research

A Surgery-Free Cure For Appendicitis?

Appendicitis inflicts nearly 300,000 Americans each year. In most clinical settings, the 30-minute surgery is the standardized solution and no other treatment options are offered. However in the past where surgery hasn’t been an option, such as for American soldiers in submarines during the Cold War, antibiotics were successfully used as an appendicitis treatment. Recently, several studies in Europe have re-investigated this treatment option and determined that antibiotics can be used to treat appendicitis instead of appendix removal surgery, reports The New York Times. Of the 1,000 participants, 70% of those who took antibiotics needed no further surgery or treatment. Where antibiotics were not effective, subsequent surgeries were completed without any additional risks. Physicians who participated in the study proposed valuable questions regarding when to offer antibiotics and when is this treatment is most cost-effective. Given these unanswered questions and the uncertainty associated with appendicitis and its causes, further study regarding the efficacy of antibiotics is warranted.   Check out the complete study published by the New England Journal of Medicine,...

Kicking a Habit: Should We Reward for Success or Penalize for Failure?

Do you smoke or bite your nails? Do you have any kind of habit, likely exacerbated by stress, that you know you shouldn’t do but just can’t stop? If you bit your nails, which would be a more effective solution: treating oneself to a manicure for a week of no biting or penalizing oneself for biting by using a ‘Bite No More’ polish that tastes awful? What if the penalty didn’t just taste bad but hurt your wallet too? A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that smokers were more likely to enroll in reward-based cessation programs but were more successful in penalty-based cessation programs, The New York Times reported. In a study of 2,500 smokers affiliated with CVS, participants were enrolled in two different programs: a reward-based one and a penalty-based one. In the reward based-program, individuals were offered an $800 reward if they were able to go six-months without smoking. In the penalty-based program, individuals submitted a $150 deposit at the start, and after six-months if they had succeeded they would receive the deposit back and an additional $650, but if they failed they would lose their initial deposit. Researchers found that penalties such as losing a $150 deposit for cessation program failure nearly doubled one’s chances for successful quitting. Furthermore, those in the penalty program were five times as likely to quit...

Nobel Prize Winning Scientist Recreates “Inception” in Mice

I’ll be honest, I never saw Inception. Still, for all of us who haven’t, we all know the premise of the movie: someone, somehow implants an idea in someone else’s mind. It’s quite unsettling, like that feeling you get when your boss tells you that the fruit venders on the street don’t put the fruit away at night and that the rats run around on it. No sir, I would not like some cherries. But science fiction may be fiction no longer. Susumu Tonegawa, the 1987 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, and his team of neuroscientists at MIT have published compelling evidence suggesting that it is possible to access the memory axis and induce false memories in a mouse model. 1. Place mouse in location one. Let mouse observe the area and form memory of location one and observe the areas of the brain activated when forming this memory. 2. Place mouse in location two. Give the mouse an electric shock while at the same time stimulating the areas of the brain activated in step one. 3. Place mouse back in location one. Observe as mouse becomes frozen with fear, apparently thinking that he had been shocked in location one. The mouse, thus, was induced to believe that it were shocked in location one. Inception. Tonegawa’s findings pose interesting and thought provoking questions to not only the scientific community but also the...

What is the Most Complex Surgical Procedure?

Surgery…How would you define it? In an eloquent fashion, it can be described as the act of invasively treating a patient’s problem by dissecting into their body in order to access the source of concern and rectify the anatomy. As more simply described by my grandfather, a physician himself, “Surgery is nothing more than ‘cut and suture’.”   Having gone through the numerous years of rigorous training, from medical school to residency and fellowship, surgeons finally emerge equipped with the foundation needed to treat patients surgically. Whether it is vascular surgery or neurosurgery, surgeons perform highly intricate procedures everyday. Their level of skill is truly unmatched by any other, requiring them to maintain their focus and dedication for the preservation of human life. But how complex can surgery really be? As a prospective medical student myself, I wondered whether there was a procedure that could be labeled as the most complex of them all.   So I did some research. Only one out of the innumerable ones out there fit the bill: Pancreatoduodenectomy.   Falling in the area of expertise of a general surgeon, pancreatoduodenectomy is also commonly known as the “Whipple” (after one of its founders). It is a highly intricate surgical procedure involving great level of skill and experience. The operation is performed in order to resect pancreatic tumors commonly found on the head of the pancreas....

Do the Cannabinoids in Marijuana Have Anti-Tumor Properties?

Martin Lee, author of Smoke Signals, and director of Project CBD, discusses the enlightening research coming out of the California Pacific Medical Center about the antitumor and anticancer effects of cannabinoids. Cannabidiol, in particular, has been shown to potentiate first line chemotherapy...

Is Autism an Inflammatory Disease?

Michael Chez, MD, Director of Pediatric Neurology at Sutter Health, evaluates the role that the immune system and inflammation play in autism. Dr. Chez evaluates evidence from different studies, including elevated cytokine levels and mutations in the MET kinase beta gene. Read more about Michael Chez,...

What Happens When You Design a Living Organism?

For a few months back in 2013, Dubliners got a glimpse into the future of bio-design at the exhibition Grow Your Own: Life after Nature at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin. Visitors witnessed a wealth of synthetic biology projects with everything from mice with the same DNA as Elvis (pretty cool!) to a whole wheel of cheese grown from human bacteria (sorry ew.) Check it out:...