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IN-DEPTH: Fighting for your life – Leavenworth Times

Julie Gould was heartbroken to learn that there was no cure for diffuse scleroderma, the chronic disease that she was diagnosed with in 2016.

Julie Gould was heartbroken to learn that there was no cure for diffuse scleroderma, the chronic disease that she was diagnosed with in 2016.The life-threatening auto-immune disease affects connective tissue in the body by producing too much collagen and hardening cartilage, tendons and skin.

I was depressed when I received the initial diagnosis, she said. It’s difficult to hear that you may be dead in five years time. According to the Scleroderma Foundation, A person newly diagnosed with scleroderma may feel alone and uncertain about where to turn for help. He or she may experience a number of other feelings and emotional reactions from time to time, including initial shock or disbelief, fear, anger, denial, self-blame, guilt, grief, sadness or depression. Family members may have similar feelings.

When Julie first consulted a doctor in 2015, she was concerned that she might have picked up an infectious disease, such as a mosquito-born illness, or as she described it, the worst flu ever, during a vacation to Mexico. But she was told that diabetic neuropathy was causing the pins and needles tingling in her hands and feet.

My hands and feet continued to swell and I thought I had heart failure, said Julie. I went to a cardiologist to see if that was the problem. Those tests and lab work came back normal too.When the pain and swelling became excruciating, she consulted with a rheumatologist. When diabetic neuropathy was ruled out, she was told it could be rheumatoid arthritis. Although the lab tests were within normal limits, her doctor thought the labs werent correlating yet because it was so early in diagnosis. She was given medication and told to come back in six weeks, but saw no alleviation of the pain.

When her rheumatologist told her she might have scleroderma and ordered lab work, those tests too were normal.My physical therapist thought I should go to the Mayo Clinic, said Julie. I got online and requested an appointment. Three months later at the clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, she was diagnosed with diffuse scleroderma but it was a rare type that doesnt test positive in the usual lab test. Her total diagnosis wait had been a year and eight months, and she was more than ready to begin treatment. She was given multiple medications for pain and symptom control.After diagnosis, I got online and started searching for information about scleroderma, said Julie. It was dismal. I had to step away from the computer.Current treatments for the disease are varied, but basically treat the organs being affected. When lung tissue is hardened, patients are tube-fed and given oxygen. Sometimes lung transplants are required. Some patients need gastrointestinal surgery and some have operations to decrease ulcers on their fingers, while some must have their fingers and toes amputated.

Medication for high blood pressure and chemotherapy to suppress the disease are common with the disease and stiff joints and skin can result in patients not being able to stand upright and wheelchair-bound. Physical and occupational therapy is required to save body functions.Julies mother and sister, who is a nurse, also began scouring the internet for treatments. When they read about stem cell transplant they both felt this was the answer to Julies prayers.

Overcome with depression and pain, Julie began taking an antidepressant. With the help of the drug and limitless help and support from her family, the research on transplant gave her much needed hope. When I found out about the transplant, I was scared, said Julie. I feared for my life being taken by this disease.

This disease literally affects every organ system in the body. Transplant offered a chance to stop the disease in its tracks and stop further progression and damage to my body. I had been recently diagnosed, so the doctor said I could wait until I was worse, then have the transplant at a later date. I did not wait. I already had heart, lung, GI, and musculoskeletal systems involved. This approach was proactive, not reactive. It offered me hope.To qualify for stem cell treatment a patient must be sick enough toneed it, but not so sick that they would not benefit from the procedure.

We were able to find many groups to help us learn about scleroderma, she said. Inspire and Facebook were invaluable. There were specific groups for people who had scleroderma. Groups for people who needed a stem cell transplant. Groups for people with scleroderma, who wanted, or who already had a transplant.I started to read all the testimonials. I looked at the NIH website. This was productive research. I was finding out information on how to save my life not on how I was going to die.

After Julie applied for evaluation by Dr. Richard Burt at Northwestern in Chicago, she had scores of tests, including a CT scan of her lungs, MRI of her chest, EKG, sonogram of her heart, heart cath, colonoscopy, EGD, lab work, stress tests, psychological exam, dental exam, and 24-hour urine collection.

After all the anxious waiting during almost two years of doctor visits and tests, Julie was informed that she had passed the evaluation and had been approved for stem cell transplant.I came home to mentally prepare myself, said Julie. I returned to Chicago for the mobilization phase. I received a dose of chemo overnight in the hospital to suppress my immune disease. A week later I then started to give myself injections to produce white blood cells using neupogen. This medication forces the bone marrow to put out extra white blood cells, from which stem cells originate.

After six days of injections, Julie returned to the hospital to have the stem cells removed from her blood for use at a later date. She had to stay in Chicago during this part of treatment in case she had complications from the procedure. The process was similar to dialysis, said Julie. I was at the hospital all day, 12 hours. My own stem cells had been harvested to heal me. After two weeks of rest at home in Leavenworth, Julie returned to Chicago for the transplant. And after five days of more chemo, her stem cells were returned to her body. Now we only had to wait for the transplant to work, said Julie. I stayed in the hospital until the cells engrafted and my immune system started working again. Eight days.I had been in the hospital for 16 days. The transplant is a reboot to your diseased immune system like a reboot to your computer.Julie returned to Leavenworth to rest and recover. My entire family have been tremendously supportive, she said. They offered and provided all of the help that I needed to achieve this treatment.

She is also grateful to the community of Leavenworth for reaching out to help her. They donated money for my out-of-pocket expenses, said Julie. They provided food upon my return from Chicago. I didn’t have to cook, nor did my husband for six weeks. Family cleaned my home and watched my children. I was grateful.

Social media also provided support during Julies treatment. She discovered a network of people on Facebook who had already had a transplant, or were waiting to have one. Stem cells are used to treat many auto-immune disorders like multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohns disease, and many others, said Julie. I could pose any question to this forum and receive an answer. I started my own Facebook page to document my medical treatment so that I too could share my information. It has been wonderful to help others who are experiencing what I have been through.

Julie has just returned from her one-year checkup in Chicago and learned that the progression of the disease has stopped. Stem cell transplant has saved my life, said Julie. I am living, not merely existing.Not only has the disease been stopped in its tracks, Julie has seen physical improvements such as full motion in her shoulder, which was frozen from hardened tissue for much of the last few years. Her contracted hands are also more mobile and she has gained 40 degrees movement in some of her fingers.

I have Raynaud’s syndrome, said Julie. It has improved. It was a constant struggle to keep my hands and feet warm. The pain in my hands is mostly gone. The all-over joint pain is gone. The fatigue and malaise are gone. I feel good. I feel happy.As she has regained her back strength and dexterity she is now able to enjoy the routine of normal days, like rising from a chair without pain, sleeping and eating well and even doing simple tasks such as opening a jar, which was difficult after her diagnosis.Everyday tasks were difficult, said Julie. Deodorant, flossing, brushing teeth or hair, dressing. All of the daily activities have gotten easier everyday. The pain is mostly gone.My body feels healthy.

Julie has gained much more than flexibility and relief from constant pain during her long medical challenge, and she emphasizes, I learned to not sweat the small stuff. I learned to live every day. I learned to love every day.

IN-DEPTH: Fighting for your life – Leavenworth Times

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Stem cell therapy for heart failure gets a gold-standard trial – Salon

In the days after a heart attack, surviving patients and their loved ones can breathe a sigh of relief that the immediate danger is over but the scar tissue that forms during the long healing process can inflict lasting damage. Too often it restricts the hearts ability to fill properly between beats, disrupting rhythm and ultimately leading to heart failure. Yet a new possible treatment may help to revitalize an injured ticker.

A cadre of scientists and companies is now trying to prevent or reverse cardiac damage by infusing a cocktail of stem cells into weakened hearts. One company, Melbourne, Australiabased Mesoblast, is already in late-stage clinical trials, treating hundreds of chronic heart failure patients with stem cell precursors drawn from healthy donors hip bones. A randomized trial that includes a placebo group is scheduled to complete enrollment next year.

Mesoblasts earlier-stage trials, published in 2015 inCirculation Research, found that patients who received injections of its cell mixture had no further problems related to heart failure.

Promising results from the new trial would be a major step forward for a field that has long been criticized for studies that are poorly designed, incomplete or lack control-group comparisons, as well as for the peddling of unproved therapies in many clinics worldwide.

