genetic therapy
In a First, Gene Therapy Halts a Fatal Brain Disease
With a disabled AIDS virus, doctors supply a gene to boys with a degenerative neural condition.
By Gina Kolata

For the first time, doctors have used gene therapy to stave off a fatal degenerative brain disease, an achievement that some experts had thought impossible.

The key to making the therapy work? One of the medicine’s greatest villains: HIV.

Continue Reading.

This is my OK KO oc named Doctor Allimo!

He was originally hired by heroes to help with physical therapy and genetic testings but he eventually fell out of his good nature after he was brought on a raid of a villain’s base and he realized how awful and hypocritical heroes really are.

Though he doesn’t have an evil personality and he still sees himself as a good person, he works for multiple villains when it comes to DNA manipulation and cloning. He can be extremely stuck up and self defensive but overall he’s very clingy and protective of his employers because he’s scared they’ll look down on him because of his past with working with heroes.

Humans are weird: The Research Facility

*Quick note before I start: This is the 4th installment in a series I’ve called the Lost Colonies which is largely about human society adapting to the strange environments of other worlds. You can read the other installments here: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing this series, but with my new work schedule I had to bring it to a close. If you’ve enjoyed this story follow me on here for my other writings. Thanks again to everyone who has reblogged, liked, replied, DMed, or otherwise shown their appreciation for this series. It means a lot to me that people enjoyed it and the love you’ve all shown me has really helped keep me going for these last few months.*

The airlock hissed and Kiara felt her knuckles ache as the pressure adjusted to the station. Reflexively she clenched and unclenched her fists trying to ease the dull throb that she could already feel spreading to her other joints. On most worlds that had significantly higher or lower pressure than Earth humans lived in enclosed dome cities or underground stations that were kept calibrated to standard Earth atmosphere. For some reason this facility seemed to be kept at a slightly higher pressure. It probably had something to do with the fact that the station was within the atmosphere of a hothouse planet similar to old Earth’s stellar neighbor Venus. She made a mental note to ask about it later when she got the chance.

The door to the airlock swung smoothly open despite the fact that it appeared to weigh nearly a metric ton. On the other side awaited a tall man who stood at full attention in a crisp military uniform. He gave a quick salute and gestured without a word for Kiara to follow him. The pair wandered down deserted corridors that had been polished to a mirror shine before arriving at the administrator’s office. The tall man knocked twice on the door before it slid into the wall, he then stood to the side of the door and snapped off another salute though Kiara noticed that his hand was trembling.

The administrator’s office was just as polished and barren as the rest of the station had been so far, the man himself, decidedly less so. The administrator was a short pale man who had cut himself badly attempting to shave with a thin ring of white hair around his head. He wore a suit which was several sizes too large and had been hastily pressed to try and remove some of the wrinkles. The administrator stood behind his desk and gave a quick nervous smile as he ushered Kiara into the room.

“Welcome to my facility. I apologize that I cannot offer more of a tour at this time but I’m afraid that I haven’t verified your clearance level yet Miss Williams.” Kiara smiled and offered a handshake ”It’s actually Mrs. Williams-Venn but Kiara will work just fine”. The administrator took her hand and then sat down quickly apologizing for the sweatiness of his palms. “Well, Kiara, I’m afraid that we haven’t had contact with EarthGov for some time now, and as such we’ve been unable to verify your rank or clearance level so until we are able to do so we cannot allow further access to this station. I hope you understand.”

Kiara took a long deep breath. It didn’t happen often, but holdouts like these were always difficult to deal with. It was an unfortunate failing of humanity that people could hold onto a failing ideology for centuries. Kiara looked the administrator over again. 15 sols of conducting personal interviews had taught her how to read people and this administrator looked nervous as hell. She’d have to play this one carefully. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name, Mr…” “Eckstein. Johnathan Eckstein.” “Well John, I’m sorry to have to be the bearer of bad news but I’m afraid you won’t be able to grant me security clearance as that office of EarthGov no longer exists.”

John screamed and fell out of his chair and the guard at the door took off running. Kiara spun around expecting a threat coming from behind, seeing nothing she stood up cautiously and looked over the desk to see John cowering on the floor. He looked up at her and sobbed “Just make it quick.” Remembering the stories she had heard of EarthGov’s brutality it finally clicked in Kiara’s head. John thought she was sent there from EarthGov to kill them all. “Uh, John, Mr Eckstein, it’s fine. You can get up. I’m not here from EarthGov. They no longer exist.” John rolled over onto his back to look up at her, tears streaming down the sides of his face as he sobbed uncontrollably. “Really?” “Yeah, really.”

The sobs eventually turned into relived laughter as John picked himself up off the floor. Finally he slumped back down into his chair and slapped the intercom switch on his desk. “Condition Green. Code 2635. We’re clear everyone.” Kiara heard a dull roar of applause and shouts from down the corridor as the rest of the station cheered in celebration. “I’m sorry for all that Kiara, we’ve just been a little on edge since that transponder lit up. Would you like a drink?” John pulled a bottle of clear liquor out of the bottom drawer of his desk along with a pair of glasses and started filling both before she could answer.

Mildly amused she took the proffered drink and tapped the glasses together in an old Earth tradition. “Cheers” John’s face split into a wide grin as he downed the drink in a single gulp. Kiara tried to take a sip and broke out into a violent coughing fit. “Oh, yeah, sorry, we distill our own around here and, well, you get used to it.” Kiara set the “drink” back on the desk and smiled again at John. “So, how about we try this again. You tell me what’s been going on at this facility and I’ll fill you in on what’s been happening in the rest of the galaxy.”

