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Month: December 2017

What Is Gene Therapy? How Does It Work?

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The genes in your body’s cells play an important role in your health — indeed, a defective gene or genes can make you sick.
Recognizing this, scientists have been working for decades on ways to modify genes or replace faulty genes with healthy ones to treat, cure or prevent a disease or medical condition.
Now this research on gene therapy is finally paying off. Since August 2017, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved three gene therapy products, the first of their kind.
Two of them reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer, & the most recent approved product targets a disease caused by mutations in a specific gene.
What Are Cells & Genes? How Do They Interact?
What is the relationship between cells & genes?f
Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things; the human body is composed of trillions of them. Within our cells there are thousands of genes that provide the information for the production of specific proteins and enzymes that make muscles, bones, & blood, which in turn support most of our body’s functions, such as digestion, making energy, and growing.
How Gene Therapy Works Sometimes the whole or part of a gene is defective or missing from birth, or a gene can change or mutate during adult life. Any of these variations can disrupt how proteins are made, which can contribute to health problems or diseases.
In gene therapy, scientists can do one of several things depending on the problem that…

Keep Your Dogs & Cats Safe From Holiday Hazards

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This holiday season, while you’re busy decorating, cooking, & wrapping gifts, remember to watch out for holiday temptations for your pets. FDA veterinarian Carmela Stamper tells how to keep your animals safe.
Stocking Stuffers & Pet Treats
If your dog received a stocking full of pet treats, make sure he doesn’t gobble them all up at once. According to Stamper, if he eats the treats whole, or eats too many at once, he may not be able to digest them. Unchewed pet treats can get stuck in the trachea (windpipe) or gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, & intestines), particularly in small dogs.
If your dog is in obvious distress from eating too much too fast, says Stamper, contact your Vets immediately. Some telltale signs are drooling, choking, or vomiting.
Take note of timing. If a bone or chew toy lodges in your dog’s stomach or intestines, the symptoms might not be immediate. Hours to days later, he may vomit & have diarrhea, be less active, not want to eat, & have stomach pain. If the blockage stays there too long, your dog may become very ill. The worst-case scenario is when a hole develops at the blockage site, causing a life-threatening infection.
“When in doubt, contact your veterinarian, who may need to take x-rays or use an endoscope to see what & where the problem is,” Stamper says. Your dog may even need surgery to remove blockages in the intestines.
Tinsel & Ribbons
When decorating your tree and wrapping or unwrapping gifts,…

Want to Quit Smoking? FDA-Approved Products Can Help

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Quitting smoking can be hard, but it is possible. In fact, every time you put out a cigarette is a new chance to try quitting again, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s newest tobacco education campaign, “Every Try Counts.”
 If you want to quit—almost 70 percent of adult smokers say they do—you may want to use a “smoking cessation” product proven to help. Data has shown that using FDA-approved cessation medicine can double your chance of quitting successfully.
Some products contain nicotine as an active ingredient & others do not. These products include over-the-counter (OTC) options like skin patches, lozenges, & gum, as well as prescription medicines.
Smoking cessation products are intended to help you quit smoking. They are regulated through the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation & Research, which ensures that the products are safe & effective and that their benefits outweigh any known associated risks.

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
No matter how much you smoke—or for how long—quitting will benefit you.
Not only will you lower your risk of getting various cancers, including lung cancer, you’ll also reduce your chances of having heart disease, a stroke, emphysema, & other serious diseases. Quitting also will lower the risk of heart disease AND lung cancer in nonsmokers who otherwise would be exposed to your secondhand smoke.
Although there are benefits to quitting at any age, it is important to quit as soon as possible so your body can begin to heal from the damage caused by smoking. For instance,…

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