Cuba Has a Lung Cancer Vaccine—And America Wants It.


CUBA HAS FOR several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed. Until—maybe—now.

Lung cancer. Coloured X-ray of the chest of an 84 year old woman with a malignant (cancerous) tumour (yellow) in the apex of the right lung (top left).

The Obama administration has, of course, been trying to normalize relations with the island nation. And last month, during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s visit to Havana, Roswell Park Cancer Institute finalized an agreement with Cuba’s Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine and begin clinical trials in the US. Essentially, US researchers will bring the Cimavax vaccine stateside and get on track for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The chance to evaluate a vaccine like this is a very exciting prospect,” says Candace Johnson, CEO of Roswell Park. She’s excited, most likely, because research on the vaccine so far shows that it has low toxicity, and it’s relatively cheap to produce and store. The Center for Molecular Immunology will give Roswell Park all of the documentation (how it’s produced, toxicity data, results from past trials) for an FDA drug application; Johnson says she hopes to get approval for testing Cimavax within six to eight months, and to start clinical trials in a year.

How did Cuba end up with a cutting edge immuno-oncology drug? Though the country is justly famous for cigars, rum, and baseball, it also has some of the best and most inventive biotech and medical research in the world. That’s especially notable for a country where the average worker earns $20 a month. Cuba spends a fraction of the money the US does on healthcare per individual; yet the average Cuban has a life expectancy on par with the average American. “They’ve had to do more with less,” says Johnson, “so they’ve had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community.”

Despite decades of economic sanctions, Fidel and Raul Castro made biotechnology and medical research, particularly preventative medicine, a priority. After the 1981 dengue fever outbreak struck nearly 350,000 Cubans, the government established the Biological Front, an effort to focus research efforts by various agencies toward specific goals. Its first major accomplishment was the successful (and unexpected) production of interferon, a protein that plays a role in human immune response. Since then, Cuban immunologists made several other vaccination breakthroughs, including their own vaccines for meningitis B and hepatitis B, and monoclonal antibodies for kidney transplants.
The thing about making such great cigars is, smoking is really, really bad for you. Lung cancer is the fourth-leading cause of the death in Cuba. Medical researchers at the Center for Molecular Immunology worked on Cimavax for 25 years before the Ministry of Health made it available to the public—for free—in 2011. Each shot costs the government about $1. A Phase II trial from 2008 showed lung cancer patients who received the vaccine lived an average of four to six months longer than those who didn’t. That prompted Japan and some European countries to initiate Cimavax clinical trials as well.

To be fair, Cimavax probably won’t be a game-changing cancer drug in its current form. The vaccine doesn’t attack tumors directly, instead going after a protein that tumors produce which then circulates in the blood. That action spurs a person’s body to release antibodies against a hormone called epidermal growth factor, which typically spurs cell growth but can also, if unchecked, cause cancer. (Although most people normally think of a vaccine as something that prevents a disease, technically a vaccine is a substance that stimulates the immune system in some way.) So the point of Cimavax is to keep lung tumors from growing and metastasizing, turning a late-stage growth into something chronic but manageable.

But in the US and Europe, people with lung cancer already have treatment options with the same goal. Roswell Park researchers say they plan to explore the vaccine’s potential as a preventative intervention—making it more like a traditional vaccine. Furthermore, epidermal growth factor plays an important role in many other cancers, like prostate, breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer. “All those things are potential targets for this vaccine,” says Kelvin Lee, an immunologist at the company. Mostly for financial reasons, Cubans didn’t test Cimavax that way at all.

And that drug isn’t the only one with potential in the Cuban pharmacopeia. Thomas Rothstein, a biologist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, has for six years worked with the Center for Molecular Immunology on another vaccine to treat lung cancer called Racotumomab, with an entirely different mechanism. (It messes with a particular lipid found in tumor cell membranes.) “Investigators from around the world are trying to crack the nut of cancer,” Rothstein says. “The Cubans are thinking in ways that are novel and clever.”

