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Key to flawless skin is in your blood – Jamaica Observer

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ALL you ever needed for flawless skin is in your blood.

If you are not inclined to use chemicals such as botox or fillers injected into your skin to defy age, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial might be right for you.

PRP is a natural product created from your own body. A small amount of blood is drawn from you and placed in a sterile tube that is placed in a centrifuge to separate the different components of the blood. Red and white blood cells are divided from the platelets and the plasma the clear fluid. The plasma now contains a higher than normal number of platelets and is called platelet-rich plasma.

How the platelets work

Platelets are the cells in the blood that help tissue to heal and grow new cells. The PRP is infused into the skin via microneedling, which promotes your own collagen to grow to naturally smooth and tighten the skin.

The platelets also help to minimise fine lines and wrinkles with lasting results.

Women who have had the platelet-rich plasma facelift treatment find their faces look even better, several months after they have had the treatment. That’s because the plasma stimulates their skin’s stem cells to produce more collagen, grow new cells and literally rejuvenate their skin.

The new cell growth in your skin, generated by the platelet-rich plasma, takes weeks to months, which is why it looks so much better after more time passes.

Botox and other filler treatments break down with time, but the platelet-rich plasma lasts as long as 18 months to two years and looks better.

History of PRP

PRP has a long history of being used in orthopaedic medicine, dentistry and reconstructive surgery, and now its benefits are being applied to skin care for skin wound healing and cosmetic facial rejuvenation.

Scientific studies dating back 30 years have documented that PRP grows new collagen when injected into the skin, and newer studies show that PRP can soften sun damage and ageing skin issues.

How does PRP differ from other injections, fillers?

Hyaluronic acid fillers, such as restylane and juvederm, are composed of solid material that fills lines and skin folds. These fillers usually last from six to 18 months, and repeated treatments are required to fill the area again.

PRP is used for volumising faces that are beginning to look drawn, to plump out cheek indentations, soften under eye hollows, improve the skin tone, tightness and texture, and fill in areas where hyaluronic acid fillers cannot reach or are not safe to use.

Restylane and juvederm fill specific lines and folds while PRP improves overall volume, fullness and skin tone. PRP acts to improve overall quality rather than filling individual wrinkles.

Results

Clients can expect results to begin showing three to four weeks after the treatment session and continue to improve with time. Three treatment sessions are generally recommended, spaced one to two months apart to achieve the best outcome.

PRP can be combined with laser treatments, microdermabrasion, chemical peel, and injectables to best target the client’s unique issues and thus achieve the final goal of younger-looking skin.

Michelle Vernon is a licensed aesthetician who operates the Body Studio Skincare located at 20 Constant Spring Road, Mall Plaza, Kingston 10, and Fairview Shopping Centre, Montego Bay. She may be reached at telephone 908-0438 or 684-9800; IG @ bodystudioskincare; E-mail: bodystudioskincare@gmail.com; Website: http://www.bodystudioskincare.com.

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Key to flawless skin is in your blood – Jamaica Observer

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Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota develop ‘robocop’ stem cells to fight cancer – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota say theyre on the brink of a new era in cancer care one in which doctors extract a patients white blood cells, have them genetically engineered in a lab, and put them back to become personalized cancer-fighting machines.

The so-called CAR T cellular therapies are expected to receive federal approval this fall for certain rare blood cancers B-cell forms of lymphoma and leukemia. But scientists at the Minnesota institutions hope thats just the first step that will lead to better treatment of solid tumor cancers as well.

This is really the first approval of a genetically modified product for cancer therapy, said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, deputy director of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. If the proof of concept works, he said, we might be on the right track to get away from all of that toxic chemotherapy that people hate.

Participating in industry-funded clinical trials, the Minnesota researchers hoped to determine if patients with leukemia or lymphoma would be more likely to survive if their own stem cells were extracted to grow cancer-fighting T-cells that were then infused back into their bodies.

One analysis, involving trials by Kite Pharmaceuticals at Mayo and other institutions, found a sevenfold increase in lymphoma patients whose cancers disappeared when they received CAR T instead of traditional chemo-based treatment.

I often tell patients that T-cells are like super robocops, said Dr. Yi Lin, a Mayo hematologist in Rochester. Were now directing those cells to really target cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is widely expected this fall to approve CAR T products made by Kite and Novartis, which genetically engineer T-cells to target so-called CD19 proteins found on the surface of leukemia and lymphoma cells.

The side effects can be harsh, because the T-cell infusions trigger an immune system response that can produce fever, weakness, racing heart and kidney problems. Short-term memory and cognitive problems also have occurred. Brain swelling led to five deaths of cancer patients who took part in a CAR T trial by Juno Pharmaceuticals. The trial was shut down as a result.

Lin said brain swelling appeared mostly in adults with leukemia. For now, she expects Kites CAR T therapy to be approved for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and the Novartis therapy to be approved for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children. Federal regulations also might restrict CAR T for patients whose cancers survived traditional treatments.

Current practice to treat these cancers generally involves chemotherapy and radiation. Physicians then transplant stem cells, often from donor bone marrow, to regrow the patients immune systems, which are weakened in the process of treatment.

CAR T differs in that patients will receive infusions of their own T-cells, genetically modified, which their bodies will be less likely to reject.

Its individualized medicine, Lin said.

Im on my way

Before he tried CAR T at Mayo as part of a clinical trial, John Renze of Carroll, Iowa, had received two rounds of chemo, two rounds of radiation, and an experimental drug that did nothing to stop the spread of lymphoma.

After you fail about four times, you start to wonder if anything is going to work, the 58-year-old said.

At first, there was no room for him in the Mayo trial which has been a problem nationwide as desperate cancer patients have searched for treatment alternatives. But then he got the call one morning last summer while ordering coffee at his local cafe.

Can you get up here by one? the Mayo official asked.

Im on my way, Renze replied.

Even before federal approval comes through, researchers such as Miller are looking beyond the first-line CAR T therapies, and wondering if the approach can be used on solid tumors. Roughly 80,000 blood cancers occur each year in the U.S. that could be treated with CAR T, but the total number of cancers diagnosed each year is nearly 1.7 million.

The challenge is that solid tumors dont have the same protein targets as blood cancers. And T-cells would have to be more discriminating if infused to eliminate tumors in solid organs, Miller said. If you destroy normal lung tissue (along with lung cancer), thats not going to work, he said.

Mayo researchers are studying whether CAR T can work against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, while U researchers are exploring ways to better control the CAR T-cells after they are infused in cancer patients.

Researchers also are trying to understand whether CAR T produces memory in the immune system, so it knows to react if cancers resurface.

In addition, Miller is studying whether NK cells, which also play a role in the human immune system, can be genetically modified and infused instead of T-cells to target cancer. The body doesnt reject NK cells from donors as much, he said. So NK cells from donor bone marrow or umbilical cord blood could be collected and mass produced to potentially provide faster and cheaper treatments.

Like many breakthrough therapies, CAR T will be expensive, with a price likely to exceed $200,000 per patient. How insurers plan to cover it remains unclear. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is evaluating evidence regarding CAR Ts effectiveness, and will set a coverage policy after it receives FDA approval, said Dr. Glenn Pomerantz, Blue Cross chief medical officer.

A surge for Mayo?

Mayo expects a surge of hundreds of cancer patients per year if CAR T is approved, because it will initially be provided by large medical centers that have experience with the therapy and its side effects. The Rochester hospital is planning to add staff and space dedicated to CAR T.

Miller said the U is developing advice for referring doctors and hospitals statewide, so they know what to do if CAR T patients show up with complex symptoms.

They can be a bit delayed and you cant just keep people in the hospital to see if they develop these things, he said.

Renzes stem cells were taken last July, and his modified T-cells were put back a month later. He lost weight and felt sick for weeks, and had to drive three hours to Mayo for frequent checkups.

But as of last Aug. 31, the cancer had vanished.

Every three months, he returns to Mayo to make sure the cancer hasnt re-emerged. Then he returns to Carroll, where he owns farmland and car dealerships and dotes on his grandchildren.

For people like me that have already failed a bunch of times, youre happy to try anything, he said. I mean, what else would I have done?

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Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota develop ‘robocop’ stem cells to fight cancer – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Want to live longer? Forever Labs wants to help, using your stem cells – Digital Trends


Digital Trends
Want to live longer? Forever Labs wants to help, using your stem cells
Digital Trends
Using a patented device, Forever Labs collects stem cells from your blood marrow, which the team calls a wellspring for stem cells that replenish your blood, bone, immune system, and other vital tissues. The whole process is said to take around 15

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Want to live longer? Forever Labs wants to help, using your stem cells – Digital Trends

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Vitamin C could help genes kill blood cancer stem cells – Economic Times

WASHINGTON D.C: Good news! A study has recently revealed that vitamin C may tell faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers.

According to researchers, certain genetic changes are known to reduce the ability of an enzyme called TET2 to encourage stem cells to become mature blood cells, which eventually die, in many patients with certain kinds of leukemia.

The new study found that vitamin C activated TET2 function in mice engineered to be deficient in the enzyme.

Corresponding study author Benjamin G. Neel said, “We’re excited by the prospect that high-dose vitamin C might become a safe treatment for blood diseases caused by TET2-deficient leukemia stem cells, most likely in combination with other targeted therapies.”

The results suggested that changes in the genetic code (mutations) that reduce TET2 function are found in 10 percent of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 30 percent of those with a form of pre-leukemia called myelodysplastic syndrome, and in nearly 50 percent of patients with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia.

The study results revolve around the relationship between TET2 and cytosine, one of the four nucleic acid “letters” that comprise the DNA code in genes.

