Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 05 November 2015 08:53

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car was this - 4000 built with production ceasing in 1974, mid-engined, and the mascot on the fuel filler cap. It was the Ferrari Dino.

So to this week. An easy one – the Standard Vanguard Phase II and the Mercedes 260D have much in common, including firsts in their own countries. What was it?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Good luck!

Wednesday, 04 November 2015 13:16

Now it’s going bananas

There are so many “breakthroughs” every week, I am flat out reading the scientific journals. In fact there are so many researches going on that they are producing even more journals!

The latest “amazing” development is the claim that a drug made from a protein in bananas can kill a wide range of viruses – including hepatitis C, flu and AIDS.

The new wonder compound is called BanLec and it supposedly works by clinging to sugar molecules found on the surface of some of the world’s deadliest viruses.

Once the drug has locked on to the virus, it is rendered harmless – and can easily be disposed of by the body’s immune system.

The new form of BanLec, called H84T, stopped animals from getting flu. It also worked in the lab on tissue and blood samples against AIDS, hepatitis C and influenza.

The researchers believe the drug may even work on Ebola, as all of these viruses are covered in similar sugar molecules that BanLec clings to.

However, they warn that eating regular bananas will not have the same beneficial effect, as the ingredient is a modified version of the chemical found in the fruit.

The chemicals (called Lectins) have the potential to be a virus beater as they are able to bind to the sugars that are present on the surface of a range of viruses including HIV, influenza and Ebola, many of which have caused or have the potential to cause severe epidemics or even pandemics.

The key question now, the researcher stressed, was whether the drug will work in humans. Dr David Markovitz, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan said, “There are lots of hurdles that still need to be overcome before antiviral Lectins find their way into clinic,” he said. “For one thing, there’s a risk the immune system will recognize this as foreign and mount an immune response to it, potentially rendering it ineffective.”

Dr David Markovitz, co-author of the scientific paper, published in the journal Cell, said, ‘What we’ve done is exciting because there is potential for BanLec to develop into a broad spectrum anti-viral agent - something that is not clinically available to physicians and patients right now.”

“But even so, given recent events, generating antivirals that can work against a range of viruses is well worth pursuing.” However, several years of research still lie ahead before BanLec can be tested in humans.

Despite this, Dr Markovitz and his co-author, Dr Hashim Al-Hashimi, professor of biochemistry at Duke University, hope the team’s work can help address the lack of antiviral drugs that work well against many viruses - or against viruses that change rapidly, such as influenza.

“Tamiflu is only modestly effective, especially in critically ill patients, and influenza can develop resistance to it. But we also hope that BanLec could become useful in situations such as emergency pandemic response, and military settings, where the precise cause of an infection is unknown but a viral cause is suspected.’

“Better flu treatments are desperately needed,” said Dr Markovitz.

British researchers such as Professor Wendy Barclay, chair in influenza virology at Imperial College, London, called it ‘a new strategy for combating a wide range of viruses’ and ‘beautiful science’.

Dr Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading, said, “In this new study, the researchers changed the banana lectin just enough to stop the side effects, while keeping its virus-blocking properties intact.”

And Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, added, “Each new virus outbreak is a timely reminder of our need for antivirals that can work against a range of viruses.”

But, whilst viral infections are important, remember that according to the WHO, cancer killed around eight million people worldwide, and was the leading cause of death globally. Lung cancer was the most lethal type, and accounted for 18 percent of all cancer deaths. And finally, don’t smoke – the incidence of all cancers is greater in smokers.

Unfortunately, even though we understand more of the nature of cancer, there is no universal “cure” as yet. However, catching cancers at an early stage gives you a much better prognosis (outcome). And you can only do that if you look. Check-ups are of value.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:32

Mexican GP this weekend

The Hermanos Rodriguez track in Mexico City has seen much intrigue and many variations of the circuit layout. It has also been an on-again, off-again race with many of the problems being the very bumpy nature of the track surface, and a lack of funds by the organizers to fix the problems!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:30

Any experience with waterless coolant?

