Jurassic Park: Scientists Attempting to Revive Extinct Animals .


De-extinction scientists are planning to bring long-extinct, giant creatures that once roamed the Earth back and put them in a theme park.

And no, that’s not a description of Jurassic Park’s premise. According to a tremendous cover story in the New York Times magazine, biologists started a project called Revive & Restore to bring formerly extinct animals back to life. The carrier pigeon has the most likely path to success, but the team is also working on reviving the wooly mammoth.

And where will the wooly mammoth go? Revive & Restore is already working with a Russian researcher, Sergey Zimov, who created a preserve for potential mammoth-carousing called Pleistocene Park in Siberia.

It’s not clear what the benefits to humanity will be other than an increase in awesomeness if this happens, and a variety of critics are concerned this effort will be too costly, cruel to the animals, and ultimately futile. No one has mentioned velociraptors yet.

David Haussler, the co-founder of the Genome 10K Project, talked to the Times in an attempt to quell concerns about the project. ”There’s always this fear that somehow, if we do it, we’re going to accidentally make something horrible, because only nature can really do it right. But nature is totally random. Nature makes monsters,” Haussler said, pretty much guaranteeing he will be played by Richard Attenborough whenever the movie version of real life comes out.

Why Can’t I Sleep? Your Brain May Be More Adaptable To Change, Keeping You Up At Night.


What’s the difference between someone who cannot fall asleep at night and someone who can? People with chronic insomnia show more plasticity — more adaptability to change — and also more activity in the motor cortex, the region of the brain that controls movement. “Insomnia is the most common disorder seen in clinics,” Dr. Rachel E. Salas, an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Medical Daily. As Salas describes it, insomnia is not just a nighttime disorder but a 24-hour brain condition. “It’s like a car that’s always running or a light switch that’s always on,” she said. “With each person, there may be different factors causing and perpetuating it, so that makes it very difficult to treat. There’s a big need for research in this area.”

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Lights on Across America

About one quarter of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia at some point in their lives, while almost one in ten people experience chronic insomnia. Although ongoing sleep loss has been linked to a number of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, insomnia also causes sufferers to have more immediate problems with memory and concentration as its effects may appear almost immediately. “Patients with insomnia have been shown to have faster EEGs and higher cortisol levels,” Salas said. (EEG measures brain activity, and cortisol is a stress hormone) “In the field this is called hyper-arousal but I look at it more as a dis-regulation of arousal.” For this reason Salas decided, “Let’s look into the brain, let’s see what information we can get using biology.”

For her investigation, Salas and her team of researchers recruited 28 participants over the age of 50 — 18 suffering from insomnia and 10 good sleepers. Next, the researchers placed electrodes and an accelerometer on the dominant thumb of each participant to measure the speed and direction of the thumb’s movements. Then, the researchers made use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for some cases of depression. TMS is able to painlessly deliver electromagnetic currents to precise locations of the brain — non-invasively — and thereby safely disrupt brain activity in these areas.

For this experiment, then, each participant received exactly 65 electrical pulses of TMS to stimulate a specific area of their motor cortex while the researchers watched for involuntary thumb movements. Next, the team of researchers trained each participant for 30 minutes, teaching them to move their thumb in the opposite direction of their involuntary movement. When the training session was completed, the team stimulated participants’ brains with TMS once again. This was their way of measuring the adaptability of participants’ motor cortex — the extent to which their brains could learn to involuntarily move the thumb in a new direction would indicate the level of brain adaptability. “This form of neuroplasticity, following training, is thought to represent the initial steps of encoding simple motor memories,” the researchers wrote in their research paper published in Sleep.

What Did the Team Discover?

The motor cortex region of the brain in those with chronic insomnia was more adaptable to change — more plastic — than in the group of good sleepers. The researchers also found the group of participants suffering chronic insomnia showed more “excitability” among neurons in that very same brain region, suggesting they may be in a constant state of heightened information processing. Their findings, then, were the opposite of what they originally expected.

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“We know sleep is important for all types of memory,” Salas said. “So that’s why we had initially hypothesized that people with insomnia might have less plastic or adaptable brains. We were surprised by the results.” Although the increased plasticity was shown only in the motor cortex, the researchers theorize that increased plasticity may be found throughout the brain.

“Other studies have found patients with chronic insomnia do have problems with more complicated tasks, but with simple tasks they seem to compensate,” Salas told Medical Daily. “Maybe this is some kind of evolutionary compensation — we don’t know. But this research is important because it suggests a new target for new treatments.”

The world’s largest aircraft has been unveiled .


The world's largest aircraft has been unveiled -- and it's a mammoth

Who says our visions of a blimp-filled future are passé? Behold the Airlander, a hybrid air vehicle that’s part blimp, part airplane, and part helicopter. Experts are calling it a ‘game changer’ — and it could revolutionize the transport industry.

Developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd., the Airlander was recently unveiled in Britain’s largest aircraft hanger. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, an avid pilot and HAV investor, was there to meet the press.

“It’s a game changer, in terms of things we can have in the air and things we can do,” he told the BBC. “The airship has always been with us, it’s just been waiting for the technology to catch up.”

The massive aircraft uses both aerodynamics and lighter-than-air (LTA) technology to generate lift (it’s full of inert helium, not explosive hydrogen). It’s 302 feet (92 meters) long, which is about 60 feet longer than the biggest airliners (the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8). And it’s almost 30 feet longer than the massive cargo-carrying Antonov An-225, the longest aircraft ever built. Well, at least until now.

The world's largest aircraft has been unveiled -- and it's a mammoth

The Airlander’s maiden voyage is scheduled for later this year.

The world's largest aircraft has been unveiled -- and it's a mammoth

Once aloft, it can stay there for up to three weeks. It’ll be able to carry 50 tonnes to virtually anywhere in the world — which is 50 times more than a helicopter. It’s green, doesn’t require a runway, and can be controlled remotely. It can even fly with a lot of bullet holes in it, too (hinting at potential military applications).

The world's largest aircraft has been unveiled -- and it's a mammoth

Indeed, this was once a U.S. project, but British developers bought it back. They’re hoping to sell it to oil and mining companies to deliver heavy equipment to remote and highly inaccessible areas. It could also be used for humanitarian purposes, like shipping supplies to poverty-stricken areas or disaster zones.

Breastfeeding’s Long-Term Benefits Overstated, Based On Flawed Data


The long-term benefits of breastfeeding, such as higher IQ and protection from a variety of diseases, may have been overstated by past research.

Although breastfeeding naturally provides the best nutrition to infants, sociologists Cynthia G. Colena and David M. Ramey reported this month in the journal Social Science & Wellbeing that some purported health benefits are based on flawed data. In a study of more than 8,000 American children, the researchers compared life outcomes among siblings as a better look at the effects of breastfeeding, given that so many other variables change from family to family. Past studies had failed to account for a high selection bias in breastfeeding, with “choosier moms” choosing to breastfeed — along with other healthful and helpful behaviors.

For the truest comparison, they examined population data from nearly 1,800 pairs of siblings whose mother breast-fed one and bottle-fed the other. The researchers used longitudinal data to look at 11 health outcomes previously shown influenced by breastfeeding, including body mass index, hyperactivity, math and reading skills, among others.

“Once we restrict analyses to siblings and incorporate within-family fixed effects, estimates of the association between breastfeeding and all but one indicator of child health and wellbeing dramatically decrease and fail to maintain statistical significance,” the researchers said in a statement. “Our results suggest that much of the beneficial long-term effects typically attributed to breastfeeding, per se, may primarily be due to selection pressures into infant feeding practices along key demographic characteristics such as race and socioeconomic status.”

Colena and Ramey designed the study to mimic a natural experiment determining the effects of breastfeeding, with all else equal. Whereas findings from standard multiple regression models yielded improved results for the breastfeeders, bottle-babies did just about as well, the difference deemed statistically insignificant.

