Results from many large clinical trials are never published

Contact: Tom Hughes tahughes@unch.unc.edu 919-966-6047 University of North Carolina Health Care

Non-publication is more common among industry-funded trials, study finds

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – A new analysis of 585 large, randomized clinical trials registered with ClinicalTrials.gov finds that 29 percent have not been published in scientific journals. In addition, nearly 78 percent of the unpublished trials had no results available on the website, either.

As a result, nearly 300,000 people who were enrolled in the 171 unpublished trials “were exposed to the risks of trial participation without the societal benefits which accompany the dissemination of trial results,” said Christopher W. Jones, MD, a former resident physician at University of North Carolina School of Medicine who is now an attending physician at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, N.J. and lead author of the study published in the Oct. 29, 2013 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Continue reading “Results from many large clinical trials are never published”

As More Americans Have Surgeries Overseas, US Companies Consider ‘Medical Tourism’ a Health Care Option

 

Sept. 30, 2013

By BYRON PITTS and NIKKI BATTISTE

 

US Companies Look to ‘Medical Tourism’ to Cut Costs

 

Joy Guion was boarding a plane for the first time to fly from her native North Carolina to Costa Rica, a sun-soaked tourism hot spot where she would stay in a four-star hotel with a personal concierge and a local driver.

But the 39-year-old utility worker from Hickory, N.C., wasn’t going to Costa Rica for vacation. At 5-foot-9 and 283 pounds, Guion has “severe chronic obesity” and a family history of diabetes and heart disease, and she was headed to a Costa Rican hospital for weight loss surgery.

Gary Harwell, a 65-year-old retired manager who used to work at the same plant as Guion, accompanied her on the trip to Costa Rica. He was getting a knee replacement at the same private hospital, Hospital Clinica Biblica.

And neither will have to pay a dime for treatment. Travel expenses, surgeries and post-op recovery are all being covered by the company they work for.

Guion and Harwell work for HSM, a furniture and auto parts manufacturer in western North Carolina. The company gave Guion a choice for this surgery: Pay a co-pay in the U.S. or outsource the procedure abroad for free.

“Nothing out of my pocket,” Guion said.

She and Harwell are among a growing wave of Americans frustrated by the rising costs of the U.S. health care system and heading abroad for medical procedures. Nearly one million Americans go overseas for procedures every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is even a Medical Tourism Association — its core mission of providing transparent education and awareness about top-of-the-line procedures and treatments at affordable prices.

Even with their insurance, both Harwell and Guion said each would have paid $3,000 out of pocket in the U.S. — an amount Guion said she wouldn’t have been able to afford. But in Costa Rica, they both pay nothing — their company picks up the bill.

And now, some American companies are considering outsourcing medical care, dubbed “medical tourism,” as a health care option.

In the end, HSM said it saves money. Outsourcing medical care has saved it nearly $10 million in health care costs over the past five years, according to the company. Close to 250 of its employees have traveled abroad so far for medical care, and more are scheduled to go.

In the United States, Harwell’s knee replacement would have cost more than $50,000. In Costa Rica, it costs half that amount at $23,531. In North Carolina, Guion’s gastric sleeve surgery would have cost about $30,000, but in Costa Rice, it comes to $17,386. Both were placed in pristine rooms in state-of-the-art hospitals.

And when the bandages come off, both will get a bonus check for at least $2,500 from their company, a percentage of the corporate savings in insurance costs.

While it all sounds too good to be true, medical experts cautioned that there are serious concerns about “medical tourism” and having procedures done overseas. Glenn Cohen, co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy at Harvard University, said there is a risk of complications after post-op and said there have been documented cases of people dying or developing infections after having surgeries in foreign countries.

“There have been reported cases of people bringing back multi-drug resistant organisms, for example, from India and Sweden,” Cohen said. “There are real problems if you have to sue for medical malpractice because the tort occurred abroad, and there could be real difficulties in translation or the quality of the documents you can bring back, which may make it more difficulty to get good follow-up care back in the U.S.”

But despite that, Guion and Harwell said they did their research and decided the benefits outweighed the potential risks. Harwell’s Costa Rican surgeon, Dr. Oscar Oeding, earned his medical degree in Latin America and received additional training in the U.S at Cornell.

