FDA Cover’s Up Deaths in Drug Trials

FDA

FDA

Does the habitual use of antidepressants do more harm than good to many patients? Absolutely, says one expert in a new British Medical Journal report. Moreover, he says that the federal Food and Drug Administration might even be hiding the truth about antidepressant lethality.

In his portion of the report, Peter C. Gotzsche, a professor at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark, said that nearly all psychotropic drug use could be ended today without deleterious effects, adding that such “drugs are responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people aged 65 and older each year in the Western world.”

Gotzsche, author of the 2013 book Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare, further notes in the BMJ that “randomized trials that have been conducted do not properly evaluate the drugs’ effects.” He adds, “Almost all of them are biased because they included patients already taking another psychiatric drug.”

Hiding or fabricating data about harmful side effects

The FDA’s data is incomplete at best and intentionally skewed at worst, he insisted:

Under-reporting of deaths in industry funded trials is another major flaw. Based on some of the randomised trials that were included in a meta-analysis of 100,000 patients by the US Food and Drug Administration, I have estimated that there are likely to have been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the FDA – for example, there were 14 suicides in 9,956 patients in trials with fluoxetine and paroxetine, whereas the FDA had only five suicides in 52,960 patients, partly because the FDA only included events up to 24 hours after patients stopped taking the drug.

He said that he was most concerned about three classes of drugs: antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and antidepressants, saying they are responsible for 3,693 deaths a year in Denmark alone. When scaling up that figure in relation to the U.S. and European Union together, he estimated that 539,000 people die every year because of the medications.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm – by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs, and dementia drugs (as the small effects are probably the result of unblinding bias) and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use,” Gotzsche wrote.

“This would lead to healthier and more long lived populations. Because psychotropic drugs are immensely harmful when used long-term, they should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients,” he added.

Gotzsche’s views were disputed in the same BMJ piece by Allan Young, professor of mood disorders at King’s College London, and psychiatric patient John Crace.

“More than a fifth of all health-related disability is caused by mental ill health, studies suggest, and people with poor mental health often have poor physical health and poorer (long-term) outcomes in both aspects of health,” they wrote.

They also insisted that psychiatric drugs are “rigorously examined for efficacy and safety, before and after regulatory approval.”

 

Source:  globalresearch.ca

PTSD Linked to Accelerated Aging

chromosomes_with_telomeres

chromosomes_with_telomeres

In recent years, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning from conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. PTSD is associated with number of psychological maladies, among them chronic depression, anger, insomnia, eating disorders and substance abuse.

Writing in the May 7 online issue of American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System suggest that people with PTSD may also be at risk for accelerated aging or premature senescence.

“This is the first study of its type to link PTSD, a psychological disorder with no established genetic basis, which is caused by external, traumatic stress, with long-term, systemic effects on a basic biological process such as aging,” said Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences and director of the Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care at UC San Diego, who is the senior author of this study.

Researchers had previously noted a potential association between psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and acceleration of the aging process. Jeste and colleagues determined to see if PTSD might show a similar association by conducting a comprehensive review of published empirical studies relevant to early aging in PTSD, covering multiple databases going back to 2000.

There is no standardized definition of what constitutes premature or accelerated senescence. For guidance, the researchers looked at early aging phenomena associated with non-psychiatric conditions, such as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, HIV infection and Down’s syndrome. The majority of evidence fell into three categories: biological indicators or biomarkers, such as leukocyte telomere length (LTL), earlier occurrence or higher prevalence of medical conditions associated with advanced age and premature mortality.

In their literature review, the UC San Diego team identified 64 relevant studies; 22 were suitable for calculating overall effect sizes for biomarkers, 10 for mortality.

All six studies looking specifically at LTL found reduced telomere length in persons with PTSD. Leukocytes are white blood cells. Telomeres are stretches of protective, repetitive nucleotide sequences at the ends of chromosomes. These sequences shorten with every cell replication and are considered a strong measure of the aging process in cells.

The scientists also found consistent evidence of increased pro-inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor alpha, associated with PTSD.

A majority of reviewed studies found increased medical comorbidity of PTSD with several targeted conditions associated with normal aging, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal ulcer disease and dementia.

Seven of 10 studies indicated a mild-to-moderate association of PTSD with earlier mortality, consistent with an early onset or acceleration of aging in PTSD.

“These findings do not speak to whether accelerated aging is specific to PTSD, but they do argue the need to re-conceptualize PTSD as something more than a mental illness,” said first author James B. Lohr, MD, professor of psychiatry. “Early senescence, increased medical morbidity and premature mortality in PTSD have implications in health care beyond simply treating PTSD symptoms. Our findings warrant a deeper look at this phenomenon and a more integrated medical-psychiatric approach to their care.”

 Barton Palmer, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a coauthor of the study, cautioned that “prospective longitudinal studies are needed to directly demonstrate accelerated aging in PTSD and to establish underlying mechanisms.”
Source:  scienceblog.com

Bionic Lens 3x better than 20/20

bionic-lens

bionic-lens

Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.

Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.

Dr. Garth Webb says the bionic lens would allow people to see to infinity and replace the need for eyeglasses and contact lenses. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.

Perfect eyesight would result “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, showing a Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button.

“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” says Webb, demonstrating how a custom-made lens that folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe would be placed in an eye, where it would unravel itself within 10 seconds.

8-minute surgery

He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient’s sight would be immediately corrected.

Webb, who is the CEO of Ocumetics Technology Corp., has spent the last eight years and about $3 million researching and developing the Bionic Lens, getting international patents and securing a biomedical manufacturing facility in Delta, B.C.

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced. (Laitr Keiows/Wikicommons)

His mission is fuelled by the “obsession” he’s had to free himself and others from corrective lenses since he was in Grade 2, when he was saddled with glasses.

“My heroes were cowboys, and cowboys just did not wear glasses,” Webb says.

“At age 45 I had to struggle with reading glasses, which like most people, I found was a great insult. To this day I curse my progressive glasses. I also wear contact lenses, which I also curse just about every day.”

Webb’s efforts culminated in his recent presentation of the lens to 14 top ophthalmologists in San Diego the day before an annual gathering of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery.

Dr. Vincent DeLuise, an ophthalmologist who teaches at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, says he arranged several meetings on April 17, when experts in various fields learned about the lens.

He says the surgeons, from Canada, the United States, Australia and the Dominican Republic, were impressed with what they heard and some will be involved in clinical trials for Webb’s “very clever” invention.

“There’s a lot of excitement about the Bionic Lens from very experienced surgeons who perhaps had some cynicism about this because they’ve seen things not work in the past. They think that this might actually work and they’re eager enough that they all wish to be on the medical advisory board to help him on his journey,” DeLuise says.

“I think this device is going to bring us closer to the holy grail of excellent vision at all ranges — distant, intermediate and near.

 

Source:  cbc.ca

China and India sign $22 billion business deal

China and India sign business deals worth more than $22bn

China and India sign business deals worth more than $22bn

China and India signed deals worth more than $22bn in areas including renewable energy, ports, financing and industrial parks, an Indian embassy official said on Saturday.

Namgya C Khampa, of the Indian embassy in Beijing, made the remarks at the end of a three-day visit by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, during which he sought to boost economic ties and quell anxiety over a border dispute between the neighbours.

Khampa said: “The agreements have a bilateral commercial engagement in sectors like renewable energy, industrial parks, power, steel, logistics finance and media and entertainment.”

China is interested in more opportunities in India’s $2tn economy.

During a visit to India in 2014 by China’s president, Xi Jinping, China announced $20bn in investments over five years, including the establishment of two industrial parks.

Since then, progress has been slow, in part because of the difficulties Modi has had in getting political approval for easier land acquisition laws.

 

Source:  theguardian.com

Gut feeling about your CEO is spot on

Gut feeling about CEO is spot on

Gut feeling about CEO is spot on.

That gut feeling many workers, laborers and other underlings have about their CEOs is spot on, according to three recent studies in the Journal of Management, the Journal of Management Studies and the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies that say CEO greed is bad for business.

But how do you define greed? Are compassionate CEOs better for business? How do you know if the leader is doing more harm than good? And can anybody rein in the I-Me-Mine type leader anyway?

University of Delaware researcher Katalin Takacs Haynes and three collaborators — Michael A. Hitt and Matthew Josefy of Texas A&M University and Joanna Tochman Campbell of the University of Cincinnati — have chased such questions for several years, digging into annual reports, comparing credentials with claims and developing useful definitions that could shed more light on the impact of a company’s top leader on employees, business partners and investors.

They test the assumption that self-interest is a universal trait of CEOs (spoiler alert: it’s alive and well), show that too much altruism can harm company performance, reveal the dark, self-destructive tendencies of some entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses and provide a way to measure and correlate greed, arrogance and company performance.

“We tried to look at what we think greed is more objectively,” said Haynes, who was recently promoted to associate professor of management in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. “What we’re trying to do is clean up some of the definitions and make sure we’re all talking about the same concepts.”

