Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada- the Gambling Capital of US and the City that never sleeps! So, what has this city have to do with this site. The answer is none. I just love the photo, I took during our vacation to this city a couple of years ago. In this site, you will find articles from my autobiography, global warming, senior citizens issues, tourism, politics in PI, music appreciation and articles about our current experiences as retirees enjoying the "snow bird" lifestyle between US and the Philippines. Your comments will be highly appreciated. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringement of your copyrights. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time for Some Tango Music and Dance

Dancing with my 2 daughters during our 25th Wedding Anniversary in Pinole, California

Tango Music and dance reminds me of my teenagers years in Iloilo, Philippines in the early 1950's. My late father was a good dancer and he taught me how to dance the Tango- The old style Tango, not the Argentine Tango shown in this video. So if you like dance and music, this video( and related vidoes in the set) is a must view for you. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Popular vs Electoral Votes-Are you Voting for Romney?

Election fever seemed to be affecting the US this past month. Both sides have been campaigning on what forecasters call the deciding states. To the Philippine voters, there is no such thing as the deciding states( provinces). Election of the President and other Officials are decided by popular votes.

However here in the US, the presidential candidate do not have to get the highest (popular)votes. A candidate will be President of the US if he gets 270 electoral votes. Each state has a designated number of electoral votes depending on its population. California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are assigned a large number of electoral votes. A presidential candidate can be elected if he wins in the above most populous states even if he lost in the other smaller states.

Speaking of election campaigning, I received a chain e-mail from a friend in the Philippines of why Romney is not likeable. I called her why is she campaigning in the US Election, when she can not vote since she is not a US citizen. She told me she received the e-mail from her relatives in US ( voters) and she is just forwarding the E-mail to all her FaceBook friends. I am printing this E-mail because I find it very interesting even if I am not a Republican. I love to hear of your comments.

A lot is being said in the media about Mitt Romney not being "likable" or that he doesn't "relate well" to people. Frankly, we struggled to understand why. So after much research, we have come up with a Top Ten List to explain this "unlikablility."

Top Ten Reasons To Dislike Mitt Romney:

1. Drop-dead, collar-ad handsome with gracious, statesmanlike aura. Looks like every central casting's #1 choice for Commander-in-Chief.

2. Been married to ONE woman his entire life, and has been faithful to her, including through her bouts with breast cancer and MS.

3. No scandals or skeletons in his closet. (How boring is that?)

4. Can't speak in a fake, southern, "black preacher voice" when necessary.

5. Highly intelligent. Graduated cum laude from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School...and by the way, his academic records are NOT sealed.

6. Doesn't smoke or drink alcohol, and has never done drugs, not even in the counter-culture age when he went to college. Too square for today's America?

7. Represents an America of "yesterday", where people believed in God, went to Church, didn't screw around, worked hard, and became a SUCCESS!

8. Has a family of five great sons....and none of them have police records or are in drug rehab. But of course, they were raised by a stay-at-home mom, and that "choice" deserves America's scorn.

9. Oh yes.....he's a MORMON. We need to be very afraid of that very strange religion that teaches its members to be clean-living, patriotic, fiscally conservative, charitable, self-reliant, and honest.

10. And one more point.....pundits say because of his wealth, he can't relate to ordinary Americans. I guess that's because he made that money HIMSELF.....as opposed to marrying it or inheriting it from Dad. Apparently, he didn't understand that actually working at a job and earning your own money made you unrelatable to Americans.

My goodness, it's a strange world, isn't it? What do you think?

With regards to Romney'd running mate (VP), four names are in the front lines today: B. Portman. T.Pawlenty, B.Jindal and C. Rice. If Bobby Jindall gets selected he will be the First American with Indian ancestry to run for VP. I hope he gets it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Antibiotics Resistance on the News Again

Before my retirement from FDA in 2002, the problem of antibiotic resistance has already been a hot topic and a big concern in the Division of Anti-Infective Drugs, where I worked as the Chemistry Team Leader. I had not read much publicity on this subject until today. Curious? Please read on..

" A threat to modern medicine-Antibiotic Resistance -From The Washington Post. One of the great medical advances of the last century, the invention of antibiotics, is at risk of being lost. Increasingly, microbes are becoming untreatable. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, warned in March of a dystopian future without these drugs. "A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it," she said. "Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill."

Since the 1940s, antibiotics have greatly reduced the amount of human illness and death and transformed modern medicine, making possible such sophisticated interventions as hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of premature infants. But evidence is mounting that antibiotics are losing efficacy. Through the relentless process of evolution, pathogens are evading the drugs, a problem known broadly as antimicrobial resistance.

Some bacteria, such as those causing tuberculosis and gonorrhea, have become resistant to multiple antibiotics. In the past few years, researchers discovered a new enzyme known as NDM-1 that can confer resistance to antibiotics on bacteria and can easily jump among different species. As the first-line antibiotics are lost, the replacement treatments are often more expensive, and more toxic.

Meanwhile, the pipeline of new antibiotics is drying up. Major pharmaceutical companies have pulled out of the market, unwilling to make the sizable investments in research and development required for new drugs. Since antibiotics are usually taken for a brief period and then stopped, they aren't as profitable as drugs for chronic diseases. The number of new antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration has steadily declined.

For years, antimicrobial resistance has been a secondary issue in public policy. Now Congress has taken a promising step with provisions in legislation President Barack Obama signed last Monday. As an incentive to develop new antibiotics, the FDA Safety and Innovation Act gives pharmaceutical companies an extra five years of exclusivity to the data behind their product, on top of the existing five years. The intent is to keep competitors, including generics, at bay for longer. It is not clear whether this incentive alone will be sufficient to bring new antibiotics to market, but it is a recognition of the problem.

Far more ambitious action will be needed. Europe has launched a $741 million, seven-year, public-private collaborative research effort to accelerate drug development. For new and existing drugs, it is essential that patients and doctors avoid the irresponsible overuse of antibiotics that occurred in the past. For the most serious infections, where few alternatives exist, the FDA should create streamlined regulatory pathways for approval of new antibiotics".

Alarm bells have been ringing for a long time about the march of the microbes. It is time to pay attention. Indeed, as consumers of antibiotic drugs, we should all be concern on this development which can seriously affect our daily lives.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lifeforce-My Favorite Science-Fiction Movie

Lifeforce is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Tobe Hooper, based on the 1976 novel, The Space Vampires, by Colin Wilson. The screenplay was written by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby. Featuring Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart and Christopher Jagger (Mick Jagger's brother) in acting roles, the film portrays the fictional events that unfold after three mysterious humanoids, discovered in a space shuttle, are taken to Earth.

While investigating Halley's Comet, the crew of the space shuttle Churchill finds a 150-mile long spaceship hidden in the corona of the comet. Upon entering the alien craft, the crew finds hundreds of dead, shrivelled bat-like creatures and three naked humanoid bodies (two male and one female) in suspended animation within glass coffin-like containers. The crew recovers the three aliens and begins the return trip to Earth.

During the return journey, mission control loses contact with the shuttle as it nears Earth and a rescue mission is launched to investigate. The rescuers discover that the Churchill has been severely damaged by fire, with its internal components destroyed, and the three containers bearing the aliens are all that remain intact.

The aliens are taken to the European Space Research Centre in London where they are watched over by Dr. Leonard Bukovski (Michael Gothard) and Dr. Hans Fallada (Frank Finlay). Prior to an autopsy, the female alien (Mathilda May) awakens and sucks the titular "life force" out of a guard. The female then escapes the research facility and proceeds to drain various other humans of their life force, also revealing an ability to shape-shift.It transpires that the aliens are from a race of space vampires that consume the life force of living beings, rather than their blood.

Meanwhile, in Texas, an escape pod from the shuttle Churchill is found, with Colonel Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback) inside. Carlsen is flown to London where he describes the course of past events on the Churchill, culminating in the draining of the crew's life force. Carlsen explains that he set fire to the shuttle with the intention of saving Earth from the same fate and escaped in the pod to preserve his own life. However, when he is hypnotized, it becomes clear that Carlsen possesses a psychic link to the female alien. Carlsen and Col. Colin Caine (Peter Firth), a member of the SAS, trace the alien to the body of a nurse located at a psychiatric hospital in Yorkshire. Whilst in Yorkshire, the two believe they have managed to trap the alien within the heavily sedated body of the hospital's manager, Dr Armstrong (Patrick Stewart); but Carlsen and Caine later learn that they were deceived, as the aliens had wanted to draw the pair outside of London.

As Carlsen and Caine are transporting Dr Armstrong in a helicopter back to London, the alien girl breaks free from her sedated host and disappears. When they arrive back in London it is clear that a plague has overtaken the city — even the prime minister has been infected — martial law is enacted to secure the quarantining of London. The two male vampires, previously thought destroyed, have also escaped from confinement by shape-shifting into the forms of the soldiers guarding them; the pair then proceed to transform most of London's population into vampiric zombies.

Following contact with the male vampires, the victims cycle into "living-dead" every two hours and seek out other humans in order to absorb their life force, thereby perpetuating the zombie virus. The absorbed life force consumed by the zombies is collected by the male vampires to deliver to the female vampire, who then transfers the accumulated energy to a waiting spaceship in Earth's orbit.

Fallada manages to impale one of the male vampires with a sword made of leaded iron and surmises that the space vampire race is actually the origin of the human vampire myth. Carlsen then admits to Caine that, whilst on the shuttle, he felt compelled to open the female vampire's container and to share his life force with her. Carlsen realizes that his psychic connection is being used to lure him back to the alien so she can regain the life force shared with him earlier. She is later found lying upon a church's altar, transferring the energy from infected humans to her spaceship.

Caine follows Carlsen into the church and is intercepted by the second male vampire, whom he dispatches using the leaded iron sword obtained from Fallada (Caine was forced to kill Fallada, who had become infected with the others at the research centre). Caine relocates Carlsen but the colonel manages to impale himself and the female alien simultaneously as a sacrifice for the benefit of Earth. However, the female vampire is only wounded and returns to her ship with Carlsen in tow, releasing a burst of energy that destroys the top of the church building. The two ascend the column of light that leads to the spaceship which then returns to the comet it came from.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Second Diet Pill Approved by FDA

Last month the first diet pill Belviq was approved by FDA after 13 years of hiatus. The pill is manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals of San Diego, California. This week a second weight-loss pill to fight against obesity was approved. This new pill is named Qsymia and is manufactured by Vivus, Inc of Mountain View, California. The news release on this second pill's approval is written by Matthew Perrone of the Associated Press as follows:

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a new weight loss drug from Vivus Inc. that many doctors consider the most effective therapy in a new generation of anti-obesity pills designed to help patients safely shed pounds. The agency cleared the pill Qsymia for adults who are obese or overweight and have at least one weight-related condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.

Patients taking Qsymia for a year lost 6.7 percent of their body weight in one study and 8.9 percent in another study, the FDA said. That was more than two other weight loss pill recently reviewed by the FDA. Despite its impressive performance in clinical trials, Qsymia is not exactly a scientific breakthrough, and its development underscores the slow pace of research for obesity treatments.

The drug is actually a combination of two older drugs that have long been known to help with weight loss: phentermine and topirimate. Phentermine is a stimulant that suppresses the appetite, and has long been used for short-term weight loss. Topiramate is an anticonvulsant, sold by Johnson & Johnson as Topamax, that makes people feel more satiated after eating. Researchers say the innovation of Qsymia lies in targeting multiple brain signals that drive people to overeat.

"We now know there are multiple pathways that determine how much energy we take in every day," said Dr. Tim Garvey of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "If you intervene on one pathway it's hard to make much of a difference, you really need to attack multiple mechanisms to get a pronounced effect."

Qsymia is the second weight loss drug approved by the FDA in less than a month, following Arena Pharmaceutical's pill Belviq in late June. Previously the agency had not approved a new drug for long-term weight loss since 1999.

With U.S. obesity rates nearing 35 percent of the adult population, many doctors have called on the FDA to approve new weight loss treatments. But a long line of prescription diet pills have been associated with dangerous side effects, particularly heart problems. In 1997, the popular diet drug combination fen-phen was linked to heart valve damage. The cocktail of phentermine and fenfluramine was a popular weight loss combination prescribed by doctors, though it was never approved by the FDA.

Fenfluramine was eventually withdrawn from the market. Other safety failures for diet pills have continued to pile up in recent years. In 2010, Abbott Laboratories withdrew its drug Meridia after a study showed it increased heart attack and stroke.

The FDA's successive approval of Qsymia and Belviq suggests a new willingness to make weight loss medications available, even in the face of lingering safety issues. The FDA initially rejected Vivus' drug in 2010 over concerns that it can cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. The agency laid out a risk-management plan Tuesday specifically designed to minimize the chance of the women becoming pregnant while using the drug. It recommends that women of childbearing age test negative for pregnancy before starting the drug and take a monthly pregnancy test while taking it.

The agency also said patients with recent or unstable heart disease or stroke aren't good candidates for the drug because its effect on heart rates in those patients is not known. Vivus has to do studies of the heart effects of Qsymia, the FDA said.

Analysts estimate the new pill could garner more than $1 billion in sales by 2016, though Mountain View, Calif.-based Vivus Inc. plans a slow roll out. The pill will launch in the last quarter of the year with a relatively small sales force of 150 representatives. Company executives say their initial marketing efforts will focus on obesity specialists, not general doctors. "We're going to have to grow our sales organization in order to support the primary care market," said Vivus president Peter Tam, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Vivus had originally planned to market the drug under the brand name Qnexa. However, FDA regulators ordered the company to change the name to avoid potential confusion with similar sounding drugs. br />
Rival Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. of San Diego plans to start selling Belviq in early 2013. A third California drugmaker, Orexigen Therapeutics Inc., is still running clinical trials of its product, Contrave, and is working toward an FDA approval date in 2014.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do you Know that Viagra was Discovered by Accident?

Viagra's discovery as an impotence therapy was a happy accident. The manufacturer Pfizer Inc. initially tested the drug as a heart medicine. It turned out to be ineffective for that use, but many of the participants in the study noted a surprising side effect. Men who were impotent were able to have erections.

Before the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in March,1998 studies were conducted on 4,000 men with erectile dysfunction, caused by a variety of medical as well as psychological conditions. Results showed that 64 percent to 72 percent completed intercourse after taking Viagra, compared with 23 percent of men taking a dummy pill. Men were instructed to take the drug about an hour before intercourse.

Common side effects include flushing in the face, headache and upset stomach. Some men reported a blue tinge to their vision while taking the drug. Men are warned not to take Viagra if they are also taking nitrate heart drugs, such as nitroglycerin.

The drug, which goes by the generic name sildenafil citrate, works by causing the release of a chemical found largely in the penis, cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP), that in turn causes the smooth muscle of the penis to relax, allowing the organ to fill with blood and become erect. The drug also suppresses an enzyme that breaks down cyclic GMP, extending the duration of erection.

Viagra is not the only treatment for impotence, though it is the first effective oral medication. Other therapies include drugs that can be injected or inserted directly into the penis. Another oral medication, apomorphine, is being tested and could be available in about a year.

Reference: The Washington Post Company, 1998

Origin: Sildenafil (compound UK-92,480) was synthesized by a group of pharmaceutical chemists working at Pfizer's Sandwich, Kent, research facility in England. It was initially studied for use in hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a symptom of ischaemic heart disease). The first clinical trials were conducted in Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Ian Osterloh suggested that the drug had little effect on angina, but that it could induce marked penile erections. Pfizer therefore decided to market it for erectile dysfunction, rather than for angina.