Although President Obama has used his executive power to lift some restrictions against medical and research equipment, Congress must lift the Cuban embargo before collaborative research can ramp up. Johnson hopes to see Cuba embrace more entrepreneurialism in science, and see the US soak up more creative approaches to medical research. Constrained by politics, the Cuban researchers had to innovate in ways the US and Europe did not. Now maybe they’ll be able to teach their colleagues what they learned.

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We all carry the genes for autism, study finds


The autism spectrum is a continuum, scientists say, and we’re all on it.

A large international study of the genes that predispose people to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) suggests that the same gene variants are also present in the wider population, where they can contribute to a range of behavioural and developmental traits with lesser severity than clinical ASD.

According to the researchers, there’s no real cut-off point on the autism spectrum – rather, it’s a continuum of complex genetic factors that can affect our behaviour. But for a small percentage of the community who have more of certain gene variants than others, this gives them a greater likelihood of demonstrating the social and behavioural traits recognised as clinical ASD.

“This is the first study that specifically shows that [genetic] factors that we have unambiguously associated with autism are also very clearly associated with social communication differences in the general population,” geneticist Elise Robinson from Harvard University told Nicola Davis at The Guardian.

“The primary implication is that the line at which we say people are affected or unaffected is arbitrary,” she added. “There is no clear objective point either in terms of genetic risk or in terms of behavioural traits, where you can say quite simply or categorically that you’re affected or unaffected. It’s like trying to pick a point where you say someone is tall or not.”

Autism spectrum disorders – which include autism, Asperger syndrome and unspecified pervasive developmental disorders – affect about 1 in 100 children. Symptoms include social interaction difficulties, communication impairments, and stereotyped or repetitive behaviour.

But while only 1 in 100 children may be clinically diagnosed with ASD, the implications of the study – published in Nature Genetics – are that these children represent just the “severe tail” of a range of behavioural and developmental traits also found in the broader population.

How do the scientists know this? By comparing data on some 38,000 individuals sourced from a number of studies on cohorts of both ASD-affected and unaffected individuals. By studying polygenic risk factors (small effects of thousands of genetic differences, distributed across the genome) and de novo risk factors (rare genetic variants of large effect), in these data sets, the continuum of ASD-related traits became clear.

“There has been a lot of strong but indirect evidence that has suggested these findings,” said researcher Mark Daly, co-director of the Broad Institute’s Medical and Population Genetics (MPG) program. “Once we had measurable genetic signals in hand – both polygenic risk and specific de novo mutations known to contribute to ASD – we were able to make an incontrovertible case that the genetic risk contributing to autism is genetic risk that exists in all of us, and influences our behaviour and social communication.”
However, just because everybody carries some degree of genetic risk when it comes to ASD gene variants, doesn’t mean we all would find social interactions difficult to some extent, nor that people’s genetic makeup is the only reason they might develop ASD.

“This research suggests that studies of the autistic population can gain from integrating studies of the general population, and so adds to the evidence that autism involves many complex and interacting factors including genetics, the environment and the development of the brain,” Carol Povey, director of the National Autistic Society Centre for Autism, who was not involved with the research, told The Guardian. “While this research refers to ‘autism-related’ traits in the general population, people should not take away the message that ‘we’re all a little bit autistic’.”

Rather, what the study gives us, according to its authors, is a broader framework in which to examine how ASD comes to be. “A continuum model should inform the design and interpretation of studies of neuropsychiatric disease biology,” they write in Nature Genetics.

“We can use behavioural and cognitive data in the general population to untangle the mechanisms through which different types of genetic risk are operating, ” said Robinson. “We now have a better path forward in terms of expecting what types of disorders and traits are going to be associated with certain types of genetic risk.”

