52 votes
Accepted

How does a Coronavirus "test kit" work?

The CDC has made available online its nCoV test kit. Briefly,the kit contains primers and probes for real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR, as well as instructions for appropriate use and (critically) ...
iayork's user avatar
  • 14.2k
51 votes

Why haven't we cured the common cold yet?

There is one simple reason: Contrary to the viruses you named in your question, which are all caused by one virus (or from the same family), there is nothing like "the" cold virus. This ...
Chris's user avatar
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39 votes
Accepted

Why did scientists state that the Omicron COVID-19 variant was a reason to get a booster?

(note: I'm simplifying things a bit here by only talking about antibodies; I don't mean to downplay other aspects of the immune response, just to keep it focused for a lay audience) Natural antibody ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 45.3k
29 votes

Why have a placebo control group when testing a new drug if existing drugs can be used?

You are correct. For serious diseases, it would be unethical to withhold the existing treatment (Treatment A) for a placebo. Treatment A is called "standard of care", and new treatments are compared ...
Karl Kjer's user avatar
  • 7,657
25 votes

How does a Coronavirus "test kit" work?

There are actually 3+ types of test kits widely used to diagnose diseases caused by viruses. We can check for the nucleic acid of the virus, the antigen of the virus that would cause an immune ...
SyouTono242's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

Why are drug dosages so high in some mice studies?

Mice are simply different from humans; they have different metabolism, different lifespan, different body size. Generally, for a first order approximation, one might scale simply by body weight to ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 45.3k
25 votes

Can simultaneous double pathogen infections happen, or are they prevented?

You can absolutely have two infections occurring together. One term which is used is 'co-infection'. Also 'secondary infection', in case where either the first infection or the treatment made it more ...
Laura's user avatar
  • 373
18 votes

Why have a placebo control group when testing a new drug if existing drugs can be used?

It's worth pointing out that the purpose of the placebo isn't really to test against no treatment, it's to test against the belief of receiving an effective treatment, for both the subject and the ...
Kaithar's user avatar
  • 281
14 votes
Accepted

Inability of vultures to digest diclofenac

Via: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1618889/ Post-mortem examination revealed extensive visceral gout in all diclofenac-treated birds (see electronic supplementary material). ...
Alex Reynolds's user avatar
14 votes

Why did scientists state that the Omicron COVID-19 variant was a reason to get a booster?

Some Clarification: Scientist were not opposed to a third dose, they were opposed to the rich country getting a third dose before we vaccinated the rest of the world. The WHO is right to call a ...
RomainL.'s user avatar
  • 251
13 votes
Accepted

Why is insulin given in type 2 diabetes?

Isn't it illogical to give more of insulin for a deficit amount of receptors? Seems like there is some confusion in the definition of type-2 DM itself. According ...
another 'Homo sapien''s user avatar
11 votes

How does a Coronavirus "test kit" work?

There are several proposed tests for 2019-2020 novel coronavirus responsible for the Wuhan outbreak. The main techniques these are based on are: PCR or qPCR targeted amplification CRISPR-Cas9 genome ...
Tom Kelly's user avatar
  • 420
9 votes

Why is insulin given in type 2 diabetes?

This is true for the beginning of the disease. As a reaction to the reduced sensitivity of the cells in the body to insulin (and thus less uptake of glucose from the blood and a resulting ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 51.6k
9 votes
Accepted

Why do doctors use a new thread for each stitch?

Using a single thread for a suture also known as continuous stitching has a major con that it has higher risk of failing if the suture is cut in just one place. So it is generally avoided eventhough ...
JM97's user avatar
  • 4,786
9 votes

What are the consequences of inbreeding?

You are right. Inbreeding strongly increases overall homozygosity which subjects inbred individuals to diseases caused by rare recessive alleles. In non-inbred individuals the chance is quite low to ...
AlexDeLarge's user avatar
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9 votes
Accepted

Why is methanol poisonous?