Afterwards, neither had complications during their surgeries and both spent the next several days recuperating at their resort hotel with daily visits from a nurse and physical therapist. Then they will fly back home to North Carolina for further post-op care — all of which is covered by HSM.

In thinking about the experience, Guion became emotional because she said she was relieved she can afford the health care she needs, instead of being overwhelmed by it.

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/americans-surgeries-overseas-us-companies-medical-tourism-health/story?id=20423011&singlePage=true

Brain-to-brain breakthrough in mind control experiment

Two minds with but a single thought as University of  Washington researcher controls colleague’s hand movements

 

LAST UPDATED AT 13:48 ON Wed 28 Aug  2013

SCIENTISTS have achieved human mind control for the first time in an  experiment at the University of Washington. Using recorded brain signals and the  magnetic stimulation of muscles, researchers were able to remotely control the  hand movements of a person in another room.

The technique called “non-invasive brain-to-brain interfacing” uses the  internet to connect two brains directly, a scenario reminiscent of the  brainwashing scene in John Frankenheimer’s Cold War thriller The Manchurian Candidate.

Brain-to-brain communication between two rats has already been demonstrated  by researchers at Duke University in North Carolina. And scientists at Harvard  have forged a connection between a human and a rat. But the experiment at the  University of Washington is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain  interfacing.

Andrea Stocco, who took part in the experiment, said the researchers wanted  to take knowledge and “transmit it directly from brain to brain”.

“The internet was a way to connect computers,” he said, “and now it can be a  way to connect brains.”

In the experiment, researcher Rajesh Rao imagined tapping a  keyboard with his finger. His thoughts caused an electrical signal to be sent  via the internet to Stocco, whose finger promptly performed the action.

The researchers captured this and other similar experiments on  camera.

Rao has been studying brain-computer interfacing for more than a decade. He  said that it was both “exciting and eerie” to see a thought turned into action  by another person’s brain.

“This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his,” he  said. “The next step is having a two-way conversation directly between the two  brains.”

The diagram below shows how the spooky experiment works:

·

Read more:  http://www.theweek.co.uk/health-science/54852/brain-brain-breakthrough-mind-control-experiment#ixzz2dKBK2xoV

Drawing the Line on Altering Human Minds

Bits - Business, Innovation, Technology, Society

August 6, 2013, 2:14 pm <!– — Updated: 3:42 pm –>

By NICK BILTON

In my column this week, “Computer-Brain Interfaces Making Big Leaps,” I noted that a number of researchers and scientists were coming closer to technology usually reserved for science fiction: hacking our brains to remove unwanted and sad memories.

Although the idea of deleting a memory might sound appealing to some — who doesn’t want to forget that first heartbreak? —  it might have disastrous consequences for our brains. It’s one thing to digitally enhance our memories with gadgets like iPhones and Google Glass, it’s something entirely different to delete or change past memories using technology.

Some readers asked if this was taking technology too far, saying such advancements cross a moral or ethical line that science should not pass.

“The human brain is intricate and a lot of damage can occur,” warned Jolan from Brooklyn in a comment on the column.

“If science wants to play with people’s thinking, then they ought to first decide about moral and ethical values of who they work for and the consequences of their actions,” wrote Mr. Magoo 5 from North Carolina.

Given today’s surveillance society, where the National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and countless foreign governments monitor communications, connecting our brains and thoughts to the Internet might be asking for even more government trouble.

“What a mess that would be. Can you imagine N.S.A. hoovering up your thoughts from the Internet?” wrote Maurie Beck, from Encino, Calif. “You would need encryption software, but that might not be any different from software used today.”

“A hacker’s dream?” wrote another commentator. These types of hacks could start to resemble the government surveillance under “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s famous book “1984.”

But beyond the surveillance and ethical implications of hacking our brains and our memories, the biggest outcry from readers came in the form of philosophical worry.

“Forgetting your mistakes can be fatal,” wrote John B, a reader from Virginia.

“If our brains are wired, like computers are then, our minds will no longer have privacy,” wrote an anonymous reader. “The person I just met will be able to enter my head and know what I am thinking, possibly without me knowing. My joys and phobias would be public domain. That would make life very, very unpleasant for everyone.”