In their studies, researchers offer plenty of evidence that some leaders are insatiable when it comes to compensation. How much is too much? They don’t put a number on that. But they do add plenty of nuance to the question and point to a mix of motivations that goes beyond raw greed.

“It’s not for us to judge what too much is for anybody else,” said Haynes, “but we can see when the outcome of somebody’s work is the greater good, and when it is not just greed that is operating in them.”

Greed seems all too apparent to many workers. The recent recession left millions without jobs and many companies sinking into a sea of red. At the same time, though, stunning bonuses and other perks were landing in the laps of people at the helm.

Haynes, who joined the UD faculty in 2011, has found the range of pay within companies an intriguing question, too.

“Why is it that in some companies there is a huge difference between the pay of the top executive and the average worker or the lowest-paid employee and in other companies the pay is a lot closer?” she said.

Many a minimum-wage worker, making $15,080 per year, has wondered that, and so have those in the middle class, who may work a year to make what some CEOs make in a day.

But if you make more than anyone else does that mean you’re greedy?

The question is more complicated than water-cooler conversations might suggest. And Haynes and her collaborators go to the data for answers, leaving emotion, indignation and cries for justice to others. They leave others to correlate the data with names, too.

Instead, they offer definitions and analytical tools that add clarity, allow for apples-to-apples comparisons and shed new light on how a leader’s objectives shape company performance.

“It’s possible that high pay is perfectly deserved because of high contributions, high skill sets,” Haynes said, “and just because somebody doesn’t have high pay doesn’t mean they aren’t greedy.”

The marks of greed are found elsewhere — in a reporting category that tracks “other” compensation and perquisites, in the pay rates of other top executives, in compensation demands during times of company stress, for example.

Haynes’ studies included interviews (with anonymity assured), publicly reported data, written surveys, essays and a review of published information and interviews with CEOs.

The studies also examined managerial hubris and how it differs from self-confidence.

“Hubris is an extreme manifestation of confidence, characterized by preoccupation with fantasies of success and power, excessive feelings of self-importance, as well as arrogance,” researchers wrote.

“Say I’m a stunt driver and I have jumped across five burning cars before with my car,” Haynes said. “I’m pretty confident I can do that — and maybe even six. Say I’m not a stunt driver. To say I could jump through six burning cars would be arrogance. And if I drag you to go with me, it could be criminal.”

Risk aversion can harm a company. But risk for short-term gain without thought of the company’s future is a sign of greed.

“Some CEOs take risks and it will pay off,” she said. “They will have reliable performance and we can forecast that. We know their track record. Others take foolish risks not based on their previous performance.”

Such risks may be especially prevalent among young entrepreneurs, who underestimate the resources needed to help a startup succeed and fail to recognize that more than money is at stake.

“While financial capital is an important concern with these behaviors, the effects on human and social capital are often overlooked, despite the fact that they are highly critical for the success and ultimate survival of entrepreneurial ventures,” the researchers wrote.

Generally, researchers found that greed is worse among short-term leaders with weak boards.

The good news, Haynes said, is that strong corporate governance can rein in CEO greed and keep both self-interest and altruism in proper balance. And that is where the greatest success is found.

“Overall, we conclude that measured self-interest keeps managers focused on the firm’s goals and measured altruism helps the firm to build and maintain strong human and social capital,” researchers wrote.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Plasma made from matter and antimatter

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

Pulsar has atmosphere of matter and anti matter.

One of the all-time great mysteries in physics is why our Universe contains more matter than antimatter, which is the equivalent of matter but with the opposite charge. To tackle this question, our international team of researchers have managed to create a plasma of equal amounts of matter and antimatter – a condition we think made up the early Universe.

Matter as we know it appears in four different states: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma, which is a really hot gas where the atoms have been stripped of their electrons. However, there is also a fifth, exotic state: a matter-antimatter plasma, in which there is complete symmetry between negative particles (electrons) and positive particles (positrons).

This peculiar state of matter is believed to be present in the atmosphere of extreme astrophysical objects, such as black holes and pulsars. It is also thought to have been the fundamental constituent of the Universe in its infancy, in particular during the Leptonic era, starting approximately one second after the Big Bang.

One of the problems with creating matter and antimatter particles together is that they strongly dislike each other – disappearing in a burst of light whenever they meet. However, this doesn’t happen straight away, and it is possible to study the behaviour of the plasma for the fraction of a second in which it is alive.

Understanding how matter behaves in this exotic state is crucial if we want to understand how our Universe has evolved and, in particular, why the Universe as we know it is made up mainly of matter. This is a puzzling feature, as the theory of relativistic quantum mechanics suggests we should have equal amounts of the two. In fact, no current model of physics can explain the discrepancy.

Despite its fundamental importance for our understanding of the Universe, an electron-positron plasma had never been produced before in the laboratory, not even in huge particle accelerators such as CERN. Our international team, involving physicists from the UK, Germany, Portugal, and Italy, finally managed to crack the nut by completely changing the way we look at these objects.

Instead of focusing our attention on immense particle accelerators, we turned to the ultra-intense lasers available at the Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, UK. We used an ultra-high vacuum chamber with an air pressure corresponding to a hundredth of a millionth of our atmosphere to shoot an ultra-short and intense laser pulse (hundred billions of billions more intense that sunlight on the Earth surface) onto a nitrogen gas. This stripped off the gas’ electrons and accelerated them to a speed extremely close to that of light.

The beam then collided with a block of lead, which slowed them down again. As they slowed down they emitted particles of light, photons, which created pairs of electrons and their anti-particle, the positron, when they collided with nuclei of the lead sample. A chain-reaction of this process gave rise to the plasma.

However, this experimental achievement was not without effort. The laser beam had to be guided and controlled with micrometer precision, and the detectors had to be finely calibrated and shielded – resulting in frequent long nights in the laboratory.

But it was well worth it as the development means an exciting branch of physics is opening up. Apart from investigating the important matter-antimatter asymmetry, by looking at how these plasmas interact with ultra powerful laser beams, we can also study how this plasma propagates in vacuum and in a low-density medium. This would be effectively recreating conditions similar to the generation of gamma-ray bursts, some of the most luminous events ever recorded in our Universe.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Holographic micro battery is 10 micrometers thick

holographic microbattery

holographic microbattery

Researchers and companies alike have been scrambling to come up with a next-generation battery, but one of the more unlikely places we’d expect to hear about it is from the study of holography. Recently, a team of engineers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign demonstrated that porous, three-dimensional electrodes can boost a lithium-ion micro battery’s power output by three orders of magnitude, as first reported in Chemical & Engineering News. But now the team has gone a step further, and has optimized the electrode structure with holograms, the three-dimensional interference patterns of multiple laser beams, in order to generate porous blocks that could used as a sort of scaffolding for building electrodes.

The result: a holographic micro battery that’s only 2mm wide and 10 micrometers thick, with an area of 4mm squared, and 12% capacity fade. The researchers said it’s compatible with existing fabrication techniques, and ideal for large-scale on-chip integration with all kinds of microelectronic devices, including medical implants, sensors, and radio transmitters. To get an idea of scale, the photo above shows the battery’s electrodes in a 2mm by 2mm square on a glass substrate. Batteries like this could power implants small enough to track certain aspects of someone’s health in real time, and without the comparatively vast bulk of existing blood glucose and cardiac monitors, just to cite one example.

“This 3D micro battery has exceptional performance and scalability, and we think it will be of importance for many applications,” said Paul Braun, a professor of materials science and engineering at Illinois, in a statement. “Micro-scale devices typically utilize power supplied off-chip because of difficulties in miniaturizing energy storage technologies.”

Braun said that a supercapacitor-like, on-chip battery of this diminutive size would be ideal for autonomous microscale actuators, distributed wireless sensors and transmitters, monitors, and portable and implantable medical devices. To fabricate the batteries, controlling the interfering optical beams for building 3D holographic lithography isn’t trivial. But “recent advances have significantly simplified the required optics, enabling creation of structures via a single incident beam and standard photoresist processing,” said professor John Rogers, who assisted Braun and his team to develop the technology.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen such tiny micro batteries developed. Back in 2013, researchers 3D-printed a battery that’s just 1mm wide, and in 2014, we saw a graphene-based microbattery that could also power implants. But it’s arguably the most sophisticated and realistic design yet. On the slightly larger front, last month a team of Stanford researchers developed an aluminum graphite battery that could charge up a smartphone in just 60 seconds. But in the end, it may be no surprise that holograms help us engineer better batteries — after all, we could be living inside a hologram all this time.

 

Source:  extremetech.com

 

Carbon Billionaire Al Gore

Al Gore Becomes First ‘Carbon Billionaire’

Al Gore First ‘Carbon Billionaire’

Former US Vice President and Global Warming advocate, Al Gore, has become the world’s first ‘carbon billionaire’ after landing a major carbon deal with Chinese coal mining company Haerwusu, one of the top ten coal mining companies in the world.

