October 31, 2010
No Gene or DNA Patents
Looks like the Department of Justice has decided patenting of genes or DNA discoveries is invalid, as these are indeed discoveries of something that already exists in nature. I agree with this but it remains to be seen if the patent office and courts enforce this decision.
August 14, 2007
Cure for Cancer?
Have scientists finally discovered the holy grail of medicine (other than resurrection which honestly no one is trying to find): a cure for cancer? That seems to be the result of stimulating the HACE 1 gene and then subjecting cancerous cells to radiation that would normally result in tumor growth. In short, if you activate this gene in cancerous cells, you stop the cancer and just need to get rid of the existing cancerous cells. Applying this in practice is a completely different hurdle, and the article does not state this works for all cancers, but it does include breast, lung, and liver cancer. Supposedly the research will be covered in an upcoming issue of Nature.
June 28, 2007
I'm Brain Damaged?
I came across an interesting brain teaser about cognitive science titled When Brain Damage Helps. Apparently, a 2005 study concluded that problems involving insight could be more quickly and easily solved by patients who had suffered damage to their lateral frontal cortex. There are some differences between the simple test on this web page and the testing that was done in the study, of course, but it's still an interesting experiment.
So I was able to solve the first problem on the web page fairly quickly. And then I solved the second problem in about 10-15 seconds. It took one of my other coworkers about a minute to figure out the second one, and another one of my coworkers didn't come to the right answer.
I guess I need to get my lateral frontal cortex checked out now.
March 31, 2006
Swedes Link Cell Phones w/Cancer
Swedish researchers have conducted the largest study of cell phone cancer risk to date, with over 2,000 subjects. Their results indicate that heavy users have a much higher chance of cancer on the side of their head that they use the phone. The number given is a 240% increase in risk, and heavy users are defined as people who have used their phone more than 2,000 hours aggregate. They also found people who began to use the phone before the age of twenty to be of higher risk.
March 28, 2006
BusinessWeek 50 - Gougers
I noticed something strange about the top performers in the BusinessWeek 50. The vast majority of the top companies are in health insurance and energy. (Halliburton is also listed, but their growth is even more ethically questionable.) But shouldn't health insurance and energy companies be making minor profits, and not huge ones?
If health costs are so high, or the insurance prices need to be high to cover things like malpractice, why are the health insurance companies actually making lots of extra money? And energy should not be priced at whatever the market can bear, since they are legalized monopolies due to infrastructure limitations. All of these consolidations are not good for consumers and I'd be interested to see how pricing is determined. When there's only one supplier, or a few suppliers with close ties to each other as well as high-ranking members of the federal government, things should smell fishy.
November 15, 2005
Girl Born with External Heart
A baby born in India over the weekend was born with her heart outside of her body, located between her neck and collar bone. A doctor is quoted as saying, "She was holding her heart in her right hand when born.". Unfortunately, the baby's parents are too poor to afford surgery, so although the doctors managed to remove her hand from the heart, she died from an infection.
November 14, 2005
I just got back from the hospital, and after three hours of mostly waiting, the X-rays came back okay and the official diagnosis is foot sprain. I got a special shoe from them, which I am to wear as needed for the next 2-3 weeks. Other than that, nothing special. I guess I messed up the muscles on both the top and bottom of my foot. I wasn't planning to go in to see the doctor, but last night it felt like needles and little bits of fire in my foot. Alla drove me even though she is super busy with work.
Black Pasty Stuff
Mei-Ling took me to see that guy I mentioned earlier. He examined my foot and told me that it swollen with liquid, where there is a bump on the top of my foot. He poked other places on my foot and ankle and rotated my foot around, and it didn't hurt other places. The rotating hurt, of course, but not too bad. Anyway, he gave me some black pasty stuff to make a compress from each night. I'm supposed to put it on at 9:30pm each night and keep it on while I sleep. That should get the swelling down in a few days, and he gave me enough of the stuff for a week. Yuliya is afraid it might be broken, so she told me to go see a doctor if the swelling is still there after a couple of days.
September 26, 2005
Improved Cancer Detection
Saw a report today about the use of nanowire constructs that are able to detect and identify miniscule amounts of cancer markers. This should allow simple blood tests to very determine precise types of cancer in patients at a much earlier point in time. This is a significant advance in medical technology.
July 31, 2005
Stem Cell Research Support
I was heartened to learn that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has publicly announced his support for stem cell research in the United States. With his support, there is a chance that stem cell research provisions will pass through, overriding President Bush's promised veto. While I do not necessarily agree with all of Senator Frist's beliefs on the matter, I do agree that stem cell research will provide amazing scientific advances in medicine and biology. It has the potential to revolutionize our knowledge and application in as much as genetics has already done and continues to do so.
May 13, 2005
AV123 is having a raffle with all net proceeds being donated to The Jimmy Fund. In case you are interested in supporting it but also would like the chance to win a nice prize. Raffle ticket sales are non-deductible. The tickets are found on their Rocket by Onix page.
March 28, 2005
Cat Allergy Medicine
I read an article today of a manufactured molecule that can significantly reduce the production of histamine resulting from cat allergies. The effective duration of the injection has not been tested yet, but this would allow people allergic to cats to coexist with cats. It also promises further allergy treatments.
February 8, 2005
I wasn't aware this was happening, but apparently there is an AIDS vaccine in clinical trials, and the first human trials of it began today in Pune, India. The drug is called tgAAC09 and is described as a recombinant adreno-associated viral vector. I don't know what that means, but the article clearly states that while human trials have begun, it looks like at least eight years before a vaccine is actually available.
December 21, 2004
Cell Phones Damage DNA
Today's CNET Dispatch pointed to an article titled "Cell phones scramble DNA". A four-year study of radio waves in the mobile phone spectrum at comparable intensity showed genetic mutations in cells that was passed on to reproduced cells. The researchers make a note of pointing out this was evidenced in a laboratory environment and does not necessarily indicate real-world cell phone usage would result in the same effects.