“A pacemaker is one thing. A cochlear implant sounds useful,” wrote SRSwain from Costa Rica. ”A spinal cord bypass to operate prosthetic limbs, or superacute hearing and vision, but magical transformation of memories and sensoria: No thanks.”

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/does-altering-the-human-mind-take-technology-too-far/?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

Courts? US Admits killing 4 Americans in Drone strikes

 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

One day before US President Obama is due to deliver a major speech on national security, his administration on Wednesday formally acknowledged that the United States had killed four American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.

In a letter to Congressional leaders obtained by The New York Times, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. disclosed that the administration had deliberately killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen.

The American responsibility for Mr. Awlaki’s death has been widely reported, but the administration had until now refused to confirm or deny it.

The letter also said that the United States had killed three other Americans: Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike; Mr. Awlaki’s son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was also killed in Yemen; and Jude Mohammed, who was killed in a strike in Pakistan.

“These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States,” Mr. Holder wrote.

While rumors of Mr. Mohammed’s death had appeared in local news reports in Raleigh, N.C., where he lived, his death had not been confirmed by the United States government until Wednesday.

According to former acquaintances of Mr. Mohammed in North Carolina, he appears to have been killed in a November 2011 drone strike in South Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal area. Mr. Mohammed’s wife, whom he had met and married in Pakistan, subsequently called his mother in North Carolina to tell her of his death, the friends say.

http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/23387/61/

 

Scientists have created a “sixth sense” by creating a brain implant through which infrared light can be detected.

By Nick Collins

2:58PM GMT 17 Feb 2013

 

 

 

Although the light could not be seen lab rats were able to detect it via electrodes in the part of the brain responsible for their sense of touch.

 

Similar devices have previously been used to make up for lost capabilities, for example giving paralysed patients the ability to move a cursor around the screen with their thoughts.

 

But the new study, by researchers from Duke University in North Carolina, is the first case in which such devices have been used to give an animal a completely new sense.

 

Dr Miguel Nicolelis said the advance, reported in the Nature Communications journal this week, was just a prelude to a major breakthrough on a “brain-to-brain interface” which will be announced in another paper next month.

 

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Sunday, he described the mystery work as something “no one has dreamed could be done”.

 

The second paper is being kept secret until it is published but Dr Nicolelis’s comments raise the prospect of an implant which could allow one animal’s brain to interact directly with another.

 

In the first study, rats wore an infrared detector on their head which was connected to electrodes in the part of their brain which governs touch.

 

When one of three ultraviolet light sources in their cage was switched on, the rats initially began rubbing their whiskers, indicating that they felt as if they were touching the invisible light.

 

After a month of training, they learned to link the new sensation with the light sources and were able to find which one was switched on with 100 per cent accuracy. A monkey has since been taught to perform the same task.

 

The study demonstrates that a part of the brain which is designed to process one sense can interpret other types of sensory information, researchers said.

 

It means that in theory, someone who is blind because of damage to their visual cortex could regain their sight using an implant in another part of the brain.

 

Dr Nicolelis said: “What we did here was to demonstrate that we could create a new sense in rats by allowing them to “touch” infrared light that mammals cannot detect.

 

“The nerves were responding to both touch and infrared light at the same time. This shows that the adult brain can acquire new capabilities that have never been experienced by the animal before.

 

“This suggests that, in the future, you could use prosthetic devices to restore sensory modalities that have been lost, such as vision, using a different part of the brain.”

 

The study is part of an international effort to build a whole-body suit which allows paralysed people to walk again using their brain to control the device’s movement.

 

Infrared sensing could be built into the suit to inform the person inside about where their limbs are and to help them “feel” objects.

 

Dr Nicolelis and his collaborators on the project hope to unveil the “exoskeleton” at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9875931/Scientists-create-sixth-sense-brain-implant-to-detect-infrared-light.html

Sublingual immunotherapy shows promise as treatment for peanut allergy

 EEV:  Do not attempt without medical supervision

Contact: Tom Hughes tahughes@unch.unc.edu 919-966-6047 University of North Carolina Health Care

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Peanuts are one of the most common triggers of severe food-induced allergic reactions, which can be fatal, and the prevalence of peanut allergy is increasing. However, there is currently no clinical treatment available for peanut allergy other than strict dietary elimination and, in cases of accidental ingestion, injections of epinephrine.

