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Designed as a therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction, the vaccine produces antibodies that stop heroin as well as other psychoactive compounds metabolized from heroin from reaching the brain to produce euphoric effects.

 

Previous efforts to create a clinically viable heroin vaccine have struggled because heroin is metabolized into multiple substances that each produce psychoactive effects. To overcome this problem the researchers, led by the study's principal investigator, Kim D. Janda, targeted not just the heroin itself, but also the chemical it quickly degrades into, 6-acetylmorphine (6AM), and morphine.

They linked a heroin-like hapten (a small molecule that elicits an immune response only when attached to a large carrier) to a generic carrier protein called keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and mixed it with Alum, a vaccine additive, to create a vaccine "cocktail." This mixture slowly degraded in the body, exposing the immune system to different psychoactive metabolites of heroin such as 6AM and morphine.

"Critically, the vaccine produces antibodies to a constantly changing drug target," said G. Neil Stowe, who is first author of the new study. "Such an approach has never before been engaged with drug-of-abuse vaccines."

Testing the vaccine on rats provided promising results. After several booster shots of the vaccine, heroin addicted rates were found to be less likely to self-administer heroin by pressing on a lever. Only three of the seven rats that received the vaccine self-administered heroin compared to all of the control rats, including those that had been given a vaccine that only targeted morphine.

The team also found that the heroin vaccine was highly specific, only producing an antibody response to heroin and 6AM and not to other opioid-related drugs tested, such as oxycodone, and drugs used to treat opioid dependence, such as methadone, naltrexone, and naloxone.

"The importance of this is that it indicates these vaccines could be used in combination with other heroin rehabilitation therapies," said Janda.

"In my 25 years of making drug-of-abuse vaccines, I haven't seen such a strong immune response as I have with what we term a dynamic anti-heroin vaccine," Janda added. "It is just extremely effective. The hope is that such a protective vaccine will be an effective therapeutic option for those trying to break their addiction to heroin."

The Scripps Research team has also recently begun collaborating with researchers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to see if it is feasible to develop a dual-purpose vaccine against HIV and for the treatment of heroin addiction in a single shot.

Source: GizMag

 

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have now taken a major step toward creating artificial intelligence -- not in a robot or a silicon chip, but in a test tube. The researchers are the first to have made an artificial neural network out of DNA, creating a circuit of interacting molecules that can recall memories based on incomplete patterns, just as a brain can.

The brain is incredible," says Lulu Qian, a Caltech senior postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and lead author on the paper describing this work, published in the July 21 issue of the journal Nature. "It allows us to recognize patterns of events, form memories, make decisions, and take actions. So we asked, instead of having a physically connected network of neural cells, can a soup of interacting molecules exhibit brainlike behavior?"

The answer, as the researchers show, is yes.

Consisting of four artificial neurons made from 112 distinct DNA strands, the researchers' neural network plays a mind-reading game in which it tries to identify a mystery scientist. The researchers "trained" the neural network to "know" four scientists, whose identities are each represented by a specific, unique set of answers to four yes-or-no questions, such as whether the scientist was British.

After thinking of a scientist, a human player provides an incomplete subset of answers that partially identifies the scientist. The player then conveys those clues to the network by dropping DNA strands that correspond to those answers into the test tube. Communicating via fluorescent signals, the network then identifies which scientist the player has in mind. Or, the network can "say" that it has insufficient information to pick just one of the scientists in its memory or that the clues contradict what it has remembered. The researchers played this game with the network using 27 different ways of answering the questions (out of 81 total combinations), and it responded correctly each time.

This DNA-based neural network demonstrates the ability to take an incomplete pattern and figure out what it might represent -- one of the brain's unique features. "What we are good at is recognizing things," says coauthor Jehoshua "Shuki" Bruck, the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Computation and Neural Systems and Electrical Engineering. "We can recognize things based on looking only at a subset of features." The DNA neural network does just that, albeit in a rudimentary way.

Biochemical systems with artificial intelligence -- or at least some basic, decision-making capabilities -- could have powerful applications in medicine, chemistry, and biological research, the researchers say. In the future, such systems could operate within cells, helping to answer fundamental biological questions or diagnose a disease. Biochemical processes that can intelligently respond to the presence of other molecules could allow engineers to produce increasingly complex chemicals or build new kinds of structures, molecule by molecule.

