How computer science is changing medicine and prediction of disease
As you probably know, Angelina Jolie recently had a second preventive procedure due to her carrying the BRCA1 gene variant which raises the risk of developing breast cancer by over 55%, and ovarian cancer by almost 40%.
Such news has sparked a dramatic increase of interest in both bioinformatics and specialized genetic testing.
This important infographic created by NJIT’s Computer Science program, explains Bioinformatics as well as highlights breast cancer genetic risk testing in particular. Find more about the Amount of Data Generated Today, Benefits of Bioinformatics, Existing Bioinformatics Projects and Personal Genomics Companies.
The seizures – the biggest recorded to date in the UK – include huge quantities of illegally supplied and potentially harmful slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets, anaemia tablets and narcolepsy tablets. Unlicensed foreign medicines and fake condoms were also found and removed.
The seizures are a result of a month-long international crackdown on the illegal internet trade of medical products that yielded £51.6 million worth of items from 115 different countries globally.
The ‘Operation Pangea VIII’ initiative, coordinated through INTERPOL, concluded with a week of international raids between 9 and 16 June that resulted in 156 arrests worldwide.
The operation also targeted websites that were offering falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and led to their closure or suspension by removal of their domain name or payment facility.
In the UK, MHRA enforcement officers, with assistance from local police, raided known addresses in connection with the illegal internet supply of potentially harmful medicines.
It resulted in the domestic seizure of almost 6.2 million doses of falsified, counterfeit and unlicensed medicines, 15,000 of which were medical devices with a total value of £15.8 million. The UK operation also resulted in 1,380 websites being closed down, 339 of which were domestic sites.
MHRA Head of Enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey, said:
” Operation Pangea is the global response to internet-facilitated medicines and devices crime. As a result of our intelligence-led enforcement operations we have seized £15.8 million worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and 15,000 devices in the UK alone – which is almost twice as much as we recorded last year, and clear evidence that this is a growing concern that has to be taken seriously.
Criminals involved in the illegal supply of medical products through the internet aren’t interested in your health – they are interested in your money and are able to get this by selling you a potentially dangerous product, or by stealing your bank details. To protect your health, visit your GP, get a correct diagnosis and buy medicines from a legitimate high street or registered pharmacy which can trade online. “
A breakdown of the UK seizures highlights the growing trend towards lifestyle medications and products that are unlicensed, falsified or controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The majority of the products seized in UK originated from India, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
MHRA has continued to target YouTube accounts and videos as criminals seek to exploit new channels to profit from the illegal sale of medicines – resulting in the removal of more than 320 videos.
Internationally, results show that almost 150,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs officials, resulting in the seizure of over 20.7 million doses of unlicensed and counterfeit medicines worth approximately £51.6 million.
Alex Lawther, from Border Force’s postal command, added:
” Border Force regularly detects and seizes illegal and restricted products imported through the postal system including fake and unlicensed medicines. Our involvement in this operation with the MHRA demonstrates our commitment to combat this form of smuggling.
Our message to the public is simple – don’t buy anything online unless you are certain it comes from a legitimate source.”
If someone suspects their medicine may be counterfeit, contact the MHRA’s designated 24-hour anti-counterfeiting hotline on 020 3080 6701 or email.
Sources and more information
UK leads the way with £15.8 million seizure in global operation targeting counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices, GOV.UK MHRA, 18 June 2015.
UK authorities seize almost £16m of illegal medicines in a month, theguardian.com, 18 June 2015.
Record ‘fake drugs’ haul worth £16m by UK agency, BBC Health News, 18 June 2015.
Chemical Pollution from fracking report and recommendations
This post content is published by CHEMtrust
– protecting humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals.
High volume hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’, is a controversial technology used for extracting oil or gas resources which are trapped in shale rocks, coal seams and similar deposits. In the US, where fracking is carried out extensively, there are many examples of fracking causing chemical pollution leading to health and environmental impacts.
Due to our concerns about fracking, CHEM Trust commissioned a detailed examination of the impacts of fracking with respect to chemical pollution; the detailed report “Chemical Pollution from Fracking” is also available here.
