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Topics - Lowell

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Current Events / Doctors Replace Defective Gene - Restore Sight
« on: April 15, 2014, 06:23:11 PM »

THURSDAY, Jan. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new gene therapy that successfully treated a rare eye disease in clinical trials could prove the key to preventing more common inherited causes of blindness, researchers say.

In six male patients, doctors used a virus to repair a defective gene that causes choroideremia, a degenerative eye disease that can lead to complete blindness by middle age, according to a clinical trial report published online Jan. 16 in The Lancet.

Vision improved for all the patients following the gene therapy, and particularly for two patients with advanced choroideremia, said lead author Robert MacLaren of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, and a consultant surgeon at the Oxford Eye Hospital, in England.

"In truth, we did not expect to see such dramatic improvements in visual acuity and so we contacted both patients' home opticians to get current and historical data on their vision in former years, long before the gene therapy trial started," MacLaren said in a university news release. "These readings confirmed exactly what we had seen in our study and provided an independent verification."

While choroideremia is a rare disease, affecting about one in every 50,000 people, doctors believe the process used to treat it could be turned toward more common inherited eye disorders, such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.

"This is something that we've been trying to accomplish for years in retinal science, and it's very encouraging," said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

Fromer, who was not involved with the new research, predicted that gene therapy could in the future be used to prevent blindness by fixing defective genes in patients before something like macular degeneration can even take root.

"We'll go from putting a Band-Aid on the lesion to preventing it from happening. This is a new pathway to fix things before they get broken," said Fromer, who is also the eye surgeon for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers

Choroideremia is caused by defects in the CHM gene on the X chromosome, which explains why it usually affects boys, according to the background information from the journal. It causes the pigment cells in the eye's retina to die off, progressively shrinking the retina and slowly reducing vision.

The first signs tend to be seen in boys in late childhood, with the disease slowly progressing until vision is lost. There is currently no cure.

MacLaren and his colleagues engineered a virus that would infect the patient's retina but, instead of spreading disease, would instead release a DNA payload that would replace the defective gene with a working copy of the gene.

Science / Aging reversed in mice - human trials underway now
« on: April 15, 2014, 06:18:40 PM »

By restoring communication between a cell’s mitochondria (shown here from a mammalian lung) and nucleus, researchers have reversed aging in mice

With the wide-ranging benefits of reducing disease and enabling a longer, healthier life, reversing the causes of aging is a major focus of much medical research. A joint project between the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and Harvard Medical School that restored communication within animal cells has the potential to do just that, and maybe more. With the researchers hoping to begin human clinical trials in 2014, some major medical breakthroughs could be just around the corner.

The researchers have managed to reverse the effects of aging in mice using an approach that restores communication between a cell’s mitochondria and nucleus. Mitochondria are the power supply within the cell, generating the chemical energy required for key biological functions. When communication breaks down between mitochondria and the cell's control center, the nucleus, the effects of aging accelerate.

A team led by David Sinclair, a professor from UNSW Medicine who is based at Harvard Medical School, found that by restoring this molecular communication, aging could not only be slowed, but could be reversed. The technique has implications for treating cancer, type 2 diabetes, muscle wasting, inflammatory and mitochondrial diseases.

The study follows on from previous research showing that exercise and certain dietary habits, such as calorie restriction or the intake of resveratrol (found in red wine and nuts), slowed the breakdown of intra-cellular communication and therefore aging.

Responsible for this breakdown is a decline of the chemical NAD. By increasing amounts of a compound used by the cell to produce NAD, Professor Sinclair found that he could quickly repair mitochondrial function.

“It was shocking how quickly it happened,” co-author Dr Nigel Turner, an ARC Future Fellow from UNSW’s Department of Pharmacology says. “If the compound is administered early enough in the aging process, in just a week, the muscles of the older mice were indistinguishable from the younger animals."

Looking for indicators of insulin resistance, inflammation and muscle wasting, the researchers found that the tissue of two-year-old mice given the NAD-producing compound for just one week resembled that of six-month-old mice. They said that this is comparable to a 60-year-old human converting to a 20-year-old in these specific areas.

They also found that young mice given the same compound became "supercharged" in certain aspects, suggesting that the technique could have benefits for young, healthy humans as well.

Another significant finding, with possible implications for cancer treatment, was the involvement of the chemical HIF-1. This chemical is responsible for the disruption of communication within the cell and is naturally produced by the body when deprived of oxygen. Cancer is also thought to be responsible for activating HIF-1 and the researchers have now found it also switches on during aging.

“It’s certainly significant to find that a molecule that switches on in many cancers also switches on during aging,” said Ana Gomes, a postdoctoral scientist in the Sinclair lab. “We're starting to see now that the physiology of cancer is in certain ways similar to the physiology of aging. Perhaps this can explain why the greatest risk of cancer is age.”

