Bionic Humans: This Sleek Power Suit Helps Restore Mobility


IN BRIEF
  • Superflex is looking to bring power suits to market that can help the elderly and disabled complete everyday tasks.
  • The company has to release an initial concept but plan for the suit to fit nicely under any clothing and be ready for purchase by 2018.

“INTELLIGENT WEARABLE STRENGTH”

Superflex, a California-based startup, is currently developing apparel that goes beyond fashion. The company, an offshoot of SRI International, wants to design clothes that assist the wearer with physical activity.

“We’re calling it ‘intelligent wearable strength,’” said Rick Mahoney, co-founder and chief executive office of Superflex, in an interview with The Verge.

These clothes are equipped with sensors and flexible electric motors, which improve natural mobility, but only when they need to. Whenever the wearer performs an action, factors such as posture and movement are detected and quickly analyzed by a computer. Afterward, commands are sent out to aid the wearer in activities like standing up, walking, among others. Superflex envisions these clothes as lightweight, and comfortably worn under any outfit.

SRI International
SRI International

ASSISTIVE APPAREL

Although the thought of a strength-amplifying suit conjures images of Iron Man, the aim of the apparel-robotics startup is actually a lot less glamorous. In another interview with TechCrunch, Mahoney revealed that their main focus was on helping those who have trouble with moving on their own. “We’re interested in helping people with general independence, people who are starting to lose confidence in their mobility.”

This includes a wide range of people, including the elderly, the disabled, chronically disabled children, and even people who do a lot of heavy lifting.

The company is yet to release an initial concept, however. Some issues like design and ergonomics are still to be resolved, but the company hopes to release its first model by 2018. “We are forging a path,” Mahoney said. “We are not helping soldiers fight aliens or people leap from buildings. We want people to live a more productive and confident life.”

Gates Foundation to Invest Up to $140 Million in HIV Prevention Device.


Intarcia Therapeutics is developing implantable pump which holds six or 12 months’ supply of medicine

An Intarcia factory in Hayward, Calif., last year.
An Intarcia factory in Hayward, Calif., last year.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing as much as $140 million to support development of a tiny implantable drug pump it believes could help prevent people in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere from becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The matchstick-size pump is being developed by Intarcia Therapeutics Inc., a closely held Boston biotechnology company. It can hold six or 12 months’ supply of medicine and is designed to deliver microdoses continuously to patients, ensuring they stay on the treatment.

The new investment, which Intarcia announced Thursday, comes amid a flurry of fresh efforts to develop HIV prevention strategies.

 Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases announced a global 4,500-patient clinical trial to test whether injections every eight weeks of an experimental HIV drug, cabotegravir, from U.K.-based ViiV Healthcare is effective in preventing HIV infection. Last month, the first efficacy study of an HIV vaccine in seven years was begun in South Africa.

This is “one of the most exciting years ever in HIV prevention,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, a global HIV advocacy organization supported by the Gates Foundation.

Progress is needed. Despite major gains against HIV and AIDS in the past two decades, 1.9 million people become infected with the virus each year, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates. The majority are in resource-poor regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, where the epidemic’s toll has been severe.

Experts worry that without effective prevention efforts, an emerging generation of young people are at risk of becoming infected.

“If we don’t find a way to prevent infection, we’re going to wind up with more people infected in that part of the world than we have now,” said Emilio Emini, director of the HIV program at the Gates Foundation.

Using the pump in this manner would fit a prevention strategy called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s daily pill Truvada, the only drug regulators have approved for PrEP, has been shown in clinical trials to reduce risk of HIV infection by more than 90%. It is becoming available in generic versions in some African countries.

Bill and Melinda Gates in February. Mr. Gates visited Intarcia’s Boston headquarters in June.
Bill and Melinda Gates in February. Mr. Gates visited Intarcia’s Boston headquarters in June.