This briefing summarises the “Chemical Pollution from Fracking” report, discussing some of the latest developments and includes our recommendations for the future.
Fracking operations require large numbers of wells, and need substantial volumes of water and chemicals. This chemical use, combined with the substances that flowback from underground, makes fracking a potentially significant source of air, land and water pollution.
In addition, fracking operations also generate substantial noise and air pollution from vehicles and other equipment. Note that in this briefing we use the term ‘fracking’ to cover the entire process of shale gas exploration and production.
Our key recommendations are:
All chemicals used in fracking must be disclosed, with no provision for commercial confidentiality.
Stronger EU regulation of fracking is required, ensuring that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are required for all sites, chemical use is controlled and transparent, effective monitoring is obligatory and wastewater management is safe, including an absolute ban on disposal of wastewater by re-injection into the ground.
Regulations must protect the environment and people even when fracking wells are no longer used, including financial bonds to cover clean-up costs.
Effective monitoring and enforcement is essential to ensure that regulatory controls are followed. This means that regulators must have the resources to carry out these functions; this is a particular concern in the UK where the Environment Agency (EA) is experiencing substantial budget cuts.
In CHEM Trust’s view there should be an EU-wide moratorium on fracking until all their recommendations regarding regulations, chemical disclosure, monitoring, regulators, location water supply are in place.
Sources and more information
Fracking pollution: How toxic chemicals from fracking could affect wildlife and people in the UK and EU, CHEMtrust, June 2015.
Chemical Pollution from Fracking report, written by Philip J Lightowlers for CHEM Trust, updated April 2015.
Scènes de vie tournées à Cancerland par une camerawoman qui n’a cure du politiquement correct
” Je suis une femme de 55 ans, et j’ai un cancer du sein métastatique.
Je suis une femme de caractère, ou une emmerdeuse, si vous préférez. Mon cancer du sein a modifié mon espérance de vie, mais n’a pas changé cela. La maladie ne rend rien plus facile.
Je suis une patiente indocile, curieuse et libre de ses choix. Ce livre n’est pas le chemin de ma rédemption mais une chronique de mon expérience de Cancerland, qui n’est pas un monde merveilleux parce qu’à la fin, on meurt souvent.
Mais je ne suis pas encore à la fin, et je continue à dire Fuck my cancer ! ”
Avant sa maladie, Manuela Wyler a eu une carrière professionnelle dans la communication et la culture. Blogueuse histoire et cuisine, elle a créé fuckmycancer.fr, un blog énervé et humoristique sur son expérience du cancer.
Elle vous emmène dans ce récit au pays du cancer, où rien ne se déroule jamais comme prévu. Dans ce coup de gueule, souvent drôle, jamais larmoyant, l’auteure détaille son parcours de malade peu conciliante. Coupez, empoisonnez, brûlez – le funeste triptyque du cancer passe à sa moulinette.
The higher risk group of DES-exposed women need early detection of cervical and vaginal adenocarcinomas
2015 Study Abstract
Women in the 1940s-1960s were prescribed Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a nonsteroidal estrogen, to prevent miscarriages, but the practice was terminated after it was discovered that the daughters so exposed in utero were at increased risk for developing clear cell adenocarcinoma (CCA) of the vagina or cervix at early ages. Pap smear screening is one of the principal methods used to identify tumor development and is necessary in this group of women to maintain their health. Currently, little is known about the factors associated with nonutilization of this screening tool in this high-risk population of women.
National cohort data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) DES Combined Cohort Follow-up Study during 1994, 1997, 2001, and 2006 were used to determine which factors were associated with Pap smear screening nonutilization in 2006 among DES-exposed and unexposed women. Self-reported questionnaire data from 2,861 DES-exposed and 1,027 unexposed women were analyzed using binary logistic regression models.
DES exposure, not having a previous gynecologic dysplasia diagnosis, lack of insurance, originating cohort, increasing age, and previous screening behavior were all factors associated with not reporting a Pap smear examination in the 2006 questionnaire, although college education reduced nonutilization.
