BU research in brief
Are the Deaf an Ethnic Group?
By Susan Seligson
Deaf Americans who sign know that they share much more than a language; they comprise a common culture with its own ancestry, art, and humor. Now a book titled The People of the Eye: Deaf Ethnicity and Ancestry, coauthored by Richard C. Pillard, a School of Medicine professor of psychiatry, goes further, arguing that the deaf should be recognized as a distinct ethnic group.
The authors say that beyond being a means of communication for the deaf, American Sign Language has a rich literature.
They argue that being identified as an ethnic group would afford the deaf not just a greater respect, and in some cases the protections of the law, but could finally dispel the assumption that deaf people consider themselves handicapped or as failing to meet an accepted physical ideal of wholeness and health.
You Are What You Eat
By Maggie Bucholt
In one of the first studies undertaken at BU’s new Center for Molecular Discovery, monoglycerides—commonly used in small quantities in dozens of commercial food products, including beverages, bakery items, and margarine—were shown to stimulate the production of insulin in beta cells.
“Human beings are constantly being exposed to new drugs and food additives, and these drugs and additives have never been tested for chronic effects on systems such as metabolic health,” says Barbara Corkey, a MED professor of gastroenterology.
The Center for Molecular Discovery gives BU researchers access to high-throughput screening, a process used by the pharmaceutical industry in which thousands of small molecule compounds can be screened for physiological effect (e.g., normalization of insulin secretion) using cell-based or biochemical assays. The rapid process can identify active compounds that change a particular biomolecular pathway.
The High Cost of Hair Replacement Drugs
By Rich Barlow
A paper principally authored by Abdulmaged Traish, a MED professor of urology and biochemistry, reports that men who use certain drugs to battle baldness or reduce enlarged prostates may torpedo their sex lives in the bargain.
The drugs are finasteride (made by Merck and sold generically as Proscar and Propecia) and dutasteride (made by GlaxoSmithKline and sold generically as Avodart). Finasteride is approved for both baldness and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate. Dutasteride is used to treat BPH.
In the study, published in the March Journal of Sexual Medicine, the researchers pored over all the published scientific literature about the drugs’ side effects, including data from Merck. They found that, depending on the study, 3 percent to 22 percent of patients reported problems such as erectile dysfunction or diminished sex drive, and the problems persisted for some even after they discontinued the drugs. The paper acknowledges that the number of men affected long-term is small, perhaps 7 percent of all patients using the drugs.