Livestreaming Human Autopsies

 

A bloody online video shows a doctor slicing into a human cadaver’s scalp, peeling back the skin, cutting open the skull with a brutally whining saw, and removing its brain. He holds the brain up for the camera to see, all the while explaining the process to a live online audience.

The cadaver’s face was covered by a towel, so by the end of the stream all the audience could see was a closeup of the inside of a skull that was so empty it no longer seemed like part of a human. The Twitch-style comments section was teeming with viewers sharing thoughts and questions.

“Nice trick to do that with the cut,” said one as the doctor sliced away.

The archived recording of a January 2019 livestream was posted to the website Autopsy.Online, a gruesome educational project run by the Autopsy Center of Chicago. The center was founded by autopsy pathologist Ben Margolis, the doctor who performed the brain removal.

Margolis offers clients — usually family members of the deceased who want answers or closure — the distinctly 21-century option to have their loved ones’ autopsies recorded or broadcast live. And many, he says, are taking him up on the offer.

Livestreaming the process of cutting into and dissecting a dead body may sound grisly or voyeuristic — almost like a snuff film or the unsettling wave of pimple-popping videos that flooded the internet a few years ago. But Margolis, who’s also an accomplished orchestral musician and improv performer, sees his services as an empowering tool for families of the recently deceased. Not only to provide useful information in the face of a tragic event, but also to help them come to terms with their loss.

“Families come to us for closure, for grief, to find out what happened,” Margolis told Futurism.

Margolis founded the Autopsy Center of Chicago in 2010. Archiving autopsies through photographs or video recordings is a common practice — there are years of gory videos (you’ve been warned!) on YouTube. But it wasn’t until January 2017 that Margolis performed his first live broadcast, strapping a GoPro camera to his head and giving viewers a first-person vantage point on the procedure as he explained each step on Facebook Live.

“Other autopsy videos basically plant a camera a few feet away from the case and it’s sort of a still perspective,” Margolis told Futurism, “and the person’s working away — you don’t know where to look.”

Margolis says that more immersive approach isn’t just a good sell to current or future doctors, but also more comprehensive for the casual, science-curious viewer, though sometimes he does use a stationary camera instead.

“Here it’s really directed,” he said. “You know the ‘Blair Witch Project’ — that live video — it’s kind of like you’re in it.”

While the livestreams are an engaging project, Margolis puts even more effort into his edited videos, which he turns into educational resources. To get the Autopsy Center of Chicago videos out there, Margolis created an app and is still building out his Autopsy.Online platform, which is full of annotated autopsy recordings.

Margolis’ ultimate goal is to complete a virtual “body map” where viewers can click on a body part and watch a video clip of that particular organ being removed and examined — a resource he says is particularly valuable for students who don’t have hands-on access to cadavers.

The platform also has a separate page for livestreams, parts of which are later edited into the shorter clips. Prior to launching his own app and platform, Margolis streamed on Facebook, which meant his audience was much larger and broader than the people who now pay for his content.

When it comes to the comments that pop up on his livestreams, Margolis says they’re largely positive. Sometimes, trolls will mock people for asking questions about what they’re seeing or share gross, occasionally sexually-explicit thoughts. But most people engage with the material in a constructive way.

“It’s not macabre, it’s the human body,” Margolis said. “We all have one, and it’s interesting.”

Most jarring for some viewers, Margolis told Futurism, is coming to terms with the fact that they’re looking at a dead body that was once a living person with thoughts and feelings. On one stream, Margolis was removing a cadaver’s brain when someone commented “Is that person dead?”

“That’s part of it: how do you talk about death? I’ve made an effort to be sensitive,” Margolis said, explaining that he’s banned people for making fun of others who asked questions, even if the answer seems obvious to some. “If you’re asking a question, there’s no issue. How wonderful that you can ask! If you’re ready to know what dead is, then teach. Help someone know, build a positive attitude.”

But the community response raises an important issue: how do you respect the deceased and their relatives while also putting meaningful content out there? Margolis says once he had 1 million people watching a livestream on Facebook at once — a lot of eyes casually observing the cut-open body of someone’s dead family member.

“The primary concerns with livestreaming autopsies are making sure that you are respecting the wishes and the privacy of the decedent and his or her family,” Baylor College of Medicine bioethicist Amy McGuire told Futurism, “and that you are treating the body with respect.”

Other bioethicists shared similar concerns — especially in regards to respecting the privacy of the deceased and their family members.

“It seems like a lot would depend on the purpose of the autopsy and whether the identity of the subject was going to be disclosed,” Mark Aulisio, chair of the bioethics department at Case Western Reserve University, told Futurism. Margolis keeps the names and identifiable characteristics of corpses under wraps. “If identifying information is not going to be disclosed, then professional and respectful comportment would be the main issue of concern,” Aulisio said.

Margolis takes pains to preserve the anonymity of cadavers. Before he begins recording, he covers up the deceased’s face in addition to any identifiable markings like tattoos or body tags. He also never discloses the person’s age or other personal details.

“We need to set it up in a way that’s ethical and empowers the family,” Margolis told Futurism.

McGuire saw those anonymizing steps as a positive sign, but also noted that as an ethicist she would want to make sure people were only using the videos for educational purposes.

New York University bioethicist Brendan Parent was most concerned about how clients are being approached about livestreaming or recording.

“Autopsy usually happens when we are suspicious about cause of death, which often involves private or sensitive life stories,” Parent told Futurism. “Even though this group is taking measures to prevent display of identifiable features and getting consent from family members, it’s unlikely any of the people whose bodies are being used conceived of this possible post-mortem state.”

Parent noted that Margolis’ practice is working on setting up a way for people to donate their bodies as part of their wills — similarly to how medical schools acquire cadavers to use as educational tools — saying that that would be a step in the right direction.

Margolis told Futurism that he spends upwards of an hour getting to know family members who approach him for autopsies before he considers bringing up the possibility of a video recording or livestream. In his consent forms, there are separate boxes asking for permission to take photos, video recordings, livestreams, or allow students into the room. If a client hesitates or seems uncomfortable after Margolis brings up the option to record to stream the autopsy, he says that he immediately backs down.

Even then, Margolis won’t bring up videos or streams at all if the deceased is a child or if the case involves an active criminal investigation, like for a suspected homicide.

But for those who agree to have their loved one’s autopsy recorded or streamed, Margolis says he sees the gesture as a gift and a way to build a legacy, akin to donating an organ or donating one’s body to science.

“What happens in the hospital is they get cut off, they get cut off from their relationships. If there’s some way to give life to that world again, to participate, it makes such a difference,” Margolis said. “It’s like organ donation, they want their loved ones to live on, to make a difference. Anything for the death not to be in vain is wonderful for them.”

He’s done cases where the autopsy reveals genetic medical conditions or helps determine whether living relatives might inherit conditions like Alzheimer’s. Armed with that information, those people can then go on to ask better questions and more effectively advocate for themselves when navigating the healthcare system.

“Autopsy is always for the living,” Margolis said.

“Anti-Aging” Blood

 

In February 2019, the FDA issued a warning: medical clinics offering transfusions of blood from young people as anti-aging treatments were likely scams, based on dangerous pseudoscience. The warning spelled doom for Ambrosia, LLC, a young blood transfusion clinic that shut down soon afterward.

Now, Ambrosia founder Jesse Karmazin is back. Last month, the Stanford-alum-turned-blood-tech-guru (sound familiar?) contacted Futurism to announce the foundation of his new clinic, Ivy Plasma. This time, Karmazin said the clinic will provide plasma transfusions — no longer specifically sourced from young folks — and it would do so off-label, meaning the transfusions would be administered for purposes the FDA didn’t explicitly approve and endorse.

Asked what the purported benefits of the treatment might be, Karmazin’s response was evasive.

“Off-label prescribing is legal, however the FDA does not permit companies to discuss the potential benefits or risks of off-label medications, sorry,” Karmazin wrote in an email responding to Futurism’s questions.

The FDA currently approves the use of plasma transfusions in emergency situations. But in its February warning, it listed possible side effects of young-blood transfusions ranging from infections and allergic reactions to lung injury and circulatory problems. The FDA didn’t reply to questions about Ivy Plasma or provide an updated statement on plasma transfusions (though, of note, it has been argued that the FDA retains the ability to levy a selective “functional ban” on off-label uses).

As for the theoretical benefits of young plasma transfusions, the FDA warned in February that “plasma is not FDA-approved to treat other conditions such as normal aging or memory loss. Additionally, there have not been any well-controlled studies that show the clinical benefit of the administration of plasma from young donors, and there are associated safety risks.”

Why, then, do people think young plasma would slow down aging?

One recent study showed human brain cells grown in a petri dish and treated with two proteins found in the blood of young mice grew more branches and formed more connections with other cells than those that weren’t. Mouse studies lent more evidence to the idea that young blood has rejuvenative properties.

But medical research conducted on animals often fails to translate to clinical relevance — as of yet, there’s no conclusive evidence showing the phenomenon working for humans as it does in mice. Some groups have run human experiments, but they involved such a small number of participants that their findings weren’t definitive. One Stanford study found Alzheimer’s patients better able to perform daily tasks (like taking medications) after getting a young blood transfusion. But the entire study only included 18 participants, and there was no reported improvement in their moods or other cognitive abilities.

Because of that lack of evidence, the FDA hasn’t approved clinical treatments with young plasma, which is why Ivy Clinic offers off-label services (and can’t claim medical benefits). But over the course of the two weeks that Futurism was in contact with Karmazin — all over email, because he says he doesn’t provide formal phone interviews to the press — the mystery surrounding the new clinic only grew.

Karmazin told Futurism that he believes reporters got a lot wrong about Ambrosia. He pushed back on the suggestion his company was broadly controversial, while also declining to explain what specifically he felt had been incorrect about past press coverage.

When asked if he, as an actual doctor, still believed that plasma transfusions have anti-aging effects, Karmazin explained that because he was CEO of Ivy Plasma, the FDA’s restrictions on the marketing of off-label medications still prevented him from commenting.

“I really do try both to adhere to the FDA’s rules and run my businesses in the best interests of our patients,” Karmazin told Futurism.

Ivy Plasma’s website says that the company offers treatments in San Francisco, California and Tampa, Florida. The prices are the same as they were for Ambrosia’s patients: $8,000 for one liter of plasma and $12,000 for two liters, all of which Karmazin told Futurism is sourced from blood banks.

When he talked about Ivy Plasma itself, Karmazin described outpatient clinics “staffed by doctors and nurses mostly.” But he repeatedly refused to answer questions about those staffers, the treatments they offer, or the process of setting up medical clinics in either city, citing privacy concerns.

All in all, it’s a tough sell. Ivy Plasma offers prohibitively-expensive treatments, supported by weak science, and technically can’t claim that they do any good for people. As such, it would be easy to write it off as some weird quirk of Silicon Valley, a peculiar medical trend for wealthy geeks.

But Ambrosia’s messaging is still out there, even if the clinic itself was dissolved. The high price tag also suggests that these plasma treatments are aimed at the rich — people for whom an $8,000 liter of blood bank-sourced plasma is affordable. Tech billionaires seem obsessed with extending their own lives as long as possible, an endeavor with which experimental blood treatments fall perfectly in line.

It seems like a story distinctly of the moment, but it’s not. The ages-old trope of a fountain of youth for the most privileged of the privileged among us continues apace. But try, if you will, to imagine a world where the people who have hoarded enough cash to create change at a society-wide scale focused less on extending their own lives and the maybe-kinda-supposed science of plasma transfusions, and instead dedicated their resources to the kind of wide-reaching medical research that could improve the lives of billions around the globe.

At the very least, it’d be a new story.

Prueba para detectar el alzhéimer en la sangre

 
Científicos están elaborando una prueba para detectar el alzhéimer en la sangre

Un grupo de científicos británicos de la Universidad de Nottingham está desarrollando una prueba de sangre para identificar los casos de alzhéimer en su etapa más temprana.

Los investigadores han presentado las primeras conclusiones de su estudio, que califican de “muy prometedor”, en una conferencia que se celebra estos días sobre la investigación de esta dolencia en el Reino Unido.

Las pruebas podrían realizarse en cualquier clínica de forma sencilla y se basan en identificar en la sangre una “combinación de marcadores” que son diferentes para las personas sanas y las que padecen la enfermedad.

Esos indicadores son proteínas que los científicos vinculan con la enfermedad de Alzheimer como la amiloide o la apolipoproteína (APOE), así como otros elementos sugeridos por los expertos como probables que este análisis también identifica.

Teóricamente la prueba podría identificar los síntomas antes de que aparezca la enfermedad. A pesar de su optimismo, los científicos destacan que la prueba debe ser validada y que podría pasar una década antes de que se use en pacientes.

Fuente | actualidad.rt

La cerveza, un potente aliado contra la menopausia y el Alzheimer

 
La cerveza, un potente aliado contra la menopausia y el Alzheimer

Un consumo moderado de cerveza tiene efectos beneficiosos en la menopausia y ayuda a combatir o disminuir la “agresividad” de la osteoporosis y del Alzheimer, según aseguran algunos expertos.

El doctor Tirso Pérez,  jefe de la sección de Ginecología del Hospital Universitario Puerta del Hierro de Madrid y coordinador del manual ‘Mujer, Ginecología y Cerveza‘, habló con la agencia Europa Press sobre los múltiples beneficios de la cerveza.Elaborada a base de  ingredientes naturales, la cerveza es rica en nutrientes esenciales altamente saludables.

Pérez destaca el efecto antioxidante de la cerveza como potente aliado de la mujer en el periodo de la menopausia. De hecho, diversos estudios científicos han demostrado que el consumo de fitoestrógenos naturales, presentes en algunos de los ingredientes de esta bebida, puede llegar a retrasar la menopausia en unos dos años.

Además, la cerveza, afirma Pérez, ayuda a combatir o retrasar la aparición de la osteoporosis por su contenido en flavonas que inhiben la pérdida de masa ósea y estimulan la protección del hueso.

Asimismo, esta bebida es rica en silicio, mineral que interacciona con el aluminio, que a su vez es causante de la aparición de muchos desórdenes neurodegenerativos como el Alzheimer. El silicio limita la biodisponibilidad del aluminio, previniendo su absorción a nivel gastrointestinal y disminuyendo su reabsorción a nivel renal.

Los expertos aseguran también que los polifenoles de la cerveza coadyuvan en la protección contra enfermedades cardiovasculares.

Ahora bien, su consumo ha de ser moderado, señala Pérez, y proporcional al peso corporal de la persona. En general “se recomienda a las mujeres beber diariamente entre una y dos cañas de cerveza, con o sin alcohol,  y a los hombres entre dos y tres”, añade.

Fuente | actualidad.rt

Y acompañado de jamón ... la "hostia"  :D