Tag Archives: medical

Immune cells from the common cold offer protection against COVID-19, researchers find

If one in 10 cold infections are from coronaviruses, then antibodies produced from these illnesses could surely give a bit more protection against COVID-19, right? A new study has just provided the answer to this question by showing that immunity induced by colds can indeed help fight off the far more dangerous novel coronavirus.

Image credits: Engin Akyurt.

A study from Imperial College London that studied people exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 found that only half of the participants were infected, while the others tested negative. Before this, researchers took blood samples from all volunteers within days of exposure to determine the levels of an immune cell known as a T cell – cells programmed by previous infections to attack specific invaders.

Results show that participants who didn’t test positive had significantly higher levels of these cells; in other words, those who evaded infection had higher levels of T cells that attack the Covid virus internally to provide immunity — T cells that may have come from previous coronavirus infections (not SARS-CoV-2). These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, may pave the way for a new type of vaccine to prevent infection from emerging variants, including Omicron.

Dr. Rhia Kundu, the first author of the paper from Imperial’s National Heart & Lung Institute, says: “Being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus doesn’t always result in infection, and we’ve been keen to understand why. We found that high levels of pre-existing T cells, created by the body when infected with other human coronaviruses like the common cold, can protect against COVID-19 infection.” Despite this promising data, she warns: “While this is an important discovery, it is only one form of protection, and I would stress that no one should rely on this alone. Instead, the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated, including getting your booster dose.”

The common cold’s role in protecting you against Covid

The study followed 52 unvaccinated people living with someone who had a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. Participants were tested seven days after being exposed to see if they had caught the disease from their housemates and to analyze their levels of pre-existing T cells. Tests indicated that the 26 people who tested negative for COVID-19 had significantly higher common cold T cells levels than the remainder of the people who tested positive. Remarkably, these cells targeted internal proteins within the SARS-CoV-2 virus, rather than the spike protein on its surface, providing ‘cross-reactive’ immunity between a cold and COVID-19.

Professor Ajit Lalvani, senior author of the study and Director of the NIHR Respiratory Infections Health Protection Research Unit at Imperial, explained:

“Our study provides the clearest evidence to date that T cells induced by common cold coronaviruses play a protective role against SARS-CoV-2 infection. These T cells provide protection by attacking proteins within the virus, rather than the spike protein on its surface.”

However, experts not involved in the study caution against presuming anyone who has previously had a cold caused by a coronavirus will not catch the novel coronavirus. They add that although the study provides valuable data regarding how the immune system fights this virus, it’s unlikely this type of illness has never infected any of the 150,000 people who’ve died of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK to date.

Other studies uncovering a similar link have also warned cross-reactive protection gained from colds only lasts a short period.

The road to longer-lasting vaccines

Current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines work by recognizing the spike protein on the virus’s outer shell: this, in turn, causes an immune reaction that stops it from attaching to cells and infecting them. However, this response wanes over time as the virus continues to mutate. Luckily, the jabs also trigger T cell immunity which lasts much longer, preventing the infection from worsening or hospitalization and death. But this immunity is also based on blocking the spike protein – therefore, it would be advantageous to have a vaccine that could attack other parts of the COVID virus.

Professor Lalvani surmises, “The spike protein is under intense immune pressure from vaccine-induced antibodies which drives the evolution of vaccine escape mutants. In contrast, the internal proteins targeted by the protective T cells we identified mutate much less. Consequently, they are highly conserved between the SARS-CoV-2 variants, including Omicron.” He ends, “New vaccines that include these conserved, internal proteins would therefore induce broadly protective T cell responses that should protect against current and future SARS-CoV-2 variants.”

A week in the COVID 19 crisis from a UK perspactive.

COVID-19 in the UK. A Week in an Underprepared Nation

A week in the COVID 19 crisis from a UK perspactive.
A week in the COVID 19 crisis from a UK perspective.

New research from the University of Huddersfield has starkly warned that the local authorities of the UK are unprepared for the sheer numbers of deaths likely to be caused by the spread of the COVID-19 novel strain of the coronavirus.