To determine the effect of mutations that reduce TET2 function in abnormal stem cells, the team genetically engineered mice such that the scientists could switch the TET2 gene on or off.

The findings indicated that vitamin C did the same thing as restoring TET2 function genetically. By promoting DNA demethylation, high-dose vitamin C treatment induced stem cells to mature, and also suppressed the growth of leukemia cancer stem cells from human patients implanted in mice.

“Interestingly, we also found that vitamin C treatment had an effect on leukemic stem cells that resembled damage to their DNA,” said first study author Luisa Cimmino.

“For this reason, we decided to combine vitamin C with a PARP inhibitor, a drug type known to cause cancer cell death by blocking the repair of DNA damage, and already approved for treating certain patients with ovarian cancer,” Cimmino added.

The findings appear in journal Cell.

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Vitamin C could help genes kill blood cancer stem cells – Economic Times

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Bone Marrow Transplant gives local cancer patient more time with his family – KTBS

ARZ050-051-059>061-070>073-LAZ001>006-010>014-017>022-OKZ077-TXZ097-112-126-137-138-150>153-165>167-201300-/O.CON.KSHV.HT.Y.0009.000000T0000Z-170821T0000Z/Sevier-Howard-Little River-Hempstead-Nevada-Miller-Lafayette-Columbia-Union-Caddo-Bossier-Webster-Claiborne-Lincoln-De Soto-Red River-Bienville-Jackson-Ouachita-Sabine-Natchitoches-Winn-Grant-Caldwell-La Salle-McCurtain-Bowie-Cass-Marion-Gregg-Harrison-Rusk-Panola-Nacogdoches-Shelby-Angelina-San Augustine-Including the cities of De Queen, Nashville, Mineral Springs, Dierks, Ashdown, Hope, Prescott, Texarkana, Stamps, Lewisville, Bradley, Magnolia, El Dorado, Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Springhill, Homer, Haynesville, Ruston, Farmerville, Bernice, Mansfield, Stonewall, Logansport, Coushatta, Martin, Arcadia, Ringgold, Gibsland, Jonesboro, Monroe, Many, Zwolle, Pleasant Hill, Natchitoches, Winnfield, Colfax, Montgomery, Dry Prong, Clarks, Grayson, Columbia, Jena, Midway, Olla, Idabel,Broken Bow, Atlanta, Linden, Hughes Springs, Queen City, Jefferson, Longview, Marshall, Henderson, Carthage, Nacogdoches, Center, Lufkin, San Augustine, Hemphill, and Pineland936 PM CDT Sat Aug 19 2017…HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM CDT SUNDAY…* EVENT…High pressure aloft across the area will allow for temperatures to climb into the middle to upper nineties. These temperatures along with low level moisture will produce heat indices of 105 to 109 degrees. * TIMING…Heat indices will be near 105 to 109 in the afternoon and early evening before lowering. * IMPACT…Precautions should be taken to prevent heat related illnesses, including limiting outdoor work activities to the morning before temperatures rise and early evening after the readings lower. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. Whenpossible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning orevening. Take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditionedenvironments. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion andheat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing whenpossible and drink plenty of water.Heat stroke is an emergency, call 9 1 1.A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures isexpected. The combination of hot temperatures and high humiditywill combine to create a situation in which heat illnesses arepossible. Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditionedroom, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives andneighbors.&&$$

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Bone Marrow Transplant gives local cancer patient more time with his family – KTBS

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Bone marrow transplants: SMS leads the way – Times of India

Jaipur: Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital is showing the way to treat various types of blood cancer and other blood-related disorders, including aplastic anaemia, myeloma, lymphoma, leukaemia and thalassemia.

Despite the higher risk of infections in ICUs, the hospital has not reported a single mortality. Some 19 patients have undergone autologous bone marrow transplant since 2009 at the hospital. Patients who have done the transplant are vulnerable to infections as they have to stay in post-operative care in ICUs for 14 to 54 days.

While the high dose of chemotherapy put patients at the risk of death, the rejection of graft (bone marrow) remains a major concern for doctors.

Though patients are given immunosuppressive medicines to deal with the risk of rejection, they make patients more immune-compromised which in turn make them more vulnerable to infections.

But despite all these risk factors, the hospital has not witnessed a single death of patients who have undergone autologous bone marrow transplant.

“We maintain high standards and follow protocol of ICUs. We do not allow anyone to enter the ICUs. One attendant with one patient is allowed, but we allow him to enter the ICU only after he changes his clothes completely and follows all norms in ICUs to minimise the risk of infection,” said Dr Sandeep Jasuja, head of the department (medical oncology), SMS Medical College.

But still, 36% (7 patients) of these 19 patients contracted bacterial (due to Escherichia coli, enterobacter, pseudomonas), fungal and viral infections. However, the doctors brought the situation under control by providing them antibiotics and other drugs.

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Bone marrow transplants: SMS leads the way – Times of India

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An Experts Perspective on Accelerated Pathways for Cell …

Yaron Ramati, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Pluristem Therapeutics

Over the past few years, the regulatory landscape for cell therapy development has grown increasingly complex. There are now accelerated pathways for advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) in several countries worldwide, including the U.S., Japan, and South Korea. While the possibility for accelerated commercialization has resulted from these changes, substantial complexity has also been introduced, making it a more elaborate process to move cell therapy products from bench to bedside.

In the interview with Yaron Ramati, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Pluristem Therapeutics, we get an experts perspective on how the regulatory environment has changed and new opportunities that exist for bringing cell therapy products through the clinical trial process and into the global marketplace.

Yaron Ramati: I have 10 years of experience in regulatory affairs in biotechnology companies in Israel.

I have a PhD in Philosophy of Biology from the London School of Economics and an M.Sc. from the Technion in Neurobiology

Yaron Ramati:The United States, Japan, and South Korea are countries that have accelerated pathways that are unique for cell and gene therapies. Legislation took effect in Japan in late 2014, in South Korea in 2016, and in the United States in 2017.

Additionally, the EU has a program for product acceleration the Adaptive Pathways. Although it is not explicitly for cell and gene therapies, these have been given a lot of attention by the group.

Yaron Ramati:

In the United States: Regenerative medicine advanced therapy (RMAT) designation.Cell therapies that aim to treat serious medical conditions with high unmet need, and have preliminary favorable clinical data, can get the designation. It allows for accelerated approval (i.e., the use of biomarkers and intermediate endpoints for BLA, priority review).

In Japan: Conditional time-limited marketing authorization.This program allows for regenerative therapies (cell, gene and tissue therapies) to receive conditional marketing authorization for up to 7 years, following confirmation of safety and an initial proof of efficacy in Japan in diseases that are serious and have a high unmet need.

In South Korea: Conditional marketing authorization for cell therapy.As in Japan, this program allows for cell therapies to receive conditional marketing authorization for a limited time, following an initial proof of efficacy in serious diseases.

In EU: Adaptive Pathways pilot program. This program is a pilot program established by the EMA to explore ways in which the EMA can assist the streamlining the development of new promising therapies for serious conditions with high unmet need. Although this program is not explicitly for cell or gene therapy, it is the main focus of the group.

Yaron Ramati: All EU countries have a joint definition for ATMPs as set by EU regulation. Other countries have separate definitions that only partially overlap.

Yaron Ramati: Only few countries in the world are willing to be the first to provide marketing authorization for novel therapies. For ATMPs, European regulation does not allow individual countries in the union to provide marketing authorization, and so the EMA is the only gateway for ATMPs in Europe.

The U.S. FDA, Japan PMDA, and South Korea KFDA are the only others that are willing to be first to approve ATMPs.

Yaron Ramati: Currently, the EMA and PMDA are leading with four marketing approvals of cell and gene therapies each. RMAT designation procedure in the U.S. is expecting to give a boost to the products that are being developed for the U.S. market.

Yaron Ramati: Pluristem is very active in the field of accelerated development of its products. PLX-PAD of Pluristem has been accepted to the Japan conditional time-limited marketing authorization scheme by PMD, as well as to the adaptive pathways program of the EMA. It is active in both programs.

In addition, Pluristem intends to make use of the accelerated pathways offered for regenerative therapies in both the U.S. and in South Korea.

Yaron Ramati: The focus of Pluristem in these programs is the advancement of PLX-PAD. Pluristem had achieved understandings with EMA and PMDA regarding the accelerated approval of PLX-PAD for the treatment of critical limb ischemia (CLI).

It is the intention of Pluristem to achieve similar understandings with FDA, EMA, PMDA and KFDA regarding the development of PLX-PAD for the treatment of patients following hip fractures.

Yaron Ramati: PLX-PAD was accepted into the EMA adaptive pathways pilot program in 2015. Since then, Pluristem has taken advantage of this program in coming to an understanding with the EMA on the desired regulatory path of PLX-PAD in CLI. In addition, Pluristem undertook parallel scientific advice with the EMA and leading health technology assessment (HTA) bodies in Europe.

In this meeting, Pluristem received valuable feedback on the expectations that these bodies have for purposes of reimbursement in Europe. Pluristem has designed the Phase 3 PACE study in CLI patients in view of the feedback received from both the EMA and the HTA bodies, with the purpose of addressing their respective expectations.

Related

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Freeze Frame: Lifting The Lid On Cryonics – Billionaire.com

If you have around US$90,000 to spare and are of a gambling disposition, perhaps your final journey should be to Australia. A company called Southern Cryonics is looking to open a facility in New South Wales this year that will allow its customers to freeze their bodies after death in the hope of one day being resurrected. If it goes ahead, it will make Australia only the third country, after the US and Russia, where such a service is available.

