Tag Archives | medical research

Dolphins May Teach Humans How To Heal

Photo: Mark Interrante (CC)

Photo: Mark Interrante (CC)

Maureen Langlois reports on the amazing healing powers of dolphins, for NPR:

Dr. Michael Zasloff, a surgeon and researcher at Georgetown University, is famous for discovering compounds in the skin of frogs and sharks that can fight disease in humans.

Now, he’s tapping another animal to mine the secrets of its immune system. It turns out dolphins have a remarkable ability to heal quickly—and seemingly painlessly—from severe shark bites. Zasloff hopes that learning how dolphins resist infection and use stem cells to rebuild missing tissue will provide some insight into how to help injured humans.

To do this research, Zasloff reviewed the “clinical histories” of a few dolphins who recently succumbed to shark bites. He also interviewed all the dolphin experts he could find. His results appeared in a letter in the online version of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Shots caught up with Zasloff last week to learn more about his adventures in dolphin biology.

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Mathematicians Reach Breakthrough In HIV Research

Here’s a great real world example of why math is important kids! From the Wall Street Journal:

Scientists using a powerful mathematical tool previously applied to the stock market have identified an Achilles heel in HIV that could be a prime target for AIDS vaccines or drugs.

The research adds weight to a provocative hypothesis—that an HIV vaccine should avoid a broadside attack and instead home in on a few targets…

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WSJ: Sex As Good For Your Health As Vitamin D And Broccoli

SexStub.svg by Econt (CC)

SexStub.svg by Econt (CC)

Good news for all you broccoli haters out there! Melinda Beck reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Is sex good for your health—or is that just a fantasy?

A flurry of small studies suggest that sex is as good for your health as vitamin D and broccoli. It not only relieves stress, improves sleep and burns calories, it can also reduce pain, ease depression, strengthen blood vessels, boost the immune system and lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.

But many of those studies rely on people to remember and report their sexual activity honestly and many can’t distinguish between cause and effect. That is, does sex make people healthier or do healthier people have more sex?

More research is needed to evaluate all these claims. “If I told you we have randomized double-blind placebo-controlled multi-center trials on these questions, there is no such a thing,” says Irwin Goldstein, a urologist and editor in chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

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French Doctors Announced Lung Cancer ‘Breakthrough’

LUNGThis may be a breakthrough in the treatment of lung cancer, but it doesn’t mean you should pick up smoking just yet. BBC reports:

French doctors say they have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment of lung cancer.

A medical team at Bobigny hospital in Paris removed a patient’s cancerous growth, and then gave him an artificial airway, or bronchus.

The bronchus was made from reconstituted aorta, the body’s largest artery.

The pioneering treatment in October 2009 avoided the complete removal of the patient’s lung.

In the later stages of lung cancer, only a third of patients survive a year.

The Paris patient, 78, is said be fit and well, some 16 months after surgery.

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Horrific Medical Experiments On Prisoners And Mental Patients In U.S.

Dr. Jonas Salk, who led one of the studies.

Dr. Jonas Salk, who led one of the studies.

You really want to believe that America would be above this sort of thing, but I suppose for a nation that imported human vivisection experts from Nazi Germany after WW2, trying out dubious medical procedures on its own citizens should not be too much of a surprise. The broad scope of the experiments might be though: Mike Stobbe reports on a review by AP of over 40 medical “studies”:

Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.

Much of this horrific history is 40 to 80 years old, but it is the backdrop for a meeting in Washington this week by a presidential bioethics commission.

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Doctor Who Linked Autism and Vaccines Is A ‘Fraud,’ Says British Medical Journal

news-graphics-2007-_640547aJenny McCarthy take note: Britain’s leading medical journal has declared that Andrew Wakefield’s discredited 1998 autism study was not merely riddled with errors, but was a case of deliberate, “elaborate fraud.” CNN reports:

A now-retracted British study that linked autism to childhood vaccines was an “elaborate fraud” that has done long-lasting damage to public health, a leading medical publication reported Wednesday.

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license in May.

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Daily Pill Helps Prevent HIV Infection

120px-HIV-budding-ColorWhile this pill would be an amazing achievement helping to reduce the spread of HIV, even the volunteers in the trial couldn’t remember to take it everyday. The best prevention of HIV is the knowledge of how it is transmitted and how ways to prevent it. From BBC News:

A daily pill to prevent HIV infection would be a significant development. A trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that an established treatment for HIV infection is also powerful in protecting gay men from catching the virus.

This is not, however, the answer to the nearly 30 year epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Since it is just one trial, many more studies will need to follow. But according to the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) it is “potentially very significant and could change the HIV landscape in the future”.

Some brief facts about the trial: it involved about 2,500 men at high risk of HIV infection in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil South Africa, Thailand and the United States (San Francisco and Boston).

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2010 Ig Nobel Prizes: Whale Snot, Socks Over Shoes, And Scientists’ Beards

4367365253_b7f9705610The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize winners (like the Nobels but better) have been announced in various categories of science. These amazing discoveries are the reason we are living in the most exciting of times. ABC News reports the results:

ENGINEERING: Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron for developing a method to collect whale snot using a remote control helicopter.

TRANSPORTATION PLANNING: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Atsushi Tero, Seiji Takagi, Tetsu Saigusa, Kentaro Ito, Kenji Yumiki, Ryo Kobayashi, Dan Bebber, Mark Fricker for using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks.

PHYSICS: Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest for demonstrating that wearing socks on the outside of your shoes helps prevent slipping on ice.

PEACE: Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston for confirming that swearing helps relieve pain.

PUBLIC HEALTH: Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews and Larry Taylor for determining that microbes cling to bearded scientists.

MANAGEMENT: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if promotions were made at random.

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U.S. Purposely Infected Hundreds Of Guatemalans With STDs In Secret Medical Experiments

medical experimentsHillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have apologized for horrific medical experiments conducted in Guatemala during the 1940s. While they were at it, maybe they could have thrown in a few words of regret regarding the CIA’s overthrowing the elected government a couple of years later. MSNBC reports:

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius.

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