Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells


Studies are showing that Bt toxins found in Monsanto crops are harmful to mammalian blood by damaging red blood cells and more. RBC’s are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues through blood flow.Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) is a bacterium commonly used as a biological pesticide. It is a microorganism that produces toxic chemicals. It occurs naturally in the environment, and is usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces. Prior to this study, Bt was thought to be toxic only to insects, but recent studies are proving otherwise.

Dr. Mezzomo and his team of Scientists from the Department of Genetics and Morphology and the Institute of Biological Sciences, at University of Brasilia recently published a study that involved Bacillus thuringensis (Bt toxin) and its effects on mammalian blood. According to the study, the “Cry” toxins that are found in Monsanto’s GMO crops like corn and soy, are much more toxic to mammals than previously thought. The study was published in the Journal of Hematology and Thromboembolic Diseases(1).

We do not support animal testing, and think it is unnecessary. It should really be a no brainer that GMO crops cause significant damage to human health. Studies that don’t require animal testing have already proven the dangers of GMO consumption. This study unfortunately required the use of Swiss Albino Mice if Bt was to be properly examined. At the same time, most of us know that the existence of GMOs is completely unnecessary.

Advances in genetic engineering promise the expression of multiple Cry toxins in Bt-plants, known as gene pyramiding. Therefore, studies on non-target species are requirements of international protocols to verify the adverse effects of these toxins, ensuring human and environmental bio safety.

Due to its growing use in agricultural activities, Bt presence has already been detected in different environmental compartments such as soil and water. Consequently, the bio availability of Cry proteins has increased, and for bio safety reasons their adverse effects might be studied, mainly for non-target organisms. Studies are therefore needed to evaluate Bt toxicity to non-target organisms; the persistence of Bt toxin and its stability in aquatic environments; and the risks to humans and animals exposed to potentially toxic levels of Bt through their diet.(1)

Thus, we aimed to evaluate, in Swiss albino mice, the hematotoxicity and genotoxicity of four Bt spore-crystals…

Scientists tested levels ranging from 27 mg to 270 mg over a seven day period, it was remarkably evident that the Cry toxins were hemotoxic, even at the lowest doses administered. Hemotoxins destroy red blood cells, disrupt blood clotting and cause organ degeneration and tissue damage.

The number of RBC’s, (red blood cells) as well as their size, were significantly reduced, and so were the levels of hemoglobin for oxygen to attach to. Every factor regarding RBC’s indicated some level of damage for all levels of toxin administered and across all cry proteins. The tests clearly demonstrated that Cry proteins resulting from the Bt toxin were cytotoxic (quality of being toxic to cells) to bone marrow cells. Studies contiually show that these proteins kill blood cells by targeting the cell membranes of RBC’s.

Cry1Ab (the protein produced in common Bt corn and soy) induced microcytic hypochromic anemia in mice, even at the lowest tested dose of 27 mg/Kg, and this toxin has been detected in blood of non-pregnant women, pregnant women and their fetuses in Canada, supposedly exposed through diet [34]. These data, as well as increased bio availability of these MCA in the environment, reinforce the need for more research, especially given that little is known about spore crystals’ adverse effects on non-target species (1)

Dr. Mezzomo and his team are not the only group of scientists to discover the harmful effects of Bt toxins. Professor Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario has also studied it (2)(3)(4). He concluded that that there is sufficient evidence that the Bt toxin will impact directly on human health through damaging the ileum, which is the final section of the small intestine that is responsible for the absorption of vitamin B12. He also points out that the Bt cry toxin gene has not been proven to be the same as the natural bacterial gene. As mentioned in the first paragraph, it occurs naturally in the environment, usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces.

It seems that everyday brings forth new information regarding GMO’s. We have so much evidence that points to just how harmful these foods are, yet they continue to be mass produced and the corporations that develop them are constantly protected. The truth still remains, you still have a choice as to what you put into your body. I encourage everybody reading this to further their research, most ‘industries’ we have on the planet today really aren’t necessary, we are just made to believe that they are.

Gut Bacteria May Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis.


The bacteria that live in your intestines are a mixed blessing. Scientists have known for decades that this so-called microbiota helps us digest our food and crowds out infectious germs. The bugs have also been implicated in allergies and obesity. Now, a new study adds one more potential malady to the list: rheumatoid arthritis.

Gut feelings. Intestinal bacteria may train the immune system to attack joints.

“It’s been suspected for years and years, both in humans and in the animal model, that the development of autoimmune diseases like arthritis is dependent on the gut microbiota,” says immunologist Diane Mathis of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Now, she says, those suspicions are beginning to be confirmed in humans. “It’s a very striking finding.”

Rheumatoid arthritis is a mysterious disease. It can strike at any age, typically beginning in young and middle-aged adults and causing painfully stiff, swollen joints in the hands and feet. It can also destroy bone and cartilage and damage organs like the lungs and kidneys. Scientists aren’t sure what causes rheumatoid arthritis, but they do know that it’s an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body’s immune system is attacking its own tissues. And that’s where gut bacteria come in.

