Medicine

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I think it’s pronounced as “Bap pin neuz zu mab” but what is it? Well, it’s a drug that is an anti-amyloid agent. And what is an anti-amyloid agent? That’s an agent which targets beta-amyloid protein production. These proteins are the sticky plaques that form when soluble beta-amyloid changes shape to become fibrous and insoluble. These sticky plaques are believed responsible for Alzheimer’s disease, so breaking them up is believed helpful for the Alzheimer’s patient.

Curiously, yesterday, August 17, 2010, was the very day that the article, Amyloid Theory in Alzheimer’s Takes Another Hit, appeared. See the widget in the right column where this article is the first one listed.

The article states that negative clinical results have been found for three of the anti-amyloid agents, including bapineuzumab. However, preliminary PET scan data indicates that bapineuzumab does successfully break up amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s patients as it’s intended to do. This is good. However, clinical results on the patients to see whether they have in fact improved are not yet available.

So the verdict on bapineuzumab is far from out but the results on plaque breakup are apparently felt encouraging enough that a new clinical trial is being launched.

NOTE: There was a positive effect on a subgroup of patients who don’t carry the AD risk allele ApoE4. ApoE4 is a particular gene. Another name for it seems to be “apolipoprotein E-4 gene (APOE-4) allele” which I found in perusing the literature.

UPDATE: Here’s a New York Times article, Drug’s Failure Casts Doubt on a Tactic in Alzheimer’s Battle, based on the article I mention above, and it’s more pessimistic but it does not mention Beelzebub, whoops, I mean Bapineuzumab!

FURTHER UPDATE: Here’s a report on a clinical trial of bapineuzumab.

STILL FURTHER UPDATE: Here’s a pretty serious critique of the previous clinical trial of bapineuzumab.

JULY 25, 2012 UPDATE: Bapineuzumab Fails Phase 3 Clinical Trial.

August 8, 2012 UPDATE: Bapineuzumab trials discontinued…. the end

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Here are the best arguments for Single Payer Health Insurance I’ve come across yet:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi1acHg3mhw[/youtube]

We’re lucky we have that great journalist, Bill Moyers, around. Here he’s interviewing two strong advocates of Single Payer, David Himmelstein, MD, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, and Sidney Wolfe, MD, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

What chance in Hell does Single Payer have in this country?

I’ll answer my own question. It has NO CHANCE.

So what do we do? Stand with Dr. Dean and go all out for the Public Option. He explains this in the following:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzASZoU2obM[/youtube]

This piece by Bernie Horn convinced me that Single Payer can’t work politically, and that our only option is the Public Option.

Right now, members of congress, including Olympia Snowe in the Senate are watering down the Public Option so that it will end up not being a Public Option. Read Paul Krugman on the Snowe “trigger”.

That’s why we’ve got to Stand with Dr. Dean. Sign his petition!

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As a youngster growing up in the little town of Westford, Mass., with a mother who had Parkinson’s Disease but who could function pretty well because she was young, I was afraid of death and told my mother I would invent a magic pill that would keep me alive forever. So I decided to major in chemistry at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. But after a couple months of frustrations in my Quantitative Analysis class — I just didn’t have the patience to carry out the measurements plus the instructor was horrible — I said “To heck with this!” and switched to physics. After all, physics had been getting a lot of media play, what with the atom bomb and all, and might satisfy another craving I had which was to understand the universe. ha ha Well, I actually ended up as a physicist back in the 1950’s but as the years went on I gradually switched over to more mundane engineering work such as computer simulations of solid state transistors. My childhood dream of a pill to extend life forever had become a long forgotten and silly youthful fantasy.

But wait! Just recently I read where red wine can extend the lifespan of mice dosed with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. In fact the report states that some scientists are already taking resveratrol in capsule form. The report also states that serious scientists have long derided the idea of life-extending elixirs. However, quoting from the report, “the door may now have been opened to drugs that exploit an ancient biological survival mechanism, that of switching the body’s resources from fertility to tissue maintenance. The improved tissue maintenance seems to extend life by cutting down on the degenerative diseases of aging”.

OK, is there still hope for me? And I didn’t even have to work on the magic pill project! ha ha
😆

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Minor Op

Today I had a minor operation. I am prone to seborrheic keratoses. Here’s a picture of one. Yuk.

This is not a picture of one of mine which are usually darker and bumpier. I’ve had one above and to the left of my left eye for the last several weeks, and my family physician felt it ought to be “looked at”.

From the Wiki, “The main danger associated with seborrheic keratoses lies in their resemblance to malignant melanomas, which has sometimes led to a misdiagnosis of the cancerous lesions.” The Doc felt a biopsy was in order for this one, and also I felt why not remove the whole thing, for “cosmetic reasons”? Since I take the blood thinner, Coumadin, he recommended that the procedure be done in the hospital, so today at 8am I went into the Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine, accompanied by Cynthia, for my minor operation.

It took them an hour to “prep me” which wasn’t that bad even though I had not been allowed to consume any food or water after midnight. The nurse was very pleasant and attractive, and it was good to have Cynthia there with me for chatting and extra care. Finally, the hour for the operation arrived, another nurse appeared and gave me some “happy juice” as a mild sedation, and I was wheeled off to the operating room. It was over in a flash, or so it seemed, and I was wheeled back, given a sweet roll and some coffee, and sent on my way with a list of instructions. Cynthia did the driving even though I felt fine. The stitches come out in four days and soon after that, if not before, I should learn that the keratosis was benign…….
😯
UPDATE: 2/16/2008 Actually the stitches don’t come out until the 22nd. The dressing came off in four days, namely, today. Now an inch and a half long scar with black stitches is visible beside my left eye. Perhaps a black patch would do?

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Only this time it’s not a metaphysical mind-body, like I have been wont to talk about in the past, it’s a physical mind-body. The Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital offers their relaxation response for quieting our mind and reducing our stress. Tangible benefits such as reduced blood pressure result. Well, this is all well known. There’s also NCCAM, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But getting back to BHI why don’t I try that relaxation response? Yeah, why don’t I?

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I found an interesting science-based discussion of the placebo effect with 18 comments on an interesting blog called Science-Based Medicine. The Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet, claimed to be a cure for chronic pain via the placebo effect, did not impress a judge who threw out the maker’s appeal of the Federal Trade Commission’s finding that the claim of a cure was fraudulent. The author of the article defends the judge’s ruling and goes on to give a pretty thorough discussion of the placebo effect. The comments are quite interesting too.

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