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Medicine and Health

Is every face seen as demonic by you? Then you may possess a very uncommon condition





It is often assumed that our view of others’ faces accurately reflects their true appearance. However, a minority of individuals with a rare neurological disease have skewed perceptions. Researchers have successfully visualized the visual perception of individuals with prosopometamorphopsia (PMO), a disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.

The illness known as PMO is considered to be quite uncommon, with just around 75 documented case reports available. Consequently, its understanding remains limited. Nevertheless, individuals with this disorder are aware that they see facial characteristics as distorted. However, the specific manifestations of these distortions, such as variations in form, size, and location of features, might differ across individuals.

According to Antônio Mello, the principal author, it might be challenging to accurately envision the perspectives of individuals in a project management office (PMO). “In previous research on the condition, individuals with PMO struggle to accurately evaluate the representation of their distortions in a visualization due to the presence of a face in the visualization, which leads patients to perceive distortions on it as well.”

However, the researchers at Dartmouth College encountered an exceptional instance involving a 58-year-old guy who only saw faces as distorted when seen in person but perceived them properly when presented with a photograph shown on a screen or paper.

Due to the patient’s ability to see both distorted and authentic faces, it provided the researchers with a chance to precisely depict his visual perception. In order to do this, a photograph of an individual’s visage was captured and then shown to the patient on a computer screen while the actual person was there, with the patient being instructed to compare the disparities in real-time.

By enabling the team to modify the picture shown on the screen to align with the distortions seen by the patient in the real face, it becomes evident why he has been referring to people’s looks as “demonic.”.

The researchers want their results to enhance doctors’ awareness of PMO and provide a deeper comprehension of their patients’ experiences. Consequently, this might aid in diminishing instances of underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis. It is sometimes misconstrued as a mental condition rather than a neurological one. In this patient’s case, he might have seen people who resembled demons, but there was no delusional belief that they were actually demons.

“Several individuals with PMO have reported being diagnosed with schizophrenia by psychiatrists and prescribed anti-psychotic medications, despite their condition actually being related to visual impairment,” said senior author Brad Duchaine.

“It is not unusual for individuals with PMO to withhold information about their issue with face perception due to concerns that others may interpret the distortions as indicative of a psychiatric condition,” said Duchaine. The issue at hand is often not comprehended by others.

The research has been published in The Lancet.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Medicine and Health

A groundbreaking human trial is being conducted to explore the possibility of transforming lymph nodes into functioning livers





After more than ten years of work, the first clinical study for a treatment for end-stage liver disease (ESLD) that aims to turn lymph nodes into working livers has begun.

Dr. Michael Hufford, co-founder and CEO of LyGenesis, said that we have successfully administered the first dose of a clinical trial to a patient using their own lymph nodes as living bioreactors to regenerate an ectopic organ. This is a groundbreaking achievement in the field of medicine.

The treatment involves extracting hepatocytes, the primary functional cells of a donated liver, and administering them via injection into the lymph nodes. These lymph nodes, which act as filters for foreign particles, such as infection-causing viruses, play a crucial role in supporting the immune system.

After entering the lymph nodes, the liver cells will undergo growth and division, establishing connections with the circulatory system through the development of blood vessels. “Over time, the lymph node will gradually vanish, leaving behind a small-scale organ,” explained Hufford to New Scientist.

This method has previously demonstrated success with certain animals. Scientists conducted an experiment on pigs by surgically modifying their livers to replicate human liver disease. They then introduced healthy liver cells into the lymph nodes by injection. Each of the six pigs had surgery and successfully grew miniature livers. As a result, they exhibited indications of recuperation from liver failure.

The human trial aims to assess the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of this regenerative cell therapy in a maximum of 12 individuals with end-stage liver disease (ESLD), a condition characterized by irreparable liver damage.

Under these conditions, a transplantation procedure is frequently necessary, but several variables can impede its progress. Certain patients may be deemed medically unfit for surgery due to their severe illness, for instance.

Nevertheless, a significant issue lies in the extensive duration of the transplant waiting list. Currently, there is a population of approximately 10,000 individuals in the United States who are awaiting a liver transplant from a donor. However, the unfortunate reality is that these individuals may have to endure a wait of up to five years until a suitable liver becomes available. Approximately 12 percent of individuals on the list will perish annually.

It is anticipated that this novel therapy will address the issue. “If our study proves successful and we receive FDA approval, our allogeneic cell therapy has the potential to treat numerous ESLD patients with just one donated liver. This could help to address the current imbalance between the supply and demand of organs, benefiting the patients,” stated Hufford.

The initial findings of the experiment will take some time to be revealed. However, researchers will closely monitor the patients enrolled for a year to determine the ideal dosage and safety of the treatment, as well as its effectiveness in addressing the indications and symptoms of end-stage liver disease (ESLD).

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Medicine and Health

The onset of the next pandemic may occur sooner than anticipated. What will the appearance be?





