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Erin RichardsRSS Feed of this column.

I am a current graduate student at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. I write for Neon Tommy, a digital news website, as a science writer. My undergraduate degree is from the... Read More »

Thanksgiving is the celebration of family, friends and loved ones. It is a time to reflect on our fortunes and give thanks for what we have. Nonetheless, it is also one of the most stressful times of the year for many people. This stress seems to be centered on the famed Thanksgiving feast. We are haunted by golden brown turkeys which are dry on the inside and mushy pumpkin pie. For many of us, having the perfect Thanksgiving meal is essential to a successful Thanksgiving, so I am here to help. Here are some helpful holiday hints that will make your Thanksgiving go without a hitch.
Every type of disease has a specific treatment program. We have drugs to treat symptoms of countless illnesses and maladies, but viral infections continue to elude treatment. While we have vaccines to prevent initial infection of some viruses and other medications to treat problematic symptoms, there is little one can do to prevent a virus from replicating and causing disease. Viral infections can be lethal and without treatment options, we are left with our own natural defenses to fight off viral invaders. This is about to change.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic studying Parkinson’s disease have made a breakthrough therapy that could slow progression of the disease or even halt its onset.

Previous research has discovered that patients with Parkinson’s have an abnormal abundance of alpha-synuclein, a protein, which is believed to be the cause of the disease. Targeting this protein has since taken forefront of their studies and researchers have developed a method to reduce the expression of alpha-synuclein in the brain.

Sometimes, you have to read between the lines.

As a columnist, I receive a host of press releases that fill up my mailbox with mostly unintelligible medical jargon which mostly amounts to nothing. So this past weekend, when I was sent a report from JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) saying that results from a six year study were being published in the following week’s journal, I eagerly awaited the study. However the study concluded that its six year evaluation on the effects of Ginkgo biloba extract on cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients yielded nothing.
If you are like me, then you are excited for Tuesdays because you look forward to watching House every week. If you shout your own diagnosis at the TV screen and marvel in awe when they finally figure out the ailment (and more so because you have an idea what it means) then you will appreciate this higher level of House fandom.

My friends and I call it The House Drinking Game.  You see, as creative and different as House is, there are some things you can predict about it.   And if you can predict it, you can make a game of it.
In today's world, humans are at the top of the food chain. We have almost no natural predators as there are few animals that rely on humans as prey. Pathogens are the only exception. Viruses, bacteria, parasites and other classes of infectious agents are left as natural checks upon the human race, and remain our only foreign predator (humans excluded).

Each class of pathogen is different and requires different approaches for treatment, another approach to defeat our natural enemies. We have antibiotics for bacteria, vaccines and our own immune systems for viruses, and more toxic drugs to battle parasites. But this leaves out a very large class of predator: cancer.