Stomach pump- new FDA approved weight loss device. #isthisforreal

No, this is NOT an onion article… the FDA has just approved a weight loss device called Aspire Assist which is essentially a stomach pump that can directly remove food from your stomach after it has been consumed. Glad we’re doing something to battle the obesity problem in this country, however, what happened to good old fashioned diet and exercise?

The Food and Drug Administration approved a weight loss device on Tuesday that pumps food out of a person’s stomach after they eat a meal.

While some have criticized the device as “assisted bulimia,” the FDA stressed in a statement, that the AspireAssist device is not meant for anyone with an eating disorder, and should only be used by adults 22-and-older who are obese and have failed to lose weight through non-surgical methods.

To place the device, a surgeon makes a tiny incision and endoscopically puts a tube in the patient’s stomach, which is attached to a “disk-shaped port that lies outside the body,” according to the statement.  To drain the contents of the stomach, a person should wait twenty or thirty minutes after they eat, and then attach an external connector to the port and open the valve.

According to the statement, 30 percent of the calories consumed during a meal can be removed by the device, which takes five-to-ten minutes to drain the food from the stomach into the toilet. Continue reading

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First Zika vaccine to be tested in humans #progress

Reported by CNN:

(CNN)The first human trial of a Zika vaccine will begin soon, Inovio Pharmaceuticals said Monday.

Inovio, which is based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, and GeneOne Life Science, which is based in Seoul, South Korea, worked together on the vaccine. They previously collaborated to create vaccines for Ebolaand MERS, both of which are being tested.

The Zika vaccine, with the clinical-sounding name GLS-5700, will first be tested in 40 healthy volunteers. The first tests in humans should start in the next few weeks, Inovio said in a news release.
In the animal testing stage, the vaccine caused a strong antibody response, the company said. It is still very early in the vaccine’s development. Phase I of a vaccine trial ensures that it can be tolerated well in human subjects. If successful in this first round of human testing, it will need additional approval for further testing.
At the next stage, the vaccine would be tested on people who have Zika. Then there would be a stage to see how well it works on a larger group of people. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, is leading a team that is trying a few approaches to a vaccine, including an approach using DNA like Inovio’s does. He believes that trial could start by the end of August. In the coming months, he said, we will probably be hearing about a number of vaccine candidates going into Phase I trials. “This is all good news,” Fauci said.

Today is World AIDS day

Today is World AIDS Day. From the CDC, today is an opportunity for people to work actively and collaboratively with partners around the world to raise awareness about HIV and help us move closer to the goal of an AIDS-free generation. This year’s theme, “The Time to Act Is Now,” calls us to act with urgency to implement the latest high-impact, evidence-based HIV prevention strategies. While a lot of progress has been made to understand HIV and AIDS (several previous posts), there’s still work to be done.

An estimated 36.9 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. As a science-based public health and disease prevention agency, CDC provides support that helps more than 60 countries strengthen their national HIV/AIDS programs and build sustainable public health systems. CDC conducts these activities through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) , the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease.

Recent scientific breakthroughs now point the way to achieving an AIDS-free generation, a goal championed by President Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. CDC, through PEPFAR, is working to achieve that inspiring goal through proven science, smart investments, and shared responsibility with partner countries.

Global efforts have resulted in approximately 13.5 million persons in low-income and middle-income countries receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV infection in 2014, an increase from 2013. Globally, more than 15 million people are on ART.

New HIV infections have fallen 35 percent since 2000, with 66 percent of the 2 million new HIV infections occurring in sub-Saharan African countries, where women account for more than half the total number of those living with HIV.

New pediatric HIV infections have dropped by 58 percent worldwide since 2000.

Continue reading

2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine announced for parasite medications! #FirstChineseWoman!!

Congrats to Campbell, Omura, and Youyou Tu on winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine!! News story from NYT here!

William C. Campbell and Satoshi Omura won for developing a new drug, Avermectin. A derivative of that drug, Ivermectin, has nearly eradicated river blindness and radically reduced the incidence of filariasis, which causes the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body known as elephantiasis. They shared the $900,000 award with Youyou Tu, who discovered Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced death rates from malaria.