Half a decade ago, the notion of a global shutdown lasting for weeks would have been inconceivable. However, the concept of mass graves in New York City, a US Republican administration implementing a seemingly universal basic income, and a small number of individuals self-administering an ineffective horse dewormer to treat a virus would also be considered.

Presently, all of it appears to be not just feasible but outdated information. Having experienced and overcome the COVID-19 epidemic, what is the next anticipated event in the ongoing pandemic?

From whence will the forthcoming pandemic originate?
If we possessed knowledge of the nature and timing of the upcoming epidemic, we would take proactive measures to address it. However, the current situation necessitates a hopeful outlook and proactive preparation for potential negative outcomes.

“Undoubtedly, there are individuals who express concerns that this could potentially induce panic,” stated Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), during a panel in January 2024 regarding “Disease X,”  a provisional term for the yet-to-be-identified disease that is expected to have a widespread impact on the world in the near future.

He presented a counterargument. “It is more advantageous to proactively anticipate potential events, as they have occurred frequently in our past, and make necessary preparations.” We should not confront situations without enough preparation.

What is the consensus among specialists regarding the probable nature of disease X? There are several candidates in the competition: “We compile a yearly inventory of emerging diseases,” Ghebreyesus clarified, “and MERS, Zika, Ebola, and others could potentially be included.” COVID could be referred to as the inaugural disease X.

Possible scenarios for the emergence of the forthcoming pandemic encompass a spectrum of possibilities, spanning from speculative catastrophic scenarios wherein global warming triggers the release of previously unidentified viruses from arctic ice, akin to the depiction in the Chris Pratt time travel film, to alarmingly plausible instances of disease transmission from the animal kingdom, akin to the events that transpired shortly prior to the previous pandemic.

If you have observed a consistent pattern among those choices, you are correct: due to climate change, deforestation in the Amazon and Africa, and the increasing intrusion of human settlements into the natural environment, numerous experts believe that the occurrence of the next zoonotic disease pandemic is highly likely.

According to Nathalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at King’s College London, the current circumstances are conducive to the occurrence of epidemics.

According to her statement, the duration of the situation could range from two years to 20 years or even longer. However, she emphasized the importance of maintaining vigilance. It is imperative to maintain a state of vigilance, preparedness, and readiness to make sacrifices once more.

How can we address this issue?
In the absence of knowledge on the kind or timing of the upcoming pandemic, how can we effectively make the necessary preparations? Indeed, it is simpler than one may anticipate: “We can make arrangements for unforeseen circumstances,” stated Ghebreyesus; “there are fundamental actions that can be taken.”

He proposed the establishment of an early warning system or the enhancement of preparedness plans. “Due to the COVID pandemic, our hospitals were overwhelmed, both in terms of physical capacity and staff,” he emphasized.

The speaker further asserted that the COVID pandemic has brought to light some deficiencies within medical supply chains, perhaps leading to the closure of gaps.

Adam Kucharski, co-director of the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness and Response at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, stated to Sky News that the UK’s NHS COVID app showed great potential for containing the spread of the pandemic.

He acknowledged that it would take difficult conversations regarding the compromises between public health and personal privacy. “However, by utilizing the digital contact tracing infrastructure present in certain Asian countries, it is possible to restrict disruption to individuals who are at a greater risk during a specific outbreak, rather than resorting to general measures.”

Frankly speaking, everything seemed highly feasible. Is it being done?

Navigating the upcoming epidemic
With minimal logistical planning and the inclusion of AI ethics courses, we should undoubtedly successfully navigate the upcoming pandemic. Is that correct?

Regrettably, that appears improbable at present. John Bell, a prominent immunologist and part of the UK’s Covid vaccination team during the epidemic, expressed in The Independent last year that despite our extensive knowledge, we are not adequately prepared for the upcoming pandemic.

He cautioned that the forthcoming epidemic has the potential to be considerably more catastrophic than its predecessor. It is imperative that we maintain a perpetual level of preparedness for forthcoming significant health crises, as failure to take action at present will result in a lack of forgiveness.

In the United States, the establishment of a novel governmental entity dedicated to global health and the prevention of pandemics may appear to be a positive progression. However, numerous commentators have highlighted that the country lacks essential infrastructure to withstand a pandemic. Notably, there is no universal healthcare system, and European readers should take a moment to understand that there is no entitlement to paid sick leave. Undoubtedly, during the COVID pandemic, about 25% of Americans had to make a decision between working while ill or forfeiting a day’s salary.

Despite experiencing significant global repercussions due to the global spread of COVID-19, the United States as an institution appears to have a notable reluctance to acquire substantial knowledge from the pandemic. Recent modeling estimates indicate that treatments such as social distancing and mask-wearing have proven to be highly effective in mitigating the transmission of the pandemic. Similarly, vaccines have demonstrated remarkable efficacy, resulting in the preservation of about 20 million lives within the initial year of their introduction. However, the country is witnessing the ongoing expansion of anti-vacxx and anti-science movements, which are permeating politics and exerting influence on legislation at both municipal and state levels.

