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Friday, February 25, 2011

Police raid Las Vegas medical shop; 2 arrested

Police raid Las Vegas medical shop; 2 arrested

KLAS-TV reports Las Vegas police searched the Medical Man shop Thursday and arrested two people, including the business owner.
Police say they also seized a large amount of money, marijuana and hash oil.
The shop's business license is registered under Mark Godines.
Information from: KLAS-TV,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kids receive medical marijuana

Kids receive medical marijuana

Montana residents are expressing mixed feelings over children with medical conditions being allowed to use medical marijuana.
In Montana, there are more than 28,000 medical cannabis card holders, and 51 of them are under the age of 18.
"That's one of the things that I think is one of the biggest misperceptions is that there's a ton of kids that are out here that have cards that are in high school and junior high and that are buying this medical cannabis and giving it to their friends, and that's just simply not true," said Tayln Lang, director of Montana Medical Growers Association.
Children must follow certain guidelines to get medical marijuana. The minor's physician has to explain the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of marijuana; the custodial parent must consent to the use of medical marijuana; the custodial parent must agree to serve as the minor's caregiver; and the custodial parent must also control the acquisition, dosage and frequency of the use of marijuana by the minor.
"More often though, the children who are under the age of 18 have very, very, very serious medical conditions," Lang said.
Cash Hyde, 2, battled a brain tumor and won. Cash is one of the youngest medical cannabis patients in Montana.
"I believe that Cash is with us for a lot of reasons," said Michael Hyde, Cash's father. "You know, he is a patient of medical cannabis, which has I think greatly benefited his battle."
Cash's parents say they have watched as the drugs that were prescribed by doctors made Cash hallucinate and stopped his heart.
"I watched Cashy not be able to eat for over 40 days to the point where he couldn't lift his head up off his pillow," Hyde said. "I realized along the way in this journey that there is a quality of life that a lot of people do not have, and it's because of the drugs that they're given."
Some people are worried about the effect that medical marijuana may have on a young developing brain.
"The Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will interfere with concentration, learning, problem-solving and short-term memory. All the things that kids need, especially when they're in school and trying to learn," said Brandee Tyree, an Underage Substance Abuse Prevention specialist. "It's a substance that's hurtful for the brain during development. We believe it's harmful for kids, and in our opinion, no, we don't think kids should be using marijuana."
Hyde said he would advise people to do research on medical marijuana before they make a decision.
"If you or someone you know has battled cancer, I don't have to tell you how devastating it is to watch chemotherapy and cancer consume your loved one," Hyde said. "And when you can actually watch something that you're doing for them actually benefit them in a way that nobody else can do, you feel empowered - you feel like you can make a difference."
Montana is considering a repeal of its medical marijuana law. To make that happen, a bill has to pass in the state house and move to the Senate.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Brain Damage From Ecstasy, New Research Shows

No Brain Damage From Ecstasy, New Research Shows  

Contrary to long-held opinion, ecstasy, the popular rave-culture drug, may not harm your brain.
This is according to one of the largest studies ever conducted on the illegal drug's effect on cognition, published last week in the journal Addiction.

Though former studies have concluded quite the opposite about the drug (technical name 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA) there's been concern that these conclusions were overstated and reached through faulty methods.

The latest research, a $1.8 million study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), set out to correct these methods by eliminating all other factors that could possibly contribute to mental impairment: 1) sleep deprivation and dehydration commonplace in rave culture, 2) previous habitual drug or alcohol use, or 3) former cognitive damage for any reason.

After screening subjects for these factors (even testing hair samples to make sure they weren't lying about drug use) researchers whittled down the initial pool of 1,500 people to just 52 cognitively clean subjects, the Guardian reports.