Another company, Belgium-based TiGenix, hopes to attack scar tissue before it forms by treating patients with a mixture of heart stem cells within seven days of a heart attack. This approach has just completed phase II trials, but no findings have yet been published.

There are still many unanswered questions about how stem cells typically derived from bones could help heal the heart. Leading theories suggest they may help fight inflammation, revitalize existing heart cells, or drive those cells to divide or promote new blood-vessel growth, says Richard Lee, leader of the cardiovascular program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Other stem cell scientists, including Joshua Hare, who conducted earlier-stage Mesoblast research and directs the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at the University of Miami, say the cells may work in multiple ways to heal scar tissue. According to Hare, the stem cells could ultimately be a truly regenerative treatment.

Stem cell therapy for heart failure gets a gold-standard trial – Salon

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Telemedicine OK for Genetic Testing and Counseling – MedPage Today

WASHINGTON — Genetic counseling and testing delivered via telephone matched up with the traditional in-person consultation in long-term psychosocial outcomes for women at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in a randomized trial, a researcher said here.

“This is one of the first studies to show comparable outcomes,” said Marc Schwartz, PhD, of Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center, after his presentation at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention. That’s important not only for these at-risk women, but also because “as testing becomes more popular for other cancers, there’s just not enough capacity to see (everyone) in person.”

Schwartz’s research team — spanning Georgetown, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the University of Vermont and Mount Sinai — sought to address this looming treatment gap by studying a “telegenetic counseling and testing intervention designed to enhance genetic testing access,” with women’s psychosocial outcomes evaluated at 2-week, 3-month, and 12-month intervals.

At the 12-month follow-up, women counseled and tested via telephone showed “clear evidence” of non-inferior outcomes, Schwartz said, on all five psychosocial outcomes measured (distress, quality of life, knowledge, decisional conflict, and satisfaction), compared to women receiving in-person attention.

Calling telephone counseling and testing “safe and effective” for this population, Schwartz encouraged providers to consider these telemedicine approaches. “Waiting lists for initial (in-person) appointments are often quite long,” he said, averaging 2.3 months at Georgetown.

“A lot of studies have shown tele-delivery is non-inferior” in other areas of medicine, he noted.

In the multi-site, randomized, non-inferiority trial, Schwartz and colleagues enrolled 669 women ages 21-85 with at least a 10% risk for carrying BRCA1/2 mutations. Women newly diagnosed with metastatic cancer were excluded.

Women in the telemedicine arm were issued “content comparable to in-person genetic counseling,” according to Schwartz’s presentation; women meeting with counselors received “standard BRCA1/2 genetic counseling and result disclosure.”

The research team in 2014 had reported results from the 2-week and 3-month follows-ups, as well as economic factors.

Schwartz noted (as was true in the 2014 data) that “telephone delivery is cost-saving compared to standard counseling,” averaging $114 less per case.

Overall: “In a series of studies, we have shown that BRCA1/2 mutation testing rarely results in adverse psychosocial outcomes” and fosters risk management behaviors, the researchers wrote in the abstract. “Regardless of delivery mode,” Schwartz concluded, “distress tends to decrease among non-carriers and remains relatively stable among carriers.”

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, and Jess and Mildred Fisher Center for Hereditary Cancer and Clinical Genomics Research.


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Telemedicine OK for Genetic Testing and Counseling – MedPage Today

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Court Denies Genetic Testing in Juan Gabriel Estate Case – Billboard

Celebrity deaths often spawn inheritance lawsuits. And after Juan Gabriels (real name Alberto Aguilera) sudden death last year, lawsuits and paternity and inheritance claims have followed.

At least one of those has encountered a legal roadblock after a Los Angeles Superior Court denied a motion seeking DNA paternity testing.

In the decision handed down Thursday(Aug. 10), judge Brenda J. Penny, Commissioner of the Los Angeles Superior Court, denied Joao Aguileras request for genetic testing.

Read more: Mexican Superstar Juan Gabriel Dies at 66

The decision comes in the wake of a petition filed by Joao Aguilera on July 13, 2017, requesting a court order authorizing the County Coroners office to release a portion of Juan Gabriels remains for DNA testing. The petition, filed by Joao Aguilera, states that he is Juan Gabriels son, and that the fact is noted on his birth certificate.

In turn, Ivan Aguilera, who is recognized as Juan Gabriels son and is the beneficiary of his estate, filed an opposing motion July 28.

At the time of his death, according to court documents, Juan Gabriel had a Last Will and Testament, dated June 4, 2014, in which Ivan Aguilera is named as the sole beneficiary.

Read more: Juan Gabriel Hologram to Debut at Tribute Concert in Mexico: ‘What We’ve Put Together is Unbelievable’

In a statement provided to Billboard, Ivan Aguileras legal firmLoeb & Loebwrote: We are pleased that the court rejected and denied Joao Aguileras motion, recognizing it as plainly improper and beyond the jurisdiction of any court in the State of California. Ivan Aguilera will continue to do whatever is necessary to honor and give effect to his father Albertos clear wishes and instructions, including those contained in his fathers will.

A copy of the court decision was not available at press time.

Juan Gabriel died a year ago at 66 years of age whilst on a major U.S. tour.

At the time of his death, Juan Gabriel, already one of Latin musics biggest superstars, was arguably at the apex of his career, despite his age.

Read more: Juan Gabriel Sales & Streams Soar Following His Death

He ranked at No. 18 on Billboards 2015 Money Makers list (just below Ed Sheeran and just above Florida Georgia Line), largely thanks to $11.6 million in touring revenue in 2015. He scored the years highest-grossing Latin tour and had the top-selling Latin album, Los Duo, which has moved 131,000 units, according to Nielsen Music.

The week before his death, his latest album, Vestido de Etiqueta: Por Eduardo Magallanes, debuted at No. 1 on Billboards Top Latin Albums chart. In the fall, Telemundo will begin airing a TV series based on his life.

After his death, different claims have been made to his estate, including from Joao Aguilera and Luis Alberto Aguilera, who both claim to be his children.

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Court Denies Genetic Testing in Juan Gabriel Estate Case – Billboard

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Growth Opportunities in the US Prenatal Genetic Testing Market, Forecast to 2021 – Markets Insider

NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ –Prenatal genetic tests, which are predominantly used to test disorders such as aneuploidies in chromosomes 21, 18, and 13, and carrier screens, are gaining momentum in the United States due to enhanced assay outcomes through non-invasive methodologies, increased popularity through social media channels, and the growing number of women choosing to undergo pregnancy at an advanced maternal age.

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The growth in demand has led to a high level of merger and acquisition activity, apart from numerous collaborations, which in turn has bolstered the product portfolio of several companies in the women’s healthcare segment. With this accelerated growth, companies are exploring new avenues to market their products, thereby strategically tying up with IVF clinics, physicians, and OBGYNs. New business models like direct to consumer (DTC) are seeing increased uptake due to ease of use and hassle-free processing. Partnerships with Big Data companies will be the next big leap in the prenatal genetic testing market, thereby providing interpretation of vast volumes of data to increase specificity and sensitivity.

Research Scope:

The key objectives of this growth opportunity study are to track the changes in the prenatal genetic testing market landscape in the United States from 2016 to 2021. The study aims to identify growth segments and disruptive companies for investment. Further, it provides an in-depth revenue and market share analysis of 4 key segments, namely, NIPT, carrier screening for cystic fibrosis, invasive tests, and miscarriage tests.

The study highlights industry challenges, growth drivers and restraints, competitive developments, mergers and acquisitions, and investment opportunities. It also discusses the impact of Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) and the LDT guidelines issued by the FDA, identifies transforming business models, and makes strategic recommendations to understand market dynamics. The study also covers key trends and growth opportunities, game-changing companies, disruptive technologies, and strategic recommendations.

Key questions this study will answer include:

– What are the long-term growth prospects in the market?

– What are the other areas of growth outside NIPT? What are the opportunities to explore in carrier screening and miscarriage screening?

– What are some of the innovative companies to action and to follow?

– How should you price your tests to remain competitive in the market?

– Who are the established market participants and what are their strategies to remain competent in this market?

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Growth Opportunities in the US Prenatal Genetic Testing Market, Forecast to 2021 – Markets Insider

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Benefit event planned for Palmer man – Grand Island Independent

WORMS A benefit event to assist a Palmer man who is battling MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome) is planned for Friday, Aug. 18, at Nitecrawler Bar in Worms.

