The Center for Rare and Neglected Disease hosted a dinner featuring speakers from different projects centering on rare disease research to celebrate World Rare Disease Day. Dr. Katsuri Haldar, director of the Center, wants to raise awareness and funds to fight neglected disease. “There are 7,000 rare diseases, which means one in 150,000 people are affected,” she said. “There are 7 million Americans affected by rare disease and 200 million worldwide.” Haldar said everyone at the event now has the responsibility to go out and raise awareness about rare disease. “My charge to this group is to go out and be ambassadors in order to facilitate the process of rare disease research,” she said. Many different labs, as well as both undergraduate and graduates, attended the event. Mary Claire Sullivan, a first year MBA student at the Mendoza College of Business, became involved in rare disease research through an interdisciplinary class project that combined science and business. She helped take the research and what is happening in the lab and turning it into a business. Sullivan said her passion is to use business to create social change. “The body of knowledge and passionate individuals can make an impact for those people that have no hope,” she said. Aaron Patzwahl is an undergraduate student taking a clinical research class focusing on Niemen Pick Type C disease (NPC). The class analyzes patient data and creates a numerical value that can track the progression of the disease. “I got interested in the class through [Dean of the College of Science Gregory Crawford] and his bike trip this summer,” he said. “I thought it would be a way to take my science and do something move socially conscious with it.” Senior Nina Farivari took the clinical research class in the fall of her junior year. She became so interested in NPC that she worked in Dr. Forbes Porter’s lab this summer. Porter — of the National Institutes of Health — is currently running the only clinical trial of NPC in the country. “For me, it was a way to put a face and a family to the disease system,” she said. Farivari attended the national conference for NPC last August. Attending the lectures by the leading researchers in the field and getting to see the families outside a clinical setting were the best parts of the conference, she said. Katherine Byrd, a third year chemistry graduate student, is currently working on synthesizing biochemical tools to help study disease. She, along with other students, is using interdisciplinary techniques to find ways to study and someday possibly treat NPC. Emmanuel AduGyamfi, a chemistry and biochemistry graduate student, is researching the Ebola virus, a highly contagious disease with an almost 90 percent morality rate during outbreaks. “We use an interdisciplinary approach to try and understand how the proteins of the Ebola virus replicate,” AduGyamfi said. “Hopefully, we can use our findings for other kinds of rare disease.”
By Cat HolmesUniversity of GeorgiaThe variety of avian flu found recently in two U.S. states isn’t harmful to humans, say University of Georgia experts. And occasional outbreaks of avian flu aren’t unusual.”I hate to say it’s routine,” said Mike Lacy, head of the University of Georgia poultry science department. “It pops up occasionally and fortunately hasn’t been a human health concern in this country.””Many Asian countries don’t have the kinds of regulatory systems and control mechanisms we have in the United States,” said UGA poultry scientist Dan Cunningham.”Many of the flocks in Asia are what we call backyard flocks,” Cunningham said. “Avian flu is very easily spread in that kind of situation.”Georgia, which produces more poultry than any other U.S. state, tests every flock for avian influenza, he said. So far, the state’s 1.4 billion chickens have been avian flu-free.Fevers and snicksAlmost half a million chickens were slaughtered in Delaware and Maryland last month. The avian flu strain, known as H7, doesn’t affect humans and is relatively mild.”Low-pathogenic avian flu is much like regular human flu (for poultry),” Lacy said. “The chickens stop eating, decrease activity and have respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and coughing, called snicking. They act depressed because they just don’t feel well.”Chicken flocks are slaughtered when a low-path avian flu breaks out because these flus can evolve into highly pathogenic flus that can cause high death rates in poultry.The particular strain of highly pathogenic in Asia is unusual. In rare instances, it has infected humans who have come into very close contact with diseased poultry. The disease isn’t spread by eating chicken. You can get it only by contact with live birds.A highly pathogenic strain was found in a small flock in Texas recently, Cunningham said. But quick eradication of the flock seems to have isolated and eliminated the problem. Officials have monitored other flocks around the infected flock and found no more cases.Preventing the spreadAvian flu can’t be completely eradicated because wild ducks and geese have it. As long as they’re free to fly, avian flu will keep showing up now and then.There never has been a case of avian flu in Georgia poultry.Fear of the highly pathogenic form has kept growers on high alert, though. In 1984, an outbreak in Lancaster, Penn., caused the slaughter of millions of chickens, costing farmers and shoppers alike.”The concern is to be vigilant, so that if an outbreak occurs, it’s contained as quickly as possible,” Cunningham said. Georgia poultry producers maintain an aggressive monitoring program to safeguard their birds and the public.Cat Holmes is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Sports fans will find any way to bet on games. Despite the fact most states have laws in place to keep people from betting online on sporting events, the 2006 Unlawful Internet Game Act put in an exception for Fantasy Leagues. No one really knows why this form of betting was allowed. The Act’s main goal was to outlaw online poker and other forms of Internet betting.If a state allows betting on horse races, they can apply for a permit to allow online betting through TVG, the racing channel. This is now allowed in about half of the states. So far Indiana does not allow this, but there have been bills introduced that will loosen Indiana’s betting laws.Getting back to the Fantasy Leagues, you will notice that when they run an ad for these leagues they usually show big winners to entice you to join. The ad usually says “this was the first time the fan ever joined such a league.” To most of us, this is just another way to get you to gamble. The lure of the instant win is very effective; and unfortunately, leads too many people to a gambling addiction.To those of you who oppose gambling, I am afraid that most states will give into the lure of taxing these gambling sites and make it legal.