Tag Archives | medical science

Lancet Editor: ‘The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.’

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, the Lancet.

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, the Lancet.

The Lancet is one of – if the not the – most prestigious medical science journals, so when its editor-in-chief writes that “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue,” you know that something’s rotten in Denmark. Collective Evolution reports on Richard Horton’s pronouncement:

In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

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Science Seeks to Unlock Marijuana’s Secrets

Hampton Sides (surely a pseudonym?) investigates the science behind marijuana’s magnificent properties, for National Geographic:

There’s nothing new about cannabis, of course. It’s been around humankind pretty much forever.

Prozac Makes Better Christians but Marijuana Makes Better Brownies

wackystuff (CC)

 

In Siberia charred seeds have been found inside burial mounds dating back to 3000 B.C. The Chinese were using cannabis as a medicine thousands of years ago. Marijuana is deeply American too—as American as George Washington, who grew hemp at Mount Vernon. For most of the country’s history, cannabis was legal, commonly found in tinctures and extracts.

Then came Reefer Madness. Marijuana, the Assassin of Youth. The Killer Weed. The Gateway Drug. For nearly 70 years the plant went into hiding, and medical research largely stopped. In 1970 the federal government made it even harder to study marijuana, classifying it as a Schedule I drug—a dangerous substance with no valid medical purpose and a high potential for abuse, in the same category as heroin.

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Anglo-Saxon antibiotics are just the start – it’s time to start bioprospecting in the past

That old Anglo-Saxon remedy reported yesterday has got people “bioprospecting” the past according to the Guardian:

Bioprospecting – the search for new drugs and commercial products from the natural world – is big business, and has recently turned towards the search for new antibiotics. The collaboration at the University of Nottingham between a microbiologist and an Anglo-Saxon scholar may show the way for a new kind of bioprospecting, one that looks to the past, rather than the present, for future therapies and cures.

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Leech. Photo by Karl Ragnar Gjertsen (CC)

 

Antibiotics: hidden cures

I’ve already posted my historical hints for discovering a new antibiotic, but perhaps we’d have developed one sooner if twentieth century historians paid more attention to past publications. From the 1870s onwards a series of scientists noted that Penicillium fungus seemed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, and in 1875 John Tyndall presented evidence to the Royal Society that the Penicilliumfungus had an antibacterial action.

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First Full Body Transplant Two Years Away

Anatomical Male Figure Showing Heart, Lungs, and Main Arteries.jpg An Italian doctor plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body using procedures he believes will soon be ready, per the Guardian:

A surgeon says full-body transplants could become a reality in just two years.

Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

Canavero hopes to assemble a team to explore the radical surgery in a project he is due to launch at a meeting for neurological surgeons in Maryland this June.

He has claimed for years that medical science has advanced to the point that a full body transplant is plausible, but the proposal has caused raised eyebrows, horror and profound disbelief in other surgeons.

The Italian doctor, who recently published a broad outline of how the surgery could be performed, told New Scientist magazine that he wanted to use body transplants to prolong the lives of people affected by terminal diseases.

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Google Making Human Skin

Google is making human skin as part of research into “wristband that can detect cancer,” reports the Independent:

Google has been making synthetic human skin as part of work to create a wristband that can detect cancer, impending heart attacks and other diseases.

Scientists in the life sciences division of Google X laboratories in California needed to create arms that were as realistic as possible to test the technology.

Dr Andrew Conrad said the system, which is still in the early stages of development, would detect cancer cells when they first appear by using nanoparticles that “search” the body for disease.

It would theoretically allow diagnosis long before any physical symptoms appear, enabling early intervention to reduce the fatality rate of illnesses.

“We’re trying to change medicine from being episodic and reactive, like going to the doctor saying ‘my arm hurts’, to being proactive and preventative,” he told The Atlantic.

