June: Reflections on the Fourth of July!
The long awaited warm summer season has finally kissed the beautiful white beaches of New Jersey! God knows we have waited patiently for its arrival! Families gather, my own included, and make lasting memories in the cool surf and sizzling sand. Better than any medicine (Did I say that? Please don't quote me! I'll deny it! JK!), we can finally relax and enjoy each other's company!
But hold on. Lest we become too complacent, there is a war on, not with our foreign adversaries, but with each other. We have become polarized and intolerant of each other's opinions. We tend to become isolated by surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. As we approach our cherished Fourth, the crucible of Freedom, let us remember that we arrived here through bitter debate, unselfish compromise, and respect, if not agreement, for contrary viewpoints.
My youngest brother, a dedicated physician, and I have diametrically opposed political viewpoints and we had the opportunity to discuss them as we drove our celebrated 90 year old mother westward from her home outside Philadelphia to my brother's lovely home in Portsmouth, Ohio, several weeks ago. We stopped in Gettysburg and paid our respects to the thousands of Americans who fought on that hallowed ground on July 1-3, 1863. We found the name of my great, great, grandfather, James Patrick McKenna, emblazoned in bronze on the base of the towering Pennsylvania monument. My brother was so moved, he cold not contain himself. As we drove westward, he expressed his love for our country. We disagreed on almost everything, but by the time we delivered our beloved mom to his Southern home, just north of the Kentucky border, I had a profound respect for his viewpoints, not that I agreed with most of them, but because they were coming from someone who worked everyday to make lives better.
My kid brother and I disagree on almost everything except the most important thing: make us better!
Find someone you disagree with, befriend him or her, and share a brew and a dog on the Fourth. It's probably the best thing you can do to honor, celebrate, and advance our beloved United States!!!
John A. Schmidt, MD
Poliovirus to the Rescue of Patients with Glioblastoma!!
The scientists injected a genetically engineered version of the
, the same virus that formerly caused child paralysis, and peaked in the US in 1952 with almost 52,000 reported cases and more than 3,000 deaths. The iron lung machines collecting dust in the hallways of the
Philadelphia General Hospital
served as a stark reminder when I was a medical student at
As stated in
, "Immunization against poliovirus infection represents one of the world's great medical achievements. The last cases of
in the United States occurred during a small outbreak in an unvaccinated religious community in 1978 and 1979. All nations in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Region are free of poliomyelitis. As of February 2018, poliovirus remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan" and it remains a major objective of the
World Health Organization
to eradicate polio worldwide by 2019, using the same
methods that wiped out
worldwide by 1979.
at each of the following ages: 2 months, four months, 6-18 months, and 4-6 years old. Smallpox vaccination is no longer necessary because smallpox is extinct.
You may recall there was a second polio vaccine developed by
Dr. Albert Sabin
. Sabin emigrated to the United States from Russia at age 15, graduated from high school in Paterson, NJ, and received his undergraduate and medical degrees from
. He served in the
US Army Medical Corps
. While working at the
University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
, Sabin developed a vaccine that was still infectious but could not cause disease. It is referred to as a "live, attenuated" vaccine. The
is still used in developing parts of the world because it is given orally and is ideal for mass immunizations to isolate outbreaks. This was the vaccine I received as a child.
The Sabin vaccine is no longer used in developed nations because it is known to rarely cause vaccine-associated paralysis.
While we no longer use the Sabin vaccine in the US, it taught us a valuable lesson: viruses can be modified to infect cells and
a protective immune response without causing disease. This was essentially the approach used by the scientists at Duke. They re-engineered the poliovirus so that, once injected directly into the
, it bound, entered and killed
without multiplying, spreading, and damaging normal cells. Moreover, infection of tumor cells is believed to induce an immune response allowing
killer T cells
cytotoxic T lymphocytes
) to seek out and destroy glioblastoma cells that were never infected by the virus. The
images are dramatic showing decimated tumors!
The office will be closed on Wednesday, July 4th. Moreover, we will have reduced staffing July 2-5 to give my excellent colleagues a much deserved breather. For emergencies, kindly contact me by text messaging or via our Patient Portal.
Valerie, Ms. Clark, Ms. Catong, Ms. Sentner, and I wish you a glorious Independence Day and restful summer!!
Board Certified Internist
Dr. Schmidt is one of the leading internists in Monmouth County offering
He is an attending physician at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
Dr. Schmidt is enrolled in the Maintenance of Certification Program of the American Board of Internal Medicine
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"May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right."
- Peter Marshall