Nuclear battery developed

 

Long-lasting, water-based nuclear battery developed

Long-lasting, water-based nuclear battery developed

Researchers working at the University of Missouri (MU) claim to have produced a prototype of a nuclear-powered, water-based battery that is said to be both longer-lasting and more efficient than current battery technologies and may eventually be used as a dependable power supply in vehicles, spacecraft, and other applications where longevity, reliability, and efficiency are paramount.

“Betavoltaics, a battery technology that generates power from radiation, has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s,” said associate professor Jae W. Kwon, of the College of Engineering at MU. “Controlled nuclear technologies are not inherently dangerous. We already have many commercial uses of nuclear technologies in our lives including fire detectors in bedrooms and emergency exit signs in buildings.”

Utilizing the radioactive isotope strontium-90 to enhance the electrochemical energy produced in a water-based solution, the researchers have incorporated a nanostructured titanium dioxide electrode acting as a catalyst for water decomposition. That is, the catalyst assists the breakdown of water in conjunction with the applied radiation into assorted oxygen compounds.

As a result, when high-energy beta radiation passes through the platinum and the nanoporous titanium dioxide, electron-hole pairs are produced within the titanium dioxide, creating an electron flow and a resultant electric current.

“Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the device turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency,” Kwon said. “The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and, if packaged properly, perhaps spacecraft.”

By no means the first-ever nuclear battery – the NanoTritium device from City Labs being one recent notable example – this is the first nuclear battery that has been produced to exploit the inherent advantages of radiolysis (water-splitting with radiation) to produce an electric current, at higher energy levels and lower temperatures than previously possible. And at much greater claimed efficiencies than other water-splitting energy production techniques.

This is because, unlike other forms of photocatalytic methods of water-splitting to produce energy, the high-energy beta radiation in the MU device produces free radicals in water such that the kinetic energy is recombined or trapped in water molecules so that the radiation can be converted into electricity – using the platinum/titanium dioxide electrode previously described – to achieve water splitting efficiently and at room temperature.

As a result, whilst solar cells use a similar mechanism for the transference of energy via hole-electron pairs, very few free radicals are produced because the photon energies are principally in the visible spectrum and subsequently at lower levels of energy.

Beta radiation produced by the strontium source, on the other hand, with its ability to enhance the chemical reactions involving free radicals at greater electron energy levels, is a much more efficient way to produce extremely long-lasting and reliable energy. So much so, that the water-based nuclear battery may well offer a viable alternative to the solar cell as a sustainable, low-pollution energy source.

 

Source:  Gizmag.com

Gluten Causes Weight Gain

The case against gluten seems to have been closed with recent research from a Brazilian research team that published a report in the January 2013 Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. It seems to have put an exclamation point on the wheat belly controversy.

The Study


Lacking scientific data confirming the mechanics of how gluten may or may not affect obesity, the study was set up to examine the differences in specific genetic and biochemical markers between rats fed gluten and rats that were kept gluten free.

The “wheat belly” syndrome and how it leads to other health issues was the purpose of their research. The research team chose biological markers that could indicate the onset of obesity and metabolic syndrome, precursors to diabetes and cardiac issues.

Both groups of rats were fed high fat diets. But one group was gluten free and the other group’s diet was 4.5 percent gluten. Even without tracing their predetermined markers, it was obvious the gluten free mice exhibited weight loss without any trace of lipid (fat) excretion.

An Analysis Of The Study


Sayer Ji of GreenmedInfo.com proposed this analysis: “… the weight gain associated with wheat consumption has little to do with caloric content per se; rather, the gluten proteins … disrupt endocrine and exocrine processes within the body, as well as directly modulating nuclear gene expression … to alter mamalian metabolism in the direction of weight gain.”

This study report, according to Sayer Ji proves that the major factor of obesity is gluten, not calories. Considering that both groups of mice were fed high fat diets and the gluten free mice lost weight without excreting lipids also implies that fat free diets for losing weight are bogus. This has been suspected by other nutritional experts who’ve abandoned matrix thinking.

Sayer Ji recommends that those who are overweight, pre-diabetic, experiencing metabolic syndrome, or suffering from irritable bowel syndrome try avoiding gluten grains, especially wheat, to determine from experience if gluten is the underlying cause.

There is evidence that gluten can be a factor in gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) and even autism. (http://www.naturalnews.com/033094_gut_health_brain.html)

So How Did Wheat, “The Staff of Life,” Become A Weed of Disease?


Wheat is not the same today. It has been agriculturally hybrid, not genetically lab engineered over some decades to resist fungus, grow more quickly, and be more pliable for industrial bread baking. As a consequence, 50-60 years ago wheat containing only five percent gluten has become 50 percent gluten today.

Agricultural resources used the hybrid process for wheat to accommodate the baking industry’s mechanical requirements of pliable proteins, leading to the 10-fold increase of wheat’s gluten.

The processed food industry’s concern for production efficiency and perception of consumer demands has focused on the bottom line with the usual disregard to negative health consequences.

Slightly different high speed methods of baking evolved over time. By artificially bleaching flour and adding “improvers” with often toxic additives and mixing the dough violently, loaves of bread could be baked, cooled, and packaged within a few, short hours. Cheap, unhealthy foods for many with massive profits for a few.

This is beginning to change with measures that seem to offset gluten’s damage for some. For example, Whole Foods has their own bakery providing fresh breads daily without bromides, which can displace the thyroid gland’s iodine contents and create hypothyroidism.

Other local bakeries may provide sprouted grain and real sourdough breads, which even some celiac sufferers manage to consume without adverse reactions.

 

Source:  hungryforchange.tv

Cheap invisibility cloak

invisibility cloak

invisibility cloak

 

 

Hats off to scientists at the University of Rochester in New York, who have managed to produce a cheap ‘invisibility cloak’ effect using readily available materials and a lot of clever thinking. Through a combination of optical lenses, any object that passes behind a certain line of sight can be made to disappear from view.

‘The Rochester Cloak’, as it’s being dubbed, uses a simplified four-lens system that essentially bends light around any objects you put into the middle of the chain — you’re able to see the area in the background as normal, but not the item in the foreground. According to its inventors, it can be scaled up using any size of lens, and the team responsible for the setup has used standard, off-the-shelf hardware.

“People have been fascinated with cloaking for a very long time,” said John Howell, a Professor of Physics at the University. “It’s recently been a really popular thing in science fiction and Harry Potter… I think people are really excited about the prospect of just being invisible.”

“From what we know this is the first cloaking device that provides three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking,” said doctoral student Joseph Choi, one of the team who worked on the project, when speaking to Reuters. “I imagine this could be used to cloak a trailer on the back of a semi-truck so the driver can see directly behind him. It can be used for surgery, in the military, in interior design, art.”

What makes this system so interesting is that it’s simple, inexpensive and capable of working at multiple angles, as long as the object remains inside the series of lenses. Howell and Choi say it cost them $1,000 to get all of the necessary equipment together, but it can be done more cheaply. A patent is pending for their invention but the pair have put together instructions on making your own Rochester Cloak at home for less than $100.

 

Source:  rochester.edu

Skeptic Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

 Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

Brian Dunning Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Fraud

 

 

Brian Dunning, creator of the Skeptoid podcast and the world’s worst “science” rap video, pled guilty to wire fraud that had allowed him to collect more than $5 million. Sentencing has finally occurred, and the result is 15 months in prison starting on September 2, 2014, followed by three years of supervised release.

This is great news for the skeptic community at large, since it may be a long enough sentence for Dunning to fade from memory and stop publicly representing the very people who are supposedly trying to stop people from defrauding others.

Meanwhile, this case had brought to light an actual skeptical activist who appears to be smart, hilarious, and actually effective at stopping frauds: Assistant United States Attorney David R. Callaway. In the government’s sentencing recommendation to the court last week, Callaway* argued beautifully against the idea that Dunning deserves to be insulated from the consequences of his actions, saying that “There is no “Get out of Trauma Free” card for white-collar criminals or, unfortunately, their families.” In fact, Callaway argues that Dunning should be punished harshly in part because his crime wasn’t motivated by desperate need:

The crime in this case was motivated by pure greed….This was no “smash and grab,” motivated by poverty, hunger, or substance abuse, but rather a clever, sophisticated, calculated criminal scheme carried out over several years by a man who certainly had no pressing need for the money.

Callaway then cites scientific evidence suggesting that harsh sentencing for “white-collar” criminals may present a greater deterrence than “blue-collar” crimes, which tend to be more spontaneous crimes of passion compared to the pre-meditation of something like wire fraud.

Callaway points to Dunning’s “celebrity” in the skeptical community as a further reason to punish him harshly (emphasis mine):

The enhanced deterrence value of a prison term would be all the greater in Mr. Dunning’s case, as he is at least somewhat of a “public figure” by virtue of his podcast, “Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena,” which he claims has a weekly audience of 179,000 listeners. Mr. Dunning has written five books based on the podcast, and he even has a “rap” video.

On the plus side, this prison sentence could potentially do wonders for Dunning’s rap career. But let’s hope not.

Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

 

 Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

 

Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.

The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life.

“The implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies,” study lead author Ilse Cleeves, an astronomy Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, told Space.com via email. [Theories on the Origin of Life]

“If our sun’s formation was typical, interstellar ices, including water, likely survive and are a common ingredient during the formation of all extrasolar systems,” Cleeves added. “This is particularly exciting given the number of confirmed extrasolar planetary systems to date — that they, too, had access to abundant, life-fostering water during their formation.”

Astronomers have discovered nearly 2,000 exoplanets so far, and many billions likely lurk undetected in the depths of space. On average, every Milky Way star is thought to host at least one planet.

Water, water everywhere

Our solar system abounds with water. Oceans of it slosh about not only on Earth’s surface but also beneath the icy shells of Jupiter’s moon Europa and the Saturn satellite Enceladus. And water ice is found on Earth’s moon, on comets, at the Martian poles and even inside shadowed craters on Mercury, the planet closest to the sun.