But “its real-world effectiveness is much lower than that because you have to take a pill” every day and getting healthy people to do so is difficult, Dr. Emini said. That is what makes Intarcia’s pump so attractive, he said. “You put it in and you forget it,” he said, likening it to long-acting forms of contraception. “You can immediately imagine how it could be applicable.”

Under terms of the agreement, the foundation will take a $50 million equity stake in the company and provide as much as $90 million more in grants, pegged to certain research milestones toward development of the device.

The money comes from a $1.5 billion fund the foundation has set aside apart from its larger grant-funding operation to make investments in technologies being developed in the private sector. The goal of the fund isn’t to generate a financial return but to back ideas with equity, loans and other financing that advance the foundation’s charitable mission, Andrew Farnum, the foundation’s director of program-related investments, said in an interview.

The Intarcia deal is one of about 50 such investments the foundation has made since 2009. The pump would likely find a market in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, but “the ultimate goal is developing an HIV prophylaxis device that will save lives in the developing world,” Mr. Farnum said.

 Intarcia has already developed a version of the pump loaded with the diabetes drug exenatide as a treatment for patients with Type 2 diabetes. The company filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month to market the device, called the ITCA650. If all goes well, it could be on the market by the end of 2017.

It took a decade to develop. The challenge the company faced was to come up with a formulation of exenatide that would remain stable at body temperature for at least a year and that was potent enough to be effective at the micro doses delivered by the pump. The company mounted several phase 3 clinical trials, which demonstrated its efficacy in controlling blood sugar.

“We’re going to basically take that same approach” with an HIV drug, said Kurt Graves, Intarcia’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.

The $50 million in equity is part of a larger round of new financing for Intarcia totaling $206 million, Mr. Graves said.

The foundation, which considers prevention a critical component of its efforts to combat HIV, first heard about the Intarcia pump about a year ago while searching for technologies with the potential to provide long-term protection against the virus.

As part of the due diligence, Bill Gates visited Intarcia’s Boston headquarters in June, where he and Mr. Graves discussed the technology for nearly two hours.

The company and the foundation haven’t decided which HIV drug to put in the pump, but Mr. Graves said initial tests indicate “we have a very good probability of success” in coming up with an effective formulation.  It will likely take several years before the pump reaches the market.

If they are successful, the agreement is intended to make sure the pump available and affordable to poor populations in the developing world.

How Much Sugar Are You Actually Consuming


When you grab that soda or pick up a quickie meal at the store to reheat and eat later, most likely you’re thinking of convenience and not how much sugar is in what you just bought. But, if you stop to calculate it later, you may be shocked that almost every packaged product you buy is loaded with sugar. As reported by SaladPower, this sugar adds up to about 19.5 teaspoons a day!

In this hurry-up world, about 90 percent of what Americans spend on food goes to processed products with artificial fillers, fake fats and sugar. Incredibly, an astonishing 60 percent of the food Americans eat is ULTRA-processed, and these foods account for 90 percent of the added sugar consumption in the U.S.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand that decreasing sugar consumption is at the top of the list if you’re overweight, insulin resistant or struggle with any chronic disease. Sugar addiction happens due to intense cravings for sweet food. It’s triggered by the brain by sending signals to the receptors in our tongue that were not able to develop from the low-sugar diets of our ancestors.

Fighting these cravings may be difficult in the beginning, but once you cut down on added sugars and other net carbs (total carbs minus fiber), they WILL disappear. At that point, healthy eating becomes effortless. If you need help with this, my updated nutrition plan will guide you through learning to eat real, unprocessed foods, including fresh, organic vegetables, high-quality proteins and moderate fruits.

Inside The Z Machine, Where Scientists Turned Hydrogen Into Metal.


Z MACHINE

Randy Montoya; Courtesy Sandia National Laboratories

For 80 years, researchers theorized that hydrogen could transform into a metal. This year, scientists at Sandia National Laboratories finally proved it.

 They took deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen, and applied 3 million times the atmospheric pressure using the Z machine, shown above. After 200 nanoseconds, the liquid turned reflective, indicating it had become metallic.