Army veteran Paul Spencer Curry was diagnosed with MDS in January. MDS is a bone marrow/blood cancer that effects the blood cells and immune system. He has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments since February and had a bone marrow/stem cell transplant in July at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

He is required to spend 100 days after the transplant in Omaha. Proceeds from the benefit will be used to help cover medical, lodging and travel expenses for Curry and his wife, Pam.

The benefit event will include a Texas Hold Em poker tournament at 6 p.m., with the top prize being two Husker football tickets.

The event will also include raffle drawings, live and silent auctions and a pulled pork dinner served from 5 to 9 p.m.. Registration for the poker tournament is $20; freewill donations for the meal. Menu includes pulled pork sandwiches, beans, chips, salads and desserts.

The benefit is sponsored by Dannebrog Michelson-Larkowski American Legion and Auxiliary Post 241.

Donations can be dropped off at any Five Points Bank location, payable to Paul Curry cancer benefit, or mailed to 2015 N. Broadwell Ave., Grand Island, NE 68803.

For tickets, auction donations or more information, contact Randy Hansen at (308) 750-0691 or Leanna Obermiller at (308) 380-1515.

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Benefit event planned for Palmer man – Grand Island Independent

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India’s Advancells Reports Successful Reversal of MS in Single Patient Using Stem Cell Therapy – Multiple Sclerosis News Today

Advancellssays its stem cell-based therapy completely reversed multiple sclerosis (MS) in an Indian pilot trial with only one MS patient.

The patient, Rahul Gupta, was diagnosed with MS seven years ago and has since suffered multiple relapses. His disease was progressing fast and he was quickly losing his ability to walk. Gupta, who lives in New Zealand, approached Advancells a company based in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh that specializes in the use of stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

After my last relapse, I became determined to look for alternative treatments for multiple sclerosis,Gupta said in a press release. I started looking on the net and found that stem-cell therapy [offers] hope for people suffering with MS [and] that it is safe and would not harm me in any way. I was determined to undergo stem-cell treatment, as my illness was progressing very quickly.

Gupta enrolled inAdvancells adult stem-cell therapy program as the trials single patient. In the procedure carried outin June at a New Delhi clinic doctors isolated stem cells from his bone marrow and re-infused them back into the patientat specific points. Apart from this procedure, Gupta underwent only physiotherapy and a dietary routine.

Straight after the treatment I saw major improvements, he said. I could walk a lot better, could climb stairs which I was unable to do after 2012 and even go on the treadmill.

Dr. Lipi Singh, head of technology at Advancells, said the company is frequently approached by MS patients from around the world who want to participate in its program.

Patient selection is a key criterion for us and Rahul suited the criteria perfectly, Singh said. He is young and still at a moderate level of the disease and in a very positive frame of mind. Patients at this stage are best suited for this kind of treatment and thus we decided to accept him as a pilot case.

Singh now expects to review Guptas response sometime this fall.

It will take approximately three months for us to review changes in the magnetic resonance imaging of the patient, but the drastic changes in symptoms clearly are an indication of the fact that the treatment is working and could become a hope for millions of patients across the world who are suffering from this disease. Singh said.

He added: This is a good start to a lengthy research phase, but it seems that we are on the right track and hopefully we will be able to make a significant contribution in eradicating not only MS but a host of untreatable diseases existing today.

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India’s Advancells Reports Successful Reversal of MS in Single Patient Using Stem Cell Therapy – Multiple Sclerosis News Today

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VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA (August 11th, 2017) Friday Night Inc. (Friday Night) (CSE: TGIF) (FWB: 1QF) (OTC: VPGDF) is pleased to announce that the Company has appointed Dr. Anthony R. Torres, MD to its board of advisors and would also like to provide an update on the genetics breeding program at the Companys 91% owned subsidiary, Alternative Medicine Association, LC. (AMA).


Over the past several months, AMA has been cross breeding existing strains in hopes of creating an improved cannabis product. This time consuming and laborious process has resulted in a new product offering that only AMA will be able to provide.

One of AMAs favorite prototype plants from the genetics program is a strain they have created and named Naughty Cookies. Over the last year and thousands of test plants later, AMA created the new strain by crossing the high-THC and popular Girl Scout Cookies strain with the high-yielding Juggernaut male. The buds are very frosty, aesthetically pleasing and dense with light purple coloration.

This week AMA received the test results for the first lot. The cannabinoid content was higher than any strain AMA had seen in the last 3 years, and the THC content came back as 34.9%. Most fortunately, AMA had the foresight to cultivate over 70 of these plants in anticipation of great results. These will be flowered during the next growing cycle and so far are yielding over 2 pounds per light of dried flower.

The creator of this strain and Director of Operations, Mr. Ben Horner said, This gives us a competitive edge in a market which we now control. When new cultivators come on board, we will be the only producer with this strain. I feel it will inevitably become a favorite in Las Vegas.


Anthony R. Torres, M.D. with training at the National Institutes of Health, Yale University School of Medicine and the University of Utah, has considerable experience in the separation sciences of biological molecules. Anthony is widely published and has made a career not only in university research, but also in the biotechnology field including protein enrichment and advance separation processes. He is an inventor and owns several patents in the field. He is not new to the world of start-up companies and continues to be a pioneer in biotechnology. He also brings a deep understanding of the cannabis plant and its molecular structure.

Dr. Torres commented, I am very interested in applying traditional laboratory processes to the rapidly developing field of molecular cannabis. I believe that there are many positive applications for the natural benefits of this plant in modern medicine and that it has the potential to help hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of people.

About Friday Night Inc.

Friday Night Inc. is a Canadian public company, which owns and controls cannabis and hemp based assets in Las Vegas Nevada. The company owns 91% of Alternative Medicine Association, LC (AMA), a licensed medical and adult-use cannabis cultivation and production facility that produces its own line of unique cannabis-based products and manufactures other third-party brands. Infused MFG, also a 91% owned subsidiary, produces hemp-based, CBD products, thoughtfully crafted of high quality organic botanical ingredients. Friday Night Inc. is focused on strengthening and expanding these operations within and outside of the state.

For further information please contact:

Joe Bleackley, Corporate Communications604-674-4756Joe@FridayNightInc.comNotice regarding Forward Looking Statements: This news release contains forward-looking statements. The use of any of the words “anticipate”, “continue”, “estimate”, “expect”, “may”, “will”, “project”, “should”, “believe” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Although the Company believes that the expectations and assumptions on which the forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements because the Company can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. This news release includes forward-looking statements with respect to the entering into a definitive agreement, the future exercise of the option regarding the vape lounge and the regulatory environment in Canada. Since forward-looking statements address future events and conditions, by their very nature they involve inherent risks and uncertainties. These statements speak only as of the date of this news release. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks including failure to enter into a definitive agreement, inability to attract new customers in Nevada as a result of the license, the inability of the Company to take advantage of the license arrangement and various risk factors discussed in the Company’s disclosure documents, which can be found under the Company’s profile on Friday Night undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law or the Canadian Securities Exchange

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Heal thyself: Skin-zapping chip aims to reprogram cells for tissue repair – Ars Technica

With a jolt from a tiny chip, humdrum skin cells may transform into medical mavericks.

A small electrical pulse blasts open tiny pores in cells and zaps in fragments of DNA or RNA loaded in the chips nanochannels. Those genetic deliveries then effectively reprogram the skin cells to act like other types of cells and repair damaged tissue. In early experiments on mice, researchers coaxed skin cells to act like brain cells. They also restored blood flow to a rodents injured limb by prompting skin cells to grow into new blood vessels.

The technology, published this week in Nature Nanotechnology, is still a long way from confirmed clinical applications in humans. But, the Ohio State researchers behind the chip are optimistic that it may one day perform myriad medical featsincluding healing severe injuries, restoring diseased organs, erasing brain damage, and even turning back the clock on aging tissues.

The researchers, led by regenerative medicine expert Chandan Sen and biomolecular engineer L. James Lee, expect to begin clinical trials next year.

The concept is very simple, Lee said in a press statement. As a matter of fact, we were even surprised how it worked so well. In my lab, we have ongoing research trying to understand the mechanism and do even better. So, this is the beginning, more to come.