Cleeves and her colleagues wanted to know where all this water came from.

 

Source:  livescience.com

Organs grown inside animals for the first time

Lab mouse

Researchers have had success growing organs in controlled lab environments, but repeating that feat inside a complex, messy animal body? That’s more than a little tricky. However, researchers at the University of Edinburgh have managed that daunting feat for the first time. They’ve grown thymus glands inside lab mice by “reprogramming” the genes in tissue-regenerating cells and partnering those with support cells. The team didn’t have to use scaffolds or other “cheats” to trigger the growth; it just injected the cells and waited. There weren’t even any obvious limitations. The organs were full size (unlike the baby-like results from some experiments), and they were just as efficient at producing virus-fighting T-cells as the real deal.

The catch, as you might have guessed, is the scale. Mice aren’t nearly as challenging to work on as humans, and the thymus is one of the simplest organs in any animal. It wouldn’t be nearly as easy to give you a new heart or lung. If the University keeps making progress, though, it could shake up the transplant process. Patients wouldn’t have to wait for donors whose tissues are good matches, and people who’ve lost much of their immune system (such as bone marrow transplant recipients) could rebuild faster. You won’t get on-demand organs any time soon, but the concept isn’t as far-fetched as it once was.

 

Source:  w.engadget.com

Aspartame proven to cause brain damage

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Aspartame Damages The Brain at Any Dose

Did you know that Aspartame has been proven to cause brain damage by leaving traces of Methanol in the blood? It makes you wonder why Aspartame has been approved as “safe” and is found in thousands of food products. Currently more than 90 countries have given the artificial sweetener the “OK” to be used in foods.

“Multiple Sclerosis is often misdiagnosed, and that it could be aspartame poisoning” 

Given that Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, manufacturers are able to produce their sweet foods and market them as “low calorie” so they can market and appeal to millions of people on “diets.” There is no doubt that the less sugar you have in your diet, the better. But replacing sugar with aspartame is not the solution, and in fact is likely to be even worse for your health.

In my personal experience, Aspartame has always made my head feel very odd when I consumed it. Headaches, light headedness and overall nausea, are all symptoms I personally feel from consuming Aspartame. But that isn’t even the bad part when you look at what all of the research is suggesting. So I question, and everyone should be asking the same: With all of the research about Aspartame and its dangerous effects, even in small quantities, why is it still approved by the FDA and other health agencies as being safe for human consumption? There are better solutions available and with less danger and side effects.

 

Source:  w.collective-evolution.com

Our Milky Way is connected to a vast network of galaxies

Milky Way connected to a vast network of galaxies

Milky Way connected to a vast network of galaxies

The Milky Way is part of a much vaster galactic network than previously thought. The galaxy drifts along in a stream of galaxies on the outskirts of a newly identified collection of galaxy clusters, a supercluster named Laniakea. This supercluster — whose name means “heaven immeasurable” in Hawaiian — holds the mass of 100 million billion suns within a region that spans about 520 million light-years.

Astrophysicist R. Brent Tully of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and colleagues sifted through data describing the positions and velocities of over 8,000 galaxies to get a fresh look at the Milky Way’s place in space. After accounting for the motion caused by the expansion of the universe, the team created a three-dimensional view of how gravity molds the galaxy’s cosmic neighborhood.

The new map, published in the Sept. 4 Nature, reveals Laniakea’s boundaries and weblike framework. The Milky Way lies along one of the lines of that web, in a tributary feeding one of many galactic rivers. Those streams converge in a gravitational valley roughly 200 million light-years away near two massive galaxy clusters: Norma and Centaurus. Their combined gravity appears to be drawing in other galaxies and clusters within Laniakea, including the Milky Way.

Watch Laniakea Supercluster to see how the Milky Way fits into this complex network of galaxies.

 

Source:  w.sciencenews.org

COP MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST

 A COP IS MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST


A COP IS MORE LIKELY TO KILL YOU THAN A TERRORIST

 

After 9/11, the fear of another attack on U.S. soil cleanly supplanted the fear of having one’s penis chopped off by a vengeful lover in the pantheon of irrational American fears. While we’re constantly being told that another attack is imminent and that radical Islamic fundamentalists are two steps away from establishing a caliphate in Branson, Missouri, just how close are they? How do the odds of dying in a terrorist attack stack up against the odds of dying in other unfortunate situations?

The following ratios were compiled using data from 2004 National Safety Council Estimates, a report based on data from The National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, 2003 mortality data from the Center for Disease Control was used.

You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

You are six times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack

You are eight times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

You are nine times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

 

 

Source:  w.prorev.com

Protein could reverse the aging process

protein that could reverse the aging process

protein that could reverse the aging process

Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have shown that injections of a protein dubbed GDF11, when administered to older mice, appear to cause a reversal of many signs of aging. Analysis showed that every major organ system tested displayed signs of improvement, with the protein even appearing to reverse some of the DNA damage which is synonymous with the aging process itself.

The protein GDF11 is found in humans as well as mice, and is now being considered for possible human testing due to its surprising and apparently regenerative properties.

A previous study had focused on examining the hearts of mice the equivalent of 70 human years old. The mice were regularly exposed to the blood of younger mice whose blood carried a higher concentration of GDF11. Ordinarily the hearts of older mice are enlarged and weakened, however results from the previous study displayed that, thanks to the GDF11 protein present in the blood of the younger mice, the hearts of the elderly mice reduced in size, making them appear younger and healthier. The changes were not purely aesthetic however, with the mice displaying an increased ability to exercise for prolonged periods of time.

The most recent set of experiments tested the protein in two ways. The first stage of the testing involved linking the circulatory systems of an older and a younger mouse through what is known as a parabiotic system. This allowed the protein-rich blood from the younger mouse to flow through the elder’s system continuously, maximizing the effect of the protein. The second method involved injecting the older mice with a concentrated dose of GDF11.

Results from the second study showed that the protein had positive effects reaching far beyond the heart. It was found that, having been exposed to increased levels of the protein, all organs examined by the researchers displayed a heightened level of function. Furthermore, whilst previous studies on the protein had focused on regenerating damaged muscle in mice, the most recent study focused on the repair of cells damaged by the aging process. The GDF11 protein was found to reverse some of this damage, allowing muscle to function as effectively as that of a much younger mouse.

Analysis of the brains of the older mice via MRI imaging displayed an increase in neural stem cells along with the development of blood cells in the brain. “There seems to be little question that, at least in animals, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function,” states Dr. Doug Melton, co-chair of HSCI. The team believes that due to the increased blood flow exhibited in the brain of the elderly mice, it may be possible to reverse some of the cognitive effects of aging. The protein was also found to improve the olfactory system of older mice, greatly heightening their sense of smell.

In terms of human applications, it is hoped that a drug derived from GDF11 will lead to a cure for conditions such as diastolic heart failure. This condition is a defect which eventually causes one or more of the ventricles of the heart to deteriorate while attempting to fill the heart with blood, in order to pump it around the body. There is also a possibility that a GDF11-inspired drug could be used to combat Alzheimer’s, a condition synonymous with the aging process.

Looking to the future, the team will continue studies of the GDF11 protein, with a view to begin human medical trials within three to five years.

 

Source: w.gizmag.com

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat

 

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence

Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence

Scientists have sequenced the genome of the blind mole rat, a mammal that digs with its teeth, has skin over its eyes and lives for more than 20 years.

Its underground lifestyle means coping with no light, very little oxygen and an awful lot of dirt.

It is also resistant to cancer, like its distant cousin the naked mole rat.

The new work, published in the journal Nature Communications, will help unpick those secrets and the wider adaptation of animals to difficult environments.

Among the results were what the researchers believe are the genetic signatures of the mole rat’s complete loss of vision and its impressive tolerance of low oxygen (or “hypoxia”).

They also discovered how its special cancer-fighting mechanism might have evolved.

One of the study’s lead authors, Prof Eviatar Nevo from the University of Haifa in Israel, has studied blind mole rats for more than 50 years. In all of that time, a spontaneous tumour has never been discovered.

Even when treated with carcinogenic chemicals, these remarkable rodents were incredibly resistant to cancer.

Most animals rely on cells detecting a cancerous malfunction and shutting themselves down (programmed cell death or “apoptosis”), but the blind mole rat’s immune system attacks tumours and causes “necrosis” instead. The new study reports that genes involved in this immune defence have been favoured by evolution, and some have been expanded or duplicated.

All this may have happened because one of the key mediators of the normal cell-shutdown defence, a protein called p53, is mutated in the mole rats as part of their adaptation to low oxygen.

The mole rat spends its entire life under the ground, where oxygen is scarce. In other animals this would send p53 into overdrive.

“When there is low oxygen, in other species, [normal p53] would mean that some cells would die from apoptosis – but not in blind mole rats, because that would be a disaster,” said Dr Denis Larkin from the Royal Veterinary College in London, one of the study’s authors.

So the mole rats have evolved a unique trade-off, weakening p53 and boosting the immune system’s necrotic defence, which “the cancer doesn’t know how to deal with,” Dr Larkin told BBC News.

The genome study was carried out by a large team of researchers that also spanned China, Israel, the US and Denmark. Dr Larkin was involved in piecing together the evolution of the animal’s chromosomes, having done similar work on other genomes ranging from the pig to the yak.

He told the BBC the findings would shift the blind mole rat to “a new level” in the research community. “When you have the whole genome… you can more efficiently use the species as a model – for cancer resistance, or adaptation to hypoxia, or other medical challenges.”

The naked mole rat, also studied for its cancer resistance, is a distant relative of the blind mole rat

Dr Philippa Brice, from the genomics think-tank PHG Foundation at the University of Cambridge, told BBC News the mole rats and their “really unusual lifestyle” had already been valuable to scientists studying cancer resistance. She agreed that the genome sequence would mean more rapid progress.