Asparagus Salad


Asparagus is one of the most powerful vegetables in your healing toolbox. It’s high in essential minerals such as selenium, zinc, and manganese which are vital for a strong and healthy immune system. It is also high in vitamins A, K, and B-complex including folate which is a building block for a healthy cardiovascular system and for women who are trying to conceive.

Asparagus contains aspartic acid which is an amino acid that neutralizes excess amounts of ammonia in the body that is often the cause of exhaustion, headaches, and poor digestion. It contains significant amounts of healthy fiber and protein which help to maintain blood sugar levels, prevent constipation, stabilize digestion, and stop the urge to overeat.

There’s a compound called asparagine in asparagus which is a natural diuretic that breaks up oxalic and uric acid crystals stored in muscles and the kidneys and eliminates them through the urine. This natural diuretic is helpful in reducing water retention, bloating, and swelling in the body. Asparagus is also high in glutathione which is an antioxidant powerhouse and particularly beneficial for those suffering with autoimmune conditions, liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It’s known to help strengthen the liver, kidneys, skin, ligaments, and bones and it’s chlorophyll content makes it a great blood builder.

Asparagus also contains inulin which encourages good bacteria in the gut that boosts nutrient absorption and helps to keep the immune system functioning properly. Asparagus is a nutrient-packed, delicious vegetable that can be eaten raw or steamed and added to soup, salads, stews, rice, and/or veggie dishes.

In today’s recipe, the asparagus is roasted and served on top of a fresh salad that perfectly merges cool and warm elements. The roasted asparagus and tomatoes warm you from head to toe, while a bright punch of lemon, tender leafy greens, and the delicious crunch of pine nuts hit all the right flavors and textures. It takes only minutes to prepare and is a clean, green way to enjoy mealtime!

Roasted Asparagus Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
2 cups cherry tomatoes
8 cups mixed greens
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 lemon
1 tsp olive oil (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spread out asparagus stalks evenly. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle over with sea salt if desired. Roast for 12 minutes or until tender.

3) Place cherry tomatoes on baking tray alongside asparagus. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes until slightly puckered.

4) Divide mixed greens between two plates. Arrange asparagus and cherry tomatoes on top.

5) Top salad with pine nuts, a generous squeeze of lemon, and cracked black pepper.

Eating Less Meat And More Fruit Could Save Lives


Report says eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
• Global mortality could decline by as much as 10 percent.
• Over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions arise from food production.

Millions of lives and trillions of dollars could be saved if people the world over ate more fruits and vegetables and less red meat, according to a new study. Such a shift in global eating patterns would also reduce the planetary burden of greenhouse gas emissions and help halt the worst effects of climate change.

The report, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, argues that food-related emissions could fall between 29 and 70 percent by 2050 were the world’s population to adhere to certain dietary guidelines established by global health agencies. Global mortality could drop by as much as 10 percent — preventing as many as 8.1 million deaths per year — and between $1 trillion and $31 trillion could be saved.

Eating less of this, and more fruits and veget.

If those estimates seem to range pretty widely, it’s for a good reason. Marco Springmann, a research fellow at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and the study’s co-author, said the strikingly different estimates reflect a number of different scenarios — for example, a scenario where people simply eat less meat and more produce, versus scenarios where everyone in the world goes vegetarian or vegan. While the latter cases may seem extreme, even a more modest change could dramatically aid humanity, according to the research.

“The size of the projected benefits, even taking into account all of the caveats about the unavoidable sources of uncertainty in our work, should encourage researchers and policy makers to act to improve consumption patterns,” the paper reads.

Over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, and up to 80 percent of that comes from resource-intensive livestock.

Man-made carbon emissions are the principal force driving climate change and its scourge of world-changing effects, including droughts, rising sea levels and human health crises. Emissions have leveled off in the past two years, but global temperatures are still set to exceed a temperature threshold that scientists say humanity must avoid to stave off the worst consequences.