But, especially for those of a futurist bent perhaps, its as valid a thing to do with ones body as burial or cremation. Last year, a terminally ill 14-year-old girl in the UK became the first and only child so far to undergo the cryonic process. This is technically not freezing but vitrification, in which the body is treated with chemicals and chilled to super-cold temperatures so that molecules are locked in place and a solid is formed. An estimated 2,500 bodies around the world are now stored in this condition.

Supporters concede that the technology to revive the infinitely complex interactions between those molecules may never exist, but are nonetheless hopeful, pointing to shifting conceptions of what irreversible death actually is. If, for example, cessation of a heartbeat used to define it, now hearts can be re-started todays corpse may be tomorrows patient. They point to experiments such as that announced last year by 21st Century Medicine, which claimed to have successfully vitrified and recovered an entire mammalian brain for the first time, with the thawed rabbits brain found to have all of its synapses, cell membranes and intracellular structures intact.

Its not just cryonics. Stem-cell research, nano-tech, cloning, the science just keeps plugging away towards a future [of reanimating] that may or may not come to exist, says an upfront Dennis Kowalski, president of the Michigan-based Cryonics Institute. His company was launched just over 40 years ago to provide cryostasis services. Lots of things considered impossible not long ago are possible today, so we just dont know how cryonics will work out. For people who use the service its really a case of theres nothing to lose.

Naturally, not everyone is hopeful that such processes will ever work out for those in the chiller. The problem with cryonics is that the perception of it is largely shaped by companies offering a service based on something completely unproven, says Joo Pedro De Magalhes, biologist and principal investigator into life extension at the University of Liverpool, UK, and co-founder of the UK Cryonics and Cryopreservation Network. Youre talking about a fairly eccentric procedure that only a few people have signed up to and into which little reported research is being done. That said, I think the people providing these services do believe theres a chance it may work one day, although I would have to say theyre optimistic.

But this is not to say that living longer wont, in time, prove possible as a result of some other method; just that arguably this is more likely to be based around preserving a life that has not experienced death, rather than the promise of reanimating one after its demise. The chasm between the two is all the more pronounced given neurosciences still scant ideas as to what consciousness or mind is, let alone how it might be saved and rebooted; would the warmed and reanimated you be the you that died, or a mere simulacrum? Your body may well not be the same: many of those opting for cryo-preservation go for the freezing of just their brains.

Certainly while cryonics specifically may remain a largely unexplored field, Google is now investing in anti-ageing science, an area that, as De Magalhes puts it, now has fewer crackpots and more reputable scientists working in it, with stronger science behind it too. Indeed, as Yuval Noah Harari argues in his best-selling book Homo Deus, humanisms status as contemporary societys new religion of choice, combined with technological advances, makes some form of greatly extended lifespan inevitable for some generation to come. Whether this will be by melding man and machine, by genetic manipulation, by a form of existence in cyberspace or some other fix can only be speculated at, but everything about our civilisations recent development points to it becoming a reality.

Advances in medicine, after all, have greatly extended average longevity over the last century alone. With this has come a shift in perspective that sees death less as the natural end point to a life so much as a process of disease that could, and perhaps should, be tackled like any other disease that threatens existence. De Magalhes points out that for many working in the field it is less about the pursuit of immortality as of improved health.

After all, its not self-evident that we all want to live forever, and there are philosophical arguments for the idea that death is good, that its necessary to appreciate life, he says. But it is self-evident that nobody wants Alzheimers, for example. If you focus on retarding the problems of ageing then inevitably were going to live longer. The longevity we have now isnt normal; its already better than what we had not long ago. Extrapolate that to the future and in a century the length of time we live now might be considered pretty bad. One can envisage a time when we might live, if not forever, then perhaps thousands of years so much longer than we live now that it might feel like forever.

That, naturally, would bring with it profound changes to the way in which we perceive ourselves and to how the world operates and all the more so if living considerably longer became a possibility faster than society was able to inculcate the notion. How would such a long lifespan affect our sense of self? Would institutions and mores such as lifelong marriage and monogamy remain the norm? When would we retire? How would our relationships with the many subsequent generations of our family be shaped? How would population growth be managed? How would such long lives be funded?

Such questions are, for sure, of no concern to those currently in cryostasis. These people tend to be into sci-fi, and into science too, suggests Kowalski, who has signed up himself, his wife and children for cryonic services when the time comes. I think for a lot of them its not necessarily about the fear of death. Its more a fascination with the future. Theyre optimistic about what it will bring. Theyre more Star Trek than Terminator.

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Freeze Frame: Lifting The Lid On Cryonics – Billionaire.com

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CRISPR Co-Discoverer: "I’ve Never Seen Science Move at the Pace … – Futurism

In BriefCRISPR co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna stressed the importance of using the technology with proper consideration at CrisprCon this week.

The CRISPR gene editing tool has already been used to perform some incredible feats of science, from manipulating the social behavior of ants to making superbugs kill themselves. Its an incredibly powerful asset, but this week at CrisprCon, there was plenty of discussion about where we should draw a line on its usage.

Ive never seen science move at the pace its moving right now, said CRISP co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna, who has spent recent months touring the world campaigning for a global consensus on appropriate implementations of gene-editing technologies. Which means we cant put off these conversations.

CRISPR has already been used to edit harmful conditions out of animals and even viable human embryos. From this point, it wouldnt take a great leap to start using the technology to enhance healthy organisms which is why now is the time for discussions about the consequences.

While medical uses of CRISPR are perhaps the most ethically urgent, the conversation about its usage goes beyond medicine. Companies like Monsanto and Cargill have already licensed CRISPR technologies to help with their agricultural efforts. However, early attempts at genetically modified crops struggled to gain mainstream acceptance, and thats something these firms need to keep in mind as they implement the latest techniques.

It was a convenience item for farmers, observed organic farmer Tom Wiley at the convention, according to Wired. And a profit center for corporations. To combat genetically modified foods perception problem, companies using CRISPR will have to make sure that the technology benefits the consumer, not just the production process.

The convention addressed CRISPR usage in many different fields: from the importance of ensuringit is used to address the widest range of medical conditions as possible, to the potentially damaging effects of gene drives on a delicate ecosystem.

Science is moving at a rapid pace, and CRISPR is too but if we dont carefully consider which applications are safe and valid, it could quickly cause as many problems as it solves.

Crispr is not a light on the nation, its a mirror, said CrisprCon keynote speaker Greg Simon, director of the Biden Cancer Initiative;Wiredreporter Megan Molteni interpreted those words as,its just another technology thats only as good as the people using it.

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CRISPR Co-Discoverer: "I’ve Never Seen Science Move at the Pace … – Futurism

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Crispr Fans Dream of a Populist Future for Gene Editing | WIRED – WIRED

CrisprCon is not a place where spandexed, beglittered, refrigerator drawer fans come together for an all-you-can-eat celebration of unwilted produce. No. Crispr-Cas9 (no E), if you havent been paying attention, is a precise gene editing tool thats taken the world by storm, promising everything from healthier, hangover-free wine to cures for genetic diseases. Like, all of them. And CrisprCon is where people come not to ask how to do those things, but rather, should we? And also, whos the we here?

On Wednesday and Thursday, the University of California, Berkeley welcomed about 300 peoplescientists, CEOs, farmers, regulators, conservationists, and interested citizensto its campus to take a hard look at the wnderenzyme known as Cas9. They discussed their greatest hopes and fears for the technology. There were no posters, no p-values; just a lot of real talk. You can bet it was the first Crispr conference to sandwich a Cargill executive between a septagenarian organic farmer and an environmental justice warrior. But the clashing views were a feature, not a bug. “When you feel yourself tightening up, that’s when you’re about to learn something,” said moderator and Grist reporter, Nathanael Johnson.

Which, to be honest, was totally refreshing. Serious conversations about who should get to do what with Crispr have been largely confined to ivory towers and federal agencies. In February the National Academy of Sciences released a report with its first real guidelines for Crispr, and while it suggested limitations on certain applicationslike germline modificationsit was largely silent on questions outside of scientific research. What sorts of economies will Crispr create; which ones will it destroy? What are the risks of using Crispr to save species that will otherwise go extinct? Who gets to decide if its worth it? And how important is it ensure everyone has equal access to the technology? Getting a diverse set of viewpoints on these questions was the explicit goal of CrisprCon

Why was that important? Greg Simon, director of the Biden Cancer Initiative and the conferences keynote speaker, perhaps said it best: Crispr is not a light on the nation, its a mirror. In other words, its just another technology thats only as good as the people using it.

Panel after panel took the stage (each one, notably, populated with women and people of color) and discussed how other then-cutting-edge technologies had failed in the past, and what history lessons Crispr users should not forget. In the field of conservation, one panel discussed, ecologists failed to see the ecosystem-wide effects of introduced species. As a result, cane toads, red foxes, and Asian carp created chaos in Australia and New Zealand. How do you prevent gene drivesa technique to spread a gene quickly through a wild populationfrom running similarly amok?

From the agricultural field, the lessons were less nebulous. First-generation genetically modified organisms failed to gain public support, said organic farmer Tom Willey, because they never moved agriculture in a more ecologically sustainable direction and it never enhanced the quality of food people actually ate. At least, noticeably so. Instead, most modifications were to commodity crops like corn and soy to improve their pest resistance or boost yields.] It was a convenience item for farmers, he said. And a profit center for corporations. In order for gene-edited foods to avoid the same fate, companies like Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, and Cargill, who have already licensed Crispr technologies, will need to provide a more tangible value than corn you can spray the bejeezus out of. Like say, extra-nutritious tomatoes, or a wine with 10-times more heart-healthy resveratrol and fewer of the hangover-causing toxins.