“Now that their complete genome is available, it will make it much easier to probe their unique genetic features, with potential applications for human medical research,” Dr Brice said.

The blind mole rat (the newly sequenced species is Spalax galili) is only distantly related to the naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber), another unusual, subterranean critter with remarkable cancer resistance.

Their evolutionary histories diverged over 70 million years ago, according to calculations in the new study, and the two mole rats adapted completely separately to life underground.

In fact, the furry-but-blind Spalax is a closer cousin to the common house mouse than to the “sabre-toothed sausage” lookalike Heterocephalus.

 

Double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code:

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

Scientists have discovered a second code hiding within DNA. This second code contains information that changes how scientists read the instructions contained in DNA and interpret mutations to make sense of health and disease.

A research team led by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, made the discovery. The findings are reported in the Dec. 13 issue of Science. The work is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE. The National Human Genome Research Institute funded the multi-year, international effort. ENCODE aims to discover where and how the directions for biological functions are stored in the human genome.

Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons, can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence, and one related to gene control. These two meanings seem to have evolved in concert with each other. The gene control instructions appear to help stabilize certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made.

The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient’s genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

“The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Galaxy holds 100M complex-life-supporting planets

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets:

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets

Our galaxy may hold 100M complex-life-supporting planets

The number of planets in the Milky Way galaxy which could harbor complex life may be as high as 100 million, Washington State University astrobiologist Dirk Schulze-Makuch writes in a column posted this week on the Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine website.

The estimate, which assumes an average of one planet per star in the Milky Way, is drawn from a study believed to be the first quantitative assessment of the number of worlds in our galaxy that could harbor life above the microbial level.

Schulze-Makuch said the study is significant because it is the first to rely on observable data from actual planetary bodies beyond the solar system, rather than making educated guesses about the frequency of life on other worlds based on hypothetical assumptions.

The research was published recently in the journal Challenges by a group of scientists that includes Louis Irwin, of the University of Texas at El Paso; Alberto Fairen of Cornell University; Abel Mendez of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; and Schulze-Makuch.

The researchers surveyed the growing list of more than 1,000 known planets outside the solar system. Using a formula that considers planetary density, temperature, substrate (liquid, solid or gas), chemistry, distance from its central star and age, they computed a “Biological Complexity Index (BCI),” which rates planets on a scale of 0 to 1.0 according to the number and degree of characteristics assumed to be important for supporting various forms of multicellular life.

“The BCI calculation revealed that 1 to 2 percent of exoplanets showed a BCI rating higher than Europa, a moon of Jupiter thought to have a subsurface global ocean which could harbor different forms of life,” writes Schulze-Makuch. “Based on an estimate of 10 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and assuming an average of one planet per star, this yields the figure of 100 million. Some scientists believe the number could be 10 times higher.”

He emphasizes that the study should not be taken as an indication that complex life actually exists on as many as 100 million planets, but rather that the figure is the best estimate to date of the number of planets in our galaxy likely to exhibit conditions supportive to such life.

“Also, it should be understood that complex life doesn’t mean intelligent life or even animal life, although it doesn’t rule either out,” Schulze-Makuch said. “It means simply that organisms larger and more complex than microbes could exist in a number of different forms, quite likely forming stable food webs like those found in ecosystems on Earth.

“Despite the large absolute number of planets that could harbor complex life, the Milky Way is so vast that, statistically, planets with high BCI values are very far apart,” Schulze-Makuch writes. “One of the closest and most promising extrasolar systems, known as Gliese 581, has possibly two planets with the apparent capacity to host complex biospheres, yet the distance from the Sun to Gliese 581 is about 20 light years.”

And most planets with a high BCI are much farther away, he said.

If the 100 million planets that the team says have the theoretical capacity for hosting complex life were randomly distributed across the galaxy, Schulze-Makuch said they would lie about 24 light years apart, assuming equal stellar density. And he estimates the distance between planets with intelligent life would likely be significantly farther.

“On the one hand it seems highly unlikely that we are alone,” he writes in the article. “On the other hand, we are likely so far away from life at our level of complexity, that a meeting with such alien forms might be improbable for the foreseeable future.”

 

Source:  scienceblog.com

Nanomotors Placed Inside Live Human Cells

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time:

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time

Tiny Nanomotors Successfully Placed Inside Live Human Cells For The First Time

Scientists have successfully placed tiny synthetic motors in live human cells through nanotechnology. Using ultrasonic waves as the power source and magnets to steer, the nanomotors can zip around the cell and perform tasks.

The main obstacle for placing nanomotors in cells is the power source. Previous nanomotors needed toxic fuels to propel them. It wouldn’t move in a biological environment.

The researchers at Penn State University and at Weinberg Medical Physics found that ultrasonic waves can be used to power these motors and that magnetic fields can be used to steer them.

The image above is that of a HeLa cell with some gold-ruthenium nanomotors inside it. The arrows indicate the trajectories of the nanomotors, and the solid white line shows its propulsion. There are several nanomotors is spinning at the center. HeLa cells are a line of human cervical cancer cells that are used in research studies. Image credit: Mallouk lab, Penn State University.

Bionanotechnology is fast becoming popular in medical and scientific research. Implants and devices hundreds of times smaller than the width of a human hair, can be integrated into cells. This technology can open up various medical applications such as surgery, deliver medication, and even eradicate cancer cells. Because of its microscopic size, bionanotech devices are non-invasive and results in fewer complications normal open surgery would have.

For the first time, a team of chemists and engineers at Penn State University have placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves and steered them magnetically. It’s not exactly “Fantastic Voyage,” but it’s close. The nanomotors, which are rocket-shaped metal particles, move around inside the cells, spinning and battering against the cell membrane.

“As these nanomotors move around and bump into structures inside the cells, the live cells show internal mechanical responses that no one has seen before,” said Tom Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics at Penn State. “This research is a vivid demonstration that it may be possible to use synthetic nanomotors to study cell biology in new ways. We might be able to use nanomotors to treat cancer and other diseases by mechanically manipulating cells from the inside. Nanomotors could perform intracellular surgery and deliver drugs noninvasively to living tissues.”

The researchers’ findings will be published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition on 10 February 2014. In addition to Mallouk, co-authors include Penn State researchers Wei Wang, Sixing Li, Suzanne Ahmed, and Tony Jun Huang, as well as Lamar Mair of Weinberg Medical Physics in Maryland U.S.A.

Up until now, Mallouk said, nanomotors have been studied only “in vitro” in a laboratory apparatus, not in living human cells. Chemically powered nanomotors first were developed ten years ago at Penn State by a team that included chemist Ayusman Sen and physicist Vincent Crespi, in addition to Mallouk. “Our first-generation motors required toxic fuels and they would not move in biological fluid, so we couldn’t study them in human cells,” Mallouk said. “That limitation was a serious problem.” When Mallouk and French physicist Mauricio Hoyos discovered that nanomotors could be powered by ultrasonic waves, the door was open to studying the motors in living systems.

For their experiments, the team uses HeLa cells, an immortal line of human cervical cancer cells that typically is used in research studies. These cells ingest the nanomotors, which then move around within the cell tissue, powered by ultrasonic waves. At low ultrasonic power, Mallouk explained, the nanomotors have little effect on the cells. But when the power is increased, the nanomotors spring into action, moving around and bumping into organelles — structures within a cell that perform specific functions. The nanomotors can act as egg beaters to essentially homogenize the cell’s contents, or they can act as battering rams to actually puncture the cell membrane.

While ultrasound pulses control whether the nanomotors spin around or whether they move forward, the researchers can control the motors even further by steering them, using magnetic forces. Mallouk and his colleagues also found that the nanomotors can move autonomously — independently of one another — an ability that is important for future applications. “Autonomous motion might help nanomotors selectively destroy the cells that engulf them,” Mallouk said. “If you want these motors to seek out and destroy cancer cells, for example, it’s better to have them move independently. You don’t want a whole mass of them going in one direction.”

The ability of nanomotors to affect living cells holds promise for medicine, Mallouk said. “One dream application of ours is Fantastic Voyage-style medicine, where nanomotors would cruise around inside the body, communicating with each other and performing various kinds of diagnoses and therapy. There are lots of applications for controlling particles on this small scale, and understanding how it works is what’s driving us.”

quantumday.com

Source:

30 Year Power Laptop Battery

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

 

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery!

 

Your next laptop could have a continuous power battery that lasts for 30 years without a single recharge thanks to work being funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The breakthrough betavoltaic power cells are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source. As the radioactive material decays it emits beta particles that transform into electric power capable of fueling an electrical device like a laptop for years.

Although betavoltaic batteries sound Nuclear they’re not, they’re neither use fission/fusion or chemical processes to produce energy and so (do not produce any radioactive or hazardous waste). Betavoltaics generate power when an electron strikes a particular interface between two layers of material. The Process uses beta electron emissions that occur when a neutron decays into a proton which causes a forward bias in the semiconductor. This makes the betavoltaic cell a forward bias diode of sorts, similar in some respects to a photovoltaic (solar) cell. Electrons scatter out of their normal orbits in the semiconductor and into the circuit creating a usable electric current.

The profile of the batteries can be quite small and thin, a porous silicon material is used to collect the hydrogen isotope tritium which is generated in the process. The reaction is non-thermal which means laptops and other small devices like mobile phones will run much cooler than with traditional lithium-ion power batteries. The reason the battery lasts so long is that neutron beta-decay into protons is the world’s most concentrated source of electricity, truly demonstrating Einstein’s theory E=MC2.

The best part about these cells are when they eventually run out of power they are totally inert and non-toxic, so environmentalists need not fear these high tech scientific wonder batteries. If all goes well plans are for these cells to reach store shelves in about 2 to 3 years.