Gut bacteria have an intricate relationship with our immune system. We need to be able to tolerate helpful microbes while still recognizing and fighting invaders. Immunologist Dan Littman of New York University knew that gut microbes are important to the development of a particular type of immune cell his team studies, known as a Th17 cell. Mice that are reared in sterile conditions produce very few of these cells, and his group had previously found that mice bought from one supplier had far more Th17 cells than those that came from a different supplier. The difference turned out to be due to the rodents’ gut microbes.

When Littman presented that result at a conference several years ago, Mathis, who was in the audience, told him that she had seen a change in her lab animals when they were moved to a lab in a different town. Instead of spontaneously developing a mouse version of arthritis, they remained healthy. Littman and Mathis collaborated to find out why and tracked down the difference to a particular type of bacterium that, when present in the intestines, trains the immune system to produce Th17 cells, which in turn release molecules that cause inflammation and bone damage in arthritis.

Littman wondered if rheumatoid arthritis in humans might also be due to specific gut microbes. His team tested fecal samples (which reflect the population of gut bacteria) from 114 residents of the New York City area. Some subjects were healthy; others had been living with rheumatoid arthritis for years; still others had psoriatic arthritis, a different autoimmune disease whose causes are also unknown; and some had been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Members of this latter group were especially important because, although they had rheumatoid arthritis, they hadn’t yet been treated for it. In this group, a bacterium named Prevotella copri was present in 75% of patients’ intestines, the researchers will report online tomorrow in eLife. P. copri only appeared in 37% of patients living with either rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis and 21% of healthy controls. This last number is similar to the prevalence of P. copri that previous studies found in the general population in industrialized countries.

“That they were able to associate one bacterium with one pathology is remarkable,” says Yasmine Belkaid, an immunologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work.

But the results aren’t enough to convict P. copri as the mastermind behind rheumatoid arthritis, she notes. The authors can’t ethically give the bacterium to healthy subjects, so they couldn’t prove that P. copri caused arthritis in patients, just that the bacterium and the disease tend to occur together. Genetics and other environmental factors, like smoking, have been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, so even if P. copri is the culprit, it doesn’t necessarily act alone. “The next step is to be able to understand how causative these microbes are,” Belkaid says. That would require surveying people’s microbes and waiting to see who develops the disease.

To build its case against the bacterium, Littman’s team gave a lab-grown strain of P. copri to mice and watched what happened in the rodents’ guts. P. copri easily took up residence, and the researchers found that the mice developed increased inflammation, especially in the gut. They didn’t get arthritis, possibly because the strain of P. copri was different from the human ones, but Littman says the gut inflammation corroborates the idea that gut microbes are prodding immune cells to develop and that those cells then go forth and lead an attack on other parts of the body.

That is the most exciting possibility, Mathis says. But, she explains, other hypotheses can’t be ruled out. It’s possible that arthritis patients’ immune systems allow P. copri to grow out of control, or perhaps a third factor affects both the microbes and the immune system independently. Rheumatoid arthritis, Littman says, seems to have several environmental triggers, but how and whether they combine is not well understood.

The findings, Mathis says, open the possibility of new therapies to prevent or treat rheumatoid arthritis. Current treatments for the disease include drugs with scary side effects—Remicade, for instance, seems to increase the risk of developing certain cancers and serious infections. Perhaps P. copri could be attacked with antibiotics, Littman says, or crowded out with probiotic pills full of good bacteria. Either way, patients may someday be able to relieve their joint pain by focusing on their guts.

Learning from Rwanda.


How is it that Rwanda, among the world’s poorest countries – and still recovering from a brutal civil war – is able to protect its teenage girls against cancer more effectively than the G-8 countries? After just one year, Rwanda reported vaccinating more than 93% of its adolescent girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV) – by far the largest cause of cervical cancer. Vaccine coverage in the world’s richest countries varies, but in some places it is less than 30%.

