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Science
CASE NOTES
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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Graham Easton gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
radioscience@bbc.co.uk
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 8 April
PRESENTER
DR GRAHAM EASTON
Dr Graham Easton
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Tuesday 8 April 2003
Viruses
Aids Virus

Viruses

How often have you been to the doctor’s with a cocktail of symptoms only to be told – “It’s a virus – there’s nothing we can do”? What are viruses and why are they such a challenge to treat? In Case Notes this week, presenter Graham Easton explores the mysterious world of viruses with guest John Oxford, Professor of Virology at St Bartholemew’s and The Royal London Hospitals.

Viruses are the smallest known types of infectious agent, and they cause diseases ranging from the trivial such as the common cold and warts, to the extremely serious such as rabies and AIDS. It’s debatable whether they’re actually living organisms at all – their sole purpose is to invade our cells which they then take over in order to make more copies of themselves. Part of the challenge in fighting viruses is to find a way to kill them without also damaging the human cells they parasitise. Graham explores some of the anti-viral drugs that have proved successful, and the role of vaccinations in keeping serious viral infections at bay.

GP Keith Hopcroft talks about the GP’s view of viruses and explains why doctors can’t resist the “it’s a virus” or “there’s a lot of it about it” clichés. Perhaps patients would prefer to hear they had a rhinovirus rather than a common cold (the same thing)… but it would still get better on its own. There are also reports on the herpes virus which causes shingles (where there are some effective anti-viral drugs), and the viruses which cause warts and verrucas. A recent study suggests that many common treatments for warts and verrucas, such as freezing them with cryotherapy, simply aren’t backed up by any good evidence that they work.

Next week's subject is Premature Babies.
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