 

Source:  bink.nu

Plants recognize their siblings

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover:

 

 

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

Plants recognize their siblings, biologists discover

The next time you venture into your garden armed with plants, consider who you place next to whom. It turns out that the docile garden plant isn’t as passive as widely assumed, at least not with strangers. Researchers at McMaster University have found that plants get fiercely competitive when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but they’re accommodating when potted with their siblings.

The study appears today in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“The ability to recognize and favour kin is common in animals, but this is the first time it has been shown in plants” said Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. “When plants share their pots, they get competitive and start growing more roots, which allows them to grab water and mineral nutrients before their neighbours get them. It appears, though, that they only do this when sharing a pot with unrelated plants; when they share a pot with family they don’t increase their root growth. Because differences between groups of strangers and groups of siblings only occurred when they shared a pot, the root interactions may provide a cue for kin recognition.”

Though they lack cognition and memory, the study shows plants are capable of complex social behaviours such as altruism towards relatives, says Dudley. Like humans, the most interesting behaviours occur beneath the surface.

Dudley and her student, Amanda File, observed the behavior in sea rocket (Cakile edentula), a member of the mustard family native to beaches throughout North America, including the Great Lakes.

So should gardeners arrange their plants like they would plan the seating at a dinner party?

“Gardeners have known for a long time that some pairs of species get along better than others, and scientists are starting to catch up with why that happens,” says Dudley. “What I’ve found is that plants from the same mother may be more compatible with each other than with plants of the same species that had different mothers. The more we know about plants, the more complex their interactions seem to be, so it may be as hard to predict the outcome as when you mix different people at a party.”

 

Source: phys.org

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say:

 

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

Roundup Herbicide 125 Times More Toxic Than Regulators Say

A highly concerning new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International reveals that despite the still relatively benign reputation of agrochemicals such as Roundup herbicide, many chemical formulations upon which the modern agricultural system depend are far more toxic than present regulatory tests performed on them reveal. Roundup herbicide, for instance, was found to be 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation.

Titled, “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles,” the study evaluated to what extent the active principle (AP) and the so-called ‘inert ingredients,’ i.e. adjuvants, in globally popular formulations account for the toxicity of 9 major pesticides: 3 herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides.

The Deceptive Semantics of Pesticide Formulations And Their Regulation

The paper describes how the agrochemical industry conceals the true toxicity of their chemical formulations by focusing on the health risks associated with only one so-called ‘active principle’ (AP) in their complex formulations, and sets the public up for mass poisoning through the determination of an ‘acceptable level of harm’ via the calculation of the so-called ‘acceptable daily intake (ADI)’ based on the toxicological risk profile of only a single ingredient:

“Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle (AP), which is the only one tested in the longest toxicological regulatory tests performed on mammals. This allows the calculation of the acceptable daily intake (ADI)—the level of exposure that is claimed to be safe for humans over the long term—and justifies the presence of residues of these pesticides at “admissible” levels in the environment and organisms. Only the AP and one metabolite are used as markers, but this does not exclude the presence of adjuvants, which are cell penetrants.”

The problem of underestimated toxicological risk is so severe that the researchers describe previous research which found unexpected toxicity in so-called ‘inert’ adjuvants that were up to 10,000 times more toxic than the so-called active principle glyphosate itself, revealing them to be a greater source for secondary side effects than the main ingredient itself. They also note that this ‘synergistic toxicity’ may explain the results of previous long-term animal research where glyphosate-based formulations showed toxicity in the parts-per-trillion range (.1 part per billion) that could not be explained by glyphosate alone.

Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, commented on this phenomena in connection with the study recently on her blog: “Similar to the non-placebo-controlled trials on vaccines, adjuvants and preservatives are considered innocent bystanders in the consideration of risk profile.” According to Dr. Brogan, an understanding of “Toxicant synergy has exploded the simplistic notion of “the dose makes the poison.””

The Test Method and Results

In order to ascertain the toxicity of various chemical formulations and their ingredients, the researchers used embryonic (HEK293), placental (JEG3), and hepatic (HepG2) human cell lines, “because they are well characterized and validated as useful models to test toxicities of pesticides, corresponding to what is observed on fresh tissue or primary cells.”  They noted, “these cells lines are even in some instances less sensitive than primary cells, and therefore do not overestimate cellular toxicity.”

The researchers describe the their method of determining toxicity:

We assayed their mitochondrial succinate dehydrogenase (SD) activity (MTT assay) after 24h pesticide exposure, which is one of the most accurate cytotoxicity assays for measuring the toxicity of pesticide adjuvants such as surfactants. Cytotoxicity was confirmed by the measurement of apoptosis and necrosis, respectively, by caspases 3/7 activation and adenylate kinase leakage after membrane alterations

The results of the study were clear. Except for one pesticide (Matin), “All formulations were cytotoxic and far more toxic than their APs [active principles].”

Key findings included:

  • On human cells, among the tested products, fungicides were the most toxic, being cytotoxic from doses 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides (except Matin) and then insecticides.
  • In all cell types, fungicides were the most toxic (mean LC50 12ppm).
  • The herbicide Roundup (LC50 63ppm) was next in toxicity to fungicides, twice as toxic as Starane, and more than 10 times as toxic as the 3 insecticides, which represent the less toxic group (mean LC50 720ppm).

China fines Johnson & Johnson

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing:

 

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing

China fines Johnson & Johnson and others for price fixing

 

 

 

Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb Inc and other major producers have been fined more than 19 million yuan ($3.04 million) for fixing prices in China’s eye glass and contact lens market, China’s top economic regulator said on Thursday.

The companies mandated their dealers to set the price of lenses strictly in accordance to a “suggested level”, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on its website.

They also ordered retailers to jointly launch promotions in major Chinese cities all year around to keep prices stable, the notice said.

Dealers and retailers who do not comply with the order will be subject to unspecified financial penalties, it said. Other penalties may include seeing a halt to their supplies from the overseas manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson executives could not be reached immediately for comment.

Chinese authorities have charged executives at British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline over bribery and corruption. Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG had also been visited by a unit of China’s anti-trust regulator.

Other overseas eyes lenses brands named by NDRC included Essilor International SA, Nikon Corp, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG.

 

Source: reuters.com

 

Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima:

 

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

Japan to Start Building Giant Ice Wall at Fukushima

 

Japan Wants to Build an Ice Wall to Contain Fukushima’s Radioactive Water

Radioactive water full of carcinogenic chemicals is leaking out of the Fukushima power plant at a… Read more

Following examination of the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) plans to build the gigantic ice wall, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the go ahead for construction to commence. While similar techniques have been used in the past, it’s never been undertaken at the same scale as the proposed Fukushima plans. Speaking to PhysOrg, an anonymous official explained that:

“We had some concerns, including the possibility that part of the ground could sink. But there were no major objections to the project during the meeting, and we concluded that TEPCO can go ahead with at least part of the project as proposed after going through further necessary procedures.”

In June, then, engineers will begin building a 0.9-mile frozen wall that should stem the flow of radioactive groundwater. We’ve explained how it will work before:

The idea is to drive vertical pipes spaced about a meter apart between 20 and 40 meters into the ground and to pump coolant through them. This would effectively create a barrier of permafrost around the affected buildings, keeping the contaminated water in and groundwater out.

Despite the fact the plan is to go ahead, TEPCO may have to review other parts of the project as it progresses. There are some concerns that the ice wall may affect existing infrastructure—drains, utilities and the like—which will all have to carefully monitored once the project goes ahead.

 

Source:  Gizmodo.com

Scientists Create Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA:

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA

Scientists Create 1st Living Organism From Artificial DNA

 

A team of researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, Calif., has created a brand-new bacteria based on a genetic structure found nowhere on Earth.

According to lead researcher Floyd Romesberg, the feat involved artificially engineering a unique combination of DNA material — a combination not found in any living creature — and then successfully inserting it into a living cell that usually contains only natural combinations of DNA.

“Life on Earth in all its diversity is encoded by only two pairs of DNA bases, A-T and C-G,” Romesberg explained in an institute news release. “And what we’ve made is an organism that stably contains those two plus a third, unnatural pair of bases.”

“This shows that other solutions to storing [genetic] information are possible,” he added, “and, of course, takes us closer to an expanded-DNA biology that will have many exciting applications — from new medicines to new kinds of nanotechnology.”

Romesberg and his colleagues discuss their handiwork — funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health — in the May 7 online edition of Nature.

The product of more than 15 years of work, the current effort builds on a proof-of-concept study conducted in 2008. At that time, investigators had shown that hooking up natural and unnatural pairings of DNA was possible in a test-tube setting.

The next challenge was to replicate the process inside a living cell. The cell chosen by the TSRI team was the common E. coli bacterium, and into it they inserted what they considered to be the best unnatural DNA pairing they could construct: a combination of two molecules called “d5SICS” and “dNaM”.

After leaping through a series of highly complex technical problems, the study authors finally managed to pull off their goal: the fashioning on a half-synthetic organism that could actually replicate its unnatural self as long as scientists continuously supplied it with the necessary molecular material.

Romesberg said that, in principle, his team’s high-concept work has a very practical purpose: to gain a “greater power than ever” to fashion new treatments by harnessing the power of genetics.

 

Source: health.usnews.com

Tomb of Attila the Hun

 

 

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun:

 

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun

Hungary: Archeologists Discover Tomb of Attila the Hun

 

Budapest| Construction workers building the foundations of a new bridge over the Danube River in the Hungarian capitol, have unearthed a spectacular 5th century sepulchre. The analysis of the monument revealed that it was the burial chamber of a great hunnic leader, most likely  that of King Attila himself.

