This Is The Most Dangerous Position…In Bed


This Is The Most Dangerous Position…In Bed

This Is The Most Dangerous Position...In Bed

If you like to, er, straddle his saddle during sex, a recent study would warn you to be careful when you take the reins: Woman on top sex is the most “dangerous” for men because it leads to the most penis injuries!

The study, published in Advances in Urology, analyzed hospital-reported penile fractures from 2000 to 2013 and found that 50 percent of cases were the result of woman-on-top sex. Next in line was doggy-style sex, which accounted for nearly 30 percent of penile injuries. Just 21 percent of men claimed to be on top when they were injured.

The researchers concluded that “when woman is on top, she usually controls the movement with her entire body weight landing on the erect penis” and that a woman can’t tell “when the penis suffers a wrong way penetration because the harm is usually minor in the woman…but major in the penis.” Whoops!

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History .


Our planet has existed for 4.5 billion years, and it has been a busy few eons. Here are the 25 biggest milestones in Earth’s history. From leaps forward in evolution to devastating asteroid impacts, these were the turning points that shaped our world.

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4.5b years ago

EARTH IS BORN

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Birth of a planet

Earth grew from a cloud of dust and rocks surrounding the young Sun. Earth formed when some of these rocks collided. Eventually they were massive enough to attract other rocks with the force of gravity, and vacuumed up all the nearby junk, becoming the Earth. The Moon probably formed soon after, when a planet-sized chunk of rock smashed into the Earth and threw up a huge cloud of debris. This condensed into the Moon.

4-3.5b years ago

THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

First organisms

Nobody knows exactly when life began. The oldest confirmed fossils, of single-celled microorganisms, are 3.5 billion years old. Life may have begun a bit earlier than that, but probably not while huge rocks were still raining down on Earth. Life may have begun in warm alkaline vents on the seabed, or in open water, or on land. We don’t know, and we don’t know what the first organisms were like.

3.4b years ago

LIFE HARNESSESTHE POWER OF SUNLIGHT

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Photosynthesis

All life needs energy to survive, and the biggest source of energy for life on Earth is the Sun. Some of the early microorganisms evolved a way to use the energy from sunlight to make sugars out of simpler molecules. This process is called photosynthesis. But unlike green plants today, the first photosynthesising organisms did not release oxygen as a waste product, so there was no oxygen in the air.

3b years ago?

THE BEGINNINGOF PLATE TECTONICS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Continents form

Today, Earth’s surface is divided into a few dozen plates of rock, one of which sometimes ploughs under another to be destroyed in the planet’s molten heart. This process, called plate tectonics, is thought to have begun around 3 billion years ago. Only when plate tectonics had come into operation could the first continent, nicknamed ‘Ur’, come into being.

2.4b years ago

THE GREATOXIDATION EVENT

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Breathable air

For the first half of Earth’s history, there was hardly any oxygen in the air. But then some bacteria began harnessing sunlight to make sugar from carbon dioxide and water, just like green plants today. These microbes pumped out oxygen as a waste product, creating the oxygen-rich atmosphere we have today. But the first oxygen may have caused the entire planet to freeze over into a ‘Snowball Earth’, by stripping the greenhouse gas methane from the air.

2-1b years ago

ENDOSYMBIOSIS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Complex cells

The first organisms were simple cells like modern bacteria, but some of them became much more internally complex. These ‘eukaryotes’ developed lots of specialised equipment within their cells. They also had a new source of energy: sausage-shaped objects called mitochondria that were once free-living bacteria, but which were absorbed in a process called endosymbiosis. Every animal and plant you’ve ever seen is a eukaryote.

1.2b years ago?

THE FIRST SEX

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Origin of mating

Between 1.8 billion and 800 million years ago, the fossil record looks fairly dull – so much so that the period is called the ‘Boring Billion’. But behind the scenes plenty was happening. For one thing sex may have evolved for the first time. It’s not clear why, or when, some organisms stopped simply dividing in two and started the messy business of sex. But it was definitely going on 1.2 billion years ago: there are fossils of red algae from that time that were clearly forming specialised sex cells such as spores.

1b years ago?

MULTICELLULAR LIFE

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Big organisms

For the first time, life was not just made up of single cells. Now cells were teaming up to form larger organisms with things like mouths, limbs and sense organs. It’s hard to say when this happened: there are fossils of large organisms dating back 2.1 billion years, but these may simply have been colonies of bacteria. Different groups of organisms probably evolved multicellularity independently, with plants managing it before animals.

850-635m years ago

SNOWBALL EARTH

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

A frozen world

Earth froze over again, twice, in the space of 200 million years. The ice may well have stretched all the way from the poles to the equator. This second Snowball period may have triggered the evolution of the first complex animals. The first complex organisms, weird tube- and frond-shaped things called the Ediacarans, appeared soon after.

535m years ago

THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Evolutionary leaps

Soon after animals evolved, evolution went through two major growth spurts. In the Cambrian Explosion, it seems almost every group of modern animals appeared within tens of millions of years. This apparent ‘explosion’ may be partly down to better fossilisation, as many animals now had hard shells. Then 489 million years ago, each animal group expanded in the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.