In a paper published in the journal Emergency Management Review, the authors warn that major increase in mortality rates and staff absences will mean a struggle to issue death certificates, leading to a bottleneck in burials and cremations, with mortuaries filled beyond capacity, adding that even if fatality rates are at the lower end of expectations — one per cent of virus victims — it is highly likely that death and bereavement services will be overwhelmed.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for Coronavirus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

As well as analyzing the readiness of local authorities, the authors including Dr Julia Meaton, Dr Anna Williams and researcher Helen-Marie Kruger, drew on data from previous pandemics. Their findings are based on research conducted in 2019 which aimed to assess how well prepared the UK was to handle a potential flu pandemic.

This is by far from the first time that medical professionals have warned the UK authorities that their response to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping that the globe is insufficient. Much of this criticism has focused on the UK authorities failing to secure sufficient medical equipment to handle the growing crisis.

When future generations look back at the handling of this crisis by Boris Johnston’s government they will likely be forced to navigate a litany of lousy excuses, u-turns, bluffs, under the table deals, incompetence and the collapse of the NHS after a decade of neglect. An NHS already at breaking point before the onset of a global pandemic and the health crisis it has wrought.

What follows are revelations of mishandling and blunders that have unfolded during just one week of this crisis. 

Missed emails and missing ventilators

Even as the aforementioned paper was being published, the Government was facing accusations of failing to secure 25,000 ventilators — a potentially life-saving piece of equipment — from UK manufacturer Direct Access. 

The Cheshire based company claim that it informed the UK Department of Health that it could secure the 25,000 ventilators and 50 million coronavirus testing kits, yet its e-mail went unanswered for two weeks. During this intervening period, Direct Access says that the equipment was purchased by other countries. Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove, has apologised for the error and promised to investigate the situation.

“No one seemed to be taking us seriously,” says Andy Faulkner, the manager of Topland, a Dubai firm helping Direct Access obtain ventilators, adding that the two companies offered the government 5,000 units a week over five weeks — but initially received no response. “They asked us to register on the ventilation website, which we did, and then waited another five days for any response.”

Faulkner concluded by saying that it could be as late as July before the companies could offer the NHS any further equipment, even were it to be ordered immediately. 

“Brexit over breathing”

The error comes on the heels of the revelation that Johnson’s government had failed to enroll in the EU scheme to jointly obtain ventilators to avert the predicted shortfall over the following critical weeks. 

The official line from Downing Street was initially that as they were no longer part of the European Union then it had been believed they could not be part of the scheme, an excuse so flimsy that the Independent referred to it as “Brexit over breathing.” Downing Street later clarified that the failure to register in the programme was a result of a communications mix-up. A claim that has been dismissed by Brussels.

On Friday a spokesperson for the EU made it clear that the 11-month transition period during which Britain makes its exit includes an allowance for the country to join in any “joint procurement” programmes. They continue: “The member states’ needs for personal protective equipment have been discussed several times in the meetings of the health security committee where the UK participated.

“At these meetings, the commission stressed its readiness to further support countries with the procurement of medical countermeasures if needed, so member states and the UK had the opportunity to signal their interest to participate in any joint procurements.”

Number Ten did state that they would take part in any future measurements to procure ventilators undertaken by the EU.

To many, this may be seen as an assurance that is both too little and too late. It is estimated that the UK will need 30,000 ventilators to deal adequately with the deepening COVID-19 situation. The NHS currently has an estimated 8,000 machines, with a further 8,000 expected to be ready for the end of April. A deeply worrying shortfall. 

What has come as a shock to some, is that the Government has approached a manufacturer to produce ventilators, albeit one with no prior history in building medical devices and equipment. 

Help from unusual sources

The company Dyson unveiled a prototype ventilator — the Co Vent — just last week, immediately garnering an initial order for 10,000 units from Westminister. The deal will be based upon the device passing tests from expert clinicians and health regulators, according to a spokesperson for Boris Johnson. 

The involvement of the company, founded by billionaire Brexit-supporter and Tory-part donor James Dyson, has garnered a great deal of scepticism, with a representative from Penlon-part of the ventilator Challenge UK consortium — stating that it is deeply unrealistic to design a new ventilator and rapidly begin producing tens of thousands of the device. 

