Body suit may soon enable the paralyzed to walk. "In a busy lab at Duke University, Dr. Miguel Nicolelis is merging brain science with engineering in a bid to create something fantastical: a full-body prosthetic device that would allow those immobilized by injury to walk again. On Wednesday, Nicolelis and an international group of collaborators declared that they had cleared a key hurdle on the path toward that goal, demonstrating they could bypass the body's complex network of nerve endings and supply the sensation of touch directly to the brains of monkeys."
Researchers have apparently found a way to prevent HIV from damaging the immune system. Johns Hopkins and Imperial reseachers have developed a chemical that breaks down the cholesterol membrane around HIV. This stops the virus intererfering with immune response, and may allow a vaccine that prevents infection. [more inside]
Locke, Johnson, Kierkegaard, Freud, and dozens of other historical figures on the subject of obsessive-compulsive disorder. [more inside]
An experiment done in the 1990s exposed children to various levels of lead. The lawsuit filed in 2001 by the parents of over 100 participants accuses the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the scientists knowingly used the kids as test subjects in toxic dust control study. [more inside]
Foldit - Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players
Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists. The structure of a protein causing AIDS in rhesus monkeys had not been discovered in 15 years of attempts. Players of a videogame did it in ten days. Foldit, the game in question. Abstract. Previously, previously.
At first, nothing happened. But after 10 days, hell broke loose in his hospital room. He began shaking with chills. His temperature shot up. His blood pressure shot down. He became so ill that doctors moved him into intensive care and warned that he might die. His family gathered at the hospital, fearing the worst. A few weeks later, the fevers were gone. And so was the leukemia. - (NYT Link)
"...we still can’t tell whether we are all about to die or whether we are being sold a bill of goods."
'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash. (Via) [more inside]
Biomedical Ephemera, or, a Frog for your Boils is "A blog for all biological and medical ephemera, from the age of Abraham through the era of medical quackery and cure-all nostrums. Sometimes featuring illustrations of diseases and conditions of the times, sometimes fascinating ephemeral medical equipment, and sometimes clippings and information about the theories themselves." The archive page is also a useful starting point. via Things Magazine.
Recent research on whether dogs can smell lung cancer supports prior research on the subject, which concluded that dogs can smell both lung cancer and breast cancer. [more inside]
The Phantom Menace of Sleep Deprived Doctors: Young doctors are no longer working long, stupor-inducing hours. So why aren’t hospitals any safer?
"In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone." [more inside]
Last week Johnson & Johnson announced that it is lowering the maximum daily dose for single-ingredient Extra Strength Tylenol from 8 to 6 pills per day (from 4,000 to 3,000 mg). [more inside]
At the beginning of last month, Scientific American unveiled a new network of 47 blogs with 55 bloggers. Their latest posts can be found here. [more inside]
Hesperian is a non-profit publisher of books and newsletters for community-based health care, mostly aimed at the third world. Their first book, Where There Is No Doctor, A Village Health Handbook, has been translated into 88 languages and is one of the most widely used training and work manuals for community health care in the world. They have now made 20 of their publications available for free download, many of which can now also be browsed online through their website using an "Ebrary" in-browser interface. [more inside]
Evidence Based, Culturally-relevant African First Aid Guidelines and Training Materials, from researchers at the Belgian Red Cross and Stellenbosch University. [more inside]
The Summer 2011 issue of Stanford Medicine Magazine is about "Surviving Survival": The Woman Who Fell To Earth / Khmer Rouge on Trial / A Kid Again / Her Stroke of Insight / RxErcise [more inside]
"There are no national standards or regulations regarding forensic pathology and practices vary widely from place to place."
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
Six Second ECG Simulator. "The Cardiac Rhythm Simulator generates 25 of the most common cardiac rhythms for you to explore, review, and play."
The Triumph of New-Age Medicine "Medicine has long decried acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like as dangerous nonsense that preys on the gullible. Again and again, carefully controlled studies have shown alternative medicine to work no better than a placebo. But now many doctors admit that alternative medicine often seems to do a better job of making patients well, and at a much lower cost, than mainstream care—and they’re trying to learn from it." [more inside]
Recently, 8-year-old Precious Reynolds became the sixth person in history to survive rabies without a vaccine. A few years back, Extraordinary People put out a documentary (1 2 3) on the first person to beat the only viral disease that hides itself completely from one's immune system.
"Street Anatomy obsessively covers the use of human anatomy in medicine, art, and design."
The public’s experience is that we have amazing clinicians and technologies but little consistent sense that they come together to provide an actual system of care, from start to finish, for people. We train, hire, and pay doctors to be cowboys. But it’s pit crews people need. - Atul Gawande’s commencement address at Harvard Medical School.
