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Rethinking Standard Answers in Science – It’s Not Just the Dose; Timing Sometimes Matte

For years, scientists involved in "toxic tort" cases focused mainly on the dose, and less so on the timing and volume of particular doses. Accordingly, toxic tort lawyers focused in the same places with respect to "exposure" to alleged toxins.However, the focus on overall dose can be misleading. Indeed, today, more and more science focuses on the timing of the dose, and the volume of a particular dose.

Consider, for example, DES given to pregnant mothers. The lesson learned from DES is that the adverse consequences of DES use were significantly worse when the drug was taken during the first trimester, as illustrated by this study of "DES sons."

The same principle also applies to some medical treatments. Thus,ScienceDaily today brings an example from the treatment of lupus. For years, the standard of care was to provide intravenous steroids, followed by monthly high doses. Now, however, cellular level research is suggesting that the standard of care may we ll be wrong. Instead, the better treatment may be more frequent, high doses when the disease first appears.

Why ? Apparently the higher, earlier doses do a better job of killing the cells causing the disease symptoms. Thus, the article explains:

"They found that pulse doses of intravenous steroids kill off the cells — called plasmacytoid dendritic cells — producing interferon alpha, a protein that promotes this inflammation. Oral corticosteroids given at much lower doses did not have this effect.

"Now we have the biological rationale for why pulsing is often more effective than standard therapy," said Dr. Tracey Wright, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and another study co-author."

Conclusion? Both lawyers and scientists need to remember to test old assumptions and beliefs.


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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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