GOOD NEWS: HIV/AIDS cure finally FOUND, Doctors confirm

Doctors in Barcelona, Spain believe they have found the cure to HIV – the AIDS-causing virus that affects the lives of more than 34 million people worldwide, according to WHO.

By using blood transplants from the umbilical cords of individuals with a genetic resistance to HIV, Spanish medical professionals believe they can treat the virus, having proven the procedure successful with one patient.

A 37-year-old man from Barcelona, who had been infected with the HIV virus in 2009, was cured of the condition after receiving a transplant of blood.

While unfortunately the man later died from cancer just three years later, having developed lymphoma, the Spanish medical team is still hugely encouraged by what it considers to be a breakthrough in the fight against HIV and related conditions, according to the Spanish news source El Mundo.

Doctors in Barcelona initially attempted the technique using the precedent of Timothy Brown, an HIV patient who developed leukemia before receiving experimental treatment in Berlin, the Spanish news site The Local reported.

Brown was given bone marrow from a donor who carried the resistance mutation from HIV. After the cancer treatment, the HIV virus had also disappeared.

According to The Local, the CCR5 Delta 35 mutation affects a protein in white blood cells and provides an estimated one percent of the human population with high resistance to infection from HIV.

Spanish doctors attempted to treat the lymphoma of the so-called “Barcelona patient” with chemotherapy and an auto-transplant of the cells, but were unable to find him a suitable bone marrow.

“We suggested a transplant of blood from an umbilical cord but from someone who had the mutation because we knew from ‘the Berlin patient’ that as well as [ending] the cancer, we could also eradicate HIV,” Rafael Duarte, the director of the Haematopoietic Transplant Programme at the Catalan Oncology Institute in Barcelona, told The Local.

Prior to the transplant, a patient’s blood cells are destroyed with chemotherapy before they are replaced with new cells, incorporating the mutation which means the HIV virus can no longer attach itself to them. For the Barcelona patient, stem cells from another donor were used in order to accelerate the regeneration process.

Eleven days after the transplant, the patient in Barcelona experienced recovery. Three months later, it was found that he was clear of the HIV virus.

Despite the unfortunate death of the patient from cancer, the procedure has led to the development of an ambitious project that is backed by Spain’s National Transplant Organization.

March 2016 will mark the world’s first clinical trials of umbilical cord transplants for HIV patients with blood cancers.

Javier Martinez, a virologist from the research foundation Irsicaixa, stressed that the process is primarily designed to assist HIV patients suffering from cancer, but “this therapy does allow us to speculate about a cure for HIV,” he added.

How to Reset Your Thyroid to Burn Fat and Activate Your Metabolism

Erika Schwartz, MD, was consulted for a medical advice by an elderly man with serious health issues. Namely, she examined the medications and treatments he was subjected to, and decided to consult his cardiologist whether he would agree to completely change his therapy.

Namely, the man suffered from excess weight, low testosterone and thyroid levels, sleeping disorders due to an advanced stage of eczema which caused unbearable itching.

She has been trying to reach his cardiologist for three weeks, and eventually, she succeeded. However, after suggesting the elimination of the medications which contributed to the eczema of the patient, she states:

“The guy said to me, ‘I can’t talk to you. You don’t know science.” After stating that they have the same medical degree, she adds “he hung up on me!”

Therefore, after this discussion, she explained all she had to her patient and he decided to change his cardiologist and try the plan she suggested. The treatments she had in mind consisted of boosting the level of the thyroid hormones and eliminating the medication for his cholesterol.

At the beginning, the patient believed that this treatment would lead to a heart attack, but Dr. Schwartz explained that the correction of the hormones naturally maintained the cholesterol low.

Thyroid hormones are a result of the function of the thyroid gland—which is an endocrine gland in the form of a butterfly found in the lower front of the neck.

The two thyroid hormones—triiodothyronine and thyroxine—are also known as T3 and T4. T4 is turned into the active T3 in cells, and it reaches the body organs through the bloodstream.

Its main function is to regulate metabolism and provide energy, but it also has a significant influence on the entire body, as it helps the organs to function optimally.

The most common issue linked to the thyroid is hypothyroidism—which is the state of underactive thyroid, that is the gland does not produce sufficient hormones to regulate the necessary body functions.

It can be a result of numerous internal and external factors, such as Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune condition in which the thyroid is attacked by the immune system itself.

Hypothyroidism can be manifested by numerous different symptoms, including dry skin, brittle nails, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, body temperature irregularities, feeling cold, poor reflexes, depression, brain fog, mood swings etc.

However, as these symptoms can also indicate other diseases or ailments as well, doctors mat often prescribe some medications that are not adequate, and do not even consider the thyroid imbalance as a potential cause.

Mary Shomon, a thyroid expert and author of numerous books on the theme, states: “People are going in with high cholesterol or depression and are getting handed cholesterol meds and antidepressants. And no one’s ever checking to see if the thyroid is at the root of the problem.”

She moreover says that there is a critical flaw in the conventional test to diagnose hypothyroidism. This test, known as the thyroid stimulating hormone test or TSH test, actually measures the level of a pituitary hormone, TS, in the blood.

However, this test does not show the amount of T3 or T4 in the blood, as the pituitary hormone directs the thyroid gland to produce and release thyroid hormones.

Hence, this is a flaw as numerous patients experience the symptoms listed above but still have a normal TSH result, so they consequently are prescribed to take medications that do not treat their root problem and even suffer from their side- effects.