The researchers are now looking at the longer-term outcomes of the NAD-producing compound in mice and how it affects the mouse as a whole, including whether it will give the mice a longer, healthier life. The researchers hope to start clinical trials on humans late in 2014.

“There’s clearly much more work to be done here, but if those results stand, then aging may be a reversible condition, if it is caught early,” says Professor Sinclair.

The team's study is published in the journal Cell.

Health and Healing / for Brian Sodding Boru
« on: April 15, 2014, 06:09:35 PM »
Medical advance just keep rollin' along!

Just a simple prayer and here we are.
World-first regeneration of a living organ

It may not be to quite the same level achieved by Victor Frankenstein, but work by a team from the University of Edinburgh is likely to have significant real-world implications in the field of regenerative medicine. For the first time, the team has successfully regenerated a living organ in mice, not by using a jolt of electricity, but by manipulating DNA.

The organ in question was the thymus, which is located next to the heart and is an integral part of the immune system. In humans, it achieves most of its growth in early life, continuing to then grow slowly until puberty when it slowly begins to shrink for the remainder of a person's life. It's deterioration with age leaves older people with greater susceptibility to infections, such as flu.

In a study led by researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, levels of a protein called FOXN1, which is produced by cells of the thymus and helps control how important genes are switched on and off, was increased. This instructed the stem cell-like cells to rebuild the organ in very old mice.

This resulted in the thymus being regenerated to have a similar structure to those found in a young mouse, with the organ's function restored and the mice producing more white blood cells called T cells, which play a central role in fighting infection.

The breakthrough could lead to new therapies for the treatment of people with damaged immune systems and genetic conditions that affect thymus development, such as DiGeorge syndrome. However, the team says more work will need to be done to ensure the process can be tightly controlled before the approach is tested on humans.

"One of the key goals in regenerative medicine is harnessing the body’s own repair mechanisms and manipulating these in a controlled way to treat disease," says Dr Rob Buckle, the Head of Regenerative Medicine at the MRC. "This interesting study suggests that organ regeneration in a mammal can be directed by manipulation of a single protein, which is likely to have broad implications for other areas of regenerative biology."

The team's study is published in the journal Development.

For Brian, the eye and the optic nerve together are an organ.

Politics / Tennessee Senator's Top Aide Arrested For Child Porn
« on: December 11, 2013, 11:53:14 PM »
This is what Mishka might refer to as a Pederast.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top aide of Republican Senator Lamar Alexander was arrested on Wednesday in connection with child pornography allegations, the U.S. Justice Department said.

"Jesse Ryan Loskarn, 35, of Washington, D.C., was arrested this afternoon by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service based on probable cause for possession and distribution of child pornography charges," said Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman.

Current Events / The U.S. No Longer Owns A Stake In GM!!!
« on: December 10, 2013, 03:42:44 AM »
This is good news. What it means is detailed at the following website.

At a time when the American auto industry was about to collapse, the President made the tough to decision to invest in it. Today, the United States no longer owns a stake in General Motors, and the auto industry is thriving. Here's what that looks like.

Politics / Republicans Change Obamacare Attacks as Website Functions
« on: December 07, 2013, 10:46:33 AM »
Now that the ACA website is functioning, Republicans have changed their Obamacare attacks.

Well all except a few fools.

A sign saying "Obamacare II, Tyranny of the Majority" is removed from the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 21, 2013.

The tyranny of the 99%, as they force the super rich to do what every other industrialized country in the world already does.

"On Capitol Hill, Republican opponents of the health-care law are emphasizing new points of attack, highlighting examples of people who are paying more for insurance -- including House Speaker John Boehner, and those losing access to their doctors as they shift plans, congressional aides said."

"Spirits among the president’s health-care advisers have been “significantly uplifted” this week, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington-based advocacy group with close ties to the administration. 'There is a great deal of relief about how the website has been improved.' "

Boehner is having to pay more for health care insurance!

Current Events / GM closes above $40 per share
« on: December 07, 2013, 10:38:02 AM »
Have a look at the performance of GM stock for the last year.

Climate Change / China Doubles Pace of Adding Renwables Amid Pollution Cut
« on: December 04, 2013, 04:18:58 AM »
China is serious about reducing pollution.

By Bloomberg News - Dec 4, 2013 1:37 AM PT

Including nuclear power, the nation installed 36 gigawatts of clean energy capacity in the 10 months through Oct. 31, the National Energy Administration said today in a statement on its website. Wind power increased by 7.9 gigawatts, while solar rose 3.6 gigawatts and nuclear expanded 2.2 gigawatts. Hydro electric power accounted for the remainder.

