How a Valentine’s Editorial about Chocolate & Semen Lead to the Resignation of Top Surgeon Greenfield

27 04 2011
Children's Valentine in somewhat questionable ...

Image via Wikipedia

Dr. Lazar Greenfield, recently won the election as the new President of  ACS (American College of Surgeons). This position would crown his achievements. For Greenfield was a truly pre-eminent surgeon. He is best known for his development of an intracaval filter bearing his name. This device probably has saved many lives by preventing blood clots from going into the lungs. He has been highly productive having authored more than 360 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, 128 book chapters as well as 2 textbooks.

Greenfield also happened to have a minor side job as the editor-in-chief of Elsevier’s Surgery News. Surgery News is not a peer-reviewed journal, but what Greenfield later defines as a monthly throw-away newspaper (of the kind Elsevier produces a lot).

As an-editor-in chief Greenfield wrote open editorials (opinion pieces) for Surgery News. He found a very suitable theme for the February issue: Valentine’s day.

Valentine’s Day is about love, and the editorial was about romantic gut feeling possibly having a physiological basis. In other words, the world of  sexual chemical signals that give you butterflies-feelings. The editorial jumps from mating preferences of fruit flies, stressed female rotifers turning into males and synchronization of menstrual cycles of women who live together, to a study suggesting that “exposure” to semen makes female college students less depressed. All 4 topics are based on scientific research, published in peer review papers.

Valentines Day asks for giving this “scientific” story a twist, so he concludes the editorial as follows:

“So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

Now, everybody knows that that conclusion ain’t supported by the data.
This would have required at least a double-blind randomized trial, comparing the mood-enhancing effects of chocolate compared to …….  (yikes!).

Just joking, of course…., similar as dear Lazar was trying to be funny….

No, the editorial wasn’t particularly funny.

And somehow it isn’t pleasant to think of a man’s love fluid wrapped in a ribbon and a box with hearts, while you expect some chocolates. Furthermore it suggests that sperm is something a man just gives/donates/injects, not a resultant of mutual love.

However this was the opposite of what Greenfield had in mind:

The biochemical properties of semen that were reviewed have been documented in peer-reviewed journals and represent the remarkable way that Nature promotes bonding between men and women, not something demeaning.”

Thus the man just tried to “Amuse his readers” and highlight research on “some fascinating new findings related to semen.”

I would have appreciated a more subtle ending of the editorial, but I would take no offense.

….Unlike many of his fellow female surgeons.  The Women in Surgery Committee and the Association of Women Surgeons considered his editorial as “demeaning to women” (NY-Times).

He offered his sincere apologies and resigned as Editor-in-Chief of the paper. The publication was retracted. As a matter of fact the entire February issue of Surgery News was taken off the ACS-website. Luckily, Retraction Watch published the editorial in its entirety.

Greenfield’s apologies weren’t enough, women surgeons brought the issue to the Board of Regents, who asked him to resign, which he eventually did.

A few weeks later he wrote a resentful letter. This is not a smart thing to do, but is understandable for several reasons. First, he didn’t he mean to be offensive and made his apologies. Second, he has an exemplary career as a longtime mentor and advocate of women in surgery. Third, true reason for his resign wasn’t the implicit plead for unprotected sex, but rather that the editorial reflected “a macho culture in surgery that needed to change.” Fourth, his life is ruined over something trivial.

Why can’t one write a lighthearted opinion-piece at Valentine’s day without getting resigned? Is it because admitting that “the “bond between men and women” is natural and runs deep” is one of those truths you cannot utter (Paul Rahe).

Is this perhaps typically American?

Elmar Veerman (Dutch Journalist, science editor at VPRO) comments at at Retraction Watch:

(…) Frankly, I don’t see the problem. I find it rather funny and harmless. Perhaps because I’m from Europe, where most people have a more relaxed attitude towards sex. Something like ‘nipplegate’ could never happen here (a nipple on tv, so what).  (…) I have been wondering for years why so many Americans seem to think violence is fine and sex is scary.

Not only female surgeons  object to the editorial. Well-known male (US) surgeons “fillet” the editorial at their blogs: Jeffrey Parks at Buckeye Surgeon ( 1 and 2), Orac Knows at Respectful Insolence (1 and 2) and Skeptical Scalpel (the latter quite mildly).

Jeffrey and Orac do not only think the man is humorless and a sexist, but also that the science behind the mood-enhancing aspects of semen is crap.

Although Jeffrey only regards “The “science” a little suspect as per Orac.”…. Because of course: “Orac knows.”

Orac exaggerates what Greenfield has said in the “breathtakingly inappropriate and embarrassing article  for Surgery News”, as he calls it. [1]:  “Mood-enhancing effects of semen” becomes in Orac’s words  the cure for female depression and  “a woman needs a man to inject his seed into her in order to be truly happy“.
Of course, it is not fair to twist words this way.

The criticism of Orac against the science that supports Dr. Greenfield’s joke is as follows: The first two studies are not related to human biology and the semen study” is “about as lame a study as can be imagined. Not only is it a study in which causation is implied by correlation, but to me the evidence of correlation is not even that compelling.”  

Orac is right about that. In his second post Orac continues (in response to the authors of the semen paper, who defend Greenfield and suggest they had obtained “more evidence”):

(..)so I was curious about where they had published their “replication.” PubMed has a wonderful feature in which it pops up “related citations” in the right sidebar of any citation you look up. I didn’t recall seeing any related citations presenting confirmatory data for Gallup et al’s study. I searched PubMed using the names of all three authors of the original “semen” study and found no publications regarding the antidepressant properties of semen since the original 2002 study cited by Dr. Greenfield. I found a lot of publications about yawning and mental states, but no followup study or replication of the infamous “semen” study. color me unimpressed” [2](..)

Again, I agree with Orac: the authors didn’t publish any confirmatory data.
But looking at related articles is not a good way to check if related articles have been published: PubMed creates this set by comparing words from the title, abstract, and MeSH terms using a word-weighted algorithm. It is goal is mainly to increase serendipity.

I didn’t have time to do a proper Pubmed search, which should include all kinds of synonyms for sperm and mood/depression. I just checked the papers citing Gallups original article in Google Scholar and found 29 hits (no Gallop papers indeed), including various articles by Costa & Brody i.e. the freely available letter (discussing their research): Greater Frequency of Penile–Vaginal Intercourse Without Condoms is Associated with Better Mental Health. This letter was a response to an opposite finding by the way.

I didn’t look at the original articles and I don’t really expect much of it. However, it just shows the Gallop study is not the only study, linking semen to positive health effects.

Assuming Greenfield had more than a joke in mind, and wanted to reflect on the state of art of health aspects of semen, it surprises me that he didn’t dig any further than this article from 2002.

Is it because he really based his editorial on a review in Scientific American from 2010, called “An ode to the many evolved virtues of human semen” [3,4], which describes Gallup’s study and, strikingly, also starts with discussing menstrual synchrony.

Greenfield could have discussed other, better documented, properties of semen, like its putative protection from pre-eclampsia (see references in Wikipedia)[5]

Or even better, he could have cited other sexual chemical signals that give you butterflies-feelings, like smell!

In stead of “Gut Feelings” the title could have been “In the nose of the beholder” or “The Smell of Love” [6].

And Greenfield could have concluded:

“So there’s more in the air than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates: perfume.

And no one would have bothered and would have done with the paper as one usually does with throwaways.

Notes

  1. Coincidentally, while reading Orac’s post I saw a Research Blogging post mentioned in the side bar: masturbation-and-restless-leg-syndrome. …Admittedly, this was a friday-weird-science post and a thorough review of a case study.
  2. It would probably have been easier to check their website with an overview of publications
  3. Mentioned in a comment somewhere, but I can’t track it down.
  4. If Greenfield used Scientific American as a source he should have read it all to the end, where the author states: I bid adieu, please accept, in all sincerity, my humblest apologies for what is likely to be a flood of bad, off-color jokes—men saying, “I’m not a medical doctor, but my testicles are licensed pharmaceutical suppliers” and so on—tracing its origins back to this innocent little article. Ladies, forgive me for what I have done.”
  5. Elmar Veerman has written a review on this topic in 2000 at Kennislink: http://www.kennislink.nl/publicaties/sperma-als-natuurlijke-bescherming (Dutch)
  6. As a matter of fact these are actual titles of scientific papers.




FDA to Regulate Genetic Testing by DTC-Companies Like 23andMe

14 06 2010

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing refers to genetic tests that are marketed directly to consumers via television, print advertisements, or the Internet. This form of testing, which is also known as at-home genetic testing, provides access to a person’s genetic information without necessarily involving a doctor or insurance company in the process. [definition from NLM's Genetic Home Reference Handbook]

Almost two years ago I wrote about 23andMe (23andMe: 23notMe, not yet),  a well known DTC company, that offers a genetics scan (SNP-genotyping) to the public ‘for research’, ‘for education’ and ‘for fun’:

“Formally 23andMe denies there is a diagnostic purpose (in part, surely, because the company doesn’t want to antagonize the FDA, which strictly regulates diagnostic testing for disease). However, 23andme does give information on your risk profile for certain diseases, including Parkinson”

In another post Personalized Genetics: Too Soon, Too Little? I summarized an editorial by Ioannides on the topic. His (and my) conclusion was that “the promise of personalized genetic prediction may be exaggerated and premature”. The most important issue is that predictive power to individualize risks is relatively weak. Ioannidis emphasized that despite the poor evidence, direct to consumer genetic testing has already begun and is here to stay. He proposed several safeguards, including transparent and thorough reporting, unbiased continuous synthesis and grading of the evidence and alerting the public that most genetic tests have not yet been shown to be clinically useful.

