Posts Tagged ‘medicine’
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 by Nick
As Goodosphere’s de facto Science editor, I’d like to share a story with you.
Several years ago a man, an American living in Germany, contracted HIV. Obviously, even with the advances in treatment the disease is extremely serious. To complicate things further, the man had also been living with Leukemia for many years. And so the man, in his early forties, faced rather grim prospects.
In time, doctors at Berlin’s Charite Clinic treated the man’s leukemia with a bone marrow transplant. It was then that something amazing happened. The marrow (and the stem cells it contains) were very unique in that their donor had a “genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptors being absent” from their cells. The CCR5 co-receptor is like a ‘docking station’ for the HIV virus so its absence essentially creates an immunity to the virus. In other words, the donor was like 1 in every 1,000 Europeans and Americans: naturally resistant to HIV.
More than two years later, the man who had been infected with HIV shows no signs of the virus. Tests on his bone marrow, blood and tissues have all been negative. The case is exceptional and rare, but it offers a new potential approach to combating HIV and AIDS and may spur increased genetic interest and research.
Each time science (or medicine) inches closer to tackling a seemingly insurmountable obstacle I’m reminded of how potent human enguinity is. Here’s to the researchers, the scientists, the doctors and technicians who spend their careers trying to battle disease. One day they’ll beat HIV and I hope that by the time that day comes, all nations have agreed that everyone’s life is equally valuable.
Read more at BBC.
Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 by Nick
Maybe you’ve heard about distributed computing. No? Well, distributed computing allows many participants with standard PCs to each pool a fraction of their processing power in order to collectively tackle enormous computing tasks.
SETI@Home is one popular (popular with the geeks) example of distributed computing. SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) developed the program to help researchers comb vast areas of the universe, looking for signs of alien intelligence.
But if ET isn’t your thing, you have the opportunity to contribute to another good cause: cutting-edge disease research. Scientists at Stanford University (do cool stuff) have created Folding@Home that allows folks like you and me to contribute in the battle against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. By downloading and running the Folding@Home program, your computer will help crunch small packets of data that will further research to combat these devastating diseases.
It may be a drop in the bucket, but what are you saving your drops for anyway? Besides, the beauty of distributed computing is that collectively we can do enormous, supercomputer-esque things. Oh, and one more thing: you can form your own team and compete with other teams around the world to see who can process the most information. This might be as close as you can get to the frontlines against cancer without a degree in biochemistry.