Tag Archives | medical science

Human Hibernation

Sleeping InsuenoThe thinking goes, if animals can hibernate, humans should be able to and hence we can avoid death and move towards immortality. Frank Swain reports on scientists’ progress in the hunt for human hibernation for BBC Future:

…Suspended animation, the ability to set a person’s biological processes on hold, has long been a staple of science fiction. Interest in the field blossomed in the 1950s as a direct consequence of the space race. Nasa poured money into biological research to see if humans might be placed in a state of artificial preservation. In this state, it was hoped, astronauts could be protected from the dangerous cosmic rays zapping through space. Sleeping your way to the stars also meant carrying far less food, water and oxygen, making the ultimate long-haul flight more practical.

One recipient of that funding was a young James Lovelock. The scientist would dunk hamsters into ice baths until their bodies froze.

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Fecal (Poo) Transplants on the Rise

Digestive system diagram enWe’ve covered what Mosaic calls “Medicine’s dirty secret” before, but the idea of using someone else’s feces to cure an ailment is apparently growing fast, including instructions for trying it at home:

This is how far a mother will go.

Your daughter has been sick for more than four years with a severe autoimmune disease that has left her colon raw with bloody ulcers. After multiple doctors and drugs have failed, you are frantic for her to get better. Then you send her disease into remission, virtually overnight, with a single act of love. “Who wouldn’t do that for their daughter?” you say. It’s like a miracle, you say. “An overnight magic wand.”

You’ve agreed to do it again – twice – for strangers. You’ve seen first-hand how effective it can be and you felt so badly for the patients and their families. Had you donated blood or plasma, no one would blink.

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The Orgasmatron is Finally Here

Manu (CC)

Manu (CC)

The Independent reports on an accidentally invented orgasm machine that delivers climax at the push of a button:

Scientists have devised a machine that can help women achieve ‘emphatic’ orgasms at the push of a button.

Slightly smaller than a packet of cigarettes, the device uses electrodes attached to the patients spine, with orgasms being triggered by a remote control.

The machine is not intended for a mass market looking to spice up their day at whim or expedite their sexual encounters however, but for women who normally struggle to achieve orgasm.

North Carolina surgeon Stuart Meloy told New Scientist how he conjured up the idea while performing a procedure on a female patient.

“I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the woman started exclaiming emphatically,” he said. “I asked her what was up and she said, ‘You’re going to have to teach my husband to do that’.” Spinal implant is controlled via remote control (Picture: New Scientist)

Clinical trials of the machine are due to commence later in the year, with Meloy adding that it could help couples with withering sex lives.

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LSD Reconsidered for Therapy

William Rafti (CC)

William Rafti (CC)

Strange as it may seem in what in many cases is an extremely reactionary period of time, the war on some drugs has loosened up considerably and not just in the burgeoning mariajuana legalization movement. Research into the medical benefits of psychedelic drugs has resumed and appears to be making significant headway. The New York Times reports on the comeback of LSD in psychiatric treatment:

He heard about the drug trial from a friend in Switzerland and decided it was worth volunteering, even if it meant long, painful train journeys from his native Austria and the real possibility of a mental meltdown. He didn’t have much time, after all, and traditional medicine had done nothing to relieve his degenerative spine condition.

“I’d never taken the drug before, so I was feeling — well, I think the proper word for it, in English, is dread,” said Peter, 50, an Austrian social worker, in a telephone interview; he asked that his last name be omitted to protect his identity.

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Science Can Use Your Blood To Determine If Your Death Is Imminent

Blood testDo you really want to know that you’re about to die? If so, this test is for you. Report from GeekoSystem:

You know how you’re supposed to live life to the fullest because any moment could be your last? Turns out, science may have figured out a way to pin that time-frame down a bit for you. With new blood tests, researchers from Finland and Estonia think they can tell whether or not you’re going to live beyond the next five years.

Using a technique called NMR Spectroscopy, these researchers screened 17,000 blood samples, searching for any biomarkers that occurred frequently in the blood of people who died soon after their blood was taken. What they discovered and published in PLOS Medicine journal was that people with elevated levels of four particular biomarkers in their blood (plasma albumin, alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle size, and citrate) had a super-high chance of dying within five years.

