Posts

August 18, 2014

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11:30 AM | WHO: Full Report Of Ethics Committee On Experimental Drugs For Ebola
# 8965   The extraordinary spread of Ebola in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – and the spillover into the highly populated country of Nigeria – has led to numerous calls for the use of untested, experimental drugs on humans in the region.   We’ve already seen one drug – ZMapp – used on a handful of patients.   Last week the World Health Organization convened an ethics committee to consider the idea (see […]
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11:00 AM | Medical marijuana and the new herbalism, part 2: The cult of “cannabis cures cancer”
About five weeks ago a month ago, I finally wrote the post I had been promising to write for months before about medical marijuana. At the time, I also promised that there would be follow-up posts. Like Dug the Dog seeing a squirrel, I kept running into other topics that kept me from revisiting the…
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10:55 AM | Wellcome Trust Research Round-Up: 18/08/14
Our fortnightly round-up up of news from the Wellcome Trust research community… Mind and body: link between immune system and mental health The immune system may have a role to play in mental illness, suggests research from the University of Cambridge, published in JAMA Psychiatry last week. With funding from the Trust, as well as the […]
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7:16 AM | “Atavistic oncology” revisited: Dr. Frank Arguello responds
The following post will be of a type that I like to refer to as “taking care of business.” That’s not to say that it won’t be, as my posts usually are, informative and entertaining, but it does say that I’m doing it instead of what I had originally had in mind because something came […]

August 17, 2014

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3:00 PM | The false dichotomies of CAM and “integrative medicine”
A lot of medical specialties have throwaway newspapers/magazines that are supported by advertising and somehow mysteriously managed to show up for free in the mailboxes of their practitioners. In my case, I’ve found myself on the subscription list for such papers about oncology, but, given that I trained as a general surgeon. I’m Board-certified as […]
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2:31 PM | The Secret to Intimacy | The Science of Love
The Secret to Intimacy | The Science of Love Love can be broken down into three categories; passion, intimacy and commitment. But what comes first and what leads to what? If you can’t choose to be intimate with someone, how can you make sure it sticks around? This week we meet real couples and investigateRead More »
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1:04 PM | Mackay On Ebola, Pigs, Primates and People
  Credit CDC PHIL     # 8964   Yesterday Dr. Ian Mackay et al. produced a terrific overview called Ebola virus may be spread by droplets, but not by an airborne route: what that means which I blogged about here.     Today Ian is back with another in-depth look at Ebola transmission, this time taking on the much-discussed laboratory experiments that some online pundits have claimed `proves’ airborne transmission.   Ian quite […]
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12:02 PM | UK: Updated Pandemic Response Plan & Exercise Cygnus
Credit ECDC – 125 years of  Pandemic  History   # 8963   Although it is not often front and center in the news, or in the daily threats messaging from most governments, an influenza pandemic is considered among the most likely high-impact global threats that we could face in the foreseeable future.    Earlier this year, in Influenza Pandemic As A National Security Threat,  we looked at a threats assessment by the Director Of National […]
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11:00 AM | Migraine and Stroke – What’s the Link?
On the surface, strokes and migraines do not seem to have much in common except that both of them can have serious psychological effects on the sufferers. But researchers say that a complex relationship exists between the two. Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by the occurrence of throbbing and recurring headaches that can be […]
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4:00 AM | How Ebola Kills
“That’s not Ebola!” I said to the vendor standing beside a display of boxer shorts festooned with pathogens, at a biology teachers conference a few years ago. “No, that’s Ebola. Read the tag.” “The tag’s wrong. It’s influenza. See the spokes on the surface? Ebola looks like a soup ladle.” He didn’t believe me, but the website was corrected a few months later. I still have my faux Ebola shorts somewhere. JUST 7 GENES The stark […]
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12:08 AM | Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and stress often come with an uncomfortable condition or a problem that anyone can find it difficult to deal with, but they usually go away when the individual manages the situation or solves... [[To read the full story, visit my website.]]

August 16, 2014

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6:18 PM | The Science of Snowflakes
The Science of Snowflakes You are a beautiful and curious snowflake. SUBSCRIBE, it’s FREE! http://bit.ly/iotbs_sub ↓ More below ↓ Snowflakes are infinitely beautiful, but are they infinitely unique? Here’s all the science behind Earth’s favorite cold crystal. More reading: Wilson Bentley, The Snowflake Man of Vermont http://publicdomainreview.org/2011/02/14/the-snowflake-man-of-vermont/ Kenneth Libbrecht’s SnowCrystals website (the definitive snow scienceRead […]
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4:34 PM | Ebola protection: How much is enough?
There's an excellent piece in today's New York Times that outlines the dilemma currently faced by hospital epidemiologists across the country: what are the appropriate infection control measures for patients infected with Ebola virus? We've blogged on this issue to some extent before (here and here). Are contact and droplet precautions enough (as recommended by CDC), or do we need Tychem suits, PAPRs, and fluid resistant booties, or maybe even something beyond that?What do we know about […]
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1:05 PM | VDU Blog: Droplets vs Airborne - Demystifying Ebola Transmission
Except from CDC Infographic     # 8962   Almost two weeks ago the CDC released a reassuring infographic (see above) that - among other things - stated that `You can’t get Ebola through Air’, which immediately set off an internet firestorm of disbelief and derision. I considered it a communications misstep at the time, and blogged about it in The Ebola Sound Bite & The Fury.   While I understand the need to reassure the public, and the desire to […]
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11:50 AM | Which prenatal vitamin is best?
Vitamin supplementation is unnecessary for the vast majority of people. You wouldn’t know this walking through a drug store, where you’ll usually find an entire aisle packed with supplements. Alternative health providers like naturopaths tend to be strong supporters of supplementation, but this advice seems to be based mainly on the belief that “vitamins are […]
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11:47 AM | Reminder: September Is National Preparedness Month
  # 8961   After a truly horrendous 2011 – a year that saw a record breaking 14 Billion-dollar-plus weather related disasters (see Weathering Heights: A Year For The Record Books) – we’ve experienced a welcome downturn in the number of major natural disasters in this country.    Credit FEMA as of 8/16/14   With several years of lower-than-normal hurricane activity, a dramatic drop in deadly tornadoes since 2011, and no major seismic […]
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8:00 AM | News digest – no to prostate cancer drug, obesity, salt injections and more
No to prostate cancer drug abiraterone, the link between obesity and cancer, plus why there’s no new treatment for cancer using salt - here’s the week’s news.
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7:00 AM | A balanced look at gluten sensitivity
Even though it doesn’t appear on any calendar, May 2014 will go down in history as “gluten sensitivity month.” After RealClearScience picked up on a 2013 paper that brought into question the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), news sites were obliged to post their own analysis of the article, and the blogosphere was alight […]