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However, the findings don’t challenge notions about the short-term health benefits to breastfeeding, which include greater protection from gut and chest infections. The study only questions the purported benefits of later outcomes with regard to obesity, asthma, hyperactivity, scholastic success, and the strength of parental bonds. Still, many breastfeeding advocates emphasize the broader range of health benefits confered to mother and child, also noting that short-term health serves as the foundation for later wellbeing. The benefits to breastfeeding are myriad, says Seana Rowell, a stay-at-home mother (and blogger) presently staying on New York City’s Upper East Side.

Breastfeeding Benefits Based On Bad Data?

“Regardless of whether the benefits into adulthood can be confirmed, or even tracked, the benefits to the infant and toddler are clear. Palate development, teeth, ability to recover easily from illness, social and developmental aid through toddler years; all benefits of breastfeeding,” she told Medical Daily by email. “It stands to reason that a healthier beginning in life would impact all stages of growth and development.”

Other breastfeeding advocates on Facebook questioned the study’s finding, suggesting the small cabal of baby formula manufacturers might have had something to do with it. In fact, the study was funded by a grant to Ohio State University by the U.S. government’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Intitute of Child Health and Human Development.

New highly radioactive water leak detected at Fukushima nuclear power plant.


More blunders at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan, now defunct, have led to yet another major environmental disaster, indicate new reports. Workers from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the shuttered utility, apparently forgot to turn off an overflow valve at an onsite storage tank recently, causing the release of 100 metric tons of highly radioactive water into the ground.

According to Reuters, this latest leak is the worst to occur at the plant since an earlier one back in August which sent some 300 metric tons of contaminated water into the environment unmitigatedly. This earlier event ranked at level three on the seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), which is considered to be a “serious incident.”

In this latest occurrence, a Fukushima storage tank designed to allow for the tapered release of contaminated water into a nearby holding area was improperly monitored, resulting in a continuous release of radioactive waste. And had a worker not just so happened to be walking by and seen water dripping from one of the tank’s drains, this major failure could have persisted for far longer.

“We are taking various measures, but we apologize for worrying the public with such a leak,” insisted TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono, as quoted by Reuters. “Water is unlikely to have reached the ocean as there is no drainage in that tank area.”

But the integrity of Ono’s statements on behalf of his company are questionable, especially considering that TEPCO has been caught in multiple lies about the severity of the situation at the stricken facility. It was recently discovered, for instance, that TEPCO intentionally withheld data about high levels of strontium-90 detected in an onsite water well.

TEPCO has also repeatedly understated the extent of damage sustained at Fukushima’s reactors, three of which experienced complete meltdowns in the days and weeks following the disaster. From the scandal involving TEPCO’s alleged alteration of photos to hide cracks at the plant’s Unit 4 reactor to the company’s repeated denials that anyone would become sick from radiation leaks, TEPCO has proven that the last thing it is concerned about is telling the truth.

WHO aids TEPCO in spreading propaganda about how Fukushima is perfectly safe

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also been complicit in the coverup, with the publishing of a report downplaying the severity of the disaster. Just days before the two-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, WHO told the media that it was likely nobody would become ill from Fukushima radiation, a blatant lie that was picked up and repeated ad nauseum by the mainstream media.

“The extent and quantity of radiation released from the accident has intentionally been suppressed,” explains Nuclear-News.com. “[A]nd unless the public can gain access to the highest echelons of governmental secrets, we will never know the full truth of how much radiation was released, where it was deposited and whose health was or will be affected.”

WHO has been so bold in asserting that Fukushima is no big deal that the international body actually accused those with reported radiation sickness of having a psychological illness rather than a physical one. If everyone just smiled more often, claims the organization, then the negative health impacts of radiation will diminish.

“These depraved assertions are indicative of the specious and insidious lengths WHO and their media lackeys are prepared to go in order to obfuscate and cover-up what is one of the most severe threats to human health in modern history.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.reuters.com

http://enenews.com

http://nuclear-news.net

http://science.naturalnews.com

Insomniacs’ Brains May Work Differently .


