But he never found a comfortable place in the fledgling government project to chart the human genome and in 1992 joined a new private group, the Institute for Genomic Research. There, Venter and colleagues became the first researchers to chart the whole genome of any organism (the flu virus), among other landmarks, and refined a technique allowing scientists to piece together genomes from small bits of DNA, minimizing the ponderous genetic surveying then in use.Fine and dandy, except it was not the flu virus, but a bacterium sometimes referred to as H. flu, also known as H. influenzae. It does cause an illness that can resemble the flu, but it is definitely a bacterium. If the Times gets it wrong, one cannot really expect the public to get it right can we? I am not sure what the solution here is, but maybe we should stop saying things are "flu-like" when we mean "flu-like symptoms." Or maybe we need better diagnostics for the home, so that people can figure out what they have more easily.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Treat this flu with antibiotics
A big problem these days is the overuse of antibiotics. One of the reasons antibiotics are overused is that people use them for viral illnesses not bacterial ones. But the NY Times Book Review has an example of a "flu virus" that if you have it, you should use antibiotics on. In a review of Craig Venter's new book in this Sunday's Times, Peter Dizikes refers to one of Venter's achievements in sequencing the first genome: