Tag Archive for 'medicine'

Esther Gokhale — the posture guru of Silicon Valley


She believes that people suffer from pain and dysfunction because they have forgotten how to use their bodies. It’s not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, she says, it’s the way we position ourselves.

Ms. Gokhale (pronounced go-CLAY) is not helping aching office workers with high-tech gadgets and medical therapies. Rather, she says she is reintroducing her clients to what she calls “primal posture” — a way of holding themselves that is shared by older babies and toddlers, and that she says was common among our ancestors before slouching became a way of life. It is also a posture that Ms. Gokhale observed during research she conducted in a dozen other countries, as well as in India, where she was raised.

For a method based not on technology but primarily on observations of people, it has been embraced by an unlikely crowd: executives, board members and staff members at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, including Google and Oracle; and heavy users of technology like Mr. Drudge.

“I need to do things that make sense and that I can see results from. Esther’s work is like that,” said Susan Wojcicki, 44, one of Google’s senior vice presidents, who has suffered from back and neck pain that she attributes to doing too much work at her desk. More:

Find your primal posture and sit without back pain: watch Esther Gokhale at TEDx Talks

A woman’s drug-resistant TB echoes around the world

Geeta Anand from Mumbai in WSJ:

Over the past six years, Mrs. Sheikh, 40 years old, mortgaged her family’s rice fields, spent her father’s and brother’s life savings, and crisscrossed India in search of a cure for tuberculosis. But instead of getting healthier, Mrs. Sheikh grew increasingly resistant to medication with each failed treatment. This year, Mrs. Sheikh became one of India’s first documented cases of TB that is resistant to virtually all the medicines approved to treat it.

In recent decades, tuberculosis, a fatal infection characterized by the coughing of blood, was generally treatable. The Wall Street Journal reviewed years of Mrs. Sheikh’s medical records, interviewed her doctors and TB workers across India and traveled with her as she pursued treatment.

Her six-year journey to all-but-incurable TB exposes a blind spot in an Indian medical bureaucracy that, for decades, neglected to implement widespread testing or treatment for drug-resistant strains. As a result, a curable disease has mutated into a killer.

The global community is worried about the danger. Health officials have urged India and other countries with increasing drug resistance to take stronger action. And this year the U.K. added India to the list of countries whose citizens must be tested for TB to obtain a visa of six months or more. More:

Antiviral drugs could blast the common cold — Should we use them?

Carl Zimmer in Wired:

At five a.m. one day last fall, in San Francisco’s South of Market district, Vishwanath Lingappa was making rabies soup. At his lab station, he injected a syringe full of rabies virus proteins into a warm flask loaded with other proteins, lipids, building blocks of DNA, and various other molecules from ground-up cells. It cooked for hours on Lingappa’s bench, and occasionally he withdrew a few drops to analyze its chemistry. By spinning the fluid in a centrifuge, he could isolate small clumps of proteins that flew toward the edge as the bigger ones stayed close to the center.

To his mix, Lingappa had added a particular protein he wanted to study. He suspected that the rabies virus used this protein in the infected cell to assemble the capsid, or external shell, of replicated viruses. He had tagged the target protein with radioactive atoms, allowing him to follow it as it interacted with other elements in the soup.

At around 10 in the morning, Lingappa took pictures of the mixture. By lunchtime, seven hours into his workday, the images were developed and ready to show off to his staff. In the conference room, a table was strewn with take-out sandwiches, and an abandoned bowl of oatmeal sat on a credenza. As Lingappa held up the films to the light, his colleagues crowded behind him to make out black streaks across the images. Read full article here

Why I can’t even get my mother to agree with me on homeopathy

Hartosh Singh Bal at 3quarksdaily:

Last month, late at night, searching for a painkiller for my wife I came upon an old stock of tablets I had been prescribed for a muscle injury. It was a combination peculiar to India, and among other drugs it included Paracetamol and Diclofenac. Since she was still breastfeeding I took care to check the tablet only to find the combination I had taken for over a week was banned in several countries due to the possibility of a life-threatening reaction.

