Sunday, March 30, 2014

Doctors Produce 3-D Skull, Save Patient

My opinion:  I know there are medical miracles, but then there are medical miracles!  This really is quite the invention, and it all happened because of 3-D printing.  Still, I have some concerns for the new skull.  If part of it breaks, is it possible to replace that part with another 3-D reproduction?  Also, the skull is clear.  Can hair grow out of it, or can it at least be made to look like a real skull?  I'm very glad that the patient has healed, but what would people think of you if they saw that you had a plastic skull?  Nonetheless, a very fine and amazing idea!  It's just important, however, to try and fix the smaller problems as well, at least at some point.  Any thoughts?  Feel free to comment.

Medical First: 3-D Printed Skull Successfully Implanted in Woman

Another day, another advance in 3-D printing technology.
Doctors in the Netherlands report that they have for the first time successfully replaced most of a human’s skull with a 3-D printed plastic one — and likely saved a woman's life in the process.
The 23-hour surgery took place three months ago at University Medical Center Utrecht. The hospital announced details of the groundbreaking operation this week and said the patient, a 22-year-old woman, is doing just fine.

Image: 3-D printed skull UMC Utrecht
Doctors at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands replaced the top part of a woman's skull with a 3-D printed plastic one.

The woman, whose name wasn’t released, suffered from severe headaches due to a thickening of her skull. She slowly lost her vision, her motor coordination was suffering and it was only a matter of time before other essential brain functions would have atrophied, Verweij said in a press release issued by UMC Utrecht.
Verweij noted that in some brain operations it’s common for part of the skull to be temporarily removed to reduce pressure on the brain, then put back later or replaced by an artificial implant. In this case, doctors inserted nearly an entire plastic skull that was manufactured with the help of Anatomics, an Australian medical device company that specializes in 3-D printing,


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Does Vitamin D Help Depression?

My opinion:  I think this whole vitamin D prophecy may be easy to believe in, especially with all the hype from drug companies.  But depression is a physiological illness that is very difficult to heal, and frankly, a vitamin pill probably will not do the trick.  I have read, however, that being malnourished can trigger depression.  On a related note, the article notes that vitamin D supplements appeared to work best with people who were vitamin D deficient.  Perhaps taking of overhaul of one's eating patterns would be an effective supplement to antidepressants, as this study seems to imply.  Additionally, studies need to investigate if vitamin pill supplements are better or if actually eating foods with vitamins are better.  Finally, I'd be really curious to see if drug companies promote research that benefits them, while not mentioning other research that harms them.  It's kind of like how colleges say they are all #1, but each one uses a different scale.  Anyone with any prior knowledge on this?  Feel free to comment.

Vitamin D supplements 'do not reduce depression'

Sunday 23 March 2014 - 12am PST

Past studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may lead to depression. In response, other studies propose that increasing vitamin D levels with supplements may reduce depressive symptoms. But new research, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, has found no evidence that vitamin D supplements reduce depression.
The research team, led by Dr. Jonathan A. Schaffer of the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York, NY, conducted a systematic review of clinical trials that looked at how vitamin D supplementation affected depression.
The team identified seven trials involving 3,191 participants that looked at the effects of vitamin D supplementation against depression and compared this with no vitamin D supplementation.
The investigators say that almost all trials were "characterized by methodological limitations" and only two studies included participants who had clinical depression at study baseline.
The researchers found that vitamin D supplementation itself had no overall impact on depression.
However, further investigation revealed that for patients with clinical depression, particularly those who were taking standard antidepressant medication, vitamin D supplementation may help reduce depressive symptoms.
But Dr. Schaffer says that before this association can be confirmed, new trials that monitor the effects of vitamin D supplements in these patients need to be conducted.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Pay-to-Play" Meetings Help Get Drugs on Market

My opinion:  Frankly, I'm not surprised that this is going on.  Everybody knows that drug companies pay doctors to promote their products, but now it is apparent that they can use money to get past the FDA.  This may be even worse than before, as now drugs are on the market that are potentially very dangerous.  I am wondering what other methods there are to getting around obstacles.  I know that drug companies often withhold possibly bad experimental data, but perhaps there's more.  What if they pay lobbyists to pass more lenient drug laws?  Do you have any opinions or additions to this?  Feel free to comment.

Senators Allege That Drug Companies Paid To Help Get Approval For A Dangerous New Painkiller

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg

Ever since a coalition of doctors came out against the controversial new painkiller Zohydro, health officials have been questioning how the drug got approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the first place. Now, two senators are questioning the ethics of a series of meetings between drug companies and federal regulators, MedPage Today reports.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and David Vitter (R-La.) want answers about what they call "pay-to-play" meetings in which pharmaceutical manufacturers allegedly shelled out thousands of dollars to meet with FDA officials who oversee safety regulations on painkillers. The senators suggest these meetings might have helped Zohydro get approved by the FDA despite an advisory committee voting against it.