September 13, 2012 |
Genes make us who we are - in sickness and in health. We get our genetic makeup from our parents, of course, but in the future, we might be getting genes from our doctors too. Imagine your doctor promising to cure your cancer or heart disease by prescribing some new snippets of DNA. For some diseases, gene therapy is already a reality. In other cases, genetic cures are still years away. Despite many challenges and setbacks - including some that are surely yet to come - experts predict that gene therapy will eventually become a crucial and even common part of healthcare.
August 15, 2012 |
Dog lovers may be interested in an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine: It highlights the discoveries scientists are making about diseases that various dog breeds are prone to -- and how those findings can benefit human health as well as that of canines. It's written by longtime dog genetics researcher Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute. The discoveries are possible because of several things: First off, both the human genome and dog genomes have been sequenced.
July 20, 2012 |
The long-frustrated field of gene therapy is about to reach a major milestone: the first regulatory approval of a gene therapy treatment for disease in the West. The European Medicine Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use said Friday that it is recommending approval of Glybera, a treatment for lipoprotein lipase deficiency manufactured by uniQure of Amsterdam. The European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the agency, and if it does so this time, the product could be available in all 27 members of the European Union by the end of the year.
July 18, 2012 |
We like to think of the Olympics as a level playing field - that's why doping is banned. But scientific research complicates this view: There are numerous genetic factors known to confer advantages in athletic contests, from mutations that increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood to gene variants that confer an incredible increase in endurance, and these mutations appear to be especially common in Olympic athletes. In other words, we may want an egalitarian Olympic games, but it probably isn't in the cards.
June 29, 2012 |
Can't kick cigarettes? A vaccine may one day help by preventing nicotine from reaching its target in the brain, according to research published this week. Most smoking therapies do a poor job of stopping the habit - 70% to 80% of smokers who use an approved drug therapy to quit relapse. Scientists say this is because the targets of existing therapies are imperfect, only slightly weakening nicotine's ability to find its target in the brain. So some scientists have been trying a different approach - creation of a vaccine.
June 9, 2011
There is a dramatic arc to the three-decade history of AIDS as an epidemic and social phenomenon. Since it was first reported 30 years ago this month, the disease has evolved from an unnamed and mysterious illness to a diabolical killing machine to a chronic condition that can be managed with drugs. Overall, AIDS has killed 25 million people worldwide. But the successful campaign to transform it — and HIV, the virus that causes it — from a sentence of sure death to a diagnosis that comes with a treatment plan is a medical triumph.