Common plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms – phthalate

Reposted at request:

Public release date: 19-Nov-2009 –

They found a significant positive association between phthalate exposure and ADHD, meaning that the higher the concentration of phthalate metabolites in the urine, the worse the ADHD symptoms and/or test scores.

Disney school supplies loaded with toxic phtha...
Disney school supplies loaded with toxic phthalates, next to petitions signed by 65,000 parents across the country (Photo credit: CHEJ)


Are phthalates really safe for children?

Philadelphia, PA, 19 November 2009 – Phthalates are important components of many consumer products, including toys, cleaning materials, plastics, and personal care items. Studies to date on phthalates have been inconsistent, with some linking exposure to these chemicals to hormone disruptions, birth defects, asthma, and reproductive problems, while others have found no significant association between exposure and adverse effects.

A new report by Korean scientists, published by Elsevier in the November 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, adds to the potentially alarming findings about phthalates. They measured urine phthalate concentrations and evaluated symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using teacher-reported symptoms and computerized tests that measured attention and impulsivity. Continue reading “Common plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms – phthalate”

NLST data highlight probability of lung cancer overdiagnosis / overdiagnosis rate for bronchioloalveolar lung cancer was 78.9 percent

Contact: Shawn Farley 703-648-8936 American College of Radiology

NLST data highlight probability of lung cancer overdiagnosis with low-dose CT screening

Philadelphia, PA—Data from the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST)—conducted by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network and National Cancer Institute Lung Screening Study—provided researchers the opportunity to investigate the probability that a cancer detected with screening low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) would not have progressed to become life threatening. The results of this investigation published online today in JAMA Internal Medicine suggest that up to 18 percent of the cancers detected by LDCT may not have progressed enough to affect patient health if left undetected.

“This is another piece of important information that helps us to better understand the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening,” says the study’s lead author, Edward F. Patz, Jr., M.D., a professor of radiology, and pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University School of Medicine. Continue reading “NLST data highlight probability of lung cancer overdiagnosis / overdiagnosis rate for bronchioloalveolar lung cancer was 78.9 percent”

Aircraft carrier sold for 1 cent


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Here’s a penny for your thoughts: One red cent could’ve landed you the Navy’s first supercarrier, the decommissioned Forrestal.

The U.S. Navy sold the 1,067-foot behemoth to a Texas company, All Star Metals, to be dismantled, scrapped and recycled, Navy officials announced. It’s an inauspicious fate for a ship with a colorful — and tragic — history. It’s perhaps best known for a 1967 incident in which stray voltage triggered an accidental explosion that struck a plane on the flight deck whose cockpit was occupied by a young John McCain. A chain reaction of blasts and fires ultimately killed 134 men and injured more than 300.

But its rich past and nearly four decades of service are not enough to spare it. The Navy tried to donate the historic ship for use as a memorial or a museum, but no “viable applications” were received.

“It’s something that the Navy is caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Ken Killmeyer, historian for the USS Forrestal Association and a survivor of the 1967 incident. “They have to have these vessels no matter how big or small they are, and they use them as you would your car until they’re no longer financially viable. So, they decommission them.”

The company plans to tow the aircraft carrier from its current location at the Navy’s inactive ship facility in Philadelphia to its facility in Brownsville, Texas. All Star Metals anted up the token purchase price based on its anticipated cost of moving and dismantling the ship and the value of the scrap metal it will yield, according to a Navy press release.

Disarming HIV With a “Pop”

PHILADELPHIA,          September 19, 2013

The DAVEI molecule is comprised of two main pieces: Membrane Proximal External Region (MPER), which attaches to the viral membranes, and cyanovarin (CVN), which binds to the sugar coating of the virus’s protein spike.

Pinning down an effective way to combat the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, the viral precursor to AIDS, has long been a challenge for scientists and physicians, because the virus is an elusive one that mutates frequently and, as a result, quickly becomes immune to medication. A team of Drexel University researchers is trying to get one step ahead of the virus with a microbicide they’ve created that can trick HIV into “popping” itself into oblivion.

Its name is DAVEI – which stands for “Dual Action Virolytic Entry Inhibitor”- and it can pull a fast one on HIV. DAVEI was invented and tested by scientists from Drexel’s College of Engineering; School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; and College of Medicine, and is the latest in a new generation of HIV treatments that function by specifically destroying the virus without harming healthy cells.