The presence of executives from each of these three companies signaled that theyre serious about not making the same mistakes they did in the 90s when GMOs first came to market. Back then we were only talking to farmers, said Neal Gutterson, vice president of R&D at Dupont Pioneer during a break between panels. I cant remember anyone going to anything like this or casting as wide a net in our discussions with the public.

Of all the fields Crispr will touch, medicine is the one most primed for disruption. So its of great concern to conference-goers that Crispr doesnt become a technology only for the haves and not the have-nots. Shakir Cannon, founder of the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine, pointed out the myriad ways doctors and researchers have exploited people of color in the name of scientific advancement, while neglecting diseases that hit underserved communities the hardest. In a breakout session on Wednesday, Rachel HaurwitzCEO of Caribou Biosciences, one of the big three Crispr companiesasked Cannon and his colleague, Michael Friend, how industry leaders could help make sure that doesnt happen. First, you have to build trust with communities, said Friend, whose work focuses on sickle cell anemia. But we think Crispr could be a real turning point.

Still, CrisprCon was just more talkwhich the field has seen a lot of recently. Crisprs co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna has taken a step back this past year from her lab at Berkeley to travel the world and discuss the importance of coming to what she calls a global consensus on appropriate uses for gene editing technologies. And in her opening address on Wednesday, the standing-room-only auditorium heard a line shes trotted out many times before. I’ve never seen science move at the pace its moving right now, Doudna said. Which means we cant put off these conversations.” The conversations happening at CrisprCon were all the right ones. But action, whether in the form of regulations, laws, or other populist social contracts, still feels a long way off.

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Crispr Fans Dream of a Populist Future for Gene Editing | WIRED – WIRED

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CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Embryo Research – Foreign Affairs

News that U.S. scientists led by Oregon Health and Sciences University biologist Shoukrat Mitalipov have used the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to modify the DNA of human embryos has led to renewed debate over human genetic engineering. Although scientists in China and the United Kingdom have already used gene editing on human embryos, the announcement that the research is now being done in the United States makes a U.S. policy response all the more urgent.

The scientists created 131 embryos that carried a genetic mutation that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathya condition that can lead to sudden and unexpected heart attacks but has few other symptomsand attempted to correct the mutation in 112 of them (leaving 19 as unmodified controls).By injecting the CRISPR complex together with the sperm cells that carried the mutation, rather than injecting CRISPR into already fertilized embryos, the scientists were able to successfully correct the mutated genes in 72 percent of the embryos.Whether the embryos were successfully or unsuccessfully treated, all were destroyed after the researchers were finished with the study.

Much of the debate over CRISPR has been framed around concerns over the creation of so-called designer babieschildren genetically engineered to possess desirable traits that will then be passed on to subsequent generations. Some science writers and journalists have tried to downplay these concerns by noting that the gene editing was done only for basic research, rather than as an attempt to create a genetically engineered human. Writing in The New York Times, Pam Belluck argued that even if scientists do modify the genes of human embryos, fears that embryo modification could allow parents to custom order a baby with Lin-Manuel Mirandas imagination or Usain Bolts speed are closer to science fiction than science.

Those downplaying concerns also argue that preexisting practices such as the abortion of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome or the selective discarding of embryos diagnosed with genetic disease through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) are exactly the reason gene-editing

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Genome editing CRISPR technique takes center stage | Feedstuffs – Feedstuffs

Science and ethics experts took part in a first-of-its-kind conference on the role of gene editing, and nearly half of the sold-out crowd was involved in the food and agriculture sector. CRISPRcon a summit named for the genome editing technique known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) brought together a diverse set of panelists to discuss this emerging technology.

CRISPR technology allows precise changes to be made to the DNA of living cells, which holds the potential to eradicate diseases, transform agriculture and enable massive leaps forward in environmental and life sciences. Through a series of keynote speakers, panels and interactive discussions, CRISPRcon offered a single forum for those with a stake in gene editing to share ideas, ask and answer questions and explore the path forward.

Since the CRISPR-Cas9 technology was invented five years ago by a team led by Dr. Jennifer Doudna, professor of chemistry and of molecular and cell biology at the University of California-Berkeley, and her colleague Emmanuel Charpentier, it has revolutionized biomedical and agricultural research while fueling angst about questionable applications, such as designer crops, farm animals and humans.

Its really a very cross-cutting technology, Doudna told attendees.

In fact, she said unlike earlier ways of manipulating genetic information in cells, the thing that makes CRISPR particularly powerful is the fact that it really is a democratizing tool. Its a technology that is easy enough to use and to employ that its accessible to a wide range of people, Doudna said.

It has been possible to globally adopt the technology for use in any organism, she added.

Doudna discussed applications of gene editing, including producing cattle with no horns, finding ways to treat human genetic diseases of the blood, cancer-related research, generating animals that would be better organ donors for humans, as well as plant and crop research.

The agriculture industry was represented among speakers. Thomas Titus, a pork producer from Illinois, was one of only two farmers who presented among the scientific experts, physicians, patients, environmentalists, consumers and community leaders.

Gene editing will have great impact on the future of farming, and especially on livestock production, Titus said. Although in its very early stages of development and acceptance, gene editing could ultimately be used to make pigs resistant to diseases, thereby improving food safety, animal welfare and the environmental impact of agriculture.

Titus, who raises pigs and also grows grain on his Illinois farm, was part of a panel discussing where CRISPR technology could take society by 2050. His appearance was supported by the pork checkoff and the National Pork Producers Council. Other panelists included representatives from the Center for Genetics & Society, the Institute for the Future, PICO National Network and The Breakthrough Institute.

Todays consumer is educated and asking questions about where their food comes from and how it is raised, Titus said. Thats why I welcome every chance I get to talk about todays pork production. I appreciated the opportunity to once again open my barn doors to share how I raise pigs with these key influencers in food production.

Other topics addressed during the conference included societal perception and acceptance of CRISPR application in surgery, human health and food production and conservation.

Doudna said just understanding the science is a challenge for many people, but then they also have to understand how the technology is going to affect them.

She encouraged scientist to take a very active role in engaging in conversation about gene editing, adding that its always challenging to explain technical work in a non-technical setting.

Its important to appreciate what the technology can and cannot do. Its not a magical technology; its not perfect, she said. While there are still a number of aspects of the technology that are still at the beginning phase, Doudna said the field is an incredibly fast-moving area. Ive never seen science move at the pace it is moving right now, she added.

When asked how to know when to use the cutting-edge technique, Doudna said the recommendation is to look for situations where there really is no other reasonable way to deal with a genetic disease other than gene editing. When you think about it that way, those situations are rare, she noted.

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Genome editing CRISPR technique takes center stage | Feedstuffs – Feedstuffs

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Monsanto Licenses ToolGen CRISPR Technology – GenomeWeb

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) Monsanto announced today that it has licensed a CRISPR technology platform from Korean biotechnology company ToolGen with the intention of developing agricultural products.

The global license provides Monsanto with access to ToolGen’s comprehensive suite of CRISPR intellectual property for use in plants. The agreement will also expand Monsanto’s portfolio of gene editing tools, which the company plans to use to develop improved and sustainable crops.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Monsanto adds another CRISPR platform to genetic toolbox – Farm … – Farm and Dairy

ST. LOUIS Monsanto Company has forged an agreement with ToolGen, Inc., a biotechnology company specializing in genome editing, to use ToolGens CRISPR technology platform to develop agricultural products.

The companies announced Aug. 16 that they have reached a global licensing agreement for Monsanto to access ToolGens suite of CRISPR intellectual property for use in plants.

CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. Its a relatively new way to modify an organisms genome by precisely delivering a DNA-cutting enzyme to a targeted region of DNA. The resulting modification can delete or replace specific DNA pieces, thereby promoting or disabling certain traits.

The companies noted that gene-editing technologies, like CRISPR, offer agriculture researchers significant advantages over existing plant breeding and biotechnology methods due to their versatility and efficiency.

This agreement further expands Monsantos broad portfolio of gene-editing tools that can be used to develop improved and sustainable crops, said Tom Adams, Ph.D., vice president of biotechnology for Monsanto.

As a company we remain committed to the development of safe, sustainable and high-quality crops, and look forward to leveraging the CRISPR platform.

Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

In January, Monsanto announced an agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for the nonexclusive use of its CRISPR-Cpf1 genome-editing technology, which is different from the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

Related articles:

CRISPR mushroom created at Penn State a GMO game-changerMonsanto agreement with Broad for CRISPR systemDuPont Pioneer scientists demonstrating potential of CRISPR-Cas for agricultureResearch finds probiotics may combat disease

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What is Gene Therapy? – news-medical.net

Gene therapy is a form of therapy that involves inserting one or more corrective genes that have been designed in the laboratory, into the genetic material of a patient’s cells to cure a genetic disease.

The expression of the new gene or genes can then alter the DNA or RNA transcript used to synthesis proteins and therefore correct the disease. Gene therapy is still in the experimental stages and its use is therefore not yet widespread.

Gene therapy using an adenovirus vector: A new gene is injected into an adenovirus vector, which is used to introduce the modified DNA into a human cell. If the treatment is successful, the new gene will make a functional protein.

One of the first hurdles of gene therapy is successful introduction of the corrected gene into the human cells. Once introduced, the gene needs to be incorporated into the genetic material of those cells.

Some of the main diseases currently being researched in gene therapy studies include:

One of the main vectors used to carry modified genes into cells is the virus. Viruses usually attach to a host cell and transfer their viral genetic material into it. They then take over the cell and use the cell components to make copies of the virus.