The brains of insomniacs buzz with more activity during the day, preliminary new research suggests, offering possible insight into why people with sleep problems complain that their minds won’t shut down at night.

The findings, based on a small study of 28 people aged 50 and older, aren’t definitive and won’t immediately lead to help for insomniacs. But the results are “potentially getting us closer to different types of treatment to treat this excitability they’re having in the brain,” said study lead author Dr. Rachel Salas, a neurologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institution, in Baltimore.

At issue: The millions of people who suffer from insomnia. About 10 percent to 15 percent of adults in the United States think they have chronic insomnia, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, while surveys by the National Sleep Foundation report that many more suffer from symptoms of troubled sleep.

Insomnia has many causes, such as sleep apnea, side effects of medications and consumption of caffeine. It is often difficult to treat.

In the new study, researchers used a type of noninvasive electromagnetic stimulation to look at “plasticity” — the brain’s ability to remake itself moment by moment as we learn new things and make new memories.

“The more plastic your brain, the better it’s able to adapt to new memories and new learning or an event like a stroke,” Salas said. “It’s usually a good thing. You want your brain to be able to adapt and change to keep up with what you need it to do.”

The researchers thought the brains of insomniacs would be more sluggish. But the study, which tracked brain activity in 18 people with sleep problems and 10 people who didn’t have trouble sleeping, found the opposite, at least when they were awake.

The brains of insomniacs were busier than those of the normal sleepers, Salas said. “It’s like they’re constantly on, constantly being activated,” she explained.

This fits in with the experiences of some insomniacs who say they can’t sleep because their brains are always revved up, she said.

Still, these revved-up brains may not be able to compensate for the daytime troubles caused by sleeplessness, such as the accidents and mistakes that plague insomniacs. And then there’s the fact that scientists theorize that sleep — whose very purpose is unknown — “is important for brain plasticity,” said Marcos Frank, an associate professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

If insomnia makes the brain busier and more plastic, how would that fit in with the idea that sleep is supposed to do that? One possibility is that an overactive brain has trouble prioritizing things and overreacts to “innocuous events,” said Frank, who’s familiar with the new study findings.

He praised the study, but noted that it’s small and limited. “It would have been more interesting if tests of other types of plasticity were also performed, but it’s a good start,” he said.

Holding On and Hiding Out: How Cancer Cells Spread to the Brain and Thrive | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center


 Pictured: Cancer cell on blood vessel
This image shows a breast cancer cell (green) clinging to a blood capillary (purple) in the brain.

Metastasis, the process that allows some cancer cells to break off from their tumor of origin and take root in a different tissue, is the most common reason people die from cancer. Yet most tumor cells die before they reach their next destination, especially if that destination is the brain. In people with lung cancer, for example, occasional tumor cells may enter the bloodstream and infiltrate the brain, but very few survive long enough to seed new tumors.

Now a team of Memorial Sloan Kettering scientists has looked into why most circulating tumor cells die upon reaching the brain and why, in exceptional cases, other cells don’t. Their latest study, published today in the journal Cell, identifies genes and proteins that control the survival of metastatic breast and lung cancer cells in the brain.

These survival factors might one day be targeted with drugs to further diminish people’s risk of metastasis. According to the study’s senior author, Sloan Kettering Institute Director Joan Massagué, a single mechanism is likely to enable cancer cells to colonize various organs, including the brain, in a number of disease types.

An Understudied Disease Type

Metastatic brain tumors occur in several types of cancer — including breast, lung, and colorectal cancer, among others — and are estimated to be about ten times more common than primary brain cancers. Until now, little research has been done into how metastatic brain tumors develop.

