Early success in a stem cell clinical trial to treat blindness

About a month after taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13505, Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells.  This order rescinded President George W Bush’s ban on new stem-cell lines for research (with a few exceptions), probably as a result of pressure from religious, anti-abortion groups.

Embryonic stem cells are useful research and clinical tools because they can be used in regenerative medicine, including tissue repair.  The first clinical trials started in 2009, and no stem cell therapy has been approved by the FDA as of this time.  Some early success in treating post-acute myocardial infarction with stem cells was reported earlier this month. Continue reading “Early success in a stem cell clinical trial to treat blindness”

Preventing and treating the common cold

It’s cold season, so everyone tries various lotions and potions to either prevent the common cold or, at least, to reduce the course of the disease.  Alternative medicine’s favorite disease to treat is the common cold, mainly because it’s an easy disease with not too many consequences.  Also, it’s very subjective, since the patient has a difficult time making an accurate determination of the length and severity of the attack.  Confirmation bias is usually the reason one hears that something works for the cold.  They forget all the times it doesn’t.  Or completely misjudge the actual effects of any treatment. Continue reading “Preventing and treating the common cold”

LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is it conversion disorder?

Since I last wrote about the group of individuals suffering from some neurological issues in LeRoy, NY (outside of Rochester), very little new information has come to light.  The junk science purveyors, such as the Age of Autism, is still trying to insinuate that vaccines have something to do with the “outbreak”, although they provide not one tiny bit of evidence supporting such a belief.

A few individuals still claim it is PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, but I am highly skeptical of physicians who self-promote their ideas outside of the standard peer-review process, and that a lot of reviews of the research into PANDAS has come out negative.  As I’ve mentioned before, a recent review of research in PANDAS came to this conclusion: “Despite continued research in the field, the relationship between GAS and specific neuropsychiatric disorders (PANDAS) remains elusive. It is possible that GAS infection may be but one of the many stressors that can exacerbate tic/Tourette’s or OCD in a subset of such patients.”  If there’s not even agreement that PANDAS exists, then a self-serving promotor of this particular diagnosis should be met with a high level of skepticism.  Even researchers who accept PANDAS as a legitimate diagnosis, such as Susan Swedo of the NIMH, are skeptical of such a diagnosis. Continue reading “LeRoy neurological illness mystery–update 3–is it conversion disorder?”

Seven states mulling legislation to skip mandatory immunizations

In a report in Vaccine NewsDaily, seven states mulling legislation to skip mandatory immunizations, which would allow parents a “philosophical exemption” to mandatory vaccinations.  In other words, this legislation would allow parents who listen to the anti-vaccination lunatics to refuse vaccines that prevent harm to their children, but worse yet harm to others who may not be immune to these infections.

[pullquote]measles cases in the nonexempt population increases significantly when exposed to an exemptor group[/pullquote] Continue reading “Seven states mulling legislation to skip mandatory immunizations”

Creationism legislation–Alabama, the Constitution update

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), in its article Credit-for-creationism scheme unconstitutional?, the new creationist legislation being introduced into the Alabama House is probably unconstitutional.  Incredibly scandalous news.

As discussed yesterday, Alabama is trying to pass legislation that would “authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students.”  In the landmark Supreme Court 1948 ruling, McCollum v. Board of Education, the court struck down a Illinois release time program as unconstitutional because of the public school system’s involement in the administration, organization and support of religious instruction classes. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama, the Constitution update”

Creationism legislation–New Hampshire

Not all anti-evolution legislation has been introduced in the southern or midwestern areas of the USA.  Two bills were introduced in New Hampshire, one of the few Republican areas of the northeastern part of the country.  Today, it was reported that a New Hampshire House committee dismisses bills on evolution.

The first bill, House Bill 1148, would have forced the state board of education to “[r]equire evolution to be taught in the public schools of this state as a theory, including the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism.”  Of course, from a scientific point-of-view, a scientific theory is about as close to a “fact” as you will find in science.  Evolution is a fact.   Although most atheists accept evolution (I’m always shocked to find a few atheists who dispute the fact of evolution), not everyone who accepts evolution is an atheist.  Like the whole Catholic Church, whose doctrine accepts evolution. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–New Hampshire”

Mercury, autism and the anti-vaccination insanity

Not that it will matter to the anti-vaccination gang, but there’s more evidence that vaccines have nothing to do with autism.  PLoS ONE, an open-access, peer reviewed journal has published A Comparison of Urinary Mercury between Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Control Children by a group of UK and US researchers.  This article is significant because one of the moving hypotheses of the anti-vaccination lunatics is that all that mercury in vaccines (and no, there is no metallic mercury in vaccines) is causing autism in children.  There’s a lot more mercury exposure in all of us by eating too much fish, so this has been dismissed many times. Continue reading “Mercury, autism and the anti-vaccination insanity”

Creationism legislation–Alabama, shocking news

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is reporting that antievolution legislation has been introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives.  Alabama isn’t known for their progressive attitudes towards the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution given some past events like trying to put the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building and forcing prayer into schools.  The bill allows local school districts to give credits to students who attend religious courses. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama, shocking news”

Creationism legislation–Indiana update

The right wing push to subvert the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution has been put on hold in Indiana.  According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana’s creation science bill is dead .  This is good news.  Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, an Indianapolis Republican, moved the bill to the rules committee, a procedural step that all but assures it will not make it to a vote this year.  According to Bosma, “I didn’t disagree with the concept of the bill, but I hesitate to micromanage local curricula. Secondarily, I didn’t think it was prudent to buy a lawsuit the state could ill afford at this point.”  A pragmatic Republican is rare these days, since it really should be up to the school district to teach science in the best way possible (which is completely ignoring the religion of creationism).  And there will be lawsuits which the state would lose. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Indiana update”