Issue 40: DMD Dogs, camu camu, ADHD, STDs, CAMP, and smoking weed

Dogs with DMD saved by CRISPR

Image from Sophie's Secret Dog Blog

Good news for dogs with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD): there's a new treatment and yes it's CRISPR related. Recently scientists from UT Southwestern Medical Center published in Science that they were able to treat dogs with the gene mutation responsible for causing DMD. Within several weeks of treatment, the dogs had a 92% correction in dystrophin levels in the heart (<15% is incompatible with life) and 58% in the diaphragm. This is important not just because we love our canine friends, but also because DMD is the most common fatal genetic disease in us humans. If we can save dogs, scientists think that we can use this same treatment in kids as well. DMD currently affects 1/5,000 boys and leads to muscle and heart failure before the age of 30. UT Southwestern scientists have spun out a startup called Exonics Therapeutics to bring the CRISPR treatment to the bedside. 

Amazonian superfruit camu camu makes mice less fat

Camu camu

Have you ever heard of camu camu? Probs not. It's a super sour fruit indigenious to the Amazonian rainforests in Peru and Brazil that has a f*ckton of vitamin C and polyphenols. It's got more than 30x the amount of vitamin C as an orange and 5x the amount of polyphenols as blackberries. Recently scientists at the Universite Laval in Quebec have shown that camu camu can prevent mice from becoming obese even if they are given an extremely unhealthy diet. The researches fed two groups of mice a diet rich in fats and sugar for eight weeks. Half of the mice in this "Western" diet group were also given camu camu extract daily. Another group of mice were also given a low sugar and low fat diet (so basically they were tortured jk). The group of mice that was given camu camu had a similar weight profile as the low sugar and fat diet group and was 50% lower than the mice fed the "Western diet" without camu camu. The researchers think the anti-obesity effects of camu camu work by increasing resting metabolism. Researchers also found that camu camu improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Researchers are now examining whether the fruit will help the human obesity epidemic. 

The youth can't focus 

Image from Youtube

According to a new study published in JAMA pediatrics, 10% of children now have an ADHD diagnosis. The numbers have been steadily increasing for the last decade and have risen most sharply in girls and minorities. The study used data from the NIH and found that between 1997-1998 the prevalence of children with ADHD was 6% while the prevalence between 2015-2016 was 10.2%. Scientists are unclear what exactly caused the increase. Some people blame smartphones and social media, some people blame doctors overzealously diagnosing their patients, while others think the increase is because of better access to healthcare. Regardless of the cause it's clear that a lot of us have difficulty fo...

STD rates are skyrocketing 

dude with condom on his head

Hold on to your balls - these statistics are shocking. The CDC announced that STDs hit a record high last year. Gonorrhea is up by 67%, chlamydia is up by 21%, and syphilis is up by 76%. The grand total was 2.3 million cases in the glory 'ole USA. This is the 4th year in a row that STD incidence has increased. Now you're first inclination might be to blame Tinder and to think that dating apps have lead to more promiscuity, but you're sorely wrong. In fact Americans are having less sex over time! So Americans are having historically little sex and historically high rates of STD's. WTF? According to the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention (yes this exists), Americans are having less sex but more unprotected sex. Condom use is declining. In addition young people between the ages of 15-24 who abuse drugs are more likely to have unprotected sex as well. 

Scientists discover toxin causing acne and give it incredibly long name
rapper 6ix9ine got face tats to cover up his acne

As a teenager, one of the worst things to wake up to is the sight of a big ol’ zit staring back at you in the mirror. And for a lot of people, acne continues to be Public Enemy #1 even into their 20’s. But for the first time, it seems that there is a ray of hope! Researchers have identified a toxin named Christie-Akins-Munch-Peterson (CAMP), which plays a key role in causing the inflammation associated with acne. But by introducing antibodies to CAMP in both human and mice skin cells, researchers witnessed a significant decrease in inflammation. In the future, they hope to utilize this acne immunotherapy in the form of a vaccine. I’m sure most of us would’ve given anything to have had such a vaccine during our zit-faced years! 

Contributed by Sameera Chaudry from Rutgers 

To smoke or not to smoke? 

This may be a question that many people begin to ask their doctors as cannabis legalization and use becomes increasingly more prevalent across the country. Recent research published in Pediatrics showed that smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding results in both short and long-term consequences for children. "But marijuana calms me down and helps with morning sickness!" While there is mixed data on whether cannabis use makes nausea during pregnancy better or worse--what has been shown is that cannabis can cross the placenta and affect the fetus. Even in longitudinal studies--children exposed to cannabis in utero had deficits in memory tasks, language comprehension, and reading tasks, among others. "I don't think I can quit...should I stop breastfeeding?" Because of ethical concerns there is a scarcity of research, and specifically RCTs, on the effect of cannabis on pregnant women and their children. Thus, the current literature has many limitations. Because we know that breastfeeding has many benefits, these may potentially outweigh the negative consequences of cannabis use while pregnant. Thus while pediatricians and gynecologists should counsel women on reducing or eliminating cannabis use during pregnancy--if this is not possible, then they should continue to support breastfeeding mothers. 

Contributed by Aish Thankur from UCSF