Future Soldiers May Wear Bulletproof Spider Silk


Ultra-strong spider silk, one of the toughest known natural fibers,  could one day protect soldiers on the battlefield from bullets and other threats, one company says.

Ultra-strong spider silk, one of the toughest known natural fibers,  could one day protect soldiers on the battlefield from bullets and other threats, one company says.

Spider silk is light and flexible, and is stronger by weight than high-grade steel. Its potential applications span a wide range of industries, from surgical sutures for doctors to protective wear for the military. But producing and harvesting enough spider silk to make these types of products commercially available has posed a challenge.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, Michigan, genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and has used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing. [Biomimicry: 7 Cool Animal-Inspired Technologies]

“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, told Live Science.

The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, he added. “If you do the mathematical calculations — the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fiber you capture it in — the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Thompson said.

For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond than the traditional, solid Kevlar vest.

Chemical engineering

Spider Silk Gloves
A close-up of the gloves made out of spider silk produced by genetically engineered silkworms.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Thompson has been working on this idea for about 10 years, since he watched other companies try, and fail, to make silk a viable material for armor.

He said that past projects, including one that used goat milk to enhance the spider silk, lacked a key ingredient: repeatability. By contrast, if one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, Thompson said. Unlike spiders, silkworms are able to assemble silk proteins that are already being used for mass production of silk fiber for clothing.

In 2011, scientists who are part of the Kraig advisory board published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about genetically engineered silkworms that spin a type of composite spider silk.

Here’s how the process works today: Scientists take a DNA sequence from a spider, zeroing in on a protein that produces spider silk. Proteins are molecules constructed from amino acids (biological building blocks) that perform functions in cells, such as healing wounds.

The protein is modified, then “coded” chemically to have a type of biological on and off switch. When the silkworm reaches a certain point in its development, the protein switches on, and the silkworm is ready to spin silk.

The new gloves (created in collaboration with Warwick Mills, a New Hampshire-based firm that develops protective textiles and coatings) represent a big step for Kraig, Thompson said. The engineers weren’t sure if the machinery they had constructed to knit the gloves would work.

“This was a real nail-biter for us,” he said. “If it didn’t work, we’d need all new machinery to process this material. It would set us back several years.”

Genetically Engineered Silkworms
Silkworms have been genetically engineered to produce spider silk, which could lead to bullet-resistant clothing one day.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Cheap threads

Once production is up and running, Thompson estimates it will cost less than $68 per pound ($150 per kilogram) produced to make the silk. A competing method using E.coli bacteria costs more than $61,800 per pound ($130,000 per kilogram) of silk produced.

The company’s first target is the consumer silk market, which Kraig estimates is worth $5 billion each year worldwide. Consumer clothing using a stronger silk could be available as soon as 2015, Thompson said.

While Thompson said he couldn’t yet speculate on when the military might start using bullet-resistant garments, he said a natural first step would be to provide undergarments for the military made from material that is stronger and tougher than silk.

Kraig is already trying to identify what weaves could serve that purpose, with the ultimate goal of looking at the ballistic market. In fact, the company plans to first showcase underwear and other garments where stronger silk would likely be a benefit because it is less likely to tear.

Eventually, however, Kraig hopes to outfit soldiers with this modified spider silk. “There is no question we have our eye on the potential for ballistic projection,” Thompson said. “It’s a huge market, and a sexy market.”

Ultra-strong spider silk, one of the toughest known natural fibers,  could one day protect soldiers on the battlefield from bullets and other threats, one company says.

Spider silk is light and flexible, and is stronger by weight than high-grade steel. Its potential applications span a wide range of industries, from surgical sutures for doctors to protective wear for the military. But producing and harvesting enough spider silk to make these types of products commercially available has posed a challenge.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, Michigan, genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and has used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing. [Biomimicry: 7 Cool Animal-Inspired Technologies]

“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, told Live Science.

The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, he added. “If you do the mathematical calculations — the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fiber you capture it in — the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Thompson said.

For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond than the traditional, solid Kevlar vest.

Chemical engineering

Spider Silk Gloves
A close-up of the gloves made out of spider silk produced by genetically engineered silkworms.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Thompson has been working on this idea for about 10 years, since he watched other companies try, and fail, to make silk a viable material for armor.

He said that past projects, including one that used goat milk to enhance the spider silk, lacked a key ingredient: repeatability. By contrast, if one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, Thompson said. Unlike spiders, silkworms are able to assemble silk proteins that are already being used for mass production of silk fiber for clothing.

In 2011, scientists who are part of the Kraig advisory board published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about genetically engineered silkworms that spin a type of composite spider silk.

Here’s how the process works today: Scientists take a DNA sequence from a spider, zeroing in on a protein that produces spider silk. Proteins are molecules constructed from amino acids (biological building blocks) that perform functions in cells, such as healing wounds.

The protein is modified, then “coded” chemically to have a type of biological on and off switch. When the silkworm reaches a certain point in its development, the protein switches on, and the silkworm is ready to spin silk.

