Stem cell treatment of spinal cord injuries

I have to admit that my first response to these reports out of Britain that stem cells had been successfully used to repair a complete spinal cord transection was skepticism — incredulity even. They’re reporting that a man with a completely severed spinal cord at level T10-T11 is able to walk again! The Guardian gushes! The Daily Mail gets in the act (always a bad sign)! When I read that the patient had an 8mm gap in his spinal cord that had been filling up with scar tissue for the last two years, I was even more doubtful: under the best of conditions, it was unlikely that you’d get substantial connectivity across that distance.

So I read the paper. I’m less skeptical now, for a couple of reasons. They actually did this experiment on 3 people, and all showed degrees of improvement, although the newspapers are all focusing on just the one who had the greatest change. The gradual changes are all documented thoroughly and believably. And, sad to say, the improvements in the man’s motor and sensory ability are more limited and more realistic than most of the accounts would have you think.

[Read more...]

A brief #gamergate roundup

I have never seen an own goal as dramatic as GamerGate — it has exposed a whole vast collection of unpleasant characters. Here’s a list of the “bad apples” of gamergate, who are categorized as a ridiculous mob of d-list right-wingers. In particular, take a look at Mike Cernovich, who we’ve encountered before — what a piece of work. What we’re learning is that it has always been this way, and i’s alway been a misogynistic movement with a lot of overlap with the same harassing atheists.

They’re an ugly bunch. It’s good to see them expose themselves like this.

What, this is a thing?

A paper that made extravagant weight loss claims for green coffee beans has been retracted. This study had been touted by Dr Oz, of course — no fraud is to ludicrous for him — and rebutted by Scott Gavura, and I’m generally suspicious of any dietary supplement that promises weight loss without reducing calories or increasing exercise. But there’s one bit that surprised me. The study was done in India by a guy named Mysore Nagendran, and it was sponsored by Applied Food Sciences, Inc. (AFS), the company trying to exploit this Miracle Weight Loss Supplement. They couldn’t get it published, so…

[Read more...]