‘Vaccine’ Developed That Could Eliminate All Traces of Cancer

A vaccine that has the potential to eliminate all traces of cancer has been revealed by scientists.

The team at Stanford University injected minute amounts of the vaccine into mice and found that all forms of cancer were destroyed—even those that arose spontaneously.

With just one injection, the body’s defenses attack all other tumors that may exist.

The scientists injected two agents directly into tumors, causing the body’s immune system to fight the cancer.

Close up of cancer cells in the cervix.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” senior author Ronald Levy, M.D., professor of oncology, said in a statement.

“This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells,” he said.

The treatment could have wide-reaching implications for cancer therapy and doesn’t have the side effects often seen in other kinds of treatments.

The new research follows immunotherapy approaches that all have downsides such as difficult-to-handle side effects, high cost, or lengthy treatment times.

‘Amazing, Bodywide Effects’

Levy said, “Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.”

Levy’s method works by reactivating cancer-specific T cells that play a central role in immunity.

T cells recognize the abnormal proteins often present in cancer cells and attack them. But as the tumor grows, it often finds ways to suppress the T cells.

Doctors study scans of a patient being treated at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Aug. 15, 2005, in Baltimore.

The two agents that Levy injected were firstly a short stretch of DNA that works with nearby immune cells to “amplify the expression” of a receptor on the surface of T cells.

Secondly, an antibody binds to this receptor, activating the T cells so that they attack the cancer cells.

And because the agents are injected directly into the cancerous tumor, they are prescreened to recognize only cancer-specific proteins.

“This is a very targeted approach,” Levy said. “Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected.

“We’re attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing,” he said.

Remarkably, these newly activated T cells then leave the original tumor to find and destroy other identical tumors throughout the body.

The Stanford team’s approach has so far only been tested on mice, but the results have been startlingly positive, with 87 out of 90 mice cured of cancer. Although the cancer returned in three of the mice, they were cured after a second treatment.

Similar results were found in mice with breast, colon, and melanoma tumors.

Levy is now recruiting 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma to trial the treatment. If successful, he believes it could treat many types of tumors.

It could, for example, be used prior to surgical removal of tumors as a way to prevent reoccurrence of the cancer.

“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,” Levy said.

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types: Johns Hopkins


Researchers Directly Observe Concepts in Human Brain.

When seeing objects in the world, individuals probably are not thinking explicitly about their semantic characteristics: Is it alive? Is it edible? Is it bigger than a bread box? But activation of these kinds of semantic attributes in the human brain is now directly observable, according to recently published findings from Johns Hopkins University, its Applied Physics Laboratory, and its School of Medicine.

“Most research into how the human brain processes semantic information uses noninvasive neuroimaging approaches like functional magnetic resonance imaging, which indirectly measures neural activity via changes in blood flow,” says Nathan Crone, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine and contributing author on the research. “Invasive alternatives like electrocorticography, or ECoG, can provide more direct observations of neural processing but can only be used in the rare clinical setting when implanting electrodes directly on the surface of the cortex is a clinical necessity, as in some cases of intractable epilepsy,” he explained.

Using ECoG recordings in epilepsy surgery patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the team found that semantic information could be inferred from brain responses with very high fidelity while patients named pictures of objects. The findings were published in the article, “Semantic attributes are encoded in human electrocorticographic signals during visual object recognition,” included in the March issue of NeuroImage and now available online.

Image shows a person looking at a computer monitor.

While subjects name familiar objects, activation of semantic attributes is directly observable using electrocorticography. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to APL.

Researchers recorded ECoG while patients named objects from 12 different semantic categories, such as animals, foods and vehicles. “By learning the relationship between the semantic attributes associated with objects and the neural activity recorded when patients named these objects, we found that new objects could be decoded with very high accuracies,” said Michael Wolmetz, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and one of the paper’s authors. “Using these methods, we observed how different semantic dimensions — whether an object is manmade or natural, how large it typically is, whether it’s edible, for example — were organized in each person’s brain.”