The new gloves (created in collaboration with Warwick Mills, a New Hampshire-based firm that develops protective textiles and coatings) represent a big step for Kraig, Thompson said. The engineers weren’t sure if the machinery they had constructed to knit the gloves would work.

“This was a real nail-biter for us,” he said. “If it didn’t work, we’d need all new machinery to process this material. It would set us back several years.”

Genetically Engineered Silkworms
Silkworms have been genetically engineered to produce spider silk, which could lead to bullet-resistant clothing one day.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Cheap threads

Once production is up and running, Thompson estimates it will cost less than $68 per pound ($150 per kilogram) produced to make the silk. A competing method using E.coli bacteria costs more than $61,800 per pound ($130,000 per kilogram) of silk produced.

The company’s first target is the consumer silk market, which Kraig estimates is worth $5 billion each year worldwide. Consumer clothing using a stronger silk could be available as soon as 2015, Thompson said.

While Thompson said he couldn’t yet speculate on when the military might start using bullet-resistant garments, he said a natural first step would be to provide undergarments for the military made from material that is stronger and tougher than silk.

Kraig is already trying to identify what weaves could serve that purpose, with the ultimate goal of looking at the ballistic market. In fact, the company plans to first showcase underwear and other garments where stronger silk would likely be a benefit because it is less likely to tear.

Eventually, however, Kraig hopes to outfit soldiers with this modified spider silk. “There is no question we have our eye on the potential for ballistic projection,” Thompson said. “It’s a huge market, and a sexy market.”

Ultra-strong spider silk, one of the toughest known natural fibers,  could one day protect soldiers on the battlefield from bullets and other threats, one company says.

Spider silk is light and flexible, and is stronger by weight than high-grade steel. Its potential applications span a wide range of industries, from surgical sutures for doctors to protective wear for the military. But producing and harvesting enough spider silk to make these types of products commercially available has posed a challenge.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, Michigan, genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and has used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing. [Biomimicry: 7 Cool Animal-Inspired Technologies]

“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, told Live Science.

The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, he added. “If you do the mathematical calculations — the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fiber you capture it in — the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Thompson said.

For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond than the traditional, solid Kevlar vest.

Chemical engineering

Spider Silk Gloves
A close-up of the gloves made out of spider silk produced by genetically engineered silkworms.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Thompson has been working on this idea for about 10 years, since he watched other companies try, and fail, to make silk a viable material for armor.

He said that past projects, including one that used goat milk to enhance the spider silk, lacked a key ingredient: repeatability. By contrast, if one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, Thompson said. Unlike spiders, silkworms are able to assemble silk proteins that are already being used for mass production of silk fiber for clothing.

In 2011, scientists who are part of the Kraig advisory board published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about genetically engineered silkworms that spin a type of composite spider silk.

Here’s how the process works today: Scientists take a DNA sequence from a spider, zeroing in on a protein that produces spider silk. Proteins are molecules constructed from amino acids (biological building blocks) that perform functions in cells, such as healing wounds.

The protein is modified, then “coded” chemically to have a type of biological on and off switch. When the silkworm reaches a certain point in its development, the protein switches on, and the silkworm is ready to spin silk.

The new gloves (created in collaboration with Warwick Mills, a New Hampshire-based firm that develops protective textiles and coatings) represent a big step for Kraig, Thompson said. The engineers weren’t sure if the machinery they had constructed to knit the gloves would work.

“This was a real nail-biter for us,” he said. “If it didn’t work, we’d need all new machinery to process this material. It would set us back several years.”

Genetically Engineered Silkworms
Silkworms have been genetically engineered to produce spider silk, which could lead to bullet-resistant clothing one day.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Cheap threads

Once production is up and running, Thompson estimates it will cost less than $68 per pound ($150 per kilogram) produced to make the silk. A competing method using E.coli bacteria costs more than $61,800 per pound ($130,000 per kilogram) of silk produced.

The company’s first target is the consumer silk market, which Kraig estimates is worth $5 billion each year worldwide. Consumer clothing using a stronger silk could be available as soon as 2015, Thompson said.

While Thompson said he couldn’t yet speculate on when the military might start using bullet-resistant garments, he said a natural first step would be to provide undergarments for the military made from material that is stronger and tougher than silk.

Kraig is already trying to identify what weaves could serve that purpose, with the ultimate goal of looking at the ballistic market. In fact, the company plans to first showcase underwear and other garments where stronger silk would likely be a benefit because it is less likely to tear.

Eventually, however, Kraig hopes to outfit soldiers with this modified spider silk. “There is no question we have our eye on the potential for ballistic projection,” Thompson said. “It’s a huge market, and a sexy market.”

Spider silk is light and flexible, and is stronger by weight than high-grade steel. Its potential applications span a wide range of industries, from surgical sutures for doctors to protective wear for the military. But producing and harvesting enough spider silk to make these types of products commercially available has posed a challenge.

Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, based in Lansing, Michigan, genetically engineered silkworms to produce spider silk, and has used the material to create gloves that will soon undergo strength testing. [Biomimicry: 7 Cool Animal-Inspired Technologies]

“Spider silk in nature has truly unique properties. If you think about a spider’s web, it’s designed by nature to intercept an airborne missile — a fly or another flying insect,” Kim Thompson, CEO of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, told Live Science.

The silk naturally elongates and absorbs the energy of the captured prey, he added. “If you do the mathematical calculations — the weight of the fly, its speed, and the size of the individual fiber you capture it in — the strength-to-weight ratio is off the scale,” Thompson said.

For soldiers in particular, spider silk could provide a new type of protection beyond than the traditional, solid Kevlar vest.

Chemical engineering

Spider Silk Gloves
A close-up of the gloves made out of spider silk produced by genetically engineered silkworms.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Thompson has been working on this idea for about 10 years, since he watched other companies try, and fail, to make silk a viable material for armor.

He said that past projects, including one that used goat milk to enhance the spider silk, lacked a key ingredient: repeatability. By contrast, if one silkworm could be genetically engineered to make spider silk, its descendants could carry on that trait forever, Thompson said. Unlike spiders, silkworms are able to assemble silk proteins that are already being used for mass production of silk fiber for clothing.

In 2011, scientists who are part of the Kraig advisory board published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences about genetically engineered silkworms that spin a type of composite spider silk.

Here’s how the process works today: Scientists take a DNA sequence from a spider, zeroing in on a protein that produces spider silk. Proteins are molecules constructed from amino acids (biological building blocks) that perform functions in cells, such as healing wounds.

The protein is modified, then “coded” chemically to have a type of biological on and off switch. When the silkworm reaches a certain point in its development, the protein switches on, and the silkworm is ready to spin silk.

The new gloves (created in collaboration with Warwick Mills, a New Hampshire-based firm that develops protective textiles and coatings) represent a big step for Kraig, Thompson said. The engineers weren’t sure if the machinery they had constructed to knit the gloves would work.

“This was a real nail-biter for us,” he said. “If it didn’t work, we’d need all new machinery to process this material. It would set us back several years.”

Genetically Engineered Silkworms
Silkworms have been genetically engineered to produce spider silk, which could lead to bullet-resistant clothing one day.
Credit: Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

Cheap threads

Once production is up and running, Thompson estimates it will cost less than $68 per pound ($150 per kilogram) produced to make the silk. A competing method using E.coli bacteria costs more than $61,800 per pound ($130,000 per kilogram) of silk produced.

The company’s first target is the consumer silk market, which Kraig estimates is worth $5 billion each year worldwide. Consumer clothing using a stronger silk could be available as soon as 2015, Thompson said.

While Thompson said he couldn’t yet speculate on when the military might start using bullet-resistant garments, he said a natural first step would be to provide undergarments for the military made from material that is stronger and tougher than silk.

Kraig is already trying to identify what weaves could serve that purpose, with the ultimate goal of looking at the ballistic market. In fact, the company plans to first showcase underwear and other garments where stronger silk would likely be a benefit because it is less likely to tear.

Eventually, however, Kraig hopes to outfit soldiers with this modified spider silk. “There is no question we have our eye on the potential for ballistic projection,” Thompson said. “It’s a huge market, and a sexy market.”

New way to prevent some strokes discovered


Larry Ambrose was diagnosed as having a stroke a few days after he woke up one night, wandered into his kitchen and couldn’t read the time on his microwave. Ambrose, like 25 percent of all stroke patients, experienced a cryptogenic ischemic stroke, meaning physicians were unable to determine a cause.

For these , physicians believe , the most common type of arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat), may occur without the patient’s knowledge, causing the . During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers, or atria, quiver rather than beat; this allows blood to stay in the chamber and potentially cause a clot. If the clot travels from the heart and reaches the brain, a stroke is imminent.

To research this connection, Northwestern Medicine® physician researchers from cardiology and neurology teamed up to conduct a four-year trial which enrolled 441 people across 55 centers. Half the patients received a small implantable cardiac monitor that continuously records the rhythm of the heart and lets the physician know over the internet when an abnormal rhythm has occurred Northwestern Memorial Hospital was the lead site in North America for the trial.

The results found that by using this device, 30 percent of people with have atrial fibrillation detected within 3 years, which is the battery life of the device.. In those patients who received standard techniques for follow up, physicians only found atrial fibrillation in about 3 percent of these patients. Because of these results, the 30 percent were all switched to which should protect them better from having another stroke.

The research findings were published in a June 26, 2014 article in the New England of Medicine. Because cryptogenic strokes are common, these findings could help hundreds of thousands of people every year. More than 750,000 people suffer a stroke in the United States every year and about one third of those are cryptogenic strokes.

“Having a stroke really rattles your foundations,” said Richard Bernstein, MD, director of the Northwestern Medicine Stroke Program and Telestroke. “Being told by your doctor that they have no idea why you had it and that they are just guessing at the best medication to prevent another one is even worse. With this clinical trial, we eliminated that second problem – not knowing the cause – in about a third of those patients.”

