Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Genes, psychological traits and civic engagement

 2015 Dec 5;370(1683). pii: 20150015. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0015.

Genes, psychological traits and civic engagement.

Author information

  • 1Department of Politics, New York University, New York, NY, USA
  • 2Government Department, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA.
  • 3Department of Political Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • 4Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Civic engagement is a classic example of a collective action problem: while civic participation improves life in the community as a whole, it is individually costly and thus there is an incentive to free ride on the actions of others. Yet, we observe significant inter-individual variation in the degree to which people are in fact civically engaged. Early accounts reconciling the theoretical prediction with empirical reality focused either on variation in individuals' material resources or their attitudes, but recent work has turned to genetic differences between individuals. We show an underlying genetic contribution to an index of civic engagement (0.41), as well as for the individual acts of engagement of volunteering for community or public service activities (0.33), regularly contributing to charitable causes (0.28) and voting in elections (0.27). There are closer genetic relationships between donating and the other two activities; volunteering and voting are not genetically correlated. Further, we show that most of the correlation between civic engagement and both positive emotionality and verbal IQ can be attributed to genes that affect both traits. These results enrich our understanding of the way in which genetic variation may influence the wide range of collective action problems that individuals face in modern community life.

Lung and Pleural Pathology

Lung and Pleural Pathology

From Anna Kurdowska and colleagues: Binding of CXCL8/IL-8 to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Modulates the Innate Immune Response

 2015;2015:124762. doi: 10.1155/2015/124762. Epub 2015 Aug 2.

Binding of CXCL8/IL-8 to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Modulates the Innate Immune Response.

Author information

  • 1Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Tyler, TX 75708, USA ; Institute of Medical Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 93-232 Lodz, Poland.
  • 2Department of Immunology and Infectious Biology, University of Lodz, 90-237 Lodz, Poland.
  • 3Department of Immunoparasitology, University of Lodz, 90-237 Lodz, Poland.
  • 4Institute of Medical Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 93-232 Lodz, Poland.
  • 5Department of Immunobiology of Bacteria, University of Lodz, 90-237 Lodz, Poland.
  • 6Department of Medicine, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45219, USA.
  • 7Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Tyler, TX 75708, USA.
  • 8Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Tyler, TX 75708, USA.


Interleukin-8 (IL-8) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of several human respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis (TB). Importantly and in direct relevance to the objectives of this report quite a few findings suggest that the presence of IL-8 may be beneficial for the host. IL-8 may aid with mounting an adequate response during infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb); however, the underlying mechanism remains largely unknown. The major goal of our study was to investigate the contribution of IL-8 to the inflammatory processes that are typically elicited in patients with TB. We have shown for the first time that IL-8 can directly bind to tubercle bacilli. We have also demonstrated that association of IL-8 with M. tb molecules leads to the augmentation of the ability of leukocytes (neutrophils and macrophages) to phagocyte and kill these bacilli. In addition, we have shown that significant amount of IL-8 present in the blood of TB patients associates with erythrocytes. Finally, we have noted that IL-8 is the major chemokine responsible for recruiting T lymphocytes (CD3(+), CD4(+), and CD8(+) T cells). In summary, our data suggest that the association of IL-8 with M. tb molecules may modify and possibly enhance the innate immune response in patients with TB.

Is Whole-Exome Sequencing an Ethically Disruptive Technology? Perspectives of Pediatric Oncologists and Parents of Pediatric Patients With Solid Tumors

 2015 Oct 27. doi: 10.1002/pbc.25815. [Epub ahead of print]

Is Whole-Exome Sequencing an Ethically Disruptive Technology? Perspectives of Pediatric Oncologists and Parents of Pediatric Patients With Solid Tumors.

Author information

  • 1Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
  • 2Department of Community Health Education, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • 3Department of Communication, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
  • 4Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
  • 5Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
  • 6Human Genome Sequencing Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.
  • 7Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Texas.



It has been anticipated that physician and parents will be ill prepared or unprepared for the clinical introduction of genome sequencing, making it ethically disruptive.


As a part of the Baylor Advancing Sequencing in Childhood Cancer Care study, we conducted semistructured interviews with 16 pediatric oncologists and 40 parents of pediatric patients with cancer prior to the return of sequencing results. We elicited expectations and attitudes concerning the impact of sequencing on clinical decision making, clinical utility, and treatment expectations from both groups. Using accepted methods of qualitative research to analyze interview transcripts, we completed a thematic analysis to provide inductive insights into their views of sequencing.


