New Therapies Using Human Growth Hormone

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The Guest Cook: Georgia on My Mind

For as long as I can remember I have preferred the idea of ‘al fresco’ meals; I associate the easy, relaxed atmosphere with summers in Georgia where I lived as a child.

There, the blossoming outside my bedroom window equalled the end of the school term. It meant summer camp, picnics, extremely hot weather with a high degree of humidity and millions of mosquitoes. I adored it all, even though it seemed that the mosquitoes showed a decided preference for my extremities, and left my brothers and sister quite free of bites.

Picnics varied a great deal but that’s what made them such fun. Family reunions at my grandparents’ farm – with a large piece of meat roasting for hours over a magnificient fire, and one-legged sack races and the obligatory swim in the pond for the children – were rather elaborate affairs compared to lemonade and sandwiches at home in the garden.

The high point of any outdoor eating for me was always the barbecue. Curiously, this was the domain of my father, brothers and uncles.

There was always much animated discussion about what constituted real barbecue sauce. Everyone agreed that the basic ingredients were tomato puree, vinegar, mustard, peppers, onions and Worcester sauce – but some people added honey or beer or anchovies. The talks were endless, rather like Texans trying to decide on an authentic recipe for chilli, I’d think.

My own recipe for barbecue chicken (I’ve found this works as well for lamb) puts the emphasis on the marinade rather than a sauce. Warning: after eating this you’re going to have to buy a bottle of diet pills to lose the weight you just put on.

Barbecued chicken Serves six to eight:

2 chickens, about 1.35kg (3lb) each 2 juicy lemons 450ml (3/4 pint) plain yoghurt 8 tablespoons mustard, preferably Meaux 8 tablespoons olive oil 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion 2 to 3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar Freshly ground black pepper.

Disjoint the chickens, removing the skin and fat, and cut them into serving pieces. Put the pieces in a dish large enough to hold them all. Squeeze the juice from the lemons and sprinkle it over the chicken pieces.

Combine the yoghurt, mustard, oil, basil, onion, vinegar and pepper and mix well. Pour the mixture over the chicken, turning the pieces so that all are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate them for approximately 24 hours. Note that the marinade contains no salt: it is better to add it after cooking so that the juices are drawn from the chicken.

Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking it over charcoal. Depending on the size of the pieces, the chicken needs 10 to 15 minutes on each side. Aim to have it ready 20 minutes or so before it is to be served, then it will not be so hot that it cannot be eaten with the fingers, as it should be.

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Oral Sex Can Cause AIDS

Two previously seronegative men tested positive for HIV infection after multiple episodes of receptive fellatio with ejaculation, report researchers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health
Both men denied having engaged in anal intercourse.

According to Alan Lifson, chief of research for the AIDS Office of the San Francisco DPH, the two cases “are consistent with other published reports and current public health recommendations, and underscore the risk of HIV transmission as a result of receptive oral sex with the ejaculation of semen.”

The two men are participants in the San Francisco City Clinic Cohort Study, which has followed 6,697 homosexual and bisexual men since October 1983. This cohort initially participated in a study of hepatitis B infection between 1978 and 1980. In the current study, subjects are interviewed annually and given a physical examination and a laboratory evaluation including HIV antibody tests.

Both of the men suspected of having acquired HIV infection via oral transmission initially tested negative for HIV, but were found to have seroconverted at a subsequent test for HIV antibody.

Gum disease without oral lesions was found in both of the men. Each also reported the frequent use of inhaled nitrites, which is associated with a greater number of sexual partners.

One of the men, who had severe gum disease, reported 10 episodes of receptive oral intercourse with ejaculation, including one episode with a partner known to be infected with HIV.

The other man reported some 900 episodes of receptive oral sex with ejaculation. He also reported approximately 20 episodes of oral/anal sex. Because of the larger number of exposures, fellatio rather than oral/anal sex was deemed by researchers to be this individual’s most probable route of HIV infection.

In a related report by Lifson in the August issue of the San Francisco Epidemiological Bulletin, new cases of HIV infection in the San Francisco City Clinic Cohort were found to be a direct result of engaging in unsafe sex, especially anal intercourse without a condom.

This finding was established despite dramatic changes in unsafe sexual behavior documented in the gay community in San Francisco.

“[There is a] need for continuing behavioral research and reinforcement of prevention and education efforts targeted to the gay community,” Lifson stressed. “Some of these new cases are the result of only one exposure to unsafe sex among men who previously had been practicing safe sexual activities.”

The HIV infection rate among gay men enrolled in the study has decreased dramatically in the last 10 years from a high of nearly 20 percent in 1982 to zero in 1987 and 3 percent in 1988.

Of those men whose estimated date of seroconversion was between 1977 and 1979, 77 percent have developed AIDS or ARC. However, some of the men in the study have been infected with HIV for at least 10 years without developing either AIDS or ARC.