Dr. Massagué and his coworkers began to tackle this problem four years ago and have since learned that the brain is better protected than most organs against colonization by circulating tumor cells. To seed in the brain, a cancer cell must dislodge from its tumor of origin, enter the bloodstream, and cross a densely packed vasculature structure called the blood-brain barrier. Mouse experiments in which metastatic breast cancer cells were labeled and imaged over time revealed that a very small number were able to complete this journey, and of those cells that did make it to the brain, fewer than one in 1,000 survived.

“We didn’t know why so many of these cells die,” Dr. Massagué says. “What kills them? And how do occasional cells survive in this vulnerable state — sometimes hiding out in the brain for years — to eventually spawn new tumors? What keeps these rare cells alive and where do they hide?”

Dodging Death Signals

To answer these questions the researchers conducted experiments in mouse models of breast and lung cancer, two tumor types that often spread to the brain, investigating a panel of genes that have been linked to brain metastasis. Their research revealed that many cancer cells that enter the brain are killed by astrocytes — the most common type of brain cell — that secrete a protein called Fas ligand.

When cancer cells encounter this protein, they are triggered to self-destruct by the activation of an internal death program. The study also showed that the exceptional cancer cells that escape do so by producing a protein called Serpin, which acts as a sort of antidote to the death signals fired at them by nearby astrocytes.

Hugging Blood Vessels

The researchers used imaging methods to examine the behavior of these defiant metastatic cells in the brains of mice. They noticed that the surviving cells grew on top of blood capillaries — each cell sticking closely to its vessel “like a panda bear hugging a tree trunk,” Dr. Massagué says.

“This hugging is clearly essential,” he explains. “If a tumor cell detaches from its vessel, it gets killed by nearby astrocytes. By staying on, it gets nourished and protected, and may eventually start dividing to form a sheath around the vessel.”

Under the microscope, the researchers watched these sheaths grow into tiny balls, which eventually became tumors. “Once you’ve seen it, you can never forget this image,” Dr. Massagué says.

The scientists also did experiments to pinpoint the molecular basis of the cells’ behavior and showed that a protein produced by the tumor cells acts as a kind of Velcro, attaching the cells to the outer wall of a blood vessel.

Therapeutic Ideas

The findings give scientists new possibilities to understand and study the biology of metastasis, and could also lead to the development of new therapies that would work by strengthening the natural impediments to metastasis. The study identifies several mechanisms such drugs could target. Dr. Massagué is particularly interested in the ability of some tumor cells to hug blood vessels, as he suspects this behavior may be essential for the survival of metastatic cancer cells not only in the brain but also in other parts of the body where metastatic tumor growth can occur.

“Most cancer patients are actually at risk of having their tumor spread to multiple sites,” Dr. Massagué notes. For example, breast cancers can metastasize to the bones, lungs, and liver as well as to the brain. “What we may be looking at,” he adds, “is a future way to prevent metastasis to many organs simultaneously,” using drugs that make tumor cells let go of the blood vessels they cling to.

How climate change ended world’s first great civilisations.


‘Megacities’ of the Indus Valley region of Pakistan and north-west India declined and never recovered because of a dramatic increase in drought conditions, according to new research

The world’s first great civilisations appear to have collapsed because of an ancient episode of climate change – according to new research carried out by scientists and archaeologists.

Their investigation demonstrates that the Bronze Age ‘megacities’ of the Indus Valley region of Pakistan and north-west India declined during the 21st and 20th centuries BC and never recovered – because of a dramatic increase in drought conditions.

The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge and India’s Banaras Hindu University, reveals that a series of droughts lasting some 200 years hit the Indus Valley zone – and was probably responsible for the rapid decline of the great Bronze Age urban civilization of that region.

The findings correlate chronologically with drought evidence found over recent years by other scientists who have examined deposits from the bottom of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman as well as stalactites from caves in North east India and southern Arabia.

It’s now thought likely that the droughts at around that time were partly responsible for the collapse not only of the Indus Valley Civilisation, but also of the ancient Akkadian Empire, Old Kingdom Egypt and possibly Early Bronze Age civilizations in Greece.

