Sunday, August 26, 2012

LMAYQ: Safety First

Welcome to part 3 of the million part series "Let Me Answer Your Questions" (LMAYQ).  Here I address questions that people have asked The Internet.  The Internet, in turn, directed these people to The Cellular Scale, where their questions were... not answered. 

Today our topic is:

These 3 questions inspire me to warn you readers about a couple dangerous things.

1. "Will Parkinson's doctor let me have DBS?"

This is a really really important question because I absolutely do not know the answer to this. It must have brought someone to my post lauding the amazing power of Deep Brain Stimulation and its ability to stop Parkinson's Disease symptoms in their tracks. This is such an important question because it has prompted me to make this point:

This blog is not giving medical advice.
I am not a clinical doctor and more importantly The Internet is not your doctor and you should be careful when you ask The Internet medical questions. Yes DBS has shown amazing results, but its long term side effects are not even known yet and it requires a very serious surgical procedure. Just because I think its an amazing step forward, doesn't mean I think you should get it.  I don't know any thing about you or your condition (and neither does anyone else on The Internet). 

2. "Is DBS a cure for Parkinson's Disease?"

Following up on question 1, I titled my blog post "How does DBS cure Parkinson' Disease?", and focused on some new research looking into its mechanism of action. It was somewhat careless of me to use the word 'cure' all throughout the post, when really it should have been 'treatment'.  The most accurate answer to your question is "DBS treats Parkinson's Disease symptoms"

3. "What happens when you give a mouse cocaine?"
This is a good and interesting question, but also inspires me to make a warning statement:

Do not try this at home. 

Do NOT give your pet mice random drugs (even legal ones). It is not healthy for them.

This question brought someone to the post "If you give a mouse a placebo..." which discusses how to trick a mouse into thinking it is getting cocaine. This is really important research isolating the effect of the actual cocaine directly acting on the brain compared to the effect of the inactive cocaine acting indirectly on the brain.

The answer is: If you give a mouse cocaine, it can get addicted to it, which is why mice are used to study the effects of cocaine addiction and the efficacy of possible treatments.

But really I want to use this question as an opportunity to explain how research on animals is different from just giving animals drugs.

All the research I report on here is peer-reviewed.  This means other scientists besides the authors have read it carefully, and had an opportunity to point out any flaws or weak points in the research design or execution. In addition, research that uses animals adheres to extensive animal usage and handling regulations. It's not like someone just thinks 'dude, I wonder what would happen if you gave a mouse this or that' and then does and calls it research. Before scientists uses a single animal for any research, they have to write a thorough (usually 6 pages or so) explanation for exactly how many animals they are using and why they have to use that many and what they are going to use them for.  They have to list the steps they will take to minimize pain and explain how they will ensure that the animals are treated humanely. Then that document is read and discussed by a whole committee whose job it is to make sure that animals are being treated well at that institute. The committee then can either approve the animal use, or reject it and ask the scientist to only use this many instead of that many or use this kind of surgery instead of that kind of surgery. 

So there you have it, some warnings about what you should and shouldn't draw from this blog (and The Internet in general). Stay tuned for more fantastic answers to your fantastic questions.

© TheCellularScale


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