And now these “precautionary measures” actually seem to happen.
Last week the FDA sent 5 DTC-companies, including 23andMe a letter saying “their tests are medical devices that must receive regulatory approval before they can be marketed.” (ie. see NY-times article).

Alberto Gutierrez, who leads diagnostic test regulation at the FDA, wrote in the letters:

“Premarket review allows for an independent and unbiased assessment of a diagnostic test’s ability to generate test results that can reliably be used to support good health care decisions,”

These letters are part of an initiative to better explain the FDA’s actions by providing information that supports clinical medicine, biomedical innovation, and public health,” (May 19 New England Journal of Medicine commentary, source: see AMED-news)

Although it doesn’t look like the tests will be taken from the market, 23andMe does take a quite a rebellious attitude: one of its directors called the FDA “appallingly paternalistic.”

Many support this view: “people have the right to know their own genetic make-up”, so to say. Furthermore as discussed above, 23andMe denies that their genetic scans are meant for diagnosis.

In my view the latter is largely untrue. At least 23andMe suggests that knowing a scan does tell you something about your risks for certain diseases.
However, the risks are often not that straightforward. You just can’t “measure” the risk of a multifactorial disease like diabetes by “scanning” a few weakly predisposing  genes. Often the results are given in relative risk, which is highly confusing. In her TED-talk the 23andMe director Anne Wojcicki said her husband Sergey Brin (Google), had a 50% chance of getting Parkinson, but his relative risk (RR, based on the LRRK2-mutation, which isn’t the most crucial gene for getting Parkinson) varies from 20% to 80% , which means that this mutation increases his absolute risk of getting Parkinson from 2-5% (normal chance) to 4-10% at the most. (see this post).

Furthermore, as reported by Venture in Nature (October 8, 2009): For seven diseases, 50% or less of the predictions of two companies agreed across five individuals (i.e. for one disease: 23andMe : RR 4.02, and Navigenics RR: 1.25). On the other hand *fun* diagnoses could lead to serious concern in, or wrong/unnecessary decisions (removal of ovaries, changing drug doses) by patients.

There are also concerns with regard to their good-practice standards, as 23andMe just flipped a 96-wells plate of costumer DNA (see Genetic Future for a balanced post), which upset a mother noticing that her son didn’t have compatible genes. But lets assume that proper precautions will prevent this to happen again.

There are also positive aspects: results of a preliminary study showed that people who find out they have high genetic risk for cardiovascular disease are more likely to change their diet and exercise patterns than are those who learn they have a high risk from family history. (Technology ReviewGenetic Testing Can Change Behavior).

Furthermore, people buy those tests themselves and, indeed, there genes are their own.

However, I agree with Dr. Gutierrez of the FDA saying: “We really don’t have any issues with denying people information. We just want to make sure the information they are given is correct. (NY-Times). The FDA is putting the consumers first.

However, it will be very difficult to be consistent. What about total body scans in normal healthy people, detecting innocent incidentilomas? Or what about the controversial XMRV-tests offered by the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) directly to CFS- patients? (see these posts) And one step further (although not in the diagnostic field): the ineffective CAM/homeopathic products sold over the counter?

I wouldn’t mind if these tests/products would be held up to the light. Consumers should not be misled by the results of unproven or invalid tests, and where needed should be offered the guidance of a healthcare provider.

But if tests are valid and risk predictions correct, it is up to the “consumer” if he/she wants to purchase such a test.

—————–

What Five FDA Letters Mean for the Future of DTC Genetic Testingat Genomics law Report is highly recommendable, but couldn’t be accessed while writing the post.

[Added: 2010-06-14 13.10]

  • Problem assessing Genomics Law Report is resolved.
  • Also recommendable: the post “FDA to regulate genetic tests as “devices”” at PHG Foundation. This post highlights that simply trying to classify the complete genomic testing service as “a device” is inadequate and will not address the difficult issues at hand. One of the biggest issues is that, while classifying DTC genetics tests as devices is certainly appropriate for assessing their analytical validity and direct safety, it does not and cannot provide an assessment of the service, thus of the predictions and interpretations resulting from the genome scans.  Although standard medical testing has traditionally been overseen by professional medical bodies, the current genomic risk profiling tests are simply not good enough to be used by health care services. (see post)
Related articles by Zemanta




Haiti still needs help

21 01 2010

Usually, I don’t grant requests for help “to get the word out”. But I will make an exception for a good cause: Haiti.

You could help Haiti by supporting the International Medical Corps (IMC).

The IMC is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization, founded by volunteer doctors and nurses in 1984 and dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through relief and development programs. Their emergency response team is in Haiti responding in force, but there are still thousands of patients seeking treatment of which approximately 80% are in need of surgery and are running out of time – especially with the tremendous aftershocks still devastating this country. The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, substantial wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies – And they’re in it for the long haul.

You can help by donating funds, volunteering in Haiti, or just spreading the word (i.e. putting a widget on your site or or Tweeting this )

Want to know more about IMC’s rescue efforts, see:  http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti

Here you can also donate to help people of Haiti.

Donating $10 to help the people of Haiti is as simple as sending a text message of the word “haiti” to 85944. But other ways are also possible, i.e. click on the red widget on the left.

Importantly, IMC is highly efficient as 92% of their resources go directly to program activities.

————————————
Nederlanders kunnen ook deze internationale organisatie ondersteunen.

Daarnaast kunt ook terecht bij het oude vertrouwde noodhulp gironummer 555, dat nu speciaal opengesteld is voor Haiti (zie bijvoorbeeld NRC-next). U steunt daarmee wel andere organisaties, die noodhulp geven.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]




Friday Foolery #10. 6 x X-Rays

7 11 2009

“X-rays” were in the news this week, at least there was an illuminating exposure on Twitter. Here are 6 stories, half serious and half not so serious.

[1] First, voters have picked the X-ray machine as the most important scientific invention (objects in science, engineering, technology and medicine), in a poll to celebrate the centenary of the Science Museum in London. As a matter of fact medical inventions were in the top three places in the poll (1. X-ray machines 2. Penicillin and 3. DNA double helix), ahead of the Apollo 10 capsule (no. 4) and the steam engine (8).

BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8339877.stm
BMJ: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/339/nov05_3/b4602?rss=1

[2] Margaret Daalman came to hospital complaining of stomach ache – and one glance at her X-ray showed why:  the 52-year-old woman’s stomach contained an entire canteen of cutlery. She had to go under the knife to remove the (78!) forks and spoons. (see fotos here) The woman told the doctors: ‘I don’t know why but I felt an urge to eat the silverware – I could not help myself.’ She was somewhat picky however, as she never ate knives.
The images were actually taken over 30 years ago, but they were published for the first time this week in a Dutch medical magazine. Yes the woman was Dutch. At least according to the Daily Mail…….

However, the actual story published as a case in Medisch Contact is somewhat different.They actually state below the article:

Mededeling redactie

Over deze casus is in de populaire media foutieve berichtgeving gaande. De in andere media opgevoerde ‘mw Daalmans’ heeft niets te maken met deze casus. Het betreft, in tegenstelling tot wat elders wordt beweerd ook geen casus van 30 jaar geleden.

Which means something like: in contrary to what has been stated by the popular press this case has nothing to do with Mrs Daalmans, nor did it happen 30 years ago.
In effect, the Daily Mail mentions both (?) Rotterdam and Sittard as towns where this should have taken place, but in Medisch Contact only Helmond was mentioned. The towns are far apart.

One wonders why, because the story is extraordinary enough.

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1223563/The-woman-knife--swallowing-entire-canteen-cutlery.html
Twitter: http://twitter.com/drves/status/5403151285
Medisch Contact: http://medischcontact.artsennet.nl/blad/Tijdschriftartikel/Bestek-in-de-maag.htm

[3] An obese man died after refusing an X-ray taken in a machine for zoo animals because he was too large for the hospital’s X-ray machine, the maximum capacity of most hospital machines being around 200 kilo. Later his wife told that the man felt too humiliated to go to the zoo.

The Local (Germany news in English, Bild.de.) http://www.thelocal.de/society/20091103-22993.html

[4] Todays Friday Funny post of dr. Val at Better Health is Joyful Radiology or Merry X-Ray

engrish-funny-merry-xray

Better Health: http://getbetterhealth.com/the-friday-funny-joyful-radiology/2009.11.06

[5] A special X-Ray: CAT-scan

4076270034_aa19e6dd2b cat-scan

http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinkearney/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

[6] When both your arm and the X-ray are broken:

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomicCyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Ooh, I wonder whether the great number of X-ray related posts has something to do with the upcoming overlooked holiday: X-ray day (November 8th).

Can someone put the light off?

Articles by Zemanta

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]




Does the insulin Lantus (glargine) cause cancer?

7 07 2009

Last week my eyes were caught by a post of Kevin MD at his blog entitled

Does insulin cause cancer, and should you stop taking Lantus?”.