“The moment we got our first look at the data, we were very excited,” says Mike Desjarlais, the team’s lead theoretical physicist. “After the first several experiments, we had begun to wonder if we would ever see it.”

The findings change scientists’ understanding of how planets evolve. Because planets cool over time, temperature has long been used to calculate their age. But hydrogen metalli­zation causes surface temps to rise, which could explain, for example, why Saturn is warmer than its age suggests.

Who You Hate Depends on How Smart You Are, Study Finds


According to a new study, people with both high and low intelligence are prejudiced—the difference is just who they are prejudiced against.

Past researchers have found that people of lower cognitive ability are more likely to be prejudiced, but prejudice isn’t exclusive to dim bulbs. A new study finds that people at both high and low ends of the intelligence spectrum actually express equal levels of prejudice—the difference is just what they’re prejudiced against.

The researchers, social psychologists Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford, analyzed 5,914 subjects in their experiment, “Answering Unresolved Questions About the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice.” Removing value judgments about whether a specific prejudice is justified or not, they measured the amount of prejudice present in groups of higher cognitive ability and lower cognitive ability. They gauged the cognitive ability of their subjects using a wordsum test, which is considered to be correlated to an individual’s intelligence quotient (IQ). Brandt and Crawford replicated previous findings that people of low cognitive ability tend to be prejudiced against non-conventional or liberal groups, as well as groups that have “low choice” in their status—groups defined by their race or gender or sexual orientation, for example. According to their research, this tendency inverted among people of high cognitive ability. In other words, the smarter subjects in their study were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional or conservative—groups perceived to have “high choice” in their associations.”

“People dislike people who are different from them,” Brandt and Crawford said in an interview with Broadly. “Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view.” In other words, if you see the world one way, you may rely on that perspective, so you might reinforce the idea that you’re right by believing other worldviews are wrong.

There was another polarized finding in their study. Brandt and Crawford found that people of low cognitive ability are prejudiced against groups that people didn’t choose to be part of, such as ethnic or LGBT groups. This is poignant in 2016, a time when conservative communities across the country are unifying around intolerance of transgender peopleMuslim Americans continue to face grotesque prejudice, and police brutality is high.

Brandt and Crawford cited prior research that has shown less cognitively capable people often “essentialize,” or see different groups as being distinct from each other, with “clear boundaries.”

“Having clear boundaries helps people feel like the opposing group is distinct and far away. That is, they won’t be so much of a threat,” they said. The researchers pointed to a recent study looking at this boundary phenomenon with respect to Donald Trump’s stupid plan to build a big wall along the southern border of the United States—it would create a literal boundary where before only a mental one existed.

The conservatives who support this plan are expressing prejudice towards “low-choice” groups—in this case, Mexicans, who were born Mexican and did not choose to be that. “On the flipside, people high in cognitive ability express more prejudice against high-choice groups,” such as conservatives, the researchers said. “They may be especially angered by groups that they think should be able to change their minds.”

Neuropsychologists say ‘broken heart syndrome’ is real — and it may have killed Debbie Reynolds


“I want to be with Carrie.”

Hours before the stroke that ultimately killed Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds, the actress and dancer turned to her son Todd and said that she missed her daughter Carrie Fisher — who died Dec. 26 following a heart attack — and wanted to be with her. They were among her last words.

AlterNet reported on Thursday that “broken heart syndrome” is a real lethal disorder identified by neuropsychologists that has a history stretching back thousands of years.

“There’s been a beautiful history that you can die from misery or loneliness or literally from a broken heart,” said stress psychophysiology specialist Prof. Brian Hughes to AlterNet’s Alexandra Rosenmann.

According to American Heart Association (AHA), “broken heart syndrome” is what is known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. It is a temporary heart condition brought on by intense or prolonged stress. And in some cases, it can be fatal.

 Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event,” says the AHA. “It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection,”

“The ancient Greeks and Romans felt that many emotions were reflected in the body and the people with different characteristics and different personality types have different body shapes and body functions,” said Hughes, who is the president of the international Stress and Anxiety Research Society (STAR).

“Nowadays we often feel that these notions are myths and superstitions, or in the case of fiction, artistic license,” he continued. “However there’s actually a very consistent line of research linking emotional function to the brain and to physical health and disease in the body and one of the most compelling examples this relates to cardiovascular function and especially to the notion of cardiovascular stress reactivity.”

The University Hospital of Zurich has conducted a long-term study of “broken heart syndrome,” following 1,000 patients who have been diagnosed with the condition.

 Their research specifically examines the link between brain activity and heart function. Many of the patients affected by the syndrome, they say, are women over the age of 50.

“We know from experiments on animals that long-term stress can be fatal. Under fire from too much adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, a whole range of organs start to fail after certain time and the animal dies,” said University Hospital’s Lutz Jäncke.

Watch video about this story, embedded below:

Watch a video about the University Hospital of Zurich’s study of broken heart syndrome, embedded below:

Neuroscientist Shows What Fasting Does To Your Brain and Big Pharma Won’t Study it.


Dr. Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging and also a professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University.

He is one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

 Mark and his team published several papers that discussed how fasting just twice a week can significantly lower the risk of developing both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. (Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.) Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience (source)


If you’ve ever looked at caloric restriction studies, a lot of them show prolonged lifespan as well as an increased ability to fight chronic disease.

 
“Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast. The mechanism or mechanisms through which this occurs are unclear.”

Fasting when done correctly is great for the brain. This is evident by all of the beneficial neurochemical changes that occur in our brain when we fast. It also helps to improve stress resistance , increases neurotrophic factors, increases cognitive function , and reduces inflammation.

Your brain is challenged when you fast. Your brain responds to this challenge by adapting stress response pathways that help your brain deal with stress and lower the risk of disease. The same changes that occur in the brain during fasting mimic the changes that occur with regular exercise. They both increase the production of protein in the brain (neurotrophic factors), which in turn promotes the growth of neurons, the connection between neurons, and the strength of synapses.

Challenges to your brain, whether it’s intermittent fasting [or] vigorous exercise . . . is cognitive challenges. When this happens neuro-circuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors increase, that promotes the growth of neurons [and] the formation and strengthening of synapses. . . .

Fasting can also stimulate the production of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus. Dr. Mattson also mentions ketones – an energy source for the brain’s neurons –  and how fasting stimulates the  improved production of ketones.

Fasting also increases the number of mitochondria in our nerve cells; this is as a result of the neurons  having to adapt to the stress of fasting (by producing more mitochondria).

If the number of mitochondria in the neurons increases, it allows for the nerons to form and maintain connections between each other a lot easier, thereby improving learning and memory ability.

Intermittent fasting enhances the ability of nerve cells to repair DNA.

study published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California showed that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and, moreover, induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal. It triggers stem cell based regeneration of an organ or system.

Human clinical trials were conducted on patients who were receiving chemotherapy at the time. For long, extended periods of time, patients did not eat. This significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signalling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

This suggests that fasting kills off old and damaged immune ‘fighter-cells’, and when the body rebounds it uses stem cells to create completely healthy cells, brand new cells.

The bottom line is that how you think about you’re diet is one of the most, if not the most important part of staying healthy. 

Scientists plan on contacting the closest Earth-like exoplanet to our Solar System.


Scientists are making preparations to send a transmission to Proxima b – the closest Earth-like exoplanet to our Solar System.

The team is putting together a plan to build or buy a powerful deep-space transmitter, and is now figuring out what our message should be – after all, we don’t want to make a bad first impression.

“If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information,” president of the San Francisco-based Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) organisation, Douglas Vakoch, told The Mercury News.

METI’s plan is similar to that of the former NASA mission, Project Cyclops, which was backed by the space agency but shelved in the 1970s due to a lack of funding.