465m years ago

PLANTS COLONISE THE LAND

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Out of the sea

Some animals ventured onto land as far back as 500 million years ago, but they only visited briefly – perhaps to lay eggs in a place without predators. Plants were the first to take up permanent residence on land. The first land plants were relatives of green algae, but they rapidly diversified.

460-430m years ago

THE FIRST MASS EXTINCTION

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Ordovician ordeal

The Ordovician period was a time when life flourished. But towards its end, the world cooled dramatically and ice sheets spread from the poles. The ensuing ice age is called the Andean-Saharan, because the evidence of it comes from the Andes mountains and the Sahara desert. The deep freeze led to the second-worst mass extinction on record, the Ordovician-Silurian. Most life was still confined to the sea, and 85% of marine species were wiped out. In the aftermath, fish became much more common.

375m years ago

FISH THAT WALK ON LAND

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

From fins to legs

With plants well-established on land, the next step was for animals to move out of the water. Insects were among the first, around 400 million years ago. But they were followed soon after by big, backboned animals such as Tiktaalik, a fish that looked a bit like a salamander. Fish like Tiktaalik would eventually evolve four limbs, and give rise to amphibians, reptiles and mammals. It may be a good thing it left the water when it did, as soon afterwards the Late Devonian Extinction wiped out many marine animals, including some terrifying-looking armoured fish.

320m years ago

DAWN OF THE REPTILES

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Lizards ahoy

When the first reptiles appeared, Earth was in the middle of a long cold snap called the Late Paleozoic Ice Age. Reptiles evolved from newt-like amphibians. Unlike their ancestors they had tough, scaly skin and laid eggs with hard shells that did not have to be left in water. Thanks to these advantages, they quickly became the dominant land animals. The sail-backed Dimetrodon reached 4.5m long – but despite what you may have heard, it was not a dinosaur.

300m years ago

PANGAEA

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Supercontinent

For the last time, all Earth’s continents came together to form one giant supercontinent. Known as Pangaea, it was surrounded by a world-spanning ocean called Panthalassa. It lasted until 175 million years ago, when it began to tear itself apart over tens of millions of years. Its shattered remnants became the familiar modern continents.

252m years ago

THE GREAT DYING

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Permian extinction

Just as the reptiles were flourishing, life on Earth faced perhaps its greatest challenge. The Permian extinction was the worst mass extinction in the planet’s history, obliterating up to 96% of marine species and similar numbers of land animals. We don’t know for sure what caused it, but massive volcanic eruptions – creating what is now the Siberian Traps – may have been to blame. In the aftermath, the first dinosaurs evolved.

220m years ago

THE FIRST MAMMALS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Hairy beasts

At the same time that the dinosaurs were spreading and diversifying, the first mammals evolved. Their ancestors were reptiles called cynodonts, whose faces looked a little like those of dogs and may have had fur or whiskers. Early mammals such as Morganucodon were small and shrew-like, and probably only active at night. This may have spurred them to evolve warm-bloodedness: the ability to keep their body temperature constant.

201m years ago

THE TRIASSIC EXTINCTION

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Dinosaurs unleashed

The dinosaurs were flourishing on land, and in the sea giant reptiles called ichthyosaurs had become the top predators. Then another disaster struck. Nobody knows what caused the Triassic extinction, but it killed off around 80% of species. In the aftermath, the dinosaurs became the dominant land animals and eventually reached titanic sizes. The biggest species whose mass is accurately known, Dreadnoughtus schrani, weighed about 59 tonnes.

160m years ago

THE FIRST BIRDS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Feathered flight

Birds evolved from feathered dinosaurs – modern birds are essentially Velociraptors with beaks instead of snouts and wings instead of arms. The most famous early bird, Archaeopteryx, lived 150 million years ago. But in recent years slightly older fossils, such as Xiaotingia and Aurornis, have been found in China.

130m years ago

FLOWERS FLOWER

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Plant revolution

This may sound strange, but flowers are a recent invention. There have been land plants for 465 million years, yet there were no flowers for over two-thirds of that time. Flowering plants only appeared in the middle of the dinosaur era. The equally-familiar grasses appeared even more recently. The oldest fossil grasses are just 70 million years old, although grass may have evolved a bit earlier than that.

65m years ago

DEATH OF THE DINOSAURS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

The fifth extinction

Boom, you’re extinct. 65 million years ago, a huge chunk of rock from outer space smashed into what is now Mexico. The explosion was devastating, but the longer-term effects were worse. Dust was thrown into the upper atmosphere and blocked out sunlight, and in the ensuing cold and darkness Earth suffered its fifth and last mass extinction. The dinosaurs were the most famous casualties, but pterosaurs and giant marine reptiles were also wiped out.

