Cocaine Enhanced HIV/AIDS

Drug use is the second leading cause of acquiring HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). It is well-known, that using illicit drugs such as marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, and cocaine, increases susceptibility to becoming infected with HIV due to high risk behavior associated with drug use, such as, unprotected sex, particularly in exchange for drugs or money, and non compliance to anti-retroviral treatment. However, the likelihood of acquiring HIV/AIDS is increased by cocaine use in both heterosexual and homosexual women and men, regardless of intravenous (IV) drug use. Even when compared to IV drug users of other drugs, such as opiates, the incidence of HIV is greater in cocaine addicts. This indicates that increased susceptibility to HIV can’t be explained by this factor alone. Additionally, there is an association between cocaine abuse and rapid conversion of HIV infections to AIDS.

Cofactor in HIV pathogenesis

Chimera mice were used to investigate the effect of cocaine on HIV pathogenicity. Specially breed mice, humanized to express a functional human immune system, were infected with HIV in the presence or absence of cocaine. Cocaine co-exposure led to the acceleration of HIV infection, a decrease in CD4+ cells, and a significant spike in circulating viral load. (Hybrid human-mouse model was used because normal mouse cells do not become infected with HIV, and exposing human test subjects to HIV and cocaine would be unethical and illegal). Continue reading

Macrophage, Liposomes, & Tattoo Removal

Many people get tattoos that for one reason or the other, they no longer desire to have. The only current option to erase permanent tattoos is laser tattoo removal. The process of removing tattoos by laser therapy is long, painful, expensive, and in about 5% of cases complications can arise.  However,  a faster, easier, and cheaper method of tattoo removal may soon be on the market.  Most recently, a scientist by the name of Alec Falkenham came up with the idea for an investigational tattoo removal cream, when he was a pathology PhD student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As of 2016, the cream is being developed by Cipher Pharmaceuticals Inc. for commercial use.

Tattoo Removal Cream

Bisphosphonate Liposomal Tattoo Removal is a topical cream intended to remove or reduce the appearance of tattoos. It is designed to be used alone or as an adjuvant to hasten the process of laser tattoo removal.  It is proposed that the cream would require once a week application, and remove the tattoo in as little as a couple of months. Continue reading

Cellular Agriculture: Vegans Dream or Meat-eaters Nightmare?

The day is coming when there will be a more efficient supply chain for the production of meat and meat by-products. A new field of science known as Cellular Agriculture is using bioengineering technology to produce meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and leather, in a laboratory instead of on a farm. You could drink cow’s milk, and eat eggs, meat, and poultry without the unwanted saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones, and antibiotics. Tissue engineering is even being employed in biofabrication of leather and fur, negating moral issues of raising animals for clothing and luxury. All of this without the use or slaughter of  animals.

What is Cellular Agriculture? 

Cellular agriculture is a new way to cultivate foods normally produced through traditional agriculture. Instead of raising livestock for meat, dairy, and other meat by-products, these items are produced in a lab, without the slaughter and continuous use of animals. Foods like eggs, milk, and beef can be bioengineered ex-vivo – using cell culture methods. Cellular agriculture can produce both cellular and acellular products. Cellular products, like beef, chicken, and turkey, are made by culturing cells derived from the original animal. Acellular products on the other hand do not contain any mammalian cells, and are derived from bioengineered microbes. Continue reading

“On The Spot” with Lani – Ph.D. Grad Student.

Graduate school can be tough, but being a graduate student in the STEM can be exceptionally challenging. The challenges are not just academic, but social, and personal. In my experience being a graduate student is somewhat of a mystery to many people. To illustrate what its like to pursue a Ph.D in science, I’ve interviewed another Doctoral Candidate, from Auburn University, Alabama. She responded in pink font, and I felt it was so indicative of her personality, that I kept it. I enjoyed reading about her journey. Keep reading to find out how a one time aspiring model becomes a scientist.

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Allergic to Penicillin? Maybe Not.

Most people can recall being asked by the doctor whether they have an allergy to penicillin or not. In fact, 10 percent of the general population is estimated to have Penicillin Allergy. However, in the past few years, the prevalence of Penicillin Allergy has decreased.