"Although brainlike behaviors within artificial biochemical systems have been hypothesized for decades," Qian says, "they appeared to be very difficult to realize."

The researchers based their biochemical neural network on a simple model of a neuron, called a linear threshold function. The model neuron receives input signals, multiplies each by a positive or negative weight, and only if the weighted sum of inputs surpass a certain threshold does the neuron fire, producing an output. This model is an oversimplification of real neurons, says paper coauthor Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neural systems, and bioengineering. Nevertheless, it's a good one. "It has been an extremely productive model for exploring how the collective behavior of many simple computational elements can lead to brainlike behaviors, such as associative recall and pattern completion."

To build the DNA neural network, the researchers used a process called a strand-displacement cascade. Previously, the team developed this technique to create the largest and most complex DNA circuit yet, one that computes square roots.

This method uses single and partially double-stranded DNA molecules. The latter are double helices, one strand of which sticks out like a tail. While floating around in a water solution, a single strand can run into a partially double-stranded one, and if their bases (the letters in the DNA sequence) are complementary, the single strand will grab the double strand's tail and bind, kicking off the other strand of the double helix. The single strand thus acts as an input while the displaced strand acts as an output, which can then interact with other molecules.

Because they can synthesize DNA strands with whatever base sequences they want, the researchers can program these interactions to behave like a network of model neurons. By tuning the concentrations of every DNA strand in the network, the researchers can teach it to remember the unique patterns of yes-or-no answers that belong to each of the four scientists. Unlike with some artificial neural networks that can directly learn from examples, the researchers used computer simulations to determine the molecular concentration levels needed to implant memories into the DNA neural network.

While this proof-of-principle experiment shows the promise of creating DNA-based networks that can -- in essence -- think, this neural network is limited, the researchers say. The human brain consists of 100 billion neurons, but creating a network with just 40 of these DNA-based neurons -- ten times larger than the demonstrated network -- would be a challenge, according to the researchers. Furthermore, the system is slow; the test-tube network took eight hours to identify each mystery scientist. The molecules are also used up -- unable to detach and pair up with a different strand of DNA -- after completing their task, so the game can only be played once. Perhaps in the future, a biochemical neural network could learn to improve its performance after many repeated games, or learn new memories from encountering new situations. Creating biochemical neural networks that operate inside the body -- or even just inside a cell on a Petri dish -- is also a long way away, since making this technology work in vivo poses an entirely different set of challenges.

Beyond technological challenges, engineering these systems could also provide indirect insight into the evolution of intelligence. "Before the brain evolved, single-celled organisms were also capable of processing information, making decisions, and acting in response to their environment," Qian explains. The source of such complex behaviors must have been a network of molecules floating around in the cell. "Perhaps the highly evolved brain and the limited form of intelligence seen in single cells share a similar computational model that's just programmed in different substrates."

"Our paper can be interpreted as a simple demonstration of neural-computing principles at the molecular and intracellular levels," Bruck adds. "One possible interpretation is that perhaps these principles are universal in biological information processing."

The research described in the Nature paper is supported by a National Science Foundation grant to the Molecular Programming Project and by the Human Frontiers Science Program.

Source: ScienceDaily

 

Whose Oil Can You Trust?

I'm here today because I am very disturbed about what is presently happening in North America. And I feel that the public need to be aware of what is truly going on so they can make informed decisions when purchasing hemp oil to treat themselves.

First off I want the public to know that I have no involvement with anyone who is supplying oil, and I have never received a penny from any of them. Also at present I have no involvement with foundations or any other organizations. The only thing I am connected with is the Phoenix Tears website and nothing else.

Until recently I was connected with the Phoenix Tears Foundation headed up by Janet Sweeney that is presently forming in Colorado. Janet has some top notch people like Dr. Bob Melamede involved and I certainly think this group is truly on the up and up.

The only reason I have withdrawn from this group was because due to the situation I am currently in, I cannot even enter the US. So for me that means there is no hands on and I really felt that I could play no active role, so I withdrew. Also at this time it's more than I can do to just keep up with the emails we receive every day that come to our website.

So at the present to avoid further stress I thought it might be best to just stick with our website until things settle down a bit.