The drug was patented in 1996, approved for use in erectile dysfunction by the United States Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998, becoming the first oral treatment approved to treat erectile dysfunction in the United States, and offered for sale in the United States later that year. It soon became a great success: annual sales of Viagra peaked in 2008 at US$1,934 million.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is this for Real or Another Phishing Letter?

I received this E-mail today. Is this for Real or a Scam? If you know please let me know as soon as possible. Thank you!

UNDP had sponsored me a decade ago on their TOKTEN Program to the University of the Philippines. Tokten( Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nationals) is now known as the Balik Scientist Program.

United Nation Development Program UN House, London, United Kingdom.

The UNITED NATION DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM established 1873 by the Multi -Million groups and now supported by the FBI in conjunction with the Economic community for West Africa States (ECOWAS),and the European union, is giving out a yearly donation of $400,000.00 (Four hundred thousand USD) to support individuals for their own personal, educational, Working and business development.

This is to inform you that your email address just won which makes you one of the lucky recipients to receive the award sum of $400,000(Four hundred thousand USD). The email address was selected from an exclusive list of 250,000 e-mail addresses of individual and corporate bodies picked by an advanced automated random computer balloting system.

Contact Mr. Jason Morrison via Email with the below information for claim:


NAME: Mr. Jason Morrison Email: undpverificationdeptt@live.com Claims Processing Agent, Verifications/Logistic Department.

Warm Regards Patricia Gallen (Online Announcer UNDP)

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Romantic Piano Pieces for Relaxation

Time for Music and Relaxation: If you are harassed,tensed and feel you are going to have a bad hair day, take a moment and view this video. I guarantee it will be worth the 30 minutes you have vested for your sanity and peace of mind. The music is not only relaxing but romantic. The photography is stunning and mesmerizing. Some of the sunset photos reminds of Chateau Du Mer in Marinduque, Philippines. Some of the popular pieces in this video are: Autumn Leaves, Secret Garden, Libestraum, Nostalgia and Melodie. This video also includes other piano and guitar music as well as Concertos. Let me know if you enjoy this video and the related videos in this set! Happy Listening!

Monday, July 23, 2012

FDA Approved New Drugs as of June, 2012

A Brain Scan of a Normal Brain versus the Brain of the Person with Alzheimer's

If you been reading my blogs, you probably already know that I am a retired Chemistry Team Leader from FDA, Center of New Drugs. When I retired in 2002, I did not accept any consultancy ( some of my colleagues did) since I wanted to devote my time in building a small beach resort in Marinduque, Philippines. However, I had been watching development of new drugs and had been impressed by the number and high quality of the new therapies approved by FDA since 2002. The following is a list of new drugs approved as of June this year. By the end of the year, I am expecting with high hopes that three more drugs for the cure of Alzheimer's disease will be approved and can be included in this list. Note that there are no anti-infective and anti-viral drugs in this current list.

FDA Approved Drugs as of June, 2012 The following database contains a listing of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale in the United States. Drug information typically includes the drug name, date of approval, indication of use, and the pharmaceutical company sponsor.( www.centerwatch.com).

Dermatology/Plastic Surgery: Erivedge (vismodegib); Genentech; For the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Picato (ingenol mebutate) gel; LEO Pharma; For the treatment of actinic keratosis, Approved January 2012, Sklice (ivermectin) lotion; Sanofi Pasteur; For the treatment of head lice, Approved February 2012.

Endocrinology: Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride); Arena Pharmaceuticals; For the chronic management of weight loss, Approved June 2012, Bio-T-Gel (testosterone gel); Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of hypogonadism, Approved February 2012, Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Jentadueto (linagliptin plus metformin hydrochloride); Eli Lilly; For the treatment of type II diabetes, Approved February 2012, Korlym (mifepristone); Corcept Therapeutics; For the control of hyperglycemia in adults with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, Approved February 2012, Ultresa (pancrelipase) delayed-release capsules; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis or other conditions, Approved March 2012, Viokace (pancrelipase) tablets; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis or pancreatectomy, Approved March 2012.

Gastroenterology: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Ultresa (pancrelipase) delayed-release capsules; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis or other conditions, Approved March 2012, Viokace (pancrelipase) tablets; Aptalis Pharma; For the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to chronic pancreatitis or pancreatectomy, Approved March 2012.

Hematology: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Omontys (peginesatide); Affymax; For the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, Approved March 2012, Immunology/Infectious Diseases: Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012.

Musculoskeletal: Elelyso (taliglucerase alfa); Pfizer Inc; For the treatment of Gaucher disease, Approved May 2012, Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012, Myrbetriq (mirabegron); Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; For the treatment of overactive bladder, Approved June 2012, Neupro (Rotigotine Transdermal System); UCB; For the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome, Approved April 2012, Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012, Votrient (pazopanib); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, Approved April 2012.

Nephrology/Urology: Afinitor (everolimus); Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; For the treatment of renal angiomyolipoma associated with tuberous sclerosis complex,Approved April 2012, Inlyta (axitinib); Pfizer; For the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Myrbetriq (mirabegron); Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; For the treatment of overactive bladder, Approved June 2012, Omontys (peginesatide); Affymax; For the treatment of anemia due to chronic kidney disease, Approved March 2012, Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012, Voraxaze (glucarpidase); BTG International; For the treatment of toxic plasma methotrexate concentrations in patients with impaired renal function, Approved January 2012.

Neurology: Horizant (gabapentin enacarbil); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia, Approved June 2012, Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012, Neupro (Rotigotine Transdermal System); UCB; For the treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome, Approved April 2012, Subsys (fentanyl sublingual spray); Insys Therapeutics; For the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, Approved January of 2012.

Obstetrics/Gynecology: Natazia (estradiol valerate and estradiol valerate/dienogest); Bayer HealthCare; For the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding, Approved March 2012, Perjeta (pertuzumab); Genentech; For the first-line treatment of HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, Approved June 2012.

Oncology: Afinitor (everolimus); Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; For the treatment of renal angiomyolipoma associated with tuberous sclerosis complex,Approved April 2012, Erivedge (vismodegib); Genentech; For the treatment of basal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Inlyta (axitinib); Pfizer; For the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma, Approved January 2012, Perjeta (pertuzumab); Genentech; For the first-line treatment of HER2+ metastatic breast cancer, Approved June 2012, Picato (ingenol mebutate) gel; LEO Pharma; For the treatment of actinic keratosis, Approved January 2012, Subsys (fentanyl sublingual spray); Insys Therapeutics; For the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, Approved January of 2012, Votrient (pazopanib); GlaxoSmithKline; For the treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, Approved April 2012.

Ophthalmology: Zioptan (tafluprost ophthalmic solution); Merck; For the treatment of elevated intraocular pressure, Approved February 2012.

Otolaryngology: Dymista (azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone propionate); Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc.; For the relief of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis, Approved May 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012.

Pediatrics/Neonatology: Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012, Sklice (ivermectin) lotion; Sanofi Pasteur; For the treatment of head lice, Approved February 2012, Surfaxin (lucinactant); Discovery Laboratories; For the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, Approved March 2012.

Pharmacology/Toxicology: Voraxaze (glucarpidase); BTG International; For the treatment of toxic plasma methotrexate concentrations in patients with impaired renal function, Approved January 2012.

Pulmonary/Respiratory Diseases: Dymista (azelastine hydrochloride and fluticasone propionate); Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc.; For the relief of symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis,Approved May 2012, Kalydeco (ivacaftor); Vertex Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of cystic fibrosis with the G551D mutation in the CFTR gene, Approved January of 2012, Qnasl (beclomethasone dipropionate) nasal aerosol; Teva Pharmaceuticals; For the treatment of seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, Approved March 2012, Surfaxin (lucinactant); Discovery Laboratories; For the treatment of respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants, Approved March 2012.