Why have a ventilator by a leading manufacturer in the field when you can buy 10,000 unbuilt prototypes from a Tory donor? Credit: Dyson.

There is, of course, some crossover between the ventilator and the machine that made Dyson a household name, the vacuum cleaner. Both machines are designed to pump air efficiently, and some of the parts are similar. If this doesn’t inspire much Dyson have employed the Technology Partnership — a company that employs some scientists with experience in designing medical interventions — to assist them. Dyson has also pledged to donate 4,000 Co Vent units globally to help fight against COVID-19, as well as promising to donate a further 1,000 devices to the UK.

Fortunately, the NHS is receiving help from a somewhat unexpected source to help tackle other shortages. A medical fetish website — MedFet Uk has donated its entire stock of disposable scrubs to the NHS after it was approached by procurement representatives. 

“Today we donated our entire stock of disposable scrubs to an NHS hospital. It was just a few sets, because we don’t carry large stocks, but they were desperate, so we sent them free of charge,” the company said in a statement posted on their Twitter account. 

The scrubs donated by medical fetish website MedFetUK

Whilst the company has received rightful praise, it seems utterly terrifying that so many years of abuse, neglect, and cost-cutting measures by the Tory Government has left NHS is such dire need of essentials they have to appeal for help from a fetish website. 

The MedFetUK Twitter statement went on to reflect this sentiment, concluding: “So when it’s all over…and the doctors, nurses and other staff have done an amazing job (as they undoubtedly will despite the circumstances)… let’s not forget, or forgive, the ones who sent the NHS into this battle with inadequate armour and one hand tied behind its back.”

A 3D adapter can turn a snorkeling mask into a non-invasive ventilator

If there’s one thing that is in high-demand now across the globe, that’s ventilators. More than 400.000 cases of the virus have left many hospitals without stocks of this key medical equipment, which can help in artificial breathing when lungs fail to do it naturally.

Credit Issinova

Nevertheless, when resources lack, creativity and innovation rise, and that’s what has happened here. Influenced by a large number of cases in their country, a group of Italian engineers has developed and tested a 3D-printed adapter that can turn a snorkeling mask into a ventilator.

This is their second innovative creation since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. The engineers previously visited a hospital that didn’t have sufficient ventilator valves and, using a 3D printer, developed new ones and printed them in just a few hours. Following that first experience, the team was contacted by the former head physician of the Gardone Valtrompia Hospital.

“He shared with us an idea to address the possible shortage of hospital C-PAP masks, which is emerging as a concrete problem linked to the spread of COVID-19: an emergency ventilator mask,” they said.

The first step was finding a company that produced snorkeling masks and agree on a partnership. That was Decathlon, a French sporting goods company. Once they had the product, the engineers dismantled and studied it to check how to use a valve to connect the mask with the ventilator.

Other designers had already created 3D printable adapters to transform similar snorkeling masks into medical ones. The innovation by the Italian engineers was that the adapter could be modified for the mask to be connected as a ventilator, a key resource needed during the outbreak.

Once they had the new product, they tested it at the Chiari Hospital by connecting it to the ventilator body, proving it worked successfully. They also tested it on a patient with good results. Nevertheless, the invention should only be used in an emergency situation, the engineers warned.

“We are reiterating that the idea is designed for healthcare facilities and wants to help in realization of an emergency mask in the case of a full-blown difficult situation, where it is not possible to find official healthcare supplies. Neither the mask nor the link is certified and their use is subject to a situation of mandatory need,” they said.

The engineers patented the valve that connects the mask and the ventilator so as to avoid speculation on the price. The patent is free as the objective is “that all hospitals in need could use it if necessary,” they said. They also shared the file required to create the valve with a 3D printer, which they claim is easy to manufacture, on their website.

This means that any healthcare facility that needs ventilators can purchase the Decathlon mask and then produce the valve in any local 3D printing facility. “Our initiative is totally non-profit, we will not obtain any royalties on the idea of the link, nor on the sales of Decathlon masks,” they said.