What's happening right now is simply this. Every Tom Dick and Harry out there it seems is supplying hemp oil to people seeking help. But at present there is not quality control so in reality in most cases people have no idea what they are buying.

Unfortunately for me, many suppliers are using my name and the term Phoenix Tears to sell their substandard products and guess who gets all the complaints. The oil is everything I have told the public it is, but it must be produced from high grade starting material and it must be done in the proper way.

Unfortunately, a great number of suppliers at present seem to care little about the patient's health and well-being. So they are producing low-grade oils and supply them to the public simply so they can fill their pockets.
Even worse still some people and groups around them are literally scamming patients out of vast amounts of money. I don't like to bring up people's names but there is one such group headed by Char Richardson in Colorado whose activities must cease.

So I feel that it is my duty to warn the public about this group, since I have received many complaints about their business practices. I believe they call their group Phoenix Tears Plus but there also many others who are doing the same thing.

That's the reason I tell the public it's best to produce your own oil at this time, until we have some standards in place. If you produce the oil yourself, at least then you know you have the real thing and to a dying patient, the proper oil can mean the difference between life and death.
The public must realize that all hemp is not created equal, the medicinal qualities from strain to strain can vary a great deal so the proper strains must be used. Also low-grade strains and clippings may produce a decent treatment for some skin conditions. But if you are trying to treat someone with a serious condition like cancer, low-grade oils just don't cut it, only the best will do.

These are trying times for us all, but soon things will settle down and the public will have their medicine. It's just a matter of time now, for there is no way for the system to put a stop to the truth from spreading. Properly produced hemp oil is the greatest medicine on this earth, and soon hemp will again take its rightful place in mainstream medicinal use.

Rick Simpson
August 2010

--- --- ---

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Fighting The Damage Caused By Radiation

After the horrible earthquake in Japan, that has caused all this damage to many of the nuclear reactors that are operating in that country, radiation is now spreading worldwide. With high levels of radiation being released into the atmosphere on a continuous basis, it will have a devastating effect on the lives of most living creatures. But once again if used properly high quality hemp oil can provide a solution that will be of great help to mankind in alleviating this situation. For years I have been telling the public, that every man woman and child on this earth, should be taking small doses of this oil everyday to maintain good health. With all the radiation that is now entering our atmosphere, it is basically urgent, that we now all start ingesting this oil as soon as possible to undo the damage this radiation will cause. Through my experience with the use of this oil, I have found that there is nothing more effective or more harmless that can reduce the damage caused by radiation. I have seen patients that were suffering from cancer who were badly damaged by the effects of radiation treatments, that were able to completely eliminate the damage in a short time. Some who have come to me that had radiation treatments, were burned so badly by its effects that their shin looked like red leather. After ingesting the oil treatment their skin went back to its normal healthy state and the radiation burns disappeared completely. If the oil can do this for someone that was badly damaged by such so called medical treatments, would its use not be effective to combat the effects of the radiation, now emanating from Japan.

There are thousands of reasons why the medicinal use of the cannabis plant, should never have been restricted in the first place. But now with the menace that all this escaping radiation presents, we would have to be insane to turn our backs on the use of hemp extracts to help us all deal with this situation. I truly feel sorry for the misery the people of Japan are now going through and if nothing can be done to stop the radiation from escaping, they may loose their homeland entirely. Don't be fooled by government double talk, radiation is an invisible but dangerous threat to the well being of us all and only a complete fool would try to say otherwise. The wondrous medicinal effects of properly produced oil from the cannabis hemp plant are finally being recognized once more worldwide. This is just one more reason, we must begin to start growing this plant on a grand scale and it is time that we all told our governments that we have had enough of their nonsense. Our very lives and the lives of coming generations, plus the well being of many other species are at stake and its now up to us, to determine what future mankind is to have.

Best Wishes,

Rick Simpson


My name is Rick Simpson. I have been providing people with instructions on how to make Hemp Oil medicines for about 8 years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. Throughout man's history hemp has always been known as the most medicinal plant in the world. Even with this knowledge hemp has always been used as a political and religious football.