Al Gore and his partner David Blood, both principals at Generation Investment Management (GIM) have landed the most lucrative carbon deal to date, reaching an estimated $12 billion dollars in carbon shares, estimate experts, although official numbers have not yet been disclosed.

Haerwusu that has often been criticized by Amnesty International and other human rights groups for the poor working conditions of their employees is believed to have sealed the carbon deal to “improve its international image” in an attempt to facilitate commerce with Europe and America, believe specialists.

The former vice-president announced the news to share holders earlier this week during a press conference at GIM headquarters, in London, England.

“I am proud to say that this is just the beginning” he told share holders, visibly enchanted by the recent deal.

“I told the world 20 years ago that the ice caps would be melted by now. Although we are lucky this has not happened yet, we have been at the forefront of the Global Warming movement all along and today we are reaping what we have sown” he admitted with great pride.

“When a system of carbon taxes and carbon trade is setup all over the world in the near future, GIM will be at the epicenter of this green revolution, and believe me, this is just the beginning” he acknowledged prophetically.

The $12 billion dollar deal signed for a period of 10 years with the Haerwusu company could encourage other companies to join in the global carbon trade, a great thing for GIM share holders who’s profits are estimated by experts to sky rocket in the next years.

 

Source:  worldnewsdailyreport.com

Forty two thousand gun death in Brazil

Gun Deaths

Gun Deaths

A report on violence in Brazil says around 42,000 people were shot dead in 2012 – the highest figures for gun crime in 35 years. The study, by the UN and the government on the most recent available data, said almost all the deaths were murders.

More than half of those killed were young men under the age of 30 – two-thirds were described as black.

The Brazilian Congress is debating a controversial bill that would limit access to firearms.

Gun crime murders have been dropping in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo but rising in the north and northeast of the country.

The northern state of Alagoas is the most violent, with fifty-five gun deaths per hundred thousand inhabitants.

The report says a slow justice system and flawed police investigations as well as the widespread availability of firearms are to blame.

It says Brazil has become a society which tolerates guns to resolve “all sorts of disputes, in most cases for very banal and circumstantial reasons.”

A law to ban the carrying of guns in public and control illegal ownership came into effect in 2004.

It tightened rules on gun permits and create a national firearms register, with strict penalties for owning an unregistered gun.

 

Source:  BBC.com

American prison investing in alternatives to prison

Private Prison

Private Prison

Private prison companies are facing up to the realities of criminal justice reform — and how it could hurt their bottom lines if they don’t rethink their approach soon.

As more states and the federal government have enacted reforms to decrease the number of people in costly, overcrowded prisons, private prison companies have invested in the services that many new criminals will be pushed to instead of prison — probation, parole, and halfway houses.

GEO Group in 2011 acquired Behavioral Interventions, the world’s largest producer of monitoring equipment for people awaiting trial or serving out probation or parole sentences. It followed GEO’s purchase in 2009 of Just Care, a medical and mental health service provider which bolstered its GEO Care business that provides services to government agencies. “Our commitment is to be the world’s leader in the delivery of offender rehabilitation and community reentry programs, which is in line with the increased emphasis on rehabilitation around the world,” said GEO chairman and founder George Zoley during a recent earnings call.

For $36 million in 2013, CCA acquired Correctional Alternatives, a company that provides housing and rehabilitation services that include work furloughs, residential reentry programs, and home confinement. “We believe we’re going to continue to see governments seeking these types of services, and we’re well positioned to offer them,” says Steve Owen, CCA’s ‎senior director of public affairs.

The common refrain, as outlined by a 2011 report from the Justice Policy Initiative, is that private prison companies have hugely benefited from mass incarceration, since they’re paid for each prisoner they hold. And as they’ve benefited, they’ve used the proceeds to lobby lawmakers to not carry out prison reforms, so they can keep a steady flow of prisoners.

But this diversification shows that private prison companies aren’t necessarily all in for mass incarceration anymore. They’re developing other options, too — although they’ll still rely on a steady flow of people under correctional supervision like probation, parole, and home arrest to boost profits.

Still, private prisons are poised to get increased profits from at least one kind of incarceration in which they’ve heavily invested: the detainment of undocumented immigrants. A 2014 Government Accountability Office analysis found that the number of non-citizens in immigrant detention nearly doubled between fiscal years 2005 and 2013. And US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a mandate to keep 34,000 detention beds available — although Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has said this is a mandate to keep the beds, not necessarily fill them.

Source:  Vox.com

Test catches cancer 13 years before it hits

Test can predict cancer up to 13 years

Test can predict cancer up to 13 years

Scientists have developed a new test that can predict with 100 per cent accuracy whether someone will develop cancer up to 13 years in the future.

The discovery of tiny but significant changes taking place in the body more than a decade before cancer was diagnosed helped researchers at  Harvard and Northwestern University make the breakthrough.

Their research,  published in the online journal Ebiomedicine, found protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which prevent DNA damage were more worn down those who went on to develop cancer.

Known as telomeres, these were much shorter than they should have been and continued to get shorter until around four years before the cancer developed, when they suddenly stopped shrinking.

“Because we saw a strong relationship in the pattern across a wide variety of cancers, with the right testing these procedures could be used eventually to diagnose a wide variety of cancers,” said Dr Lifang Hou, the lead study author, told The Telegraph.

“Understanding this pattern of telomere growth may mean it can be a predictive biomarker for cancer….We found cancer has hijacked the telomere shortening in order to flourish in the body.”

Source:

independent.co.uk

Scientists discover key driver of reversing aging process

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, experts say.

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, experts say.

A study tying the aging process to the deterioration of tightly packaged bundles of cellular DNA could lead to methods of preventing and treating age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, experts say. In the study, scientists at the Salk Institute and the Chinese Academy of Science found that the genetic mutations underlying Werner syndrome, a disorder that leads to premature aging and death, resulted in the deterioration of bundles of DNA known as heterochromatin.

The discovery, made possible through a combination of cutting-edge stem cell and gene-editing technologies, could lead to ways of countering age-related physiological declines by preventing or reversing damage to heterochromatin.

“Our findings show that the gene mutation that causes Werner syndrome results in the disorganization of heterochromatin, and that this disruption of normal DNA packaging is a key driver of aging,” says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a senior author on the paper. “This has implications beyond Werner syndrome, as it identifies a central mechanism of aging–heterochromatin disorganization–which has been shown to be reversible.”

Werner syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes people to age more rapidly than normal. It affects around one in every 200,000 people in the United States. People with the disorder suffer age-related diseases early in life, including cataracts, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, osteoporosis and cancer, and most die in their late 40s or early 50s.

The disease is caused by a mutation to the Werner syndrome RecQ helicase-like gene, known as the WRN gene for short, which generates the WRN protein. Previous studies showed that the normal form of the protein is an enzyme that maintains the structure and integrity of a person’s DNA. When the protein is mutated in Werner syndrome it disrupts the replication and repair of DNA and the expression of genes, which was thought to cause premature aging. However, it was unclear exactly how the mutated WRN protein disrupted these critical cellular processes.

In their study, the Salk scientists sought to determine precisely how the mutated WRN protein causes so much cellular mayhem. To do this, they created a cellular model of Werner syndrome by using a cutting-edge gene-editing technology to delete WRN gene in human stem cells. This stem cell model of the disease gave the scientists the unprecedented ability to study rapidly aging cells in the laboratory. The resulting cells mimicked the genetic mutation seen in actual Werner syndrome patients, so the cells began to age more rapidly than normal. On closer examination, the scientists found that the deletion of the WRN gene also led to disruptions to the structure of heterochromatin, the tightly packed DNA found in a cell’s nucleus.

This bundling of DNA acts as a switchboard for controlling genes’ activity and directs a cell’s complex molecular machinery. On the outside of the heterochromatin bundles are chemical markers, known as epigenetic tags, which control the structure of the heterochromatin. For instance, alterations to these chemical switches can change the architecture of the heterochromatin, causing genes to be expressed or silenced.

The Salk researchers discovered that deletion of the WRN gene leads to heterochromatin disorganization, pointing to an important role for the WRN protein in maintaining heterochromatin. And, indeed, in further experiments, they showed that the protein interacts directly with molecular structures known to stabilize heterochromatin–revealing a kind of smoking gun that, for the first time, directly links mutated WRN protein to heterochromatin destabilization.

“Our study connects the dots between Werner syndrome and heterochromatin disorganization, outlining a molecular mechanism by which a genetic mutation leads to a general disruption of cellular processes by disrupting epigenetic regulation,” says Izpisua Belmonte. “More broadly, it suggests that accumulated alterations in the structure of heterochromatin may be a major underlying cause of cellular aging. This begs the question of whether we can reverse these alterations–like remodeling an old house or car–to prevent, or even reverse, age-related declines and diseases.”