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The Crumbling Ancient Texts That May Hold Life-Saving Cures

Loc timbuktu manuscripts amm0001rsAstonishing lost medical science being unearthed from ancient texts smuggled out of Timbuktu to avoid Al-Qaeda? It may sound like the plot of a Dan Brown potboiler but it appears to be true based on this first hand report by Amy Maxmen who went to Mali for Nautilus:

…Subjects in the collections, spanning the 13th through 17th century, include the Koran, Sufism, philosophy, law, medicine, astronomy, and more. Haidara stresses the need for climate-controlled safe-houses for the manuscripts, so that academics can begin to study the books to learn about African history. He thinks the books might also contain information about cures for maladies that persist today. “Every book has answers, and if you analyze them you can learn solutions,” he says. “Everything that exists now, existed before now.” One prime example of this constancy is a plague that has afflicted humans at least since ancient times and currently kills approximately 1.2 million people per year: malaria.

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The Unstoppable Rise Of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

Antibiotic selectionAlthough doctors and scientists have been warning that the so-called “golden age” of antibiotics is rapidly waning, we just don’t listen and now it may be too late. Fergus Walsh, medical correspondent for BBC News reports:

We cannot say we weren’t warned. The growing threat of antibiotic resistant organisms is once again in the spotlight.

Prof Jeremy Farrar, the new head of Britain’s biggest medical research charity the Wellcome Trust said it was a “truly global issue”.

In his first major interview since taking up his post, Prof Farrar told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the golden age of antibiotics could come to an end unless action is taken.

His comments echo those of England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.

Last year she described the growing resistance to antibiotics as a “ticking time bomb”, and said the danger should be ranked alongside terrorism on a list of threats to the nation.

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Doctors Grow Nose On Man’s Forehead

Reuters (Fair Use)

Reuters (Fair Use)

This is one of those “I have to see it to believe it” headlines, so helpfully this ABC News story has a very convincing photo (at right):

After a Chinese man’s nose was irreparably damaged from infection, his doctors decided to “grow” a second nose on the man’s forehead to replace the original nose.

The patient, identified only as Xiaolian according to Reuters, has his nose damaged from an infection following a car accident. His doctors decided the only way to reconstruct his nose was to surgically form a new one on the 22-year-old’s forehead.

Tissue expanders were placed under the skin and then cut to resemble a nose. According to local media, doctors expect to implant the new nose soon…

[continues at ABC News]

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Cure For Child Born With HIV Virus

No one can explain how, but the first human with the HIV virus has been cured reports the Guardian:

Doctors in the US have made medical history by effectively curing a child born with HIV, the first time such a case has been documented.

The infant, who is now two and a half, needs no medication for HIV, has a normal life expectancy and is highly unlikely to be infectious to others, doctors believe.

Though medical staff and scientists are unclear why the treatment was effective, the surprise success has raised hopes that the therapy might ultimately help doctors eradicate the virus among newborns.

Doctors did not release the name or sex of the child to protect the patient’s identity, but said the infant was born, and lived, in Mississippi state. Details of the case were unveiled on Sunday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

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When Antibiotics Fail, Fecal Transplants Work

The idea of somebody else’s feces being implanted in your body may not sound great, but on the other hand pumping chemicals into your body often proves to be fatal. Denise Grady reports for the New York Times that the “natural” cure for Clostridium difficile infections is far more effective than antibiotics:

The treatment may sound appalling, but it works.

Transplanting feces from a healthy person into the gut of one who is sick can quickly cure severe intestinal infections caused by a dangerous type of bacteria that antibiotics often cannot control.

A new study finds that such transplants cured 15 of 16 people who had recurring infections with Clostridium difficile bacteria, whereas antibiotics cured only 3 of 13 and 4 of 13 patients in two comparison groups. The treatment appears to work by restoring the gut’s normal balance of bacteria, which fight off C. difficile.

The study is the first to compare the transplants with standard antibiotic therapy.

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