60-55m years ago

THE FIRST PRIMATES EVOLVE

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

Living in the trees

Almost immediately after the dinosaurs were wiped out, mammals evolved the ability to nourish their young inside their wombs using a placenta, just like modern humans. Soon, some of these early placental mammals evolved into the first primates. They would ultimately give rise to monkeys, apes and humans. But the first ones were small creatures. The oldest known primate skeleton is of a species called Archicebus achilles, which weighed no more than 30 grams. They lived in the hot and humid rainforests of Asia.

32-25m years ago

SUPERCHARGED PLANTS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

C4 photosynthesis

Plants have been busily harnessing sunlight to make sugar for hundreds of millions of years – a process called photosynthesis. But fairly recently, some plants have found a better way to do it. C4 photosynthesis is far more efficient than normal photosynthesis, allowing C4 plants to cope with harsh conditions. Today scientists are trying to engineer rice to use C4 photosynthesis, to help feed the growing population.

13-7m years ago

THE FIRST HOMININS

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

The road to humanity

The first apes appeared in Africa around 25 million years ago. Then at some point, the group split into the ancestors of modern humans and the ancestors of modern apes. It’s hard to say exactly when, but thanks to modern genetics and a host of fossil discoveries, we have a rough idea. The oldest known hominid was Sahelanthropus tchadensis, which lived about 7 million years ago.

200,000 years ago

THE HUMAN RACE

The 25 Biggest Turning Points in Earth’s History

The thinking ape

Our species, Homo sapiens, is ridiculously young. We have only existed for a fifth of a million years. In that time we have expanded from our African birthplace to reach every continent, and even outer space. Our activities have precipitated the sixth mass extinction and unleashed the fastest episode of climate change in Earth’s history. Yet we are also the only species that has ever managed to piece together the history of Earth.

How Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland For Themselves (And Everyone Else)


How Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland For Themselves (And Everyone Else)

“The Happiest Place On Earth” is ground zero for a recent measles outbreak centered in California. Now, unvaccinated people are being warned to avoid visiting Disneyland parks.

Image Credit: Wonkblog + Associated Press

No Infants In Disneyland

There are now 67 confirmed cases of measles in an ongoing outbreak centered in California.According to the California Department of Public Health, 59 of the cases are in-state. Among the 34 California patients for whom vaccination status is known, 28 were unvaccinated and one had received partial vaccination. Only five were fully vaccinated.

Forty-two of the California cases have been linked to an initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, and while cases were originally tied to people who visited the park in mid-December, state health officials now note other cases visited Disney parks in January. According to the CDC, the majority of measles cases reported so far during 2015 have been part of the “large, ongoing outbreak” connected with these parks.

Last year, there were 644 measles cases documented in 27 states – the biggest annual numberin close to a quarter century. For those hoping to avoid seeing similar infection rates in 2015, the year is off to an inauspicious start.

How Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland For Themselves (And Everyone Else)

Above: Cumulative number of new measles cases by month, for each year from 2001 to 2014 | Via Wonkblog

Unvaccinated people are now being warned to avoid visiting Disneyland parks. The reasoning is simple: Most people who get measles are unvaccinated, and the disease spreads easiest when when it reaches a community where large groups of people are unvaccinated. Limiting the number of unvaccinated people in the park therefore not only protects them from themselves, it protects the immunized visitors, as well.

It also protects those too young to be immunized. Of the measles patients who have been hospitalized in this recent outbreak, six cases have been in infants too young to be vaccinated, whether their parents want them immunized or not.

“I would recommend that infants are not taken to places like Disneyland today,” said Gil Chavez, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases, in an interview with the LA Times. Yesterday, Chavez implored parents to take action to protect not only their own children, but other children who might be affected by their decisions.

“I am asking unvaccinated Californians to consider getting immunized,” Chavez said. “We have a particular responsibility to protect all of our infants in the state until they are old enough to be vaccinated.”

This is how the anti-vaccination movement ruined Disneyland, not just for those who would actively refuse vaccines, but for everyone else. The cause for measles’s resurgence is as unambiguous today as it has been in recent months. Last May, Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases stated unambiguously that the current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people.” Yesterday, pediatric infectious disease specialist James Cherry told theNew York Times that the Disneyland outbreak was “100 percent connected” to the anti-vaccine movement. “It wouldn’t have happened otherwise — it wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” he said.

When Anti-Vaxxers Cluster

Of course, the ill-effects of the anti-vaccination movement are not limited to Disneyland. The consequences of refused vaccinations are felt anywhere that people gather, allowing diseases like measles to spread vast distances very quickly. Venues like theme parks and airports are considered potential flashpoints, because they see a lot of international travelers, who may originate from countries where diseases like measles have yet to be eliminated.

Schools also pose a serious challenge. While state officials have not gone so far as to ban unvaccinated people from visiting Disneyland altogether, such measures have recently been taken at California schools. Health officials in Orange County this week issued more than 20 letters to parents stating that students who could not prove they had received a measles vaccine could be barred from class. (The Journal of the American Medical Association has published research this week on legal strategies for combating the growing danger of nonmedical vaccine refusal.)