But a new multicenter clinical trial shows promise for sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), a treatment in which patients are given daily doses, in gradually increasing amounts, of a liquid containing peanut powder. The patients first hold the liquid under the tongue for 2 minutes and then swallow it.

The two lead authors of the study, published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, are David M. Fleischer, MD, of National Jewish Health in Denver, Colo., and Wesley Burks, MD, Curnen Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“These results are encouraging,” Burks said. “The immune response was stronger than we thought it might be, and the side effects of this treatment were relatively small. However, the magnitude of the therapeutic effect was somewhat less than we had anticipated. That’s an issue we plan to address in future studies.”

In the study, 40 people with peanut allergy, ages 12 to 37 years, were randomized to receive daily peanut or placebo SLIT. All were given a baseline oral food challenge of up to 2 grams of peanut powder to test how much peanut powder they could consume without symptoms.

After 44 weeks, all were given a second oral food challenge. Those who were able to consume either 5 grams, or at least 10-fold more peanut powder than their baseline amount, were considered to be responders (i.e., desensitized to peanut). At 44 weeks, 70 percent of those who received peanut SLIT were responders, compared to 15 percent of those receiving placebo. Among the peanut-SLIT responders, the median amount of peanut powder they could successfully consume increased from 3.5 to 496 milligrams. After 68 weeks, that amount increased significantly, to 996 milligrams.

Of 10,855 peanut doses given through week 44 of the study, 63.1 percent were symptom-free. When oral/pharyngeal symptoms were excluded from the analysis, 95.2 percent of doses were symptom-free.

The study concluded that peanut SLIT safely induced desensitization in a majority of participants compared to placebo, and that longer duration of therapy led to significant increases in the amount of peanut powder people could safely consume.

However, Burks cautions, this is not a treatment that people should try on their own. For now it’s a treatment that should only be given by medical professionals in a carefully monitored clinical trial, he said.

###

Study participants were recruited from five U.S. sites:  New York, N.Y.; Baltimore, Md.; Little Rock, Ark.; Denver, Colo.; and Durham, N.C. Study co-authors include researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the EMMES Corp. in Rockville, Md., and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study was funded by grants from the NIAID and the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources.

UNC scientist ‘who smuggled cocaine in honey trap sting’ writes to college from Argentine jail asking for DOUBLE his salary

  • Paul Frampton, 68, has been in a Buenos  Aires prison for ten months
  • A maths colleague at North Carolina defended  him, saying: ‘He has a good case’
  • The physicist has had a paper published  since being in prison

By Louise Boyle

PUBLISHED:16:48 EST, 23  October 2012| UPDATED:16:50 EST, 23 October 2012

Popular: Professor Paul Frampton has asked that his salary at UNC be doubled while he awaits drug smuggling charges in Argentina 

Popular: Professor Paul Frampton has asked that his  salary at UNC be doubled while he awaits drug smuggling charges in  Argentina

A physics professor, who has spent almost a  year in an Argentinian jail awaiting his drug smuggling trial, has written to  his employer asking to be paid double his salary.

Paul Frampton, 68, has sent a letter to the  provost of the University of North Carolina saying he should have his $107,000  salary reinstated – and then be paid twice as much.

The British professor is being held in a  Buenos Aires prison after being caught with a case containing more than 4lb of  cocaine.

The scientist – who faces 16 years in  prison – claims he was tricked into believing he was carrying it for a  bikini model  Denise Milani through a ‘honey trap scheme’.

Mark Williams, a UNC math professor, told ABC: ‘Most  people would think its crazy for a man in prison to ask for a raise, but if you  look closely, he has a good case.’

Mr Williams said that his friend of 25 years  is known to be excessively naive.

Mr Frampton wrote to Provost Bruce Carney to  make the point that he ranks  18th on the pay scale of the 28 professors in his  department despite the fact he is cited the most.

 

He has not been paid since March 1 when he  was put on leave after the scandal broke.

UNC declined to comment on Mr Frampton’s  request but said that he remained a valued member of staff.

Since he has been in jail, Mr Frampton has  written at least three physics’ articles one of which has been published.

