Girl aged 5 survives FOUR heart attacks in 45 minutes after severe reaction to throat infection.

A girl of five had four heart attacks sparked by a reaction to a sore throat – and lived.

Little Ava Mear turned a deep shade of purple as the rash spread over her body. And she ballooned in size after frantic doctors pumped her full of fluids in a bid to save her.

The horror reaction caused her heart to fail three times in quick succession. And when it happened for a fourth time in just 45 minutes, medics warned parents Clive and Mary-Jane to prepare for the worst.

But fighter Ava pulled through after she was hooked up to an artificial lung machine that oxygenated her blood and pumped it round her ailing body.

Photographer Clive, 44, said: “After her third heart attack a surgeon told us about a risky procedure they could try. I just cut him off. I said, ‘Do it, do it now.’

“Ava looked like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, bless her. She was purple from head to toe. She’s our little miracle.

“If she had been at a hospital with no ability to bypass her heart she wouldn’t be here today. My wife was like mush in my arms.”

Ava’s ordeal began on January 27 when she suffered a reaction to Strep A, a bacteria that caused her sore throat.

It started as a small rash but when the youngster started breathing heavily Clive and 42-year-old Mary-Jane, of Caddington, Beds, took her to Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

Worried doctors sent her straight to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where she was put on the lung machine, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Ava, who has a 10-year-old brother Alfie, is now back at Luton and Dunstable and recovering well. The youngster also suffers rare condition Cerebro Costo ­Mandibular Syndrome, meaning she has no ribs at the front of her chest.

Her parents are now trying to raise £80,000 to buy two more ECMO machine for Great Ormond Street.

Genetically Modified Foods Could Cause Long-term Sterility.


I strongly believe that one of the most obvious clues about the danger of GMO foods are that just about EVERY species of animal that is offered a GMO food versus a non-GMO food will avoid the GMO one. Many times they will do this to the point of starvation, as they have an intuitive sense of the danger of this food.

Please listen to the interview as Jeffery expands on this point in great detail. It’s one you can use to effectively share with your friends and family who are not yet convinced of the dangers of GMO foods.

If you have more time with them you can bring up the sterility argument that is expanded upon with these new research findings. You might have read this before that genetically modified foods may cause sterility in future generations but now the latest research from Russia provides shocking confirmation of this potential.

This study, which was conducted by the Russian equivalent of the US National Association for Gene Security, has not yet been published, but its findings were recently announced. It’s anticipated that the details will be published later this summer.


Russian Scientists Find Third Generation of Hamsters Sterilized by GM Soy


The release of this new information provides yet another health risk, and confirmation on earlier problems related to fertility, birth weight of offspring, and infant mortality.

In this feeding study they used hamsters, an animal which has not been previously featured in GM safety studies.

One group of hamsters was fed a normal diet without any soy whatsoever, a second group was fed non-GMO soy, a third ate GM soy, and a fourth group ate an even higher amount of GM soy than the third.

Using the same genetically modified (GM) soy that is produced on over 90 percent of the soy acreage in the US, the hamsters and their offspring were fed their respective diets over a period of two years, during which time the researchers evaluated three generations of hamsters.

First they took five pairs of hamsters from each group, each of which produced about seven to eight litters each, totaling about 140 animals.

At first all went well, but serious problems became apparent when they selected new pairs from the offspring.

The first problem was that this second generation had a slower growth rate and reached their sexual maturity later than normal.

However, this second generation eventually generated another 39 litters:

  • The no-soy control group had 52 pups
  • The non-GM soy had 78
  • The GM soy had only 40, of which 25 percent died

So these second-generation GM soy-fed hamsters had a five-fold higher infant mortality rate, compared tothe 5 percent normal death rate that was happening in the controls.


Nearly All of the Third-Generation GMO Babies Were Sterile!


But then an even bigger problem became apparent, because nearly all of the third generation hamsters lost the ability to have babies altogether.

Only a single third-generation female hamster gave birth to 16 pups, and of those, one fifth died.

In short, nearly the entire third generation of GM soy eaters were sterile!

But it doesn’t end there.

In the GM soy-fed groups they also found an unusually high prevalence of an otherwise extremely rare phenomenon – hair growing inside the animals’ mouths. (You can see the images here.)

Says Smith:

“… it’s a very rare phenomenon but he [study author, Dr. Surov] had never in his life seen more hair in mouths of hamsters than with these GM soy-fed, third generation hamsters.”

As you may know, genetically modified crops weren’t released until 1996, starting with GM soy, corn and cotton. Modified canola came about a year later.

Please remember humans have MUCH longer life spans than rats and that GMO foods were only introduced in 1996.  This is LESS than one generation.

So we’re still nowhere near seeing the full effects of these potential ramifications in humans, as we’re only about 15 years into it. But if the effects are anything like the effects on numerous types of animals, we could be looking at sterility on a grand scale as our great-grandchildren grow up and begin to try to procreate…

The fact that the US is completely unwilling to implement the precautionary principle with regards to GM foods is incomprehensible in light of the findings we already have from animal studies.