Kevin linked to the blog of Dr. Mintz, a board-certified internist, who had a strong opinion on this. Dr. Mintz  posted 3 blog articles on the matter, entitled: A new problem with insulin: cancer (June 29), Lantus causes cancer! Why doesn’t anyone seem to care? (July 1) and Lantus and cancer – A closer look is not reassuring (July 2). Dr. Mintz’s conclusion was based on 4 recent publications in diabetologica (1-4)6-7-2009 10-14-07 dr Mintz + foto

Alarming. Especially since Dr. Mintz is an expert, often prescribing insulins. Also, I’m suspicious  about any substance with an IGF (insulin growh factor)-like action, because I know from previous work in the lab that some tumor cells (i.e. prostate and breast cancer) thrive on IGF. On the other hand there have been several examples in the past, where retrospective studies initially “showed” drugs to cause cancer, which have later been invalidated by more thorough studies (i.e. statins).

“Lantus causing cancer” is a serious allegation, that might cause panic in those many diabetic patients using Lantus. Are fears justified and should Lantus be “banned”?

After reading the publications (1-5), news articles and some blogposts (i.e. a balanced blogpost at Diabetesmine, a blog of a patient) and a very thorough blogpost in Dutch), I rather conclude that the recent publications in Diabetologica, dr Mintz* refers to, do not support a causal role for Lantus in cancer. However, they still give reason for some serious concern in a subset of patients (explained below).

Now what is Lantus and what have preclinical and clinical trials revealed?

Insulin glargine (Lantus) is the first of the long-acting insulin analogues, introduced in 2001. This analogue is a so called designer molecule made by the recombinant DNA technique. It has three amino-acid substitutions, that cause a lower solubility of the insulin molecule  at the injection site, forming a depot from which insulin is slowly released (9, 10).  The advantage is that stable 24hr blood glucose concentrations are reached by a once daily subcutaneous injection without a blood glucose peak upon injection as seen with the short acting insulins. However, insulin replacement remains far from ‘natural’, “the insulin is injected in the wrong site (subcutaneously instead of intraportally), in shots (instead of a continuous low secretion associated with a prompt release in response to a meal, with a total lack of the physiological pulsatile secretion”).lantus pen + kineticsInsulins not only bind to the insulin receptor, leading to the intended glucose lowering, but also to the insulin growth factor receptor (IGF-R), which mainly induces cell proliferation. Importantly, glargine has a much higher affinity for both receptors than insulin. This can lead to a sustained activation of the IGF-receptor, resulting in enhanced cell growth.

Indeed, Preclinical Research has shown that only glargine showed a significantly higher proliferative effect on breast cancer cells compared to regular insulin among a panel of short- or long-acting insulin analogues (6) . Futhermore,  insulin analogues display IGF-I-like mitogenic and anti-apoptotic activities in cultured cancer cells (thus they stimulate cell division and prevent programmed cell death of cancer cells (8).

Experimental animal studies haven’t shown a tumorigenic or teratogenic potential of glargine, except for histiocytomas in male rat (Product information Lantus). Such studies don not examine tumor promoting properties (see below)

Clinical Studies (published in Diabetologica 2009)

Based on the insulin analogue characteristics and the in vitro results there was already concern about possible increased cancer risk of glargine. But the concern was boosted by a prominent diabetes researcher forecasting an “earthquake” event compromising the safety profile of Lantus,  and the subsequent publication of five studies in  the European journal Diabetologia, the Journal of the EASD (European Association for the of Study of Diabetes).

Except for one small study, which was a post-hoc analysis of a randomized study by Sanofi-Aventis itself [5], all other studies were retrospective. The Sanofi study didn’t find an increase in cancer, but given its small size (1000 patients), it is not  convincing enough to exclude a higher risk of cancer.

The first, German, study [1] was submitted a year ago, but because of the uncertainties and the expected high impact, researchers from other European countries were asked to replicate the findings before announcing them formally. Studies were carried out using databases from Sweden, Scotland, and the UK.

The German study (n= 127,031 patients, exclusively on human insulin or on one type of insulin analogues (lispro, aspart or glargine; glargine: n=23,855 ; mean follow-up time 1.63 years) found an overall increase in cancers, independent of the insulin used. After statistical modeling, a dose-dependent increase in cancer risk was found for treatment with glargine compared with human insulin (p<0.0001): with an adjusted HR of 1.31 (95% CI 1.20 to 1.42) for a daily dose of 50 IU, meaning that out of every 100 people who used Lantus insulin one additional person was diagnosed with cancer over the study period. The baseline characteristics were different between the groups. It was not possible to break the analysis down to type of cancer.

The Swedish and Scottish studies [2-3], both based on matching of national databases for cancer and diabetes, showed no overall increase in cancer, but an increased incidence rate of breast cancer in women using insulin glargine monotherapy (no other types of insulin or combination) as compared with women using types of insulin other than insulin glargine. Although this can be caused by chance, it is striking that both studies had a similar outcome. The enhanced risk was abolished in patients using glargine together with other insulins. These were mostly younger patients with diabetes type 1.

The fourth smaller study [4] found that patients on insulin were more likely to develop solid cancers than those on metformin, and combination with metformin abolished most of this excess risk. No harmful effect on cancer development, including breast cancer were observed: there was only a higher risk versus metformin, which has known anti-cancer properties.

In Conclusion:

  • Diabetes patients using insulin should never stop using insulin, as this is very dangerous.
  • Long term studies have shown ‘natural’ insulins to be effective and safe.
  • The reported studies do NOT show that Lantus can CAUSE cancer. Moreover, the time span (less than two years) is too short for any drug to cause cancer.
  • The enhanced risk was only observed for breast cancer (2-3) and/or if Lantus was used on its own, thus not with other insulins (1-3) or metformin (4). The association was clearest in type 2 diabetes patients. It is not clear whether the association reflects the effects of Lantus or the inherent differences between for instance diabetes I/younger  and diabetes II/older patients (also because the latter often use Lantus alone ). In addition, it should be noticed that diabetes patients already have a higher cancer risk (possibly related to overweight, often seen in type 2 diabetes)
  • At the most Lantus might promote existing cancer to grow and divide. Lantus might for instance provide a survival advantage of percancerous or cancerous cells. This would be consistent with its in vitro mitogenic effect on breast cancer cells.
  • On the basis of the current evidence there is no need to switch to other treatments when a long acting insulin is necessary to keep blood glucose under control. However, Lantus treatment could be reconsidered in diabetes II patients, with good control of blood glucose, for whom a clear benefit of Lantus has not been shown or  in patients with a higher cancer risk.
  • Levamir is considered as a good alternative by some, because this long acting insulin analogue lacks the greater affinity for IGF-R. However, absence of proof is no proof of absence: Levamir has only recently been introduced, it has not been included in these studies and clinical experience is limited.
  • More conclusive evidence is to be expected from analysis of the large combined analysis of the databases available worldwide, by EASD and sanofi-aventis. Results are expected within a few months.

Video-editorials featuring Prof. Ulf Smith, Director EASD, and Prof Edwin Gale, editor-in-chief Diabetologica (part 1 and 2)

*dr Mintz reformulated this in his last post, where he stated that “it is unlikely that Lantus actually causes cancer alone, because it takes years to develop most cancers. However, it is more likely that Lantus causes existing cells to grow and divide more rapidly.

Journal ArticlesResearchBlogging.org

  1. Hemkens, L., Grouven, U., Bender, R., Günster, C., Gutschmidt, S., Selke, G., & Sawicki, P. (2009). Risk of malignancies in patients with diabetes treated with human insulin or insulin analogues: a cohort study Diabetologia DOI: 10.1007/s00125-009-1418-4 (Free full text)
  2. Jonasson, J.M., Ljung, R, Talbäck, M, Haglund, B, Gudbjörnsdòttir, S, & Steineck, G (2009). Insulin glargine use and short-term incidence of malignancies—a population-based follow-up study in Sweden Diabetologia (Free full text)
  3. SDRN Epidemiology Group (2009). Use of insulin glargine and cancer incidence in Scotland: A study from the Scottish Diabetes Research Network Epidemiology Group Diabetologia (Free full text)
  4. Currie, C., Poole, C., & Gale, E. (2009). The influence of glucose-lowering therapies on cancer risk in type 2 diabetes Diabetologia DOI: 10.1007/s00125-009-1440-6 (Free full text)
  5. Smith, U., & Gale, E. A. M. (2009). Does diabetes therapy influence the risk of cancer? Diabetologia (Free full text)
  6. Mayer D, Shukla A, Enzmann H (2008) Proliferative effects of insulin analogues on mammary epithelial cells. Arch Physiol Biochem 114: 38-44
  7. Arch Physion Biochem (2008), vol 1141 (1) is entirely dedicated to “Insulin and Cancer”, i.e. see editorial of P. Lefèbvre: Insulin and cancer: Should one worry?” p. 1-2
  8. Weinstein D, Simon M, Yehezkel E, Laron Z, Werner H (2009) Insulin analogues display IGF-I-like mitogenic and anti-apoptotic activities in cultured cancer cells. Diabetes Metab Res Rev 25: 41-49 (PubMed record)

Information about Lantus

9.  http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/extract/352/2/174

10. http://products.sanofi-aventis.us/lantus/lantus.html

11. http://www.informapharmascience.com/doi/abs/10.1517/14656566.2.11.1891?journalCode=eop





Martin Bril: the Author, his Death and his Cancer

23 05 2009

Martin BrilMartin Bril is dead.

No “news“, it happened a month ago: April 22.

Martin Bril was a well known Dutch writer, poet and columnist – and the man who invented “skirt day”.

He loved live -and love- in all it’s simplicity. He needed few words to describe the essence of things or as he would say: “The surface is deep enough”. But you know, it is looking at one drop of water and understanding the ocean.

