Posts

August 19, 2014

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11:26 AM | The Science of Sweetness
The Science of Sweetness Sugar, honey, listen up. Humans love the sweet taste of sweetness, but have you ever wondered why? What’s the evolutionary purpose behind our love for sweets? Why can we taste sweet anyway? What are those sugar substitutes really made of? And will this diet cola give me cancer? Hank and SciShowRead More »
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9:34 AM | WHO Ebola Update – August 19th
  # 8969   The World Health Organization has released a new Ebola update, this time adding cases reported between August 14th and August 16th.  Theses numbers are believed to only partially represent the situation on the ground in West Africa, as limited reporting and surveillance in many regions, and the public’s fear of reporting illness, likely influence the count.    Of note, after more than two weeks of seeing relatively low counts – […]
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7:00 AM | Pass the Salt (But Not That Pink Himalayan Stuff)
Humans, like many other animals, crave the taste of salt. Animals frequent salt licks, humans have traded salt for equal weights of gold, and the word “salary” comes from the Roman soldier’s allowance for purchasing salt. Salt appears in our language in idioms like “worth its salt” and “salt of the earth.” Shakespeare’s play King […]
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7:00 AM | USA TODAY flubs it big time over right-to-try laws
I hadn’t expected to write about this topic again so soon, but then I didn’t expect a major newspaper to have written such a boneheaded editorial about it. In a way, I hate to write this post, because USA TODAY did great things once. There, Liz Szabo wrote the single best science-based report on cancer…