I had been prescribed the medicine at one of many new private medical hospitals that have recently sprung up in India. The old government hospitals gave off an intense smell of phenyl (a once ubiquitous disinfectant), patients would usually spill out of the wards on to long dingy hospital corridors, wastebaskets would be overflowing with discarded injections and bloodied dressings and even a dog or two roaming the wards wouldn’t be taken amiss. They were among the few places where the existence of the Indian elite couldn’t be completely cut-off from the reality of this country.

This is no longer the case. The private hospitals are run according to the same insurance driven model that funds medical practice in the US. They cater exclusively to the post-liberalization elite and medical tourists from other countries. In look and feel they resemble the four and five star hotels that have mushroomed in the country at much the same time and pace. Over the past three years I have had reason to observe them up close as my father has gone from a healthy middle age to radiotherapy for a malignant prostate, a gallbladder removal, three major surgeries for a persistent subdural hematoma, a mild stroke, all the while requiring monitoring for his diabetes and his weakened heart. All things considered he has come out of this rather well, but now on my mobile phone instead of a single number for a general practitioner I carry the contact details of a host of specialists who individually deal with the brain, heart, prostate and other assorted body parts. More:

The science and stupidity of homeopathy

Hartosh Singh Bal in Open:

A week ago, the front page of the country’s larg­est selling English newspaper, The Times of India, announced ‘IIT-B team shows how homeopathy works.’ The article then rather credulously went on to state, ‘Six months after the British Medical Association rubbished homeopathy as witch­craft with no scientific basis, IIT scientists have said the sweet white pills work on the principle of nanotechnology.’ This was a news report that obviously made it past the best procedure for vetting that exists in the newspaper; after all, it appeared on the front page. And if so, it is a reflection of the kind of material the media is willing to swallow and regurgitate without verification.

The newspaper quotes from a paper by a graduate student from IIT-B chemical engineering department ‘published in the latest issue of Homeopathy, a peer-reviewed journal from reput­ed medical publishing firm Elsevier’, titled ‘Extreme homeo­pathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective’. The paper is available online and it claims that even at extreme dilution some nanoparticles of the original starting materials are found in the solution.

But consider what the newspaper has said, and compare what the IIT-B researchers claim in their paper, ‘We have found that the concentrations reach a plateau at the 6c potency and beyond. Further, we have shown that despite large differences in the degree of dilution from 6c to 200c (1012 to 10400), there were no major differences in the nature of the particles (shape and size) of the starting material and their absolute concentra­tions (in pg/ml).’ In other words, their claimed results show that across the range of ‘potencies’ (the more dilute a homeo­pathic medicine the stronger it is supposed to be) of homeo­pathic medicine the concentration of nanoparticles is the same. If so, relatively ‘weak’ homeopathic medicines should have the same effect as more ‘strong’ medicine. This actually invalidates the whole idea of homeopathy. More:

Cancer world

The making of a modern disease. Steven Shapin in The New Yorker

This is how it starts. Carla wakes up one morning feeling that something is wrong. She has been having headaches, but not of the normal, take-a-pill-and-relax type. These headaches come with a sort of numbness, and now she notices some other things that aren’t as they should be. There are bruises on her back that she can’t explain; her gums have been going pale; and she’s very, very tired. She goes to her doctor, but he can’t tell her what’s wrong. Try some aspirin, he says; maybe it’s a migraine. The aspirin doesn’t help, so she finally asks for some blood tests and soon she winds up at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, where a young and talented physician gives her the preliminary diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (A.L.L.). Carla knows nothing about lymphoblasts, or why she’s going to have to have a bone-marrow sample taken, but she knows about leukemia. It’s cancer of the blood. She’s terrified, and she may not be in a state of mind to take in the oncologist’s reassurance that A.L.L. is “often curable.”

Carla now enters not just a cancer ward but a cancer world. The ward is what the sociologist Erving Goffman once called a “total institution,” like asylums, armies, prisons, monasteries, and Oxbridge colleges—an institution that strips you of your identity and equips you with a new one. She’s given a case number, a bracelet, a hospital gown. Some of her physicians will know her name and what she was before becoming a cancer patient, and some will not. Her chemotherapy ward is an environment made sterile in order to protect her soon to be therapeutically devastated immune system from infection, so her relations with family and friends are reconfigured along with the rhythms of her days and weeks. She’s now a case.

