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CDC Addresses Infection Transmission Through Organ Transplants

Over the past few years, my team at the CDC looked into more than 200 reports of unexpected disease transmission through organ transplantation. Of the cases that were confirmed, some had fatal outcomes. Clearly, transmission of infections through organ transplants remains a patient safety concern that calls for action.

To help address the problem, CDC recently led a team of experts to develop the Draft 2011 Public Health Service (PHS) Guideline for Reducing Transmission of HIV, HBV, and HCV through Solid Organ Transplantation. The guideline was posted to the Federal Register last week, and I encourage your review and comment.

While recognizing the critical need for organs, our team also wants Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Safe Healthcare*

Could Glowing Cats Be The Key To Finding A Cure For HIV?

Photo courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Scientists have added a new species to the menagerie of animals that glow, after introducing jellyfish genes into cats that can now glow green.

Scientists report that they transferred genes from monkeys (and jellyfish) into cats in order to study feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the cat equivalent of HIV. In cats and in people, immunodeficiency viruses deplete infection-fighting T-cells. Key proteins called restriction factors that would normally defend against the viruses are ineffective. The research appears in the September issue of Nature Methods.

To research potential treatments, physicians, virologists, veterinarians and gene therapy researchers from the Mayo Clinic and in Japan sought to mimic the way evolution would generate protective protein versions, according to a Mayo Clinic press release. They inserted monkey versions of a gene into the cat genome using gamete-targeted lentiviral transgenesis. This is done by inserting genes into feline eggs before sperm fertilization.

The monkey restriction factor, TRIMCyp, blocks FIV by attacking and disabling the virus as it tries to invade a cell. In the lab, the transgenic cat lymphocytes resisted FIV replication. The scientists said that they can now test the potential of various restriction factors for Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Research Finds A Possible Cure For Viral Infections

For real… at least in mice, but has potential for human application if the promise holds out!

MIT researchers have developed a radical new approach to eradicating viral infections no matter what the virus may be… common cold, HIV, Ebola, polio, dengue fever, etc.

The usual anti-viral antibiotics in use today target the viral replication process which unfortunately often fails with time as the virus adapts and develops resistance to the medication.

The new medication dubbed “DRACO” (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers) approaches viral infections using a totally different approach. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Research Finds Success In Small, Cheap And Strong Test For HIV And Syphilis

Researchers from Columbia University have developed a “lab on a chip” HIV and syphilis test, and are now reporting the first results from tests in the field conducted in Rwanda. The mChip, as it is called, is the size of a credit card and replicates all steps of an ELISA test, at a lower total material cost and within 20 minutes. After application of a blood sample, the chip is inserted into a $100 battery-powered handheld analyzer. It needs only 1 μl of unprocessed whole blood and does not require any user interpretation of the signal, providing a clear-cut yes or no result.

Right now, HIV testing in developing countries either relies on expensive laboratory testing taking a long time, or uses cheaper methods based on lateral flow, which, although very rapid, do not provide very reliable results. The mChip combines Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Helpful Breast Cancer Q&A

Preya Ananthakrishnan, MD

Attendees of the breast cancer awareness symposium “Bridging the Gap: Promoting Breast Cancer Prevention, Screening and Wellness” were given the chance to submit questions on breast cancer in the minority community. This is the first part of these questions answered by Dr. Preya Ananthakrishnan, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery and a host of the event.

Q: I am a 51 year old Black women, whose mother died 13 years ago from breast cancer & her sister was diagnosed last year. I had a mammography 2 weeks ago and got the dreaded come back letter. Should I get genetic counseling?

Dr. Ananthakrishnan: I would suggest that your sister with the breast cancer get tested first, and if her test result is positive then you should get tested. Furthermore, it is likely that even though you got a “call back” letter after your mammogram, it is very possible that you don’t actually have a breast cancer. I would advise you to go in as soon as possible to work up whatever abnormality was seen. If you do in fact have a breast cancer, then you should certainly undergo genetic testing yourself.

Q: What is considered “early detection” of breast cancer?

Dr. Ananthakrishnan: Early detection is finding a breast cancer before symptoms actually occur. This could be by finding it on a mammogram before actually feeling a lump in the breast, or by finding a small lump before it becomes a big lump. Early detection can sometimes allow for less aggressive treatments and improved outcomes.

Q: Is radical mastectomy surgery still performed? I hear little about it now. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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