Additionally, some 800 genetically engineered food applications have been submitted to the USDA, but not one single environmental impact statement has been prepared. So not only are human health ramifications ignored, but the entire eco system is being jeopardized.


Rampant Conflicts of Interest Put You and Your Family at Great Risk


Unfortunately, it’s clear that the US government is not in a position to make reasonable and responsible decisions related to GMOs at this point, when you consider the fact that the Obama administration has placed former Monsanto attorney and Vice President, Michael Taylor, in charge of US food safety, and serious conflicts of interest even reign supreme within the US Supreme Court!

That’s right. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is also a former Monsanto attorney, but refuses to acknowledge any conflict of interest as he’s hearing Monsanto’s third appeal for deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa seeds.

After corn, soy and wheat, alfalfa is the most widely grown crop in the US, so allowing GM alfalfa to be deregulated could spell disaster in several ways. It’s easily cross-pollinated by bees and wind, and it’s a perennial, meaning GM alfalfa could live on for years, spreading their genetically modified traits far and wide for a long period of time.

It remains to be seen how Justice Thomas rules in this case…

But in addition to conflicts of interest, we’re also dealing with government agencies that refuse to acknowledge the science produced by their own scientists.

Closely tied to the production of GM crops is the use of the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate. Monsanto’s Roundup is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and contrary to the popular belief propagated by industry, pesticide use has significantly increased – DOUBLED since 2005 — rather than decreased with the use of GM crops.

As it turns out, this is a serious problem for more reasons than one. Not only are GM food crops saturated with more pesticides than ever before, which naturally ends up in your body when you eat them, but glyphosate may also be killing the soil itself.

This startling conclusion comes straight from one of the USDA’s own scientists, Dr. Kremer. However, his employer has opted to more or less ignore his findings, which, according to this article in Grist, include evidence that glyphosate causes:

  • damage to beneficial microbes in the soil increasing the likelihood of infection of a crop by soil pathogens
  • interference with nutrient uptake by the plant
  • reduced efficiency of symbiotic nitrogen fixation
  • overall lower-than-expected plant productivity


More Evidence of Reproductive Problems from Eating GM Foods




But let’s get back to the infertility caused in animals.

The evidence of third-generation sterility in hamsters is just one link in a chain of studies that show evidence of this tragic side effect.

For example, back in 2005, Dr. Irina Ermakova, one of the senior scientists with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than 50 percent of the babies from mother rats that were fed GM soy died within three weeks, compared to a 10 percent death rate among the controls.

Again, that’s a death rate five times higher than normal – identical to the findings in the hamster study above.

Similarly, the rats were also growing more slowly, just like the hamsters, and their offspring also had lower birth weights. And again, when the rats’ offspring tried to reproduce, they too were found to be mostly sterile, but it happened sooner, with infertility striking the second generation of rats, as opposed to the third generation of hamsters.

Ermakova wanted to perform further studies to analyze the organs she’d collected from the study, but she never got the chance. Says Smith:

“She told me as we were sitting at the EU Parliament after giving a presentation there, that her boss had been pressured by his boss.

So, she was told to do no more GM food study on animals, her documents were burned on her desk, samples were stolen from her laboratory, and one of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Well maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem on earth.”

She wasn’t impressed.”

Neither am I.

However, she inadvertently stumbled upon further proof that GM soy wreaks havoc with reproductive health. She discovered that the rat chow being fed to all rats in the facility had been switched, so that all of it contained GM soy… Two months later she asked her colleagues whether or not they’d discovered any surprising changes in the infant mortality of their various studies, and yes indeed, they had!

Inexplicably, infant mortality in the animal studies performed at the National Academy of Scientific Laboratory in Moscow had skyrocketed to over 55 percent, sometimes higher.

There’s more evidence of reproductive health being harmed in various ways. Smith explains:

“[Ermakova] gave me a slide of a completely new study in which she fed male rats genetically modified soy, and it’s absolutely stunning.

On the left side of the slide is a pink testicle. On the right side of the slide, is a blue testicle.

She said that when the GM soy was fed to the male rats, it changed the color of their testicles from pink to blue, and you could see the cells on another slide, left to right, the structure of the cells in the testicle was different; a completely different blood flow.

And this reminded me of what they had studied in Italy, where they fed mice genetically modified soy and they also had changes in their testicles, including damage to the young sperm cells.

Now, if you’re damaging the young sperm cells, it could result in one of two things. They can result in infertility, or problems with the offspring.

Well, it appears that they may have had both.

In fact, with the mice, they looked at the offspring and they took the embryos out of the pregnant mothers and looked at how the DNA was functioning. And they compared the DNA of those who were born to GM soy-fed parents versus those who were fed non-GM soy and the DNA functioned differently.

So we’re seeing a fundamental change in the offspring of mice that were fed genetically modified soy, whose parents were also fed genetically modified soy.”

Other feeding studies using GM corn have also produced similar results. For example, mice fed GM corn had increasingly fewer and smaller babies the longer they stayed on the GM diet.

There are also plenty of reports about pigs, cows and other livestock having reproductive problems when fed genetically modified feed.