The oncologist in the story is Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” (Scribner; $30), a history of the disease and of the attempts to describe it, explain it, manage it, and cure it, or just to reconcile its victims to their fate. It is a personal story, too, an account of the author’s own “coming-of-age as an oncologist,” and its historical narrative is crosscut with Mukherjee’s present predicaments. He is sure that he can do much more for his patients than the physicians of the past, yet he recognizes his fellowship with his medical ancestors; he knows that he shares many of their hopes and frustrations. At the same time, he wants to understand what his patients share with their ailing forebears and what is peculiarly modern about their predicament. He sees that cancer is a world unto itself; that Carla is now part of this world; and that he is part of it, too. For cancer patients and their physicians, the cancer world seems to expand to the whole of experience. As one victim of a muscle sarcoma told Mukherjee, “I am in the hospital even when I am outside the hospital.” More:

The cancer sleeper cell

Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine in the division of medical oncology at Columbia University, in The New York Times Magazine. This article is adapted from his book “Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” which will be published by Scribner next month:

In the winter of 1999, a 49-year-old psychologist was struck by nausea —a queasiness so sudden and strong that it seemed as if it had been released from a catapult.

More puzzled by her symptoms than alarmed — this nausea came without any aura of pain — she saw her internist. She was given a diagnosis of gastroenteritis and sent home to bed rest and Gatorade.

But the nausea persisted, and then additional symptoms appeared out of nowhere. Ghostly fevers came and went. She felt perpetually full, as if she had just finished a large meal. Three weeks later, she returned to the hospital, demanding additional tests. This time, a CT scan revealed a nine-centimeter solid mass pushing into her stomach. Once biopsied, the mass was revealed to be a tumor, with oblong, spindle-shaped cells dividing rapidly. It was characterized as a rare kind of cancer called a gastrointestinal stromal tumor, or GIST.

A surgical cure was impossible: her tumor had metastasized to her liver, lymph nodes and spleen. Her doctors halfheartedly tried some chemotherapy, but nothing worked. “I signed my letters, paid my bills and made my will,” the patient recalled. “I was told to go home to die.”

In June, several months after her diagnosis, she stumbled into a virtual community of co-sufferers — GIST patients who spoke to one another online through a Listserv. In 2001, word of a novel drug called Gleevec began to spread like wildfire through this community. Gleevec was the exemplar of a brand-new kind of cancer medicine. Cancer cells are often driven to divide because of mutations that activate genes crucial to cell division; Gleevec directly inactivated the mutated gene driving the growth of her sarcoma, and in early trials was turning out to be astonishingly effective against GIST. More:

Consciousness, Qualia, and Self

Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at UCSD, discusses consciousness, qualia, and self.

The forgotten hero of IVF

Anindita Ghose in Mint Lounge:

In 1997, as T.C. Anand Kumar browsed through the diary of Subhash Mukherjee, he realized that the title he bore—creator of India’s first test-tube baby—belonged to someone else.

Dr Kumar, a reproductive biologist, was known for having created India’s first test-tube baby. His collaboration with gynaecologist Indira Hinduja had resulted in the widely publicized birth of Harsha Chawda in Mumbai on 6 August 1986. But going through Dr Mukherjee’s handwritten notes years later, Dr Kumar concluded that Dr Mukherjee had preceded him by eight years: India’s first test-tube baby, Kanupriya Agarwal alias Durga, was born on 3 October 1978 in Kolkata. Since the feat had received almost no acknowledgement from India’s scientific community, Dr Kumar had been unaware of it.

When the media was celebrating Dr Kumar’s supposed breakthrough in 1986, Dr Mukherjee wasn’t around to reiterate his claims. Frustrated by the way the Marxist West Bengal government had neglected his research, and harassed by the strong gynaecologists’ lobby that saw his work as a threat, he had committed suicide in 1981.

Dr Mukherjee’s story is that of a genius. He pioneered in vitro fertilization (IVF) in India with the aid of some general apparatus and a refrigerator in his Kolkata apartment. More:

QR 678 — the definitive cure for baldness?