In fact, poor coverage in the world’s richest countries should come as no great surprise, especially when one considers the demographics of those missing out. Where available, evidence suggests that they are mainly girls at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum – often members of ethnic minorities with no health-care coverage. This implies that those who are at greatest risk are not being protected.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphIt is a familiar story, one that is consistent with the global pattern of this terrible disease, which claims a life every two minutes: those most in need of protection have the least access to it. Of the 275,000 women and girls who die of cervical cancer every year, 88% live in developing countries, where mortality rates can be more than 20 times higher than in France, Italy, and the United States. That is not just because vaccines are not readily available; it is also because women in these countries have limited access to screening and treatment. Without prevention, they have no options if they get sick.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphAlarmingly, in some of the wealthy countries, where both screening and treatment should be readily available, vaccine coverage now appears to be declining, raising a real danger that socioeconomically disadvantaged girls there will face a similar fate. If it turns out that girls at risk of not receiving all three doses of the HPV vaccine are also those with an elevated risk of being infected and missing cervical screenings as adults, they may be slipping through not one but two nets.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphIt is still not clear why this is happening. What we do know is that HPV is a highly infectious sexually transmitted virus, which is responsible for almost all forms of cervical cancer. HPV vaccines can prevent 70% of these cases by targeting the two most common types of the virus, but only if girls have not yet been exposed to the virus, which means vaccinating them before they become sexually active. Yet efforts to communicate this to the public have been met with skepticism from some critics, who argue that the vaccine gives young girls tacit consent to engage in sexual activity, ultimately leading to an increase in promiscuity.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphHowever, quite apart from the evidence to the contrary, intuitively this makes no sense. To suggest that giving girls aged 9-13 three injections over six months gives them a green light to engage in sex and sets them on a path to promiscuity is utter nonsense. It is like saying that people are more likely to drive dangerously if they wear a seat belt; in fact, the opposite is more often the case.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphWhether such attitudes and misinformation account for poor vaccine coverage in places like France and the US is still not known. It may simply be that some parents or girls mistakenly believe that one shot of the HPV vaccine is enough to provide protection, or that some socially disadvantaged girls lack sufficient access to in-school vaccination services. Or perhaps the cost of the vaccine is a barrier in some of these countries. Whatever the reason, unless coverage for all three doses increases, cervical cancer and pre-cancer rates will increase.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphIn countries like Rwanda, people know this only too well, which is why they have been so eager to tighten the net on HPV. They have seen the horrors of cervical cancer, with women in the prime of their lives presenting with late-stage disease and suffering slow and painful deaths. Without changes in prevention and control, deaths from cervical cancer worldwide are projected to rise almost two-fold by 2030, to more than 430,000 per year.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphAnd now, with help from my organization, the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership created to improve access to new vaccines for the world’s poorest children, other low-income countries are following Rwanda’s lead. As of this year, Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have all taken steps to introduce HPV vaccines, with more countries expected to follow.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphG-8 countries’ generous contributions to organizations like mine show that they understand the importance of childhood immunization. But, while HPV infection rates may be falling in some of these countries, are they falling fast enough? In the US, for example, the G-8 country for which we currently have the most data, infection rates have halved in the six years since the vaccine was first introduced. Yet failure to reach the 80% coverage mark means that 50,000 American girls alive today will develop cervical cancer, as will another 4,400 girls with each year of delay.

CommentsView/Create comment on this paragraphSo it is worth remembering that even in wealthy countries, there is an urgent need to overcome challenges in protecting the hardest-to-reach girls, who often are at high risk of HPV infection. Overcoming these challenges is essential to reducing cervical cancer and pre-cancer rates in the coming years. Rwanda’s success should be the norm, not the exception.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/on-how-rwanda-is-beating-cervical-cancer-by-seth-berkley#By3XogWXL7Bj4SZs.99

In fact, poor coverage in the world’s richest countries should come as no great surprise, especially when one considers the demographics of those missing out. Where available, evidence suggests that they are mainly girls at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum – often members of ethnic minorities with no health-care coverage. This implies that those who are at greatest risk are not being protected.

It is a familiar story, one that is consistent with the global pattern of this terrible disease, which claims a life every two minutes: those most in need of protection have the least access to it. Of the 275,000 women and girls who die of cervical cancer every year, 88% live in developing countries, where mortality rates can be more than 20 times higher than in France, Italy, and the United States. That is not just because vaccines are not readily available; it is also because women in these countries have limited access to screening and treatment. Without prevention, they have no options if they get sick.

Alarmingly, in some of the wealthy countries, where both screening and treatment should be readily available, vaccine coverage now appears to be declining, raising a real danger that socioeconomically disadvantaged girls there will face a similar fate. If it turns out that girls at risk of not receiving all three doses of the HPV vaccine are also those with an elevated risk of being infected and missing cervical screenings as adults, they may be slipping through not one but two nets.

It is still not clear why this is happening. What we do know is that HPV is a highly infectious sexually transmitted virus, which is responsible for almost all forms of cervical cancer. HPV vaccines can prevent 70% of these cases by targeting the two most common types of the virus, but only if girls have not yet been exposed to the virus, which means vaccinating them before they become sexually active. Yet efforts to communicate this to the public have been met with skepticism from some critics, who argue that the vaccine gives young girls tacit consent to engage in sexual activity, ultimately leading to an increase in promiscuity.

However, quite apart from the evidence to the contrary, intuitively this makes no sense. To suggest that giving girls aged 9-13 three injections over six months gives them a green light to engage in sex and sets them on a path to promiscuity is utter nonsense. It is like saying that people are more likely to drive dangerously if they wear a seat belt; in fact, the opposite is more often the case.

Whether such attitudes and misinformation account for poor vaccine coverage in places like France and the US is still not known. It may simply be that some parents or girls mistakenly believe that one shot of the HPV vaccine is enough to provide protection, or that some socially disadvantaged girls lack sufficient access to in-school vaccination services. Or perhaps the cost of the vaccine is a barrier in some of these countries. Whatever the reason, unless coverage for all three doses increases, cervical cancer and pre-cancer rates will increase.

In countries like Rwanda, people know this only too well, which is why they have been so eager to tighten the net on HPV. They have seen the horrors of cervical cancer, with women in the prime of their lives presenting with late-stage disease and suffering slow and painful deaths. Without changes in prevention and control, deaths from cervical cancer worldwide are projected to rise almost two-fold by 2030, to more than 430,000 per year.