Building on previous brain–computer interface research at Johns Hopkins showing that individual finger movements could be inferred from ECoG to control a prosthetic hand, this work demonstrates that individual concepts can also be inferred from similar brain signals. “This paradigm provides a framework for testing theories about what specific semantic features are represented in the human brain, how they are encoded in neural activity, and how cognitive processes modulate neurosemantic representations,” said Kyle Rupp, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins and author on the paper. “Likewise, from a decoding perspective, models that decompose items in semantic features are very powerful in that they can interpret neural activity from concept classes they have not been trained on.”

While today’s methods to use brain–computer interfaces for communication are extremely limited, these results showing that semantic information can be studied and recovered using ECoG suggest that improvements may be on the way.



Infants have innate knowledge about the world, and when their expectations are defied, they learn best, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found.

In a paper that will be published Friday in the journal Science, cognitive psychologistsAimee E. Stahl and Lisa Feigensondemonstrate for the first time that babies learn new things by leveraging the core information with which they are born. When something surprises a baby, like an object not behaving the way she expects it to, she not only focuses on that object but ultimately learns more about it than from a similar yet predictable object.

“For young learners, the world is an incredibly complex place filled with dynamic stimuli. How do learners know what to focus on and learn more about, and what to ignore? Our research suggests that infants use what they already know about the world to form predictions. When these predictions are shown to be wrong, infants use this as a special opportunity for learning,” says Feigenson, a professor of psychological and brain sciences in the university’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. “When babies are surprised, they learn much better, as though they are taking the occasion to try to figure something out about their world.”

The study involved four experiments with pre-verbal 11-month-old babies, designed to determine whether babies learned more effectively about objects that defied their expectations. If they did, researchers wondered if babies would also seek out more information about surprising objects and if this exploration meant babies were trying to find explanations for the objects’ strange behavior.

First the researchers showed the babies both surprising and predictable situations regarding an object. For instance, one group of infants saw a ball roll down a ramp and appear to be stopped by a wall in its path. Another group saw the ball roll down the ramp and appear to pass—as if by magic—right through the wall.

When the researchers gave the babies new information about the surprising ball, the babies learned significantly better. In fact, the infants showed no evidence of learning about the predictable ball. Furthermore, the researchers found that the babies chose to explore the ball that had defied their expectations, even more than toys that were brand new but had not done anything surprising.

The researchers found that the babies didn’t just learn more about surprising objects—they wanted to understand them. For instance, when the babies saw the surprising event in which the ball appeared to pass through the wall, they tested the ball’s solidity by banging it on the table. But when babies saw a different surprising event, in which the ball appeared to hover in midair, they tested the ball’s gravity by dropping it onto the floor. These results suggest that babies were testing specific hypotheses about the objects’ surprising behavior.

“The infants’ behaviors are not merely reflexive responses to the novelty of surprising outcomes but instead reflect deeper attempts to learn about aspects of the world that failed to accord with expectations,” said Stahl, the paper’s lead author and a doctoral student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

“Infants are not only equipped with core knowledge about fundamental aspects of the world, but from early in their lives, they harness this knowledge to empower new learning.”

$1 Billion Lawsuit: Government Funded Studies Intentionally Infected People with STDs. Here’s the story

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Johns Hopkins University for performing unethical,government-sponsored studies on Guatemalan citizens in the 1940s and 1950s. Doctors from the hospital, the suit alleges, deliberately infected soldiersprisoners, orphans, and the mentally ill with STDs like syphilis and gonorrhea — without their consent — in order to test whether or not penicillin could cure them. Consent was only granted from authorities in Guatemala.

  The lawsuit involves almost 800 plaintiffs, including affected family members and spouses of the original victims. It is seeking nearly a billion dollars in damages and also names the Rockefeller Foundation as complicit,saying it helped “design, support, encourage and finance” the studies. Additionally, it alleges that pharmaceutical giant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, supplied the penicillin. The revelations came only because Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley University, uncovered the evidencein 2010.