Put simply, it appears unappealing.

The subsequent periods of lockdown
The Covid pandemic took us off guard, and there is a possibility that we may be taken off guard once more. What will the appearance of that be? A recurrence of the events of 2020, or an entirely distinct occurrence?

It is indisputable that significant changes have occurred since 2019, prior to the widespread awareness of the terms “novel coronavirus” or “Covid-19”. Irrespective of their level of effectiveness or extent of implementation, it is really accurate to say that numerous countries have already established pandemic infrastructure that was previously absent. This includes the implementation of contact-tracing applications and the provision of more flexible work arrangements for employees.

If the supply chain difficulties are rectified promptly, vaccine rollouts should be expedited. According to Devi Sridhar, the chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh and co-chair of the US National Academy of Sciences’ committee on advancing pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccine preparedness and response in 2021, the majority of governments are actively pursuing the objective of containing the spread of a virus within a 100-day timeframe. This timeframe allows for the approval, manufacturing, and distribution of scientific interventions, such as vaccines, diagnostic tools, or treatments, to the general public. This statement was published in The Guardian during the current week.

“In the United States, the recommended duration is 130 days from the identification of a pathogen until the entire population of the United States is provided with a vaccine,” she clarified, “and 200 days until there is a sufficient global supply.”

The nature of future lockdowns may vary significantly depending on geographical location, maybe resulting in the absence of lockdown measures altogether. “Shutdowns are a drastic policy measure that numerous governments employed in 2020 as a means to address the healthcare crisis,” Sridhar stated. “We currently have the opportunity to enhance containment methods and investigate strategies to ensure the safe operation of schools and businesses through more accurate public health interventions. These interventions should focus on improving understanding of transmission (such as increasing ventilation), diagnostics (testing for infectiousness), and data collection (surveillance of community prevalence).”

The successful implementation of preparedness procedures, as advocated by public health organizations over an extended period, is contingent upon the active engagement of governments and, when applicable, the business sector. This implies that—what about the upcoming pandemic? The appearance of it is uncertain.

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Medicine and Health

Why is there a distinction between an Innie and an Outie belly button?





We are interested in addressing some of the most urgent inquiries that society has regarding science. Is it necessary to include death education in schools? What is the impact of ultra-processed foods on human health? Today’s agenda includes a crucial question: what is the reason for an “innie” or an “outie” belly button?

What constitutes a globus dorsi?
Prior to delving into the intricacies of innies and outies, it is imperative to establish a comprehensive understanding of the concept of a belly button. The umbilicus is the scientific term for the belly button, serving as a convenient reminder that it is the location where the umbilical cord, which connects a developing fetus to the placenta, used to be.

Following childbirth, the umbilical cord becomes unnecessary and is commonly severed and secured, resulting in a small stump that gradually desiccates and detaches. The scar that remains following this procedure is commonly referred to as the belly button.

The process of in-and-out formation
There exists a belief among certain individuals that the presence of an innie or an outie belly button is contingent upon the manner in which the umbilical cord is severed or the location of the clamp. However, this assertion is unfounded. The outcome ultimately hinges on the individual’s healing process and the formation of the scar. Nevertheless, certain medical diseases, such as umbilical hernias and granulomas, may be erroneously identified as an external abdominal protuberance.

There is no need for concern over a typical outie belly button, although it is worth noting that this particular variety is relatively uncommon. 90% of people have an innie belly button, while the remaining 10% have an outie. Within the innie and outie categories, there are numerous subtypes that differ from one another in terms of things like form, orientation, and depth.

If you are the proud owner of an innie, while you are (ideally) removing any excess material that may have accumulated (which is a common occurrence), you may also unintentionally uncover a substantial amount of bacteria. In a 2012 scientific investigation, researchers collected samples from individuals’ navels and identified more than 2,300 distinct bacterial species within a mere 60 abdominal buttons. Some individuals have even employed belly button microorganisms for the production of cheese.

Belly buttons have the potential to undergo alterations on occasion.
While the majority of individuals do not experience any changes in their belly button, there are certain factors that can contribute to alterations in the look of some individuals’ navels. The initial procedure is referred to as umbilicoplasty, a cosmetic surgical intervention aimed at altering the dimensions and/or configuration of the rectum.

Another factor to consider is the presence of medical disorders that exert additional pressure on the region, resulting in the protrusion of a typically small belly button. The most prevalent of these circumstances is pregnancy, in which the developing baby exerts the force on an innie to expose itself. This phenomenon can result in the premature rupture of an innie at approximately 26 weeks of gestation, although it typically reverts to its typical introverted state upon the conclusion of the pregnancy.

The presence of any type of abdominal button is considered to be within the normal range. Please be certain that you thoroughly clean all the crevices, for the sake of everything that is virtuous.

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