Fun Science FRIEDay – Gut Enzyme Turns Blood Into Type O

The process of blood transfusions, started in the late 19th century and perfected in the early 20th century, were a big advancement in modern medicine and the treatment of human health. Part of the improvements in this procedure was the discovery of the various blood types in humans, and how that affects how the immune system responds to and “accepts” blood transfusions. Recently, researchers from the University of British Columbia may have found a reliable way to use a bacterial enzyme from the human gut to convert any type of blood into type O – which is compatible with nearly everyone.

Animation of red blood cells (Photo credit: meghanmecrazy)

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Fun Science FRIEDay – Virus be good!

“The era of the oncolytic virus is… here.” Stephen Russell, Cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnessota

…. and let me be the first to welcome our new virus overlords!

 Viral-based cancer therapy: T cells (orange) are recruited to attack malignant cells (purple). (Photo credit: Dr. Andrejs Liepins/SPL)

Viral-based cancer therapy: T cells (orange) are recruited to attack malignant cells (purple). (Photo credit: Dr. Andrejs Liepins/SPL)

Last week the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a decision that received little fanfare, but has huge implications for modern medicine and how we approach cancer treatment in the US. That decision? The FDA granted their approval for a genetically engineered virus to be used to treat cancer. That virus was the herpesvirus called talimogene laherparepvec, and its use is for the treatment of melanoma lesions in the skin and lymph nodes. This huge decision makes it the first oncolytic virus to receive market approval and could pave the way for more oncolytic viruses to enter the “market.”

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