“This site is absolutely incredible!” explains Albrecht Rümschtein, an historian from the Lorand Eötvös University in Budapest and member of the team of specialists investigating the tomb. “We found many horse skeletons, as well as various weapons and other artefacts, all traditionally associated with Huns. These objects include a large sword made of meteoric iron, which could certainly be Attila’s legendary “Holy War Sword of the Scythians”, allegedly given to him by the god Mars himself. In fact, this definitely seems to be the resting place of the almighty Attila, but further analysis needs to be done to confirm it.”

Nicknamed “the scourge of God” by roman historians, Attila was the ruler of the Huns, a nomadic people originating possibly from Central Asia. He ruled from 434 A.D., until his death in 453 after a feast celebrating his latest marriage to a beautiful and young gothic princess named Ildico. He led many military raids on both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires provoquing what has become knowned as the Barbarian Invasions or the Great Migration, a large movement of germanic populations that greatly accelerated the fall of Rome and the advent of the Middle Ages in Europe. He his considered by most Hungarians, as the founder of the country.

The discovery of this funerary site could bring many clarifications concerning the origins and identity of the hunnic people and of Attila himself, which have both been sources of debate for centuries. The analysis of pieces of pottery and jewelry found on the site, should bring a new light on their cultural origins and trade networks, and help scientists better understand this badly documented people.

 

Source:  worldnewsdailyreport.com

Professor decodes Voynich’s manuscript

600 year old mystery manuscript decoded by University of Bedfordshire professor:

voynich

voynich

AN award-winning professor from the University has followed in the footsteps of Indiana Jones by cracking the code of a 600 year old manuscript, deemed as ‘the most mysterious’ document in the world.

Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics, has just become the first professional linguist to crack the code of the Voynich manuscript using an analytical approach.

The world-renowned manuscript is full of illustrations of exotic plants, stars, and mysterious human figures, as well as many pages written in an unknown text.

Up until now the 15th century cryptic work has baffled scholars, cryptographers and codebreakers who have failed to read a single letter of the script or any word of the text.

Over time it has attained an infamous reputation, even featuring in the latest hit computer game Assassin’s Creed, as well as in the Indiana Jones novels, when Indiana decoded the Voynich and used it to find the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’.

However in reality no one has come close to revealing the Voynich’s true messages.

Many grand theories have been proposed. Some suggest it was the work of Leonardo da Vinci as a boy, or secret Cathars, or the lost tribe of Israel, or most recently Aztecs … some have even proclaimed it was done by aliens!

Professor Bax however has begun to unlock the mystery meanings of the Voynich manuscript using his wide knowledge of mediaeval manuscripts and his familiarity with Semitic languages such as Arabic. Using careful linguistic analysis he is working on the script letter by letter.

“I hit on the idea of identifying proper names in the text, following historic approaches which successfully deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs and other mystery scripts, and I then used those names to work out part of the script,” explained Professor Bax.

“The manuscript has a lot of illustrations of stars and plants. I was able to identify some of these, with their names, by looking at mediaeval herbal manuscripts in Arabic and other languages, and I then made a start on a decoding, with some exciting results.”

Among the words he has identified is the term for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars which seem to be the Pleiades, and also the word KANTAIRON alongside a picture of the plant Centaury, a known mediaeval herb, as well as a number of other plants.

Although Professor Bax’s decoding is still only partial, it has generated a lot of excitement in the world of codebreaking and linguistics because it could prove a crucial breakthrough for an eventual full decipherment.

“My aim in reporting on my findings at this stage is to encourage other linguists to work with me to decode the whole script using the same approach, though it still won’t be easy. That way we can finally understand what the mysterious authors were trying to tell us,” he added.

“But already my research shows conclusively that the manuscript is not a hoax, as some have claimed, and is probably a treatise on nature, perhaps in a Near Eastern or Asian language.”

 

Source:  beds.ac.uk

Chinese scientists crack another genome of cotton

Chinese scientists crack the genome of another diploid cotton Gossypium arboreum:

 

Chinese scientists crack the genome of another diploid cotton Gossypium arboreum

Chinese scientists crack the genome of another diploid cotton Gossypium arboreum

 

Chinese scientists from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and BGI successfully deciphered the genome sequence of another diploid cotton– Gossypium arboreum (AA) after the completed sequencing of G. raimondii (DD) in 2012. G. arboreum, a cultivated cotton, is a putative contributor for the A subgenome of cotton. Its completed genome will play a vital contribution to the future molecular breeding and genetic improvement of cotton and its close relatives. The latest study today was published online in Nature Genetics.

As one of the most important economic crops in the world, cotton also serves as an excellent model system for studying polyploidization, cell elongation and cell wall biosynthesis. However, breeders and geneticists remain little knowledge on the genetic mechanisms underlying its complex allotetraploid nature of the cotton genome (AADD). It has been proposed that all diploid cotton species present may have evolved from a common ancestor, and all tetraploid cotton species came from interspecific hybridization between the cultivated species G. arboreum and the non-cultivated species G. raimondii.

After the completed sequencing of G. raimondii in 2012, researchers started the work on decoding the genome of G. arboreum. In this study, they sequenced and assembled the G. arboreum genome using whole-genome shotgun approach, yielding a draft cotton genome with the size of 1,694 Mb. About 90.4% of the G. arboretum assembled scaffolds were anchored and oriented on 13 pseudochromosomes.

Furthermore, researchers found the long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons insertions and expansions of LTR families contributed significantly to forming the double-sized G. arboreum genome relative to that of G. raimondii. Further molecular phylogenetic analyses suggested that G. arboreum and G. raimondii diverged about 5 million years ago, and the protein-coding capacities of these two species remained largely unchanged.

To investigate the plant morphology mechanisms of cotton species, a series of comparative transcriptome studies were performed. Results suggested that NBS-encoding subfamilies played an essential role on the immune to Verticillium dahliae. The resistance of G. raimondii on Verticillium dahliae was caused by expansion and contraction in the numbers of NBS-encoding genes, accordingly the loss in the genome of G. arboreum was responsible to their susceptible.

Another interesting finding of this study is the cotton fiber cell growth, and they found the 1-aminocyclo-propane-1-carboxylic acid oxidase (ACO) gene was a key modulator. Researchers suggest the overproduction of ACO maybe the reason why G. raimondii have a poor production of spinnable fiber, while the inactivation of ACO in G. arboreum might benefit its fiber development.

The G. arboreum genome will be an essential reference for the assembly of tetraploid cotton genomes and for evolutionary studies of Gossypium species. It also provides an essential tool for the identification, isolation and manipulation of important cotton genes conferring agronomic traits for molecular breeding and genetic improvement.

 

Source:  eurekalert.org

Ultra-tough, self-healing, recyclable plastics

 

IBM discovers new class of ultra-tough, self-healing, recyclable plastics:

IBM discovers new class of ultra-tough, self-healing, recyclable plastics that could redefine almost every industry

IBM discovers new class of ultra-tough, self-healing, recyclable plastics that could redefine almost every industry

IBM Research announced this morning that it has discovered a whole new class of… plastics. This might not sound quite as sexy as, say, MIT discovering a whole new state of matter — but wait until you hear what these new plastics can do. This new class of plastics — or more accurately, polymers — are stronger than bone, have the ability to self-heal, are light-weight, and are 100% recyclable. The number of potential uses, spanning industries as disparate as aerospace and semiconductors, is dizzying. A new class of polymers hasn’t been discovered in over 20 years — and, in a rather novel twist, they weren’t discovered by chemists: they were discovered by IBM’s supercomputers.

One of the key components of modern industry and consumerism is the humble thermosetting plastic. Thermosetting plastics — which are just big lumps of gooey polymer that are shaped and then cured (baked) — are light and easy to work with, but incredibly hard and heat resistant. The problem is, once a thermoset has been cured, there’s no turning back — you can’t return it to its gooey state. This means that if you (the engineer, the designer) make a mistake, you have to start again. It also means that thermoset plastics cannot be recycled. Once you’re done with that Galaxy S5, the thermoset chassis can’t be melted down and reused; it goes straight to the dump. IBM’s new polymer retains all of a thermosetting plastic’s useful properties — but it can also be recycled.

IBM’s new class of polymers began life, as they often do in chemistry circles, as an accident. Jeannette Garcia had been working on another type of polymer, when she suddenly noticed that the solution in her flask had unexpectedly hardened. “We couldn’t get it out, We had to smash the flask with a hammer, and, even then, we couldn’t smash the material itself. It’s one of these serendipitous discoveries.” She didn’t know how she’d created this new polymer, though, and so she joined forces with IBM’s computational chemistry team to work backwards from the final polymer. Using IBM’s supercomputing might, the chemists and the techies were able to work back to mechanism that caused the surprise reaction.

Scanning electron microscope image of the new PHT polymer discovered by IBM Research

This new class of polymer is called polyhexahydrotriazine, or PHT. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1251484 - "Recyclable, Strong Thermosets and Organogels via Paraformaldehyde Condensation with Diamines"]. It’s formed from a reaction between paraformaldehyde and 4,4ʹ-oxydianiline (ODA), which are both already commonly used in polymer production (this is very important if they want the new polymer to be adopted by the industry). The end result shows very high strength and toughness, like other thermosets, but its heat resistance is a little lower than other thermosets (it decomposes at around 350C, rather than 425C).

Jeannette “Jamie” Garcia: One happy IBM Researcher

In short, then, IBM has created a new plastic that could impact a number of industries in a very big way. The advantages of self-healing, tough plastics are highly evident in the aerospace, transportation, and architecture/construction industries. Thermoplastics also play a big part in the electronics industry, from the low-level packaging of computer chips, through to the chassis of your smartphone. In all of these areas, recyclability and self-healing could be a huge boon. As Garcia says, “If IBM had this 15 years ago, it would have saved unbelievable amounts of money.” Not to worry, Jeannette — there’s still plenty of time for IBM to save (and make) billions of dollars with this new plastic.

