Showing posts with label Off Topic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Off Topic. Show all posts

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Smile Saturday- Jimmy and JT

Smile Saturday- Jimmy and JT

Jimmy & Justin perform the fifth installment of the "History of Rap." Song list below.

LL Cool J -- I'm Bad

Run DMC -- Beats to the Rhyme

Crazy Calls - Wait for the Beep

Beastie Boys -- Fight For Your Right

Tone Loc -- Wild Thing

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - Fresh Prince Theme

Salt N' Pepa -- Whatta Man

Positive K -- I Got A Man

The Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa

Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg - Dre Day

Warren G feat. Nate Dogg - Regulate

N.W.A. -- Straight Outta Compton

Ini Kamoze - Hot Stepper

Outkast - So Fresh, So Clean

Busta Rhymes feat. P. Diddy & Pharrell -- Pass the Courvoisier, Part II

Kris Kross - Jump

Skee-Lo -- I Wish

Jay Z - 99 Problems

Ludacris -- Move Bitch (Get Out the Way)

Drake -- Started From the Bottom

Kendrick Lamar -- Swimming Pools (Drank)

Kanye West feat. T-Pain -- Good Life

Run DMC -- Walk This Way

Subscribe NOW to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Video: Daily Show Takes on the VA

VA hospitals
The Daily Show host Jon Stewart is back after his 12 week break, doing what he does best - using humor to tackle the big issues of the day. Stewart's thought-provoking look at the Veteran Affairs Department may be of interest to the HCV community.

The talk show host began by checking on the progress of the VA's backlogged benefits, however, instead the comedian discovered problems at numerous VA hospitals. Stewart mentioned the legionnaires outbreak, exposure to hepatitis and the failure to monitor mental health patients.

Stewart wanted to know who was fired or reprimanded at the VA hospitals for mishandling the above mentioned problems. Well, the outcome may surprise you. 

For instance, what about the 700 veteran's exposed to hepatitis because of reused insulin pens at the Buffalo VA? During that time upstate regional director David West was awarded over 25,000 in bonuses. What!

The Daily Show host summed up the problems at the VA with this profound statement;

"Going to an American hospital, for a veteran, shouldn't require more courage than storming the beach at Normandy"

Welcome back Mr. Stewart.
Watch more clips from this episode or the entire show.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Human Urine Metabolome: What Scientists Can See in Your Urine

"New urine-based diagnostic tests for colon cancer, prostate cancer, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and organ transplant rejection are already being developed or are about to enter the marketplace, thanks in part to this work."

Human Urine Metabolome: What Scientists Can See in Your Urine

Sep. 5, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Alberta announced today that they have determined the chemical composition of human urine. The study, which took more than seven years and involved a team of nearly 20 researchers, has revealed that more than 3,000 chemicals or "metabolites" can be detected in urine. The results are expected to have significant implications for medical, nutritional, drug and environmental testing.

"Urine is an incredibly complex biofluid. We had no idea there could be so many different compounds going into our toilets," noted David Wishart, the senior scientist on the project.

Wishart's research team used state-of-the-art analytical chemistry techniques including nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography to systematically identify and quantify hundreds of compounds from a wide range of human urine samples.

To help supplement their experimental results, they also used computer-based data mining techniques to scour more than 100 years of published scientific literature about human urine. This chemical inventory -- which includes chemical names, synonyms, descriptions, structures, concentrations and disease associations for thousands of urinary metabolites -- is housed in a freely available database called the Urine Metabolome Database, or UMDB. The UMDB is a worldwide reference resource to facilitate clinical, drug and environmental urinalysis. The UMDB is maintained by The Metabolomics Innovation Centre, Canada's national metabolomics core facility.

The chemical composition of urine is of particular interest to physicians, nutritionists and environmental scientists because it reveals key information not only about a person's health, but also about what they have eaten, what they are drinking, what drugs they are taking and what pollutants they may have been exposed to in their environment. Analysis of urine for medical purposes dates back more than 3,000 years. In fact, up until the late 1800s, urine analysis using colour, taste and smell (called uroscopy) was one of the primary methods early physicians used to diagnose disease. Even today, millions of chemically based urine tests are performed every day to identify newborn metabolic disorders, diagnose diabetes, monitor kidney function, confirm bladder infections and detect illicit drug use.

"Most medical textbooks only list 50 to 100 chemicals in urine, and most common clinical urine tests only measure six to seven compounds," said Wishart. "Expanding the list of known chemicals in urine by a factor of 30 and improving the technology so that we can detect hundreds of urine chemicals at a time could be a real game-changer for medical testing." Wishart says this study is particularly significant because it will allow a whole new generation of fast, cheap and painless medical tests to be performed using urine instead of blood or tissue biopsies. In particular, he notes that new urine-based diagnostic tests for colon cancer, prostate cancer, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and organ transplant rejection are already being developed or are about to enter the marketplace, thanks in part to this work.

The Human Urine Metabolome paper appeared today in PLOS ONE. The word metabolome (which is derived from the words "metabolism" and "genome") is defined as the complete collection of metabolites or chemicals found in a particular organism or tissue. The human urine study is part of a series of studies by researchers at the University of Alberta aimed at systematically characterizing the entire human metabolome. In 2008 the same U of A team described the chemical composition of human cerebrospinal fluid and in 2011 they determined the chemical composition of human blood.

"This is certainly not the final word on the chemical composition of urine," Wishart said. "As new techniques are developed and as more sensitive instruments are produced, I am sure that hundreds more urinary compounds will be identified. In fact, new compounds are being added to the UMDB almost every day.

"While the human genome project certainly continues to capture most of the world's attention, I believe that these studies on the human metabolome are already having a far more significant and immediate impact on human health."

Journal Reference:
  1. Souhaila Bouatra, Farid Aziat, Rupasri Mandal, An Chi Guo, Michael R. Wilson, Craig Knox, Trent C. Bjorndahl, Ramanarayan Krishnamurthy, Fozia Saleem, Philip Liu, Zerihun T. Dame, Jenna Poelzer, Jessica Huynh, Faizath S. Yallou, Nick Psychogios, Edison Dong, Ralf Bogumil, Cornelia Roehring, David S. Wishart. The Human Urine Metabolome. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (9): e73076 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073076

Photo- (Credit: © JPC-PROD / Fotolia)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Medicare Prescribers Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers

Top Medicare Prescribers Rake In Speaking Fees From Drugmakers

by Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Jennifer LaFleur
ProPublica, June 25, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

This story was co-published with NPR

When the blood pressure drug Bystolic hit the market in 2008, it faced a crowded field of cheap generics. 
So its maker, Forest Laboratories, launched a promotional assault on the group in the best position to determine Bystolic's success: those in control of prescription pads. It flooded the offices of health professionals with drug reps, and it hired doctors to persuade their peers to choose Bystolic — even though the drug hadn't proved more effective than competitors. 
The strategy worked. In the 2012 fiscal year, sales of Bystolic reached $348 million, almost double its total from two years earlier, the company reported. 
Now, data obtained and analyzed by ProPublica suggest another factor in Bystolic's rapid success: Many of the drug's top prescribers have financial ties to Forest. 
At least 17 of the top 20 Bystolic prescribers in Medicare's prescription drug program [2] in 2010 have been paid by Forest to deliver promotional talks. In 2012, they together received $283,450 for speeches and more than $20,000 in meals............ 