John nodded and picked up Kiara’s glass and drained that too. “Where do I start? Ok, well, we were an EarthGov secret weapons research lab. We were stationed here to conceal our location with only one transponder to communicate to our higher ups in EarthGov. Our facility is entirely self sustaining since it could take several solar rotations for us to have a window to so much as get people on or off the planet. It wasn’t unusual for us to lose contact with the outside world for long periods of time so at first we didn’t notice that it had been a while since we had last heard from anyone. That while turned into a few years, then a decade.”

Kiara checked her datapad and asked “When did your people last have contact with anyone from EarthGov?” John looked like he was considering pouring another drink but put the bottle away instead. “218 years ago, plus a few months.” Kiara’s eyes went wide and she double checked her notes. “That was almost 20 sols after EarthGov fell!” John’s gaze wandered around the room as he lost himself in thought. “Hmm. You call them sols. Makes sense if we’re not being Earth-centric about our units of measurement. But yeah, not too surprising that they tried to keep their weapons development going for so long after it all went to shit. My grandmother said they were getting kinda weird for those last few transmissions.”

Kiara scribbled notes into her datapad as she tried to wrap her head around this new information. “I had heard a lot of stories about EarthGov I just never thought that- wait did you say ‘Grandmother’? As in it’s only been 2 generations in over 200 sols?” John laughed. “Yeah, I guess I’m a lot older than I look. That’s kinda what happens when you put a bunch of medical scientists in isolation for a few hundred years. I turn 120 in a few months, or whatever unit of measurement you use these days.” Kiara stared at the short man behind the desk. It was true, aside from the hair he didn’t appear any older than his early 40s.

“That’s remarkable. Can I ask how?” John just shrugged as though one of the most significant medical breakthroughs in human history was a minor matter. “Partly genetic therapy and partly cloned organs. We grow a kind of ‘genetic blank’ version of any organ you might need that carries enough DNA to be recognizably human and then when you need something replaced we just take the information we need from your existing cells and work it into the blank. It’s not perfect and we can’t replace everything, but I have a life expectancy of over twice my current age so long as I don’t damage anything important.”

Something clicked in the back of Kiara’s mind “Like I said, remarkable, but you just said ‘medical scientists’ I thought this was a weapons research facility?” John froze in place before scrunching up his face and mutter a curse under his breath. His hand reached again for the bottle in the desk before he stopped himself. “Yeah. Biological weapons. Look I’m not proud of it. No one here is. And everyone who was originally part of the project is dead. About a century we put it to a vote decided that EarthGov was probably gone for good and even if they weren’t that we couldn’t risk that kind of destruction getting out. So we destroyed all the virus samples that weren’t viable for other forms of research. There’s not anything left on this station that could hurt anyone.”

Kiara turned her datapad’s recorder off. “I want you to know that I’m on your side on this, and that I’ll present your case to the Galactic Republic. I’m sure that it will be fine, but I need to know. were the original scientists volunteers?” John stared off in silence for several minutes before finally answering “Yeah. Most of them. I don’t think there was any real animosity towards aliens, it’s just, there wasn’t a lot of work for scientists outside of the government. And what the government wanted was a weapon that the ‘alien threat’ couldn’t defend against. At least, that’s what my grandmother said.”

Kiara’s hands clenched into fists, her knuckles aching again though she didn’t think it was still from the pressure. “Were there any projects done on a virus for Turics?” John shook his head. “Probably, but we destroyed all that a long time ago. I’ll double check the files to make sure that nothing remains though. Why? You got a thing for the big furry bastards?” John was grinning until he saw the look on Kiara’s face. “I’m going to say this just once. If you’re going to be a part of the galactic community, you’re going to need to drop those prejudices right the fuck now. I’ve dealt with a lot of backwards bullshit in this job and I can tell you that if you want off this rock you’re going to have to unlearn a lot of that ‘human first’ mentality. Got it?” John was now paler than she had ever seen a human before. “Understood! I’ll make sure to bring it up with the rest of the facility at the next meeting Kiara.”

Kiara got up still glaring at John. “It’s Mrs. Williams-Venn. And for your sake, you should hope that you don’t have to hear that name again.”

Who's Who in the Shimada-McCree Family

A/N: This is the family for my McHanzo domestic AU, I’m writing it along with a lot of other things. Please ask about the fam. They’re precious.


  • The “strict” father.
  • Goes to all of his kids’ extra curricular activities.
  • Wakes the kids up for school.
    • “Yes, Weston. You need to go to school today.”
  • Is a big softie for Hatsu and Eiji.
  • Does most of the cooking.
  • Always worries about the kids when he’s away on missions.
  • Gives the older kids life advice.
  • Has all of their awards and certificates in a trophy case or hanging on the wall.
  • Lowkey brags about his kids.
  • Loves when his kids ask if they can meditate with him.
  • Makes the whole family go on yearly trips to Hanamura.
  • Loves taking the kids on camping trips.
  • He’s usually the only one actually getting the items on the grocery list.
    • “No, Jesse. We don’t need… denim scented candles?”
    • “Weston don’t climb that!!”
    • “Ana, Dominic. Where’s Eiji and Hatsu?”
  • Forces Jesse to come to all of the parent-teacher conferences.
  • Isn’t mad, just disappointed.
  • Encourages his kids to achieve their dreams.
  • Has to defuse any and all fights between Dominic and Ana.
  • Hates when the kids fight with each other.