Their concept is similar to other cell-based regenerative therapies under development, but it skips some pesky steps. Some other methods explored by researchersand dubious clinicsinvolve harvesting adult cells from patients, reprograming them to revert to stem cells, then injecting those cells back into patients, where they develop into a needed cell type.

But this setup has snags. Researchers often use viruses to deliver the genetic elements that reprogram the cells, which have caused cancer in some animal studies. The method also requires a lot of manipulation of cells in lab, adding complications. Its unclear if the suspect stem cell clinics are even successful at reprogramming cells.

The method used by Lee, Sen, and colleagues ditches the need for a virus and for any cellular handling. The electrical pulse opens pores in cells that allow for direct genetic deliverya process called electroporation. The researchers skipped the need to make stem cells by using preexisting methods of converting one cell type directly into a different one. Generally, this works by introducing bits of genetic material that code for gene regulators key to a specific cell type. Once delivered, these regulators can switch genes on or off so cells can start acting like the different cell type. Such a method has been worked out for creatingliver, brain, and vascular cellsfrom other cell types.

Finally, the researchers method also all takes place on a patch of skin on a living subject, potentially directly where its neededno cell harvesting or lab manipulations are required. (That said, the researchers note that future therapies could use skin patches to generate specific cell types that can then be transferred to other locations in the body if needed.)

So far, the researchers have dabbled with making brain cells and vasculature cells from skin cells. In early experiments, their direct delivery proved effective at converting the cells. The researcher verified that the converted cells mirrored normal brain and vasculature cells’ gene expression profilesthe pattern of genes they have turned on and off.

In their ultimate test, the researchers severed leg arteries in ahandful of mice. Then a researcher placed over the injuries nanochips loaded with genetic ingredients for converting skin cells to vasculature cells. The conversion reached cells deep within the skin layers. After a week, the researchers saw more blood flow and less tissue death in the treated mice compared withcontrol animals that werent treated.

Much work still needs to be done to test the idea and prove it’s effective for certain treatments. But the researchers are optimistic. They conclude in the study that the technology has the potential to ultimately enable the use of a patients own tissue as a prolific immunosurveilled bioreactor.

Nature Nanotechnology, 2017. DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2017.134 (About DOIs).

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Heal thyself: Skin-zapping chip aims to reprogram cells for tissue repair – Ars Technica

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Scientists Develop Nanochip That Turns Skin Into Brain Cells – The Merkle

The wonders of modern science know no bounds. Scientists in the U.S. have managedto grow brain cells from skin cells. They are now using tissue nanotransfection also known as TNT to grow brain cells on human skin. As a result, the skin can perform different functions, including boosting onescognitive abilities.

The human skin is not something most people think about too often, despite it being thebodys largest organ. We know it keeps our other organs inside of our body and protects us from cold, heat, and other weather conditions. It can also grow hair all over and even more in certain places to give us better protection against external threats. However, what it does under the hood is a major mystery to most people walking around on the surface of this planet. That may change pretty quickly thanks to a procedurecalledtissue nanotransfection.

Scientists have been enamored with this conceptfor some time now. Being able to make the human skin perform varioustasks based on evolvingneeds would unlock seemingly limitless possibility. The concept of using a microchip to grow brain cells on ones skin may not sound all thatappealing, but it should not be dismissed out of hand either. It is this chip which could make your skin perform all sorts of different functions, including improving your cognitive capabilities for a brief period of time.

Implanting chips within the human body is still a controversial idea. That stigma will remain present for quite some time, but developments such as tissue nanotransfection may help change things for the better. Harnessing this power through embedded microchips will allow humans to grow whatever type of cells they need at any given time. It can be used to speed up recovery from injury, fight off diseases, or even improve your brain capacity. That lastone sounds a bit scary, but it couldcertainly have its benefits.

The nanochip in question wasdeveloped by researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. This chip uses a small electric current to deliver DNA toliving skin cells, and effectively reprogramming them. Touch the chip to a wounded area, for example, and remove it immediately afterwards: the affected cells will start to heal faster and ensure the patient can recover more quickly. It will be interesting to see how human hosts respond to such treatment.

According to Nature Nanotechnology, this technique has been tested successfully onboth pigs and mice. Introducing new blood vessels to badly injured limbs savedthem fromlosing said limbs dueto lackluster blood flow. Additionally, the same technology has been used to create nerve cells from skin which canthen be harvested and injected into animals with brain injuries to help them recover. It shows a lot of potential for the future.

This new method ensures that immune suppression is no longer a necessity for the cells in question. It also bypassesthe conversion from skin to stem cell by transformingdirectly into whichever cell is needed at any given time. This is a very big leapand may ultimatelyalter the way we think abouthealth care altogether. The goal now is to successfully test the system usinghuman hosts and see how things play out in the long run.

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Scientists Develop Nanochip That Turns Skin Into Brain Cells – The Merkle

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Calorie-Controlled Diet Restores Youthful Rhythmic Control of Metabolism in Old Mice – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (blog)

Keeping a check on how many calories we consume helps to keep us looking trim from the outside. New research by collaborating scientists in the U.S. and Spain suggests that restricting calorie intake can also help to keep us more youthful on the inside by preventing age-related changes in how the natural rhythmical biological clocks within our cells work to control essential functions.

The two sets of studies in mice, by the team of Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Ph.D., at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), and by a research group headed by Salvador Aznar Benitah, Ph.D., at the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, have found that a low-calorie diet prevents age-related changes in the normal daily rhythmic oscillations in liver cell metabolism and adult stem cell functioning. They report their work in separate papers in the journal Cell that are entitled, Circadian Reprogramming in the Liver Identifies Metabolic Pathways of Aging and Aged Stem Cells Reprogram Their Daily Rhythmic Functions to Adapt to Stress.

Its already known that the process of aging and circadian rhythms are linked, while restricting calorie intake in fruit flies extends the insects lifespan. Work by the UCI and Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology researchers has now demonstrated that calorie restriction (CR) can influence the interplay between circadian rhythms and aging processes in cells.

The liver operates at the interface between nutrition and energy distribution in the body, and metabolism is controlled within cells under circadian control, explains the UCI team, led by Dr. Sassone-Corsi, director of the Center for Epigenetics & Metabolism. To investigate the effects of aging on circadian control of metabolism at the cellular level, the team first looked at the effects of aging on rhythmic function and circadian gene expression in the liver cells of both young mice (aged 6 months) and older mice (aged 18 months) that were an unrestricted diet. They found that although both young and old mice demonstrated a circadian-controlled metabolic system, the mechanisms that control gene expression according to the cells usage of energy was altered in the old mice. In effect, their liver cells processed energy less efficiently.

However, when these older mice were fed a diet with 30% fewer calories for six months, the biological clock was reset, and circadian functions were restored to those of younger mice. caloric restriction works by rejuvenating the biological clock in a most powerful way, Sassone-Corsi said in a statement. In this context, a good clock meant good aging.

For the companion study, the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology team worked with professor Sassone-Corsis team and with colleagues at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research to compare circadian rhythm functionality in skin stem cells in both young and old mice. Again, stem cells in older mice did retain a circadian rhythm, but exhibited significant reprogramming away from the expression of genes involved in homeostasis to those involved with tissue-specific stresses, such as DNA damage. The stem cells were effectively rewired to match tissue-specific age-related traits.This age-related rewiring of circadian functionality was again prevented by long-term CR in older mice.

The low-calorie diet greatly contributes to preventing the effects of physiological aging,” commented Benitah. “Keeping the rhythm of stem cells ‘young’ is important because in the end these cells serve to renew and preserve very pronounced daynight cycles in tissue. Eating less appears to prevent tissue aging and, therefore, prevent stem cells from reprogramming their circadian activities.”

Future studies will be needed to identify which components are responsible for the aging-related rewiring of the daily fluctuating functions of stem cells and to find out whether they could be targeted therapeutically to maintain the proper timing of stem cell function during aging in humans, the Spanish team suggests in their published paper.

“These studies also present something like a molecular holy grail, revealing the cellular pathway through which aging is controlled,” Sassone-Corsi added. “The findings provide a clear introduction on how to go about controlling these elements of aging in a pharmacological perspective.”

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Calorie-Controlled Diet Restores Youthful Rhythmic Control of Metabolism in Old Mice – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (blog)

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Government prods producers on extending NWS – The West Australian

Karratha Gas Plant, North West Shelf Project

The Federal Government is showing signs of taking a more interventionist role in ensuring the life of the North West Shelf LNG project is extended, according to a research report.

The report by resources consultants Wood Mackenzie said the Government was motivated by an NWS life extension being worth up to $US48 billion in additional taxes.

Industry regulator the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator had written to resource owners in North West waters requesting more information about the viability of prolonging the project, the report said.

There are signs the Government is becoming more proactive in the sector, and has leverage under the retention lease system to push developments forward, a summary said.

There are now real drivers pushing for the projects life extension, and conditions are unlikely to get more favourable than what we have now.

The three-decade-old NWS needs new sources of gas in the 2020s to keep its five production train Karratha Gas Plant going.

Wood Mackenzie said a life extension development should be able to take advantage of lower costs during the construction phase and a tightening energy market once production began.

It said a new industry focus on costs and margins had made resource owners more open to sharing third party infrastructure.

NWS operator Woodside Petroleums preferred option for the Browse joint venture it leads is to pipe the gas to Karratha.

While citing Browse as the leading candidate, other developments the report identified as potential suppliers were the ExxonMobil-led Scarborough field and the Chevron-led Clio and Acme fields and undeveloped Greater Gorgon fields.

Woodside in May said the NWS partners had agreed on a proposed toll for resource owners to process gas through the Karratha plant.

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Government prods producers on extending NWS – The West Australian

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

SBM Offshore Confirms Settlement with Extended Group of Insurers on its Yme Insurance Claim – GlobeNewswire (press release)

August 11, 2017

SBM Offshore confirms that a settlement contract has now been executed with an extended group of primary layer insurers further to its announcement on July 17, 2017 that Heads of Terms had been agreed. The final settlement includes one additional primary layer insurer. As a result, SBM Offshore has entered into a binding settlement with 83,6% of the US$500 million primary insurance layer against a cash payment of US$281 million in full and final settlement of its claim against participating insurers.

Upon receipt, the settlement monies will be used first to reimburse legal fees and other claim related expenses incurred to date. The balance of the settlement monies will then be shared equally between SBM Offshore and Repsol in accordance with the terms of their Settlement Agreement of March 11, 2013 which concluded the Yme project.

SBM Offshore continues to pursue its claim against all remaining insurers including the two excess layers, the trial of which is scheduled to commence October 2018.

Further details of this settlement and the claim are confidential.

Corporate Profile

SBM Offshore N.V. is a listed holding company that is headquartered in Amsterdam. It holds direct and indirect interests in other companies that collectively with SBM Offshore N.V. form the SBM Offshore group (“the Company”).

SBM Offshore provides floating production solutions to the offshore energy industry, over the full product life-cycle. The Company is market leading in leased floating production systems with multiple units currently in operation and has unrivalled operational experience in this field. The Company’s main activities are the design, supply, installation, operation and the life extension of Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessels. These are either owned and operated by SBM Offshore and leased to its clients or supplied on a turnkey sale basis.

As of December 31, 2016, Group companies employ approximately 4,750 people worldwide. Full time company employees totaling c. 4,250 are spread over five regional centers, ten operational shore bases and the offshore fleet of vessels. A further 500 are working for the joint ventures with several construction yards. For further information, please visit our website at

The companies in which SBM Offshore N.V. directly and indirectly owns investments are separate entities. In this communication “SBM Offshore” is sometimes used for convenience where references are made to SBM Offshore N.V. and its subsidiaries in general, or where no useful purpose is served by identifying the particular company or companies.

The Management Board

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, August 11, 2017

Note: dates in bold have changed as communicated in SBM Offshore’s press release dated 10 July 2017

For further information, please contact:

Investor Relations

Bert-Jaap Dijkstra

Investor Relations Director

Mobile NL: +31 (0) 6 2114 1017

Mobile MC: +33 (0) 6 4391 9302

Telephone: +377 9205 1732



Media Relations

Vincent Kempkes

Group Communications Director

Telephone: +31 (0) 20 2363 170

Mobile: +31 (0) 6 25 68 71 67




This press release contains inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation. Some of the statements contained in this release that are not historical facts are statements of future expectations and other forward-looking statements based on management’s current views and assumptions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance, or events to differ materially from those in such statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results and performance of the Company’s business to differ materially and adversely from the forward-looking statements. Certain such forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward- looking terminology such as “believes”, “may”, “will”, “should”, “would be”, “expects” or “anticipates” or similar expressions, or the negative thereof, or other variations thereof, or comparable terminology, or by discussions of strategy, plans, or intentions. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in this release as anticipated, believed, or expected. SBM Offshore NV does not intend, and does not assume any obligation, to update any industry information or forward-looking statements set forth in this release to reflect subsequent events or circumstances. Nothing in this press release shall be deemed an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities.


More here:
SBM Offshore Confirms Settlement with Extended Group of Insurers on its Yme Insurance Claim – GlobeNewswire (press release)

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Why Aubrey Plaza Is a Modern-Day Andy Kaufman – L.A. Weekly

It’s Aubrey Plaza’s 33rd birthday, and she’s curled up on a couch in a deafeningly quiet, concrete-walled room at the Line hotel in Koreatown. She hugs her knees to her chest. Her T-shirt features a hyper-realistic image of Nicolas Cage’s face, and I can just see his toothy, maniacal smile peeking out from between her legs it’s unnerving. Her hands fidget, knotting and unknotting a black string attached to a Santa Muerte charm. The actor hit stardom with her sardonic slacker character April on the NBC show Parks and Recreation and, like many TV stars on long-running shows, she has found it difficult to escape her monster creation. With a recent succession of mold-smashing projects Legion, The Little Hours and Ingrid Goes West she’s about to leave April behind. But who will she become?

“If Andy Kaufman is alive, he should come and find me,” Plaza tells me.

Kaufman is one of Plaza’s greatest influences. The comic actor died from cancer in 1984 but he melted so deeply into his myriad personas that there are people who still believe he is alive and simply playing a long con on his suffering audiences. If you’ve only ever seen Plaza on the uplifting comedy Parks & Rec, the Kaufman reference may not immediately resonate for you. But to friends and colleagues, she is a Loki trickster who revels in absurdity.

“She’s not just playing at being Andy Kaufman,” Plaza’s Legion director, Noah Hawley, tells me over the phone. “She is Andy Kaufman.”

He shares the story of their first meeting: Plaza shows up 30 minutes late, on crutches, and immediately opens up about her quest to be a director on Parks and Recreation and her disappointment that they denied her the chance while letting the men direct.

“I said, ‘That is wrong. They should have let you direct,’ but then she said, ‘Oh no, I just made that up. I didn’t want to direct.'” Hawley sounds simultaneously exasperated and impressed when he speaks of Plaza. “There’s a sense she’s always testing you I didn’t even know if she really needed those crutches.” She did, but that’s another story.

On Legion, a show about a young mutant who’s hospitalized for schizophrenia but realizes he may actually have powers (it exists in the X-Men universe), Plaza plays Lenny. She’s a projection of the Shadow King, a psychic mutant who is a kind of gender-fluid parasite who possesses the bodies of others. Essentially, Plaza is playing up to four different characters all of whom have varied mannerisms and speech patterns in the same scene. Her performances are as unpredictable from take to take as the multiple characters she plays: Will she embody a power-hungry therapist, or will she break into a sexy, Fosse-style song-and-dance number?

Aubrey Plaza plays the complex Lenny in FX series Legion.

Courtesy FX

“With her, you never quite know what’s going to happen, and that’s really for me very exciting,” her co-star Dan Stevens says. “She’s always kind of looking for the mischievous choice in the scene,” which is hell on continuity folks and editors charged with making sure she picks up the coffee cup the same way in every take that never happens. But Stevens and Hawley say Plaza’s spontaneity precisely fits the show’s tone.

“I needed someone who could be anything and everything in any moment,” Hawley explains to me. “There’s a sort of slippery quality this character has, very fast-talking. Part of this character’s dance is about manipulating people and tricking them, and yet I really wanted her to be likable.”

Plaza’s had a lot of practice being abrasive but likable most of the characters she plays fall into this category, from the diehard party girl of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates to Depressed Debbie in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress and perpetually annoyed Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But Hawley’s casting of Plaza (and changing the character from male to female for her) has begun a small avalanche of projects that could finally leave her Parks & Rec charter behind and let Plaza become whoever she wants.

