HIV Genes Successfully Edited Out of Immune Cells

Researchers from Temple University have used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tool to clear out the entire HIV-1 genome from a patient’s infected immune cells. It’s a remarkable achievement that could have profound implications for the treatment of AIDS and other retroviruses.

Source: HIV Genes Successfully Edited Out of Immune Cells

It’s a little early to break out the champagne, but while medication for HIV has done wonders – HIV is notoriously good at hiding in the body.  That’s where news like this brings hope that HIV positive people could one day be truly cured.

Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

Olfactory receptors are not limited to your nose. You have them all over your body, including your blood. Now, synthetic sandalwood has been shown to promote cell death in cancer cells for patients with a certain kind of leukemia. This could open the door for a whole new kind of treatment.

Source: Sandalwood Odor Could Be a Treatment for Leukemia

It’s been known to cause cell death in my nose, too 😉

It’s extremely specific to that one type of cancer, which is understandable – cancer really is just a catch-all for unregulated cell growth.  Different locations have different responses to therapy.

Rabbit Virus Improves Bone Marrow Transplants, Kills Some Cancer Cells

University of Florida Health researchers have discovered that a rabbit virus can deliver a one-two punch, killing some kinds of cancer cells while eliminating a common and dangerous complication of bone marrow transplants.

For patients with blood cancers such as leukemia and multiple myeloma, a bone marrow transplant can be both curative and perilous. It replenishes marrow lost to disease or chemotherapy but raises the risk that newly transplanted white blood cells will attack the recipient’s body.

Now researchers say the myxoma virus, found in rabbits, can do double duty, quelling the unwanted side effects of a bone marrow transplant and destroying cancer cells.

Source: Rabbit virus improves bone marrow transplants, kills some cancer cells

Why is it not a treatment?  This is likely preliminary findings on white blood cells in a petri dish.  It needs a delivery mechanism, dosage calculate and long term study…  It’s like vitamin C – eating high concentrations just gets filtered out, so there’s tests about injection to bypass safeguards.

Regular Coffee Consumption Contributes to DNA Integrity

Coffee consumption has been reported to decrease oxidative damage in peripheral white blood cells (WBC). However, effects on the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks, a well established marker of health risk, have not been specifically reported yet. We analyzed the impact of consuming a dark roast coffee blend on the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks.

Source: Consumption of a dark roast coffee decreases the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks: a randomized controlled trial.

Your DNA gets damaged in a variety of ways, and when your DNA repair mechanisms can’t fix it or don’t fix it correctly – you get mutations and improper protein function (because your cell is accessing corrupted data). This can lead to constantly active growth signals or inactive anti-growth signals, both of which will lead to cancer. On the flip side, DNA can be mutated into overall lack of function, which leads to cellular aging – effectively organism aging.

What they did in this experiment was measure in peripheral white blood cells for a single type of DNA damage, the strand break.  As the name implies, a strand break is when one or both strands of a molecule of DNA break apart. This is a nasty type of damage – a double strand break can cause chromosomal translocations, which is where two different chunks of broken DNA are put together to potentially result in improper genetic function. For example, the “always active” switch of a tumor suppressor gene may be fused to a gene coding for a protein that promotes cell proliferation, which will promote cancer. If a single strand break occurs, improper repair of the strand can lead to new mutation on its own.

The study findings indicate that those who drank 750 ml (~3 cups) of coffee per day experienced 27% fewer strand breaks in white blood cells than those who only drank water, controlling for diet and body weight.  Why did they look at white blood cells?  Leukemia, literally meaning “white blood,” is cancer of the white blood cells.

Would decaffeinated coffee has the same effects?

According to this study, that caffeine is not the significant DNA damage-preventing chemical in coffee. But that’s only one study.  Still…

Death before decaf... or medium roast

…or medium roast

Current evidence suggests that coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk of liver, kidney, and to a lesser extent, pre-menopausal breast and colorectal cancers, while it is unrelated to prostate, pancreas and ovary cancers. Coffee drinking may still help reduce death due to liver cancer.  But they aren’t quite sure what the reason for coffee being good – it’s not solely caffeine, so they’re wondering if it’s a combination of caffeine and other things in coffee.

Coffee just runs right through me

That’d be me after 3 cups

Guide to Decoding Your Blood Test Results

Spoiler alert: They don’t mention INR.

Apart from the puzzling jargon, the design of bloodwork lab reports is dismal. Wonderful makeovers have been envisioned, but until they’re in use, we’re stuck deciphering highly technical and administrative-looking documents that make tax forms look like an ecard from mom.

But have no fear. You can become literate in your blood test results. Our guide isn’t a comprehensive glossary of technical terms, but it provides basic definitions and a better overall visual sense of how the information on a typical blood test report is presented and organized so you can interpret your blood work with confidence.

Source: The Ultimate Guide to Decoding Your Blood Test Results

Hypochonriacs: Just because something is outside the normal range, does not mean its something to worry about. A lot of times things will be transient and things are often technically abnormal when they aren’t actually clinically significant. For example some people have very low blood pressure, but unless you’re having symptoms of low blood pressure most doctors would not give it a second though.

The article mentions hangry, which has been covered before.