Other expressions: “Good is better than bad” and “You’ve people that bang the guitar really hard for hours, but I rather hear J.J. Cale. Always finished within 4 minutes, but the music stays with you.”

I liked his stories/columns most of the time, they often made me smile.

It is always sad when somebody dies young (Martin was 49), whether a “celebrity” or not. Especially when he leaves two young children and a wife.

I didn’t expect it and it really hit me. Why? I knew he had had cancer, but I thought it had gone. So did he a few years ago. I found a video-interview with him in 2007, where he said: “soon I will be declared “cured” – but then you will see it will return the other day.” In another interview I read: You never beat cancer”, that’s Lance Armstrong-language. Cancer goes away or it stays. It often stays.

I always thought he had colon cancer, but it was esophageal cancer. That’s the trouble with Dutch:Martin Bril Donkere Dagen

  • esophagus = slokdarm,
  • jejunum, ileum = dunne darm
  • colon = dikke darm.

Notice they all have “darm” in them. Mostly colon cancer is called “darmkanker” (or “dikke darmkanker”), and because esophagus is called slokdarm, slokdarmkanker is mistaken for darmkanker, which is quite another disease with other prospects.

Stupid, journalists keep on using the wrong name. Not that it matters a lot now, but still.

More “incorrect” was the fact that I first saw the announcement of his death in a newsletter from dokterdokter.nl (below). It is an online medical information site for patients. I have been getting their newsletter for years now, because -for one thing or another- I’m unsuccessful in unsubscribing to it. Dokterdokter.nl is typically a website that gives very general information, mostly leading to the advise “to check your doctor first”.

dokterdokter Martin Bril geheel

What struck me (besides the fact that I was taken by his death) was that his death was presented as Medical News, next to an enormous “oral sex” headline and the headline “what happens if you die?”. As if it was a tabloid. The message (he died the day before):

Martin Bril finally succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 49. Esophageal cancer has a bad prognosis. Why?
(if you click: )

“Martin Bril, the well known author …, died of esophageal cancer at the age of 49. He was a real hedonist. Cigarettes and alcohol were part of his life. Many years he had fought cancer, but Wednesday April 22 he lost his fight. Few people really completely recover from this illness.”

(….) Generally, the disease has to do with your lifestyle. In Western Countries, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are the most important causes of esophageal cancer.

And then it continues summarizing the brochure of the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF- kankerbestrijding)

Whereas most medical sites (including the Dutch Cancer Society, from which all the information was taken) just neutrally say that the cause is unknown, but that alcohol and smoking are known risk factors for esophageal cancer, -and even more so in combination- dokterdokter puts a direct link between Martin’s lifestyle and his death, as if it was his own fault. Maybe it was, but at that moment I didn’t want to know. It didn’t matter. I found it disrespectful, tasteless. I’m quite interested in health and medicine and mechanisms, but the reason of his death -at this moment- was less important than his death itself.

As a matter of fact, Martin stopped using liquor and cocaine in 1997 after given an ultimatum by his wife (“you have two young kids!”) and after attending a trial of a drug baron (Johan V., de Hakkelaar) (to write about). He also wanted to quit smoking. I don’t know whether he succeeded, but he helped STIVORO (“for a smokeless future”) with their campaign (2002) by writing a beautiful column and making a video about (the difficulty of) quitting smoking. “I stopped smoking, because I didn’t like it anymore. Moreover, my kids didn’t want me to die because of smoking……..”

How much better was the reaction of STIVORO to the death of Martin, saying “we have lost a talented author” and thanking him for his input. Just a short notice and ending with the column Martin had written for them: “Did you ever tried to quit smoking?…I did”.

——————73554771_f75ce49f1a rokjesdag

Bij Nederlanders hoef ik Martin Bril nauwelijks te introduceren. Dat ik hier over hem schrijf heeft vooral te maken met het stukje dat ik in de nieuwsbrief van Dokterdokter.nl las. In feite was het dit bericht, waardoor ik wist dat hij gestorven was. Voor mij een schok. Ik lees de Volkskrant niet meer, dus het was mij ontgaan dat het slecht met hem ging. Het is ook een jonge vent, jonger dan ik, met twee dochters, net als ik. Zo kom het altijd nog een beetje dichterbij. En hij kon mooi schrijven. “De oppervlakte was diep genoeg,” zo zei hij, maar het was bij hem net of je in een druppel de hele oceaan kon zien.

Voor het eerst zag ik trouwens dat hij slokdarmkanker had. De meeste journalisten spraken van darmdanker, waar men in de regel toch dikkedarmkanker mee bedoelt. Slokdarmkanker is een heel andere ziekte, met een heel andere prognose. Vreemd dat het meerendeel van de journalisten het toch steeds over darmkanker heeft

Maar dit terzijde. Ik vond het vreemd, dat het bericht als een “nieuwsaankondiging” stond naast de kop “orale sex” en “hoe voelt het als je dood gaat”. Misschien had Martin er wel om kunnen lachen, maar ik vond het bizar. Het verhaal zelf vond ik ook nogal ongepast.

Wat stond er?

De ziekte slokdarmkanker werd schrijver Martin Bril op zijn 49e fataal. Het is een ziekte met slechte vooruitzichten, mede omdat het vaak laat wordt ontdekt.

“Schrijver Martin Bril, bekend van boeken als De kleine keizer en Arbeidsvitaminen en van zijn columns in de Volkskrant, is op 49-jarige leeftijd aan slokdarmkanker overleden. Hij was een echte levensgenieter, sigaretten en alcohol waren een vast onderdeel van zijn leven. Al vele jaren streed hij tegen kanker, maar woensdag 22 april was zijn strijd gestreden. Maar weinig mensen weten volledig te herstellen van deze ziekte.”De ziekte heeft meestal te maken met de leefstijl van mensen. Roken en overmatig alcoholgebruik zijn in Westerse landen de belangrijkste oorzaken voor het ontstaan van slokdarmkanker.

Andere bronnen -ook de KWF-brochure, waar dit stuk aan ontleend is, schrijven steevast dat de oorzaak niet bekend is, maar dat roken en alcohol (vooral in combinatie) de belangrijke risicofactoren zijn. Mogelijk is zijn leefwijze inderdaad de belangrijkste reden geweest dat hij slokdarmkanker heeft gekregen. Nou en? Is het nodig om dit zo op te schrijven? Een dag na zijn dood? Ik vond het nogal oneerbiedig. Misschien dacht men bij dokterdokter.nl dat het schrikeffect mensen zou weerhouden om veel te roken en te drinken, want “kijk, daar krijg je slokdarmkanker van!!” Behalve dat dokterdokter niet bepaald het juiste publiek (de “zelfkanters” en “hedonisten”) zal bereiken, zal zo’n actie sowieso weinig zoden aan de dijk zetten. Dan was Martin’s bijdrage aan de Stivoro campagne “stoppen met roken” (2002/2003) waarschijnlijk veel effectiever. Hij schreef een column voor ze en werkte mee aan een video.

Martin zei: “Ik stopte met roken omdat ik er geen zin meer in had. Bovendien; mijn kinderen vonden dat ik er niet dood aan moest gaan”. Eerder, na een ultimatum van zijn vrouw en het bijwonen van een zitting tegen de drugsbaron de Hakkelaar, was hij al gestopt met alcohol en coke.

Zo anders was ook de reactie van Stivoro. Niets vingertje wijzen: “zie je wel!”, maar dit:

“Samen met de rest van Nederland treurt STIVORO om het heengaan van een bijzonder mens en groot schrijver: Martin Bril

STIVORO heeft Martin leren kennen toen hij zich enthousiast inzette voor onze ‘Stoppen met roken’ campagne van 2002/2003. Hij was toen bereid zijn persoonlijkheid en zijn schrijftalent voor deze campagne in te zetten.

Wij zijn dankbaar dat we met hem hebben mogen samenwerken. We wensen zijn familie en andere dierbaren heel veel sterkte toe.

Hij schreef voor ons de volgende column:

“Bent u wel eens gestopt met roken?
Ik wel……..”

Photo Credit (CC):





Twitter goes Viral: Swine Flu Outbreak – Twitter a Dangerous Hype?

30 04 2009

twitter-network-and-virusTwitter has been praised for its actuality and news breaking character. Remember the earthquakes and the two recent airplane crashes (Hudson River, Schiphol). Twitter often was the first to bring the news.

Twitter’s power lies in its simplicity, -the 140 character limit-, its speed and it’s domino-effect. Tweets (twitter messages) can be read by your followers (I have appr. 650). If they find something important, funny or whatever they could “RT” or Retweet (i.e. resend) the message, and their friends could retweet it as well. Via these secondary networks Twitter can go viral (in its replication and spread).

Below a friends of a friend network of a well known twitter personality Robert Scobleizer, as obtained by Twitterfriends. Only the “relevant network” is shown, directed to someone in particular: tweets beginning with @ (followed by the twitter name of your friend). The actual reach of tweets not starting with @ is greater, because they can be read by all followers.

3136982396_58537a66fb-foaf

Apart from following specific tweople one can also search for certain words or (hash)tags via Twitter Search or #hashtags.

Pushed by celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey, who recently joined Twitter. Twitter’s traffic was poised to double and the number of tweeting people has steeply increased.

Twitter has been glorified by the stars. They created a real (meaningless) twitter mania.

But what raises high, can drop low.

