Experimental vaccine to be used against Ebola outbreak in the DRC

campaign to vaccinate people at risk of developing Ebola in the latest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could begin by the end of this week, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said Sunday.

Tedros said the government of the DRC has formally asked to use an experimental vaccine being developed by Merck. The WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva; the company also has 300,000 doses of the vaccine stockpiled in the United States. Merck has given its permission for the vaccine to be used in this outbreak.

“Everything is ready for the vaccine. They want it,”  Tedros, who goes by his first name, told STAT in an interview from Kinshasa.

Via Experimental vaccine to be used against Ebola outbreak in the DRC


Lupus: When your body attacks itself

May 10 was World Lupus Day. In fact, May is dedicated to raising Lupus Awareness. Understandably so, because the chronic, autoimmune disease–that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body)–is highly misunderstood. Specifically, what it is; what triggers it or what aggravates it.

To begin with, Lupus occurs when something goes wrong with the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs also called the immune system.

This system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from the viruses, bacteria, and germs.

Autoimmune, therefore, means the immune system cannot differentiate between foreign invaders and the body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

A Kenyan Lupus Awareness entity, She Blossoms, shares that correct diagnosis of the disease is difficult and as a result, most patients living with Lupus are misdiagnosed. This is an added challenge to the chronic pain and fatigue that marks the daily lives of people living with Lupus. That is not all, these patients–like one of my friend on Facebook (we were also in the same University) Kanja Mwingirwa–highlights her experiences living with Lupus, the struggle with lack of information (both them and their family and larger community) on the disease, the challenge of not getting timely and correct treatment and above all the stigma around it (such as assuming it is similar to HIV, or that people with Lupus have a short life expectancy among other misconceptions)

But, researchers and scientists are working around the clock to understand the auto-immune condition, hopefully, to find a cure and/or improve the quality of life of patients with Lupus. For instance, a recent Arthritis Care & Research study of 148 women with lupus, obesity was linked with worse disease activity, depressive symptoms, and symptoms of pain and fatigue. The association was consistent across different definitions of obesity.

The study’s findings highlight the need for lifestyle interventions in lupus patients who are overweight to help reduce health risks and the debilitating symptoms of the disease.

“In addition to reducing the risk of comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease, lifestyle interventions to improve body composition may reduce the severity of symptoms experienced by persons with lupus,” said senior author Dr. Patricia Katz, of the University of California, San Francisco.

Lead author Dr. Sarah Patterson noted that the findings have important clinical implications because the patient-reported outcomes measured, particularly pain and fatigue, are known to have profound effects on quality of life and remain a major area of unmet need for people with lupus.

No one told Babe Ruth he had cancer, but his death changed the way we fight it

George Herman Ruth was sick. It had all started with a deep, searing pain behind his left eye. Now, he could hardly swallow. And the pain seemed to be seeping down his body, like an invisible weight tugging at his hips and legs. Soon, he’d have to use his bat as a cane.

But he was no ordinary patient. He was the Babe, the greatest baseball player who had ever lived. And his medical team at what is now Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, just a short train ride south from Yankee Stadium, intended to treat him as such.

While it seems possible that no one ever told Ruth himself, the baseball legend had terminal cancer. A tumor had grown from behind his nose to the base of his skull and was working its way into his neck. Treatment would be harrowing, but his doctors were determined the Sultan of Swat would get better. Though their effort to save him was ultimately unsuccessful, the record-setting Ruth became a cancer pioneer in the process.

At the time of Ruth’s birth on February 6, 1895, cancer, once a rarity, was suddenly everywhere. “He lived at a time when cancer rates were increasing markedly,” says Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society. These days, Brawley says, we know what to attribute that to: smoking and air pollution. At the time, however, no one actually knew what caused cancer, let alone how to cure it.

Via No one told Babe Ruth he had cancer, but his death changed the way we fight it


Obesity is killing off people’s taste buds, and now scientists can explain why

Through the years scientists have gleaned that obesity can impact a person’s ability to taste, but until recently it’s been unclear why.

Researchers at Cornell University report the discovery that, in mice, a tiny amount of inflammation driven by obesity actually reduced the number of taste buds on their tongues. Their work was published on March 20 in the journal PLOS Biology, and it may wind up aiding the development of new therapies to alleviate what’s called “taste dysfunction” among people who suffer from obesity.

As part of their work, the researchers split lab mice into two groups and fed each group a different diet for eight weeks. The first group ate a standard rodent chow, comprised of 14% fat, 54% carbohydrate, and 32% protein. The second group got a high-fat diet consisting of 58.4% fat, 26.6% carbohydrate, and 15% protein, which led to obesity in the group.

via Obesity is killing off people’s taste buds—now scientists can explain why — Quartz