“Our evidence suggests that it was the most intense period of drought – probably due to frequent monsoon failure –  in the 5000 year-long period we have examined,” said  University of Cambridge Palaeoclimate scientist Professor David Hodell.

The scientists studying the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization obtained their new evidence from a dried-up lake bed near India’s capital New Delhi which is just 40 miles east of the eastern edge of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

They detected the climatic conditions by examining isotopic evidence from the shells of snails that had lived between 6500 years ago and 1500 years ago.

The isotopic values of the calcium carbonate in the snails’ shells reflected the isotopic value in the water in the lakes at the time they lived.

Because water with oxygen 16 isotopes evaporates more quickly than water with ‘heavier’ oxygen 18 isotopes, the scientists were able to measure changes in evaporation rates over time. This allowed them to identify the start and end of a previously unknown 200 year-long severe drought in the north-west India region which lasted from around 2100BC to approximately 1900 BC.

In that period, the Indus Valley ‘megacities’ – some with populations of up to 100,000 – rapidly declined. Populations shrank and the old urban civilisation, which had lasted 500 years, collapsed.

“Archaeologists are really in a unique position when investigating climate change in the past, because we hopefully get to see what people were doing in the ‘before, during and after’ phases. We therefore get an opportunity to investigate how ancient populations responded to climatic and environmental change. How did they cope with periods of water stress? Were their existing ways of life resilient? Were they forced to adapt in order to survive, and if so, precisely what did they do,” said University of Cambridge archaeologist,  Dr. Cameron Petrie.

“For the Indus populations, it looks as though living in large groups became untenable, and it was much more sustainable to live in smaller groups. This is of course a huge simplification of a complex process, but this transformation is the underlying dynamic.

“By investigating responses to environmental pressures and threats in the past, we can hopefully learn from the past to engage with the public, and the relevant governmental and administrative bodies to be more pro-active in issues such as the management and administration of water supply, the balance of urban and rural development, and even the importance of preserving cultural heritage in the future,” said Dr. Petrie.

Japanese Scientists Prove That Auras Actually Exist.


A group of Japanese scientists from the University of Tokyo under the supervision of Mio Watanabe, conducted a series of experiments by which they managed to visually capture the aura of a person, thus proving its existence! With the assistance of highly sensitive cameras the scientists were able to photograph a person’s special glow. Notably, the glow appears brightest in the morning and seems to “fade” in the evening. It is most visible around the face, mouth, cheeks and neck. Experts believe that this technique could become a new tool for use in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. A faint glow around certain body parts may indicate the presence of a disease or disorder.

It is astounding that the existence of an aura remains in doubt if techniques for photographing it have existed for decades? The pioneers in this field, in fact, are the Kirlians, to this day any halos around photographed objects are referred to as the “Kirlian effect”. In their time the couple patented many inventions to photograph the glow and captured many images of it. Over time, they noticed that the images varied from person to person.

A group of Japanese scientists from the University of Tokyo under the supervision of Mio Watanabe, conducted a series of experiments by which they managed to visually capture the aura of a person, thus proving its existence! With the assistance of highly sensitive cameras the scientists were able to photograph a person’s special glow. Notably, the glow appears brightest in the morning and seems to “fade” in the evening. It is most visible around the face, mouth, cheeks and neck. Experts believe that this technique could become a new tool for use in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. A faint glow around certain body parts may indicate the presence of a disease or disorder.

It is astounding that the existence of an aura remains in doubt if techniques for photographing it have existed for decades? The pioneers in this field, in fact, are the Kirlians, to this day any halos around photographed objects are referred to as the “Kirlian effect”. In their time the couple patented many inventions to photograph the glow and captured many images of it. Over time, they noticed that the images varied from person to person.

From the intensity of the glow, the Kirlians learned to determine the total activity of the body, the efficiency of different drugs and treatments, as well as the state of organs and systems. Today the GDV method is fairly well developed and can be used to conduct a general analysis of the whole body. The pictures are qualitatively and objectively interpreted reducing the risk of medical errors. The effectiveness of different treatments can be detected individually.