Dr. Schwartz claims “At the end of the day, we suffer because we’re treating individual symptoms, and we don’t look at the body—at the person—as a whole.[The TSH test] is actually doing a disservice to anybody who wants to take care of themselves, or someone who actually wants to take care of the patient.”

For better results, the levels of T3 and T4 should be individually examined. Moreover, it is of vital importance to be sure that T4 is being turned into active T3 and that the T3 enters cells in order to regulate the function of the body organs.

The holistic treatment of Dr. Schwartz includes alteration of everything, including the diet, hormones, exercise and supplements. Her approach regards the body as a whole and does not examine just the symptoms, and consequently, it has given great results.

She says: “What I also found out was that giving those people thyroid to begin with—giving them T3, let’s say, to begin with, which is the active thyroid hormone—was actually the quickest way to get people to feel better. And once they felt better, then you could tweak their diet, exercise, lifestyle.”

The belief that the way thyroid hormones influence the entire body is a vital part of the successful  treatment is also shared by Shomon:

“Our metabolism relies, in large part, on our thyroid’s ability to function properly. If we’re not getting enough oxygen or energy to the cells for digestion, for pancreatic function, for brain function, for all of the other hormone production processes and the glands that are producing those, then everything is going to be slowing down and not working properly,” she explains. “It’s the gas pedal, essentially, for everything.”

Hence, both internal and external factors lead to thyroid disorders, as they may result from a combination of certain aspects like immunity, diet, hormones, the environment, immunity, and the like.

“We’re living in such a toxic world—and our lifestyles have changed so much.And that’s a critical thing for us to realize when we look at our diets and we look at our daily habits. We have to put in place some strategies to compensate for the fact that we’ve moved so far from our natural evolutionary ancestral history.”- says Greg Emerson, MD, founder of the Emerson Health & Wellness Center in Queensland, Australia.

The leading ones on his list of toxins are mold and mycotoxins, which are a result of some fungi types.

“There’s a huge amount of scientific evidence that the poisons that the mold produce are terrible for the thyroid gland. And the other problem is that we’re consuming foods which are also high in mycotoxins.

Or we’re consuming foods that are high in sugar, which makes the mold grow in the body. And we’re also not consuming foods which are protective against those mycotoxins. I don’t think I’ve seen a patient with Graves’ disease—which is an overactive thyroid—who has not had a problem with mold, and then mycotoxins.”

The opposite case is hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid, which is the state of excess production of thyroid hormones. This state leads to sudden weight loss due to a revved up metabolism, as well as a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

However, the imbalance of the hormones can be restored to normal by making some important changes in the lifestyle. Initially, eat a diet high in raw foods, regularly exercise, foster healthy relationships; and try to reduce stress.

Dr. Emerson suggests that you ask the following questions to yourself: “Am I eating the right food? Am I drinking the right water? Am I getting enough sun? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I getting enough exercise? Am I getting medicines in my food?”

Dr. Schwartz adds: “Listen to what your body’s saying. If you can’t sleep at night, why don’t you sleep at night? Did you drink too much and it woke you up in the middle of the night? Are you eating too late? Are you eating the wrong foods? Are you exercising too late? Do you have all this electronic equipment sitting right next to you? Do you sleep with the TV on?”

Therefore, of you properly take care of the things explained above, you will easily specify the root of your health issue, and thus, find the proper natural treatment.

Dr. Schwartz comments “There are a million reasons why you may not be sleeping at night. And you need to look at them and take responsibility for improving.”

One of the best and most popular American alternative medicine doctors, Joseph Mercola, DO, also agrees with the basic logic of Dr. Schwartz, since he also believes that in order to maintain good health, you need to work on many aspects.

Yet, he believes that the major control of the health is done by research and finding quality resources, as well as consulting experienced individuals, doctors and experts. He also believes that “It’s probably the mindset that you are responsible for your health.”

By restarting your thyroid with the proper nutrients, not only can you keep weight off, but you can also help slow down the aging process, boost your energy, and improve your overall health.

So here are few very important tips for how to restart your thyroid:

To restart your thyroid you should combine iodized salt and selenium rich foods such as:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fish (wild salmon, halibut, sardines, flounder)
  • Shellfish (oysters, mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops)
  • Meat (Beef, liver, lamb, pork)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Eggs (up to 3 per day)
  • Mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake)
  • Whole grains (wheat germ, barley, brown rice, oats)
  • Veggies (Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Avocado, Bean Sprouts, Beet Greens, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Collard Greens, Cucumber)
  • Fruits (all types of berries and lemons)

Make sure DO NOT EAT these foods:

  • Dairy (avoid dairy for at least 20 days)
  • Avoid Sugar and Sweeteners
  • Avoid all Grains
  • Avoid Beans and Legumes
  • Avoid Beer

Also make sure to avoid:

  • calorie restricted diets
  • low fat diets
  • very low carbohydrate diets (or at least be very cautious with these types of diets)
  • avoid eating more than 6-8 servings of Goitrogenic foods per week and these foods should be steamed instead of eaten raw.

And for the end you must start doing low intensity exercise for at least 1 hour per day like:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Swimming

And after a month start doing high intensity exercise from 1 to 3 times per week, like:

  • Body Weight Exercises
  • Weight Lifting Exercises

The Shrinking Mitochondria.

