Livin' on the MDedge

Medicinal liquor and edited mosquitoes


Drink to your health?

Whether you drink or not, most of us can agree that liquor is not the first thing that comes to mind when looking to make health improvements. But researchers have found a small exception in something traditional.

Tartary buckwheat Xvision/Moment

We’ve added buckwheat to pancakes, bread, and other baked goodies we made during the height of quarantine, but it’s also used to create a traditional liquor in some East Asian countries, where it is used medicinally.

Investigators have found that extracts in the Tartary buckwheat used to make the liquor induce autophagy, a process cells go through to remove proteins that are damaged or not needed anymore – sort of like a cellular spring cleaning.

To test this, the researchers treated liver and skin cells with Tartary buckwheat extract and looked to see how the cells responded with fluorescent markers. The results were clear.

“Treating cells with the extract stimulated the formation of autophagosomes, specialized cellular structures that carry out autophagy, and altered the location of proteins involved in regulating autophagy,” said senior author Takeshi Noda of Osaka (Japan) University.

Looking deeper, the researchers found that quercetin, a component of the buckwheat extract, had the same autophagic effect. And both the buckwheat and the quercetin gave the green light for liver cells to induce aggrephagy, the process of cleaning up protein aggregates.

Those protein aggregates in liver cells are closely linked to alcoholic liver disease, suggesting that quercetin could be a game changer in its treatment. In other words, liquor could help fix the problem that liquor started. Go figure.

From hospital bills to X-rated

Ralph Puglisi was an accounting manager for the University Medical Service Association (UMSA), a nonprofit that supports the massive University of South Florida health system. The association took in over $300 million in revenue in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which is a rather large sum of money, but we’ll glide over the ethics of a “nonprofit” making a few hundred million for now.

A gloved hand reaches out to grab cash wakila/Getty Images

Mr. Puglisi was in very close proximity to the money, generated from patient care, and he pled guilty to stealing it using UMSA credit cards. Now, that wouldn’t be LOTME worthy on its own, but what elevates this above garden-variety embezzlement is how the intrepid Mr. Puglisi chose to spend the millions he stole from the university health system: Adult entertainment.

And before you ask, he didn’t spend $11.5 million on something most people so inclined can find for free with judicious Google searches. What Mr. Puglisi actually did was invest in a website providing adult content through individual user profiles, one of which is believed to belong to his stepson’s fiancée, which brings a whole new level of sleaze to this enterprise. Over the course of 2 years, he visited her profile 2,800 times, an amount some might view as excessive.

While the vast majority of the embezzled money went to the adult website, Mr. Puglisi also used thousands of UMSA dollars to pay for travel, household improvements, rent, the works. Almost $44,000 was spent at a resort sometimes known as the happiest place on earth.

Then there’s Mr. Puglisi’s wife. Oh yes, this guy is married. He poured over $600,000 into a company he and his wife owned, which is a lot, but how much do you think went to the woman he married? Probably quite a bit. Go ahead, try to think of a number. It’s not like it was his money.

Did you guess $100 went into his wife’s PayPal account? No? Clearly you don’t understand the criminal mind. His stepson’s fiancée got millions, and his wife got a hundred. Now there are some priorities.


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