The major concern of California health officials is that school vaccination rates remain above 95% – a threshold critical to maintaining herd immunity. Statewide, the vaccination exemption rate among California kindergartners was 3.1% for the 2013–2014 school year, but there are pockets across the state where exemption rates have crept into the double digits.

A newly published study on anti-vaccination patterns is the latest to highlight some of these pockets. The study, which was led by Kaiser Permanente Division of Research Director Tracy Lieu and appears in this week’s issue of the journal Pediatrics, finds that parents who opt out of vaccinating their children tend to cluster, creating geographic hot-spots where large percentages of children receive no vaccines or are under-immunized. The findings could explain how a disease like measles – which was officially “eliminated” from the U.S. in 2000 – has managed to acquire so firm a foothold within the American population.

NPR‘s Liza Gross reports on the study, and an ironic consequence of this clustering effect:

If these parents were distributed randomly, their decisions would be less likely to harm others, especially babies too young for vaccination. But parents who use personal belief exemptions to avoid school vaccination requirements often live in the same communities, studies have found.

And parents of children too young to go to school do, too… These younger children face the highest risk of dying from whooping cough and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

…The main problem with this clustering behavior, says [Saad Omer, a researcher at Emory University who found that clusters of personal belief exemptions contributed to the 2010 California whooping cough epidemic that killed 10 babies], is that every child’s risk for disease depends on what others do. That’s because no vaccine is 100 percent effective, so even a vaccinated child could get sick if exposed.

Lieu’s team also identified five clusters where all vaccines were refused for close to 9,000 babies and toddlers in the study:

  • 10.2 percent of children in an area from El Cerrito to Alameda
  • 7.4 percent in northeastern San Francisco
  • 6.6 percent in Marin and southwest Sonoma counties
  • 5.5 percent in northeastern Sacramento County and Roseville
  • 13.5 percent of kids in a small area south of Sacramento

“These are early signals,” says Lieu. “These kinds of clusters can be associated with later epidemics.”

In an interview with the NYT, Jane Seward, deputy director of the viral diseases division at the CDC, echoes Lieu’s sentiment:

“The problem is that there are these pockets with low vaccination rates… if a case comes into a population where a lot of people are unvaccinated, that’s where you get the outbreak and where you get the spread.”

Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism


With its high electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide is one of the most widely used materials for touchscreens, plasma displays, and flexible electronics. But its rapidly escalating price has forced the electronics industry to search for other alternatives.

One potential and more cost-effective alternative is a film made with —wires so extremely thin that they are one-dimensional—embedded in flexible polymers. Like , this material is transparent and conductive. But development has stalled because scientists lack a fundamental understanding of its .

Now Horacio Espinosa, the James N. and Nancy J. Farley Professor in Manufacturing and Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, has led research that expands the understanding of silver nanowires’ behavior in electronics.

Espinosa and his team investigated the material’s cyclic loading, which is an important part of fatigue analysis because it shows how the material reacts to fluctuating loads of stress.

“Cyclic loading is an important material behavior that must be investigated for realizing the potential applications of using silver nanowires in electronics,” Espinosa said. “Knowledge of such behavior allows designers to understand how these conductive films fail and how to improve their durability.”

 

By varying the tension on silver nanowires thinner than 120 nanometers and monitoring their deformation with electron microscopy, the research team characterized the cyclic mechanical behavior. They found that permanent deformation was partially recoverable in the studied nanowires, meaning that some of the material’s defects actually self-healed and disappeared upon cyclic loading. These results indicate that silver nanowires could potentially withstand strong cyclic loads for long periods of time, which is a key attribute needed for .

“These silver nanowires show mechanical properties that are quite unexpected,” Espinosa said. “We had to develop new experimental techniques to be able to measure this novel material property.”

The findings were recently featured on the cover of the journal Nano Letters. Other Northwestern coauthors on the paper are Rodrigo Bernal, a recently graduated PhD student in Espinosa’s lab, and Jiaxing Huang, associate professor of materials science and engineering in McCormick.

“The next step is to understand how this recovery influences the behavior of these materials when they are flexed millions of times,” said Bernal, first author of the paper.

Pictured together for the first time: A chemokine and its receptor


Researchers at University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California report the first crystal structure of the cellular receptor CXCR4 bound to an immune signaling protein called a chemokine. The structure, published Jan. 22 in Science, answers longstanding questions about a molecular interaction that plays an important role in human development, immune responses, cancer metastasis and HIV infections.

“This new information could ultimately aid the development of better small molecular inhibitors of CXCR4-chemokine interactions—inhibitors that have the potential to block or viral infections,” said Tracy M. Handel, PhD, professor of pharmacology at UC San Diego and senior author of the study.

CXCR4 is a receptor that sits on the outer surface of cells, sticking out like an antenna. When it receives a message, in the form of signaling molecules called chemokines, the receptor binds the chemokines and transmits the message to the inside of the cell. This signal relay helps cells migrate normally during development and inflammation. But CXCR4 signaling can also play a role in abnormal cell migration, such as when cancer cells metastasize. CXCR4 is infamous for another reason: HIV uses it to bind and infect .

