Inspirational Medicine

March 19, 2008

539w.jpg

Cancer is difficult.  In every sense of the word.  It is difficult to detect early(in some forms), it is difficult to treat, it is difficult to deal with.  Individuals and families are devastated by the effects of the disease and even by the treatment.  It is particularly heart wrenching to read stories about childhood cancers.  But it is important.  The things learned from the study of end stage cancer is often among the most cutting edge research.  People will be open to may treatment courses when the alternative is death.  While the vast majority of last minute experiments fail, and no magic cure is discovered, there are always exceptions.  Those exceptions are beautiful to read and I encourage you to read the following article.

Full Article

From a human stand point, it is always refreshing to see the triumphant story of an underdog that overcomes some great challenge.  From clinical stand point, the same holds.  Many of the greatest achievements and breakthroughs in science have been laughed at originally and dismissed too quickly.  While the antiangiogenic chemotherapy may or may not go on to play a significant role in the treatment of cancer in the future, its pioneers like Dr. Judah Folkman who change the course of history.  Taking a different approach, trying new combinations of existing medicines, and being innovative in the treatment of cancer Dr. Judah Folkman saved Melanie McDaniel.  The McDaniel family is sharing her story as a tribute to Dr. Folkman who passed away in January.


Parents as Protectors

February 29, 2008

America is obsessed with medical autonomy. Everyone feels entitled to make decisions about their own health. While I agree everyone should have control over their own bodies, there is a gray area. Children. The current standard gives parents great range in what they can have done or what they can decide to withhold in terms of health care. Vaccines always come up as a hot topic. While the majority of parents adhere to the accepted standards of immunization there is a small, but vocal minority who objects to vaccination.

flu-vaccine.jpg

An advisory panel on Wednesday recommended all kids up to age 18 get the flu vaccine. Though the vaccine is already recommended for those 6 months to 5 years old, this new proposal is a huge expansion, affecting nearly 60 million kids. The expanded recommendation is an initiative by the CDC to protect the entire population. Children are one of the major sources of flu in the community. School aged children pick it up, pass it around, and then bring it home. Everyone has had the flu, and while it may have been terrible it was transient, so it is hard for people to take it seriously. But in reality, people die from the flu every year, children and the elderly are particularly susceptible. Vaccines, like all things, have risks. But they are very minimal and less severe than the flu. Obviously people with reactions to a previous flu vaccine, those with contraindicated disease state (GB syndrome), or certain allergies (for example eggs since the vaccine is grown in eggs) should not get the vaccine but in general it is a harmless vaccine.

With all the fear mongering of pseudo scientific studies (like the joke of a paper that tainted MMR by suggesting a correlation with autism), old world views of medicine, and popular misconceptions it can be tough for a parent to find the truth about a particular vaccine. So who really is better qualified to determine if your child needs a certain vaccine? The doctors that have years of training to understand the risks/benefits and wade through the abundance of misinformation or parents who may or may not be fully informed on the topic or who may be prejudiced by misinformation? To me the choice is obvious. I don’t want your 9 year old little Johnny vaccinated because I care if he gets sick, I want him vaccinated to protect the newborn he saw, the grandparent he hugged, the kid who’s toy he shared, and community he lives in.

When you decide to not vaccinate your child, you put everyone’s children at risk.

 


Breast Cancer Drug Approved

February 23, 2008

avastin.jpg

In a controversial move, the FDA has approved Avastin for breast cancer.  The drug is already used in lung and colon cancer.  For the FDA to approve a late stage cancer drug it needs to either extend patient’s lives or import the quality of life.  Avastin has shown neither and so the advisory committe recommended against its use in breast cancer.  The FDA went against the recommendation of its advisory committee.  The drug does shrink tumors effectively, but there is a debate if that alone is reason to approve a drug.

If you still die in the same amount of time in the same painful way was having smaller tumors  worth whatever adverse effects or side effects come from the medicine?  There are pros and cons to the decision.  The pros are the approval will stimulate even more research and development into tumor shrinking medicines.  The decision will also be good for business, stimulating development and growth.  But there are also cons.  First there is the obvious problem if a drug does not extend life or improve quality of life what is the purpose.  Tumor shrinking is important, but only as a part of the overall picture of improving health.  But what I find to be a more glaring problem is, the advisory committees are designed to have more knowledge and to have looked at a topic more carefully to give the FDA an intelligent recommendation.  Why have them if you don’t listen to the recommendation?  I think that sets bad precedent.

Hopefully the next large study of Avastin will show marked improvement in combination with  other drugs in the treatment of breast cancer.


“Seinfeld”, Science, and Snacks

February 1, 2008

 

    Forget Temple Pharmacy School, I should have gone to Clemson University.  I could have worked on my degree with Prof. Dawson, a food microbiologist.  He conducted a study inspired by an episode of “Seinfeld”.  Any loyal “Seinfel” fans will recall the episode where George double dips his chip at a funeral reception and is caught.  The episode is credited with being the first major popular use of the term “double dipping”.  They guy freaks out and tells George, “That’s like putting your whole mouth right in the dip!”.  Well Professor Dawson set out to investigate if that charge is true.  He was skeptical that bacteria could be transfered from mouth to chip to mouth initially.  But the research indicates that 50 -100 bacteria would be transfered from one mouth to another in each bite, if there was a cup that was exposed to “sporadic double dipping.”  GROSS.  The study will be published in the Journal of Food Safety later this year.