The current restrictions against hemp were put in place and maintained, not because hemp is evil or harmful, but for big money to make more big money, while we suffer and die needlessly. Look at a proposal such as this; if we were allowed to grow hemp in our back yards and cure our own illnesses, what do you think the reaction of the pharmaceutical industry would be to such a plan? Many large pharmaceutical companies that still exist today sold hemp based medicines in the 1800's and early 1900's. They knew then what I have recently found out. Hemp oil if produced properly is a cure-all that the pharmaceutical industry can't patent.

Two years a go I contacted the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party about this situation. I also provided them with evidence to backup what I was saying. No one lifted a finger, in most cases I was lucky to get a reply. I contacted the R.C.M.P. along with many other organizations and Public Interest TV shows, with little or no response.

Why are all these people trying to avoid such a simple truth? If I am in some way wrong in what I have been saying then I invite the system to come and prove it. I would be happy to put on a public demonstration of what this oil can do. That would answer this question for the Canadian public once and for all. It seems unbelievable that we have a law in Canada that will not allow us to cure our own diseases with a natural herbal remedy.

While much of the evidence for the effectiveness of Hemp is reports from patients and doctors, it is important to realize that this reporting leads to restrictions of drugs and their withdrawal from the market. Such was the case with doctors reporting the birth defects from Thalidomide and heart problems with the Fen-Phen combination of drugs. Further reports led to new uses for Thalidomide as a drug to treat leprosy rather than morning sickness. Anecdotal evidence (reports and observation by patients or doctors) usually indicates to a doctor that a treatment or drug should be altered, discontinued or changed.
In addition to the evidence, much research has been done and a list of a few of the researchers and their papers or publications is here. [Penicillin was approved for use with less experience and data than is available on the effectiveness of Hemp - only six patients].
The results of the cases can be readily replicated by any practitioner, medical or otherwise, anywhere, to cure malignant melanomas and more importantly, save lives. The topical application of hemp oil salves or balms helps to control or cure various skin conditions. Taken orally, the oil tends to seek out and destroy cancer cells in the body, but as with any drug, too much can cause side effects; most notable with hemp oil is drowsiness. Unlike opiates and their derivatives, hemp oil is not addictive.

For those who may find it incredible that the medical establishment would ignore or even disdain such research we remind the reader that the history of the medical establishment includes examples of mule-like stubbornness, incompetence, mediocrity, greed, arrogance, and stupidity. Consider the case of Dr. Ignas Semmelweis:

In 1847, Dr. Semmelweis, a respected Hungarian physician who was concerned about the high mortality rate of women giving birth in hospital, instituted a procedure at one hospital whereby doctors washed and disinfected their hands before delivering babies. Immediately, the mortality rate dropped from THIRTY percent to near zero. Seven other hospitals followed suit with similar results.

The European medical establishment recognized Dr. Semmelweis's achievement by blocking his applications for further research funds, vilifying and ostracizing him, and, ultimately, causing him to lose his prestigious positions at maternity hospitals. In America, the newly formed American Medical Association added insult to injury by threatening to revoke the license of any doctor caught washing his hands. Dr. Semmelweis was so distressed that women continued to die that he suffered a mental breakdown that eventually led to his death in 1865.

Don't expect a doctor working inside the system to buck the system. The risks are still too great! The advice she or he offers you is controlled by the large medical industry that makes its money from expensive cancer fighting drugs and treatments. It is an industry that doesn't look favorably on natural supplements or other cancer treatments that they cannot patent or make a large profit from. Years from now the current conventional cancer treatments used by doctors will on the whole be viewed in the same light that we view the old medical practice of blood letting to cure illnesses.

Rick Simpson

 
By Admin (from 07/12/2011 @ 10:40:24, in en - Science and Society, read 1849 times)

monsantoworstcompany2011 210x131 Monsanto Declared Worst Company of 2011Biotech giant Monsanto has been declared the Worst Company of 2011 by NaturalSociety for threatening both human health and the environment. The leader in genetically modified seeds and crops, Monsanto is currently responsible for 90 percent of the genetically engineered seed on the United States market. Outside of GM seeds, Monsanto is also the creator of the best-selling herbicide Roundup, which has spawned over 120 million hectacres of herbicide-resistant superweeds while damaging much of the soil. Despite hard evidence warning against the amplified usage of genetically modified crops, biopesticides, and herbicides, Monsanto continues to disregard all warning signs.