A motoring enthusiast that I know has contacted me about a waterless coolant he is using on his Triumph TR. He sent the following information:

“Waterless antifreeze is new to me, my TR always gets hot in the summer when stuck in traffic jams, a Kenlowe fan has helped but still gets too hot in my opinion, was thinking about fitting an oil cooler, but then came across Evans waterless antifreeze. It is quite expensive about £90 compared to a tenner for normal antifreeze, but the benefits seem to be worth it. You get a car’s lifetime guarantee on the liquid, mind you don’t suppose many people keep their car as long as I have had the TR, 25 years now! To replace the antifreeze you need to clean the system out with a flush, then you use their prep solution which absorbs any water left in the system, I managed to borrow a neighbor’s compressor to blow through the system to remove most of the remaining water left from after the flush and then used the prep solution. I left it to dry for a few days and then put in the new waterless antifreeze, as well as keeping the temp down it also does not rust any metal as it is waterless. Been driving for a while and the temp keeps in the normal range but it is autumn now so it would not overheat at this time of the year anyway. You can undo the radiator cap whilst the engine is hot and there is absolutely no reaction whatsoever, no water, no steam. As it does not boil until it reaches 180 degrees C. I finally think overheating will be a thing of the past for my old TR, will even be able to drive it in Pattaya!”

With our tropical temperatures this compound could work well.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:27

What did we learn from the US GP?

Well, we learned that when it rains in Texas, it really rains, with the Saturday being completely washed out and forcing the Qualifying to be run on the Sunday morning. Even the third qualifying session was not held because of the extreme conditions with grid positions taken from the second session.

We also saw Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) take the win and his third world championship as well, after a very closely fought race, including physical contact with his team mate Rosberg.

Rosberg was more than miffed and refused to attend the post-race celebration. Be prepared for a very physical duel this coming weekend (November 1) in Mexico. Mexican hat dances will have nothing on the aggression in the Mercedes garage.

So it was finally a Mercedes 1-2, as the track dried out, but when the conditions were very slippery this brought the Red Bulls (Ricciardo and Kvyat) to the fore, with both leading at some stages. When the track dried the power deficit to the others just dropped them straight down the order, with Kvyat crashing and admitting to over-driving, and Ricciardo involved with Hulkenberg (FIndia).

Vettel (Ferrari) again made the third step on the podium with a sensible race and mastering the changeable conditions. Unfortunately, his team mate Raikkonen suffered from the red mist and aggression was not the way to go, falling off the circuit and eventually having to retire with brake failure.

Young Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) continues to impress everyone, happily mixing it with Vettel and Raikkonen on the way to his 4th place.

Sergio Perez (FIndia) was fifth ahead of Jenson Button in the Honda engined McLaren. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) claimed seventh while Pastor Maldonado (“Lotus”), Felipe Nasr (Sauber) and Ricciardo, whose car was damaged in a collision with Nico Hulkenberg, completed the points.

With numerous Safety Car periods, the field was repeatedly backed up together, all helping to make for an exciting spectacle for the American spectators, as damp as they might have been.

Racing enthusiast Peter Smith in Thailand, who stayed up to watch the 2 a.m. start said it was, “one of the best GP’s in the past few years.”

As well as being an exciting GP, it was also a race of attrition. Was your favorite driver in this list of retirements?

Kvyat Red Bull lap 41 Accident

Hulkenberg Force India 35 Accident Damage

Ericsson Sauber 25 Loss of Power

Raikkonen Ferrari 25 Brakes

Massa Williams 23 Damper Failure

Grosjean Lotus 10 Accident Damage

Bottas Williams 5 Damper Failure

Stevens Marussia 1 Accident Damage

One of the reasons that this race was so close was the changeable conditions. It has been suggested before that the tracks should watered, but that would be introducing another artificial aspect to F1, like the DRS for example, and penalties for changing engines and gearboxes.

The next GP is Sunday November 1 in Mexico, with another 2 a.m. start for those on Thai time.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:24

The first Toyota

If my sources are correct, the first “Toyota” was actually a “Toyoda”, model number AA.

The AA was built in 1936 at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, bearing the name of its founder Kiichiro Toyoda. Before cars, Toyoda’s family had built a successful weaving business in Japan, but for the entrepreneurial Kiichiro, inspired by visits to America, its automobiles and its factories, Kiichiro believed that the future would be the motor car.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:22

Ferrari F12tdf

Looking for F1 acceleration in your drive car? If so, the Ferrari F12tdf is the car for you with a zero to 100 km/h in the unbelievable time of 2.9 seconds.