“While several molecules that destroy HIV have recently been announced, DAVEI is unique among them by virtue of its design, specificity and high potency,” said Dr. Cameron Abrams, a professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering and a primary investigator of the project.

A team co-led by Abrams and Dr. Irwin Chaiken in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Drexel’s College of Medicine, and including Dr. Mark Contarino and doctoral students Arangassery Rosemary Bastian and R. V. Kalyana Sundaram, developed the chimeric recombinantly engineered protein – that is, a molecule assembled from pieces of other molecules and engineered for a specific purpose, in this case to fight HIV. Their research will be published in the October edition of the American Society for Microbiology’s Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

The idea behind DAVEI was to design a molecule that hijacks the virus’s fusion machinery, the tools it uses to attach to and attack a healthy cell, and tricks the virus into destroying itself. HIV invades a healthy cell by first attaching via protein “spikes” that then collapse to pull viral and cell membranes together, fusing them and allowing the genetic contents of the virus to enter the healthy cell. The cell is rewired by the viral genetic material into producing more viruses instead of performing its normal function, which, in the case of cells infected by HIV, involves normal immunity. AIDS is the result.

“We hypothesized that an important role of the fusion machinery is to open the viral membrane when triggered, and it follows that a trigger didn’t necessarily have to be a doomed cell,” Abrams said. “So we envisioned particular ways the components of the viral fusion machinery work and designed a molecule that would trigger it prematurely,” Abrams said.

The team designed DAVEI from two main ingredients. One piece, called the Membrane Proximal External Region (MPER), is itself a small piece of the fusion machinery and interacts strongly with viral membranes. The other piece, called cyanovirin, binds to the sugar coating of the protein spike. Working together, the MPER and cyanovirin in DAVEI “tweak” the fusion machinery in a way that mimics the forces it feels when attached to a cell.

“For lack of a better term, DAVEI ‘tricks’ the virus into ‘thinking’ it is about to infect a healthy cell, when, in fact, there is nothing there for it to infect,” Abrams said. “Instead, it releases its genetic payload harmlessly and dies.”

Chaiken’s lab has extensively studied the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 envelope protein interactions and structure-based design of agents that fight HIV. The researchers produced DAVEI using recombinant protein engineering and used HIV-1 pseudoviruses to demonstrate that it can physically rupture and irreversibly inactivate the virus particles.

“DAVEI and other new-generation virolytic inactivators open up an important opportunity to develop a topical microbicide to block the transmission of HIV, and at the same time provide lead ideas to discover treatment strategies for people who are already infected,” Chaiken said. “Our hope is that determining the structural driving forces of both inhibitors and viral entry machinery that enable spike inactivation will help to advance molecular designs with increased power, specificity and clinical potential for both prevention and treatment.”


News Media Contact

Britt Faulstick

News Officer, University Communications Phone: 215-895-2617 Mobile: 215-796-5161

Ed Federico

Media Relations Manager, Drexel University College of Medicine Phone: 215-255-7331

– See more at:

New book documents Cold War experiments on kids

By JOANN LOVIGLIO / Associated Press / July 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A half century later, Charlie Dyer still vividly remembers the day he was picked to join the ‘‘Fernald Science Club.’’

It was 1954 and at 14, he had already spent nearly half his life in a succession of Massachusetts institutions that unflinchingly labeled kids like him ‘‘morons.’’ But his new place, the Fernald State School in Waltham, seemed like it might be different.

‘‘They picked some of the oldest guys and asked us if we wanted to be in this club,’’ Dyer, 72, said in an interview from his home in Watertown, Mass. ‘‘We all got together and decided, why not? We’ll get time off the grounds.’’

The boys were promised presents, outings to the seashore, trips to Fenway Park and extra helpings of oatmeal.

‘‘It was like Christmas,’’ Dyer recalled. ‘‘Red Sox games, parties. I got a Mickey Mouse watch that I still have.’’

It took decades before Dyer learned that he and the boys he still considers brothers were little more than guinea pigs. A state task force in 1994 found Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists fed the unwitting boys radioactive oatmeal and milk for a Quaker Oats nutrition study.

His story is one of many told in a new book, ‘‘Against Their Will,’’ the result of five years of gathering data from medical and university libraries and archives, medical journals and records from many of the now-shuttered state hospitals and orphanages where experiments were conducted.