It’s Time to Save Yourself and Your Famiy Because White Knights Don’t Exist in Government


It’s important to realize that the key to ending the ongoing atrocity of GM foods lies not with government, but with you and me.

Consumers are going to have to drive GM foods out, and we CAN do it.

Through educating yourself, your family, friends and community about GMOs, and most importantly of all, through the food purchases you make, you can stop this unregulated science experiment.

Once we reach the tipping point, which is probably as little as five percent of the US population, the market WILL respond. They can’t afford not to!

Once enough people refuse to buy GM food products, it won’t be long before food manufacturers start switching their ingredients.


How to Sniff Out GMOs and Vote with Your Pocketbook


You CAN avoid GMOs, if you know what to look for.

First of all, remember there are eight genetically modified food crops:

  1. Soy
  2. Corn
  3. Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)
  4. Canola (canola oil)
  5. Sugar from sugar beets
  6. Hawaiian papaya
  7. Some varieties of zucchini
  8. Crookneck squash

Based on this list, anything containing soy or soy derivatives should be avoided, as well as anything containing corn, the most obvious ingredient being high fructose corn syrup.

The easiest way to avoid ending up with GM foods in your shopping cart is to do some pre-planning using this free <a href=”>non-GMO shopping guide.</p> <p><i>The </i><i><a href=” target=”_blank”>Institute for Responsible Technology has also created a free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

The shopping guide lists the various derivatives of each crop to be avoided, and even better, it lists hundreds of brand products in 22 food categories that are non-GMO, so if you’re still buying processed foods, at least you can easily select a brand that does not use genetically modified ingredients.


Tipping Point… If Europe Did it, the US Can Too!


Getting into a shopping habit of continually avoiding GM food products will create pressure on the marketplace, without which there is little hope. So take this one step! Download the shopping guide, and make note of which brands to buy and which ones to avoid like the plague that they are.

Europe managed to reach their tipping point in April of 1999, ELEVEN YEARS AGO(!), within a single week of negative media which swayed the shopping habits of consumers enough for food companies to commit to stop using GM ingredients.

The idea that consumers have tremendous power is not wishful thinking. It’s an absolute fact.

Monsanto could probably be effectively bankrupted by the end of this year, if enough consumers were to take individual, proactive steps to avoid purchasing anything even remotely related to their business.

Another point that validates the effectiveness of this consumer-driven strategy is the progress we’re now seeing with high fructose corn syrup. Within the last few weeks, several major corporations have declared they’re taking HFCS out of their products due to consumer demand.

From the desk of Zedie.

The Mother Of All Antioxidants.

We have all heard of antioxidants, but have we heard of the mother of all antioxidants? One that is the secret to prevent cancer, heart disease, aging, neurological issues and more? This single antioxidant has been studied in great depth yet most of us know nothing about it and  many doctors have no idea how to address the epidemic of its deficiency in humans.


We are of course talking about Glutathione (pronounced “gloota-thigh-own.”) This is a powerful detoxifier and immune booster and is crucial to a healthy life. Although the body does make some of its own Glutathione, poor food quality, pollution, toxic environments, stress, infections and radiation are all depleting out bodies glutathione.

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a simple molecule produced naturally in the body at all times. It’s a combination of three building blocks of protein or amino acids — cysteine, glycine and glutamine.

The best part of glutathione is that is contains sulfur chemical groups that work to trap all the bad things like free radicals and toxins such as mercury and heavy metals in our body then flush them out. This is especially important in our current world of heavy metal bombardment.

Where Can You Get Glutathione?

The body makes it, but it’s often not enough in our strenuous environment. Here are some food sources that either contain glutathione or its precursors to help the body produce more.

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Cinnamon
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric (Curcumin)
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Red peppers

Notice they are all healthy foods we often don’t get enough of? This is another big issue with our diets. We consume a lot of junk, meat, dairy and processed foods, items that clinically have been proven to be the number one causes of heart disease and illness yet we consume  them in huge quantities. The key is to limit these and eat a lot of fresh, lively foods that provide nutrients and don’t ask the body to perform a mega job to digest.

You can also increase your exercise as glutathione production increases when you exercise. Breathing and sweating are also great ways to get rid of toxins in the body.

Glutathione Protects Against Chronic Illness

What makes glutathione so important and powerful is that it recycles antioxidants. When your body is dealing with free radicals, it is essentially passing them from one molecule to another. They might go from vitamin C to vitamin E to lipoic acid and then to glutathione where they are cooled off. Antioxidants are recycled at this point and the body can now regenerate another glutathione molecule to go back at it again.

Glutathione is crucial for helping your immune system fight chronic illness as it acts as the carrier of toxins out of your body. Like a fly trap, toxins stick to glutathione and they are carried to the bile into the stools and out of the body. Glutathione is also powerful enough that it has been shown to help in the treatment of AIDS greatly. The body is going to get in touch with oxidants and toxins, the more we can deal with those the better our body will be at staying strong, this is why glutathione is so important.

9 Final Tips

Dr. Mark Thyman has given 9 tips to increase your Glutathione levels. Check them out!

1. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.).

