Saturday, February 20, 2016

Confusion surrounding the death of Justice Scalia

The death of Justice Scalia has brought much attention to our current death investigation system.  When Justice Scalia was discovered dead, there was much confusion surrounding his death.  Initially, when the Justice of the Peace in the remote area of Texas where he passed, was contacted, it was discovered both Justice of the Peace were out of town which lead to finding one who agreed to pronounce Justice Scalia dead over the phone.  The death scene was not investigated well nor did any official who is considered the coroner in Texas (Justice of the Peace) actually visit his death scene.  

In Texas the coroners are not physicians, rather they are Justice of the Peace and I am not even sure that any of them get much formal training in actual death investigation.  The same can be said for other states like Missouri where they are coroners, most are funeral directors and are elected and again, they don't have much formal training in death investigation.  This differs from other jurisdictions where they have formally trained death investigators that work for the medical examiner.  I worked in such an office while training in forensic medicine in Kansas City.  We had forensic pathologists (doctors) who did the autopsy work and death investigators who worked for the office and went out to all death scenes and reported their findings back to the doctor.  If the doctor was ever needed at the scene, they were always available.  Some states are entirely medical examiner systems, like New Mexico where the Office of the Chief Medical Investigator covers the whole state and they have trained field death investigators covering all parts of the state.  If Justice Scalia had died, say in Nevada or Oklahoma (both state ME systems) a trained death investigator would have gone to the scene.  They would have conducted a good investigation and reported it back to the main office where a decision would have been made to do or not do an autopsy.  Maybe they would have at least transported his body in to look at it externally and determine if an autopsy was needed, but at least an external exam could have been done in conjunction with the scene investigation.  In reality, with all the pre-existing conditions Justice Scalia had, there really is no need to do an autopsy.  But with his high profile, at least a death investigator should have gone to the scene and perhaps followed by an external exam by a forensic pathologist should have been conducted.  That would calm many worries and misunderstandings that has now lead to rumors throughout the country and DC.  

Our death investigation system is way behind the times and I see it all the time with families I consult with who hire us to look into their loved ones death.  Sadly, I don't see it being fixed anytime soon or even in my lifetime. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Neurological Research

Our company is dedicated to helping researchers find answers to many difficult to understand neurological disorders.  In order to advance our understanding, we have to have access to actual human neurological tissue.  Families who are gracious enough to fulfill a family members request of donating their brain, spinal cord, and other neurological tissue for research is the ultimate gift.

Once this occurs, these families are directed to brain banks throughout the country and in turn, we are contacted to streamline this process by responding to the decadents location within a 24 hour period to do the tissue recovery.  We are against the clock, as once death occurs, the biochemistry that is so delicate can often times be lost quickly if these tissues are not removed within 24 hours.  It is within the neuro-biochemistry that many researchers find their answers and it is these answers that can not only help us understand these disease processes more then we do now....but it is from these answers that new treatments are developed to help fight these neurological diseases and perhaps, find a cure.

Discuss with your family donating your brain, spinal cord, and other neurological tissue upon your death.  It could be the way we find out how to treat and cure a neurological disease.

*You do not have to be diagnosed with a neurological disease in order to donate.  We also need tissue from decedents who have not neurological disease and their tissue is considered "non-diseased or normal" tissue.  Contact us today to learn more.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Decrease Overdose Deaths with Expanded EMS Use of Naloxone

CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Your Online Source for Credible Health Information
Photo: EMS workers moving a patient from an ambulanceStudy results published in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health indicate that expanding naloxone training and use among emergency medical service (EMS) staff could reduce overdose deaths caused by a type of prescription painkiller called opioids. Naloxone is a prescription drug that reverses the effects of opioids. It can be life-saving during a potentially fatal opioid overdose if administered in time.
Study Findings
Study researchers analyzed National Emergency Medicine Service Information System data to consider factors associated with naloxone use among EMS staff. According to the published study, "Disparity in Naloxone Administration by Emergency Medical Service Providers and the Burden of Drug Overdose in Rural Communities," key findings include:
  • Naloxone is underutilized in rural areas.
    • Rural areas have 45% more prescription opioid overdose deaths compared to urban areas, but naloxone use is only 22.5% greater in rural areas compared to urban naloxone use.
  • Males are less likely to receive naloxone than females.
  • Young people are more likely to receive naloxone.
    • Adults age 20 – 29 years were most likely to receive naloxone, while adults age 60 and over were least likely to receive naloxone.
  • Advanced EMS are more than five times as likely to administer naloxone compared to basic EMS.
Why This Is Important
The United States is in the midst of a prescription opioid overdose epidemic. Each day, 44 people in the United States die from overdose of prescription opioids. Many more become addicted. Expanding naloxone training and capabilities among EMS staff can help to reduce deaths from prescription opioid overdose. Additionally, cities and states across the country can take steps to reverse this epidemic by improving opioid prescribing practices through use of prescription drug monitoring programs.

