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Sunday, 29 January 2006

Inhalable Insulin - Exubera

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Dear Reader,

Today we learn about inhalable insulin, which the US Food and Drug Administration has approved of. Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that created a storm with Viagra, has created an inhalable application of insulin, which does away with the traditional method of using needle injections.

Insulin has been applied by injection since its discovery in 1920. Insulin is not a cure but can save lives of diabetics, whose bodies cannot break down the calories consumed and have, as a result, high sugar in their blood.

Medscape.com has published an article about the development of inhaled insulin by Lutz Heinemann and Tim Heise. The authors noted:

Dermal insulin application does not result in a reproducible and sufficient transfer of insulin across the highly efficient skin barrier. The dream of an 'insulin tablet' has also not become reality, the main problem being digestion and a lack of a specific peptide carrier system in the gut. Nasal insulin application led to a rapid absorption of insulin across the nasal mucosa; however, the relative bioavailability was low and required the use of absorption enhancers. To date, it appears that the pulmonary application of insulin is likely to be the first alternative route of insulin administration to become available within the next few years.


It's not easy being diabetic. However, the new drug, called "Exubera", looks set to change all that. Unfortunately, diabetics are still required to be constantly aware of their blood levels.

Use of rapid-acting inhaled insulin will not replace the need to inject the hormone occasionally, the Food and Drug Administration said. It approved Exubera on Friday, a day after the multinational European Commission did so.

Diabetics also will have to continue pricking their fingers to test blood sugar levels.

Exubera will provide an option for adults with Type 1 or 2 diabetes who are reluctant to use the syringes, pens and pumps currently needed to inject insulin, Pfizer said. In clinical trials, Exubera managed blood sugar levels just as well as injected insulin.

Source: Washington Post


On the other hand, it is possible that inhaled insulin may not meet the requirements of the diabetic. It is possible that the dosage taken is too much or too little.

Inhalable insulin is a welcome advance, said Dr. Nathaniel Clark, the national vice president for clinical affairs for the American Diabetes Association. But he added that needles still allow better dosage control.

.... [skip a few paragraphs...]

"My reaction was, I have excellent control of my blood sugars right now and I just don't have any interest in messing with a good thing," said Rayner, 33, who's used both insulin injections and the pump for her Type 1 diabetes.

Source: Washington Post


Is this worry legitimate? Pfizer, on its website, states otherwise.

Exubera is a fast-acting, dry powder formulation of human insulin that is inhaled into the lungs via the mouth before meals using a simple-to-use, hand-held device that does not require batteries or electricity. The device, which weighs four ounces and is about the size of a carrying case for a pair of eye glasses, is designed to deliver an accurate and precise dose of insulin each time it is used.

Source: Pfizer


The way it seems, one of them must be wrong. But the appliance has been approved both by the US FDA and the European Commission. Does this necessarily mean that the drug is safe for use by the public?

Pfizer itself acknowledges that there are certain caveats to the use of Exubera. First, since the drug is applied nasally, patients who have lung problems will naturally be affected, more so if they are smokers.

Patients should not take Exubera if they have poorly controlled or unstable lung disease, or if they smoke or have stopped smoking less than six months prior to starting Exubera treatment. If a patient starts smoking or resumes smoking, he or she must stop using Exubera and see a health care provider about a different treatment.


The second is that certain patients may experience low blood sugar levels.
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Thursday, 26 January 2006

The Chinese Constitution

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Yay... It's in English. This will prove useful some day.

Thanks to XinHua news agency.

The Constitution of the People's Republic of China
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Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Opera Mini is Out!

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Opera needs no explanation. Tagged the "fastest browser on Earth" (although Firefox would claim to have a smaller memory footprint), it has been made available for mobile phones! Ah... If only my phone had Wi-Fi on it.

:: Click here to get to the downloads page ::
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Underwear Risk?

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Nothing x-rated here, it's merely a euphemism for a possible side effect caused by "orlistat", a drug just given the green light by the American Food and Drug Administration board for over-the-counter sale and distribution.

