April 25, 2017
New medical research and technology: malaria vaccine, at home DNA tests, smart gut pills and more
Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi will begin piloting the injectable vaccine next year with young children. The vaccine, which has partial effectiveness, has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives if used with existing measures. The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, will be tested on children five to 17 months old to see whether protective effects shown in clinical trials can hold up under real-life conditions. The vaccine has taken decades of work and hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. Kenya, Ghana, and Malawi were chosen for the vaccine pilot because all have strong prevention and vaccination programs but continue to have high numbers of malaria cases, WHO said.
Scientists may be one step closer to discovering a cure for the debilitating lifelong condition multiple sclerosis (MS). Researchers have shown MS sufferers have high levels of a certain protein in their brain cells, which is virtually nonexistent in healthy people. This protein alters the cells' energy supply, triggering the disabling symptoms.The finding may enable scientists to create protein-targeting treatments for the incurable disease.
Scientists at the Universities of Exeter and Alberta analysed human brain tissue samples. They discovered high levels of a protein, known as Rab32, in MS patients. Rab32 is thought to cause the part of the brain cell that stores calcium to get too close to the cell's so-called energy supplier. This causes miscommunication within the cell, leading to brain cell damage. Although it is established that MS occurs due to nervous system damage, the cause of this was less clear.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the first home DNA tests Thursday that let people find out if they have a genetic risk for certain diseases. The FDA decision allows home DNA test company 23andMe to directly market its gene tests for 10 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, celiac disease and some rare blood diseases. “It is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle”
Why is it that some species seem to be particularly attentive parents while others leave their young to fend for themselves? For years, scientists have believed one of the major drivers is experience — an animal raised by an attentive parent, the argument goes, is likely to be an attentive parent itself.
A Harvard study is challenging that idea, and breaking new ground by uncovering links between the activity of specific genes and parenting differences across species...the study found not only that different genes may influence behaviors in males and females, but also that the gene for the hormone vasopressin appears to be closely tied to nest-building behavior in parenting mice.
Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have successfully completed phase one human trials of ingestible capsules that have the potential to revolutionize the prevention and diagnosis of gut disorders and diseases. The ingestible smart capsules (the size of a vitamin pill) journey through and measure gas levels in the gastrointestinal tract. The ingestible technology has demonstrated several thousand -times more sensitivity to gut gases than alternative techniques.
"Currently, one of the only methods for diagnosing gut disorders, such as mal-absorption of carbohydrates, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammable bowel disease, is to measure hydrogen concentrations in the breath," Kalantar-zadeh said. "However, breath tests are mired by a lack of sensitivity and specificity and are unable to provide the necessary gold standard for diagnosis."
Co-inventor Dr Kyle Berean said: "Ingestible sensors also offer a reliable diagnostic tool for colon cancer, meaning that people won't have to undergo colonoscopies in future." Smart pills are harmless and there is no risk of capsule retention," Berean said. An added advantage is that the capsules can be synched with smartphones, meaning results are easily accessible by users and doctors online.
Health Roundup - Food Edition
Is your diet good for your gut bacteria? Probably not as Adam Rutherford found when he had his tested
...the results? To be honest, pretty crap....“You are near bottom of the class. You’re in the lowest 10% of the population for diversity,”....How many of these beneficial bacteria did I have? Zero.
Diversity is one of the keys to a healthy gut, he explained, the idea being that different microbes perform different tasks, and a diverse workforce brings more skills to the table. We contain, on average, around one thousand different species of bacteria inside our guts. And in total: well, it’s difficult to count, but there are trillions. And they are almost all doing useful work for us.
Fermented foods are especially good for encouraging a healthy microbiome. “People know about live yoghurts, but the next stage up which has five times as many microbes is kefir, a Persian soured milk,” Spector told me. Other fermented foods like miso soup and kimchi (pickled cabbage) are a delicious feast for your internal lodgers.
If that all sounds a bit rich, then garlic, artichokes, bananas and whole grains are also good fibrous fodder.