Learn More

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Study reveals how genetic changes lead to familial Alzheimer’s disease

Study reveals how genetic changes lead to familial Alzheimer’s disease

NIH-funded research suggests novel approach for developing drugs for inherited Alzheimer’s
Mutations in the presenilin-1 gene are the most common cause of inherited, early-onset forms of Alzheimer’s disease. In a new study, published in Neuron, scientists replaced the normal mouse presenilin-1 gene with Alzheimer’s-causing forms of the human gene to discover how these genetic changes may lead to the disorder. Their surprising results may transform the way scientists design drugs that target these mutations to treat inherited or familial Alzheimer’s, a rare form of the disease that affects approximately 1 percent of people with the disorder. The study was partially funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.
For decades, it has been unclear exactly how the presenilin mutations cause Alzheimer’s disease. Presenilin is a component of an important enzyme, gamma secretase, which cuts up amyloid precursor protein into two protein fragments, Abeta40 and Abeta42.  Abeta42 is found in plaques, the abnormal accumulations of protein in the brain which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Numerous studies suggested that presenilin-1 mutations increased activity of gamma-secretase. Investigators have developed drugs that block gamma-secretase, but they have so far failed in clinical trials to halt the disease.
Image showing the effects on mouse cortex of an Alzheimer’s-causing mutation
A new mouse model of neurodegeneration. This image compares sections of cortex from a control mouse (left) to a mouse with a presenilin-1 mutation (right). The dashed line indicates the surface of the brain. Presenilin-1 mutations decrease gamma-secretase activity and cause features of neurodegeneration, including shrinkage of the cortex, as shown above. Image courtesy of Raymond Kelleher and Jie Shen, Harvard Medical School.
The study led by Raymond Kelleher, M.D., Ph.D. and Jie Shen, Ph.D., professors of neurology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, provides a plot twist in the association of presenilin-1 mutations and inherited Alzheimer’s disease. Using mice with altered forms of the presenilin gene, Drs. Kelleher and Shen discovered that the mutations may cause the disease by decreasing, rather than increasing, the activity of gamma-secretase.
One of the presenilin mutations also caused impairment of memory circuits in the mouse brain and age-dependent death of neurons.
“The findings by Drs. Shen and Kelleher are a significant departure from conventional thinking that should open up exciting and creative new possibilities at all levels of research, from basic molecular mechanisms all the way to clinical intervention,” said Roderick Corriveau, Ph.D., program director at NINDS.
“This is a very striking example where we have mutations that inactivate gamma-secretase function and yet they trigger an array of features that resemble Alzheimer’s disease, notably synaptic and cognitive deficits as well as neurodegeneration,” said Dr. Kelleher.
Although plaques are the main biological indicator of Alzheimer’s, neurodegenerative changes are also an important feature of the disease. These changes include loss of brain cells, cognitive deficits such as problems with memory, changes in the brain’s electrical activity and inflammation. Commonly used mouse models of the disease exhibit excessive plaque deposition, but do not show symptoms of neurodegeneration. According to Dr. Kelleher, this may be one reason that treatments developed in mice have not been successful in patients. 
“This study is the first example of a mouse model in which a familial Alzheimer’s mutation is sufficient to cause neurodegeneration. The new model provides an opportunity that we hope will help with the development of therapies focusing on the devastating neurodegenerative changes that occur in the disease,” Dr. Kelleher said.
Dr. Shen’s previous work demonstrated that presenilins and gamma-secretase play an important role in learning and memory, communication between brain cells and neuronal survival, and cautioned against the use of gamma-secretase inhibitors for Alzheimer’s disease therapy. Later, a large phase III trial was stopped because treatment with a gamma-secretase inhibitor worsened the cognitive ability of patients.
Although the majority of cases are not inherited, familial Alzheimer’s disease is associated with early onset of the disorder, with symptoms often appearing before age 60. Drs. Shen and Kelleher hope that the mechanisms uncovered in this study may provide insight into the common forms of the disorder that affect more than five million people in the United States.
The results in this paper suggest a new approach for drug development. “We believe that restoring gamma-secretase would be a better, more effective therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s patients,” said Dr. Shen.
This work was supported by grants from the NINDS (NS041783, NS042818, NS075346), the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease, visit:http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/alzheimersdisease/alzheimersdisease.htm.
The NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forensic Entomology discovering new science.

http://www.forensicmag.com/news/2015/01/new-insects-revealed-entomological-decomposition?et_cid=4377201&et_rid=585244410&type=headline