  • Let’s his kids get away with just about everything.
  • Sneaks them candy before dinner.
    • And after.
  • Let’s them stay up late.
    • Even on school nights.
  • Makes breakfast while Hanzo wakes the kids.
    • Also makes their lunches.
  • Bakes a ton of sweets for the school bake sale.
  • Likes to flirt with the moms on the PTA to mess with Hanzo.
  • Hates going to parent-teacher conferences.
  • Probably tried to bribe the teachers to pass his kids at least once.
  • Isn’t disappointed, just mad.
  • When he’s away on a mission he calls the house every chance he gets.
    • “You kiddos okay?”
    • “Yes, dad. Same as when you called ten minutes ago.”
  • Best cuddles when it’s cold in the house.
  • Likes it when the whole family is snuggled up on the couch.
  • Always let’s any of the kids sleep in bed with him and Hanzo if they can’t get to sleep.
  • Gets everyone in the family hats and serapes matching his.
  • Along with the kids, begs Hanzo to let them get a pet.
  • Teaches the kids how to shoot a gun.
  • Always takes them to visit Reinpa and Grandma Amari and Grandpa Gabe.
  • Isn’t allowed to be alone with the younger kids for more than a few hours.


  • The fun grandparent.
  • “Reinpa” because his name was too hard to pronounce for the little ones.
  • Teaches Ana, Dominic, and Weston how to speak German.
  • Loves taking them to visit Germany.
  • Always bringing them stuff back from his travels.
  • Is a big teddy bear.
  • Always has at least one grandchild with him while he’s visiting.
  • Picks up the kids and puts them on his shoulders.
  • Let’s them climb him.
    • “Rein, be careful hE MIGHT FALL”
  • But seriously, will dote on his grandkids cause he’s a concerned Reinpa.
  • Highkey brags about them to anyone he meets.
  • Has pictures of them in his wallet.
  • Brings them sweets from Germany.

Ana Amari:

  • She’s the best at getting the kids to behave.
  • Is always able to get them to bed.
    • She secretly sleep darts them.
  • Loves taking Ana and Dominic to Egypt.
  • Teaches them Arabic if they want.
  • Cried when she heard her oldest granddaughter was being named Ana.
  • Loves being with the youngest ones.
  • Somehow manages to know when one or more of the kids is sick???
  • Makes the best tea and chicken noodle soup.
  • Is the go-to babysitter though.
  • Will drop everything to be with her grandkids.
  • Goes to every event for the kids.
  • Lowkey wants to take them home with her.
  • Teaches Dominic and Ana how to use a sniper rifle.
  • Goes to all of Dominic’s concerts.
  • Supports her grandkids.
  • Is the best grandma.


  • Let’s Hatsu and Eiji play with his dragon.
  • Speaks to them in Japanese so they know their native tongue better.
  • Let’s Weston use his sword.
    • Gets in trouble for letting his nephew use his sword.
  • Insists he doesn’t have a favorite.
    • He does.
      • It’s Weston.
  • Loves to make them his favorite Japanese meals.
  • Loves to babysit his nieces and nephews.
  • Encourages Dominic to choose his own path.
  • Literally encourages him to rebel against Hanzo.
  • Is Hatsu and Eiji’s nightlight though.
  • But the kids refuse to hug him in the winter because he’s so cold.
  • Except for Hatsu.
  • She loves cold.
  • Highkey tried to take one of them home with him one time.
  • Hanzo and Jesse noticed two hours later that Weston was missing.
  • He takes them to the arcades all the time though.
  • Is the best as claw machines.
  • Wins Hatsu and Eiji whatever they want.
  • Tried to give Dominic Sake once.
  • If he heard Dominic or Ana has a date, lowkey follows them.
    • They still know he was following them.
  • Is jealous when one of the kids says Hanzo’s cooking is better.


  • Has known just about all of the kids since birth.
  • Was the pediatrician for all of them.
  • Still is for Hatsu and Eiji.
  • Literally is always doting over Weston.
  • Calls the house every week to see how Weston’s genetic therapy is going.
  • Makes sure all of the kids are eating healthy.
  • Has and will call one of the older kids out on their shit if they make her mad enough.
  • Is usually fairly patient though.
  • Gives extremely good advice.
  • Always gives them Swiss chocolate.
  • Helps Ana through her female problems since her house is full of males and the only other female is Hatsu who is five.
  • Sometimes stays the night if Weston is having a problem with his dyslexia and can’t do his homework.
  • Helps Weston through his low points about himself.
  • She’s always there to give words of encouragement.
  • Answers any questions they may have about medicine or treatments if they are sick.
  • Will stay at the house the entire time one of the kids is sick if she feels she needs to.
    • “Angela, you don’t need to-”
    • “Jesse, I am staying. Eiji has the flu, he needs me.”
  • Loves to take Hatsu and Eiji to the park.
  • If Ana or Dominic is mad at the other or their parents she lets them stay with her.
  • Is like the mom for the kids.
    • But she’s their aunt.

