Lab Report

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 9:55am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 December, 2013, 9:55am

High testosterone can mean weakened immune response

The very hormone that makes men "macho" has been linked with a poor immune response to an influenza vaccine. Stanford University School of Medicine scientists analysed samples from 53 women and 34 men. They found that the average antibody response to the vaccine mounted by men with relatively low testosterone levels was about the same as that of women, who generally have a stronger response than men. The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gene therapy for human skin disease shows lasting benefits

A patient with an incurable genetic skin disorder who underwent gene therapy as part of a clinical trial has displayed restored skin function without any adverse side effects. In a study published in Stem Cell Reports, scientists say this paves the way for the future safe use of skin stem cells to treat genetic skin diseases. The patient suffers from epidermolysis bullosa, a condition that causes skin to blister easily and can also cause life-threatening infections. The scientists took skin stem cells from the patient's palm, corrected the genetic defect in these cells, and transplanted them into his upper legs. Nearly seven years later, his legs looked normal, with no evidence of tumour development.

Economist proposes user fees to curb antibiotics in farming

Citing an overabundant use of antibiotics in agriculture and aquaculture that poses a threat to public health, a University of Calgary economics professor has proposed a solution in the form of user fees on the non-human use of antibiotics. Aidan Hollis wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that this flood of antibiotics released into the environment has led bacteria to evolve, resulting in an increase in micro-organisms that are immune to available treatments. Imposing a user fee would deter the low-value use of antibiotics, he says, while the higher costs would encourage farmers to improve their animal management methods and adopt substitutes for the drugs, such as vaccinations.