Although very hard to believe today, there was actually a time where medicine wasn’t exactly practical and not necessarily beneficial. This time period we like to call it now as the Dark Ages, or the Medieval time period aging around 5th century to the mid 15th century. During this time period medicine wasn’t really effective, and a lot of plagues and disease spread easily due to the lack of technology and knowledge of bacteria, viruses parasites, and other pathogens that can effect the human body. This time was very dark because the people living in this time period didn’t have any means of treating and fighting off disease so if you were infected, you either got better or you died.
However, since Alexander Fleming’s discovery in the 1930’s, it has been a rather golden age in medicine because we are treating illnesses that we couldn’t before. Unfortunately it would seem as if we may soon be heading back to another dark age in human history. That is because by the means of evolution, there are now antibiotic resistant microbes. These microbes are resistant to current antibiotic treatments and are not treatable. This is problematic because the drug industry is pushing out newer drugs slower than the bacteria becoming resistant to them. It is estimated that 700,000 people die yearly now but that could jump to more than 10million by 250.
Fortunately, it would seem that there is a new movement in science who focus and look at older medicinal treatments such as in the Medieval Age and are working together to make new remedies. A team recently conducted a study with a 1,000 year old recipe called Bald’s eyesalve which they believed was used to help infection of the eyelash follicle. In their study, it would seem that it turned out to be a potent antistaphyloccal agent that killed bacterium and killed MRSA in mouse models.
This is extremely significant because this suggest that there may be hidden unknown more natural methods of treating illness than we previously thought. This also will push digging and looking further into Premodern European medicine and ancient Chinese medicines because these tend to be overlooked and many have their superstitions about them. As of now the team seems to have a database of other medicinal recipes that they are looking to try and hopefully they will be effective as with Bald’s eyesalve so we can avoid another Dark Age.
HIV is very elusive and devastating retrovirus. First globally recognized as a problem in the 1980’s, physicians worldwide have been trying to figure out and find a cure/vaccine to this virus, but unfortunately to no prevail. Part of the problem is that the cells that they infect and stay undetected in evade the body for a long time until it is too late. These cells are called T-cells which are a type of lymphocyte that that plays a central role in cell-mediated immunity.
Scientist are trying to find these elusive cells, study and then ultimately kill them. The good news is that recently, scientist may actually be on to making more progress with this disease. On an infected T-cell that is dormant, there is a receptor called CD32a that is a protein. With this receptor, the protein provides a way to distinguish these sleeper T cells from other immune-system cells.
The receptor provides hope that scientists could target these silent, infected cells and destroy them. One reason why researchers are interested is because of antiviral drugs. These drugs are good because they prevent the virus from spreading throughout the body, and infected immune cells like the T-cell to stop transcribing and replicating the viral DNA. But because there is a small portion of infected T-cells that are dormant, the drugs nor our immune systems detect these cells.
Then arises the problem if the patient stops taking the drug then these cells can become active and the problem then progresses. In 2012, HIV researchers found and attempted a new approach to targeting dormant, infected T cells. This technique was called “shock and kill”, which essentially means they are reactivating/trying to kickstart viral replication in these dormant T-cells. This may be a big red flag because why would you want to “turn on” these infected cells.
But actually it is a good idea because with this theoretically then the viral drugs should work and we shouldn’t have to worry as much. Unfortunately for the most part when testing this, the HIV infected cells were not stimulated enough. This is where CD32a comes into play. When using a fluorescent tagger in gene expression between non-infected and infected T-cells, the infected T-cells showed this gene. Therefore scientist believe, by using an antibody that sticks to CD32a, the researchers then pulled cells expressing the protein out of human blood samples from HIV-infected people. Hopefully following this, then the ultimate goal would be to see if CD32a turns out to be a reliable marker, so it can be used to target drugs to the latent T-cells.
Its getting closer and closer to that time again. Its gradually warming and soon our favorite insects will be out and about once more: Mosquitoes….Last year Latin America and eventually parts of the United States were facing quite a vicious outbreak of a virus called Zika. This vector borne virus can be found in infected female mosquitos which go on to bite an individual and infect them with the virus.
This epidemic was becoming quite an epidemic and was part of the scary problem was if a pregnant woman was bitten, her child would experience microcephaly (meaning they would have a significantly smaller than normal head/brain size) which is a very concerning problem. Recently it would seem that the Western Hemisphere has actually come up with some type of vaccination and are actually looking to start with human clinical studies.
While this is really good for that we are trying to make a vaccine, researchers have speculations and wonder if the vaccinations will really help due to they will probably need Zika heavy areas to continue to see if what they are creating actually helps fend off from this nasty virus. The current vaccine they want to test seems to be made out of proteins found in mosquito saliva. The product is intended to trigger a human immune system response to the mosquito’s saliva and any viruses mixed with it. The vaccine is currently going through or have just gone through Phase I trials.
The whole trials are a series of test and regulations to see if its safe before trial on humans and then its release to the whole public to be used. They aren’t quite sure if this whole outbreak last year is going to be yearly or if it was a one time explosion, but they are preparing. Scientist are also tracking the mosquito populations in states such as Texas. The one good thing that will come from this is that we will gain further knowledge and this may be able to help us with future vector borne viruses in the future.