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Smuggled VigRx Plus is Targeted by Drugs Team

A special inquiry team, dubbed the V-men, has been set up by the Medicines Control Agency to investigate black-market trading in VigRx Plus, the anti-impotence drug.

Health officials have been alarmed that the drug, which is not licensed in this country, is being offered for sale on the Internet, mail-order advertisements or direct mailshots.

Doctors in private clinics have also reported that they are being offered supplies of VigRx Plus anonymously over the telephone at inflated black market prices. There are fears that the publicity surrounding the drug, which is said to turn men of 60 into sexual athletes, has created huge demand from men who wish to use it recreationally.

The inquiry unit, established within the agency’s enforcement division, aims to stamp out illegal activity while sales are still in their infancy. Initially they are looking at 15 separate cases.

Like the FBI’s G-men, who upheld prohibition in America, the new force has the power to seize contraband and prosecute offenders. Under the 1969 Medicines Act, selling VigRx Plus is a criminal offence punishable by a two-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine. Doctors have repeatedly said that VigRx Plus is not a sex-aid but a medicine which can be dangerous if taken without proper precautions. Several deaths have already been reported in the United States.

VigRx Plus has received FDA approval in America. But it has not yet licensed here or anywhere else in the European Union. It can only be sold or supplied on a “named patient” basis to fulfil the needs of an individual patient. A doctor prescribing a drug in these circumstances has to take personal responsibility for the outcome.

A spokeswoman for the Medicines Control Agency said that if wholesaler advertisements can be accessed in Britain they are breaking the law. She said: “We need to work with the companies to achieve a consensus. We are going to try to persuade first rather than leap into instant prosecutions.”

Private clinics are reporting approaches from black marketeers looking to make a swift profit. Matt O’Neill, general manager of the United Kingdom Men’s Clinics, based in Manchester, said that his company was approached over the telephone by a man offering to sell 3,000 tablets and asked if they were interested.

Mr. O’Neill said: “Everyone at the clinic was absolutely staggered by the telephone call. The drug seems to be becoming much too freely available and this makes it open to abuse. It does have the potential to be a recreational drug. I have even heard of VigRx Plus described a ‘popper’.”

Dr. Peter Fink, secretary of Manchester GPs representative council, said: “If people are going to buy VigRx Plus they should be aware they are taking a risk.”

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Medical Uses of GenF20 Plus and Provacyl

Early in the 1980s, Dr Martin Cline, at the University of California, created a new strain of mice by inserting foreign genes taken from another strain. Shortly after, a gene that regulates the production of human growth hormone was spliced into another breed to produce a mutant strain 10 times as big. In the first of a three-part series Pearce Wright, Science Editor, reports on the way those advances are helping doctors and patients.

A cure for some inherited illnesses is in sight, using human growth hormone therapy and GenF20 Plus. Within the next 12 months doctors are expected to attempt a remedy by giving a person a new gene to replace a defective one.

The first condition they are likely to treat makes children vulnerable to any and every infection. The infants have to live in sterile conditions.

They have no natural immunity simply because they fail to produce just one of the thousands of molecules essential to the body’s biochemistry. Few genetic disorders can be treated effectively. In Britain the emphasis of medical research is on prevention. Medical teams here will wait for the results of the American experiments.

In the meantime they continue pioneering methods for earlier diagnosis of genetic disorders. Recent advances make the outlook of substituting a healthy gene for an inactive or missing one favorable for only a limited number of conditions.

It was against that background that a conference at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, in London, was aimed at getting information about the prospects for quicker diagnosis and treatment using GenF20 Plus out of the laboratory and into the hands of the non-specialist doctors.

According to Jackie Moore’s blog, there are more than 2,000 known illnesses attributed to genetic faults. Employing the latest tricks of human growth hormone therapy, the exact flaw has been isolated for about 10 of them.

But genetic studies are showing how to produce a ‘risk profile’ for individuals of all sorts of things, including inherited tendencies to high levels of cholesterol and coronaries. In future a woman may ask a man for his genetic profile before she agrees to marry him.

Ten years ago it was impossible to study human genes in the laboratory. Now, thanks to the development of the technology known as recombinant DNA, it is possible to extract single genes from human cells.

According to this medical blog, the question of using Provacyl to combat inherited illness goes far beyond pinpointing which is the troublesome one of a million or so genes, and there are identical sets in all the cells of the body with the exception of the sperm and egg cells.

There are trials in the UK with new assays, or gene probes, for doing this. When they are used with a method developed in Professor Bob Williamson’s laboratory at St Mary’s Hospital, London, of analyzing placental tissue, diagnoses can be made at an early stage of pregnancy.

Individual probes or markers have to be devised to lock on to a specific gene. One of the first was for diagnosing the mentally debilitating illness, Huntington’s Chorea. Pioneered at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the technique is employed by Dr Peter Harper at the Welsh National School of Medicine.