Rheumatology: Stendra (avanafil); Vivus; For the treatment of erectile dysfunction, Approved April 2012.

Trauma/Emergency Medicine: Lyrica (pregabalin); Pfizer; For the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury, Approved June 2012.

I hope you find this list useful and informative.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Treatment and Cure for Pancreatic Cancer

The husband of my wife's second cousin was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. He had the whipple surgery and as of today, he seemed to be healthy and enjoying life. I have another friend who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last March. He lasted only for six weeks. This illustrates that survival from this dreadful disease could vary depending on the stage and location of the cancer.

Treatment will also depend on your overall health, age and personal preferences. Treatment and cure include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of the three. Here's an article about pancreatic cancer from the Mayo Clinic newsletter for your information and reading pleasure.

Pancreatic Cancer is very difficult to diagnose for the following reasons: 1. The pancreas is hidden behind the stomach and cancer cells are hard to detect. 2. Pancreatic cancer is a cancer of epithelial cells, which are both external skin cells and cells that cover internal organs. Cancers of epithelial cells are called “carcinomas” and more difficult to detect than other forms of cancer and 3. To diagnose pancreatic cancer, a tube must be inserted into the stomach to take a picture of the pancreas. With no symptoms, such an invasive procedure cannot be justified in routine preventive health care. By the time symptoms appear, it is usually too late for surgery or successful chemotherapy.

“ The first goal of pancreatic cancer treatment is to eliminate the cancer, when possible. When that isn't an option, the focus may be on preventing the pancreatic cancer from growing or causing more harm. When pancreatic cancer is advanced and treatments aren't likely to offer a benefit, your doctor will help to relieve symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible.”

Surgery may be an option if your pancreatic cancer is confined to the pancreas. Operations used in people with pancreatic cancer include: Surgery for tumors in the pancreatic head. If your pancreatic cancer is located in the head of the pancreas, you may consider an operation called a Whipple procedure (pancreatoduodenectomy).

The Whipple procedure involves removing the head of your pancreas, as well as a portion of your small intestine (duodenum), your gallbladder and part of your bile duct. Part of your stomach may be removed as well. Your surgeon reconnects the remaining parts of your pancreas, stomach and intestines to allow you to digest food.

Whipple surgery carries a risk of infection and bleeding. After the surgery, some people experience nausea and vomiting that can occur if the stomach has difficulty emptying (delayed gastric emptying). Expect a long recovery after a Whipple procedure. You'll spend several days in the hospital and then recover for several weeks at home.

Surgery for tumors in the pancreatic tail and body. Surgery to remove the tail of the pancreas or the tail and a small portion of the body is called distal pancreatectomy. Your surgeon may also remove your spleen. Surgery carries a risk of bleeding and infection.

Research shows pancreatic cancer surgery tends to cause fewer complications when done by experienced surgeons. Don't hesitate to ask about your surgeon's experience with pancreatic cancer surgery. If you have any doubts, get a second opinion.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays and protons, to destroy cancer cells. You may receive radiation treatments before or after cancer surgery, often in combination with chemotherapy. Or, your doctor may recommend a combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments when your cancer can't be treated surgically.

Radiation therapy usually comes from a machine that moves around you, directing radiation to specific points on your body (external beam radiation). In specialized medical centers, radiation therapy may be delivered during surgery (intra operative radiation).

Chemotherapy uses drugs to help kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be injected into a vein or taken orally. You may receive only one chemotherapy drug, or you may receive a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy can also be combined with radiation therapy (chemoradiation).

Chemoradiation is typically used to treat cancer that has spread beyond the pancreas, but only to nearby organs and not to distant regions of the body. This combination may also be used after surgery to reduce the risk that pancreatic cancer may recur. In people with advanced pancreatic cancer, chemotherapy may be used alone or it may be combined with targeted drug therapy.

Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific abnormalities within cancer cells. The targeted drug erlotinib (Tarceva) blocks chemicals that signal cancer cells to grow and divide. Erlotinib is usually combined with chemotherapy for use in people with advanced pancreatic cancer.

Again, as in other types of cancer, survival will entirely depend on the early detection of this disease.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Penis Size and your Ring and Index Fingers Ratio

Is Your Index Finger Shorter than your Ring Finger? Interesting question? If you are curious, read on.. Penis Size: It May Be Written in the Length of His Fingers By Maia Szalavitz | type='application/x-shockwave-flash' width='560' height='345' allowfullscreen='true' allowScriptAccess='always' wmode='opaque'>
Facts about penis size
The ratio of the length of a man’s index finger to that of his ring finger may seem like a strange thing to measure, but new research suggests that it’s linked with penis size. The lower the ratio, the longer the penis.

The new study was conducted on 144 Korean men who were hospitalized for urological surgery. A researcher measured the patients’ penile length — flaccid and stretched — just after they went under anesthesia for their operations. A different researcher measured the men’s finger lengths, in order to prevent knowledge of one measurement unconsciously affecting the other. They data suggested that those with a lower ratio, whose index finger (or second finger, 2D) was shorter than the ring finger (or fourth finger, 4D), had a longer stretched penis length, which is well correlated with erect size. “Based on this evidence, we suggest that digit ratio can predict adult penile size,” the researchers, led by Dr. Tae Beom Kim of Gachon University in Incheon, Korea, wrote.

Previous studies have linked the so-called 2D:4D ratio of finger length with exposure to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone in the womb. So it’s plausible that the same exposure may affect penis length. Higher testosterone levels during fetal development are associated with a lower 2D:4D ratio, while higher estrogen levels are connected with a higher one. Most men have index fingers that are shorter (low ratio) than their ring fingers, while most women’s index fingers are the same size or longer (high ratio) than their ring fingers.

Research has shown, however, that lesbians and female-to-male transgendered people are more likely to have more “male” ratios. Finger-length ratios have been linked previously with a variety of other characteristics: in both males and females, lower ratios are associated with better athletic performance. In men, one study found that a lower ratio was connected with more success at high-frequency financial trading, while another study associated it with better performance on medical school entrance exams; women were not included in those studies.

Men with lower 2D:4D ratios were also more likely to have more “masculine” features, to have more symmetrical faces, and to be considered attractive by women, according to another study. Yet other research links low 2D:4D ratios with higher rates of alcohol consumption and alcoholism itself. Some data suggest that a more “female” finger-length ratio in men is associated with increased risk for oral cancer but reduced risk for prostate cancer.

In both boys and girls, lower and more “male” 2D:4D ratios have also been repeatedly connected with autism; interestingly, a recent study also found that female-to-male transgendered people are more likely to have autistic traits. Of course, it remains to be seen whether the correlation between penis size and 2D:4D ratio holds true in non-Korean men or in Korean men who aren’t having some type of urological surgery.

But if so, digit ratio could be good for more than just a pick-up line at a bar. An easy and non-invasive measurement, it could give doctors a quick way to gauge how much testosterone their patients were exposed to in the womb, wrote Dr. Denise Brooks McQuade of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in an editorial accompanying the study. The study was published in the Asian Journal of Andrology.