And now, with help from my organization, the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership created to improve access to new vaccines for the world’s poorest children, other low-income countries are following Rwanda’s lead. As of this year, Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have all taken steps to introduce HPV vaccines, with more countries expected to follow.

G-8 countries’ generous contributions to organizations like mine show that they understand the importance of childhood immunization. But, while HPV infection rates may be falling in some of these countries, are they falling fast enough? In the US, for example, the G-8 country for which we currently have the most data, infection rates have halved in the six years since the vaccine was first introduced. Yet failure to reach the 80% coverage mark means that 50,000 American girls alive today will develop cervical cancer, as will another 4,400 girls with each year of delay.

So it is worth remembering that even in wealthy countries, there is an urgent need to overcome challenges in protecting the hardest-to-reach girls, who often are at high risk of HPV infection. Overcoming these challenges is essential to reducing cervical cancer and pre-cancer rates in the coming years. Rwanda’s success should be the norm, not the exception.

WE ARE STAR PEOPLE: Scientific Proof We Were Created By Aliens.


DON’T be alarmed, but you have alien DNA in your genetic code. Science says so.
Scientists from Kazakhstan believe that human DNA was encoded with an extraterrestrial signal by an ancient alien civilisation, Discovery.com reports.

They call it “biological SETI” and the researchers claim that the mathematical code in human DNA cannot be explained by evolution.

WE ARE STAR PEOPLE: Scientific proof we were created by aliens

In a nutshell, we’re living, breathing vessels for some kind of alien message which is more easily used to detect extra terrestrial life than via radio transmission.

“Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales; in fact, it is the most durable construct known,” the researchers wrote in scientific journal, Icarus. “Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature.

“Once the genome is appropriately rewritten the new code with a signature will stay frozen in the cell and its progeny, which might then be delivered through space and time.”

The scientists also claim that human DNA is ordered so precisely that it reveals an “ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of symbolic language”.

Their research has led the scientists to conclude that we were invented “outside the solar system, already several billion years ago”.

The thesis supports the hypothesis that Earth is the result of interstellar life forms distributed by meteors and comets.

So if we are just vessels for alien communication, exactly what kind of secret message are we carrying in our DNA?

And if we were the creation of aliens, who created them?

 

Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy.


The known odds of something — or someone — living far, far away from Earth improved beyond astronomers’ boldest dreams on Monday.

Astronomers reported that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth-size planets in the galaxy, based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mr. Petigura’s analysis represents a major step toward the main goal of the Kepler mission, which was to measure what fraction of sunlike stars in the galaxy have Earth-size planets. Sometimes called eta-Earth, it is an important factor in the so-called Drake equation used to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the universe. Mr. Petigura’s paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, puts another smiley face on a cosmos that has gotten increasingly friendly and fecund-looking over the last 20 years.

“It seems that the universe produces plentiful real estate for life that somehow resembles life on Earth,” Mr. Petigura said.

Over the last two decades, astronomers have logged more than 1,000 planets around other stars, so-called exoplanets, and Kepler, in its four years of life before being derailed by a mechanical pointing malfunction last winter, has compiled a list of some 3,500 more candidates. The new result could steer plans in the next few years and decades to find a twin of the Earth — Earth 2.0, in the argot — that is close enough to here to study.

The nearest such planet might be only 12 light-years away. “Such a star would be visible to the naked eye,” Mr. Petigura said.

His result builds on a report earlier this year by David Charbonneau and Courtney Dressing of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who found that about 15 percent of the smaller and more numerous stars known as red dwarfs have Earth-like planets in their habitable zones. Using slightly less conservative assumptions, Ravi Kopparapu of Pennsylvania State University found that half of all red dwarfs have such planets.

[Video: Galaxy contains billions of potentially habitable planets, say University of California at Berkeley and University of Hawaii at Manoa astronomers. Watch on YouTube.]

Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, who supervised Mr. Petigura’s research and was a co-author of the paper along with Andrew Howard of the University of Hawaii, said: “This is the most important work I’ve ever been involved with. This is it. Are there inhabitable Earths out there?”

“I’m feeling a little tingly,” he said.

At a news conference Friday discussing the results, astronomers erupted in praise of the Kepler mission and its team. Natalie Batalha, a Kepler leader from the NASA Ames Research Center, described the project and its members as “the best of humanity rising to the occasion.”

According to Mr. Petigura’s new calculation, the fraction of stars with Earth-like planets is 22 percent, plus or minus 8 percent, depending on exactly how you define the habitable zone.

There are several caveats. Although these planets are Earth-size, nobody knows what their masses are and thus whether they are rocky like the Earth, or balls of ice or gas, let alone whether anything can, or does — or ever will — live on them.

There is reason to believe, from recent observations of other worlds, however, that at least some Earth-size planets, if not all of them, are indeed rocky. Last week, two groups of astronomers announced that an Earth-size planet named Kepler 78b that orbits its sun in 8.5 hours has the same density as the Earth, though it is too hot to support life.

“Nature,” as Mr. Petigura put it, “knows how to make rocky Earth-size planets.”