Billions of years ago, one cell—the ancestral cell of modern eukaryotes—engulfed another, a microbe that gave rise to today’s mitochondria. Over evolutionary history, the relationship between our cells and these squatters has become a close one; mitochondria provide us with energy and enjoy protection from the outside environment in return. As a result of this interdependence, our mitochondria, which once possessed their own complete genome, have lost most of their genes: while the microbe that was engulfed so many years ago is estimated to have contained thousands of genes, humans have just 13 remaining genes in their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).

Some mitochondrial genes have disappeared completely; others have been transferred to our cells’ nuclei for safekeeping, away from the chemically harsh environment of the mitochondrion. This is akin to storing books in a nice, dry, central library, instead of a leaky shed where they could get damaged. In humans, damage to mitochondrial genes can result in devastating genetic diseases, so why keep any books at all in the leaky shed?

Researchers have proposed diverse hypotheses to explain mitochondrial gene retention. Perhaps the products of some genes are hard to introduce into the mitochondrion once they’ve been made elsewhere. (Mitochondria have their own ribosomes and are capable of translating their retained genes in-house.) Or perhaps keeping some mitochondrial genes allows the cell to control each organelle individually. Historically, it has been hard to gather quantitative support for any of these ideas, but in the world of big (and growing) biological data we now have the power to shed light on this question. The mtDNA sequences of thousands of organisms as diverse as plants, worms, yeasts, protists, and humans have now been sequenced, yielding information on the patterns of gene loss and on the gene properties that may have governed this loss.

Modern statistical approaches give us ways to allow this wealth of information to speak for itself, for or against different hypotheses, without (as much) human preconception entering into the process. Such approaches often involve building models to describe how the natural world could have given rise to our observations. Sometimes we do this without realizing it: assuming that the errors on a quantity are normally distributed, for example, invokes a particular (and sometimes inappropriate!) model of the biological and experimental details underlying that measurement. So, in order to analyze the 2,000+ mitochondrial genomes available (Cell Systems, 2:101-11, 2016), we needed a general and unbiased way of accounting for the observed sequences.

To this end, we developed a mathematical description including all possible combinations of the mitochondrial genes we see today, and the different ways organisms could evolve from having a complete ancestral genome to having no genes at all. To avoid any personal preconceptions about possible mechanisms, we first codified our assumption, before seeing the data, that every way of getting from a full set of genes to an empty one could be equally likely; all existing genes are equally likely to be lost at any time. We then used the sequence data to perform calculations determining the probabilities of the different evolutionary paths actually having occurred.

Not surprisingly, we observed similar patterns of gene loss across different lineages, indicating that some genes are more likely to be lost than others. Some genes tend to be lost early on and are missing from mtDNA in most species, while others are retained by almost all organisms. This consistency speaks to a certain predictability of evolution; guiding trends appear to shape different species in the same way.

We then used another statistical approach called model selection to explore the mechanisms that are responsible for dictating these patterns of gene loss and address the long-debated hypotheses about mitochondrial evolution. We considered a set of possible models for how likely a given gene was to be lost based on different hypotheses, from length to sequence to chemical properties. Again, we initially assumed that all possibilities were equally likely and let the data speak for themselves. In the end, we identified three features that together predict whether a gene is likely to be retained in the mitochondrion, rather than transferred to the nucleus: 1) it encodes a protein that forms the center of a complex, 2) it encodes hydrophobic (water-repelling) proteins, and 3) it contains many Gs and Cs in the DNA sequence.

So what do these results mean? Can we now settle the age-old debate of how and why mitochondrial genes are lost? In a way, yes, because these three features suggest that a combination of hypotheses is on the mark. Proteins that are central to complexes are important for the correct assembly of those complexes, so the first feature supports the idea that mitochondria need to keep some genes to assemble their own machinery locally. That genes encoding hydrophobic proteins are more likely to be retained in mtDNA supports the hypothesis that some proteins won’t end up in the mitochondrion if they are made elsewhere, because hydrophobic proteins made in the cytoplasm tend to be shuttled to other regions of the cell. As for the third feature, we think that the numbers of Gs and Cs may be important in keeping DNA stable in the damaging environment of mitochondria, perhaps like a waterproof coating to protect the contents of the leaky shed.

Of course, these hypotheses still need to be put to the test, but preliminary work from the synthetic biology field supports our findings. Specifically, scientists have tried to transfer genes from the mitochondrial genome to the nuclear genome in yeast, mimicking the process that has occurred in evolution. While some of these experiments produced healthy, normal yeast, others did not. We found that the features we identified in our model selection predicted the genes that could not be viably transferred to the nucleus.

It is becoming clear that we need a combination of mechanisms to explain mtDNA gene loss. It is an odd feature of scientific discussion that researchers tend to develop a single explanation for the phenomena we observe in the very complex biological world; the fact that several hypotheses contribute to the full story helps explain and reconcile the heated historical debate on this topic. Moreover, our work supports the use of unbiased statistical and modelling approaches to interrogate many other biological problems, from crop design to disease infection and progression. Such approaches can help provide us with a genuinely open mind to tackle debated scientific questions and seek the underlying truth.

Once again, U.S. expert panel says genetically engineered crops are safe to eat.

Almost 2 years ago, a group of 20 scientists began hashing out a consensus on the risks and benefits of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Since the launch of their study, sponsored by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the public debate around the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and whether to label them has continued to rage. But behind the scenes, some things have changed. Agricultural markets are now bracing for an explosion of new plants designed using the precise gene-editing technology CRISPR, and regulators in both the United States and the European Union are struggling with how to assess their safety.

