Monthly Archives: July 2009

so my sister got sick in china. she went to the emergency room, got a doctor immediately, got a blood test, 3 iv bags, and 1 weeks worth of three different types of medicine (intestine, fever, something else). all this cost under $25 US, no insurance.

in america, she waited 1 hour, saw a doctor who didn’t do any tests, looked in her ear with an otoscope, prescribed some medicine (which needs to be picked up and paid at a pharmacy), got 1 dose of pain relief medicine. and this costs hundreds of dollars, after insurance.

apparently, they don’t even take credit cards at chinese hospitals. why are american hospitals so odd? maybe america has quality otoscopes. surpasses the world.

i just woke up from an afternoon nap. i had a dream that a lot of high school classmates were in pokemon costumes last halloween.

2 days ago, i was cutting a mango. i’m a little allergic to mango. the skin around my mouth gets rashy and dry if i eat it too messily. so i usually just make sure the mango doesn’t touch outside my mouth and i’m fine. too bad. apparently, the skin has a poison chemical and i was cutting the mango. and it got stuck on my hands and now my face is rashy. ugh. it contains urushiol, which is the same chemical in poison oak and poison ivy. great! what kind of guy decides to peel a fruit that gives off poison oak chemicals and then eat it!? and then now the world eats it! and i suffer.

i was checking my website’s statistics and stuff. and i was looking at the countries. it’s been mostly the same except a little bit (which is why i would talk about it here). usually, i get united states (duh), then japan, then canada, and some random european countries or australia. china is always down near 10-15. suddenly it is 3rd this month. it’s really weird. maybe it is because i’m talking about them? or maybe they are watching me! i don’t want to be banned! well, it would be cool. i would be a revolutionary. it’s okay though. if i get banned, it is for the harmonious society.

so i’m reading about the differences between taiwanese mandarin and the “normal” mandarin that’s from beijing. (not really all normal because southern china also has differences.) anyways, one of the funny differences is 搞 (gao3). in taiwanese, it is “to carry out something insidious, to screw (vulgar)”, so they never use this word in government or whatever. and in china, it just means “to do a task”, so this word is used all the time. maybe this is why china and taiwan are fighting all the time. the chinese are always telling the taiwanese to go screw things.

and in taiwan they call a tomato 番茄, which apparently literally means “barbarian eggplant.” and in china they call it 西紅柿, which literally means “western red persimmon.”

recently, i have been reading about the debate of universal healthcare, because the president is pushing for it, it is summer, and i’m bored. and i guess i’m ending up in healthcare eventually, so i should have an opinion or at least be somewhat educated on these issues. so here is some list for my own summary. i hope i don’t have much of an opinion because i’m just an idiot 20 year old who doesn’t know real life yet.

– healthcare is not a right. healthcare is like any other service, like plumbing. that should be free too.
– healthcare is a right, because people can die from illness. people don’t die or get sick from clogged toilets (debatable? ha). constitution says we have right to life.
– then the government should buy me a new car with all the safety features, so i can have a safe life. the right to life doesn’t mean that we have to pay for everyone else, especially the people on poverty and the people that make themselves sick from lack of exercise, eating unhealthy food, etc.
– maybe we should privatize everything then! for example, public education: i don’t want to pay for other people’s bad students.

– can ERs refuse people if they cannot pay?

– people will abuse the system by seeing the doctor for very little things and ask for a lot of lab tests and stuff.
– copay solves this?
– what amount of copay?

– every industrialized country has universal healthcare except for america. they don’t spend as much money on healthcare and have better service.
– just because they have it doesn’t mean it works well. many borrow money to support their systems. and many don’t have populations as large as america. america is huge. america has no money.
– raise taxes.
– no.
– yes.
– no.

other problems:

– everything becomes a lawsuit in america, so doctors are forced to perform a bunch of expensive tests to make sure nothing can be sued for.
– too many people and middlemen. drives prices up.
– insurance. people pay for it. they want to get their money’s worth. they order a bunch of tests, whatever they can, whatever is covered. insurance counters by raising rates. repeat. (positive feedback on trying to profit.)

well, i don’t know. it’s just sad that the healthcare system has moved away from the original goal, which was to help people (i think). now, business and economics (and reality) have forced it to become a system where people only care for themselves.

i guess that’s what happens when one’s job would ideally eliminate its own customers. the idea already doesn’t make sense. it creates evil.

altruism doesn’t exist, huh?

i think this is pretty cool news. it’s time to be god.