The Little Hours, a heartfelt nunsploitation period piece from Plaza’s longtime romantic partner and creative collaborator, Jeff Baena, opened in June to rave reviews. Plaza not only stars in the film alongside Alison Brie and Kate Micucci but also earns her first producing credit.

“A lot of time you see actors getting producer credits, it’s just a vanity title for them,” Baena says. He describes watching Plaza naturally morph into the nurturing attitude of a producer, even using her day off to take actor Paul Reiser on a Tuscany tour producers have to keep everyone on set happy. “Whatever she does, she takes it seriously. Ultimately, I think she’s going to be a filmmaker with that heightened sensitivity.”

Plaza describes that “sensitivity” as a manifestation of her tendency to “please” people, which is a double-edged sword: Acting and producing require a person to be highly attuned to others’ needs, but what happens if you can’t turn that off?

“I’m such a people pleaser that my natural reaction in interviews and things is to give people what they want. It’s like I’m a robot,” Plaza says. “‘Oh, these people want me to say something weird or mean or sarcastic, so I just do that. That’ll make them happy.’ I’m just now getting better at feeling more comfortable in my own skin, but it can be hard when people are projecting ideas onto you at full speed, constantly.”

But Plaza absolutely emphasizes that she knows her life is not achingly difficult. As a young artist who got cast on a popular network series simply by showing up to an informal meeting in shorts and a T-shirt to talk about the meaning of life and suggest that, hey, maybe a character could be a droll slacker, Plaza sometimes can’t even believe that they let her on television back then. And if ever she were to get a big head, she says, her real family and her TV family were there to slap her back down to Earth.

“Nick Offerman knew every single person on set’s name, [he] was the most generous man to be working with, and if I would have a bad day and be annoyed or acting like a brat or whatever, he would be the first one to say, ‘Just remember we’re on network television, and our lives are spectacular,'” Plaza says, offering an ace Offerman impression. “And I’d be like, ‘Of course! Thank you. Fucking of course our lives are spectacular!'”

Aubrey Plaza in The Little Hours with Dave Franco

Courtesy Gunpowder & Sky Distribution

Still, this doesn’t mean the road ahead to reinvent herself from past characters will be necessarily easy, but it seems the secret key to doing so is to expand her role as a producer. After The Little Hours, she read director Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith’s script for the Instagram-stalker tragicomedy Ingrid Goes West and saw something special there. “I knew what it could be, and I wanted to make that happen the script is never the final product,” she says. Spicer agrees that Plaza’s biggest role in production was pushing for “curve ball” casting choices, like O’Shea Jackson Jr., who most famously portrayed his father, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton, as her character’s nerdy but confident love interest.

“[The part] was written for a kind of dorky stoner dude, but I recognized that the chemistry I would have with O’Shea would be really different from something you usually see,” Plaza explains. She’d met the rapper-turned-actor at a party and relentlessly waved the script in his face until he committed to the project. “I thought if we could capture that on camera, it would just make the movie that much deeper.”

Plaza may be a trickster and comedic actor but she craves depth, and those things aren’t mutually exclusive. Her entire life has been dictated by the motto: “Take it as far as it can go.” The “it” could be anything a character, a bit, a basketball team because whatever Plaza does, it’s gonna be sincere, even if it’s just sincerely weird.

Along “Cult House Road,” deep in the forest on the Delaware-Pennsylvania border, the skeletal trees lining the pavement angle outward, away from the road and their sun source. Through an overgrown path, there is a burned-out abandoned cabin, which is said to have hosted Satanic rituals, pagan animal sacrifices or DuPont incest weddings, depending on whom you ask. Something about this place seems wrong, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly why. This is where M. Night Shyamalan shot The Village. It’s also where Aubrey Plaza’s mother, Bernadette, would drive her late at night on impromptu road trips with her cousins.

“We’d drive down Cult House Road, and she’d turn the lights off, and we’d all be screaming. My mom is kind of mysterious. She would always do weird things with us,” Plaza says, taking a moment to think. “Maybe that’s why I’m into witches.”

Plaza was raised Catholic and attended an all-girls school in Wilmington, Delaware, with her two sisters. “The power of three is real,” she says. She loved The Craft and doing silly spells, but she was also a teacher’s pet (damn that need to please!) and class president. In true Plaza fashion, she took her presidential campaign as far as it could go, actually convincing a staffer from Republican senator Bill Roth’s office to help her.

“He showed up at my school and was flyering and helping me with my posters, and I remember he helped me set up this archway with balloons at 6 a.m., so everyone who showed up that day had to walk through this thing to get into the door.” Plaza shrugs. “Really bizarre. I was just a kid. But he helped me win.”

What people most often miss about Plaza’s sense of humor is that she doesn’t enjoy “mean” comedy. Yes, she is deadpan, once showed up to a national TV interview wearing vampire teeth for no reason, and bewildered ESPN viewers with her re-creation of The Decision to announce that she was trading herself from her infamous Pistol Shrimps basketball team to the Spice Squirrels, but she insists she was never what you’d call a “bad” kid. She was and is a “thrill seeker.”

In high school, she and her friend Neil Casey (Inside Amy Schumer, Ghostbusters) would stand on the side of the highway, dress in costume and toss a beach ball back and forth, simply to boggle passers-by. Plaza thinks her fascination with absurdity stemmed from growing up in such a conservative area. “It was satisfying to do something weird for weird’s sake, with no purpose, to make people stop and laugh.”

Her natural trajectory was comedy and New York. She graduated from NYU and went to work as an NBC page around the time that Amy Poehler was staffed on Saturday Night Live. “I like to think that I walked by her wearing an astronaut costume while she was making up lies to a group of tourists,” Poehler wrote to me in an email.

By the time Plaza got an audition for Judd Apatow’s Funny People in Los Angeles, Poehler had gone West herself and was prepping to lead her own sitcom with the creators of The Office. Plaza got that informal meeting set up with the Parks folks and quickly thereafter got the casting phone call that would change her life. Los Angeles became her home. And the Parks cast and crew became her new weirdo family.

“Leslie Knope was supposed to be April Ludgate’s mentor, and so our first couple of seasons felt like that [in real life],” Poehler says. “But Aubrey Plaza, the person, is an old soul. Very wise. Always watching.”

Plaza calls Poehler and Rashida Jones her “big sisters” and gushes about every co-star when asked. For a young woman who’d grown up in a tight-knit family with her two real-life sisters, landing in this supportive cast was something of a godsend.

“Looking back, I am blown away still by just that group of people being in one room doing comedy together, and everyone was a genuinely nice and lovable person,” Plaza says. Then she picks up her phone that’s been buzzing off and on for the duration of our interview. She holds it up to me and scrolls through an endless series of text messages just fast enough that I can’t make out any single one. “Literally this morning, I got a text from every single person. We’re on a mass texting chain, that whole cast, and someone will write on it at least every other day, and it’s been years. I could show you hundreds of hours of texting. Aziz [Ansari] just sent me a ridiculous picture of him for my birthday. Everyone was commenting while we’ve been talking.”

This adorable text chain feels every bit the real-life extension of the TV show. A large part of the appeal of Parks when it aired, and still today, is its earnestness and the feeling of joy amid darkness it evoked, which Plaza attributes to how pleasant things were behind the scene and how Poehler ran her set.

“I think most people at No. 1 on the call sheet, like Amy is, it’s really hard for them to keep things in perspective,” Plaza says. “It’s easy to take on that No. 1 status and just have your ego take over, and Amy was just so always conscious of the vibe on set, and the idea of gratitude, and respect, but also having fun.”

As Plaza has stepped into that No. 1 spot herself, she’s tried to take to heart what she’s learned from her mentors. But the problem with being a talented character actor zig-zagging from persona to persona with no stop in sight is that the self becomes malleable. “My biggest fear is that I lose myself,” she says. Nowhere is that challenge more evident than in the endless press junkets and interviews she does to promote her projects. Seeing how fascinated people are with her personal life is deeply uncomfortable for her. People want to know who her celebrity BFF is, and Plaza has no desire to share yet still feels obliged to entertain. She’s the kind of person who makes acquaintances easily but keeps her real friends close she still calls her old high school pals on the phone to chat.