‘‘We thought something wasn’t right, but we didn’t know,’’ Dyer said. ‘‘They were using the kids who they were supposed to be helping.’’

The authors interviewed nearly a dozen former test subjects, along with relatives of test subjects, medical researchers and historians.

‘‘These are throwaway, unwanted, damaged people,’’ said Allen Hornblum, one of the book’s authors. ‘‘You had the best and the brightest minds doing this stuff, doing it very cavalierly and doing it exclusively to the most vulnerable.’’

While researching his 1998 book ‘‘Acres of Skin’’ about medical experiments on inmates in Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, Hornblum came across documentation about similar experiments conducted on children and even infants.

Thousands of children warehoused in overcrowded orphanages and facilities for ‘‘feebleminded’’ children underwent spinal taps, lobotomies and electric shock. They were also exposed to viruses, radioactive and hazardous chemicals and were administered psychotropic drugs.

Often lacking legal or family advocates, they were treated in the decades after World War II as cheap and abundant raw material for trials that proved lucrative for scientists who conducted the tests and for the institutions housing the kids.

‘‘I think people are going to be shocked,’’ he said. ‘‘These aren’t inmates … these are children who are having these things done to them.’’

While disenfranchised children were used as human guinea pigs during the American eugenics fervor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hornblum said, the practice rose along with Cold War fears of nuclear and biological threats from the Soviet Union and a booming pharmaceutical industry.

In one of the most egregious cases in the book, more than 90 children as young as 6 were given large twice-daily doses of LSD — some for a year or more — as an experimental treatment for schizophrenia and autism at Creedmoor State Hospital in the New York City borough of Queens in the 1960s.

On New York’s Staten Island from the 1950s to the early 1970s, mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School — famously called a ‘‘snake pit’’ by Sen. Robert Kennedy after a 1965 visit — were intentionally infected with viral hepatitis by feeding them an extract made from the feces of infected patients.

In dozens of orphanages and sanitariums, children were exposed to hepatitis, meningitis, ringworm, influenza, measles, mumps and polio in the name of medical advancement. Dietary experiments induced severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies to observe the effect on the children’s health.

‘‘All of this information was out there. It was just a matter of someone pulling it together and giving it context,’’ said co-author Judith Newman, a psychologist and Penn State associate professor who teaches a course on medical ethics.

Attitudes about medical research were different then, and many prominent researchers of the era felt it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society — prisoners, mental patients, poor blacks, orphans — in the quest for finding cures of deadly infectious diseases.

Ethical guideposts from the Hippocratic oath to the Nuremberg code were also trumped by misguided patriotism, veneration of doctors, eugenics ideologies and the financial and career benefits for people and places that conducted and published such large clinical studies, Newman said. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the federal government issued a report outlining principles and guidelines strictly limiting the use of children in medical research.

‘‘The last few years working on this book have been very sad,’’ she said. ‘‘The hope is that it gives voice to those thousands of children — how many thousand we don’t even know.’’

Dyer, a retired truck driver, makes ends meet with yard sales and odd jobs. He and about 30 former ‘‘Fernald Science Club’’ boys filed a class-action lawsuit that settled out of court in 1998; Dyer says they ended up with around $30,000 apiece.

What bothers him most is that the ‘‘feebleminded’’ diagnosis from his childhood remains part of his medical records.

‘‘We went to court to try to get it changed,’’ he said. ‘‘We just didn’t have any schooling; they didn’t teach us to read. I learned a lot of things on my own when I got out of there.’’

© Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Off-Label Marketing Puts Novartis in Hot Water – Sold to Children and is a Carcinogen

Off-Label Marketing Puts Novartis in Hot Water


(CN) – Novartis Pharmaceuticals must face claims that it promoted the use on infants of a drug that U.S. regulators have deemed harmful, a federal judge ruled.

While working as a senior sales consultant for Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis in its dermatology and respiratory division, from 2001 through 2006, Donald Galmines marketed and sold the atopic dermatitis drug, Elidel.

The Food and Drug Administration had authorized the marketing of Elidel as a second-line treatment for patients aged 2 and older after it found that the drug posed safety risks to infants in December 2000.

Though regulators refused to approve the drug for patients older than 3 months of age, Galmines said Novartis soon began marketing Elidel as safe for children under the age of 2 and as a first-line treatment.

This marketing allegedly continued even after the FDA revealed in 2005 that the drug increased the risk of cancer in animals and respiratory infections in children younger than 2.