    Professor Dawson published a paper last year on the five-second rule.  While his findings indicate that the rule is not true and food should not be eaten from the floor even if it is there for less than five seconds, my findings differ.  (Well at least my findings of tasty food on floors).

Full Article


Stem Cells Used to Cure SSA

December 7, 2007

ssa.jpg

Encouraging new research published in Science indicates that stem cells can be used to cure sickle cell anemia. The study used iPS cells and was done in mice. The sickle cell mice were treated with iPS therapy, and cured of the sickle cell without complication. The expected complications of using iPS in treatment are rejection and tumor growth. Rejection was controlled in this experiment, because the cells were identical (because they came from the mice) and it has been 4 months and still no tumor development. There is a lot of support for using the iPS cells they come from skin, not from embroynic cells.

“Induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells, are virtually identical to embryonic stem cells. They can morph into all of the more than 200 cell types in the body but are derived from skin, not from embryos. Mouse iPS cells were first derived earlier this year, and scientists reported last month to great fanfare that they had created similar cells from human skin.”

Although it will be many years before this technique could start appearing in humans clinically, it is still promising. The sickle cell diseases are just one group of genetics disorders, thousands of other genetic disorders could potentially be helped with similar technology. Although these “alternative” stem cells are showing great promise, most prominent geneticists want to clear up any confusion about the cells. They are inferior to using embryonic stem cells. Hopefully the world will just appreciate this discovery for the medical miracle it is and not attempt to use it for propaganda. The iPS stem cells have been touted by President Bush and some religious conservatives as the perfect and equal alternative to stem cells. But in reality, embryonic stems would make the research far simpler and expedite the discovery process.

Scientists Cure Mice Of Sickle Cell Using Stem Cell Technique

Read the full Article By Rick Weiss

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 7, 2007


Love, Violence, and Glue?

December 4, 2007

Imagine the scene – You are standing in the kitchen with your partner on a cold winter evening over the holidays. You get in one of those mega arguments . You call her fat, she calls you mean, tears are shed and voices are raised. She’s swinging her arms and trying to slap at you, you are trying to hold her still. Next thing you know she’s holding a knife…and wham… crazy bitch cuts you. Bloods everywhere. Previously there were only two courses of action.

Option 1: Go to the hospital before you bleed to death/pass out. Basically admit to the world you got owned. Since everyone will know what happened you will be forced to break up.

Option 2: Bleed to death/pass out. She’ll feel really bad for a few days, but won’t respect you anymore so you can expect more beatings for the duration of the relationship. You’ll be forced to stay with her forever because you feel like you can’t do any better.

But now there is an option 3..

Option 3: super glue up the cut and be a man about it. face the possibility of a banging scar and a nasty infection (thats what antibiotics are for anyway). she is so relieved you are okay, and so happy you are not going to the police/hospital, that you can expect some serious sex and attention from the crazy bitch.

Call it the secret life of Super Glue.

(NyTimes: Link)

During the Vietnam War, emergency medics began using the all-purpose glue to seal

really_190.jpg

battle wounds in troops headed for surgery. The glue was so good at stemming bleeding that it was credited with saving many lives.

Nowadays, professional athletes often close small cuts with Super Glue or similar products to get back in the game in a hurry. The glues are also used by veterinarians, and many people keep a tube around the house to help them out of a medical pinch. It is believed that the glues — made from the chemical cyanoacrylate — not only stop bleeding quickly, but also lead to less scarring.

So should you keep some Super Glue in the medicine cabinet? Probably not, experts say. Studies show that although the glue can be useful in emergencies, it can also irritate the skin, kill cells and cause other side effects, particularly when used on deep wounds.

There is a safer alternative. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration approved a similar, antibacterial form of the substance called 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate, which is marketed as Dermabond.


Faces of Autism and the Need for Screening

October 30, 2007

The Andrew Child Photography Project has an exhibit “Faces and Voices of Autism Photo Exhibition”

Presented by May Institute and the National Autism Center. The website has some of the sample photos. Here is one boy’s photo that caught my eye. It is just an intense look that translated well into the photo. It looks like he can just see right through the computer screen.

This is Austin.


“When Austin and I are together, we float away in our bubble. A giant bubble filled with appreciation, love, hope, and laughter. He has this effortless way of making me feel like a child all over again. When I am with him, it’s an escape from a chaotic world filled with noise and ignorance.” — Jessica, Austin’s cousin

 

Most popular news outlets are reporting what I have always supported and many medical practitioners have privately been saying for years, every child should be tested for autism. A condition as common as autism should be considered a priority in early childhood detection. Particularly because autism treated early has much higher rates of success. Additionally it helps parents cope with the process of raising an autistic child if they know that is what is wrong and what resources are out there.

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests screening every child for autism twice by age 2. The report gives explicit instructions for the warning signs of autism at various ages. Current estimates by the CDC say as many as 1 in 150 children have a form of autism. Read More.

Maybe with some autism education out there, people will stop blaming the MMR vaccine, and more research into a science based cause could be discovered (cough=pollution).