Izpisua Belmonte added that more extensive studies will be needed to fully understand the role of heterochromatin disorganization in aging, including how it interacts with other cellular processes implicated in aging, such as shortening of the end of chromosomes, known as telomeres. In addition, the Izpisua Belmonte team is developing epigenetic editing technologies to reverse epigenetic alterations with a role in human aging and disease.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

The Next GooglePlex

googleplex

googleplex

“The next Googleplex goes way beyond free snacks and massages; it’s a future-proof microclimate,” writes Brad Stone for Bloomberg:

The most ambitious project unveiled by Google this year isn’t a smartphone, website, or autonomous, suborbital balloon from the Google X lab. You can’t hold it, or download it, or share it instantly with friends. In fact, the first part of it probably won’t exist for at least three years. But you can read all about it in hundreds of pages of soaring descriptions and conceptual drawings, which the company submitted in February to the local planning office of Mountain View, Calif.

The vision outlined in these documents, an application for a major expansion of the Googleplex, its campus, is mind-boggling. The proposed design, developed by the European architectural firms of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, does away with doors. It abandons thousands of years of conventional thinking about walls. And stairs. And roofs. Google and its imaginative co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, essentially want to take 60 acres of land adjacent to the headquarters near the San Francisco Bay, in an area called North Bayshore, and turn it into a titanic human terrarium.

The proposal’s most distinctive feature is an artificial sky: four enormous glass canopies, each stretched over a series of steel pillars of different heights. The glass skin is uneven, angling up and down like a jagged, see-through mountain. The canopies will allow the company to regulate its air and climate. Underneath, giant floor plates slope gently upward, providing generous space for open-air offices and doubling as ramps so the 10,000 employees who will work there can get from one floor to the next without the use of stairs. For additional office and meeting space, modular rooms can be added, stacked, and removed as needed. To accomplish this, Google says it will invent a kind of portable crane-robot, which it calls crabots, that will reconfigure these boxes and roam the premises like the droids in Star Wars

Source:  Disinfo.com

Wal-Mart’s water scam: Making $600 on $1 it spends in California

Walmart Scam

Walmart Scam

According to a report from Sacramento CBS affiliate, Walmart has been bottling its water from a Sacramento water district during California’s historically devastating drought– and it’s making a grotesquely large profit off of it.

CBS 13′s Adrienne Moore reports:

Sacramento sells water to a bottler, DS Services of America, at 99 cents for every 748 gallons—the same rate as other commercial and residential customers. That water is then bottled and sold at Walmart for 88 cents per gallon, meaning that $1 of water from Sacramento turns into $658.24 for Walmart and DS Services.

For comparison, the city of Sacramento says the average family uses 417 gallons of water a day.

The news comes shortly after California Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating a one-quarter reduction in urban water use state-wide.

Starbucks recently was criticized for bottling its Ethos water in drought-stricken California — so it stopped. Walmart would be wise to adopt the same policy.

 “It’s certainly leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth when you can’t fill up a swimming pool, if you’re building a new home in West Sacramento; you can’t water your lawn if you’re living in this region,” said public relations expert Doug Elmets. “And to find out they’re making a huge profit off of this, it’s just not right.”

A spokesperson from Walmart said the company is “tracking [the drought] closely.”

“Our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California.”

Source:  salon.com

Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium is now useless

Brazil's $900 million World Cup stadium

Brazil’s $900 million World Cup stadium

Brazil spent about $3 billion building 12 new or heavily refurbished stadiums for last year’s World Cup. Officials promised these taxpayer-funded venues would continue to generate revenue for years, hosting concerts, pro soccer games, and other events.

But as Lourdes Garcia-Navarro at NPR reports, most stadiums are failing to generate much revenue at all. The most expensive one, in Brasilia, is most regularly used as a site for a municipal bus parking lot.

One big problem is that several of the stadiums — including Brasilia’s 72,000-seat, $900 million venue — were built in cities where there are only minor league pro teams that don’t draw large crowds. This was done so World Cup games could be spread across the entire country, instead of just the southeast, where most of the top pro teams play. It’s as if we built gleaming new stadiums in Montana and Alaska for hosting a World Cup in the US.

In Brazil, this plan has left some pretty useless, expensive facilities scattered across the country, because these minor local teams don’t sell enough tickets to make playing in the fancy (and expensive-to-maintain) stadiums worthwhile. The rainforest city of Manaus, for instance, is home to a $600 million stadium that was used for exactly four World Cup games. The pro team there currently plays in much smaller training centers, because it’d lose money if it tried to rent out the big stadium.

Many cities have been selling the stadiums to private companies that try to squeeze a bit of revenue out of them, but it’s not easy. In Natal, the NPR story reports, a company bought the stadium, but has made little money renting it out for children’s birthday parties and weddings, and the facility is now for sale once again.

What makes all this even more infuriating is that in many of these cities, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from neighborhoods that were torn down to make way for these stadiums. And even though the World Cup was partly billed as a way to upgrade Brazil’s overall infrastructure, several of the big projects — such as light-rail systems in São Paulo, Cuiaba, and Fortaleza — still aren’t close to being finished.

Of course, the most insane part about all this is that for Brazil, the World Cup was just a prelude to an even bigger waste of public money on sports: the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Though a stadium renovated for the World Cup will be reused for the games, the country will still spend a projected $13.2 billion on other facilities and infrastructure, a number that’s likely to continue climbing as the games approach.

There are economists who study the potential economic impact of these events on the cities that host them, and their findings are unequivocal: they don’t pay. As Victor Matheson, an economist at College of the Holy Cross, told my colleague Brad Plumer, “My basic takeaway for any city considering a bid for the Olympics is to run away like crazy.”

 

Source:   Vox.com

Christian Religion is Dying

Religion Superstition

Religion Superstition

The number of Americans who identify as Christian has fallen nearly eight percentage points in only seven years, according to a new survey.

Pew Research Center found that 71% of Americans identified as Christian in 2014 – down from 78% in 2007.

In the same period, Americans identifying as having no religion grew from 16% to 23%.

Fifty-six million Americans do not observe any religion, the second largest community after Evangelicals.

The United States still remains home to more Christians than any other nation, with roughly seven-in-ten continuing to identify with some branch of Christianity.

In 2007 and then again in 2014, Pew conducted the “Religious Landscape Study”, interviewing 35,000 people each time.

Pew researchers say the losses they discovered were driven mainly by a decrease among liberal Protestants and Catholics and occurred in all regions of the US and among all ages and demographics.

About 5 million fewer Americans now identify as Christian compared to when the study was conducted in 2007.

In the South, those not-affiliated with religion – or as the researchers call them, “nones” – rose to 19% of the population, while in the Northeast they climbed to 25%.

In the West “nones” are a larger group than any religion, making up 28% of the public.

Greg Smith, Pew’s associate research director, said the findings “point to substantive changes” among the religiously unaffiliated, not just a shift in how people describe themselves.

Non-religious Americans have become increasingly organised since 2007, forming political groups designed to keep religion out of public life.

Kelly Damerow with the Secular Coalition for America tells BBC News that the Pew findings “lend credence to the growth we’ve witnessed within our community and that we have the potential to hold a lot of political clout”.

 

Source:   BBC.com

China’s Drone War

China drone war

China drone war

China’s military plans to produce nearly 42,000 land-based and sea-based unmanned weapons and sensor platforms as part of its continuing, large-scale military buildup, the Pentagon’s annual report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) disclosed Friday.

China currently operates several armed and unarmed drone aircraft and is developing long-range range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both intelligence gathering and bombing attacks.

“The acquisition and development of longer-range UAVs will increase China’s ability to conduct long-range reconnaissance and strike operations,” the report said.

China’s ability to use drones is increasing and the report said China “plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and sea-based unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.”

Four UAVs under development include the Xianglong, Yilong, Sky Saber, and Lijian, with the latter three drones configured to fire precision-strike weapons.

“The Lijian, which first flew on Nov. 21, 2013, is China’s first stealthy flying wing UAV,” the report said.

The drone buildup is part of what the Pentagon identified as a decades-long military buildup that last year produced new multi-warhead missiles and a large number of submarines and ships.

Additionally, the Pentagon for the first time confirmed China’s development of an ultra-high speed maneuvering strike vehicle as part of its growing strategic nuclear arsenal.

“China is working on a range of technologies to attempt to counter U.S. and other countries’ ballistic missile defense systems, including maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRV), [multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles], decoys, chaff, jamming, and thermal shielding,” the report, made public Friday, states.

“The United States and China acknowledge that the Chinese tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in 2014,” the report noted.

It was the first time the Pentagon confirmed the existence of what is known as the Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle, a strike weapon that travels at the edge of space at nearly 10 times the speed of sound.

 

Source:  http://freebeacon.com

Coffee Antioxidant 500 times greater than vitamin C

coffee that mimics effects of morphine

coffee that mimics effects of morphine

The coffee industry plays a major role in the global economy. It also has a significant impact on the environment, producing more than 2 billion tonnes of coffee by-products annually. Coffee silverskin (the epidermis of the coffee bean) is usually removed during processing, after the beans have been dried, while the coffee grounds are normally directly discarded.

