Friday, November 14, 2008

Could stem cell transplants be the answer to AIDS?

I read a few articles yesterday about a man who may have been cured of AIDS with a bone marrow transplant. Apparently, an American man with both HIV and leukemia was receiving treatment in Germany. His doctor recommended and proceeded with a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant for the leukemia but found, 20 month later, that the man was also HIV-free.

While this may seem promising and that was my first reaction, as I thought about it, I began to have my doubts. I don't doubt that this man's HIV went away, but was it the transplant? If so and if it does become a promising treatment, how realistic is it?

People with leukemia have a tough enough time finding a bone marrow donor who matches them, how would people find a donor for HIV. And, since there are  parts of the world that have so many cases of AIDS, like in many countries in Africa, how will they pay for such an expensive treatment? How could they even manage?

I don't mean to belittle the findings - if they're accurate. But I have a suspicion there's more behind this than meets the eye.

Today at Help My Hurt:

New IBS guidelines should include soluble fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil

Heart patients should use caution with pain killers

Today at Womb Within:

“He” is NOT a man, but “he” is pregnant again.

Sperm donor shortage in Britain

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Some sad news in the writer’s community in Canada - Emru Townsend

Cancer affects our pets too

Prostate cancer study halted

News for Today:

Spare tire raises death risk, even for the slender

Google Using Search To Track Flu Trends

ECG tests no better than physical for predicting heart disease: study

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bone marrow recipient, Emru Townsend, passes away

Back in May, I wrote a post about the importance of registering with the bone marrow registry and being a donor (Bone marrow transplants - would you be a donor?). I followed up this post in June with a good news post, that Emru had been matched with a donor (Great news! Montreal man is matched for bone marrow).

Sadly, now I must post that in the end, the leukemia was too tough and Emru passed away last night, surrounded by his family.

God speed Emru. I only met you briefly, but your story touched many people.

Today on Help My Hurt:

On this day of remembrance, a smile or two

Nominate your healthcare provider for fibromyalgia care?

Today on Cancer Commentary:

Do you know how to perform a self breast exam?

Young immigrant women to US must receive Gardasil - but not citizens

Vets at high risk for lung cancer

Today on Womb Within:

United States failing grade: care of premature babies

Today’s smile

News for today:

Obese Kids Have Middle-Aged Arteries

Heart needs adequate sleep

Vision test for elderly drivers linked to fewer vehicle deaths: study

Intimacy may defend couples against stress

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day 2008

November 11th: a day of remembering and of thanks for all those who fought for us and who continue to do their duty, be it fighting a war or keeping the peace. It's called Remembrance Day here in Canada. Regardless of the name, the sentiment is the same.

The years are passing and our veterans are dying. It won't be long before there are no veterans left from World War II, and the ones who fought in Korea are aging too. In Canada, we don't have the Vietnam vets, but in the United States, their memories aren't as heroic, it seems.

The photo is the poppy I wore on my coat this month. The symbol of the poppy is worn in Canada to remember those who fought in past wars and who are on peacekeeping missions now.

My parents were in the Netherlands during WWII although they rarely talk about their experiences. What does come through though, is their enduring gratitude to the Canadian soldiers who liberated them. We hear so often of America's role in the wars that many don't know about the strong presence of the Canadians, and the large number of Canadian lives that were lost.

As the memories of the wars fade, some people work to keep them alive. We need to remember so we don't make the same mistakes again. But keeping memories alive can be a difficult road. A Canadian singer, Terry Kelly, has used his talent with a song he wrote in response to an incident he saw in 1999, when he was in a grocery store. The employees and customers were observing 2 minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. All - that is - except for one man who was there with his young daughter.

His song, A Pittance of Time, was written for us to remember the past. I encourage you to click on the link and listen and watch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Early signs of autism?

I have to start this post by saying that I personally don't know a lot about autism. I do know people who have children who have autism and I've read a lot about it. But, any information I write about is what I've gleaned from my research.

I do know that hearing that your child has autism can be devastating. In one way, it's reassuring to actually have a diagnosis for something that you knew was wrong but couldn't identify - but in another - you now have to deal with the diagnosis. Some children have mild autism and can function well in a "normal" environment, while others need much more care and guidance, and may not ever end up living as his or her peers. The spectrum is that wide.

It used to be said that autism was caused by the mother - she didn't pay enough attention to the child. I guess this reasoning came from the fact that the children usually do develop normally for the first year of life - at least, they seem to be developing normally. But, more and more research is beginning to find that maybe children with autism are showing signs of it well before it's noticed - and well before the vaccines that are often blamed are introduced.

There was a study published recently that described how infants looked at their caregivers. Normally, infants look directly into the eyes of their caregivers. This eye-to-eye contact is well known between mother and child. This looking into the eyes continues on as we grow and learn that this is what people want and it allows us to maintain a certain level of contact.

Interestingly, in the study, researchers found that the time that toddlers looked in the eyes of their caregiver could actually predict how social they were or if they had a social "disability." The less the child looked into the eyes, the higher the level of difficulty with interaction.

The same researchers worked on another study that examined what the children were looking at if not the caregivers' eyes. What they found was there was a greater likelihood that the child would focus on the mouth and its lip movements and sound.

And now, there is yet another study that is saying that there may be signs of autism as early as 12 months. In California, researchers have found that how a child plays with his or her toys may give clues into autism. The article, to by published in the journal Autism, found that children who were later found to have autism were those who played with toys that rotated or spun repetitively. They also would stare at toys, like rattles.

If these studies bear out what they have found, then this is yet another nail in the coffin of those who feel that autism is caused by vaccines. It is also something that may become an issue that should be on the checklist of well-baby checks.