2. Try bioactive whey protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. As you know, I am not a big fan of dairy, but this is an exception — with a few warnings. The whey protein MUST be bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins (“denaturing” refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure). Choose non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Immunocal is a prescription bioactive non-denatured whey protein that is even listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference.

3. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.

One would think it would be easy just to take glutathione as a pill, but the body digests protein — so you wouldn’t get the benefits if you did it this way. However, the production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. Besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting my glutathione levels with these supplements is the most important thing I do every day for my personal health.

4. N-acetyl-cysteine. This has been used for years to help treat asthma and lung disease and to treat people with life-threatening liver failure from Tylenol overdose. In fact, I first learned about it in medical school while working in the emergency room. It is even given to prevent kidney damage from dyes used during x-ray studies.

5. Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. The body usually makes it, but given all the stresses we are under, we often become depleted.

6. Methylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12). These are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).

7. Selenium. This important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.

8. A family of antioxidants including vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols), work together to recycle glutathione.

9. Milk thistle (silymarin) has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels.


Haiti’s deadly cholera ‘could strike again’

In January 2010 a seven-point magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, killing more than 250,000 people and damaging its infrastructure, including some water systems.

Even before the quake, Haiti’s water systems were fragile, and just months after the quake the country was hit with a devastating cholera outbreak — the first in nearly a century. By the time the outbreak subsided, more than 8,000 people had died and hundreds of thousands more had become sick.

Independent studies suggest the outbreak was caused by U.N. peacekeepers who improperly disposed of fecal matter that ended up in Haiti’s Artibonite River, a main tributary, where people bathe. In its own report, the U.N. concluded that the outbreak was “the result of bacteria introduced into Haiti as a result of human activity” — but the organization says water and sanitation and healthcare system deficiencies allowed the bacteria to spread.

“A cholera patient excretes the cholera bacteria in huge numbers and, if that excreta gets into the water or the food supply and other people consume it, they too will become ill and they’ll amplify that by contaminating more water and more food,” explains Dr. Eric Mintz, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta. “That’s where you see these incredibly rapid epidemics of cholera, and that tells you that the water is unsafe.”

Today, Haiti’s Mirebalais University Hospital is training new doctors for another cholera outbreak.

“That could happen again, particularly in parts of the country where people have not had a lot of cholera,” says Mintz. “They may not have the experience to recognize it. They may not know what to do in terms of treatment. We certainly can’t stop now and declare victory.”

MRSA Spreads in Households.

Genome sequencing has revealed how a strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) spread through parts of New York City. Although MRSA is often associated with public spaces such as hospital and gyms, researchers say that private homes helped to fuel its travels in the New York neighborhoods of Manhattan and the Bronx.

New York bacteria

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests a framework for other investigations into how pathogens colonize and infect communities.

Researchers examined the prevalence of the USA300 strain in northern Manhattan and the Bronx, where it has caused an epidemic of skin and soft-tissue infections in recent years. In 2009, it was responsible for around 75% of community-acquired MRSA infections in northern Manhattan.

Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, a microbiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and her colleagues sequenced the genomes of 400 samples of MRSA collected from 161 people between 2009 and 2011, and compared them with samples from healthy people (many healthy people carry S. aureus bacteria, which could be MRSA). They also gathered data on study participants’ medical histories, antibiotic use and home locations to identify a network of USA300 transmission.

“This is an elegant and productive use of whole-genome sequencing in an epidemiological investigation,” says microbiologist Alexander Tomasz of the Rockefeller University in New York.

Evolving infection
Uhlemann and her team estimated the similarity between MRSA samples by checking how many different single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) — single-letter changes in their genomes — they had, and working out how fast these changes accumulated. The researchers calculated that the USA300 strains diverged from their most recent common ancestor around 1993. Although 85% of the samples were closely related to two known reference USA300 genomes, others were more diverse.

The team found that some of the samples originated in California and Texas, suggesting that USA300 was introduced into New York multiple times, rather than having one local ancestor.

Samples from people in a single household tended to be more similar to each other than to samples from other households, which implies that individuals within a home frequently exchange S. aureus. But people were also getting infected outside the home: “There were some households where we found multiple kinds of USA300, which is quite surprising,” says Uhlemann. “It suggests some kind of outside reservoir, such as a link to a hospital or a gym.”It seems that the USA300 strain spread in public spaces first, but it is now prevalent in households as well as hospitals. Further studies are needed to evaluate how hospitals might be involved in spreading the bacteria back into the community, say the study authors.

Uhlemann and her colleagues also found that nearly two-thirds of their bacterial samples were either fully or partially resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which are often prescribed for routine bacterial infections. The drug gets excreted onto skin surfaces, which the authors suggest may have contributed to the resistance in USA300: the bacteria get exposed to low levels of the antibiotic and can evolve ways to survive it. “We have to limit our antibiotic use because the consequences may really be a lot of collateral damage,” says Uhlemann.

Reprogrammed Cells Kept Bug-Free by SIRT1.

  • Regenerative medicine—the promise of rejuvenating or replacing damaged or diseased tissues—will most likely rely on the use of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are obtained when adult cells are essentially thrown into evolutionary reverse. This abrupt change can be hard on cells, which may suffer chromosomal abnormalities and DNA damage.