Medicine in the Americas is a digital library project that makes freely available original works demonstrating the evolution of American medicine from colonial frontier outposts of the 17th century to research hospitals of the 20th century. [more inside]
"It's completely unethical for doctors to force their patients to sign away their rights in order to get medical care." Ars Technica dissects doctor "privacy" agreements that seek to limit patients' ability to post online reviews by making them sign the copyright of any future reviews over to the doctor, in exchange for vague (and possibly illusory) extra privacy protection. Doctored Reviews offers info and tools for fighting "anti-review contracts," whose language comes primarily from an "anti-defamation protection program" sold by a company called Medical Justice. Sources quoted in the article express doubts that this kind of "privacy blackmail" would hold up in court, with some wondering if Medical Justice is actively deceiving doctors by selling them a product that won't work as advertised. [more inside]
Obstetricians and gynecologists are meeting the increased demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery (NSFW)
After 45 years, $2.5 billion, and one legendary reunion, Jerry Lewis has announced that this year's Labor Day Telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be his last. (previously) [more inside]
"Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a professor at the U of A Department of Medicine, has shown that dichloroacetate (DCA) causes regression in several cancers, including lung, breast, and brain tumors. " Between rumors that pharmaceutical companies have no interest in this discovery because it can't be patented and quacks jumping on the bandwagon to sell home made DCA to hopeful cancer patients for self medication, things are not exactly going the way Dr. Michelakis would have probably hoped.
Bartolo Colon, now of the New York Yankees, underwent a controversial stem-cell treatment in the Dominican Republic to regain his old form.
Grandmothers are agitated to the point of singing K’naan songs. This basically concerns the frustration over the Canadian Senate killing Bill C-393 (a law to facilitate production of cheaper life saving HIV/AIDS drugs for developing countries). With the new election looming, the “Grannies” would like to see folks use aidsaction.ca to email their candidates and ask them about their Access to Medicines stance.
The Burns Archive is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
A Political Meltdown: For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the production of medical isotopes. So why did the government announce that it was dumping the entire program? (alt)
One in every 8 babies born in the US is premature. A new study (pdf/via) published online Wednesday in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that vaginal progesterone gel can help women who are pregnant for the first time and at risk of premature birth extend their pregnancies, reduce potential complications and boost the health of their newborns. [more inside]
IBM researchers working on nanoparticles to destroy drug-resistant bacteria Hot on the heels of a report on the horrific threat of antibiotics-resistant bacteria, this article highlights one possible solution- using polymers that would attack bacteria membranes, instead of drugs. [more inside]
"One day a little boy came up, he must have been about four and he saw me taking off my (prosthetic) legs and he started with the 'why' questions, you know, 'why haven't you got any legs', etc. And I said 'have you heard of The Little Mermaid?' and he said 'yes' and I said 'I'm a mermaid' and he got this look on his face and he said 'wow that's cool' and ran off to tell his dad.Weta Digital are the special effects team behind the costumes, weapons and creatures of the Lord of the Rings movies, Avatar and even a sonic screwdriver prop that could be making an appearance on the next season of Doctor Who. In 2009, they created a fully functional mermaid tail pro bono for Nadya Vessey, an Auckland woman who is a double leg amputee. Video News Report: 1, 2.
I'll have to turn up to that beach again sometime with my tail - just in case he's there."
Welcome to a world where the drugs don't work - it's here, today. 'A new wave of "super superbugs" with a mutation called NDM 1, which first emerged in India, has now turned up all over the world, from Britain to New Zealand.''After Alexander Fleming's 1928 discovery of the first antibiotic, penicillin, we quickly came to assume we had the chemicals to beat bacteria. Sure, bugs evolve to develop resistance. But for decades scientists have managed to develop new medicines to stay at least one step ahead of an ever-mutating enemy. Now, though, we may be running out of road.' [more inside]
Fecal transplants have been used with success to treat C.difficile infections, often acquired in hospital or nursing homes and notoriously difficult to treat. They have also shown some efficacy in treatment of ulcerative colitis (pdf). [more inside]
Epidemiology: Study of a lifetime. "In 1946, scientists started tracking thousands of British children born during one cold March week. On their 65th birthday, the study members find themselves more scientifically valuable than ever before." [more inside]
It was Alex St. Martin's gory musket injury that paved the way for cow fistulation, a hands-on method to explore the inner workings of bovine digestion.
According to new data released by the CDC yesterday, more Americans are surviving cancer thanks to advances in increased early detection and treatment. CDC analysis shows an unprecedented 20% increase in survival rates between 2001 and 2007, which is nearly a quadruple increase since 1971. [more inside]
Progesterone caproate injections have been used to reduce the likelihood of premature births in at-risk pregnant women for years. Up until now, the drug was custom-compounded by wholesale and specialist pharmacies, legally, but without federal approval. These injections cost between $5 and $15 a dose and were regularly reimbursed by insurance companies and Medicaid. Last month, the FDA announced their approval of a commercially produced version of the compound, to be marketed under the brand name Makena by a company called KV Pharmaceuticals. No stranger to controversy and trouble, KV barely survived a rash round of layoffs and wrongful termination lawsuits. Their former chief executive now faces criminal charges surrounding the company's failure to notify the FDA that they were producing oversized morphine tablets. (He could also do for a shave, it appears.) Now, KV has announced that the new drug will be available at a cost of $1,500 per dose, bringing the total pregnancy term cost of treatment to $25,000-$30,000, from its former cost of $250-$300, a 100-fold increase—but it gets worse... [more inside]