Despite its far-reaching consequences, researchers have long lacked data to show how exactly the CXCR4-chemokine interaction occurs, or even how many CXCR4 receptors a single chemokine molecule might simultaneously engage. This is because membrane receptors like CXCR4 are exceptionally challenging structural targets. The difficulty dramatically increases when studying such receptors in complexes with the proteins they bind.

To overcome these experimental challenges, Handel’s team used a novel approach. They combined computational modeling and a technique known as disulfide trapping to stabilize the complex. Once stabilized, the researchers were able to use X-ray crystallography to determine the CXCR4-chemokine complex’s 3D atomic structure.

This is the first time that a receptor like CXCR4 has been crystallized with a protein binding partner and the results revealed several new insights. First, the new shows that one chemokine binds to just one receptor. Additionally, the structure reveals that the contacts between the receptor and its binding partner are more extensive than previously thought—it is one very large contiguous surface of interaction rather than two separate binding sites.

“The plasticity of the CXCR4 receptor—its ability to bind many unrelated small molecules, peptides and proteins—is remarkable,” said Irina Kufareva, PhD, a computational scientist at UC San Diego and co-corresponding author of the study. “Our understanding of this plasticity may impact the design of therapeutics with better inhibition and safety profiles.”

“With more than 800 members, seven-transmembrane like CXCR4 are the largest protein family in the human genome,” added Raymond Stevens, PhD, provost professor and director of the Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California and co-corresponding author. “Each new structure opens up so many doors to understanding different aspects of human biology, and this time it is about chemokine signaling.”

The New Measles


Measles used to be an illness everyone got.

Before vaccination became widespread in the 1960s, pediatricians knew to check their patients’ throats for the spray of telltale spots. Scientists raced for decades to develop an effective vaccine. And in the meantime, newspapers printed matter-of-fact death tolls, tallying high numbers of deaths by measles, scarlet fever, smallpox, and other illnesses of the recent past.

People expected to get measles in those days, but they didn’t expect to survive. Measles killed some 2.6 million people each year before vaccination was widespread, according to the World Health Organization. Today, some 145,000 people die of measles each year—most of them because they lack access to the vaccine—and just a tiny fraction of them are in the United States, where the vaccine is readily available and widely used.

Traces of measles’ one-time ubiquity in the States still linger in morbid nursery rhymes (“Cat’s got the measles and the measles have got you,” one goes) and splotchy illustrations in old children’s books and medical texts, but vaccination has changed the way people see the illness in the developed world.

Culturally, measles is rarely seen as a threat anymore in the United States—a misconception that the disease isn’t as dangerous as it actually is.

In reality, measles never went away.

At the petri-dish level, the virus—one of the most stable, unchanging strains there is—looks just the way it did in the pre-vaccination era. Measles remains one of the most infectious illnesses on the planet. The virus stays active and contagious in the air for up to two hours, and can be transmitted from an infected person for up to four days before and after a rash appears.

The stability of the measles virus is also what makes its vaccine so effective. “Oftentimes viruses mutate a lot, like the influenza virus, but this virus is very stable,” said Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine. “There’s really only one strain of the measles virus.”

And although the United States successfully eradicated it—meaning that despite occasional outbreaks, measles doesn’t move through the population continuously—there’s no guarantee it will stay that way. That’s what happened in the United Kingdom, where measles was wiped out but is now endemic again.

“It can definitely come back,” Meissner told me. “And then because this is probably the most infectious of all the known viruses or illnesses—we say that about 90 percent of people who are not immune and who are exposed to measles will get it—that’s a higher number than for any illness, even influenza. It’s one of the most infectious or transmissible viruses that we’re aware of.”

Measles is already one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide. About 400 people die from the virus each day—that’s about 16 deaths every hour, according to the WHO. “It’s a very severe disease,” Meissner told me. “It’s not a mild illness like mumps or even chickenpox. This is a much more severe sort of illness.” Even those who survive the virus can suffer brain swelling, pneumonia, deafness, and other permanent complications. And in the United States, measles seems to be making a comeback. Today there are 67 confirmed measles cases in the United States, most of them linked to Disneyland in California. This puts the United States on pace to eclipse incidences of measles in 2014, which was already the worst year for measles since 1994, when there were 958 cases reported to the CDC. Last year there were 644 cases of measles reported in 27 states.

“It is very easy for entire communities to be exposed when an unvaccinated individual is infected and brings it into that group,” said Roberta DeBiasi, the chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s National Medical Center.

“The problem is people not getting vaccinated,” said Jane Seward, deputy director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The vast majority of our cases every single year are unvaccinated people who choose not to be vaccinated. They are living in a family who are unvaccinated and they have friends who are unvaccinated. They might go to a school with a high proportion of people who are unvaccinated.”

That’s true in parts of California, which has developed a reputation for communities where anti-vaccine attitudes thrive. Some 8 percent of kindergarteners enrolled in California schools have exemptions from the measles vaccine, according to CDC data. Some California schools have exemption rates as high as 43 percent, according to data compiled by the data-visualization platform Silk:
The CDC estimates other states—including Pennsylvania, Maine, and Colorado—have even higher rates of exemptions statewide.