The lawsuit claims the following methods were used to infect subjects:

“During the experiments the following occurred:

1. Prostitutes were infected with venereal disease and then provided for sex to subjects for intentional transmission of the disease;

2. Subjects were inoculated by injection of syphilis spirochaetes into the spinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord, under the skin, and on mucous membranes;

3. An emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea was spread under the foreskin of the penis in male subjects;

4. The penis of male subjects was scraped and scarified and then coated with the emulsion containing syphilis or gonorrhea;

5. A woman from the psychiatric hospital was injected with syphilis, developed skin lesions and wasting, and then had gonorrheal pus from a male subject injected into both of her eyes and;

6. Children were subjected to blood studies to check for the presence of venereal disease.”

Another disturbing element of the STD studies is that the 696 original “participants” were not notified of what was being done to them. They were not told of the consequences of the studies, provided medical care, or told how to stop the spread of the diseases. Many did not receive what was considered sufficient treatment in those years (only 60 of the plaintiffs in the suit are original victims as most are now dead — many directly because of the diseases they received).

Correspondence between one of the lead researchers and another doctor revealed that the researchers knew what they were doing was unethical. TheGuardian cites the letter, explaining doctors knew

…that if it were discovered by ‘some goody organization’ that the program was testing people who were mentally ill it would ‘raise a lot of smoke.’ The manager continues: ‘I see no reason to say where the work was done and the type of volunteer.’

A 2012 lawsuit against the federal government, rooted in the Federal Tort Claims Act, was dismissed by a federal judge. The judge ruled the United States could not be charged for actions committed outside the country. Unsurprisingly, in the 1940s, leaders of the experiment chose Guatemala because they knew they would not be permitted to conduct the study domestically. One of them, John Cutler, was a U.S. health service physician who was later involved in the notorious Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where 600 black men were left untreated for decades to study the effects of the disease.

When the news of the Guatemalan experiments surfaced in 2010, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued an apology for the government program (after a presidential bioethics commission ruled the studies constituted “unconscionable basic violations of ethics.”)

Their statement said,

The conduct exhibited during the study does not represent the values of the US, or our commitment to human dignity and great respect for the people of Guatemala.

(It ignored the inconvenient detail that in the same time period as the experiments, the CIA ousted a democratically elected leader in order to protect corporate agriculture, which doesn’t exactly imply respect or dignity for the people.)

Both Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Foundation are denying guilt, instead shifting it to the originators of the study — the legally-exonerated U.S. government. The Rockefeller Foundation said the plaintiffs were trying “improperly to assign ‘guilt by association’ in the absence of compensation from the United States federal government.”

A spokesperson for Johns Hopkins argued,

Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct of conduct the study in Guatemala. No nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the US government.

The university has vowed to defend itself against the lawsuit.

Though the federal government refuses to compensate the victims, its admission that the studies constituted egregious violations of ethics is telling.

As Marta Orellana, a victim who was nine years old when she was infected, said:

They never told me what they were doing, never gave me a chance to say no…I’ve lived almost my whole life without knowing the truth. May God forgive them.


High HbA1c linked to low muscle strength

Hyperglycemia predicted persistently lower muscle strength in patients as they age, but peripheral neuropathy may partly account for the effects, according to research published in Diabetes Care.

“The relationship of hyperglycemia with longitudinal impairments in muscle function may represent an early stage in the development of disability, frailty and potentially early mortality in persons with diabetes,” Rita Rastogi Kalyani, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, told Endocrine Today. “Further research is needed in this area.”

Rita Kalyani

Rita Rastogi Kalyani

Kalyani and colleagues evaluated 984 patients aged 25 to 96 years involved in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (2003–2011).

Patients had HbA1c, knee extensor strength (isokinetic dynamometer) and lean body mass (DXA) measured at baseline and repeated measurements up to 7.5 years later. Muscle quality was defined as knee extensor strength/leg lean mass.