Even this interview brings a certain amount of discomfort to Plaza, which makes me want to apologize for even asking any personal questions do I really need to know her favorite saint? (It’s Bernadette, obviously.) She’s uneasy with too much attention and especially wary of social media. “It’s not real. It’s just all in your head, so there’s something kind of scary about it. I’m having all these interactions in my head. Physically, I’m just sitting in a chair.”

But with all this in mind, it is absolutely no wonder that Plaza was drawn to her most recent project, Ingrid Goes West. The film taps into these fears she has about sharing personal information. Ironically, the actress delivers her most intimate, raw performance yet. Watching this film feels as if you finally know her. But, really, who the hell is Aubrey Plaza?

Actor Chris Pratt may know the real Aubrey Plaza.

“Aubrey is a survivor and alchemist. Her on-screen (and off-screen) personas are equal parts defense mechanism and performance art. She’s tough and surprisingly complicated. The very best parts of her are yet to be discovered by audiences and most people. She would deny it, but beneath her signature eye rolls (and accessible to only the luckiest people in her life) is softness, kindness, pathos, creativity and vulnerability.”

That’s the heartbreakingly sweet assessment Pratt sent via email about his longtime Parks and Recreation co-star. And Pratt’s right, because “most people” never will know Plaza. But audiences are now about to see a few new sides to her.

Aubrey Plaza in Ingrid Goes West

Courtesy Neon Distribution

In Ingrid Goes West, Plaza plays a bereft woman with a bag of cash she inherited from her recently deceased mother. Her woeful social ineptitude renders her helpless, unable to reach out to others without becoming too attached to them; think Single White Female “lite” in the age of Instagram. Ingrid stumbles onto the candid photos of lifestyle influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) and maneuvers her way into the stranger’s life, forging a “friendship.”

“I think the movie could have easily veered into the direction of being an indictment on social media, but I wanted it to be rooted in a human story about human connection,” Plaza says. “It’s about someone who really wants to have a connection, and they feel lonely and misunderstood, and that’s a universal feeling for human beings.”

Though Plaza jokes the trailers for the film suggest it is “a crazy, nonstop laugh express train to nowhere,” viewers likely will be shocked by how emotional the story gets, or, rather, how emotional Plaza gets. Ingrid walks a tightrope of anxiety, juggling lies; when they catch up to her, her denial and subsequent breakdown turns this comedy into a tearjerker. The success of this film hinges on Plaza’s ability to sell drama. And she does.

“There were times when she was in an emotional scene, and we did 20, 25 takes, and she would want to do more,” Ingriddirector Matt Spicer says. “I know a lot of people see her as [Parks & Rec’s] April Ludgate, but I hope the takeaway from this film is that she’s a real-deal actress.”

Being a producer on Ingrid, Plaza was forced to watch herself in the dailies, poring over the footage. She says she never watches her own movies or interviews, so this was a little circle of hell for her, but she realized that through watching herself on screen, she was able to overcome her insecurities and simply judge a take on whether it accomplished a goal, not on whether she succeeded or failed. Spicer says she was a dream producer a person who can deliver the impossible again and again, on and off the set.

“Making good movies is sooo hard. That should be the title of this article,” Plaza laughs. But however difficult it is, Plaza seems energized by having creative control over her own projects. She tells me that she’s never been in a place to be picky. Every role she takes is for a reason. (“Did I think Dirty Grandpa was going to be the best movie in the world? No. But you’re telling me I’ve got a shot to play Robert De Niro’s love interest? I’m in.”) But more than anything, Plaza is excited to age; she’s tired of playing a 20-year-old.

“In Dirty Grandpa, I played a college senior, and I was 30,” she says. “I’ve always thought, ‘God, when I’m in my 40s, I think I’m going to get some meaty parts.’ But everyone is so obsessed with youth, so every movie is about 19-year-olds. I used to watch movies that had adults who were wearing blazers and high heels and going to work and dropping off their kid. Where did those characters go?”

Today, on Aubrey Plaza’s 33rd birthday, she tells me she wants to bring the adult woman back into style. She wants to make action films. She wants to make funny films. She wants to revive the screwball romantic comedies of the 1980s, like her personal favorite, Romancing the Stone, maybe with Chris Pratt. (She cites Michael Douglas as another inspiration for producing that film when no one else wanted to make it.) She wants to be and do everything yet, she tells me, if she ends up like Adam Sandler’s character in Funny People “where I’m all alone and lost all my personal relationships” well, it’s not worth it.

Next up for her is a bizarro comedy called An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, from Greasy Strangler director Jim Hosking. The script was so out-there that her agents had put it in their trash pile before she told them she thought it was genius. It’s impossible to nail down exactly what Plaza will think or what she will like. Or who she is.

At the end of our interview, she gives me a hug. She’s been candid and forthright with me in this brutalist hotel room for an hour and a half, and I’m surprised by how normal it all seemed.

An hour later, I’m at home, listening to my recording of our conversation, when I hear myself leave Plaza’s hotel room momentarily. I left the recorder on while I was gone. Before I can speed through what I expected to be ambient sounds of shuffling, I hear a demonic voice growl coming from the recorder. “Satan-Satan-Satan-Satan!” it yelled. It was Plaza pulling another trick. Then I hear her deadpan voice emerge from the recorder again: “Hello? Hello? … Huh, wow, that was weird.”

Yes, Aubrey. Yes, it was.

Go here to read the rest:
Why Aubrey Plaza Is a Modern-Day Andy Kaufman – L.A. Weekly

Recommendation and review posted by sam

A major blind spot in animal testing is endangering the lives of women – Quartz

Animal studies are the backbone of medical and scientific research. Because of animal testing, humans have developed vaccinations for smallpox, nearly eradicated polio, discovered chemotherapy, and made countless other innovations across the medical spectrum. But theres a major flaw in the way we conduct these experiments: Far too many animal tests ignore biological sex entirely.

A new study from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, published in Nature Communications, argues that too many animal experiments have failed to take into account sexual dimorphismthe traits that differ between sexes in a species, from size to bone density to coloring. This blind spot may be skewing the results of animal testing. And that could have big consequences for the conclusions that we take from animal studies and apply to humans.

Science has a long history of making incorrect assumptions about biological sex that skew testing on live subjects. For much of history, scientists have tended to regard female bodies as simply scaled-down versions of males, which meant that one could just test on men and draw conclusions about womens medical needs. This has backfired repeatedly. In one notable case, in 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration had to cut the recommended dosage for zolpidem (Ambien) for women by half after it was discovered that taking a normal dose often resulted in serious overdoses for women.

At the same time, scientists thought female bodies were too complex and variable to be reliable test subjects, owing to monthly hormone cycles and menstruation. As it happens, male test animals show as much hormonal variation as female animals, so that argument has since been disproven. We also now know that the female body, in many ways, operates differently than the male body. New evidence this week shows that female brain patterns are more active than mens, a revelation that joins a corpus of science proving that women, far from being tinier men, are a category unto themselves.

Women were also viewed as particularly vulnerable if experiments went wrong, both because of impacts on fertility and childbearing, and because of perceptions of greater physical delicacy. Up until 1993, American females of child-bearing age were banned from taking part in early research of any kind as subjects. As a consequence, male-centric trials have been the norm for much of medical history. Unfortunately for everybody, this exclusion has ignored the fact that female imperfection as test subjects doesnt preclude womens need for medical care. After all, sex has been shown to influence the development, progression, and symptoms of conditions like multiple sclerosis, strokes and migraines, asthma, and a host of other illnesses.

Its been legally necessary to include women in clinical trials in the US since 1994. But progress has been slow. A study in 2009 found that compliance with the laws was still low in many published experiments. And the debate around sex, gender, and inclusivity has, until now, centered on humans, neglecting to consider how the issue may be replicated in animal research.

The Nature Communications analysis explicitly aims to explode some of the myths surrounding biological sex testing in animalsnamely, that its unnecessary and a waste of resources. Sex doesnt exert enough influence on our most favored experimental animal, the humble mouse, to require testing both males and females, right?

Au contraire, the results say. The scientists of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute looked at the many ways in which sexual dimorphism influences genetic traits in mice, using 14,250 normal mice (whose genetics were untouched) and 40,192 mutant ones (who had at least one gene knocked out for research purposes).