Our major findings reveal that neither pediatric oncologists nor parents anticipate sequencing to be an ethically disruptive technology, because they expect to be prepared to integrate sequencing results into their existing approaches to learning and using new clinical information for care. Pediatric oncologists do not expect sequencing results to be more complex than other diagnostic information and plan simply to incorporate these data into their evidence-based approach to clinical practice, although they were concerned about impact on parents. For parents, there is an urgency to protect their child's health and in this context they expect genomic information to better prepare them to participate in decisions about their child's care.


Our data do not support the concern that introducing genome sequencing into childhood cancer care will be ethically disruptive, that is, leave physicians or parents ill prepared or unprepared to make responsible decisions about patient care.

Autopsy in Islam: Considerations for Deceased Muslims and Their Families Currently and in the Future

 2015 Oct 23. [Epub ahead of print]

Autopsy in Islam: Considerations for Deceased Muslims and Their Families Currently and in the Future.

Author information

  • 1From the Lékařská Fakulta Masarykovy Univerzity, Brno, Czech Republic.


Religious beliefs and cultures have influenced treatment of dead bodies in different ways by nations throughout history, and attitudes toward the deceased individuals have changed across time and so has the role and mechanism of autopsy. Islam has been a part of Europe for a long time; therefore, we would like to emphasize the important issues for Muslims and their families regarding death, autopsy, and funeral and to describe international perspectives of Muslim autopsies. Muslims have expressed their views on autopsy publically and internationally, and there have been claims of violation of the deceased, delays in burial, and nonconsideration of their religious beliefs. In this article, we aim to increase awareness and understanding of doctors about the religious and ethical issues important to Muslims and their families, so that appropriate considerations may be made where possible with regard to respectful treatment of deceased loved ones to decrease tensions presently being faced. Forensic medicine doctors could assist by undertaking autopsy without delay, in a private room by those of the same sex, and covering parts of the body not being worked on at that time.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Zombie allusions: They just keep on coming™: "...ultimately unelectable..."

Team Jeb slashes campaign payroll by 40%, claims it’s being done from … a position of “strength”

"Murphy called Trump a “false zombie frontrunner” who’s ultimately unelectable, but isn’t that exactly what Jeb himself was in the early pre-Trump stage of this race? "

"...questioning the gospel of the annual mammogram..."

Mammogram Giant Adjusts as Doctors Cut Back on Breast Screening

The "Angelina Jolie effect": "...a tipping point for raising awareness and improving knowledge concerning a specific disease among the general public."

 2015 Sep 28. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29461. [Epub ahead of print]

The Angelina effect revisited: Exploring a media-related impact on public awareness.

Author information

  • 1Division of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.
  • 2Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics and Documentation, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria.



In 2013, Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy and publication of her personal treatment choice for BRCA1 positivity generated considerable media attention. To the authors' knowledge, the current study is the first prospective survey conducted among the general public to measure a quantifiable media-related effect on public awareness.


The authors analyzed the changes in the general public's awareness of reconstructive options in breast cancer among 2 female population-matched cohorts aged 18 to 65 years (1000 participants in each cohort) before (March 2013; poll 1) and after (June 2013; poll 2) the announcement of Ms. Jolie's mastectomy in May 2013.


There was an observed increase in public awareness: significantly more women from poll 2 were aware of reconstructive breast surgery being possible after breast cancer-related mastectomy, notably with regard to autologous tissue and single-stage reconstructions. Approximately 20% of the women in poll 2 (205 women) indicated that media coverage regarding Ms. Jolie affected their interest in breast cancer. A question that was exclusive to poll 2 revealed a preference for autologous (66.2%) versus implant-based (8.2%) reconstructions, with the remainder indicating no preference (25.6%). None of the stratification variables were found to be associated with the above findings.


To the best of the authors' knowledge, this is the first prospective study to demonstrate a statistically significant impact of a celebrity announcement on public awareness regarding breast cancer treatment. The results underscore the importance of a media-related impact for professionals in the health care sector, which can serve as a tipping point for raising awareness and improving knowledge concerning a specific disease among the general public.

The “Angelina Jolie effect”: "...the number of women referred for genetic counseling skyrocketed..."

Angelina Jolie has highlighted the benefits of genetic testing and surgery to prevent hereditary breast cancer, but women must also consider the risks.

"Genetic testing is on the rise among women who believe they are at high risk for breast cancer — a trend that has been dubbed the “Angelina Jolie effect” because it occurred after the actress’s public disclosure of her BRCA status and her decision to remove her breasts, which was followed two years later by the elective removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. A retrospective study performed at a Toronto hospital in 2014, for example, reported that the number of women referred for genetic counseling skyrocketed by 90 percent in the six months after Jolie’s announcement. The number of women at the hospital identified as BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers during that period jumped by 110 percent."

See more at:

I can haz PDF: "...this practice is definitely illegal..."

I can haz PDF: Academics tweet secret code word to get expensive research papers for free

"Unfortunately, this practice is definitely illegal as it violates the terms of service of the journal publishers, who feel that research, especially peer-reviewed research, is valuable and should be paid for, and institutions potentially face a great deal of trouble if publishers figure out who is sharing their journal articles for free."

Precautions needed for flu season

Precautions needed for flu season

"'The biggest thing to do to prevent contracting or transmission of flu is to get the flu vaccination, as well as washing hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer, not coughing or sneezing on others and staying away from people you know are sick,” he said. “Also, it is a misconception that the flu shot can cause the flu. Getting the flu shot is important protection for you and your entire family.'

Although the shot is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, according to Seymour it is especially important for people in specific populations. This includes children six months through four years old, adults age 50 or older and people with long-term health problems such as asthma, lung problems, heart disease, diabetes or severe obesity."

Notion Obese Fare Better vs. Chronic Ills Refuted

Prior research suggesting that excess weight may offer protection called flawed

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter
"People who are seriously ill tend to lose weight as they near death, the study authors explained. And that fact influences the data enough to create the false perception of an obesity paradox, argued lead author Samuel Preston, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia".

"Biomedical research in the US will become unsustainable unless scientists and research institutions start to question certain assumptions they have long taken for granted."

 2013 Jul 16;2:e01138. doi: 10.7554/eLife.01138.

A recipe for mediocrity and disaster, in five axioms.

Author information

  • 1is professor emeritus at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology , University of California at San Francisco , San Francisco , United States . He blogs about the challenges and opportunities associated with biomedical research at . His research was supported by the NIH from 1969 to 2008, and he served as a reviewer of grant applications at intervals during this period.


Biomedical research in the US will become unsustainable unless scientists and research institutions start to question certain assumptions they have long taken for granted.

Antibiotics [overuse] might be the reason of obesity in the present children

Antibiotics might be the reason of obesity in the present children

By  on October 23, 2015    

"Interestingly, the researchers found that nearly 21% of the children in the study – almost 30,000 – had received seven or more antibiotic prescriptions during childhood. What is more, concerns are growing that excessive antibiotic use is leading to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria."

Victims and/or perpetrators? Towards an interdisciplinary dialogue on child soldiers

 2015 Oct 14;15(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s12914-015-0068-5.

Victims and/or perpetrators? Towards an interdisciplinary dialogue on child soldiers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy & Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, 9000, Gent, Belgium.
  • 2Law and Development Research Group, University of Antwerp, Venusstraat 23, 2000, Antwerp, Belgium.
  • 3Leuven Institute of Criminology, University of Leuven, Hooverplein 10, 3000, Leuven, Belgium.
  • 4Departamento de Psicología del Desarrollo y Educacional, Universidad Católica del Uruguay, Av. 8 de Octubre 2733, CP 11600, Montevideo, Uruguay.



Worldwide, thousands of children are acting in different roles in armed groups. Whereas human rights activism and humanitarian imperatives tend to emphasize the image of child soldiers as incapable victims of adults' abusive compulsion, this image does not fully correspond with prevailing pedagogical and jurisprudential discourses, nor does it represent all child soldiers' own perceptions of their role. Moreover, contemporary warfare is often marked by fuzzy distinctions between perpetrators and victims. This article deepens on the question how to conceptualize the victim-perpetrator imaginary about child soldiers, starting from three disciplines, children's rights law, psychosocial approaches and transitional justice, and then proceeding into an interdisciplinary approach.


We argue that the victim-perpetrator dichotomy in relation to child soldiers needs to be revisited, and that this can only be done successfully through a truly interdisciplinary approach. Key to this interdisciplinary dialogue is the growing awareness within all three disciplines, but admittedly only marginally within children's rights law, that only by moving beyond the binary distinction between victim- and perpetrator-hood, the complexity of childhood soldiering can be grasped. In transitional justice, the concept of role reversal has been instructive, and in psychosocial studies, emphasis has been put on the 'agency' of (former) child soldiers, whereby child soldiers sometimes account on how joining the armed force or group was (partially) out of their own free will. Hence, child soldiers' perpetrator-hood is not only part of the way child soldiers are perceived in the communities they return to, but equally of the way they see themselves. These findings plea for more contextualized approaches, including a greater participation of child soldiers, the elaboration of accountability mechanisms beyond criminal responsibility, and an intimate connection between individual, social and societal healing by paying more attention to reconciliation. This article deepens on the question how to conceptualize the victim-perpetrator imaginary about child soldiers through an interdisciplinary dialogue between children's rights law, psychosocial approaches and transitional justice. With this interdisciplinary perspective, we intend to open up narrow disciplinary viewpoints, and contribute to more integrated approaches, beyond a binary distinction between victimhood and perpetrator-hood.