It has traditionally been assumed that these by-products ─ coffee grounds and coffee silverskin, have few practical uses and applications. Spent coffee grounds are sometimes employed as homemade skin exfoliants or as abrasive cleaning products. They are also known to make great composting agents for fertilizing certain plants. But apart from these limited applications, coffee by-products are by and large deemed to be virtually useless. As such, practically all of this highly contaminating ‘coffee waste’ ends up in landfills across the globe and has a considerable knock-on effect on the environment.

However, a UGR research team led by José Ángel Rufíán Henares set out to determine the extent to which these by-products could be recycled for nutritional purposes, thereby reducing the amount of waste being generated, as well as benefitting coffee producers, recycling companies, the health sector, and consumers.

In an article published in the academic journal Food Science and Technology, the researchers demonstrate the powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of the coffee grounds and silverskin, which are highly rich in fibre and phenols. Indeed, their findings indicate that the antioxidant effects of these coffee grounds are 500 times greater than those found in vitamin C and could be employed to create functional foods with significant health benefits.

Moreover, Professor Rufián Henares points out: “They also contain high levels of melanoidins, which are produced during the roasting process and give coffee its brown colour. The biological properties of these melanoidins could be harnessed for a range of practical applications, such as preventing harmful pathogens from growing in food products.” However, he also adds: “If we are to harness the beneficial prebiotic effects of the coffee by-products, first of all we need to remove the melanoidins, since they interfere with such beneficial prebiotic properties.”

The researchers conclude that processed coffee by-products could potentially be recycled as sources of new food ingredients. This would also greatly diminish the environmental impact of discarded coffee by-products.

The Ministry of Economics and Finance has recently allocated a new research project to the team under the ‘State R&D programme’, in order to enable them to conduct further studies in the area and re-assess the potential value of coffee by-products.

 

Source:  sciencedaily.com

Doctor who discovered Cancer blames lack of Oxygen

The Man Who Discovered Cancer

The Man Who Discovered Cancer

Dr. Otto H. Warburg won a Nobel Prize for discovering the cause of cancer. There is one aspect of our bodies that is the key to preventing cancer: pH levels.

What Dr. Warburg figured out is that when there is a lack of oxygen, cancer cells develop. As Dr. Warburg said, “All normal cells have an absolute requirement for oxygen, but cancerous cells can live without oxygen – a rule without exception. Deprive a cell of 35% of it’s oxygen for 48 hours and it may become cancerous.” Cancer cells therefore cannot live in a highly oxygenated state, like the one that develops when your body’s pH levels are alkaline, and not acidic.

Most people’s diets promote the creation of too much acid, which throws our body’s natural pH levels from a slightly alkaline nature to an acidic nature. Maintaining an alkaline pH level can prevent health conditions like cancer, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and acid reflux. Eating processed foods like refined sugars, refined grains, GMOs, and other unnatural foods can lead to a pH level that supports the development of these conditions, and leads to overall bad health. In fact, most health conditions that are common today stem from a pH level that is too acidic, including parasites, bacteria, and viruses are all attributed to an acidic pH level.

There is a natural remedy that you can use at home that is simple, and readily available. All you need is 1/3 tablespoon of baking soda, and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Mix the ingredients into 8ounces of cold water, and stir well. The baking soda will react with the lemon juice or ACV and begin to fizz. Drink the mixture all at once. The combination will naturally reduce your pH levels in your body and prevent the conditions associated with an acidic pH level. Maintaining a healthy pH level will do wonders for your health, and you will notice the difference after only a few days of the treatment.

 

Source:  buynongmoseeds.com

Swiss Chemical Company Rejects Monsanto’s

v

Monsanto, in Bid for Syngenta, Reaches for a Business It Left Behind

Over the last two decades Monsanto has cast off its century-long history as a chemical company and refashioned itself as an agricultural life sciences company, led by its genetically engineered seeds.

But with its $45 billion bid to acquire the agricultural chemical giant Syngenta — a bid Syngenta rejected on Friday as inadequate — Monsanto appears to be trying to get back into a business it largely abandoned. That is a possible acknowledgment, some analysts say, that the biotech seeds might not be the engine to carry the company forward much longer.

“If you go back 10 years, they put all their marbles on biotechnology and they’ve done fantastically well there,” said William R. Young, managing director of ChemSpeak, a consulting firm following the chemical industry. “But going forward, maybe the growth is limited,” he said. Buying Syngenta “allows for some diversification in product line.”

Syngenta both announced and rejected Monsanto’s unsolicited bid on Friday, saying the offer undervalued Syngenta’s prospects and underestimated “the significant execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in many countries.”

Monsanto offered to pay 449 Swiss francs, or about $490, for each share of Syngenta; 45 percent of the payment would be in cash. The offer represented a 35 percent premium to Syngenta’s closing price on Thursday.Monsanto, in its own statement, said it believed combining the two companies would create “an integrated global leader in agriculture with comprehensive and complementary product portfolios.” It said it was confident in its ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals.

The deal would create an agricultural behemoth, combining Monsanto, the world leader in seeds and genetically engineered traits (like herbicide resistance), with Syngenta, the largest producer of agricultural chemicals.

The two companies are in some sense mirror images of each other. They are similar in size, each with over $15 billion in annual revenue. But Monsanto gets most of its revenue from seeds and biotech traits; the rest comes mainly from the herbicide Roundup. Syngenta gets most of its revenue from chemicals, like weed control products, and less from seeds.

So far, investors have seen more potential in the seed business. Monsanto has had a market valuation more than 60 percent greater than Syngenta’s.

Source:  nytimes

Success Regenerating Spinal Cords

Regenerated nerves after spinal cord injury

Regenerated nerves after spinal cord injuryHead Transplant

Working with paralysed rats, scientists in the US have shown how they might be able to regenerate spines after injury and help paralysed people to one day walk again.

The team, from Tufts University School of Medicine, crushed the spines of lab rats at the dorsal root, which is the main bundle of nerve fibres that branches off the spine, and carries signals of sensation from the body to the brain. They then treated the spines with a protein called artemin, known to help neurons grow and function. After the two-week treatment, the nerve fibres regenerated and successfully passed signals over a distance of 4 centimetres.

“This is a significantly longer length of Central Nervous System regeneration than has been reported earlier,” one of the team, physiologist Eric Frank, “But still a long way to go!”

Reporting in a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team says the artemin treatment was successful in regenerating both large and small sensory neurons.

And while that 4-centimetre distance is important, Frank says that’s not all that counts: “The regenerating nerve fibres are growing back to the right places in the spinal cord and brainstem.” He adds that this is pretty impressive, given that their subjects were several months old, which isn’t young in rat years.

The results suggest that the chemical guidance cues that allow the nerve fibres to get to their correct target areas persist in the adult spinal cord, says Frank. This means that while artemin may not help regenerate all nerve fibres -some aren’t receptive to it – it’s likely to help with other neurones to. “If it becomes possible to get these other types of nerve fibres to regenerate for long distances as well, there is a reasonable chance that they can also grow back to their original target areas,” says Frank.

The challenge is getting regenerated nerve fibres to reconnect, so they can do what there are supposed to do, which just might be possible, considering these results. If scientists could achieve that, it would be a big leap forward in improving the lives of paralysed people.

Source:  sciencealert.com

Captain Kidd’s treasure found

captin kidd

captin kidd

Underwater explorers in Madagascar say they have discovered treasure belonging to the notorious 17th-Century Scottish pirate William Kidd.

A 50kg (7st 9lb) silver bar was brought to shore on Thursday on the island of Sainte Marie, from what is thought to be the wreck of the Adventure Galley.

The bar was presented to Madagascar’s president at a special ceremony.

US explorer Barry Clifford says he believes there are many more such bars still in the wreck.

Capt Kidd was first appointed by the British authorities to tackle piracy but later became a ruthless criminal and was executed in 1701.

‘Scepticism’

“Captain’s Kidd’s treasure is the stuff of legends. People have been looking for it for 300 years. To literally have it hit me on the head – I thought what the heck just happened to me. I really didn’t expect this,” Mr Clifford said.

“There’s more down there. I know the whole bottom of the cavity where I found the silver bar is filled with metal. It’s too murky down there to see what metal, but my metal detector tells me there is metal on all sides.”

The BBC’s Martin Vogl tweets that there is much excitement in Madagascar about the discovery and Mr Clifford’s team has no doubt that the discovery is genuine.

The team believes the bar, marked with what appears to be a letter S and a letter T, has its origins in 17th-Century Bolivia.

It believes the ship it has found was built in England, however there is bound to be scepticism and calls for more proof that the bar was linked to Capt Kidd, our reporter says.

One option would be to take samples of wood from the ship to analyse, he says.

The location of the ship, thought to have sunk in 1698, has been known about for many years but the silver bar was only discovered earlier this week.

