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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*

Can Pharmacogenomic Tests Help To Improve Public Health?

Adverse drug events are a serious public health problem. Consider the following facts:

  • an estimated 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more;
  • 700,000 emergency department visits and 120,000 hospitalizations are due to adverse drug events annually;
  • $3.5 billion is spent on extra medical costs of adverse drug events annually;
  • at least 40% of costs associated with adverse drug events occurring outside hospitals can be prevented.

How can genomics help? Pharmacogenomics is the study of genetic variation as a factor in drug response, affecting both safety and effectiveness. The intended applications of pharmacogenomics research include identifying responders and non-responders to medications, avoiding adverse events, optimizing drug dose and avoiding unnecessary healthcare costs.  The Food and Drug Administration has added pharmacogenomic information to the labeling for more than 70 drugs. Labels may include information on genetic determinants of clinical response or risk for adverse events.

In spite of current enthusiasm about pharmacogenomics in the research community, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Genomics and Health Impact Blog*

An App To Self-Test For STDs?

A new £5.7 million project being led by St. George’s-University of London is developing self-test devices that can plug directly into mobile phones and computers, immediately identifying sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The project is called eSTI — electronic self-testing instruments for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — and is being led by Dr. Tariq Sadiq, senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s-University of London. Most of the funding is coming from The Medical Research Council and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.

The UK has seen a 36 percent rise in STIs from 2000 to 2009 — often blamed on the reluctance of the population to get diagnosed and the stigma of going to public health clinics — prompting the support of this project. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Safe Sex, Thailand, And Mr. Condom

Mechai Viravaidya has been fighting poverty and disease in Southeast Asia through innovative promotions of safe sex practices. In this TED talk, he gives an amusing overview of how Thailand went from seven children per family to 1.5 in less than four decades and a 90 percent reduction in HIV infection rates from 1991 to 2003.

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Belief In Magic Vs. Evidence And Science

On Michael Specter, author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives, and the danger of science denial:

Given that more than half of the video is devoted to discussing vaccine denialism, supplements, and HIV/AIDS denialism, I think Specter’s talk is quite appropriate for this blog. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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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