U.S. panel releases consensus on genetically engineered crops

The panel’s report, released today, is a hefty literature review that tackles mainstay questions in the well-worn GMO debate. Are these plants safe to eat? How do they affect the environment? Do they drive herbicide-resistance in weeds or pesticide-resistance in insects? But it also weighs in on a more immediate conundrum for federal agencies: what to do with gene-edited plants that won’t always fit the technical definition of a regulated GE crop.

The authors picked through hundreds of research papers to make generalizations about GE varieties already in commercial production: There is “reasonable evidence that animals were not harmed by eating food derived from GE crops,” and epidemiological data shows no increase in cancer or any other health problems as a result of these crops entering into our food supply. Pest-resistant crops that poison insects thanks to a gene from the soil bacteriumBacillus thuringiensis (Bt) generally allow farmers to use less pesticide. Farmers can manage the risk of those pests evolving resistance by using crops with high enough levels of the toxin and planting non-Bt “refuges” nearby. Crops designed to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate, meanwhile, can lead to heavy reliance on the chemical, and spawn resistant weeds that “present a major agronomic problem.” The panel urges more research on strategies to delay weed resistance.

Few researchers will be surprised at those conclusions, says Todd Kuiken, who leads the Synthetic Biology Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank in Washington, D.C., but public skepticism of GE crops runs deep. “Whether the academy kind of putting their seal of approval on that impacts the discussion, I don’t know.”

Regulatory muddle

The report saves the issue of regulation for its final chapter. Many countries—including the United States, whose framework for reviewing new biotechnology products was drafted in 1986—didn’t envision modern technologies when they legally defined genetic engineering. The first generation of GE crops used a bacterium to ferry genes from one organism into another. But CRISPR can knockout or precisely edit DNA sequences without leaving behind any foreign DNA. In fact, the DNA of a gene-edited crop could end up looking nearly identical to that of a conventionally bred variety. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deemed two CRISPR-edited crops, a mushroom that resists browning and a high-yield variety of waxy corn, to be exempt from its review process because neither contained genetic material from species considered to be “plant pests.”

Critics of those decisions argue that small genetic changes can still have big effects on the characteristics of a plant, and that gene-edited crops have slipped through the cracks without proper safety testing. Others argue that the precision of CRISPR limits environmental and health risks by making fewer unintended tweaks to a plant’s genome, and that subjecting them to a full regulatory review is needlessly costly and time consuming for their producers.

Last summer, the White House announced it would revamp the legal framework for evaluating biotechnology products across USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The European Commission, meanwhile, is also mulling whether plants without foreign DNA count as genetically modified.

Like several National Academies reviews before it, the new study condemned regulatory approaches that classify products based on the technology used to create them. “The National Academy has been saying since 1987 that it should be the product, not the process,” says Fred Gould, an applied evolutionary biologist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and chair of the new report. “But the problem up until now is … how do you decide which products need more examination than others?”

There, the report makes a new suggestion: Regulators should ask for a full analysis of a plant’s composition—using modern “-omics” tools such as genome sequencing and analysis of the proteins and small molecules in a sample—to determine when a full safety review is necessary. The authors propose that crops containing different genes, producing a different set of proteins, or carrying out different metabolic reactions than conventionally bred varieties should trigger regulatory review if those differences have potential health or environmental impacts. And if a trait is so new that there’s no conventional counterpart to compare it to … just go ahead and regulate it, they conclude.

The approach is reasonable, Kuiken says, but it’s not clear how to implement it. “How close does it have to be to the counterpart before you have to do a full review?”

Gould acknowledges that the report’s recommendation is a tall order, but “if USDA and EPA don’t use -omics techniques and they deregulate a crop, and then somebody in a research lab just takes a look at the transcriptome and finds a difference, you’re in trouble.” Deciding exactly which kinds of genetic or metabolic changes represent a risk will be left to regulatory agencies. “We just give principles,” Gould adds. “We’re not in the trenches with them.”

If those entrenched regulators crave more guidance, they’re in luck. The National Academies just launched yet another study, due out by the end of this year, to predict the next decade of biotechnology products and describe the scientific tools needed to regulate them.

Molecular Cross-Talk Promotes Tumor Growth.

Pancreatic tumor cells and neighboring normal cells engage in a two-way molecular conversation that helps drive malignant behavior in the cancer cells, according to new study results.

Working in cell lines from mice, researchers showed that pancreatic cancer cells that have cancer-causing mutations in the KRAS gene can coerce nearby healthy cells to release growth signals. These signals then activate a chain of events in the tumor cells that enhance their ability to survive and multiply.

The new findings, published May 5 in Cell, suggest that effective treatments for pancreatic cancer, which is notoriously difficult to treat, may need to target signaling pathways activated by adjacent stromal cells as well as those independently activated by the tumor cells, the study authors wrote.

Detecting Reciprocal Signaling

Pancreatic cancers and other solid cancers contain both tumor cells and normal connective tissue cells called stromal cells. Interactions between the two types of cells are known to play an important role in cancer growth and progression, but the molecular signals underlying these interactions are poorly understood.

To gain insights into these signals, a team led by Claus Jørgensen, Ph.D., of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute analyzed communication networks in a mouse pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) cell line and in pancreatic stromal cells from mice. PDA is the most common type of pancreatic cancer and one of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat human cancers.

