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Blog Pick of the Month – December 2009

Happy New Year, to everyone from everyONE!

I’ll start the blogging in this year (and decade) here by doing what I like the best: reading multitudes of great blog posts covering PLoS ONE research and picking – as difficult it is to choose – the one I liked the best in the previous month. It’s the first of January 2010, thus the perfect time to award my Pick Of The Month for December 2009.

There were 16 blog posts covering PLoS ONE articles aggregated on in December. The choices were great, but this time I just had to go with SciCurious for her post Zicam and your Nose about the article Zicam-Induced Damage to Mouse and Human Nasal Tissue by Jae H. Lim, Greg E. Davis, Zhenshan Wang, Vicky Li, Yuping Wu, Tessa C. Rue and Daniel R. Storm from University of Washington:

Intranasal medications are used to treat various nasal disorders. However, their effects on olfaction remain unknown. Zicam (zinc gluconate; Matrixx Initiatives, Inc), a homeopathic substance marketed to alleviate cold symptoms, has been implicated in olfactory dysfunction. Here, we investigated Zicam and several common intranasal agents for their effects on olfactory function. Zicam was the only substance that showed significant cytotoxicity in both mouse and human nasal tissue. Specifically, Zicam-treated mice had disrupted sensitivity of olfactory sensory neurons to odorant stimulation and were unable to detect novel odorants in behavioral testing. These findings were long-term as no recovery of function was observed after two months. Finally, human nasal explants treated with Zicam displayed significantly elevated extracellular lactate dehydrogenase levels compared to saline-treated controls, suggesting severe necrosis that was confirmed on histology. Our results demonstrate that Zicam use could irreversibly damage mouse and human nasal tissue and may lead to significant smell dysfunction.

SciCurious explains:

So what’s up with zinc and colds?
Colloquial wisdom has had it for a while that zinc can cure the common cold. Or at least make it last for a shorter time. It’s been thought that this might be due to things like reducing inflammatory cytokines. Unfortunately, a lot of other studies say otherwise, and efficacy has yet to be established. Zinc is regulated as a dietary supplement in pill form, and so far the FDA warning apply only to those zinc applications taken as sprays through your nose. So it’s possible that zinc as a pill or lozenge is fine, but I won’t be spraying that stuff up my nose any time soon.

Congratulations both to SciCurious and to the authors of the article. I have notified the winners and their prizes are on the way. I hope you read Sci’s post and post a comment of your own, and then go to the article itself to read it and post comments, notes and ratings there as well.

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