Scientists can modify these viruses so that they contain only therapeutic and not viral genetic material but still retain their infective ability so that the beneficial DNA can be transferred into host cells.

Commonly used vectors include adenoviruses, adeno-associated viruses, retroviruses and the herpes simplex virus.

There are two main types of gene therapy which include:

With this form of therapy, only somatic cells (body cells) are targeted and not the germline cells, otherwise known of as the gametes or sex cells. If the modification of DNA is confined to body cells only, then the altered genome only effects the individual treated and not any offspring produced when the gametes join to form a zygote.

This involves incorporation of a tailored gene into the gametes, permanently altering the genes inherited by future generations. This type of therapy is prohibited in many countries due to ethical and technical concerns.

Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc

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Scientists foresee Russian gene therapy for HIV cure may be registered in 5-10 years – TASS

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. A Russian gene therapy drug for individuals infected with HIV called Dinavir is undergoing pre-clinical trials, and the drug has already proved its efficiency on cells. The pre-clinical tests on animal models, clinical trials and the registration procedure may take up to 10 years, senior research fellow at the Epidemiology Central Research Institute of Rospotrebnadzor (the Federal Service on Surveillance for Customers Rights Protection and Human Well-Being) Dina Glazkova told TASS.

“This is not about the next year, but rather in five years, at the earliest. It takes up to 10 years on the average,” she said.

Glazkova reiterated that the registration is made after the clinical trials. “Again, the clinical trials are costly, and the drug production is costly as well,” the scientist added.

Dinavir proved to be safe while tested on cells, in vitro. A Phase II pre-clinical trial will utilize animal models to test the efficiency and safety of treatment. A Phase I clinical trial will be carried out on humans to test safety of the therapy and will take up not less than a year.

“Phase II takes up two to three years, and it is unclear how much will be required from us. Phase I is about safety, and it takes a few patients: five, maybe ten. Phase II is when we have to prove that the drug works in these five to ten [patients] and that it had a positive effect on them. Phase III is when we enroll a lot of patients [in the trial] to show that the five were cured not by accident and that it [the gene therapy] really works,” Glazkova explained.

The gene therapy for HIV treatment is being developed by a group of researches at the Epidemiology Central Research Institute of Rospotrebnadzor.

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Why three little virus-free pigs matter – The Messenger (subscription)

We’ve done some genetics. We’ve done DNA. We’ve done GMOs. We’ve done some immunology. We’ve done science literacy. Now, let’s get down in the weeds a little bit and put all of that together to look at just exactly why virus-free piglets are news.

Aren’t piglets just the cutest things? The three particular precious petite porkers in the picture have recently been making the rounds of the national news, usually under a headline that says something like “Scientists create virus-free pigs.” This is an excellent example of a headline that really fails to do what a headline is supposed to, which is capture the reader’s interest. Virus-free pigs. Big whoop.

If, however, you got past the lame headlines and you’ve read any of those stories, you know that this is sort of a big deal, on several different levels, and we’ll use what we’ve already talked about in some of my earlier articles about genes, viruses, DNA, genetic engineering, and the value of science literacy to explore why these three little pigs are important.

These pigs are really just like any other pigs, except they were born without any genes in their genomes that code for a number of viruses found in all other pigs, called porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs (yeah, I know. Not that kind of perv). Let’s talks about what the term means and what PERVs are. The word “porcine” just means “related to pigs.” “Endogenous” means “something that is normally found in or originating from within an organism.” For instance, insulin is an endogenous human hormone, because it is produced by the pancreas and is normally present in people. “Retroviruses” are a group of viruses that use RNA (ribonucleic acid) instead of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) as their genetic material.

When a virus of any kind infects a cell, the reproductive machinery of the cell, which is normally used to make proteins and copy the DNA of the cell so that the cell can divide and reproduce, is hijacked by the virus. The virus causes the cell to make new copies of the viral genome and then to use the viral genes to make viral proteins. When the cell makes the new viral proteins, they are assembled into new viruses and the new viruses then can go out to infect other cells. Usually, the cell is destroyed in the process. Sometimes, though, the viral genes just get integrated into the genome of the infected host cell and the cell goes on living and reproducing as normal, only now, every time the cell divides, the new cell also has a copy of the viral genes in its DNA.

Sometimes, the viral genes just sit there, causing no

problems. This is called a “latent virus.” It may sit there forever doing nothing, or sometimes, something happens to activate the latent virus and the viral genes start to be reproduced, viral proteins start to be made by the infected cells and that may cause disease. The Herpes simplex family of viruses is an example of latent viruses. Other examples of latent viruses are called retroviruses. In a retrovirus, the RNA from the retrovirus is used as a template to make DNA in the infected cell, and then the DNA becomes integrated into the host cell’s genome. HIV is an example of a retrovirus that affects humans.

If you look at the genome of almost any organism, particularly complex organisms, like most of us, there is a lot of what is called “non-coding DNA.” Non-coding DNA is exactly that — it doesn’t code for any specific proteins. There is some disagreement on whether this non-coding DNA has any function at all, but the amount of it is pretty amazing. Somewhere between 80 percent and 98 percent of the human genome is non-coding. This was a bit of a surprise when the Human Genome Project was going on in the 1990s.

The Human Genome Project was a very ambitious, very wide-ranging effort to identify all the genes in the human genome and map the location where each gene would be found on our chromosomes. The early expectation was that the human genome, based on the amount of DNA it contains (along with human ego), would contain hundreds of thousands of, possibly a million, individual genes. After all, something as marvelous as we are would obviously have the most genes of any creature, right? Wrong. The initial findings of the genome project was that humans have about 30,000 individual genes that code for proteins. This low number was quite the surprise. After all, there is a single-celled protozoan that has over 60,000 genes. There is a plant that has a genome almost three times the size of the human genome. Talk about you rude awakenings! Here we are, thinking how complex and wonderful we are, and there are flowers and pond scum with larger, more complex genomes than ours!

So, what does this have to do with our story today? Well, with the discovery that the vast majority of the human genome, and the genomes of most complex organisms, for that matter, doesn’t code for proteins, it begs the question, “then why is it there and where did it come from?” Both of those are good questions that haven’t been fully answered, but part of that “extra” DNA is probably DNA that originated long, long ago in our evolutionary history as viral DNA that got integrated into our own genome. The same is likely true for much of the PERV DNA in pigs.

In the case of PERVs, the viruses are found in most of the pig’s cells, including the sperm and egg cells used in reproduction. Because they are in the reproductive cells, newborn pigs are already infected with the virus. The PERVs don’t normally cause any disease in the pigs, as they usually remains latent in pig cells. The problem with PERVs is that they can be transferred to humans and infect human cells when pig organs or tissues are transplanted into people and PERVs can potentially cause disease in humans.

This is why scientists bothered to try to make virus-free pigs. Pigs have long been used as a source of organs and tissues for transplantation into humans. One reason for this is that the anatomy and physiology of pigs is very similar to that of humans, and so many of their organs and tissues are very similar to those of humans. Pigs and people are also of similar size, so swapping out parts works pretty well because, for instance, a heart valve from a pig is just about the same size as a heart valve from a human. Producing pigs that have tissues free of PERVs is a big step into making pig organs more available and safer for transplantation into humans.

The cute little virus-free piggies in the picture were created using a couple of genetic engineering techniques that are both revolutionary and controversial. The first technique is a new technology called CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”). It stands for “Clustered, Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” I’m not going to go into what all that means. What I will say is that it takes advantage of a genetic mechanism used by bacteria to avoid being infected by viruses. Yes, bacteria can be, and often are, infected by viruses. The CRISPR technology allows scientists to target specific gene sequences in the DNA of a cell, cut it out and replace it with a new gene sequence. CRISPR is hugely valuable in genetic research and has great promise in therapeutic use to treat genetic diseases. Theoretically, CRISPR could be used to cut out defective genes in a patient with a genetic disease and replace the bad gene with a good one. That sort of application is quite a way off. In the case of our pigs, however, CRISPR was used to cut out the genes for all the PERVs found in pig cells that were grown in a dish. The result of that was pig cells that were completely free of PERVs.

The second controversial technique that was used is called “somatic cell nuclear transfer.” A somatic cell is just a term for any of the regular, non-reproductive cells found in an organism. In this technique, the nucleus of a cell, where all the genetic material is located, is removed. That nucleus is then transferred into another cell, from which the nucleus has also been removed, essentially turning the recipient cell into a genetic copy of the donor cell. If the recipient cell is a reproductive cell, like an egg cell, and the egg is fertilized, the genes contained in the donor cell will be present in all the cells that develop from the fertilized egg. In this case, the nuclei from the cells grown in the dish that were modified to be PERV-free were injected into fertilized pig eggs. The eggs were then implanted into surrogate mother pigs and they developed into our piglets.

This technology has incredible potential in transplant therapeutics, as well as gene therapy to correct some horrible diseases. Somatic cell nuclear transfer also has another name — cloning. Dolly the Sheep, if you remember her, was the first mammal to be produced through cloning. The term “cloning” brings up all sorts of late-night horror movie terrors and visions of genetically engineered babies and so on. In reality, cloning is not fearsome or evil. It is just a fairly simple, very powerful tool in the field of genetic research.

However, here is where the science literacy part of the story comes into play. These techniques were used, in this case, as a step toward improving options for transplanted organs and tissues. It is theoretically possible, however, that these same techniques could be used for less clearly beneficial ends. It could, for instance, be further developed and adapted to be used to modify human embryos to create “designer babies.” Clearly, this is an issue with profound bioethical considerations. It is important that we, as a human society, understand this science, and that includes you.

