Study in mice shows genes may be altered through drug repurposing

Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago have published a study showing a promising approach to using drug repurposing to treat genetic diseases.

A team from the UIC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences published the article, “Gene dosage manipulation alleviates manifestations of hereditary PAX6 haploinsufficiency in mice” in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Nearly all the genes in human DNA have two copies, one inherited from the mother and one from the father. There are some genetic diseases where only one copy is normal and the other one is non-functional due to a mistake in the DNA. The idea behind this study was to see if the normal copy can be enhanced to make up for the non-functional copy, said Ali Djalilian, UIC professor of ophthalmology and corresponding author of the paper.

Researchers used a mouse model of the human disease aniridia, an eye disorder that affects the iris and causes substantial visual impairment and can also be associated with systemic abnormalities. In aniridia, one copy of the gene PAX6 is normal and the other copy is non-functional. The PAX6 gene is important in eye development and patients with aniridia and PAX6 deficiency are born with eye problems, which limit their vision and can progress throughout life, Djalilian said.

The investigators screened drugs that can enhance PAX6 and found a particular class of drugs known as MEK inhibitors can stimulate PAX6 expression in the eye. They tested this drug in newborn PAX6 deficient mice and found that either topical or oral administration of the drug enhanced PAX6 and partially normalized their eye development. Mice treated with topical MEK inhibitor had clearer corneas (less scarring) and could see better.

“Patients with aniridia can develop progressive loss of their corneal stem cells which is a challenging clinical problem. Our research in the Corneal Regenerative Medicine Laboratory is aimed at regenerating healthy corneal cells, which we hope can help these and similar patients,” said Mark Rosenblatt, dean of the UIC College of Medicine and a co-author on the study.

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Gates says coronavirus could still be risk through early 2022

California restaurant owner on staying open despite coronavirus shutdown order: ‘I really have no choice’

Cronie’s Sports Grill co-owner Dave Foldes discusses his decision to keep his business open despite shutdown orders on ‘America’s News HQ.’

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, struck a sobering tone during an interview on Sunday and while he expressed optimism about coronavirus vaccines, he mentioned that a lot of parts need to move correctly in order for the U.S. to reach some level of normalcy.

Gates is an influential voice on the pandemic and co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute.

Jake Tapper, the CNN host, mentioned the lockdown orders in states like California and the hardships that many businesses face across the country. Health officials insist that these lockdowns are needed due to the risk of hospitals potentially being inundated with patients.

“Bars and restaurants—in most of the country—will be closed as we go into this wave, and I think, sadly, that’s appropriate,” Gates said.

He said the next four to six months “really call on us to do our best, because we can see that this will end and you don’t want somebody that you love to be the last to die from coronavirus.”

Gates was asked when he believes the U.S. will regain some sense of pre-coronavirus life, and he said by late summer, the U.S. will be closer to normal than at the moment.

“But even through early 2022, unless we help other countries get rid of this disease, and we get high vaccination rates in our country, the risk of reintroduction will be there and, of course, the global economy will be slowed down, which hurts America economically in a pretty dramatic way,” he said.

Some on social media said Gates seemed out of touch when it came to the severity of the crisis when it came to the dire financial stress faced by restaurants. 

Richard Grenell, President Trump's former acting director of National Intelligence, tweeted, "Both have large paychecks."

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Hello, Curves! Kim Kardashian's Body Evolution Through the Years

Beauty, brains and body — Kim Kardashian has it all! For more than a decade, the reality star has been turning heads with her curves at every event she’s attended and all over her social media.

The KKW Beauty founder started showing off her stylish figure when she first gained attention as Paris Hilton‘s devoted sidekick, donning formfitting numbers on the red carpet, gowns with high leg slits and itty-bitty bikinis at the beach. As her own stardom began to grow with her family’s reality series, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the California native eventually landed on a signature look.

Kardashian married rapper Kanye West in May 2014, nearly one year after welcoming her first child, daughter North. When she walked down the aisle in Florence, Italy, the entrepreneur stunned in a custom Givenchy Haute Couture gown designed by her go-to designer, Riccardo Tisci.

In December 2015, Kardashian gave birth to son Saint and was eager to snap back to her pre-baby weight. Within six months, she told E! News that she had reached her goal after supplementing her workout regimen with the Atkins diet.

“I think I’m almost at 70 [pounds] down,” she told the outlet in July 2016. “I’ve recently gone into extra gear, just staying more focused. You do get comfortable and then you start to get off track a little bit but I’ve kind of like pumped it up a little bit, just started to stay focused and follow the Atkins diet again. I feel like I lost another last few pounds that I really had to lose so that makes me happy.”

The SKIMS founder and the “Stronger” rapper share two more children, daughter Chicago and son Psalm, who were welcomed via surrogate in January 2018 and May 2019, respectively. After spending time wrangling her four little ones, Kardashian committed herself to getting into tip-top shape ahead of the 2019 holidays.

