"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!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Potential Autism Cure?? 

I'm way past due to write about all kinds of cool science that's been happening recently - and I will, I swear - but this is just too cool to wait on. Mice engineered to have fragile-X syndrome, which produces autism-like symptoms, had their conditions largely reversed by blockage of the PAK enzyme. This is potentially HUGE.

Unfortunately, I can't find the paper...anyone have it?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sexy Boutique 

I'd call this "Monet advertising," with apologies to both the artist and whoever wrote "Clueless," because from a distance, you wonder what a "Sexy Size Boutique" might be, but when you see the ironically tiny "plus" in the middle, you understand. And flee.

Seriously, East Atlanta: I love you so, but you're gonna have to own up to shit...and what with the recent influx of ladies to the area, it'll be wise to make sure they know what they're being offered*.

* Also note that these are not the kind of ladies who are shy about being, uhm, plus a few sizes.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Daft Hands 

Via Graham, this is awesome. Wait till the words start.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Blinding Florals 

I spent the weekend in Independence, Mo. visiting my mom's parents for my grandfather's 90th birthday. Since there were rather quite a few of us in town for the event, my parents, sister and I opted to stay at a Bed+Breakfast nearby, as opposed to in what would have been a (very) crowded house.

The Woodstock Inn was found randomly, and turned out to be just perfect - the couple who run it are lovely, the garden great for afternoon coffee, and the breakfast delicious.

The beds were comfy and the in-room coffee maker was critical. HOWEVER. The decor was ... difficult. My room was the most extreme, and it really looked like Laura Ashley had jizzed all over the place - with floral prints and fake topiary everywhere. But again - the bed was comfy, so all you had to do was close your eyes.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Different Strokes: Drugs, Brains, and Fat Asses 

Everything has side-effects, especially medications. Many are bad, some are good, and most come as a bit of a surprise.

A household item, so basic it's hard to even think of it as medicine, may turn out to be a powerful weapon against cancer: talc, when applied to the chest cavity, appears to greatly (and lastingly) stimulate production of the powerful anti-cancer hormone endostatin. Yay for baby powder!

On the downside (or possibly not, depending on how evil you are): those wheeled shoes that seem so popular these days, sending already-bothersome children (and frat boys...hi Mark!) careening down supermarket aisles at ever-increased velocity, appear to be linked to a rash of orthopedic injuries. Hah-hah!

In a recent study, US researchers found that a popular anti-hypertension drug, isradipine, seems to slow, and maybe even halt, the neurodegenerative process of Parkinson's disease. They found that young dopamine neurons used sodium gradients for their electrical activity, but older ones used calcium - a much more unruly and dangerous ion for cells - and that isradipine seems to force the cells to 'rejuvenate,' reverting to less-damaging sodium pump function. Aside from how awesome it'd be to really have a treatment for Parkinson's (to which I am rather strongly genetically predisposed), this discovery is bloody cool!

More good news for Parkinson's sufferers (at least in countries that aren't run by anti-science nimrods): researchers injected human neural stem cells into Parkinsonian monkeys, and found that they showed sustained improvement in symptomology. Awesome!!!

Drugs aren't the only things that have multiple surprising effects: Alzheimer's disease whipping-boy protein gamma-secretase (an enzyme responsible for production of AD's signature amyloid plaques) may not be a good place to target drug interventions. You see, it also acts as a potent tumor suppressor by lowering activity of epidermal growth factor receptor, which is implicated in skin cancer development. Bad as AD is, patients probably won't be lining up to get cancer instead.

Speaking of brains. Those of medical residents work better on more sleep, and patient care improves as a result. Well, OK, maybe not strictly as a result of more sleep, but certainly as a result of less overworked residents: a Yale study has found that patient care improved after the training program moved to the new 80-hour maximum week for residents.

And, last but not least, the Bad News. At least, for those looking for a quick-fix miracle diet pill, now that TrimSpa is ... errr ... not so hot anymore. We've all been awaiting the FDA study results on rimonabant, aka Acomplia, aka Zimulti, aka that-CB-1inhbitor-Michael-keeps-blabbing-about.

Well here's the thing: it seems to be fairly effective for weight loss (a promising but unthrilling 5% over placebo), but it has a very prominent side effect: depression and suicidal thoughts. I have to admit though, I'm not really impressed so far: people likely to be prescribed such a drug are likely to be highly sensitive about their self-esteem in the first place. If the drug doesn't work the almost-certainly advertised "miracles" they might get really disheartened. On the other hand, CB1 is rather profoundly linked to mood and cognition, and to motivation/executive functions, so that its inhibition could cause depression doesn't shock me one bit.


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Friday, June 08, 2007

Now Playing... 

I just want to turn everyone's attention, for a minute, to the "Now Playing" section at the right of this page. It contains a list of my top four CDs of the moment. Right now I guess you could say I'm on a synth-pop/electro kick.

I really can't get one of the Prototype's songs, "Ici ou peut-etre demain" out of my head, but I don't mind because it's such an awesome song.

Dragonette's "Take it Like a Man" follows quickly; you can't get an album yet, but there's a track or three floating around their MySpace and website, which I HIGHLY recommend you to check out.

The Knife is, well, The Knife. Generally flawless but with enough rough edges to make me interested.

And then there's Freezepop. It's nerd heaven - "I am Not Your Gameboy" even has a line about Logo (the language, not the gay cable channel), and of course a song about Achewood.

If you can, you should LaLa them all (email me for an invite)!!

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Quicky-linky: Because I'm Lazy 

Work is definitely fun, but also exhausting. Some cool stuff I'll want to think about later, and anyone reading this should think about now...and discuss in the comments!

More good news for us coffee-fiends: men who drink four or five cups a day seem to have lower risk of developing gout. Gout sucks, and coffee is good, so I'm happy!

Shocking no one, researchers have found that MRSA is spreading fast in poor and underserved populations. The much-overhyped but still very deadly pathogen takes root in medical settings, and is likely to wreak more and more havoc on our health system, which really can't handle such things.

Epicatechin, a chemical found in chocolate, grapes, and tea, appears to improve memory function, especially when combined with exercise. Because I always need another excuse to eat those things!

Speaking of miracle drugs (or not), Michigan researchers have found that a chemical from the desert bush creosote may have potent anti-aging powers. So, Ponce de Leon was just looking for the wrong kind of thing!

UK researchers have discovered something that we all kinda knew already: men care more about how big their dicks are than women do. Also, there is nothing that can be done, contrary to the claims of at least 36% of the email in the universe, to enlarge them. They available options are more likely to mutilate than enlarge, and no one thinks a frankenschlong is sexy.

Finally - and speaking of dubious distinctions - American hospitals are much more likely to admit white kids for minor illnesses than black or Hispanic kids. Not only does this mean that minority kids are getting less 'aggressive' care, but it also represents an obvious source of unnecessary medical costs. Less 'aggressive' care, in terms of being admitted for minor stuff, may or may not be a bad thing in and of itself, but it's probably indicative of an underlying (and serious) disparity.

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