The researchers categorized participants by HbA1c quartile (<5.5%, 5.5%-5.79%, 5.8%-6.09% and ≥6.1% or <37, 37-40, 40-43 and ≥43 mmol/mol). Mixed-effects regression models were used to assess muscle outcomes in relation to HbA1c.

Across all HbA1c quartiles, muscle strength and quality were reduced (P<.001 for both), without differences in muscle mass at baseline.

Strength was significantly lower in the highest vs. lowest HbA1c quartiles (–4.7 ± 2.3 Nm; P value trend=.02), with adjustments for age, race, sex, weight and height. Results remained unchanged after adjusting for physical activity (P value trend=.045), but borderline significance was seen with additional adjustment for peripheral neuropathy (P value trend=.05).

Muscle quality also was lower in the highest vs. lowest HbA1c quartiles (–0.32 ± 0.15 Nm/kg; P value trend=.02), with adjustments for demographics. However, the differences diminished after adjusting for weight and height (–0.25 ± 0.15 Nm/kg; P value trend=.07). Measures of muscle mass were similar across all HbA1c quartiles.

“Further interventional studies are needed to better investigate if improving hyperglycemia and/or insulin resistance can impact loss of muscle strength over time and also to better understand mechanisms underlying the observed associations,” Kalyani said. — by Allegra Tiver


Air pollution is associated with a long list of health problems including cardio-respiratory deaths, pulmonary disease, and chronic respiratory conditions.  And the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently classified air pollution as carcinogenic to humans.

But a new clinical trial finds that tiny broccoli sprouts can help neutralize this very big problem.


Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and several other institutions in the U.S. and China tested the power of broccoli sprouts to protect people from air pollutants.[1]

They conducted a 12-week randomized, placebo-controlled study of 291 Chinese adults in the Jiangsu province of China.  The province has very high levels of air pollution.  China itself is the world’s largest emitter of air pollution.

In the study half of the participants were asked to consume about half a cup of a broccoli sprout drink every day.  The control group drank pineapple and lime juice.

The results were published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.  They found that throughout the 12-week period the participants taking the broccoli sprout drink increased their rate of excretion of benzene by 61%.

Benzene is a known carcinogen.  In the U.S. benzene exposure comes predominantly from car and truck exhaust, emissions from coal and oil combustion, evaporation from industrial sites, and gas stations.  Smoking is another source of benzene exposure.

In addition, the study participants taking the broccoli sprout drink increased their excretion of acrolein by 23%.  Smoking and second hand smoke is also a source of acrolein.  Burning fuel like gasoline and oil is another source.  Acrolein is toxic to humans and inhalation exposure may result in upper respiratory tract irritation and congestion.

How do broccoli sprouts defeat these toxins?

Science has known for some time that cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts contain a compound called glucoraphanin.

Animal studies show when glucoraphanin is chewed or swallowed it produces a cancer-protective compound called sulphoraphane.  Sulphoraphane activates enzymes that take up the pollutants and flush them out in the urine.

In this study, the researchers were pleasantly surprised at the rapid rate sulphoraphane cleared toxins from the body.   They also noted the effects of the broccoli sprouts did not wane.  They retained their high level of effectiveness throughout the 12 weeks.

The researchers concluded that broccoli sprouts enhance detoxification of some airborne pollutants and “may provide a frugal means to attenuate their associated long-term health risks.”

They also indicated that sulphoraphane works best on toxins you’ve been recently exposed to.  They don’t know if their results hold for toxins that have already been stored in fat cells like pesticides, DDT, or dioxin.

Vegetables like broccoli are known to fight cancer.  The sulphoraphane improves the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens.  In fact, broccoli has been shown to kill the stem cells that make cancer immortal.

But broccoli sprouts are much more powerful.  At 5 to 6 days old, the sprouts contain over one hundred times more sulphoraphane per gram than the mature plant.

Broccoli sprouts are also known to have a beneficial effect on breast cancer.

