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Sat Feb 16, 2019, 01:02 AM

Science on Saturday: Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee: The Science Behind the Pain...

...and How New Research is Revolutionizing Treatment.

One of the joys of living near Princeton NJ is the Science on Saturday series held at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab in the winter months, hosted by Dr. Andrew Zweiker, PPPL outreach physicist and Democratic Assemblyman in the New Jersey Legislature.

My wife and I and two of our friends attended this one a few weeks, and it was, like most, very engaging.

Science on Saturday; Osteoarthrritis of the hip, and knee, the science behind the pain.

Scroll down for the video and enlarge it.

The speaker, Dr. Christina Gutowski, used to go to Science on Saturday Lectures in Princeton when she was a girl, and my fantasy is that my son, who started going with me when he was 11 and is now doing well as a Materials Science student will someday do well enough in his career to do the same.

The one last week, was absolutely fabulous, where a scientist described in detail what it was like to camp in Antarctica on a meteorite finding mission.

I'll post it when the video comes up.

Science on Saturday, PPPL, Winter, 2017

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Reply Science on Saturday: Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee: The Science Behind the Pain... (Original post)
NNadir Feb 16 OP
hunter Feb 16 #1
NNadir Feb 17 #2

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2019, 03:36 PM

1. Ah, so there's hope...

"In the future, definitive treatment for the disease may be largely medical, not surgical, and these future possibilities will be explored."


I've got a personal stake in this. When I was younger, from late adolescence into my thirties, I used to run obsessively. I also worked as a furniture mover and in warehouses, loading and unloading trucks by hand. Now my knees and hips always hurt.

I was one of the people prescribed Celebrex back when Pfizer falsely promoted it as a wonder drug that wouldn't mess you up like other NSAIDS. Sure enough, Celebrex messed me up after a few months use and I've had to be extremely wary of NSAIDs ever since.

Changing the subject, my wife and I were science teachers when we married, with the requisite undergraduate science degrees so many science teachers now lack.

Teaching science in a big city public school was by far the most difficult job I've ever had. Teachers in most of the U.S.A. do not get the respect, pay, or resources they deserve.

Our children grew up in an intellectually rigorous environment, rich in science and art, as did their cousins. As adults, it seems to be a coin toss which career paths, art or science, the children in our family choose. It makes sense to me if science is an art -- a facet of intellectual curiosity, creativity, persistence, and rigorous thinking.

The thing that horrifies me most about Donald Trump, besides his lack of basic human empathy, is that he is incurious and intellectually lazy.

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 17, 2019, 08:11 PM

2. My wife and I used to run for an hour each night on the beach at Torrey Pines.

We lived in San Diego in part to escape my wife's family issues.

Depending on the position of the tide, this, running on the beach, can create large stresses on one's knees and hips.

As an old man I feel it, and I do take an NSAID to manage it, aspirin. I often remark that if aspirin were discovered today, rather than a century ago, it would be a prescription item - if it managed to get through clinical trials, which it might not do - and would be making some pharmaceutical company billions upon billions of dollars, at least until it went generic.

I personally think that aspirin a great drug, with known effects, including COX-2, to suppress certain cancers, the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.

It is inhibitor of two cyclooxgenases, COX-1 and COX-2, the latter being involved with inflammation and pain, the former with blood clotting.

The theory behind the COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Vioxx was that they were designed to reduce pain and inflammation without inhibiting COX-1, responsible for one of aspirin's side effects, bleeding. It certainly sounded good at the time.

However, there is a fine line between antagonist and agonist and it appears that instead of being a COX-1 antagonist, or being COX-1 neutral, for some set of the population it was an agonist and caused clotting and heart attacks.

Merck was working on a successor to Vioxx, and the drug had interesting chemistry, using a chemistry related to modern "ionic liquid" chemistry that was quite challenging, since it required the use of Hastelloy reactors. Happily, as it turned out for me, the company I was working for at the time did not have these reactors, so I wasn't involved. But I could have been...

A few years back, my new doctor switched my statin. The side effects left me in great pain. I stopped taking it, even though I know statins are generally good for you. I'm going to ask to go back to the old one.

I am lucky because I can read all the primary medicinal chemistry and medical journals, so I understand what I take. I also have a very strong background in medicinal chemistry. No drug is really "safe," for everyone; all have risks, including aspirin, very much so.

I know something about inner city schools. My wife attended one, even though her father was well off - he was a doctor - he moved to a small wealthy enclave surrounded by areas of poverty. In high school, my wife was afraid to go to the bathroom, having been attacked in it and often having to step over used syringes in the stalls. She volunteered in the math office so she could use the faculty bathroom. (Her sisters went to private schools.)

I have a sense of how difficult your job must have been, crappy, mutilated textbooks, violence in the hallways, and so on. I went to a good high school for its time; we lived "on the poor side of the tracks" in a wealthy district.

My wife won the high school's physics award, and was admitted to a pretty good university as a physics major, which is where she met me; I was a chemistry major. The minute I met her and learned that she was a physics major, I decided then and there that I would marry her some day. All the other nerds on campus besides me thought the same thing. She had a certain "look" that made men sort of wild, and after she flipped me off on multiple occasions, we became friends in spite of that and used to go to art galleries and stuff. Later we went from friends to lovers, and later we married and spent many delicious years together until we were ready to become parents.

However the poor quality of her high school education, and a healthy dose of parental neglect and the "Cinderella syndrome" among her sisters and mother, prevented her from doing well in physics, and she went on to do other things.

She invested a lot of time and love in my boys when we decided to have children; and while I take great pride in their academic success, most of it comes from her. There are some parents - my own father was such a parent - who work hard to avoid being their parent(s) by doing everything their parents didn't do.

My wife was such a person, and my boys show it. She made sure she got the emotional, material and intellectual support they needed to realize their potential, and they are doing so. She arranged the visits to science museums, art galleries, trips into nature. Unlike her parents, she engaged her children, turned off the TV, talked with them, and brought our family through some difficult times.

One son is an artist - an excellent artist, if high strung - the other is becoming an excellent scientist, if a somewhat subdued and understated one.

My time is almost over, I think, but I have loved my life, since my life began, which it did when I met my wife. Not everything was perfect, but many things were. I'm a lucky guy, hips and knees notwithstanding.

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