[tweet https://twitter.com/NobelPrize/status/650966364530810880] [tweet https://twitter.com/NobelPrize/status/650983821593157632] [tweet https://twitter.com/NobelPrize/status/650968930874331136]

Make your voice heard at the NIH! #FutureOfResearch #WeAreTheFuture

The NIH is calling for a Request for Information (RFI) in order to optimize funding policies and other strategies to improve the impact and sustainability of biomedical research.  This comes at a time where our biomedical research enterprise is suffering from an unsustainable cycle of not enough funding, too many postdocs/grad students, and not enough faculty positions.

The NIH wants to maximize the impact of the taxpayers’ investments in biomedical research.  The NIH is especially interested in identifying strategies that will: a) maximize the productivity and creativity of the biomedical research workforce it funds and b) ensure funding for a broad and diverse group of investigators studying a wide range of important questions.  These strategies should enhance the stability of individual research teams and the sustainability of the overall research enterprise. The NIH seeks input from researchers, academic institutions, professional societies and other stakeholders on potential strategies to achieve these goals.  We invite comments on any or all of the following areas:

1.  Key issues that currently limit the impact of NIH’s funding for biomedical research and challenge the sustainability of the biomedical research enterprise. We welcome responses that explain why these issues are of high importance.
2.  Ideas about adjusting current funding policies to ensure both continued impact and sustainability of the NIH-supported research enterprise.  We welcome responses that point to specific strengths or weaknesses in current policies and suggest how we can build on or improve them.
3.  Ideas for new policies, strategies, and other approaches that would increase the impact and sustainability of NIH-funded biomedical research.
4.  Any other issues that respondents feel are relevant.

It is critical that anyone involved or invested in biomedical research participate.  The deadline is May 17th.  Submit your comments here!

Or for more info, example responses, and commonly raised issues, check out the Future of Research blog.

Measles Mystery solved: Understanding the “special powers” behind the vaccine

From NPR:

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.

“In some developing countries, where infectious diseases are very high, the reduction in mortality has been up to 80 percent,” says Michael Mina, a postdoc in biology at Princeton University and a medical student at Emory University.

“So it’s really been a mystery — why do children stop dying at such high rates from all these different infections following introduction of the measles vaccine,” he says.

Mina and his colleagues think they now might have an explanation. And they published their evidence Thursday in the journal Science.

Now there’s an obvious answer to the mystery: Children who get the measles vaccine are probably more likely to get better health care in general — maybe more antibiotics and other vaccines. And it’s true, health care in the U.S. has improved since the 1960s.

But Mina and his colleagues have found there’s more going on than that simple answer.

The team obtained epidemiological data from the U.S., Denmark, Wales and England dating back to the 1940s. Using computer models, they found that the number of measles cases in these countries predicted the number of deaths from other infections two to three years later.

“We found measles predisposes children to all other infectious diseases for up to a few years,” Mina says.

And the virus seems to do it in a sneaky way.

Like many viruses, measles is known to suppress the immune system for a few weeks after an infection. But previous studies in monkeys have suggested that measles takes this suppression to a whole new level: It erases immune protection to other diseases, Mina says. Continue reading

NIH will NOT fund research involving gene-editing technology in human embryos #drama

From the NIH directors blog, Francis Collins just issued a statement on the NIH stance toward gene editing on human embryos:

NIH will not fund any use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos. The concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed. Advances in technology have given us an elegant new way of carrying out genome editing, but the strong arguments against engaging in this activity remain. These include the serious and unquantifiable safety issues, ethical issues presented by altering the germline in a way that affects the next generation without their consent, and a current lack of compelling medical applications justifying the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in embryos.

This comes in response to a Chinese group who has used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to delete a gene from human embryos that causes a fatal blood disorder.  There has been quite a bit of controversy on this new technique, which has led to the developers of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to call for a moratorium. Read the full statement from the NIH director here.

CauseScience would love to hear your thoughts on this new technology! Do we need to control the usage of this gene editing technology? Are scientists pushing the technology too fast without considering ethical implications? Is gene editing ethical?   Comment or tweet @CauseScience1