First womb-transplant baby born

The baby will “give hope” to those wanting children, say the transplant team

A woman in Sweden has given birth to a baby boy using a transplanted womb, in a medical first, doctors report.

The 36-year-old mother, who was born without a uterus, received a donated womb from a friend in her 60s.

The British medical journal The Lancet says the baby was born prematurely in September weighing 1.8kg (3.9lb). The father said his son was “amazing”.

Cancer treatment and birth defects are the main reasons women can be left without a functioning womb.

If they want a child of their own, their only option is surrogacy.

Medical marvel

The identity of the couple in Sweden has not been released, but it is known the mother still had functioning ovaries.

“Start Quote

He’s no different from any other child, but he will have a good story to tell.”

The boy’s father

The couple went through IVF to produce 11 embryos, which were frozen. Doctors at the University of Gothenburg then performed the womb transplant.

The donor was a 61-year-old family friend who had gone through the menopause seven years earlier.

Drugs to suppress the immune system were needed to prevent the womb being rejected.

A year after the transplant, doctors decided they were ready to implant one of the frozen embryos and a pregnancy ensued.

The baby was born prematurely, almost 32 weeks into the pregnancy, after the mother developed pre-eclampsia and the baby’s heart rate became abnormal.

Both baby and mum are now said to be doing well.

In an anonymous interview with the AP news agency, the father said: “It was a pretty tough journey over the years, but we now have the most amazing baby.

“He’s no different from any other child, but he will have a good story to tell.”

‘Step change’

Two other medical teams have attempted womb transplants before.

In one case, the organ became diseased and had to be removed after three months. Another case resulted in miscarriages.

Prof Mats Brannstrom, who led the transplant team, described the birth in Sweden as a joyous moment.

“That was a fantastic happiness for me and the whole team, but it was an unreal sensation also because we really could not believe we had reached this moment.

“Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility.”

Liza Johannesson, a gynaecological surgeon in the team, said: “It gives hope to those women and men that thought they would never have a child, that thought they were out of hope.”

However, there are still doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the invasive procedure.

Dr Brannstrom and his team are working with another eight couples with a similar need. The results of those pregnancy attempts will give a better picture of whether this technique can be used more widely.

Dr Allan Pacey, the chairman of the British Fertility Society, told the BBC News website: “I think it is brilliant and revolutionary and opens the door to many infertile women.

“The scale of it feels a bit like IVF. It feels like a step change. The question is can it be done repeatedly, reliably and safely.”

The couple, fresh from celebrating the birth of their child, will soon have to decide if they want a second.

The drugs used to prevent the womb being rejected would be damaging in the long term – so the couple will either try again or have the womb removed.

Coating nanotubes with aluminum oxide lowers risk of lung injury

A new study from North Carolina State University and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) finds that coating multiwalled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with aluminum oxide reduces the risk of lung scarring, or pulmonary fibrosis, in mice.

“This could be an important finding in the larger field of work that aims to predict and prevent future diseases associated with engineered nanomaterials,” says James Bonner, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. “Our goal is to find ways to make sure that carbon nanotubes don’t become the next asbestos.”

Multiwalled CNTs have a wide array of applications, ranging from sporting goods to electronic devices. And while these materials have not been associated with adverse health effects in humans, research has found that multi-walled CNTs can cause pulmonary fibrosis and lung inflammation in animal models.

“Because multiwalled CNTs are increasingly used in a wide variety of products, it seems likely that humans will be exposed to them at some point,” Bonner says. “That means it’s important for us to understand these materials and the potential risk they pose to human health. The more we know, the better we’ll be able to engineer safer materials.”

For this study, the researchers used atomic layer deposition to coat multiwalled CNTs with a thin film of and exposed mice to a single dose of the CNTs, via inhalation.

The researchers found that CNTs coated with aluminum oxide were significantly less likely to cause in mice. However, the coating of aluminum oxide did not prevent .

“The aluminum oxide coating doesn’t eliminate health risks related to multi-walled CNTs,” Bonner says, “but it does lower them.”

Breakthrough technique offers prospect of silicon detectors for telecommunications.

A team of researchers, led by the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton, has demonstrated a breakthrough technique that offers the first possibility of silicon detectors for telecommunications.

