Florida’s contender for Darwin Award


Click on photo if you really need to see Archbold in action

A 32-year-old man downed dozens of roaches and worms to win a python at a Florida reptile store, then collapsed and died outside minutes later.

Edward Archbold was among 20 to 30 contestants participating in Friday night’s “Midnight Madness” event at Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, authorities said.

The participants’ goal: consume as many insects and worms as they could to take home a $850 python.

Archbold swallowed roach after roach, worm after worm. While the store didn’t say exactly how many Archbold consumed, the owner told CNN affiliate WPLG that he was “the life of the party…”

Soon after the contest was over, Archbold fell ill and began to vomit, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

A friend called for medical help. Then, Archbold himself dialed 911…

Eventually, he fell to the ground outside the store, the sheriff’s office said. An ambulance took him to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Life of the Party, eh?

Discovery could save one billion people from parasites

Scientists have discovered why some people may be protected from harmful parasitic worms naturally while others cannot in what could lead to new therapies for up to one billion people worldwide.

Parasitic worms are a major cause of mortality and morbidity affecting up to a billion people, particularly in the Third World, as well as domestic pets and livestock across the globe. Now, University of Manchester researchers have, for the first time, identified a key component of mucus found in the guts of humans and animals that is toxic to worms…

“In order to be able to study these debilitating worm diseases, we have been using a mouse model in which we try to cure mice of the whipworm Trichuris muris. This worm is closely related to the human equivalent, Trichuris trichiura.

“We previously found that mice that were able to expel this whipworm from the gut made more mucus. Importantly, the mucus from these mice contained the mucin, Muc5ac. This mucin is rarely present in the gut, but when it is, it alters the physical properties of the mucus gel…”

“We found that mice genetically incapable of producing Muc5ac were unable to expel the worms, despite having a strong immune response against these parasites. This resulted in long-term infections. Furthermore, we discovered the reason for the importance of Muc5ac is that it is ‘toxic’ for the worms and damages their health.”

The study…found that Muc5ac is also essential for the efficient expulsion from the gut of other types of worm that cause problems in humans. These include the hookworm, and the spiral threadworm. Together, these worms cause mortality and morbidity in up to one billion people across the globe.

One of those breakthroughs that may change the lives, save the lives of millions of people around the world. Bravo!

Tiny worms labor to reveal engine of herbal medicines


Yuan Luo and Laura Dosanjh – worm wranglers, researchers

A team of researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB)…have developed a biologic method to tease out which compounds from herbal medicines and medicinal herbal mixtures produce their reputed medicinal benefits…

Science has not been very helpful in determining the efficacy of herbal medicines in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, has so far sided with science only once to approve an herb-based treatment with multiple active ingredients-an ointment for genital warts made from green tea leaves.

Now, using tiny worms that live only 20 days, the team sorted out which compounds found in two common Chinese herbal formulations showed the most potential for their stated purpose: extending life expectancy.

Cinnamon and ginseng won, showing the most promise

The researchers tested the mixtures, as well as each separate herb in them, on the laboratory worm model C. elegans. This particular worm–which biochemists often use as their ‘lab rat’–shares genes for aging and other traits with humans and other organisms…

In recent years, scientists have learned to use C. elegans worm as a model system in for studying gene-environment interactions. In their experiments, the School of Pharmacy researchers first used “wild” C. elegans to screen the herbal mixtures and single herbs. They determined which herbs aided life span of the worms, then tested those herbs on well-characterized mutant worms. Each mutant was missing a single gene known for life span and/or stress resistance…

“The good news is that this is a way of testing to show the medicinal effect. It is now testable. We have statistical evidence for the first time in C. elegans for a multi-compound drug,” says Luo. “Most [scientists] are not using whole organisms for screening herbs. This is simple and clean, it is a system to look at specific genes. Now we have to further validate the human relevancy.”

Yes, my first smartass response is, “I don’t always consider every human to be relevant!”

Reality requires that we appreciate the work of these scientists evaluating traditional medicine. While much of the category is crap and superstition – the useful bits often are often readily available and affordable.