Soldier 76:

  • “Grumpa”
  • Forgets their names half of the time
  • If he’s babysitting he’s either doing paperwork or sleeping.
    • Sometimes both.
  • Calls Weston “Mini McCree”
  • Fell asleep on the couch once.
    • He slept on the remote.
  • Gets Dominic and Weston confused sometimes.
  • Insists he’s the best grandfather though.
  • Lost Hatsu and Eiji at the mall once.
  • Everything is a challenge though.
  • Don’t let him get Christmas gifts.
  • He either wraps them in newspaper or doesn’t wrap them at all.
  • Lowkey loves his grandkids and brags about them to everyone.
  • Doesn’t let Gabriel or Jesse or Hanzo know he really does love the kids.
  • They do know.


  • Honestly, the best grandfather ever.
  • Takes his grandkids to the best restaurants.
  • Always insists he stay the night.
  • If he’s babysitting over night and Hatsu or Eiji wakes up from a nightmare he hums or sings to them.
  • Has conversations with Dominic in Spanish.
  • Loves to help the kids prank Jesse and Hanzo.
  • Took Eiji home with him once.
    • It was the best two hours of Eiji’s life.
  • He always manages to bring some kind of stuffed animal for Hatsu and Eiji.
  • He spoils his grandkids to death.
  • He bought them too many Christmas presents at one point.
    • He was put on a budget.
    • He could spend $300 on each kid.
      • He bought 600 stuffed animals from the dollar store, 300 for Eiji and 300 for Hatsu.
  • Makes all of the Halloween costumes for the kids.
    • Made matching costumes for everyone.
      • They were a Mariachi Band.
  • Always talks about how he’s the better cook.
    • Hanzo disagrees.
  • But Gabe makes all the traditional Mexican food for his grandkids.
  • Loves listening to Dominic’s music.
  • Sneaks so much candy to them.
    • They aren’t hungry by the time it’s dinner.
  • Loves to cuddle Hatsu and Eiji.
  • They’re always attached to his legs.
  • Gets the kids ice cream if they’re upset.
  • Has tons of pictures of his grandkids.
    • Shows everyone.
    • No matter where he’s at.

Ana Gabrielle:

  • The oldest kid.
  • Loves her siblings.
    • Sometimes not Dominic.
  • Loves her grandparents.
    • All of them.
  • You know how a lot of girls wanted to marry their fathers when they were young?
    • Ana wanted to marry her Aunt Mercy.
  • Lowkey loves rock music.
  • Highkey is obsessed with classical and instrumental music.
  • Loves animals.
    • Tried to bring a sloth home from the zoo.
  • Is secretly good at singing.
  • Meditates with Hanzo on a daily basis.
  • Honestly, has punched Dominic more than once.
  • Their fights get physical sometimes.
  • Ana is a badass though.
  • She secretly misses her mom.
  • Curses in Japanese when she’s frustrated.
  • Plays the piano and the drums.
  • Highkey loves spicy everything.
  • Is the best baker in the house, second to Jesse.
  • Halloween is her favorite holiday.
  • Insists she buys all of the Christmas presents by herself.
  • Makes Christmas dinner with Hanzo and Grandma Amari every year.
  • Stays up at night helping Weston with his homework.
  • Sleeps like four hours a night.
  • Help her.
  • But the biggest nerd ever.


  • Really sweet.
    • A hard ass.
      • But sweet.
  • Is closer to his Grandpa Gabe than anyone else.
    • Tells him everything.
    • Writes Spanish songs and plays them for his Grandpa Gabe.
  • Loves his Grandma’s tea.
  • Cranky if he doesn’t listen to music at least once a day.
    • Hates country music.
  • Obsessed with pens.
    • Has hundreds.
      • Prefers erasable ones.
  • Plays so many instruments.
    • RIP Hanzo and Jesse’s bank accounts.
  • Dyed his hair blue and green once.
    • Hanzo fainted.
    • Dominic regretted it.
    • Picture day was a week later.
  • Most Christmas spirit out of the whole family.
    • Sings Christmas songs every year.
    • Is the first person to wake up.
    • Buys the best Christmas presents.
  • Wants to be a musician.
  • Wants his own car.
  • Can barely afford his guitars.
  • Ditched school for his gigs.
  • Loves the rain.
  • Has run outside during a storm.
  • He got sick.
  • Loves to read books.
  • Fantasy specifically.


  • Protect him.
  • Just wants to be happy.
  • Is really insecure about himself.
  • Loves his uncle Genji.
  • Steals Jesse’s hat a lot.
  • Likes to use his gun.
  • Eats fried chicken as a midnight snack.
  • Talks in his sleep a lot.
  • Shares a room with Dominic???
  • He likes to stay with his dads though.
  • Brags to Hanzo and his Uncle Genji that he has three dragons.
  • Thinks it’s funny to unleash them in school.
  • Loves playing video games.
  • Watches old west movies with Jesse a lot.
  • Likes to be called “Wild Weston”.
  • Hates the water.
  • Hates his dyslexia.
  • He loves his family a lot.
  • Loves being with his Grandma Amari and Grandfathers.
  • Doesn’t like it when his sister and brother fight.
  • Has fought a few kids at school though.
  • Sneaks cookies and brownies to school.
  • Eats ice cream for breakfast when his Grandpa Gabe is in charge.
  • Has a small crush on his aunt Fareeha.