Similar initiatives can be seen in other parts of the world, using 3D printers. In Spain, also severely affected by the outbreak, a group of engineers and doctors have partnered up to develop low-cost respirators and print as much personal protective equipment as possible.

Medical masks as good as respirators against the flu, viruses

It pays to have a medical mask on hand during flu season.

Image credits Paul Keller / Flickr.

New research reports finding “no significant difference in the effectiveness” of medical masks vs. N95 respirators for prevention of influenza or other viral respiratory illness.

One dime mask

“This study showed there is no difference in incidence of viral respiratory transmission among health care workers wearing the two types of protection,” said Dr. Trish Perl, Chief of UT Southwestern’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Geographic Medicine and the report’s senior author.

“This finding is important from a public policy standpoint because it informs about what should be recommended and what kind of protective apparel should be kept available for outbreaks.”

Nurses, doctors, and other medical personnel who come into direct contact with patients are frequently exposed to contagious diseases such as influenza (flu). During large outbreaks (such as the H1N1 pandemic of 2009) as many as one in three healthcare workers could contract the disease they’re fighting against, says Dr. Perl.

During that pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of N95 respirators, designed to fit closely over the nose and mouth and filter at least 95% of airborne particles. The looser-fitting surgical masks routinely worn by healthcare workers were considered insufficient, Dr. Perl said, but there weren’t enough of N95 filters for every facility.

The new study came to follow-up on previous research comparing the masks and respirators, which yielded mixed results. The team used data from several Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and multiple medical institutions in seven cities including Houston, Denver, Washington, and New York, collected with the help of multiple universities throughout the USA. The figures pertained to the four flu seasons between 2011 and 2015, examining the incidence of flu and acute respiratory illnesses in the almost 2,400 health care workers who completed the study.

The team reports that 207 laboratory-confirmed influenza infections occurred in the N95 groups versus 193 among medical mask wearers. In addition, they found 2,734 cases of influenza-like symptoms, laboratory-confirmed respiratory illnesses, and acute or laboratory-detected respiratory infections (where the worker may not have felt ill) in the N95 groups, compared with 3,039 such events among medical mask wearers.

“It was a huge and important study — the largest ever done on this issue in North America,” says Dr. Perl.

“The takeaway is that […] one type of protective equipment is not superior to the other,” she adds. “Facilities have several options to provide protection to their staff — which include surgical masks — and can feel that staff are protected from seasonal influenza. Our study supports that in the outpatient setting there was no difference between the tested protections.”

The team plans to investigate the dynamics of virus transmission in the future, in order to better understand how to protect medical personnel from them.

The paper “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel” has been published in the journal JAMA.

The UK royal “luxury” birth cost less than the average US birth

As a new royal baby was born to Kate Middleton and Prince William, the UK was abuzz, with word spreading of a lavish, luxurious birth. But the price for the birth and the mother’s recovery, which was $8,900, is significantly lower than what the average US woman pays under normal conditions.

The US is the most expensive place in the world for giving birth, with the average price being $10,800 in 2015. This doesn’t include pre and post-birth care, which raise the price to roughly $30,000.

Kate Middleton. Image via Wikipedia.

The UK takes its royalty very seriously — and the birth of a new royal baby is no small matter. So it’s only natural that the media was abuzz with the event, presenting even the tiniest details about Kate and William’s preparations. Among these details, it was revealed that the baby was delivered in a private room in St. Mary’s Hospital’s Lindo Wing. Perks include an “en suite” bathroom, a refrigerator, and a menu of “nutritious” meals — which, call me crazy, sounds decent rather than luxurious for a woman going through the struggles of childbirth. Still, the $8,900 price tag is nothing to scoff at and seems very luxurious — until you look at figures for the USA.

According to figures compiled by The Economist and circulated by Statista, this deluxe package for 24 hours, including the non-Caesarian delivery, still costs less than an average birth in the United States, which amounts to $10,800 (2015 figures). The Guardian reports that, including all expenses, US hospitals charged $32,093 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and newborn care, and $51,125 for a standard cesarean section.

