Q:Is the medical field a good way to go?
I think that depends on who you ask and what area of medicine you want to pursue.
For me? It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I was the kid who had the life size anatomy model (the one where you could remove the organs and put them back together…) and microscope
(and took slides of weird things from our backyard because I was a cool kid). I grew up on Bill Nye and had a chemistry set in elementary school because I was so fascinated by science.
But it’s by no means easy and it’s absolutely not for everyone. You should go check out The Not Quite Doctor, Medical State of Mind, WayfaringMD, and Dr. Cranquis. They’re all hilarious, kind, insightful, and generous Tumblr bloggers in different stages of medical careers who have written about this extensively and helped me through my own career crisis.
If you’re looking for the perspective of a science/medical student who has a chronic condition, message me. I can make a list of those bloggers too!
Genomic study reveals why children in remission from rheumatoid arthritis often experience recurrences
A new study published today in Arthritis Research & Therapy provides the first genomic characterization of remission in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis patients.
"It turns out that even though these children in remission appear to be perfectly normal and symptom-free, their immune systems are still perturbed," says James N. Jarvis, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the study’s lead author.
The new study confirms preliminary research by Jarvis, suggesting that remission experienced by patients with [JRA] on medication is not a “return to normal” but is, instead, a distinct biological state. The study finds that this distinct biological state results from pro-inflammatory responses being counter-balanced by anti-inflammatory responses caused by gene expression changes that medication induces.
If you have any form of this disease, this is one study you needto read!
Weekly Link Roundup 06/14/2012
- Ultrasound’s Role in Early Diagnosis Expected to Grow— musculoskeletal ultrasound is emerging as a technique for early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. A noninvasive, painless technique, it allows multiple joints to be assessed quickly and is less costly than an MRI. Still, few rheumatologists have adopted this ultrasound technique into their practices. Read more to find out why.
- SLE Remission Less Likely With Immunosuppressive Agents— A new study finds that some patients with SLE may be more likely than others to experience prolonged remission. Out of over 1500 patient participants, only 2% achieved a remission lasting at least five years on no medication or anti-malarial drugs. Patients achieving this prolonged remission were more likely to be caucasian, had milder disease activity, and less likely to have involvement of certain organ systems and less likely to have received steroids/immunosuppressants prior to remission.
- Lung Infections More Common Among Anti-TNF Users— Patients taking anti-tumor necrosis factor medications are four times more likely to develop mycobacterial diseases than patients not taking anti-TNF medication, and up to 14 times more likely to die from said diseases.
- Scientists Discover a Cell-Signaling Pathway that May Lead to New RA Treatment— researchers from the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York have found that a communication pathway called the Notch pathway may contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Previous studies associated a certain mutation in a gene involved in the Notch pathway with a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis, but it wasn’t clear why, so researchers at HSS sought to figure out whether this molecular pathway played any role in the immune system failures that cause arthritis. The study findings suggest that drugs currently being developed for the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer’s may also treat RA. Click to learn more about Notch-inhibitors and what this study means for you.
Weekly Link Roundup 05/11/2012
- Association Between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Systemic Bone Loss Highlights the Importance of Omega-3 Anti-Inflamatory Diet— Has your rheumatologist ever suggested you take fish oil? It’s widely known as an anti-inflammatory supplement, but here’s just one more reason why those of you with inflammatory autoimmune diseases should consider it: a new study published by Arthritis International found that the genes that produce IL-6 (inflammatory agent that plays a key role in RA) and NF-kB (gene that produces the “switch” of inflammation”) may be moderated and inhibited by dietary intake of Omega-3.
- Scientists Pinpoint Three HLA Proteins Linked to Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis— researchers have pinpointed five amino acids in three HLA proteins that explain most of the association between major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis. In simple terms: “about 1/3 of the genetic risk for [RA] comes from MHC— and most of that comes from three separate proteins.” Read more to learn about the implications of the findings and the next step for researchers.
- GlaxoSmithKline Criticizes NHS Pharmaceutical Approval Body Over Rejecting Lupus Drug — The UK’s largest drug company has “launched a forthright attack” on the NHS’s drug rationing group, accusing it of halting innovation after it failed to approve the first new medication in over a decade to treat Lupus, leaving patients in the UK behind.
- Does the Affordable Care Act Help or Hurt Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients?— an opinion piece written by Forbes contributor Jayne Jung, the piece begs the question of whether the ACA will help or hurt us RA patients. While the ACA has the ability to increase quality care for RA patients, the American College of Rheumatology warns that the act may end up rewarding primary care physicians more than rheumatologists and how this may impact rheumatology patients.
Weekly Link Roundup 04/12/2012
Great links, news, studies and research this week!
- Gastro Woes Often Strike Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients— a new study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers reports that RA patients are at increased risk for GI problems, including ulcers, bleeding, perforations, and death related to gastrointestinal issues. The goal of the study is to highlight the need to develop new ways to prevent and treat these complications. Do you struggle with GI issues associated with your Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- New Guidelines Focus on Early RA Treatment — New guidelines issued by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) recommend focusing on early treatment, TB testing, special considerations for high-risk patients, and more aggressive treatment in early disease. Read more about the reasons for the new guidelines and what each means specifically for both new and old patients.
