[Ed. Note: Dr. KSS writes about medicine and biotech stocks for the Irregulars. He has agreed to our trading restrictions, and his words and opinions are his own. You can see his past articles and biography here.]
“Many things you hear in this room are untrue.”
(sign posted in Yale-New Haven Medical Center physician cafeteria)
“Is all disease infectious?”
Like Rocky Horror Picture Show or any of David Lynch’s films, ever showing at midnight in a cinema somewhere, at least two physicians somewhere are always haggling over this question in a hurried lunch. It’s usually a mutual pimping session, Fielding Mellish gone all book-wonkish, with each trying to outspiff the other with new instances from the medical literature in which a disease has proven unexpectedly to have an infectious cause.
“You knew about coronary artery disease being tied to a non-STD strain of Chlamydia, didn’t you?”
“Natch. But I saw a study last week with evidence that bipolar disorder is triggered by a cerebral virus!”
“Hah…that’s nothing new. Bet you missed the new Danish retrospective study of vagotomy patients. Parkinson’s disease is viral, man!” (High five!)
During Boris Yeltsin’s time in office, his government invited me to be a visiting professor at Saratov State Medical University, deep in south Russia, between the Volga and Ukraine. A department chairman’s beautiful daughter, a physician named Ekaterina pursuing a Ph.D., buttonholed me. She had some pictures she wanted to show me, with the proviso that I divulge their contents to no one in the west. Working with cardiologists, she’d been able to get tissue from a recently ruptured coronary plaque, retrieved through an atherectomy catheter. Bursting out of certain cell membranes in her specimen were tiny spheres like punctate cages. She postulated that the particles were herpesvirus, for which the patient had high-titer antibodies, and that a herpes flare had caused him to have a heart attack. She asked for advice on how to set about proving her idea, and I made an outline of sincere suggestions. Wacky? Hardly. Pliny the Elder said, “Out of Africa there is always something new.” (Pliny was way more correct than he knew.) The same will always be true of human biology, especially where it confronts infectious diseases.
Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, a red scaly flaking skin condition many of us get at the medial edges of our eyebrows and around the alae of our noses, ...
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