Views And Reviews Minerva


BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 30 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1684

Just how tough prions are is shown by the guidelines on the handling of biopsy and necropsy material in the Journal of Clinical Pathology (1998;51:265-9). Tissue should be fixed by soaking it in concentrated formic acid or a mixture of household bleach and formalin. After use instruments should be autoclaved for 60 minutes at 134°C or soaked in hypochlorite or 2N NaOH for three hours.

In some urban areas of subSaharan Africa over a quarter of women in their childbearing years are infected with HIV-1. Giving them multivitamins during pregnancy reduces the risk of severe preterm birth, low birth weight, and small size for gestational age at birth (Lancet 1998;351:1477-82). In this randomised controlled trial of more than a thousand Tanzanian women, multivitamins also increased CD4, CD8, and CD3 counts. Giving vitamin A alone had none of these beneficial effects.

Cocaine addiction is one of the biggest social disasters of our time, and a report in Nature brings us one step closer to understanding it (Nature 1998;393:175-8). Investigators in the US trained mice to press a lever for a single shot of cocaine, and found that mice lacking the serotonin 1B receptor were willing to work much harder for their fix than ordinary wild type mice. Knockout mice also displayed …

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