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Stinging for Science
Could some people do without allergy shots?


Medical Updates Index

Stinging for Science
James Robinson reclines in a hospital bed, looking a tad anxious as allergist David Golden prepares an unusual syringe. Instead of containing a liquid medicine, the modified device—with a flat circle of wire mesh at the business end instead of a needle—holds a cold, stiff-moving yellow jacket, taken straight from a lab fridge....

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New Approaches to a Lethal Lung Disease
The condition may not be one the average person has even heard of, but primary pulmonary hypertension can be a diagnosis worse than cancer, lung specialist Sean Gaine makes clear....

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Ring around the Cornea Offers Perfect Vision
A small plastic implant is broadening the chance for people with low-level nearsightedness to say good-bye to glasses.

The implant, called a corneal ring, can be inserted during a half-hour outpatient procedure. Doctors make a diamond-shaped incision in the periphery of the cornea (the front part of the eye that refracts light), push aside tissue, then implant the ring two-thirds deep. The position of the implant causes the central curvature of the cornea to flatten, thereby...

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Surgery May Be the Right Choice for Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a disease without predictability. In some people, seizures can be controlled with drugs; in others, no matter what anticonvulsant medication they take, their seizures go on.

Thirty-one-year-old Dawn Donahue fell into the latter group. For three years following her first grand mal episode in 1995, she faithfully took every drug prescribed by a series of neurologists, but her seizures and blackouts struck at exactly the same frequency. Still, no physician ever mentioned the word...

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Saving Sight in Older Eyes
Close one eye, put your fist about three inches in front of your other eye and look straight ahead at this page,” directs Neil M. Bressler, This is what hundreds of thousands of people in the United States who suffer from age-related macular degeneration see, explains the Wilmer Eye Institute retinal specialist— everything around what they’re looking at, but nothing in the center. Those with advanced forms of the disease can no longer drive, read or even recognize...

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When There’s a Bleb after Glaucoma Surgery
Last winter, Captolia Lamb, 78, had just come through surgery for the eye disease glaucoma and was shoveling snow when she felt something like a pebble in her left eye. In the mirror she beheld a “huge blob” protruding from the top of her eyeball. “I was really terrified,” the retired nurse from Odenton, Md. says. “I couldn’t close my eye.”...

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A Stimulating Technique to Relieve Agonizing Pain
It can hit after the most insignificant injury—a bang on the elbow or a twist of the wrist—but neuropathic pain, the kind that flares up after a nerve is injured, can be one of the most incapacitating afflictions a person experiences. When the injury causes agonizing scarlike growths called neuromas, that look like tiny tumors on nerve endings, neurologists can try to relieve the pain with oral medication. But drug therapy can’t always do the trick. When it doesn’t, neurosurgeon Allan J. Belzberg will use one of several surgical methods...

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Taking the Tumor, Not the Leg
Not long ago, a leg amputation would have been the only cure for a large malignant tumor like the one doctors found in the thigh of 63-year-old Keith Moore of Martinsburg, W. Va. So circuitous was the cancer, it had infiltrated the muscles and tendons. Attempting to remove only the malignancy would have risked cutting into the tumor, increasing the chance that the cancer would...

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New Meaning to Genetics
Andrew Feinberg, M.D., considers himself a classically trained geneticist. Yet growing evidence he’s accumulated about a process called imprinting is challenging the view that humans carry two functioning copies of every gene, one from each parent. In imprinting, the copy inherited from one parent (sometimes the mother, sometimes the father) is active, while the same gene...

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For Crohn’s Disease, a Breakthrough Drug with Risks
When the Food and Drug Administration gave early approval to the new drug Remicaid a little more than a year ago, it was good news for thousands of patients with the inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder, Crohn’s disease. The medication offered hope particularly to patients with the worst type of Crohn’s—those with ulcers, or fistulas, that tunnel through the bowel wall into nearby organs or through the surface of the skin. In one study, at least half of the fistulas closed in 68 percent of patients taking Remicaid. In another, 48 percent of patients showed...

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