Source: http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/06/penis-size-it-may-be-written-in-the-length-of-his-fingers/

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Friday, July 20, 2012

The Other Side of Heaven-My Movie of the Week

Overview The Other Side of Heaven is about John H. Groberg's experience as a Mormon missionary in the Tongan islands in the 1950s. It is based on the book that he wrote about his experiences, In the Eye of the Storm. The movie focuses on Groberg's adventurous experiences and trials while serving as a missionary in the South Pacific. While portraying these events, the film discusses little LDS theology, focusing instead on the Mormon missionary experience. Plot The Other Side of Heaven is about John Groberg's mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Tonga. The movie takes place in the 1950s. John Groberg (Christopher Gorham) is playing in the band at a dance being held at Brigham Young University. Jean (Anne Hathaway) is his girlfriend; and she is also at the dance. John and Jean end up dancing with each other, and they leave the dance together. John's family in Idaho Falls receives his mission call. He learns that he is called to serve in Tonga. He says goodbye to his family and leaves from Idaho Falls to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he boards a ship and gets to Fiji where he is detained in a Fijian jail. He is released and sets sail for Tonga. When he gets to Tonga, he meets his mission president. His mission president introduces him to Feki, his companion. Feki is a native Tongan who also speaks English. They are assigned to serve in a remote island of the mission. He expects a warm welcome from the people. Instead, he is greeted with contempt by the island people. He goes through culture shock as he adjusts to the Tongan culture. He has difficulty with the Tongan language. Also, a local minister has told the people not to listen to John or to his message. He begins by learning the Tongan language. He isolates himself and studies the Bible in both English and Tongan. He becomes more familiar with the language. John and Feki build a house for themselves on the island. One morning, John discovers that rats have eaten the soles of his feet. His fellow church members help him as his feet heal. They heal just in time for the Sunday church meetings, and he is miraculously able to walk. This astonishes the people, and they become more receptive to his message. One night, a group of men surround John and Feki to beat them up. They have been sent by the local minister. One of the men, Tomasi, breaks them up and sends them away. Tomasi saves John and Feki, because he was baptised into the church and is Mormon himself. Tomasi begins attending church meetings. A local woman, at the behest of her family, tries to seduce John so that she can have a "half White baby". The woman's mother becomes offended at John's rejection of her daughter. John tells her that he is saving himself for Jean, his girlfriend back home. The woman's mother is satisfied. A hurricane hits the island, and the island is heavily damaged. A supply ship is expected in a few weeks, but the ship is late. The people ration their food and water to survive. Many people on the island die. John is saved when the local minister approaches him, apologizes to him, and gives John his last ration of food. The supply ship arrives. John, Feki, and many others are saved. The local minister passes away and is given an honorable burial. The mission president authorizes John to form a congregation on the island. John is set apart as the branch president and calls two counselors. Feki is assigned to go back to construction. John and Feki part ways, and thank each other for their friendship. The new mission president visits the island and has concerns about the work there. Even though a lot of work has been done, the mission president has no records of the work. John quickly completes the required forms and turns them in to the mission president. The mission president apologizes to John and praises John for his work. He also puts John in for a six-month extension of his mission. While traveling to an outlying island, John and his two counselors are caught in a major storm at sea. All three are tossed overboard and must swim for their lives. John miraculously makes it to shore and finds that his counselors are also safe. Once John returns to the Tongan Island, he finds out the six-month extension is denied, and John concludes his mission to Tonga. The people thank him for all he has done for them, and John heads back home to the United States. Throughout his mission, John and Jean keep in contact by letters. Some of the narrative of the story is told through these letters. They remain faithful to each other and are married after John returns home. They have children and continue to serve in the church. They also visit the Tongan islands several times.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cure for Alzheimer's Dusease Coming Soon

As a member of the senior community and formerly involved in the development of new drugs, the following news just released by Associated Press excites me beyond imagination. If this news turns out positive, I feel the discovery of these three Alzheimer's drugs will be a historic event in drug development in the US. It will prolong the lives of millions of senior citizens all over the world. Here's the article for your reading pleasure.

Hopes for the Cure of Alzheimer's Coming Soon? By MARILYNN MARCHIONE(AP) We're about to find out if there will be a way anytime soon to slow the course of Alzheimer's disease. Results are due within a month or so from key studies of two drugs that aim to clear the sticky plaque gumming up patients' brains.

A pivotal study of a third drug will end later this year, and results from a small, early test of it will be reported next week at an Alzheimer's conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

These three treatments are practically the "last men standing" in late-stage trials, after more than a decade of failed efforts to develop a drug to halt the mind-robbing disease. Current medicines such as Aricept and Namenda just temporarily ease symptoms. There is no known cure.

Experts say that if these fail, drug companies may pull out of the field in frustration, leaving little hope for the millions of people with the disease. An estimated 35 million people worldwide have dementia, which includes Alzheimer's. In the U.S., experts say about 5 million have Alzheimer's. The three treatments being tested are not even drugs in the traditional, chemical sense. They are antibodies — proteins made by the immune system that promote clearance of amyloid, the stuff that forms the plaque.

It's a strategy with a checkered history, and scientists aren't even sure that amyloid causes Alzheimer's or that removing it will do any good in people who already have symptoms. But there are some hopeful signs they may be on the right track. "Everybody in the field is probably holding their breath that there is something positive to come out of these trials," said Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

"It may not be a home run" in terms of improving memory and cognition, but if brain imaging or spinal fluid tests show the drugs are hitting their target, "they will be regarded as successes," he said. William Thies, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Association, agreed. Even if there is just a small effect, "that would be a huge finding because that would let you know you had a drug that worked," he said. It then could be tried as a preventive medicine or given earlier in the course of the disease when it may have more impact.

The three drugs and their developers are: _Bapineuzumab (bap-ih-NOOZ-uh-mab), by Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy unit. _Solanezumab (sol-ah-NAYZ-uh-mab), by Eli Lilly & Co. _Gammagard, by Baxter International Inc.

All are given as periodic intravenous infusions; some companies are trying to reformulate them so they could be given as shots. If a major study shows that one of the drugs works, there will be a huge effort to make it more convenient and practical, Thies predicted. Still, it would probably be very expensive.

The first two on the list are lab-made, single antibodies against amyloid. Gammagard is intravenous immune globulin, or IVIG — multiple, natural antibodies culled from blood. Half a dozen companies already sell IVIG to treat immune system and blood disorders. It takes 130 plasma donations to make enough to treat one patient for a year.

Treating Alzheimer's with IVIG would cost $2,000 to $5,000 every two weeks, depending on the patient's weight, said Dr. Norman Relkin, head of a memory disorders program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He consults for some drugmakers and has patents for tests that measure amyloid.

Relkin is also leading a late-stage, 400-patient study of Gammagard that will wrap up late this year. A much smaller, earlier study he led showed less brain shrinkage among people receiving the drug than among those getting dummy infusions. "It was so startling that I sent it to two laboratories for independent verification," Relkin said.

Next week, at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Canada, Relkin will give a three-year progress report on 16 patients out of the original 24 enrolled in that earlier study.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Colorectal Cancer Chemotherapy Drugs

My son-in-law died last April after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2010. Our family were all very devastated, since he was only 51 years old. Several chemotherapeutic regimens were tried by oncologists here in Northern California,in the most prestigious oncology treatment Research Center. The drugs tried did prolong his life for almost 2 years, but at the end, not one of the several experimental drugs saved his life, since he was already in stage IV when he was diagnosed. I had a feeling that my son-in-law could have survived the disease if he was diagnosed earlier, perhaps stage II or even III for the for therapy to be effective. My son-in-law left a 9-year old daughter and a 47-year old widow, because cancer sucks and kills if not diagnosed early. Please have a yearly physical check up even if you are feeling well.

This personal experience inspired me to do some web search on the drugs approved and what is in the pipeline for the treatment of colon cancer here in the US. The article is as follows:

Seven drugs are currently approved by FDA for colorectal cancer chemotherapy:

5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Adrucil), which is often given in combination with leucovorin

(Wellcovorin). Leucovorin is a vitamin that helps boost the effectiveness of 5-FU.

Capecitabine (Xeloda)

Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin)

Irinotecan (Camptosar)

Bevacizumab (Avastin)

Cetuximab (Erbitux)

Panitumumab (Vectibix)

Capecitabine is a pill form of 5-FU. The other drugs are administered intravenously. Many of these drugs are given in combination with each other. Common chemotherapy combination regimens include: 5-FU / LV (5-FU and leucovorin), FOLFOX (5-FU with leucovorin and oxaliplatin), FOLFORI (5-FU with leucovorin and irinotecan), IFL (Irinotecan, 5-FU, leucovorin), and XELOX (Capecitabine and oxaliplatin).

