Category Archives: Health

Death Panelists

Help wanted:

It isn’t hard to see why nobody is clamoring to take a job that offers low pay and lots of regulations and will make everyone in the country hate you.

But it’s been clear from the beginning that this is the kind of thing you get with a massive, centralized health care “fix” like Obamacare: 15 unhappy people in a room making enormously important but impossible to predict decisions affecting a broad and diverse industry (not to mention the lives and health of millions). It’s hard to imagine a centralized approach getting all the nuances of health care right—and we certainly haven’t stumbled onto the miracle cure here.

We sure haven’t.

A Solution To Superbugs?

This looks very encouraging.

The human body’s immune systems protect us from harmful substances. But the body often rejects conventional antibiotics. But the new materials can work because they change themselves once they come into contact with water in the body or on its surface. The material self-assembles into a new polymer structure that is electrostatically attracted to the bacteria membranes (it’s like putting oil and water together). The polymers then break through the cell membranes, destroying the cell. The bacteria, which have amazing adaptive capabilities, can’t adapt to this kind of physical attack.

It works because cells have a natural electric charge. The polymers are drawn only to infected areas. Other antimicrobial materials aren’t biodegradable, but these new materials are made of simple organic molecules. That means they can naturally exit the body, in contrast to other medicines that gather in the body and cause side effects. That means it isn’t likely to cause skin irritation or other problems.

The polymers also swell into a gel form that doctors can easily manipulate. Hedrick said they can do so because of a “molecular zipper effect.” That is, the polymers interlock in the same way that zipper teeth do. When you move them around, they simply re-zip into a form that is deadly to bacteria.

The hydrogel has another interesting property. It can attack whole colonies of bacteria, particularly if it is injected directly into the region of an infection. These bacteria collections, known as biofilms, can be like the coatings of film on your teeth, germs on touchscreens, or growths on medical devices. The hydrogel penetrates the film and disrupts it.

“We can kill 100 percent of the bacteria and reduce the likelihood of a recurrence,” Hedrick said.

Now, if they could just come up with something similar for virii.

More Nutrition Quackery

OK, so a weight-loss surgeon says that Chipotle is the healthiest fast food?

Weiner said that he eats at the Chipotle if he must have fast food. He cited the chain’s vegetable ingredients and vegetarian and vegan options.

Two questions: 1) what does vegetarian, and particularly vegan food have to do with weight loss and 2) Why would we expect someone who makes a living reducing weight via surgery to have any idea of what good nutrition for weight loss is?

On a related topic, the search “Dr. Oz quack” yields a couple hundred thousand results. A theory that is reinforced by the large amount of email spam I get featuring his name in the subject.