 

Fake: Bikini model Denise Milani had her identity used by a drug smuggling gang who allegedly lured the physics professor into smuggling a suitcase of cocaine 

Fake: Bikini model Denise Milani had her identity used  by a drug smuggling gang who allegedly lured the physics professor into  smuggling a suitcase of cocaine

Prof Frampton, who is professor of physics  and astronomy, said he had been communicating online with someone claiming to be  Denise Milani for 11 weeks before his arrest earlier this year.

But when no one turned up after ten days, he  claims he was persuaded to travel to Argentina to catch up with her there  instead.

He says he was met instead by a Bolivian man,  who gave him a suitcase to take to Buenos Aires for Miss Milani, who had  apparently flown there for a modelling trip.

Place of work: Dr Frampton is one of 28 physics professors at the University of North Carolina - but is 18th on the pay scale 

Place of work: Dr Frampton is one of 28 physics  professors at the University of North Carolina – but is 18th on the pay  scale

When she did not turn up, he tried to  board  a plane home, but was arrested after the cocaine was found in a  false lining of  the case.

Argentinian authorities insist there is no  evidence the brunette was aware her identity was being used.

The professor, who was born in Kidderminster,  Worcestershire, is being held at Villa Devoto Prison in Buenos Aires.

Leading academics including 1979 Nobel prizewinner Sheldon Glashow, who has worked on more than a dozen  scientific  papers with Professor Frampton, have written to the judge in  his case to plead  his innocence.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2222127/UNC-scientist-Paul-Frampton-arrested-cocaine-smuggling-honey-trap-sting-asks-salary-DOUBLED.html#ixzz2AAu7wcdz Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Florida governor accidentally gives out PHONE SEX number instead of meningitis hotline… as death toll rises to 12

By Daily Mail Reporter and Reuters Reporter

PUBLISHED:17:14 EST, 10  October 2012| UPDATED:17:15 EST, 10 October 2012

Oops: Florida Gov Rick Scott accidentally gave out phone sex number instead of the state's meningitis hotline
Oops: Florida Gov Rick Scott accidentally gave out phone  sex number instead of the state’s meningitis hotline

Florida Gov Rock Scott sent thousands of  Floridians to a dirty phone sex line when he accidentally gave out the wrong  number for the state’s fungal meningitis hotline.

Anyone who dialed the number Gov Scott  offered was greeted with a sultry woman saying: ‘Hello boys, thank you for  calling me on my anniversary.’

The humorous goof was one of the few bright spots in the outbreak of a disease that was confirmed to have claimed another life on Tuesday, bringing to death toll to 12.

The Centers for Disease Control says 137  people have been infected in ten states.

Gov Scott gave out the phone number at a  Florida cabinet meeting on Tuesday, public radio station WUSFreported.

‘You can call the Department of Health’s  toll-free, 24 hour hotline set up in response to this,’ he said, reading off a  number.

Listeners quickly called in to the station  reporting that calls to that ‘hotline’ hadn’t been quite what they expected.

The correct number, 866-523-7339, had been  posted on the state’s website. Gov Scott’s office said he simply misspoke.

The toll of the outbreak, which was tied to  contaminated steroid shots, is expected to rise even higher.

On Tuesday, four more deaths were reported  and Florida became the latest state to report at least one death linked to the  illness in a widening health scare.

Since the September 25 recall of three lots  of a steroid produced by a Massachusetts company, the outbreak has spread to 10  states and infected 137 people, according to state health departments and the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Spreading: Meningitis cases have now been reported in ten states throughout the South and Midwest

 

Spreading: Meningitis cases have now been reported in  ten states — though Tennessee still bears the brunt of the infection

Leading U.S. House and Senate lawmakers from  both parties on Tuesday asked federal health officials for briefings on the  outbreak as a first step toward possible legislative action to strengthen  federal drug safety regulations.

Oversight committees in both the Senate and  House hope to learn more about the outbreak before October 12 from staff members  of the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC, aides said.

In five states — Tennessee, Michigan,  Maryland, Virginia, and Florida — the outbreak has claimed lives, with the  latest victim a 70-year-old man in Florida.

As many as 13,000 people received the  injections to relieve back pain and other complaints and are at risk of  infection, the CDC said.

The number ultimately stricken is likely to  be far fewer.

For the first time on Tuesday, Tennessee  state health officials gave an estimate of the rate of infection among those  patients who received injections from the recalled steroid supplies.