Side effects occur with all chemotherapeutic drugs. They are more severe with higher doses and increase over the course of treatment. Because cancer cells grow and divide rapidly, chemotherapy drugs work by killing fast-growing cells. This means that healthy cells that multiply quickly can also be affected. The fast-growing normal cells most likely to be affected are blood cells forming in the bone marrow, and cells in the digestive tract, reproductive system, and hair follicles. Nausea and vomiting is a very common side effect, but drugs such as ondansetron (Zofran) can help provide relief. In general, side effects are nearly always temporary, and medications can help manage them. Most patients are able to continue with normal activities for all but perhaps 1 - 2 days a month.

Specific Chemotherapy Drugs

5-Fluorouracil(5-FU) with Leucovorin. Adjuvant (following surgery) chemotherapy using 5-fluorouracil, either alone or with leucovorin (5-FU/LV), is the standard treatment for patients with high-risk colon cancer (Stage III or select patients with Stage II tumors). Leucovorin, also called folinic acid, is a form of the B vitamin folic acid, which helps increase 5-FU’s effectiveness. Patients are given a series of cycles that usually continue for at least 6 months.

There are many different ways of giving 5-FU, including intravenously over several hours once a week, intravenously daily for 5 consecutive days every month, or as continuous infusion with a portable pump. The most common side effects include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hair loss, swelling of hands and feet, rashes, and mouth sores.

Studies indicate that bevacizumab administered intravenously along with IFL extends survival by about 5 months longer than IFL alone. Common side effects of bevacizumab include nosebleeds, fatigue, diarrhea, and high blood pressure. Less common side effects include stroke, heart attacks, angina, and formation of holes in the colon and stomach (gastrointestinal perforation).

Cetuximab. Cetuximab (Erbitux) was approved in 2004 for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer. This monoclonal antibody drug targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein required by cancer cells in order to proliferate. It can be used either in combination with irinotecan or alone for patients who have not responded to irinotecan. Studies of the cetuximab-irinotecan combination suggest it can help in tumor shrinkage. It has a modest effect on survival, prolonging patients' lives by about an additional month or two. Recent guidelines recommend that cetuximab, and panitumumab (see below), should be given only to patients with tumors that express the wild-type KRAS gene. Patients with metastatic cancer should have tumors tested for KRAS gene status.

Panitumumab . Panitumumab (Vectibix) was approved in 2006 for treatment of colorectal cancer that has metastasized following standard chemotherapy. Like cetuximab, panitumumab is a monoclonal antibody drug that targets EGFR. In clinical trials, panitumumab helped delay disease progression and prolong survival by about 3 months. About 8% of patients experienced tumor shrinkage. Common side effects of this drug include skin rash, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea or constipation. Serious side effects include pulmonary fibrosis, severe skin rash, and skin reactions at the infusion site.

Investigational Biologic Drugs

One of the most promising recent developments in cancer treatment research has been the emergence of so-called "targeted therapies." Traditional chemotherapy drugs can be effective, but because they do not distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells their generalized toxicity can cause severe side effects. Targeted therapies work on a molecular level by blocking specific mechanisms associated with cancer cell growth and division.

Many targeted therapies are classified as biologic drugs. Bevacizumab (Avastin), cetixumab (Erbitux), and panitumumab (Vectibix) are currently the three biologic drugs approved for colorectal cancer treatment, but other drugs are in development. Targeted therapies involve many different types of drugs and molecular pathways. These include:

Angiogenesis Inhibitors: Anti-angiogenesis drugs inhibit the formation of new blood vessels that supply tumors with the blood, oxygen, and nutrients vital to tumor growth. Angiogenesis inhibitors, such as the monoclonal antibody bevacizumab (Avastin), target vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Cediranib (Recentin), formerly AZD2171, is a new angiogenesis inhibitor that is in Phase III clinical trials for treatment of colorectal cancer.

Tumor Growth Factor Inhibitors: Tumor growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor, stimulate cell growth. Cetixumab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix) are the two currently approved colorectal cancer drugs that target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Nimotuzumab (TheraCIM) is currently being studied in combination with irinotecan.

Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors. Tyrosine kinase is an enzyme associated with EGFR that is involved with the signaling mechanisms that prompt cell growth. The EGFR/tyrosine kinase inhibitor erlotinib (Tarceva), which is approved for the treatment of pancreatic and lung cancers, is being investigated as an adjuvant treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. Sunitinib (Sutent), which is approved for renal cell carcinoma, is another tyrosine kinase inhibitor in trials for colorectal cancer.

Reference: New York Times, Health Section ( www.health.nytimes.com), July 12, 2012

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FDA Approved Pre-exposure Propylaxis Pills for HIV

As a retired FDA chemistry team leader formerly involved in the development of new drugs, any news on new therapies about ant-infective and HIV drugs excite me to the fullest. I have a feeling though that patient's compliance to this new drug will be very, very low. As a new drug it will be expensive, so unless medical insurance covers at least 80% of the cost, Truvada will probably not be a best seller. The news on Truvada as a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) pills for HIV was published recently in USA Today as follows:

Truvada drug trials signal 'turning point' in AIDS epidemic By Liz Szabo, A trio of new studies highlights the promise and challenges of preventing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS: Giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk patients can dramatically reduce the risk of infection.

Two studies from Africa in heterosexual patients found that the drugs reduced the rate of HIV infection by 62% to 75%, a success rate that's comparable to results from studies of gay men, according to research in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

A third study in African women at high risk of infection, however, was ended early after researchers saw the drugs had no effect on HIV rates, largely because fewer than 40% of study participants took their pills as instructed. Overall, though, the results bolster the notion of giving anti-AIDS drugs to healthy but high-risk people before they're exposed to HIV, says Myron Cohen, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and co-author of an accompanying editorial.

The strategy, known as PREP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is one of several powerful new tools in preventing HIV infection, he says. An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration in May recommended approving the drug used in the studies, sold commercially as Truvada, for prevention. Truvada, which combines the drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine, is already approved to treat the disease. In two of the studies, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo or Truvada.

In the third study, patients were randomly assigned to take either a placebo, Truvada or tenofovir. In that study, both tenofovir and Truvada worked about equally well. "We're at some sort of turning point in the AIDS epidemic," says Cohen, who will speak later this month at AIDS 2012, an international conference in Washington, D.C., focusing on science and policy. "It's not a single thing going on. It's the culmination of what's happened for 30 years. Each of them is moving the political world to start thinking about an AIDS-free generation." About 34 million people have HIV/AIDS, including 1.1 million in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year.

A key challenge to using these drugs will be finding ways to motivate patients to take them properly, Cohen says. Researchers should find out, for example, whether women stopped taking the pills because of side effects or simply underestimated their risk of getting HIV. In the study of African women, about 3% of women became infected with HIV during the study, whether they took placebos or active drugs. Using pills to prevent HIV is itself controversial.

On one hand, the pills could help protect the healthy partners of HIV-positive patients, says Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health. The pills could give people a way to protect themselves, even when their partners refuse to use condoms, a common problem in some countries. But doctors have to be careful to test patients for HIV before prescribing Truvada. If someone already has HIV and doesn't take the pills faithfully, that person could develop and spread a resistant form of the AIDS virus, Cohen says.

Even AIDS activists are divided on the issue, says Guido Silvestri, a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine. Some argue that the pills should be given to everyone at risk of HIV, especially those with high-risk lifestyles. Others worry that the pills could give people a false sense of security and lead them to stop using condoms, which reduce the risk not only of AIDS but of other sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, Silvestri says.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Are You Aging Gracefully?

One of the most popular myths of aging is that senior citizens can no longer contribute to society. However, today I am still aware of many seniors who continue to be outstanding in their former career fields as well as starting new careers. I know of numerous stories on how senior citizens are still contributing for the betterment of society. This is what I call productive aging or aging gracefully. If you are a senior citizen, are you aging gracefully? In my case, I think I am!