From The Times of India:

A medical couple in Hyderabad, Debraj Shome and Rinky Kapoor, claim that their home-grown invention, QR 678, could arrest the most stubborn cases of hairfall. Balding could be a thing of the past, says Dr Kapoor, a dermatologist attached to Apollo Hospital.

The couple say their invention required four years of research, passing through various stages of development in the laboratories of the Tata Memorial Hospital, IIT Mumbai and Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad. “If there is no research paper on it yet,” says Dr Shome, “it is only because we have still not patented the molecule, which is basically a mix of many growth factors.”

Each of the doctors’ 700-odd patient pool underwent five to eight shots priced at of Rs 5,000 each. Indipop singer Anaida is one of the Mumbai celebrities who zips down to Charminar city every three weeks for a shot. Haircare is big business in India. Plastic surgeon Dr S Keswani says hair transplant is the fastest growing sector, second only to liposuction, in India’s cosmetic surgery charts. More:

Special investigation: The downfall of India’s kidney kingpin

How a self-taught doctor from Delhi cornered the black market in kidneys, building one of the world’s most lucrative organ-trading rings, until it all came crashing down. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in Discover (via 3quarksdelhi):

Eleni Dagiasi flew from Athens to Delhi in January 2008 on a mission to save her life. With her husband, Leonidas, she took a taxi from the airport past sparkling multiplexes and office buildings to a guesthouse in the booming exurb of Gurgaon. A kitchen staff was on hand, the rooms had cable, and there was a recreation area with billiards, providing patients with creature comforts while kidney transplants were arranged. Over the next week, as her operation was scheduled, Dagiasi went to a makeshift hospital for dialysis. Then one night, while she was watching TV with her husband, a chef turned off the lights and urged everyone to leave. Shortly afterward, 10 policemen stormed in. “We were too stunned to react,” says Leonidas Dagiasis, a former fisherman who borrowed money from his employer to finance the trip. The couple and other guests were hauled off for questioning. The Gurgaon hospital, it turned out, was the hub of a thriving black market in kidneys. The organs were harvested from poor Indian workers, many of whom had been tricked or forced into selling the organ for as little as $300.

The mastermind, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charged, was Amit Kumar—a man who performed the surgeries with no more formal training than a degree in ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine. In a career spanning two decades, Kumar had established one of the world’s largest kidney trafficking rings, with a supply chain that extended deep into the Indian countryside. Some of his clients were from India. Many came from Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Canada, and the United States.

At parties in India and abroad, Kumar introduced himself as one of India’s foremost kidney surgeons, said Rajiv Dwivedi, a CBI investigator based in Delhi. The claim wasn’t entirely illegitimate: Investigators estimate that Kumar has performed hundreds of successful transplants, a practice so lucrative that he was able to finance Bollywood movies and had to fend off extortion threats from the Mumbai mafia. Two weeks after the police crackdown in Gurgaon, Kumar was arrested at a wildlife resort in Nepal and brought back to India, where he now awaits trial. More:

Indian superbug spurs global alarm

From BBC: A new superbug that is resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics has entered UK hospitals, experts warn. They say bacteria that make an enzyme called NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase-1) have travelled back with NHS patients who went abroad to countries like India and Pakistan for treatments such as cosmetic surgery.

Although there have only been about 50 cases identified in the UK so far, scientists fear it will go global. Tight surveillance and new drugs are needed says Lancet Infectious Diseases. More:

What is NDM-1?

New Delhi metallo-ß-lactamase-1, or NDM-1 for short, is a gene carried by bacteria that makes the strain resistant to carbapenem antibiotics. This is concerning because these antibiotics are some of the most powerful ones, used on hard-to-treat infections that evade other drugs. More

Click here for Lancet study

From Daily Mail: Dr David Livermore, director of antibiotic resistance monitoring at HPA, said resistance to one of the major groups of antibiotics, the carbapenems, is found throughout India.

‘This is important because carbapenems were often the last ‘good’ antibiotics active against bacteria that already were more resistant to more standard drugs.’

The first two patients confirmed to have been infected had traveled abroad shortly before they were admitted to hospital in the UK. One patient carrying the tainted bacteria was transferred to a Nottingham hospital at the end of last year after suffering a trauma injury in Pakistan. More:

We’ve only got ourselves to blame for the indestructible Indian superbug

From Daily Mail: Knowing what we know now, if we could go back in time we would have prescribed antibiotics sparingly and only when they were really needed.