Project Cyclops proposed patching together a network of radio telescopes on Earth to reach out as far as 1,000 light-years into space, and METI has similar ambitions.

The non-profit organisation is planning a series of workshops and a crowdfunding drive to make the scheme a reality – and it’s estimated they’ll need to raise around US$1 million a year to run the transmitter.

By 2018, the team wants to have laser or radio signals beamed out to Proxima b, which orbits Proxima Centauri – the closest star to our Solar System, at around 4.25 light-years away.

Part of METI’s work will be to figure out what we should say, and to consider the possibility that other lifeforms will have developed the same mathematical laws and scientific hypotheses that we have.

 

The researchers at METI also want to reassess the Drake equation, written in 1961 by astrophysicist Frank Drake to calculate how many other civilisations there could be in the Universe, based on factors like star formation rates and the ratio of planets to stars.

But not everyone agrees that broadcasting our existence into the unknown is a such a good idea: in a recent paper in Nature Physics, physicist Mark Buchanan argued that we might be “searching for trouble” if we start flinging messages out into space.

Stephen Hawking agrees, recently arguing that it’s too risky to try and chat to civilisations that are probably far more advanced than we are – lifeforms that could have the same opinion of us that we have of bacteria.

Despite the opposition, the experts at METI are convinced that the benefits of reaching out into space and learning more about our place in the Universe outweigh the risks.

“Perhaps for some civilisations… we need to take the initiative to make first contact,” Vakoch writes in Nature Physics.

“The role of scientists is to test hypotheses. Through METI we can empirically test the hypothesis that transmitting an intentional signal will elicit a reply.”

It won’t be the first time we’ve sent messages out into the void, but METI is planning communications that are more regular and will reach further than ever before.

Perhaps the best argument for METI’s scheme is that someone needs to make the first move, as astronomer Andrew Fraknoi from Foothill College in California, told The Mercury Times.

“If everyone who can send a message decides only to receive messages, it will be a very quiet galaxy,” he says.

Did a Supernova Give Birth to Our Solar System?


 

A cloud of gas and dust began to collapse 4.6 billion years ago, triggering the formation of Earth’s sun and solar system. Pictured here: a much larger collection of gas and dust, spotted in the constellation Cygnus, which is about 4,500 light-years away.

The explosive death of a star — that may have been up to a dozen times the sun’s mass — might have triggered the formation of the solar system, a new study finds.

The sun as well as the rest of the solar system was born from a cloud of gas and dust about 4.6 billion years ago. According to previous research, some event disturbed this cloud, prompting a gravitational collapse that formed the sun and a surrounding disk of matter, where the planets were born.

By searching for telltale patterns that have been left in matter from the dawn of the solar system, Yong-Zhong Qian, co-author of the new study and an astrophysicist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and his colleagues now suggest that the explosive death of a small star could have kicked off that collapse. [Our Solar System: A Photo Tour of the Planets]

Prior work has suggested that a supernova’s shock wave might have packed enough energy to compress the preexisting cloud of dust. And researchers have searched for evidence of that blast: Supernovas generate telltale patterns of unstable, short-lived radioactive isotopes. The discovery of the signatures of such anomalies in ancient rocks would help confirm the idea that a supernova triggered the solar system’s formation. (The isotopes of an element have different numbers of neutrons. A different number at the end of the isotope’s name identifies each variety: for example, beryllium-9 or beryllium-10.) Until now, researchers have failed to find the fingerprints of these isotopic anomalies in ancient meteorites that were left over from the birth of the solar system. However, researchers had been examining supernovas from relatively high-mass stars — those that are 15 or more times the sun’s mass, Qian told Space.com. Qian’s group chose to model lower-mass supernovasinstead, from stars that are 12 times the sun’s mass or less, and they investigated what isotopes would be formed from those explosions. They focused on the production of beryllium-10, an isotope that is commonly found in meteorites. Its prevalence in meteorites was already a mystery for researchers, Qian said. One theory held that high-energy cosmic rays could have stripped away protons or neutrons from atomic nuclei to create the beryllium-10 — a process called spallation.