John Halpern, lead researcher from the Harvard Medical School team, told Addition:
Researchers have known for a long time that earlier studies of ecstasy use had problems that later studies should try to correct. When NIDA decided to fund this project, we saw an opportunity to design a better experiment and advance our knowledge of this drug.
Ecstasy is most commonly associated with the 1980s and 90s rave scene -- all-night dance complete with strobe lights and glow sticks to enhance the drug's effect. Ecstasy's symptoms include a feeling of euphoria, a heightened sense of intimacy and pleasure, and decreased anxiety. Negative side effects include blurred vision, and in rare cases overdoses can be fatal.

The common understanding, and certainly the argument from the anti-drug camp, has been that ecstasy can cause memory loss, pose a serious brain damage risk, and have long-lasting effects on behavior.
Researchers are quick to point out that despite the study's conclusion, ecstasy is still a dangerous drug. The illegal pills have no warning labels, and can contain a number of harmful contaminants.
Studies have also looked into MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as a possible treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The idea is to provide at least a brief experience of what life feels like without the aftermath of trauma, to provide a state in which learning can occur.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor improving, but remains in hospital

Elizabeth Taylor improving, but remains in hospital

Elizabeth Taylor's medical condition is improving, but the Hollywood film legend will remain hospitalized for the foreseeable future under the close care of doctors, her spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The two-time Oscar winner was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles last week suffering symptoms of congestive heart failure, which has been an ongoing health problem for the 78 year-old Taylor.

"Elizabeth Taylor has been comfortable over the past few days in Cedars-Sinai. Since being admitted, there has been steady improvement in her condition, and over the weekend she has had visits from family and close friends.

"Her medical team is gratified by her progress to date, and it is hoped and expected that this will continue over the next few days. For now, she will remain under their care in the hospital for continued monitoring," according to a statement released by her spokeswoman.

She underwent heart surgery in 2009 to replace a leaky valve, and in 2004 announced that she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure -- a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to other organs.

Taylor has been using a wheelchair for more than five years to cope with chronic pain after breaking her back four times, and she has had three hip-replacement operations, a benign brain tumor, skin cancer and pneumonia.

Taylor, an Oscar winner for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in 1966 and "Butterfield 8: in 1960, first achieved stardom at the age of 12 in "National Velvet".

As a young woman, she became famous not just for her acting, but for her beauty.. Her violet eyes and dark alluring features led her into eight marriages -- twice to actor Richard Burton.

Taylor still makes appearances at charity events, especially those connected to her AIDS foundation, but has not appeared on screen since the 2001 TV movie "Old Broads". Her last Hollywood movie role was in the 1994 live action comedy "The Flintstones".

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Just What Is Diabetes?

Just What Is Diabetes?

The pancreas islet cells that produce insulin and glucose hormones work together to help regulate the correct levels of blood glucose. When the pancreatic islets cells, alpha (A cells) and beta (B cells) cannot regulate glucose and insulin properly, diabetes forms in the pancreas and other major organ systems. The pancreas is positioned behind the stomach, in the concavity that is produced by the C-shape of the duodenum. The duodenum curves around the head of the pancreas and handles acid from the stomach.
Pancreatic acid is also dumped into the duodenum and eventually exits through the ducts of the duodenum. The duodenum is also responsible for bile and secretions exiting into the duodenum from the liver. Inadequate insulin levels in the pancreas cause a decrease in the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar acidity in glucose, thus a risk factor for diabetes is developed throughout the body.      
Alpha and beta cells are called antagonists, because they work off their levels of hormones against each other, for proper concentrations of insulin and glucose. Insulin decreased and depletes organs from maintaining proper concentrations of glucose levels in the body. The alpha cells are responsible for the production of glucagon, and the beta cells are responsible for the production of insulin. As glucagon accelerates the process of glycogenolysis in the liver, it is then converted to glucose.
Glucagon is responsible for the increase of blood glucose concentrations. Playing a key role in removing the excess glucose from the blood and storing it as glycogen, the liver cells are very important to the proper function of the heart, kidneys and pancreas. Normal homeostasis is the result of the blood leaving the liver, containing normal blood glucose concentrations. Liver malfunction or any disorder of the pancreas can produce diabetic responses in the body.
Insulin is an agent of the blood sugars that is used as a source of energy throughout the body. Although the liver uses insulin for the storage of glycogen, a processed form of glucose, the insulin is the only hormone in the body that can decrease the levels of glucose concentration. Kidneys also need proper organ functions from the liver and pancreas to stay functioning under normal homeostatic conditions.
Urine is processed through the kidneys, and if an accumulation of ketone bodies, forms of acids, form in the kidneys, the results will be diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is dangerously high acidity in the blood. When insulin decreases in production, as it does with a pancreatic disorder, the cessation of proper hormones used by the body will also result in a form of diabetes.
Diabetes is a pathological condition that results from the imbalance of homeostasis of the body. Any deviance or variation from the normal homeostatic balance of the body signifies a pathological condition, like diabetes. Homeostasis is the body’s way of internally regulating a stable environment. Reaction and interaction of the body’s major organ systems rely on homeostasis for proper function. The key factors that help maintain proper homeostasis include salinity, acidity, concentrations of waste and nutrients and the temperature of the body and its organs.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What Do You Believe - Miracles or Science?