If we had done that, we may not have been facing the prospect of superbugs for the next 100 years.

Instead, antibiotics have been massively overprescribed, thrown willy-nilly at patients by harassed and time-pressed doctors for a host of minor ailments – often coughs and colds that aren’t even caused by bacteria in the first place.

As Professor Enright says: ‘Every time you throw enough antibiotics at enough people, you encourage the evolution of drug-resistant mutants.’

This happens everywhere, from GP surgeries in Britain and the U.S. – where antibiotics are the medicine of choice for just about every minor childhood snuffle – to India, where antibiotics are available cheaply over the counter without a prescription. More:

Are you ready for a world without antibiotics?

In The Guardian: The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out. Once, scientists hailed the end of infectious diseases. Now, the post-antibiotic apocalypse is within sight.

Hyperbole? Unfortunately not. The highly serious journal Lancet Infectious Diseases yesterday posed the question itself over a paper revealing the rapid spread of multi-drug-resistant bacteria. “Is this the end of antibiotics?” it asked.

Doctors and scientists have not been complacent, but the paper by Professor Tim Walsh and colleagues takes the anxiety to a new level.More:

A cure for cancer – or just a very political animal?

The Go-vigyan Kendra institute in India claims to harness the medicinal powers of cows for human benefit. But, asks Andrew Buncombe in The Independent, what are its real motives?

In a stinking, smoking room in which large metal cauldrons spat and sizzled atop wood-fuelled fires, Dr Nandini Bhojraj pointed with pride to four plastic buckets placed on the floor. One, she declared, contained cow’s milk, another cow’s urine, a third “dung juice” created by soaking cow excrement in water, while into the last had been poured clarified butter, or ghee.

The purpose of the witches’ kitchen-like set-up was to heat and combine all four to create a wonder drug for humans. “It will cure 99 per cent of all diseases,” Dr Bhojraj declared. For more than a decade, she and a team of fellow enthusiasts and activists at the Go-vigyan Kendra institute and farm in central India have been quietly researching the medicinal and health-boosting qualities of the Indian cow.

Using principles they say come from both ancient medicine or ayurveda and Hindu texts, they have created a range of items based on cowpathy, or the five traditional cow products – milk, urine, dung, butter and ghee.

There is shampoo to prevent dandruff, mosquito repellent, incense, tooth-whitening powder manufactured from dung charcoal as well as the more obvious fertiliser and insecticide. At one point, a sister farm in the north of India even had plans to produce a soft drink from cow’s urine. But earlier this summer, the establishment of 280 cows and 50 staff set amid the thick jungle that is home to groups of langur monkeys, captured the headlines when it announced it had obtained patents in the US and China for another distilled urine product, marketed as Gomutra Ark, that it claimed could help cure cancer and several other serious conditions. More:

Can Sudhir Paul cure AIDS?

From Newsweek:

Sudhir Paul

Sudhir Paul

Last summer, while watching a news program about a possible AIDS vaccine, Zach Barnett had a “Eureka!” moment. The show was describing a Texas scientist’s unorthodox approach to vaccine-making, a strategy that involved superantigens and covalent bonds and a lot of other words that weren’t in Barnett’s vocabulary. That didn’t matter; the science turned him on anyway. “It was just so cool,” he says. “I was like, ‘lightbulb!’ “

For years, Barnett, a fashion publicist, had been trying to get involved in AIDS activism, but mainstream organizations had told him there wasn’t much for him to do, save passing out brochures. “That was a waste of my talent,” he says. Here he saw a use for his skills. He wrote to the scientist, Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas, to tell him that “if what he was saying was true, he was doing a bad job of publicizing it.” To show he was serious, he offered Paul $50 out of his own pocket to support the research. More:

Previously on AWA vaccine for HIV?

Also read ScienceDailyPathologists Believe They Have Pinpointed Achilles Heel Of HIV

Stem cell experts vs Dr Geeta Shroff’s miracle cure

From the Times, London:

Dr Geeta Shroff

Dr Geeta Shroff

Mumbai: An Indian doctor claims to be able to beat a variety of incurable or terminal illnesses using embryonic stem cells — and is charging as much as £30,000 for a single course of treatment.

