Posts in the Science category

Public Enemy Number 1 - The Herpes Viruses as Causative Agents For Most Later-Life Diseases (part 1)

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This is the story of a life-form. A very small, tiny encapsulated bundle of DNA that can replicate by itself, with the help of a host - specifically, in this case, human beings. It is also the story of its siblings - a set of viruses called 'herpesviradae' - which together form a large family of viruses which infect humans and other animals.

This is also a personal story, which touches on the death of my mother in 1996, and on the lives of other friends and family, all of whom are in some way or another inextricably tied to this virus.

And this is a story of hope. The hope that as soon as this is published, people can start taking preventative measures, and active measures against a great many diseases.

If I am correct in my hypothesis - which I hope to shore up with as much direct data as possible, along with references to many medical research papers - then I hope to prove that all of the following diseases are in some way caused by the family of herpes viruses.

If this is the case - and I believe this to be true - then there are direct nutritional and pharmaceutical measures that can be taken to stave off the progress of these diseases. Hopefully this series of blog posts will help to focus the medical community, and lead to the creation of cures, treatments and preventative measures against all of these diseases.

The diseases and symptoms I will cover in this series of posts include:

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Type-II Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol, including high HDL and high triglyceride levels
  • Heart disease, including atherosclerosis (aka arteriosclerosis)
  • Cancer of the gallbladder (cholangiocarcinoma)
  • Colon cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Hodkin's Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Breast Cancer
  • Kaposi's Sarcoma

There may also be other diseases for which I have not made this association yet.

I will also touch on:

  • Parkinson's disease
  • Prostate cancer

- both of which may be caused by other viruses, and as such are not as eminently treatable, but are similarly caused.

While I cannot prove a direct link between the virus and the symptomatic disease in all of these cases, I will be collecting enough papers together and also mechanisms of action that will provide enough evidence to show that we should be looking at the herpes viruses as the major causative agent (in combination with specific genetic variations) for these diseases.

When I have completed this series, I will collect the information together, remove most of the personal anecdotes, and attempt to publish in a medical journal. However, I believe that this information is important enough to publish in pieces while I put together the final paper.

The next post in this series will detail the changes in medical approaches to disease agents over the last 20 years or so, and my original hypothesis as to fungal, bacterial and viral agents being the underlying cause of non-juvenile cancers.

(If you are new to this series, you may want to read this post regarding the treatment of Alzheimer's with Etanercept, and how the mechanism of action may involve the herpes virus, and not simply be due to the action of TNF-alpha on synaptic function)

For some reason, Technorati isn't resyndicating this post. I'm trying to post it again to see what I can do on my end to fix it before I talk to their support people.


A Call for the Open Publication of Scientific Papers

Science has a long institution of collaboration; ideas flourish and multiply when they're shared, and that creates progress.

Until the 1990s, the only way to readily share that information was via published journals; an expensive, slow way of sharing information that requires the movement of little pieces of paper from place to place.

There's no reason it should be like this any more. And I argue that this is actually hurting our ability - as a species - to progress.

The Internet (and specifically Google at the time of writing) is the biggest source of information on the planet. Potentially, everything could be out there, readily accessible by everyone. It has way surpassed my wildest dreams in that.

But the information isn't itself useful (and this is where Google comes in). What's really useful is the mining of that information. The ability to enter keywords, and find related articles. The stuff that lets you take data points and connect A to B.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in science. For the first time in the history of humanity, you don't actually personally have to do experiments to test a theory. The sheer weight of numbers of other people out there, doing the research, and publishing their results removes the burden of performing those experiments themselves from the individual scientist. We're democratizing science, and making it accessible to the intelligent individual in a way that previously was only possible for the theoretical sciences. You no longer need tenure, or to be working in a research facility, to actually draw conclusions from research.

And data-mining allows that to come to the fore. In the near future, I can even imagine a world where Google itself could be mechanized. Computers themselves could draw conclusions from all of the research data, and come up with useful correlations. It's the Kurzweil singularity; at some point the system feeds off itself, and will spiral off to infinity.

But what's stopping that now?

The problem we have right now is that for most papers, only abstracts are available online. The actual detailed information is stored in academic publications, such as Phys. Review Letters A, and the Journal of Neuroimmunology - but the barrier to entry is too high for the skilled individual. It just plain costs money to read those papers. Scientific progress isn't supposed to work that way. It's supposed to be for the benefit of all of us.

That's not to say that there aren't considerable advantages to the peer review and publishing of papers. In fact, it's still an essential part of the scientific method. And it could continue, but not in the way it stands right now.

A proposal

We should change the way academic papers are published. We need to democratize this system. And partly, this has already happened. Pubmed, run by the US National Library of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health is a good example of how to collect papers online. arXiv is another example - it's Cornell University Library's database of preprints of papers in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology and Statistics.

How should it work?

  • All papers get published online, either in collector sites such as those mentioned above, or on the individual author's sites - preferably both, so they can be archived for the future.
  • The journals take the papers, they are reviewed and refereed, and the papers which pass muster are published by them. This allows a bound archive of the best of the best work; the stuff that we know is real. It also provides an instantly accessible catalogue of verified high quality work, which those journals could charge for. What they're providing here is convenience, and a level of trust - which in an increasingly growing, polluted internet information space is becoming more and more important. (I've noticed recently that it's much more difficult to search for something on Google now, than 2 years ago... without serious AI advances, that problem is only going to get worse).
  • The authors and collector sites mark the papers as "peer reviewed", and provide references to where they were published, after they are published. This means that people can still access the useful information, and still have a hope of finding out which papers are valid - or not.

Sure, the scientific publications will make less money this way. But frankly, I don't have much sympathy for them; we're way past that business model's useful lifetime (as much as I, an ex-freelance journalist, regularly bemoan that). We could entirely bypass this system by providing something like Digg for scientific publications. At least this way, they're still involved in the game.

Come on people. Let's get some science done here, and use the singularity to our advantage.


More on the Auroras...

The Seattle Times has some beautiful pictures of the Aurora Borealis from last night.

I'm guessing that this is what the Vikings thought was the rainbow bridge from Midgard (the lands of men) to Asgard (the lands of the Gods).

I'm including one of these just because. Hope the link still works later :)


The aurora borealis lights up the night sky north of Dunkerton, Iowa.


But Aurora's in Seattle!

Sure... the street is in Seattle. But the real thing is currently hanging over Redmond like a huge luminescent dancing carpet of fun.

This is quite literally the first time in my life that I've ever seen the Aurora Borealis. Must be one hell of a solar flare going on right now.

It's beautiful.

I wish I could take a picture, but I don't have the right camera for it.