Full article available here.........

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Off Topic-The Amazing Gut Immune System

The gut mucosa is the largest and most dynamic immunological environment of the body. It's often the first point of pathogen exposure and many microbes use it as a beachhead into the rest of the body. The gut immune system therefore needs to be ready to respond to pathogens but at the same time it is constantly exposed to innocuous environmental antigens, food particles and commensal microflora which need to be tolerated. Misdirected immune responses to harmless antigens are the underlying cause of food allergies and debilitating conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. This animation introduces the key cells and molecular players involved in gut immunohomeostasis and disease.

Source Nature: Immunology

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Off Topic:Exploring the microbes that inhabit our bodies

A video posted today on the TEDEducation YouTube channel offers a good primer on how the various species of bacteria populating our skin, mouths, digestive tracks and other areas make us intrinsically unique and influence our well-being.

Read more @ Scope

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Medicine rarely a slam dunk, despite splashy studies

NEW YORK | Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:31pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Next time a research finding leaves you slack-jawed, thinking it's too good to be true, you might just be right, according to a massive new analysis tracking the fate of splashy medical studies.

It turns out that 90 percent of the "very large" effects described in initial reports on medical treatments begin to shrink or vanish as more studies are done.

"If taken literally, such huge effects should change everyday clinical and public health practice on the spot," Dr. John Ioannidis of the Stanford School of Medicine in California told Reuters Health by email. "Our analysis suggests it is better to wait to see if these very large effects get replicated or not."

Ioannidis has made headlines before with research showing that studies in medicine are often contradicted by later evidence, a phenomenon that has been referred to as "the decline effect."

The new work, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pools more than 3,000 research reviews done by the Cochrane Collaboration, a prestigious international organization that evaluates medical evidence.

Nearly one in 10 of the analyses in those reviews showed a very large treatment effect - harmful or beneficial - in the first published trial. But usually the reports trumpeting astounding findings were based on small, less reliable experiments.

There are several possible explanations, but smaller experiments are generally more likely to yield extreme results by chance alone. As more data accumulate, they start to approach the average - something statisticians call "regression to the mean."

Out of the tens of thousands of treatment comparisons they looked at only one - a respiratory intervention in newborns - showed a reliable, very large drop in death rates.

So taking new research with a grain of salt may be appropriate, according to Ioannidis.
"Keep some healthy skepticism about claims for silver bullets, perfect cures, and huge effects," he advised.

The team also found that trials showing big effects more often looked at lab values such as bone density or blood pressure than did those with more moderate findings.

Such lab values are tied to health outcomes - say, bone fractures and strokes - and are easy to measure. They are also easier for drugmakers to target than the health outcomes themselves.
But that doesn't necessarily mean drugs that tweak your numbers will have the health effects you are looking for, said Dr. Andrew Oxman of the Norwegian Knowledge Centre for the Health Services in Oslo.

"Even if they reduce the lab value, you can't be sure they reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke or fracture," Oxman, who wrote an editorial about the new findings, told Reuters Health. "There are lots of examples where things start to be used and have entered the market based on surrogate outcomes and then actually proved harmful."

He mentioned the heart rhythm drugs encainide and flecainide, which for many years were given to people with acute heart attacks. But then trials showed they were actually bad for these patients.
"These drugs were by given well-meaning clinicians, but they actually killed more people than the Vietnam War did," Oxman said.

He said people should understand that while medicine can be lifesaving and reduce human suffering, it usually comes with side effects and the benefits are often modest.

"A lot of things don't have these slam-bang effects, so people have to look at the trade-offs, the harms," he said.

SOURCE: and Journal of the American Medical Association, online October 23, 2012.

Many Studies' 'Wow' Results Usually Fade in Follow-Up

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- When initial findings about an experimental drug or device sound too good to be true, they probably are, according to a new study.

Stanford University researchers found that after a single study reports large benefits for a new medical intervention, additional studies almost always find a smaller treatment effect.

The study authors suspect that a small study size contributes to the initially inflated benefits.
"Beware of small studies claiming extraordinary benefits or extraordinary harms of medical interventions; the truth about these may be more modest," said Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine, health research and policy and statistics at Stanford's Prevention Research Center in California.

Ioannidis is senior author of the study, published in the Oct. 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Health experts know that most of the medical interventions introduced today have modest effects. Still, some clinical trials occasionally report finding large effects.

Dr. Andrew Oxman, author of an accompanying journal editorial, added that "few clinical interventions have been found to have big effects on outcomes that are important to patients; for example, to cut the risk of a heart attack, a stroke or some other bad outcome in half."

Typically, when big effects are reported, "it has been in small trials that do not provide reliable evidence and it has been on laboratory outcomes [such as cholesterol levels], which may or may not translate into big effects on outcomes that are important to patients," noted Oxman, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services in Oslo, Norway.

Ioannidis and his colleagues wanted to see how often these large benefits were reported in clinical trials, and to see if those benefits persisted when additional research was done.

For this, they went through 3,545 systematic reviews. A systematic review is a collection and critical evaluation of all of the currently available studies on a given topic. The researchers found 3,082 with data that met their criteria.

From those studies, they reviewed more than 85,000 "forest plots." These are graphs that display the main results from each study. These graphs make it relatively easy to see the strength of the evidence for a specific treatment or intervention.

Just under 10 percent of the reviews showed a large benefit in the first published trial, while another 6 percent had a study that showed a large benefit after the first trial was published. The majority of reviews (84 percent), however, had no studies that showed a large benefit to any treatment or intervention, the investigators found.

In follow-up studies, 90 percent of the first trials that showed a large benefit failed to show such a significant effect. And 98 percent of subsequent studies that had shown a large benefit failed to maintain that response.

Out of all of the reviews, only one intervention -- extracorporeal oxygenation for severe respiratory failure in newborns -- showed a large positive effect on mortality in a systematic review, without any concerns about the quality of the evidence in the studies, the researchers said.
"I think some healthy skepticism and a conservative approach may be warranted if only a single study is available -- even more so if that study is small and/or had obvious problems and biases," said Ioannidis. "Most of the time, waiting for some better, larger, more definitive evidence is a good idea. No need to rush."