Researchers produce cells they say are identical to embryonic stem cells

Scientists in China use cells from adult mice to breed new mice. The breakthrough results are hailed as an advance toward eliminating the need for fetal stem cells in a variety of applications.

By Thomas H. Maugh II
11:16 AM PDT, July 23, 2009

Two groups of Chinese researchers have performed an unprecedented feat, it was announced today, by inducing cells from connective tissue in mice to revert back to their embryonic state and producing living mice from them.

By demonstrating that cells from adults can be converted into cells that, like embryonic stem cells from fetuses, have the ability to produce any type of tissue, the researchers have made a major advance toward eliminating the need for fetal cells in research and clinical applications.

Researchers first produced this new type of cell, called induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells, two years ago, but there have been lingering doubts about whether the cells are truly identical to embryonic cells or instead are capable of producing only some types of body cells.

The new results, published online today by the journals Nature and Cell Stem Cell, appear to erase those doubts. The results also open the door to a variety of applications beyond producing stem cells for medicinal purposes, including the production of endangered species and the reproduction of prized farm and other animals.

The reports “show that iPS cells are identical to embryonic stem cells,” said biologist Kathrin Plath of UCLA’s Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, who was not involved in the research. “It hadn’t worked before, so it wasn’t clear that it would ever work.” The approach the teams used was “the gold standard because it is the only assay [test] that proves the cells are pluripotent.”

The results are “comforting, because there has been a lingering concern that iPS cells had failed in this particular assay,” added biologist Robert Blelloch of UC San Francisco’s Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research, who was not involved in the research. But he cautioned that the teams were ultimately successful in only a few out of many attempts. “What’s missing, which will really be key, is whether there is anything about the cells that did pass the test that is different from those that didn’t.”

Dr. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Worcester, Mass., who was also not involved in the studies, cautioned that the results “revive many of the same ethical issues as reproductive cloning.” Although generating fetuses with iPS techniques is technically different from cloning, the bottom line is the same — the generation of an organism that is genetically identical to the source of the donor cells. “We have gone from science fiction to reality.” Because the process works in mice, it should also work in humans, he added. “We now have the technology to create iPS cells from skin or hair follicles. Combine that with showing that they can actually create a living organism, and that’s pretty scary. All the pieces are here for serious abuse.”

Adds Plath: “That’s an experiment that shouldn’t be done” in humans.

The technique that the two teams of Chinese researchers used is called tetraploid complementation. When researchers first started studying iPS cells, they would assess their properties by injecting them into a blastocyst, a very early embryo. What they found in those studies was that the iPS cells and the host embryo’s cells would contribute to the resulting animal, producing a chimera – a mosaic of genetically different cells.

More recently, researchers have fused the cells of the host blastocyst so that each cell contains double the number of chromosomes, making them tetraploid. When that is done, the host cells can form only the placental tissues; all the animal’s tissues must come from the injected iPS cells. But researchers have never been able to produce living animals by this technique, creating doubts that the iPS cells were truly pluripotent.

In the new studies, “the method of producing iPS cells didn’t change,” Blelloch said. “They used the same methods and materials everybody else is using.” He characterized their efforts as a “brute force effort” in which they simply looked at a large enough number of attempts to finally find one that succeeded.

The more successful of the studies, by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, created 37 iPS cell lines that could be grown in the laboratory. Three of these lines produced 27 live offspring by tetraploid complementation, Fanyi Zeng of the Shanghai University told a telephone news conference. Some of the mice have successfully mated and have produced second and third generations.

But Zeng cautioned that some of the first-generation living mice had abnormalities, although she did not say how many and what those abnormalities were. That, she said, will be the subject of a future paper.

The second team, from the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, achieved only four births, with only one mouse making it to adulthood.

Both teams emphasized the large number of failures required to achieve the few successes and argued that it would be unethical to attempt the technique with human cells.