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Drug data fraud may spark marketing crackdown

A prominent case of scientific fraud is being seized on by critics of the pharmaceutical industry to highlight their calls for a crackdown on the use of scientific studies for marketing purposes.

Starting in 1996, Scott Reuben of the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, published a series of trials testing whether painkillers, including Pfizer's Celebrex and Merck's Vioxx, relieve post-operative pain. Now 21 of Reuben's papers have been shown to contain fabricated data, after he was investigated by Baystate officials. Many have already been retracted.

Reuben's studies were part of an array of small clinical trials funded by Pfizer and Merck after Celebrex and Vioxx were approved for market by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The trials investigated the drugs' use in a variety of different medical situations. The firms were not aware of Reuben's fraud.

Info

Our Brains Exist 'On The Edge Of Chaos'

A new study says that the human brain lives "on the edge of chaos", at a critical transition point between randomness and order. Theoretical speculation? Well, yeah, but that's the nature of neuroscience.

The researchers say self-organized criticality (where systems spontaneously organize themselves to operate at a critical point between order and randomness), can emerge from complex interactions in many different physical systems, including avalanches, forest fires, earthquakes, and heartbeat rhythms.

Info

Actress' Death Brings Head Trauma Into Spotlight

The recent death of actress Natasha Richardson is highlighting the delayed dangers of traumatic head injuries.

Richardson was injured during a ski trip in Canada. Shortly after the accident, the actress reported feeling fine. Later that night, she began to complain of a headache when at her hotel. She was taken to a hospital where she died on Wednesday.

On Thursday, an autopsy revealed that Richardson had experienced a blow to the head, which resulted in bleeding between the skull and the brain's covering, called an epidural hematoma.

People

Darfur refugee camp hit by aid groups explusion

Zamzam camp, Sudan - Every day, a peacekeeper truck pulls into this teeming camp carrying loads of water, and is greeted by long lines of refugees.

It's not the troops' job - but after the expulsion of many aid groups in Darfur, everyone is scrambling to fill the gaps in the safety net that keeps millions of refugees alive.

The expulsion ordered by the Sudanese government could not come at a worse time for Zamzam camp. Even before the order, aid groups were rushing to deal with a massive new influx of refugees from the fighting - 37,000 in the past month, nearly doubling the camp's size.

Bulb

Gene 'has key schizophrenia role'

Two studies have pinpointed a single gene as key to the development and treatment of schizophrenia.
© BBC News
Schizophrenia Brain Scan: Schizophrenia can have devastating symptoms

A US team from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute found that a mutated version of the DISC1 gene disrupts the growth and development of brain cells.

And a team from the University of Edinburgh showed that the gene affects how patients respond to treatment.

Both studies, published in the journals PLoS One and Cell, raise hopes of more effective treatment for schizophrenia.

The condition is a common form of mental illness, affecting up to 1% of adults worldwide.

DISC1 GENE

*Linked in the early 1990s to mental illnesses prevalent in a large Scottish family
*Over five generations many family members had developed schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders
*Each family member diagnosed with mental illness also carried a mutated copy of
DISC1

Bug

Maggots: They'll make your skin crawl, but won't heal your wound better than gel

© Scientific American
If you have a stubborn leg ulcer, you may be tempted to seed your wound with maggots, a treatment reportedly used on and off between the 14th and 20th centuries. But you may want to reconsider: maggots don't help the wounds heal any faster than soothing gels, and the insects cause more pain.

Sun

Can Cherries Relieve The Pain Of Osteoarthritis?

© Science Daily
Ripe tart cherries (sour cherries).

For the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis, pain relief may come with a cherry on top. According to researchers with the Baylor Research Institute, tart cherries, in pill form, may be a promising pain-reliever for this common and debilitating form of arthritis.

More than half of the patients enrolled in a 2007 pilot study at the Baylor Research Institute experienced a significant improvement in pain and function after taking the cherry pills for eight weeks. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is considered degenerative and typically affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Patients with osteoarthritis of the knees were enrolled in this pilot study to assess potential efficacy of the tart cherry pills.

Mr. Potato

No Chairs: Students 'Get The Wiggles Out ' On Exercise Balls

Image
© Ed Andrienski, AP
Joe Rademacher, 9, left center, says he learns better sitting on a stability ball rather than a traditional chair in his fourth-grade class at Bauder Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colo.
Fort Collins, Colorado - Talk about a teacher's dream: No more slouching, no more wiggly little boys and no more snoozing at desks.

All teachers have to do is ditch the classroom chair. A growing number are replacing them with exercise stability balls more associated with Pilates classes than schoolroom lectures as an innovative way to improve student posture and attention.

"They're awesome," said 10-year-old James Howell, a fourth grader at Bauder Elementary School whose class switched to purple stability balls in January. "They help you focus, they help you keep your structure. And sometimes you get to bounce on them, get the wiggles out."

Sherlock

What's The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009?

The health-conscious community is rightly concerned over the pending passage of HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, which hammers small family farms with a whole new level of tyranny and oppression. The proposed law is chock full of ominous-sounding text that would allow government authorities to fine small farms $1 million a day while arresting and imprisoning their owners for refusing to spray toxic chemicals on their organic produce. (There are many other bizarre elements in this proposed law, too.)

But the law has a few other elements that no one is talking about, such as SEC 401 - Prohibited Acts, which reads, "It is prohibited (1) to manufacture, introduce, deliver for introduction, or receive in interstate commerce any food that is adulterated, mis-branded, or otherwise unsafe."

Bad Guys

Seeds - How to criminalize them

Wisdom says stop a bill that is broad as everything yet more vague even than it is broad.

Wisdom says stop a bill that comes with massive penalties but allows no judicial review.

Wisdom says stop a bill with everything unspecified and actually waits til next year for an unspecified "Administrator" to decide what's what.

Where we come from, that's called a blank check. Who writes laws like that? "Here, do what you want about whatever you want and here's some deadly punishments to make it stick."

Wisdom says know who wrote that bill and be forewarned.

Wisdom says wake up.

Here's the bill. Let's use our imaginations and extrapolate from the little bit it reveals and from the reality we know.