SmithGlaxoKline will manufacture the drug and market it under the brand "Alli". The drug is new and has surprisingly garnered an 11 to 3 vote for its mass production and over-the-counter distribution.

The drug works by blocking up to 25% (one quarter) of fat consumed.

Among other side effects that the label needs to highlight is the need to take multivitamins along with Alli as the drug blocks the absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins like D, E, K and beta-carotene, fecal incontinence and gas. Also, since the drug blocks the absorption of 25 per cent of fat consumed and excretes it through the fecal route, those on the pill experience oily motions as also involuntary passing of oil through the anus.

“The risks seem relatively small, but I do have concern with what we euphemistically call the underwear risk. They need to be clearly outlined to people. These are real risks that do have social consequences,” Dr Wood added. The prescription form of the drug, Xenical, was approved by the FDA in 1999.

Source


My comments are in the tooltips when you "mouse over" the underlined phrases.

I wonder when the drug will be available? I know a number of people who need to lose weight fast.
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RTI - Google VoIP Suit

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Google has been sued by RTI over patent infringement in its VoIP software. The program in question is Google Talk, which enables users to talk via Internet. The infringement comes about when the VoIP call can be transferred to a normal telephone line.

RTI's president, Jerry Weinberger, put it more succinctly in a conversation with CNET News.com reporter Elinor Mills late last month: "When a VoIP call can be transferred to the regular PSTN (telephone network), the switching of that call infringes our patents."
Source: ZDNET


A patent infringement occurs when technology used in another application, is similar. The argument that the technological step was achieved through independent research will not stand. Patent law is diametrically different from copyright law, which allows for similarity if the similarity is purely serendipituous and was caused by independent effort - in other words, no copying.

RTI's suit seems to have scared the giants of the VoIP industry into signing deals with it, including Skype.

Google isn't the only company that RTI is pursuing. Weinberger said his company has already received one-time technology usage fees from heavyweights including Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco Systems, has sued Vonage and Comcast, and is in discussions with Skype and America Online.
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Ambergris On The Beach

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Dear Reader,

Today we learn about ambergris, that magnificent vomit of sperm whales that can make a beachcomber's afternoon a most profitable one. In West Australia, a woman named Loralee discovered that a stump-like item, resting on the beach for days, was actually ambergris. Ambergris is used in the perfume making industry, to slow down the evaporation of perfumes. In its raw form, it smells terrible. A quote from today's story of interest:


Ambergris is, in basic terms, what the sperm whale can’t digest.

It’s a combination of things like squid beaks and juice found inside sperm whales, but Mr Jury says that it is the quirky way the ambergris is released from the whale that really makes it off.

“They actually belch it out, and apparently those rare souls across the world who have actually heard this happen, say you can hear it for miles.”

Once the whale has belched up the ambergris it stays in the ocean for around a decade.

“If you were to take it… immediately after the whale has expelled it, then you would put it back in the water, because apparently the smell is horrific. But importantly it has to float around the oceans of the world for ten years… so that the sun and the water of the oceans can wash it, until all the nasties have gone and it assumes that sweetness that we’re witnessing now.”

Mr Jury says scientists believe only about one per cent of sperm whales release ambergris.
Source


Well, the next time you go to Pangkor Island, or Redang Island ... or even Sentosa ... try to keep an eye out for anything stump-like. Just don't forget to bring along a hot screwdriver to poke into it -- that's one of the two tests of real ambergris!

At USD$20 per gram, the 14.7kg chunk of ambergris could make Loralee's family richer by US$295,000 (£165,300).

Beach trips will never be the same again :)
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KlipFolio - RSS Feed Freeware

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Dear Reader,

If you've never heard of RSS, you're out of touch. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a way of "publishing" your website by making a "feed" available for the public. Yes, now that everyone can blog, and create podcasts, and even videocasts... nobody ever visits the sites anymore. They just want to scan the headlines, just like we scan the headlines in newspapers. So, RSS feeds are here to help us scan the "headlines" on our favourite web news service (e.g. Google News) or even favourite blogs (e.g. JeffOoi.com or even Lim Kit Siang's blog).