Hatsu and Eiji:

  • Twins.
  • Hatsu is more outgoing then her brother.
  • They’re the babies of the family.
  • Get away with everything.
  • Love sugar.
  • Are very attached to their stuffed animals.
  • Practically share a room with their dads.
  • Eiji loves vanilla ice cream but Hatsu loves mint chocolate chip.
  • They hate pancakes but love waffles.
  • Christmas is their favorite holiday.
  • But they’re always the last ones awake.
  • Love school.
  • Have a lot of friends.
  • Loves to be with their Grandma Amari or their Grandpa Gabe.
  • Hatsu’s favorite color is blue while Eiji’s is orange.
  • Can’t sleep without a nightlight.
  • Love TV.
  • But they don’t watch it often.
  • Get tired really easily.
  • Hatsu is Hanzo’s favorite and Eiji is Jesse’s.
  • Are very creative.
  • Really energetic too.
  • Surprisingly love vegetables.

Bacteriophages: Antibiotic Alternative or Just a Phase?

It is now clear that we are rapidly approaching a post-antibiotic era, and the need for an alternative is more vital than ever. The CDC estimates that approximately 2 million people are infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria each year, and of that 23 000 of them die as a result of the infection [1]. Our antibiotic pipeline is drying up and the development of new antibiotics is both slow and expensive, making antibiotics unappealing investments for pharmaceutical companies. Although alternatives to antibiotics are far from the market, the field is slowly expanding. Amongst the alternatives, bacteriophages (phages) are a potential candidate for both diagnostic and therapeutic medicine.

Quite simply, phages are viruses that infect bacteria. These are the most abundant biological entity on the planet and are thought to outnumber bacteria 10:1. Their sheer abundance has led to a vast diversity that has yet to be exploited by modern medicine. This is in part due to a number of problems with phages that haven’t made them ideal candidates for therapy. This article seeks to look at some of the problems with phages, and what steps are being taken to improve them for application in humans.

Rapid clearance from the host:

Delivery systems for phages have not been thoroughly assessed for systemic phage application. In other words we are still lacking a way of delivering a bacteriophage drug intravenously to ensure that phages have the maximal effect on the patient. Annoyingly, our immune systems are great at rapidly inactivating and removing them from our bodies [2], with animal studies showing that phage can be completely cleared within 24 hours [3]. Early work carried out in germ-free mice in the 70s showed that phages are passively collected in the mononuclear phagocyte system (MPS), where they remain viable until inactivated by immune cells [3].

There have been two solutions developed so far to amend this problem [2]. The first was developed in the late 90s by the National Institute of Health in the US, which involved the serial passage of phage through a living organism. It was hypothesised that some phage would have mutations in their coat proteins that would give them increased protection from the natural filtration systems in the body over wild type phage [3] and by selecting for these phage, you could gradually produce a population of long-circulating phage. When applied, these phage would have longer circulation times, and therefore a greater chance of colliding with their target bacteria. Animal studies have shown far better recovery of animals given long-circulating strains of virus over wild type, when presenting symptoms of otherwise fatal bacteraemia [4].

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Figure 1. Diagram showing a few of the possible receptors for Salmonella sp. phage [5]

Additionally, to prevent degradation or inactivation of phages, polymers can be added to the coatings of phages [1]. The polymer polyethylene glycol (PEG) has been shown to increase systematic circulation and decrease T-helper cell activation in response to phage. It is likely that a combination of these two methods may improve delivery strategies in the future of phage therapeutics.

Altering host range and preventing resistance:

Unlike antibiotics, phages have incredibly refined, narrow host-ranges. This property is in reality a double edged sword: in many cases, phages are only able to target a few strains of a single species, whereas antibiotics relentlessly target multiple branches of the bacterial phylogenetic tree. Antibiotic treatment can lead to disruption of the host’s own microbiota which can permit the colonisation of nastier and less cooperative microorganisms.

In contrast, phages can target their host whilst leaving the surrounding organisms in relative peace. When a patient presents symptoms of infection, the particular species or strain causing the infection would be unknown. Identifying the culprit before selecting the right phage would take time a patient may not have.

Receptors on the bacterial cell surface are what determine which phage are able to bind to the cell. A wide variety of receptors are used by phage, but many still remain a mystery. To curtail these issues and ensure that as many receptors can be targeted for a particular bacterium, phage cocktails are used [6]. These are mixtures containing a number of different phage strains. In theory, the cocktail should be designed so that the phages together should be able to target all the known clinically relevant strains of a particular species of bacteria.

Creating phage cocktails from natural sources can be laborious [7], however viral DNA provides a platform for genetically engineering phages with desired properties. Improving phage cocktails with modified phages expressing structures that could target a wide variety of receptors on a bacterial cell could ensure that a cocktail could target the maximum number of strains, whilst reducing the selection pressure on a sole receptor. Resistance to the phage cocktail would then also be avoided.

Much of this work looks at genetically engineering phage tail fibres [7, 8]. These ‘spider-leg’ like components regulate the initial binding step between a phage and a target cell. It has been shown by Mahichi et al, 2009 and Ando et al, 2015 that switching tail fibres between phages with different host ranges can confer host-range specificity from one phage to another. Hopefully, modular engineering of phages will push phage technology forwards, offering new strategies for developing phages for therapeutic purposes.

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Figure 2. Diagram showing how the modular shuffling of tail fibres between viral strains can confer host range of parental strain [7].

Preventing the release of cellular toxins

A major health risk of phage, is that like β-lactam antibiotics, they interfere with the bacterial cell wall integrity and ultimately lead to cell lysis. Lysing cells prevents further replication, but also releases all the cell’s content. This may include but not be limited to superantigens and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) [2]. These toxins will trigger the inflammatory response, and in extreme cases cause organ failure and death.