Unfortunately there is no use in camping outside the Ferrari showrooms as you have to be invited to buy, not the other way around. What a marketing ploy is that!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:18

Anyone for a Ranger Raptor?

The American high performance pick-up F-150 has a version at the top of the tree called the Raptor, and there is public interest in building one on the Ford Ranger. Great name which will get everyone’s imagination going, and a much better name than Wildtrak. Rumor has it that it will be released as a Raptor in 2019, and I would imagine that it would be built here in Thailand.

Ford F-150 Raptor.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 15:17

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what company came out with FWD first? It was DKW with a transverse engine and FWD in 1931.

So to this week. What car is this? 4000 built with production ceasing in 1974, mid-engined, and the mascot on the fuel filler cap.

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Good luck!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 13:26

Acute Sciatica isn’t very “cute”

I was reminded of just how painful sciatica can be when a friend of mine found himself unable to move with searing pain down the left leg. Fit and active middle-aged chap, a little overweight but no warning signs. Just bang! Acute pain!

The medical name is “Sciatica”.

Why does this condition happen? Would it surprise you if I said that ‘vanity’ was one of the prime reasons we get back pain? The reason is because our Neanderthal forefathers decided we looked better walking on our hind legs, instead of all four. Just like a horse, the bones of our spines lock together nicely when we are on all fours, and weight can be carried easily on our backs. However, when we stand up and try and lift, it all goes pear-shaped from there. The spine was not designed to carry loads, or pick up loads, in the vertical position.

But unfortunately, lift and carry is what we call on people to do, from mothers lifting babies to laborers lifting bags of pledged rice. The presenting situation is one we meet only too often. The patient is doing something and suddenly everything locks up and they are immobilized, frozen to the spot.

Back pain is one of the commonest orthopedic problems, and the often used terms such as lumbago, sciatica and slipped discs are spoken about frequently.

Let’s look at the “slipped disc” problem. First thing – discs do not “slip”. They do not shoot out of the spaces between the vertebrae (the tower of cotton reels that makes up your spine) and produce pain that way. The disc actually stays exactly where it is, but the center of the disc (called the nucleus) pops out through the edge of the disc and hits the nerve root. When this happens you have a very painful condition, as anyone who has had a disc prolapse (our fancy name for the “popping out” bit) will tell you. Think of the pain when the dentist starts drilling close to the tiny nerve in your tooth. Well, the sciatic nerve is a large nerve! When the nucleus of the disc hits the sciatic nerve, this produces the condition known as Sciatica - the acute searing pain which can run from the buttocks, down the legs, even all the way through to the toes.

Just to make diagnosis a little difficult you can get sciatica from other reasons as well as prolapsing discs. It may just be soft tissue swelling from strain of the ligaments between the discs, or it could even be a form of arthritis. Another complicating fact is that a strain may only produce enough tissue swelling in around 12 hours after the heavy lifting, so you go to bed OK and wake the next morning incapacitated.

To accurately work out just what is happening requires bringing in those specialist doctors who can carry out extremely intricate forms of Medical Imaging called CT Scans, Spiral CT’s or MRI that will sort out whether it is a disc prolapse, arthritis or another soft tissue problem. The equipment to do these procedures costs millions of baht, and the expertise to use them takes years of practice and experience. This is one reason why some of these investigations can be expensive.

After the definitive diagnosis of your back condition has been made, then appropriate treatment can be instituted. The forms of treatment can be just simply rest and some analgesics (pain killers), physiotherapy, operative intervention or anti-inflammatories and traction.

Now perhaps you can see why it is important to find the real cause for your aching back. The treatment for some causes can be the wrong form of therapy for some of the other causes. “Self diagnosis” is dangerous!

So what do you do when you get a painful back? Rest and paracetamol is a safe start. If it settles quickly, then just be a little careful with lifting and twisting for a couple of weeks and get on with your life as normal. If, however, you are still in trouble after a couple of days rest, then it is time to see your doctor and get that definitive diagnosis. It is the orthopedic chaps you need to see.

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