Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Division III Dunk Sensation

I know that this post deviates from the theme of my blog but I'm sure everyone will understand why I decided to share it.. ridiculous.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Major Breakthrough or False Hope?

So what's the deal with melanoma other than being recognized as the most dangerous type of skin cancer and leading cause of death among skin disease? For those you who are unfamiliar with this nightmare, I'll provide some background information. It involves cells called melanocytes, which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is responsible for your skin and hair color. What's your point Jesse? Chill out, I'm getting to that :)

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently approved a cancer medication called Yervoy that researchers claim as the first drug shown to prolong the lives of patients with advanced skin cancer. An interesting tidbit about drugs manufactured for melanoma is that there were only two others approved, both of which show no indication of significantly extending patient lives. On average, treated patients lived just four months longer than patients who were given older medications. Four months?? Someone please tell me why I would want to suffer with the disease for four more months... Well, the breakthrough lies in the fact that it provides an important step towards treating melanoma, which often does not respond to therapy.

The drug is part of a group of targeted cancer medicines that utilize the body's immune system to fight against cancer-producing cells as opposed to attacking the disease with outside chemicals like chemotherapy. It functions by blocking a molecule linked to melanoma called CTLA-4, known to interfere with the protective activity of white blood cells. As a result to having the molecule blocked, the cells are permitted to behave normally and help fight off cancer. If you ask me, this treatment approach seems more aligned with the eastern philosophy of medicine where the focus is on complementary means of treatment.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake Rocks Japan

Good morning bloggers... I should have created a post about this sooner but I'm sure everyone has read or heard about the news concerning the earthquake in Japan by now. I am fortunate enough to be sheltered within the state of Texas, making it impossible for me to fathom the feeling of the ground starting to tremble or even worse, watching a giant wall of water coming to consume anything and everything around me.. it's crazy to think that no matter how technologically advanced us humans have become, we are still incredibly inferior to the forces of nature.

Check out the bone-chilling footage:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Joys of Progress

The university where I currently conduct research (UT Southwestern Medical Center) recently released an article illustrating a potential cure for type 1 diabetes. This is a major breakthrough if the research continues its course! So type 1 diabetes occurs in individuals when certain white blood cells, also known as T cells, are triggered to attack and destroy the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Subsequently, the person develops a deficiency of insulin which leads to increased blood and urine glucose levels. This is fatal unless treated with insulin.. yikes.

Dr. Roger Unger, who is a professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study, suggested that the hormone glucagon can be suppressed to prevent the homeostatic imbalance in blood glucose level. Glucagon is produced by the pancreas and functions to lower blood sugar levels in healthy individuals. It causes high blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes. Okay, I get that. Essentially, they want to remove the functionality of glucagon so that diabetics will no longer need to inject or pump insulin. The sticky part of this finding is whether people can operate without the production or distribution of insulin in their bodies. I guess this is why the "cure" is still a working progress. All in all, I'm thrilled about this. Great work western medicine! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Gasoline Market Spikes

I thought I'd include some current events in this blog to keep the readers updated on what's going on in our crazy world. So what affects us on a national, if not global scale? You guessed it, gas prices. According to an article on CNN, we've apparently made history as U.S. gas prices jumped 34 cents in two weeks. Are you kidding me? That's absolutely absurd. I feel like our country will always be involved in mediating some kind of conflict that creates price fluctuations (i.e. Libya). There's no escaping it!! If the advocates of the green movement really wanted us to trade in our gas guzzlers for a more fuel efficient car, they can be more practical than hitting us where it hurts (assuming this is just a big conspiracy to get people to make the switch). And it might help to make the hybrids LESS expensive and MORE attractive than your standard four-door sedan.

It's unusual because analysts predicted that the prices would increase as it got closer to the summertime but I bet they didn't foresee the conflict in Libya in which the change is being attributed to... coincidence?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Nutritional Value

Does a person's diet really influence the treatment process of certain medications? I would say so. The issue is that researchers have barely scratched the surface on the theory, most likely because it's difficult to actually see the interaction. I believe that if all doctors/practitioners inquired deeper about their patients' dietary habits, medical science would once again become personal.

I have this fear that a visit to the doctor's office is changing more and more into a visit to the post office, where the focus is about getting people in and getting people out. This may be just a skewed observation of mine but all human beings wish to maximize the efficiency of their time so maybe not?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baby Steps

Greetings Blogger Enthusiasts!

I would like to welcome everyone to my first official post :) To save you all some time, I'll cut right to the chase regarding the content of this blog. I wanted to provide some insight on my ambitions to "bridge the gap" between Eastern and Western medicine. The taste for medicinal fusion was cultivated by my parents (naturally). My mom works as a registered nurse as part of the Day Surgery Unit at UT Southwestern Medical Center while my dad runs his own business as a licensed Acupuncture doctor. It's your classic case scenario of two diverged point of views struggling to establish common grounds.

So what's worse than going to the doctor's office while you're wincing in pain only to find out that the treatment plan doesn't fly right with you? (I know I'm being vague but bear with me). I've heard so many stories about how patients are being tossed around between practitioners because either (a) the procedure suggested by Western doctors lacks the sense of comfort they would like in treatment or (b) the holistic approach that Eastern medicine offers just takes too damn long for them to get on with their lives. Well, this is where my story starts as I journey across the middle road in hopes to find a median between the two perspectives.