In a powerful review of 19 studies analyzing the dangers of GMO crops such as corn and soybeans, researchers revealed some shocking information regarding the safety of these popular food staples. Researchers found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans may lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice – particularly in the liver and kidneys. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that 93 percent of U.S. soybeans are known to be genetically modified. Ignoring this evidence, Monsanto continues to expand their genetic manipulation.

Monsanto’s Genetic Manipulation of Nature

Outside of genetically modifying crops, Monsanto has also created genetically modified crops containing Bt. Bt is a toxin incorporated in GMO crops that are intended to kill different insects, however Bt usage has subsequently spawned insect populations which are resistant to the biopesticide. After being exposed to Bt, many insect populations actually mutated to resist the biopesticide. So far at least 8 insect populations have developed resistance, with 2 populations resistant to Bt sprays and at least 6 species resistant to Bt crops as a whole. Farmers are therefore forced to use even more pesticides to combat the resistant bugs.

What is the answer to this problem, according to Monsanto? To further genetically modify the Bt crop to make it a super-pesticide, killing the resistant insects.

Tests, however, have concluded that further modified Bt toxin crop provided ‘little or no advantage’ in tackling the insects, despite extensive time and funding put into the research. It seems that Monsanto’s solution to everything is to further modify it into oblivion, even in the face of evidence proving this method to be highly inefficient. The research shows that this will undoubtedly lead to insects that are resistant to the most potent forms of Bt and other modified toxins, resulting in the use of even more excessive amounts of pesticides in order to combat pests.

Superweeds Infesting Over 120 Million Hectacres of Farmland

Thanks to Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, farms across the world are experiencing the emergence of herbicide-resistant superweeds. The heavily resistant weeds have an immunity to glyphosate, an herbicide that Roundup contains. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The appearance of these superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.

Of course, once again, the resistant weeds are so resistant to roundup that they require excessive amounts of herbicides. It is no surprise that the company is refusing to accept responsibility for the escalating cost of combating the weeds, stating that “Roundup agricultural warranties will not cover the failure to control glyphosate resistant weed populations.”

The World Says No to Monsanto

France, Hungary, and Peru are a few of the countries that have decided to take a stand against Monsanto. Hungary actually went as far as to destroy 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar.  Peru has also taken a stand for health freedom, passing a monumental 10 year ban on genetically modified foods. Amazingly, Peru’s Plenary Session of the Congress made the decision despite previous governmental pushes for GM legalization. The known and unknown dangers of GMO crops seem to supersede even executive-level governmental directives.

Anibal Huerta, President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission, said the ban was needed to prevent the ”danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

France is the latest nation to say no to Monsanto’s GM corn maize, even in light of an overturned ban. It all began when France’s State Council overturned the ban on Monsanto’s GMO maize stating that it was not sufficiently justified. The organization then attempted to justify its decision by saying that the government did not give enough evidence to justify a ban. Under law, an EU country can only unilaterally ban a genetically modified strain if it can scientifically prove it is a risk to the health of humans, animals, or the integrity of the environment.

Even after the ban was overturned, it surfaced that French legislatures were planning to launch new restrictions regarding the use of Monsanto’s 810 maize on French soil. Even Nicolas Sarkozy, the current president of the French Republic, voiced his opposition to Monsanto’s GMO maize:

“The French government keeps and will keep its opposition against the cultivation of the Monsanto 810 maize on our soil,” Sarkozy said.

Worst Company of 2011

In nominating Monsanto the Worst Company of 2011 we are hoping to raise awareness over the threat that Monsanto poses to human health and the environment. Genetically modified organisms will only continue to threaten all living creatures if not stopped. It is through spreading the word that real change will come about, and declaring Monsanto the Worst Company of 2011 is a great way to highlight all of their reckless actions.

 

Explore More:

  1. Monsanto Worst Company of 2011 Declaration Posted on Reuters, Yahoo, and More
  2. Monsanto’s Roundup Spawns Superweeds Consuming Over 120 Million Hectares
  3. Merck vs Monsanto | Fighting for the Worst Company Award
  4. Flashback: Forbes Magazine Declared Monsanto Company of the Year
  5. EPA Finds Monsanto’s GMO Corn Ineffective, Creating Resistant Rootworms

Source: http://naturalsociety.com

 

By introducing silver or copper into the steel surface (rather than coating it on to the surface), the researchers have developed a technique that not only kills bacteria but is very hard and resistant to wear and tear during cleaning.

