research

Scientists Develop New Antibody to Target HIV Strains

In 2016, HIV continued to confound patients, physicians, and researchers while resulting in one million deaths due to AIDS-related illness worldwide. Additionally, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV and 1.8 million new HIV infections reported. HIV mutational ability generally inactivates the immune system leading to lethal virulence. As a result of a collaboration between Sanofi and the United States National Institutes of Health, research scientists have developed a revolutionary tri-specific antibody designed to target three separate components of HIV, disrupting resistance mechanisms that render accepted therapeutic paradigms ineffective. Preliminary studies reveal that in twenty-four monkeys treated with the antibody and then infected with HIV, no test subjects progressed to developing symptoms or advanced disease. Beginning in 2018, the tri-specific antibody will be tested in humans. HIV life expectancy is improving. A new study published in The Lancet reports advances in antiretroviral drug treatment (ART) that improve life expectancy for patients living with HIV. ART is the standard treatment regime for HIV patients. While ART cannot cure HIV, a combination of medications help patients live longer and reduce the risk of HIV transmission. ART was first introduced in 1996. One year after ART was introduced, the FDA approved Combivir, a combination drug taken as a single daily tablet, which made taking daily medication HIV patients easier. Since then, ART initiation has improved by leaps and bounds, making medication management easier for patients. Reference: Xu L, Pegu...

Why we STILL Don’t Have a Male Contraceptive

The first female pharmaceutical contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA in 1960. That’s 57 years ago! With all the advances in medical research, why do we still not have a pharmaceutical contraceptive for men? Too Much Risk with Too Little Reward Surely there are many men who would love to have the sort of agency over their reproductive capacity that women have had for nearly 60 years. However, for-profit pharmaceutical companies allocate their research funds to the most profitable ventures, such as cancer medications or those that treat heart conditions. Although some non-profit and governmental groups, such as the NIH, are funding contraceptive research, they tend to look for a private-sector partner to share the financial burden of Phase 3 clinical trials. In addition to liability and profit concerns, the female contraceptive pill has about a 91% effectiveness rate; a male pill would have to be at least close to that range to be a viable option, and even worse, the marketing team would have to start from scratch. Image: Syringe by Zaldylmg / CC by 2.0 Men Just Can’t Take the Heat The most promising research into a pharmaceutical option has been hormonal contraceptives. In fact, researchers published a 100-person clinical trial in 2016 that showed that an injectable hormone treatment suppressed sperm concentration in 95.9% of the patients, with a pregnancy rate of 1.57% among their female partners....

Yes, Physician Burn-Out Is Real

They say dentists have a high rate of suicide due to the anxiety associated with their jobs. A criminal justice professor at Wayne State University, Steven Stack, studied the correlation between dentistry and suicide. In 1996 he conducted a study that cited several years of previous research on suicide rates among dentists and proved that being a dentist increased one’s risk of suicide by 564 percent! Job burn-out is a real thing. Or, in our case, physician burn-out. As future doctors, we like to think that once we become board-certified snazzy physicians, life will be perfect. We will love our jobs that we’ve worked so hard towards, and every day at the job will feel like a true gift. Well, not to be the bearer of bad news, but that won’t necessarily be the case. So I am here to expose the ugly truth of medicine; ie., the medical specialties yielding the highest reported rate of burn-out. According to the Mayo Clinic, job burn-out is defined as the following: “Job burn-out is a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” The Mayo Clinic then states several factors that may lead to job burn-out. To name a few, these can be, but are not limited to: Lack of control, unclear job expectations, dysfunctional workplace...

