Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

                                                              Interactive Science series

Q: What is fecal transplantation? 

Krishna: Fecal transplantation or bacteriotherapy or fecal microbiota transpantation (FMT) is a procedure in which fecal matter, or stool, is collected from a tested healthy donor, mixed with a saline or other solution, strained, and transfered to a patient's gastrointestinal tract, by colonoscopy, endoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or enema  for the purpose of treating recurrent infections of  C. difficile colitis.

When antibiotics kill off too many "good" bacteria in the digestive tract, fecal transplants can help restore bacterial balance. C. difficile colitis, a complication of antibiotic therapy, may be associated with diarrhea, abdominal cramping and sometimes fever. If you are over the age of 65 or have chronic illnesses, you may be at higher risk for having more severe infection. Diagnosis is based on a stool DNA test that detects the organism. If you are diagnosed, your doctor will treat the initial infection with an antibiotic that specifically targets the C. difficile organism.

Antibiotics are used for the treatment of this infection. However,  in those individuals who continue to have recurrent C. difficile colitis, fecal transplantation is an option. A recent study published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine (1) showed that fecal transplantation is more effective than oral antibiotics in preventing further recurrences in individuals who have already had recurrent C. difficile colitis.

 Fecal transplantation for other clinical indications should be considered experimental, and performed only as part of a research study where your safety is closely monitored.

Fecal transplant was first documented in 4th century China, known as “yellow soup”.

It has been used for over 100 years in veterinary medicine, and has been used regularly for decades in many countries as the first line of defense, or treatment of choice, for C. diff. It is customary in many areas of the world for a newborn infant to receive a tiny amount of the mother’s stool by mouth, thought to provide immediate population of good bacteria in the baby’s colon, thereby jump-starting the baby’s immune system.

Mouse study suggests fecal transplants as therapy

When mice have a stroke, their gut reaction can amp up brain damage.

A series of new experiments reveals a surprising back-and-forth between the brain and the gut in the aftermath of a stroke. In mice, this dickering includes changes to the gut microbial population that ultimately lead to even more inflammation in the brain.

There is much work to be done to determine whether the results apply to humans. But the research, published in the July 13 Journal of Neuroscience, hints that poop pills laden with healthy microbes could one day be part of post-stroke therapy (2).

The work also highlights a connection between gut microbes and brain function that scientists are only just beginning to understand.

Research suggests that there are more benefits in using good gut microbes for therapeutic purposes (3).

Q: What  makes a scientist popular?

Krishna: Good research work that helps the world tremendously! That should be the actual answer. 

But unfortunately that is not a realistic answer! Why?

Recently I attended a meeting where I met a director of a research institute. He asked me," How come you are more popular than me when I am more experienced, published more papers than you, several years senior to you, and have a very high position?"

His question made me smile. "Am I?", I asked.

"Yes, people interact with you more. They surround you more. They ask you several questions. They applaud you more".

His reply made me laugh. " Maybe because I am in the public domain and you are  living in your fort like lab and became unapproachable!" I laughed more after seeing his expression and said, "This would make you more jealous:  I help them understand your research and identify its significance!"

I hope you understood the  logic! Why do you think Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye became more popular than several Nobel Laureates? 

Science Communication! It can cause wonders!!

This is a strange world!!! :)

Q: "DO a person's qualities decided by genes from his parents or his surroundings?"

Krishna: According to science, both genes and the environment come together to shape behaviour. Both play important roles. Genes capture the evolutionary responses of prior populations to selection on behaviour. Environmental flexibility gives animals the opportunity to adjust to changes during their own lifetime.

Genes, via their influences on morphology and physiology, create a framework within which the environment acts to shape the behaviour of an individual. The environment can affect morphological and physiological development; in turn behaviour develops as a result of that person's shape and internal workings. Genes also create the scaffold for learning, memory, and cognition, remarkable mechanisms that allow people to acquire and store information about their environment for use in shaping their behaviour. 

Q: Which side of the brain is more important?

Krishna: Whole of it! Both sides, called hemispheres, have different functions, but signals constantly travel back and forth between the two via the corpus callosum. The latter is a large bundle of nerve fibers that helps with functions such as stereoscopic vision. 

Watch this video that shows a live experiment on a person whose hemispheres are disconnected....

 The right hemisphere is considered the creative side because it helps to process music, visualize images and interpret language context and tone. While it doesn't perform mathematical calculations, it does help with size comparisons of different objects. The left brain, considered the analytical side, controls logic, speech and mathematical applications. It is also in charge of retrieving facts from the memory center when needed. 

The whole of the brain is needed to become what we are as human beings. You cannot pick one side.

Both sides are important because with both combined... it could make you a balanced individual. 

Q: Can you get flu even if you are vaccinated against it?

Krishna: The flu virus mutates frequently to overcome adverse conditions presented to it. That is why  you have so many strains. 

If you are vaccinated for a specific viral strain, another strain might infect and cause flu symptoms in you. 

Q: What is the science behind Karva Chauth?

Krishna: It is based on beliefs and originated in our wonderful culture and traditions. There is no science behind it.

Why do you want to link it with science?

But if you want you can invent some explanation and create pseudo-science in the process.

Q: How do some hormones make us feel good?

Krishna: 'Feel good hormones' really don't work like that. They can work either way - i.e., can make you happy as well as can make you depressed. Surprised to hear this? But it is true according to neuro-biologists. Hormones like Dopamine can also make you sad! 

The response of neurons in your brain is determined by the receptors on the neurons. The same chemical can act in very different ways depending on what the receptor is.

Dopamine can do different things because it’s carrying signals between different neurons in different regions of the brain.

One reason why chemicals get described as responsible for some mood or other is that they’re one of the few things we can manipulate in medical treatment. You can’t go in and tinker with the neurons themselves, but you can tweak with the chemicals in the region.

Q: I have been recently pounded by few friends on concept of "Water has memory". They cite Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier's research to substantiate this concept. 

This video -

How do we prove that this is pseudoscience?

Krishna:  " If people think water has memory, challenge them to use it in electronic gadgets and make them cheap and successful!" :) Yes, why didn't somebody invent the technology to store data in memory chips using water? 

Yes, some scientists did play with the idea that water has memory. Some even published papers on this topic. Usually the peer-reviewers don't test what the authors of papers say. They check the methodology and logic. If they are sound, they recommend it. The true test begins when others working in the field read the papers and try to build on the knowledge.  "Reproducibility test" catches the  loopholes and faulty assumptions and conclusions. 
Water memory tests failed  at this stage. People were unable to reproduce the claims of the papers published.  And the authors tried to escape by saying they were not physicists to explain this! This failure to simplify the experimental system so that they could clarify the precise nature of the effects they claimed to see, or the mechanisms behind them, fell short of rigorous science.
Gallery of water-related pseudoscience
People who say water has memory didn't prove that it really has memory. When a claim is made it is the responsibility of the one making the claim to provide evidence for it. 

Otherwise it becomes invalid in science. We need not prove anything regarding it because we didn't make the claim. Just because you catch hold of a test tube and talk bunkum, it doesn't become science even if you are a Nobel Laureate. That is the beauty of science!

I didn't watch the video, because I didn't get time. I will watch it soon and then write more on it.

Q: After reading your article  This is what a liver transplant surgeon told me recently... , I am contacting you.

Please don't write anything negative about Ayurveda.  Let me briefly share my experience. I had serious illness some time back. There was no life left for me . I was waiting for death. Ayurveda revived me. It gave me all answers which were elusive till then. So when you write please take a humanitarian approach. 

(Then she said something highly emotional, confrontational and derogatory about Western medicine. Therefore I didn't add it here).


Is that so? Then read what this doctor says: Dosages of liv 52 - I had jaundice a long | Practo Consult

 Is telling truth wrong? Hah!

I stick with my article and what genuine research says because I read several original research papers, not the ones published in dubious journals. My mother suffered a lot because of these ayurvedic medicines. That is proof enough for us to educate people. If you think they are safe, you can use them.

As a person of science I stick with real science, not dubious one. Modern medicines might have side effects but pass through several clinical trials and atleast we know what we are dealing with. We weigh pros and cons before taking them. Several ayurvedic medicines are untested scientifically (in modern terms). A known devil is better than unknown angel.

Humanitarian approach will be taken into consideration only if it agrees with facts in science. Isn't educating people about drawbacks and dark side effects of alternative medicines a humanitarian approach? We are helping them in a way by making them avoid suffering. 

Just because one person is benefited by it doesn’t make it science. Facts are facts and we deal only with them. Just because you believe in something doesn’t make it a fact of science. We are not against Ayurveda. We are only against untested claims. If the medicines work for some, that is fine. We want scientific validation for that and that the medicines really work and it just is not a placebo effect.

Your message is highly emotional. Reviews on Amazon? Even a child  can write them! What is the big deal?

Every doctor and scientist who read my article  which has citations of original research papers said it is good and promoting it. Swallow that bitter pill whether you like it or not.

Anything that is not scientific cannot form part of my debate. Sorry.

Q: Why do people live in earth-quake-prone,  cyclone-prone and landslide-prone areas despite the dangers involved? What is the psychology behind it?

Krishna:   Lack of awareness! Most people don't know the potential risks. Some underestimate them. Severe disasters are rare, therefore the notion of danger doesn’t easily sink in. If people cannot learn from experience, they do not know how to protect themselves, especially without appropriate early-warning systems. For example, without taking part in an evacuation exercise, people would not know where to go. And even if they knew, often there are no financial subsidies for relocation or reconstruction from the Governments.  

The scientific and political issue of risk reduction boils down to public perception. A severe disaster may occur once every 10, 50 or 100 years, and most people, including politicians, are unwilling to invest in mitigation and preparedness for such rare events.

The cost of reducing risk can also be cultural and emotional. For many, a disaster-prone area is also where their ancestors have been living for generations, and abandoning the place where they grew up would leave them uprooted. Sometimes, the dangerous life is preferable to a loss of place and culture from which there is no recovery.

Q: Why is scientific literacy important?

Krishna: Scientific illiteracy harms people. The general public don’t understand how. These articles will help you in identifying the pitfalls of not going the scientific way….





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