 

 

Source:  extremetech.com

 

Creativity and mental health

Creativity linked to mental health:

 

Creativity linked to mental health

Creativity linked to mental health

 

New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.

High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family. Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual pr bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people. And now the correlation between creativity and mental health has scientific backing.

“We have studied the brain and the dopamine D2 receptors, and have shown that the dopamine system of healthy, highly creative people is similar to that found in people with schizophrenia,” says associate professor Fredrik Ullén from Karolinska Institutet’s Department of Women’s and Children’s Health.

Just which brain mechanisms are responsible for this correlation is still something of a mystery, but Dr Ullén conjectures that the function of systems in the brain that use dopamine is significant; for example, studies have shown that dopamine receptor genes are linked to ability for divergent thought. Dr Ullén’s study measured the creativity of healthy individuals using divergent psychological tests, in which the task was to find many different solutions to a problem.

“The study shows that highly creative people who did well on the divergent tests had a lower density of D2 receptors in the thalamus than less creative people,” says Dr Ullén. “Schizophrenics are also known to have low D2 density in this part of the brain, suggesting a cause of the link between mental illness and creativity.”

The thalamus serves as a kind of relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

“Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus,” says Dr Ullén, and explains that this could a possible mechanism behind the ability of healthy highly creative people to see numerous uncommon connections in a problem-solving situation and the bizarre associations found in the mentally ill.

“Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box,” says Dr Ullén about his new findings.

 

Source:  sciencecodex.com

Blogger Threatened for Exposing Global Warming Fraud

Blogger Threatened for Exposing 97% “Consensus” Fraud:

global warming

global warming

 

 

In what is nearly a replay of the Climategate e-mail scandal of the University of East Anglia, independent climate blogger Brandon Shollenberger has been threatened with a lawsuit and arrest if he releases data that climate alarmists left online unencrypted showing their claim that 97.1 percent of climate scientists “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming” is false — and a huge fabrication. The lawsuit threat is the latest development in a drama that began a little over a year ago, when Shollenberger scooped the global establishment media and the world scientific community to expose one of the biggest science frauds of all time.

We’ve all seen and heard reports and statements, too numerous to be counted, that “more than 97 percent” of scientists endorse the proposition that humans are causing catastrophic climate change. Al Gore, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, et al — have repeated (again and again and again) this climate “consensus” claim. And the New York Times, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, et al, parrot these parrotings over and over and over, never bothering to check, let alone challenge, the absolute ludicrousness of the hyperbolic assertion.

The 97-percent myth was launched last year by Australian global-warming activist John Cook and the alarmist website, SkepticalScience.com. Responsible scientists and sensible laymen were properly skeptical of the SkepticalScience claims from the get-go, but it took the investigative digging of independent blogger Brandon Shollenberger to expose how Cook was cooking the data.

 

0.5 percent, Not 97.1 Percent!

Incredibly (but not so surprisingly, considering the fanaticism of some climate zealots), after deconstructing Cook’s data that was publicly available, Shollenberger found that only 65 (yes, 65) of the 12,000+ scientific abstracts Cook and his team of volunteers studied can be said to endorse the position that human activity is responsible for most of the experienced global warming. For a 97.1-percent “consensus” we would expect 11,640+ abstracts to endorse anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming, or AGW — not a mere 65! This was big news, but the silence from Big Media was deafening, which was, again, not so surprising. And this was not the only newsworthy revelation concerning the Cook study, which Cook tellingly referred to as “The Consensus Project” or “TCP.” Clearly, Cook and his band of zealous sous chefs cooked the data recipe to create their consensus pièce de résistance. They were caught pants down, in flagrante delicto; but, again, silence from the mainstream media newshounds who can be counted on to bay and howl unceasingly at the slightest peccadillo, misstep, or blooper by political conservatives.

As we noted, Cook’s “study” was merely an expanded reprise of the earlier, much-quoted, fraudulent “research” of Naomi Oreskes, who first popularized the 97-percent consensus deception in 2004. We wrote:

Cook’s “Introduction” admits that “TCP is basically an update and expansion of Naomi Oreskes’ survey of the peer-reviewed literature with deeper analysis.” That is an interesting admission, since the 2004 Oreskes study — which was the original source for the 97 percent claim — was exposed for the same methodological flaws. Dr. Benny Peiser, a social science professor at John Moores University and visiting fellow at the University of Buckingham, eviscerated the Oreskes study, pointing out that Oreskes had falsified the so-called consensus by her faulty selection criteria in choosing papers to include in her survey.

If You Print the Truth, We’ll Sue You.

But Shollenberger did not rest on his laurels; he kept digging. Last week, on May 15, Shollenberger published his 100th posting, entitled, “MY HUNDREDTH POST CAN’T BE SHOWN.”

He explained:

Dear readers, I wanted to do something special for my hundredth post at this site. I picked out a great topic for discussion. I wrote a post with clever prose, jokes that’d make your stomach ache from laughter and even some insightful commentary. Unfortunately, I can’t post it because I’d get sued.??

You see, I wanted to talk about the Cook et al data I recently came into possession of. I wanted to talk about the reaction by Cook et al to me having this data. I can’t though. The University of Queensland has threatened to sue me if I do.

In fact, the University of Queensland (in Queensland, Australia) threatened to sue Shollenberger if he even published their threatening letter to him! And, for an extra measure of overkill, the university implied that Shollenberger had illegally “hacked” their computer system, and that he might face arrest and criminal charges.

According to Shollenberger, he recently retrieved the raw data of Cook, et al from a “publicly accessible, third-party website,” where it was being stored. Shollenberger says it didn’t require any “hacking” because it was unprotected and unencrypted.

After some consideration and consultation, Shollenberger announced May 18 on his blog that he is challenging the university and “calling their bluff.” He released their letter and said he would release the Cook data, unless the university, SkepticalScience, or Cook would respond to his inquiries for an explanation as to what legal or ethical consideration should compel him not to publish this publicly accessed data. This a replay of the Climategate e-mail scandal of the University of East Anglia, where “scientists” refused to make public their data for peer and public review, so that an honest assessment of the alleged science upon which policies affecting the entire planet (and involving trillions of dollars) might be conducted. They illegally refused Freedom of Information requests, destroyed data, and threatened legal action against those who divulged their e-mail communications concerning their unethical and illegal activities.

Shollenberger wrote:

Nobody has told me what I need to keep confidential. Nobody has explained why I need to keep things like datestamps secret. Nobody has explained how knowing people performed 65 ratings two years ago (to the day) could affect anyone’s contractual obligations. Nobody has explained how disclosing material like that could possibly harm anyone.

So here’s the challenge I want to propose to the Skeptical Science team, to the University of Queensland, and to anyone else who thinks I shouldn’t release the data I possess:

Tell me what material I possess could cause harm if disseminated. Tell me what agreements or contractual obligations would be impinged upon if that material were released to the public.

If you are unable or unwilling to meet such a simple challenge, I’ll release the data and you can bite me. I mean, sue me.

Source:  thenewamerican.com

New drug keeps you sober

New drug may keep you sober no matter how much you’ve had to drink:

 

New drug may keep you sober no matter how much you've had to drink

New drug may keep you sober no matter how much you’ve had to drink

 

Imagine a pill that could instantly sober you up no matter how much you’ve had to drink, or a hangover cure that worked minutes after swallowing it. Hardened drinkers rejoice: researchers are about to begin human trials on an “alcohol antidote” that may soon offer a cure to alcoholism.
The drug is a chemical called dihydromyricetin, or DHM, and is derived from a Chinese variety of the oriental raisin tree, which has been used for at least 500 years in China as an effective hangover cure. So far the extract has only been tested on boozing rats, but with promising results.
“DHM will reduce the degree of drunkenness for the amount of alcohol drunk and will definitely reduce the hangover symptoms,” said Jing Liang, lead researcher in the study. “In time, it will reduce [an alcoholic's] desire for alcohol.”
Liang first tested how well DHM alleviated drunken rats’ clumsiness and loss of coordination by measuring how long it took them to right themselves after being laid on their backs. Rats were injected with an alcohol equivalent of a human drinking 15 to 20 beers in two hours to ensure that they were sufficiently wasted. As one would expect, it took the rats about 70 minutes just to get back up on their feet. After a milligram of DHM (per kilogram of rat body weight) was added to the mixture, however, the rats were able to right themselves in just five minutes.
The rats were next tested within a maze to see how well DHM neutralized hangover symptoms. Rats with a hangover typically react by cowering away in the corners of a maze, seemingly lacking motivation to seek an endpoint. But once those rats were given an appropriate dosage of DHM, their inquisitiveness was revived and they reacted just as rats that were given no alcohol at all.
Lastly, Liang tested whether DHM could cure alcohol addiction in rats. Boozy rodents were given a choice of drinking a sweetened solution of alcohol or sweetened water. Over a period of three months with DHM treatment, rats drank only a quarter the amount of alcohol that rats given no treatment drank.
Provided that the drug works as effectively in humans as it does in rats, DHM could be a breakthrough in the fight against alcoholism. But some researchers are concerned that it could eventually lead to more drinking rather than less. For instance, development of a similar compound called Ro15-4513 was abandoned several years ago due in part to such concerns.
“There was a lot of philosophical worry that an ‘alcohol antidote’ would entice people to consume alcohol and then count on being able to terminate the intoxicating effects on demand,” said Markus Heilig, clinical director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
It’s certainly easy to imagine how such a drug could be abused. Drinkers could become intoxicated, then take a pill when it comes time to drive themselves home. Hangovers would also no longer be a deterrent to imbibing. But for those struggling to overcome an alcohol addiction — not to mention the 2.5 million people who are estimated to die every year due to alcoholism — the drug could be a godsend and well worth the risks.
Source:   mnn.com

Bone marrow created on a chip

Scientists create “bone marrow on a chip”:

 

Scientists create "bone marrow on a chip"

Scientists create “bone marrow on a chip”

The trend of growing organs and tissues in a lab is picking up speed. The newest lab-grown breakthrough is Harvard’s “bone-marrow-on-a-chip.” The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard recently published their experiment news in the journal Nature Methods.