Mr Clifford said that while diving in the wreck, his metal detector picked up signals but it was too muddy for him to see anything.

UK ambassador to Madagascar Timothy Smart, who attended the ceremony, said he hoped that Mr Clifford’s latest discovery would raise Madagascar’s profile as a tourist destination.

The plan is to exhibit the bars in a museum.

 

Source:  BBC.com

 

Most likely culprit for schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Schizophrenia is eight different diseases

Researchers have found a gene that links the three previously unrelated biological changes most commonly blamed for causing schizophrenia, making it one of the most promising culprits for the disease so far, and a good target for future treatments.

Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder that usually appears in late adolescence, and changes the way people think, act and perceive reality. For decades, scientists have struggled to work out what causes the hallucinations and strange behaviour associated with the disorder, and keep coming back to three neuronal changes that seem to be to blame. The only problem is that the changes seemed to be unrelated, and, in some cases, even contradictory.

But now, researchers from Duke University in the US have managed to find a link between these three hypotheses, and have shown that all three changes can be brought about by a malfunction in the same gene.

Publishing in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers explain that their results could lead to new treatment strategies that target the underlying cause of the disease, rather than the visible changes or phenotypes, associated with schizophrenia.

“The most exciting part was when all the pieces of the puzzle fell together,” lead researcher, Scott Soderling, a professor of cell biology and neurobiology from Duke University, said in a press release. “When [co-researcher Il Hwan Kim] and I finally realised that these three outwardly unrelated phenotypes … were actually functionally interrelated with each other, that was really surprising and also very exciting for us.”

So what are these three phenotypes? The first is spine pruning, which means that the neurons of people with schizophrenia have fewer spines – the long part of a brain cell that passes signals back and forth. Some people with schizophrenia also have hyperactive neurons, and excess dopamine production.

But these changes just didn’t seem to make sense together. After all, how could neurons be overactive if they didn’t have enough dendritic spines to pass messages back and forth, and why would either of these symptoms trigger excess dopamine production? Now, researchers believe that a mutation in the gene Arp2/3 may be to blame.

Soderling and his team originally spotted the gene during previous studies, which identified thousands of genes linked to schizophrenia. But Arp2/3 was of particular interest, as it controls the formation of synapses, or links, between neurons.

To test its effect, the researchers engineered mice that didn’t have the Arp2/3 gene and, surprisingly, found that they behaved very similarly to humans with schizophrenia. The mice also got worse with age and improved slightly with antipsychotic medications, both traits of human schizophrenia.

But most fascinating was the fact that the mice also had all three of the unrelated brain changes – fewer dendritic spines, overactive neurons and excess dopamine production.

They also took things one step further and showed, for the first time, that this lack of dendritic spines can actually trigger hyperactive neurons. This is because the mice’s brain cells rewire themselves to bypass these spines, effectively skipping the ‘filter’ that usually keeps their activity in check.

They also showed that these overactive neurons at the front of the brain were then stimulating other neurons to dump out dopamine.

“Overall, the combined results reveal how three separate pathologies, at the tiniest molecular level, can converge and fuel a psychiatric disorder,” Susan Scutti explains over at Medical Daily.

The group will now study the role Arp2/3 plays in different parts of the brain, and how its linked to other schizophrenia symptoms. The research is still in its very early stages, and obviously has only been demonstrated in mice and not humans. But it’s a promising first step towards understanding this mysterious disease.

“We’re very excited about using this type of approach, where we can genetically rescue Arp2/3 function in different brain regions and normalise behaviours,” Soderling said. “We’d like to use that as a basis for mapping out the neural circuitry and defects that also drive these other behaviours.”

Source:  sciencealert.com

Enzyme that change a person’s blood type

Blood Type

Blood Type

Scientists have discovered that a particular type of enzyme can cut away antigens in blood types A and B, to make them more like Type O – considered the ‘universal’ blood type, because it’s the only type that can be donated to anyone without the risk of provoking a life-threatening immune response.

The team, from the University of British Columbia of Canada, worked with a family of enzymes called 98 glycoside hydrolase, extracted from a strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Over many generations, they were able to engineer a super high-powered enzyme strain that can very effectively snip away blood antigens where previous generations of the enzyme struggled. “A major limitation has always been the efficiency of the enzymes,” one of the team, Stephen Withers, said in a press release. “Impractically large amounts of enzyme were needed.”

Getting the right type of blood when you need it is crucial, and it has to do with the different types of residue that can accumulate the surface of red blood cells. Both blood types A and B have this residue – A has an N-acetylgalactosamine residue, and B has a galactose residue – and Type AB has a mixture of both. Only Blood Type O is free from this residue, which means it can be received by any patient, no matter what type they’re carrying.

Withers and his team managed to create their ‘mutant’ enzyme strain using a technology called directed evolution, which allows them to insert many different types of mutations into the gene that codes for it, and by progressively selecting strains that are the best at snipping away the blood antigens, were able to create an enzyme that’s 170 times more effective at it than its parent strain. They published their results in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

“The concept is not new, but until now we needed so much of the enzyme to make it work that it was impractical,” said Withers. “Now I’m confident that we can take this a whole lot further.”

While the current enzyme strain is not yet capable of removing 100 percent of the antigens from Blood Types A and B, which is where it needs to get if the researchers want to make any real use of it, the team is confident that they’ll get it there so they can try it out in clinical trials. Even the smallest amount of antigen in donated blood can set off a dangerous immune response in the recipient.

“Given our success so far, we are optimistic that this will work,” says Withers.

Source:  sciencealert.com

Humans Played Role in Neanderthal Extinction

neanderthal-human-skulls

neanderthal-human-skulls

Ancient teeth from Italy suggest that the arrival of modern humans in Western Europe coincided with the demise of Neanderthals there, researchers said.

This finding suggests that modern humans may have caused Neanderthals to go extinct, either directly or indirectly, scientists added.

Neanderthals are the closest extinct relatives of modern humans. Recent findings suggest that Neanderthals, who once lived in Europe and Asia, were closely enough related to humans to interbreed with the ancestors of modern humans — about 1.5 to 2.1 percent of the DNA of anyone outside Africa is Neanderthal in origin. Recent findings suggest that Neanderthals disappeared from Europe between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago.

Scientists have hotly debated whether Neanderthals were driven into extinction because of modern humans. To solve this mystery, researchers have tried pinpointing when modern humans entered Western Europe. [Image Gallery: Our Closest Human Ancestor]

Modern human or Neanderthal?

The Protoaurignacians, who first appeared in southern Europe about 42,000 years ago, could shed light on the entrance of modern humans into the region. This culture was known for its miniature blades and for simple ornaments made of shells and bones.

Scientists had long viewed the Protoaurignacians as the precursors of the Aurignacians — modern humans named after the site of Aurignac in southern France who spread across Europe between about 35,000 and 45,000 years ago. Researchers had thought the Protoaurignacians reflected the westward spread of modern humans from the Near East — the part of Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and India that includes the Middle East.

However, the classification of the Protoaurignacians as modern human or Neanderthal has long been uncertain. Fossils recovered from Protoaurignacian sites were not conclusively identified as either.

Now scientists analyzing two 41,000-year-old teeth from two Protoaurignacian sites in Italy find that the fossils belonged to modern humans.

“We finally have proof for the argument that says that modern humans were there when the Neanderthals went extinct in Europe,” study lead author Stefano Benazzi, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Bologna in Ravenna, Italy.

A fossil tooth found at an Italian site called Grotta di Fumane (shown here) came from a modern human, scientists say.

The researchers investigated a lower incisor tooth from Riparo Bombrini, an excavation site in Italy, and found it had relatively thick enamel. Prior research suggested modern human teeth had thicker enamel than those of Neanderthals, perhaps because modern humans were healthier or developed more slowly. They also compared DNA from an upper incisor tooth found in another site in Italy — Grotta di Fumane — with that of 52 present-day modern humans, 10 ancient modern humans, a chimpanzee, 10 Neanderthals, two members of a recently discovered human lineage known as the Denisovans, and one member of an unknown kind of human lineage from Spain, and found that the Protoaurignacian DNA was modern human.

“This research really could not have been done without the collaboration of researchers in many different scientific research fields — paleoanthropologists, molecular anthropologists, physical anthropologists, paleontologists and physicists working on dating the fossils,” Benazzi said.

Killing off Neanderthals

Since the Protoaurignacians first appeared in Europe about 42,000 years ago and the Neanderthals disappeared from Europe between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago, these new findings suggest that Protoaurignacians “caused, directly or indirectly, the demise of Neanderthals,” Benazzi said.

These 3D models show an incisor tooth from two Italian sites, Riparo Bombrini (left) and Grotta di Fumane (right).
Credit: Daniele Panetta, CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology, Pisa, Italy

View full size image

It remains unclear just how modern humans might have driven Neanderthals into extinction, Benazzi cautioned. Modern humans might have competed with Neanderthals, or they might simply have assimilated Neanderthals into their populations.

