"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Causes, Solutions, and Concoctions 

Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative autoimmune disease, causing severe pain and disability in its victims. Like other autoimmune conditions, its causes are unknown and treatments are scarce. Argentine researchers are reporting the results of a small cohort of MS patients (24), some of whom showed sign of parasitic infection and some of whom did not. The parasite hosts had much less severe MS symptoms and fewer relapses than did non-hosts. Similar to previous findings that intestinal parasites relieved Crohn's, this result is in support of a 'hygiene hypothesis' of autoimmune disorders: relatively unchallenged by our germ-free modern environment, our immune systems have started 'looking' for things to attack. Such as ourselves.

On a different (and mysterious) causal chain, a large sample study has found that men with gum disease are 63% more likely to suffer hard-to-treat pancreatic cancers. One idea is that this could be due to the inflammation of gum disease 'spreading' to other parts of the body, but that seems a bit far-fetched to me, in terms of cancer. The findings are really fascinating, but I can't help but wonder if there's not a confounding factor in the mix.

In to good news: Canadian researchers have found that the old, apparently safe, off-label (read: cheap) drug dichloroacetate (DCA) may be a potent cancer killer. The compound acts by reactivating cancer cells' mitochondria, which are normally shut off in favor of cellular metabolism glycolysis in cancer cells, and which subsequently initiate apoptosis of the unhealthy cells.

Business, union, and retiree leaders in one room, agreeing on something?!?! It seems so. The group met in Washington to send a message to the politicians: the time has come for universal health care. This needs to happen, and it needs to be done right (or it'll be a disaster akin to what we have now, only even harder to fix), and it needs to be done now. Neither side of the aisle in Congress or the White House has been really willing to step up yet, but hopefully this meeting will prompt them to do so.

Finally, everything you didn't want to know about molecular gastronomy cooking-using-funny-tools-and-ingredients. I've never been to any of the places mentioned, but I get the idea, and am pretty much already bored with it. Like avant-garde art, there comes a point when you're just doing to be shocking, or contrary, or because you can.

For some I guess this is part of the fun, but for me I think it ends up detracting from the actual flavor of the food. Butterscotch bacon? Sounds awesome. Edible menus? Once, cool, twice, yawwwnnn. Soup in a pipette? No thanks.

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