Medical researchers are deeply sceptical of Geeta Shroff’s claims, and brand many rogue stem-cell physicians dangerous quacks offering expensive, unproven and potentially dangerous treatments that are banned in Britain.

Some of her patients, however, insist that they are getting better.

Dr Shroff says she has treated 700 people, including several Britons, since 2002, by injecting them with embryonic stem cells capable of replicating themselves and of giving rise to almost any specialised cell type. She says all the cells she uses are derived from a single unwanted embryo left over from an IVF treatment.

The results, she claims, have been remarkable. More:

A vaccine for HIV?

via Shunya’s Notes:

Dr. Sudhir Paul is a scientist at the very forefront of HIV research. A graduate of AIIMS, Delhi, he is currently Professor and Director of the Chemical Immunology Research Center at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. Click here to link to an article that describes his research:

Scientists working to develop a vaccine for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) report they have created the first antigen that induces protective antibodies capable of blocking infection of human cells by genetically-diverse strains of HIV. The new antigen differs from previously-tested vaccines by virtue of its chemically-activated property that enables close sharing of electrons and produces strong covalent bonding.

Watch the video:


British plastic surgeon helping acid victims

In Bangladesh, thanks to Dr Ron Hines, cosmetic surgery is rebuilding lives. Rachel Shields from Dhaka From the Independent:

Ayesha Siddique refused to be sold by her husband. Photo Kiron/MAP in the Independent

Ayesha Siddique refused to be sold by her husband. Photo Kiron/MAP in the Independent

It is about as far away from the nips and tucks of TV makeover shows and celebrity magazines as you can imagine, but then Dr Ronald Hiles has never had any interest in helping pampered princesses take inches off their thighs or years off their faces.

As he speaks from a clinic on the edge of the sprawling slums of Dhaka, his description of what he has achieved in 25 years of pioneering work is modest, to say the least: “Lying on a beach isn’t my idea of a holiday. I prefer to do something useful.”

And so, while many of his contemporaries are happy whiling away their summers on the Côte d’Azur, the former president of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons has spent his holidays for the past two decades helping Bangladeshi burns victims to rebuild their lives. More:

One year on: Lakshmi Tatma

An Indian girl born with eight limbs beats all the odds to live a normal life. Dean Nelson in the Sunday Times:

lakshmi_tatma“It’s a miracle!” says Poonam Tatma, beaming proudly at her daughter Lakshmi. Her little girl laughs and runs around in the grounds of the school for the disabled in Jodhpur where she lives with her family. She seems like any normal toddler – but only a year ago Lakshmi’s parents faced the likelihood that their daughter would never live a normal life. Born with eight limbs, she was the result of a rare condition in which a foetus is joined at the pelvis to a “parasitic” twin who has stopped developing in the mother’s womb. In Lakshmi’s case, she was born having absorbed the limbs and other body parts of her undeveloped sibling.


The girl bleeds without being cut baffles doctors

From The Telegraph, UK:

The Telegraph

Twinkle Dwivedi. Photo: The Telegraph

Twinkle Dwivedi, 13, has a strange disorder which means she loses blood through her skin without being cut or scratched. She has even undergone transfusions after pints of it seeped through her eyes, nose, hairline, neck and the soles of her feet.

Sometimes her condition is so bad she wakes up with her entire body covered in dried blood.

Villagers near her home in Uttar Pradesh, India, believe she must be cursed and shout cruel things in the street. Her frantic family have sought help from numerous doctors as well as preachers from many different religions without success.

Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi believe she has Type 2 Platelet Disorder, a rare condition where blood is dangerously low in clotting particles, but they cannot find a treatment to make it thicker.

But Dr. Drew Provan, a consultant hematologist with Barts Hospital in London, told the Telegraph the girl may have Type II von Willebrand disease. Click here to read the full story:

According the Web site of the National Hemophilia Association, “von Willebrand Disease is a bleeding disorder caused by a defect or deficiency of a blood clotting protein, called von Willebrand Factor. The disease is estimated to occur in 1% to 2% of the population. The disease was first described by Erik von Willebrand, a Finnish physician who reported a new type of bleeding disorder among island people in Sweden and Finland.”