The patients monitored were part of a study called CRYSTAL AF (Study of Continuous Cardiac Monitoring to Assess Atrial Fibrillation after Cryptogenic Stroke). Bernstein, who is also a professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and his co-investigator Rod Passman, MD, director for the Center for Atrial Fibrillation at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, are on the international steering committee for the CRYSTAL AF trial.

When atrial fibrillation is detected in a patient following stroke, anticoagulant therapy is recommended for secondary stroke prevention. While anticoagulant therapy can be successful in preventing future stroke, physicians do not use it proactively unless atrial fibrillation has been detected because of potential risk from the medication and complexity of the treatment. The continuous monitoring device captured and automatically stored any abnormal ECG activity. Passman and his team then reviewed and analyzed the remotely-transmitted data. After the participants were implanted, they are followed at one month and every six months thereafter for three years. The control group received standard of care optimal medical treatment and followed up at the same intervals.

https://i2.wp.com/phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2014/stroke.jpg

“We found using a tiny implantable device to find atrial fibrillation is much better than the usual tests we previously used,” said Passman, who is also a professor of medicine and preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “This is critical because finding atrial fibrillation in patients with stroke of unknown cause is important because once we find it, we put the patients on blood thinners and they are much more effective than the aspirin-like drugs they would otherwise be on.”

Ambrose was identified by Bernstein as a cryptogenic stroke patient and was the first subject implanted by Passman as part of the CRYSTAL AF trial. While atrial fibrillation was not detected in Ambrose, he said simply having the device implanted and knowing that his heart rhythm was normal was a comfort.

“I knew people were monitoring me and I was helping doctors figure out a way to end the worry of having a second stroke for other patients like me,” said Ambrose, a Chicago resident. “Otherwise, I would have just gone home and been very nervous it was going to happen again.”

Team unearths what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance


A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat.

A team of researchers led by McMaster University has discovered a fungus-derived molecule, known as AMA (Aspergillomarasmine A), which is able to disarm one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistance genes: NDM-1 or New Delhi Metallo-beta-Lactamase-1, identified by the World Health Organization as a global public health threat.

“This is public enemy number one,” explains Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.

“It came out of nowhere, it has spread everywhere and has basically killed our last resource of antibiotics, the last pill on the shelf, used to treat serious infections,” he says.

Discovering the properties of the fungus-derived molecule is critical because it can provide a means to target and rapidly block the drug-resistant pathogens that render carbapenem antibiotics—a class of drugs similar to penicillin—ineffective.

“Simply put, the molecule knocks out NDM-1 so the antibiotics can do their job,” says Wright.

Seeking an answer to the riddle of resistance in the natural environment is a far more promising approach than trying to discover new antibiotics, a challenge which has perplexed scientists for decades. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the late 1980s, leaving physicians with very few tools to fight life-threatening infections.

“Not only do we have the emergence of an gene that is targeting the last drug resource we have left, but it is carried by organisms that cause all sorts of challenging diseases and are multi-drug-resistant already. It has been found not only in clinics but in the environment—in contaminated water in South Asia—which has contributed to its spread over the globe,” explains Wright. “Our thinking was that if we could find a molecule that blocks NDM-1 then these antibiotics would be useful again.”

Wright and his team from McMaster, University of British Columbia and Cardiff University in Wales created a sophisticated screening method to take the NDM-1 gene, combine it with harmless E. coli bacteria and then isolate a molecule capable of stopping NDM-1 in its tracks.

Andrew King, a chemical biology graduate student at McMaster University examines a chemical used in drug discovery research. Credit: McMaster University.
https://i2.wp.com/phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2014/11-scientistsun.jpg

NMD-1 requires zinc to thrive but finding a way to remove zinc from it without causing a toxic effect in humans was a daunting task, until the discovery of the fungal molecule, which appears to perform the job naturally and harmlessly.

Scientists then tested the theory on mice infected with an NDM-1 expressing superbug. The mice that received a combination of the AMA molecule and a carbapenem antibiotic survived, while those that received either an antibiotic or AMA alone to fight the infection did not survive.

“This will solve one aspect of a daunting problem. AMA rescues the activity of carbapenem antibiotics, so instead of having no , there will be some,” says Wright. “This is a made-in-Canada solution for a global problem.”

“Antibiotic resistance may be the most urgent and perplexing challenge facing health-care researchers today,” says Dr. John Kelton, dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. “This research provides new hope by showing us a completely new way to approach this problem, and none too soon, given the growing risk that superbugs pose to all of us. ”

The findings are published online in the current edition of the journal Nature.

“Antibiotic resistance is one of the top public health concerns in Canada and internationally and it represents a research priority for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is exciting to see Canadian researchers finding innovative strategies to overcome antimicrobial resistance,” says Dr. Marc Ouellette, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity.