Moreover, prior research suggests that Neanderthals in Europe might have been headed toward extinction before modern humans even arrived on the continent. Neanderthals apparently experienced a decline in genetic diversity about the time when modern humans began turning up in Europe.

“The only way we might have proof of how modern humans caused the decline of Neanderthals is if we ever find a modern human burying a knife into the head of a Neanderthal,” Benazzi joked.

The researchers now hope to find more Protoaurignacian human remains. “Hopefully, we can find DNA that may say something about whether these modern humans and Neanderthals interbred,” Benazzi said.

 

Source:   livescience.com

Finland submarine avoids US internet spying

Finland

Finland

Finland is aiming to capitalise on Germany’s privacy worries by setting itself up as a haven where online data will be safe from the prying eyes of foreign governments.

Cinia Group, a new state-owned telecoms company, is building a new submarine cable to link the Scandinavian country to German business and digital consumers.

It comes amid growing concern that the EU’s ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement, which allows personal and financial data to be exported to the US, does not protect privacy.

The route of the 685-mile cable has also been carefully planned to avoid waters where it would be more likely to be secretly wire tapped, in an effort to help build German confidence to use Finnish data centres.

The country is bidding to become the “Switzerland of the North”, where sensitive personal and financial data can be safely stored. Cinia has signed up its first customer for the new cable, the data centre provider Hetzner Online, which will pay €10m to use the link from early next year.

German privacy laws are particularly stringent due to its history of secret policing, and public concern about the internet was especially heightened there following the exposure of US spying by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Chris Watson, head of TMT at the City law firm CMS, which advised on the deal, said: “Russia and China keep control of data in government hands – and we saw in the US how personal data was not secure from the spooks. This cable is the fundamental aorta of an entirely secure commercial alternative for keeping data safe.”

Amazon’s data centre business has sought to address German privacy concerns by building a data centre near Frankfurt, guaranteeing that sensitive information will not leave the country. However other internet companies including Facebook have sought to save money by locating data centres in Scandinavia, where cooling for the thousands of server computers they contain is readily available from icy water.

Source:  telegraph.co.uk

Tinder users are married

tinder

tinder

When casually swiping through Tinder, do you ever look for a wedding ring? Maybe you should, as new data has found around one third of those looking for love on the app are married.

Men outnumber women on the dating app 6:4, and the majority of users (45 per cent) are aged between 25-34. Around 38 per cent are aged 16-24, while 1 per cent are between 55 and 64 years of age, research by GlobalWebIndex has found.

While over half (54 per cent) describe themselves as single, 30 per cent are married, and 12 per cent are in a relationship. The remaining 4 per cent define themselves as divorced / widowed or as ‘other’.

Unsurprisingly, almost four in five (76 per cent) described their living conditions as rural, while 17 per cent were suburban and 7 per cent rural.

Interestingly, a quarter of Tinder users said they’d paid for an online dating service in the last month, compared to 6 per cent of average internet users and 14 per cent of dating site users.

Tinder users are presented with an image of a person of the gender of their choice, and given the chance to swipe right for yes, and left for no. Only once a pair have liked each other are they given the chance to message each other.

It’s been downloaded over 50 million times since its launch in 2012, matching around 26 million prospective couples every 24 hours. More than 1.6 billion swipes have been made since launch.

Around 90 million people used a location-based dating app in January, while around 25 million dating app users are based in China alone.

Source:  telegraph.co.uk

Smartphone detects blood for parasites

Blood parasite smartphone1

Blood parasite smartphone

The CellScope system films a drop of blood and an app then automatically analyses any movement in the sample to detect the parasites.

The results, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed the device was successful in small trials in Cameroon.

Experts said it marked a fundamental advance in tropical diseases.

Previous efforts to eradicate two parasitic diseases – river blindness and elephantiasis – have been suspended because the treatment can become fatal in some people.

One treatment, the drug ivermectin, is risky in people with high levels of Loa loa worm – the one that can crawl across the surface of the eye – so people need to be screened first.

Automatic

The team in the most recent research, at the University of California, Berkeley, and the US National Institutes of Health, used a modified smartphone to automate the process.

A pindrop of blood was collected and loaded into a handheld box. The phone on top then kicked in.

“With one touch of the screen, the device moves the sample, captures video and automatically analyses the images,” said one of the researchers, Prof Daniel Fletcher.

Rather than attempt to identify the shape of the worm, the software in the phone looks for the movement.

Treat or not?

The software predicts the number of Loa loa parasites in the blood and tells the healthcare workers whether they are suitable for drug treatment.

It means very little training is required, while current screening procedures require someone to be skilled in analysing blood samples by eye.

Early trials in Cameroon of the new approach have been successful and there are now plans to test it on 40,000 people.

Prof Fletcher told the BBC News website: “I’m excited, it offers a new higher-tech approach to dealing with very low-tech problems.”

“There are drugs to treat many neglected tropical diseases, these are problems that should be solved, but there is not the technology to identify people who who need the right drugs.”

It is hoped the same idea could be adapted to test for other infections such as TB, malaria and soil-transmitted parasitic worms or helminths, which include roundworm.

‘Fundamental advance’

Prof Simon Brooker from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, commented: “I think it’s one of the most fundamental advances in neglected tropical diseases in a long time.”

“In the 21st Century we are using 20th Century technology to diagnose these infections, this brings us into the modern world.

IRA Leader shot Dead

IRA Leader JOCK

IRA Leader JOCK

A former senior IRA figure has been shot dead near Belfast city centre.

Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison, 47, was shot a number of times at Welsh Street in the Markets area at about 09:00 BST.

Police do not believe dissident republicans were behind the attack and they do not believe it was sectarian.

It is understood Mr Davison was involved in the fight in a Belfast bar in January 2005 that led to the death of Robert McCartney, one of Northern Ireland’s most high profile killings.

Mr Davison’s uncle Terence was later acquitted of Mr McCartney’s murder.

Det Ch Insp Justyn Galloway said: “This was a cold-blooded murder carried out in broad daylight in a residential area and it has no place in the new Northern Ireland.”

Appealing for information, he said: “We have detectives in the Markets area making house to house enquiries and seeking to identify witnesses.

“I would appeal to local people to co-operate with them and give them any information they have.”

The detective said Mr Davison was a grandfather and “a high-profile community worker who devoted much of his time to those living in the Markets”.

“In fact, Mr Davison was walking to a local community centre where he worked when he was shot,” he said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said: “This brutal act will be condemned by all sensible people – there can be no place today for such actions.

“I would urge anyone with any information to bring that forward to the PSNI.”

The murder of Mr Davison has also been condemned by politicians in the area.

Sinn Féin assembly member Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said there was shock that the man had been shot dead “in such a callous fashion in broad daylight while on his way to work”.

“The victim is from the area and well-known for his work in the community sector,” he said.

“Local people are shocked and angered by what has happened, and I would appeal to people to remain calm.”

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said: “This is a horrendous crime and those responsible have shown no regard for anyone that could have been caught in the middle of it during the school rush hour.

“People here want to move on from the violence of the past. This community will reject those who bring murder and mayhem to our streets.

“I would appeal to anyone with any information to bring it forward as soon as possible.”

Alliance councillor Paula Bradshaw said: “Guns have no place on our streets – those responsible for this vicious crime are a danger to our society and must be urgently apprehended by the police.

“Whoever carried out this murder must be taken off our streets and brought before the courts to face justice for their horrific crimes.”

DUP MLA Jonathan Bell said: “No right-thinking person wants to go back to the days when this sort of event was all too common, not only in Belfast but throughout our province, and those responsible have to be brought to justice and have to face a court of law.”

UUP representative Rodney McCune said: “The timing of the murder at nine o’clock in the morning – people are going to work, taking their children to school – will be a matter of some shock, naturally.

“Especially because it will send a message across the city that these type of serious incidents are still happening and we do have a strong criminal element in society.”

 

Source:  BBC.com

America approves Cuba ferry service

America Cuba Ferry

America Cuba Ferry

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday approved licenses for passenger ferry service between the United States and Cuba, a Treasury Department official told Reuters.

One of the licenses was issued to Baja Ferries, part of a major shipping group with passengers and cargo operations, including on Mexico’s west coast, according to a lawyer who handled the license application.

Ferry services between Cuba and the United States were cut off in the early 1960s, following the Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.

In December, the United States and Cuba announced plans to renew diplomatic relations after 54 years, and have since held high level talks.

“The ships are ready to go,” said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who represented Baja Ferries and specializes in Cuba embargo matters. “This is a further step in bringing Cuba and the United States closer together.”

The Treasury Department official from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which handles economic and trade sanctions, would not say how many licenses had been approved.

“I can confirm that OFAC has issued certain specific licenses for passenger ferry service, but we cannot provide additional details as to whom or how many,” said Hagar Chemali, a spokeswoman for the OFAC.