Oxman added, "I suspect that many patients tend to think that an intervention either works, or does not work, without fully considering the size of the effect and potential adverse effects."
Ioannidis and Oxman suggested that increased health and statistical literacy would help consumers make more informed choices. Oxman also said that a simple drug "fact box" that explains benefits and risks could help, too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MIT- Analyze Role Of U.S. Airports In The Sread Of An Epidemic: In The First Few Days

For Immediate Release: July 23, 2012
contact: Denise Brehm, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
email: phone: 617-253-8069
contact: Caroline McCall, MIT News Office
email: phone: 617-253-1682

New model of disease contagion ranks U.S. airports in terms of their spreading influence Airports in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu are judged likeliest to play a significant role in the growth of a pandemic.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Public health crises of the past decade — such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, which spread to 37 countries and caused about 1,000 deaths, and the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic that killed about 300,000 people worldwide — have heightened awareness that new viruses or bacteria could spread quickly across the globe, aided by air travel.

While epidemiologists and scientists who study complex network systems — such as contagion patterns and information spread in social networks — are working to create mathematical models that describe the worldwide spread of disease, to date these models have focused on the final stages of epidemics, examining the locations that ultimately develop the highest infection rates.

 But a new study by researchers in MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) shifts the focus to the first few days of an epidemic, determining how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in their home cities. This new approach could help determine appropriate measures for containing infection in specific geographic areas and aid public health officials in making decisions about the distribution of vaccinations or treatments in the earliest days of contagion.

Unlike existing models, the new MIT model incorporates variations in travel patterns among individuals, the geographic locations of airports, the disparity in interactions among airports, and waiting times at individual airports to create a tool that could be used to predict where and how fast a disease might spread.

"Our work is the first to look at the spatial spreading of contagion processes at early times, and to propose a predictor for which 'nodes' — in this case, airports — will lead to more aggressive spatial spreading," says Ruben Juanes, the ARCO Associate Professor in Energy Studies in CEE. "The findings could form the basis for an initial evaluation of vaccine allocation strategies in the event of an outbreak, and could inform national security agencies of the most vulnerable pathways for biological attacks in a densely connected world."

A more realistic model

Juanes' studies of the flow of fluids through fracture networks in subsurface rock and the research of CEE's Marta González, who uses cellphone data to model human mobility patterns and trace contagion processes in social networks, laid the basis for determining individual travel patterns among airports in the new study. Existing models typically assume a random, homogenous diffusion of travelers from one airport to the next.

However, people don't travel randomly; they tend to create patterns that can be replicated. Using González's work on human mobility patterns, Juanes and his research group — including graduate student Christos Nicolaides and research associate Luis Cueto-Felgueroso — applied Monte Carlo simulations to determine the likelihood of any single traveler flying from one airport to another.

"The results from our model are very different from those of a conventional model that relies on the random diffusion of travelers … [and] similar to the advective flow of fluids," says Nicolaides, first author of a paper by the four MIT researchers that was published in the journal PLoS ONE. "The advective transport process relies on distinctive properties of the substance that's moving, as opposed to diffusion, which assumes a random flow. If you include diffusion only in the model, the biggest airport hubs in terms of traffic would be the most influential spreaders of disease. But that's not accurate."

Outsize role for Honolulu

For example, a simplified model using random diffusion might say that half the travelers at the Honolulu airport will go to San Francisco and half to Anchorage, Alaska, taking the disease and spreading it to travelers at those airports, who would randomly travel and continue the contagion.

In fact, while the Honolulu airport gets only 30 percent as much air traffic as New York's Kennedy International Airport, the new model predicts that it is nearly as influential in terms of contagion, because of where it fits in the air transportation network: Its location in the Pacific Ocean and its many connections to distant, large and well-connected hubs gives it a ranking of third in terms of contagion-spreading influence.

Kennedy Airport is ranked first by the model, followed by airports in Los Angeles, Honolulu, San Francisco, Newark, Chicago (O'Hare) and Washington (Dulles). Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which is first in number of flights, ranks eighth in contagion influence. Boston's Logan International Airport ranks 15th.

"The study of spreading dynamics and human mobility, using tools of complex networks, can be applied to many different fields of study to improve predictive models," says González, the Gilbert W. Winslow Career Development Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "It's a relatively new but very robust approach. The incorporation of statistical physics methods to develop predictive models will likely have far-reaching effects for modeling in many applications."

"Nowadays, one of the most ambitious scientific goals is to predict how different processes of great economic and societal impact evolve as time goes on," says Professor Yamir Moreno of the University of Zaragoza, who studies complex networks and spreading patterns of epidemics. "We are currently capable of modeling with some detail real disease outbreaks, but we are less effective when it comes to identifying new countermeasures to minimize the impact of an emerging disease. The work done by the MIT team paves the way to find new containment strategies, as the newly developed measure of influential spreading allows for a better comprehension of the spatiotemporal patterns characterizing the initial stages of a disease outbreak."

This work was supported by a Vergottis Graduate Fellowship and awards from the NEC Corporation Fund, the Solomon Buchsbaum Research Fund and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Written by: Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Off Topic-Watch Baby's Birth Captured by MRI

MRI Birth: The Full Movie
by Wouter Stomp on Jun 27, 2012

We have already teased you twice with some still images in earlier posts about the first birth that happened inside an MRI machine under real-time imaging, but only now has the actual movie been released. Accompanying a paper, which reveals a few additional details on the clinical rather than the technical side of things, the movie shows the accelerated real-time cinematic MRI series in the mid sagittal plane during the whole birth process. It starts when the mother starts performing expulsive efforts with the amniotic membranes still intact and it ends just before the fetus pops his head out in order to avoid exposure to MRI noise. Enjoy the movie!