The PDA cells used in this study contained a normal KRAS gene and a mutated form of the gene that the researchers could switch on or off. KRAS, which is mutated in more than 90 percent of pancreatic tumors and in many other cancers, plays a key role in driving the rapid and uncontrolled cell growth that are hallmarks of cancer.

For their analysis, the team monitored thousands of growth factors, receptors, and other proteins in the PDA cells alone, with and without the mutated form of KRAS; in stromal cells grown in the presence of factors that were secreted by the KRAS-mutant PDA cells; and in the two cell types grown together in laboratory dishes.

For the final experiment, the researchers tagged the proteins produced in the tumor cells with one label, and the proteins produced in the stromal cells with another label, explained Douglas Lauffenburger, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a computational biologist and study coauthor. This technique allowed the researchers to monitor what was happening in the two cell types at the same time.

These experiments, along with computational analyses by Dr. Lauffenburger’s lab, yielded the first evidence that this type of molecular cross-talk, or reciprocal signaling, can expand the effects of cancer-causing gene mutations beyond those that occur in tumor cells alone and provided details on some of the key signaling molecules involved in these conversations.

In particular, the researchers found that PDA cells with mutated KRAS produced a growth signal known as sonic hedgehog, which induces the stromal cells to release growth factors, including Gas6 and IGF-1, that the cancer cells don’t produce on their own. These growth factors activated signaling pathways in the tumor cells that increased cell proliferation and protected the tumor cells from a type of controlled cell death called apoptosis.

An Intricate Web of Interactions

“We now know that tumors are a complex mix of genetically diverse cancer cells and multiple types of healthy cells, all communicating with each other via an intricate web of interactions,” Dr. Jørgensen said in a news release. “Untangling this web, and decoding individual signals, is vital to identifying which of the multitude of communications are most important for controlling tumor growth and spread.”

Because some pancreatic tumors contain even more stromal cells than they do cancer cells, understanding how cancer cells turn their healthy neighbors into allies is critically important, added lead author Christopher Tape, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Indeed, Dr. Lauffenburger said, “We can already imagine a combination of existing drugs that would be predicted to work much better [for treating pancreatic cancer] than drugs currently being used based on looking at tumor cells in isolation.”

One such combination he said, is drugs that inhibit the activity of the proteins AXL and MEK. Blocking AXL could disrupt an important pathway activated via reciprocal signaling from stromal cells, whereas blocking MEK would disrupt signaling that the tumor cells control on their own.

The next step, he said, will be to test such drug combinations in mouse models of pancreatic cancer. “If we can show that targeting these two pathways together is effective in mice, now you’ve got a toehold to think about whether there’s an indication for this kind of drug combination in human trials.”

If these results can be generalized to provide evidence for reciprocal signaling across different tumor types, “they could call into question the way that almost all cancer drug screens are performed, as well as many other conclusions that researchers draw from studying tumor cells in isolation,” said Daniel Gallahan, Ph.D., deputy director of NCI’sDivision of Cancer Biology.

“These results highlight the need to study cancer systematically in its ‘native’ environment, where tumor cells are able to communicate and respond to a variety of outside signals to enhance their growth,” Dr. Gallahan continued. “Through better understanding of the entire tumor ecosystem, there is potential for developing new therapeutic regimens designed to disrupt multiple processes, not just at the level of the tumor cell but also at other critical and potentially more targetable points.”

‘Three’s Company’: SpaceX’s 3 Landed Rockets Cozy Up (Photos)

'Three's Company': SpaceX's 3 Landed Rockets Cozy Up (Photos)

The three Falcon 9 first stages that SpaceX has successfully brought back down to Earth sit in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 14, 2016.

Credit: SpaceX

New SpaceX photos show three big pieces of spaceflight history sitting side by side by side.

The images, which were taken on Saturday (May 14), show the three Falcon 9 rockets that SpaceX has successfully brought back to Earth arrayed next to each other in a hangar at Launch Complex 39A, which is part of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk posted one of the new photos Sunday (May 15) via his Twitter account, @elonmusk, along with a pithy description: “Three’s company.”

Shot of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Photo taken May 14, 2016.

Shot of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages in a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Photo taken May 14, 2016.

Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is working to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets, technology that Musk has said could reduce the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100. The three boosters in the hangar at 39A — which are the big first stages of the two-stage Falcon 9 — are part of that development effort.

One of the boosters landed at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December during the launch of 11 communications satellites for SpaceX customer Orbcomm, becoming the first rocket ever to touch down softly during an orbital liftoff. (Blue Origin, the company led by founder Jeff Bezos, successfully landed its New Shepard rocket a month earlier, but that milestone occurred during a suborbital test flight.)

The other two Falcon 9 first stages came down at sea, landing on the deck of a robotic ship called “Of Course I Still Love You” that SpaceX had stationed several hundred miles off the Florida coast.

Close-up view of one of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages. Photo taken inside a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 14, 2016.

Close-up view of one of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages. Photo taken inside a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 14, 2016.

Credit: SpaceX

These “drone ship” landings came on April 8, during the launch of SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule toward the International Space Station (ISS); and May 6, during the launch of the Japanese communications satellite JCSAT-14. (Such landings occur while the Falcon 9’s second stage is still carrying the payload to orbit, so “during the launch” is appropriate wording, even if it sounds a bit weird.)

SpaceX would prefer to land all of its rockets at or near their launch sites, to streamline inspection and re-launch processes. But boosters cannot carry enough fuel to make it all the way back during some liftoffs, which explains why the company is practicing ocean landings as well, Musk has said.