For decades, silicon has been the foundation of the microelectronics revolution and, owing to its excellent in the near- and mid-infrared range, is now promising to have a similar impact on photonics.

The team’s research, reported in the journal Nature Materials, describes engineering the of laser-crystallised silicon photonic devices to help overcome one of the key challenges of using silicon in data communications.

The laser processing technique has been developed for their silicon optical fibre platform. It demonstrates that it is possible to completely crystallise the core material, while at the same time writing in large stresses to modify the , achieving extreme bandgap reductions from 1.11 eV down to 0.59 eV, enabling optical detection out to 2,100 nm.

Incorporating silicon materials within the fibre geometry avoids the issues associated with coupling between the micron-sized fibres used for the transport of light, and the nanoscale waveguides on-chip that are employed for data processing and communications systems.

Dr Anna Peacock, an Associate Professor in Optoelectronics who heads the group in the ORC, comments: “The ability to grow single crystal–like materials directly inside the fibre core is a truly exciting prospect as, for the first time, the optoelectronic properties of the silicon fibre devices will be able to approach those of their on-chip counterparts.”

An illustration of the high-pressure chemical vapor deposition (HPCVD) technique. Credit: University of Southampton

Dr Noel Healy, the lead researcher on the project, adds: “Our discovery uses large variable strains to provide unprecedented control over silicon’s optoelectronic properties. This greatly increases the number of potential applications for the material in both electrical and optical applications.

“Our paper shows that we can halve the material’s bandgap energy. That means can now be considered as a medium for all the way through the band.”

The ruffling effect of rumble .

Human ear image. Credit: N. Seery / Wellcome Images

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Barely perceptible low-frequency signals nevertheless activate measurable responses in our auditory circuits. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU) neurobiologists have now characterized the remarkable impact of low-frequency sounds on the inner ear.

The human auditory system appears to be poorly adapted to the perception of low-frequency sound waves, as hearing thresholds become markedly higher for frequencies lower than about 250 Hz. Yet sensory cells do react to pressure waves with frequencies below 100 Hz, as revealed by the fact that such signals actually evoke detectable micromechanical responses in nerve cells in the inner ear, as LMU neurobiologists now report in the journal “Royal Society Open Science”.

Sources of low-frequency signals are a prominent feature of technologically advanced societies like our own. Wind turbines, air-conditioning systems and heat pumps, for instance, can generate such sounds. Hearing thresholds in this region of the acoustic spectrum vary from one person to the next. “But the assumption that the ear is unresponsive to low-frequency sounds because these are seldom consciously perceived is actually quite false. The ear indeed reacts to very low-frequency signals,” says Dr. Markus Drexl of LMU. In collaboration with researchers led by Professor Benedikt Grothe (Head of the Division of Neurobiology in LMU’s Department of Biology II) and a team based at Munich University Medical Center, Drexl has carried out a laboratory study which shows that low-frequency sounds, though virtually imperceptible, actually have a surprisingly strong effect on sensory cells in the inner ear.

Low-frequency hum stimulates the cochlea

The new study is based on data collected from 21 experimental subjects with normal hearing, whose ears were exposed to a 30-Hz tone for 90 seconds at a sound-pressure level equivalent to 80 decibels. To determine how the inner ear responded to the signal, the researchers took advantage of a phenomenon referred to as spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs). SOAEs are scarcely perceptible acoustic signals which are produced by the inner ear in the absence of overt stimulation, and can be detected with a sensitive microphone inserted in the ear canal.

“It turns out that low-frequency sounds have a clearly definable modulatory influence on spontaneous otoacoustic emissions,” says Drexl. Following exposure to the 30-Hz signal for 90 seconds, the subjects’ SOAEs exhibited slow oscillations in frequency and level, which persisted for up to 120 seconds. “Strikingly, the effect of the low-frequency stimulus on the cochlea persists for longer than the duration of the stimulus itself,” Drexl points out. Further experiments will probe the possibility that this phenomenon may be linked to noise-induced auditory damage, one of the most common causes of hearing impairment in industrialized countries.


Discovery could prevent the development of brain tumors in children .

