Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 7, 1995


Medical News

Gene therapy may help 
doctors fix ailing hearts
     Hopkins cardiologists have used an engineered gene to alter
the beat of rat heart muscle cells in the laboratory. This is a
preliminary step, researchers said, toward an effective gene
therapy for heart failure and irregular heartbeats. The study
results appear in the July 28 issue of the Journal of Clinical

     In the experiments, Eduardo Marban, professor of medicine
and physiology, and John Lawrence, assistant professor of
medicine, worked with a fruit fly gene that creates ion channels-
-special openings in the outer walls of cells that admit
electrically charged particles that, among other effects,
stimulate cell contraction.

     Marban and Lawrence changed the fruit fly's gene so it
produced ion channels that stayed open longer. They then spliced
the new gene into an adenovirus--a common cold virus--and exposed
rat heart cells in the lab dish to the virus. Carried into the
cells by the virus, the new gene produced altered ion channels
that allowed more charged particles to enter the cells. 

     "We've shown that gene therapy doesn't only have a future
for very rare genetic disorders, but also may one day be a
treatment for very common disorders, such as arrhythmias and
heart disease," Marban said.

Other News

International journalism 
prize announced by SAIS
     The Nitze School for Advanced International Studies and the
Ciba-Geigy pharmaceutical company have established the SAIS-Ciba
Prize for Excellence in International Journalism.      

     The prize was created to recognize and honor distinguished
achievements in international journalism, to draw public
attention to SAIS and its appreciation for top-flight
international reporting, and to provide a powerful symbol of the
pharmaceutical company's commitment to corporate responsibility
and public spiritedness.

     The prize--$20,000 and a medallion--is not a lifetime
achievement award; instead, it will be awarded to the journalist
or journalists whose reporting during the previous year has had
the greatest impact in bringing to public attention a specific
international issue of major importance. Particular attention
will be given to reporting that transcends traditional barriers,
for example, by interpreting one culture to another.

     The prize can be won by journalists of any nationality
working in any medium and in any language. It will be awarded at
a daylong conference organized by the host institution. 

     The first award, in April 1996, will be made at SAIS. The
Hopkins-Nanjing Center will host the awards in 1997, and the
Bologna Center will be the 1998 host.

Homewood House offers 
way to beat summer heat
     "Escape the Heat" tours are being offered at the Homewood
House Museum through Aug. 31.

     The tours focus on the lifestyles and housekeeping changes
the Carroll family undertook as relief from Baltimore summers in
the early 19th century. The good news for contemporary visitors
is that the museum is air-conditioned, and lemonade will be

     Tours are given hourly, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through
Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

     For more information, call (410) 516-5589.

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