What we're talking about Frontiers in Viral Medicine Sunday, April 26, 2015

Frontiers in Viral Medicine

One of my favorite stories is the tale of a GMO virus deployed to treat Hemophilia B: Gene therapy for Hemophilia B … Hemophilia B is a disease in males caused by point mutations/deletions/etc in the clotting Factor IX gene. If you dont make Factor IX, you wont clot properly, and will have all of…

You all might have heard about ‘delta32′ or ‘delta-CCR5′ people in association with HIV infection. People who naturally, by chance, have deletions and mutations in the CCR5 gene of their DNA dont make functional CCR5 proteins. It doesnt appear to be ‘a big deal’, and people who have this particular mutation seem to live normal…

You all know me. There are two things I really love: Studying HIV Using viruses for gene therapy One would think I would be over-the-moon about the FDA approving human trials for a gene therapy to stop HIV. HIV! Gene therapy! YAY!! With HIV Cure as the Goal, Gene Therapy Research Expands When this line…

Five kids in the first trial. Then eleven. Now thirty (ultimately 39): Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells for Sustained Remissions in Leukemia Slowly but surely, HIV genetically modified to genetically modify relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients T-cells are prolonging (saving?) kids lives. Ive written about this treatment a couple times before: ‘Dismal prognosis’ with…

On ERV, Abbie Smith provides an update on a pioneering treatment for hemophilia that uses viruses to insert missing genes in a patient's DNA. Hemophilia results from from the mutation or deletion of a gene that makes a blood clotting agent called Factor IX; without it, hemophiliacs are at risk for uncontrolled bleeding. While Factor IX can be delivered pharmaceutically, utilizing viruses to modify patients' DNA yields long-term improvements in natural Factor IX production. Abbie writes, "the amount of therapeutic Factor IX these patients needed (on average) dropped from 2613 IU/kg to 206. The people who got the ‘high’ dose of virus dropped that down to 92 IU/kg. They went from 15-16 ‘bleeding episodes’ a year, to one." They also saved $2.5 million.

Next, Abbie revisits research on treating HIV by removing CCR5 receptors that the virus uses to enter white blood cells. Much excitement was generated in 2008 when the "Berlin Patient" was declared to be functionally cured of HIV after receiving bone marrow from a donor with a mutation that preludes manufacture of the CCR5 protein. Now scientists are considering using gene therapy to disable CCR5 production in HIV patients, but there's a catch: some HIV quasispecies utilize other receptor proteins, and even a small population of such viruses can take over when a patient is not producing CCR5. For this reason, Abbie writes that this therapy may hold more promise as a vaccine for HIV than as a cure. Meanwhile, HIV itself has been genetically modified to help some sufferers of acute lymphoblastic leukemia by training cytotoxic T cells to target cancerous B cells. Abbie writes, "for all the time HIV has stolen from people, from families, its nice to see it giving some time back."

Channel Surfing

Life Science

Innovation & Tech Today is a proud media partner of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Committed to celebrating innovation and investing in our future, the USA Science & Engineering Festival perfectly complements the mission of I&T Today. In addition to covering the Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016, I&T Today is increasing STEM coverage…

I am sure that’s exactly what you think when you see a picture of vampire squid. But it’s true! Where most cephalopods do the deed once, spawn, and die, Vampyroteuthis has multiple cycles of reproduction. Unfortunately, they’re also cold, gelatinous, and lethargic…which, if you think about it, is also what the undead vampire of myth…

Dr. Frank van Breukelen is an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was invited to tell us about a new research project in this laboratory about some really cool mammals called tenrecs. Here is the post: In a recent post, Dr. Dolittle mentioned a talk…

Physical Science

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust As another fine week comes to a close at Starts With A Bang, let’s take a look back at all the topics we’ve taken on: Where did light first come from? (for Ask Ethan), Zooming into a fractal (for our Weekend Diversion),…

This week has been a particularly good one for highlighting how weird my career is. On Thursday, I gave a lecture for the Union College Academy of Lifelong Learning, talking for nearly two hours about Einstein (in Memorial Chapel, shown in the “featured image” above). On Friday, I drove clean across New York State (which…

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” -Longfellow The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern…

Environment

A Massachusetts company that manufacturers industrial floatation devices for the off-shore oil/gas industry exposed its workers to toxic dust. Nine cases of work-related asthma among its employees were reported to the state health department.

It is like finding a leak in your roof. I remember once up at the cabin, noticing that my waders were full of water and pointing this out to my wife. “You’re supposed to hang the waders upside down. Keeps dead mice from falling in there.” Well, I thought, if any mice fell in these…

There is a new paper out, Comparing the model-simulated global warming signal to observations using empirical estimates of unforced noise, by Patrick T. Brown, Wenhong Li, Eugene C. Cordero & Steven A. Mauget. It is potentially important for two reasons. One is because of what it says about how to interpret the available data on…

Humanities

Innovation & Tech Today is a proud media partner of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Committed to celebrating innovation and investing in our future, the USA Science & Engineering Festival perfectly complements the mission of I&T Today. In addition to covering the Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016, I&T Today is increasing STEM coverage…

This Nifty Fifty Podcast features Dr. Matthew Hartings speaking to Holy Cross School in Garret Park, Maryland.  Dr. Hartings the professor behind “The Chemistry of Cooking,” a wildely popular course at American University, where Dr. Hartings is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry.  Read full blog here.   