The Falcon 9 that landed in December will be put on display at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, perhaps as early as next month, company representatives have said. Musk has said that SpaceX plans to refly the rocket that came down in April, and the same fate presumably awaits the booster than lofted JCSAT-14 as well.

Long shot of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages, taken from outside a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 14, 2016.

Long shot of SpaceX’s three landed Falcon 9 first stages, taken from outside a hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 14, 2016.

Credit: SpaceX

JCSAT-14 went to geostationary transfer orbit, which is much farther away than low Earth orbit, where the ISS flies. So the rocket that landed on May 6 hit Earth’s atmosphere while traveling about twice as fast as the one that came down on April 8, company representatives have said.

“Most recent rocket took max damage, due to v high entry velocity. Will be our life leader for ground tests to confirm others are good,” Musk said via Twitter Sunday.


Home Gardening: How to Grow Your Own Tea.

Plant herbs now to can make delicious homegrown tea with later!

’Tis the season to get gardening. Yet if you don’t have a green thumb—or the time to tend a produce patch—start with some simple herbs, which you can use when cooking or brewing a tasty herbal tea, says Cassie Liversidge, author of Homegrown Tea. “You can grow most plants that can be brewed to make hot or iced tea in an existing garden or in pots in a sunny window,” she says. Start with easy-to-cultivate mint and lemon verbena.

To prepare your own brew, cut and wash the plant leaves, and then drop a handful of whole leaves (no need to chop or crush) into a teapot. Pour boiling water over the leaves, steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and then strain and pour into mugs or over ice.

Norton Antivirus Hacked, Bug Found in Security Software.

“this is about as bad as it can possibly get”

Norton Antivirus Hacked

A security researcher has discovered a “bug” in Symantec antivirus software, which affects “the core Symantec Antivirus Engine used in most Symantec and Norton branded Antivirus products.” I say “bug” because it’s less bug, and more a gaping security flaw that makes it incredibly easy to hack any PC, Mac or Linux box running Symantec software.

The flaw (spotted by The Register) was found by Tavis Ormandy, a white-hat hacker whose previous work has involved hacking internet-connected scales. The Symantec bug is to do with how the antivirus engine scans code, in particular an old compression tool.

The result is that if a hacker sends a carefully formatted file via email (or just a web link), all the target computer has to do is receive and scan the email — the user doesn’t even have to open the file or link. The hacker then gets root access to the target computer, meaning he owns the machine. As Ormandy succinctly put it, “this is about as bad as it can possibly get.”

Symantec is aware of the bug, and there’s already a fix being pushed. If you use Symantec or Norton antivirus, you should run the Live Update tool, and check for patches.

The flaw itself is due to a buffer overflow, the same kind of programming bug that caused the infamous Heartbleed Bug. But what makes this particular flaw dangerous isn’t the bug itself, it’s where in the system the code is unpacked. On Windows machines, Symantec is unpacking potential malware directly into the kernel, which as one Twitter user pointed out, is a really bad idea:

Science Reveals 9 Unbelievable Reasons Behind Why People Fall In Love

According to research, your hormones, interests, and even your parents’ looks could decide who you choose in life.  Love is mysterious, but it’s probably not destiny. Since your partner plays a significant role in your longterm health, happiness, and even your career prospects, we’ve scoured the studies and collected some of the psychological reasons behind why two people click.

1) If You’re Really, Really Alike

Studies have shown that the cliche that “opposites attract” is totally off. “Partners who are similar in broad dispositions, like personality , are more likely to feel the same way in their day-to-day lives,” says Gian Gonzaga, lead author of a study of couples who met on eHarmony. “This may make it easier for partners to understand each other.”

2) If You Look Like Their Opposite-Sex Parent

University of St. Andrews psychologist David Perrett found that some people are attracted to folks with the same hair and eye colour of their opposite-sex parents, as well as the age range they saw at birth. “We found that women born to 30+ parents were less impressed by youth, and more attracted to age cues in male faces than women with younger parents,” the authors wrote. For men, preferences for female faces were influenced by their mother’s age.

Science Reveals 9 Unbelievable Reasons Behind Why People Fall In Love© 

3) If You Smell Right

A University of Southern California study of women who were ovulating suggested that some prefer the smell of T-shirts worn by men with high levels of testosterone. This matched with other hormone-based instincts: Some women also preferred men with a strong jawline when they were ovulating.

4) If You Keep Your Hands And Torso Open

Keeping your hands stuffed in your pockets and your shoulders turned inward sends the signal that you’re not interested. But talking with your hands and standing in an open stance shows that you’re available.

Science Reveals 9 Unbelievable Reasons Behind Why People Fall In Love© 

5) If You Stare Into Each Other’s Eyes For Two Minutes Or More

When University of Massachusetts psychologist Joan Kellerman asked 72 unacquainted undergrads to pair off and stare into each other’s eyes for two minutes, they reported increased feelings of passionate love and affection towards the other person. “This suggests that long periods of eye contact can connect you to someone and even ignite feelings of love,” says Kellerman.

6) If You Own A Dog

In a University of Michigan experiment, women read vignettes about men. Whenever the story featured a person who owned a dog, women rated them with higher long-term attractiveness.This is because researchers have hypothesized that pet ownership could signal a nurturing person or one with a tendency toward relationship commitment.

