Monday, July 30, 2007

Comparison of Oral Diabetic Drugs

Of the ten oral diabetic drugs compared in this John Hopkins study, metformin (Glucophage, Riomet or Fortamet) was the over all winner in almost all areas except the digestive category. However for those who suffer from kidney or heart problems this drug (metformin) is contraindicated.

This study is in the July 16th on line edition of the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine.
A summary of this study can be found at Eureka Alert at:

Some of the areas showing a favorable comparison were:
Ability to lower blood glucose
Less likely to cause weight gain
Ability to lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
Cost (some of the other drugs were as much as 4 times more expensive.)

Thiazolidimediones did show an advantage over metformin in causing a small increase in the good cholesterol (HDL) and also in its ability to keep the blood level from getting too low.

Diabetic Mice Cured of Diabetes I by Insulin in Bioengineered Tobacco Leaves

Professor Henry Daniell, who previously showed that anthrax vaccine can be grown in tobacco plants, has now produced insulin in tobacco plants. He made capsules of these powdered leaves, gave the powdered cells to five week old mice for eight weeks and essentially cured the mice of diabetes.

He plans to bioengineer lettuce to contain insulin and then dry and powder the leaves, put them in capsules and feed them to humans. This packaging should delay digestion or denaturation of the contents until the contents are broken down and released by bacteria in the intestines. This insulin should be picked up by the blood stream.

It needs to be said that this would probably need to be administered to infants or very young children who would be inoculated by the insulin. This should change their immune systems so that there would be no attack on their own insulin producing cells, thus preventing Diabetes I.

Professor Daniell is the University of Central Florida, Trustee Chair in Life Sciences.

A more detailed summary of this information can be found at - Insulin grown in plants relieves diabetes in mice; UCF study holds promise for humans

The original article is printed in the July issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Improving Memory

According to the summary of an article from the July 25 edition of Cognition, the use of gestures as part of study techniques, dramatically improves recall of information or concepts.

A couple of years ago, after seeing a similar study, I led one of my granddaughters through a wild, stomping, jumping study of social studies. I don’t know how much it helped, but she did well on the test and it definitely made studying more fun.

The URL for this summary article is

This technique brings new meaning to the term, memory exercise.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

North to Alaska

Just returned from a wonderful cruise up to Juneau and then through the inside passage up to Skagway. In addition to the beauty and educational opportunities of the trip itself was that of being in a special Christian Writing Clinic put on by John Olson and Randy Ingermanson.

The trip went much better than I had anticipated. Really enjoyed it. The scenery was gorgeous and so different from anything I'd ever experienced. We had a short rail trip up into the zone above the tree line. We saw 'bonsaied' evergreens that my husband said were probably hundreds of years old and burdened up to nine months of each year with maybe thirty feet of snow. John said this side-trip was the best part to him.

Tracy Arm was the other most interesting part of the trip. This was a fjord which, a couple of thousand years ago, was filled with several thousand feet of glacial ice. Now this channel has two thousand feet of sea water in it and has high steep slopes on both sides. We were a few miles away from the southern end of the Sawyer Glacier which rose maybe another 800 to 1200 feet above us, and pushed 45(?) miles into Canada. Wished we could have gotten closer to the edge of that one. As it were, the Golden Princess was the record-(sized) ship to ever go down the Tracy Arm. And as I'm not into dog-paddling in ice water...

There were a couple of other smaller glaciers closer to us. I was disappointed not to see chunks calving off, but there were plenty of icebergs all around us that testified to it really happening.

Even the part I was most worried about (a certain awkwardness in social situations) was another best part of the trip. Only one really memorable faux pas in almost a week of interactions is almost a record pour moi. Having a core group of forgiving Christians makes such a difference. Such lovely people in this group. Fun loving but serious about things that matter most.

Oh. Would you believe that I met two different families on our way home who had been on a Holland cruise ship dogging our paths? They had been with a special group having Michael Card as their center piece. I was sitting on the floor; supporting my sleep-deprived head; waiting for our retarded plane. A young blond stranger touched my shoulder and asked if I needed help. If I had a headache or something...

Again I talked to her in Charlotte as we waited at the carrousel. “You’re returning from Alaska?”

“Un huh. It’s funny I don’t remember seeing you on the ship.”

“I don’t think I saw you, either... I was with the Michael Card group...”

My husband’s educational opportunity was different from mine. He attended lots of lectures by a man who had spent lonely winters in the Alaskan wilderness. I’d have to look up his complicated name, but as my husband, who had all the contact with him, called him Ski, I’ll just go with that. So I did have hubby’s long honed expertise plus his recently acquired knowledge to help me enjoy the scenery.

I’d have been happy to have given him some of the guidance in writing I’d gotten from my classes, too, but he’s not interested in writing. He’s quite content to continue filling the seemingly interminable vacuum of his brain. Thankfully he always seems happy to refill the short term memory of mine.

John and Randy did a great job of teaching writing techniques. A difficult challenge for teaching the class was our range in experience – from some expert polished-level published authors down to us beginning, unpublished – ulps, sorry, Randy, I mean prepublished writers. We had large group alternating lectures by John and Randy, and also separate critique group sessions where we were blessed with individualized help by our leaders and as well as our classmates. Even had an hour appointment with one of our teachers.

So now back to the realities of life. Without Nick to put a napkin in my lap and June’s beautiful smile and melodic voice and inborn talent of putting us at ease while swathing us with luxury.

How can I ever cope with making my own bed and falling to sleep with no heart-shaped chocolate on my pillow? Ahhh. I get the warm fuzzies just remembering it.

I’ve waxed eloquent quite long enough. OK. I’m back to reality. Back to the beautiful Carolinas and back to writing the next best-selling novel.

Well I can still dream, can’t I?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Restless Legs Syndrome

We have recently been bombarded with so many TV ads for treatments for Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) that I was beginning to wonder if it were real or a disorder created by drug makers.

The finding by researchers at Emory University and deCode Genetics of a gene linked to RLS has satisfied my mind on this matter.

The article is in New England Journal of Medicine published on line on July 18. There is also a summary of the article at

They also mention that sometimes a low level of iron can be part of the problem.

Personally my legs seem to get the fidgets when it's past my bedtime.