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV talk show had its debut Monday night on the National Geographic channel, something that’s very relevant to my interests. It airs after I go to bed, though, so I set the DVR to record it, and watched it Tuesday afternoon. Then I was too busy yesterday to write about it… Anyway,…

Education

This week has been a particularly good one for highlighting how weird my career is. On Thursday, I gave a lecture for the Union College Academy of Lifelong Learning, talking for nearly two hours about Einstein (in Memorial Chapel, shown in the “featured image” above). On Friday, I drove clean across New York State (which…

Innovation & Tech Today is a proud media partner of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Committed to celebrating innovation and investing in our future, the USA Science & Engineering Festival perfectly complements the mission of I&T Today. In addition to covering the Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016, I&T Today is increasing STEM coverage…

This Nifty Fifty Podcast features Dr. Matthew Hartings speaking to Holy Cross School in Garret Park, Maryland.  Dr. Hartings the professor behind “The Chemistry of Cooking,” a wildely popular course at American University, where Dr. Hartings is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry.  Read full blog here.   

Politics

Oregon mill workers describe a workplace rife with dangerous hazards; thousands of fast food and low-wage workers take to the streets for higher wages; labor advocates file worker retaliation complaint against Walmart; and new media workers start to organize.

Last week, President Obama signed long-awaited legislation that will put an end to periodic panic at the prospect of massive, sudden cuts to Medicare physician payments.

The AFL-CIO joins a growing list of organizations which have raised serious concerns—or outright oppose—the Vitter/Udall bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Medicine

A Massachusetts company that manufacturers industrial floatation devices for the off-shore oil/gas industry exposed its workers to toxic dust. Nine cases of work-related asthma among its employees were reported to the state health department.

Last week, a group of ten doctors led by Dr. Henry Miller, most of whom were affiliated either with the Hoover Institution or the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)—or both—wrote a letter to Lee Goldman, MD, the Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University complaining that Dr. Mehmet…

So busy was I writing about America’s quack Dr. Mehmet Oz and, of course, the FDA hearing on regulating homeopathy that I didn’t take note of a story that came out the other day examining a study looking at the association between MMR vaccination and autism. More correctly, the study examines the lack of association…

Brain & Behavior

Dr. Frank van Breukelen is an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was invited to tell us about a new research project in this laboratory about some really cool mammals called tenrecs. Here is the post: In a recent post, Dr. Dolittle mentioned a talk…

In just a year, electronic cigarette use has tripled among American teens. And considering that no one really knows what the related health impacts are and any regulatory framework is lagging far behind the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, public health advocates say it’s time for action.

This Nifty Fifty Podcast features Dr. Frederic Bertley speaking to high school children about the availability of STEM jobs, how much science affects our lives, the promising future of transportation, drinking water, medicine, and genomic science, and some of the living scientists making an impact on our work.   Listen to the podcast and read…

Technology

Innovation & Tech Today is a proud media partner of the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Committed to celebrating innovation and investing in our future, the USA Science & Engineering Festival perfectly complements the mission of I&T Today. In addition to covering the Festival in Washington D.C. in 2016, I&T Today is increasing STEM coverage…

There’s kind of two theories of the web. The first theory is that it’s the best thing ever, the culmination of human civilization, incapable of being anything negative in anyone’s lives. Proponents of this theory can’t stand it when anyone says anything mean about the web (or usually any technology) in public or especially online.…

So, I get a lot of comment spam here, probably a couple of orders of magnitude more than I get real comments (sigh). The vast majority of this gets blocked by built-in filters, so none of the stuff pitching medically implausible treatments for whatever makes it to a point where I have to see it.…

Information Science

Remember the last Olympics, during the parade, where instead of seeing the athletes march along grouped by country, we saw unidentifiable people who were all either taking selfies or grabbing videos of everything going on around them, but we couldn’t tell who they were because their cell phones were totally covering their faces? These days…

This one’s pretty funny, if only in the so-funny-it-hurts category. I’m one of those dinosaurs that tends to actually want to own a good part of the culture I consume, books and music mainly more than TV or movies. Enjoy the squirmy discomfort of this one. Local artist paid with, dies from, exposure TORONTO –…

There’s kind of two theories of the web. The first theory is that it’s the best thing ever, the culmination of human civilization, incapable of being anything negative in anyone’s lives. Proponents of this theory can’t stand it when anyone says anything mean about the web (or usually any technology) in public or especially online.…

Jobs

Oregon mill workers describe a workplace rife with dangerous hazards; thousands of fast food and low-wage workers take to the streets for higher wages; labor advocates file worker retaliation complaint against Walmart; and new media workers start to organize.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the US. This one occurred on April 13, in Weber County, UT.

More than two decades have passed since OSHA promised to issue a rule to protect construction workers from confined space hazards. What did OSHA do during that time to fulfill that promise?