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Archive for the ‘health’ category

Nov 14, 2019

CRISPR’s unwanted anniversary

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, government, health

There are key moments in the history of every disruptive technology that can make or break its public perception and acceptance. For CRISPR-based genome editing, such a moment occurred 1 year ago—an unsettling push into an era that will test how society decides to use this revolutionary technology.

In November 2018, at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong, scientist He Jiankui announced that he had broken the basic medical mantra of “do no harm” by using CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genomes of two human embryos in the hope of protecting the twin girls from HIV. His risky and medically unnecessary work stunned the world and defied prior calls by my colleagues and me, and by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences and of Medicine, for an effective moratorium on human germline editing. It was a shocking reminder of the scientific and ethical challenges raised by this powerful technology. Once the details of He’s work were revealed, it became clear that although human embryo editing is relatively easy to achieve, it is difficult to do well and with responsibility for lifelong health outcomes.

It is encouraging that scientists around the globe responded by opening a deeper public conversation about how to establish stronger safeguards and build a viable path toward transparency and responsible use of CRISPR technology. In the year since He’s announcement, some scientists have called for a global but temporary moratorium on heritable human genome editing. However, I believe that moratoria are no longer strong enough countermeasures and instead, stakeholders must engage in thoughtfully crafting regulations of the technology without stifling it. In this vein, the World Health Organization (WHO) is pushing government regulators to engage, lead, and act. In July, WHO issued a statement requesting that regulatory agencies in all countries disallow any human germline editing experiments in the clinic and in August, announced the first steps in establishing a registry for future such studies.

Nov 14, 2019

Curiosity rover reveals “mind-boggling” oxygen swings on Mars

Posted by in categories: health, space

The study of Mars is a constant exercise in problem-solving, and NASA scientists have just been served up a doozy. Data from the Curiosity rover positioned within the planet’s Gale Crater has revealed wild seasonal swings in oxygen levels, something mission scientists neither expected or are able to explain.

This perplexing piece of intel comes courtesy of Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) tool, an onboard laboratory that has been sucking in the air over the Gale Crater for analysis over the course of three Martian years (almost six Earth years). This has enabled the team to piece together the composition of the planet’s thin atmosphere, with CO2, nitrogen, argon, carbon monoxide and oxygen all part of the mix.

The concentrations of these gases increase and decrease as the weather changes on Mars, as the icy winters lower air pressure across the planet and the summer then raises them again. This leads to regular patterns of concentrations of gases like nitrogen and argon, and in examining the latest data, the scientists expected to see similar trends at play for oxygen.

Nov 14, 2019

Parasite paralysis: A new way to fight schistosomiasis?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Scientists at the Morgridge Institute for Research have isolated a natural chemical that acts as a potent kryptonite against schistosomes, the parasitic worms that burrow through human skin and cause devastating health problems.

A research team led by Morgridge investigator Phillip Newmark reported in today’s (Oct. 17, 2019) issue of PLOS Biology the successful characterization of this chemical, which could lead to new ways to fight the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis. This disease, caused by schistosome infection, affects more than 240 million people in Africa, Asia and parts of South America.

In this work the Newmark team focused on a phase of the schistosome life cycle that’s an intriguing target for preventing infection. Schistosomes seek out freshwater snails as hosts in order to produce millions of tiny fork-tailed creatures called cercaria, which are unleashed in the water and seek out mammals to infect. Their frenzied swimming allows them to penetrate human skin in minutes.

Nov 14, 2019

Ebola vaccine approved in Europe, in landmark moment for global health

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

After more than two decades of research, the world finally has an approved Ebola vaccine.

The European Commission granted marketing authorization to Merck’s vaccine, known as Ervebo, on Monday, less than a month after the European Medicines Agency recommended it be licensed. It is currently being used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under a “compassionate use” or research protocol similar to a clinical trial.