The drink used in the China study was made with broccoli sprouts developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.  They are sold under the brand name BroccoSprouts. They are widely available in supermarkets or you can sprout your own from seeds.

Broccoli sprouts can be eaten raw.  They are great on sandwiches, in wraps or as a salad topping.  You can also add some to smoothies.

And try serving them with broccoli.  Studies show combining the two makes the anti-cancer effect almost twice as powerful.


[1] Egner PA et al, “Rapid and sustainable detoxication of airborne pollutants by broccoli sprout beverage: results of a randomized clinical trial in china.” Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Aug;7(8):813-23.

Injectable Foam Could Curb Blood Loss on the Battlefield.

A promising medical breakthrough could raise the chance of survival for ourmilitary men and women in combat.


In combat, 90 percent of deaths occur due toblood loss because service members don’t reach a medical facility in time. Twenty percent of deaths are due to a junctional wound.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University invented injectable foam for their group project. The foam would be inserted into the wound, where it would expand and harden to stop bleeding.

Can ‘Young Blood’ Reverse Aging in Humans?

Group leader Sydney Rooney was on “Fox and Friends” to discuss the injectable foam. She said the device is the size of an Expo marker, so it’s portable, and it can be self-administered.

The group has been working with two physicians at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rooney said the doctors, along with clinical advisers, are helping to continue the project into the future.

Scientists Recreate The Sense Of Touch With Direct-To-Brain Electrical Signals .

We’ve seen some very cool prosthetic arms recently, including ones people are able to control—just as they control biological arms—with their thoughts. So what’s one of the next great frontiers for prosthetics? Letting people experience touches through them, too.

photo of an experimental prosthetic arm

The human sense of touch does a lot more than let people enjoy fresh sheets or soft kitties. It’s also crucial for helping people judge how hard to hold stuff they want to pick up, or whether they’ve got a good grip on something slippery. In a feature published earlier this year, Nature News talked with one prosthetic arm user, Igor Spetic, who accidentally broke dishes and bruised fruit he tried to hold with his device. If he had a prosthesis that had a sense of touch, he told Nature News, “I’d probably lay everything on the countertop and just start grabbing stuff. I’d be so excited.”

Now one research group is reporting a major step toward a touchy-feely prosthetic. A team of researchers from the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University performed a series of experiments that showed they could send electrical signals directly to the brains of rhesus macaques and that the macaques were able to interpret the signals as touches on different parts of their hands. Another series of experiments showed rhesus macaques could interpret different direct-to-brain signals as touches of varying pressure. A third explored whether direct-to-brain signals work quickly enough to be able to accurately tell macaques when a prosthetic is touching something and when it stops the touch. (The signals seem to move too slowly to be totally accurate, but the researchers thought of some workarounds, which they discussed in a paper they published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences.)

The macaques were quickly able to interpret electrical brain stimulation as analogues to physical touches.

The team will surely work to incorporate those findings into a device. For one thing, some of the researchers’ experiments actually involved a prosthetic finger that sent signals to the research monkeys‘ brains. For another, Johns Hopkins University is working on a prototype that’s the most sophisticated touch-enabled prosthesis in the world, with more than 100 sensors, Nature News reports.

There was one especially cool thing the Chicago-Johns Hopkins team demonstrated. While it’s impossible to know exactly what the monkeys feel when they get electrical buzzes to their brains, one series of experiments showed the animals were quickly able to interpret electrical brain stimulation as analogues to physical touches.

First, the researchers taught rhesus macaques to look either left or right after feeling two presses into their hands—say, pressure on the index finger, and then pressure on the pinky finger. After running several trials to make sure the monkeys learned the press-look game as well as they could, the researchers stimulated parts of the monkeys’ brains they’d learned corresponded with different parts of the monkeys’ hands. The two macaques in whom the researchers tested this looked in the correct direction 81 percent and 72 percent of the time, the very first time researchers sent electrical signals to their brains.