Designer T cells fight viruses after transplants


This handout photo provided by Baylor College of Medicine, taken June 20, 2014, shows Dr. Ann Leen in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy storing frozen samples of T cells designed to fight multiple viruses, at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Scientists are developing a way to protect recipients of bone marrow transplants from serious viral infections in the months before their new immune system kicks in. (AP Photo/Agapito Sanchez, Baylor College of Medicine)

Bone marrow transplants save thousands of lives but patients are vulnerable to severe viral infections in the months afterward, until their new immune system kicks in. Now scientists are developing protection for that risky period—injections of cells specially designed to fend off up to five different viruses at once.

https://i0.wp.com/phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2014/designertcel.jpg

“These are a huge problem, and there’s a huge need for these products,” said Dr. Ann Leen, who leads a team at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital that found an easier way to produce these long-desired designer T .

Healthy people have an army of T cells that roams the body, primed to recognize and fight viruses. People with suppressed immune systems—such as those undergoing a transplant to treat leukemia or other diseases—lack that protection. It can take anywhere from four months to more than a year for marrow from a healthy donor to take root and start producing new immune cells for the recipient. When patients get sick before then, today’s antiviral medications don’t always work and cause lots of side effects.

The proposed solution: Take certain virus-fighting T cells from that same , and freeze them to use if the recipient gets sick. Years of experiments show it can work. But turning the idea into an easy-to-use treatment has been difficult. A dose had to be customized to each donor-recipient pair and protected against only one or two viruses. And it took as long as three months to make.

Wednesday, Leen reported a novel technique to rapidly manufacture so-called virus-specific T cells that can target up to five of the viruses that cause the most trouble for : Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus, BK virus, and human herpesvirus 6.

This handout photo provided by Baylor College of Medicine, taken June 20, 2014, shows Dr. Ann Leen in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy holding a vial containing T cells designed to fight multiple viruses, at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Scientists are developing a way to protect recipients of bone marrow transplants from serious viral infections in the months before their new immune system kicks in. (AP Photo/Agapito Sanchez, Baylor College of Medicine)

Essentially, Leen came up with a recipe to stimulate donated T cells in the laboratory so that they better recognize those particular viruses, and then grow large quantities of the cells. It took just 10 days to create and freeze the designer T cells.

To see if they worked, Leen’s team treated 11 transplant recipients. Eight had active infections, most with multiple viruses. The cell therapy proved more than 90 percent effective, nearly eliminating all the viruses from the blood of all the patients, Leen reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The other three patients weren’t sick but were deemed at high risk. They were given early doses of the T cells protectively and remained infection-free, Leen said.

Next, her team is beginning a bigger step—to try creating a bank of those cells from a variety of healthy donors that any patient could use, without having to custom-brew each dose.

It would take large studies to prove such a system really works.

But Leen’s technique makes production of these T cells practical instead of laborious, said Dr. John Barrett of the National Institutes Health, who wasn’t involved with the new research.

“It’s a step further to making this something that could be done not just in ivory towers,” but one day by a drug company, said Barrett, a specialist at NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Different varieties of custom-made T cells have proved effective in a series of small studies, added Dr. Richard O’Reilly, pediatrics chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and another pioneer of the approach.

“It’s just very, very hard and very expensive to generate cells from each transplant donor against each virus,” he said. “What this is showing is that you can make T cells against a series—and these are the most important viruses that we deal with—and you can make enough of these T cells to make a difference.”

Lab results reveal this truly superior source of probiotics


People are catching on to the fact that probiotics are an essential requirement for living a healthy life. With over 100 trillion bacteria in the body, the proper balance of these bacteria is paramount to good health. But what is the most superior source of probiotics, and how much better is it than the most popular form of probiotics taken today?sauerkraut

 

Sauerkraut: the probiotic king

This planet has been graced with a bounty that can help heal all kinds of diseases that are created due to toxins and malnourishment. Understanding how to use these foods properly is a vitally important piece in an overall lifestyle plan, as well as which ones to use in order to solve the most concerning health problems evident today.

If there were one health concern that requires serious attention right now, it would be a damaged digestive system. The “gateway to health” has been seriously abused through antibiotics, prescription drugs, heavy metal intake, processed foods and a lack of fresh, organic produce containing beneficial enzymes and probiotics.

This is where sauerkraut, the probiotic king, reigns supreme. Due to its nutrient- and digestive-friendly content, it is quite possibly the single most important thing one can do for their health on a daily basis.

Some of the nutritive benefits of sauerkraut include:

• Vitamin B1, B6, B9, C and K
• Manganese, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron
• A great source of dietary fiber
• An excellent source of antioxidants and phytonutrients
• Rich in indole-3-carbinol (a known cancer fighter and toxin remover)

Most importantly, sauerkraut is the superior source of LIVE probiotics and enzymes, and due to its pre-digested state brought on by the fermentation process, these nutrients are highly bioavailable to the body.

Sauerkraut versus probiotic capsules

Making sauerkraut is an age-old process that produces a taste profile that is considered unpalatable to many. The sour characteristics are noticeably different from the sugar addiction which society has grown accustomed to, and as a result most have opted for probiotic capsules in order to get the good bacteria without having to ingest what is typically a shunned food.

Unfortunately, the two formats are not comparable, and recent research has proved it.

