Coulda Woulda Bonesa

When it comes to joint repair and replacement, there are two different issues that have to be addressed. One is the replacement itself, the construct that replaces the bone involved. The other is the material that normally fills and cushions the joint. I’ve actually had exposure to two different efforts to address those issues, and one of the reasons I’ve held out this long is the hope that advances in both areas would be more readily available.

Let’s start with the replacements. Currently, these are often metal and solid metal, which is very unlike the structure of normal bone. Bone itself is very porous on the inside, with the outside being solid and relatively smooth. This can and does create problems when trying to mate two very dissimilar structures. The differences in mass and other factors can create fractures and other issues.

Many years back, a company was doing work through the Center for Commercial Applications of Combustion in Space (CCACS) at the Colorado School of Mines, on a advanced bone replacement materials. The immediate goal was to get the data needed to create foaming metallic-ceramic replacements that would have the porosity of normal bone as well as the hard surfaces needed for the ball or socket. The idea was to be able to custom make these in the OR, as since the reaction was exothermic they would be sterile at manufacture. The long-range goal was to create a material that would do the same, but as bone and marrow grew into it, the material would dissolve so that at the end of a given time you would have all new and healthy bone and the replacement, having completed its duties as a scaffold, would have passed from the body.

I do wish either or both were available today! Unfortunately, I seem to recall that the research ended with the loss of Columbia and have not been able to find out much since I started trying to research it.

Now, the tissue that fills the gap in the joint is somewhat the ‘Holy Grail’ as my surgeon and I discussed yesterday. Yes, we did discuss the advanced materials and the state of current research. When I was at Purdue, I had the honor of working with the legendary Leslie A. Geddes. Short version is that he and his team not only developed early astronaut physiological monitoring systems (portions of which are still in use today), but also pioneered the implantable medical device field and regenerative medicine. There’s a reason he was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2006 and it’s well worth reading even a short biographical sketch on him.

I’ve been following regenerative medicine and wish it was just a little further along (and covered by insurance). Part of the problem for me is that the osteoarthritis has done a lot of damage, and there is very little “pad” left in the joint. The majority of the area has none, and I’m pretty much bone-on-bone movement now. There are a couple of different prospects for having the body generate new filler, but neither appear to be quite where I need them to be. Five years from now may be a different story. In fact, I tried volunteering for some studies both to buy time/get some relief and help advance that research. Still wish that would have worked out.

If anyone hears of related research efforts, let me know as I would like to know more about them.

Sex In Space!

I was going to go with a different title, but what the hey! It’ll get attention, even if most of today is going to get into reproductive biology and some other physiological issues.

There have been rumors of sex in space almost as long as we’ve been going up into space. The Shuttle and Spacelab were particularly rife with them, and I presume it remains so for ISS. Can’t speak to ISS, but on the Shuttle given all the cameras and monitoring of the crew (and experiments, microaccelerometers are snitches), it would have been difficult to pull off completely undetected. Still love the rumors about alien orgies to breed a new hybrid race or save a dying alien race. Yep, those rumors are still floating around out there.

Given that Newton will claim his own, you are going to need either a confined space or other assistance staying together. Especially since most spacecraft are full of knobs, handles, and other things that can and will bruise when you go bouncing around the place. Yes, remember the whole “equal and opposite reaction” thing applies. Hence the confined space or other assistance. I seem to recall that doing some basic experimentation on the act itself almost got done in the form of a porn producer trying to rent a civilian version of the Vomit Comet to do a film.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, humans are going to be humans and if there hasn’t already been such, there soon will be sex in space. This could be problematic for some reasons, but to get to them, let’s do a quick review.

When you enter orbit and microgravity, which is freefall, lots of things happen. First up, given that it is freefall and you have that feeling of an elevator dropping out from under you, the inner ear can do some interesting things. Usually you adapt in a day or three, but I have heard that some never do. Note to self, this is why some form of short-term flight is a good thing, help sort.

Second, the fluids normally held in your lower body by gravity are no longer constrained. Sensors in your neck detect large amounts of fluid, and the kidneys kick in to overdrive. First few days I’m told you pee a lot. This puts the body on a good footing for microgravity, not so good for going back to gravity. Probably a discussion for another day.