Under one scenario proposed by the paper, the combined people of Earth would need to eat 25 percent more fruits and vegetables and 56 percent less red meat in order to save 5.1 million lives per year and achieve a 29 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Springmann pointed out that those figures are worldwide, and that in practice, different parts of the world would have to take different approaches. For example, while global fruit and vegetable consumption would have to go up by 25 percent, people in sub-Saharan Africa would have to begin eating 190 percent more produce. And while red meat consumption worldwide would have to drop by 56 percent, that figure would be more like 78 percent in high-income Western countries like the U.S.

If the planet were to go completely vegan, according to the report, it could prevent as many as 8.1 million deaths a year.

The authors of the report call on the world’s governments to encourage new eating habits. They also suggest that people use the data as a renewed call to purchase healthier food. But in places like America where corn remains king, major changes of the kind recommended in the report would require some substantial policy restructuring.

“Government sets the framework and sets the market in which we operate,” Springmann said. “If the government decided to prize food based on greenhouse gas incentives, that would make a huge impact.”

5 Signs That Our Emotions No Longer Control Us


We’ve all suffered emotionally throughout our lives. Similarly, we’ve all experienced trauma, regardless to what degree it personally manifested. When we’re born, we’re forced through environmental conditioning, which will always have both its positives and negatives. Our greatest influences are generally our parents, followed by our peers. This ‘programming’ is also deeply embedded in the societal and cultural paradigms of our time.

karma

Yet, once we become an adult, each and every one of us has the ability to alleviate our own suffering by redesigning our mind into a more functional and healthy state of existence.

When we enter into our early teens, we begin to question who we are and the world around us with greater veracity. If our energy, or inner fire, strongly conflicts with how we’ve been ‘taught’, then we rebel heavily. In contrast, if we’ve been given respectful discipline and realistic information from our parents, as well as a really good opportunity to independently explore and create how we think and behave, then we’re less likely to engage the world in contempt. That’s because we’re much freer than others who have been forced into their box.

And that’s the reality for most young teens, even in this age of information. Unfortunately, many parents haven’t been taught some of the knowledge and skills required for healing and growing their own energy, so it goes without saying that if they can’t look after themselves properly, then we can’t expect them to look after their children properly. Truth be told, we can only work with what we’ve got.

That doesn’t mean, however, that parents and society in general haven’t taught children some really good beliefs and values in life. They’re the positives. Yet, the negative aspects that we harbour as we grow into adulthood, such as poor emotional regulation, are our own responsibility to rewire neurologically and redesign conceptually. Simply, it’s up to us to question and understand everything that we’ve become so we can determine what’s worth keeping and what’s worth shedding.

After all, once we’re an adult, we choose who we want to be.

5 Signs That Our Emotions No Longer Control Us

What follows are five lessons which show that we’ve freed ourselves of being primarily controlled by our emotions. These characteristics are recommended as they can potentially facilitate an ongoing sense of inner peace being experienced in our lives, which of course should be one of the primary priorities of all of us.

  1. We understand the difference between our emotions and our feelings

Everybody has the same emotions, yet we all have different feelings. These two human states are distinct not only because they are processed in different areas of the brain, but because emotions are primarily physical, whilst feelings are mostly mental constructs.

Our feelings are a mixture of our emotions, beliefs, philosophies, thoughts and memories. All these aspects come together to not just influence the emotions that we have, but also determine how we ‘feel’ about what is going on in our world. Therefore, understanding the difference between our emotions and feelings is critical to contextualising our emotions into the bigger pictures of our lives.

  1. Instead of holding onto challenging emotions, we let them go

Emotions like fear and anger can be harmful if we carry them around with us. They are certainly helpful in specific situations to ensure our survival, however, those circumstances are few and far between. Why is it then that our normal waking experience is usually one that can be chosen to be enjoyed, but ongoing ‘feelings’ of stress, rage and other suffering continues to plague the daily lives of so many? One reason is that they haven’t learned to let shit go.