Bacteria resistant surfaces could be used in hospitals to prevent the spread of superbug infections on stainless steels surfaces, as well as in medical equipment, for example, instruments and implants. They would also be of use to the food industry and in domestic kitchens.

The team has developed a novel surface alloying technology using Active Screen Plasma (ASP) with a purpose designed composite or hybrid metal screen. The combined sputtering, back-deposition and diffusion allows the introduction of silver into a stainless steel surface, along with nitrogen and carbon. The silver acts as the bacteria killing agent and the nitrogen and carbon make the stainless steel much harder and durable.

The researchers replicated the cleaning process for medical instruments in hospitals. After cleaning the treated instruments 120 times they found that the antibacterial properties of the stainless steel were still intact and the surface still resistant to wear.

Hanshan Dong, Professor of Surface Engineering at the University of Birmingham and lead investigator, said: ‘Previous attempts to make stainless steel resistant to bacteria have not been successful as these have involved coatings which are too soft and not hard-wearing. Thin antibacterial coatings can be easily worn down when interacting with other surfaces, which leads to a low durability of the antibacterial surface. Our technique means that we avoid coating the surface, instead we modify the top layers of the surface.’

Professor Dong’s team are confident that this technique could be used in the manufacturing of stainless steel products as they are already able to surface engineer items of up to two metres x two metres in the laboratory.

Source: PhysOrg

 

A tool based on theoretical calculations that could aid the search for these particles has been developed by a team of researchers in Japan called the HAL QCD Collaboration.

At its most fundamental level, matter consists of particles known as quarks. Particle physicists refer to the six different types as ‘flavors’: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. The protons and neutrons found in the nucleus of an atom are examples of a class of particle called baryons: particles consisting of three quarks. Two baryons bound together are called dibaryons, but only one dibaryon has been found to date: a bound proton and neutron that has three up quarks and three down quarks in total.

Models that reveal the potential physical properties of dibaryons, such as their mass and binding energy, are crucial if more of these particles are to be discovered in the future. To this end, the collaboration, including Tetsuo Hatsuda from the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science in Wako, developed simulations that shed new light on one promising candidate: the H dibaryon, which comprises two up, two down and two strange quarks (Fig. 1).

An artistic impression of a bound H dibaryon, a theoretical particle consisting of two up, two down and two strange quarks. Credit: 2011 Keiko Murano

The dynamics of quarks are described by an intricate theory known as quantum chromodynamics (QCD). The simulations, however, become increasingly difficult when more particles need to be included: dibaryons with six quarks are particularly testing. Hatsuda and his colleagues used an approach known as lattice QCD in which time and space are considered as a grid of discrete points. They simplified the calculation by assuming that all quarks have the same mass, but the strange quark is actually heavier than the up and down quarks. “We know from previous theoretical studies that the binding energy should be at its largest in the equal mass case,” says Hatsuda. “If we had not found a bound state in the equal mass case, there would be no hope that the bound state exists in the realistic unequal mass case.”

The results from the collaboration’s simulations showed that the total energy of the dibaryon is less than the combined energy of two separate baryons, which verifies that H dibaryons are energetically stable. “We next hope to find the precise binding energy for unequal quark masses, which represents one of the major challenges in numerical QCD simulations,” Hatsuda adds.

More information: Inoue, T., et al. Bound H dibaryon in flavor SU(3) limit of lattice QCD. Physical Review Letters 106, 162002 (2011).
Provided by RIKEN (news : web)

Source: PhysOrg

 

It sounds like the setup for a Hollywood thriller: scientists in a lab create a virus as contagious as the flu that kills half of those infected. We're safe as long as the virus remains locked up, but if it escapes or gets into the hands of bioterrorists, it has the potential to become a pandemic and kill millions around the world.

But this isn't the latest summer blockbuster. According to New Scientist magazine, researchers in the Netherlands studying H5N1 -- commonly referred to as the bird flu or avian influenza -- have created a strain of the virus that's easily passed between mammals, and it's just as lethal as the original virus.

Un vaccin contra gripei porcine provoacă narcolepsia!