In the wake of the Disneyland outbreak, health officials in Orange County have ordered dozens of high schoolers without proof of immunization to stay home from school, according to the Los Angeles Times.

To complicate matters further, there’s an entire generation of doctors in the United States who have never treated a measles patient, or even seen a case in person. “The success in general of the vaccination program does mean that younger physicians have never seen a case, and they don’t necessarily think about it at all,” Seward told me. “The other challenge, which is nobody’s fault at all, is that measles presents early on looking just like an upper-respiratory infection with fever. But it can be contagious before the rash. At that stage it’s not distinguishable from the flu or other respiratory viruses.”

Seward says the CDC has been making a “huge effort” to educate physicians. “We’ve really tried to hammer home the message that if you see somebody with a febrile rash illness, ask them if they’ve gone overseas, ask them about measles in their community, and ask them about their vaccination status. Think of measles.”

The CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine for babies beginning at 1 year old, but 6-month-olds who are traveling out of the country should get an earlier dose, too, Seward and Meissner said. The majority of measles cases in the United States come from people who bring the virus back to the country from places where measles is still (or has become again) endemic—including the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, countries that many U.S. travelers don’t identify as potentially dangerous from a public-health perspective, several physicians told me.

“The vaccine is extremely safe,” Meissner said. “No vaccine is completely without side effects. The CDC is quick to acknowledge that. You can get a sore arm. You can get swelling and tenderness. You can get a fever. That is true. But the likelihood of having a severe complication from the vaccine is so remote that it’s hard to quantify.”

And though some of the treatments for complications associated with measles are more sophisticated today than they were in the pre-vaccination era, measles is just as deadly as ever. “If you go into shock, treatment of shock has probably improved,” Seward told me, “But none of the treatments have changed that are going to alter the risk of death if you have a really bad case of measles.”

First major analysis of Human Protein Atlas is published .


The first major analysis based on the Human Protein Atlas has been published, including a detailed picture of the proteins that are linked to cancer, the number of proteins present in the bloodstream, and the targets for all approved drugs on the market.
An image from the Human Protein Atlas.

A research article published in Science presents the first major analysis based on the Human Protein Atlas, including a detailed picture of the proteins that are linked to cancer, the number of proteins present in the bloodstream, and the targets for all approved drugs on the market.

The Human Protein Atlas, a major multinational research project supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, recently launched (November 6, 2014) an open source tissue-based interactive map of the human protein. Based on 13 million annotated images, the database maps the distribution of proteins in all major tissues and organs in the human body, showing both proteins restricted to certain tissues, such as the brain, heart, or liver, and those present in all. As an open access resource, it is expected to help drive the development of new diagnostics and drugs, but also to provide basic insights in normal human biology.

In the Science article, “Tissue-based Atlas of the Human Proteome,” the approximately 20,000 protein coding genes in humans have been analysed and classified using a combination of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and antibody-based profiling, says the article’s lead author, Mathias Uhlén, Professor of Microbiology at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the director of the Human Protein Atlas program.

The analysis shows that almost half of the protein-coding genes are expressed in a ubiquitous manner and thus found in all analysed tissues.

Approximately 15% of the genes show an enriched expression in one or several tissues or organs, including well-known tissue-specific proteins, such as insulin and troponin. The testes, or testicles, have the most tissue-enriched proteins followed by the brain and the liver.

The analysis suggests that approximately 3,000 proteins are secreted from the cells and an additional 5,500 proteins are located to the membrane systems of the cells.

“This is important information for the pharmaceutical industry. We show that 70% of the current targets for approved pharmaceutical drugs are either secreted or membrane-bound proteins,” Uhlén says. “Interestingly, 30% of these protein targets are found in all analysed tissues and organs. This could help explain some side effects of drugs and thus might have consequences for future drug development.”

The analysis also contains a study of the metabolic reactions occurring in different parts of the human body. The most specialised organ is the liver with a large number of chemical reactions not found in other parts of the human body.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by KTH, Royal Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Uhlen, L. Fagerberg, B. M. Hallstrom, C. Lindskog, P. Oksvold, A. Mardinoglu, A. Sivertsson, C. Kampf, E. Sjostedt, A. Asplund, I. Olsson, K. Edlund, E. Lundberg, S. Navani, C. A.-K. Szigyarto, J. Odeberg, D. Djureinovic, J. O. Takanen, S. Hober, T. Alm, P.-H. Edqvist, H. Berling, H. Tegel, J. Mulder, J. Rockberg, P. Nilsson, J. M. Schwenk, M. Hamsten, K. von Feilitzen, M. Forsberg, L. Persson, F. Johansson, M. Zwahlen, G. von Heijne, J. Nielsen, F. Ponten. Tissue-based map of the human proteome. Science, 2015; 347 (6220):  1260419 DOI:10.1126/science.1260419

Inflammation and Neuroprotection in Traumatic Brain Injury.