Galmines said Novartis trained him and paid Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, a pediatric dermatologist, to convince doctors that Elidel was safe for infants.

The drugmaker also allegedly funded and publicly touted Dr. Alexander Kapp’s report that Elidel was safe for children over 3 months old.

Galmines said Novartis created visual aids for him and other sales reps to engage in off-label marketing of the drug and had him host and pay for $1,000 dinners for doctors who prescribed high amounts of Elidel for chronic use. Novartis also allegedly had Galmines use “preceptorships” in which he followed a doctor for a few hours and paid him or her for prescribing the drug.

A federal judge unsealed the 2006 whistle-blower complaint Galmines filed against Novartis under the False Claims Act (FCA) in Philadelphia after the government declined to intervene.

Novartis responded with a 295-page motion to dismiss in May 2011, but U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter preserved some claims on Thursday.

“The first amended complaint plausibly suggests that at least some of the claims submitted to government healthcare programs for Elidel prescriptions were not reimbursable, because it also alleges that these programs do not pay for drugs that are ‘not prescribed for a medically accepted indication,’ and that at least 1.2 million Elidel prescriptions were written off-label in a manner that put the health of the children receiving those prescriptions at risk,” Pratter wrote. “Therefore, Mr. Galmines has sufficiently pled that false claims for Elidel prescription reimbursements were submitted to the government.”

Though another pair of former Novartis employees, Gina Moyer and Judith Shelton, also brought a 2005 qui tam action over Elidel in Michigan, the court found that the first-to-file rule bars only Galmines’ claims of kickbacks. He can still pursue claims over off-label-marketing because the Moyer complaint discusses the allegedly unlawful promotion of Elidel for psoriasis and seborrhea, and Galmines “makes almost no allegations about these diseases.”

“Mr. Galmines has injected precision into his off-label marketing allegations by pleading a myriad of details about how such marketing occurred,” Pratter wrote. “The first amended complaint details with specificity how Novartis trained its personnel to engage in off-label marketing, how it equipped those personnel with reports and visual aids to support such marketing, how it used medical experts to promote the off-label use of Elidel, and how Mr. Galmines was reprimanded when he declined to market Elidel for such uses. These allegations, together with the first amended complaint’s allegation that at least 1,218,000 off-label prescriptions were written for Elidel, ‘are sufficiently specific both to inform [Novartis] of the “precise misconduct” charged, and to make it unlikely that [Mr. Galmines] has commenced this action in bad faith.’ Therefore, the court will not dismiss the first amended complaint under Rule 9(b).”

Novartis reported nearly $56.7 billion in net sales for 2012

Parents of SEAL killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash join billion-dollar lawsuit against the government after ‘their Verizon phone was tapped when they started asking questions over their son’s death’

  • Charles and Mary Anne Strange, from  Philadelphia, said they heard strange tapping on the line in the months after  son Michael’s death
  • Mr Strange said: ‘When  I started asking questions, that’s when my phone  got tapped’

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 21:31 EST, 12  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 21:55 EST, 12 June 2013

A couple whose Navy SEAL son was killed in  Afghanistan have joined a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government over  the National Security Agency’s collection  of Verizon phone records.

Charles and Mary Anne Strange joined the  suit, which seeks billions in damages, after it was filed in federal court in  D.C. on Sunday, accusing Obama’s administration of breaching the privacy of  millions of Americans.

The couple, from Philadelphia, lost their  25-year-old son Michael in a helicopter crash on August 6, 2011 while he served  in Afghanistan.

In pursuit: Charles Strange and his wife Mary Anne, whose Navy SEAL son Michael was killed in Afghanistan, have joined a class action against the government as they believe their phone was tappedIn pursuit: Charles Strange and his wife Mary Anne,  whose Navy SEAL son Michael was killed in Afghanistan, have joined a class  action against the government as they believe their phone was  tapped

Killed in action: Michael Strange, 25, died when his helicopter went down in Afghanistan in 2011Killed in action: Michael Strange, 25, died when his  helicopter went down in Afghanistan in 2011

Mr Strange told CBS:  ‘Somebody has to be held accountable for  my son’s death. Thirty brave  Americans, the biggest loss in the Afghan  war.

‘And that’s when I started asking questions,  that’s when my phone  got tapped.’

