Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Jellyfish for heart trouble?

Australian scientists will study whether toxins from several species of deadly jellyfish could be used to help treat heart complications. Jellyfish expert Jamie Seymour said today the world-first study would attempt to extract various compounds from the venom of the box and irukandji jellyfish, which could be used for human medication. Dr Seymour, from James Cook University in Cairns, said it was possible a non-addictive painkiller could be extracted from jellyfish venom similar to one found in the cone snail. "It is likely that novel toxins will be found that may be useful as pharmacological tools or even for treatment as drugs," Dr Seymour said. "In fact (in) some of the initial results ... we've isolated a compound from the box jellyfish venom which actually kills bacteria that's resistant to a lot of the medications presently used."

It was still unknown exactly what type of ailments jellyfish venom could treat. "But given that the venom is predominantly a heart venom, so it kills the heart, it wouldn't surprise me if there's compounds in there that we can use for various heart complications," Dr Seymour said.

Dr Seymour will carry out the study with three other scientists as part of a grant of $280,000 over three years from National Health and Medical Research Council. Dr Seymour said the money would also help investigate treatment strategies for box and irukandji jellyfish stings. He said little was known about jellyfish toxins and how they worked in the human body. "We have a small understanding of what's going on but certainly for things like big box jellyfish, how the venoms operate and why they work, it's very hard to work it out in humans because people die so quickly," he said.

Dr Seymour said a large box jellyfish could kill its victim within minutes by inducing cardiac arrest. He said up to 150 people were stung each year in Australia by jellyfish, threatening Australia's image as a safe tourism destination. "From November through to May everybody's forced to swim inside nets on the coasts. That changes the entire way the beach is used up here," Dr Seymour said.


Duct tape no magical cure for warts, study finds

A larger sample might have shown some significant effect of the duct tape but it is in any case obviously no magic bullet

Duct tape does not work any better than doing nothing to cure warts in schoolchildren, Dutch researchers reported on Monday in a study that contradicts a popular theory about an easy way to get rid of the unattractive lumps. The study of 103 children aged 4 to 12 showed the duct tape worked only slightly better than using a corn pad, a sticky cushion that does not actually touch the wart and which was considered to be a placebo. "After 6 weeks, the warts of 8 children (16 percent) in the duct tape group and the warts of 3 children (6 percent) in the placebo group had disappeared," the researchers wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. They said this difference was not statistically significant. In addition, some of the children who wore duct tape reported itching, rashes and other effects, although none of the children who wore corn pads did.

The researchers, led by Dr. Marloes de Haen of Maastricht University, expressed disappointment with their findings. Warts are caused by a virus in the skin, and often clear up on their own. They can also be frozen off in a treatment called cryotherapy, or burned off chemically using a strong formulation of salicylic acid. "Considering the serious discomfort of cryotherapy and the awkwardness of applying salicylic acid for a long time, simply applying tape would be a cheap and helpful alternative, especially in children," de Haen's team wrote.

In 2002, Dr. Dean Focht of Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington and colleagues reported in the same journal that using duct tape on warts worked better than cryotherapy. The idea of using duct tape to treat warts quickly became common wisdom and is advocated widely on the Internet. The Dutch researchers said that Focht's team did not actually examine their patients to determine if the warts had disappeared, but called them on the telephone to ask.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). For a summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and no lasting harm from them has ever been shown.


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