We need to manage emotions like fear and anger so they no longer control our feelings and behaviours. It’s a process though. First, we should embrace them as a part of our human experience. Then, we should understand them, as well as contextualise them into our beliefs and philosophies to utilise for our learning and growth. After we have taken the positive out of challenging emotional experiences, that’s when we can let them go, especially so we don’t encourage negative consequences to manifest.

  1. Instead of reacting to our experience, we respond to it

Giving ourselves that little space to process what we’re going through allows us the time to ‘consciously’ incorporate our emotions into our philosophies on life. We have challenging experiences that bring up potent emotions all the time, yet responding instead of reacting to those experiences is self-empowering because then we’re more likely to treat ourselves with healthy and positive energy instead of getting sucked into unhealthy states of stress and pain.

For example, when somebody does something to us that is rude, do we instantly react with anger or do we allow that emotion to drift into our belief system so that we respond in a compassionate and self-caring way? After all, if they’re behaving rudely, we know they’re already suffering, so do we really want to react in a way that will also cause us to suffer too? Not if we don’t want our emotions to control us, we won’t.

  1. We are overcoming our depression and anxiety

Professional and self-administered psychotherapy, in conjunction with good health, is what cures depression and anxiety, not pharmaceutical drugs. The success rate of these drugs facilitating a recovery, by providing a more balanced chemical production in the body, is evidently low; however, in some cases it does assist a person to undertake the psychotherapy they need to overcome their mental illness. Nevertheless, it’s rearranging the subconscious and conscious mind over a good commitment of time, though practices such as meditation, which truly deals with these problems effectively.

These two ‘diagnoses’ are not primarily emotional states, they’re ‘feelings’. In general, sadness is the base emotion to depression and fear is the base emotion to anxiety, so it’s these emotions that we need to functionally process so that they no longer drive our primary feelings about life. Our thoughts and beliefs play an integral role in these harmful mental states, so that’s what we need to change to release the grip of those core emotions and permanently overcome depression and anxiety.

Note: This is not intended to replace medical advice, if you have significant mental health challenges please engage with professional and community supports.

  1. We treat all people with love, respect and compassion

It takes an emotionally empowered person to respond to poorly behaved people with love, respect and compassion. That’s not saying that we should take shit off other people either; we can still be direct and assertive, as well as being kind at the same time. If we don’t let our emotions control us, then a loving, respectful and compassionate state of the mind and heart flows through our engagement and communication with people, no matter how dysfunctional their actions.

That’s because we don’t let emotions like fear and anger control our response, such as reacting to rage with rage, to stress with stress, or to indecency to indecency. As previously stated, our feelings about life, which include our thoughts, beliefs, philosophies and memories, need to be empowered so that we don’t allow our emotions to take full control of us when we’re faced with difficult people or challenging experiences.

Drugs Found in Puget Sound Salmon from Tainted Wastewater


Puget Sound salmon are on drugs — Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, even cocaine.

Those drugs and dozens of others are showing up in the tissues of juvenile chinook, researchers have found, thanks to tainted wastewater discharge.

The estuary waters near the outfalls of sewage-treatment plants, and effluent sampled at the plants, were cocktails of 81 drugs and personal-care products, with levels detected among the highest in the nation.

The medicine chest of common drugs also included Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol. Paxil, Valium and Zoloft. Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine. Fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants. And Cipro and other antibiotics galore.

Why are the levels so high? It could be because people here use more of the drugs detected, or it could be related to wastewater-treatment plants’ processes, said Jim Meador, an environmental toxicologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle and lead author on a paper published this week in the journal Environmental Pollution.

“The concentrations in effluent were higher than we expected,” Meador said. “We analyzed samples for 150 compounds and we had 61 percent of them detected in effluent. So we know these are going into the estuaries.”

The samples were gathered over two days in September 2014 from Sinclair Inlet off Bremerton and near the mouth of Blair Waterway in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay.