Of course, you can make a very valid case that the UK royal house is making too many expenses, that they’re ultimately funded through public money, and that they’re often quite lavishly wasteful. But really, a more important takeaway is that, even in these extremely troubling times, the British healthcare system (be it public or private) somehow manages to be more price-efficient than the US healthcare system. Even though American insurers often negotiate lower prices, the associated costs are still much higher. This is a recurring problem for the US, which spends more on healthcare than any other country, but in many aspects falls way behind other developed nations.

It’s not like the British system is a landmark either — other developed countries also have much lower birth-associated prices. For instance, in Spain, it costs about $1,950 to deliver a child. In Australia, the price is around $5,000, and in even Switzerland, a notoriously expensive country, it’s under $8,000.

To top it all off, if Kate and William had regular jobs, they would be entitled to 37 weeks of paid parental leave and up to 50 weeks unpaid leave. American workers have no national paid family leave policy and no national mechanism to help parents stay afloat financially after bringing a child to the world.

15 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Doctors and Medical staff

If your Valentine is a doctor or training to be one, but you still have no idea what to get him/her, here are a few suggestions:

1. Medical design pens and post-its

 Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Amazon

In a hospital or clinic’s turmoil, pens are lost every day. Nurses and doctors fight over the remaining ones all the time. Make sure your loved one has a particular writing tool, that stands out and impresses everyone from the practice. It might not seem like a big or important gift, but rest assured: they will be forever thankful.

2. Funny Mug for Vets 

Buy on Amazon

Let’s not forget that veterinarians are doctors as well. Or should I say ‘dogtors’? This mug surely makes me giggle every time I see it.

3. Anatomy coaster set

Buy on Amazon

Medical employees tend to be clean freaks, let’s be honest. Make sure this year that you will score some points by showing that you care about the furniture by buying a set of coasters.

4. Brain hat

Buy on Amazon

This brainy knitted hat is the most awesome way your SO will be warm and comfortable. Let’s not mention it’s funny as hell.

5. Unisex Galaxy Print Glow in the Dark V-Neck Scrub 

Buy on Amazon

Make your loved one feel the universe is there for them. Reach for the stars even in gloomy days with an awesome scrub that glows in the dark.

6. Prescription wine glasses

Buy on Amazon

We all need from time to time to relax. Even doctors.

7. Silver Lifeline Pulse EKG Heartbeat Charm Necklace

 Buy on Amazon

Women like jewelry but they love jewelry with a message. Saving lives is her purpose. She will adore this gift, as it will make her feel you truly get her.

8. Doctor Wine Holder 

Buy on Amazon

Doctor figurines that are there for you and hold the booze, too. What can be more romantic than spending Valentine’s day with your loved one and this little guy?

9. Sterling Silver Medical Caduceus Cufflinks 

Buy on Amazon

For special occasions, but not only. Your man will feel distinguished wearing these silver cufflinks that symbolize medicine. It’s a reminder of hard work and dedication, and they will wear them proudly.

10. The New Yorker Book of Doctor Cartoons

Buy on Amazon

Humorous doctor cartoons that will make anyone crack-up. Laughter is the best medicine, right?

11. Synapse Receptor Watercolor Print 

Buy on Amazon

Great for a neurologist’s office, or even for the living room. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than knowing your significant other’s true passion.

12. Silver Lifelike Anatomical Heart Locket

 

Buy on Amazon

Cardiologists have the biggest hearts. This necklace is unique and will offer you a place in her heart forever.

13. Red anatomical heart pin

Buy on Amazon

Just imagine how cool this pin would look on a white doctor’s coat.

14. Radiology bone socks

Buy on Amazon

Radiologists are old fashioned, they prefer black and white movies and photos. Why not buy them a pair of bony black and white socks?

15. Heartbeat hoodie

 

Buy on Amazon

Show your lover your heart is theirs and you don’t mind it. These cool hoodies are unisex and come in different colours such as black, white, grey, maroon and red.

Disclaimer: Purchasing these products may earn ZME Science a commission. This helps support our team at no additional cost to you. We will never advertise products if we don’t think they’re good. If something is here, it’s because we like it — period.

