Clues to curing chronic fatigue syndrome, ways to kill a cancer cell and is CRISPR ready for primetime?

Clues to a tiring disease

(Nature, 3/28/2017, Amy Maxmen)

Are you tired all the time? Have you diagnosed yourself with chronic fatigue syndrome? Physicians used to dismiss chronic fatigue syndrome as psychosomatic, but studies now suggest that it involves problems in the chemical reactions, or pathways, within cells.  Rather than seeing the thicket of metabolic, microbial and immunological data as adding to the confusion surrounding chronic fatigue, researchers are studying how the body’s systems affect each other. The current consensus is that a variety of initial triggers might converge to alter similar metabolic pathways, which ultimately leads to life-changing fatigue.

Gene editing of human embryos yields early results

(Science News, 3/29/2017, Tina Hesman Saey)

Earlier this month, scientists in China and Texas used CRISPR to successfully edit disease-causing mutations out of viable human embryo. The scientists created embryos using eggs and sperm left over from in vitro fertilization treatments. In theory, the embryos could develop into a baby if implanted into a woman’s uterus. But despite the excitement surrounding CRISPR, and promising early results, technical hurdles remain before it can cross into widespread use in treating patients.  Off-target cutting is a problem because certain gene edits might damage or change genes in unexpected ways. Doctors trying to correct one genetic defect in a patient want to be sure they aren’t accidentally introducing another.  Another problem for gene editing has been that it is good at disabling, or “knocking out,” genes that are causing a problem but not at replacing genes that have gone bad. 


Training Viruses to be Cancer Killers

(DDD Magazine, 3/29/2017, Cancer Research UK)

For decades, scientists and doctors have looked for ways to stop the damage that viruses cause to humans. But in recent years, certain safe, modified viruses have emerged as potential allies to tackle cancer.  Scientists at Cancer Research UK are among those searching for new forms of cancer-killing viruses. Researchers have been focusing on a virus operating under the name Enadenotucirev (EnAd). Since it’s important the virus can tell the difference between healthy tissue and cancer cells cancer research teams test them on healthy cells first to make sure the virus can’t grow in them.  EnAd has passed these lab examinations and is now being tested in an early stage clinical trial.



— Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola