Category Archives: Health

Telomere Extension

turns back aging clock in cultured cells:

“This new approach paves the way toward preventing or treating diseases of aging,” said Blau. “There are also highly debilitating genetic diseases associated with telomere shortening that could benefit from such a potential treatment.”

Blau and her colleagues became interested in telomeres when previous work in her lab showed that the muscle stem cells of boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy had telomeres that were much shorter than those of boys without the disease. This finding not only has implications for understanding how the cells function — or don’t function — in making new muscle, but it also helps explain the limited ability to grow affected cells in the laboratory for study.

The researchers are now testing their new technique in other types of cells.

“This study is a first step toward the development of telomere extension to improve cell therapies and to possibly treat disorders of accelerated aging in humans,” said John Cooke, MD, PhD. Cooke, a co-author of the study, formerly was a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford. He is now chair of cardiovascular sciences at the Houston Methodist Research Institute.

“We’re working to understand more about the differences among cell types, and how we can overcome those differences to allow this approach to be more universally useful,” said Blau, who also is a member of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

“One day it may be possible to target muscle stem cells in a patient with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, for example, to extend their telomeres. There are also implications for treating conditions of aging, such as diabetes and heart disease. This has really opened the doors to consider all types of potential uses of this therapy.”

I wonder if there’s some political reason they won’t use the R word? Anyway, faster, please.

SCOTUS Saves ObamaCare Again

So, once again, it’s up to the voters to get rid of this legislative atrocity.

[Late-morning update]

Wow. By amazing coincidence, they released this ruling that words mean whatever they want them to mean on George Orwell’s birthday.

[Afternoon update]

No matter how King v. Burwell was decided, this was always going to come down to 2016:

Supporters of the law have already telegraphed that their next move is to end the political debate by urging a Pax Obamacare to which all Americans must acquiesce. Last week the president said, after “five years in, what we are talking about it is no longer just a law. It’s no longer just a theory. This isn’t even just about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare . . . This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another.”

While the ACA is certainly the “law of the land,” as it has been since its enactment, nothing in the Court’s decision today imparts any additional legitimacy on this law as a public policy meriting political acquiescence. To borrow from the president’s words, it is still “just a law.” So nothing in this decision should deter Republican presidential and congressional candidates in the 2016 election from continuing to press their campaign to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

Politically, it’s actually probably better for Republicans and those others of us who want to repeal it, but it’s a terrible terrible precedent, legally.

[Update a few minutes later]

Roberts rewrites the PPACA to save it (again).

[Mid-afternoon update]

Sorry, Obama, but it’s still not a done deal:

Obamacare has only enrolled about 40% of the subsidy eligible market in two years worth of open enrollments. That level of consumer support does not make Obamacare either financially sustainable or politically sustainable. The surveys say the 40% who have enrolled like their plans. Of course they do, they are the poorest with the biggest subsidies and the lowest deductibles. The working and middle-class have most often not signed up for Obamacare because it costs too much and delivers too little.

That Obamacare is not financially sustainable is evidenced by the first wave of big 2016 rate increases by so many large market share insurers. The next wave of rate increases a year from now will also be large and will be in the middle of the 2016 election.

These rate increases will further undermine the political sustainability of the law that has been reflected in five years of polling.

On to the election.

[Later-afternoon update]

“Let us recall why the Affordable Care Act is so messed up.”

SCOTUS

More opinions coming today. Follow live at (where else?) Scotusblog.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Heh. From Amy Howe: “Don’t type the phrase ‘the Ninth Circuit is affirmed’ that often. My fingers rebelled.”

[Update a couple minutes later, scrolling through]

Court ruled against the government in Horne, in favor of the raisin farmers. This is potentially huge. It could be major blow to idiotic anti-market agriculture policies dating back to the Depression.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here is Amy’s round up of today’slast week’s court action, prior to today’s rulings [oops].

[Late-morning PDT update]

Hearing that more decisions will be announced not only on Thursday, but Friday as well. Both King v. Burwell and the same-sex marriage rulings will be huge.

[Late-afternoon update]

Ilya Somin discusses the implications of the Horne ruling:

whatever one thinks about the compensation issue, the Court’s holding on the question of whether a taking has occurred is an important victory for property owners. It ensures that personal property gets the same level of protection as real property under the Takings Clause, and that the government cannot avoid takings liability by giving owners a small share of the proceeds from the disposition of their property.

The ruling also calls into question a number of other similar agricultural cartel schemes run by the federal government. In addition to property owners, consumers of agricultural products are likely to benefit from the decision, if these cartel schemes can no longer operate. Freer competition between producers in these agricultural markets will increase the amount of goods sold, and thereby lower prices. Lowered food prices are of particular benefit to poor and lower-middle class consumers, who generally spend a higher proportion of their income on food than the affluent do.

Republicans don’t emphasize enough how these market interventions by the government hurt the poor. Including minimum wages laws.

Nanobots

bloodstream nanobots.

Eric Drexler foresaw this sort of thing three decades ago. It’s just the beginning.

[Update a while later]

Biotech’s potential new cancer cure:

Newly marketed drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are curing a small percentage of skin and lung cancers, once hopeless cases. More than 60,000 people have been treated with these drugs, which are sold by Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The treatments work by removing molecular brakes that normally keep the body’s T cells from seeing cancer as an enemy, and they have helped demonstrate that the immune system is capable of destroying cancer.

Faster, please.

Federal Dietary Guidelines

…are based on “pseudoscience.”

I think that’s being kind. They’re based on junk science. And they’re deadly:

The confluence of self-interest, institutional inertia, and scientific incompetence has led us to where we are today. The federal government has massively increased spending on nutrition and obesity research over the past few decades, and now spends over $2 billion of taxpayer’s money per year. Unfortunately, the people that control that funding are the same researchers that use these anecdotal methods, train the next generation of researchers, and control the publication of scientific papers. As such, new methods and innovative research is stifled. The same researchers are getting funded to do the same research year after year after year. This inertia and self-interest are exacerbated by the exorbitant amount of grant funding established researchers receive. As with many things in life, follow the money.

Say, isn’t there another field of science with profound public-policy implications that operates under the same incentives and pressures?