    Reprogrammed Cells Kept Bug-Free by SIRT1

    And so the bright vistas of regenerative medicine are shadowed by a stubborn cloud—the uncertainty that stem cells that are derived from adult cells are really safe. There is, however, a silver lining: Telomeres, the structures that protect the ends of chromosomes, increase in length during cell reprogramming. Ordinarily they shorten over time.

    The increase in telomere length during reprogramming is important because it allows stem cells to acquire the immortality that characterizes them. If telomere lengthening were better understood, scientists might find ways to enhance cellular processes that preserve genome integrity and ensure the healthy functioning of stem cells. That, at least, was the reasoning behind a recent study conducted by researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO).

    These researchers, who represented the CNIO’s Telomeres and Telomerase Group and Transgenic Mice Core Unit, published their findings April 17 in Stem Cell Reports, in an article entitled “SIRT1 Is Necessary for Proficient Telomere Elongation and Genomic Stability of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells.”

    As the title indicates, the researchers focused on the role of SIRT1, a protein of the sirtuin family that is involved in the maintenance of telomeres, genomic stability, and DNA damage response. SIRT1, the researchers were aware, occurs in higher amounts in embryonic stem cells. In addition, SIRT1 is downregulated upon differentiation. And so the researchers were curious to learn whether the rise in SIRT1 during cellular reprogramming and its subsequent fall, upon differentiation, were more than coincidental. That is, the researchers wanted to know how, exactly, SIRT1 was implicated in pluripotency.

    Employing SIRT1-depleted mouse models and cell cultures as research tools, the CNIO research team discovered that SIRT1 is necessary for reprogramming to occur correctly and safely. “We observed cell reprogramming in the absence of SIRT1, but over time the produced iPS cells lengthen telomeres less efficiently and suffer from chromosome aberrations and DNA damage,” said María Luigia De Bonis, a postdoctoral researcher of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group. “SIRT1 helps iPS cells to remain healthy.”

    In their article, the authors described the protective effect of SIRT1 as follows: “We find that SIRT1 is required for efficient postreprogramming telomere elongation, and that this effect is mediated by a c-MYC-dependent regulation of the mTert gene. We further demonstrate that SIRT1-deficient iPSCs accumulate chromosomal aberrations and show a derepression of telomeric heterochromatin. Finally, SIRT1-deficient iPSCs form larger teratomas that are poorly differentiated, highlighting a role for SIRT1 in exit from pluripotency.”

    Ultimately, the researchers concluded that SIRT1 deacetylase has a role in “the maintenance of ‘good-quality’ iPSCs, with proper telomere elongation, TERRA transcription, telomeric chromatin remodeling, and genome integrity. (According to the researchers, TERRAS, or TelRNAs, are noncoding transcripts that closely associate with telomeres and negatively regulate telomerase activity in vitro.) With respect to the significance of their work, the researchers indicated that understanding the molecular mechanisms such as those evidenced by SIRT1 in established iPSC lines is “critical to the advance of iPSC technology in regenerative medicine.”

The real reason drugs cost so much – and why big pharma is so rich

The lack of a free market makes drugs very expensive, and increasing market consolidation will exacerbate the problem.


The GlaxoSmithKline Francois Hyafil Research Centre, Villebon Sur Yvette, France - 07 Sep 2010

A laboratory at GlaxoSmithKline: Profits are ‘the reward to the company for investing in research … without such an incentive new drugs would not be invented’. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex

This morning we heard of the row between the drug company Roche and the government’s drug adviser, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), apparently negotiating over the last six months of the lives of women suffering from breast cancer. At issue was the £90,000 per patient that Roche is charging for the drug Kadcyla, which is not a cure but can extend life. Protected by what are known as intellectual property rights, the company has a legally sanctioned monopoly and is free to set its price. This process is a game of chicken between the company and the government, which is subject to lobbying by desperate families but also restrained by a limited budget.

Pharmaceutical companies can extract enormous profits by controlling knowledge about how to make their drugs. Economic theory about market competition would suggest that, on seeing the huge profits being made, other producers would enter the market and produce the drug more cheaply. This is exactly what manufacturing companies have been doing in recent years, particularly in India, providing generic drugs to patients in the world’s poorer countries. But this has been challenged by big pharmaceutical companies, which use their intellectual property rights to constrain the operation of market forces to their benefit, and to the disadvantage of the world’s poor.

The first test case of the rights of corporations to profit v the rights of the world’s people to life was fought in South Africa in the late 1990s. At that time as many as a quarter of its people of working age were HIV positive, and the government decided to ignore international law and import generic Aids drugs from India. The price difference remains staggering – $350 for a year’s supply compared with $10,000 for the branded medicines – so a poor country like South Africa had little choice.

South Africa was able to justify its actions under clauses in the trade-related intellectual property rights (Trips) agreement exempting countries that face public health disasters, but its actions were challenged by the US trade representative and action was taken against the South African government by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa. The government’s courage was rewarded and the case was eventually withdrawn in 2001, with the agreement of a deal on reasonable pricing and availability of Aids drugs.