This research could help scientists develop touch-enabled prosthetics that send signals that are intuitive for people to interpret, the researchers wrote in their paper.

It’ll be years yet before technology like this will show up in prosthetics for people, however. It is invasive, requiring wiring to the brain, so researchers will have to do a lot to show it’s safe and durable. (Nobody wants to have to undergo frequent brain implants for tune-ups or software updates.) It’s also not clear yet whether electrical signals sent to the brain are able to reproduce touches as specific as human or monkey skin is able to feel. The electric signals could be lower resolution than true touches.

GM rice delivers antibodies against deadly rotavirus.

A strain of rice genetically engineered to protect against diarrhoeal disease could offer a cost-effective way to protect children in developing countries, according a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation today (8 August).

Researchers engineered the rice, called MucoRice-ARP1, by adding an antibody to fight rotavirus originally found in llamas in the rice genome.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children and infants, killing more than 520,000 people each year, according to the WHO. More than 85 per cent of those deaths occur in impoverished countries in Africa and Asia.

The team fed MucoRice-ARP1 to mice they subsequently infected with rotavirus, and found these mice had significantly less virus than mice fed normal rice.

The rice could be used to complement vaccinations to protect childrenwhen they are at their most vulnerable to rotavirus, say the researchers.

But it had not yet been tested on humans, and could take a decade before a final product is ready for distribution, says one of the study’s authors Yoshikazu Yuki, of the University of Tokyo in Japan.

The WHO has recommended since 2009 that rotavirus vaccines be included in national immunisation programmes.

But studies have since shown that these vaccines are less effective in developing countries than in industrialised countries, protecting only 50–60 per cent of people immunised in developing countries, compared with 85–98 per cent in industrialised countries.

The reasons for the drop in effectiveness are not yet established, but weakened immune systems are a likely factor says Miren Iturriza-Gomara, a virologist at the UK-based University of Liverpool and one of the study’s authors.

MucoRice-ARP1 could complement existing vaccine schedules. It would not be a substitute for a vaccine, she says, “but it’s something that in certain situations could be very helpful”.

For example, the rice could be given to children under two years old when rotavirus infection is most likely to prove fatal.

The research team found that MucoRice-ARP1 is most effective when consumed as a powder diluted with water, although the antibodies could also be ingested either in cooked rice or by drinking the water in which MucoRice-ARP1 is boiled.

Iturriza-Gomara says the rice could also prove useful during rotavirus outbreaks by lowering transmission rates.

“We must ensure that all the currently available tools are made available to every child in the world.”

Mathuram Santosham

Previous clinical trials in Bangladesh have already established that the antibody arp1 can protect against rotavirus.

Originally found in llamas, arp1 is ideal for oral immunotherapy as it is not readily digested by the acids in the human stomach, according to Iturriza-Gomara.

“Llamas produce single-chain antibodies which have two important properties: one, they are very small and can reach areas of the pathogen which otherwise might not be reached by other antibodies and also because they are single-chain they are very resistant,” Iturriza-Gomara says. “Normal human antibodies are dual-chained. If you eat it and it goes through the stomach, the acid will break it and therefore it won’t be active in the intestine which is where you want it.”

MucoRice-ARP1 would have to be eaten regularly to ensure protection.

“Once you have engineered the rice, then it’s just a matter of growing it,” says Iturriza-Gomara. She says the ease of growing rice, and the fact that it is widely produced as a staple food make it a good vehicle for delivering the antibody. “It can also be stored for years without changes in its edibility,” she says.

While the initial results are promising, says Mathuram Santosham, a leading rotavirus researcher at Johns Hopkins University, United States, “substantially more research is needed to understand the potential impact of this intervention in humans”.

“In the meantime, it is important to remember that we have highly effective tools, which are available now, including rotavirus vaccines, oral rehydration solution and zinc supplementation,” Santosham says. “We must ensure that all the currently available tools are made available to every child in the world.”

Source: Scivx