Also, the number is more uncertain than it might have been because Kepler’s pointing system failed before it could complete its prime survey. As a result, Mr. Petigura and his colleagues had to extrapolate from planets slightly larger than Earth and with slightly smaller, tighter orbits. For the purposes of his analysis “Earth-size” was anything from one to two times the diameter of the Earth, and Earth-like orbits were between 400 and 200 days.

Dr. Batalha said, “We don’t yet have any planet candidates that are exact analogues of the Earth in terms of size, orbit or star type.”

Though Kepler itself is sidelined while astronomers devise a new program it can accomplish with less flexible pointing ability, it has sent back so much data that there is still a whole year’s worth of results left to analyze, Dr. Batalha said. “Scientists,” she said, “are going to work on Kepler data for decades.” Kepler was launched in 2009 to perform a kind of cosmic census, monitoring the brightness of 150,000 far-off stars in the Cygnus and Lyra constellations, looking for dips in brightness when planets pass in front of them.

Mr. Petigura and his colleagues restricted themselves to a subset of some 42,000 brighter and well-behaved stars. They found 603 planets, of which 10 were between one Earth and two Earths in diameter, and circled in what Mr. Petigura defined as the habitable zone, where they would receive between a quarter of the light the Earth gets, and four times as much. In the solar system, that zone would spread from inside the orbit of Venus to just outside the orbit of Mars.

Meanwhile, in an innovation borrowed from other data-intensive fields like particle physics, Mr. Petigura designed a computer pipeline so that he could inject fake planets into the data — 40,000 in all — and see how efficiently his program could detect planets of different sizes and orbits. In addition to that correction, he and his colleagues had to correct for geometry; only about one in 100 planet systems is aligned edge-on so that earthlings would see the telltale wink of an exoplanet transit.

“It was a ton of work,” he recalled, explaining that he had to try out tens of billions of different periods for each star in order to find planets.

Sara Seager, an exoplanet astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the work, said the pipeline testing had made the results believable. “I would say that small planets are everywhere and very common,” she said, “no matter how you slice and dice the data. But Kepler is dead and we have no way to get any further data. So we’ll have to be satisfied with this as the final word, for now.”

A Smarter Planet BlogMD Anderson Cancer Center to Use Watson to Help Battle Cancer.


A few weeks ago, after I started one of my leukemia patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center on a standard course of chemotherapy, my patient developed a potentially life-threatening complication that sometimes occurs during leukemia treatment. It’s called tumor lysis syndrome. If not treated proactively, it can cause kidney failure, a heart attack and even death. A computing system based on IBM’s Watson technology that we’re currently piloting alerted me to the situation. I took action immediately. He’s okay now.

At an advanced cancer treatment center like MD Anderson, we likely would have spotted my patient’s problem early enough to respond in time without the help of a computer. However, in a community hospital, physicians who don’t see as many leukemia patients or have our expertise might not have noticed in time. The technology will definitely save lives.

This is a dramatic example of how cognitive computing technology has the potential to help improve medical care—benefitting not just patients and doctors but the entire healthcare system. I believe that the technology will help me accomplish my long-term career goal as a physician: to know enough about a particular patient’s cancer to provide exactly the right treatment for that individual. It’s the ultimate in personalized medicine.

Richard Ware: A Patient's Story

Richard Ware: A Patient’s Story

My group helped train Watson to play its advisory role at MD Anderson. We are now in the testing and evaluation phase of this technology in the clinic with our patients. Watson will never take the place of a physician, but it can provide us with a treasure trove of information and expert guidance.

This approach offers several benefits. The system gathers information and presents it to the physician in summary form—but then allows you to drill down deep to see the evidence upon which it bases its recommendations. It provides an expert second opinion, if you will.

It’s a time saver. Last week, when one of my colleagues was out of town, I filled in and met with one of his patients—one with a complicated condition that needed a management decision. Under normal circumstances, it may have taken me all afternoon to prepare for the meeting with enough insight to provide the most appropriate treatment decisions. With Watson, I am able to get a patients history, characteristics, and treatment recommendations based on my patients unique characteristics in seconds.

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Assistant Professor of Leukemia Dr. Courtney DiNardo uses IBM's Watson cognitive system while consulting with patient Rich Ware, on October 18, 2013. Starting with the fight against Leukemia, IBM's Watson will help MD Anderson physicians develop, observe and fine tune cancer treatment plans, match patients with clinical trials and recognize adverse effects during ongoing care.  For more information: John Natale, 617-875-3658.  (Credit: Thomas Shea/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Assistant Professor of Leukemia Dr. Courtney DiNardo uses IBM’s Watson cognitive system while consulting with patient Rich Ware, on October 18, 2013. Starting with the fight against Leukemia, IBM’s Watson will help MD Anderson physicians develop, observe and fine tune cancer treatment plans, match patients with clinical trials and recognize adverse effects during ongoing care. For more information: John Natale, 617-875-3658. (Credit: Thomas Shea/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

The system is a health monitor. As I described at the beginning of this blog post, Watson can keep track of streams of information about a patient’s condition and alert physicians when something seems to be amiss.

The Watson system can also match individual patients who have not responded to conventional treatment in clinical trials that might be appropriate for them.

