Thursday, March 12, 2009

Round Up Time!

This week's edition of The Objectivist Round Up is over at Titanic Deck Chairs. It's a big edition this week, lots of good stuff, so don't miss it!

I'm going to take a mini-blogging break for a couple of days. I may pop by if there's something of vast import I must absolutely share (such as a neat-o internet quiz!).

But we've got a busy few days coming up. Date Night tonight, and then we have a dumpster rented for the weekend so we can clear CRAP out of our house. We rented such a dumpster a couple of years ago, and it was a truly wond'rous thing. But I think I was still too much of a packrat to be completely merciless about letting things go. No more. If I don't LOVE it, it's Gone, Daddy, Gone. Time to get back to essentials.

TTFN, and if I don't see you (here, on FB, or on Twitter, or even Real Life!), then have a nice weekend!


Daniel said...

Have a good weekend. And please put me in line to host a round up sometime next month... :-)

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

First, I have probably not thanked you for the link the the Objectivist Roundup every week. I have been reading it faithfully for some time, and I have come to look forward to it in these really weird political times!

Secondly, you are the second blogger that I follow that has gotten a dumpster. I think I need one as well. I am somewhat good about throwing things away, and the Engineering Geek is absolutely terrible about it. You can only imagine what our garage looks like.
Think of it this way: we paid a pretty penny to buy a house with a three car garage, and our two vehicles have been parked outside since we moved in.

I think I am going to call East Mountain Disposal tomorrow!

ca4papen(at) said...

Dear Jenn,
If I remember correctly you have a son with a peanut allergy. I came across this on a news site. Usually I'd just drop the url, but they rotate them so fast that it wouldn't stay valid for long. Hope I'm not breaking etiquette for length here.

C Andrew

Possible therapy takes bite out of peanut allergy
From Associated Press
March 15, 2009 7:18 PM EDT
WASHINGTON - Scientists have the first evidence that life-threatening peanut allergies may be cured one day.

A few kids now are allergy-free thanks to a scary treatment - tiny amounts of the very food that endangered them.

Don't try this at home. Doctors monitored the youngsters closely in case they needed rescue, and there's no way to dice a peanut as small as the treatment doses required.

But over several years, the children's bodies learned to tolerate peanuts. Immune-system tests show no sign of remaining allergy in five youngsters, and others can withstand amounts that once would have left them wheezing or worse, scientists reported Sunday.

Are the five cured? Doctors at Duke University Medical Center and Arkansas Children's Hospital must track them years longer to be sure.

"We're optimistic that they have lost their peanut allergy," said the lead researcher, Dr. Wesley Burks, Duke's allergy chief. "We've not seen this before medically. We'll have to see what happens to them."

More rigorous research is under way to confirm the pilot study, released Sunday at a meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. If it pans out, the approach could mark a major advance for an allergy that afflicts 1.8 million people in the United States.

For parents of these little allergy pioneers, that means no more fear that something as simple as sharing a friend's cookie at school could mean a race to the emergency room.

"It's such a burden lifted off your shoulder to realize you don't have to worry about your child eating a peanut and ending up really sick," said Rhonda Cassada of Hillsborough, N.C. Her 7-year-old son, Ryan, has been labeled allergy-free for two years and counting.

It's a big change for a child who couldn't tolerate one-sixth of a peanut when he entered the study at age 2 1/2. By 5, Ryan could eat a whopping 15 peanuts at a time with no sign of a reaction.

Not that Ryan grew to like peanuts. "They smell bad," he said matter-of-factly.

Millions of people have food allergies and peanut allergy is considered the most dangerous, with life-threatening reactions possible from trace amounts. It accounts for most of the 30,000 emergency-room visits and up to 200 deaths attributed to food allergies each year. Although some children outgrow peanut allergy, that's rare among the severely affected.

There's no way to avoid a reaction other than avoiding peanuts. Those allergy shots that help people allergic to pollen and other environmental triggers reduce or eliminate symptoms - by getting used to small amounts of the allergen - are too risky for food allergies.

Enter oral immunotherapy.

Twenty-nine severely allergic children spent a day in the hospital swallowing minuscule but slowly increasing doses of a specially prepared peanut flour, until they had a reaction. The child went home with a daily dose just under that reactive amount, usually equivalent to one-thousandth of a peanut.

After eight months to 10 months of gradual dose increases, most can eat the peanut-flour equivalent of 15 peanuts daily, said Burks, who two years ago began reporting these signs of desensitization as long as children took their daily medicine.

Sunday's report goes the next big step.

Nine children who had taken daily therapy for 2 1/2 years were given a series of peanut challenges. Four in the initial study report - and a fifth who finished testing last week - could stop treatment and avoid peanuts for an entire month and still have no reaction the next time they ate 15 whole peanuts. Immune-system changes suggest they're truly allergy-free, Burks said.

Scientists call that tolerance - meaning their immune systems didn't forget and go bad again - and it's a first for food allergy treatment, said Dr. Marshall Plaut of the National Institutes of Health.

"Anything that would enable kids to eat peanuts would be a major advance," Plaut said, cautioning that more study is needed. "This paper, if it's correct, takes it to the next level. ... That is potentially very exciting."

Arkansas Children's Hospital has begun a study randomly assigning youngsters to eat either peanut flour or a dummy flour. It's not over, but after the first year, the treated group ate the equivalent of 15 peanuts with no symptoms while the placebo group suffered symptoms to the equivalent of a single peanut, Burks said.

The treatment remains experimental, Burks stressed, although he hopes it will be ready for prime time in a few years.

He isn't taking chances with the first five allergy-free kids. They're under orders to eat the equivalent of a tablespoon of peanut butter a day to keep their bodies used to the allergen.

Ryan Cassada says his mom sometimes "hides them in things so she can force me to eat it." Peanut butter cookies are OK, he says, just not straight peanut butter.

The battle is a small price, his mother said. "As much as I can get into him is fine with me. It's huge knowing he won't have a reaction."

Rational Jenn said...

Daniel--will do! I'll be working on the schedule in the next day or two and we'll be in touch!

Elisheva--I'm so glad that you have enjoyed reading the Roundup each week. If you weren't aware, I'm actually the administrator of the carnival, and my involvement is one way that I can share the ideas that I hold dear with others. I'm glad to find many allies, such as yourself, in the blogosphere!

The dumpster has been a glorious thing and Brendan and I feel so FREE of clutter that has been with us for years. Seriously. We moved into this house 10.5 years ago and we threw away boxes that we hadn't touched since the move--how pitiful is that? We are resolved to learn how to live ON less and live WITH less--and now we have more space in which to do all of that living! Good luck to you and EG!

C. Andrew--I had seen this article, but I wanted to tell you how touched I am that you thought of me and posted here. This is the study I've had my eye on for a while now, and I've even contacted them about perhaps participating (they've never gotten back to me though). I'm glad that the American reports are for the most part talking about this as a 'treatment' and not a 'cure' (as a similar British study was touted a few weeks ago).

I'm extremely hopeful that the clinical studies that have been underway will help provide a treatment for my son and others like him. Even just a small level of tolerance will make our lives so much easier. Thanks again--it means a lot.