DIY Epipen: the $30 Epipencil

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Mylan, the company with a monopoly on FDA-improved epinephrine auto-injectors ("epipens") has quintupled the price of their life-saving technology since 2004, to $600/unit (and they have the be thrown out and replaced every year); for this, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch (daughter of US senator Joe Manchin, who secured her initial job interview through political connections while he was Governor of West Virginia, moving her laterally from her gig as an aerobics instructor) received a 671% raise , bringing her compensation up to $18,931,068. Read the rest

This woman is allergic to water

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Rachel Warwick suffers from aquagenic urticaria, an immune reaction to contact with water. According to the BBC, it "is like being stung by a bush of particularly pernicious nettles, combined with the malaise of hay fever, every single day." From the BBC:

It’s a world where relaxing baths are the stuff of nightmares and snorkelling in tropical seas is as appealing as rubbing yourself with bleach. “Those things are my idea of hell,” she says.

Any contact with water whatsoever – even her own sweat – leaves Rachel with a painful, swollen and intensely itchy rash which can last for several hours. “The reaction makes me feel as if I’ve run a marathon. I feel really tired afterwards so I have to go and sit down for quite a while,” she says. “It’s horrible, but if I cry my face swells up”...

Right from the beginning, aquagenic urticaria was as baffling to scientists as it is to the rest of us. Technically, the condition isn’t actually an allergy at all, since it’s likely caused by an immune reaction to something within the body, rather than an over-reaction to something foreign, such as pollen or peanuts. The earliest theory to explain how it works is that water is interacting with the outermost layer of skin, which consists mostly of dead skin cells, or the oily substance which keeps skin moist. Contact with water may cause these components to release toxic compounds, which in turn leads to an immune reaction.

Others have suggested that water may simply dissolve chemicals in the layer of dead skin, allowing them to penetrate deeper where they can cause an immune reaction.

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The rise and fall of Theranos

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The rise and fall of Theranos is gripping stuff. The $700m startup touted a revolutionary one-prick suite of blood tests that never worked well. But it managed to keep its failures hidden, writes Vanity Fair's Nick Bilton, thanks to the secrecy and controlling policies of its founder, Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes seems to have been aware of the technology's failure from an early stage, but was committed to it in a way that suggests a cult more than a company. Read the rest

Thought-controlled nanorobots in your body

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A team of Israeli scientists devised a system by which a person can use their thoughts alone to trigger tiny DNA-based nanorobots inside a living creature to release a drug.

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Mylan CEO raises price of EpiPens over 400% in 9 years, is rewarded with 671% raise

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The head of the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens raised the price of the life-saving device by over 400%. She was rewarded with a 671% raise. Read the rest

Your medical data: misappropriated by health-tech companies, off-limits to you

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Backchannel's package on medical data and the health-tech industry profiles three people who were able to shake loose their own data and make real improvements in their lives with it: Marie Moe, who discovered that the reason she was having terrifying cardiac episodes was out-of-date firmware on her pacemaker; Steven Keating, who created a website with exquisitely detailed data on his brain tumor, including a gene-sequence that had to be run a second time because the first scan wasn't approved for "commercial" use, which included publishing it on his own site; and Annie Kuehl, whose advocacy eventually revealed the fact that doctors had suspected all along that her sick baby had a rare genetic disorder, which she only learned about after years of agonizing victim-blaming and terrifying seizures. Read the rest

Timelapse of pills dissolving: "decaying clowns"

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Kottke nailed it when he said that the timelapse video of these colorful pills dissolving looks like "decaying clowns." Read the rest

Neural Dust: tiny wireless implants act as "electroceuticals" for your brain

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UC Berkeley researchers are developing "Neural Dust," tiny wireless sensors for implanting in the brain, muscles, and intestines that could someday be used to control prosthetics or a "electroceuticals" to treat epilepsy or fire up the immune system. So far, they've tested a 3 millimeter long version of the device in rats.

“I think the long-term prospects for neural dust are not only within nerves and the brain, but much broader,“ says researcher Michel Maharbiz. “Having access to in-body telemetry has never been possible because there has been no way to put something supertiny superdeep. But now I can take a speck of nothing and park it next to a nerve or organ, your GI tract or a muscle, and read out the data."

Maharbiz, neuroengineer Jose Carmena, and their colleagues published their latest results on "Wireless Recording in the Peripheral Nervous System with Ultrasonic Neural Dust" in the journal Neuron.

From UC Berkeley:

While the experiments so far have involved the peripheral nervous system and muscles, the neural dust motes could work equally well in the central nervous system and brain to control prosthetics, the researchers say. Today’s implantable electrodes degrade within 1 to 2 years, and all connect to wires that pass through holes in the skull. Wireless sensors – dozens to a hundred – could be sealed in, avoiding infection and unwanted movement of the electrodes.

“The original goal of the neural dust project was to imagine the next generation of brain-machine interfaces, and to make it a viable clinical technology,” said neuroscience graduate student Ryan Neely.

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This is the country's largest collection of brains

When the zombie apocalypse breaks out, the Harvard Brain Bank will resemble the scene at a cheap casino buffet's peel-and-eat shrimp table.