The researchers said the invention will enable scientists to analyze the effects of drugs and certain agents on whole bone marrow without animal testing. It also allows scientists to determine how radiation hurts bone marrow and other alternatives that could help. Initial testing showed bone marrow withers under radiation unless a drug that specifically fights off radiation poisoning is involved. The chip could also serve as a temporary “home” for a cancer patient’s bone marrow while they undergo radiation treatment. Bone marrow produces all blood cell types, and the Harvard chips allow the bone marrow to perform these essential functions while “in vitro.”

This chip is one of many that the Wyss Institute team has developed, alongside lung, heart, kidney, and gut chips. To build it, the team put dried bone powder into an open circular mold the size of a coin battery. This mold was then implanted under the skin on the back of a mouse. Eight weeks later, scientists removed the mold and examined it under a microscope to find a honeycomb structure filled in the middle of the mold, looking just like natural trabecular bone. The marrow of this looked identical to normal marrow as well. It was filled with red blood cells, mimicking the marrow of the mouse. When sorting and organizing the different bone marrow blood cells, the team found the types and numbers were the same as that in a mouse thighbone. The engineered bone marrow was then placed in a microfluidic device and received a steady supply of nutrients and waste removal to imitate circulation the tissue would normally be exposed to in the body. The marrow-on-a-chip lasted in the lab for one week, long enough to test it with radiation.

Researchers are hoping this will eventually lead to growing human bone marrow in mice, as well as using the blood cells produced on these chips to help other organs grown on chips in the lab.

 

Source:  healthcentral.com

Space Station Commander Opens Up About His UFO Sighting

International Space Station Commander Opens Up About His UFO Sighting In Space:

 

Leroy Chiao,

Leroy Chiao,

 

Leroy Chiao, commander of the International Space Station in 2005 recently opened up about his UFO sighting from space. They were 230 miles above the Earth, and traveling at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour when Chiao spotted a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object).

“I saw some lights that seemed to be in a line and it was almost like an upside-down check mark, and I saw them fly by and thought it was awfully strange. It wasn’t just one, but a line of them strung out along the South American coast” (1)

“I’m skeptical of claims that we’ve been visited by aliens from another planet or other dimensions, but I don’t rule it out 100 percent. I have an open mind and I do believe there’s other life in the universe.”

A growing amount of evidence has emerged, especially within the past few years that has more people asking questions. For example, dozens of governments around the world have recently released previously classified UFO documents. Documents detail how governments have special departments to monitor the UFO phenomenon and obtain information. One example are the UFO files released by the United Kingdom in June 2013.

Documents also reveal that UFOs are constantly tracked on ground radar, air radar, accompanied by visual conformation by military pilots who are scrambled to take a closer look.

Agencies like the NSA have done the same, you can view examples here , here and here. It’s safe to assume that more sensitive documents remain classified, especially with the recent disclosure of the black budget and special access programs by Edward Snowden.

Apart from official documentation proving the reality of UFOs (performing maneuvers that defy our known laws of physics like starting and stopping on a dime), we’ve had incredible statements made by hundreds of very high ranking political and military personnel. Paul Heyller, Canada’s former Minister of National Defence recently said that there are “at least four known alien species that have been visiting Earth for thousands of years.”

This is a very minuscule amount of evidence that I’ve presented regarding the UFO issue. The UFO phenomenon cannot really be denied anymore, for anybody who has looked into this subject,the evidence can be quite overwhelming. Coupled with this evidence are the experiences people have all over the world involving UFOs, as well as purported extraterrestrial beings. It’s definitely an interesting subject and one that is gaining some well deserved attention as we move through 2014 and beyond. This is thanks to the efforts of researchers, whistle-blowers and more.

Source:  collective-evolution.com

Alcohol is more damaging than heroin

Alcohol ‘more damaging than heroin’ says Prof David Nutt:

Alcohol 'more damaging than heroin'

Alcohol ‘more damaging than heroin’

The government’s former drugs adviser, Prof David Nutt, believes alcohol is damaging society more than heroin.

In one report he ranked 20 drugs based on their effects on users and society and said tobacco and cocaine were equally harmful, while ecstasy and LSD, were among the least damaging.

In 2009 he was sacked after disagreeing with the government’s decision to re-classify cannabis.

Prof Nutt will be speaking at the Manx Museum Theatre on 28 April.

He added: “In Britain today, alcohol is a leading cause of death in men between the ages of sixteen and fifty, so it is therefore the most harmful drug there is in terms of life expectancy, family disruption and road traffic accidents.

“It all boils down to the question of what are we trying to do when we make drugs illegal – we should be trying to reduce harm for people but in order to decide on whether to make something illegal we need to have a good appreciation of what relative harms are.”

His aim, he said, was “to understand what the right approach should be, based on the science and evidence”.

Prof Nutt is the Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London.

Source:  BBC.com

Human cartilage grown in lab

Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab:

Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

Engineers grow functional human cartilage in lab

 

 

Researchers at Columbia Engineering announced that they have successfully grown fully functional human cartilage in vitro from human stem cells derived from bone marrow tissue. Their study, which demonstrates new ways to better mimic the enormous complexity of tissue development, regeneration, and disease.
“We’ve been able — for the first time — to generate fully functional human cartilage from mesenchymal stem cells by mimicking in vitro the developmental process of mesenchymal condensation,” says Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, who led the study and is the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia Engineering and professor of medical sciences. “This could have clinical impact, as this cartilage can be used to repair a cartilage defect, or in combination with bone in a composite graft grown in lab for more complex tissue reconstruction.”

 

For more than 20 years, researchers have unofficially called cartilage the “official tissue of tissue engineering,” Vunjak-Novakovic observes. Many groups studied cartilage as an apparently simple tissue: one single cell type, no blood vessels or nerves, a tissue built for bearing loads while protecting bone ends in the joints. While there has been great success in engineering pieces of cartilage using young animal cells, no one has, until now, been able to reproduce these results using adult human stem cells from bone marrow or fat, the most practical stem cell source.
Vunjak-Novakovic’s team succeeded in growing cartilage with physiologic architecture and strength by radically changing the tissue-engineering approach.
The general approach to cartilage tissue engineering has been to place cells into a hydrogel and culture them in the presence of nutrients and growth factors and sometimes also mechanical loading. But using this technique with adult human stem cells has invariably produced mechanically weak cartilage. So Vunjak-Novakovic and her team, who have had a longstanding interest in skeletal tissue engineering, wondered if a method resembling the normal development of the skeleton could lead to a higher quality of cartilage.

 

Sarindr Bhumiratana, postdoctoral fellow in Vunjak-Novakovic’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, came up with a new approach: inducing the mesenchymal stem cells to undergo a condensation stage as they do in the body before starting to make cartilage. He discovered that this simple but major departure from how things were usually? being done resulted in a quality of human cartilage not seen before.

 

Gerard Ateshian, Andrew Walz Professor of Mechanical Engineering, professor of biomedical engineering, and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his PhD student, Sevan Oungoulian, helped perform measurements showing that the lubricative property and compressive strength — the two important functional properties — of the tissue-engineered cartilage approached those of native cartilage.
The researchers then used their method to regenerate large pieces of anatomically shaped and mechanically strong cartilage over the bone, and to repair defects in cartilage.

 

“Our whole approach to tissue engineering is biomimetic in nature, which means that our engineering designs are defined by biological principles,” Vunjak-Novakovic notes. “This approach has been effective in improving the quality of many engineered tissues — from bone to heart. Still, we were really surprised to see that our cartilage, grown by mimicking some aspects of biological development, was as strong as ‘normal’ human cartilage.”

 

The team plans next to test whether the engineered cartilage tissue maintains its structure and long-term function when implanted into a defect.

 

“This is a very exciting time for tissue engineers,” says Vunjak-Novakovic. “Stem cells are transforming the future of medicine, offering ways to overcome some of the human body’s fundamental limitations. We bioengineers are now working with stem cell scientists and clinicians to develop technologies that will make this dream possible. This project is a wonderful example that we need to ‘think as a cell’ to find out how exactly to coax the cells into making a functional human tissue of a specific kind. It’s emblematic of the progress being driven by the exceptional young talent we have among our postdocs and students at Columbia Engineering.”

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Aged brains and muscles in mice made younger


 More progress with GDF 11, anti-aging protein:

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger:

Functioning of aged brains and muscles in mice made younger:

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have shown that a protein they previously demonstrated can make the failing hearts in aging mice appear more like those of young health mice, similarly improves brain and skeletal muscle function in aging mice.

 

Professors Amy Wagers and Lee Rubin, of Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB), report that injections of a protein known as GDF11, which is found in humans as well as mice, improved the exercise capability of mice equivalent in age to that of about a 70-year-old human, and also improved the function of the olfactory region of the brains of the older mice — they could detect smell as younger mice do.

Rubin and Wagers each said that, baring unexpected developments, they expect to have GDF11 in initial human clinical trials within three to five years. Postdoctoral fellow Lida Katsimpardi is the lead author on the Rubin group’s paper, and postdocs Manisha Sinha and Young Jang are the lead authors on the paper from the Wagers group.

Both studies examined the effect of GDF11 in two ways. First, by using what is called a parabiotic system, in which two mice are surgically joined and the blood of the younger mouse circulates through the older mouse. And second, by injecting the older mice with GDF11, which in an earlier study by Wagers and Richard Lee, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital who is also an author on the two papers released today, was shown to be sufficient to reverse characteristics of aging in the heart.