Read the following article I found from the Senior Citizen Journal and see if you can identify with the sentiments of the article.

“Productive aging is not something that we are given as a gift. Frankly, it is not something which comes from reading self help books, taking a course in a community college, joining a variety of groups with activities No, productive aging is more than what is outside of you. It is a clear recognition that your life is now at that phenomenal stage when you have the opportunity to do and be what you have always been seeking: yourself.

This phase of life is not largely different than the preceding ones. It is just as full of opportunities and discoveries and pleasures and diversions as all the other periods of existence. It is that time when being an adult is really okay. It is that time when no longer do you need to please everybody else, while offending your own sensibilities. It is that time when you can turn over a new leaf, perhaps the last leaf, and before it falls from the tree to demonstrate your true colors, your sense of why you were created, maybe committing to be the last leaf fluttering in the breeze”.

I know that there is no fountain of youth. But we can discover that there is a source for youth if we are willing and invest some time to look for it. We know that our bodies are not so young anymore, but we can stay young if our attitudes, our behaviors, and our appreciations are motivated by our willingness to grow and to stay, at least in some little ways, forever young. Let us seize the moment, grasp all opportunities, take hold of our life today and tomorrow. Let us live this moment as if it were our last. We are the only one who can find our own source for staying young and staying happy while we are still breathing. Comments anyone?

Comments Received: Efren Katague: This article reminds us to live our lives to the full each moment of the day. Starting each morning with a positive attitude towards keeping our minds, body and spirit active, young and happy. That's aging gracefully. Thanks.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Blog Statistics from April 21 to July 14, 2012

The following is the 3 months statistics based on the number of page views from my eight blogs. The first column was taken on 7/14/12, second column on 4/21/12, the 3rd column the net gain and the last column is the percent increase. Visitors from my eight blogs came from 155 countries.

Blog Name 7/14/12 4/21/12 Net Gain % Increased

1. Life in US 116,370 97,566 18,804 16%

2. MRQ Awaits You 123, 981 109,939 14,042 11%

3. Chateau Du Mer 96,864 83,512 13,352 14%

4 MRQ Isld Paradise 121, 748 104,548 17,200 14%

5.Why Retire in PHL 36,494 31,994 4,500 12%

6.Where Heck is MRQ? 44,504 37,915 6,589 15%

7. Left Heart in MRQ 33,785 28,922 4,863 14%

8.Intellectual Migrant 71,965 62,712 9,253 13%

Conclusion: I have no reason to quit blogging. The number of page views is increasing in the right direction. Hopefully this will translate into more Adsense dollars.

To all my readers from 155 countries, thank you for visiting my sites, especially to those of you who took your time in making comments and clicking on my ads. Have a good summer vacation. I hope you continue supporting my blogs and tell your friends and relatives about my blog sites. Good day to ALL!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Things that My Wife and I Hate and Love about Marinduque

Gorgeous Sunset from the Balcony of the Chateau Du Mer Beach House, Amoingon, Boac

If you have been reading my blogs and my Facebook status updates, you probably know that my wife and I spend our winter time in Marinduque where we have a small beach resort and a retirement home. A lot of our friends here in the US often asked us, which place do we like best, Northern California or Marinduque. Our answer is a definite both Places. But sometimes, I personally do not want to spend time in Marinduque for the following reasons;

1. The Medical facilities, Hospital, Diagnostic Clinics are not to US Standards

2. The frequent brownouts, the littering of the beaches, and poor garbage collections system

3. The noise of barking dogs, loud karoake music in the middle of the night, the constant honking of the jeepneys

4. The hot and humid weather by around March, April and May

5. Transportation services-land, sea and air services to the island could use a major improvement

But there are several things, why my wife and I love Marinduque

1. The gorgeous sunsets, gentle sea breezes and cool temperature during the months of December , January and February

2. The orchids, bougainvillas, hibiscus, euporbias, and other blooming shrubs and fruit trees in my garden

3. The Filipino dishes-such as the kari-kari, grilled sword fish, coconut lobster and fresh mangoes and other fruits

4. The slower tempo of life, the air-conditioned Internet Cafes, traffic-less roads on weekends, blue skies and clear-blue water of the nearby beaches

5. The Antiques homes, Old Churches, white beaches, waterfalls, fringing reefs and breath taking views in some parts of the Islands

There are other things that my wife and I like and love about Marinduque, but the above five are the ones that we will always remember and treasure in our hearts.

How about you? If you are from Marinduque, what are the things that you hate and love about our Island Province. I will be glad to hear from you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Disneyland Amusement Park in the Philippines?

A couple of months ago, there was news on the Internet that Representative Carmelo Lazatin of the First District of Pampanga had sent a letter of invitation to Disneyland CEO to build a Disneyland near the former Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga. The problem is that a 60% Filipino ownership is required for a foreign company to operate legally in the Philippines as mandated in the Philippine Constitution.

Since a Disneyland Park in Pampanga will be a huge economic boost to the country, I am suggesting that Congress either abolish or amend the Constitution on the 60% Filipino ownership requirement or passed a law to give an exemption to Disneyland. Here's the news from Manila Bulletin Online.

Manila Bulletin Online via Yahoo! News reports that Pampanga first district Representrative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin has written The Walt Disney Company chairman and chief executive officer Robert Iger requesting him to consider Clark for their next Walt Disney park.

The solon said Clark’s 4,400 hectare main zone and 27,600-hectare subzone will be “the best place for a new Disneyland,” according to the report. In his letter dated April 11, 2012, Lazatin reportedly said:

“Aside from the huge space it provides, the Clark Freeport Zone can be an attractive destination for Disneyland theme park because of the tax-free privileges given to locators. The airport will be making it easier for tourists to enjoy the amenities and entertainment Disneyland is famous for without the hassles of long travels. Together with our population of more than 90 million Filipinos, a Disneyland theme park in the Philippines could be a major income generating site for your company.”

In Asia, Disneyland theme parks are situated in Hong Kong, Tokyo (Japan), and Shanghai (China)

Netizens were quick to react on the matter. One commenter posted that it is not possible for Disneyland to happen because of the forty percent foreign ownership limit under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, unless Congress will amend or abolish such policy.

What’s do you think of my suggestion?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lea Salonga and the Coming Les Miserables Movie

Lea Salonga singing I dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables Broadway Musical Les Misérables is an upcoming British epic musical drama film produced by Working Title Films and distributed by Universal Pictures based on the musical of the same name, which is in turn based on an 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo.

The film is directed by Tom Hooper, written by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and stars an ensemble cast led by Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, and Aaron Tveit also star. The film tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former prisoner who becomes mayor of a town in France. Valjean agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of Fantine, and must avoid being captured again by Javert, a police inspector.

Development of Les Misérables began in the late 1980s. After the musical's 25th anniversary concert, producer Cameron Mackintosh announced that the film resumed development. Hooper and Nicholson were approached in March 2011 and the main characters were cast in 2011. Principal photography of the film commenced in March 2012, and took place in various locations in Winchester, London and Portsmouth in England, as well as Paris in France.

Les Misérables is scheduled to be released on 14 December 2012.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Obama is still on Track for Electoral Victory

In spite of the recent news on Health care (Obama Care), Immigration Reform, Same Sex Marriage that majority of Americans are not in favor of, President Obama is still predicted to win as of this writing date. Of course his win will depend on the up or down swing of the US economy.

Here's the latest news about his predicted victory. Obama still on track for electoral victory By Charles Riley (June 29, 2012):

President Obama is still on track for an electoral victory this November, according to a forecasting model produced by Moody's Analytics. But his advantage over Mitt Romney is narrowing. According to the model, which produces a state-by-state prediction based in part on the latest economic data, Obama is on track to capture 303 electoral votes. That's more than the 270 required for victory, but if economic growth slows further, the model could easily shift. In May, the economy added just 69,000 jobs. And revisions from previous months showed the economy gained 49,000 fewer jobs in March and April than originally thought.