Importance  Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public health concern that affects individuals in all demographics. With increasing interest in the medical and public communities, understanding the inflammatory mechanisms that drive the pathologic and consequent cognitive outcomes can inform future research and clinical decisions for patients with TBI.

Objectives  To review known inflammatory mechanisms in TBI and to highlight clinical trials and neuroprotective therapeutic manipulations of pathologic and inflammatory mechanisms of TBI.

Evidence Review  We searched articles in PubMed published between 1960 and August 1, 2014, using the following keywords: traumatic brain injury, sterile injury, inflammation, astrocytes, microglia, monocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, T cells, reactive oxygen species, alarmins, danger-associated molecular patterns, purinergic receptors, neuroprotection, and clinical trials. Previous clinical trials or therapeutic studies that involved manipulation of the discussed mechanisms were considered for inclusion. The final list of selected studies was assembled based on novelty and direct relevance to the primary focus of this review.

Findings  Traumatic brain injury is a diverse group of sterile injuries induced by primary and secondary mechanisms that give rise to cell death, inflammation, and neurologic dysfunction in patients of all demographics. Pathogenesis is driven by complex, interacting mechanisms that include reactive oxygen species, ion channel and gap junction signaling, purinergic receptor signaling, excitotoxic neurotransmitter signaling, perturbations in calcium homeostasis, and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules, among others. Central nervous system resident and peripherally derived inflammatory cells respond to TBI and can provide neuroprotection or participate in maladaptive secondary injury reactions. The exact contribution of inflammatory cells to a TBI lesion is dictated by their anatomical positioning as well as the local cues to which they are exposed.

Conclusions and Relevance  The mechanisms that drive TBI lesion development as well as those that promote repair are exceedingly complex and often superimposed. Because pathogenic mechanisms can diversify over time or even differ based on the injury type, it is important that neuroprotective therapeutics be developed and administered with these variables in mind. Due to its complexity, TBI has proven particularly challenging to treat; however, a number of promising therapeutic approaches are now under pre-clinical development, and recent clinical trials have even yielded a few successes. Given the worldwide impact of TBI on the human population, it is imperative that research remains active in this area and that we continue to develop therapeutics to improve outcome in afflicted patients.

The Impact Of Smoking Marijuana Regularly On Your Lungs, According To Science .


The Impact Of Smoking Marijuana Regularly On Your Lungs, According To Science

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CREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK

Evolving attitudes about marijuana among the majority of Americans, as well as decriminalization laws starting to sweep the nation, have done little to quell questions about the health effects of longtime use among medical professionals, lawmakers, and people on both sides of an ongoing debate about the plant.

Even with a dearth of research, the general consensus in past decades has been that smoking marijuana regularly poses significant health risks. A new study out of Emory University in Atlanta, however, could challenge what has become the fundamental argument for maintaining the plant’s designation as a Schedule 1 drug.

“Lifetime marijuana use up to 20 joint-years is not associated with adverse changes in spirometric (exhalation strength) measures of lung health,” the study, featured in the medical journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, concluded.

In an effort to measure marijuana’s impact on lung function, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to conduct a cross-sectional analysis measuring participants’ forced expiratory volume — defined as the amount of air one can forcibly exhale in one second. They found that adults between the ages of 18 and 59 who smoke one marijuana cigarette, also known as a joint, per day had the same expiratory volume as someone who didn’t partake in the plant.

The data collected suggests that it’s unlikely that prolonged marijuana use would cause respiratory diseases in a way that smoking tobacco would. While researchers at Emory University found that marijuana users who smoked joints reported coughing and having a sore throat — symptoms of bronchitis — they attributed that to the use of rolling papers, especially since those who used vaporizers reported similar problems less often.

The results of the Emory University study bear a striking similarity to previous research about marijuana’s effects on lung function. In 2012, government researchers found that people who smoked pot daily for seven years didn’t damage their lungs in a manner similar to that of tobacco smokers. A 2013 study conducted by Donald Tashkin, a professor at the University of California Los Angeles who has led long-term studies on the effects of tobacco inhalation, also confirmed that marijuana use alone
<href=”#.vmehmeff98e”>didn’t cause significant abnormalities to the lungs.

“The distinction the Emory University study makes is not new,” Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, told ThinkProgress. “It’s ripe with citations from Donald Tashkin who has spent more than 40 years trying to answer the question of what happens to people when they smoke tobacco and marijuana. This new study took things further; today these products aren’t being smoked [in a way] that the product is carbonized and there’s ash. Putting marijuana in your lungs is not the healthiest decision you can make but it’s stark compared to the damage done by tobacco.”

While these findings could be used to further support decriminalization and legalization efforts, issues about other health consequences of pot use — and particularly how it affects long-term brain function in adolescents and fertility in men — remain unsettled, especially in light of research published on these matters.

That’s why lawmakers in states that have either decriminalized or legalized the sale and use of marijuana have expressed a desire to further study its medical benefits and the long-term effects of inhalation. Proponents of additional pot research say that these lingering questions have stalled efforts to shape public policy that reflects empirical data rather than lawmakers’ biases.

