A Cure For The Common Cold? It May Not Be Impossible After All
Martin Moore, a virologist, has come up with a vaccine that has shown promising results in monkeys. And he's not the only one working on what was previously thought of as "just not possible." Meanwhile, in an age where editing genes will become the norm, scientists try to untangle basic questions about whether babies' DNA should be adjusted.
The Common Cold May Be Beatable, Scientists Say
Time and again, Martin Moore’s children get sick with a cold. He hauls them to their doctor, who then informs him that there’s nothing to be done aside from taking them home and waiting it out. The experience is maddening for Moore — especially because he’s a virologist. For everything that virologists have learned about rhinoviruses — the cause of the majority of colds — they have not invented a vaccine for them. In 2013, Moore wondered if he could make one. He consulted a rhinovirus expert for some advice. Instead, the expert told him, “Oh, there will never be a vaccine for rhinovirus — it’s just not possible.” (Zimmer, 10/20)
The Washington Post:
Will Babies Be Better Off If We Know Their Genes?
Genome sequencing is supposed to be the future of medicine — a revolution that will bring about a new age of tailored treatments and unprecedented insight into people's individual biology. But perhaps nowhere are the “what if?” questions raised by genome sequencing more complex and ethically treacherous than at birth: Should we sequence the DNA of healthy newborn babies? (Johnson, 10/19)
In other public health news —
The Washington Post:
There’s A Breast Microbiome, And It’s Different In Women With Breast Cancer
Among the most popular topics in biology in recent years is the human microbiome, the trillions of bacteria and other tiny organisms inside and outside our bodies that outnumber our own cells by as much as 3 to 1. Much of the news on this topic has been about the colony of bacteria deep in your gut; scientists believe that the mix may contribute to all sorts of medical conditions including from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disorder, and anxiety. Now it looks as though the microbiomes in other parts of our bodies may also play an important role in disease. (Blakemore, 10/19)
'Essentially Witchcraft:' A Former Naturopath Takes On The Field
Britt Hermes once considered herself a doctor. Now, she’s an apostate. Hermes spent three years practicing naturopathy, a broad-reaching form of alternative medicine that focuses on “natural” care, including herbal remedies, acupuncture, and the discredited practice of homeopathy. But unease about a colleague’s ethics led her to look more closely at her profession — and what she found alarmed her. So for the past two years, Hermes has been waging a scathing fight against naturopathy on social media, in science blogs, and on her own website, Naturopathic Diaries, which just won a “best blog of the year” award from a scientific skepticism magazine in the United Kingdom. She has not pulled punches. (Thielking, 10/20)
Is Pain Contagious? Study Suggests It Spreads Among Mice By Smell
The mice should not have been feeling pain. Their hind paws were being touched with filaments so thin that most mice would hardly notice the tickle. Yet these animals reacted as if their paws were on fire. Now, neuroscientists have an explanation: the mice caught their hypersensitivity to pain the way you catch a common cold. A paper published Wednesday in Science Advances shows that lab mice living in the same room as those who are primed to feel more pain end up taking on their roommates’ heightened susceptibility. How could such contagion happen? By smell, the researchers say. (Boodman, 10/19)