On BioScience and Life and Such

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

Quote of the month November 09

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

It is a sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. Names are everything. I never quarrel with actions. My one quarrel is with words….The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.

Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, poet, and novelist, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890


Swine flu. A family history

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2009 at 11:30 am

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Swine flu
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Here’s how the flu season has played out in my own family (parents (38 and 40) and three kids, a daughter 10 years old, and twin boys  6 years old). I’ve added a couple of references for comparison with public health recommendations and published swine-flu info.

Late August 09: The boys were coughing and had slight fever, our daughter was coughing only. One son, the daughter and the father (me) tested positive for fluA, but negative for SwineFlu. At this time the public health information available said that only SwineFlu was going around since “Any widespread influenza activity in August is uncommon.” (ref). Clearly not in our family though – we had seasonal flu of some sort.

Late September 09: Our daughter gets high fever and headache. I felt scruffy, but did not have any fever. None of us were tested since we were abroad on holiday. We, gave our daughter Tamiflu®, since symptoms suggested possible SwineFlu infection.

Early November 09: One of the boys gets Swine flu vaccinated since he is in one of the risk groups (asthma). I get vaccinated for seasonal flu.

Mid November 09: The other boy gets high fever and headache. He is given Tamiflu®. He is later tested positive for SwineFlu. I tested negative. The rest of the family was not tested since they had no symptoms.

Late November 09: Our daughter is scheduled for SwineFlu vaccination.

This fall our family has had influenza two times, possibly three. We had seasonal flu first and this at a time where seasonal flu is not expected to be common. This infection had very mild symptoms in my family. Two of us then had more severe flu symptoms a month later, but this infection was not confirmed by testing. Some weeks later one of us gets a confirmed SwineFlu infection while the rest of the family apparently escapes disease.

One should not draw epidemiological conclusions based on results from one family, but nevertheless, working in a diagnostic lab being able to test so often has been an interesting experience. If i may, I’d like to speculate a little bit:

1. Seasonal flu may not be as “seasonal” as we think since seasonal flu can give very mild symptoms and remain undiagnosed.

2. Vaccination has worked fine in our family since the vaccinated boy did not get infected through his brother.

3. Seasonal flu does not protect against SwineFlu in children (same boy tested positive for seasonal flu and later on SwineFlu), but may protect against SwineFlu in adults. This is supported by a recent NEJM publication.

4. Following infections longitudinally could give valuable insight into the epidemiology of influenza and other seasonal viral infections.

5. Frequent testing reduces worrying to a minimum. While I realize that I am subjective since I have my own laboratory to develop tests in (and run them as often as I want), I strongly recommend that such frequent testing be performed for everyone.

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The Testosterone Project II

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

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A vial of the injectable anabolic steroid, dep...
Image via Wikipedia

Previous post in series: The Testosterone project.

Recap: Project Testosterone is my main project aimed at alleviating  mature age growing pains.

Plan is as follows:

  1. Test my testosterone levels.
    – Done. Twice now. Turns out I’m still at the low end of the normal spectrum. This second time I also measured Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) to get an accurate measure of Bioavailable Testosterone. Detailed results were: Testosterone – 8,1 nmol/L (normal level 8-35 nmol/L), SHBG – 12,6 (normal level 8-60 nmol/L), Bioavailable Testosterone (calculated from here) – 10,20 nmol/L (normal level 3,85-13,67 nmol/L).
  2. If low (and yes it feels low, even if it is within the normal spectrum, it’s my manliness we’re talking about after all), then learn more.
    – Done, but will continue reading about this.
  3. If not to scary, find out how to get a hold of it.
    – Have gone to see a gullible physician, but was turned down because I was in the normal range. Plan was to measure a second time to see if values were lower and then go back, but it seems values are reasonably stable. Legally prescribed testosterone plan scrapped. Next: probe the illegal substance market.
  4. If not too illegal, then get some. Topic for next blog post.
  5. Try low doses. Future posts.
  6. If adverse events acceptable, continue and report effects continously on blog.
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Thoughts on H+

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

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The last H+ magazine is full of articles telling us that we’ll soon rid ourselves of various body parts, mood swings and even the physical acts of sexual relations. I am still a transhumanist, but will have to distance myself from H+ if this continues because:

Bodies are nice – I like them. Mood swings are nice – I like them too. Sex is also nice, and anticipation of physical sex can be even nicer. Probably because  constant and unhindered sexual interaction is unattainable. Consequently, such anticipations are major drivers of behavior. Messing with the availability of sex is not something one should do without caution.

Fellow transhumanists, please put some restraint on your desires to remove yourselves from the physical world. And, do not underestimate our biology – it isn’t always as bad as you’d think.