China is on course by 2035 to add more electricity generating capacity from renewables than the U.S., Europe and Japan combined, according to the International Energy Agency.

China has been the world’s biggest renewable energy market by cumulative installed capacity excluding nuclear power since 2011, according to data from BNEF.

Politics / Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'
« on: December 03, 2013, 02:15:09 AM »
Rush reveals his failure to understand the message of Jesus.

Standard Oil killed Kennedy because they wanted this.

By Jason Folkmanis - Nov 30, 2013 9:16 AM PT

Vietnam is likely to maintain its current oil production level of about 340,000 barrels per day “for the next few years,” according to an official from state-owned Vietnam Oil & Gas Group.

Vietnamese oil production rose 10 percent last year to 348,000 barrels per day, the highest level of output for the country since 2006, according to figures from BP Plc. Vietnam has the second-highest level of oil reserves in East Asia, with its 4.4 billion barrels exceeded only by China, based on BP estimates.

About 40 percent of Vietnam’s output comes from fields operated by the Vietsovpetro joint venture, said Le Ngoc Son, general manager of oil and gas production for Vietnam Oil & Gas, known as PetroVietnam. The Vietsovpetro venture between PetroVietnam and Russia’s OAO Zarubezhneft operates Vietnam’s oldest field, known as Bach Ho, which began production in 1986.

Soco International Plc (SIA), a London-based company operating the Te Giac Trang field that averaged 45,132 barrels of oil per day production in the first 10 months of the year, said in October that an exploration well drilled on the Vietnamese field tested more than 27,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Soco Chief Executive Officer Ed Story described the well in a stock exchange statement as “one of the most prolific individual wells ever tested in Vietnam.” The well increased the likelihood that the Te Giac Trang field holds as much as 1 billion barrels of oil, Story said in an August interview.

Vietnam’s oil production comes from fields in the South China Sea off the country’s southern coast. Recent discoveries in Vietnam have tended to be smaller and within reservoirs with complex geological and geophysical conditions and in more remote and challenging waters, according to a written summary of Son’s presentation to the conference distributed at the conference.

Politics / Europe Helps China With Moon Mission
« on: November 29, 2013, 10:11:58 PM »
The U.S. has a rather icy relationship with China when it comes to China's ambitions for Space exploration. Europe is more willing to partner with them.

ESA Collaborates With China On Moon Mission
November 29, 2013

Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online

While China and Western nations may be entangled in a daily political struggle, scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) are extending their resources to assist their Chinese counterparts on the upcoming Chang’e 3 Moon mission.

The Chinese mission is slated to launch from Earth in early December and land a scientific rover on the Moon. The entire ESA side of the operation will be run from the Estrack Control Centre in ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

“We are proud that the expertise of our ground station and flight dynamics teams and the sophisticated technologies of our worldwide Estrack network can assist China to deliver a scientifically important lander and rover to the Moon,” said Thomas Reiter, a director of human spaceflight and operations for the ESA.“Whether for human or robotic missions, international cooperation like this is necessary for the future exploration of planets, moons and asteroids, benefitting everyone.”

Read more at the Red Orbit link.

A Japanese business plans to build solar panels around the Moon's equator. They say the energy produced can be beamed to Earth as microwaves and shared with the entire planet.

They plan to construct it robotically using primarily the materials already existing on the Moon. They expect it to produce 13,000 TeraWatts per hour.

A Japanese civil engineering and construction firm is planning to install a “solar belt” around the moon’s equator to turn it into a giant solar panel.

Shimizu says it plans on building this giant solar panel station, known as Luna Ring, by using remote-controlled robots. Luna Ring would run about 6,800 miles around the Moon’s equator and will be about 248 miles wide.

Solar energy collected by Luna Ring would be converted and beamed back to Earth through microwaves and a laser, after which it would be converted into electricity and then potentially supplied to the national grid. Shimizu says the Luna Ring could generate a massive 13,000 terawatts of energy. The microwave power transmission antennas used in this project would be about 12 miles in diameter.

The ground energy conversion facilities would help convert energy into hydrogen for use as fuel, or for storage. Shimizu says with this proposed concept, “a world where all human beings can use energy equally will be realized.”

Read the rest of the article at the link below the picture.

Technology / Helium Bluetooth speakers powered by supercapacitors
« on: November 28, 2013, 12:42:41 AM »
While it isn't graphene based, it is the first use of supercapacitors in a product for the consumer that I have seen.

This is encouraging. Soon everything from car batteries to wind farm energy storage will use supercapacitors.

Current Events / Nissan's Autonomous Drive Leaf hits the highway in Japan
« on: November 28, 2013, 12:39:23 AM »
We are very close to having cars that do the driving.

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