Scientists at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montreal (IRCM) in Canada discovered a mechanism that promotes the progression of medulloblastoma, the most common brain tumor found in children. The team, led by Frédéric Charron, PhD, found that a protein known as Sonic Hedgehog induces DNA damage, which causes the cancer to develop. This important breakthrough will be published in the October 13 issue of the scientific journal Developmental Cell. The editors also selected the article to be featured on the journal’s cover. Sonic Hedgehog belongs to a family of proteins that gives cells the information needed for the embryo to develop properly. It also plays a significant role in tumorigenesis, the process that transforms normal cells into cancer cells. “Our team studied a protein called Boc, which is a receptor located on the cell surface that detects Sonic Hedgehog,” explains Lukas Tamayo-Orrego, PhD student in Dr. Charron’s laboratory and co-first author of the study. “We had previously shown that Boc is important for the development of the cerebellum, the part of the brain where medulloblastoma arises, so we decided to further investigate its role.”

“With this study, we found that the presence of Boc is required for Sonic Hedgehog to induce DNA damage,” adds Dr. Charron, Director of the Molecular Biology of Neural Development research unit at the IRCM. “In fact, Boc causes DNA mutations in tumor cells, which promotes the progression of precancerous lesions into advanced medulloblastoma.” “Our study shows that when Boc is inactivated, the number of tumors is reduced by 66 per cent,” says Frederic Mille, PhD, co-first author of the article and former postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Charron’s research unit. “The inactivation of Boc therefore reduces the development of early medulloblastoma into advanced tumors.” Medulloblastoma ranks among the leading causes of cancer-related mortality in children. Current treatments include surgery, as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Although the majority of children survive the treatment, radiation therapy damages normal brain cells in infants and toddlers and causes long-term harm. “As a result, many children who undergo these treatments suffer serious side effects including cognitive impairment and disorders,” states Dr. Charron. “Our results indicate that Boc could potentially be targeted to develop a new therapeutic approach that would stop the growth and progression of medulloblastoma and could reduce the adverse side effects of current treatments.”

Protecting children from the harmful effects of food and drink marketing

Food and drink marketing is a vast and increasingly sophisticated industry, and children are among its prime targets. Advertisements on TV, the Internet and mobile phones are being integrated with sponsorship agreements and product placement to maximize their impact.

A child is eating food from a bowl at a table.

Many advertisements promote foods high in fats, sugar and salt, consumption of which should be limited as part of a healthy diet. In 2007 and 2008, an analysis of television broadcasting in Greece showed that 65% of food advertisements promoted foods high in fats, sugar and salt.

Food advertising and other forms of marketing have been shown to influence children’s food preferences, purchasing behaviour and overall dietary behaviour. Marketing has also been associated with an increased risk of overweight and obesity in children. The habits children develop early in life may encourage them to adopt unhealthy dietary practices which persist into adulthood, increasing the likelihood of overweight, obesity and associated health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“The majority of adverts seen by children around the globe are for heavily processed foods high in fat, sugar, salt and calories.”

Amanda Long, Director-General of Consumers International

“Food companies spend billions of dollars developing marketing that really works,” notes Amanda Long, Director-General of Consumers International, a global consumer rights organization. “The majority of adverts seen by children around the globe are for heavily processed foods high in fat, sugar, salt and calories.”

Many governments are, however, expressing concerns about the impact of marketing to children. Some countries, such as Spain and Norway, have agreed with food and drink companies on self-regulation whereby industries take the lead implementing voluntary restrictions on marketing, overseen by governments.

In Europe, the United Kingdom (UK’s) statutory ban on television advertising of foods high in fats, sugar and salt during children’s programming was a world first and broke new ground internationally for imposing more stringent conditions on food and drink industries.

Food marketing in the UK: from self-regulation to legislation

In 2003, the UK Government’s then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, asked the national Office of Communications (OFCOM) to consider proposals for restricting television advertising of food and drink aimed at children. Her request came in the wake of a growing body of research showing rising obesity levels among British children.

OFCOM concluded that broadcast advertising had a modest, direct effect on children and a potentially larger indirect effect. ‘Proportionate and targeted action’ in terms of changing advertising rules was advised.

Three years later, for the first time, statutory restrictions were applied to television advertising which meant that no advertisements for products high in fats, sugars or salt could be shown in or around programmes specifically geared to children under the age of 16.