Phages have a simple dual-lysis system consisting of a holin and endolysin. The holin is a pore-forming membrane protein that creates an exit from the cytoplasm for the endolysin. The endolysin is then able to attack the peptidoglycan of the bacterial cell wall, resulting in its rupture. To generate phage incapable of lysing a cell, the dual lysis system simply needs to be inactivated.

To restore killing power to the phage in the absense of the dual lysis system, a bacterial toxin needs to be incorporated into the phage genome. Hagens et al, 2004 has shown that by engineering the filamentous phage M13 to encode a non-native restriction enzyme, antimicrobial activity can be restored through the generation of double stranded breaks in chromosomal DNA. Upon infecting Psuedomonas aeruginosa with this phage, there was a 99% drop in viable cell counts over the time course [9]. Other research has looked into other uses for the non-lytic killing of bacteria, including proteins that interfere with regulatory systems and other bacterial toxins.


Phage therapy has shown promise in recent years as being a good candidate for either working in synergy with or replacing antibiotics. The appalling lack of human based clinical trials haven’t helped to expose their potential for human use. Although this is the case, a significant amount of work has been done on improving phage therapy in preparation for further studies with human application. The past 15 years have seen an improved outcome for this technology as obstacles with phages are gradually manoeuvred by intelligent reengineering. With hindsight we have now acquired through our experiences with antibiotics, hopefully we will not make the same mistakes with phages as we have done with antibiotics.

1. CDC (2013) Antibiotic resistance threats. US Dep Heal Hum Serv 22–50

2. Lu TK, Koeris MS (2011) The next generation of bacteriophage therapy. Curr Opin Microbiol 14:524–531

3. Carlton RM (1999) Phage therapy: past history and future prospects. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz) 47:267–274

4. Merril CR, Biswas B, Carlton R, Jensen NC, Creed GJ, Zullo S, Adhya S (1996) Long-circulating bacteriophage as antibacterial agents. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 93:3188–3192

5. Chaturongakul S, Ounjai P (2014) Phage host interplay: examples from tailed phages and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. Front Microbiol 5:1–8

6. Moradpour Z, Ghasemian A (2011) Modified phages: Novel antimicrobial agents to combat infectious diseases. Biotechnol Adv 29:732–738

7. Ando H, Lemire S, Pires DP, Lu TK (2015) Engineering Modular Viral Scaffolds for Targeted Bacterial Population Editing. Cell Syst 1:187–196

8. Mahichi F, Synnott AJ, Yamamichi K, Osada T, Tanji Y (2009) Site-specific recombination of T2 phage using IP008 long tail fiber genes provides a targeted method for expanding host range while retaining lytic activity. FEMS Microbiol Lett 295:211–217

9. Hagens S, Habel A, Ahsen U Von, Gabain A Von (2004) Therapy of Experimental Pseudomonas Infections with a Nonreplicating Genetically Modified Phage Therapy of Experimental Pseudomonas Infections with a Nonreplicating Genetically Modified Phage. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 46:3817–3822
Is this the first human to have become younger using gene therapy?

Telomeres are the protective caps (shown in green) on the ends of the strands of DNA called chromosomes, which house our genomes. In young humans, telomeres are about 8,000-10,000 nucleotides long. They shorten with each cell division, however, and when they reach a critical length the cell stops dividing or dies

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Seattle based Bioviva, has been using her own company’s experimental therapies. She claims in 6 months, this has reversed 20 years of normal telomere shortening. 

Different types of medicine
  • Anesthesiologist - administers drugs and monitors patient condition during surgery; also provides pain management for acute and chronic conditions.
  • Cardiologist, Interventional Cardiologist, Cardiac Electrophysiologist - a cardiologist specializes in diseases of the heart and blood vessels; an interventional cardiologists uses guided imaging to diagnose and treat those diseases; a cardiac electrophysiologist specializes in treating irregular heart rhythms caused by electrical problems in the heart.
  • Cardiovascular Surgeon, Cardiothoracic Surgeon - a cardiovascular surgeon specializes in the surgical management of blood vessels and heart disorders; a cardiothoracic surgeon specializes in pathological conditions within the chest.
  • Emergency medicine - physicians who care for patients with acute illnesses or injuries which require immediate medical attention; they diagnose a variety of illnesses and undertake acute interventions to stabilize the patient.
  • Endocrinologist - diagnoses and treats diabetes, hormone imbalances, thyroid disease and other disorders of the endocrine system.
  • Family medicine - provides continuing, comprehensive health care for the individual and family. Encompasses all ages, both sexes, each organ system, and every disease entity; a family physician’s care is based on knowledge of the patient in the context of the family and the community, emphasizing disease prevention and health promotion.
  • Gastroenterologist - specializes in diseases of the digestive system.
  • Geriatrician (Geriatric Medicine) - general practice physician who specializes in caring for older adults.
  • Hematologist - a hematologist specializes in diseases of the blood and bone marrow.
  • Hepatologist - specializes in diseases of the liver.
  • Hospitalist - internal medicine physician whose practice is limited to hospital inpatients.
  • Intensivist - hospital-based critical care medicine specialist who treats patients in intensive care settings.
  • Internal medicine - provides diagnosis, management and nonsurgical treatment of unusual or serious diseases.
  • Medical Geneticist - provides testing, counseling and therapy for genetic diseases.
  • Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist - a medical oncologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers and tumors; a radiation oncologist specializes in the application of radiation to manage disease.
  • Neonatologist - cares for premature and critically ill newborns.
  • Nephrologist - specializes in diseases of the kidneys.
  • Neurologist, Neurosurgeon - a neurologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of disease and functions of the brain, spine, peripheral nerves, muscles and nervous systems; a neurosurgeon provides surgical management of those disorders.
  • Neurophysiologist - a neurologist who diagnoses disorders of the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous systems through clinical evaluations and electrophysiologic testing.
  • Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Urogynecologist - an obstetrician/gynecologist specializes in the medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and its associated disorders; a urogynecologist specializes in female urological problems.
  • Opthalmologist, Optometrist - an ophthalmologist provides comprehensive eye and vision care, including to medically or surgically treat eye disorders; an optometrist specializes in diagnosing diseases of the eye and correcting vision.
  • Orthopedic Surgeon - also known as an orthopod, an orthopedist is a surgeon who treats diseases, disorders and injuries of the musculoskeletal system.
  • Otolaryngologist - the technical name for an ear, nose and throat physician.
  • Pathologist - usually works behind the scenes to diagnose diseases by studying tissues, body fluids and organs.
  • Pediatrician - a child’s physician who provides preventive health maintenance for healthy children and medical care for children who are acutely or chronically ill; pediatricians manage the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their patients, in every stage of development - in good health or in illness.
  • Perinatologist - specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies.
  • Physiatrist - specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
  • Podiatrist - specialist that treats both medical and surgical deformities of the foot and ankle.
  • Pulmonologist - specializes in lung disease.
  • Radiologist, Interventional Radiologist - radiologists perform and interpret imaging tests; interventional radiologists also perform minimally invasive procedures, such as embolization, thrombolysis and biopsies, using imaging guidance.
  • Rheumatologist - specializes in arthritis and diseases of the joints, as well as autoimmune disorders, such as lupus.
  • Sleep doctors - diagnoses and treats sleep disorders, and also may have expertise in behavioral and cognitive methods to prevent them.
Never too Late (closed)