Several sources dethroned Twitter because of it’s viral role in the recent swine flu outbreak. One of the first and most serious critiques came from a blog (Foreign Policy: Net Effect). It’s title: Twine flu: Twitter’s power to misinform.swine-flu-totThis is a serious allegation. Evgeny Morozov‘s main critiques:

  1. The “swine flu” meme has led to misinformation, fear and panic. Wrong info includes: fear that it “could be germ warfare” or “that one should not eat pork and certainly not from Mexico”.

  2. Unlike a simple Google search Twitter gives too much noise (irrelevant or wrong information).

  3. Messages from trustworthy sources have as much weight as those from uninformed people.

  4. There is very little context you can fit into 140 characters, even less so if all you are doing is watching a stream.

  5. Evgeny also worries about a future misuse of Twitter by cyber-terrorists shaping conversations on serious topics. A number of corporations are already monitoring and partially shaping twitter conversations about particular brands or products.

In addition some posts highlight that most of the Tweets belong to the category “witty or not so witty”. (also see this post)
And after these comments many similar comments were to follow: In fact these comments and critiques were going viral as well: take a look at this Google Search for Twitter Swine Flu and note the negative sound of most of the headlines.
The CNN website quotes Brennon Slattery, a writer for PC World,

“This is a good example of why [Twitter is] headed in that wrong direction, because it’s just propagating fear amongst people as opposed to seeking actual solutions or key information (..). The swine flu thing came really at the crux of a media revolution.”

Is Twitter just a hype and useless as an information source? Is it dangerous when a wide number of people would turn to Twitter in search of information during an emergency? Or have people just found a stick to beat the dog?

I will go to several aspects of the twitter flu coverage as I have encountered it.

Number of tweets

Indeed, as brought forward by Mashable, Tweets about “Swine Flu” are *now* at 10,000 per hour!!

Yesterday, 5 out of 10 twitter buzzwords were connected to Swine Flu:

  • # · Swine Flu
  • # · swineflu
  • # · Mexico
  • # · H1N1
  • # · Pandemic

Searching for information on Twitter
You can imagine that it is hardly useful to keep track of tweets mentioning *swine flu*, nor is searching for these buzzwords or hastags useful, if not combined with other terms or names, like CDC or laikas (just to find what you tweeted yourself).
I keep track of certain words via Tweetdeck in separate columns, accepting a certain “noise”, knowing this will only yield 20-50 tweets per day. It would not come to my mind to just blindly search for swineflu on Twitter.

The official media
It is said that Twitter doesn’t give useful or correct information, and indeed it hasn’t been designed for that (being merely a social Network). In its primitive form it is just online gossip or as The Register (UK) puts it- “it is not a media outlet. But odd enough, the official media did not behave differently. Cable television programmers went into crisis mode and a look at newspaper front pages and website home pages around the world showed a range of responses, from the almost hysterical to the concerned and more measured (Reuter’s Blog).

Look at this message from AJ Cann, that I retweeted :

laikas: RT @AJCann Totally irresponsible #swineflu journalism in the Dail Mail http://tinyurl.com/cms3km (expand) >>and they say twitter evokes global panic!
Is there really no reason to be worried?
Let’s face it. We don’t know an awful lot about this new virus strain. While it is true that the common flue has killed 13,000 people in the US since in a rather unnoticed way, and while there are relatively few swine flu casualties yet, one never knows how this new H1N1 epidemic will evolve. It might just fade away or it could kill millions of people. We just don’t know. It is a new, deadly virus. Not for nothing (as I learn from Twitter), the WHO has just raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5. But this is only meant to be prepared and to inform, not to cause panic.
who-message
AJCann (on twitter)Ben, a doctor writing for the Guardian, excelling in critically informing the public about science (and quack) and a real valibrity, was invited all over by the media to be a naysayer on the “aporkalypse”.
How to deal with Twitter Noise?
Suppose you would listen to all radio channels at once: that would be an unbearable noise. Usually you choose a channel, your favorite one, and just listen what comes next. But you may switch to another channel anytime. And for news you might just go to a specific channel that you know is the most informative.
It is exactly the same with Twitter. I don’t follow everyone. Since I use Twitter mostly for my work (medicine, library, science, web 2.0) and not primarily for a chat or wit, I choose the tweople I follow carefully. If they produce too much noise I might unfollow them. They are my human filter to the news.

6a00d8341bfa9853ef0105368fcb5e970c-400wi-darmano

Furthermore among the ones I follow are News or Health Sources, like @CNN Health, sanjayguptaCNN, @BBC Health, @BreakingNews, @health and recently (because of retweets of friends): @WHOnews , @CDCemergency, Reuters_FluNews, Fluheadlines.

@BreakingNews and @health mentioning real casualties and the WHO calling an emergency meeting, I realized the seriousness of the problem. I was also pointed to @WHOnews and @CDCemergency, the most trustworthy sources to follow.
I also understood that the swine flu might be difficult to contain.

laikas: RT @BreakingNews: BULLETIN — WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION CALLS EMERGENCY MEETING TO DISCUSS DEADLY SWINE FLU OUTBREAKS IN MEXICO AND THE U.S.

laikas: RT @health WHO, CDC concerned about possible epidemic following reports of 60+ people killed by new flu strain in Mexico http://bit.ly/d3JsO
laikas: RT @TEDchris: Swine flu outbreak. This is how it was SUPPOSED to have been contained. http://is.gd/us6r Worrying. >> WHO protocol
laikas: RT @BreakingNews: Reports of flu outbreak in New Zealand. 22 students may have been infected after a trip to Mexico. BNO trying to confirm. 3:25 AM Apr 26th from TweetDeck

laikas: RT @dreamingspires: RT @AllergyNotes Map of H1N1 Swine Flu of 2009 http://bit.ly/P2mcc (expand) 4:41 AM Apr 26th from TweetDeck

laikas: Map of H1N1 Swine Flu of 2009 http://bit.ly/P2mcc _ New Zealand added to the map. 4:42 AM Apr 26th from TweetDeck


Direct Link to H1N1 Swine Flu Google Map:

Somewhat later came the informative phase. Long before the official media were giving any useful information, some of my twitterfriends alerted me to their own or other (official) news.

@ajcann already wrote a post on his blog Microbiology Bytes (a blog with the latest news on microbiology) :10 things you should know about swine flu. (April 25th)

laikas: Reading @sciencebase Swine Flu http://bit.ly/y5Xqz 7:47 AM Apr 26th from web

laikas: RT @sanjayguptaCNN: I’ll answer your swine flu Q’s LIVE on CNN at 7:30a ET. call 1-800-807-2620. thanks 4he gr8 tweet Q so far.

laikas: RT @consultdoc: Great swine flu summary via @ubiquity http://bit.ly/DK0xV (expand) Thanks Greg.1:18 PM Apr 26th from TweetDeck

laikas: RT @BreakingNews: The WHO is holding a news conference on swine flu. Michael van Poppel is covering it live @mpoppel.
laikas: RT @stejules: RT @mashable HOW TO: Track Swine Flu Online http://tinyurl.com/dh68n8 (expand) (via @tweetmeme) (

At that point I became saturated with all information. I just follow the main news and read some good overviews

end-tweet-flu
Conclusion
For me, Twitter was the first and most accurate news source to get informed and updated on the swine flu pandemics. It was reliable, because “my friends” filtered the news for me and because I follow some trustworthy sources and news sites. Indirectly other tweople also pointed me at good and actual information.
And in my turn I kept my followers informed. The news has alarmed me, but I’m not in panic or frightened. I just feel informed and at the moment I can do nothing more than “wait and see”.

It has often been said: Twitter is what you make of it.
But keep in mind the golden rule:

Information on Swine Flu

News and Blogs

Photo Credits:

* wonderful those different names.





Blue Ribbon Blog Rally for Free Speech Online; een Blauw Lint voor Vrijheid van Meningsuiting

26 04 2009

I have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafiblackribbonsign

Thanks to T at Notes of an Anesthesioboist for getting this going, a group of bloggers is holding a blog rally in support of Roxana Saberi, who is spending her birthday on a hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she has been incarcerated for espionage. According to NPR, “The Iranian Political Prisoners Association lists hundreds of people whose names you would be even less likely to recognize: students, bloggers, dissidents, and others who, in a society that lacks a free press, dare to practice free expression.” blackribbonsign-2

Hearing reports like these has prompted us to do a ribbon campaign. Blue for blogging.

Please consider placing a blue ribbon on your blog or website this week in honor of the journalists, bloggers, students, and writers who are imprisoned in Evin Prison, nicknamed “Evin University”, and other prisons around the world, for speaking and writing down their thoughts. Also, please ask others to join our blog rally.

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

————————-

Text is from Notes of an Anesthesioboist and Paul Levy of Running a hospital

*********************************************************************

nl vlag NL flagI have never been a person who would stoop to self-censoring and I never will be. I’d rather not write at all if I have to stop being frank and honest in my words. -Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi

Omid, incidentally, means hope in Farsi. Omid-Reza Mir-Sayafi is dead. Hope has to live on.

T van Notes of an Anesthesioboist heeft ander bloggers opgeroepen om deze week een blauw lint op hun blog te plaatsen. Blauw staat voor bloggen, vrijheid van bloggen wel te verstaan.

De aanleiding is dat de Amerikaans-Iraanse journaliste Roxana Saberi, die beschuldigd wordt van spionage en vastzit in Iran, vandaag haar “verjaardag viert” in een Teheraanse Gevangenis, alwaar ze in hongerstaking is gegaan.blackribbonsign-2

In de Iraanse gevangenis zitten honderden, veel minder bekende mensen gevangen: studenten, bloggers, dissidenten, en anderen die hun vrije mening durfden te uiten in een land dat geen vrije pers toestaat.

