Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

Things aren’t always what they seem.  Why should this colloquialism be any different in the medical realm?

Incidental findings are rather commonplace.  Meaning:  When exploring one diagnostic avenue for a symptom, another existing often more significant issue presents itself unrelated to the initial event.

This is exactly what has been reported by the Japanese Society of Neuropathology.  In a recent published case report, the authors describe an adolescent female who—while undergoing an emergency surgery for appendicitis— was discovered to have large, bilateral, mostly cystic ovarian masses (aka tumors).  

Three months later they were removed.  The mature cystic teratoma of her ovary...

The last time I wrote about one of the two most advanced experimental herpes vaccines - Rational Vaccines' (RVx) Rotavax, which claims to have performed well but only in one very pilot study in one foreign country, with no published data - I noted that future studies would be done in Mexico. (See: Herpes Vaccine Heads South ... Of The Border?", November 13, 2006.

The pilot study consisted of under 20 patients, and they published no data or methodology, but the company claims the results were encouraging. They also said they are planning more trials, but they would be held outside to the US to circumvent the...

"Dreaded ‘stomach flu’ wreaks havoc on families — and it’s only going to get worse"

Lena H. Sun, Washington Post, January 5, 2017

Uh oh. When it comes to choosing a common infectious disease that you would avoid, it's a pretty sure bet that most would say "the stomach flu." Although the term is incorrect—the bug is called norovirus, and it has nothing in common with influenza—everyone knows what that means: A day or two of hell, during which various components inside your gastrointestinal tract decide that they really don't want to be in your body. You know the drill. We've all been through it.

As if the "stomach flu" isn't enough to worry about, especially if you...

All too frequently, the things we do daily become routine.  This is likely true of many tasks in a multitude of professions.  It’s just that in certain fields, like medicine, seemingly mundane and tedious duties can—all too often— provide the most valuable knowledge of a patient’s well-being and genuine health status.

Vital signs matter.  They matter most when done correctly and provide accurate data.  Hence, why they are likely called “vital” signs.

Dismiss them or do them incorrectly and the bad information obtained will guide medical decisions on your behalf-- potentially toward a negative trajectory.  Now, with electronic medical records, especially, this erroneous information will follow you and your future care may be directed based on these false results.   

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Type 1 diabetes – the kind that involves loss of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells — requires that insulin be injected daily, or several times daily. The holy grail for researchers has been finding some means of either stopping that loss or increasing the number of functioning beta cells. In 2013 researchers from Harvard University published a paper suggesting that a new hormone that they called Betatrophin might do the trick, since it controls beta cell proliferation, and seemed to increase the number of beta cells, at least in mice.

Unfortunately, other laboratories were unable to replicate this work, nor did the Harvard group when they tried to repeat the experiment. Thus, they have retracted ...

RNA-based treatments for select genetic diseases have made major headlines in the last few months by receiving FDA approval and giving hope to families of suffering children. They are Spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Eteplirsen for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD.) 

These drugs are the future of therapeutics for genetic diseases - at the forefront of a long line of similarly based therapies coming down the pipeline. They are called "exon skipping" therapies and in order to understand how they work - we need to first understand what an exon is and why skipping it is an ingenious way to design a therapeutic.

Last week, we wrote about how proteins are made from DNA entitled “...

The overdose epidemic sweeping the nation is hitting some demographics harder than others. New data released by the CDC breaks down heroin overdose deaths by age.

As shown below, heroin overdose deaths began to skyrocket in 2010. Of all groups, older Millennials (i.e., individuals aged 25-34) are the likeliest to die from a heroin overdose. In 2015, the mortality rate from a heroin overdose was 9.7 per 100,000 for this group, which is more than quadruple the rate in 2010 (which was 2.2 per 100,000). 

 

This is a very shocking development. The overall mortality rate for Americans aged 25-34 is 108.4 per 100,000. That means more than one out of...

Once again, the echo chamber nature of press releases serves to promote misleading science and health clickbait.  This time it is with headlines like “Tobacco, but not pot, boosts early stroke risk.” 

First, it is an imprecise conclusion based on the newly published study.  Second, the research it refers to downplays the significant flaws and limitations of its own work.  

Let’s break down the findings for you to draw accurate (and your own) conclusions.  The goal of the work was to determine whether there is an “association between cannabis use and early-onset stroke, when accounting for the use of tobacco and alcohol.”

Who was studied and how was the data acquired? (1)

  • Population-based cohort study comprised of 49,321 Swedish men (...

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) adversely impacts over 30 million men in the United States to some extent.  Medical efforts to combat this considerable personal strain and relationship stressor are replete with various shortcomings.  

Depending upon the cause, treatment options can be limited.  Traditionally as a last resort when a man is ineligible or has failed less invasive alternatives, surgical insertion of a penile implant is considered.  

The common types that exist fall under the inflatable (IPP) or malleable (MPP) penile prosthetic umbrellas.  Innovation in this field has been relatively stagnant the last 40 years which is why a team of researchers —whose concept was recently patent-approved...

The U.S. Office of Inspector General (OIG) has estimated that in calendar year 2013, $359 million (82%) of $438 million paid to chiropractors under Medicare Part B did not comply with Medicare requirements.(1)

Since 1973, Medicare has covered manual manipulation of the spine for the treatment of certain neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Its policies are set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. To get paid, chiropractors are supposed to (a) specify the region of the spine where the supposed problem exists, (b) diagnose a medically recognized condition that is related to that spinal region, (c) document symptoms, physical findings, and/or x-ray findings that are related to that...