This technology, like other forms of genetic engineering, stem cell-based therapeutics, artificial intelligence, GMOs, and other equally powerful, potentially transformative science, could be hugely valuable in improving the human condition if used properly, but the consequences of abuse of the technology are also huge. We must be part of a well-informed populace to make reasoned, rational decisions on how we want our science to be used.

Already, the scientific communities of the U.S., UK, China, and others have set strict guidelines on what types of research along the lines of that which produced our virus-free pigs is permissible, but as science moves forward, there will need to be more discussion. The benefits and consequences of these technologies are so huge that we must discuss them from a position of knowledge and understanding, not from one of fear, ignorance and emotion. This is why it is so vitally important for everyone to be scientifically literate.

Michael J. Howard, Ph.D., is the vice president fo education and research at Baptist Health Madisonville. He can be reached by email at madisonvillescience@gmail.com or via Twitter at @madville_sci.

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Are cardiac stem cells a ‘fountain of youth’? – Genetic Literacy Project

Cardiac stem cells derived from young hearts helped reverse the signs of aging when directly injected into the old hearts of elderly rats, astudypublished Monday in the European Heart Journal demonstrated.

The old rats appeared newly invigorated after receiving their injections. As hoped, the cardiac stem cells improved heart function yet also provided additional benefits. The rats fur, shaved for surgery, grew back more quickly than expected, and their chromosomal telomeres, which commonly shrink with age, lengthened.

Its extremely exciting, said Dr. Eduardo Marbn, primary investigator on the research and director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. Witnessing the systemic rejuvenating effects, he said, its kind of like an unexpected fountain of youth.

The working hypothesis is that the cells secrete exosomes, tiny vesicles that contain a lot of nucleic acids, things like RNA, that can change patterns of the way the tissue responds to injury and the way genes are expressed in the tissue, Marbn said.

It is the exosomes that act on the heart and make it better as well as mediating long-distance effects on exercise capacity and hair regrowth, he explained.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post:Unexpected fountain of youth found in cardiac stem cells, says researcher

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Scientists Discover New Hair Growth Technique Using Stem Cells – TrendinTech

Those suffering from hair loss problems could soon be worry free thanks to a bunch of researchers at UCLA. The team found that by activating the stem cells in the hair follicles they could make it grow. This type of research couldnt come soon enough for some. We may have finally found a cure for patients suffering from alopecia or baldness.

Hair loss is often caused by the hair follicle stem cells inability to activate and induce a new hair growth cycle. In doing the study, researchers Heather Christofk and William Lowry, of Eli Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA discovered that the metabolism of hair follicle stem cells is far different to any other cell found within the skin. They found that as hair follicle stem cells absorb the glucose from the bloodstream they use it to produce a metabolite called pyruvate. The pyruvate is then either sent to the cells mitochondria to be converted back into energy or is converted into another metabolite called lactate.

Christofk is an associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular and medical pharmacology and he says, Our observations about hair follicle stem cell metabolism prompted us to examine whether genetically diminishing the entry of pyruvate into the mitochondria would force hair follicle stem cells to make more lactate and if that would activate the cells and grow hair more quickly. First, the team demonstrated how blocking the lactate production in mice prevented the hair follicle stem cells from activating. Then, with the help of colleagues at the Rutter lab at the University of Utah, they increased the lactate production in the mice and as a result saw an accelerated hair follicle stem cell activation and therefore an increase in the hair cycle.

Once we saw how altering lactate production in the mice influenced hair growth, it led us to look for potential drugs that could be applied to the skin and have the same effect, confirms Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology. During the study, the team found two drugs in particular that influenced hair follicle stem cells to promote lactate production when applied to the skin of mice. The first is called RCGD423. This drug is responsible for allowing the transmission of information from outside the cell right to the heart of it in the nucleus by activating the cellular signaling pathway called JAK-Stat. The results from the study did, in fact, prove that JAK-Stat activation will lead to an increased production of lactate which will enhance hair growth. UK5099 was the second drug in question, and its role was to block the pyruvate from entering the mitochondria, forcing the production of lactate and accelerating hair growth as a result.

The study brings with it some very promising results. To be able to solve a problem that affects millions of people worldwide by using drugs to stimulate hair growth is brilliant. At the moment there is a provisional patent application thats been filed in respect of using RCGD423 in the promotion of hair growth and a separate provisional patent in place for the use of UK5099 for the same purpose. The drugs have not yet been tested in humans or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as fit for human consumption.

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Nanotechnology May Be Used to Heal Wounds, Repair Organs – Healthline

Researchers in Ohio are using skin cells and small chips to develop treatments that can repair damage from wounds, stroke, and organ failure.

Your skin cells are programmable, allowing them to be converted into other types of cells.

And now researchers have discovered how to reprogram them, making your body a potential gold mine of cells that can be used to heal wounds, treat stroke damage, and even restore function to aging organs.

A recent study published in Nature Nanotechnology describes the development of Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), a technology that can convert an adult cell from one type to another.

The study was led by Chandan Sen, PhD, and L. James Lee, PhD, researchers at The Ohio State University. Sen and his colleagues applied the chip to the injured legs of mice, reprogramming the mices skin cells into vascular cells.

Within weeks, active blood vessels formed, saving the legs of the mice.

The technology is expected to be approved for human trials within a year.

This breakthrough in gene therapy is made possible by nanotechnology, the manipulation of matter at a size at which unique properties of material emerge.

That means the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of materials are different at the atomic scale than at the larger scale were seeing on an everyday basis.

A nanometer is a billionth of a meter. A DNA molecule is 2 nanometers in diameter. Nanotechnologys scale is roughly 1 to 100 nanometers.

At the nanoscale, gold reflects colors other than what it does at the scale visible to the unaided eye. This physical property can be used in medical tests to indicate infection or disease.

Gold is yellow in color at the bulk level, but at the nanoscale level gold appears red, said Dr. Lisa Friedersdorf, director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO) of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

The NNCO coordinates the nanotechnology efforts of 20 federal government agencies.

We now have tools to enable us to fabricate and control materials at the nanoscale, Friedersdorf told Healthline. Researchers can create a nanoparticle with a payload inside to deliver a concentrated drug release directly to targeted cells, for instance. Soon well be able to identify and treat disease with precision. We could have personalized medicine and be able to target disease very carefully.

TNT works by delivering a specific biological cargo (DNA, RNA, and plasma molecules) for cell conversion to a live cell using a nanotechnology-based chip.

This cargo is delivered by briefly zapping a chip with a small electrical charge.

Nanofabrication enabled Sen and his colleagues to create a chip that can deliver a cargo of genetic code into a cell.

Think of the chip as a syringe but miniaturized, Sen told Healthline. Were shooting genetic code into cells.

The brief (one-tenth of a second) electrical charge of the postage stamp-sized device creates a pathway on the surface of the target cell that allows for the insertion of the genetic load.

Imagine the cell as a tennis ball, Sen said. If the entire surface is electrocuted, the cell is damaged and its abilities are suppressed. Our technology opens up just 2 percent of the surface of the tennis ball. We insert the active cargo into the cell through that window, and then the window closes, so there is no damage.

Cell reprogramming isnt new, but scientists have previously focused on converting primarily stem cells into other types of cells. The process took place in labs.

We disagreed with this approach, Sen said. When switching a cell in the lab, its in an artificial, sterile, and simple environment such as a petri dish. When its introduced into the body, it doesnt perform as intended.

We went upside-down. We bypassed the lab process and moved the reprogramming process to the live body, he explained.

This point-of-action capability will allow hospitals to adopt TNT sooner than if the process was limited to research facilities.

Sens teams approach was to act first, figure it out second.

There are a number of procedures and processes at play, Sen said. We dont understand all of them, but we achieved our goal. Now that weve achieved our goal, we can get into the details of how it works.

The healing of injuries by converting skin cells into vascular cells to regenerate blood vessels is one proven application of TNT.

Sens team also created nerve cells by the conversion process, injecting the newly formed neurotissue from the skin of a mouse with brain damage from stroke into its skull. The replacement rescued brain function that would otherwise have been lost.

Sen envisions additional uses for TNT, including organ recovery.

We could go into a failing organ via an endoscopic catheter with a chip to reprogram cells and restore organ function, Sen said. It doesnt have to be a skin cell. It could be excessive fat tissue.

TNT could improve our quality of life as we age, too.

Im a runner, so I have joint issues, Friedersdorf said. Nanotechnology could enable the regeneration of cartilage. Im hoping these technologies will be available when Im in need of them.

Sen and his team are currently searching for an industrial partner to manufacture chips designed to work for humans.

Then comes testing.

Ultimately, Sen hopes to drive rapid advancement in nanoscience and health.

Im a scientist, but this was inspired by the need to make an impact on health, Sen said. Our main goal is impact.

More here:
Nanotechnology May Be Used to Heal Wounds, Repair Organs – Healthline

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Exclusive interview with Discovery’s First in Human sickle cell … – Monsters and Critics.com

NIH research Dr. John Tisdale has effectively created a cure for sickle cell disease

When people fall ill, sometimes there is no hope. In some cases, there is an avenue of last chance to explore, this is the world of First In Human on Discovery.

Narrated by Jim Parsons, this groundbreaking three part event unfolds at the famous National Institutes of Health Building 10.

Building 10 is the largest research hospital in the country where select patients often deemed incurable and near death, with no alternatives go to be first in clinical trials for cutting edge therapies and medicines.

This is the hardest thing to do in medical research, as some treatments may wind up killing the patient.