Using new supernova models, Qian and his colleagues found that a low-mass supernova could generate vast amounts of ghostly particles known as neutrinos, whose influence on atomic nuclei could have created beryllium-10 — which would explain the high levels of that isotope in the meteorite record.

Moreover, the researchers said that the influence of a low-mass supernova might also explain the presence of other short-lived isotopes that are also found in meteorites, such as calcium-41 and palladium-107. “A low-mass supernova can explain the wide range of data that we have,” Qian told Space.com.

Qian noted that the study group’s findings do not explain the presence of all short-lived isotopes that are found in meteorites. “We think that some of these other short-lived nuclei might have been contributed by other mechanisms,” Qian said. “I don’t think that should be taken as a weakness of our model — it’s just that our model cannot explain everything. Our work is a major piece of the puzzle about the solar system’s formation, but there are other pieces of the puzzle that should be looked at as well.”

Doctors confirm 200-year-old diagnosis


John Hunter

Doctors have confirmed a diagnosis made more than 200 years ago by one of medicine’s most influential surgeons.

John Hunter had diagnosed a patient in 1786 with a “tumour as hard as bone”.

Royal Marsden Hospital doctors analysed patient samples and case notes, which were preserved at the museum named after him – the Hunterian in London.

As well as confirming the diagnosis, the cancer team believe Mr Hunter’s centuries-old samples may give clues as to how cancer is changing over time.

“It started out as a bit of fun exploration, but we were amazed by John Hunter’s insight,” Dr Christina Messiou told the BBC News website.

Mr Hunter became surgeon to King George III in 1776 and is one of the surgeons credited with moving the medical discipline from butchery to a science.

He’s also rumoured to have given himself gonorrhoea as an experiment while writing a book about venereal diseases.

His huge medical collection is now housed at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons.

It includes his colourful notes describing a man who arrived at St George’s Hospital, in 1786, with a hard swelling on his lower thigh.

“It appeared to be a thickening of the bone, it was increasing very rapidly… On examining the diseased part, it was found to consist of a substance surrounding the lower part of the thigh bone, of the tumour kind, which seemed to originate from the bone itself.”

Mr Hunter amputated the man’s leg and he recovered briefly for four weeks.

“From this time he began to lose flesh and sink gradually, his breathing more and more difficult,” the notes continued.

The patient died seven weeks after the operation and an autopsy discovered bony tumours had spread to his lungs, the lining of the heart and on the ribs.

More than 200 years later, the samples fell under the gaze of Dr Christina Messiou.

She said: “Just looking at the specimens, the diagnosis of osteosarcoma came very quickly to me and John Hunter’s write up was amazingly astute and fits with what we know about the behaviour of the disease.

“The large volumes of new bone formation and the appearance of the primary tumour are really characteristic of osteosarcoma.”

She went to get a second opinion from her colleagues at the Royal Marsden in central London.

And in an out-of-hours session at the hospital they used modern day scanning technology to confirm the centuries old diagnosis.

Dr Messiou, whose speciality is sarcoma, told the BBC: “I think his diagnosis is really impressive and in fact his management of the patient followed similar principles to what we would have done in the modern day.”

But she says the exciting stage of the research is still to come.

They are now going to compare more of Hunter’s historical samples with contemporary tumours – both microscopically and genetically – to see if there are any differences.

Dr Messiou told the BBC: “It’s a study of cancer evolution over 200 years and if we’re honest we don’t really know what we’re going to find.

“But it would be interesting to see if we can link lifestyle risk factors with any differences that we see between historical and current cancers.

“So we’ve got big ambitions for the specimens.”

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the Royal Marsden team apologised for delay in analysing the samples from 1786 and the obvious breach of cancer waiting times, but point out their hospital was not built until 1851.