Third, there are changes to your muscles and to your skeleton. It’s not just that the muscles atrophy and the bones get less dense. There are other changes, some of which are discussed in this article in Nature (wish it were in a more reputable journal, but…). The results are interesting, especially in regards planetary ventures and counteracting some of the changes.

There are a host of other things that happen, though one stands out to my mind for true long-term ventures. Essentially, astronauts tastes in food change the longer they are in microgravity. Short version is that they started to crave spicy (flavorful) and even hot foods. Lots of things they normally enjoyed apparently lost their flavor. Yet another issue to be considered for long-term efforts.

Which brings us back to sex and reproductive biology. The fact is, gravity plays a role in everything, including reproductive biology and development. There have been some studies done using frogs, since the development cycle is fairly fast. The most recent one with which I am familiar was the Frog Embryology Experiment on Spacelab J. Here’s a link to a PDF of the mission brochure which gives an overview of the experiments and why they were being done.

When sperm enters an egg, that spot actually rotates down in response to gravity, and becomes a marking point (start?) of bilateral symmetry and the spine. In most cases, things proceed normally and a you get a tadpole that becomes a normal frog. Same with a child in terms of human reproduction. The question is, what happens without gravity?

My memories of the mission are sketchy (stupid lightning), but I remember that the experimental group were funky. As in bent and crooked. Once they returned to gravity, however, they quickly became normal looking and grew up into normal frogs if I remember the mission report correctly.

Which still leaves the question: what happens when they, or any other developing organism, don’t return to gravity? I’m really hoping someone has been looking into this on ISS, but given how gun-shy NASA was about any discussion of (or investigations touching on) reproduction of any type…

There are many challenges to long-term space operations, and creating a permanent human presence off Earth (something much needed as soon as possible). One of the largest remains humans (including psych and social issues) and the human body.

Thank you Glenn for the Instalanche! Hope to post more later after the server hamsters catch up with things. 🙂

UPDATE: Some suggestions for follow-on research and some related topics for future outposts is here.

It’s Alive, It’s Alive!

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago today I was technically dead. That my heart was stopped, my body put on a heart/lung bypass, and several things done while they had the chance. To my mind, they did three things: First, they replaced several arteries where the walls had become inflamed/thickened. Second, they put a metal clip on a spot on the back of my heart to prevent blood clots from forming. Third, they used both heat and cold on several spots to stop those areas as they were contributing to the atrial fibrilation.

They actually sent me home six days after the procedure, and while I do have a tendency to push and overdo things, I also have friends and a visiting physical therapist who cut me down to size very quickly on that. So, trying to follow the process, get in some good exercise without violating any restrictions, and slowly build back my strength and heal.

There has been very little pain involved in all of this. In fact, I’ve been amazed at how little pain there has been. After all, among other indignities, they cut my sternum in half, used a spreader on it, then glued/sutured/put on metal plates to put it all back together then. Indeed, some of the worst pain I had was where the ribs join the spine between the shoulder blades, as that area takes the brunt of the spreader. Some muscle relaxer and that was gone before I left the hospital. The worst part remains getting up in the morning, as the movement to get up and start getting out of bed without twisting everything is interesting, and you manage a bit of that anyway.

I don’t think anyone would have bet on my going home so soon. The first two or three days, everytime they stood me up/got me to stand up, my BP crashed. I suspect that if not for the external pacemaker attached to my heart, that it might have crashed as well. Things got figured out, and I rapidly went from a walker to no support at all. Right now, I’m home and while the physical therapist has limited the number of times I can go upstairs, I am mobile and as active as circumstances and guidelines allow. I do have a ways to go, but things are looking good right now.

The one thing I can’t emphasize enough right now is how gratefull I am for all the prayers and support that have come my way. I’m typing this post while sitting in a recliner that a number of my co-workers at the day job chipped in to get me when they found out I was going to buy one. The financial generosity of those who hit the tip jar has me covered for now in terms of bills and such while I don’t have a paycheck. Finally, the many prayers and good wishes have had an effect, and I don’t think I would be as far along as I am without them. God bless you all, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you!

More soon!

An Interesting Read On COVID-19

A friend shared this and I found it an interesting read. It is a different take on COVID-19 based off a supercomputer study done on the genetic composition. Hoping to get some feedback on the study from doctors, see what they say about it.

Some Important Reads On COVID-19 And Medicine

Back on April 29, I ended the daily COVID-19 updates (last one here with links to previous). One of the reasons I cited was that the numbers coming from the government (really, governments everywhere) were meaningless. “Right now, the numbers are meaningless, unreliable, and being used to stoke panic and push agendas. ”

John Hinderaker at Powerline has a very good post up on the “confusion” and how it is largely deliberate. He provides examples of various health officials deliberately putting out false and misleading data. I really do wish I thought we would see more people putting this type information out, along with how the media is willfully and deliberately putting out false and misleading data. For just one example, look at the daily death tolls, as the deaths reported that day did not all happen that day, but potentially even weeks ago as there is a reporting lag since none of our health systems are set up for immediate notifications.

Also, take the hospitalizations and ventilator usage with a large grain of salt. Quite a few outlets push gross numbers, rather than noting the breakdown between non-COVID usage versus COVID usage of each. The same is going on with the deaths attributed to COVID-19. Many deaths are being reported as COVID-19 when the person died with the disease rather than from it (cough, motorcycle crash, cough). There are some researchers going through the death certificates in various locations to try to work up accurate numbers which are a good guide to developing real science-based policy and reducing the panic the media and bureaucracy are deliberately and maliciously stoking.

Meantime, this article on vitamin D (D3 specifically) is well worth the read. This article is about the continuing efforts of the FDA to block medical technology, particularly related to COVID testing. Keep in mind that it was the CDC and FDA that blocked efforts on testing, treatment, and more from the start, hamstringing efforts to contain, control, and treat. See the COVID updates and other articles here for more info. This article on the loss of trust in government and our so-called experts and betters gets into what it will mean in political and social terms, and is also well worth the read. Hat tip to Instapundit for these articles.

More to come, and hope you enjoy this food for thought today.

Some Interesting Reads

On COVID19 and treatment, this study looks at T-cell reactions that provide a possible immunity, or at least a body primed to fight off COVID19, based off previous T-cell reactions to colds, which share some of the COVID genome. By testing blood samples taken well before the spread of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2, it would appear that some people do indeed have T-cells already primed to go after the disease. Interesting.

This article and this article by Molly Hemingway are well worth a read. One deals with the media and it’s coverage of the spymaster story and it’s crumbling. The other deals with the disturbing (though far from new) efforts and willingness to falsify history for political gain.

Yet More Medical Data on HCQ

The efforts by Big Tech (and Big Bureaucracy) to censor information about hydroxychloroquine have backfired spectacularly. More and more solid data is becoming available not only to those who dig for the data, but to the public as news stories now are getting out about those medical (not academic) studies.

For those interested in facts, read this study, this study, the information in this lawsuit filed by the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, and finally, the information in this article from Brazil. Really hoping the latter group will do a formal study. The latter are also very correct that it is urgent to stop the politicalization of the treatment and deal with the medical results and facts.

Think I may try to link all the papers I can find in one easy place as soon as I have time.

More On COVID-19

First up, a study has been released by the IHU that looks at 3,737 patients treated there using HCQ-AZ (primary) and other treatments. The results are quite interesting, and it is worth noting that the death rate of those treated was 0.9% (35 deaths), and only 6.2% had a poor clinical outcome. You really should read the study since it gets into the underlying conditions and other factors that went into the poor outcomes. Their conclusion notes that early testing, diagnosis, and treatment are key to successful outcomes (more than 93 %).

It is a shame that HCQ has been politicized the way it has in the U.S., and it is worth noting that studies overseas that do honest reviews of HCQ-AZ (plus zinc) show very different outcomes than the limited, and somewhat questionable, studies done here. As such, it worth noting that only 4.5% of the patients treated at/through the IHU has problems with the treatment and most of those were mild (GI). Really, go read the whole thing.

Next up, how many really died of COVID-19? It’s less, possibly far less, than the 121,809 claimed by the CDC. Why? Read this and the linked article. As I noted when discontinuing the daily updates, the numbers being fed the public are worthless, and will remain so until corrected. Even if that number could stand, which it can’t, new data from the CDC saying that the number of cases may be 10 times what is reported. Which means that it is even less deadly, and/or debilitating, than reported. Now, take a look at the number of people who die from the regular flu in a given year. Go on, look it up as you might not believe it if I just tell you. For this we have gutted our economy and freedoms?

Speaking of the lockdown, guess what was ineffective? And as for herd immunity, this study indicates that less than half of the population would need immunity to create herd immunity, as opposed to the 60 % that is the current/classic standard.

Finally, the elephant in the room that the MSM, CDC, and the usual suspects do not and will not talk about. The surges and spikes that are happening? Guess where they probably came from. Yet another signal failure of our so-called elites.

I want to thank two people for their tireless and even bulldog work on the science of COVID-19. First is Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. While his co-bloggers have done good work, Glenn has been tenacious on the science and has earned multiple hat tips here and on social media from me. Second, I want to thank Dr. Didier Raoult at the IHU for his efforts to get not only his own data out, but who has tirelessly shared studies and information from multiple other studies. His sharing, and informed commentary, has been everything our own experts have failed to do.

T-Cells Better Indicator Than Antibodies?

This is a fascinating read on tracking COVID-19. If other studies back this up, we may find that COVID-19 was even more widespread than believed. That’s important to know, since it would also likely push the survival rate up well past 99 percent from the current (roughly) 98 percent. It would also show that it was not as contagious as presented. Hat tip to Instapundit.

Two quick thoughts to share.

First, I’m wondering if the COVID-19 that hit the world was/is a weakened version of what first spread in China. The reports that got out from China (as opposed to the lies of the Chinese government) present a much grimmer picture and the response of the Chinese government was/is extreme given what we know of COVID-19 elsewhere. It also raises questions about what the CCP thought got loose.

Second, I wonder if — once the dubious death statistics are corrected/updated — we will see that the death rate was actually significantly lower than the normal death rate from the seasonal flu. There is data that shows it is the same or lower right now. Another fact that is being studiously ignored by the MSM.

BONUS LINK: He’s right you know… /Morgan Freeman Voice

Ending the COVID-19 Updates

I’ve made the call to stop the updates. Right now, the numbers are meaningless, unreliable, and being used to stoke panic and push agendas. To compare the number of deaths to that of a war is both odious and deceitful, not to mention meaningless as we lose around this number to the flu (and we have lost far less than common accidents take out each day).

With the death numbers highly suspect, and the number of cases on a world-wide basis also highly suspect because a number of countries are believed to be significantly underreporting both cases and deaths (cough, China, cough). Essentially giving a bonus to hospitals/others for declaring a death as being from COVID-19, even if the person was not tested for the disease, has made U.S. death figures meaningless.

The repeated manipulation of the numbers by the mainstream media and certain politicians out to score points, does nothing good. It creates panic, and it creates opportunities for the unscrupulous. It does nothing to advance rational discussion or the marketplace of ideas.

I will continue to post links to interesting papers and articles, so that they can be discussed and at least some rational discussion can be put forth into the debate.

Frankly, I find it interesting that for all we have learned about COVID-19, we still don’t know that much. We actually still don’t know how it kills; rather, we have seen many patients die of cytokine storms when it provokes the body to attack itself, and an interesting group of younger victims who have had strokes as a result of infection. Beyond that, there is evidence that it interferes with hemoglobin and oxygen saturation on some level. But, we still don’t know exactly how and why it kills.

The origins do very much matter, as it is interesting, fascinating even, on a biomolecular structural level. How it mutates, and how fast it mutates, is going to make a huge difference in how it interacts with us both later this year and the years to come. There are a lot of questions about it’s structure and how it came to be that need answers, answers that can only come with time and proper study.

While I repeat what I’ve said all along, that whatever it is it is NOT an end-stage (finished) bioweapon. That said, you could not ask for much more out of a bioweapon, esp. one designed to take out a nation for a period of time rather kill everyone (economic versus destruction). The spread rate is far higher than our so-called experts believed at the start. It is transmissible when those infected are asymptomatic and many who have it remain asymptomatic. It is transmissible through multiple vectors, and no we still don’t know all of what and how their either. There are a number of other oddities and issues, but the fact remains that for all it is NOT an end-stage bioweapon is has certainly functioned as one on several levels.

By now, if you don’t know the basics, don’t know how to wash your hands, put on and use gloves and masks, and other aspects of dealing with this, not much can be done for you. So, there is no need to keep repeating the basics.

From now on, I intend to write about the interesting articles, and to do separate commentary on the political and economic aspects. For all that there is some connection between the two, the politics have started driving things well beyond the science.

For those of you who have regularly read and enjoyed my updates, my thanks. I hope you enjoy the articles to come.