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the H5N1 virus has infected more than 500 people in more than a dozen countries and is known to kill around 60 percent of those that become infected.

Ron Fouchier, a researcher at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, led the team that successfully created the mutation. Fouchier presented the findings at a conference in Malta in September and, according to NPR, is now seeking publication of his results.

But some in the scientific community are debating whether or not that's a good idea.

"It's just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus. And it's a second bad idea for them to publish how they did it so others can copy it," Dr. Thomas Inglesby, the director and CEO of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh, told NPR.

Others, like Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), told Science magazine that "These studies are very important."

From the Science magazine blog Science Insider:

The researchers "have the full support of the influenza community," Osterholm says, because there are potential benefits for public health. For instance, the results show that those downplaying the risks of an H5N1 pandemic should think again, he says.

The study is currently being reviewed by the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a "federal advisory committee chartered to provide advice, guidance, and leadership regarding...biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a biologic threat to public health and/or national security."

What do you think? Should the results of the study be made public? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Source: huffingtonpost.com

 

Well, because it's simpler and more efficient to send fishing boats out to catch the fish and bring them in. Thinking along those same lines, the Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation has proposed a ship-mounted renewable energy-harvesting system, that would be powered by the ocean's waves.

Traditional wave-power systems, both actual and proposed, are typically permanently located out at sea. Because of this fact, they must be designed to withstand storms. They are also required to send the power that they generate back to shore via underwater cables, which can be very costly to purchase and install. Additionally, because they are permanent structures, they must meet regulatory standards and can't be located anywhere that ships might run into them.

A proposed wave-power system could be installed on ships, which would regularly return to ...

A proposed wave-power system could be installed on ships, which would regularly return to shore to deliver power to the grid (Image: Fraunhofer)

The Fraunhofer system would apparently have none of these problems. It would consist of floating buoys, that would be deployed over the sides of a 50 meter (164 foot)-long ship, on hinged arms. As those buoys proceeded to bob up and down on the waves, the arms to which they were attached would pivot up and down, generating power that would be stored on an onboard battery system. One the ship was ashore, power from those batteries could then be released into the municipal grid system, during hours of peak usage.

Because the system would be mobile (the buoys would be lifted out of the water when the ship was moving), everything could simply be taken to shore when storms were approaching. No cables would be required, and the system could be temporarily parked wherever it didn't pose a hazard and the waves were decent.

A proposed wave-power system could be installed on ships, which would regularly return to ...

The ships, which could be repurposed existing vessels, would have a storage capacity of 20 megawatt-hours. It is estimated that the system could generate electricity at a cost of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is lower than the cost of existing wave power systems, that reportedly range between 30 and 65 cents.

Of course, some energy would be expended to power the ships' engines, or the engines of tug boats that would tow them.

Source: Gizmag

 

While implantable heart pumps may buy some time for people waiting to undergo heart transplants, such implants have at least one serious drawback - because they receive their power from an external source, a power cord must protrude through the skin of the patient's belly. About 40 percent of patients experience infections of that opening, which often require rehospitalization, and in extreme cases can even cause death. The presence of that cord also makes it impossible for patients to swim or take baths. Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are attempting to put an end to the troublesome cords, however, by developing a system that wirelessly transmits power to heart pumps.

A team led by UW associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering Joshua Smith, along with UPMC heart surgeon Pramod Bonde, created the prototype for the system. It utilizes a transmitting coil that sends out electromagnetic waves at a specific frequency, and a receiving coil that absorbs the energy from those waves, which it stores in a battery. It's a variation on the inductive power technology used in devices such as cell phone charging pads, the difference being that with those devices, the tool and the charger must be touching and held firmly in place.

The UW/UPMC system gets around that limitation, by automatically adjusting the frequency and other parameters as the transmitter and receiver move apart, or change orientation relative to one another. Presently, the wave strength is able to remain constant over a distance equivalent to the length of the transmitting coil. If a one-foot coil is used, for instance, that means it can effectively transmit power to the receiver over a distance of one foot.

If that coil were only a few inches long, that would still be sufficient for a scenario in which it were worn in a vest against the body, with the receiving coil adjacent to it, implanted under the patient's skin. Because energy would be stored in an implanted battery, that means the patient could spend periods of about two hours without having to even be near the transmitter, so they could do things like swim or bathe.