First: do no harm. 

Easier said than done. Impossible actually. Regardless of one’s position, rank, or how far they climb up the proverbial, unstable ladder of internal medicine, no matter where your allegiances lie, everyone does harm. 

For Dr. Ziegler, it was more like “Do less harm than good”. Surely, pledging her loyalty to a military organization like Overwatch went against her moral compass as a pacifist. It meant serving to keep the people alive who killed other people. Still, they promised hope, peace, and ‘soaring ideals.’

Until it all came to a premature, gruesome end. 

Angela fell into a self deprecating cycle of turmoil. Throwing herself at peacekeeping operations and emergency relief efforts coordinated by the UN, would come home wounded or discharged for her own safety, and reside somewhere secluded for a while with only her regrets and her independent studies and her pain killers. She’d fallen off her guard, gotten loose, depressed, and forgotten herself. She’d been sloppy. It was only a matter of hours after she’d returned home to repeat the cycle again when she’d run into trouble. 

Talon; their assassin, their agenda, her future, her choice. 

Less harm than good. Maybe she chose wrong.

A year had passed since her abduction. Months of integration, training, testing and genetic therapy had proven successful for their team of tuning the doctor to work as efficiently as they saw necessary. She slept little, ate little, and had undergone augmentation to the point where she was nearly unrecognizable. Talon’s finest were never the best at predicting the side-effects of their experiments. With a half dead foot soldier, a blue sniper, and now a doctor whom visually reassembled something closer to a demon than a human being, they were quite the crowd. 

Angela didn’t seem to care. With her treatment came a certain numbness that she grew to understand was a common theme for the members of their questionable organization. Even finding herself with significant power as the primary healthcare director she never really understood what the key motives were behind the ones coordinating their efforts. Ziegler did her job. If she did well, like the others she was rewarded handsomely. It wasn’t quite freedom, but she certainly didn’t feel like a prisoner aside from every day being virtually the same causing them to sort of blend together. 

Supplements for the soldiers, injections for the agents; each unique to their needs. Process in the new recruits, discharge the ones not worth saving based on their performance in the field. Between her exam room, her travels, and her private living arrangements, Talon always knew where she was. Not always what she did, but they didn’t mind it so much so long as she reported in for duty when called upon. 

Writers: Westworld and “nothing is original”

One piece of advice for authors that gets bandied around a great deal is “nothing is original”. As a writer, your ideas are an expression of your own creativity, but they’re influenced heavily by your experiences and worldview, and you shouldn’t shy away from this - you should embrace it.

Here’s a recent example - Westworld.

Westworld, as some will already know, is a re-imagining of a 70s movie.

In that movie, people visiting a Western-style theme park crewed by androids are menaced when they go berserk.

Sound familiar?

“When the Pirates of the Caribbean malfunction, the Pirates don’t eat the tourists!”

Recognise that line? Jeff Goldblum’s character speaks it in Jurassic Park. What’s Jurassic Park about? Well, people visiting a dinosaur-themed zoo are menaced when the the dinos get out of control.

Both the original sources of Westworld and Jurassic Park were written by Michael Crichton - so first off, Crichton was content to write two of his own works with a similar overarching premise (never mind worrying someone else might have made something similar), but the modern series of Westworld is, for all intents and purposes, the same premise again.

Why is this a good thing? Put simply, it’s because the premise of the three properties might match, but each of them is a very different take on a core idea.