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The history of the home pregnancy test is a microcosm of misogyny, chauvinism, and erasure

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When Pagan Kennedy wrote her 2012 New York Times Magazine history of home pregnancy testing, it didn't mention Margaret Crane, the product designer who created, designed and championed the test and all it stood for: the right of "a woman to peer into her own body and to make her own decisions about it, without anyone else — husband, boyfriend, boss, doctor — getting in the way." Read the rest

Video about using psychedelic drugs to treat anxiety, addiction, and OCD

In the last decade, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and elsewhere have launched new studies investigating whether psychedelic drugs, from shrooms to LSD to DMT, can treat mental disorders ranging from depression and PTSD to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Vox reporters German Lopez and Javier Zarracina surveyed the state of medical research on hallucinogens:

In a recent study, British researchers used brain imaging techniques to gauge how the brain looks on LSD versus a placebo. They found big differences between LSD and the placebo, with the images of the brain on LSD showing much more connectivity between different sections of the mind.

This can help explain visual hallucinations, because it means various parts of the brain — not just the visual cortex at the back of the mind — are communicating during an LSD trip.

This, researchers argued, may show not just why psychedelic drugs trigger hallucinogenic experiences but also why they may be able to help people. "In many psychiatric disorders, the brain may be viewed as having become entrenched in pathology, such that core behaviors become automated and rigid," the researchers wrote. "Consistent with their ‘entropic’ effect on cortical activity, psychedelics may work to break down such disorders by dismantling the patterns of activity on which they rest."

"The fascinating, strange medical potential of psychedelic drugs, explained in 50+ studies" (Vox)

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What if all drugs were totally legal?

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Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon | Reddit

In this episode we discuss the history of drug laws, why some drugs are legal and others aren’t, and what would happen if we just let everybody lose to do whatever they want.

▹▹ Full show notes Read the rest

Gonorrhea may soon be unbeatable

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Approximately 350,000 people in the US are diagnosed with gonorrhea each year. According to the CDC, it may soon be untreatable. Currently, the sexually-transmitted disease, not-so-fondly known as The Clap or The Drip, is treated with two antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone. Data is currently showing a rise in gonorrhea samples that are resistant to those drugs.

Companies are developing new antibiotics but could be "years away," says CDC medical epidemiologist Robert D. Kirkcaldy.

"We think … it’s a matter of when and not if with resistance,” he says. “This bug is so smart and can mutate so rapidly.”

(Scientific American) Read the rest

First case of female-to-male sexually-transmitted Zika reported, in NYC

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The Centers for Disease Control and Infection reported the first confirmed case of Zika transmitted from a woman to a man during sex. Previously, they thought that the disease was only likely to be sexually-transmitted from a male to female or male to male. The CDC will soon update their advisory "for sexually active people in which the couple is not pregnant or concerned about pregnancy and for people who want to reduce personal risk of Zika infection through sex." From CNN:

A non-pregnant woman in her 20s had unprotected vaginal sex with a male partner on the day she returned from travel to a country where Zika is circulating. The next day, she came down with Zika-like symptoms, including fever, rash, fatigue and muscle pain, along with numbness and tingling in her fingers and toes. On day three, she visited her primary care doctor, who took blood and urine samples, and sent them off to the NYC health department. Both tested positive for the virus.

On day seven after intercourse, her male partner, also in his 20s, began to show the same typical signs of Zika, such as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, despite the fact that he had not traveled outside the United States for more than a year...

While this is the first documented case of female to male sexual transmission, it's not the first clue that the Zika virus might be hiding in the female genital tract. A case report published this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal tells the story of a 27-year old Guadeloupean woman who came down with Zika in May.

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Amateur testicle surgeon confesses

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Allan George Matthews is a surgeon. He's not a proper one, per se. You might call him a gentleman amateur. And a surgery the 56-year-old Australian performed to remove another man's painful testicle has landed him in court, the BBC reports.

Police became aware of the case in June when the man attended hospital after the wound he suffered during the operation became infected. Officers raided Matthews' home and seized medical equipment, firearms and four bottles of what they suspected to be amyl nitrate. Prosecutors alleged that Matthews was not authorised to perform such a procedure as he was not a qualified or registered medical practitioner.

The victim had been kicked in the bollocks by a horse and could not afford professional care, adds the Syndey Morning Herald.

The charges stem from an incident in a motel room in Port Macquarie on May 16. Police allege Matthews met a 52-year-old man and surgically removed his left testicle. It is the crown's case that Matthews is not qualified or authorised to perform such a procedure, and is not a qualified or registered medical practitioner. The 52-year-old alleged victim attended the motel room after posting an advertisement online requesting assistance with a medical issue, police claim.
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Color illustrations of 16th C eye-diseases, including those caused by witchcraft

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16th century barber-surgeon Georg Bartisch began his barber-surgeon apprenticeship in 1548 in Saxony, and three years later, became an itinerant barber-surgeon in Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia. Read the rest

Stunning drug ads from a 1930s French magazine

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Ridendo was a French medical and humor (!) magazine launched in the 1930s. Recently, illustrator Jérôme Dubois found his great-great-grandfather's collection of the magazine and shared some of the fantastic pharmaceutical ads that ran in its pages. See more at Flashbak.

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