November 2011

The Dutch Invent A Superflu

I find myself humming "Baby Can You Dig Your Man"


This is how the world ends: with the best of intentions. Researchers in the Netherlands have created a version of the H5N1 bird flu which has been genetically modified to be incredibly contagious. In fact, according to some estimates, this superflu has the potential to kill half of the planet's population.
Security and bioterrorism experts are debating about whether or not the Dutch researcher's paper and results should be published, for security reasons. I suppose the theory there is that if the paper isn't published, no one else will ever be able to figure out how to make superflu out of regular bird flu. That seems a bit silly, doesn't it? 
But at the same time, it also seems like a terrible idea to publish instructions on how to kill half the planet with germs.

Glow-in-the-Dark Cancer

New chemical could ease tumor detection by lighting up malignant cells


Once you've developed it, cancer is a pain in the ass to get rid of. Despite what movies like 50/50 might tell you, it's rarely ever an all-or-nothing fix. Even patients who have gone into remission have to fear new tumors springing up. It's usually impossible to nix every single rogue cell in the body of a patient. A few tiny, overlooked tumors can linger, leading to more growths and more trouble. But researchers are developing a new strategy for detecting hard-to-see tumors: light them up like a Christmas tree.

Lipitor Available in Generic Form Starting November 30th, 2011

Lipitor will be available through direct mail from its drug manufacturer, Pfizer.


Lipitor, the blockbuster cholesterol-reducing drug, will be losing its patent this Wednesday. Beginning on Wednesday, a generic form of the drug will be available at most pharmacies.

This is great news for the roughly 19 million people who take cholesterol-lowering statins because generic medications are so much cheaper. The generic form of Lipitor is called atorvastatin, and will have the same active ingredients as Lipitor. However, the fillers in the generic pill may be different than the brand name. For example, the shape of atorvastin may be different as may the color.

For people who currently have a prescription drug plan and take Lipitor, they could reduce their monthly prescription cost for their statin to $10 a month.

More Useless Changes To Cigarette Packs Looming

If they really wanted people to quit, they would hand out nicotine patches for free


Australia has recently announced new legislation that will make all cigarette packs the same drab color, with a huge ultra-graphic picture on the front. American legislators are making noises that they want to follow suit. Too bad it's all just a lot of useless feel-good "Look ma, we're doing something about the problem!" nonsense.
The fundamental problem with the warning label system is that it presumes that smokers are acting rationally. Like if they just understood that cigarettes are bad for you, they would quit smoking. Sounds pretty dumb when you say it out loud like that, right?

Polio On The Rise In Nigeria

Could be eradicated, if we all work together
In western nations, we have a series of fiery debates about whether or not it is a good practice to vaccinate children. But it's worth noting that the real battle is being fought in the world's poorest countries, where people cannot afford vaccines, and where families are too transient to be able to predictably ensure booster shots at the right time.
And lest you think this is an academic issue, or one with relatively minor consequences like the flu or whooping cough, the truth is sobering. What's at stake here is polio, a scourge which has largely been eradicated in developed nations. (The last case of polio in the United States was recorded in 1978.)
Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan are becoming polio "hot spots" in the world. And that spells trouble for everyone. In Nigeria, resistance against the vaccine is coming from Muslim leaders, who oppose the polio vaccine because they claim it causes infertility.

The Adderall Shortage: Deliberately Manufactured?

One author says yes


An intriguing (and somewhat lurid) article in The Fix sheds light on an apparent Adderall shortage sweeping across the country, and points the finger of blame directly on the drug manufacturer. Surprised? Then you probably have not been paying attention to the machinations of Big Pharma in the last few years.
Part of the problem is simply one of supply versus popularity. There are a lot of people who suffer from ADD and ADHD and who require Adderall in order to function in day to day life. However, there are also a lot of people who want to take amphetamines, but don't want to have to cruise the trailer park or sketchy neighborhoods in order to get it. 

Spray On Skin

Australian medical tech company releases skin growing kit


Finding yourself suddenly without enough skin to cover your entire body used to be quite the conundrum. You need that stuff to keep your organs and fluids in, and there's only so much surface area you can lose before it starts to become a real problem. Grafts used to be your only option for skin replacement, but they weren't always entirely effective--and the aftermath was certainly never too nice to look at. Now, though, it would seem a new invention will make skin grafts obsolete. The ReCell kit can grow brand new skin from your existing skin cells that you can actually spray onto your body.

Great American Smokeout Campaign Urges Smokers to Quit the Habit

The Great American Smokeout is Held Every Third Thursday in November


Today could be your last day of smoking if the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Great American Smokeout has anything to do with it. Every third Thursday in November each year, the ACS urges smokers to refrain from smoker for at least 24 hours - with the hope that it will be longer, if not for good.

Coping With Ingrown Nails: A Slow Torture

If you catch them quickly enough, it's pretty easy to fix an ingrown nail


There are a lot of reasons why a nail might become ingrown. But by far the most common is an improper trim. If you trim your nails at too sharp an angle, and trim them too far back, it's possible for them to become ingrown.
Each side of your fingernail beds down in a channel, like a conveyor belt. You probably notice these channels when a hangnail pops out of them. (So annoying!) The nail is constantly being pushed forward by new growth. If something causes it to go off the track or start veering off into the side of the channel, you have an ingrown nail.

8 Foods Recalled in the Past Week

Of the problems the contaminated foods can cause: listeria, norovirus, clostridium botulinum, and salmonella.

According to a chart provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the list of contaminated foods recalled by their manufactures tallies up to eight for the last week. The rise in the number of food recalls is giving a new rise in safety concerns. Of the problems the contaminated foods can cause: listeria, norovirus, clostridium botulinum, and salmonella.

Brand Name/Product Description/Reason for Recall

  1. Golden Glen Creamery - Raw Cheddar product (Listeria Monocytogenes)
  2. Rice-A-Roni - Rice Pilaf  (for Undeclared Milk)
  3. Bio Gaudiano - Olives Stuffed with Almonds (Clostridium botulinum)
  4. Assi - Oysters - (Norovius)
  5. Badia - Pine Nuts - (Salmonella)
  6. Leslie Leger and Sons Ltd - Salted Smoked Split Herriing (for Unevicerated fish / potential botulism hazard)
  7. Sunrise Commodities - Pine Nuts (Salmonella)
  8. Pangasinan - Smoked Seafood Products (Clostridium botulinum)

Who Needs to Get the Pneumococcal Vaccine?

The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine in some people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pneumococcal disaease can be life threatening in some cases. In other cases, it can cause serious, life-long complications, such as limb loss, hearing loss, and brain damage. Although the pneumococcal vaccine is a good tool at preventing complications and death from the disease, it's not a fool-proof guarantee to prevent symptoms or infection in everyone.

That said, the CDC does recommend the pneumococcal vaccine in some people. It's given in two forms pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV).