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Fish Skin Bandages: The Latest Product of Medical Desperation
In a world driven by technological progress, many impoverished communities are bucking the trend by successfully turning to "low-tech" and unorthodox treatments.
Tucked away in northeast Brazil's seaside city of Fortaleza, an unusual medical advancement has been discovered. As reported by STAT, researchers and physicians based out of the region's burn center, the José Frota Institute, have begun testing the use of fish skin as dressings for patients suffering from second- and third-degree burns.
Throughout history, we've seen that windows of acute desperation have produced some of the most remarkable medical breakthroughs. The physically grievous casualties generated during World War II forced advancements in the purification, stabilization, and mass production of penicillin. During the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, researchers turned to a former cancer drug, AZT, to successfully treat the decade's most fearsome disease.
Today, Brazil's medical community faces a uniquely desperate situation. The country's three operational skin banks are only able to meet approximately one percent of the nation's needs. Moreover, alternatives to human skin, such as pig skin and synthetic skin substitutes—materials commonly available in the United States—are virtually unobtainable.
Unlike their American counterparts, material and supply shortages have forced some Brazilian burn centers to deviate from the standard medical practice which advocates for early skin grafts, instead being relegated to using traditional gauze-and-silver sulfadiazine cream dressings. While such a method of treatment is time-tested and effective in preventing infection in burn wounds, the dressings necessitate daily and excruciatingly painful changes, which can delay recovery.
Enter fish skin—namely that of tilapia. What was once simply thrown in the trash after harvesting has now become a critical therapeutic agent. After undergoing a thorough cleaning process, the sterilized tilapia skins are applied directly to the wound. For superficial second-degree burns, the skins are left in place until the burn naturally scars over, more severe burns with deeper wound cavities require a few changes over the course of several weeks. While the testing of this technique has been somewhat limited, the consensus amongst attending physicians is that the use of tilapia skin bandages reduces healing time and significantly decreases pain levels in patients.
The project's lead plastic surgeon, Dr. Edmar Maciel, commented on the unexpected superior healing properties of tilapia skin, stating, “We got a great surprise when we saw that the amount of collagen proteins, types 1 and 3, which are very important for scarring, exist in large quantities in tilapia skin, even more than in human skin and other skins. Another factor we discovered is that the amount of tension, of resistance in tilapia skin is much greater than in human skin. Also the amount of moisture.”
While experts argue that we're unlikely to see such fish skin bandages in American hospitals, they may very well revolutionize burn care in the medical resource-depleted developing world, where desperation warmly embraces unorthodoxy.
This trend doesn't end with tilapia skin. In recent years, resource-barren medical professionals have reached back centuries and even millennia in order to find solutions to the mounting challenges posed by the modern age.
Researchers in Nottingham have replicated a Medieval eye salve that has proven capable of destroying 90 percent of antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria. Honey, whose medicinal value was held in high regard in antiquity, has recently been heralded by contemporary scientists for its now-proven antimicrobial properties.
Most of us would laugh off notions of leech therapy providing any true medical benefit, yet leech therapy has been firmly incorporated into cosmetic and microsurgery practices for some time now, with the FDA approving its medicinal use in 2004. Moreover, scientists are working diligently to harness the anticoagulant properties of leech saliva for use in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. In another surprising throwback to an ancient era, maggot debridement therapy has been found to be effective in the treatment of diabetes-associated wounds, those often prone to the development of gangrene.
The past has always been an inspiration for the future. We may not see fish skin bandages in US hospitals, but we've already—even if quietly—increasingly incorporated the use of other "low-tech" medical treatments in desperate situations. Striding forward with cutting-edge medical advancements has been one of our era's crowning glories, but making technologies equally accessible throughout the world is the step that's been missed—hopefully that changes. Until then, necessity will breed invention.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.