Results to date suggest the impact of the marketing restrictions have been significant. By 2009, children were exposed to 37% fewer advertisements promoting products high in fats, sugars or salt compared to 2005. The UK Department of Health reported that annual expenditure for child-themed food and drink advertisements across all media decreased by 41%, from £103 million in 2003 to £61 million by 2007.

Yet some independent analyses suggest that these falling figures mask loopholes in current regulations. Through family entertainment shows – considered ‘adult’ programming as they fall outside current regulations – children are still exposed to unhealthy food and drink advertisements.

Malcolm Clark is the coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, a UK-based group which lobbies to protect children from junk-food marketing. He points out that the growth of new media has provided an alternate avenue for the promotion of unhealthy, processed food. “Parents’ efforts to help their children eat healthily are being undermined by sophisticated promotion of junk food to children: on TV, online, at the cinema, in magazines, in supermarkets, on food packaging, and for some even at school.”

WHO calls for responsible marketing

In light of evidence from the UK and other countries worldwide, WHO has recommended that governments play a leading role in reducing children’s overall exposure to food marketing and setting rules on the persuasive techniques companies can use, with a view to protecting children from the adverse impacts of marketing.

This is a key policy action contained in the WHO Global Action Plan 2013–2020 for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), which was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2013. This accompanies the WHO’s existing set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, endorsed by the Sixty-third World Health Assembly in 2010. WHO acknowledges that global progress will require policy action to address both TV advertising and all other forms of marketing.

For many years WHO has been the leading player in commissioning reviews of available evidence on the nature and impact of food and drink marketing and in producing global recommendations. In Europe, a WHO network of 28 countries led by Norway and focused on reducing marketing pressure on children has been meeting and sharing experiences since 2008 to collaborate on further action.

The next goal for countries in this network is to advance the development of more effective and comprehensive policies. This will require that governments set the criteria for policies, including important definitions around what foods are to be covered by the marketing restrictions.

In the new European Food and Nutrition Action 2015-2020, Member States will work with WHO to roll out the use of nutrient profile models that assess the nutritional values of foods and provide a scientific basis for marketing restrictions. The goal is to establish a universally high standard across the region and, ultimately, further restrict the impact of potentially harmful food and drink marketing on children.

A brief history of governments deploying weaponized pandemics against innocent populations –

Throughout the course of human history, governments — even those that claimed to be benevolent — have killed millions of their own people in horrible fashion through the use of what were essentially weapons of mass destruction. A new historical review by Dr. Stefan Riedel, MD, PhD, for Baylor University Medical Center documents some of those uses, but there are other examples as well that Natural News found in its own research.

Dr. Riedel’s review was spurred in part by the continuing threat of global terrorism and, in some current conflicts, the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations. But in addition to the standard threats — chemical and conventional weapons – there should be additional concerns about non-traditional, biological threats, and the current deadly Ebola virus outbreak serves as a reminder that pandemics can also be unleashed on populations as a means of decimating them.

The historical review noted:

Because of the increased threat of terrorism, the risk posed by various microorganisms as biological weapons needs to be evaluated and the historical development and use of biological agents better understood. Biological warfare agents may be more potent than conventional and chemical weapons.

Biological warfare has been used for 2,500 years

In the past century especially, there has been substantial progress in the fields of biotechnology and biochemistry, progress that has “simplified the development and production” of biological and chemical weapons. Also, Dr. Riedel’s review found that the field of genetic engineering is most likely the deadliest of all.

“Ease of production and the broad availability of biological agents and technical know how have led to a further spread of biological weapons and an increased desire among developing countries to have them,” the review said. “The threat of bioterrorism is real and significant; it is neither in the realm of science fiction nor confined to our nation.”

Early in our history, men learned how to kill one another using incurable, untreatable sickness as a biological weapon. As early as 600 B.C., the use of infectious diseases was recognized as a way to impact, with deadly results, entire armies and the populations that supported them. Indeed, biowarfare has been used for some 2,500 years, according to a 1995 study:

The techniques of delivery and weaponization of biological warfare agents have gradually evolved from the catapulting of plague victims to the deliberate use of infected clothes, insect vectors, and specialized weapon systems.