The grieving father, from Torresdale,  said he heard strange tapping noises  during calls and received text messages from unknown numbers in the months after  his son died.

Mr Strange believes that he was among the  millions of Verizon customers being monitored by the NSA because he has been  highly critical of the Obama administration.

The couple believe that their son’s  helicopter could have been shot down by insurgents in retaliation for the  killing of Osama Bin Laden three months earlier, ABC reported.

Mr Strange claims that when he reported the  odd tapping to Verizon and the messages, an employee told him that someone was  listening in the U.S. and Afghanistan.

The couple are outraged at being monitored by  the government, having done nothing wrong.

Evidence? Mr Strange points to the text and call on his phone from the unknown numberEvidence? Mr Strange points to the text and call on his  phone from the unknown number

Watching: Mr Strange said that a Verizon employee told him his phone was being monitored Watching: Mr Strange said that a Verizon employee told  him his phone was being monitored

The suit, against President Obama, the NSA  and Justice Department, was originally filed by attorney Larry  Klayman who founded Freedom Watch, a political advocacy group.

Mr Klayman, a former federeal prosecutor,  also plans to file a lawsuit on Thursday against Facebook,  Google, Microsoft and six other companies for their allegedly complicity.

The NSA’s practice of monitoring customers  was revealed by former employee Edward Snowden who has since fled his home in  Hawaii for Hong Kong.

Last week, the Guardian newspaper in the UK  reported that the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on April 25  issued an order granting the NSA permission to collect telephone records of  millions of Verizon customers. The order was good until July 19, the newspaper  said.

The order requires Verizon, one of the  nation’s largest telecommunications companies, on an ‘ongoing, daily  basis’ to  give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its  systems, both within the  U.S. and between the U.S. and other countries.

Whistleblower: Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee, blew the cover on the government's monitoring of thousands of U.S. citizensWhistleblower: Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee, blew the cover on the government's monitoring of thousands of U.S. citizens

Whistleblower: Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee,  blew the cover on the government’s monitoring of thousands of U.S.  citizens

Big Brother is watching: The NSA program PRISM collects data on millions of internet users Big Brother is watching: The NSA program PRISM collects  data on millions of internet users

The American Civil Liberties Union also sued  the Obama administration on Tuesday, asking the government to halt its  phone-tracking program that it says is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New  York by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the New York Civil  Liberties Union.

‘The practice is akin to snatching every  American’s address book – with annotations detailing whom we spoke to, when we  talked, for how long, and from where,’ the lawsuit says.

‘“It gives the government a comprehensive  record of our associations and public movements, revealing a wealth of detail  about our familial, political, professional, religious, and intimate  associations.’

The lawsuit – which names as defendants the  heads of national intelligence as well as the agencies they lead, including the  National Security Agency, the FBI, the Department of Defense and the Department  of Justice – also asks the court to purge phone records collected under the  program, claiming the government action violates the First and Fourth Amendments  of the Constitution.

The Department of Justice did not immediately  return a call seeking comment. Obama has defended the program and says privacy  must be balanced with security.

The ACLU claims standing as a former customer  of Verizon, adding that the government likely has much of its metadata stored in  its databases.

The suit also alleges the government’s  program exceeds the congressional authority provided by the Patriot Act and  singles out a particular provision that has given the government more leeway in  obtaining various records for intelligence investigations.

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Increasing evidence links high glycemic index foods and dairy products to acne

Contact: Eileen Leahy 732-238-3628 Elsevier Health Sciences

Medical nutrition therapy can play an important role, according to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics report

Philadelphia, PA, February 20, 2013 – A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has determined that there is increasing evidence of a connection between diet and acne, particularly from high glycemic load diets and dairy products, and that medical nutrition therapy (MNT) can play an important role in acne treatment.

More than 17 million Americans suffer from acne, mostly during their adolescent and young adult years. Acne influences quality of life, including social withdrawal, anxiety, and depression, making treatment essential. Since the late 1800s, research has linked diet to this common disease, identifying chocolate, sugar, and fat as particular culprits, but beginning in the 1960s, studies disassociated diet from the development of acne.

“This change occurred largely because of the results of two important research studies that are repeatedly cited in the literature and popular culture as evidence to refute the association between diet and acne,” says Jennifer Burris, MS, RD, of the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. “More recently, dermatologists and registered dietitians have revisited the diet-acne relationship and become increasingly interested in the role of medical nutritional therapy in acne treatment.”