Studies have found that when tested, the vast majority of people who reported having Penicillin Allergy, are not allergic to the drug. Clinicians found, that many people who were told they were allergic to penicillin, never had their allergy confirmed with testing. Interestingly, others who were positively diagnosed in the past, were no longer allergic to penicillin.  Continue reading

Ebola Vaccine

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I recently wrote another article for Bioislifemedia.com about an Ebola Vaccine. Before you read it, first learn about Ebola by reading this article that I published last year What Ever Happened to Ebola?!

“Ebola is a virus in the family of Filoviridae along with Marbug virus, that causes Hemorrhagic Fever. The virus leads to hemorrhaging by causing the body to lose the ability for your blood to clot, through multiorgan damage and drop in blood pressure. There are actually several Ebola viruses: Sudan Ebola, Zaire Ebola, Cote D’Ivoire Ebola, and Bundibugyo Ebola. They are all distinct species of Ebolavirus. The virus got it’s name from a small river in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). – Stacia Nicholson, What Ever Happened to Ebola?!

Then read about the candidate drug that may be the first vaccine to prevent Ebola in humans.

 

Science Writer

15698247_10102718125616547_9037553185852513701_nI have joined forces with BioisLifeMedia.com, a new website designed ” to bring trustworthy, clear, and noteworthy biomedical science & scientific content to the public”. The concept is dear to me as It mirrors my own mission; to present science in a practical manner, in which to give the public the information they need to truly understand current issues in science.

Bio is Life Media was founded in fall 2016 by Scientists,  Lebaron Agostini and David Deming II, and Advertising Account Manager, Nate Valazquez. The interactive site does not use sensationalism and dramatised conclusions to bait the public. Bio is Life Media works to promote an interest in science by sharing the perspectives of scientists, graduates students, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, and tech innovators. This is accomplished by creating quality content that bridges the gap between the scientists/scientific information, the media, and the general public, so that society can make better informed decisions.

Two years ago when I started Aliquot the Science Spot, it was my vision, that a community of responsible scientists and medical professionals would network to change the face of science journalism as we know it. I am ecstatic to see that dream actualizing, and to be able to collaborate with other researchers who share the same vision and passion as I do.

I have signed on as a Contributor for Bio Is Life Media, and my first article with the site has recently been published. Read the article I wrote, entitled Monkey AIDS and Man.

 

Varicella Disease: Chickenpox & Shingles

Varicella was once a common childhood disease. Due to childhood vaccination initiated in 1996 in the United States, the viral infection has already begun to fade out of common knowledge. Many young adults and adolescents today, have never experienced the itchy blistering rash, or missed days of school because of it. Some people have even begun to contest the necessity of vaccinating against the virus that causes chickenpox infections in children. However, preventing chickenpox can also prevent two painfully debilitating conditions later on in life; Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia.

Varicella-Zoster Virus

The Varunknownicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) is a DNA herpesvirus that infects humans and some primates.  It is the cause of both Chickenpox (Varicella disease) and Shingles (Herpes Zoster).

Varicella Disease: Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a highly infectious childhood disease that primarily affects children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old. It causes an itchy vesicular rash to appear on the body, accompanied by fever and malaise.

Chickenpox is self-limiting, and does not require treatment to be resolved. Healthy individuals develop a mild disease that  generally clears within a few weeks. Symptoms such as dehydration, fever, and puritis, can be managed with fluid replacement, acetaminophen, and calamine lotion, respectively. Continue reading

Phony Pharmaceuticals, Counterfeit Medicine as Dangerous as Street Drugs.

Fraudulent pharmacies have popped up all over the internet, to take advantage of the high profits that can be made off of selling pharmaceutical drugs. These sites often offer cheap prices and discounts on otherwise expensive medications. They also usually allow the purchase of prescription medicines without the need for a prescription. Often-times the medicines sold online are counterfeit medicines, and while they may seem like a suitable alternative to expensive prescription drugs, they are harmful. The manufacture, warehousing, distribution, and sale of counterfeit drugs is a criminal enterprise, and worldwide problem affecting the healthcare system. Globally, the counterfeit pharmaceutical drug trade is a multibillion dollar industry, and ten percent of the worlds medicines are counterfeit.

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