(1/33) Ophthalmology's future in the next decade: a historical and comparative perspective.

PURPOSE: To gain a historical and comparative perspective about the future of ophthalmology within the profession of medicine. METHODS: A literature search is made of disciplines other than medicine (history, sociology, philosophy, economics, and ethics) in order to assess factors responsible for survival and healthiness of a profession. The "learned" professions (medicine, law, and theology) are assessed. Other "professional" careers valued by society (sports and classical music) are reviewed. RESULTS: From the perspective of other disciplines, the future of ophthalmology is seen as vulnerable and fragile. Survival of professions, be they classically or economically defined, is linked to societal needs, a profession's unique commitment and ability to provide services to society, and the profession's maintenance of knowledge as well as skill-based services. Historical evidence has shown erosion of a profession's power consequent to capitalist influences, government influences, access of skills by less trained individuals, and elitist posturing by a profession. Comparative evidence has shown societal acceptance of an escalation of salaries for designated superstars, increasing roles and influence of managerial personnel, and trivialization of values other than economic ones. CONCLUSION: Attention to historical and comparative trends by individual ophthalmologists as well as associations representing ophthalmologists is mandatory if ophthalmology as we know it is to survive within the profession of medicine.  (+info)

(2/33) Detection of leprosy in ancient human skeletal remains by molecular identification of Mycobacterium leprae.

We isolated ancient DNA from skeletal remains obtained from a South German ossuary (approximately 1400-1800 AD) and from a 10th century Hungarian cemetery partially indicating macromorphologic evidence of leprosy. In samples taken of 2 skulls from Germany and of 1 hard palate from Hungary, Mycobacterium leprae-specific fragments of RLEP1 and RLEP3 were amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), thereby confirming their specificity by sequencing. In another case, PCR with primers targeting IS6110 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis gave positive results only for a mandibular specimen. No signal for any mycobacterial DNA was observed in samples from 2 Hungarian foot bones. In ancient material, osseous involvement of M leprae may be detected and distinguished from other mycobacterial infections by specific PCR. In the small bones of leprous hands and feet, not enough M leprae DNA seems to be present for detection. This supports the view that rhinomaxillary leprous alterations result from direct bacterial involvement, while osseous mutilations of hands and feet result from a nervous involvement and/or secondary infections due to small lacerations of the overlying soft tissues.  (+info)

(3/33) Ventricular fibrillation: how do we stop the waves from breaking?

Combined experimental and theoretical developments have demonstrated that in addition to preexisting electrophysiological heterogeneities, cardiac electrical restitution properties contribute to breakup of reentrant wavefronts during cardiac fibrillation. Developing therapies that favorably alter electrical restitution properties have promise as a new paradigm for preventing fibrillation.  (+info)

(4/33) History of the development of arsenic derivatives in cancer therapy.

Arsenic is a natural substance that has been used medicinally for over 2,400 years. In the 19th century, it was the mainstay of the materia medica. A solution of potassium arsenite (Fowler's solution) was used for a variety of systemic illnesses from the 18th until the 20th century. This multipurpose solution was also primary therapy for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia until replaced by radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapy. The past 100 years have seen a precipitous decline in arsenic use and, by the mid-1990s, the only recognized indication was the treatment of trypanosomiasis. Much of this decline was due to concerns about the toxicity and potential carcinogenicity of chronic arsenic administration. The rebirth of arsenic therapy occurred in the 1970s when physicians in China began using arsenic trioxide as part of a treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Their accumulated experience showed that a stable solution of arsenic trioxide given by intravenous infusion was remarkably safe and effective both in patients with newly diagnosed APL leukemia and in those with refractory and relapsed APL. The mechanisms of action of arsenic derivatives in this disease and other malignancies are many and include induction of apoptosis, partial cytodifferentiation, inhibition of proliferation, and inhibition of angiogenesis. Molecular studies and ongoing clinical trials suggest that, as a chemotherapeutic agent, arsenic trioxide shows great promise in the treatment of malignant disease.  (+info)

(5/33) The birth and death of human single-nucleotide polymorphisms: new experimental evidence and implications for human history and medicine.