A 4-6-ounce serving of homemade sauerkraut that was recently analyzed in a lab showed that it contained literally 10 trillion bacteria! To provide perspective, 2 ounces of raw sauerkraut made at home had more probiotics than a 100-count bottle of probiotic capsules. To look at it another way, 16 ounces (2 cups) of sauerkraut is equal to eight bottles of probiotics! Even one of the more popular and potent brands of probiotics “only” provide 50 billion active bacteria in a 3.5-ounce bottle.

To date, studies have only been done on the quantity, with current analysis now focusing on the different types of bacteria existing in fresh, raw sauerkraut.

When considering how big of a revelation this is for one’s health, keep in mind that, with each mouthful of raw homemade sauerkraut, one is consuming trillions of beneficial microbes, which kill pathogens in the gut and restore the beneficial flora that are the primary factors in good digestive health. This is easily one of the best and simplest things one can do for their overall health.

It’s also important to note that sauerkraut made at home is by far the most preferred method for live probiotic count. This is primarily due to the fact that it is typically raw (not pasteurized), which significantly increases the number of probiotics.

Ready to get started? A recipe for homemade sauerkraut is in the first source below. Enjoy!

Sources for this article include:

http://www.healingthebody.ca

http://nourishingplot.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.sfgate.com

Astronomers find an Earth-sized diamond orbiting a pulsar .


 

Binary systems are often problematic for astronomers, since they can present situations that confuse when you don’t know what you’re looking at. The odd gravitational conditions created by having two stars in close proximity can create orbits that bend and look like a figure-eight, or some much more random Spirograph pattern that never repeats. So, when pulsar PSR J2222-0137 was found some 900 light years from Earth, its data was at first confusing. Both planets and the light they reflect seemed to be slightly off — and it wasn’t until scientists imagined a second body in the system that their observations began to make sense.

This second body is invisible because it’s so dim, emitting or reflecting little enough light that astronomers can’t resolve its properties directly. However, the disturbances in light relative to expectations can tell astronomers a lot about what must be out there — the coolest, dimmest, most unique white dwarf star ever discovered. Based on its effects on the system, this star must be roughly equal to our own Sun in mass. Given that it seems to have cooled to just 3,000 degrees Celsius — thousands of times cooler than our Sun — it is also likely no larger than the Earth itself.

This "diamond planet" drawing visualizes Cancri e, which was recently debunked as having too little carbon to form a diamond.

This paper argues that as this star cooled it would have slowly solidified into a hardened carbon matrix — and the most famous hardened carbon matrix of all is, of course, diamond. There will undoubtably be portions of the heavenly body that are clear and classically diamond-like, but its low luminescence and the unusual way it was made make it likely that the planet won’t be a sparkling space-gem. In reality it likely has more in common with the tip of a saw blade than the setting of an engagement ring, but an Earth-sized hunk of the hardest known natural material is still pretty amazing.

Notably, this star has still not been directly observed. Though the gravitational and other data about the system make its existence a virtual certainty, it is so small and dim that it’s still difficult to capture. Remember that we only started directly seeing alien planets a few years ago, since they only reflect light and are thus much more difficult to spy from across the universe. This diamond remnant of a star should provide a nice challenge to astronomers, at least for a while, but soon enough they’ll be out hunting for objects even odder than this one.

Neural sweet talk: Taste metaphors emotionally engage the brain


Researchers from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin found that taste-related metaphors such as ‘sweet’ actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words such as ‘kind’ that have the same meaning. Sentences containing words that invoked taste activated areas in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (a) and frontal operculum (b) known as the gustatory cortices that allow for the physical act of tasting. Taste-related metaphors also stimulated brain regions known to be associated with emotional processing, such as the left hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrun and amygdala (c). The colors indicate the level of activation prompted by metaphorical sentences in comparison to literal sentences with 8 signifying the greatest amount of neural activity. Credit: Adele Goldberg, Council of the Humanities
https://i2.wp.com/phys.org/newman/gfx/news/2014/neuralsweett.jpg

So accustomed are we to metaphors related to taste that when we hear a kind smile described as “sweet,” or a resentful comment as “bitter,” we most likely don’t even think of those words as metaphors. But while it may seem to our ears that “sweet” by any other name means the same thing, new research shows that taste-related words actually engage the emotional centers of the brain more than literal words with the same meaning.

Researchers from Princeton University and the Free University of Berlin report in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience the first study to experimentally show that the brain processes these everyday metaphors differently than literal language. In the study, participants read 37 sentences that included common metaphors based on taste while the researchers recorded their . Each taste-related word was then swapped with a literal counterpart so that, for instance, “She looked at him sweetly” became “She looked at him kindly.”

The researchers found that the sentences containing words that invoked taste activated areas known to be associated with emotional processing, such as the amygdala, as well as the areas known as the gustatory cortices that allow for the physical act of tasting. Interestingly, the metaphorical and literal words only resulted in brain activity related to emotion when part of a sentence, but stimulated the gustatory cortices both in sentences and as stand-alone words.