Approximately 5 percent of patients treated  with the suspect medication in Tennessee have contracted meningitis, said Dr  David Reagan, chief medical officer for the Tennessee Department of  Health.

‘We expect that most people who were exposed  to this will not develop a fungal infection,’ Reagan said.

The rate of infection overall is not  known.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes  covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headache, fever and nausea.  Fungal meningitis, unlike viral and bacterial meningitis, is not  contagious.

The outbreak has highlighted a gap in  regulation of so-called pharmacy compounders, which are facilities that take  drug ingredients and package them into medications and dosages for specific  clients.

The federal Food and Drug Administration  regulates only the ingredients and not the compounders, which are subject to a  patchwork of state oversight.

Contaminated: These vials of steroids from the New England Compounding Center are among thousands that are thought to be the source of the fungal infections
Contaminated: These vials of steroids from the New  England Compounding Center are among thousands that are thought to be the source  of the fungal infections

George Cary, whose wife Lilian Cary is one of  three women to die in the outbreak from Michigan, said Tuesday that Americans  have a strong belief in their medical and political system and the outbreak  should be a wake-up call to the nation.

‘We don’t have expectations of a faulty  regulatory medical system that allows these types of mistakes to be made,’ Cary  told reporters on his front lawn after a memorial for his wife. ‘So perhaps the  message is, wake up America.’

Some of the thousands of people exposed may  have to wait anxiously for weeks because the incubation period of the disease is  up to a month, health experts said.

In Tennessee cases, officials said they have  found the average incubation period to be 16 days, but they caution that it  could range from six to 42 days for their patients.

Tennessee health officials believe they could  still see new cases into the early part of November, though that could change as  more information is collected, officials said.

The potentially tainted steroid vials, which  have been recalled, were shipped to 76 facilities in 23 states, the CDC has  said.

Tennessee has been the hardest hit state,  with six reported deaths and 44 cases of meningitis, followed by Michigan with  three deaths and 28 cases, Virginia with one death and 27 cases and Maryland  with one death and nine cases.

The other states with cases are Indiana (15),  Florida (6), Minnesota (3), North Carolina (2), New Jersey (2) and Ohio  (1)

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2215879/Fungal-meningitis-outbreak-Florida-Gov-Rick-Scott-gives-phone-sex-line-mistake.html#ixzz28xS3Sg2C Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

UNC researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

Re-Post 2008 for Filing
Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published this month in the journal Obesity.

Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About 82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users.

“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and weight in humans.”

Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were consistent with data from animal studies.”

As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is it healthy?”

 

###

Co-authors on the study included Liancheng Zhao and colleagues from Fu Wai Hospital and Cardiovascular Institute at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing. Other researchers on this study were from Northwestern University in Chicago and the INTERMAP Cooperative Research Group.

The study is available online at: http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n8/full/oby2008274a.html

Note: He can be reached at (919) 843-2476 or kahe@unc.edu.

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467, ramona_dubose@unc.edu
News Services contact: Patric Lane, (919) 962-8596, patric_lane@unc.edu

Security rules for Democratic National Convention cause concern: Banned: handbags, backpacks, soda cans, drink coolers, scarves, bike helmets, baby strollers, and non-service animals” within the hundred-square-block event zone

Charlotte police via Flickr

By Muriel Kane
Sunday, September 2, 2012 20:19 EDT

A new ordinance for “extraordinary events” put in place by the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is hosting the Democratic National Convention this week, have left attendees as well as protesters uncertain of what seemingly innocent possessions might be considered a cause for arrest.

Handguns and rifles, of course, are perfectly legal to carry openly under state law, although carrying a concealed weapon requires a permit.  But people could face arrest for carrying water bottles, hair spray, socks, or magic markers.

The rules explicitly ban “handbags, backpacks, soda cans, drink coolers, scarves, bike helmets, baby strollers, and non-service animals” within the hundred-square-block event zone. But what about a “container or object of sufficient weight to be used as a projectile.” The Associated Press suggests that this could “include almost anything from an apple to an iPhone.”

Two people were arrested during a demonstration on Sunday, but not as a result of the new ordinance.  One protester was wearing a mask and was allegedly found to be carrying a knife and one bystander was accused of disorderly conduct.

