Medicine and Pharmaceuticals

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...

Carrie Fisher’s tragic death after last week’s inflight medical emergency is sadly an all too familiar occurrence.  In fact, upticks of cardiac-related deaths on Christmas and New Year’s, in particular, are well-documented. 

This is often referred to as the “holiday effect” with the ‘why’ being unknown and most elusive, but speculated to range from any or a combination of the following:  abrupt behavioral changes albeit dietary, alcohol, exercise, work or vacation-induced, stress secondary to travel itself or familial discord or preparations, financial issues, capacity for displacement of death, delayed access to medical care due to remote locations, being en...

With the evidence already established regarding known upticks of cardiac deaths (aka heart-related) on Christmas and New Year’s, a new study seeks to elucidate if winter is a main culprit.  

A team from Australia and New Zealand recently endeavored to expand upon the canon, in particular, on Phillips et al’s work published in the journal Circulation in 2004:  Cardiac mortality is higher around Christmas and New Year’s than at any other time:  The holidays as a risk factor for death.  Here, the United States’ researchers analyzed death certificates in both heart and non heart diseases in a larger dataset than previously performed (n=53...

It isn't often when an invention that changes the landscape comes along. But one just did. 

A new paper in the British journal The Lancet, which had 30 authors, reports results that seem too good to be true. 

But they are not. A group led by the World Health Organization using a vaccine that was invented in Canada conducted a large scale inoculation in Guinea and Sierra Leone to assess how well it protected people against Ebola—the virus that ravaged Africa in 2014, killing 60 percent of the people that it infected. How well did it work? Spectacularly. The vaccine protected 100 percent of the people who received it. This is the first and only therapy for Ebola, other than prior supportive measures such as rehydration.

The vaccine, which is a...

In October, I wrote about the release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report which reflected record highs in the three most commonly reported conditions in the United States in 2015:  primary and secondary syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. (1)

Concerns over increasing antibiotic resistance risks accompanying the rapid rate of rise of gonorrheal infection prompted researchers in Australia to investigate alternate means of prevention in addition to conventional measures (e.g. condoms).  

Dr. Chow...

 

Official Health Report for SANTA CLAUS

 

 

 

 

CLAUS, SANTA

One St. Nicholas Icy Drive

North Pole, Arctic

Date of Birth (DOB):  Immortal

Medical Record #:  12-24-0000

This letter reflects the official summary of SANTA CLAUS’ (aka St. Nick) recent health visit to determine medical fitness to serve as himself on Christmas Eve in a global capacity.  As the Director of Medicine and a Board-Certified physician at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), I can...