The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
Fish oil: it's been touted as a solution to heart health, dementia, glaucoma, and a host of other ailments. Unfortunately, it turns out that most of the evidence for its benefits is equivocal at best. And it turns out that fish oil isn't particularly useful for our pets, either. Worse, it turns out that the foundational study that kicked off interest in fish oil as a supplement is not quite as promising for fish oils as it is usually construed and cited. Given that fish oil can induce strokes in high quantities (and may interfere with treatments like chemotherapy), is poorly regulated, and is expensive, should we be promoting fish oil supplements as strongly as we do?
Health-conscious people are haunted by the idea that they “should” correct their posture, and many fight a chronic, uncertain and tedious battle against crookedness. But is it necessary? After working as a massage therapist for many years, I became confident that poor posture is a “real” thing. I think it is sometimes a factor in chronic pain, mostly later in life, and probably can also be improved in some cases with a little effort. But it’s not a straightforward business, this posture stuff! There aren’t many “easy wins” for people here. And there’s plenty of potential to waste time and money — or even get hurt. Delving deeper into the topic as a journalist, studying the scientific literature and learning more from countless readers and experts, I have developed many reasonable doubts about posture’s importance.
Your new kidney is in the cloud. When former software developer David Jacobs was fortunate enough to get a kidney transplant eleven years ago, it occurred to him that there had to be a better way to match recipients with potential donors... so he bankrolled a company, and designed the cloud-based software needed to do it. As a result, thanks to paired kidney exchanges, a single kidney donation in San Francisco is saving six lives over the next few days... and will soon be saving a total of twelve lives, while removing people from the kidney waiting list, reducing the organ wait time for patients who don't have the time to spare.
The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
It's easy to break a patient like Rogelio—Mexican and poor and chronically ill—down to his potassium level and to make medical decisions according to a number. But that's only part of the story of how the undocumented ill are cared for here in Houston. Within this city's history—a history that includes segregation during the 1960s, a large immigrant population, strong economic growth over the past half century, not to mention the world's largest medical center—is the story of how Houston sought local solutions to provide compassionate care to its indigent and undocumented, the latter of which, some might say, have helped the city grow.Dr. Ricardo Nuila reports from the emergency room at Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, where Harris County's undocumented ill can avail themselves of some of the country's best health care: Taking Care of Our Own. [more inside]
Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
"During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one." [more inside]
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” However, that’s not what the epidemiology of the disorder suggests. By age 35, half of all people who qualified for active alcoholism or addiction diagnoses during their teens and 20s no longer do, according to a study of over 42,000 Americans in a sample designed to represent the adult population.
Only a quarter of people who recover have ever sought assistance in doing so (including via 12-step programs). This actually makes addictions the psychiatric disorder with the highest odds of recovery.Metafilter's own maias on myths surrounding the disease(?) of substance addiction, and their impact on medicine and policy.
Since 2006, Alice Proujansky has photographed childbirths around the world for a project entitled 'Birth Culture.' Her intent is to highlight 'the universal aspects of childbirth, elements that are culturally-specific and the struggle to provide women with safe, respectful maternity care.' Images: Photographer's site. NYTimes Gallery. Agnostica. Slate. Some photos may be NSFW.
Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
"Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought." ‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ and "After Baby, an Unraveling". [more inside]
Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?
Solving an epidemiological mystery
Solving an epidemiological mystery
"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."[more inside]
Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissue in Labs - "The researchers are now working on optimizing the growth of human muscle tissue, including finding a way to get blood flow to the tissue, the best source of cells and the best growing medium for the cells."
A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
Insomnia causes depression as much as depression causes insomnia: Three surprising points from a fascinating episode of KQED Forum [audio, no transcript] with guest Dr. Michelle Primeau of the Stanford School of Medicine.
First story: Treating Insomnia to Heal Depression,
Follow up a couple of days later: Double Effectiveness of Depression Treatment by Treating Insomnia,
Two readers (both psychiatrists) respond, and
A NYT editorial. [more inside]
- Insomnia has long been taught to be a symptom of depression, but in many cases is a cause of depression.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an effective treatment for both insomnia and depression.
- CBT can be more effective and longer lasting than sleeping pills
More than half the population of small, rural Madras, Oregon (population: ~6059) and its surrounding community is served by one clinic: Madras Medical. At the beginning of 2006, the clinic's doctors and nurses decided to ban pharmaceutical reps from visiting their practice. No more free lunches. No more free drug samples. No more gifts. And yet.... "It's made us better doctors." (Via) [more inside]
A junior doctor writes about the experience of watching the slow deaths-by-old-age of the elderly. (see also How Doctors Die).
An in-depth talk at Google that sums up the scientific research on living a healthy life with lots of practical advice.
"India's supreme court has ruled against Swiss drug giant Novartis in a landmark case that activists say will protect access to cheap generic drugs in developing nations." [more inside]
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. Summary: Inside the Cover Story. Related video: The Exorbitant Prices of Health Care [more inside]
“The gap between what patients and doctors expect from these procedures, and the benefit that they actually provide, shows the profound impact of a certain kind of mechanical logic in medicine,” he explains. “Even though doctors value randomized clinical trials and evidence-based medicine, they are powerfully influenced by ideas about how diseases and treatments work. If doctors think a treatment should work, they come to believe that it does work, even when the clinical evidence isn’t there.” [more inside]
100 Really, REALLY Useful Web Sites for Nurses | 100 Educational Twitter Feeds for Med Students | What Really Happens on a Hospital Night Shift? | 10 Hotel Health Traps You Should Really Beware Of |The ABCs of Vitamins and much more.
