Author Interviews, COVID -19 Coronavirus / 03.08.2023 Interview with: Ayesha Lavell MD Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Internal Medicine, Amsterdam Institute for Infection and Immunity Amsterdam, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? Response: Nose picking is so common in the overall population (91% in a survey study in the US, performed in 1995), maybe people find it hard to refrain from such a common behavior.  We were really curious whether this particular behavior would be more prone to infection spread, as it entails literally putting a potentially contaminate finger against the nasal mucosa. Also, previous research has shown us that nose picking is associated with nasal carriage of S. Aureus bacteria and volunteers have shown to be able to infect themselves with a common cold virus (Rhinovirus) by rubbing the virus inside their nose (laboratory based research in the early seventies). Therefore, it is surprising (given the amount of literature on SARS-CoV-2) that the relationship between nose picking and COVID-19 has not been studied before. And especially since health care workers are at increased risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2, we wanted to know more about common behavioral features that may contribute to this risk. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, CDC, PLoS, Race/Ethnic Diversity, UCLA / 23.03.2023 Interview with: Maria-Rita D'Orsogna Ph.D. Professor, Mathematics California State University, Northridge Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Computational Medicine at UCLA What is the background for this study? Response: Drug overdose deaths have been increasing in the USA for the past two decades. A ‘third wave’ of overdose fatalities started in 2013, with a shift from prescription opioids towards synthetic ones, in particular illicit fentanyl. To examine trends in drug overdose deaths by gender, race and geography in the United States during the period 2013-2020, we used an epidemiological database provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extracting rates by race and gender in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. We considered the impact of four main drug categories psychostimulants with addiction potential such as methamphetamines; heroin; prescription opioids and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its derivatives. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV / 29.03.2022 Interview with: Shokrollah Elahi PhD Associate Professor at University of Alberta  What is the background for this study?  Response: CD8+T cells (killer T cells) play an important role against virally infected and cancer cells, however, their functional properties get compromised during the course of HIV infection and cancer. CD73, is one of molecules that influences killer T cell functions but its role in the context of viral infections has not been well defined. In this study, we analyzed the presence of this protein (CD73) on killer T cells in a cohort of 102 HIV-infected individuals. We found that the proportion of killer T cells expressing this protein was substantially lower among different killer T cell subsets obtained from the blood of HIV-infected individuals compared to individuals who were not infected with HIV. Notably, CD73 was decreased at the intracellular protein and gene levels. This suggests that the CD73 gene gets suppressed by a specific mechanism in HIV-infected individuals. Furthermore, we decided to better understand the difference between killer T cells having CD73 versus those who do not. We found that CD73 was essential for the migratory capacity of killer T cells. It means killer T cells without this protein have impaired ability to move into the tissues. This implies that lack of CD73 prevents killer T cells from homing into the tissue where HIV reservoirs are hidden. (more…)