August 18, 2014

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9:54 PM | Mimicking geckos
Researchers at DARPA are using geckos to create biologically inspired methods of scaling vertical walls. Check out this video demonstration of “Geckskin”:
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9:14 PM | $1000 genomes = 1000x coverage for just £20,000
It strikes me that if you can now sequence a genome for $1000, then you could buy 1000x coverage for not much more than a 30x genome cost a couple of years ago! Using a PCR-free approach I can imagine that this would be the most sensitive tool to determine tumour, or population, heterogeneity. I’m sure that sampling statistics might limit the ability to detect low-prevalence alleles but I’m amazed by the possibility none-the-less. 1 X-Ten run costs $1,000 1000x requires 33 X-Ten […]
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9:07 PM | OK, why aren’t kids getting vaccinated with Gardasil?
This is my 48th article about Gardasil, following by just a few hours, my 47th. After my 50th, I get a watch made from the gold hidden in the subterranean vaults of the Big Pharma overlords who generates bundles of cash from vaccines. Oh, I keep forgetting–that’s not true. Despite the overwhelming evidence that the HPV […]Continue reading «OK, why aren't kids getting vaccinated with Gardasil?»
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9:05 PM | Quitting Smoking, Chicago Style [video]
It's Smoking Cessation Awareness Week, and for the next few days the city and its partners, which include the University of Chicago Medicine, are encouraging smokers to talk to their healthcare providers about help with quitting for -- something that greatly increases the chances that a smoker will be able to quit for good.
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9:05 PM | Emory's Ebola Unit
This NPR interview gives additional information about the unit.
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7:00 PM | The Misconception of the Homeless
By Milinda Houlette, M.A., L.S.W.Managing Editor: Juliana Zhu, Esq.In today’s society, the media and the overall public persona displayed when discussing homeless individuals is that of people who are addicted to a narcotic or alcohol, and who therefore could better themselves if they only tried. Would you consider a child capable of being part of this community? Or a woman with two children, who is employed as a nurse’s assistant at a nursing home? What about a newly discharged […]
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6:27 PM | Gardasil’s safety and effectiveness-Part 47. Long-Term Study
This is my 47th article on the HPV quadrivalent vaccine, also known as Gardasil (or Silgard in Europe), which can prevent infection by human papillomavirus, substantially reducing the risk of several types of cancers.* Forty-seven** articles about Gardasil and the HPV vaccine! You’d think I would be tiring of it by now, but I think that Gardasil (or Silgard) are critically important […]Continue reading «Gardasil's safety and […]
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6:13 PM | CDC Guidance: Donning & Removing PPEs
Surgical Facemask N-95 Respirator      # 8968   Although this information has been published as an update to the CDC’s Ebola Page, the techniques showing how to properly don and to remove PPEs illustrate critical infection control skills, and are valid regardless of the pathogen you are trying to avoid contact with.    Both graphics are part of a PDF File.   I’ll have a bit more after the the break.       […]
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4:55 PM | Iceland: Watching Bárðarbunga
Credit Icelandic Met Office   # 8967   Over the past 48 hours more than 1,000 (mostly small) earthquakes have been recorded very near Iceland’s largest active volcano and the Icelandic Met Office has raised the aviation alert status for Bárðarbunga  to Orange.   While an eruption is by no means certain, Bárðarbunga has an impressive geologic history, making this swarm worth keeping an eye on.     First the latest […]
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4:51 PM | UChicago Medicine ALS Clinic team takes the Ice Bucket Challenge
The team from our ALS clinic challenges their friends from UIC to do the same.
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3:58 PM | The Science of Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug – Reactions
The Science of Caffeine: The World’s Most Popular Drug – Reactions It’s not just in coffee anymore. From drinks to jerky to gum, caffeine is everywhere. In our latest video, we take a look at the science behind the world’s most popular drug, including why that little molecule keeps you awake and reveal just howRead More »
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2:16 PM | Guidelines for Treatment of Problem Gambling
Despite the prevalence and impact of problem gambling, few summaries or guidelines address treatment.Searching the guideline.gov website shows no recent additions to the guideline literature.A guideline was published by the Singapore Ministry of Health in 2011. This guideline is still relevant and highlights some of the key elements of a problem gambling treatment program.I will summarize some of these key elements from this source titled: "Management of gambling disorders".  In their […]
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2:01 PM | Special edition of the CELSIUS quiz – the Ebola virus
Test your knowledge with this special Ebola virus edition of our Celsius quiz! The answers to last week’s questions: The Ebola virus is transmitted by body fluid - http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html The average human gene is 28kbp - http://bionumbers.hms.harvard.edu/bionumber.aspx?s=n&id=105336&ver=2 Kary B. Mullis won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the invention of the PCR technique – […]
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1:55 PM | WHO Update – Travel & Transport In Relation To Ebola Outbreak
# 8966   Last week the World Health Organization –  after seeing a number of air carriers refusing to service African nations – began to push back against the idea that air travel to Ebola-affected countries presented a high risk of infection to passengers and crew (see WHO: Ebola Poses `Low-Risk’ To Air Travelers).   The WHO has also consistently argued against the need for, or effectiveness of, of border closings or travel restrictions to affected […]
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1:28 PM | Baby on board–in a BSL4 lab
I’m happy to welcome Dr. Heather Lander to the blogosphere and Twitterverse. She’s a virologist who has done work with some of the world’s deadliest pathogens in a high-security biosafety level 4 laboratory. This is the type of lab where one must wear “space suits” to work with organisms. You’ve probably seen in dramatized in various movies and…
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1:26 PM | When To Think Less About Your Choices
Smart people have a tendency to think hard about the choices they make. Who are you going to marry? What house are you going to buy? What flavor of gelato should you get? Some make lists of pros and cons, some try to think about the most important features of the choices, and some make […]
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12:28 PM | Planned Obsolescence and Attribution Fallacy
There are multiple threads to this story, all revolving around how we make sense of the data before us. Regular readers will likely not be surprised to hear that we tend to labor under a host of cognitive biases that lead us from an accurate interpretation. This story starts with big data – a loose [...]
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12:00 PM | The 3 Dumbest Products Sold By Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods "Whole Body" products.I have a love-hate relationship with Whole Foods Market. On the one hand, I love their fresh produce, their baked goods, and many other food choices there. On the other hand, they seem to have embraced anti-science positions in the interest of keeping everything “natural.”Before describing what they do wrong, let’s start with some things they get right. Their seafood sustainability policy supports fishing practices that allow wild […]
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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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