So far, the researchers have been able to use the system to power a heart pump submerged in water. Power was transmitted at about 80 percent efficiency, to a receiving coil that was just 4.3 centimeters (1.7 in) across. Animal trials are now being planned.

Ultimately, the UW/UPMC team would like to see a system in which several transmitters were located around a room, so a patient within that room could move freely about. They also believe that the technology could be used to power other types of implants, recharge consumer electronics, or even recharge underwater instruments in the ocean.

Source: GizMag

 

While scientists have long had the ability to edit individual genes, it is a slow, expensive and hard to use process. Now researchers at Harvard and MIT have developed technologies, which they liken to the genetic equivalent of the find-and-replace function of a word processing program, that allow them to make large-scale edits to a cell's genome. The researchers say such technology could be used to design cells that build proteins not found in nature, or engineer bacteria that are resistant to any type of viral infection.

DNA consists of long strings of "letters" (A, C, G and T) - or nucleotides - that code for specific amino acids. The genetic code consists of three-letter 'words' called codons, which are formed from a sequence of three nucleotides, such as ACT, CAG. The new technology is possible because all living organisms use the same genetic code to translate those letters into amino acids, which are then strung together into proteins. While most codons specify an amino acid, there are a few that tell the cell when to stop adding amino acids to a protein chain. It was one of these "stop" condons that the researchers targeted in their research.

To make edits to the genome of E. coli, they combined a technique previously unveiled in 2009, called multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE), with a new technology dubbed conjugative assembly genome engineering (CAGE).

Dubbed an "evolution machine" for its ability to accelerate targeted change in living cells, MAGE locates specific DNA sequences and replaces them with a new sequence as the cell copies its DNA. This allows scientists to precisely control the types of genetic changes that occur in cells as the targets are replaced, while the rest of the genome remains untouched.

The researchers used MAGE to replace the TAG codon with another stop codon, TAA, in living E. coli cells. They chose the TAG codon because, with just 314 occurrences, it is the rarest in the E. coli genome. To make the process more manageable, they first used MAGE to engineer 32 strains of E. coli, each of which has 10 TAG condons replaced.

To combine those strains and eventually end up with one that has all 314 edits, they then developed CAGE, which allows them to precisely control a naturally occurring process called conjugation that bacteria use to exchange genetic material. The CAGE method resembles a playoff bracket, with the researchers inducing the cells to transfer genes containing TAA condons at increasingly larger scales.

After the first round of CAGE, the researchers had 16 strains, each of which had double the number of TAG edits that it started with. Those 16 strains then went into a second round producing eight strains that once again possessed more TAA codons and fewer TAG. And so on, so at the four strains stage, each had about one quester of the possible TAG substitutions.

Eager to share their findings, the researchers published their results at the semi-final round, but say they believe they are now on track to produce a single combined strain with all 314 of the substitutions.

Because the alterations were done in living cells, the researchers have been able to monitor any potential harmful effects as they appear and current results suggested that the final four strains were healthy, and can survive and reproduce.

The researchers are confident that they will create a single strain in which all TAG codons are eliminated, after which they plan to delete the cell machinery that reads the TAG condon to free it up for a completely new purpose, such as encoding a novel amino acid.

In addition to adding functionality to a cell by encoding for useful new amino acids, George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, says the technology could also be used to introduce safeguards that prevent cross-contamination between modified organisms and the wild. Additionally, it could be used to establish multi-viral resistance by rewriting code hijacked by viruses. This would be of particular interest to industries that cultivate bacteria, such as the pharmaceuticals and energy industries, where such viruses affect up to 20 percent of cultures resulting in losses in the billions of dollars.

"We're trying to challenge people to think about the genome as something that's highly malleable, highly editable," said Harris Wang, a research fellow at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering

The technology, which is described in the July 15 issue of Science, is the result of a seven-year collaboration between researchers in the lab of Joseph Jacobson, associate professor in the MIT Media Lab, and George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. Along with Wang, lead authors of the paper are Peter Carr, a research scientist at the MIT Media Lab, and Farren Isaacs, an assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University.

Source: GizMag

 
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14/01/2018 @ 16:07:36
By Napasechnik
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