Charlotte City Attorney Robert Hagemann, who helped draft the ordinance, justifies it on the grounds that “while the vast majority [of protesters] are law-abiding and peaceful, expressing their First Amendment rights, a number of folks use the opportunity of large crowds and a platform to cause harm and violence.”

That does not satisfy observers like Chris Brook of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, who is particularly worried about the ban on bags that are “carried with the intent to conceal weapons or other prohibited items.”  That provision seems to allow the police to perform warrantless searches and arrest anyone who refuses.

“I think it could easily lead to situations where there is some profiling going on,” Brook suggested. “For example a person wearing a business suit might be far less likely to be searched than some other individuals.”

Hagemann insists that police offers will rely on their training, experience, and common sense.  However, protest leaders have already expressed concern that the more than 5000 officers on the scene will abuse their powers, especially since they have been getting only twenty minutes of training in the new rules.

Relatively few protesters showed up at the Republican convention in Tampa last week.  More are expected in Charlotte — from the right as well as the left — but if Sunday’s low turnout is any indication, that may not happen.

“I think this is an attempt to vilify protesters,” Michael Zytkow of Occupy Charlotte told the Associated Press.  “I think it’s an attempt to prevent us from coming out and joining and expressing our rights to march on the street and express our grievances.”

Zytkow, who was arrested when he spoke for more than his allotted three minutes at the meeting where the ordinance was adopted, later tried to test the rules by rolling a cooler full of water bottles down the street at the time of a corporate shareholders meeting to which the ordinance applied.  Police ignored him.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/02/security-rules-for-democratic-national-convention-cause-concern/

Heavy drinking rewires brain, increasing susceptibility to anxiety problems

Contact: Tom Hughes tahughes@unch.unc.edu 919-966-6047 University of North Carolina Health Care

IMAGE:Thomas Kash, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is one of the study’s authors….

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Doctors have long recognized a link between alcoholism and anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who drink heavily are at increased risk for traumatic events like car accidents and domestic violence, but that only partially explains the connection. New research using mice reveals heavy alcohol use actually rewires brain circuitry, making it harder for alcoholics to recover psychologically following a traumatic experience.

“There’s a whole spectrum to how people react to a traumatic event,” said study author Thomas Kash, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “It’s the recovery that we’re looking at — the ability to say ‘this is not dangerous anymore.’ Basically, our research shows that chronic exposure to alcohol can cause a deficit with regard to how our cognitive brain centers control our emotional brain centers.”

The study, which was published online on Sept. 2, 2012 by the journal Nature Neuroscience, was conducted by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and UNC’s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.

“A history of heavy alcohol abuse could impair a critical mechanism for recovering from a trauma, and in doing so put people at greater risk for PTSD,” said NIAAA scientist Andrew Holmes, PhD, the study’s senior author. “The next step will be to test whether our preclinical findings translate to patients currently suffering from comorbid PTSD and alcohol abuse. If it does, then this could lead to new thinking about how we can better treat these serious medical conditions.”

Over the course of a month, the researchers gave one group of mice doses of alcohol equivalent to double the legal driving limit in humans. A second group of mice was given no alcohol. The team then used mild electric shocks to train all the mice to fear the sound of a brief tone.

When the tone was repeatedly played without the accompanying electric shock, the mice with no alcohol exposure gradually stopped fearing it. The mice with chronic alcohol exposure, on the other hand, froze in place each time the tone was played, even long after the electric shocks had stopped.

The pattern is similar to what is seen in patients with PTSD, who have trouble overcoming fear even when they are no longer in a dangerous situation.

The researchers traced the effect to differences in the neural circuitry of the alcohol-exposed mice. Comparing the brains of the mice, researchers noticed nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex of the alcohol-exposed mice actually had a different shape than those of the other mice. In addition, the activity of a key receptor, NMDA, was suppressed in the mice given heavy doses of alcohol.

Holmes said the findings are valuable because they pinpoint exactly where alcohol causes damage that leads to problems overcoming fear. “We’re not only seeing that alcohol has detrimental effects on a clinically important emotional process, but we’re able to offer some insight into how alcohol might do so by disrupting the functioning of some very specific brain circuits,” said Holmes.

Understanding the relationship between alcohol and anxiety at the molecular level could offer new possibilities for developing drugs to help patients with anxiety disorders who also have a history of heavy alcohol use. “This study is exciting because it gives us a specific molecule to look at in a specific brain region, thus opening the door to discovering new methods to treat these disorders,” said Kash.