Drinking beetroot juice before working out makes older adults’ brains perform more efficiently, a new study by Wake Forest University has found. “It resembles more of a brain of a younger adult than it does an older adult,"
Beets have a high level of dietary nitrate, which is converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide when consumed, Rejeski said. Nitric oxide increases blood flow in the body, and previous studies have shown it can improve exercise performance in people of varying ages. The study found that combining beetroot juice with exercise delivers more oxygen to the brain and strengthens the somatomotor cortex, which processes information from the muscles.
including CANCER due to the high levels of toxic metals found in gluten-free foods. Two major studies from the US reveal that those choosing gluten-free foods have twice as much arsenic in their urine as those who eat gluten. They also have 70 per cent more mercury in their blood and worryingly high levels of other metals such as lead and cadmium. Contamination comes mainly from rice flour, which is used as a substitute in products such as bread, spaghetti and cereals.
Why pasta and bread lower the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. How carbs are good for your brain.
With little fanfare, PB&Js have become a locker room staple for multiple teams in the league for over a decade. ...
One reason for the PB&Js popularity is that calorie-dense foods that are high in fats, sugars, starches, proteins, and salts trigger both dopamine and serotonin releases in humans. Any food that gives rushes of energy and happiness is an obvious boon to professional athletes, and those same foods also lower the body’s heart rate. In other words, PB&Js a unique combination of performance enhancer and comfort food.
From scrunchy crisp packets to heavy cutlery in restaurants and French music in the wine aisle, an Oxford psychologist reveals how you're manipulated every time you leave home
April 22, 2017
Celebrate environmental successes
Data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that, from 1995-2015, levels of every air pollutant it monitors saw steady declines, to the point where they are at or below national standards.
- Carbon monoxide levels plunged 72% over those years;
- nitrogen dioxide fell 45%;
- ozone, 24%;
- soot, 37%;
- sulfur dioxide, 73%; and
- lead declined 93%.
The share of children tested who showed high levels of lead in their blood dropped from close to 8% in 1995 to just 0.5% by 2015.
Water quality overall has improved, with once severely polluted lakes, rivers and streams clearing up.
Per-capita water use has declined 30% since 1975, notes the U.S. Geological Survey.
Vast improvements in farming technology mean farmers use less water and far fewer pesticides to grow more crops. Improvements in crop yields has let the country reclaim vast acres of forestland. In fact, forest acreage has climbed 6% since 1920, despite the tripling of the U.S. population, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Carbon dioxide emissions
In 2015, CO2 emissions were below where they stood in 1996. That's despite the fact that there are 52 million more people living in the U.S., and despite the fact that the nation's economic output was 61% bigger, after adjusting for inflation. CO2 emission have dropped 9% since 2005, according to EPA data.
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.” — New York Times editorial
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
“In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” — Life magazine
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt
April 20, 2017
Brynn, 3 years old, lost one eye due to cancer. Her mother Danielle contacted Jessica Sebastian, a doll-maker, to make a bunny doll with one eye. At her birthday party, Byrnn opened the special gift to find Sparkle and exclaimed, "She matches me!"
Mystic Lake, a Sony 2017 World Photography Winner
© Aleš Krivec, Slovenia, 2nd Place, National Awards, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards
In July 2011, Matt was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident on his way to work. He’d struck a vehicle that was parked illegally in a merging lane. A car accident of this nature would have been rough enough, but on a motorcycle, it was far worse...After nine days in the hospital, Matt’s doctors felt that he had been fighting long enough. They recommended he be taken off of life support, and estimated that his chances of survival were a slim 10 percent...Despite the doctors’ advice, Danielle decided she could never give up on her husband. She dedicated herself to his recovery and stayed by his side, day and night. The couple had only just begun their life together, and Danielle was unwilling to give up on the man she loved...Matt was allowed to go back home while he remained on life support. The outlook was bleak, though, as his condition showed no improvement for months. He was not walking or doing much of anything on his own. ..Danielle kept remembering the times they shared and she refused to give up..Amazingly, after a month at home, something changed in Matt—and he began to open his eyes. ..After only three months after regaining consciousness, Matt was walking again! He still needed the assistance of a walker, but could hold a conversation, crack jokes, sing, and enjoy the company of his loved ones. It was a truly phenomenal recovery in every conceivable way.
Dr. Sanduk Ruit, a Nepalese eye surgeon, met Dr. Geoff Tabin, an American eye surgeon and world-renowned mountain climber, and together they created the Himalayan Cataract Project. Their mission is to completely eradicate preventable and curable blindness in the developing world. Together they have restored eyesight to more than 150,000 patients in 24 countries. Doctors they've trained have restored sight to 4 million more.
