Aspirin for Schwannomas?

Otology & Neurotology:
doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000189

Aspirin Intake Correlates With Halted Growth of Sporadic Vestibular Schwannoma In Vivo
Kandathil, Cherian K.*†; Dilwali, Sonam*‡; Wu, Chen-Chi*†; Ibrahimov, Metin*†; McKenna, Michael J.*†; Lee, Hang§; Stankovic, Konstantina M.*†‡

Study Design:  Retrospective case review.

Setting: Tertiary care hospital.

Patients: People diagnosed with sVS and followed at a tertiary referral center by serial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for at least 4 months within the period of January 1980 through April 2012.

Main Outcome Measures: Patient use of aspirin and sVS growth rate measured by changes in the largest tumor dimension as noted on serial MRIs

Results: Within a set of 689 cases, 347 were followed by serial MRI scans (50.3%); of the latter, 81 took aspirin, of which, 33 demonstrated sVS growth, and 48 did not. Of the 266 nonaspirin users, 154 demonstrated sVS growth, and 112 did not. A significant inverse association was found among aspirin users and sVS growth (odds ratio [OR]: 0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.29–0.85), which was not confounded by age or sex.

Conclusion:
Our results suggest a potential therapeutic role of aspirin in inhibiting sVS growth.

(Note:  sVS in the above abstract = sporadic, ie non-neurofibomatosis related, vestibular schwannoma, which is a a benign tumor of the brain stem region near the inner ear.)

Turtles of Puhi Bay.

Last weekend Maryruth and I dove the shallow reef at Puhi Bay, to the northwest of our usual Hilo Bay diving spot. Puhi Bay has the distinction of being next to the Hilo sewage treatment outflow. Fortunately for the reef, the freshwater outflow from the mauka rains constantly flushes any pollution. There is so much freshwater entering Puhi Bay this time of year that the halocline extends from 5 feet to 10 feet depth at entry-- millions of gallons! The coral reef looks healthy and very diverse from about 12 to 28 feet depth, with large varieties of fish, many varieties of coral, and even the rare black brittle stars. There was red-brown silt beyond about 30 feet, then sand.

One of the nine sea turtles we saw on the 50 minute dive had fibropapillomatosis, a benign tumor skin condition caused by herpesvirus in turtles. Though there's always some virus in the water around where green sea turtles live, some marine biologists feel that sewer runoff promotes these warty growths by activating the latent virus in the turtle's skin. Who knows? I will say that fibropapillomatosis around this island is rare even in Puhi Bay thus far this decade, though it's my non-expert opinion that it is seen more near the local sewage treatment plant than elsewhere.

Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Patent Roses, Agribusiness and the Rise of GMO Bans.

The New York Times ran an article today discussing the Big Island's ban, effective this year, on GMO crops (Rainbow papaya, developed here, will be allowed with a $100 per year license). The article is critical of the fear and doubt spread by GMO crop opponents on the island, correctly pointing out that much of the evidence for GMO's negative effects does not stand up to skeptical inquiry.

About a third of the American population grows some of their own food, according to the National Gardening Association. In my experience, most home gardeners have a liking for good varieties of their vegetables, and will buy specific varieties of seed for planting. Yet these same gardeners are often firmly opposed to GMO varieties of their favorite crops, and "organic" style farming seems to exclude GMO seed from the start, even if those varieties are grown organically.

As long as people have lived on Earth, viral vectors have moved genes between species, and mutations have made new DNA sequences in abundance. Since both spontaneous and deliberate changes have occurred in our crop plants for thousands of years, one might feel reassured about any disastrous consequences to our planet from GMO tech, but instead there is much fear.

Unfortunately, the stance that GMO seed companies have taken has aggravated the issue. If someone creates a better colored rose by hybridization, and patents the rose, seedlings from the rose's flowers are salable without royalties, even if they carry the genes which give the better coloration from their parent. The patent stays with that particular variety, not with parts of its genome. But not with the GMO blue rose. The Supreme Court has made sure of this, for now.

Here, I believe that agribusiness made a strategic error. If they had made their new genes utilizable by others via seed pollination, as a free (in the offspring) contribution to the horticultural gene pool for improvement by others, as is the case with a patent tomato or rose variety, there might have emerged a trend toward incorporation of the best GMO into home use, and all but the most fearful would accept GMO varieties as just another variety. But instead, we have a segmentation of GMO planting into an isolated segment of agricultural practice, isolated from most voters. So, the bans will spread.

An alternative to Kim's physicalism

In his book Physicalism, or Something Near Enough , Jaegwon Kim says: The final picture that has emerged is this: P is a cause of P*, wi...