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Indian Pediatrics 2000;37: 226-227

Global Update

News in Brief

Technology

Tomorrow's world: Thirty years ago when Jerry at 36 years of age went blind he signed up for artificial vision experiments at the Dobelle Institute in New York, which are bearing fruit today. Tiny cameras on his glasses transmit images to a computer attached to his wrist. These images are transformed into electrical impulses fed into his visual cortex by 68 platinum electrodes. He has now a crude vision for large letters, can navigate usual obstacles without a stick and importantly also surf the internet. The implications are far reaching. It's like cracking the brains electrical code. Plugging into somebody's brain and taking a print out of his thoughts may soon no longer be mere science fiction ( New Scientist 22 January 2000).

Ethics

Headache due to aspirin: The pharmaceutical giant Bayer after an advertising blitz which suggested that it was a good idea for all adults to be on a daily diet of aspirin is now busy eating humble pie. The US Federal Department of Justice has forced it to undo the damage with a public education program that while it is important for patients with coronary artery disease, aspirin may not be appropriate for all adults. It will also highlight the problems of bleeding, renal impairment and asthma in susceptible people. Without accountability for accuracy of information the public will always be at the mercy of people who can control the media ( eBMJ 22 January 2000).

Genetics

Of Dolly and Tetra: If Dolly the sheep had made headlines as the first sheep to be cloned, the birth of Tetra the monkey has different implications.

Dolly was created by nuclear transfer, i.e. adult nuclear material was injected into an unfertilized egg. Creatures born by this technique are not really identical because the mitochondrial DNA of the eggs differ. But in Tetra, an 8 cell embryo was split into 2 cell blastomeres and placed into 4 separate zona pellucida's. These were transferred to different surrogate mothers. Two pregnancies resulted of which one progressed to term and one aborted. But the genetic material of the two was identical (Science 2000;287:317). This ability to produce identical non human primates means that experiments to differentiate the importance of genetics versus environment will get a major boost. Keeping one of the split embryos frozen may also be potential sources of stem cells for transplants later on.

Microbiology

Maternal malaria: For years it has been known that the placenta of pregnant women with malaria teems with the parasite. Now we know why. Beeson et al from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia have found that the falciparum modifies the erythrocyte membrane so that it adheres to the hyaluronic acid found in abundance in the placenta. The low velocity flow in the placental sinusoids also is a great help. This segregation protects them from the full force of immunological attack and low birth weight babies result. Perhaps understanding the pathophysiology better will help us devise better therapy for this tropical but not very topical problem (The Lancet 22 January 2000).

Gouri Rao Passi,
Associate Consultant,
Department of Pediatrics,
Choithram Hospital and Research Centre,
Indore 452001,

India.
Email: passi@vsnl.com

Pedscapes

Medical and Pediatric Oncology - www.interscience, wiley.com/jpages/0098-1532. This is another journal from Wiley publishing house. The table of contents and abstracts from this peer reviewed monthly journal are available from this site free for non subscribers.

Child Recall - www.childrecall.com. This free web site has been designed to assist parents in providing a safer environment for their children and in providing a comprehensive and user friendly database that enables parents to determine if they own any recalled products posing danger to their children. The database contains hundreds of products that have been recalled during the past 10 years in the USA. It groups the many items in easily identifiable product categories allowing the user to search by product category, manufacturer or recall date. Another feature is the Child Product Register, which enables parents to register their children's products by product type and manufacturer. By using this feature, parents will be notified via e-mail should their registered products become recalled in the future. The site also provides extensive information on many different areas of child safety.

Genes and Disease - www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/disease/. This site, from the National Center for Biotechology Information provides an excellent framework for the complete sequencing of the human genome. It provides details of the linkage of various genes with disease. The site has been well classified with each chromosome and its disease associations on a separate page.

Virtual Children's Hospital - http://vch.vh.org. Virtual Children's Hospital is a service of the Children's Hospital of Iowa and University of Iowa Health Care. This is one of the largest and authentic sources of pediatric information on the internet, both for the patient and the doctor. The Virtual Children's Hospital digital library was created in 1994 to help meet the information needs and act as a health promotion tool for health care providers and patients and their families.

Thalassemia - www.thalassemia.com. This web site on thalassemia is from the Northern California Comprehensive Thalassemia Center at Children's Hospital, Oakland. This site covers all the aspects of care, including medical treatment, genetic aspects, news and updates, psychosocial issues, home care to patient/peer support, Frequently Asked Questions and a patients forum.

MRCP Teaching Page - http://ashmed.com/ram/index.html. This web site contains information for those appearing for the MRCPCH examination. There is an exhaustive collection of past question papers with the answers. An online practice test is expected soon. This site will be of immense help for those appearing for the exam.

Paediatric ECG of the Week - www.paedcard.com/index.html. This site is maintained by a pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Marion Tipple from Vancouver, Canada. It contains a weekly ECG quiz on Pediatric cardiology with accompanying explanations. Archives of past issues are also available.

Healthweb: Pediatrics - www.galter.nwu.edu/hw/ped. This page is a collaborative effort of the Galter Health Sciences Library and the Health Web project. The Health Web is collection on links on various specialities in medicine. The section on pediatrics is well classified and reviewed. The links in the pediatric section are classified into the following groups: organizations, general resources, publications, educational resources and practice guidelines.

C. Vidyashankar,
Department of Pediatrics,
Base Hospital, Delhi Cantonment,
Delhi, India 110 010,
India.
E-mail: vidyashankar@vsnl.com

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