Adventures in Smarshland

June 6, 2008

Can you imagine?

Filed under: Innovation — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 8:02 pm

Rare disease (1/100,000) cured using stem cells. A child with a disease that does not allow the skin or digestive track tissue to adhere to surrounding tissues is cured by stem cells.  This kid couldn’t eat an oreo without dying before treatment.  Aside from this being a miracle for this child’s family, this also marks the first disease that has been cured by stem cells than is not blood related.

May 24, 2008

Reading, Getting Started Today

Filed under: Computer,Innovation,Worth Sharing — Tags: , , , — smarsh @ 1:04 pm

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

I’m getting started today.  If your time is too committed to work, family, … then you might enjoy Librivox which is like the Wikipedia of audiobooks from the public domain.  Although the books are read by volunteers, the ones I have listened to have been of acceptable quality, especially considering the price (Free).

October 20, 2007

Promising Malaria Vaccine

Filed under: Innovation — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 10:40 am

A clinical trial that was designed only to test the safety of a new malaria vaccine was found to also have promising results on the efficacy front. The trial was conducted with 214 infants and was found to be 65% effective at reducing the risk of infection. One might wonder if it is a vaccine why wouldn’t the efficacy rate be substantially higher; because malaria is a virus that evolves over its lifecycle. It changes while in the mosquito, when it infects the liver and blood system. The virus is under the radar of the immune system while in its early stages in the body, which is why there is largely no initial immune response. The vaccine targets thwarting infection of the liver, other vaccines treat other stages. Assuming a 65% success rate in this trial, using basic probability techniques there is a 95% chance that the vaccine is between 58% to 72% effective. Previous vaccines have only been 30% effective. In order to be used in widespread campaigns the vaccine must be about as effective as this latest one has been showed to be in this early trial. By way of comparison, a mosquito net treated with insecticide is about 60% effective.

The next round of trials is slated to be conducted in the second half of 2008 with about 16,000 people in a much more rigorously control experiment, double blind and using a Hep. B vaccine as placebo. Everyone cross your fingers, the results could mean life or death for roughly one million children a year. Although big pharma is generally excoriated for any number of reasons, GlaxoSmithKline has funded the development and testing of the vaccine. FYI, I doubt there is much money in developing a malaria vaccine.

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