Read more @

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

20 Things You Didn't Know About...Science 

The geniuses who fudged data, the cheaters who did it in plain sight, and the frauds who got away with it
by Eric A. Powell
From the April 2012 issue; published online May 8, 2012

1 What evil lurks in the hearts of scientists? Behavioral ecologist Daniele Fanelli knows. In a meta-analysis of 18 surveys of researchers, he found only 2 percent ’fessed up to falsifying or manipulating data...but 14 percent said they knew a colleague who had.
2 After studying retracted biology papers published between 2000 and 2010, neurobiologist R. Grant Steen claimed that Americans were significantly more prone to commit fraud than scientists from other nations.
3 But when two curious bloggers reanalyzed Steen’s data, they found that American’s aren’t so shifty after all.
Chinese scientists were actually three times as likely as Americans to commit fraud. (French researchers were least likely to misbehave.)
5 If caught stealing someone else’s ideas, scientists have a handy defense: cryptomnesia, the idea that a person can experience a memory as a new, original thought.
6 But there’s no shortage of excuses. In the 1970s the FDA investigated Francois Savery, a doctor who submitted identical data to two drug companies, claiming that they were from two different studies. When confronted, he explained that he was forced to re-create his data sets because he took the original research with him on a lake picnic and lost it when his rowboat capsized.
7 Government authorities later learned that Savery never conducted the studies in the first place—or received a medical degree.
8 Even geniuses succumb to temptation. Researchers have found that Isaac Newton fudged numbers in his Principia, generally considered the greatest physics text ever written.
9 Other legends who seem to have altered data: Freud, Darwin, and Pasteur.
10 And Austrian monk Gregor Mendel’s famous pea-breeding experiments—the foundation of modern ideas of heredity—are suspiciously good, matching his theory of genetic inheritance a little too well.
11 One of the most notorious scientific hoaxes remains unsolved. Someone mixed human and orangutan bones, treated them, and planted them to create Piltdown Man, a “missing link” between humans and apes found in 1912. But who?
12 Science historian Richard Milner accuses Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who also fabricated Sherlock Holmes. Doyle lived near the Piltdown site and resented the scientific community for mocking his belief in spiritualism. Opportunity and motive. Elementary!
13 In 1974 immunologist William Summerlin created a sensation when he claimed to have transplanted tissue from black to white mice. In reality, he used a black felt-tip pen to darken patches of fur on white mice.
14 Some researchers still use “painting the mice” to describe scientific fraud.
15 Painting the mice can have serious consequences. In the 1980s, psychologist Stephen Breuning published results from fictitious “trials” of tranquilizers; his findings informed the clinical practices for treating mentally retarded children.
16 Have you no subtlety, sir? In 1981 John Darsee, a rising-star cardiologist at Harvard, faked log entries in a canine heart study in full view of his colleagues.
17 Although many of his papers were later found to have false data, Darsee continued to be cited positively for years (pdf).
18 Write what you know: Harvard evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser resigned last year after he was found guilty of eight counts of scientific misconduct. Now he’s working on a book, reportedly titled Evilicious: Explaining Our Evolved Taste for Being Bad.
19 The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Research Integrity estimates there are 2,300 cases of misconduct among NIH-funded researchers each year.
20 A role-playing game on the office’s website, called “The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct,” has been downloaded 26,000 times since it launched last year. (Try testing your own moral compass here.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Off Topic- 6 Devices That Could Change the Standards of Medical Care

Dr. David Agus, author of "The End of Illness" and oncologist for the late Steve Jobs, says not only can we do better, but we can do it through changing the way we analyze the human body and using more advanced technologies. After spending years conducting research and clinical studies at various medical centers across the country, Agus wrote his book as a guide to how we can personalize health care. 

Together, "Nightline" and Dr. Agus developed a medical "lab of the future" -- a group of advanced machines, tests and technologies Agus says could help slow the onset of illness or even prevent some diseases entirely. 

Dr. Agus offers a timeline for when he suggests these devices and tests will likely be standard in medicine – some even in your homes – in the next decade. His theory is that we should be proactive, not reactive about our health. To do this, the future of medicine must become personalized.
It remains to be seen if the following practices will be implemented at doctors' offices and hospitals on a wider scale, though some are used today. Dr. Agus also recommends that you consult your physician before undergoing certain tests.

View Slideshow of all devices here

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Reading-Hepatitis C Newsletters, Blogs and A Few Of My Favorite Things

From Hepcbc

HepC bull - December Newsletter

Canada’s Hepatitis C News Bulletin

Inside The December Issue

AASLD Highlights
Liver Cancer News
Hep C on the Internet / Recipe
and more..

Hep C Challenge

Hepatitis C News @ Hep C Challenge

CAP Hepatitis C Literature Review

December 2011

Monthly Pubmed Review of the most relevant research on hepatitis C.


The HCV Advocate newsletter is a valuable resource designed to provide the hepatitis C community with monthly updates on events, clinical research, and education


AGA Journals Blog

The AGA Journals Blog is a forum for discussion of the latest discoveries in the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology. Each week we will comment on a new article from the AGA journals Gastroenterology and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.


Now@NEJM is a blog for physicians about NEJM articles — medical research, reviews, cases — and an educational resource for medical students and ...


Write up at Forbes-Allen Roberts is a 40-year-old emergency room doctor in Texas, who works in a trauma center that sees about 65,000 patients each year. A U.S. Navy doctor, he was for four years deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps. This experience--as both a doctor and military man--lends an interesting color to his posts. Sometimes he can get off topic, and he's less interesting when he's less directly medical. "Blogging combines my interest in computers and medicine, and just venting my spleen," he says

EMCrit blog

Hi my name is Scott Weingart.
Any posts listed as authored by EMCrit are by me.
I am an ED Intensivist from New York City. I hold the degree of MD (Medical Doctor).
I went to medical school and did my emergency medicine residency at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and then did a fellowship in trauma and surgical critical care at the Shock Trauma Center.


The ZBlogg contains doctors mashing medicine, music, and megalomania in an effort to educate and entertain. It is clinically proven to be slightly funnier than placebo. If you are allergic to wack rap parodies, absurd yet informative medical videos, or satirical healthcare news beatboxed by some aging medical school buddies, exit here now.
I am a husband. I am a father of three. I am an ER physician of 16 years. I am a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a nephew, and a friend, always. I am an athlete. I am small-town. I live in a big town. I am from a large, forestry family. I miss my mother's voice. I enjoy life's simpler, mundane moments. I am humbled daily. I am privileged with many blessings in my life. I am a writer.

Doc Gurley

Doc Gurley is a Board-certified Internist physician and the only Harvard Medical School graduate to have been awarded a Shoney’s Ten-Step Pin for documented excellence in waitressing

Living With Hepatitis C

I contracted Hepatitis C while working as a registered nurse in a large, inner- city hospital. I am married with four grown children. My treatment was unsuccessful X 2. Life can be wonderful some days, and others pure hell. Hepatitis C, genotype 3a. Two rounds of pegylated interferon/Ribavirin; 24 weeks and 48 weeks. Responded to treatment but virus returned within 12 weeks (relapser).
Sweet Affliction

Hep C Treatment Blog
Andy Matthews’ Hep C Treatment Blog

Nov 28th Well, I hope you like the video we made of my wife giving me the Interferon shot. I don’t mean to scare anyone about the shot but some people (like me) don’t like shots and this is a real life issue for some. It really should be....
About This Site
So it begins…… Sweet Affliction is our blog about Hemophilia. Shall we say - the Hemophilia lifestyle. Much will be autobiographical in nature focusing on our experiences living with the disease. Read More...
You see, I am embarking on a tough journey in 2012: treating my chronic Hepatitis C infection. To do this, I am going to need all the physical, mental and spiritual fortitude I can muster. I'll need lots of support too.

