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One of the most tantalizing aspects of cancer biology is this: that the normal immune system often recognizes growing tumors, and even targets them for destruction, but then is silenced. This story is about how to wake it up and mobilize it to greater anti-tumor activity. It is a story that reaches back a hundred years, to the innovative work of an esteemed German biochemist. It was his conviction that he had identified a key feature of cancer that would provide an opening for its treatment.… Read the rest “Cancer Therapy: Old is New Again”

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The obvious solution to poverty is to give money to poor people. That may sound facetious, but there is a growing and serious interest in programs that do essentially that: provide every person an income that can sustain them. Such programs have various configurations, and operate by various models. What they have in common is that money flows, usually from governments, that is, from taxpayers, to people living in poverty. There are potential problems with any such scheme, and benefits, which require examination.… Read the rest “Solving Poverty”

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Acccording to Dr. Google, there are 82,900,000 entries for sourdough on the internet. Here’s my contribution to that impressive list.

Making sourdough bread can be very satisfying. Even while you are falling asleep the night before you make the bread, with your levain ripening, you’re thinking, those little yeasts and lactobacilli are working away down there and in the morning we’ll all get together and make a really satisfying loaf of bread. I’ve done a little research, which I will describe; but for the definitive treatise buy a copy of Nathan Myhrvold’s epic series ‘Modernist Bread’.… Read the rest “Science and Sourdough”

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You need creatine. For every move you make. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take creatine supplements. The questions that arise include: does creatine supplementation improve athletic performance? is it safe? how does it work? The answers are, respectively, sometimes, but it depends; probably yes; and, it’s complicated. This post looks at some of the nuances.

Supplements are big business

Supplements are a huge industry; the market in the USA alone is estimated to be over 30 billion dollars a year.… Read the rest “You Need Creatine”

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Sometimes I run into new information about a story I’ve previously posted that has changed my mind. This post is an example. I previously wrote about three cancer myths that I concluded were wrong, including that vitamin C is a potentially useful anti-cancer agent. I’ve now read some work that has changed my mind: I think that vitamin C may have anti-cancer activity, and certainly that it should be investigated further. So this post is a changed version of the earlier one, which appeared in June, 2019.… Read the rest “Three cancer myths revisited”

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(Vials of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine).

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, has quickly spread and caused devastation throughout the world. The medical science community has responded vigorously, with better treatments, recommended changes in social behavior, and, of particular importance, effective vaccination programs. Of the immunization protocols that have been developed, the novel mRNA-based vaccines have captured the scientific spotlight; they are the first mRNA vaccines to be licensed for human use.

A new way to immunize

In principle, the mechanism by which mRNA vaccines create immunity to SARS-CoV-2 is straightforward.… Read the rest “A BRIEF HISTORY OF MESSENGER RNA”

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How can we produce enough energy to live well without creating a level of greenhouse gases that generates an increasingly hostile climate? Alternative energy sources like wind and solar are part of the answer, but it isn’t going to be easy to replace the massive quantities of energy currently derived from non-renewable sources such as coal, natural gas, and oil. A useful hub for information on ‘green energy’ sources, defined as those that do not increase the world’s output of carbon to the atmosphere, can be found here.… Read the rest “Geothermal, a continuous, renewable, energy source without greenhouse gases or radioactive waste”

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On October 11, 2019, the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge ran the first sub-two hour marathon. The marathon requires long-term, extreme, energy expenditure. To meet that demand, Kipchoge had some unusual help: precisely calibrated support by a crew of pacers, a bicycle team supplying water and nutrition, and a pair of controversial running shoes that are said to shave a minute off the marathon time. Still, his outstanding run ranks with Usain Bolt’s record 9.58 second 100-meter race, still unbettered after 12 years, and the first 4-minute mile by Roger Bannister in 1954.… Read the rest “Running out of sugar and hitting the wall”

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In the iconic 1967 movie “The Graduate”, an avuncular businessman takes aside 21-year old college graduate Benjamin Braddock, played by Dustin Hoffman. He wants to give Ben some advice on where to aim his future. With his right arm draped over his shoulder, Mr. McGuire intones, “I just wanna say one word to you.” And then, “Just one word. Plastics”. “There’s a great future in plastics.”

For all his plasticness, Mr McGuire was right.… Read the rest “can bacteria save us from plastic armageddon? – updated”

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How are medical discoveries made? In a previous post (“The Art of Scientific Discovery”), I looked at several models by which science has progressed A sharply focused, systematic pursuit led to the discovery of insulin. An accidental observation produced a drug to treat erectile disfunction. Those, and the other examples of medical advances described there involved more-or-less conventional approaches. But there’s an unconventional approach that appeals to people confronting difficult medical issues.… Read the rest “Medical scientists should not self medicate; except when they should”