A dog fitted with two front prosthetic legs runs at Milagros Caninos rescue shelter in Mexico City. According to Milagros Caninos founder Patricia Ruiz, members of a drug gang chopped off the dog’s paws to practice cutting fingers off kidnapped people. [Image: Tomas Bravo/Reuters]
E.T. Was Basically A Medical Catastrophe
A case report in the British Medical Journal (available here for those with access) has studied the famous 1982 temporary stranding of a young alien life form in suburban southern California. After an in-depth analysis of gross anatomy and the E.T.’s forced hospitalization, the so-called “alien botanist” is determined to be essentially a medical catastrophe, presenting multiple severe pathologies and medical maladies.
Who approved this guy for spaceflight?
A list of anatomical abnormalities:
- Possible Perthe’s disease (incorrect formation of the femur)
- Lower limb lymphoedema (swelling of the stubby legs)
- Centripetal adiposity, possible metabolic syndrome (he’s basically chubby)
- Congenital dextrocardia (not only does his heart glow, it’s completely out of order)
- Functional acetaldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (extreme intoxication and disorientation after merely one can of beer)
- Complete absence of genitalia
- Clubbed digits (the odd swelling at the tip of his remarkably luminous fingertip)
After entering a state of shock and delrium, perhaps from malnutrition due to a diet consisting solely of beer and Reese’s Pieces, he entered cardiac arrest and failed to respond to resuscitation. His body was placed in the freezer room quickly enough to prevent brain damage from lack of oxygen, however.
This preservation of brain function was key as ”ET made an exceptional functional recovery, balancing in the basket of Elliott’s bicycle and performing feats of telekinesis en route to the site of his eventual departure.”
Perhaps if extraterrestrial travelers will carry more complete medical history or medical ID bracelets, better treatment may be applied in future cases.
After having jaw, teeth, tongue and nerve tissue replaced, face transplant recipient regains speech
Fifteen years ago, Richard Lee Norris was shot in the face in a gun accident. He lost his nose, lips and most of the movement in his mouth.
He was horribly disfigured, and he spent most of the next decade and a half in hiding, venturing out only occasionally at night in a cap and a surgical mask.
Today, after receiving the most comprehensive face transplant to date, he says he’s able to walk past people without a second look. (University of Maryland Medical Center / Getty images)
holy shit modern medicine
Building from a 2010 finding that comatose, “locked in” patients could respond to doctors and “communicate” by scanning their brain activity using fMRI, a comatose Canadian man has let his doctors know he is not in pain.
Scott Routley has been in a coma for 12 years, but thanks to scans of certain brain activity when he is asked questions, doctors are confident there is a living, aware mind at work in the vegetative patient before them. fMRI is difficult to draw a bunch of precise conclusions from, but they were able to tell that he was hearing them, responding to questions, and not in distress.
It’s sad to imagine what that must feel like, to be aware, but trapped in an unresponsive body. Bot it’s so wonderful to think how this may affect quality of life for comatose patients in the future.
Science is pretty wonderful.
A spider on the wall said hello to me. And for some reason it didn’t seem too surprising that a spider should say hello. We had a conversation about analytic philosophy, a rather technical conversation.
"The Impact On Science Will Be Terrible": Sandy’s Effect On NYU Hospital Is Worse Than You Think
An executive at another New York City hospital, who asked to remain anonymous, just shared with us the following:I just spoke to a friend at NYU medical campus and she is just shocked at the surroundings. The research labs lost ALL their mice (1000s) and most of their research samples. The labs are destroyed, the smell is apparently intense. The hospital is empty—and they’re devastated.Beyond the obvious impact on patient care—and I just heard Bellevue is now evacuating all the patients they didn’t already—this has a domino effect for patients at other hospitals: Can we all expand to accommodate more than our own patient loads?—the impact on the science will be terrible. It is a sad sad day for science.Shit.
Type 1 diabetes is at best a huge nuisance and at worst a constant threat of death for up to 3 million Americans whose pancreases don’t produce insulin. Technology has improved the life of some diabetics, with insulin pumps replacing manual injections and glucose monitors that keep constant watch of diabetics’ blood-sugar levels, reducing the need for finger-pricks. Yet diabetics are still required to frequently monitor and adjust their insulin levels.
Now one company, Animas Corp., has completed the first successful human trial of a made-for-market artificial pancreas that takes care of everything automatically.
At the Battle of Shiloh, some wounded soldiers waited days in the chilly rain for medical help. When soldiers usually waited that long, they were prone to deadly infections that doctors at the time couldn’t do anything about, much less understand the cause.
Some of them noticed that their wounds were glowing at night. Were they hallucinating?And those with glowing wounds had better survival rates. 140 years later someone figured out why.
Soil-dwelling worms like the one above are filled with bacteria that they use to eat and protect food they find in the soil. The luminescent bacteria inside the nematodes fight off other bacteria, and the worm and bacteria both get a tasty meal all to themselves.
The soil of the Shiloh battlefield was full of these worms and bacteria, and when they got into the soldier’s wounds they created a glowing, antiseptic worm bandage.
(via Mental Floss image via Nikon’s Small World)
Antibiotic resistance is not a new problem. Almroth Wright and Alexander Fleming predicted penicillin resistance almost as soon as it was discovered. But we like to think that the modern scourge of dangerously resistant bacteria is a problem of not enough drug options, and misuse of the ones we have.
Turns out that nature’s way ahead of us. A team exploring Carlsbad’s Lechuguilla Cave, a 122-mile expanse of acidic pools and metallic outcroppings, isolated 93 bacteria that had evolved in the cave over millions of years. These bacteria, a handful of what likely lives in the cave, have never met our antibiotic drugs.
Yet they turned out to be resistant to nearly all of them, and some in ways we’ve never seen before. Why?
Antibiotics like penicillin, or tetracycline, or even daptomycin (one of our toughest weapons) come from natural sources. They were used by microbes to kill each other long before we stole their chemicals for our own use. So it’s no surprise that millions of years of evolution has created pathways of resistance to these weapons.
Dig into soil, rock or other bacterial habitats, and you’ll be looking at a war that’s been waged for millions of years, with weapons we have yet to describe. And nature has built up defenses of equal strength.
From enzymes that eat plastic or chew up cellulose to make ethanol to pathways that digest even our toughest antibiotics, microbial biology is a vast ocean of exotic chemistry. It’s time for a change of attitude for fighting bugs. No matter how powerful the chemical we take from nature, chances are that she’s already figured out a way to kill it with fire. It’s time to assume that all antibiotics are already beaten, and use them accordingly.
Want some advice? Wash your hands. Soap still works, at least until we explore the next cave.