8 Super Foods for Medical Students

Med school is hard, it’s complex, and there’s a lot of things to learn. A typical day would be to attend a lecture during the day and hitting the books in the evening. Reviewing the note sheets and reading ahead. An hour or so for meals, exercise, and TV. Weekends are a respite, there is no new stuff coming in. Both days can be spent in reviewing the week’s notes and material. A bonus would be quality time with friends and family. Everything steps up a notch on test days. You have to work harder and be ready to change things if they don’t work. As you progress you gain a better sense when to cut corners. Free more time for important things, rather than trade sleep for fun. The brain takes a lot of pounding and what you eat takes a toll on your brain. Learning more about brain foods matter, it will boost memory and focus. Your food choices can enhance the health, vitality, and functionality of your precious brain Brain super foods rich in antioxidants, good fats, vitamins, and minerals provide energy that protects the brain against diseases and keeps it in tip-top shape. GEP Limited, a medical electives overseas provider, rounded up 8 brain foods to feed your mind and body. Delight in this concoction we’ve prepared that is a mix of fruits, veggies, oils...

The Flu Shot: It’s Not Just About You

It’s that time of year again. The powers that be (a.k.a. the CDC) have hedged their bets on this year’s flu vaccine components, and they will be encouraging patients to get vaccinated before the end of October, so that the body has plenty of time to develop resistance before flu season sets in. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC has recommended that three-component flu vaccines contain the following: – an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated), – an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, and – a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus. Four-component vaccines are recommended to contain a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus. In a deviation from previous years, the CDC recommends against using a nasal spray flu vaccine, also known as the live attenuated flu vaccine (LAIV) due to concerns about effectiveness. Sure, a shot can be a few seconds of pain, but it’s better than being laid out for days if you do contract the flu. For the first time, the CDC has approved a true cell-based candidate vaccine virus, in addition to those traditionally produced using fertilized chickens’ eggs. Many medical practitioners will likely get the flu vaccine, but how do we encourage more patients to get it too? Because the flu is not a reportable disease, the CDC uses modelling to estimate the number of infections each year. They currently estimate that in the U.S., the number of cases has been somewhere between 9.5 million and 35.6 million every year...

How Exactly Does Smoking Affect Our Environment?

We all know that smoking is harmful to the human body, but there is actually a second damaging side to smoking and cigarettes. Both cigarette smoke itself and the waste from cigarettes can have a major impact on the environment. In this infographic below, we’ll take a look at just how much damage smoking does on the environment and highlight some off the shocking statistics surrounding recklessly discarded cigarette butts too. Now only does smoking have an effect on your health; it also has an effect on your wallet. Smoking has been one of the biggest health concerns for decades now, but did you know smoking can cost a person between $6,500 and $13,500 a year? The average cost of a cigarette averages out to be around 31 cents, which comes out to $1,358 a year. The hidden costs come in the form of higher insurance premiums and loss of insurance credits. The total cost of smoking with these factors adds up to a much greater financial sacrifice. So, if you’re looking to quit, how do we kick the habit? Perhaps you could look into smoking alternatives? This study shows the difference between reward and penalty based systems: In a study of 2,500 smokers affiliated with CVS, participants were enrolled in two different programs: a reward-based one and a penalty-based one. In the reward based-program, individuals were offered an $800...

Want to Improve Fitness? Make it a Game

From studying, to exercising, to cleaning up, and yes, fitness – how do you make yourself do something that you don’t want to do? Make it a game! Even Mary Poppins tells us that “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun,” and apps like Streaks are popping up all over the place to make a game out of any mundane activity. But does it work? Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University set out to test the theory that participants could be incentivized to increase their physical activity through the gamification of exercise. All participants in the study wore step counters to measure their daily activity and received feedback each day on their achievements. However, those in the intervention group were given the opportunity to earn points and progress through reward levels as they increased their physical activity. Image: Fitbit by Hamaza Butt / CC by 2.0 The designers of the study took special care to incorporate principles from behavioral economics to augment social incentives and overcome participation barriers. Studies have shown that people tend to be more motivated to avoid losses, and that good habits are better sustained with variable reinforcement. Participants were enrolled with their entire families, and asked to sign a commitment pledge to do their best during the trial. Each week the family was awarded 70 points,...