The Hodgkin Society

Hodgkin Society – Gene Therapy and the ‘Bubble Boy’ 23/6/20
This week Kate Willis (Year 12) presented to the Hodgkin Society on the topic of gene therapy. In this talk, Kate discusses the basics of what gene therapy is, using the example of the ‘bubble boy’ David Vetter (named because he had an inherited immune condition resulting in him having to be isolated in his own sterile bubble). This condition, known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease (or SCID) results in the patient lacking a functioning immune system and usually sufferers die at a very early age. David’s bubble enabled him to live for 12 years and accelerated scientists’ understanding of the condition and how to treat it.
Kate talks about how gene therapy (using an inactivated HIV to deliver the genetic material) has been used to transform stem cells in bone marrow and how this has been used as a treatment to cure SCID in some babies. She also goes on to discuss other potential uses of this therapy and consider the possible controversies that exist with this kind of technology. It was a fascinating and detailed talk on a very relevant and interesting potential medical treatment.

Hodgkin Biology Society Meeting – Bacteriophages and Phage Therapy 16/6/20
The Hodgkin Society met online again this week, where Katharine Hammond in Year 12 presented on ‘Bacteriophages and Phage Therapy’.
In this presentation, Katharine gives information about what a phage virus is, how it can reproduce and the history of its discovery. She discusses how these can then potentially be used in phage therapy to target specific bacteria and therefore as a treatment to specific bacterial infections. This includes trials where personalised phage cocktails have been used to combat infections that were showing complete resistance to a variety of antibiotics, leading to the consideration of the use of this approach as a possible addition to our current antibiotic therapies. This technology could also be used to kill bacteria on food, reducing the need for antibiotic use in food production. Is this the future solution to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance?