Category Archives: Research

Hope? Is that the right word?

As much as we all want to believe there will be a cure for diabetes, especially Type 1, in our lifetime isn’t it still a reach?

Happy New Year to you, too.

For as long as I can remember, there has been plenty of talk regarding a cure, whether that was in the form of an artificial pancreas (which would help to manage diabetes as normally as possible) or the use of stem cell research to find a way to replenish the dead beta cells. A cure would be great but at this point, the fact that we all use insulin pumps (or something that’s technologically advanced) for insulin therapy and continuous glucose monitoring systems, it seems that an artificial pancreas would be much more plausible in our lifetime. A lot of the time, we know the cure isn’t coming, so we settle for the best that we can get.

But is it really settling? I guess that’s the most that we can do as people living with an autoimmune disease. I mean, had it been back in the 1800’s we all would have been dead by now. It’s not a morbid thought as much as it’s the truth. We are attempting to adhere to every single bit of technology so that our life is “normal,” and we don’t die from the inability to care for ourselves.

The more and more you hear about advancements in research, the more and more I ask, “So when are the trials happening?” and “When do we get to try some of this good stuff?” We’re like junkies looking for the next taste of hope in the form of a medical journal article. I even want to have all those different tests done to make sure that I do really have diabetes and not some crazy, unexplainable gene mutation that can be cured by taking a pill.

Now they tell us that they’ve successfully taken adult skin cells and converted them to fully functional pancreatic cells. What? You mean, the answer was in our skin all along? And can you actually replenish cells that have been that far gone from your pancreas? I just have a million and one questions and a lot of the times, no one can answer them or clarify them for me. You know why? Because that research is usually done on rats and nothing or nobody else.

I wonder if it’s an issue with funding or the fact that they realize this is impossible in humans. At this rate we’re going to be taken over by rodents because those garbage eating animals are all going to be cured of their diabetes. I’m wondering about the 370 million people worldwide who suffer from diabetes and more, those who are dying every day from diabetes complications. What about them? Why hasn’t anyone stepped up to actually find an answer to the problem?

I digress. This is a medical breakthrough. They always all are. My question is, when do we actually get to see how and if it can impact humans? Will it ever get to that point? Does this really actually mean anything for all of us who live every day with diabetes?

I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.

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Filed under Diabetes, Health, Insulin, Research, technology, Treatments

Researchers Use Twitter To Determine Heart Attack Risk

I love Twitter. Besides all the conversations and the relationships I’ve built being on the platform, I love it because it’s opening itself up to new and more interesting developments that not just impact our social status but our future in so many capacities.

Sure, at some points it can be overrun with advertisements, Twitter chats, advertisements through Twitter chats, but in the end, I like it more than any other social network. Moving on, I’m sure you’ve all seen this already as it was picked up by the New York Times and now Fast Company: Your Tweets Can Tell if You’re Going To Have a Heart Attack.

LanguageWhen I saw that, I was appalled. Really? What is the reasoning behind this, I wondered. And then I thought, am I going to have a heart attack?

So I took to Penn News and read about the study that was done. Just so you know, this is a cross between psychology, computer and information science and engineering. They took the old-fashioned idea of surveys meant to measure the emotions and feelings of people and applied the theory to Twitter, drawing from the language chosen and emotional states of individuals.

Since coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, the five researchers (among them one woman) decided to see if they could show connections between emotional states and physical outcomes using Twitter.

Margaret Kern, an assistant professor and the University of Melbourne, Australia, was the one woman researcher:

“Psychological states have long been thought to have an effect on coronary heart disease,” said Kern. “For example, hostility and depression have been linked with heart disease at the individual level through biological effects. But negative emotions can also trigger behavioral and social responses; you are also more likely to drink, eat poorly and be isolated from other people which can indirectly lead to heart disease.”

So off they went, pulling a set of public tweets from 2009 to 2010, establishing “emotional dictionaries” and word clusters that showed behaviors and attitudes. The tweets sampled also came from those who allowed for geo-tagging of their tweets, coming from “1,300 counties which hold 88 percent of the country’s population.”

What they found was that if people are more prone to writing expletives and are angry in their tweets, they are CDC Twitter Mapencircled by a community full of anger, which may make them prone to dying from heart disease. Whereas using positive words protected individuals from heart disease. They seemed to find a high-level, long-term communal characteristic.

What if my life actually sucks but I like to play the fact that I’m careless and fancy free and happy on social? Well, they found that it varied from location to location– down to the zip code.

Gregory Park is a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Psychology:

“Twitter seems to capture a lot of the same information that you get from health and demographic indicators,” Park said, “but it also adds something extra. So predictions from Twitter can actually be more accurate than using a set of traditional variables.”

When lined up with the CDC’s map of heart disease happenings, what this team of researchers found was that it was surprisingly accurate in the end. How cool is that? The innovation of thought process is incredible. Does this mean that the rate of diabetes can also be determined since it is closely tied to heart-disease? I wonder.

I wonder what people would be able to tell from Facebook statuses?

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Filed under Health, Research