Burris and colleagues, William Rietkerk, Department of Dermatology, New York Medical College, and Kathleen Woolf, of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, conducted a literature review to evaluate evidence for the diet-acne connection during three distinctive time periods: early history, the rise of the diet-acne myth, and recent research.

Culling information from studies between 1960 and 2012 that investigated diet and acne, investigators compiled data for a number of study characteristics, including reference, design, participants, intervention method, primary outcome, results and conclusions, covariate considerations, and limitations.

They concluded that a high glycemic index/glycemic load diet and frequent dairy consumption are the leading factors in establishing the link between diet and acne. They also note that although research results from studies conducted over the last 10 years do not demonstrate that diet causes acne, it may influence or aggravate it.

The study team recommends that dermatologists and registered dietitians work collaboratively to design and conduct quality research. “This research is necessary to fully elucidate preliminary results, determine the proposed underlying mechanisms linking diet and acne, and develop potential dietary interventions for acne treatment,” says Burris. “The medical community should not dismiss the possibility of diet therapy as an adjunct treatment for acne. At this time, the best approach is to address each acne patient individually, carefully considering the possibility of dietary counseling.”



A podcast on this research is available at

Family’s outrage as Ivy League professor set to be released after serving FIVE YEARS for brutally beating wife to death as she wrapped Christmas presents

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 11:24 EST, 17  January 2013 |  UPDATED: 13:47 EST, 17 January 2013


The family of a woman brutally beaten to  death by her Ivy League professor husband is furious that he is being released  after serving just five years behind bars.

Rafael Robb, 62, admitted to bludgeoning his  wife Ellen with a metal pull-up bar until she was ‘unrecognizable’ as she  wrapped Christmas presents at their home in suburban Philadelphia in December  2006.

Prosecutors say the University of  Pennsylvania economics professor was hoping to avoid a costly divorce. He claims  he snapped in a ‘moment of madness.’

Outrage: Rafael Robb, seen here in 2007, has served just five years behind bars after beating his wife until she was 'unrecognizable' 

Outrage: Rafael Robb, seen here in 2007, has served just  five years behind bars after beating his wife until she was  ‘unrecognizable’

Horrific: Ellen Robb was wrapping Christmas presents  when her husband attacked. Her family says authorities told them it was the  ‘most horrific crime ever’ in the county

Robb will be released on January 28 after he  was granted parole during his first appeal hearing.

Ellen Robb’s family is outraged and the  Montgomery County District Attorney has asked the parole board to reconsider its  decision.

‘Rafael Robb has shown zero indication of  remorse throughout all the time following his murder of Ellen,’ the family said  in a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The parole board said in a statement that  Robb has show good behavior in prison and that he has taken responsibility for  his crime.

That has not appeased Ellen’s family, who say  Robb has not truly been punished for the viciousness of his crime.

Horrific: The murder occurred at Christmas time after the husband and wife began fighting about their holiday vacation plans 

Horrific: The murder occurred at Christmas time after  the husband and wife began fighting about their holiday vacation plans

‘The judge said this is the most horrific  crime ever in Montgomery County. Now he’s being set free,’ Gary Gregory told NBC Philadelphia.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa  Vetri Ferman says she recently learned that Robb is set to be released on parole  later this month. She says she’s asked the state parole board to reconsider the  decision.

Ferman says she thinks the board didn’t  consider all issues surrounding the case.

Robb, who initially denied the attack,  pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in December 2007 and was sentenced to  five to 10 years in prison

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Study shows a single shot of morphine has long lasting effects on testosterone levels

2010 study posted for filing

Contact: Ilene Raymond Rush 215-470-2998 Sbarro Health Research Organization

A single injection of morphine to fight persistent pain in male rats is able to strongly reduce the hormone testosterone in the brain and plasma, according to a new paper published in Molecular Pain. The study, led by Anna Maria Aloisi, M.D., of the Department of Physiology – Section of Neuroscience and Applied Physiology at the University of Siena, Italy, Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, University of Siena, and the Human Health Foundation in Spoleto, Italy, showed that opioids had “long lasting genomic effects in body areas which contribute to strong central and peripheral testosterone levels” including the brain, the  liver and the testis.

The study showed increases in aromatase, an enzyme that is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogen.  The findings are particularly important since testosterone is the main substrate of aromatase, which is involved in the formation of estradiol.  Both testosterone and estradiol are important hormones, engaged in cognitive functions as well as in mood, motor control and in many other functions, such as bone structure remodeling.