August 15, 2014

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7:00 PM | LabBook August 15, 2014
This week’s rundown of recent research publications of note from University of Chicago scientists and physicians.
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6:59 PM | Richard Dawkins says he’s an African ape–yes we are.
Whenever I read statements from the anti-evolution/creationist crowd, I often wonder if they’re satisfied with their intellect and knowledge.  Their level of denialism is so high that they cannot even get basic science right.  In Vasko Kohlmayer’s Washington Times article, Is Richard Dawkins an ape?, decides to deny most basic biological knowledge just to make some […]Continue reading «Richard Dawkins says he's an African ape–yes we are.»
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5:01 PM | WHO Ebola Update – August 15th
# 8960   Ebola virus disease update - west Africa Disease outbreak news 15 August 2014 Epidemiology and surveillance Between 12 and 13 August 2014, a total of 152 new cases of Ebola virus disease (laboratory-confirmed, probable, and suspect cases) as well as 76 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Health sector response On 13-14 August, some airlines and social media and traditional media vehicles expressed concern that air […]
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4:50 PM | CDC H5N1 Incident & Lab Safety Progress Reports
Transferring H7N9 Into Vials – Credit CDC   # 8959   In the wake of two serious lapses in biosecurity at CDC labs involving both anthrax and H5N1 avian flu CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden  promised a complete review of their safety procedures. One of his first actions was to halt the transfer of highly infectious agents from high containment labs until a safety review could be conducted.   In late July, the CDC issued a Statement On Formation Of An […]
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4:20 PM | Bad Reporting About Epigenetics
Brad Crouch should be fired. At the very least he should never write a science news article again (well, maybe after remedial education and appropriate penance). At first I thought perhaps he was a general or fluff journalist taken off the dog show beat and asked to cover a science news item, but his byline [...]
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3:12 PM | WHO Warns Of `Unrealistic Expectations’ Over Experimental Ebola Drugs
    # 8958     Yesterday, the World Health Organization released a statement updating the Ebola situation, and warning that `Staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.’   Today, the WHO has emailed out another news statement, warning of `unrealistic expectations’ regarding the availability, effectiveness, and impact of  experimental vaccines […]
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2:56 PM | EID Journal: Three Decades Of MERS-CoV Antibodies In Camels
Credit FAO     # 8957     Although it certainly seems longer, it has been just over a year since we saw the first real evidence linking camels to the MERS-CoV virus (see Lancet: Camels Found With Antibodies To MERS-CoV-Like Virus).  Since then, as testing procedures have matured and been deployed, we’ve seen a steady stream of studies showing that many Middle Eastern dromedaries either carry the live virus, or antibodies indicating prior infection. […]
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2:42 PM | Tinder | The Science of Love
Tinder | The Science of Love Tinder is a relatively new app that’s taking the online dating world by storm. The gist is, you download it onto your phone, pull some photos off Facebook, and by choosing people based on their photos, you can match up with people nearby who match you back, and you’reRead More »
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2:30 PM | Ebola Outbreak Increases Pressure to Start Vaccine Trials
The world's worst outbreak of Ebola is increasing pressure on researchers to accelerate the development of therapeutic interventions.
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2:30 PM | Photo Essay: Vesalius at 500
Earlier this week I finally found the time to check out the exhibit, Vesalius at 500 at Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library in Toronto, curated by Philip Oldfield. The exhibit chronicles the history of anatomy and anatomical illustrations prior to, … Continue reading →
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1:49 PM | Vietnam Gears Up To Detect, Fight Avian H5N6
Photo Credit – FAO   # 8956   Although its track record in infecting humans is limited to only one known case (see May 2014 Sichuan China: 1st Known Human Infection With H5N6 Avian Flu), the emergence of a highly pathogenic H5N6 virus on a poultry farm in China earlier this spring has raised concerns that we might have yet another avian flu threat to contend with.  Similarly, last January we saw a highly pathogenic H5N8 virus appear in South Korea, which […]
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1:30 PM | Making the Summer Count
Every summer, the news is filled with profiles of summer student programs, and those that are aimed at increased participation by minority students in STEM are no exception. The Summer Undergraduate Internship Program at Penn Medicine is one such program.
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