She noted that Cuba regulations have not changed and no general license was issued authorizing passenger ferry service to Cuba.

“Specific licenses may be issued on a case-by-case basis,” she added.

The ferry companies still need approval from the Cuban government before they can begin operations.

 

Source:  reuters.com

 

Three atoms thick Transistor

Three Atoms thick Transistor

Three Atoms thick Transistor

In what could be the development that keeps Moore’s law plugging along, scientists in the US have produced a transistor that’s just a few atoms thick, opening up the possibility of some ridiculously tiny electronics.

First proposed in 1965, Moore’s law predicts that the overall processing power of computers will double every two years, and while it’s still pretty much accepted as a rule, people have started to doubt its longevity. Surely there’s a limit to how many transistors we can pack into an integrated circuit? Well, if there is, it looks like we haven’t hit it yet, because a team from Cornell University in the US have achieved a pretty significant record with their new tiny transistor.

The transistor is made using two-dimensional semiconductors known as transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). When reduced to a single layer, these TMDs are just three atoms thick, made from members of a family of elements called transition metals. One of these, molybdenum disulfide, is a type of silvery, black metal that’s been touted for its superior electrical qualities over the past few years.

The team crystallised it down, and figured out how to peel ultra-thin sheets just a few atoms thick from the surface of the crystals. Amazingly, even at this thickness, the molybdenum disulfide film retained its electrical properties, which makes it a promising candidate for use in future electronics. “The electrical performance of our materials was comparable to that of reported results from single crystals of molybdenum disulfide, but instead of a tiny crystal, here we have a 4-inch (10-cm) wafer,” one of the team, Jiwoong Park, said in a press release.

To create this atoms-thick molybdenum disulfide film, the team used a technique called metal organic chemical vapour deposition (MOCVD), which involves starting with a powdered form of the material, converting that into a gas, and sprinkling single atoms onto a substrate, one layer at a time.

“The process starts with two commercially available precursor compounds – diethylsulfide and a metal hexacarbonyl compound – mixed on a silicon wafer and baked at 550 degrees Celsius for 26 hours in the presence of hydrogen gas,” explains Russell Brandom at The Verge. “The result was an array of 200 ultra-thin transistors with good electron mobility and only a few defects. Just two of them failed to conduct, leaving researchers with a 99 percent success rate.”

Publishing in Nature, the team says the next step is to figure out how to produce the film in a more consistent way, so the conductivity can be more accurately measured. But what they’ve achieved so far is a real step in the right direction.

“Lots of people are trying to grow single layers on this large scale, myself among them,” materials scientist Georg Duesberg from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, who was not involved in the research, told Elizabeth Gibney at Nature. “But it looks like these guys have really done it.”

Source:  sciencealert.com

Drone war is killing non-al-Qaeda leaders

Drones

Drones

Hypothetically, American drone bombings in Pakistan are supposed to be killing off al-Qaeda’s leadership. But in actuality, the strikes kill more people who aren’t in the terrorist group’s command structure.

Council on Foreign Relations fellow Micah Zenko dug up a 2011 assessment, from Pentagon official Michael Vickers, that there were “perhaps four important Qaeda leaders left in Pakistan, and 10 to 20 leaders over all in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.” Zenko then compared that number to an average of several estimates of people killed in drone strikes:

Since Vickers’ estimate that there were two dozen al-Qaeda leaders left in 2011, more than two-hundred U.S. drone strikes have killed upwards of 1,200 people — apparently non-al-Qaeda leaders.

Zenko’s comparison makes a very clear point: unless Vickers’s estimate in 2011 was a dramatic lowball, it’s just wrong to say that the drone campaign is narrowly tailored to killing top al-Qaeda officials. It’s killing many more people than that, including hundreds of civilians and, recently, an American and Italian hostage. And even if American drones campaign took out top al-Qaeda officials in the process, it’s genuinely unclear how much that would damage the group.

Source: Vox.com

Diesel made from carbon dioxide and water

Audi Fuel

Audi Fuel

German car manufacturer Audi has reportedly invented a carbon-neutral diesel fuel, made solely from water, carbon dioxide and renewable energy sources. And the crystal clear ‘e-diesel’ is already being used to power the Audi A8 owned by the country’s Federal Minister of Education and Research, Johanna Wanka.

The creation of the fuel is a huge step forward for sustainable transport, but the fact that it’s being backed by an automotive giant is even more exciting. Audi has now set up a pilot plant in Dresden, Germany, operated by clean tech company Sunfire, which will pump out 160 litres of the synthetic diesel every day in the coming months.

 Their base product, which they’re calling ‘blue crude’ is created using a three-step process. The first step involves harvesting renewable energy from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. They then use this energy to split water into oxygen and pure hydrogen, using a process known as reversible electrolysis.

This hydrogen is then mixed with carbon monoxide (CO), which is created from carbon dioxide (CO2) that’s been harvested from the atmosphere. The two react at high temperatures and under pressure, resulting in the production of the long-chain hydrocarbon compounds that make up the blue crude.

Once it’s been refined, the resulting e-diesel can be mixed in with our current diesel fuel, or used on its own to power cars in a more sustainable way.

 

Source:  sciencealert.com

Coconut oil reduce calories in rice 60 per cent

coconut-oil

coconut-oil

It sounds too good to be true but a simple change to the way rice is cooked could reduce its calorie content by 60 per cent.

Cooking rice with a teaspoon of coconut oil then refrigerating it for 12 hours more than halves the number of calories absorbed by the body, scientists have shown.

Scientists in Sri Lanka have discovered that cooking rice with a teaspoon of coconut oil then refrigerating it for 12 hours more than halves the number of calories absorbed by the body. The change remains even if it is reheated.

The researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka, say simply changing the way rice is cooked could help tackle the obesity epidemic.

“Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions,” says Dr Sudhair James, who is at the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka.

“We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem.”

By using a specific heating and cooking regimen, he says, the scientists concluded that “if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50-60 percent.”

One in four adults in England is obese and these figures are set to climb to 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, by 2050.

Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion in the next 36 years.

Rice contains around 240 calories per cup. The trick to bringing down the calorie content is by changing how the body digests it.

Usually the starchy carbohydrates in rice are broken down in the small intestine where they become glucose and are eventually stored as fat. However, cooking rice with a teaspoon of coconut oil, and then chilling for 12 hours appears to make half of the carbohydrate indigestible so it passes through the body without becoming fat.

“After your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, any leftover fuel gets converted into a polysaccharide carbohydrate called glycogen,” added Dr James.

“Your liver and muscles store glycogen for energy and quickly turn it back into glucose as needed. The issue is that the excess glucose that doesn’t get converted to glycogen ends up turning into fat, which can lead to excessive weight or obesity.”

Source:  telegraph.co.uk

Women lie for Profit Recognized as Medical Condition

Women liar

Women liar

Apparently unaware or dismissive of the consequences, there is an epidemic of sorts of people faking serious illness and advertising it on the internet. The Guardian reviews the case of wannabe cancer victim Belle Gibson and beyond:

How would you fake cancer? Shave your head? Pluck your eyebrows? Install a chemo port into your neck? These days you don’t need to. Belle Gibson’s story is a masterclass on faking cancer in the modern age. She fooled Apple, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Penguin. She fooled the hundreds of thousands who bought her app, read her blog and believed that her story could be their story.

Diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 20, Gibson had four months to live. She blogged her journey of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, treatments she shunned after eight weeks. Instead, she cut gluten and dairy and turned to oxygen therapy, craniosacral treatments and colonic irrigation. Against all odds, she made it. Her followers were inspired. If Belle could make it, maybe they could too.

Gibson launched The Whole Pantry app in 2013, filled with healthy living tips and recipes. She promised a third of proceeds from the 300,000 downloads ($3.79 per download) to charity. Elle named her “The Most Inspiring Woman You’ve Met This Year”, Cosmopolitan awarded her a “Fun, Fearless Female award” and Penguin published her cookbook. Apple pre-installed her app on Apple Watch and flew her to its Silicon Valley launch.

Then cancer re-emerged, and Gibson announced on Instagram: “It hurts me to find space tonight to let you all know with love and strength that I’ve been diagnosed with a third and forth [sic] cancer. One is secondary and the other is primary. I have cancer in my blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver. I am hurting.”

Last week, Gibson admitted it was all a lie. “No. None of it’s true. I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I’m not really there yet.”

She is now being investigated over the disappearance of $300,000 of promised charity donations. Months earlier, she spoke of her four-year-old son and the short time they had left together: “[Oliver] sees me on days that I can’t get out of bed. The only thing that breaks me is [the idea of] not being able to see Oli grow. He’s so incredible I just want to squish him all day forever. I don’t want those moments to end. I’m just going to miss him.”

The diagnosis of Münchausen syndrome has dominated analysis of Gibson’s case. It comes under the rubric of a wider term, factitious disorder: the intentional production (feigning) of disease in order to assume the role of a sick person…

 

Source:  disinfo.com