The Blog of Dr. Joseph S. Galati

Discussions about the liver and everything else related to health and wellness.

Hepatitis Warrior

Sharing the Journey of Hepatitis C

Oct 14 2011 - Finished Hepatitis C Treatment!

"What goes around comes around"

Post Treatment
A month has passed since receiving the news I had for so long dreamed of hearing, " the hepatitis c virus is no longer detected in your blood ."

The Antics Of Larry The Liver

I am starting this blog to keep my family updated not only on my journey from PRE to POST transplant of Larry (my liver), but mainly to hopefully encourage anyone who will listen to first "LIVE LIFE, and then GIVE LIFE!"

Ian Quill: My World

I hope that what I write here may help others who battle daily with HCV and also for those who face, or have faced the 'highs & lows' of an Organ Transplant.


Nov 28th- Laying in hosp waiting for a liver. Wish me good thoughts, prayers and wishes!


Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions.
People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

The Hepatitis Comics:

Levity for the Liver Bile humor and hepatainment to tickle the liver

It takes a bit of gall to poke fun at hepatitis. As a nurse, I've seen the wreckage of liver disease and I revere the strength it takes to live with adversity. I have hep C, and I know it isn't exactly a picnic. However, I believe that when it comes to wellness, laughter is better than an apple a day.

Off Topic

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Best Flash Websites

Waterlife is a showcase for the documentary film of the same name that offers its audience a wonderful preview of the lush cinematography and rich storytelling found in the film. The true genius of the site, however, is found in its fluid navigation that recalls the gentle motion of a lake.
Website Design & Development

Days With My Father

Sad, Sweet, Sincere..........


Artist Alexa Meade's Canvas Is the Human Body

Monday, December 5, 2011

Off Topic-Documentary film about a single day on Earth

On July 24th 2010, thousands of people around the world uploaded videos of their day on YouTube to take part in "Life In A Day", a historic cinematic experiment to create a documentary film about a single day on Earth.

Life In A Day is a historic film capturing for future generations what it was like to be alive on the 24th of July, 2010.

Executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

Soundtrack available here @

Watch Life in a Day, the story of a single day on Earth. Now on YouTube.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Quack medicines, insect immigrants, and what eats what among secrets revealed by DNA barcodes

Global 'barcode blitz' accelerates; 450 experts converge on Adelaide Nov. 28-Dec. 3

The newfound scientific power to quickly "fingerprint" species via DNA is being deployed to unmask quack herbal medicines, reveal types of ancient Arctic life frozen in permafrost, expose what eats what in nature, and halt agricultural and forestry pests at borders, among other applications across a wide array of public interests.

This is the cover of the report: "Barcoding Life Highlights 2011."

The explosion of creative new uses of DNA "barcoding" -- identifying species based on a snippet of DNA -- will occupy centre stage as 450 world experts convene at Australia's the University of Adelaide Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.

DNA barcode technology has already sparked US Congressional hearings by exposing widespread "fish fraud" -- mislabelling cheap fish as more desirable and expensive species like tuna or snapper. Other studies this year revealed unlisted ingredients in herbal tea bags.

Hot new applications include:

Substitute ingredients in herbal medicines

High demand is causing regular "adulteration or substitution of herbal drugs," barcoding experts have discovered.

Indeed, notes Malaysian researcher Muhammad Sharir Abdul Rahman, one fraudster in his country treated rubber tree wood with quinine to give it a bitter taste similar to Eurycoma longifolia -- a traditional medicine for malaria, diabetes and other ailments.

A library of DNA barcodes for Malaysia's 1,200 plant species with potential medicinal value is in development, eventually offering "a quick one step detection kit" to reduce fraud in the lucrative herbal medicine industry, says Mr. Sharir.

His concerns resonate in other countries around the true contents of certain brands of ginseng and other products.

DNA barcode libraries are under construction for the medicinal plants of several other nations as well, including South Africa, India and Nigeria.

Barcoding permafrost

From the woolly rhino to plants and mushrooms, scientists using DNA are deciphering what lived in the ancient Arctic environment, creating new insights into climate change in the process.

"DNA barcoding" analyses of cylinders of sediment cored from Arctic permafrost ranging in age from 10,000 to several hundred thousand years have shed light on past animal and fungal distributions and allowed researchers to infer which plant species likely co-existed.

DNA analyses of permafrost sediment 15,000 to 30,000 years old from northeastern Siberia revealed a grassland steppe plain during the glacial period supporting a diverse mammal community, including bison, moose and the DNA of the rare woolly rhino, the first ever found in permafrost sediments.


Completing regional inventories. For most applications, a regional barcode library answers the question "what organism is this?" Researchers recently completed a library that characterizes 1,264 of the 1,338 species (94 percent) of butterflies and large moths of Germany. Local agricultural pests and invasive species can now be identified by DNA and distinguished from non-harmful relatives. In Japan, botanists established a library of rbcL barcodes for 689 of the 783 local ferns and horsetails (94 percent), creating a naming tool that works for all life stages, including gametophyte forms often indistinguishable by appearance.

Says University of Oslo-based researcher Eva Bellemain, who will present project BarFrost (Barcoding of Permafrost): "In the Arctic, fossils are scarce and time-consuming to find and analyze. However, DNA is one tough molecule. It had to be in order to serve its purpose the last billion years and more. Incredibly, it can linger in soil for tens of thousands of years and stay relatively intact."

What eats what

The technology can even distinguish species contained in the gut or dung of animals, revealing what eats what. University of Adelaide researcher Hugh Cross, for example, will detail his investigation into the diet of Australia's fast-growing, 1 million-strong population of wild camels, which severely impact the country's ecology.

Introduced in the 1800s as pack animals, Australia's wild camels eat an estimated 80% of available plant species in their range.

Says conference organizer David Schindel, Executive Secretary of the CBOL, based at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: "Biologists used to sit and wait and watch to learn how food webs work in Nature and what happens when they collapse. Now they can process stomach contents and dung samples to get the complete picture in a few hours."

Invasive pests

Until now, border inspection to keep agricultural pests, disease-carrying insects and invasive species from entering a country has been a hit-and-miss effort. Barcoding offers a tool to get same-day answers for accepting or rejecting imports, an issue of acute economic importance to Australia and New Zealand.

With European Union funding, a consortium of 20 universities, research institutes, and other organizations are partners in Project QBoL (Quarantine Barcode of Life,, developing a library of DNA barcodes to help quickly identify common invasive organisms that authorities want to stop at national borders.