A polypill made in India

The world’s first polypill, a multiple-product pill for heart ailments, has been developed by Indian pharmaceutical company, Dr. Reddy’s. The four-in-one tablet called the Red Heart pill aims to cut heart attack and stroke risk and could be sold for just $1 a month. It will enter human trials this week in London. A report in The Guardian:

The once-a-day polypill has been the dream of doctors for many years, but because the drugs it contains, including aspirin, are cheap, there has been no financial incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to get involved.

Now, however, international teams of researchers, with the backing in the UK of the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, are just a few years away from making the polypill an accessible reality.

Difficulties in combining four drugs in one tablet have been overcome and the Red Heart pill, as it has been christened, has been manufactured by the Indian generic drug company Dr Reddy’s. Volunteers are now being recruited for a 12-week pilot trial which will involve up to 700 people in six countries. If all goes well, the main trial with 5,000 to 7,000 volunteers will begin at the end of next year.


Psychotherapy for all: An experiment in India

A new program in Goa, India, trains laypeople to identify and treat depression and anxiety and send them to community health clinics. David Kohn reports from Siolim, India, in The New York Times:

At the faded one-story medical clinic in this fishing and farming village, people with depression and anxiety typically got little or no attention. Busy doctors and nurses focused on physical ailments – children with diarrhea, laborers with injuries, old people with heart trouble. Patients, fearful of the stigma connected to mental illness, were reluctant to bring up emotional problems.

Last year, two new workers arrived. Their sole task was to identify and treat patients suffering depression and anxiety. The workers found themselves busy. Almost every day, several new patients appeared. Depressed and anxious people now make up “a sizable crowd” at the clinic, said the doctor in charge, Anil Umraskar.

The patients talk about all sorts of troubles. “Financial difficulties are there,” said one of the new counselors, Medha Upadhye, 29. “Interpersonal conflicts are there. Unemployment. Alcoholism is a major problem.”


Imperfect heroes

In The New York Times, Vincent Lam, a physician, on Sandeep Jauhar’s book “Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation

Becoming a doctor, I hoped, would bring me back into the real world,” Sandeep Jauhar writes in “Intern,” his fine memoir of his training in a New York City hospital. “It would make me into a man.” The story he tells here is antiheroic, full of uncertainty, doubt and frank disgust, aimed at both himself and, sometimes, his patients. “Intern” succeeds as an unusually transparent portrait of an imperfect human being trying to do his best at a tough job.

Jauhar’s journey into medicine is driven by a swirling mix of half-reasons. Disillusioned with graduate studies in particle physics, jarred by the illness of a girlfriend and seeking a profession of tangible purpose, he entered medical school in his mid-20s with considerable ambivalence. Jauhar had always eyed doctoring suspiciously, as a “cookbook” discipline, “with little room for creativity.” His father, a plant geneticist from India who felt his own advancement was stifled by racism, had derided medicine as intellectually inferior to pure science even as he encouraged both his sons to become doctors for the sake of income and prestige.


Books of the Times; A Physician Caught Trying to Heal Himself

Foreign couples turn to India for surrogate mothers

Reproductive outsourcing is a new but rapidly expanding enterprise in India. Amelia Gentleman reports from Mumbai in International Herald tribune:


Yonatan Gher and his male partner plan eventually to tell their child that it was made in India, in the womb of a woman they never met, with the egg of a Mumbai housewife they picked out from an Internet line-up of candidates.

The embryo was formed in January in an Indian fertility clinic about 4,000 kilometers, or 2,500 miles, from Gher’s home in Tel Aviv, nurtured by a team of doctors who have begun specializing in surrogacy services for couples from around the world.

As they waited to see if the fertilization process had been successful, Gher, 29, and his partner sped around the streets of Mumbai in the back of an autorickshaw, drinking in scenes of a country they had never previously visited, staring at the unfamiliar faces of Indian women and children and “trying to imagine our child,” he said.

(Photo: Surrogate mothers at the Kaival Hospital at Anand, in the western Indian state of Gujarat in February 2006. AP)


IHT also has photos and audio of an Israeli man searching for a surrogate mother