When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent
In a landmark study published in the journal Science in 1992, Burnett and his Johns Hopkins co-author, Solomon S. Snyder, M.D., professor of neuroscience (who is also an author on the current study), showed for the first time that nitric oxide is produced in penile tissue. Their study demonstrated the key role of nitric oxide as a neurotransmitter responsible for triggering erections. Now, 20 years later, we know that nitric oxide is not just a blip here or there, but instead it initiates a cyclic system that continues to produce waves of the neurotransmitter from the penile nerves, says Burnett. With this basic biological information, it may be possible, according to Burnett, to develop new medical approaches to help men with erection problems caused by such factors as diabetes, vascular disease or nerve damage from surgical procedures. Such new approaches could be used to intervene earlier in the arousal process than current medicines approved to treat erectile dysfunction. In particular, Burnett says, The target for new therapies would be the protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). Now that we know the mechanism for causing the activated form of nNOS in penile nerves, we can develop agents that exploit this mechanism to help with erection difficulties. One of the agents studied by the researchers was forskolin, an herbal compound that has been used to relax muscle and widen heart vessels. They found that forskolin also ramps up nerves and can help keep nitric oxide flowing to maintain an erection.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.zmescience.com/research/new-impotence-therapy-02112012/
Thomas S. K. Chang. The nitric oxide molecule is composed of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom. It is a highly reactive gas that lasts only about five seconds before combining with something else. Pumped into the atmosphere as a byproduct of combustion, it combines with water to form acid rain, which is damaging to trees and to life in ponds and streams. "You would never think that anything as noxious as that would have any role in biology at all," said Dr. Snyder. But in the last six years, he said, scientists have begun to recognize that nitric oxide produced by the body in minute amounts is "one of the most important messenger molecules in all biology." Studies have identified nitric oxide as the "bullet" manufactured by disease-fighting cells of the immune system to kill foreign organisms.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-07-17/news/1992199072_1_nitric-oxide-priapism-oxide-production
Discovery may lead to treatment of male impotence
The subjects were then given the chance to state whether they accepted the information in the abstracts and, if not, why web site not. Regardless of whether the information presented confirmed or contradicted the students' existing beliefs, all of them came away from the reading with their beliefs strengthened. As expected, a number of the subjects that had their beliefs challenged chose to indicate that the subject was beyond the ability of science to properly examine. This group then showed a weak tendency to extend that same logic to other areas, like scientific data on astrology and herbal remedies. A second group went through the same initial abstract-reading process, but were then given an issue to research (the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime), and offered various sources of information on the issue. The group that chose to discount scientific information on the human behavior issue were more likely than their peers to evaluate nonscientific material when it came to making a decision about the death penalty. There are a number of issues with the study: the sample size was small, college students are probably atypical in that they're constantly being exposed to challenging information, and there was no attempt to determine the students' scientific literacy on the topic going in. That last point seems rather significant, since the students were recruited from a psychology course, and majors in that field might be expected to already know the state of the field. So, this study would seem to fall in the large category of those that are intriguing, but in need of a more rigorous replication. It's probably worth making the effort, however, because it might explain why doubts about mainstream science seem to travel in packs. For example, the Discovery Institute, famed for hosting a petition that questions our understanding of evolution, has recently taken up climate change as an additional issue (they don't believe the scientific community on that topic, either).
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://arstechnica.com/science/2010/05/when-science-clashes-with-belief-make-science-impotent/
Impotence Is Given Another Name, and a Drug Market Grows
Medical experts say the answer is more subtle. The emergence of a new class of drugs, they say, can have more to do with social changes than scientific discoveries. And, they say, the emergence of a market for erectile dysfunction drugs can offer a case study in how nonscientific forces can converge to give new drugs their moment. ''The drug discovery process is now and always has been an 'aha' experience,'' said Dr. Alan Hillman, a professor of medicine and health care management at the University of Pennsylvania. ''I don't think our society would have accepted the marketing or the selling of a drug for erectile dysfunction as recently as 20 or 25 years ago,'' he said.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2000/04/18/health/impotence-is-given-another-name-and-a-drug-market-grows.html