Enter KlipFolio from Serence -- Which is similar to Konfabulator (presently known as Yahoo! Widgets) in its slick application user interface. It's freeware, and there's tonnes of "Klips" to be downloaded from the site. The similarity is only minimal. There are "Klips" to check your Hotmail, GMail and Yahoo Mail, and then there are "Klips" that update you with feeds from news services, websites, blogs, etc.

KlipFolio is focused on RSS Feeds, so you can download the SDK and make your own customized Klips. That's a wonderful marketing plan and similar to the approach taken by Konfabulator. In the case of Konfabulator, the authors created a funky cartoonish site, complete with gallery of widgets, etc, which could work on both Mac and Windows platforms. There is a lack of support for Linux platforms though -- one wonders why?

In any case, the best test of the program is to run it yourself. I did not do a check on Google to see if any spyware had been reported, but it's best to do so if you want to start using this excellent program. So far, I've been using it for hourly updates from Google News and hourly updates from my many email boxes, incl. my POP3 box. There's even a Klip for the weather -- similar, one might add, to Konfabulator's. However, in the case of KlipFolio, all its widgets are pretty tiny, and they are best left in minimized form -- only to expand when the mouse goes over.

Click here to visit the excellent site.
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Friday, 20 January 2006

Business Case

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Dear Reader,

Perhaps you have started on a project recently, and you wish to capitalize on it -- perhaps take it to the next level. Perhaps you have a home based industry that is doing well, and you think it has potential for growth. In that case, it is time to get corporate funding. The following article shows you how to build up a business case for your secret mission.

Making a Business Case
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Tuesday, 17 January 2006

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Little Wireless Camera

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It is very interesting what you find online while looking for images to illustrate what a broadcast of images is. This tiny little thing can record up to 380 lines of video. That sounds sweet. I remember while walking around Apliu Kai in Hong Kong, I saw a whole bunch of similar gadgetry on sale. Anyway, if this makes you excited, surf over to rf-links.com.  Posted by Picasa
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Sunday, 15 January 2006

Chip Chick

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Summary:
A blog featuring gadgets and inventions from a young 20-something female perspective. Click here visit the Chip Chick Blog.

Note:
The last entry, about the TV-B-Gone, seems to be old news. Mitch Altman's invention made the news in late 2004. It seems surprising that TV-B-Gone should feature in a technology-slanted blog in early January, 2006. Wired.com also reported that TV-B-Gone is capable of turning on any television.

The TV-B-Gone invention had prompted Altman's friends to ask for other inventions, to "jam cell phones, shut down vehicle subwoofers and kill car alarms." Perhaps, such requests is an indication to would-be inventors what people would fork money out for.

Engadget.com has a couple of videos showing the TV-B-Gone in action.
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Saturday, 14 January 2006

Creating An Online Shopping Site With Blogger

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Quote from Floating Atoll blog:

1 Using Blogger, get a blog (and configure it to use your FTP server, if so desired).
2 Using Picasa, create a new Hello account and configure it for the blog.
3 Using PayPal, get a merchant account.
4 Using Picasa and Hello, send a merchandise photo with a short description to BloggerBot.
5 Using PayPal's merchant tools, generate an "add to cart" button for the item.
6 Using Blogger, edit the new post to include a title, a description, and "add to cart" and "view cart" buttons.

Looks like it's worth a shot. All thanks to that wonderful blog. Read more.
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Blog Search Tools

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1.
IceRocket

2.
Google Blog Search

3.
A list at Ali Paparo dotcom.

4.
Search Engine Watch does not have any listings to categorize "Blog Search Engines".
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Why Brain Rights?

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Because your life is inextricably affected by Intellectual Property. Just because you can't see the wind, does not mean that the wind is not blowing. Just because you can't see a sunbeam, does not mean you don't feel the heat. Intellectual Property, generated from your mind: Ideas which although reside in the realm of the intangible, are capable of being translated into tangible cash.

So - Load up today with knowledge on Copyrights, Trademarks, Industrial Designs, and Patents.
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