This move for more research is out playing in Colorado, a state where the sale of marijuana has been legal for more than two years. While a panel of medical professionals in the state recently applauded state lawmakers for approving an $8 million grant for medical marijuana research, they said that the dollar amount doesn’t suffice in filling conspicuous information gaps.

The panel pointed out that scientists know little about pot use among young adults, especially those between the ages of 18 and 25. Questions about the degree to which Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — marijuana’s active ingredient — would impair skiers have also surfaced. During its meeting earlier this month, the panel, which included doctors, toxicologists, and an addiction specialistagreed that physicians needed more information about pot’s effects on pregnant women.

That consensus hasn’t stopped some lawmakers from acting punitively against marijuana users, particularly those with child. Officials in Colorado introduced a bill requiring pot shops to post warnings about marijuana use by pregnant women. The legislation, if enacted, would also prohibit doctors from recommending medical marijuana to expectant mothers. With little informationavailable about how marijuana affects the fetus, Republicans trying to pass the bill in a majority-Democratic legislature face a tough road ahead of them, further reaffirming the panel’s concerns about the lack of scholarship on the issue of marijuana.

Efforts to learn more about marijuana’s health effects, however, may be thwarted by the current federal restrictions on cultivation and the types of research that scientists can conduct. Those who want the government’s approval to study marijuana can only do so only to determine the amount of bodily harm its causes.

Once they jump that hurdle, scientists have to secure approval from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to obtain and transport large quantities of the plant from the government’s lone research repository at the University of Mississippi, a process that can add months and years to their research timeline.

Even when researchers finally reach the light at the end of the tunnel, they may find out that the federal government doesn’t have the strains of marijuana pertinent to their research. While lowering pot’s substance classification could lift barriers to research, the DEA has stubbornly maintained its position that the plant poses a significant danger to the public and has no accepted medical use.

“If we’re serious public policy people, we would let the scientists figure this out,” St. Pierre told ThinkProgress. “Does one set of vegetative matter produce a certain range of carcinogens? If so, to what degree and amount? How do people consume it? This entire discussion should be based on science. But the laughable thing is that the government is against this type of research. All we have are anecdotes but we need science that meets the standards of a proper peer review.”

Birth control pill may be linked to rare brain tumors .


The risk for developing a rare form of brain cancer known as glioma appears to go up with long-term use of hormonal contraceptives such as the Pill, new Danish research suggests.

Women under 50 with a glioma “were 90 percent more likely to have been using hormonal contraceptives for five years or more, compared with women from the general population with no history of brain tumor,” said study leader Dr. David Gaist.

However, the Danish study couldn’t prove cause-and-effect, and Gaist stressed that the findings “need to be put in context” for women because “glioma is very rare.”

How rare? Only five out of every 100,000 Danish women between the ages of 15 and 49 develop the condition each year, according to Gaist, a professor of neurology at Odense University Hospital. He said that figure includes women who take contraceptives such as the birth control pill.

So, “an overall risk-benefit evaluation favors continued use of hormonal contraceptives,” Gaist said.

The findings were published online in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

In the study, Gaist’s team looked at government data on all Danish women between the ages of 15 and 49 who had developed a glioma between 2000 and 2009.

In all, investigators identified 317 glioma cases, among whom nearly 60 percent had used a contraceptive at some point. They then compared them to more than 2,100 glioma-free women of similar ages, about half of whom had used contraceptives.

Use of the Pill or other hormonal contraceptive did appear to bump up the risk for glioma, the researchers reported, and the risk seemed to rise with the duration of use.

For example, women who had used any type of hormonal birth control for less than one year had a 40 percent greater risk for glioma compared with non-users. And those who had used the drug for five years or more saw their risk nearly double compared to non-users, the findings showed.

In addition, Gaist’s team found that glioma risk seemed to go up most sharply for women who had used contraceptives containing the hormone progestogen, rather than estrogen.

Dr. Evan Myers is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. He described the Danish study as “really well-done.”

However, he stressed that the study couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship between hormonal contraception use and risk for glioma. Myers also suggested that future research focus on a number of indirect factors — such as the progesterone found in some types of IUDs (intrauterine devices) — that might also play a critical role in driving up glioma risk.

And in the end, “even if hormonal contraception does increase the relative risk of glioma, the absolute risk — the actual increase in the chances of having a glioma diagnosed — is quite small,” Myers stressed.

According to his own statistical breakdown, Myers said that between 2000 and 2011, glioma affected less than two out of every 100,000 American women between the ages of 15 and 29.

“To put that in perspective,” he said, “that’s about one-tenth the risk of death from trauma in women aged 15 to 44, and a little over twice the risk of dying from a complication of pregnancy.”

Myers said his number-crunching suggests an even lower risk profile when looking specifically at women who are taking the Pill or another form of hormonal contraception.

“Without going through the math, it’s about 8.5 [cases of glioma] per million” for that subset of women, Myers said.