Discoverys cameras were given unprecedented access for the first time inside this institution.

These true and gripping accounts of medical miracles are told incrementally in the three episodes. The NIH took the risk with Discovery to let them film stories and meet the doctors who have changed lives.

Their decision was based on the exemplary work of John Hoffman, the Director and EVP of Documentaries and Specials at Discovery.

Hoffman was given access worked with NIH doctors Dr. John Tisdale and Dr. Terry Fry and their respective patients, Deidra Williams and Carla and Robert Cooper among others.

This televised event takes viewers inside the crucial beginning phase of scientific research following four patients as they participate in first in human trials, the initial time a new therapy is tested in humans, revealing the character and inner strength of both the doctors and their hopeful patients.

At the recent television critics association summer press tour, we spoke with all of them about their monumental achievements and setbacks as well.

Our exclusive interview below is with Dr. John Tisdale, whose revolutionary work to cure sickle cell disease is nothing short of astounding in results.

He was accompanied by his patient, Deidra Williams, who suffered her entire life and was resigned to an early death (the average life span is 42 years). Dr. Tisdales bone marrow treatment saved her life.

Deidra recounts the pain of living with sickle cell disease

We interviewed Dr. Tisdale and Deidra together:

Monsters and Critics: How did you find Dr. Tisdale to help you, Deidra?

Deidra: I applied for the clinical trial at the NIH, and when I was accepted in thats when I met Dr. Tisdale.

M&C: How many cases do you review, Dr. Tisdale, that you see these applications? And how do you pick the people that you want to work with?

Dr. John Tisdale: We have two or three new patients that come to our clinic with sickle cell disease a week. Some of them are just interested in finding out more about their disease and may be contributing research samples for studies that we do in the lab. And some are interested in getting treatment recommendations, the one drug that we have, Hydroxyurea. And some are interested in pursuing curative therapies and are coming to see if theyre eligible for one of the clinical trials that we have open.

The way the process works is that if its the latter, we start off by determining whether its an option for them, whether their disease is severe enough. Almost every adult, it is, unfortunately. The next step is what type of curative transplant might they be eligible for.

The kind that she got was from her sister. And so, the first screen is, do you have a brother or sister thats a match that doesnt have sickle cell disease? If thats the case, then they can go into this protocol. If they dont, then we have two other experimental transplant protocols, where were testing either a half match, which almost everyone has. A parent or a child is a half match.

Or whats called Gene Therapy, where instead we take the patients own bone marrow, try to correct it, and give it back. And so, each of those protocols have a little bit different eligibility criteria that relate to whats being done to get them ready.

In her [Deidra] case, its a pretty benign prep to get the transplant. So virtually anyone with sickle cell disease would be eligible to have it done.

The other two are a little more involved, so not everyone is eligible because they have to have good kidney function, good lung function, and that sort of thing. So thats sort of how the process works.

Dr. Tisdales therapy was so successful it is being rolled out to other hospitals

M&C: Deidra, how did you feel when you got accepted into this program to be helped?

Deidra: I was excited. I was scared. And I was just doing my best not to get my hopes up high because I was living with a disease at that time that there was no cure. Sickle cell was not curable, so for me to be taking this step I had to kind of hold it in. Because you just dont want to be disappointed. But I knew that it was I just felt pulled to do it.

M&C: For people who dont know, whats living with sickle cell like?

Deidra: It is very painful. All over your body. For me, it was all over. Mainly in my joints and its just very exhausting mentally because you are always in pain. And its hard. You feel like youre trapped in your body, because what your mind says you can do and your body says and does something totally different.

Its just a very debilitating disease, and a misunderstood disease, with a lot of different misconceptions. Usually, people with sickle cell disease are very strong people. And you have to be to deal with that kind of pain from birth.

M&C: Wow. How do you feel now?

Deidra: I feel good.

M&C: When did you feel a change when you started this therapy? When did you feel a change in your overall?

Deidra: It was not like a flick of a light switch. This was an ongoing, as each day progressed, youll feel a little better and a little better and a little better. I am a little under two years And I am still starting to still feel a little bit more I dont know to say normal, but you find its a progression, the things you couldnt do, you can now do again. Maybe its walking around the block that used to trigger a crisis. Youre waiting on something to happen but it doesnt happen. Or being outside and it gets really cold, and again, youre waiting on that pain to be triggered to happen, and it doesnt happen. And youre like, Oh yeah, Im okay.

Its been a progression of clarity. And what I mean by mental clarity, because people with sickle cell, more than likely, theyre dealing with a lot of narcotics to control the pain. Once that was taken care of When youre able to lift that, just little by little. It all starts-

Dr. John Tisdale: Making more clear what its really like because you say youre in pain, you have chronic pain, lots of people have chronic pain. What happens is, the red cells that normally squeeze through the circulation, in sickle cell disease, once they let go of oxygen, the hemoglobin inside gets hard and rigid, and the red cell then becomes very rigid and cant pass through the circulation. Everything clogs up. And if it happens here, theres no blood supply to your leg.

Or if it happens in the bone, theres no blood supply to your bone, for a long time. And that damages organs. If it happens in the brain, you have a stroke. And kids with sickle cell disease have strokes and bone damage

M&C: Is it like a necropsy?

Dr. John Tisdale: Yes, necrosis. Its an intense pain.

Deidra: Yes it is.

Dr. John Tisdale: That no one else can even imagine. And it requires high doses of narcotics, in the hospital sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. It appears out of the blue. Youre going along with life, and then the next thing youre in the hospital for two weeks on heavy doses of narcotics. And this happens over and over and over. So you cant plan life, you cant plan family things, you cant study, you cant finish school, youre in pain all the time.

You wind up on narcotics at really high doses that control the pain, but most of the time not adequately. What weve noticed actually, is it takes some time after being on pain medications for the pain wires to kind of reset in the brain.

Part of the reason why it takes some time for you to feel completely better. Even when the sickle cell is completely gone.

Deidra: Thats so right. And everything that hes saying, its just so accurate. It would get in the way of everything. The countless times where I was in school and you know, pneumonia, something happens, something just takes you out. And it got to a point to where you dont know what crisis going to be that crisis. And it just takes you out. Is it going to be my heart? Is it going to be a stroke? What is it? You pray when you go into the ER that youre going to come back out. And I did that, I had small children, and every day that was a fear. That was a fear. And now, again, just being able to think clearly, being able to think clearly and to move and not having the fear that its Oh, am I getting sick? Its just so much.

M&C: When you found out that they were doing a television show, and that you were going to be part of it, how did that process unfold to you? Youre doing your job as a doctor and youre a researcher and youre helping people with this particular blood disease, and then all of a sudden cameras are in your orbit. Tell me about that.

Dr. John Tisdale: I have to say, at first I was a little reluctant. Im sort of camera shy and dont like to be the center of attention, and certainly didnt want a bunch of film crew following me around every day. So, there was that. But we met with the people from the Discovery Channel and I was really impressed that they were in this for the right reasons, and they were really wanting to promote the kind of work that we do. I felt like I had to do it because people just dont know about sickle cell disease.

Its actually the first disease that we discovered the molecular defect, we scientistsAnd despite that, we really have nothing. And theres very little awareness of the disease. Patients with the disease are often mistreated because the one thing that we can do for them is give them narcotics. So, you show up in the emergency room and you want narcotics.

People are like, Theyre drug seeking. Its a disease thats underappreciated, misunderstood, and I felt like I had to do it.

M&C: How many years have you been researching this disease?

Dr. John Tisdale: More than 20 years at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland the Intramural Clinical Research Program.

M&C: Deidra, talk about the frustrating thing about sickle cell, you dont look like theres anything wrong, and yet theres so much going on

Deidra: A lot of people say that [about looking good]. And thats another misconception.

Dr. John Tisdale: You look great and youre so sick.

Deidra: Its on the inside. Its not something that you can physically see.

M&C: Anyone else in your family with it?

Deidra: Yeah, I do. I have an uncle with sickle cell disease.

M&C: So he understood your suffering?

Deidra: He understood completely.

M&C: Did you have any pushback from your family that maybe thought you were putting it on, or playing up your pain?

Deidra: You have some members of the family like that. Like they think you can fix it by drinking water. Not my mother. My mothers a nurse for over 30 years. She definitely knew.

Deidra the moment she learned she was free of the disease

M&C: Im glad youre well.

Deidra: Thank you.

First in Human: The Trials of Building 10 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on Discovery.

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Exclusive interview with Discovery’s First in Human sickle cell … – Monsters and Critics.com

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Blood cancer: High doses of vitamin C could encourage stem cells … – Express.co.uk

The study suggests it may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die.

Researchers say Vitamin C may “tell” faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers.

They explained that certain genetic changes are known to reduce the ability of an enzyme called TET2 to encourage stem cells to become mature blood cells, which eventually die, in many patients with certain kinds of leukaemia.

The new study, published online by the journal Cell. found that vitamin C activated TET2 function in mice engineered to be deficient in the enzyme.

Study corresponding author Professor Benjamin Neel, of the Perlmutter Cancer Centre in the United States, said: “We’re excited by the prospect that high-dose vitamin C might become a safe treatment for blood diseases caused by TET2-deficient leukemia stem cells, most likely in combination with other targeted therapies.”

He said changes in the genetic code that reduce TET2 function are found in 10 per cent of patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), 30 per cent of those with a form of pre-leukaemia called myelodysplastic syndrome, and in nearly 50 per cent of patients with chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia.

Such cancers cause anaemia, infection risk, and bleeding as abnormal stem cells multiply in the bone marrow until they interfere with blood cell production, with the number of cases increasing as the population ages.