The lack of a free market in pharmaceuticals puts pressure on health systems in richer economies too, because the cost differences are huge: the British Generic Manufacturers Association says: “The average cost to the NHS of a generic medicine is £3.79, whilst the average cost of a branded medicine is £19.73.” The difference of £16 is the reward to the company for investing in research and development. The argument for this suspension of normal market forces is that without such an incentive new drugs would not be invented.

The row between the UK government and Roche implies that this argument is beginning to unravel, but it also points towards the underlying problem: the lack of true competition. While the rhetoric of free markets is more widespread than ever, the reality has been an increasing degree of consolidation in recent years. The alliance between Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline is the latest example, followed swiftly by the AstraZeneca bid for Pfizer.

And the problem of market consolidation and corporate power is not limited to the pharmaceutical sector. Just last week, the German publisher Axel Springer accused Google of seeking to establish a “digital superstate”; and there was also speculation about a merger between the beer giants SABMiller and AB InBev. February, meanwhile, saw the merger of banana giants Fyffes and Chiquita.

The trade talks taking place between the EU and US may further diminish the power of national governments to control consolidation: the draft Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is said to threaten governments with damages if they introduce legislation that might undermine the returns corporations expect to receive from their investments within national territories. Enforcement of market competition and anti-trust action might be liable to legal action.

Health commentators seem to have been distracted by the debate about privatisation from looking too closely at the market power of big pharmaceuticals. Those who care about health and freedom – dammit, even those who care about a functioning capitalist economy and fair competition – should be raising more questions about the way our drugs are manufactured and how the knowledge over life and death is owned and controlled.

Mantis shrimp stronger than airplanes.

Inspired by the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp, a team of researchers led by University of California, Riverside, in collaboration with University of Southern California and Purdue University, have developed a design structure for composite materials that is more impact resistant and tougher than the standard used in airplanes.

“The more we study the club of this tiny crustacean, the more we realize its structure could improve so many things we use every day,” said David Kisailus, a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Science and the Winston Chung Endowed Chair of Energy Innovation at the UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering.

The peacock , or stomatopod, is a 4- to 6-inch-long rainbow-colored crustacean with a fist-like club that accelerates underwater faster than a 22-calibur bullet. Researchers, led by Kisailus, an associate professor of chemical engineering, are interested in the club because it can strike prey thousands of times without breaking.

The force created by the impact of the mantis shrimp’s club is more than 1,000 times its own weight. It’s so powerful that Kisailus needs to keep the animal in a special aquarium in his lab so it doesn’t break the glass. Also, the acceleration of the club creates cavitation, meaning it shears the water, literally boiling it, forming cavitation bubbles that implode, yielding a secondary impact on the mantis shrimp’s prey.

Previous work by the researchers, published in the journal Science in 2012, found the club is comprised of several regions, including an endocuticle region. This region is characterized by a spiraling arrangement of mineralized fiber layers that act as shock absorber. Each layer is rotated by a small angle from the layer below to eventually complete a 180-degree rotation.

In a paper “Bio-Inspired Impact Resistant Composites,” just published online in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, the researchers applied that spiraled, or helicoidal, layered design when creating carbon fiber-epoxy composites. Composites with this design structure could be used for a variety of applications, including aerospace and automotive frames, body armor and football helmets.

In experiments outlined in the paper, the researchers created carbon fiber-epoxy composites with layers at three different helicoidal angles ranging from about 10 degrees to 25 degrees.

They also built two control structures: a unidirectional, meaning the layers were placed directly on top and parallel to each other, and a quasi-isotropic, the standard used in the aerospace industry, which has alternating layers stacked upon each other in an orientation of 0 degrees (first layer), -45 degrees (second layer), +45 degrees (third layer), 90 degrees (fourth layer) and so on.

The goal was to examine the impact resistance and energy absorption of the helicoidal structures when they were struck and to quantify the strength after the impact.

David Kisailus, an associate professor of chemical engineering, is shown in his lab.

The researchers used a drop weight impact testing system with a spherical tip that on impact creates 100 joules of energy at USC with their collaborator, Professor Steven R. Nutt. This replicates testing done by the aircraft industry. Following the tests, they measured external visual damage, depth of the dent and internal damage by using ultrasound scans.

In the external damage category, the unidirectional samples split and completely failed. The quasi-isotropic samples were punctured through the backside and had significant fiber damage. Although the helicoidal samples showed some splitting of fibers, they were not punctured completely through.

In fact, the dent depth damage to all of the helicoidal samples was 20 percent to 50 percent less than the quasi-isotropic samples.

This image shows the helicoidal structure of the mantis shrimp club.

The ultrasound tests showed that with the helicoidal samples the damage spread laterally within the structure, rather than catastrophically rupturing through, as the quasi-isotropic samples did.

The researchers then compressed the samples until they broke. Their results showed that the helicoidal samples, in general, displayed a significant increase, about 15 percent to 20 percent, in residual strength after impact compared to the quasi-isotropic samples.

Finite element modeling work done by Kisailus’ collaborator, Pablo Zavattieri, an associate professor at Purdue University, provided unique insights into the failure modes within these structures and potential modifications for future designs.