The chemicals turned up in both the water and the tissues of migratory juvenile chinook salmon and resident staghorn sculpin. If anything, the study probably underreports the amount of drugs in the water closer to outfall pipes, or in deeper water, researchers found.

Even fish tested in the intended control waters in the Nisqually estuary, which receives no direct municipal treatment-plant discharge, tested positive for an alphabet soup of chemicals in supposedly pristine waters.

“That was supposed to be our clean reference area,” Meador said. He also was surprised that levels in many cases were higher than in many of the 50 largest wastewater-treatment plants around the nation. Those plants were sampled in another study by the EPA.

The findings are of concern because most of the chemicals detected are not monitored or regulated in wastewater, and there is little or no established science on the environmental toxicity for the vast majority of the compounds detected.

Meador said he doubted there would be effects from the chemicals on human health, because people don’t eat sculpin or juvenile chinook, and levels are probably too low in the water to be active in humans. But one of the reasons the wastewater pollutants studied as a class are called “chemicals of emerging concern” is because so little is known about them.

Breakthrough technology to improve cyber security


Breakthrough technology to improve cyber security
Photons are generated simultaneously in pairs, each in one of the photon streams. The detection of photons in one stream indicates the timing information of those in the other. Using this information, a proper timing control is dynamically applied to those photons so they appear at regular intervals. This new technique increases the rate of photons at the regular interval, which is extremely useful for quantum secure communication and quantum photonic computation. Credit: University of Sydney

With enough computing effort most contemporary security systems will be broken. But a research team at the University of Sydney has made a major breakthrough in generating single photons (light particles), as carriers of quantum information in security systems.

The collaboration involving physicists at the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), an ARC Centre of Excellence headquartered in the School of Physics, and electrical engineers from the School of Electrical and Information Engineering, has been published today in Nature Communications.

The team’s work resolved a key issue holding back the development of password exchange which can only be broken by violating the laws of physics. Photons are generated in a pair, and detecting one indicates the existence of the other. This allows scientists to manage the timing of photon events so that they always arrive at the time they are expected.

Lead author Dr Chunle Xiong, from the School of Physics, said: “Quantum communication and computing are the next generation technologies poised to change the world.”

Among a number of quantum systems, offer particularly easy access to quantum effects. Over the past few decades, many building blocks for optical processing have developed quickly,” Dr Xiong said.

Photons are generated simultaneously in pairs, each in one of the photon streams. The detection of photons in one stream indicates the timing information of those in the other. Using this information, a proper timing control is dynamically applied to those photons so they appear at regular intervals. This new technique increases the rate of photons at the regular interval, which is extremely useful for quantum secure communication and quantum photonic computation. Credit: University of Sydney

“Implementing optical quantum technologies has now come down to one fundamental challenge: having indistinguishable single photons on-demand,” he said.

“This research has demonstrated that the odds of being able to generate a single photon can be doubled by using a relatively simple technique—and this technique can be scaled up to ultimately generate single photons with 100% probability.”

CUDOS director and co-author of the paper, Professor Ben Eggleton, said the interdisciplinary research was set to revolutionise our ability to exchange data securely – along with advancing quantum computing, which can search large databases exponentially faster.

“The ability to generate , which form the backbone of technology used in laptops and the internet, will drive the development of local secure communications systems – for safeguarding defence and intelligence networks, the financial security of corporations and governments and bolstering personal electronic privacy, like shopping online,” Professor Eggleton said.

“Our demonstration leverages the CUDOS Photonic chip that we have been developing over the last decade, which means this new technology is also compact and can be manufactured with existing infrastructure.”

Co-author and Professor of Computer Systems, Philip Leong, who developed the high-speed electronics crucial for the advance, said he was particularly excited by the prospect of further exploring the marriage of photonics and electronics to develop new architectures for quantum problems.

“This advance addresses the fundamental problem of single photon generation – promises to revolutionise research in the area,” Professor Leong said.

