• Islam Without Hadith?,’ a review of one of Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol’s books, discussing Qu’ran-only Muslims.
  • Letter to My Younger Self,’ by Ryan Leaf, well-known among NFL fans as a quarterback whose ego led him to become a huge draft disappointment. A very touching piece and an intimate look into failure and drug addiction.
  • At Marginalia, reviewing a book about using evolutionary studies of religion to better understand natural theology arguments. Overall it looks like a solid interdisciplinary work.
  • I know I post a lot about medicine, but the development of the anti-cancer drug Gleevec is too interesting to pass up. Gleevec is mainly used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a white blood cell cancer caused by chromosome 9 and chromosome 22 swapping parts, so that a gene normally found on chromosome 9 (ABL) and a gene normally found on chromosome 22 (BCR) are fused together, and this ABL-BCR fusion gene codes for a mutant “always-on” tyrosine kinase. Tyrosine kinase is a protein that stimulates cell proliferation, so an “always-on” mutant causes incessant proliferation of white blood cells (thus, cancer). Gleevec very specifically targets this mutated tyrosine kinase, without affecting normal tyrosine kinase. It has turned CML, which previously had a five-year survival rate of 30%, to a disease with 90% five-year survival rate. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, it has very few side effects (which I find most amazing), because it has a very specific target. It also is taken orally. Unfortunately, translating this success elsewhere isn’t simple since most cancers have a cause more complex than a single bad protein, but targeted therapy still holds a lot of promise.
  • On the topic of drug discovery: The search for “ancientbiotics” – that is, looking for effective antibiotics in medieval pharmacopeias. The authors found that one medieval recipe, when prepared as instructed, had effective in vitro bactericidal activity against a highly resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus, suggesting clinical application. A very nice collaboration between the humanities and the natural sciences!

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