The surgeons perfected a small-incision cataract surgery, which takes just minutes and costs about $20. Their focus was originally in the Himalayas, but they have been so successful they renamed their group CureBlindness.org. They've operated in two dozen countries, including North Korea and Ethiopia.
Dr. Tabin points out, they are doing more than restoring sight. "You know, once someone goes blind in a developing world, their life expectancy is about one-third that of age and health matched peers. And also in the developing world, it takes, often, a person out of the work force, or a child out of school, to care for the blind person. So when we restore sight to a blind person, we're freeing up their family and restoring their life."
UPS driver Paul Pereira had a special delivery for a family whose lives he likely saved when he saw their porch was on fire and rushed to douse the flames and get them to safety.
On Monday, Pereira was making his last delivery of the day in his UPS truck when he noted tall orange flames leaping around the white wraparound porch of Brian and Tracy Lavender and their children in Haverhill, Massachusetts reported WCVB. While bystanders on the street lingered videotaping the scene, the deliveryman leapt into action, asking someone to get a hose.....After putting out the flames, he banged on the door to see if anyone was inside the burning house. Lavender said his wife and children were inside the home but they didn't realize it was on fire and thought the smell of smoke was from a neighbor barbecuing.
Dr Dan Harrahill, 52, a father-of-four from St Paul, Nebraska, was told he would not survive long enough to attend his teenage son's high school graduation or his daughter's summer wedding on March 23. Within hours of hearing about his bleak prognosis, the town's residents arranged for both events to take place the next day. The family doctor died eight days later after watching both from his wheelchair in the chapel of the CHI Health St. Francis, the hospital where he was being treated.
Wounded vet with prosthetic leg carries woman over the finish line at the Boston Marathon
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville, a veteran, made hearts stop at the Boston Marathon after he was seen carrying a woman over the finish line as she held an American flag. In the summer of 2008, Granville and his unit were on patrol in Zormat, Afghanistan, when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Granville sustained injuries that required doctors to amputate over half of his left leg.
“Maybe around mile 10 I just started cramping and cramping and cramping,” said Granville. But he wouldn’t stop. “I said, looks like we’re walking, Andi.”
9 bruising hours later
“It was literally just a spur of the moment. Just about 50 feet from the finish line I just said to Andi, let me buddy carry you, and I picked her up and we crossed the finish line together, and that was that,” Earl Granville explained...
Despite the pain he was in, he broke into a run for the last few minutes of his marathon. “The energy of Boston, they say Boston Strong, man it’s that energy. It keeps you going. I had tears coming down my face. It was unbelievable,” Granville said, adding that “You just got to keep going, and that’s it.”
The many reasons why Millennials are shunning sex
Millennials Are Having Way Less Sex Than Their Parents
More young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s are choosing not to have sex, according to the results of a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior....recent research, and some from the CDC, all points in this direction: that young adults these days have fewer sexual partners and are starting to have sex later.
One explanation from the study author Jean Twenge
Millennials and the generation after them have grown up with a strong emphasis on safety. “That may potentially impact their sexual behavior, if they’ve gotten the message that you can get sick or even die from sex.”
They're on to something given the recent survey that found Close to Half of American Adults Infected With HPV
More than 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 59 are infected with genital human papillomavirus, according to the first survey to look at the prevalence of the virus in the adult population.
The report, published on Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, also found that certain high-risk strains of the virus infected 25.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women. These strains account for approximately 31,000 cases of cancer each year, other studies have shown. HPV is a ubiquitous virus, the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. About 40 strains of the virus are sexually transmitted, and virtually all sexually active individuals are exposed to it by their early 20s. Two vaccines are effective in preventing sexually transmitted HPV infection, and researchers said the new data lend urgency to the drive to have adolescents vaccinated.
In Why It’s Terrible News That Millennials Are Having Less Sex Lutheran pastor Hans Fiene writes
The two biggest factors seem to be the copious amounts of pornography that millennials, in particular millennial men, have grown up consuming, and the widespread use of socially isolating social networking. Pornography and social media are disincentivizing young people from pursuing real romantic relationships.
Pornography destroys the dance and ritual of marriage....The Internet prevents us from developing relationships.
For young men, porn convinces them that real women aren’t worth pursuing, while social media convinces them that not pursuing real women is perfectly normal. ...We begin the mating dance by following our animalistic urges. But, during the tango, we become human as we discover what it means to love and serve and belong to each other.
