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Miscellaneous Medical Research News

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Mark, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Mark

    Mark Former CEO

    Sofa, UK
    I've been collecting some interesting bits of health and science news again, and rather than create loads of new threads I thought I'd stick them all in one...if anybody thinks one of these deserves its own thread, just go ahead...

    Narcolepsy in Children after Swine Flu Vaccine - in 12 countries

    Biggest news of the lot IMO: It's no longer wild and unscientific speculation to suggest that vaccines cause neurological disorders: GSK's Pandermix was caught in the act this time, as Scandinavians experienced a wave of narcolepsy cases. A genetic link has been suggested - which could be interesting if that relates to endogenous retroviruses in the same ancestry that's already linked to MS - but is it just Scandinavians that are affected? WHO says that 12 countries have now reported cases - but it won't say which ones, because only Finland, Sweden and Iceland have formally notified it (!).

    I just think this is massive. Vaccine triggers new form of a neurological condition, previously unknown to medical science. That's no longer 'impossible' because it just where does that leave all the arguments usually raised against such hypotheses in the past? I've heard it said so many times that it's unscientific nonsense to suggest that vaccines can cause chronic illness: the debate and the science couldn't even start because it was said to be a nonsense idea. Surely this development changes everything?

    It might also be interesting to look back through Google News and examine who was playing this down a few weeks ago...

    Probably deserves its own thread here if it doesn't have one already.

    Diabetes and virus link confirmed

    Australian research finds that children with Type 1 diabetes are nearly 10 times as likely to also have a viral infection than healthy children. Enteroviruses in particular are implicated, and Type 1 diabetes cases are rising across the globe.

    Scientists produce postcode map of geographical link to allergies

    Map of allergies in Devon and Cornwall reveals "environmental clusters" of allergies.

    Air Pollution Can Trigger Heart Attacks

    Air pollution triggers around the same amount of heart attacks as individual risk factors such as physical exertion, alcohol, and coffee, according to a new study:

    Dust mites 'swarm' around houses

    ...migrating as a group in search of moisture...

    Hope for millions as brain study unlocks secrets of Alzheimer's

    Pioneering study of the chemical and genetic makeup of the vital microscopic gaps between nerve cells that control all brain functions. Scientists announced yesterday [Dec 20! Old news!] that they have identified more than a thousand proteins and their related genes which are involved in transmitting electrical messages from one nerve cell to another across the tiny gaps of the brain's many billions of synapses – switches that control brain activity. The researchers said the feat could be compared to the deciphering of the human genome.

    Funding for dementia research is dangerously low

    "Startlingly low levels of funding for dementia research. How can a condition that strikes such fear into the public, affects nearly a million of us, and carries a 23 billion cost to our economy every year, remain the Cinderella disease in terms of research funding?"

    Just 50m a year in research - while agreeing that's shockingly low, and disproportionately low compared to cancer and heart disease, what adjectives then are appropriate to describe the levels of funding for research into a condition that affects at least 250,000 of us, strikes early in life, and enjoyed just 109,000 of government funding last financial year?

    Unlicensed herbal medicines to escape EU ban

    Angry reaction from some scientists to the decision by the UK government to allow some chinese and herbal medicines to escape the EU ban. This seems to be a small but significant concession: such medicines can still be accessed but only through licensed practitioners - not over-the-counter in health food shops - which drives the price way up of course and removes the ability for people to manage their own health in this way.

    These new measures aren't far away now, and are set to have massive implications for people who are currently using herbal remedies.

    To my mind, it's a disgustingly arrogant crackdown and in practice an appallingly cruel measure. Even as big pharma continues to establish scientifically the mechanisms by which these forms of medicine do work - and re-packages them for sale - it shuts down the access to forms of healing that people have used for centuries purely because nobody has scientifically proven them yet. The cruellest part being that in many cases the medical world has no answer to people's problems and is offering nothing in return: it's shutting down access to naturally growing medicines that help many people with their pain because it can't make profit out of them itself. It wants a complete monopoly on healthcare and it doesn't care who has to suffer to get it. Time to start stockpiling those essential remedies that you know work well for you...

