"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!!

Friday, April 06, 2007


Well, it's one option. Definitely better off will be the women (and ultimately the men too) of Eritrea, which has just officially banned the practice of female circumcision. Unlike male circumcision, which has generally no ill-effects and may or may not be good for you, female circumcision is just mutilation and torture, plain and simple. So good for you, Eritrea! (P.S. - please send someone to open a restaurant in Atlanta...I miss my Harambe!)

The good news for older folks (and younger too) is that it seems Tai Chi may help improve immunity. The study focused on resistance to varicella (shingles, chickenpox), but it's likely that the effect is not so specific. Granted, they didn't seem to control for the effects of exercise alone, but in that I think Tai Chi is amazing, I say people should do more of it! (Including me)

Also potentially good for all of us is a New Zealand group's proof-of-concept breakthrough in solar power: they've found a way to make solar cells that don't need direct light, and can be pigmented in ways to look good. Awesome!

Cancer patients may get some good news from the bad today; researchers have confirmed how cancer treatments can spur the disease's spread, but also how that process seems to work, and a possibly way to stop it. It seems that primary tumors release TGF-beta, which inhibits secondary tumors' growth until the primary is removed. Treating patients with TGF-beta could, in the future, suppress growth of these (and maybe even of the primary) tumors.

The real bad news today may be for HIV, which means good news for HIV patients, and maybe the rest of us!
A Spanish study tested a new protease inhibitor in advanced HIV patients, and found that it resulted in significant viral load decreases and improved CD4 counts. This is pretty early data, but still super encouraging! Secondly, US researchers used a rabies vector to deliver SIV/HIV proteins to monkeys, resulting in a good immune response to viral challenge. The vaccine doesn't protect from infection, but it did appear to reduce disease development, and could direct future work to find a preventative vaccine.

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