The group—which is now exploring advanced designs and expects real-world applications within three to five years—has involved research with University of Melbourne, CUDOS nodes at Macquarie University and Australian National University and an international collaboration with Guangdong University of Technology, China.

Are We Ready for Designer Babies?


When Chinese researchers reported using a technique called CRISPR/Cas9 to edit the genome of human embryos this past April, they sparked a worldwide debate over how this technology could (or should) be used. Scientists expressed legitimate fears: What are the side effects? Will this open the floodgates to designer humans?

scissors cutting ribbon

The world’s foremost geneticists, biotechnologists, and bioethicists gathered in Washington, D.C., in December to address those questions and map the future of human-gene editing.
CRISPR isn’t the first genome-editing tool, but it is by far the best. Prior to its discovery in 2013, scientists relied on two methods—zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) and TALENS—to splice DNA at a specific location. With CRISPR, scientists can make precise changes much more rapidly, a capability that promises to halt certain diseases and revolutionize the treatment of others.
“CRISPR’s potential to treat human diseases is very high, but so is its potential damage.”
—Gang Bao, bioengineer at Rice University
Sickle cell anemia, for example, is caused by a single mutation in the beta globin gene. Gang Bao, a bioengineer at Rice University, is among the researchers working with CRISPR to edit out this mutation. The gene will be modified in a somatic cell, which means that any change made to it affects only the individual and can’t be inherited. “Those modified stem cells have a finite life span,” Bao says, “and won’t be passed on to the patient’s children.”
What gives scientists pause are edits to germline cells (i.e., sperm and eggs). It’s one thing to pass down a cure for a disease; it’s another to propagate unintended side effects. CRISPR can accidentally edit genes that have a DNA sequence similar to its target, as happened with the Chinese team’s embryos. “If off-target effects accumulate in germline cells,” Bao says, “there might be permanent changes in the human genome.”
86: Number of human embryos a Chinese team edited last year to alter the gene HBB, which can cause a fatal blood disorder
In order to better assess the risks, scientists at the December summit agreed that basic research should progress. But they essentially called for a moratorium on editing human embryos for pregnancies. George Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Boston Children’s Hospital, says CRISPR is still too unpredictable for a baby to be brought to term. “But the science is essential for informing the debate,” he says.
Such conversations can’t just occur within the walls of a conference center. As CRISPR’s power comes into focus, public discussion should proceed in tandem. Without societal buy-in, Daley says, gene-editing research could be misunderstood or condemned—and that would undermine its many potentially life-changing benefits.

DRINK THIS ON AN EMPTY STOMACH FOR A WEEK! THE RESULTS WILL AMAZE YOU.


Well, we all get that feeling sometimes that we can’t lose the weight we want, right? We think it’s impossible. But, let me tell you this – nothing is impossible. All you have to do is work harder and never give up. And, you should also try this miraculous homemade recipe, which will help you lose weight faster. This is an amazing weight loss drink, it’s all natural, safe and very easy to make.

This miraculous super-healthy drink will help you flush all the excess weight, reduce bloating and get rid of the toxic waste, which is accumulated in your body. As we said, this drink is very simple and easy to make – all you need is 5 minutes of your time. And, if you are a lazy person or you can’t exercise – then this drink is your best option. You should definitely try it and we guarantee you that you will be amazed by the results.

lose-weight-amazing

Weight Loss Drink – RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon
  • 60 grams of parsley
  • 2 oz. water

Directions:

Here’s what you need to do – first, you need to squeeze the lemon and chop the parsley in small pieces. put all ingredients together, add water and then you need to mix them well.

How to use it:

You should remember one thing – it’s extremely important to consume this drink immediately after you wake up, on empty stomach. And, you should also know that you need to consume it for 1 week, and then take 2 weeks break.

This super healthy drink is loaded with many healthy nutrients, it will boost your metabolism and it will provide many other health benefits. As we said, you will be amazed by the results. It will help you lose weight much faster. So, don’t wait and start using this drink immediately. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share with your friends and family.