Future research by the team will incorporate a variety of new materials as well as potential insights from this and other organisms they study. Kisailus recently learned he has been selected to receive a $7.5 million Department of Defense grant to continue this work.

“Biology has an incredible diversity of species, which can provide us new design cues and synthetic routes to the next generation of advanced materials for light-weight automobiles, aircraft and other structural applications,” Kisailus said.

Sound Experts Want to Record One Full Day of Human Noise From All Over the Earth | Smart News | Smithsonian

Bryan Pijanowski, a soundscape ecologist at Purdue University, is hoping to rally people all over the world on Earth Day to help him collect the planet’s human noises. He and his colleagues have created a project called Global Soundscapes in order to capture and quantify the planet’s noises.

Although Pijanowski usually spends his time taking recordings in remote jungles or barren deserts, in this case he is more interested in the human side of things. He hopes to create sound signatures of various urban and suburban locations around the world, and better understand how those noises influence the people living there. It would also be possible to return to those places years in the future (or even every Earth Day) to see how their soundscapes have or haven’t changed.

As Wired explains, the project hinges on a simple smartphone app. The app takes a short recording of users’ surroundings, then asked them a few questions about how they felt when they heard those noises. It then loads the data into the project’s database. “We should get a sense of whether and how we’re making this a noisier planet, which I think we’re doing,” Pijanowski told Wired. “And it should increase awareness of sounds. Hopefully it will make people stop and listen.”

Pijanowski hopes to capture around one million recordings on Earth Day. In the short term, he plans to use the project’s results to identify the sounds that people most enjoy. Then, places like hospitals, waiting rooms and public transportation could potentially use those soundtracks to introduce a bit of relaxation in an otherwise frantic world.

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The project could help scientists better understand the human soundscape and quantify how it changes over time

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Bryan Pijanowski, a soundscape ecologist at Purdue University, is hoping to rally people all over the world on Earth Day to help him collect the planet’s human noises. He and his colleagues have created a project called Global Soundscapes in order to capture and quantify the planet’s noises.

Although Pijanowski usually spends his time taking recordings in remote jungles or barren deserts, in this case he is more interested in the human side of things. He hopes to create sound signatures of various urban and suburban locations around the world, and better understand how those noises influence the people living there. It would also be possible to return to those places years in the future (or even every Earth Day) to see how their soundscapes have or haven’t changed.

As Wired explains, the project hinges on a simple smartphone app. The app takes a short recording of users’ surroundings, then asked them a few questions about how they felt when they heard those noises. It then loads the data into the project’s database. “We should get a sense of whether and how we’re making this a noisier planet, which I think we’re doing,” Pijanowski told Wired. “And it should increase awareness of sounds. Hopefully it will make people stop and listen.”

Pijanowski hopes to capture around one million recordings on Earth Day. In the short term, he plans to use the project’s results to identify the sounds that people most enjoy. Then, places like hospitals, waiting rooms and public transportation could potentially use those soundtracks to introduce a bit of relaxation in an otherwise frantic world.

Here, you can hear Pijanowski explain the project in his own words:


Environment Health Psychology Sound Recordings Trending Today

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Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
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The project could help scientists better understand the human soundscape and quantify how it changes over time

Read more:
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12!
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From the desk of Zedie.

Hunt Continues For Materials That Withstand Radiation Exposure.

We rely on satellites and airplanes as well as nuclear reactors and implantable medical devices for essential parts of everyday life. Yet materials used in such applications are frequently exposed to damaging radiation, whether from cosmic rays, nuclear fission, or sterilizing gamma radiation.

That radiation damage can pose big problems. In electronics for example, “you can have transient effects that can change the memory of a device and give erroneous readings temporarily,” said Ram Devanathan, a materials scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Or you could have a device that becomes more and more sluggish as time passes and damage accumulates. Another possibility is a situation in which a device fails catastrophically.” If that electronic device controls navigation or life support, any sort of failure can be disastrous.

Efforts to develop materials that stand up to damaging radiation were the focus of a symposium in the Nuclear Chemistry & Technology Division at the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas last month. In addition to the hunt for new materials, researchers discussed work to understand the mechanisms behind radiation damage. In some cases, they are finding that radiation isn’t damaging at all—it actually improves materials’ performance.

One place where materials must withstand radiation is in nuclear power plants. Devanathan, who organized the symposium, is studying the ceramics used as inert matrices for nuclear fuel. His team hopes to understand what happens to these ceramics when they’re exposed to swiftly moving particles from nuclear fission.

“The radiation is like a bowling ball—it comes in and knocks atoms out of place,” Devanathan said. The resulting effects occur on nanometer length scales and nanosecond time frames, forcing scientists to turn to computer simulations to fully understand the mechanisms at play. “It’s very difficult to capture all the details in an experiment,” Devanathan said. “Modeling and simulation can re-create a variety of radiation-damage scenarios, examine transient events that are hard to pin down experimentally, and isolate individual processes to identify their role in damage accumulation.”