Extensive, new databases of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) provide a powerful resource for disease gene discovery, and they will be even more useful as more frequency data become available. Interesting observed genomic patterns include SNP deserts (regions of low SNP incidence) and lengthy regions of linkage disequilibrium containing only a few haplotypes. A variety of genetic studies will benefit from SNP resources.  (+info)

(6/33) Associations between weight loss-induced changes in plasma organochlorine concentrations, serum T(3) concentration, and resting metabolic rate.

Organochlorine compounds are released from body fat into the bloodstream during weight loss. Because these compounds may impair thyroid status, which is implicated in the control of resting metabolic rate (RMR), the aim of this study was to determine if the augmentation in plasma organochlorine concentrations might be associated with the decrease in serum T(3) concentration and RMR observed in response to body weight loss. Plasma organochlorine concentrations, serum T(3) concentration, and RMR were measured before and after weight loss in 16 obese men who followed a nonmacronutrient-specific energy-restricted diet for 15 weeks. As expected, a significant decrease in serum T(3) concentration and RMR was observed after the program, whereas concentrations of most detected organochlorines were significantly increased. Changes in organochlorine concentrations were negatively associated with changes in serum T(3) concentration (significantly for p,p'-DDT, HCB, Aroclor 1260, PCB 28, PCB 99, PCB 118, and PCB 170) and with changes in RMR adjusted for weight loss (significantly for HCB and PCB 156). In conclusion, organochlorines released in plasma during weight loss are associated with the documented decrease in serum T(3) concentration and RMR. Further studies are needed to verify whether these findings are causally related.  (+info)

(7/33) Recent advances in traditional plant drugs and orchids.

The main objective of this paper is to review recent advances in plant drug research and developments in orchid study, in an attempt to provide useful references for plant drug studies. Plants have been used as medicine for millennia. Out of estimated 250 000 to 350 000 plant species identified so far, about 35 000 are used worldwide for medicinal purposes. It has been confirmed by WHO that herbal medicines serve the health needs of about 80 percent of the world's population; especially for millions of people in the vast rural areas of developing countries. Meanwhile, consumers in developed countries are becoming disillusioned with modern healthcare and are seeking alternatives. The recent resurgence of plant remedies results from several factors: 1) the effectiveness of plant medicines; 2) the side effect of most modern drugs; and 3) the development of science and technology. It has been estimated that in the mid-1990s over 200 companies and research organizations worldwide are screening plant and animal compounds for medicinal properties. Actually, several important drugs used in modern medicine have come from medicinal plant studies, eg, taxol/paclitaxel, vinblastine, vincristine, topotecan, irinotecan, etoposide, teniposide, etc. As for drugs derived from orchids, some novel discoveries, both in phytochemical and pharmacological properties, were reported by some universities. However, studies on plants are very limited. Only about a third of the million or so species of higher plants have been identified and named by scientists. Of those named, only a tiny fraction has been studied. Nowadays the linking of the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants to modern research activities provides a new approach, which makes the rate of discovery of drugs much more effective than with random collection.  (+info)

(8/33) Effect of head-down bed rest on the neuroendocrine response to orthostatic stress in physically fit men.

The role of neuroendocrine responsiveness in the development of orthostatic intolerance after bed rest was studied in physically fit subjects. Head-down bed-rest (HDBR, -6 degrees, 4 days) was performed in 15 men after 6 weeks of aerobic training. The standing test was performed before, after training and on day 4 of the HDBR. Orthostatic intolerance was observed in one subject before and after training. The blood pressure response after training was enhanced (mean BP increments 18+/-2 vs. 13+/- 2 mm Hg, p<0.05, means +/- S.E.M.), although noradrenaline response was diminished (1.38+/-0.18 vs. 2.76+/-0.25 mol.l(-1), p<0.01). Orthostatic intolerance after HDBR was observed in 10 subjects, the BP response was blunted, and noradrenaline as well as plasma renin activity (PRA) responses were augmented (NA 3.10+/-0.33 mol.l(-1), p<0.001; PRA 2.98+/-1.12 vs. 0.85+/-0.15 ng.ml(-1), p<0.05). Plasma noradrenaline, adrenaline and aldosterone responses in orthostatic intolerant subjects were similar to the tolerant group. We conclude that six weeks of training attenuated the sympathetic response to standing and had no effect on the orthostatic tolerance. In orthostatic intolerance the BP response induced by subsequent HDBR was absent despite an enhanced sympathetic response.  (+info)