    Unpublished results hide the decline effect

    Quite a discussion emerging about the worrying possibility of 'the decline effect': the strange phenomenon whereby scientific findings that were thought sound seem to be gradually diminishing in effect: repeat old experiments, and the effect seems to be getting less powerful. This has even happened in some physics results so it's becoming quite a theme...and one of the issues arising as a potential explanation is publication bias: an issue quite relevant to us in relation to XMRV. This article from Nature is an interesting discussion, and the proposal for dealing with data is very similar to ideas I've argued for here previously. The debate begins to get to the heart of the question as to how scientific our current scientific process really is.
  2. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi Mark, damn you have more energy than me. Very good points you have made. Since my sleeping disorders sometimes trend toward narcolepsy, and I am worried that this might get worse and become genuine narcolepsy, I have been thinking about this but have not done much of a literature search.

    A vaccine and therefore immune link to narcolepsy raises the issue about vaccine links to other neurological disorders. There was an important one, well known to us. What was it again? ;-) This is more evidence for us to use in promoting our own concerns.

    The other issues you raised are equally important imo. Dementia is likely to be the single biggest economic issue we face by the end of the century, bigger than global warming might be. Funding so little is very short term thinking indeed.

  3. Mark

    Mark Former CEO

    Sofa, UK the top of my head, I can't quite think of any vaccines that have been tentatively linked to neurological disorders in the past Alex...I have a vague feeling that, on further investigation, it always turned out that there was nothing in it after all. Hey: you don't think this might have something to do with ME do you? That can't be right, surely...aren't neurological symptoms exclusionary for CFS under the more modern definitions? ;)
  4. August59

    August59 Daughters High School Graduation

    Upstate SC, USA
    I wonder how they determined that the children did in fact have narcolepsy? Sleep study (I think they can check the spinal fluid for hypocretin as well)? As of the fall of 2010, narcolepsy was pretty much classified as an autoimmune disease due to the body attacking and destroying hypocretin in the hypothalmus. It sure seems like PWC's always has a significant event relating back to the hypothalmus.

    Here is an excerpt from the Stanford School of Medicine - Center for Narcolepsy:

    Dauvilliers Y, Montplaisir J, Cochen V, Desautels A, Einen M, Lin L, Kawashima M, Bayard S, Monaca C, Tiberge M, Filipini D, Tripathy A, Nguyen BH, Kotagal S, Mignot E. Post-H1N1 Narcolepsy-Cataplexy Sleep 2010 33(11):1428-30. Following the H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak of 2010, researchers in Europe, Canada and the United States noted an apparent increase in new narcolepsy cases. This letter to the Editor of Sleep suggests that exposure H1N1 vaccine containing adjuvant ASO3 (used in Europe, not the United States) or infection with H1N1 virus, may trigger narcolepsy in rare cases, and suggests the need for systematic study and replication. Published in Sleep, November 1, 2010.
  5. Mark

    Mark Former CEO

    Sofa, UK
    From what I recall of the early reports, the narcolepsy cases weren't ambiguous...I seem to remember descriptions of kids spontaneously falling deep asleep in a fairly dramatic fashion. I may have just read an alarmist report perhaps but I got the impression this was such an odd form of narcolepsy that the reports were seen as 'odd' at first because the phenomenon wasn't in the medical literature. Not sure if that's right, as I say, just my vague impression from the first thing I read about it quite a while ago, but would be interesting to look into: one would expect a brand-new phenomenon in this scenario. I seem to remember it was quite some months ago the first reports came in about it.

    Interesting that your quote there indicates the phenomenon was observed in Canada and the US too, because I also seem to recall reading disclaimers that this is maybe just in finland and sweden, and not affecting the rest of the world. I think an analysis of the media reporting and the scientific quotes as the tale has unfolded might be quite interesting. Unlike other vaccine stories, this one has evolved quite rapidly, and it's interesting to consider who noticed it first, who took it seriously, who tried to deny it, what arguments they used, what pressures were applied, by whom, etc etc...

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