roasted turkey on white ceramic plate

DAILY DOSE: Second case of naturally cured HIV infection; Science-based tips on how to avoid bad stomachs on Thanksgiving.


An HIV patient in Argentina has been identified as the second person to ever be cured of the infection naturally. According to STAT, “The woman was a scientific curiosity. Despite being diagnosed with HIV in 2013, she’d never shown any signs of illness. And traditional tests failed to turn up evidence that the virus was alive and replicating in her body. Only the presence of antibodies suggested she’d ever been infected. Since 2017 researchers in Argentina and in Massachusetts had been collecting blood samples from her, meticulously scanning the DNA of more than a billion cells, searching for signs that the virus was still hiding out, dormant, ready to roar to life if the conditions were right. They wanted to do the same with her placenta because even though it’s an organ of the fetus, it’s loaded with maternal immune cells — a target-rich environment to mine for stealth viruses.” Two other patients, one in Germany and the other in the United Kingdom, have been cured of HIV using bone marrow transplants. Patients that mount an unusually strong response to HIV, enough to keep their infection negligible, are referred to as “elite controllers.” 


More mandatory Covid-19 shots in the news. This time it’s in Germany where a brutal spike in infections has everyone on edge. Per the Associated Press, “The German military is making coronavirus shots compulsory for troops amid a growing debate in the country about whether to introduce a general vaccine mandate to counter rising infection and hospitalization rates.The Defense Ministry on Tuesday confirmed a report in the German military blog Augen Geradeaus that officials and soldiers’ representatives agreed late Monday to add the coronavirus shot to the list of vaccines soldiers must get. The measure still needs to be formally added to military regulations, the ministry said in a statement.” A sick army is not a very effective one. The move makes sense from a military point of view.

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Someone has a theory on why dogs were domesticated so early in Homo sapiens history. According to palaeoanthropologist Pat Shipman in her lively tale of dog domestication and migration, Our Oldest Companions, “When Homo sapiens, travelling out of Africa, reached Europe between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago, they encountered — and bred with — Neanderthals. Homo sapiens gained the advantage, Shipman claims, by forging a ‘long-term, mutually beneficial partnership with canids’ to hunt bigger prey, which might have helped to drive the extinction of Neanderthals. She concedes that not everyone agrees with this hypothesis.” Sounds good though and makes for a great Turkeyday conversation starter.


There’s been a slight wobble in NASA’s efforts to put its next-gen space telescope into orbit. Per the BBC, “The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been put back by at least four days to allow for more checks. It was to have been sent into orbit on 18 December and will now go up no earlier than the 22nd of the month. A US space agency statement said an “incident” had occurred during launch preparations that may have caused a sudden vibration in the observatory. A firm date for lift-off, on an Ariane rocket, would be confirmed following the investigation, Nasa added.” Considering how important the James Webb Space Telescope will be, erring on the side of caution is probably an easy decision for the space agency.


In honor of Thanksgiving here in the States, we’re relaying some basic food safety measures to ensure a whole lot of people don’t spend the day in the John (or worse, but hopefully not). According to Lisa Shelley, a food safety researcher from North Carolina State University, “To start, do not wash the turkey. Washing can splash potentially contaminated droplets and juices onto the countertop and nearby utensils and ready-to-eat foods. An even greater concern is that washing the bird will contaminate the sink and, if not cleaned and sanitized properly, pose a significant cross-contamination risk. That’s because other food preparation, such as vegetable scrubbing or rinsing lettuce, happens in the sink—and contaminated drops in the sink can splash or bounce onto other foods or utensils in the sink basin. Recent research shows that people do not properly clean and sanitize the sink after washing poultry. Most people just rinse the sink with water, making the sink a source of cross-contamination of food and other items.” People eat chicken much more over the course of a year. This bit of advice is particularly applicable post-holiday season.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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