Prof Neel said the study results revolve around the relationship between TET2 and cytosine, one of the four nucleic acid “letters” that comprise the DNA code in genes.

To determine the effect of mutations that reduce TET2 function in abnormal stem cells, the researchers genetically engineered mice such that the scientists could switch the TET2 gene on or off.

Similar to the naturally occurring effects of TET2 mutations in mice or humans, using molecular biology techniques to turn off TET2 in mice caused abnormal stem cell behaviour.

Prof Neel said, remarkably, the changes were reversed when TET2 expression was restored by a genetic trick.

Previous work had shown that vitamin C could stimulate the activity of TET2 and its relatives TET1 and TET3.

Because only one of the two copies of the TET2 gene in each stem cell is usually affected in TET2-mutant blood diseases, the researchers hypothesised that high doses of vitamin C, which can only be given intravenously, might reverse the effects of TET2 deficiency by turning up the action of the remaining functional gene.

They found that vitamin C did the same thing as restoring TET2 function genetically.

By promoting DNA demethylation, high-dose vitamin C treatment induced stem cells to mature, and also suppressed the growth of leukaemia cancer stem cells from human patients implanted in mice.

Study first author Doctor Luisa Cimmino, of New York University Langone Health, said: “Interestingly, we also found that vitamin C treatment had an effect on leukaemic stem cells that resembled damage to their DNA.

“For this reason, we decided to combine vitamin C with a PARP inhibitor, a drug type known to cause cancer cell death by blocking the repair of DNA damage, and already approved for treating certain patients with ovarian cancer.”

The researchers found that the combination had an enhanced effect on leukaemia stem cells, further shifting them from self-renewal back toward maturity and cell death.

Dr Cimmino said the results also suggest that vitamin C might drive leukaemic stem cells without TET2 mutations toward death, given that it turns up any TET2 activity normally in place.

Corresponding author Professor Iannis Aifantis, also of NYU Langone Health, added: “Our team is working to systematically identify genetic changes that contribute to risk for leukaemia in significant groups of patients.

“This study adds the targeting of abnormal TET2-driven DNA demethylation to our list of potential new treatment approaches.”

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Blood cancer: High doses of vitamin C could encourage stem cells … – Express.co.uk

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ExplorationWorks hosts bone marrow drive – KRTV Great Falls News

(HELENA) ExplorationWorks is hosting a Be The Match bone marrow donor drive this week at the Great Northern Town Center.

The drive is meantto support those in need of bone marrow or blood stem cell transplants around the world.

The bone marrow drive isbeing held in conjunction with the ExplorationWorks Kids Kicking Cancer Camp.

The camp is open to childrendirectly affected by cancer.

Campers had the opportunity to make a card for a Be the Match child who is currently undergoing or awaiting treatment.

According to ExplorationWorks Education Director Lauren Rivers, the camp wants kids to connect with the Be The Match kids on levels most children would not understand.

“Knowing someone else is fighting the same fight will hopefully be a healing activity for all of the kids involved, Rivers said.

John Philpott of Be the Match said that some of the Be The Match kids children are still waiting for a match.

There are still thousands of patients every year who have to hear their doctor say theres no match for you, Philpott said. One Montanan [donation] can mean the difference for one patient.

According to Be the Match, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer every three minutes and someonedies every ten minutesfrom not receiving a transplant.

The Marrow Donor Registry Drive will continue at ExplorationWorks from 10a.m. to 5p.m. on Friday, August 18 and from 12:30 p.m. to 3p.m. on Saturday, August 19.

Registration takes around 10 minutes to complete and only involves some paper work and a few cheek swabs.

You must be between the ages 18-44 in order to register.

For more information about bone marrow donation and how to register, click here.

See more here:
ExplorationWorks hosts bone marrow drive – KRTV Great Falls News

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Love at first sniff? Sexiest fruit fly females show specific insulin signaling – PLOS Research News

What do males really want? If youre a female fruit fly, pheromone-mediated insulin signaling may hold the key to your attraction. Thats according to a new PLOS Genetics study, whose authors found that female flies manipulated to have increased insulin signaling in their follicle cells, which support egg production, and decreased signaling in their fat body, the energy storage organ, appeared to be more attractive to males.

A female fruit fly must balance her energy usage between making eggs now and storing nutrients for later, and males would be expected to favor a female who appears to prioritize egg production, increasing her fecundity. Differences in tissue-specific insulin signaling likely affect the pheromones produced by the female flies, making them smell different to males with natural selection favoring males who find the more fertile females attractive.

The authors also verified that such insulin signaling is a reliable mate quality indicator for the males: those females engineered to have increased insulin signaling in their follicle cells did indeed produce more offspring. Even fruit flies may therefore be capable of accurately assessing mate fitness. Love may be blind to many things but not, it would seem, to pheromones.

Research Article: Fedina TY, Arbuthnott D, Rundle HD, Promislow DEL, Pletcher SD (2017) Tissue-specific insulin signaling mediates female sexual attractiveness. PLoS Genet 13(8): e1006935. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006935

Image Credit: C. Gendron

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Love at first sniff? Sexiest fruit fly females show specific insulin signaling – PLOS Research News

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When White Nationalists Get DNA Tests That Reveal African Ancestry – The Atlantic

The white-nationalist forum Stormfront hosts discussions on a wide range of topics, from politics to guns to The Lord of the Rings. And of particular and enduring interest: genetic ancestry tests. For white nationalists, DNA tests are a way to prove their racial purity. Of course, their results dont always come back that way. And how white nationalists try to explain away non-European ancestry is rather illuminating of their beliefs.

Will the Alt-Right Promote a New Kind of Racist Genetics?

Two years agobefore Donald Trump was elected president, before white nationalism had become central to the political conversationAaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, sociologists then at the University of California, Los Angeles, set out to study Stormfront forum posts about genetic ancestry tests. They presented their study at the American Sociological Association meeting this Monday. (A preprint of the paper is now online.)After the events in Charlottesville this week, their research struck a particular chord with the audience.

For academics, there was some uneasiness around hearing that science is being used in this way and that some of the critiques that white nationalists are making of genetics are the same critiques social scientists make of genetics, says Donovan, who recently took up a position at the Data and Society Research Institute. On Stormfront, the researchers did encounter conspiracy theories and racist rants, but some white-nationalist interpretations of genetic ancestry tests were in fact quite sophisticatedand their views cannot all be easily dismissed as ignorance.

If we believe their politics comes from lack of sophistication because theyre unintelligent or uneducated, says Panofsky, I think were liable to make a lot of mistakes in how we cope with them.

Panofsky, Donovan, and their team of researchers analyzed 3,070 Stormfront posts spanning more than a decadeall from forum threads in which at least one user revealed the results of a DNA test. Some of the results were 100 percent European, as users expected. But oftensurprisingly often, says Panofskyusers disclosed tests results showing non-European ancestry. And despite revealing non-European ancestry on a forum full of white nationalists, they were not run off the site.

While some commenters reacted with anger, many reacted by offering up arguments to explain away the test results. These arguments largely fell into two camps.

First, they could simply reject all genetic ancestry testing. Genealogy or the so-called mirror test (When you look in the mirror, do you see a Jew? If not, youre good) were better tests of racial purity, some suggested. Others offered up conspiracies about DNA testing companies led by Jews: I think 23andMe might be a covert operation to get DNA the Jews could then use to create bio-weapons for use against us.

The second category of explanation was a lot more nuancedand echoed in many ways legitimate critiques of the tests. When companies like 23andMe or AncestryDNA return a result like 23 percent Iberian, for example, theyre noting similarities between the customers DNA and people currently living in that region. But people migrate; populations change. It doesnt pinpoint where ones ancestors actually lived. One Stormfront user wrote:

See, THIS is why I dont recommend these tests to people. Did they bother to tell you that there were whites in what is now Senegal all that time ago? No? So they led you to believe that youre mixed even though in all probability, you are simply related to some white fool who left some of his DNA with the locals in what is now Senegal.

Panofsky notes that legitimate scientific critiques are often distorted by a white-nationalist interpretation of history. For example, the mixing of DNA in a region would be explained by the heroic conquest of Vikings. Or a white female ancestor was raped by an African man.

The team also identified a third group of reactions: acceptance of the genetic ancestry test results. Some users did start to rethink white nationalism. Not the basic ideologyStormfronts forums are not exactly the place you would do thatbut the criteria for whiteness. For example, one user suggested a white-nationalist confederation, where different nations would have slightly different criteria for inclusion:

So in one nation having Ghengis Khan as your ancestor wont disqualify you, while in others it might. Hypothetically, I might take a DNA test and find that I dont qualify for every nation and every nations standards, though I’m sure that at least one of those nations (and probably many of them) will have standards that would include me

Another user dug deep into the technical details of genetic ancestry testing. The tests can rely on three different lines of evidence: the Y chromosome that comes from your fathers fathers father and so on, the mitochondrial DNA that comes from your mothers mothers mother and so on, and autosomal DNA that can come from either side. One user suggested that a purity in the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA were more important than in the autosomal DNA. But others disagreed.

Sociologists have long pointed out the categories of race are socially constructed. The criteria for who gets to be whiteItalians? Arabs? Mexicans?are determined by social rather than biological forces. And DNA is the newest way for white nationalists to look for differences between the races.

In these years of posts on Stormfront, you can see users attempting to make sense of DNA, figuring out in real time how genetics can be used to circumscribe and preserve whiteness. The test results are always open to interpretation.

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When White Nationalists Get DNA Tests That Reveal African Ancestry – The Atlantic

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