring British medical breakthroughs on 16 September 2010. They are:

1st Class: This stamp shows the inferior anterolateral view (left side) of the heart and its major blood vessels, with a an electrocardiograph in the foreground. It commemorates heart-regulating beta-blockers synthesized by Sir James Black (1962). Beta blockers are used for various indications, but particularly for the management of cardiac arrhythmias, cardioprotection after myocardial infarction (heart attack), and hypertension. Propranolol was the first clinically useful beta adrenergic receptor antagonist. Developed by Sir James W. Black in the late 1950s, it revolutionized the medical management of angina pectoris and is considered to be one of the most important contributions to clinical medicine and pharmacology of the 20th century. Sir James Black was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1988 for this work.

58p: The image is that of a petri dish culture of penicillium notatum now known as penicillum chrysogenum; the central circular area described by the white ring illlustrates the antibiotic properties of of the mold. The discovery of penicillin, extracted from this mold, is attributed to Scottish scientist and Nobel laureate Alexander Fleming in 1928 He showed that, if penicillium notatum was grown in the appropriate substrate, it would exude a substance with antibiotic properties, which he dubbed penicillin. This serendipitous observation began the modern era of antibiotic discovery

60p: The stamp shows a coloured X-ray of the pelvis, with hip replacement, of a woman. Sir John Charnley began his research into hip replacement in 1949 as an orthopedic surgeon in Wrightington Hospital. While suffering many setbacks during its development Charnley finally performed the first successful hip replacement operation in 1962. This subsequently became a gold standard treatment and has remained the most successful surgical and radiological procedure up to the present day.

67p: This stamp features the intraocular lens, an artificial implanted lens placed in the eye surgically. Whilst working with Royal Air Force casualties during World War II, Sir Harold Ridley noticed that when splinters of perspex from aircraft cockpit canopies became lodged in the eyes of wounded pilots, they did not trigger rejection, leading him to propose the use of artificial lenses in the eye to correct cases of cataracts. He had a lens manufactured using an identical plastic - Perspex CQ made by ICI - and on 29 November 1949 at St Thomas’ Hospital, achieved the first implant of an intraocular lens, thus pioneering artificial lens implant surgery.

88p: The stamp shows the coloured transmission electron micrograph of a section through a misshapen red blood cell infected with a malaria parasite. In 1897, Ronald Ross discovered the presence of the malarial parasite within the Anopheles mosquito, He initially called them dapple-wings and following the hypothesis of Sir Patrick Manson that the agent that causes malaria was spread by the mosquito, he was able to find the malaria parasite in a mosquito that he artificially fed on a malaria patient. Later using birds that were sick with malaria, he was able to ascertain the entire life cycle of the malarial parasite, including its presence in the mosquito’s salivary glands. He demonstrated that malaria is transmitted from infected birds to healthy ones by the bite of a mosquito, a finding that suggested the disease’s mode of transmission to humans. Today, scientists are still looking for an effective way to combat malaria.

97p: This shows a coloured computed tomography (CT) scan of an axial section through a patient’s abdomen showing a false aneurysm (red) due to chronic pancreatitis. While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield came up with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings at all angles around the object. Hounsfield built a prototype head scanner and tested it first on a preserved human brain, then on a fresh cow brain from a butcher shop, and later on himself. In September 1971, CT scanning was introduced into medical practice with a successful scan on a cerebral cyst patient at Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon, London. And thus computed tomography scanner was invented.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Israel 2010 The Pill Camera

This stamp was released 14 April 2010 to mark the Shanghai 2010 World Exp, under the theme of "Israeli Innovations That Changed The World", together with 2 other stamps. The Pill Camera shown was developed by an Israeli company in 2000 to assist in the diagnosis of cancer of the small intestine.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pain drug from the poisonous cone shell

This stamp was issue by New Caledonia postal authority, on 12 April 2006, to commemorate the centenary of the work by Jules Déjerine and Gustave Roussy, in the field of neuropathalogy, that culminated in the discovery of the Thalamic Pain Syndrome or Central Pain Syndrom, also known as the Déjerine-Roussy Syndrome, allowing latter researchers to work on pain therapeutics. Much work has been conducted on using naturally occurring toxins to combat pain, and among these natural toxins are the conotoxins or toxin secreted by cone shells. This New Caledonian stamp features the shell of Conus geographus, or the geography cone; it is one of the most poisonous cone shell known to man, 70% of recorded untreated stings on human were fatal. The string of letters at the lower-left corner of the stamp is the amino-acid sequence of a peptide extracted from the toxin of the Conus magus, or the magician cone:


This peptide is known as the ω-conotoxin MVIIA, also called a ziconitide. It was developed as a drug for intractable pain and was approved by the FDA in December 2004. It is 100 to 1000 times more potent than morphine, available under the trade name of Prialt and it blocks acute pain in patients who no longer obtain relief from opiate drugs; by blocking calcium channels it disables nerves that transmit pain signals. This drug has to be delivered directly to the spinal fluid.

UK 2010 Dorothy Hodgkin & Protein Crystallography

This stamp shows Dorothy Hodgkin, and is part of a 10-stamp issue celebrating 350 Years of the Royal Society. Born Dorothy Mary Crowfoot, she married Thomas L. Hodgkin in 1937, hence the name on the stamp. She contributed to the development of protein crystallography that was to become so important in the discovery of the molecular structure of the DNA; her 3 greatest accomplishments in chemistry were the determination of the strucutre of penicillin (1945), vitamin B12 (1957), and insulin which she worked on from 1934 to 1972. Dorothy is also featured on a 1996 20p stamp from a set of "20th Century Women of Achievement".

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Finland 2010 Outstanding Woman Geneticist

This stamp is one of the 6 self-adhesive stamps found in a booklet issued on 8 March 2010 on the theme of "Outstanding Women" to commemorate International Women's Day. This one with the stylised DNA celebrates Leena Palotie (16 June 1952 - 11 March 2010). She is a Finnish geneticist who contributed to the identification of 15 genes for Finnish heritage diseases, including arterial hypertension, schizophrenia, lactose intolerance, arthrosis and multiple sclerosis.
She died on 11 March 2010 from bone cancer.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Singapore 2004 World Stamp Championship - GSK & DNA Microarray

The World Stamp Championship was held in Singapore in 2004, and for each year in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Singapore Post issued 5 miniature sheets, each with 2 stamps and a label carrying a different corporate advertisement. For 2004, one of advertisers was GSK or Glaxo-Smith-Kline, a big pharmaceutical corporation; and its advertisement shows a gloved hand holding a DNA microarray with a typical image of DNA microarray result as the background. Now a DNA microarray consists of microspots of single stranded polymeric DNA molecules attached to a glass slide, and can be used to analyze the expression levels of the corresponding genes of a test subject.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Germany 2007 Scientific Council 50th Anniversary

This stamp was issued on 20 September 2007 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the German Scientific Council. The lower portions of the stamp features various images representing the different branches of science, but I couldn't make out what they are, except for the first 2 from the left. The first looks like a block of DNA sequences, while the second is obviously a block of binary series. A friend actually pointed out this stamp to me, asking me if there is any "scientific" error in the first image - more specifically the second row of DNA sequence: "TGACDATC". Can you guess what the error is?