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BPA and ‘BPA-Free’ Alternative Linked to Fetal Brain Changes

If you saw our documentary about bottled water Tapped, you’ll know that BPA is not the only toxic chemical in plastics. The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study linking Bisphenol A and the so-called BPA-Free alternative, Bisphenol S, to changes in the brain of fetuses:

Fetal exposure to Bisphenol A, as well as to the widely marketed alternative Bisphenol S, may cause “real and measurable” changes in the development of a brain region that plays a key role in fear, impulse-control, obesity and early puberty.

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A 2008 review concluded that BPA mimics estrogenic activity and affects various dopaminergic processes to enhance mesolimbic dopamine activity resulting in hyperactivityattention deficits, and a heightened sensitivity to drugs of abuse.[123]

Canadian researchers have found in animal studies that low-level exposure to either Bisphenol A (BPA) or Bisphenol S (BPS) during the equivalent to a human fetus’ second trimester altered the timetable and rate at which neurons inside the brain’s hypothalamus developed.

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Transcendence: RU Sirius & Jay Cornell on Transhumanism

TranscendenceR.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell are the authors of Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. Transhumanism has been a hot but divisive topic on disinformation, so we felt there was a need to foster greater understanding of just what transhumanism is, and is not, hence the format of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia.

We asked Jay and R.U. to answer a few questions about the book and the topic in general:

RU, you have long been associated with the transhumanism movement; can you tell us how you got hooked and what your personal interest in transhumanism is?

RU: In a sense, I go way back to the 1970s, although I wasn’t familiar with the term transhumanism then. I think the only person using it at that time was a guy named F.M. Esfandiary. I was, if you will, turned on and tuned in by Timothy Leary and his cohort in conscious evolution Robert Anton Wilson.… Read the rest

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New Antibiotic Kills Pathogens Without Detectable Resistance

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Chemical Structure of Teixobactin (CC)

Although it’s been repeatedly said that we’re on the verge of entering a post-antibiotic era, scientists have now discovered a new antibiotic that kills pathogens without detectable resistance. Their research paper is in the December 2014 edition of Nature; this is the abstract:

Antibiotic resistance is spreading faster than the introduction of new compounds into clinical practice, causing a public health crisis. Most antibiotics were produced by screening soil microorganisms, but this limited resource of cultivable bacteria was overmined by the 1960s. Synthetic approaches to produce antibiotics have been unable to replace this platform. Uncultured bacteria make up approximately 99% of all species in external environments, and are an untapped source of new antibiotics. We developed several methods to grow uncultured organisms by cultivation in situ or by using specific growth factors. Here we report a new antibiotic that we term teixobactin, discovered in a screen of uncultured bacteria.

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Ketamine (Special K) May Be Best Medicine For Depression

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Photo: Psychonaught (CC)

Amazingly enough the powerful hallucinogen ketamine (the horse tranquilizer sometimes known as Special K) is being touted as a serious and better alternative to the SSRIs like Prozac. Report from the New York Times:

It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.

It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.

While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.

And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.

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Treating Depression With Magic Mushrooms

Psilocybe semilanceata 6514.jpg

Psilocybe semilanceata 6514. Photo by Arp (CC)

When the New York Times runs an op-ed seriously suggesting the use of psilocybin (a/k/a magic mushrooms) for treatment of depression, one suspects a tipping point may have been reached in the struggle for psychedelics to be taken seriously as having medical worth:

I tried magic mushrooms out of curiosity and in middle age. I’d been on the amateur mycological circuit for a couple of years, but hallucinogenic species were rarely mentioned at the foraging expeditions and conferences I attended. It’s almost as if they were the black sheep of mycology: embarrassing to serious taxonomy jocks. I read some books on the subject, but most were tripper’s guides that didn’t utilize, um, specific language or current science. Psychoactive mushrooms had been in a kind of scientific ghetto ever since they were criminalized in 1968. But now the drug derived from the mushroom, psilocybin, is finally being re-examined for its medical applications.

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