With the new DNA barcode tool, inspectors can more easily and surely identify and thus prevent the entry of invading pests including bacteria, fungi, fruit flies, other insects, nematodes, viruses, plants and other organisms. Trade of timber cut from endangered species may also be slowed with barcodes to identify wood and lumber products.

Hundreds of topics in Adelaide

"From tea to tuna, DNA identification is entering everyday life," remarked Jesse Ausubel, chair of the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) initiative, a 6-year program now in midstream of a group of the most active labs building the barcode library.

Adds Dr. Schindel: "Like Google and Wikipedia, DNA barcoding scarcely existed a decade ago, and now we are a vibrant community built on 21st century scientific tools."

"DNA barcoding is the express lane to solving many of Nature's mysteries relevant to a spectrum of national interests."

He notes that scores of additional topics will be explored in Adelaide, spanning health, cultural and environmental protection, such as:

  • Identifying the prey of disease-carrying insects based on analysis of their meals of blood
  • "Barcoding Nemo" and other species of the ornamental fish trade
  • Identifying mushrooms and molds
  • Assessment of the global status of pollinators such as bees, and
  • Assessing water quality

The blood meals of biting insects

Resembling a common housefly, the African tsetse fly transmits Human African trypanosomiasis, AKA sleeping sickness, to people and animals. One of the world's most dangerous disease vectors, it spread the 2008 epidemic in which 48,000 Ugandans died. And the annual economic impact is estimated at US$4.5 billion, with around 3 million cattle killed every year.

Caption: In East Africa, researchers analyzed blood meals of tsetse flies (Glossina swynnertoni), the vector of trypanosomiasis, documenting geographic differences in animal hosts, helping inform local control strategies.

Scientists are using DNA barcodes to identify tsetse fly species and their prey based on analysis of the insect's blood meals, unravelling the relationship between hosts and vectors.

By developing the barcode library, tools and ability to readily distinguish species of tsetse flies, mosquitos, ticks and other vectors of diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, Japanese encephalitis, and Lyme disease, scientists can map risk areas more efficiently and alert authorities to the spread of health threats.

Barcoders have taken up an ambitious five-year goal a comprehensive library of 10,000 insect species that damage or destroy so many human lives: 3,000 mosquito, 1,000 sandfly, 2,000 blackfly, 2,000 flea and 1,000 tick species.

Nemo and friends

According to scientists, over 1 billion ornamental fish -- comprising more than 4,000 freshwater and 1,400 marine species -- are traded internationally each year, a US $5 billion industry growing annually at 8 percent.

Researchers at work on this issue include Gulab Khedkar of India, who says: "To facilitate ornamental fish trading, and in compliance of (India's) Biodiversity Act, a universal method must validate the ornamental fish with their species names. This can help assure a sustainable ornamental fish trade."


Fungi are a taxonomic group of many major, distinct evolutionary lineages, ranging from mushrooms to molds. Although two species of fungi can be more distantly related than a fish is related to an insect, all fungi are classified in the same group.

Researchers at the conference are expected to announce the selection of the barcode region for fungi. The standard barcode regions used for animals and plants is not effective for fungi and an international working group has been conducting comparative analyses of candidate regions for two years. The decision is expected to open the floodgates to fungal barcoding research.

A project on indoor fungi that cause human health problems will also be unveiled in Adelaide, showing the enormous potential for fungal studies.

Australian scientist Wieland Meyer argues that, given steadily increasing invasive fungal infections, inadequate identification, limited therapies and the emergence of resistant strains, "there is an urgent need to improve fungal identification" to improve the successful treatment.

Fungi also provide humanity with food and antibiotics and the services of fermentation and decay. DNA-based taxonomy promises to revolutionize understanding of fungal diversity and connect the their life stages.

Barcoders aim to create a library of at least 10,000 fungal species by 2015, especially for indoor fungi, for basidiomycetes (the "higher fungi") and for pathogens of agriculture and forestry.

Insect pollinators

The ecosystem service of plant pollination by insects has a global value estimated at more than $400 billion a year.

Facilitated by the International Barcode of Life (iBOL), barcoders are surveying long-term population trends by assembling barcode libraries for all bees and other important pollinators -- flies and beetles. In combination with campaigns to barcode moths, butterflies and birds, they will provide the database needed to assess the state of pollinator communities worldwide.

Assessing water quality

Scientists in Southern California and elsewhere are pioneering barcodes to assess freshwater marine water quality and its impact on marine life in, sand, sediment, and rocks or in mud in rivers and offshore.

Traditionally after collecting a bulk water sample, taxonomists must identify by sight several thousand invertebrates, a process requiring months and thousands of dollars. DNA barcodes enable them to analyze bulk samples in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost.

Similar projects underway in Korea, Iraq, Belgium and the Baltic region will be presented in Adelaide.

DNA barcoding is emerging as the tool of choice for monitoring water quality, DNA barcode libraries of aquatic insects under construction. New technologies are being developed and tested that will allow faster and more complete analyses of entire biological communities in streamwater on 'DNA microchips' and through next-generation sequencing.

Says Dr. Schindel: "It used to take weeks or months to analyze the organisms in streams to determine water quality. Now it takes hours at a fraction the cost."

A global barcode blitz

Scientists in Adelaide will also advance progress towards an international library of barcodes for 500,000 plant, animal and fungi species within five years - "a barcode blitz" that could transform biology science. The Barcode of Life Database includes more than 167,000 reliably named and provisional species today. Butterflies and moths are the largest well-analyzed group so far, with over 60,000 named and provisional species -- much of the world's estimated total of 170,000.

Gold mines for barcoding are the world's museums and herbaria, where countless species specimens are concentrated and organized thanks to great investments of time and dollars.

A year ago, a team of five Biodiversity Institute of Ontario researchers conducted a barcode blitz in the Australian National Insect Collection. Focusing on moths and butterflies for 10 weeks, they processed over 28,000 specimens representing over 8,000 species and 65 per cent of the country's 10,000 known insect species. Meanwhile at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, another team recently barcoded over 3,000 frozen bird tissues from over 1,400 species, adding more than 500 new species to the world avian DNA library, now covering about 40% of known birds.

New techniques for DNA extraction are bringing older and older specimens in natural history museums into the age range where DNA barcoding can be effective. These breakthroughs will open up new research questions about changes in species over the past centuries of human impact on natural populations.

The Munich Botanical Garden is the latest institution with an important collection of authoritative reference specimens opening its collection to a DNA barcode blitz.


The ability to identify and distinguish known and unknown species ever more quickly, cheaply, easily and accurately based on snippets of DNA code grew from a research paper in 2003 to a burgeoning global enterprise today, led by the Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) at the Smithsonian Institution.