In navolging van T wil ik u daarom ook vragen om deze week ook een blauw lint op uw blog of website te plaatsen om alle journalisten, bloggers, studenten, en schrijvers te ondersteunen die gevangen zitten in de Evin gevangenis, ook wel “Evin Universiteit” genoemd, of waar dan ook ter wereld voor het vrij uiten van hun gedachten.

Wilt u ook anderen vragen om aan deze blogrally mee te doen?

Jacqueline.





Reference Management Software, Shut Down of 5 Google Apps and a Plane that Crashed.

18 01 2009

Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed. What have they in common? Nothing, except that these three unrelated subjects all reached me via Twitter last Thursday eve.

[1] When I checked my Tweetdeck (a twitter client) I saw a huge number of tweets (twitter messages) about the crash of a plain in the Hudson river. It now appears that Twitter and Flickr broke the news 15 minutes before the mainstream media. Below is the first crash picture which was posted on Twitter from an iPhone, taken by Janis Krums from a ferry. Earlier (Twitter as a modern tam tam) I gave some other examples of Twitter as a breaking news platform.

jkrums-plaatje-voor-blog

[2] Twitter is also a useful tool for up to date information and exchange of thoughts. For instance some tweeple (people on Twitter) had been asking about free reference management software. I had retweeted (RT, resend) the message and Thursday eve DrShock (of Dr Shock MD, PhD) tweeted a very useful link to Wikipedia which compared all reference management software, which was retweeted to the Twitter community.

The wikipedia article gives a comprehensive overview of the following software: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero.

The following tables are included: the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions.

Very useful (although not always accurate). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

wiki-ref-man-system

[3] @Symtym (of the blog Symtym) had just learned me how to use Google Notebook to clip and collect information as you surf the web, organize the notes in notebooks and publish the public notes automatically to twitter via twitterfeed. I found it real handy and gathered some material to write a post about it.

But then came the news, brought to me by @Dymphie (of Deetjes (Dutch)), that Google decided to close many services, including Notebook as well as Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball) or as ReadWriteWeb says it: “Google Giveth, and Taketh Away”. (see announcement on the Google Operating System blog).

google-stopt-met-aantal-zaken1

Although Google Notebook itself will remain, the active development will be stopped. Of course this was shocking for many faithful users, including me, Dr. Shock and many others (see comments here)

wtf-gn-is-going-down-shock

What are the alternatives? Soon @DrCris, author of several blogs including Applequack, tweeted on a solution soon to come: “Evernote is working on a Google notebook importer“. I heard great things about Evernote, many doctors seem to use it, so I might as well give it a try.

evernote-google-nb-importer

Diigo is also planning to make a GN importer (see here). Presumably other tools will follow soon.

Note added:

Two articles in Lifehacker give tips [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” and [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Thanks Dr.Shock.)

——————-

nl vlag NL flag“Reference Management software, shut down of 5 Google apps and a plane that crashed”. Wat heeft dit met elkaar te maken? Niets eigenlijk, behalve dat ik donderdagavond hiervan via twitter op de hoogte gesteld werd.

[1] Eerder gaf ik al voorbeelden dat twitter als een moderne tam tam werkt en vaak een primeur heeft. Donderdag was dat ook het geval. De eerste berichten van het neerstorten van een vliegtuig in de Hudson rivier kwamen via twitter binnen.

[2] Twitter is ook nuttig om informatie te delen. Deze week vroegen mensen naar gratis reference manager software. Ik twitterde dat door (RT of retweet) en donderdag kwam @DrShock (van Dr Shock MD, PhD) met een erg nuttige link naar een artikel in wikipedia. Vervolgens werd door ‘retweeten’ een groot aantal volgers op de hoogte gesteld

In het artikel wordt de volgende software vergeleken: 2collab, Aigaion, BibDesk, Biblioscape, BibSonomy, Bibus, Bookends, CiteULike, Connotea, EndNote, JabRef , Papers, ProCite, Pybliographer, refbase, RefDB, Referencer, Reference Manager, RefWorks, Scholar’s Aid, Sente, Wikindx, WizFolio, Zotero met betrekking tot de volgende punten: “the operating system support, export and Import file formats, citation styles, reference list file formats, word processor integration, database connectivity, password “protection” and network versions”.

Heel erg nuttig en overzichtelijk (in tabelvorm met kleurtjes). Zie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software.

[3] Van @Symtym (blog: symtym) had ik juist geleerd hoe ik Google Notebook kon gebruiken om teksten al surfende op het net te knippen, bewaren en verzamelen in kladbloks en vervolgens te publiceren op twitter via twitterfeed (berichten automatisch ingekort tot 140 lettertekens). Ik vond het ontzettend handig. Het is een ideale manier om snel informatie te organiseren om later te bekijken, om er een stukje over te schrijven en/of om direct met anderen te delen.

Maar toen kwam als donderslag bij heldere hemel het nieuws via @Dymphie (van Deetjes) tot mij dat uit verschillende Google applicaties de stekker zou worden getrokken. Ook uit Google Notebook. En daarnaast Google Video, Catalog, Jaiku, Dodgeball).

Google Notebook zelf zal nog wel even blijven, maar de ontwikkeling zal worden stopgezet. Natuurlijk is dit nogal een schok voor trouwe gebruikers. Eerst worden mensen geenthousiasmeerd om een nieuwe tool te gebruiken en vervolgens wordt deze hen weer ontnomen

Gelukkig twitterde @DrCris, auteur van o.a. Applequack, vrijwel direct dat Evernote werkt aan een Google notebook importeerfunctie. Ik heb erge goede dingen gehoord van Evernote en veel artsen gebruiken het, dus ik ga dat ook maar eens proberen. Diigo is ook bezig met het ontwikkelen van een GN importeerfunctie (zie hier). Waarschijnlijk zal dit wel navolging krijgen. Toch blijft het vervelend om steeds maar van tool te moeten veranderen. Maar misschien moet je dat op de koop toenemen bij gratis applicaties.

Achteraf toegevoegd

Twee artikelen in ‘Lifehacker’ gaan over dit laatste punt [1] “where to go when google notebook goes down” en [2] describe how you can import the entirety of your google notebook to ubernote (Met dank aan Dr.Shock.)





23andMe: 23notMe, not yet

29 09 2008

23andme cheeper

The company 23andMe was in the news thrice this month:

  1. cutting the price of its service by more than a half
  2. organizing a celebrity spit party
  3. the husband of the 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, better known as Google co-Founder Sergey Brin, revealed he is at risk for Parkinson’s Disease, as determined by….23andMe.

Coincidence or part of a strategic plan?

23andMe is a ‘direct to consumer genetic testing’ company that as 23andMe puts it: “democratizes personal genetics”. The lowering of the service price from $999 to $399 brings personalized genomics within the range of many.

What do you get for those $399? A spit kit, you do your thing, send the tube to a certified lab, which analyzes your saliva for more than a half-million points (called SNPs) scattered across the 23 pairs of chromosomes you have (hence 23andMe), as well as your mitochondrial DNA. 23andMe shows the digital data and gives you information on certain traits and diseases. 23andMe also gives information on your ancestry and compares your DNA to your relative’s and friend’s-genes, if you want to share that knowledge with them. With your genes in their database you help 23andMe to perform more research for new discoveries, a program called 23andWe. In fact once you sign up you cannot refuse the use your (anonymous) DNA for this purpose.

The main question is: what purpose does this serve (besides as a potential for yielding income)?

According to 23andMe the main purpose is ‘for research’, ‘for education’ and ‘for fun': “It’s fun to learn about your own genome”.

In this light, we should probably see the recent event 23andMe organized: a spit party where a few hundred people were lured away from the catwalks during the Fashion Week in New York City. On the sound track of “a whole lot of love” celebrities were spitting their DNA-containing saliva in a tube (see here and here). According Guy Kawasaki, who report on it on his blog (see here),

“even Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell were there providing their spit, but their handlers wouldn’t let me take a picture. I found this ironical: Giving DNA was okay but not a picture.”

The aim for which Sergey Brin let 23andMe test his DNA was less funny. As Sergey (whos mother has Parkinson) explains in his brand new blog:

(…..) Nonetheless it is clear that I have a markedly higher chance of developing Parkinson’s in my lifetime than the average person. In fact, it is somewhere between 20% to 80% depending on the study and how you measure. At the same time, research into LRRK2 looks intriguing (both for LRRK2 carriers and potentially for others).

Thus this shows a 3rd aim: diagnostic?!
Formally 23andMe denies there is a diagnostic purpose (in part, surely, because the company doesn’t want to antagonize the FDA, which strictly regulates diagnostic testing for disease). However, 23andme does give information on your risk profile for certain diseases, including Parkinson.

In addition, 23andMe encourages the formation of networks of people sharing the same traits.

“If you want to have a community around psoriasis,” Ms Wojcicki said, “we’d like to be able to allow you to form a psoriasis-specific community.” (see New York Times article)

Psoriasis-specific community when you only have the genes that may enhance the risk of getting psoriasis??

That sounds like condemning you to a psoriasis patient already?!

Then lets discuss the following burning question: how well does 23andMe predict that you will get the disease?