As we physicians interact with Watson, it learns and gets better at its job. There’s an annotation feature that allows us to type feedback to the system when it doesn’t draw on all of the evidence we need when we’re considering a diagnosis or treatment issue.

In the future, I expect this technology to help us discover new and better treatments for specific genetic abnormalities or associations of genetic changes. It will be able to help us evaluate rare or complex patient conditions and identify drugs that have already been approved for other uses that might also help in the situations we’re dealing with.

After spending much of my life training to be an oncologist, I’m now operating at the cutting edge of leukemia research and treatment. I’m grateful to have a new generation of genetics and computing tools at my fingertips when I take on the challenges that come at us every day at MD Anderson. I look forward to the day when we can say that we have conquered cancer.

watch the video on Youtube.  URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7ShPS8JhRA

Better, faster, simpler: Depositing graphene directly onto flexible substrates.


The wunderkind material graphene is a one-atom thick layer of graphite (another crystalline form of carbon) in which carbon atoms are arranged in a regular hexagonal pattern. Being very strong, light, nearly transparent, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, is finding new applications at a dizzying rate. This is not surprising, given that its myriad characteristics include its electronic, optical, excitonic, thermal, spin transport, anomalous quantum Hall effect, mechanical, and other unique properties. Although one of graphene’s attractive mechanical properties is its flexibility, most research into those properties has been conducted on rigid substrates such as silicon dioxide or quartz. A rigid substrate is suitable for transistors or photoelectric devices, but applying graphene to flexible substrates has numerous applications, such as organic electronics (used in solar cells, light-emitting diodes, touch screen technology, photodetectors, and molecular separation membranes), photonics, and optoelectronics. Currently, there’s little reported activity in transferring graphene onto flexible substrates, and these typically use polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) as an intermediate membrane – the downside being that the membrane must be removed after the transfer. Recently, however, scientists at MIT, University of Alabama and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais devised a simple, PMMA-free, direct lamination technique for transferring graphene onto various flexible substrates. While their direct transfer method doesn’t work on hydrophilic substrates like paper or cloth, the new technique also can work successfully in these works by using PMMA as a surface modifier or adhesive – a capability that they say will create opportunities for ubiquitous or wearable electronics.

Prof. Paulo T. Araujo and Prof. Jing Kong discussed the research that their students, Luiz Gustavo Pimenta and Yi Song, and colleagues conducted in an interview with Phys.org. “The concept behind the lamination technique is simple and, as one can see in our paper’s references, we were not the first ones to apply it,” Araujo tells Phys.org. “However, we were the first ones to apply it in a very clean way – that is, without help of intermediate membranes such as PMMA, or glues such as thermal tapes.” The main challenges they encountered, he notes, were optimizing parameters like lamination machine temperature, and fabricating the appropriate layered composition of the target , graphene, copper foil, and protective pellicles. “Additionally,” Araujo adds, “we needed to understand the differences and similarities among the substrates we used. For example, a very porous substrate requires a different transference strategy from which is very smooth.”

Araujo notes that the new transfer method specifically contrasts with previous methods in terms of speed and simplicity. “In short, the most used transfer method consists of spincoating PMMA over a cooper foil with graphene grown on it. After that, the cooper/graphene/PMMA set is left in a cooper etchant for 30 minutes, which eliminates the cooper, leaving only the graphene/PMMA survives. Next, we rinse the graphene/PMMA set with DI water and finish it with the target substrate. Finally, acetone or annealing is used to get rid of the PMMA. The entire process takes approximately 1-1.5 hours.” The new direct transfer method eliminates most of the above steps, except those involving the cooper etchant and the cleaning with DI water. “Therefore,” he adds, “I’d say that direct transfer saves approximately half an hour.”

Araujo points out that a key factor was identifying the important factors needed for a successful transfer onto bare substrates. “The first step was to identify differences and similarities among the substrates we used, or that could be used, in our research – namely, if porous/non-porous, hydrophobic/hydrophilic, soft/hard, behavior of under temperature variation, and so on. Then, through a careful and methodical plan, we had to exclude those differences/similarities which did not play any role in the transfer.” This step was particularly laborious, Araujo says, because it involved multiple direct-transfer experiments carried under the extremely varied conditions. As a result of this effort, the scientists concluded that the most important target substrate factors were its hydrophobicity and contact area with the graphene/copper set.

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Photographs of graphene on (A) a piece of cloth and (B) regular A4 paper. A drop of PMMA was placed in the center of the cloth, so the edges soaked up more FeCl3 etchant than the middle, and is therefore darker. In the case of the paper, the entire surface was uniformly coated with PMMA but the graphene offers some protection from the etchant, resulting in more color contrast. Credit: Copyright © PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1306508110

As to substrates not suitable for a direct transfer, the team also determined that PMMA can be used either as a surface modifier or as a glue to ensure a successful graphene transfer. “First, we needed to see if our hydrophobicity prediction was correct – and PMMA was a very convenient choice, since it’s hydrophobic,” Araujo explains, “and. hydrophobic substrates worked very well for the transfer. We therefore asked if we could turn a hydrophilic substrate, with which the transfer had previously failed, into one that is hydrophobic substrate.” The answer was yes – and we can could use PMMA, since it is soft (meaning that they it could potentially achieve the needed glass temperature transition) and hydrophobic. “However,” he adds,” this led us to another question: If we spincoat PMMA over the hydrophilic substrate, will the transfer work?” Testing showed that it did, enabling graphene transfer onto cloth and paper.