GDV is based on light emissions which appear in high voltage electromagnetic fields. If it were to become widely used in traditional diagnosis then, with its help, doctors could not only easily carry out common diagnosis at a given moment but also identify diseases which may occur in the future. This could greatly improve the quality of preventive care.

Needless to say, that in the traditional ancient oriental medicine the concept of the aura is well understood and commonly accepted. Eastern practices, both medical and spiritual, are initially directed at correcting the aura i.e. the spiritual body rather than the physical. Recovery on a physical level, therefore, is only a consequence of balancing the aura. These ancient texts also offer a very detailed analysis of the spiritual body – the energy centers, meridians, channels, etc.

CTE in soccer, rugby players


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in many athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Symptoms include depression, aggression, and disorientation, but so far scientists can only definitively diagnose it after death. Hall of Famer Mike Webster was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. After his retirement, Webster suffered from amnesia, dementia, depression, and bone and muscle pain.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in many athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. Symptoms include depression, aggression, and disorientation, but so far scientists can only definitively diagnose it after death. Hall of Famer Mike Webster was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. After his retirement, Webster suffered from amnesia, dementia, depression, and bone and muscle pain.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new study identifies CTE in soccer and rugby players
  • CTE can develop from repeated blows to the head
  • The research raises questions about “heading” in soccer

The disease that carves an insidious path through the brain seems to be doing the same through sports.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease associated with concussions, has been identified in both a soccer and a rugby player, according to a review in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.

The brain tissue of people found to have CTE displays an abnormal build-up of tau — a protein that, when it spills out of cells, can choke off, or disable, neural pathways controlling things like memory, judgment and fear. CTE can be diagnosed only after death.

According to Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist who has examined dozens of brains found to have CTE, the brain of the soccer player — Patrick Grange — displayed diffuse disease.

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“There was very severe degeneration of the frontal lobes with widespread tau pathology in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes,” McKee, director of neuropathology at the Bedford VA Medical Center, said in an e-mail. “He is one of the youngest players to have shown this much disease.”

Former NFLer: ‘Your mind just goes crazy’

Grange played with the Chicago Fire Reserve MLS team and the Albuquerque Asylum semi-pro team, according to his obituary. He died in 2012 at 29 after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare, incurable neurodegenerative disease. About 13% of the 103 CTE cases uncovered by McKee and colleagues also showed evidence of progressive motor neuron disease.

“(Grange) had no known genetic predisposition for ALS,” said McKee, professor of neurology and pathology at the Boston University School of Medicine. “And no family members have been diagnosed with ALS.”

An autopsy showed that Grange had Stage 2 CTE with motor neuron disease, according to a statement from Boston University.

His case is interesting because it raises questions about the relationship between heading the ball and CTE.

“The fact that Patrick Grange was a prolific header is important,” Chris Nowinski, co-founder and executive director of the Sports Legacy Institute, said in an e-mail. “We need a larger discussion around at what age we introduce headers, and how we set limits to exposure once it is introduced.”

Heading would seem to be innocuous compared with the brutal hits that can be dealt in a football or hockey game, but the damage, according to studies, can add up. Headers in soccer are associated with microstructural damage to brain tissue and memory problems; and an Italian study linked them with ALS.

Similarly, researchers found Australian rugby union player Barry “Tizza” Taylor died in 2013 of complications of severe CTE with dementia at age 77. Taylor played for 19 years in amateur and senior leagues before becoming a coach, according to Boston University.

“Cognitive problems, memory loss, attention difficulties and executive dysfunction were first noted in his mid-50s, followed by depression and anxiety, worsening explosivity and impulsivity,” the statement said. By his mid-60s, the statement said, Taylor was “physically and verbally abusive” and “paranoid.”

CTE is most commonly associated with football and boxing, but the disease has been found in the brain tissue of hockey players, wrestlers and, recently, in a Major League Baseball player.

With the most recent findings, it would seem that virtually no sport is immune.