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Worms Store Memories After Decapitation

Decapitated Worms Retain Memories – Transfer to Regrown Brains

land planarian, Bipalium kewense?

Imagine having your brain completely severed from your body, but being able to not only regenerate it – but also retain all information back into your newly regenerated brain.

That is impossible – right?

For humans the possibility is, indeed, impossible – but for the Planarians, it is their way of living and certainly not something out of a Kountry Kraft catelog.

The Planarians

Planarians, non-parasitic flatworms, have been trained and studied by biologists recently at a PA regeneration center. The fascination behind these worms lies within their impressive pluripotent stem cells. Unlike most creatures, Planarians contain an abnormal amount of these pluripotent stem cells, allowing for rapid regeneration. At an astounding 20-percent, pluripotent stem cells can take on the shape of any cell, which allows for the regeneration process.

In fact, the Planarians regeneration is so rapid that studies conducted in 1898 showed that even dissected to a tiny one 276th of its original size, the planarians could regenerate itself.

However, what makes these invertebrates even more spectacular was a recent study performed by Michael Levin, a Tufts University professor.

The Study

Published in the latest edition of the Journal of Experimental Biology, Levin conducted a study on Planarians cognitive functions and regenerative functions simultaneously.

Like many flatworms, or worms in general, planarians strongly dislike bright lights. They would much rather be in a warm, moist environment than a dry, hot one. Using this information, Levin vigorously trained his planarians to eat food in a very bright light.

Utilizing two different groups of planarians, Levin placed group 1 on a rigorous surface, while another on a flat surface. Each group had part of their environment illuminated by a light, where a piece of liver was placed.

Using a recording device, tracking analysis technology and measuring technology, Levin filmed the planarians over a ten-day period to see how easily each group would be to train. Those with a more rigid surface were more susceptible to the bright light and were less hesitant to eat in the bright light than those on a flat surface.

As a hypothesis, Levin suspected that if planarians were able to retain their memory after complete head severance, those on the rigid surface would be more susceptible to light exposure than those on the flat surface.

Analyzing this information, Levin severed all the heads on the worms and gave them a 14-day rest period to regrow their heads and brains.

The Results

Both group of worms were placed in a Petri dish and studied for their aversion to light. As suspected, both group of planarians were hesitant to go toward the light at first, however those who were on the rough terrain adapted much quicker.

Furthering his point, Levin then placed the planarians on a four-day break and placed them all back onto a Petri dish with light. Those on a rough terrain were much more susceptible to light exposure and moved around much more freely than those who were in the Petri dish.

This experiment provided Levin with the conclusion that the worms were able to retain their cognitive memory even after their heads were severed. At a minimum, planarians can retain memory for 14-days, enough to regrow their brains and restore the information.

How Their Memory is Stored

There is no definite answer as to how or where these planarians place their memories. It could be through their nervous system or through an unknown cellular memory function.

However, it is definite that planarians are able to store memories and regenerate all parts of their cellular body even when severed to a single miniscule portion.

Over half of Alzheimer’s cases could be avoided

According to a study conducted by Deborah Barnes, PhD, a mental health researcher at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, more than half of all Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes or light treatment.

Analyzing thousands of cases worldwide, she concluded that the biggest impacting factors on Alzheimer that can be modified are, in descending order, low education, smoking, physical inactivity, depression, mid-life hypertension, diabetes and mid-life obesity. In the United States for example the biggest modifiable factors are physical inactivity, depression, smoking, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes. Together, these factors are associated with 51 percent of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide (17.2 million cases) and up to 54 percent of Alzheimer’s cases in the United States (2.9 million cases), according to Barnes.

“What’s exciting is that this suggests that some very simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking, could have a tremendous impact on preventing Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States and worldwide,” said Barnes, who is also an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

However, it has to be said that the conclusions are drawn based on the idea that there is a causal association between each risk factor and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are assuming that when you change the risk factor, then you change the risk,” Barnes said. “What we need to do now is figure out whether that assumption is correct.”