Noah Patterson, 18, likes to sit in front of several screens simultaneously: a work project, a YouTube clip, a video game. To shut it all down for a date or even a one-night stand seems like a waste. “For an average date, you’re going to spend at least two hours, and in that two hours I won’t be doing something I enjoy,” he said.
It’s not that he doesn’t like women. “I enjoy their companionship, but it’s not a significant part of life,” said Patterson, a Web designer in Bellingham, Wash. He has never had sex, although he likes porn. “I’d rather be watching YouTube videos and making money.” Sex, he said, is “not going to be something people ask you for on your résumé.”
Millennials have been called the most cautious generation — the first to grow up with car seats and bike helmets, the first not allowed to walk to school or go to the playground alone. The sense of caution sometimes manifests itself as a heightened awareness of emotional pitfalls. For example, some young people speak disparagingly of the messy emotional state love and lust can engender, referring to it as “catching feelings.”
Mitchell Aron in Laura Kipnis, Rape Culture, and the Disappearance of Sex sides with Northwestern professor Kipnis whose recent book Unwanted Advances examines the "rape culture" hysteria on college campuses and the extraordinary claim that 25% of women will be victims of sexual assault while in college.
A number of critics have dissected the flawed methodology on which this astronomical number is based, and noted that if true, it would mean that American college campuses are as, if not more dangerous than cultures that truly turn a blind eye to rape, such as Afghanistan or the Congo, where 48 women are raped every hour. I think most casual observers would have to be at least somewhat skeptical about the veracity of these claims; if actually true, would any parent with common-sense send their daughters to any institution in which she has a one-in-four chance of being raped?
...this same statistic used to prop up rape culture assertions is passed around as absolute truth in academia, without the slightest whiff of self-awareness and with complete credulity. The last time I was at an academic conference, the words “rape culture” were bandied about as if they were gospel and everyone in attendance accepted them as unquestioning truth. Either everyone believed or was too afraid to speak out.
As an NYC- based psychotherapist specializing in sexuality issues, I was not too surprised....I immediately thought of my clients, three young men who each separately had told me earlier in the year that they were terrified of casually hooking up due to fears of false rape accusations and confusion regarding policies such as affirmative consent.....
One client believed that the current climate on his campus was so toxic between the sexes, that he was already suspiciously viewed as a potential predator, and so he didn’t stand a chance to have a fair shot if things turned sour and a false accusation was leveled upon him. In other words, he felt disempowered, and fully responsible for anything that happened, including the choices of his partner, ranging from the amount of alcohol she decided to drink to whether she later decided to change her mind, even after the fact.....
Is it possible that all sexual risk is now completely shifted onto men?...Rape is a very serious accusation, one that ruins lives. By conflating regrets with sexual violence, and treating the punishment for regretful sex the same as the punishment for sexual violence, the net effect is a chilling of casual sexual interactions, especially amongst young people. And so, why is anyone surprised? And why doesn’t the media want to talk about it?....
Third-wave feminism, as evidenced by the relentless promotion of rape culture discourse, and turning a blind eye to its repercussions, isn’t really aiming for shared power, but rather a monopoly on power—sexual power, to be specific. And in the case of gender relations, sexual power allows for the dictation of all gender relations.
Roundup of medical research and technology:
Restoring the sense of touch. Solar-Powered Graphene Skin Enables Prosthetics to Feel
Several products are in development, including this haptic system at Case Western Reserve University, which would enable upper-limb prosthetic users to, say, pluck a grape off a stem or pull a potato chip out of a bag. It sounds simple, but such tasks are virtually impossible without a sense of touch and pressure.
Now, a team at the University of Glasgow that previously developed a flexible ‘electronic skin’ capable of making sensitive pressure measurements, has figured out how to power their skin with sunlight. That renewable energy could be used to power an array of sensors to add feeling to an artificial limb, the authors describe this month in Advanced Functional Materials.
Organs on chips technology The FDA just struck a deal that could replace animal testing with a tiny chip
On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration inked a collaborative research and development agreement with Emulate, a company that makes "organs-on-chips" technology. The hope is that instead of testing new drugs or supplements on animals, researchers can use Emulate's chips. Each chip is about the size of a human thumb, and contains tiny channels filled with living human cells that imitate the functions of different organs.