Current Perspectives in Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

 2015 Oct;42 Suppl 2:S11-8. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2015.09.019. Epub 2015 Sep 11.

Current Perspectives in Immunotherapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.

Author information

  • 1Director of Thoracic Oncology Program, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Electronic address:


In non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the first immune checkpoint inhibitor to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration was nivolumab, based on a survival advantage over docetaxel in recurrent squamous NSCLC, a difficult-to-treat histology. In addition, several other immune checkpoint inhibitors are also in late-stage development. Most of these agents inhibit the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) pathway, targeting either the PD-1 receptor or its ligand, programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). In addition to nivolumab, pembrolizumab is a PD-1 inhibitor under investigation in NSCLC, and atezolizumab (MPDL3280A), durvalumab (MEDI4736), and avelumab (MSB0010718C) are PD-L1 inhibitors under investigation. The cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) immune checkpoint inhibitors ipilimumab and tremelimumab are also under investigation in NSCLC, largely as part of combination approaches rather than as monotherapy. PD-L1 expression as a potential biomarker to select patients most likely to respond to inhibitors of the PD-1 pathway has been widely studied.

Advances in immunotherapy for treatment of lung cancer

 2015 Sep;12(3):209-22. doi: 10.7497/j.issn.2095-3941.2015.0032.

Advances in immunotherapy for treatment of lung cancer.

Author information

  • 11 Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia 19141, USA ; 2 Translational Cancer Research Unit, Instituto Oncológico Dr Rosell, Quirón Dexeus University Hospital, Barcelona 08028, Spain ; 3 Medical Oncology Unit, Human Pathology Department, University of Messina, Messina 98100, Italy ; 4 Pangaea Biotech S.L, Barcelona 08028, Spain ; 5 Cancer Biology & Precision Medicine Program, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Germans Trias i Pujol Health Sciences Institute and Hospital, Campus Can Ruti, Badalona, Barcelona 08916, Spain ; 6 Fundación Molecular Oncology Research, Barcelona 08028, Spain.


Different approaches for treating lung cancer have been developed over time, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapies against activating mutations. Lately, better understanding of the role of the immunological system in tumor control has opened multiple doors to implement different strategies to enhance immune response against cancer cells. It is known that tumor cells elude immune response by several mechanisms. The development of monoclonal antibodies against the checkpoint inhibitor programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1), on T cells, has led to high activity in cancer patients with long lasting responses. Nivolumab, an anti PD-1 inhibitor, has been recently approved for the treatment of squamous cell lung cancer patients, given the survival advantage demonstrated in a phase III trial. Pembrolizumab, another anti PD-1 antibody, has received FDA breakthrough therapy designation for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer(NSCLC), supported by data from a phase I trial. Clinical trials with anti PD-1/PD-L1 antibodies in NSCLC have demonstrated very good tolerability and activity, with response rates around 20% and a median duration of response of 18 months.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Out: Standing desks. In: Treadmill desks.

New Study Concludes That Standing Isn't Necessarily Healthier Than Sitting Down All Day

“The problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself,” Hillsdon said in a statement. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing. The results cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand work stations.”
So what are we left with? It looks like treadmill desks may indeed be the way forward. Just please promise us that human-sized hamster wheelsaren’t actually going to become a thing anytime soon.

Theranos Dials Back Lab Tests at FDA’s Behest

Hot Startup Theranos Dials Back Lab Tests at FDA’s Behest

Firm has stopped collecting tiny vials of blood drawn from finger pricks for all but one of its tests

"Theranos has since nearly stopped using the lab instrument, named Edison after the prolific inventor, according to the person familiar with the situation. By the time of the FDA inspection, the company was doing blood tests almost exclusively on traditional lab instruments purchased from diagnostic-equipment makers such as Siemens AG, the person says."

Thursday, October 1, 2015

In Rememberance: James H. "Red" Duke, Jr, M.D. (from UTHealth and MemorialHermann)


1928 - 2015

"With his undergraduate degree in hand, he served for two years as an Army tank commander in Germany during the Korean War before enrolling in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.  He received a divinity degree in 1955.
During seminary, a book about Albert Schweitzer, M.D., inspired Duke to pursue a career in academic medicine. He thought that caring for patients and conducting scientific research while training the next generations of physicians would be the best ways he could serve his community."