Livin' on the MDedge

Predatory journals and HULLK’s prostate


The incredible HULLK


Is everyone’s favorite not-so-jolly green giant the key to crushing prostate cancer? Not exactly: HULLK is a noncoding type of RNA. Which means, instead of coding a protein, it helps regulate cellular processes.

Cancer researchers from the University of Virginia found there was more HULLK in tumors from patients with advanced prostate cancer. They also found that decreasing the incredible RNA slows tumor cell growth.

In other words, we need a little more Bruce Banner, a little less HULLK.

The scientists who identified HULLK are hopeful that it can function as a biomarker and a therapeutic target in the future, and could be an integral discovery on the way to curing prostate cancer. HULLK LIKE.

Trading places with Sigmund Freud

Sometimes, it can be helpful to talk to someone about your problems. We’re not really going out on a limb here. That is, after all, pretty much the basis of psychotherapy.

freud virtual Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group

But what if that someone else was really you, disguised as Sigmund Freud?

That was the premise for a recent study involving body swapping and immersive virtual reality. The investigators scanned each subject to create a 3D avatar that functioned as an online representation and moved as he or she moved during the experiment. In virtual reality, the subject’s avatar sat across a table from Sigmund Freud, who was the variable element in the study.

For the control group, Freud responded with prescripted questions and comments about the subject’s problem. The other group, however, was able to swap virtual bodies and respond to their own bodies as Freud. In other words, they could have a conversation with themselves, but it looked like they were talking to Freud.

A week after the virtual conversations, more than 80% of those in the body-swapping group experienced some sort of change with respect to their problem, compared with less than 50% of controls.

“We found that those in the body-swapping group got better knowledge, understanding, control, and new ideas about their problem, compared to the control group,” one of the investigators said.

We’re just wondering about their choice of Freud. It kind of makes sense, because that was his line of work; but would another person have been even more helpful?

How about Dr. Phil? Or maybe Oprah? Seems like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is everywhere else, so why not virtual reality? It would be hard to go wrong with some type of Kardashian, right?

Cue the ‘Jaws’ music

Doctors with freshly written studies beware, for you are not alone. Lurking in the undergrowth, stalking your every move, are the predatory journals. They’ve come for you. And they pose a danger not only to you, but to the entire field of medical literature.

shark cdascher/E+

However, there’s no need to fear, as you have a guide through the great Serengeti of the publication process: a new guideline on avoiding predatory journals from the American Medical Writers Association, European Medical Writers Association, and International Society for Medical Publication Professionals.

According to the guideline, some telltale characteristics of these journals include a lack of information, poorly made websites, a lack of indexing in a recognized system, promises of unrealistically quick peer review, and an insatiable thirst for your blood. We may have made that last one up.

The guideline authors call for all medical authors to conduct research while submitting to journals, and only submit to those journals that conduct a full peer review process and that genuinely seek to contribute to medical literature.

Failure to do so may result in a damaged reputation, being unwittingly appointed to an editorial board, losing your paper, or having your liver eaten by an eagle day after day until Hercules finally frees you from your torture.

We may have made that one up as well.

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