Regarding the team’s demonstration that multilayers enable large area conducting sheets to be placed on most substrates they studied, Kong acknowledges this step was straightforward from the point of view of direct transfer. “Since graphene is hydrophobic, and assuming that the first transfer was successful, we could perform multiple transfers successfully,” he points out. “The hardest part was capturing scanning electron microscope images of multiple-graphenes over the flexible substrates. Being insulators, the substrates get electrically charged very easily, which prevented us from seeing the substrate/graphene set. Also, sheet resistance measurements were tricky, since the fragile substrates are very often damaged by the probes.”

In addressing these challenges, Araujo says that the key insight came from thinking about the critical factors in the interaction between graphene and PMMA/thermal tapes. “The great innovation was certainly to show that, for most commercial substrates, we do not need to use any intermediate membrane to transfer graphene to the . The absence of the intermediate membranes provides a clean transfer which greatly improves the quality of the transferred material. Finally, in my point of view, it’s fantastic to show that we can transfer graphene onto cloth or paper by treating then with a PMMA membrane which offers the environment necessary to make the transfer work – a method can easily be described as a new technique to transfer graphene into this class of substrates.”

In the near future, Kong says that there will be a strong need for alternative ways of harvesting energy. “In this context,” she explains, “the ability to adequately synthesize and manipulate and transfer relevant materials from the growth station to the target platforms is a major problem, since these steps will determine the quality of the final product. The growth of is already quite advanced – and what we’re offering with this research is a simple recipe to make multiple transfers of materials while avoiding contaminants brought along with standard ‘glue-based’ procedures.”

Araujo sees this advance leading to a new era of high quality flexible touch screens, flexible light emitting diodes, flexible sensors, gas filters and solar cells. Furthermore, he notes that with the emergent interest in new layered materials – for example, boron nitride, transition metal dichalcogenides, and oxides – it will become possible to fabricate heterostructures by intercalating different materials. “The different ways in which one intercalates the layered materials provide a whole new class of applications involving electronics, spintronics, superconductivity and optoelectronics,” Araujo says, adding that the residue-free transfer procedure might also represent an advance to building high-quality heterostructures.

“In terms of the planned next steps in our research,” Kong continues, “the extension of our methodology should be tested with other layered materials such, including the boron nitride, transition metal dichalcogenides and oxides those mentioned above as well as other substrates. A more thorough study regarding the temperatures determining the hot/cold transfer should be conducted as well.”

Another challenge Araujo cites is the structural quality of the transferred material. “Even though we’ve demonstrated the residue-free transfer concept and addressed reasons for a successful transfer, the continuity of the transferred film is still not at state-of-the-art. The lack of continuity is welcome for some applications, such as filters – but it’s undesirable in the production of, for example, high-quality touch screen devices. Also,” he concludes,” the extension of this technique to perform this residue-free transfer to rigid substrates is still a challenge – and it’s worth remembering that even though the technological appeal of flexible devices is high, many applications involving, for example, logic circuits, are still strongly connected to rigid substrates.”

Clinical Trial Indicates Gabapentin Is Safe and Effective for Treating Alcohol Dependence.


http://www.scripps.edu/news/press/2013/20131104mason.html

A new topological insulator breaks symmetry, and that’s a good think.


Scientists working at SLAC, Stanford, Oxford, Berkeley Lab and in Tokyo have discovered a new type of quantum material whose lopsided behavior may lend itself to creating novel electronics.

The material is called bismuth tellurochloride, or BiTeCl. It belongs to a class of materials called that conduct electrical current with perfect efficiency on their surfaces, but not through their middles. Researchers hope to exploit their unusual properties to create “spintronic” devices that use the electron’s spin, rather than just its charge, to carry energy and information with 100 percent efficiency and at room temperature.

In an advance reported Oct. 6 in Nature Physics, a team led by Yulin Chen of the University of Oxford discovered a material made of many layers of BiTeCl and showed that it lacks symmetry in one important respect: Electrical current flows differently along its top surface than along its bottom.

Scientists have hoped to create such asymmetric topological insulators for use in novel room-temperature devices, said Chen, who was a staff scientist at SLAC when the experiments began. Although that practical goal is still far away, he said, this is an important step forward.

In conventional electronic chips, two types of semiconducting materials come together to form transistors and diodes. N-type semiconductors have an excess of electrons and are highly conductive. P-type materials are electron-depleted, leaving positively charged “holes” where the electrons used to be. Where these two types of meet in a “p-n junction,” electrons flow from the n to the p layer in a robust one-way current.