Even the LRRK2-gene data of Mr. Brin aren’t that conclusive. A marked higher chance of 20% to 80% is often misconceived as meaning that Sergey’s chance of getting Parkison is 20-80%, or “he will almost get the disease for sure”. As explained by the Gene Sherpa in his excellent post on this subject (see here) it only means that the LRRK2-mutation increases the normal chance of Americans/Europeans getting Parkinson from 2-5% to 4-10% at the most (the chance is less than doubled). Furthermore LRRK2 isn’t the most crucial gene for getting Parkinson.

23andMe has chosen to relate personal health info only to common diseases and common genes. Thus whether you have an enhanced or lowered risk for breast cancer (normal 1 out of 8 women) is determined by 2 (not very predictive) SNPs associated with Breast Cancer, but not by determining BRCA1/2 mutations that are highly predictive for breast cancer, but rare in the entire (western) population .

Although 24andMe explicitly mentions that the tests are for non-diagnostic purposes, it is hard to imagine that people will see it otherwise. But:

  • Most genes are only weakly predisposing
  • Often multiple genes are working in concert in a difficult to predict way (seldom one gene-one disease)
  • The environment and chance also play an important role.

Thus the value of these fun predictions is low, but how does it affect people that think they are prone to having a disease? For some it might be reason to adjust their lifestyle (but then, what is the chance you really change “your destiny”), others may get fixed on their presumptive future disease, confused, or depressed. It is not without reason that genetic screening is usually restricted to people with high risks, when a disease can be predicted accurately (without too many false positives and negatives), something can be done about it (prevention or treatment), and only as part of a genetic consultation by professionals.

Sources; further reading




Nature science blogging conference

30 08 2008

There is official forum for Science Blogging in London, today. The event is organized by Nature Networks.

You can find the program and the attendees here.

AJCann of Science of the Invisible has summarized in this post how you can virtually follow this conference.

At this moment (saturday 11.45 am) you can follow the forum live here

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge

———————————-

Vandaag is er een conferentie voor ‘wetenschapsbloggers’ in Londen.

het wordt georganiseerd door Nature Networks

Hier kunt u het programma bekijken.

Op dit moment (zaterdag 11.45 uur) kunt u het programma hier live volgen.

AJCann van Science of the Invisible heeft hier samengevat hoe u deze conferentie kunt volgen.

HATTIP: Twitter : @AJCann, @Jobadge





The Real Sputnik Virus

15 08 2008

I just rewrote the “about” section, saying that this blog was started as part of the web 2.0 SPOETNIK (EN: Sputnik) course, that I saw this blog as an experiment, but that I am now irreversibly infected by the blog/Sputnikvirus.

Coincidentally a real Sputnik virus has been discovered.¹ The virus is called Sputnik (Russian for “travelling companion”), because it “accompanies” the mamavirus, the big ‘mama’ among the recently discovered giant mimiviruses. Both the mamavirus and its satellite were present in an amoeba-species, found in a water cooling tower. Strikingly Sputnik cannot infect the amoeba on its own, but needs the companion of a mimivirus. In fact Sputnik hijackes the ‘viral factory’ of the mimivirus in order to replicate, making the mimivirus less infective. Therefore the Sputnik virus is said to actually “infect” another virus

Wait a minute…!! A virus that ‘lives’ from an other virus and takes over his replicating machinery? This means that the virus that is being ‘infected’ (the mamavirus) is a living organism??? But viruses are ‘dead’, at least that is what I learned.

Definition of a virus in one of my studybooks (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Thus ‘per definition’ viruses are not alive ànd they do not infect other viruses?!

But what is in a definition/name?
According to Aristotle a definition of an object must include its essential attributes or its “essential nature”. However humans may only observe part of the essential attributes, especially when it concerns the infinitely small or infinitely large (which limitates the accuracy of our observations). Nature made his own definitions/categorizations and we just trying to find the rules, if any, to bring some order into chaos. But in science rules and concepts can be falsified and this rule may be one of them.

That viruses may be at the boundaries of life is no new discussion. According to wikipedia:

Biologists debate whether or not viruses are living organisms. Some consider them non-living as they do not meet all the criteria used in the common definitions of life. For example, unlike most organisms, viruses do not have cells. However, viruses have genes and evolve by natural selection. Others have described them as organisms at the edge of life.

As you can see from the scheme above (from wikipedia) the classification of living organisms has never been rigid and as time goes more ‘kingdoms’ have been discovered.

The Mimivirus seems to be at “the edge of life”, because it

Besides the what-is-a-living-organism-issue the discovery of the Mimi-Sputnik virus couple raises some other interesting points.

  • The paradigm that viruses are evolutionary latecomers, evolving as parasites after the archaea, bacteria and eukaria had formed is challenged by comparative genome-analysis which suggests that the virus world is the most ancient.
  • There is an abundance of Mimi-like genetic sequences in the (virus-rich) ocean leading to a suspicion that giant viruses are a common parasite of plankton.
  • Sputnik-like DNA is also found in the ocean, raising the possibility that satellite viruses could play a role in regulating the growth and death of (Mimi-infected) plankton. Therefore these marine viruses could be mayor player in the global ecosystem
  • Although Mimiviruses primarily infect amoeba, antibodies have been found to the virus in some human pneumonia cases. If these mimiviruses have their own satellites…. then this might perhaps be therapeutically exploited against large DNA viruses in human.

Finally I would like to close this post with an apt poem of Jonathan Swift (often cited in this context):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

And another coincidence: There is a popgroup sigue-sigue-sputnik that has an number called virus (on the album ray-of-light.)

NOTES
¹The Sputnikvirus has been detected by the team led by Jean-Michel Claverie and Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles), the same team that identified the mimivirus as a virus.
²Some of the finding are not completely new, e.g. Sputnik was not the first virus-satellite: Satellite Tobacco Mosaic Virus had been discovered before. Some researches don’t regard a satelite virus as a virus, however, but as subviral

SOURCES
La Scola, B et al The virophage as a unique parasite of the giant mimivirus, Nature DOI:10.1038/nature07218; announced in ‘Virophage’ suggests viruses are alive – Nature News, 2008 august 6th
Other news-coverages:
NRC-handelsblad, 2008-08-09 en wetenschapsbijlage 2008-08-10
telegraph.co.uk 2008-08-06
sciencenow daily news 2008-08-06

BACKGROUND INFO and HYPOTHESES
about the sputnikvirus
:
findingdulcinea.com: good starting point for further information about Sputnik and mimiviruses with links to other sources
scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/
the-scientist.com/blog/
about the mimivirus :
a general overview in
http://www.microbiologybytes.com (last update 2007)
and “unintelligent-design at discovermagazine.com/2006

about the origin of viruses and their presence in the sea: again….
Nice overview
Viruses in the sea’ in Nature by Curtis A. Suttle et al(2005)
Hypothesis: The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells by Eugene V Koonin in Biomedcentral (2006) (pdf-open access)
General: Wikipedia, ie about Viruses and Bacteriophages

—————

Ik heb net de “about” pagina herschreven: ik schrijf dat ik dit blog ben gestart in het kader van de web 2.0 SPOETNIK cursus, dat ik dit blog als een experiment zag, maar dat ik inmiddels voor altijd geinfecteerd ben met het blog/Spoetnikvirus.

Toevallig las ik afgelopen zaterdag in het NRC dat er een echt Spoetnik virus is ontdekt.¹ Van de Spoetnikcursus weet ik nog dat Spoetnik in het Russisch metgezel betekent. Het virus kreeg deze naam omdat het zich samen met het mamavirus, het grootste virus onder de reusachtige minivirussen, in een amoebe ophoudt. Opmerkelijk genoeg is het Spoetnik virus helemaal niet in zijn eentje in staat om de amoebe te infecteren, maar heeft jij daarbij de hulp van het mimivirus nodig, in die zin dat Spoetnik de virusfabriekjes van het mimivirus inpikt om zichzelf te vermenigvuldigen. Met andere woorden, het Sputnik virus is in staat een ander virus te infecteren.

Wacht even?!……… Een virus dat een ander virus infecteert en ‘ziek maakt’? Dat betekent dat het virus dat geinfecteerd wordt ‘leeft’. Maar virussen zijn dood, dat heb ik tenminste zo geleerd.

Definitie van een virus in een oud studieboek (Genes IV, Benjamin Lewin, 1990, p41).

“Viruses take the physical form of exceedingly small particles. They share with organisms the property that one generation gives rise to the next; they differ in lacking a cellular structure of their own, instead needing to infect a host cell. Both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells are subject to viral infections; viruses that infect bacteria are usually called bacteriophages”

Dus viruses leven per definitie niet en kunnen andere virussen niet infecteren?!

Maar “what is in a definition/name”?
Volgens Aristoteles moet een een definitie van een voorwerp/begrip essentiële elementen of de ware aard omvatten. Maar mensen zien misschien maar een deel van deze kenmerken, vooral als het om oneinig grote of oneindig kleine dingen gaat. De natuur maakt zijn eigen indelingen en wij proberen om wetten te achterhalen, voor zover deze er zijn, om orde in de chaos aan te brengen.
Volgens de regels der wetenschap zijn wetten en concepten echter toetsbaar en falsifieerbaar. Dat virussen levenloos zijn zou dus ook ontkracht kunnen worden.

Het al dan niet ‘levend zijn’ van virussen is geen nieuwe discussie. Sommige biologen zien virussen als niet-levend, omdat ze niet àlle belangrijke kenmerken van leven hebben, ze hebben bijvoorbeeld geen cellen. Virussen hebben echter wel genen en evolueren door natuurlijke selectie waardoor ze volgens anderen wel op het randje van het leven balanceren.