Metaphorical sentences may spark increased brain activity in emotion-related regions because they allude to physical experiences, said co-author Adele Goldberg, a Princeton professor of linguistics in the Council of the Humanities. Human language frequently uses physical sensations or objects to refer to abstract domains such as time, understanding or emotion, Goldberg said. For instance, people liken love to a number of afflictions including being “sick” or shot through the heart with an arrow. Similarly, “sweet” has a much clearer physical component than “kind.” The new research suggests that these associations go beyond just being descriptive to engage our brains on an emotional level and potentially amplify the impact of the sentence, Goldberg said.

“You begin to realize when you look at metaphors how common they are in helping us understand abstract domains,” Goldberg said. “It could be that we are more engaged with abstract concepts when we use metaphorical language that ties into physical experiences.”

If metaphors in general elicit an emotional response from the brain that is similar to that caused by taste-related metaphors, then that could mean that figurative language presents a “rhetorical advantage” when communicating with others, explained co-author Francesca Citron, a postdoctoral researcher of psycholinguistics at the Free University’s Languages of Emotion research center.

“Figurative language may be more effective in communication and may facilitate processes such as affiliation, persuasion and support,” Citron said. “Further, as a reader or listener, one should be wary of being overly influenced by metaphorical language.”

Colloquially, metaphors seem to be employed precisely to evoke an emotional reaction, yet the actual emotional effect of figurative phrases on the person hearing them has not before been deeply explored, said Benjamin Bergen, an associate professor of cognitive science at the University of California-San Diego who studies language comprehension, and metaphorical language and thought.

“There’s a lot of research on the conceptual effects of metaphors, such as how they allow people to think about new or abstract concepts in terms of concrete things they’re familiar with. But there’s very little work on the emotional impact of metaphor,” said Bergen, who had no role in the research but is familiar with it.

“Emotional impact seems to be one of the main reasons people use metaphors to begin with. For instance, a senator might describe a bill as ‘job-killing’ to evoke an emotional reaction,” he said. “These results suggest that using certain metaphorical expressions induces more of an than saying the same thing literally. Those expressions that have this property are likely to have the effects on reasoning, inference, judgment and decision-making that emotion is known to have.”

The brain areas that taste-related words did not stimulate are also an important outcome of the study, Citron said. Existing research on metaphors and neural processing has shown that figurative language generally requires more brainpower than literal language, Citron and Goldberg wrote. But these bursts of neural activity have been related to higher-order processing from thinking through an unfamiliar metaphor.

The brain activity Citron and Goldberg observed did not correlate with this process. In order to create the metaphorical- and literal-sentence stimuli, they had a group of people separate from the study participants rate sentences for familiarity, apparent arousal, imageability—which is how easily a phrase can be imagined in the reader’s mind—and how positive or negative each sentence was interpreted as being. The metaphorical and literal sentences were equal on all of these factors. In addition, each metaphorical phrase and its literal counterpart were rated as being highly similar in meaning.

These steps helped to ensure that the metaphorical and literal sentences were equally as easy to comprehend. Thus, the brain activity the researchers recorded was not likely to be in response to any additional difficulty study participants had in understanding the .

“It is important to rule out possible effects of familiarity, since less familiar items may require more processing resources to be understood and elicit enhanced brain responses in several brain regions,” Citron said.

67 Yr Old Man’s Stereo Blindness Cured After Watching The Movie “Hugo” In 3D | The Mind Unleashed


http://themindunleashed.org/2014/02/67-yr-old-mans-stereo-blindness-cured-watching-movie-hugo-3d.html

From the desk of Zedie.

A1C Secrets: in Type 2 Diabetes


Gretchen Becker may live on a farm in a peaceful and quiet town in Vermont, but you might be surprised to know this farm-gal also has an incredible background in biology and journalism after studying for 8 years at Radcliffe/Harvard as a PhD Candidate, and is an author of two peer-reviewed papers.

Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1996, Gretchen is more than just a patient advocate, she has a wealth of medical knowledge on living with this disease. With a rich background in medical journalism and as the author of several books on diabetes, Gretchen is now a freelance editor of medical books and journals and lives on a small sheep farm. 

Gretchen is the author of “The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes” and “Prediabetes” and coauthor of “The Four Corners Diet,” and regular contributor at HealthCentral.

Here, Gretchen shares a few bites of wisdom she’s learned over the years about achieving her A1C goals through nutrition, exercise, medications, and good old fashion blood sugar testing!

Looking back at when you were first diagnosed, and your first few years of life with diabetes, is there anything you wish you’d know back then that you know now?

being put on insulinYes.

  1. The statement that “Losing just 10 pounds will make your diabetes go away,” which I was told, isn’t true for many people, although it’s true for a few.
  2. Being put immediately on insulin, so your blood sugar is in normal range, can help preserve beta cells, although it can also make weight loss more difficult. They hadn’t really studied this back then, although in the early 1980s, some patients were hospitalized and put on a machine called the Biostator for two weeks. The Biostator was essentially an artificial pancreas, and it kept the blood sugar completely normal for those two weeks. It took two years for these patients to see their blood glucose levels rise to the pre-study levels. But the machine was cumbersome, and you couldn’t use it at home.
  3. The most important person in diabetes control is the patient, and fellow patients can often help educate you faster than your medical team.