“The crude use of filth and cadavers, animal carcasses, and contagion had devastating effects and weakened the enemy,” Dr. Riedel’s review added.

Another tactic adopted by warring factions was the poisoning of water sources of the opposing military force — a tactic that was continued often through the many European wars, as well as the American Civil War. The tactic has been used into and throughout the 20th century as well.

Middle Ages and more technological advances

Military tacticians and leaders during the Middle Ages understood that bioweapons — infectious diseases — could be deployed against opposing armies and their supporting civilian populations.

For example, in 1346 during the siege of Caffa, a strongly fortified seaport controlled by the Genoese (now, the region is known as Feodosia, which is in Crimea, recently annexed by Russia), the assaulting Tartars fell victim to a plague epidemic. But the Tartars used it to gain military advantage; they catapulted cadavers of the deceased into the city, which then led to an outbreak of plague there. That forced the Genoese forces to retreat.

An epidemic of plague, known also as the Black Death, followed and continued to sweep through Europe, the Near East and North Africa during the 14th century. It has been called the worst pandemic in recorded history.

“The siege of Caffa is a powerful reminder of the terrible consequences when diseases are used as weapons,” said the review.

The 14th century plague killed more than 25 million Europeans, and there were other instances where disease and poisons were used during warfare, the historical review said.

In more recent times, other diseases have been used as biological weapons, most notably smallpox. Francisco Pizarro, for instance, reportedly gave native South Americans disease-contaminated clothing in the 15th century; also, during the French and Indian War in North America, the commander of British forces, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, suggested that the smallpox virus should be deliberately introduced into the Native American population hostile to the Crown, as a way of diminishing resistance.

Bioweapons in the New World

“An outbreak of smallpox in Fort Pitt led to a significant generation of fomites and provided Amherst with the means to execute his plan,” the review said, continuing:

On June 24, 1763, Captain Ecuyer, one of Amherst’s subordinate officers, provided the Native Americans with smallpox-laden blankets from the smallpox hospital. He recorded in his journal: “I hope it will have the desired effect.” As a result, a large outbreak of smallpox occurred among the Indian tribes in the Ohio River Valley.

World War I saw the first industrialized use of chemical warfare — which was eventually banned by international treaty — but there was also talk of using biological warfare. German military planners considered shipping horses tainted with the anthrax and glanders bacteria to the United States and other allied countries. Also, “the same agents were used to infect Romanian sheep that were designated for export to Russia,” the review said. Germany was also suspected of making plans to send cholera to Italy and plague to parts of Russia.

A League of Nations committee cleared Germany of any biological warfare in 1924 but noted that the country used chemical warfare.

Continued research and fear of use in the 20th century

By the time World War II began, a number of countries had begun substantial research into biological weapons, according to Dr. Riedel’s review:

Various allegations and countercharges clouded the events during and after World War II. Japan conducted biological weapons research from approximately 1932 until the end of World War II. The program was under the direction of Shiro Ishii (1932-1942) and Kitano Misaji (1942-1945). Several military units existed for research and development of biological warfare.

More than 10,000 prisoners were believed to have died during their captivity in Japanese prison camps as a result of experimentation with biological warfare agents.

After World War II, biowarfare programs expanded, and that included programs in the United States, but these also involved research into countermeasure programs aimed at defeating a biological attack. By 1972, however, most nations signed onto a UN-sponsored treaty, the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction,” which bans development and deployment of biological weapons.

Today, terrorists could deploy bioweapons

As recently as the first Gulf War in 1991, however, there were fears that biological weapons could be employed during combat. “Coalition forces prepared in 1990-1991 for potential biological and chemical warfare by training in protective masks and equipment, exercising decontamination procedures, receiving extensive education on possible detection procedures, and immunizing troops against potential biological warfare threats,” Dr. Riedel’s review said.

Since then, research into bio-agents has continued, as global terrorism fears multiply with the rise of numerous non-state actors. Even today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon’s NORTHCOM (Northern Command, which is responsible for protecting the U.S. homeland), have all warned that biological warfare is still a very real possibility. Officials cite the immediate post-9/11 incidents in 2001 involving anthrax spores sent to targets through the mail as examples.

Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at

Sources: [PDF]