The International Barcode of Life Conference in Adelaide is the 4th in a series that began at the Natural History Museum, London, in February, 2005.

In 2005, there were 33,000 records covering 12,700 species in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) at the University of Guelph, Canada. Showing a more than 40-fold increase, almost 1.4 million records are now banked, representing roughly 167,000 known and provisional species (see

The Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) develops DNA barcoding as a global standard for species identification. With more than 200 member organizations from more than 50 countries, CBOL builds global participation, sets community standards, and organizes and supports working groups, workshops, networks, training opportunities, and international conferences held every two years. Free and open to all, CBOL promotes general awareness of barcoding through an information website ( and information sharing through Connect (, the Barcode of Life social network.

The largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever launched, the International Barcode of Life (iBOL, aims to create by the end of the year 2015 a reference library of 5 million standardized DNA sequences capable of identifying 500 thousand species, more than a quarter of all known species on Earth. Headquartered in Canada, the iBOL program is the creation of more than 100 scientists from more than 20 countries. Launched in 2010 with support from Genome Canada and Ontario Genomics Institute, iBOL's participants commit resources—financial support, human effort, and specimens—toward the 5M/500K goal.

Agenda in Adelaide:

Major sponsors of the global barcoding movement include:

Chinese Academy of Sciences
Genome Canada
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
International Development Research Centre (Canada)
Richard Lounsbery Foundation
Ministry of Science and Technology (Brazil)
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada)
Ontario Genomics Institute
Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Smithsonian Institution
University of Adelaide
University of Guelph

Friday, October 14, 2011

Video-The Black Death pandemic -DNA derived from the bones and teeth of four plague victims

As this Nature video shows, the researchers sequenced DNA derived from the bones and teeth of four plague victims who had been buried in London:

The Black Death pandemic swept across Europe in the mid-14th century killing about half the population. It was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. This strain of bacteria is still around today, but intriguingly it causes far fewer deaths. To find out why, researchers reconstructed a medieval Yersinia pestis genome -- and compared it to the genomes of contemporary strains. The team, led by German scientist Johannes Krause, made use of recent technological advances in DNA recovery and analysis to examine DNA from the skeletons of four individuals buried in East Smithfield in London, a well-known medieval burial site for victims of the Black Death.

Read the original research paper here:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pitt biologists find 'surprising' number of unknown viruses in sewage

University of Pittsburgh

Pitt biologists find 'surprising' number of unknown viruses in sewage

Researchers developed new computational tools to characterize viruses; published this week in mBio

Though viruses are the most abundant life form on Earth, our knowledge of the viral universe is limited to a tiny fraction of the viruses that likely exist. In a paper published this week in the online journal mBio, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Barcelona found that raw sewage is home to thousands of novel, undiscovered viruses, some of which could relate to human health.

There are roughly 1.8 million species of organisms on our planet, and each one is host to untold numbers of unique viruses, but only about 3,000 have been identified to date. To explore this diversity and to better characterize the unknown viruses, Professor James Pipas, Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Hendrix, and Assistant Professor Michael Grabe, all of the Department of Biological Sciences in Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, are developing new techniques to look for novel viruses in unique places around the world.

With coauthors David Wang and Guoyan Zhao of Washington University in St. Louis and Rosina Girones of the University of Barcelona, the team searched for the genetic signatures of viruses present in raw sewage from North America, Europe, and Africa.

In the paper, titled "Raw Sewage Harbors Diverse Viral Populations," the researchers report detecting signatures from 234 known viruses that represent 26 different families of viruses. This makes raw sewage home to the most diverse array of viruses yet found.

"What was surprising was that the vast majority of viruses we found were viruses that had not been detected or described before," says Hendrix.

The viruses that were already known included human pathogens like Human papillomavirus and norovirus, which causes diarrhea. Also present were several viruses belonging to those familiar denizens of sewers everywhere: rodents and cockroaches. Bacteria are also present in sewage, so it was not surprising that the viruses that prey on bacteria dominated the known genetic signatures. Finally, a large number of the known viruses found in raw sewage came from plants, probably owing to the fact that humans eat plants, and plant viruses outnumber other types of viruses in human stool.

This study was also the first attempt to look at all the viruses in the population. Other studies have focused on bacteria, or certain types of viruses. The researchers also developed new computational tools to analyze this data. This approach, called metagenomics, had been done before, but not with raw sewage.

The main application of this new technology, says Hendrix, will be to discover new viruses and to study gene exchange among viruses. "The big question we're interested in is, 'Where do emerging viruses come from?'" he says. The team's hypothesis is that new viruses emerge, in large part, through gene exchange. But before research on gene exchange can begin in earnest, large numbers of viruses must be studied, the researchers say.

"First you have to see the forest before you can pick out a particular tree to work on," says Pipas. "If gene exchange is occurring among viruses, then we want to know where those genes are coming from, and if we only know about a small percentage of the viruses that exist, then we're missing most of the forest."


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Facebook App; Watching Viruses "Friend" a Network

Watching Viruses "Friend" a Network
Tuesday, August 30, 2011

TAU develops a Facebook application to track the path of infection
From SARS to swine flu, virus outbreaks can be unpredictable — and devastating. But now a new application through the ubiquitous social networking site Facebook, developed in a Tel Aviv University lab, is poised to serve as a better indicator of how infections spread among populations.

Dr. Gal Almogy and Prof. Nir Ben-Tal of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at TAU's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences have developed a Facebook application called PiggyDemic, which allows users to "infect" their friends with a simulated virus or become infected themselves. The resulting patterns will allow researchers to gather information on how a virus mutates, spreads through human interaction, and the number of people it infects. Their research was recently presented at the annual retreat of the Safra Bioinformatics Program.

Programming a social disease
Dr. Gal Almogy
Currently, scientists use mathematical algorithms to determine which virus will spread and how, but this method has some flaws. It assumes that a virus has equal distribution across populations, but that is simply not the case, the researchers say. Patterns of social interaction must also be taken into account. "HIV is concentrated in Africa; certain types of flu are widespread in North America and Asia," explains Dr. Almogy. "Adding the element of human interaction, and looking at the social networks we belong to, is critical for investigating viral interaction."

Facebook, notes Dr. Almogy, is an ideal tool for such an undertaking. The social networking site's digital interactions simulate in-person interactions. Viral infections like the flu are a social phenomena, he explains.

Once added to a user's Facebook account, PiggyDemic follows the user's newsfeed to determine the people they interact with. Users are deemed "susceptible," "immune" or "infected" with various simulated viruses, and can pass them on to their online contacts. Researchers then follow these interactions using network visualization software, and watch the links between users as the "viruses" are passed on.
According to Dr. Almogy, accurate modeling of viral dynamics is critical for developing public health policy. Issues such as the use of vaccinations, medications, quarantine and anti-viral procedures will be better informed if we are able to predict more accurately the course of infection.