Climate report: 2015 ‘shattered’ temperature records around the world


Last year “shattered” temperature records according to the state of the climate report released by the World Meteorological Organisation overnight in Switzerland.

Key points:

  • Climate report shows El Nino weather pattern pushed temperatures into unchartered territory
  • Temperatures were 0.76 degrees Celsius above the 20th Century average
  • Final figures show an even higher leap than forecast

A stronger-than-usual El Nino weather pattern pushed temperatures into uncharted territory all over the world, with climate change feeding the El Nino.

Averaged across the globe, temperatures were 0.76 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average, and a whole degree above the 19th century average.

The dramatic temperature rise was foreshadowed by a preview report in November, but the final figures show an even higher leap than forecast.

The report is one of several from science agencies across the world that have been released in recent months describing the alarming extent of global warming.

The increase in temperatures is largely a result of human activity releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that trap heat from the Sun here on Earth.

In December last year world leaders met in Paris and agreed to a new treaty to limit the release of climate changing greenhouse gases.

The treaty will be open for ratification in April.

“Today the Earth is already 1°C hotter than at the start of the twentieth century. We are halfway to the critical 2°C threshold. National climate change plans adopted so far may not be enough to avoid a temperature rise of 3°C, but we can avert the worst-case scenarios with urgent and far-reaching measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

“Our planet is sending a powerful message to world leaders to sign and implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and cut greenhouse gases now before we pass the point of no return,” he said.

Here’s how the world’s weather set a new bar in 2015:

Temperature

A world map showing temperature anomalies.

In 2015, the world was 0.76 degrees warmer than the late 20th Century and a whole degree warmer than the late 19th Century.

However the world does not warm evenly.

South America and Asia had their hottest years on record, the USA, Africa and Europe had their second-warmest years.

While Australia had a comparatively mild year notching up only a top five result.

El Nino

Cyclone Winston - Fiji's biggest island starts to feel the impacts of the category 5 storm

Climate change and El Nino have a complicated relationship, with each feeding the other.

Last year, the El Nino weather pattern took hold, which usually pushes temperatures higher.

But the WMO said in 2015 climate change made the El Nino the strongest ever.

In addition to the sweaty temperatures, the strong El Nino meant little rainfall for eastern and southern Australia.

El Nino also promotes cyclones in the north west Pacific, which did experience an above-average year for typhoons.

Ozone hole

Image of the ozone hole from the OMI satellite for 6 October, 2015

Although the world acted to phase out gases which damage the ozone layer in 1987, they linger in the atmosphere for decades.

Weather conditions in the upper atmosphere can make the hole bigger or smaller and 2015 was a huge one.

It arrived late, starting only in August, and NASA’s records showed it was the biggest ever.

It was also long lasting, persisting into December, when it usually closes over by the end of November.

Arctic ice

Drone captures an image above Arctic ice

The Arctic and the Antarctic behave very differently.

While the Antarctic ice was relatively abundant in 2015, the Arctic failed to live up to its frosty reputation – at one point registering above freezing temperatures near the north pole in the middle of winter.

In 2015 the most the sea ice grew to was 14.54 million square kilometres – that is 1.10 million kilometres below the 1981–2010 average.

Greenhouse gases

A close shot of two Angus-cross cows on Deepwell station south of Alice Springs

Climate change is driven by greenhouse gases, many of which are released in large quantities by humans.

The two most important ones are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). Both of these greenhouse gases set new records in 2015.

Carbon dioxide reached an average of 397 molecules for every million molecules of atmosphere (ppm). The average increase in CO2 is usually 1.5ppm. But in 2015 it was more than double that at 3ppm.

Methane also smashed through a new ceiling, hitting 1833 molecules for every billion molecules of atmosphere (ppb). That is 254 per cent higher than pre-industrial levels.