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Submission + - Reborn Coma Man’s Words May Be Bogus (

Schiphol writes: The statements of a Belgian man believed to be in a coma for 23 years, but recently discovered to be conscious, are poignant, but experts say they may not be his words at all.

Rom Houben’s account of his ordeal, repeated in scores of news stories since appearing Saturday in Der Spiegel, appears to be delivered with assistance from an aide who helps guide his finger to letters on a flat computer keyboard. Called “facilitated communication,” that technique has been widely discredited, and is not considered scientifically valid.

“If facilitated communication is part of this, and it appears to be, then I don’t trust it,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics. “I’m not saying the whole thing is a hoax, but somebody ought to be checking this in greater detail. Any time facilitated communication of any sort is involved, red flags fly.”

Submission + - Paralysed Belgian misdiagnosed as in coma for 23 (

Schiphol writes: A Belgian man who doctors thought was in a coma for 23 years was conscious all along. Medical staff believed Rom Houben had sunk irretrievably into a coma after he was injured in a car crash in 1983, and it was only in 2006 that a scan revealed Mr Houben's brain was in fact almost entirely functioning.

Submission + - SPAM: Man Free of HIV After Stem Cell Transplant

Schiphol writes: A 42-year-old HIV patient with leukemia appears to have no detectable HIV in his blood and no symptoms after a stem cell transplant from a donor carrying a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the virus that causes AIDS, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is the abstract in the NEJM.
The guy has been 20 months without "viral rebound", with no retroviral therapy.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Influenza antiviral drug gets closer (

Schiphol writes: A group of French researchers have found an important drug target in influenza -including the infamous H5N1. Apparently the flu virus cuts a chemical tag (the "cap") out of the messenger RNA of the host-cell, and adds it to its own RNA. We already knew that an enzime called polymerase does this. What these guys have found is the particular subunit of polymerase that is in charge of cutting the cap: protein PA.
This makes PA a promising antiviral drug target. If we learn how to inhibit its activity, we can prevent the virus from replicating.

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