How have you seen your A1C vary throughout the years?

I was diagnosed with an A1 (an older test) of 16, which is an A1c of about 13. For a year or so, on metformin, my A1cs were about 7, but at that time I was on my own version of the ADA diet (substituting 3 vegetable exchanges [5 g each] for each carb exchange [15 g each]).

Grethen Becker's book for people with type 2 diabetes

Although I lost weight, I got tired of being hungry all the time and gradually switched to a LC (low-carb) diet. Because the switch was gradual, I never had the difficulty some people have at first, with fatigue etc., but I also didn’t quickly lose a lot of weight as some people do when they go from high carb to low carb. I couldn’t seem to get my A1c under 6.0 with Metformin, so I went on a basal insulin. My last A1c was 5.2 percent.

My exercise program doesn’t change much. In the summer, I have a lot of outdoor work, cutting brush, tilling the garden, shoveling manure, having a full-time battle with vegetation of all kinds, and stacking wood. When the vegetation calms down, I walk about 1.5 miles a day. However, I don’t walk when it’s raining or snowing, when it’s over 90 and humid, or when it’s under 20, especially when it’s windy. There isn’t room in my house for exercise equipment, and I probably wouldn’t use it if there were. I used to lift weights, but I find that terribly boring and stopped.

The pressure to eat the perfect “diabetic diet” cannot only feel incredibly overwhelming but also very confusing because there are so many different nutritional philosophies out there. As someone with a deep understanding of nutritional chemistry, how have you made sense of today’s vast nutritional philosophies for your own life with diabetes?

Gretchen's book on living well with a low-carb diet

I’ve never felt any pressure to eat the perfect diabetic diet. I eat what works for me, and it might be different from what works for you. I started out thinking the ADA knew what it was talking about, but my first question to my doctor was, “If diabetes is a disease in which we can’t metabolize carbohydrate, why is the ADA telling me to eat a lot of starch?” So I was skeptical from the beginning, and when I saw that Dr. Richard Bernstein agreed that the ADA diet was harmful, I listened to him and not the ADA. I also felt very deprived being allowed only 2 oz of meat per meal on the ADA diet and was never satisfied after a meal. Now I usually eat only 3 oz of meat, sometimes 4, but just that extra ounce fills me up.

What works for many people is to “eat to your meter.” If a certain type of food makes your blood glucose rise a lot, don’t eat it, or eat tiny portions. Test a lot, especially in your first year when you’re still learning a lot. Write everything down. Try to vary only one thing at a time for the best results.

What about the mental part of your life with diabetes? How do you handle stress or burnout around the daily responsibilities of this disease?

I think for a type 2, the problem of social isolation on a low-carb diet is greater than the various responsibilities of measuring blood glucose and taking meds. Most of my friends seem to be vegans or at least supportive of low-fat “plant-based” diets that are invariably high in carbs, so it makes getting together for meals difficult. I can’t go to the potluck suppers that are so common in small-town Vermont unless I bring my own food along. But I’ve always been a hermit, so that’s not too bad. I live alone, and I think that makes it easier as I don’t have to cook carby meals for other people.

At my age (73), so many of my contemporaries have serious medical problems that I realize the diabetes is a piece of cake compared with what they’re going through. When faced with a disease, many people think, “Why me?” Before I got diabetes, when I saw contemporaries die of brain tumors or ALS or cancer, I sometimes thought, “Why not me?” I suppose it’s a form of survivor’s guilt. So now I don’t need to feel guilty about being disease-free.

I think it’s more difficult when you’re younger and your contemporaries are mostly healthy.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Diabetes is not a death sentence. Well, we’re all going to die, but you can have a long life with diabetes. So you’re in this for the long haul, and it’s worth taking some time at the start to educate yourself about this disease. Then figure out what works best for you and stick to it so your future will be bright.

Thank you, Gretchen!

Young women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing diabetes .


Women who have cysts in their ovaries, irregular periods and high levels of male hormones may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a health problem that affects one in five women. PCOS affects women’s fertility, may cause unexplained weight gain, and without treatment may cause ther complications such as heart disease.

EdUthman_ovary_flickr

Researchers at Monash University in Australia recruited 6,000 women aged 25 to 28, 500 of which suffered from PCOS, and monitored them for nine years.

The scientists discovered that young women who have PCOS are three to five times more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes than young women who don’t have this condition. Obesity, which is a key trigger of diabetes, wasn’t a trigger in this particular case.

“Our research found that there is a clear link between PCOS and diabetes. However, PCOS is not a well-recognised diabetes risk factor and many young women with the condition don’t get regular diabetes screening even pre-pregnancy, despite recommendations from the Australian PCOS evidence based guidelines,” Professor Helena Teed, lead author of the study, says in a news release. The results of this study, however, suggest that those who have PCOS are screened for diabetes earlier.

The study also showed that PCOS, which is considered the most common hormonal disorder in women, still remains highly misdiagnosed.