Het Mimivirus lijkt nog het meest op het randje te balanceren. Het

Behalve bovenstaande implicaties voor wat we ‘leven’ noemen, maakt het Mimi-Spoetnik-koppel nog meer discussie los.

  • Op basis van vergelijkend genoomonderzoek lijkt het onwaarschijnlijk dat virusen evolutionaire nakomertjes zijn, maar meer dat ze aan de voet van de archaea, de bacteriën en de eukaryoten hebben gestaan.
  • Er is heel veel Mimi-achtige genmateriaal in de oceanen gevonden, hetgeen zou kunnen betekenen dat reuzevirussen wel eens een algemene parasiet van plankton zouden kunnen zijn.
  • Spoetnik-achtig DNA wordt óók in de oceaan gevonden. Misschien dat satelliet-virussen wel een slutelrol spelen in de regulatie van de hoeveelheid plankton.
  • Hoewel Mimivirusen vooral amoeben infecteren, zijn antistoffen tegen dit virus ook bij enkele patienten met longontsteking gevonden. Als deze mimivirusen hun eigen satellieten hebben, kunnen deze wellicht ingezet worden tegen de ziekteveroorzakende virussen.

Tenslotte een zeer toepasselijk gedicht van Jonathan Swift (veelvuldig in deze kwestie aangehaald):

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.

Nog een toevalligheid Er is een band sigue-sigue-sputnik met een (vrij heftig) nummer virus (album ray-of-light).

NOTES
¹het Spoetnik- en het mimivirus zijn ontdekt door Jean-Michel Claverie en Didier Raoult (CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles) en zijn team.
²Niet alle bevindingen zijn echt even nieuw. Vòòr Spoetnik waren er al andere virussatellieten ontdekt, zoals de satelliet(virus)van tabaksmozaïekvirus. Door velen wordt zo’n virus niet als ect virus gezien, maar als subviraal beschouwd.





Twitter Traumas: Twitter’s Janus Face

7 08 2008

In a few posts I praised Twitter, the free microblogging service, for its value as a rich source of social contacts, news and ideas. See for instance this post about Twitter as a modern tamtam or this one titled: “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

In the short period I used it (2 months) I also noticed some drawbacks: its frequent down times, for instance. The sudden disappearance of half of my followers, a phenomenon, which appeared to affect half of the Twitter community last week. The vanishing of part of the archive (@Deeboeks). However, last week the situation has come to a head by the banning of some if its most active users. Why? Because these highly following and followed twitterati were apparently suspected as spammers. Without thorough verification, that is. These addicted Twitter-users were greatly inconvenienced.

@davedelaney: “(from his blog) Take my email analogy and consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

@pfanderson: (from her blog) “Now, two important points. First point, earlier this week I stated in this blog that Twitter is my #2 productivity tool. In other words, this is REALLY important for me! Second point, Twitter funkiness (like Second Life funkiness) is not unusual, so at first I did not realize this was anything beyond the typical. (…..) All kinds of alarms went off. I had just been asked to demo Twitter (among other social techs) at an important upcoming meeting. Wait a week? For them to just look at the problem? Ummm, that could be a REAL problem!”

Well, it isn’t bad when spam is banned. Indeed many of the spamming or advertising twitterati are following a huge number of people, but are followed by relatively few. Thus a ratio of 1500:50 sets the alarm bells ringing. But then you must do a second check: of profiles, website links and tweets, of course. A proper check of @davedelaney, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (one of my favorites) @narain (a twitterer I referred to as bringing breaking news about Bomb blasts in Bangalore!!) would have learned that these people intensively use twitter for serious purposes. Quite different from other twitterers that follow a whole crowd, only producing twitter messages like: “want to do X than look at this (= my) website” or all kind of quack. And these twitter-spammers are not banned…

But everybody can make mistakes, as long as you….. right, 3rd problem….. communicate it directly to your customers, preferably before you ban them. And if you faile to do so, … right 4th mistake…. do you best to fix the problem and …..o.k. 5th really unforgivable mistake …. always give yours sincere apologies!!

Nothing of the kind happened and that is really bad. If I could, I would ban @Ev (Twitter’s silent leader who was enjoying wine and pie while some of his most loyal users were panicking, according to @davedelaney‘s description) at least for a while. Without checking, without notification, without responding to his frequent requests for help, and foremost without any apology afterwards!!

As far as I know all accounts are back now, but it has cost these people a lot of precious time and has changed their feelings about twitter as a program.

@davedelaney has a poll at the end of one of his post asking:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% of the responders gives an affirmative answer.

There are some Twitter alternatives, but as Delaney says:

“Of course my main love for Twitter is the Community (…). Without the people there would be no Twitter. I don’t love Twitter, I love the people on Twitter who make it such a vibrant place to be. I don’t love Twitter, I don’t even like Twitter at the moment – I may even hate them.”

Further reading:

On Dave Delaney’s blog (August 3rd) : 5-reasons-why-i-hate-twitter. Very balanced: he also gives 5-6 reasons why he loves Twitter; some alternatives mentioned as well)

An account of the banning adventure :can also be found at the blogpost of @pf anderson: twitter_banning.html and on here slideshow on Flickr

****************************************************************************

Eerder promootte ik Twitter als een microblogging-dienst, omdat het zo’n rijke bron is van sociale contacten, nieuws en ideeen. Zie bijvoorbeeld de berichten: Twitter as a modern tamtam en “Forget Hyves go Twitter”.

Maar in de korte periode dat ik het gebruik, ondervond ik ook enkele nadelen. Twitter is bijvoorbeeld herhaaldelijk niet bereikbaar (“down” , “upgrading” of te zeer belast). Vorige week verdween ongeveer de helft van mijn fans (en ik heb er al zoveel), maar “gelukkig” bleek ik niet de enige te zijn. Soms verdwijnt een deel van het archief, bij @Deeboeks bijvoorbeeld: “Al mijn tweets van voor 6 april 2008 zijn uit ‘t archief verdwenen”. Maar vorige week was toch wel de klap op de vuurpijl. Opeens waren de accounts van de meest actieve twitteraars verdwenen. Waarom? Ze werden kennelijk van spammen verdacht en zonder staving verwijderd. Dat bracht behoorlijk wat ongemak met zich mee, daar dit juist mensen zijn die Twitter veel gebruiken en er deels ook afhankelijk van zijn. Voor @pfanderson: is Twitter is haar “#2 productivity tool“. @davedelaney: “zegt het als volgt:

“consider how you would feel, or as if someone took your personal journal and address book and refused to return them.”

Natuurlijk is het bannen van spam niet slecht. Als de verhouding following/followers 1500:50 dan moet er wel een belletje gaan rinkelen. Maar dan moet je vervolgens het e.e.a. checken: profiel, evt. website en natuurlijk de aard van de tweets.
@davedelaney
, @tibbon, @conniecrosby, @skalik, @marjarpanic, @abrudtkuhl, @pfanderson (een van mijn favorieten) @narain (die het nieuws over de aanslagen in Bangalore bracht!!) zijn intensieve en serieuze gebruikers. Dat kun je in één opslag zien.

Iedereen kan fouten maken, maar je moet natuurlijk wel goed en tijdig communiceren met je gebruikers, alles doen om de fout te herstellen en vooral achteraf je excuses aanbieden. En dat is allemaal niet gebeurd.

Wat zou ik graag Twitterbaas @Ev (die alleen twitterde dat hij heerlijk genoot van wijn en quiche terwijl zijn klanten in paniek waren en om zijn hulp vroegen) het zelfde lot doen ondergaan: account rucksichtlos verwijderen, niet op de hoogte brengen, niet reageren en niet helpen. En natuurlijk al helemaal geen excuses aanbieden!!

Ik geloof wel dat alle accounts nu weer in orde zijn, maar het heeft deze mensen wel veel ergernis bezorgd en hun gedachten over Twitter veranderd.

@davedelaney heeft zelfs een poll gezet onder zijn Twitterbericht met de vraag:

Are you having second thoughts about Twitter now?”

66% van de mensen die hierop gereageerd hebben zegt ja.





New OvidSP version 2.0 postponed

6 08 2008

The new OvidSP version 2.0 scheduled to be launched August 5th and announced on my blog yesterday (see here) is postponed a few days.

According to OvidSP:

“Some last minute adjustments are being carried out at present to ensure the absolute excellence of the platform. Unfortunately this means that the release date has been postponed with no new date available yet.”

As a result, my training schedule on August 8th will be cancelled (so that’s how I found out). It is advised to register for any training session on “what’s new in OvidSP” (click here) once the release date is announced.

Thus we have to wait a few days for the much-desired new OvidSP version.
That’s regretful, because my coming days are fully planned with OVID searches and I’m really looking forward to this new flexible platform…. But changes are on their way… And I’m looking forward to them

——–

In mijn vorige bericht kondigde ik aan dat de nieuwe OvidSP versie 2.0 gisteren in de lucht zou zijn, maar deze deadline is kennelijk niet gehaald. Er moet toch nog het e.e.a. aan versie 2.0 gesleuteld worden, voordat deze perfect werkt.

Ook de trainingssessies zijn tot nader order uitgesteld. Aangeraden wordt om je pas op te geven als OvidSP werkelijk draait.

Ik vind het jammer, want ik keek er echt naar uit. Juist nu, want de komende dagen zijn gevuld met lange OVID searches (voor systematische reviews en een richtlijn). Maar, ja, wat in het vat zit verzuurt niet…








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 610 other followers