The New Yorker's take on Dr Mehmet Oz.
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
Feeling a little bit worn? Need to upgrade your body? We've been doing it for a long time. An overview of more recent advances (PDF) and a near-future timeline. [more inside]
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
On November 30, the Tampa Bay Times published a sympathetic profile of Spring Hill, FL resident Gretchen Molannen: "Persistent genital arousal disorder brings woman agony, not ecstasy." Her condition, also known as PGAD, is a rare sexual disorder (not recognized by the DSM,) 'characterized by spontaneous, persistent, unwanted sexual arousal unrelated to feelings of sexual desire.' The Times reported that Ms. Molannen's condition had virtually destroyed her personal and professional life and led to several suicide attempts. One day after the article was published, she successfully committed suicide. [more inside]
Drug-resistant and "extensively" resistant strains make containment and treatment of tuberculosis ever more difficult. Fortunately, researchers based in Switzerland have (re-)discovered a naturally-made antibiotic called pyridomycin, which will kill isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis bacteria.
The Medical School at the University of California, San Francisco “presents Mini Medical School for the Public, a series of programs providing an opportunity to learn about health and the health sciences directly from UCSF faculty members and other nationally-recognized experts.” Videos particularly geared toward integrative medicine and healthy living can be found here. (Most of the videos are between sixty and ninety minutes long.) [more inside]
A new model for the American health care system: The Cheesecake Factory
Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) is a new advocacy group of senior medical practitioners and researchers seeking to drive "complementary and alternative medicines" from universities around Australia, and to make non-evidence based therapies ineligible for private health insurance. Naturally, this has caused a fair degree of outrage and pushback from the CAM sector.
"Fairly predictive tests for Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, depression, some malignancies, heart disease, and most of the rest of the major killers and disablers will probably be in place by 2000 to 2010. Many if not most of these ailments will be assessable in terms of a very sophisticated genetic risk profile which it will be possible to generate in infancy or childhood (or in utero)." In 1987, cryonics advocate Mike Darwin wrote about the next twenty years of medicine.
In the wake of so many recent controversies over women and their right to safe, affordable health care and the supposed desire of working women to be "put in their place" by aggressive men in the bedroom, Penny Red suggests that "Right now, we are in the middle of a sexual counter-revolution." [more inside]
In March 2010, a pair of health inspectors responding to multiple tips paid a three-day visit to the factory headquarters of the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) company, a leading international maker of breast implants. On their second day, the inspectors found something odd: six discarded plastic containers of Silopren, a liquid silicone designed for industrial, not medical use, lined up along the outside wall of the production site. The lead inspector estimated they had contained nearly 9 tons of liquid silicone. It now appears as if between 300,000 and 400,000 women throughout the world may have received potentially toxic, faulty breast implants containing ingredients never clinically tested on humans, manufactured and distributed by a company that knowingly deceived regulators, suppliers, distributors, medical professionals and ultimately, patients. Reuters photographer's Blog: Operating on an implant scandal. (Last link NSFW, graphic images that contain nudity.) [more inside]
Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have launched a new contest: Envision and build the equivalent of Star Trek's medical tricorder, a portable health monitoring device that can remotely diagnose patients. The winner will receive $10 million. [more inside]
In 2002, Doug Monroe placed his parents in assisted living. A decade later, he's looking back at "the weighty financial and emotional costs that come with a parent's immortality": The Long Goodbye.
Even a little too much Tylenol over a few days can cause a liver failure. Paracetamol or acetaminophen, active ingredient of such over-the-counter painkillers as Tylenol, Panadol, Anacin-3 and many, many others, is considered safe - and it is, in prescribed doses. But even a single overdose can lead to liver failure despite treatment, and then only a liver transplant can avert a fatal outcome. [more inside]
Serum hemoglobin is related to endurance running performance. Smoking is known to enhance serum hemoglobin levels ... alcohol may further enhance this beneficial adaptation.A recent paper by Kenneth Myers in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reviews the potential benefits of smoking for endurance atheletes. [more inside]
The US Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy runs a non-profit, Extending the Cure, which conducts policy research to extend antibiotic effectiveness, and ResistanceMap, which generates interactive analysis tools and maps regarding antibiotic use in Europe and the US. The most recent ResistanceMap visualizations indicate that the US Southeast overprescribes antibiotics at a high rate compared with the rest of the country. Science journalist / "Superbug" blogger Maryn McKenna speculates (while acknowledging that correlation ≠ causation,) that the map might also indicate a link between overuse of antibiotics, obesity, diabetes and stroke. [more inside]
Jane Pratt (formerly of Sassy Magazine and her eponymous Jane,) launched a website for women: xojane, earlier this year. Last week the site's Health and Beauty Director wrote a blog post explaining that she never uses condoms, birth control pills, or other contraception (for fear of becoming fat) and instead relies on the emergency contraceptive Plan B to prevent pregnancy. And a segment of the internet exploded. (Her responses to some of the comments seem a bit clueless for someone with her title.) Critics have noted that the post was filled with "ignorant" "inaccuracies and misconceptions" about womens' health, sex, Plan B and other forms of birth control. [more inside]
A new malaria vaccine has been shown effective in large-scale field trials. After decades of disappointment, researchers think they're finally on track to unleash the first practical vaccine against malaria, one of mankind's ancient scourges. In the world's first large field trial of an experimental malaria vaccine, several thousand young children who got three doses had about 55 percent less risk of getting the disease over a year than those who got a control vaccine against rabies or meningitis. [more inside]