Methanol is highly toxic in humans. As little as 10 ml of pure methanol can destroy the optic nerve and cause permanent blindness, while 30 ml dose is fatal (Vale et al, 2007). However, its toxic ...
another 'Homo sapien''s user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

How harmful is aluminium?

Here is a link to the Public Health Statement for Aluminum produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. There is much more information on the web page but ...
wanderweeer's user avatar
  • 2,733
9 votes
Accepted

Why are only few cigarette smokers prone to cancer?

Cigarette smokers are most certainly prone to cancer. See Cecil Medicine, Chapter 183, on the epidemiology of cancer, exposure to tobacco is the most important environmental risk factor for cancer ...
De Novo's user avatar
  • 8,801
8 votes
Accepted

Why can't we find a broad spectrum antiviral drug to viruses like antibiotics to bacteria?

One of the main issues with nucleotide analogs is that they can also affect the host replication and transcription (though they have a higher affinity to the viral polymerase), and can therefore have ...
WYSIWYG's user avatar
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8 votes

Does avoiding medication that alleviates symptoms shorten the length of a cold?

It is plausible but by no means established that antipyretics (fever suppressors) in particular could increase the duration of infection/symptoms, because fever is part of a functional immune response....
Ben Bolker's user avatar
  • 5,354
8 votes

What was the biological mechanism that allowed Tarrare to eat so much?

Tarrare Tarrare was a showman who was renowned for his insatiable appetite including eating cats, dogs, and snakes sometimes raw. He is also said to have eaten many inedible items. At the time, he ...
James's user avatar
  • 11.3k
7 votes

How do we know that mild forms of rabies are nonexistent?

There are many people worldwide who are exposed to rabies and don't die (they get treatment), but there are very few of these cases where people don't die after rabies has entered the central nervous ...
De Novo's user avatar
  • 8,801
7 votes
Accepted

Narcan nasal spray

Q: The report indicated the patient was awake seconds after the spray was administered to both nostrils. If this is true, how does it work so fast? This is possibly an exaggeration, although ...
Bruce Kirkpatrick's user avatar
7 votes

Why did scientists state that the Omicron COVID-19 variant was a reason to get a booster?

(Update Dec 15: See update in my 2nd answer below, describing new study based on actual patient data, published in just the last few days, relevant to the current question.) This answer is a ...
terry-s's user avatar
  • 291
6 votes

Why is insulin given in type 2 diabetes?

Insulin is a "last resort" treatment for people with Type 2 diabetes—partly due to the unpleasantness of injections, but partly due to the fact that high insulin levels can worsen insulin ...
Artelius's user avatar
  • 191
6 votes

Is p53 a cyclin dependent kinase?

No, p53 and other tumor suppressor proteins do not belong to Cyclin dependent kinase(CDK)family. p53 blocks the cell cycle by promoting the synthesis of Cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors (CKI ...
Twinkle Sheen's user avatar
6 votes

Why is Ibuprofen contraindicated in asthma patients?

Ibuprofen is an NSAID. So it acts by inhibiting COX (Cyclooxygenase) enzyme. What it signifies is that, if COX enzyme has been blocked, the PUFA (say arachidonic acid, here) will be converted to ...
ANA negative's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Why is there no herd immunity against common cold coronaviruses?

The following review has extensive answers to the complex of this question. They also include MERS and SARS-Cov-1 in their discussion, as there is good data on them. Huang et al., A systematic review ...
R Stephan's user avatar
  • 3,830
6 votes

How do physics notions of fluid dynamics relate to pressure gradients in circulation?

As far as we know so far, biology isn't able to break any laws of physics. However, biology isn't passive: biological systems react to changing environments to maintain some level of homeostasis. ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 45.3k
6 votes

What Produces the Postive Potenial in the lumen of the thick ascending loop of Henle?

Don't pay attention to the stoichiometry of the pumps, that will only fool you! The charge is due to passive movement through open channels. This is shown as the "yellow tubes" with dotted ...
Bryan Krause's user avatar
  • 45.3k

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