Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Push To Be Stopped

Merck, the drug maker of the new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil will stop pushing for mandatory vaccination of young girls. Mandatory vaccination programs have been widely criticized, particularly in Texas where such a plan was instituted.

Instead, the drugmaking giant will continue education on the drugs benefits but stop short of pushing it to be mandatory. Here is a blurb from the CNN on the drugs affects:
"The company reaffirmed it continues to expect combined revenue this
year of $2.8 billion to $3.2 billion from its array of vaccines,
including ones to prevent shingles and infections with rotavirus."

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Genetic Autism Links Uncovered

Autism, a still relatively unknown disorder in a world of medical knowledge, is known a little more known. In the biggest Autism and genetics study in history two new genetic links may have been uncovered that cause a child to be at greater risk for the disorder. The study postulated that many more minor factors all contributed to a child having or not having the disorder while it was previously thought that one or a few larger disorders were behind it.

It is the hopes of the entire medical community that by finding out what causes Autism that we will be able to effectively develop a form of treatment for it. A new project has been announced that will hope to map the genetics of the disorder to find what factors affect its presence and severity. This particular study focused on families with two or more children with Autism so gene comparison could determine similar characteristics between the two.

For those unfamiliar with Autism it is not a singular disorder but rather a series of disorders that range in severity from person to person and that are caused or at the very least influenced by genetics and the environment. It occurs in very young children (typically 2-3 years old) and affects 400% more boys than girls. As more research has become available most feel a majority of the causes of Autism-linked traits are indeed genetic, which in turn means they will likely be harder to treat than environmentally linked causes.

[via CNN]

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New Study Indicates Video Games and Surgeons a Good Mix

In an interesting and quirky study, researchers have found that Surgeons who play video games are more skilled and dexterous at performing a specific type of surgery. The study will be published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery and confirms previous reports that playing video games helps hand eye coordination and precision skills. The study focused on the fine laparoscopic surgery.

Perhaps most surprising was that the scores on the test showed video games improved a surgeon's skills more than both training or experience. I think this has been thrown around a lot in recent years that video games do help but, despite the medical field being "cutting edge", gaps still exist, specifically in training and changing tactics. I think this shows that perhaps some sort of new curriculum should be added like a "virtual operation" of sorts where the surgeon must perform surgeries that are harder than real life ones in order to boost their skills.

Of course, researchers may be able to analyze this even further by looking at the types of games the surgeons have played and how that relates, if at all, to the increased scores. Detailed analysis may lead to a recommended set of games for surgeons to play to keep their skills sharp. Here are some raw numbers from the study:
"Out of 33 surgeons from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York that participated in the study, the nine doctors who had at some point played video games at least three hours per week made 37 percent fewer errors, performed 27 percent faster, and scored 42 percent better in the test of surgical skills than the 15 surgeons who had never played video games before."
This is one of the few studies that has actually focused on the good behaviors video games can influence and supports previous research on the topic.

[via CNN]

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