a pint a day keeps the doctor away?

From Wil Wheaton’s blog (yes, that Wil Wheaton) comes the fabulous news that Guinness? Is good for you!

According to a new study out of the University of Wisconsin, drinking a pint of Guinness a day gives the same healthy-heart benefits as an aspirin a day (keeps the heart attack away). Apparently something in Guinness – but no lagers – reduces the clotting activity… at least, in the dogs that were in the study. Something tells me recruiting human research subjects won’t be difficult!

No one is really sure what in the Guinness causes this anti-clotting activity; maybe it’s added anti-oxidants, maybe it’s just the effect of alcohol (leading speculation as to why the lager wasn’t as beneficial). I do know that many asthmatics are recommended they drink a glass of wine or pint of beer a day, to alleviate inflammation and constriction, and there are of course numerous studies on the benefits of red wine. So, this would not be the first time alcohol has shown to have potential medicinal benefits.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think this deserves a drink.
-Kelly Hills

[cross-posted to the Women’s Bioethics Blog]

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.

Portable Dialysis Passes First Trial

A portable dialysis machine has somewhat successfully completed its first clinical trial, raising hopes for many that one day, dialysis will not be a three day a week intensive at a clinic, but instead, a continual process occurring 24 hours a day.

In other words, a small and portable external kidney.

As anyone who is familiar with dialysis – personal use, friend, family member, working in a unit – knows, being attached to not only the machine but its location is a limiting lifestyle. No spontaneous road trips, impulse trips anywhere – even into the City to catch a show – have to be weighed against risk of missing a dialysis appointment.

Weighing in at approximately 11 pounds, a weight the California inventors hope to drop down to around 4 pounds, the portable dialysis machine looks something like a toolbelt wrapped around someone’s waist. Using miniaturized components, it contains a bevy of devices to test and monitor blood, as well as thin and filter it.

Eight patients were part of this first trial, and they were encouraged to eat, drink, sleep, and generally live life as normal while they had it on. Those who tried sleeping found that they could, raising hopes that this could become a nightly home ritual rather than outpatient procedure. Maybe of more interest is the fact that of those eight patients, three were women – still something of a novelty in research studies not geared specifically at women.

Of course, being the first clinical trial on patients with end-stage renal disease, it didn’t go without error – three of the eight patients had severe reactions. Two of those were because the heparin dose was off, creating blood thickness/filtering problems, and one was due to a temporary disconnection because of a dislodged fistula needle. Even then, though, all of the patients enthusiastically recommended the device.

And why wouldn’t they? Slower rates of dialysis cause less pain for the patient and is easier to tolerate by the body, and perhaps more importantly, the device gives back a sense of freedom to those formerly weighed down with the giant anchor of immobile dialysis.
-Kelly Hills

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.

South Koreans Clone Cats That Glow in the Dark

In the news today is the announcement that South Koreans have cloned cats with altered fluorescence proteins (RFP). The idea is to be able to eventually develop treatments for human genetic diseases. Researchers are also suggesting that other uses for this technology will include rescuing species from near-extinction.

And, as an added side bonus, the cats glow when exposed to when exposed to ultraviolet beams. They certainly look kind of cool.

Of course, I suspect South Korea and the scientists themselves are on edge, given the Hwang Woo-Suk scandals – but all things considered, that whole thing probably makes this particular achievement all the more likely to be true.

-Kelly Hills

Originally posted at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.

You might be a bioethicist if…

Over at the Women’s Bioethics Blog, Linda has reprinted Chicago bioethicist Timothy Murphy’s spoof on the Jeff Foxworthy “you know you might be a redneck if…” joke. Some of them hit scarily close to home.

My personal favourite? You know you might be a bioethicist if “a reporter calls to ask you about a breaking case you know nothing about, but you nevertheless express an opinion.”

Definitely worth a read-thru!
-Kelly Hills

Originally posted December 10, 2007 at the American Journal of Bioethics Editors Blog.