Most topological insulators operate as either a p-type or n-type material on both top and bottom surfaces. But BiTeCl is asymmetric: p-type on its top surface and n-type on its bottom. This means the edges of the material could function as p-n junctions – or even many microscopic p-n junctions layered on top of each other. Even better, when the material is placed in a magnetic field, these p-n junctions develop unique edge channels that can conduct electricity with zero resistance, Chen said – and this opens all sorts of possibilities.

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Moreover, this unique type of material can demonstrate many other phenomena. For instance, placing it in a static electric field can induce useful magnetic properties in the material, a phenomenon known as the topological magneto-electric effect, first predicted by theorist Shoucheng Zhang of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences and his group. You could even use an electric charge to induce magnetic monopoles – theorized magnets that have just one pole, north or south, rather than the usual two – and then use this exotic magnetic state to do practical work, such as storing information on a hard drive, Chen said. “This is very bizarre,” he said, “because people have never found magnetic monopoles as fundamental particles.”

To do that, theorists say, the material would have to violate two fundamental symmetries: the one violated by BiTeCl in this study, which is known as inversion symmetry, and time reversal symmetry, which says a process should look the same going forward or backward in time. Breaking both symmetries at once is difficult, Chen said; for example, it requires applying a perpendicularly but in opposite directions on the top and bottom of a thin film. But now that scientists have made a material that breaks the first symmetry, it will be straightforward to break the second one.

For this study, scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology crafted BiTeCl from many alternating layers of bismuth, tellurium and chlorine. It was tested in Stanford University laboratories and at two X-ray light sources – SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory‘s Advanced Light Source.

Researchers hit samples of the material with an X-ray beam, and then used a technique called ARPES to measure the energy and momentum of electrons the beam kicked out of the material. This gave them a clear picture of the material’s electronic state.

“The discovery of this new, asymmetric topological insulator will introduce many new phenomena we are looking for, and provide possibilities for device applications,” said SLAC and Stanford graduate student Zhongkai Liu, who participated in the experiments.

The next step, Chen said, is to purify and improve the material and make high-quality thin films for experiments that try to produce and study the topological magneto-electric effect.

Hopes of hepatitis C cure raised after antiviral drug treatment success.


Sofosbuvir and ledipasvir stop virus replicating in 97% of patients in study reported in the Lancet journal

Hepatitis C virus seen through an electron microscope. Photograph: UIG/Getty

Scientists have reported the successful eradication of hepatitis C in patients using two new antiviral drugs, raising hopes of a possible cure.

In the trial, the virus was eliminated from almost all the patients involved, including those who had not previously responded to existing drugs.

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that spreads via bodily fluids and ends up damaging the liver. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, there is no vaccine and the only treatments include powerful combinations of drugs known as interferons and protease inhibitors. But the treatments have many side-effects, are complex to administer and, in the common type of hepatitis C known as genotype 1, the drugs do not work. If an infection cannot be cured, it can lead to liver cancer.

The new treatment, reported in medical journal the Lancet on Tuesday , consists of the experimental drugs sofosbuvir and ledipasvir. In the trial, 100 patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C were split into groups and given the drugs in a single pill for either eight or 12 weeks. Forty of the participants had previously failed to respond to drugs and half of this group had cirrhotic livers.

After 12 weeks, 97% of the participants had what scientists called a “sustained virological response”, which meant that the hepatitis C virus was not replicating inside them. The patients suffered varying amounts of side-effects, including nausea, anaemia, respiratory tract infections and headaches, but none were considered to be serious.

Professor Eric Lawitz of the University of Texas, who led the study, said the results offered hope to people currently without treatment options: “The results of this trial suggest that the fixed-dose combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir could offer patients a short, all-oral treatment that might be highly effective and safe in patients who tend not to respond well to existing therapies, including individuals with cirrhosis, or black race, resistant strains of the virus.”

Charles Gore, chief executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, said the new drug combination was great news. “We were concerned that those with advanced hepatitis C would remain difficult to treat, but these new direct antivirals are incredibly potent. The results suggest that even the most difficult to treat people will in fact be extremely treatable. It now looks as if almost no one will be excluded from benefiting from treatment, which is an incredible achievement.

“There are a number of exciting new drugs on the horizon. However, of the 215,000 people estimated to be living with the virus in the UK, less than half have been diagnosed. In England, only 3% of hepatitis C patients receive treatment each year. There is no point having these treatments if we can’t use them, so we must ensure that we diagnose more people who can avail of them.”

In 2010, a total of 7,834 new hepatitis C cases were reported in England, though the true figure is probably much higher. Rates of infection are greater in people of African descent than in other ethnic groups.

The virus is present in the blood and, to a much lesser extent, the saliva and semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person.

It is most likely to be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Intravenous drug users who share their needles are known to be especially vulnerable.

Professor Margaret Hellard of the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia, who co-authored a linked comment on the research published in the Lancet, said: “As a proof of concept study, [this] demonstrates very high response rates, regardless of the presence of cirrhosis, prior treatment failure, or [resistant] genotype.”

She cautioned, however, that the study was small, based at a single location and only had a short follow-up, which she said raised concerns about how representative the sample was and whether early clinical trial results could be generalised to real-world settings. “Whilst giving cause for optimism, the full implications of these results need to be tempered for now,” she wrote.