"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!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Go Play in the Mud 

While the BBC article is short on details, some UK researchers have apparently found that playing in the dirt could be good for both your mood and you immune system. An interesting finding, and one that I'd really love to wave in the faces of all those obnoxiously over-clean mothers out there. You know who I mean - the ones who hover over their child's every move, waving antibacterial wipes (breeding resistant strains) and then go home to scream at the maid because there might be three molecules of dust in the nursery (where the 8-year-old still lives).

These are often the same people who demand that the pediatrician prescribe antibiotics for everything, again helping to evolve super-bugs resistant to all treatment. Sinusitis, it seems, may be a big contributer to this problem: US doctors are prescribing antibiotics at a very high rate, relative to the proportion of infections likely to be bacterial as opposed to viral. Much of this is due to a combination of provider ignorance, but a substantial chunk is that patients demand drugs, and providers have neither the time nor the expertise to explain why they don't need them.

On the upside, doctors worldwide may soon have two major concerns fewer to worry about, as researchers move to neutralizing donated blood types and growing organs for transplant. In the former case, a US team has identified a pair of enzymes for removing the A and B antigens from blood, effectively rendering it type O - the universal donor type. While not solving the blood shortage entirely, this would take immense pressure off of the supplies of rarer types.

Second, UK doctors say that they've grown heart valves in culture from marrow cells. If this technology can be applied to human hearts, and is effective, it would set the stage for a major revolution in transplant treatments. Cool!

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