Science Reveals 9 Unbelievable Reasons Behind Why People Fall In Love© 

7) If You Play Music

Researchers in France found that music practice is associated with sexual selection. In an experiment, a young man holding either a guitar case or sports bag asked 300 young women for their numbers. When the man held the guitar case, more women were willing to give him their number.

8) If You Wear The Colour Red

In a Slovakian research study, women who wore the colour red were more successful in mating game scenarios. This can be attributed to sexual signaling because women use the colour red to attract potential mates.

Science Reveals 9 Unbelievable Reasons Behind Why People Fall In Love© 

9) If You Have A Certain Type Of Facial Hair

In an Australian experiment, researchers found that women consider faces with heavy stubble more attractive than heavy beards, light stubble, or clean-shaven faces. Researchers also found that the more facial hair a man had, the more masculine a woman perceived him to be.

GMO Foods Are Safe to Eat, But Public Skepticism Remains

Genetically-engineered crops are as safe to eat as their non-GE counterparts, they have no adverse environmental impacts, and they have reduced the use of pesticides. That’s according to a comprehensive report released by the National Academy of Sciences today—a group founded by the U.S. Congress to provide expert scientifically-based advice on a wide variety of issues.

But the academy also found that GE or (genetically-modified organisms or GMO) crops didn’t increase those crops’ potential yields, and they did lead to widespread and expensive problems with herbicide-resistant weeds.

The report acknowledges that beyond safety, other issues need to be addressed, including earning the public’s trust. It recommends a more transparent and inclusive conversation about GE crops going forward.

The report, two years in the making, is a 388-page, comprehensive look at every aspect of genetically engineered crops. “Sweeping statements about GE crops are problematic because issues related to them are multidimensional,” the report says right up front, and goes on to dig deep on those dimensions.

170.3 million hectares have been planted with genetically-engineered crops, as shown on this map. Courtesy National Academy of Sciences

170.3 million hectares have been planted with genetically-engineered crops, as shown on this map. Courtesy National Academy of Sciences

The assessment is generally positive, but there are many caveats and notes of caution. For those of you who want just the big takeaways, here’s the nutshell version:

  • GE crops are safe to eat.  There is always uncertainty about safety, of course, but there’s no evidence of harm.
  • The GE crops in our food system don’t improve on the crops’ potential yields. They have, however, helped farmer protect yields from insects and weeds.
  • Both herbicide-tolerant crops and crops with the organic pesticide Bt built in have decreased pesticide use, although those decreases came early on, and some have not been sustained.
  • Increased use of glyphosate, the herbicide GE crops tolerate, has been responsible for a widespread and expensive problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds.
  • The report found no adverse affects on biodiversity or danger from interbreeding between GE crops and wild relatives.
  • Although both the use of GE crops and the employment of farming techniques that reduce tilling have been on the rise, the report finds no cause-and-effect relationship.
  • The economic benefits to farmers have been well-documented, although individual results vary.
  • Small-scale farmers may have trouble seeing those economic gains because of the price of seed and lack of access to credit.
  • Appropriate regulation is imperative, and that regulation should be based on the characteristics of the crop, rather than the technique used to develop it, whether GE or non-GE.
  • Ongoing public conversations about GE crops and related issues should be characterized by transparency and public participation.

The report also notes that both genetic engineering and conventional breeding are important to crop improvement. Each method has strengths and weaknesses, and treating them “as competing approaches is a false dichotomy; more progress in crop improvement can be brought about by using both … than by using either alone.” (See Can This Scientist Unite Genetic Engineers and Organic Farmers?)

For those of you who interested in chapter and verse of the report, here is soup-to-nuts rundown of the committee’s findings:

Human Health

The committee doesn’t find evidence the consumption of the GE foods currently in our food supply increase food allergies, have significant effects on the GI tract, or pose a risk for horizontal gene transfer.

Photograph by Becky Harlan

Photograph by Becky Harlan

It also doesn’t find spikes in health problems like autism, obesity, cancer, and kidney disease that correlate to the introduction of GE foods.

The committee acknowledges small differences in gut microbes in some animal experiments, but conclude that GE foods “are not expected to cause health problems.”

On allergenicity, the committee recognizes that “[t]here are limits to what can be known about the health effects of any food, whether it is produced through conventional breeding alone or in conjunction with genetic engineering.”

All in all, the report concludes, “no differences have been found that implicate a higher risk to human health and safety from these GE foods than from their non-GE counterparts.” But the committee is also careful to say that there are limits to what we can know. Any new food, whether GE or not, “may have some subtle favorable or adverse health effects that are not detected even with careful scrutiny and that health effects can develop over time.”

The report’s discussion of human health also includes some optimism that both GE and non-GE crops with increased concentrations of some nutrients could have “favorable effects on the health of millions of people.”

Crop Yields

The report distinguishes between the potential yields of crops (that is, the maximum yield, under ideal conditions), and their actual yields (after insects, disease, bad weather, or weeds have their way with them).  There’s no evidence that GE crops have increased potential yields, which had been steadily increasing before GE crops were introduced, and continued to increase afterward.

GE crops can, however, help protect yields from pests.

Pesticide Use

Crops with a built-in organic pesticide called Bt have not just reduced insecticide spraying on the acres they’re planted on, they have, in some cases (like that of the European corn borer), reduced the pest population so dramatically that insecticide spraying has gone down on non-GE acreage.