“Our lab became interested in gonadal hormones several years ago when it became clear that there were many differences in pain syndromes between the sexes,” says Dr. Aloisi. “In looking at differences, it was immediately apparent that these changes were introduced by different treatments, opioids in particular.”

“The research findings are very relevant to the management of patients with chronic pain,” said Marco Pappagallo, M.D., professor and director of pain research and development, Department of Anesthesiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.  “Today, primary care physicians, pain specialists, and a variety of health care professionals are asked not only to treat pain but how to manage side effects of drugs and to strive for the best possible comprehensive care and wellness of patients who experience chronic pain. Opioid induced hypogonadism can cause health complications to which patients with pain can be overly susceptible, including chronic fatigue, loss of stamina, emotional and sexual disturbances, as well painful skeletal and muscular complications.”

It has been known that patients treated with opioids for short or long periods show low levels of gonadal hormones. Hypogonadism was already described in opioid users and applied to pain patients as OPIAD (opioid induced androgen deficiency). It is also known that patients treated with opioids, including newer drugs (fentalyl, tramadol) have a high probability to be hypogonadic, with menopausal symptoms occurring in women and andropausal symptoms in men.

“The use of opioids puts a ‘physiological’ block on the reproductive system and can induce a long lasting absence of these essential hormones from the blood and the brain,” says Dr. Aloisi. “The normal effect of opioids to restrict reproduction in stressed subjects is multiplied by the higher levels/ long duration of opioids in the body.”

“Until a few years ago this condition was completely unrecognized by physicians although some reports clearly showed it in many kinds of patients,” notes Dr. Aloisi. “Today there remains some ignorance on this condition but gonadal hormones are more commonly cited as responsible for many chronic degenerative pathologies.”

Despite the side effects of opioids, Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine,  warns that the study’s message is not meant to limit the use of opioids for pain. Instead, he suggests that doctors should “take into consideration this side effect, since it is very easy to find hormone replacement therapies. Using HRTs, patients can get relief from their pain, and improve their quality of life.”


Sbarro Health Research Organization Center for Biotechnology Research ( funds the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, a leading nonprofit research center for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of Temple University and the University of Siena in Italy, our programs train young scientists from around the globe.

FBI in Philly reports theft of new $100 notes

Associated Press – 3 mins 22 secs ago

  • This undated image provided by FBI shows the newly designed $100 bill. The FBI is reporting an unusual heist of some of the bills, which aren't going into circulation until next year. Agent Frank Burton Jr. says the cash was stolen from a plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport around 10:25 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, from Dallas. (AP Photo/FBI)

    Associated Press/FBI – This undated image provided by FBI shows the newly designed $100 bill. The FBI is reporting an unusual heist of some of the bills, which aren’t going into circulation until next year. …more Agent Frank Burton Jr. says the cash was stolen from a plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport around 10:25 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, from Dallas. (AP Photo/FBI)  less

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The FBI is reporting an unusual heist of some newly designed $100 bills that aren’t going into circulation until next year.

Agent Frank Burton Jr. says the cash was stolen from a plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport around 10:25 a.m. Thursday from Dallas.

Investigators said these Benjamins are easy to spot. The new bills have sophisticated elements to thwart counterfeiters, like a disappearing Liberty Bell in an orange inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon.

The FBI said a “large amount” of bills were stolen, but agents aren’t giving specifics.

The theft was reported by a courier service transporting the C-notes when the shipment arrived Thursday afternoon at the Federal Reserve Building in East Rutherford, N.J. Officials then discovered some of the money was missing.

Chicago Breaking Business ComEd confirms smart meters involved in ‘small fires’ (U.S.)