- Microflora Have Decisive Role With Autoimmune Illnesses — April 5, 2012: What does this mean? Scientists in Berlin and Switzerland have discovered that a specific fungi activates the immune cells involved in the development of certain diseases (psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune arthritis), while other microorganisms found naturally on the skin lend an anti-inflammatory function to them. Dr. Zielinski, author of the study, explains that this finding "not only demonstrates that the composition of our microflora has a decisive role int he development of chronic illnesses, but also that the key cells causing illness can develop an anti-inflammatory ‘twin’." Read more to learn about the implications of the study’s findings and what else the researchers found.
- Virus Protects Against Lupus— April 2, 2012: Researchers have discovered that the animal model of the human Epstein Barr virus protects lupus-prone mice against the development of the disease. This came as a big surprise to scientists, whose previous work suggested that this virus might actually promote the development of autoimmunity. Researchers do not yet know how this virus inhibits Lupus, but have begun experiments to find out. Click to learn and read more.
Blog of the Week: Lupine Lady, who chronicles her journey through life with the ups and downs of Lupus. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with this wonderful woman about her journey and found that we have quite a bit in common. Absolutely worth a follow.
*As always, please send me your favourite blogs that you would like to see as BOTW.
Weekly Link Roundup 3/26/2012
- Wego Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge— Starting April 1st, 2012, health activist writers who take the challenge will have 30 days to complete 30 prompts! Interested in taking the challenge? Click to know more. If you’re signed up and ready to go, don’t forget to share your posts on the WEGO health facebook page and tag your posts on twitter with #HAWMC
- Lupus Research Institute on Hill Advocating for Professional Training on Lupus— The need for widespread education has been confirmed by a new study of ~1,000 people including lupus patients, loved ones of people with lupus, and rheumatologist, that shows patients often downplay their symptoms to physicians and loved ones. The findings? 87% of patients report downplaying symptoms to their families. 52% report minimizing symptoms to their physicians. Nearly 3/4, or 72%, of physicians did not believe their patients minimize symptoms. Read more to learn about how the LRI is working to close the communication gap.
- Fibromyalgia Gene Discovery: High proportion of patients carry one copy of mutation affecting inflammatory response, brain development— A new study released March 10, 2012, found that patients with chronic widespread pain/FMS had significantly a significantly higher proportion of A1AT polymorphisms when compared to other neurological patients. Also interesting, those with JRA and JIA also had significantly higher amounts of A1AT polymorphisms (63%). To read more about this mutation and mechanism and find out what else this study discovered, click the link.
- Calling All Rheumatologists— The number of patients is growing, yet the number of rheumatologists is dwindling. Did you know there is a shortage of rheumatologists? Though this article is dated 2011, the shortage is still around, perhaps worse than before (something I will write about shortly) and especially so for pediatric patients. There are as many as 10 states that have no pediatric rheumatologists whatsoever, but there is hope. Click to read about what the American College of Rheumatology and other groups are doing to encourage an increase of rheumatologists!
Are there any blogs you think should be considered for Blog of the Week? Send me your links!
March 20, 2012:
Unexpectedly, study results suggest increased body fat induced by a high-fat diet did not influence the severity of colitis, despite changes in hormones that are known to increase with obesity and influence inflammation. In fact, researchers found calorie-restricted mice had a higher mortality rate…
For the few of you (Hannah) that this will be of interest to: click the title to read more at Science Daily.
It’s been a busy month for all things rheumatic/autoimmune diseases.
For those that haven’t heard, March is Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month, started by the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Foundation. Click on the link to find an Autoimmune Disease Awareness walk near you or get involved.
With the spotlight on autoimmunity this month, celebrity Nick Cannon has generated some much needed awareness and attention for Lupus and despite his very recent diagnosis, is already working with the Lupus Foundation of America. You can read about his ordeal here or follow his or the LFA’s twitter for quick updates.
A new breakthrough medication that “blindfolds” white blood cells from causing damage seems to be promising for Rheumatoid Arthritis/Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease patients.
Though most RA/D patients already know the serious increased risk of cardiovascular disease and complications that come with their autoimmune disease, a new study and set of statistics are out: RA/D patientshave a 40% increased risk of atrial fibrillation and a 30% increased risk of stroke. Another reminder of why it is imperative for those of us with autoimmune arthritis to keep our hearts healthy.
Also new on the RA/D front, Airway Abnormalities May Represent Preclinical Rheumatoid Arthritis. Author Bruce Jancin of Rheumatology News reports “increasing evidence [suggesting] that RA is smoldering in the lungs during this preclinical stage, which can last a decade or more.” The article goes on to discuss the role of Methotrexate as a preventative agent and the significance of the findings.
News Rheum Action: Looking for some easy ways to get involved?
Consider taking the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation’s RA/D Survey, which will help the new organization better help patients in the community.
Registration for the very first World Autoimmune Arthritis Day has begun. WAAD will be held on May 20th, 2012 as an international online awareness event. Registering and participating in the event allows you vendor discounts, a chance to submit your story, and much more. Get involved!
A new treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis/Autoimmune Disease might just be right around the corner. This new drug works differently that Anti-TNF and other biologic medication— it is able to halt destructive white blood cells from migrating to inflamed tissues/joints and thus prevents further damage altogether.
How is this different from the biologic medications out there already? Those medications work by “blocking the signnals in the body which activate the immune system to attack.” This drug will prevent the destructive white blood cells from entering joints in the first place.
The next step is preparing the drug for clinical trials. One step closer, another reason to be hopeful! I’ll be including more information about this in Friday’s Weekly Link Roundup, so stay tuned.
Would you try a clinical trial? Why or why not?