To start, the collaboration between the FDA and Emulate will focus on the company's Liver-Chips, which are meant to show how an animal's liver might react to a certain drug. The liver is where most drugs get broken down on their way out of the body.
A biotech company has created a chewing gum that detects cancer. Volatile organic compounds, unique to each type of cancer, are produced in the body. The gum traps the compounds, which will then be analyzed for different cancers. It could mean the end of blood tests, urine samples and biopsies. The gum absorbs what are called 'volatiles' in a person's saliva as they chew it - chemical compounds which are released by certain forms of cancer. After it has been chewed for 15 minutes, the product is then analyzed to determine whether or not it contains these specific chemicals. So far, scientists at the Alabama-based firm Volatile Analysis have developed different types of gum can detect pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer
There have been decades of failure in making a usable blood substitute but now, scientists from the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford have isolated and manipulated stem cells in labs to produce red blood cells.
Their goal is to make red cells for patients with complex blood types because it can be hard for them to find donors. In the future, lab-grown blood could revolutionize medical care by providing a far reaching solution to keeping people in need supplied with blood regardless of type or donor.
A man paralyzed from the waist down has moved his legs for the first time after doctors inserted an electrode sending an electrical current to the spinal cord. The electrode is connected to a computer-controlled device under the skin in the 28-year-old patient's abdomen. The electrical stimulation on his spinal cord, along with intense physical therapy, enabled him to move his legs, stand and make step-like motions for the first time in three years.....Mayo Clinic researchers, who tested the pioneering treatment, say these results offer further evidence that a combination of this technology and rehabilitation may help patients with spinal cord injuries regain control. 'We're really excited, because our results went beyond our expectations,' says neurosurgeon Kendall Lee, principal investigator and director of Mayo Clinic's Neural Engineering Laboratory.
A blind man who had his sight restored earlier this year in an incredible procedure using one of his own teeth said the best part was being able to see his wife again, "Gorgeous"
The amazing procedure saw a lens inserted into one of his teeth, which was extracted and then placed into his cheek so tissue would grow around it, enabling its own blood supply...After three months surgeons removed the tooth and inserted it into Mr Ings' old cornea. Skin was then removed from his mouth and placed over the new cornea to seal it. An opening was made to allow the new lens to work. It was the first time the surgery, called osteo-odonto kerato-prosthesis, has been performed in Australia. Mr Ing damaged his right eye in a childhood accident, and gradually lost vision in the other over the past 16 years because of the herpes simplex virus.
Mr Ji, whose age is unknown, lost his right ear in a traffic accident in 2015. He yearned to have the organ back because he no longer 'felt complete'. A plastic surgeon took cartilage from the patient's ribs to build an artificial ear that was modeled with the help of 3D-printing technology. It was then attached to his forearm under a piece of expanded skin. There it was allowed to grow for several months until experts deemed it ready for the transplant. Once fully grown, it was finally transplanted from his arm to his head.
April 14, 2017
The desert comes to life: Colorful wildflowers carpet the sands of California after extreme rainfall.
A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater.
The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water.
Britain's widest single stemmed rhododendron, measuring 30ft high and 40ft wide was planted 120 years ago by Victorian explorer Frederick Du Cane Godman.
bought for £30,000 on eBay was captured on camera.Nick Mead and Todd Chamberlain expected to find rusty guns when they investigated the diesel container of a tank they had just bought for £30,000 on ebay. Mr Mead, who runs Tanks-a-Lot in Helmdon, Northamptonshire, filmed their search and was left gobsmacked when instead of artillery his mechanic pulled out a stash of glistening bullion.
Oliver O’Reilly, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues, used high-speed cameras to discover...that poor knot takes a tremendous amount of force when your foot strikes the ground—sometimes as much as seven times the force of gravity which deforms the shape of the knot. At the same time, the flapping motion of the shoelaces as your foot swings adds additional forces. Those forces combined take your laces from tied to untied with ease.
The wind blowing through 35,000 bright purplish-blue grape hyacinths creates the illusion of a true river on the grounds of Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Like any river, the Bulb River is bordered by “eddies,” in this case made up of 1,500 bright yellow daffodils to compliment the lovely purple-blue flow. They are arranged at intervals on both sides of the river, which flows down a gentle hill and winds around the trees and bushes that populate the grounds.