Clinical Research

Genetic testing has been overcome by companies selling hype. Even 23andMe, arguably the most prominent, was chastised by FDA for promising peace of mind when they couldn't do anything of the kind.

What about actual research involving the testing of human biospecimens? Should individual research results on a study-specific basis be done through an informed decision-making process? If so, how? And when? 

Skin, with its densely packed layers of cells and lipids, keeps foreign substances from leaking in and water from leaking out. It's a reverse raincoat for our organs. 

In ichthyosis and other skin diseases, this barrier breaks down, and problems arise. Unlike more commonly known skin diseases, in ichthyosis thick layers of scales can build up because the lipid-synthesis process in the skin goes awry. Besides causing discomfort and a scaly appearance, the condition can make the skin prone to secondary infections.

Because Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), in infants less than a year old, are tragedies without known explanation, scholars have searched for causes beyond stuffed animals in cribs or blaming parents.

SIDS represents up to 80 percent of all sudden unexpected infant deaths with an five in 1,000 live births in the US. The peak incidence occurs between two months and four months of age and is more common in boys. One explanation has been heart disease caused by genetic mutations but a recent study found that is less than 5 percent of cases, much lower than the 20 percent previously estimated.
Cardiac arrest, essentially a heart attack, appears on a lot of coroner reports but it frequently misclassified and exaggerated. A new analysis finds that 40 percent of deaths attributed to cardiac arrest are not sudden or unexpected, and nearly half of the remainder are not arrhythmic--the only situation in which CPR and defibrillators are effective. Which means they should not be considered cardiac arrest. An alarming 13.5 percent were instead overdoses.

Pigs are a main livestock species for food production worldwide and is also widely used as an animal model in biomedical research. Today we know that the many types of bacteria that inhabit the gut are important for health and disease. Knowledge of the genes of these bacteria and their function therefore constitutes the first step towards a more comprehensive understanding of how bacteria in the gut affect health and disease.

An international consortium of researchers from INRA (France), University of Copenhagen and SEGES (Denmark), BGI-Shenzhen (China) and NIFES (Norway) has now established the first catalog of bacterial genes in the gut of pigs. This achievement is published in the latest issue of Nature Microbiology.


Evidence-based medicine is a sensitive topic for naturopaths. They love to claim that naturopathic medicine is safe and effective.

A research team has unearthed more evidence that casts doubt on the traditional "heart healthy" practice of replacing butter and other saturated fats with corn oil and other vegetable oils high in linoleic acid - in unpublished raw data whose co-principal investigator was Dr. Ancel Keys, the lead warrior in the fight to get saturated fat a warning label and who brought the Mediterranean Diet into the nutritional lexicon.

A running meme throughout most of my life - and I came of age in the late 1960s and '70s, when pot was all the rage - is that people get stoned, then they get hungry. Any number of media portrayals showed it, and still do now. No surprise, marijuana is the most commonly used non-legal drug in America, so references to it resonate with a lot of people. And the munchies after smoking it do as well.

Inference: You should probably get fat if you continue to smoke marijuana into old age.
Though it was once common to claim that red meat caused heart disease, those turned out to be flawed epidemiological conclusions based on observational studies and things like food diaries. 

A new study finds red meat metabolite levels high in acute heart failure patients, and seeks to re-establish the link between red meat and heart disease using biological markers. Patients with acute heart failure often have high levels of the metabolite trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) and red meat is a dietary source. Red meat is a source of L-carnitine which is broken down by gut bacteria to form TMAO. Some papers have linked TMAO with mortality risk in chronic heart failure but no association in acute heart failure has been established.

Early in the New Year is the traditional time for setting ambitious goals for better health, fitness and, often, a slimmer body. This resolve commonly reflects guilt stemming from the dissipation of the preceding festive season – and it often starts with a detox.

It’s unclear where the idea of an in-depth body cleanse or “the detox cure” comes from, but it’s worth noting that many traditional and complementary medicine practices describe cleansing and detoxification as a way to avoid illness, or engender wellness.