May 11, 2007
Maggot calculator for wound size
The development of the biophilia clinic follows a gradual awareness, acceptance and resurgence of biotherapies into contemporary medicine. For instance, maggot debridement therapy is finding its way back into hospital surgeries, even becoming available on the NHS as a cheaper and more effective wound treatment method. Whatsmore the maggot therapy helps minimise the risk of MRSA- super-bug infection due to the maggots disinfection production. They also eat only the decaying flesh, whereas a human surgeon will cut away healthy tissue as well and, if used widely, would save the NHS £30million .
Despite all these advantages, in general, there is still a yuk factor connected with the idea of this alternative medical practice and others like it. People can’t stomach the thought of another animal eating from there body. The biggest challenge for the biophilia clinic is the change of perception in what we find desirable and repulsive.
Issues I have been considering include: How can the future of the biophilia clinic readdress our relationship with other organisms? How will the symbiotic partnership evolve? Why have we developed these reactions of repulsion in the first place?
Here’s the International Biotherapy Society’s mission:
In an era when many folk remedies are being rediscovered and the use of natural drugs is increasingly popular, we also witness a revival of the use of bacteria, protozoa, invertebrate animals such as fly larvae, bees and leeches in medical practice. The International Biotherapy Society (IBS) aims to support the use and understanding of living organisms in the treatment of human and animal diseases. The Society organizes international conferences for the exchange of information and ideas on subjects such as maggot debridement therapy, hirudotherapy, apitherapy and ichthiotherapy.
Also here’s a link to the transcript from the House of Commons Debate on the subject and it’s application in hospitals. House of Commons
You can buy medical sterile maggots from ZooBiotic Ltd
May 10, 2007
As the hygiene hypothesis predicts, (in a nutshell) – we are healthier when we are surrounded by the bacteria we have co-evloved with through our species evolutionary development. Yet why in contemporary society are we obsessed with antibacterial products which we spray to eliminate 99.9% of all bacteria in our homes. When did bacteria and other microbes get such a bad image? How do we find our way out this complicated paradox, and what might a counter reaction to the antibacteria era look like? Below are some notes from a Wired article called Hacking Your Body’s Bacteria for Better Health:
In sheer numbers, bacterial cells in the body outnumber our own by a factor of 10, with 50 trillion bacteria living in the digestive system alone, where they’ve remained largely unstudied until the last decade. As scientists learn more about them, they’re beginning to chart the complex symbiosis between the tiny bugs and our health.
“The microbes that live in the human body are quite ancient,” says NYU Medical Center microbiologist Dr. Martin Blaser, a pioneer in gut microbe research. “They’ve been selected (through evolution) because they help us.”
And it now appears that our daily antibacterial regimens are disrupting a balance that once protected humans from health problems, especially allergies and malfunctioning immune responses.
“Many of the most difficult problems in medicine today are chronic inflammatory diseases,” says Blaser. “These include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, atherosclerosis, eczema and multiple sclerosis. One possibility is that they’re autoimmune or genetic diseases. The other possibility is that they are physiological responses to changes in microbiota.”
Blaser’s specialty is Helicobacter pylori, a strain once common in every human stomach but now rare in the West. Its disappearance may have benefits: H. pylori-related inflammation is associated with peptic ulcers and some stomach cancers. However, H. pylori also reduces acid reflux, which in turn is associated with asthma and esophageal cancers.
To more precisely hack the gut bacteria, Blaser calls for a Gut Genome Project, modeled after the Human Genome Project. It’s a daunting task: The human genome, mapped to great fanfare but still dimly understood, contains a tenth of the genes believed to be in our gut bacteria. But though difficult, such research could prove vital.
“The world is very aware of the concept of global warming, which is a macro-ecological change,” Blaser says. “I postulate that there are similar micro-ecological changes going on inside us.”
May 10, 2007
Fistula: a surgical opening made into a cavity or hollow organ of a human or animal.
Scientists use portholes or fistulas in the side of cows into their stomachs to get realtime access to the cows digestive system. Surprisingly the cows can live for a long time with a permanent hole in their stomachs.
Using fistulation and cannulation techniques, researchers have the ‘unique’ opportunity to prolong the cow’s life and longevity in a dairy herd. In the past researchers were able to test the feed that was fed to a cow in macroscopic experiments; attaining samples from the feed fed, and that which was excreted, but now they are able to test the digestibility and absorption of different feed commodities in the rumen through the porthole in the cow’s digestive system, the fistula.
Humans have also had fistula’s into their stomachs. One of the first recorded was a French Canadian named Alexis St. Martin. He sustained a life-threatening musket wound in 1822, and was marked a terminal case by his physician. However, he managed to survive and largely heal. He was mostly functional again within two years – except for a hole in his stomach that would never close. Through this hole doctors were able to examine inner workings of his stomach.