“Kim is really focused on getting back to her goal weight and to a place where she feels totally fit and comfortable with her body,” a source told Us Weekly exclusively after the social media mogul gained “18 additional pounds” before November 2019. “She has been working out very diligently, so she can feel like ‘herself’ again and wear the items she wants to without worrying about how they will fit.”

Scroll down to see how the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star’s body has transformed since 2006.

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Should you fly yet? An epidemiologist and an exposure scientist walk you through the decision process

We don’t know about you, but we’re ready to travel. And that typically means flying.

We have been thinking through this issue as moms and as an exposure scientist and infectious disease epidemiologist. While we’ve decided personally that we’re not going to fly right now, we will walk you through our thought process on what to consider and how to minimize your risks.

Why the fear of flying?

The primary concern with flying—or traveling by bus or train—is sitting within six feet of an infected person. Remember: Even asymptomatic people can transmit. Your risk of infection directly corresponds to your dose of exposure, which is determined by your duration of time exposed and the amount of virus-contaminated droplets in the air.

A secondary concern is contact with contaminated surfaces. When an infected person contaminates a shared armrest, airport restroom handle, seat tray or other item, the virus can survive for hours though it degrades over time. If you touch that surface and then touch your mouth or nose, you put yourself at risk of infection.

Before you book, think

While there is no way to make air travel 100% safe, there are ways to make it safer. It’s important to think through the particulars for each trip.

One approach to your decision-making is to use what occupational health experts call the hierarchy of controls. This approach does two things. It focuses on strategies to control exposures close to the source. Second, it minimizes how much you have to rely on individual human behavior to control exposure. It’s important to remember you may be infectious and everyone around you may also be infectious.

The best way to control exposure is to eliminate the hazard. Since we cannot eliminate the new coronavirus, ask yourself if you can eliminate the trip. Think extra hard if you are older or have preexisting conditions, or if you are going to visit someone in that position.

If you are healthy and those you visit are healthy, think about ways to substitute the hazard. Is it possible to drive? This would allow you to have more control over minimizing your exposures, particularly if the distance is less than a day of travel.

You’re going, now what?

If you choose to fly, check out airlines’ policies on seating and boarding. Some are minimizing capacity and spacing passengers by not using middle seats and having empty rows. Others are boarding from the back of the plane. Some that were criticized for filling their planes to capacity have announced plans to allow customers to cancel their flights if the flight goes over 70% passenger seating capacity.

Federal and state guidance are changing constantly, so make sure you look up the most recent guidance from government agencies and the airlines and airport you are using for additional advice, and current policies or restrictions.

While this may sound counterintuitive, consider booking multiple, shorter flights. This will decrease the likelihood of having to use the lavatory and the duration of exposure to an infectious person on the plane.

After you book, select a window seat if possible. If you consider the six-foot radius circle around you, having a wall on one side would directly reduce the number of people you are exposed to during the flight in half, not to mention all the people going up and down the aisle.

Also, check out your airline to see their engineering controls that are designed or put into practice to isolate hazards. These include ventilation systems, on-board barriers and electrostatic disinfectant sprays on flights.

When the ventilation system on planes is operating, planes have a very high ratio of outside fresh air to recirculated air – about 10 times higher than most commercial buildings. Plus, most planes’ ventilation systems have HEPA filters. These are at least 99.9% effective at removing particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter and more efficient at removing both smaller and larger particles.

How to be safe from shuttle to seat

From checking in, to going through security to boarding, you will be touching many surfaces. To minimize risk:

Bring hand wipes to disinfect surfaces such as your seat belt and your personal belongings, like your passport. If you cannot find hand wipes, bring a small washcloth soaked in a bleach solution in a zip bag. This would probably freak TSA out less than your personal spray bottle, and viruses are not likely to grow on a cloth with a bleach solution. But remember: More bleach is not better and can be unsafe. You only need one tablespoon in four cups of water to be effective.

Bring plastic zip bags for personal items that others may handle, such as your ID. Bring extra bags so you can put these things in a new bag after you get the chance to disinfect them.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as often as you can. While soap and water is most effective, hand sanitizer is helpful after you wash to get any parts you may have missed.

Once you get to your window seat, stay put.

Wear a mask. If you already have an N95 respirator, consider using it but others can also provide protection. We do not recommend purchasing N95 until health care workers have an adequate supply. Technically, it should also be tested to make sure you have a good fit. We do not recommend the use of gloves, as that can lead to a false sense of security and has been associated with reduced hand hygiene practices.

If you are thinking about flying with kids, there are special considerations. Getting a young child to adhere to wearing a mask and maintaining good hygiene behaviors at home is hard enough; it may be impossible to do so when flying. Children under 2 should not wear a mask.

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