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Study co-authors include Kristen Pleil, Chia Li and Catherine Marcinkiewcz of UNC and Paul Fitzgerald, Kathryn MacPherson, Lauren DeBrouse, Giovanni Colacicco, Shaun Flynn, Sophie Masneuf, Ozge Gunduz-Cinar and Marguerite Camp of NIAAA

Glaxo chief: Our drugs do not work on most patients

Request Reprint From 2003:

By Steve Connor, Science Editor The Independent
Monday 08 December 2003

A senior executive with Britain’s biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.

Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.

It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public. His comments come days after it emerged that the NHS drugs bill has soared by nearly 50 per cent in three years, rising by £2.3bn a year to an annual cost to the taxpayer of £7.2bn. GSK announced last week that it had 20 or more new drugs under development that could each earn the company up to $1bn (£600m) a year.

Dr Roses, an academic geneticist from Duke University in North Carolina, spoke at a recent scientific meeting in London where he cited figures on how well different classes of drugs work in real patients.

Drugs for Alzheimer’s disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.

“The vast majority of drugs – more than 90 per cent – only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people,” Dr Roses said. “I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody.”

Some industry analysts said Dr Roses’s comments were reminiscent of the 1991 gaffe by Gerald Ratner, the jewellery boss, who famously said that his high street shops are successful because they sold “total crap”. But others believe Dr Roses deserves credit for being honest about a little-publicised fact known to the drugs industry for many years.

“Roses is a smart guy and what he is saying will surprise the public but not his colleagues,” said one industry scientist. “He is a pioneer of a new culture within the drugs business based on using genes to test for who can benefit from a particular drug.”

Dr Roses has a formidable reputation in the field of “pharmacogenomics” – the application of human genetics to drug development – and his comments can be seen as an attempt to make the industry realise that its future rests on being able to target drugs to a smaller number of patients with specific genes.

The idea is to identify “responders” – people who benefit from the drug – with a simple and cheap genetic test that can be used to eliminate those non-responders who might benefit from another drug.

This goes against a marketing culture within the industry that has relied on selling as many drugs as possible to the widest number of patients – a culture that has made GSK one of the most profitable pharmaceuticals companies, but which has also meant that most of its drugs are at best useless, and even possibly dangerous, for many patients.

Dr Roses said doctors treating patients routinely applied the trial-and-error approach which says that if one drug does not work there is always another one. “I think everybody has it in their experience that multiple drugs have been used for their headache or multiple drugs have been used for their backache or whatever.

“It’s in their experience, but they don’t quite understand why. The reason why is because they have different susceptibilities to the effect of that drug and that’s genetic,” he said.

“Neither those who pay for medical care nor patients want drugs to be prescribed that do not benefit the recipient. Pharmacogenetics has the promise of removing much of the uncertainty

Researchers find MSG use linked to obesity

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer

in their food are more likely than people who don’t use it to be overweight or obese even

though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according

to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published

this month in the journal Obesity.

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Researchers at UNC and in China studied more than 750 Chinese men and women, aged

between 40 and 59, in three rural villages in north and south China. The majority of study

participants prepared their meals at home without commercially processed foods. About

82 percent of the participants used MSG in their food. Those users were divided into

three groups, based on the amount of MSG they used. The third who used the most MSG

were nearly three times more likely to be overweight than non-users

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“Animal studies have indicated for years that MSG might be associated with weight

gain,” said Ka He, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the UNC

School of Public Health. “Ours is the first study to show a link between MSG use and

weight in humans.”

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Because MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, studying its

potential effect on humans has been difficult. He and his colleagues chose study

participants living in rural Chinese villages because they used very little commercially

processed food, but many regularly used MSG in food preparation.

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“We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users

than in non-users,” He said. “We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical

activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in

body mass. The positive associations between MSG intake and overweight were

consistent with data from animal studies.”

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As the percentage of overweight and obese people around the world continues to

increase, He said, finding clues to the cause could be very important.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other health organizations around

the world have concluded that MSG is safe,” He said, “but the question remains – is

it healthy?”

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Evil: FDA as well as others refuse to investigate the science, exposing the world to an Obesity Epidemic