Taking your vitamin C
Prof. Nir Ben-Tal
More than a research tool, PiggyDemic is also a game (users try to infect as many of their friends as possible), a teaching tool (users make choices that help them live a healthy life), and potentially a method for high-resolution, real-time tracking of virus outbreaks.
"People who have this software can report if they are actually ill," says Dr. Almogy. "If we know who their friends are and the sequence of the infecting virus, we can figure out which virus they have and how it passes from one person to another." If the network is large enough, he explains, they might be able to post warnings of possible outbreaks to Facebook networks, letting people know when it's time for a hefty dose of vitamin C.
The application has already provided a signficant finding, the researchers report. Flu's peak period, winter, is usually attributed to environmental conditions. But the researchers' findings suggest there are other forces at work.

PiggyDemic's viruses are not explicitly programmed to have a seasonal pattern, and yet like the real-life flu, they also display recurrent peaks of infection. Though researchers are not yet certain what drives these periodic peaks in the PiggyDemic eco-system, they indicate that a simple viral strategy superimposed on the basic structure of human society has a strong tendency to display periodic bursts of viral activity regardless of environmental conditions. "The flu doesn't maintain itself at a steady rate of infection," explains Dr. Almogy. "Yearly peaks of infection may serve instead as 'seeding periods,' similar to the 'blooming' process we see in flowering plants."

To download the application to a Facebook account, go to

Thursday, June 30, 2011

From Pharmalot;Congress Widens Probe Into The Heparin Scandal

For those of you who frequent this blog you may have noticed how habit-forming the site Pharmalot is.
Today Mr. Ed Silverman has written two articles which you may want to check out. One covers the Heparin scandal "Congress Widens Probe Into The Heparin Scandal" and the other is related to what doctors think of the pharmaceutical industry "What Docs Think Of Pharma & Where They Get Info."

On the Heparin scandal the author writes;
Three years after the FDA linked the Heparin scandal to contaminated supplies from China, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expanding a probe into the episode and wrote 10 drugmakers, manufacturer reps and ingredients suppliers for documents, because the agency has indicated they have info about the Chinese heparin industry and supply chains.
The move comes after the committee has twice lashed out at the FDA for failing to find those responsible for the scandal, which was linked to 81 deaths in 2007 and 2008 and traced to heparin sold by Baxter International (back story). The fatalities provoked harsh criticism of the FDA for not conducting greater oversight of foreign facilities - particularly those in China that make medicines or supply active pharmaceutical ingredients. Baxter recalled its heparin, which contained an active pharmaceutical ingredient derived from pig intestines (see photo) from hogs in rural China.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Just For Fun; Whats Up With Pruney Fingers?

The reason I find this interesting is because about 8 years ago, I read an article about a four year old child who had severed nerves in three fingers.
Sometime later the mother was playing with her toddler in the family pool and noticed those three little fingers were starting to prune, she reported it to her physician. Good news ensued,  the "pruney fingers" meant the child's nerves were slowly improving...lovely story.

Over at Nature  today I read an article by Ed Yong , who writes that Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist has a theory - "he suggests wrinkling of wet digits evolved for a reason."

Here is a bit of what  Mark Changizi and his colleagues had to say.
Changizi thinks that the wrinkles act like rain treads on tyres. They create channels that allow water to drain away as we press our fingertips on to wet surfaces. This allows the fingers to make greater contact with a wet surface, giving them a better grip.

Scientists have known since the mid-1930s that water wrinkles do not form if the nerves in a finger are severed, implying that they are controlled by the nervous system.

"I stumbled upon these nearly century-old papers and they immediately suggested to me that pruney fingers are functional," says Changizi. "I discussed the mystery with my student Romann Weber, who said, 'Could they be rain treads?' 'Brilliant!' was my reply."
Read more............

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Health News: This and That

Lights! Camera! Accutane! Roche Versus Hollywood
By Ed Silverman // February 11th, 2011 // 10:38 am
"The usual interplay between Hollywood and drugmakers occurs when a celebrity endorses a drug. Now, though, Roche is about to encounter a Hollywood experience of an entirely different sort - James Marshall, who played a US Marine in the 1992 hit film ‘A Few Good Men,’ claims his acting career was derailed after he used the Accutane acne pill and developed inflammatory bowel disease. His colon was subsequently removed and he is suing the drugmaker for $30 million $11 million in lost earnings." ... Continue Reading.............

Pfizer to evaluate Resonance Health's liver fibrosis diagnostic
Published 9:22 AM, 14 Feb 2011
Source: News Bites
Resonance Health Ltd announced on February 11 that it had signed an agreement with Pfizer to evaluate the company's MRI based product for assessing liver fibrosis, a major international health problem caused primarily by hepatitis C infection, excessive alcohol consumption and fatty liver disease.
The recognised gold standard for assessing liver fibrosis involves a liver biopsy, a technique presenting risk to the patient and inaccuracies due to sampling error.
Resonance says it has developed an MRI-based diagnostic product for liver fibrosis that has had promising results.
The agreement with Pfizer involves a clinical study in collaboration with Prof Peter Angus, medical director Liver Transplant Unit at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne.
Results of the study are expected in the first quarter of 2012.

Pfizer, EPA working to clean up contaminated site
The pharmaceutical firm that inherited decades of pollution at a former chemical company site beside the Raritan River is working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency on a new plan to clean up the remaining contaminants.
The public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the proposals after they've been given preliminary approval by the EPA, which could happen as early as this spring..Continue Reading...

Doctors Don't Enroll Patients in Clinical Trials
Physicians may be part of the reason why patient participation in clinical trials for cancer is low, researchers said...Continue reading...

From Grand Rounds.....

Marshall Scott, Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside, shares reflections in light of the ethical principles of the "Georgetown Mantra" on the recent case of two sisters imprisoned in Mississippi whose sentences would be suspended if one sister donated a kidney to the other.

Valentine’s Day may not be a happy one when illness enters into the couple relationship, things change, often drastically. If the demands of illness make it difficult for the partners to connect with and be supportive of each other, should they consider divorce? Barbara
In Sickness and In Health, discusses these changes in her post: Divorce and Chronic Illness: One Woman's Story.

Allergy Notes gives us 7 Tips for Allergy-free Winter. Included is a mini map diagram of the most effective methods for control of the most common indoor allergen - the mighty dust mite.

Philip Hickey, Behaviorism and Mental Health, discusses The Drugging of Children. He feels children with behavioral problems are increasingly being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these children. They simply haven’t been adequately trained and disciplined.

Read all contributions........

Next week’s Grand Rounds host will be Grunt Doc.