What Do You Believe - Miracles or Science? (Miracle Detectives) 

(RNS) Dirt at an ancient holy site in Chimayo, N.M. reputedly cures a woman's rare bone cancer.

In North Carolina, a 14-year-old girl stricken with pneumonia is removed from life support but survives after an angelic image appears on a security monitor outside her hospital room.

A Texas man lives despite being cut in half after being run over by a train.

Were these acts of God, or is there a scientific explanation for events that seem to defy reason?

For an hour every Wednesday night (10 p.m. EST), that divisive question is the focus of Miracle Detectives, one of prime-time television's first forays into exploring the miraculous.

The show features two investigators -- one a believer, the other a scientist -- who seek answers to "mysterious incidents that seem to transcend logic." It's one of 17 programs on the new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which debuted New Year's Day.

In a society less devout than the United States, and in an era of near daily scientific breakthroughs, such a show might seem a waste of valuable air time. But polls in the U.S. consistently show that 80 percent of Americans believe miracles occur, and slightly more than half believe in guardian angels.

Miracle Detectives may be preaching to the converted: An OWN online survey found that more than 92 percent of those watching the program said they believe in miracles; nearly 3 percent said they do not; and almost 5 percent said they "need proof."

Each week, hosts Randall Sullivan, who says he experienced a miracle himself, and Indre Viskontas, a neuroscientist who sings in her church choir but approaches the supernatural with skepticism, visit the sites of reported miracles to hear first-hand accounts.

Interviewing experts and conducting experiments, the duo gathers information and attempts to answer the question: Miracle, or not?

Sullivan, 59, said there is no conflict being an evidence-hungry reporter while also believing in supernatural signs and wonders.

"A journalist's role is to explore," he said. "Yes, you're certainly seeking truth, but you're also exploring. First thing I want to know is, what happened to people? What did they experience? I want it from the inside out, from them and from me."

Viskontas, 34, holds a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience, but also calls herself "a very spiritual person," who was raised a Roman Catholic and is a soloist in her church choir. 

"I identify as a scientist," she says. "A scientist is interested in trying to understand the phenomenon in front of them. They're trying to get at what is actually happening."

An expert in how memories are formed and retrieved, Viskontas says she's in a unique position to discover what someone remembers, what actually happened and how circumstances led them to believe there is a supernatural force at work.

That doesn't mean she denies the possibility of the miraculous. In fact, she struggles with it.

"One of things I struggle with the most is the idea that an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God would choose to use miracles in which to operate," says Viskontas.

"There are so many instances in which those miracles don't happen. It's very hard for me to believe that God would act in such a direct way, and it seems to me if that were true, then he's kind of an underachiever," she said.