“The European Commission’s marketing authorization of Ervebo is the result of an unprecedented collaboration for which the entire world should be proud,” Ken Frazier, Merck’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Nov 14, 2019

Scientists Create New, More Powerful Technique To Edit Genes

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, health

Prime Editing, A New Gene Editing Technique May Offer Improvement Over CRISPR : Shots — Health News A new technique, dubbed ‘prime editing,’ appears to make it even easier to make very precise changes in DNA. It’s designed to overcome the limits of the CRISPR gene editing tool.

Nov 14, 2019

Common drugs may alter gut bacteria and increase health risks

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

Researchers have found evidence to suggest that many common prescription drugs can impact the gut microbiome, potentially increasing human health risks.

Nov 13, 2019

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria much worse than previously thought

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

“Federal health officials say the numbers of antibiotic resistant bacteria much worse than previously thought the centers for disease control warned in twenty thirteen that poor stewardship of antibiotics was causing more infections that couldn’t be treated a new report today says those cases have double billions are affected and tens of thousands dying in the U. S. alone the CBC’s Michel Craig ads proper use of antibiotics is key and that just because you have a cold it doesn’t mean you need them but take them if you do taking antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor when to start them when to stop them don’t demand an antibiotic and then you can also follow the you know the common sense prevention and then brown fox”

KNSS.

Nov 11, 2019

Do You Need Vitamin D Pills?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

North Americans spent more than $936 million on vitamin D pills in 2017, doctors ordered more than 10 million laboratory tests for vitamin D for Medicare patients at a cost of $365 million in 2016, and 25 percent of older adults take vitamin D supplements. A Kaiser Health News investigation recently reported that the man most responsible for the obsession with vitamin D pills, Boston endocrinologist Michael Holick, has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by supplement and drug manufacturers, the indoor-tanning industry and commercial laboratories that run blood tests for vitamin D (New York Times, August 18, 2018). Many doctors have been concerned about the recommendations for very high doses of vitamin D for a long time. In 2004, highly-respected Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, then head of Boston University’s Department of Dermatology, asked Holick to resign from the department. In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reported that there is not enough evidence to recommend routine vitamin D testing. In 2015, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield reported that they had spent $33 million on 641,000 vitamin D tests.

No Benefits Shown in Recent Studies • Vitamin D pills were not shown to help prevent heart attacks or cancer: A study led by a Harvard researcher, Dr. Joanne Manson, followed 25,871 men and women for a median of 5.3 years. Participants who took vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), 2000 IU per day, had no added protection from heart diseases or cancers (NEJM, November 10, 2018).

Nov 10, 2019

Fingerprint test could tell if people took drugs or skipped medication

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

A fingerprint test developed by British scientists could tell if patients are skipping medication.

Forgetting or failing to take drugs can have serious consequences, particularly for people suffering from chronic conditions or those with mental health issues.

Non-adherence to prescribed medication is a major problem for the NHS, with some studies showing only 50 per cent of people take long-term drugs as instructed, at a cost of around £300 million in wasted medicine each year.

Nov 10, 2019

The Problem With Labeling Gut Troubles ‘Dysbiosis’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, food, health

On the first page of Heinz Koop’s fecal analysis test results, a bar showed where he fell on a gradient from green to red. A label above said, in German: “Overall dysbiosis.” Koop was not in the green or even the yellow regions, but a worrisome orange. It was a bad result — but, he says, “I was kind of happy.”

Doctors hadn’t given him a satisfying answer about his recurring bloody diarrhea and other gut troubles. But Koop had learned on Facebook that he could test his gut microbiome — the community of bacteria and other organisms living in his gastrointestinal tract — to look for problems. Koop ordered a test from a German laboratory called Medivere. The results said his gut microbes were imbalanced, which was something he thought he could treat. Soon he would be attempting to correct this imbalance by chauffering a friend’s fresh stool samples home to implant up his own colon.

Trillions of microbes living on and in our bodies, especially our guts, make up our microbiome. The bugs in our bowel are not just there to slow down our poop, as one researcher speculated in 1970, but are intricately connected to our health. Gut microbes help us digest our food, make critical vitamins, and keep pathogens out. Over the past decade or so, research into the microbiome has exploded as researchers have tried to tease apart the complex connections between our diseases and our resident microbes.

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