Doug Melton, co-chair of HSCRB and co-director of HSCI, reacted to the two papers by saying that he couldn’t “recall a more exciting finding to come from stem cell science and clever experiments. This should give us all hope for a healthier future. We all wonder why we were stronger and mentally more agile when young, and these two unusually exciting papers actually point to a possible answer: the higher levels of the protein GDF11 we have when young. There seems to be little question that, at least in animals, GDF11 has an amazing capacity to restore aging muscle and brain function,” he said.

Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor continued, saying that the ongoing collaboration between Wagers, a stem cell biologist whose focus has been on muscle, Rubin, whose focus is on neurodegenerative diseases and using patient generated stem cells as targets for drug discover, and Lee, a practicing cardiologist and researcher, “is a perfect example of the power of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute as an engine of truly collaborative efforts and discovery, bringing together people with big, unique ideas and expertise in different biological areas.”

As Melton noted, GDF11 is naturally found in much higher concentration in young mice than in older mice, and raising its levels in the older mice has improved the function of every organ system thus far studied.

Wagers first began using the parabiotic system in mice 14 years ago as a post doctoral fellow at Stanford University, when she and colleagues Thomas Rando, of Stanford, Irina Conboy, of UC Berkley, and Irving Weissman, of Stanford, observed that the blood of young mice circulating in old mice seemed to have some rejuvenating effects on muscle repair after injury.

Last year she and Richard Lee published a paper in which they reported that when exposed to the blood of young mice, the enlarged, weakened hearts of older mice returned to a more youthful size, and their function improved. And then working with a Colorado firm, the pair reported that GDF11 was the factor in the blood apparently responsible for the rejuvenating effect. That finding has raised hopes that GDF11 may prove, in some form, to be a possible treatment for diastolic heart failure, a fatal condition in the elderly that now is irreversible, and fatal.

“From the previous work it could have seemed that GD11 was heart specific,” said Wagers, “but this shows that it is active in multiple organs and cell types… Prior studies of skeletal muscle and the parabiotic effect really focused on regenerative biology. Muscle was damaged and assayed on how well it could recover,” Wagers explained.

She continued: “The additional piece is that while prior studies of young blood factors have shown that we achieve restoration of muscle stem cell function and they repair the muscle better, in this study, we also saw repair of DNA damage associated with aging, and we got it in association with recovery of function, and we saw improvements in unmanipulated muscle. Based on other studies, we think that the accumulation DNA damage in muscle stem cells might be reflect an inability of the cells to properly differentiate to make mature muscle cells, which is needed for adequate muscle repair.

Wagers noted that there is still a great deal to be learned about the mechanics of aging in muscle, and its repair. “I don’t think we fully understand how this happening or why. We might say that the damage is modification to the genetic material; the genome does have breaks in it. But whether it’s damaging, or a necessary part of repair, we don’t know yet.”

Rubin, whose primary research focus is on developing treatment for neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in children, said that that when his group began its GDF11 experiments, “we knew that in the old mouse things were bad in the brain, there is a reduced amount of neurogenesis (the development of neurons), and it’s well known that cognition goes down. It wasn’t obvious to me that those things that can be repaired in peripheral tissue could be fixed in the brain.”

Rubin said that post doctoral fellow Lida Katsimpardi, the lead author on his group’s paper, was taught the parabiotic experimental technique by Wagers, but conducted the Rubin group’s experiments independently of the Wagers group, and “she saw an increase in neural stem cells, and saw increased development of blood vessels in the brain.” Rubin said that 3D reconstruction of the brain, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the mouse brain showed “more new blood vessels and more blood flow,” both of which are normally associated with younger, healthier brain tissue.” Younger mice, Rubin said, “have a keen sense of olfactory discrimination,” they can sense fine differences in odor. “When we tested the young mice, they avoided the smell of mint; the old mice didn’t. But the old mice exposed to the blood of the young mice, and those treated with GDF11 did.

“We think an effect of GDF 11 is the improved vascularity and blood flow, associated with increased neurogenesis,” Rubin said. “This should have other more widespread effect on other areas of the brain. We do think that, at least in principal, there will be a way to reverse some of the decline of aging with a single protein. It could be that a molecule like GDF 11, or GDF 11 itself, could” reverse the damage of aging.

“It isn’t out of question that GDF11,” or a drug developed from it, “might be worthwhile in Alzheimer’s Disease,” Rubin said. “You might be able to separate out the issues of treating the plaque and tangles associated with the disease, and the decline in cognition, and perhaps improve cognition.” Wagers said that the two research groups are in discussions with a venture capital group to obtain funding to “be able to do the additional pre-clinical work” necessary before moving GDF 11 into human trials.

“I would wager that the results of this work, together with the other work, will translate into a clinical trial and a treatment,” said the stem cell biologist. “but of course that’s just a wager.”

“We think an effect of GDF 11 is the improved vascularity and blood flow, which is associated with increased neurogenesis,” Rubin said. “However, the increased blood flow should have more widespread effects on brain function. We do think that, at least in principle, there will be a way to reverse some of the cognitive decline that takes place during aging, perhaps even with a single protein. It could be that a molecule like GDF 11, or GDF 11 itself, could” reverse the damage of aging.

“It isn’t out of question that GDF11,” or a drug developed from it, “might be capable of slowing some of the cognitive defects associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, a disorder whose main risk factor is aging itself,” Rubin said. It is even possible that this could occur without directly changing the “plaque and tangle burden” that are the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. Thus, a future treatment for this disease might be a combination of a therapeutic that reduces plaques and tangles, such as an antibody directed against the β-amyloid peptide, with a potential cognition enhancer like GDF-11.

 

Source:    sciencedaily.com

Bacteria exploit proteins to trigger potentially lethal infections

New research by scientists at the University of York sheds light on how bacteria exploit human proteins during infections:

bacteria exploit proteins

bacteria exploit proteins

 

 

A research team led by Professor Jennifer Potts, a British Heart Foundation Senior Research Fellow in York’s Department of Biology, studied how Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause life-threatening human infections, attach to two proteins fibronectin and fibrinogen found in human blood.

The human proteins play important roles in clot formation and wound healing and the bacteria appear to exploit them during the process of infection. Scientists had earlier shown that the binding sites for fibrinogen and fibronectin on the S. aureus protein FnBPA appear to “co-operate” in causing the dangerous heart infection infective endocarditis and the latest research suggest how the process occurs. The researchers, who included Vaclav Stemberk and Dr Richard Jones at York and Dr Ruth Massey, a microbiologist at the University of Bath, used X-ray crystallography, biophysical techniques and bacterial assays to investigate the process.

In research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, they solved the three dimensional structure of the bacterial protein FnBPA in complex with a small part of the human protein fibrinogen. This work showed that the fibrinogen binding site on FnBPA is close to, but not overlapping with, the binding site for fibronectin.

They then studied the binding of the two human proteins simultaneously to FnBPA and found that binding of fibronectin appears to block binding of fibrinogen to the bacterial protein. It appears that regulation of binding arises due to the close proximity of the fibrinogen and fibronectin binding sites on the bacterial protein and the large size of the human proteins. While the research provides the first biophysical evidence in support of the co-operation previously observed in the infection studies, it is still not clear how these two observations are linked. The scientists are planning further studies.

Professor Potts said: “Bacteria have evolved various mechanisms to exploit human proteins to cause infection. Understanding these mechanisms might not only lead to the development of new therapeutics but can also provide important information regarding the normal role of these human proteins in the body.”

Dr Sanjay Thakrar, Research Advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study, said: “The bacteria studied can cause a wide range of infections including the potentially fatal heart infection known as infective endocarditis.

“This study showed how this bacterium interacts with proteins found in our blood, which may give us an insight into how these deadly heart infections occur. This is an important step towards developing new treatments, but more research is needed to fully understand this interaction.”

 

Source:   eurekalert.org

Corporations Block Access from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research:

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Should a company be able to patent a breast cancer gene? What about a species of soybean? How about a tool for basic scientific research? Or even a patent for acquiring patents?

Intellectual property rights are supposed to help inventors bring good things to life, but there’s increasing concern that they may be keeping us from getting the things we need.

In this wild and contested jungle of the law, which concerns things like patents and copyrights, questions about the implications of allowing limited monopolies on ideas are making headlines. Do they stifle innovation? Can they cause the public more harm than good? Trillions of dollars are at stake. Companies known as “patent trolls” are gobbling up patents, then going on lawsuit sprees and extracting fees against infringement. Corporations are using intellectual property law to squash competitors and block our access to things as vital as lifesaving drugs, to place restrictions on things as intimate as parts of the human body. Third World countries are kept from accessing essential public goods related to everything from food security to education.

Surely, the producers of new ideas should be able to profit from their creations. But furious debates over what should be protected and who should profit are calling attention to the many things that are going wrong in this area. For example, a recent front-page story in the New York Times detailed how diabetics are being held hostage in America by companies that follow Apple’s playbook to lock patients into buying expensive, patented products that quickly become obsolete. If you don’t buy the product, you don’t miss getting the new iPhone. You may die.

Source:  alternet.org

$6 billion in unaccounted funds

American State Department Misplaced $6B Under Hillary Clinton:

 

State Department Misplaced $6B Under Hillary Clinton

State Department Misplaced $6B Under Hillary Clinton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The State Department misplaced and lost some $6 billion due to the improper filing of contracts during the past six years, mainly during the tenure of former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, according to a newly released Inspector General report.

The $6 billion in unaccounted funds poses a “significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” according to the report.

The alert, originally sent on March 20 and just released this week, warns that the missing contracting funds “could expose the department to substantial financial losses.”

The report centered on State Department contracts worth “more than $6 billion in which contract files were incomplete or could not be located at all,” according to the alert.

“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the alert states.

 

Source:  blacklistednews.com