Of pain and marijuana

The sun begins to ooze off outside of Birmingham, England. It’s tea time. A woman stands alone in her house, making herself a nice warm cup. After the tea is done, she stirs a half spoon cannabis in her tea, in an attempt to seek relief from pain and spasms caused by her multiple sclerosis. This desperate attempt to get rid of the chronic pain for just a few hours is, in the eyes of British justice, a crime.

She realizes what she’s doing; doesn’t take the drug lightly, or for recreational purposes. She’s also aware that it could get her prosecuted, and yet she still refuses to take the daily 13 pills she’s been prescribed, and instead chooses to use cannabis, which gives her 3 hours of relief. In case you don’t know, multiple sclerosis is one of the worst diseases you can have. It’s basically a degenerative disease of the central nervous system, with symptoms including pain, paralysis, loss of balance, etc.

“When I wake up in the morning my knees, my ankles, I have all these muscles pull my leg to the left so I find it hard to walk straight,” she said. “With cannabis these symptoms recede to a point where I can walk OK-ish. I want politicians to be nice to me… I’m sick.”[..] “I just don’t want to take the route of taking 13 pills a day when I can just use one medicine – cannabis – and I feel fantastic using it,” she said.
“I’d rather take the risk of breaking the law than go through that.”

medical_marijuanapreview

So why doesn’t she just take the pills ? Well, first of all they have a sum of negative side effects that include high blood pressure, ulcers and even the risk of heart failure and psychosis. They also just don’t work sometimes, or require an increase of dosage at regular intervals. I don’t know, but I’m guessing they’re also very expensive. As for cannabis, well, the risk of negative side effects is almost neglectable. You can literally grow it yourself, and it’s accepted (even recommended) by more and more countries in medical situations. The medical uses of marijuana are numerous, including multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and cancer. It greatly reduces pain and nausea, spasms, depression and sleeping disorders, and patients who used it reported a significant increase in the general quality of life.

To my knowledge, this is the only natural plant that’s illegal. The real irony here is that just by watching TV for a couple of hours you’re bombarded with commercials for powerful medications with numerous possible side effects, but they’re perfectly legal; even more than that – they’re recommended.

Via BBC, who I’d like to thank

G-spot study sparks controversy

The G-Spot debate is probably never gonna end; and who can carry it out better than the English and the French? They’d fight over absolutely anything: football (as in soccer), rugby, wine vs beer, you name. Now, the most recent topic is the G-Spot (am I supposed to write this with capital letters? Absolutely no idea) study conducted by a group of researchers from King’s College in London. According to their study, the… aforementioned spot probably doesn’t exist.

gspot

What they did was they took 1800 women, all of who were pairs of identical or non identical twins. The thing is, if the identical twins are… identical, they both should have the same spot. Well, no such pattern emerged, so the conclusions were obvious. The study, coauthors said: “[the study] shows fairly conclusively that the idea of a G-spot is subjective”.

Well of course somebody had to disagree with this, and of course it had to be the French. It didn’t take long for Surgeon Pierre Foldes to come back with a reply:

“The King’s College study shows a lack of respect for what women say. The conclusions were completely erroneous because they were based solely on genetic observations”

All’s fine until here, we have a scientific debate, two counterparts with arguments that state their case in a topic still open for debate. Until that is, a group of French gynecologists claimed they found the real reason why the British study is wrong: they’re British. Yep, they claimed it was the Anglo-saxon natural tendency to try to reduce absolutely everything to absolutes, including the “mysteries of sexuality”.

Gynecologist Odile Buisson took this even further, stating:

“I don’t want to stigmatise at all but I think the Protestant, liberal, Anglo-Saxon character means you are very pragmatic. There has to be a cause for everything, a gene for everything,” she said, adding: “I think it’s totalitarian”

She also added that the G-Spot is a reality for more than 60% of all women, and anything else is “medical machismo” (gotta hand it to the French, they sure have a way with words).

Until now, there’s been no reply of the English counterpart, but I’m absolutely sure they won’t leave their study (and national pride) tainted, and we won’t have to wait long for a reply. This is just how a scientific debate can turn personal, with no real benefits for anyone; but it sure is fun.