Fires involving smart metersA traditional electric meter, left, sits next to the smart meters that ComEd began installing in Naperville in 2009. (Chuck Berman/Tribune / August 30, 2012)


By Gregory Karp Tribune reporter1:05 p.m. CDT, August 30, 2012

Commonwealth Edison confirmed on Thursday that three of its smart meters, which wirelessly relay power-use data between homes and the company, have been involved in “small fires” in the Chicago region.
ComEd said the problems stemmed not from the smart meters themselves but from how they were connected to homes and businesses.
The news, reported by Crain’s Chicago Business on Thursday, is the latest among recent concerns about the safety of the devices.
Peco Energy Co., a sister company of ComEd also owned by Exelon Corp., said this month that it suspended a smart-meter installation program after 15 of the 186,000 installed devices overheated, including one that set fire to a home in suburban Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Then, this week, Maryland utility regulators, concerned about the action in Pennsylvania, held a hearing with four major electricity companies about smart meters, the Baltimore Sun reported. The paper quoted a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. official saying the company had five incidents of the smart meters overheating out of 65,000 installed. None failed or was damaged.
“ComEd customers can be assured that we are taking every precaution possible to ensure their safety and satisfaction,” ComEd said in a statement. “We are working hand-in-hand with our Peco colleagues to understand and apply their key learnings here in northern Illinois.”
ComEd has installed digital smart meters at about 130,000 homes and businesses. “Since installation began in 2009, we have seen a limited number of issues related to elevated heating. We take these issues extremely seriously and, in each case, have taken steps to get to the bottom of the issues to ensure customer safety,” the statement said.
The problem is not with the smart meters, ComEd said. Independent testing showed the cause “was related to fitting and connection issues with an older-model socket that had a poor connection at the point where the customer’s wires and ComEd’s wires meet.”
All three smart meters that had problems used the same type of socket, ComEd said. Older-style analog meters also can have connection issues from loose fittings and corrosion, the company said.
“Technicians will look out for and modify the connection point when needed during full deployment of smart meters,” ComEd said.
All told, ComEd identified 15 connection issues that resulted in higher than normal heat conditions and damage to the smart meter. All the meters worked but ComEd replaced them, it said. None of the incidents were related to meter design, it said.
ComEd said it is performing daily temperature scans on smart meters, helping it identify heat-related issues.
The company is also sending its meter designs for independent evaluation. That testing will be completed before ComEd installs any more smart meters early next year, it said.

Green tea may protect brain cells against Parkinson’s disease

Philadelphia, PA, December 13, 2007 – Does the consumption of green tea, widely touted to have beneficial effects on health, also protect brain cells” Authors of a new study being published in the December 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry share new data that indicates this may be the case. The authors investigated the effects of green tea polyphenols, a group of naturally occurring chemical substances found in plants that have antioxidant properties, in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, and there is presently no cure. According to Dr. Baolu Zhao, corresponding and senior author on this article, current treatments for Parkinson’s are associated with serious and important side effects. Their previous research has indicated that green tea possesses neuroprotective effects, leading Guo and colleagues to examine its effects specifically in Parkinson’s. The authors discovered that green tea polyphenols protect dopamine neurons that increases with the amount consumed. They also show that this protective effect is mediated by inhibition of the ROS-NO pathway, a pathway that may contribute to cell death in Parkinson’s.

Dr. Zhao’s hope is that eventually “green tea polyphenols may be developed into a safe and easily administrable drug for Parkinson’s disease.” Dr. Krystal agrees, that “if green tea consumption can be shown to have meaningful neuroprotective actions in patients, this would be an extremely important advance.”

*Reposted for Filing

Household chemical may affect breast development – Phthalate

A chemical found in household fittings has been found to affect the development of the mammary gland in rats and further studies will be required to determine if the presence of this chemical could lead to breast cancer. New research published in the online open access journal BMC Genomics is the first to show that this chemical can affect the breasts’ genomic profile.

Jose Russo and coworkers from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, along with colleagues from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, US, fed lactating rats with butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), which their offspring then absorbed via breast milk. The offspring ingested levels of chemical estimated to be nearly equivalent to the Environmental Protection Agency’s safe dose limit of BBP for humans.

The researchers found that BBP had a transitory effect on certain characteristics of the female offspring of the rats, such as the ratio of uterine weight to body weight and the genetic profile of the mammary gland. Dr Russo stated: “We are the first to report that neonatal/prepubertal exposure to BBP induced modifications in the gene expression of the mammary tissue.”

Although these effects wore off once exposure to BBP was removed, the subtle changes in the mammary gland may have an effect later in life

BBP is widely used as a plasticizer, an additive used to soften polymers, and is found in household fittings such as pipes, vinyl floor tiles and carpet backing. This type of chemical is known to be an endocrine disruptor, which mimics the effect of hormones. Endocrine disruptors are known to damage wildlife and they have also been implicated in reduced sperm counts and neurological problems in humans.