With the help of modeling, Devanathan and colleagues have found that ceramics containing titanium are more susceptible to radiation damage than similar materials that contain zirconium. In zirconate ceramics, the atoms are better able to diffuse through the material so it can self-repair.

The difference seems to stem from the fact that bonds in zirconate materials have more ionic character, whereas bonds in titanate materials have more covalent character. “In the overall competition between damage accumulation and recovery processes, subtle changes in chemistry are able to tilt the balance one way or another,” Devanathan explained.

Scientists are also looking for new radiation-tolerant structural materials to use to collect nuclear fuel pellets into rods. These materials must be able to stand up to additional severe challenges: high temperatures and steam. During Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, loss of water circulation caused water normally used to cool reactors and spent fuel to heat up and evaporate. The resulting steam reacted with the zirconium alloy that enclosed the fuel pellets, releasing hydrogen gas that subsequently exploded. The U.S. Department of Energy is now funding programs to create more accident-tolerant fuel assemblies.

GE Global Research, one of the DOE grant recipients, is trying to replace the zirconium alloy with steel, which should be radiation tolerant and resist reacting with steam, said Raul Rebak, a corrosion engineer at the company. The zirconium alloy technology was transplanted from Navy submarines, he said. The zirconium material is lighter than steel, and neutrons pass through it more easily to initiate chain reactions, minimizing the necessary amount of fuel. Those qualities make the zirconium alloy attractive when trying to squeeze a reactor into a submarine. But they’re less important for aboveground reactors, Rebak said.

Reactors generally work at 300 °C, and target accident conditions are 1,000 °C, Rebak said. So far, GE’s team has just looked at how different steels behave in normal operating conditions and accident scenarios—in particular, whether and how much they crack and react with steam. The two best candidates better resist corrosion and cracking and react with steam far less than zirconium alloys, Rebak said. The steels are iron based; one also contains chromium, aluminum, and molybdenum, while the other incorporates chromium and nickel.


Before and after photos of a zirconium alloy and several steel samples exposed to steam at 800 ºC for 24 hours.

Before (top) and after (bottom) photos of a zirconium alloy (far left) and several steel samples exposed to steam at 800 ºC for 24 hours to mimic nuclear accident conditions.
Credit: GE Global Research

Still to come are experiments to characterize radiation resistance and what happens when the steels are formed into tubes that are 14 feet long and 0.375 inches in diameter rather than tested as small samples. To get around the neutron transparency problem, scientists may try to make the tube walls thinner. That’s possible because the steels are stronger than the zirconium alloy, Rebak said. As a bonus, the steels are also cheaper than the zirconium alloy.

In other high-radiation environments—for example, those experienced by aircraft or implantable electronics—nanomaterials might fit the bill. Composite materials incorporating nanotubes, for example, are often touted for being lightweight but highly durable, which are qualities particularly attractive to the aerospace industry. Nanotubes and nanowires are both candidates for electronic devices.

Kai Nordlund, a materials physics professor at the University of Helsinki, in Finland, has studied radiation effects on nanotubes both individually and in bundles. Radiation punches holes in carbon nanotubes, leaving a displaced carbon atom to bind itself elsewhere. The holes weaken the nanotubes. Although the holes and displaced atoms may move around, whether the tubes can repair themselves depends on temperature.

In multiwalled carbon nanotubes or in bundles of nanotubes, however, the defects behave differently. In these cases, the holes and displaced atoms can react to form bridges that link nanotube walls together. Those bridges reduce the ability of tubes to slide past each other and make carbon nanotube materials more rigid, a plus in some applications. In one experiment, a bundle of nanotubes became 100 times stiffer when it was irradiated, Nordlund said.

Nordlund and colleagues have also investigated radiation effects on silicon and gallium-nitride nanowires that could be used in devices such as transistors. They use radiation that mimics that from solar flares. The researchers found that high-energy particles are likely to pass through nanowires without damaging them. Low-energy particles, however, cause more damage—and also more damage to nanowires than to bulk materials. The effect seems to be related to the higher surface area of the nanowires because the threshold energy for surface damage is lower than interior damage, Nordlund said. Surface damage is also less likely to self-repair than interior damage.

Beyond nanotubes and nanowires are nano-enabled technologies of interest for new generations of memory cells. One candidate is resistive memory, in which a solid electrolyte such as a chalcogen material or silicon dioxide is sandwiched between two electrodes, an oxidizable anode and an electrochemically inert cathode. The distance between the electrodes is typically a few tens of nanometers. Apply a small voltage across the setup, and a tiny filament grows in between the two electrodes. That filament changes the resistance of the electrolyte, and that change in resistance represents a stored bit.

Resistive memory devices are proving to be quite radiation-tolerant, said Michael N. Kozicki, an electrical engineering professor and director of the Center for Applied Nanoionics at Arizona State University. He is also founder and chief technology officer of Axon Technologies, based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “We’ve basically tried to murder the little guys” with high doses of gamma radiation, high-energy electrons and ions, and X-rays, Kozicki said. “The radiation doesn’t seem to bother them at all.” If anything, they seem to perform a bit better, he said, as if the radiation causes a kind of annealing effect that smooths memory performance.

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