The report notes, however, that insects can develop resistance to Bt (some have).  To head that off, proper management (including refuges, which are areas where Bt crops aren’t planted so insects don’t develop resistance) is essential, and the report expresses concern about the “lack of compliance with the mandated refuges.” Crops engineered with an insecticide work as a part of a pest-management strategy, but they aren’t, by themselves, the solution to insect problems.

For crops that are tolerant to glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, the story gets more complicated. While those crops initially decreased overall herbicide use, the report says those decreases have not been sustained.  The committee also specifically rejects the measurement of herbicide application (kilograms per acre or hectare) as meaningful, because some herbicides are more toxic than others. and suggests that “researchers should be discouraged” from reporting those numbers.

The downside of herbicide tolerant crops is that, “in many locations some weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate.” The report cites one study that puts the cost of managing glyphosate-resistant weeds at $66/acre for corn and $22/acre for soy, an amount that can sometimes make the difference between a positive and negative gross margin.

Better weed management has to go hand-in-hand with the deployment of herbicide-tolerant plants, the report finds.

Biodiversity and Environmental Impact

The report addressed a varied group of concerns related to how GE crops interact with the environment.  Here are the committee’s findings.

  • There’s no evidence of adverse effects of Bt crops on honeybees.
  • Although crop rotation and crop diversity have been declining since 1987, the report didn’t find a cause-and-effect relationship with GE crops. The committee did note that some GE varieties can facilitate “successful management of very large areas of these crops without rotation.” On the other hand, the committee considered evidence that GE crops could enable crop rotations that would be “prohibitively difficult or expensive” without the weed control that comes with herbicide-tolerant crops.
  • Research has not shown that “suppression of milkweed by glyphosate is the cause of monarch decline,” but researchers disagree about whether glyphosate has any impact on monarchs.
  • ‪Although there has been gene flow from GE crops to wild relatives, “no examples have demonstrated an adverse environmental effect.”
  • The report couldn’t find a clear cause-and-effect relationship between herbicide-tolerant crops and no-till farming practices.

Social and Economic Effects

The report makes the point that, when we’re talking about introducing a new kind of crop into our food system, we have to look beyond matters of human and environmental health, and take social and economic issues into consideration:

  •  ‪Overall GE crops have worked out well, economically, for the farmers who have chosen them, but there’s a lot of variation in outcomes.  Insect-resistant crops reduce loss to insects, and herbicide-tolerant crops “tend to reduce management time.”
  • Benefits of GE crops aren’t always available to small-scale farmers, because of the high price of seed and inadequate access to credit, “among other institutional issues”
  • For small-scale farmers to get the economic gains of GE crops, they’ll often need “institutional support, such as access to credit, affordable inputs, extension services, and markets.”  They may need assistance “improving soil fertility, increasing nutrient availability, and optimizing plant density”
  • Regulatory barriers have raised the price of developing GE crops, which makes it more difficult for the private sector to develop crops that aren’t widely planted. This works against having a diverse selection of GE crops.
  • The report notes that some studies have suggested that GE crops “contribute to farmer deskilling.”
  • It’s important to prevent the inadvertent presence of GE crops in non-GE fields, for both social and economic reasons. “Farmers want the freedom to decide what crops to grow,” and non-GE crops command a higher price.  The committee notes that this is often happening: “many areas are successfully growing organic, non-GE, and GE crops.”
  • One important economic issue is trade disruption.  As different countries approve different GE crops at different times, trading becomes complicated.  “Trade disruptions … are likely to continue to occur and to be expensive for exporting and importing countries.”
  •  ‪The report also tackles the very fundamental issue of trust.  It’s “difficult to capture the cost of a loss of public trust in a product, an industry, or the legitimacy of a regulatory system.”


The report says that regulation of GE crops “should facilitate achieving the maximum societal benefits … at given levels of acceptable risk.”  The committee acknowledges that it’s a tall order, because both risks and benefits vary among crops. NAS is clear that it is the product—not the process—that should be regulated.

Other regulatory issues include:

  • Patents (of both GE and non-GE crops) can limit access by “small farmers, marketers, and plant breeders who lack resources to pay licensing fees or to mount legal challenges,” and there’s disagreement over whether patents facilitate or hinder “knowledge-sharing, innovation, and the commercialization of useful goods.” The report predicts that technology “that is of most use to small-scale farmers or farmers of specialty crops will probably have to emerge from public-sector institutions or from public-private collaborations” because the incentives aren’t there for industry to work on those crops.
  • Although the labeling issue is complex and there are “strong nonsafety arguments and considerable public support for mandatory labeling,” the committee “does not believe that mandatory labeling of foods with GE content is justified to protect public health.”
  • “Policy regarding GE crops has scientific, legal, and social dimensions, ad not all issues can be answered by science alone.”  The values and priorities of all stakeholders have to be considered.
  • ‪Regulators need to be proactive communicators, and “transparency and public participation” are “critically important for appropriate, sound, and credible governance.”
  • “The lack of public access to the health and safety data submitted by developers creates distrust in some stakeholders” because “the public cannot judge for itself the quality, objectivity, and comprehensiveness of the materials submitted.”  While the committee recognizes “the legitimacy of the confidential nature of business information,” it urges as much sharing as possible.

Looking Forward

The report sees an important role for genetic engineering, and “the committee expects that its potential use in crop improvement in the coming decades will be substantial.”  Increased nutrition, better nutrient use, decreased greenhouse gas emissions, and pathogen resistance are just some of the ways GE crops can improve human and environmental health, farmer well-being, and agriculture’s sustainability, it says.

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