Understanding which factors are associated with not acquiring a screening exam can help clinicians better identify which DES-exposed women are at risk for nonutilization and possibly tailor their standard of care to aid in the early detection of cervical and vaginal adenocarcinomas in this high-risk group.
Factors associated with a lack of pap smear utilization in women exposed in utero to diethylstilbestrol, NCBI PMID: 25768943, J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Apr;24(4):308-15. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.4930. Epub 2015 Mar 13.
Using data from the National Cancer Institute DES Follow-Up Study, we evaluated the association between DES and adult obesity, weight gain from age 20 to mid-life, central adiposity and height among 2871 prenatally exposed and 1352 unexposed women between 23 and 52 years of age (median 41.5) at baseline in 1994. DES exposure status was confirmed by prenatal medical record review. We used multivariable log-binomial models to calculate risk ratios (RRs) for obesity in 2006, and linear regression to calculate mean differences in body mass index, weight gain, waist circumference and height.
The adjusted RR for DES and obesity was 1.09 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.97, 1.22],
and RRs were 1.23 (CI: 1.07, 1.42)
and 1.05 (CI: 0.91, 1.20) for low and high estimated total DES dose, respectively, compared with no exposure.
DES-exposed women gained slightly more weight than unexposed women [mean difference, 0.70 kg (CI: -0.27, 1.66)].
This study suggests that prenatal DES exposure may be associated with a small increase in adult obesity.
Prenatal diethylstilbestrol exposure and risk of obesity in adult women, NCBI PMID: 25697972, J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2015 Jun;6(3):201-7. doi: 10.1017/S2040174415000033. Epub 2015 Feb 20.
Written by a groundbreaking figure of modern medical study, Tracking Medicine is an eye-opening introduction to the science of health care delivery, as well as a powerful argument for its relevance in shaping the future of our country. An indispensable resource for those involved in public health and health policy, this book uses Dr. Wennberg’s pioneering research to provide a framework for understanding the health care crisis; and outlines a roadmap for real change in the future. It is also a useful tool for anyone interested in understanding and forming their own opinion on the current debate.
Environmental Estrogens and Obesity, Molecular Cellular Endocrinology, 2009
2009 Study Abstract
Diethylstilbestrol DES, a potent synthetic estrogen, was widely prescribed to pregnant women from the 1940s through the 1970s with the mistaken belief that it could prevent threatened miscarriages. It was estimated that a range of 2 to 8 million pregnancies worldwide were exposed to DES. Today, it is well known that prenatal DES treatment resulted in a low but significant increase in neoplastic lesions, and a high incidence of benign lesions in both the male and female offspring exposed during fetal life. To study the mechanisms involved in DES toxicity, we developed experimental mouse models of perinatal (prenatal or neonatal) DES exposure over 30 years ago . Outbred CD-1 mice were treated with DES by subcutaneous injections on days 9–16 of gestation (the period of major organogenesis in the mouse) or days 1–5 of neonatal life (a period of cellular differentiation of the reproductive tract, and a critical period of immune, behavioral, and adipocyte differentiation). These perinatal DES animal models have successfully duplicated, and in some cases, predicted, many of the alterations (structural, function, cellular and molecular) observed in similarly DES- exposed humans.
Although the data summarized in this review describes only neonatal exposure to a high dose of DES, lower doses and exposure during prenatal life have also been shown to be associated with obesity later in life. Interestingly, high prenatal DES doses caused lower birth weight compared to controls, followed by a “catch-up period”, and finally resulted in obesity; low prenatal DES doses had no effect on birth weight but it still resulted in obesity later in life . Thus, it appears that the effects of DES on adipocytes may depend on the time of exposure and the dose, and that multiple mechanisms maybe altered resulting in the same obesity phenotype.
Environmental Estrogens and Obesity, NCBI PMCID: PMC2682588, Retha R. Newbold,1 Elizabeth Padilla-Banks, and Wendy N. Jefferson, Mol Cell Endocrinol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 May 25.