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A First Interview for a Would-Be Test Subject

A First Interview for a Would-Be Test Subject

Posted by on Jul 5, 2013 in Medicine | 0 comments

Lately, I’ve been going to a lot of job fairs. At a few of them, I’ve spotted an unusual booth. It looks like most of the other medical-focused booths, but they’re not looking for employees; they’re looking for test subjects. Or, as they say in the vernacular, human guinea pigs. The first time or two, I looked at these booths, politely interacted, but didn’t go any further. At one job fair, they sought people with particular medical conditions; they even had a list of conditions. I didn’t have any of the conditions listed…but something made me take the next step of making an appointment. I think it was the idea of getting paid for my time, and free medical treatment. Hey, I’m not proud. So, late last month, armed with an appointment card, my natural curiosity, and a bit of trepidation, I made my way to Orlando. That’s where Clinical Neuroscience Solutions, Inc. is located. (By the way, a quick web search showed that they apparently have branches in West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, that they’ve been around since 1996, and they seem to have no reviews, good or bad). I took a short elevator ride to the second floor, where I saw a beautiful print of Da Vinci’s “The Measure of Man” (quite appropriate) on my way to their suite. I found my way into a waiting room that looked just like every other doctor’s waiting room I’d ever been in. After signing in, I filled out a medical history form, just as any new patient of a doctor would. This one seemed a bit more extensive than usual, but not onerously so. And then I waited. I didn’t wait long. After perhaps ten minutes, I heard my name, and was greeted by Letitia Griffin, a registered nurse. Rather than going with her into an examination room, however, she took me into an office. Here, she went over my medical history, asked me some questions to see if I was a good candidate for any of their studies, and let me ask a few of my own. She seemed to be both genuinely interested in me, and to...

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Cure for Diabetes Soon? Don’t Be So Sure

Cure for Diabetes Soon? Don’t Be So Sure

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Medicine | 0 comments

By nature I’m a skeptic, but when it comes to science and medicine, I’m a wild-eyed optimist. So you can imagine my mixed feelings of excitement and concern when I read the recent item out of Boston Children’s Hospital stating that their researchers had found the root cause of Type 1 diabetes. While this is cause for celebration, I think we’d better take a closer look at the implications for the future. Just in case you missed the news, you can check out the organization’s own blog post on the subject. I’ll sum it up for you: Dr. Paolo Fiorina, a researcher in the Nephrology Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his team have studied hundreds of pathways in animals with diabetes, and finally isolated one – known as ATP/P2X7R – which triggers T-cell attacks on the pancreas. These attacks make the pancreas unable to produce insulin, which gets the whole process of Type 1 diabetes underway. The whole blog post is worth reading, as it discusses other attempts at treating this tragic and painful disease – not just insulin injections, mind you, but transplants of pancreatic islet cells, used in an attempt to get the body producing insulin again so that injections are no longer necessary. Getting at the actual pathway for the attacks that cause the pancreas to become disabled could allow us to figure out a way to stop the disease process in its tracks. No children, then, might ever need to know the heartbreak that comes with sticking themselves with a needle multiple times a day, not eating cake and ice cream at birthday parties (even their own!) or other times, and more. I’m not even getting into all the nasty complications of the disease! I’m smiling and all but jumping up and down with joy at this news…but I’m tempering that with a small dose of reality. Let me explain. The first point is that this pathway was discovered in animals. If the team follows the usual approach, as I understand it, they’ll need to figure out how to block the pathway in animals before they can try it out in humans. In the...

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