Moody's lowered its growth forecasts for the year as a result of the dour economy data. In the model, Obama's electoral vote‐weighted share of state popular votes dropped to 51.98%, down from 52.17% the previous month. According to the model, Obama is likely to hold onto the key battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania. But states like Florida (29 electoral votes) and North Carolina (15 electoral votes) are likely to turn from blue to red (Romney).

According to Moody's, Obama's lead is narrowest in Virginia and Ohio, where he is projected to capture 51.6% and 51.9% of the vote. Should those two states flip, Obama's electoral vote count would be released to 272 -- in other words, an extremely narrow victory. Of course, the model is likely to change as election day approaches and more economic data is included. CNN's own interactive electoral map,still rates Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire and Florida as "toss up" states.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Have You Heard of Dr Michio Kaku?

Michio Kaku (加来 道雄 Kaku Michio, born January 24, 1947) is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, a co-founder of string field theory, a futurist, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science.b> He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles. He has written two New York Times best sellers, Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). He has hosted several TV specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel. Here's another interesting video from several of Dr Kaku's videos.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

The Rock-My Action Movie of the Month

The Rock is a 1996 action film that primarily takes place on Alcatraz Island and in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was directed by Michael Bay, director of Bad Boys, and stars Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris. It was produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, producers of Top Gun and Crimson Tide, and released through Hollywood Pictures. The film is dedicated to Simpson,[2] who died five months before its release. This was the first film on which Cage and Bruckheimer worked together.

Plot: A group of rogue Force Recon Marines led by disenchanted Brigadier General Frank Hummel (Harris) seize a stockpile of deadly VX gas–armed rockets from a heavily guarded military bunker, reluctantly leaving one of their men to die in the process, when a bead of the gas falls and breaks. The next day, Hummel and his men, along with more renegade Marines (Captains Frye and Darrow who have never previously served under Hummel) seize control of Alcatraz during a guided tour and take 81 tourists hostage in the prison cells. Hummel threatens to launch the stolen rockets against the population of San Francisco unless the government pays ransom and reparations to the families of Recon Marines, (using money the US earned via illegal weapons sales) who died on illegal, clandestine missions under his command and whose deaths were not honored.

The Pentagon and FBI develop a plan to retake the island with a Navy SEAL Team, enlisting the bureau's top chemical weapons specialist, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Cage), who initially thinks he's consulting the team, but soon learns that he has to accompany the SEALs due to his specialisation in chemical warfare. Goodspeed's confidence, already shaky as he received only minimal training in combat, is further tested when his fiancee Carla reveals that she is pregnant.

Recognizing that any surface approach will be seen by Hummel's men, FBI Director James Womack (John Spencer) is forced to turn to federal prisoner John Mason (Connery), a former MI6 Agent and SAS Captain who has been illegally detained for decades by Womack and his predecessors. Mason is the only Alcatraz inmate ever to escape through the prison's uncharted tunnels, doing so in 1963, one year after imprisonment.

Although Goodspeed manages to convince Mason to cooperate with the FBI in return for a pardon from the US Attorney General, Womack reneges on the deal. While in custody under the supervison of Special Agent Ernest Paxton (William Forsythe), Mason manages to escape to see his estranged daughter Jade (Claire Forlani), who is the only proof that he exists. Goodspeed arrives and reveals to Mason's daughter that he is aiding the FBI. Womack initially only wants Mason to consult the SEALs, as he confides to Agent Paxton that he does not want Mason loose, but the FBI have no choice but to let Mason accompany the SEALs since he has committed the maps to memory.

The team infiltrates Alcatraz, through the underground tunnels with Mason's guidance. The SEALs however are surrounded and gunned down by Hummel's marines in a shower room after SEAL Commander Anderson (Michael Biehn) refuses to surrender (the fight is provoked by Marine Captains Frye and Darrow, later revealed to be following Hummel only for the money instead of honor), leaving only Mason and Goodspeed alive. Womack plans to abort the mission, but Paxton agrees to let them them continue saying that Mason and Goodspeed are their last hope. Mason attempts to leave the prison, but Goodspeed manages to convince him to help him defuse the rockets, since Mason's daughter is at risk from the rockets. Using Mason's knowledge of the prison, they quietly eliminate several small teams of marines and disable 12 of the 15 rockets, until Hummel threatens over the loudspeaker to execute a hostage if the remaining "Navy SEALs" do not surrender and return the guidance chips from the rockets. Only Mason surrenders to Hummel, trying to buy Goodspeed some time. Though Goodspeed manages to disable another rocket, the Marines capture him shortly thereafter. With the incursion team lost, the military readies a backup plan: an air strike by F/A-18's with Thermite plasma, which will neutralize the poison gas but kill everyone on the island including the hostages.

As Mason uses his unique experience to escape from their cells, he reveals why he was held there for so many years — for stealing a microfilm of the United States' most closely guarded secrets, including the Roswell UFO incident and the John F. Kennedy assassination (Womack revealed this to Paxton, earlier). Mason states he didn't return it, because he knew the FBI would "suicide" him, if he did. While Goodspeed and Mason search for the final two rockets, Hummel fires one of them but changes the coordinates at the last second causing the rocket to crash harmlessly out to sea. Facing Captains Frye and Darrow's (Gregory Sporleder and Tony Todd) frustration, Hummel explains that their bluff failed and that he refuses to harm innocent civilians. He orders them to exit Alcatraz with a few hostages and the remaining VX rockets to cover their retreat, while he'll stay, personally assuming blame.

Realizing that they will not be paid their $1 million apiece, Frye and Darrow, along with Sergeant Crisp (Bokeem Woodbine), decide mutiny against Hummel and his second-in-command, Major Tom Baxter (David Morse). With Mason and Goodspeed watching from afar, Crisp attempts to secure Hummel on Darrows orders, but fails as the General is able to hold the NCO at gunpoint. When Baxter is asked to take a side, he appears to side with Frye, Darrow and Crisp. The Major says what a privilege it was serving with Hummel, then fires at the three rogues. In the ensuring firefight, Crisp is killed by Hummel but Baxter is killed while Hummel is fatally wounded and pulled away by Mason. Darrow and Fyre proceed with the plan to fire on San Francisco. With his last breath, Hummel tells Goodspeed the location of the last rocket. As the jets approach, Darrow is killed when Goodspeed fires the last disarmed rocket into him, launching the Marine outside where he falls and is impaled on a fencepost. Goodspeed stows the last gas pearls from the warhead and takes a loose one, but is then attacked by Frye who begins to strangle Goodspeed to death.

Using the VX to defend himself, Goodspeed shoves the gas pearl into Frye's mouth and gives him an uppercut to the jaw, breaking the pearl and exposing both of them to the gas. Goodspeed injects himself in the heart with atropine as Frye dies from the VX gas. Goodspeed then lights green flares to signal that the threat is over, but only after one of the pilots fires, sending Goodspeed flying into the sea. The early detonation hits the back of the island and harms no one else.

Mason reappears to pull the unconscious Goodspeed to shore. When he recovers, Goodspeed tells Mason that Womack tore up his pardon, which Mason expected. When radioed, Goodspeed states that Mason is dead. Goodspeed tells Mason to go to his hotel room, take a change of clothes and $200 he stashed and run. Mason thanks Goodspeed, and gives him a note that holds the location of where he had stashed the microfilm. When the FBI arrives, Goodspeed is asked about Mason and says the man was "vaporized." Paxton simply grins, suspecting otherwise as he, too, sympathizes with Mason.

Goodspeed and his pregnant bride Carla (Vanessa Marcil) visit Fort Walton, Kansas, recovering the microfilm with a half-century of state secrets, including who actually killed John F. Kennedy.
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