Sullivan had a life-altering experience while covering the war in Bosnia in the 1990s for Rolling Stone magazine. Raised in an irreligious family, he found himself "skeptical and guarded" in the village of Medjugorje, where visions of the Virgin Mary have been reported, drawing pilgrims by the busload.

"I was there to observe, not to be a pilgrim," he recalls.

While climbing the Mountain of the Cross, the central feature in the village, Sullivan was caught up a violent thunderstorm and feared he might die. He encountered a group of nuns, singing in French and kneeling in prayer.

"For the very first time in my life I got down on my knees in the mud and stone and prayed with them and felt an immense sense of release and uplift," he recalled. "It was like a cork had been pulled out of a bottle."

A young woman draped a cloth on his shivering shoulders. "I felt instantly warmed and comforted. But when I opened my eyes, the nuns and the woman were gone."

No one else had seen or heard the nuns, Sullivan said. "The only thing that made me feel I wasn't completely insane was that I still had the cloth in my hand."

After struggling with the experience, Sullivan decided to embrace it and concluded that it had been a gift from God.

"That core belief inside is so deeply set that I really do believe there are miracles, and I approach most of these cases (on the program) wanting to believe," he said.

"But I'm certainly willing to check it out. If it's true, there's nothing to be lost challenging it."

Communication Pathways Within Proteins May Yield New Drug Targets To Stop Superbugs

Communication Pathways Within Proteins May Yield New Drug Targets To Stop Superbugs

A School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis biophysicist has developed a new method to identify communication pathways connecting distant regions within proteins. 

With this tool, Andrew J. Rader, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, has identified a mechanism for cooperative behavior within an entire molecule, a finding that suggests that in the future it may be possible to design drugs that target anywhere along the length of a molecule's communication pathway rather than only in a single location as they do today. The discovery holds promise for increasing the likelihood of therapeutic success. 

The study, "Correlating Allostery with Rigidity" is published in the current issue ofMolecular BioSystems, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

Microorganisms frequently contain enzymes, protein molecules that carry out most of the important functions of cells, not present in human cells. Blocking these enzymes can stop or kill a harmful invader. 

Drugs are often developed to block or restrict the function of such enzymes, thereby treating the underlying infectious disease they convey. These drugs often target specific chemical sites on bacterial or viral enzymes, and alter the enzymes so they no longer function. Unfortunately, microorganisms can evolve enzymes that are impervious to these drugs, resulting in drug resistant organisms. 

"With the growth of drug resistant organisms, it is increasingly important that we gain a better understanding of what makes enzymes within cellular proteins do what they do, so that we can develop alternative approaches to targeting these proteins, shutting down enzymes and killing these superbugs," said Rader, first author of the study. 

He has found that the "poking" of one spot on the rigid pathway connecting regions within proteins produces communication along the entire pathway, indicating that drugs could be targeted to multiple locations on the pathways that had not developed drug resistance and could travel to where needed. His new method identified more than twice as many communication pathways as previous studies. 

To use the analogy of a railroad track, dislocating a single rail, anywhere on the track, effects the entire track as trains cannot travel from one end to the other due to the rail that is out of alignment. Returning the rail to its proper location makes the entire track function normally. In the case of the rigid pathways within proteins, affecting a single chemical locus on the pathway affects the entire pathway. 

"We now see in these rigid pathways that we can effect something at a distance. This holds great potential for drug targeting. We can do something at one site on the pathway, where drug resistance is not an issue, and it will affect another, perhaps turning an enzyme off and eliminating drug resistance. It's too early to say whether we can successfully counter tuberculosis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] and others of the growing number of multidrug resistant organisms this way, but it's a promising approach well worth further exploration," said Rader. 


This study by Rader, co-authored by graduate student Stephen M. Brown, was funded by the Department of Physics, School of Science at IUPUI.