Westworld came at a time when people were first starting to become familiar with computers. By 1973, we were on the cusp of seeing how they were going to change people’s lives. Like all change, though, this brought fear, and Westworld tapped into the idea of runaway computers that go beyond human control. It might’ve been set in a Western-style theme park, but Westworld was really about the dangers of computing.

Jurassic Park came at a time when the race was on to crack the human genome, and to acquire a greater understanding of genetics. The world of science was awash with science fiction concepts like gene therapy and genetic screening… But similarly, people were worried about designer babies and genetic engineering. Jurassic Park may have featured dinosaurs but it was really about the ethics of genetics and where that was leading mankind.

The new Westworld borrows some themes from the older movie, but it blends them with its own ideas. As we now live in a world dominated by computing, people in general aren’t afraid of computers. We’re largely over that. Instead, it’s about the ethics of AI - not simply “AI could be dangerous” but rather, the responsibilities that AI places upon its creators. If you create a humanoid robot that is a perfect human replica, and you kill it, are you a murderer? Is it a victim? At what point does a mechanism become a person? Even this isn’t new; Ghost in the Shell asked it and it wasn’t even new then.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is each generation of creators can take a simple common premise and use it to frame their own ideas, communicating hopes and fears that are unique to them, in their era.

Plagiarism is bad, but plagiarism isn’t writing something that has been broadly done before.

So write your own idea about a theme park that menaces the guests. Write your own story about 7 strangers who defend a town from bandits. Write your own story about a haunted house, a political conspiracy, or a suave super-spy. If you have something to say, then it’ll be yours and people will respect that.

Facts about me: 
- Just graduated from Bowie State with a degree in Bioinformatics with minors in Math and Chemistry
- IQ around 140+
- Founding Father of the Epsilon Chapter of Lambda Lambda Lambda, a national multicultural and diversity, social justice frat that DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE ON ANY BASES!!
- Track athlete: 100m/200m sprinter
- Sickle Cell Anemia patient
- Going to grad school next year for my PhD in Biophysics (I want to go into personalized medicine and gene therapy for genetic mutations)
- Future Olympiad AND WON’T STOP UNTIL I AM!!!
- Super duper short but mentally super tall xD 
- 80′s baby but look nothing like it lol
- Love my momma and trying to rid her of internalized anti-blackness lol 


Autism? Determination? A special interest? Repetition? OCD!?@autismspeaks u pissed off the wrong community! #NotMssng. Our voices r #mssng

Being autistic comes with downsides but it also comes with perks. When we put our minds to something nothing can stop us. When something becomes a special interest we devote nearly all of our time and energy to our special interest. If we are passionate about something there is NO chance at changing our minds. Ever.  autismspeaksofficial you don’t stand a chance. You really pissed off the wrong community.  We are Autistic. And we are not #Mssng anything exept for support, services, help, understanding, and most of all, our voices. We aren’t missing pieces to a puzzel and we aren’t a puzzel that is missing pieces.  We are whole human beings and we don’t have a desease. We don’t need a cure. We aren’t sick and genetic therapy won’t cure us, it will elimiate us, eliminate our personalities. It will destroy who we are, not cure us. We don’t need to be cured because we are NOT sick. WE ARE DISABLED!!! And we need services and love and understanding. Something I believe autismspeaksofficial sure as hell won’t ever understand. 

SUPPORT autisticadvocacy and boycottautismspeaks by using the #NotMssng !!!! WE ARE WHOLE HUMANS AND DON’T NEED TO BE CURED FROM WHAT MAKES US WHO WE ARE!!! #BOYCOTTAUTISM SPEAKS 

Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’

Surgeons in Oxford have used a gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind.

The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells.

The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness.

Continue Reading

President Obama just sat down with doctors, researchers, and tech industry innovators to talk about advancing precision medicine: medicine tailored to your unique biological needs. Why is this important? Follow along all day as we post letters and stories he’s received from Americans across the country on how precision medicine can change lives. Here’s our first letter today written by Douglas Slemmer from Boulder, Colorado:

I just read about the President’s Precision Medicine initiative and wanted to share my thanks and our story. My wife was diagnosed 15 years ago with a rare cancer that has no proven treatment. She’s been a patient at MD Anderson since then, undergoing 5 surgeries, 1 round of radiation and 3 clinical trials. I’m in tech so for the past decade I’ve eagerly followed the advances in genetic profiling and targeted therapies. After pestering her MDA doctors for years (she gets scanned for new tumors every 4 months) they finally informed us that there was a new genetic testing pilot program they had recommended her for. With that testing we were able to identify the two specific genetic issues driving her cancer. Knowledge in hand, we researched all available clinical trials across the nation (and world). The best clinical trial match was a new drug targeting one of her two defects, which we applied to and crossed our fingers she would be accepted for. I’m thrilled to report that after 12 months of being on that trial, her tumors have been stopped, zero growth. The drug is tough on her but this is the first time in 15 years we’ve had hope that a cure or at least effective treatment was available. Hearing that the President is allocating funds to this type of initiative is heartwarming and inspiring. There were still numerous issues we faced with our recent efforts that I’d love to share with the right people heading up this initiative (difficulty of finding the right trials, the lack of patient advocacy from the drug companies and trial teams…) so perhaps you can forward this note on. Again, thank you. This is the right path to finally finding effective cures.


“Inside your body could be a map to a whole new world; Genetic therapy, vaccines, medicines, treasures buried deep within your cells and we cannot risk everything because you want to go out and play hero.”