The study looked at two distinct types of traits. Qualitative traits, like eye color, are controlled by a single gene or small group of genes, and dont really change in response to the environment. Quantitative traits, like metabolism or height, are controlled by a big group of genes and can be responsive to outside influences. The conclusion? A huge number of genetic traits in the mice showed distinct signs of influence by sex.

In normal or wild-type mice, 9.9% of qualitative traits and 56.6% of quantitative ones were influenced in some way by sex. And even in mutant mice with deliberately altered genes, 13.3% of qualitative traits and 17.7% of quantitative ones were sexually modified in some way. That, to put it mildly, is an experiment-altering amount of difference.

The problem in animal testing has been so frustrating for so long that the National Institute of Health took to Nature in 2014 to yell at scientists for not even bothering to use female lab animalsmuch less account for sex in their experiments. And now we know that the most commonly tested animals in medical history have bodies that react to sex differences across the genetic spectrum. The implications are pretty intense: This blindness has a direct impact on biomedical research, and might be part of the reason why progressing from animal trials to human medicine is so tricky.

Mice are also not the typical mammal, despite being sold as such to generations of biologists. And many findings for animals dont necessarily apply to human beings. But if more experiments accounted for sex, wed close at least part of the gap between the human and the animal.

The costs of neglecting female biomedical responses have been evident for a while now. Eight of the ten drugs withdrawn by the FDA between 1997 and 2001 (pdf) were taken off the market because of serious side effects for women, from birth defects in children to increased cancer risk. In most cases, the drugs were recalled after female patients went public with negative consequences. And evidence has shown that womens bodies metabolize various medications in different ways, from antipsychotics to anestheticsdifferences that have huge consequences for treatment and surgical practice.

Animal studies are meant to be the first line of exploration in discovering new ways to understand and conquer human disease. Leaving sex out of the equation means that women and men are both hobbled at the starting gate.

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A major blind spot in animal testing is endangering the lives of women – Quartz

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Sarah Bush Lincoln receives the 2017 Women’s Choice Award – Journal Gazette and Times-Courier

MATTOON — Sarah Bush Lincoln has been named one of Americas Best Hospitals for Orthopedics by the Womens Choice Award, Americas trusted referral source for the best in health care, according to a press release. The award signifies that Sarah Bush Lincoln is in the top 11 percent of 3,229 U.S. hospitals offering orthopedics services.

SBL President & CEO Jerry Esker said, We are honored to receive this significant designation based on data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and patient experience. Our Orthopedic staff is excellent and has vast experience in diverse areas, and our surgical teams are superb as well.

SBL Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is staffed by six orthopedic surgeons: Eric Brewer, DO. (beginning in the fall), Michael Chioffe, MD, Jim Kohlmann, MD, Louis Mendella, DO, Donald Sandercock, DO, and Jeremy Stevens, MD. Orthopedic Surgeon Muthana Sartawi, MD, and Neurosurgeon Emilio Nardone, MD, also perform surgeries at Sarah Bush Lincoln.

Sarah Bush Lincoln is one of 374 award recipients representing the hospitals that have met the highest standards for orthopedics care in the U.S. by the Womens Choice Award.

There are clear gender differences in musculoskeletal disease, according to a study reported in The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Structural anatomy differences, hormones, and genetics are factors in optimizing care for male verses female orthopedic patients. Because women have higher rates of arthritis than men, some 60 percent of joint replacement surgeries are performed on women.

In a national survey conducted by the Womens Choice Award, female orthopedic patients identified the following key priorities when choosing a hospital for orthopedics:

Women have different orthopedics needs, particularly as they grow older and become more at risk for osteoporosis and fractures, said Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Womens Choice Award. They also have different health care preferences, which we use to evaluate the recipients of Americas Best Hospitals for Orthopedics. We are the only award that recognizes a hospitals ability to meet womens distinctive needs.

The methodology used to select Sarah Bush Lincoln as one of Americas Best Hospitals for Orthopedics is unique in that it evaluates Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results along with primary research about womens healthcare preferences. Award recipients are also measured on their incidence of surgical complications and infections, including:

A hospital must have arthroscopy, joint replacement and spine surgery orthopedic services available to patients, onsite physical therapy, and an MRI in order to qualify for the award. It is the only award recognizing excellence in orthopedics based on robust criteria that consider patient satisfaction and clinical excellence.

The Womens Choice Award is a trusted referral source, empowering women to make smart healthcare choices by identifying the countrys best healthcare institutions based on robust criteria that consider female patient satisfaction and clinical excellence. The Womens Choice Award was recently honored by the INC 5000 List of Americas Fastest Growing Private Companies in 2016 for a second consecutive year. Visit to learn more.

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Sarah Bush Lincoln receives the 2017 Women’s Choice Award – Journal Gazette and Times-Courier

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Couples can tailor-make their babies – Khaleej Times

An embryo that is free of a gene that has a risk of having a certain type of disease, such as cancer, can be selected through technology.

Couples in the UAE are turning to fertility treatment to not only have a chance at a successful pregnancy, but also to help curb birth defects, choose the baby’s gender, and what doctors call, “tailor-make their baby, Khaleej Times has learned.

Dr Braulio Peramo Moya, obstetrics, gynaecology and IVF consultant, Al Ain Fertility Centre, said that more than 500 couples in Al Ain have turned to fertility treatment within the past year alone.

Dr Moya explained that through Preimplantation Genetics Diagnostics (PGD), doctors are able to help curb diseases in future generations, such as cancer, as well as birth defects and syndromes, including Down’s syndrome.

“An embryo that is free of a gene that has a risk of having a certain type of disease, such as cancer, can be selected through technology.

“The same technology can be used to select an embryo with a physical trait, including the colour of the eyes, but this is not legal in the UAE and cannot be done in any fertility clinics.”

He said through modern technology, couples are, however, choosing the sex of their baby. “We take an embryo biopsy where we remove one or two cells and analyse these cells genetically.

“When we have the report of the genetic analysis, we will know the health of the embryo and the sex of the baby. Once we know the embryo is male or female, then we can decide which one can be selected.”

Dr Moya explained that the technology used to perform genetical analysis also allows doctors to analyse chromosomes. “There are some diseases we link to abnormalities in the number of chromosomes, known as aneuploety.”

“For example, Down’s syndrome has an extra 21 chromosomes. With PGD, we can analyse the number of chromosomes contained in an embryo and rule out syndromes and any other abnormalities.”

PGD can also be used to identify the embryos that contain genetic diseases, including thalassaemia, which is the most frequent and most common genetic disease in the country.

Moreover, a relatively new technology, known as the Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), allows the analysis of the entire genome. “NGS can identify not only abnormalities in the number of chromosomes, but also abnormalities inside the chromosomes.

“Before this, doctors were only able to analyse five to seven chromosomes, but with NGS, we can analyse every single chromosome.”

Another genetic analysis in the embryos is identifying abnormality in the gene, which is inside the chromosome itself – even if certain chromosomes contain more than 1,500 genes inside.

“A couple who are thalassaemia carriers, have a risk of having a baby carrying the severe disease if they risk conceiving naturally.” He said however, if the couple conceive through IVF PGD, doctors will be able to analyse the embryo and assure it is free of the disease.

Dr Moya added that genetic analysis is becoming more accurate within time and the IVF success rates themselves have reached a whopping 75-80 per cent for couples, when the female patient is under 30 years of age.

“Low responders and women older than 40 have a lower success rate,” he added. “The most heartwarming case I had in the UAE was a case of an Emirati couple who had 16 failed IVF attempts.”

“When the woman found out that she was finally pregnant, she was the happiest woman in the world. She could not believe it,” Dr Moya recalled.

Dr Braulio Peramo Moya, obstetrics, gynaecology and IVF consultant, Al Ain Fertility Centre, said a new revolution in fertility treatment will soon make its way in clinics in the UAE, which will spur hope for thousands of struggling couples – beyond the regular IVF treatment.”There is something spectacular, which we are working on now, known as gene-editing, where abnormal embryos can literally be edited, as if you are editing a word document.”This means abnormal embryos don’t have to be discharged – because we are implementing a technology to edit and correct the gene – so abnormal embryos become normal embryos.”The technology, ‘CRISPR,’ will allow the edited and corrected embryos to be transferred into the woman’s womb, instead of being discharged.”There has been experiments in animal and human embryos, and within one or two years maximum, it will be clinically available in the UAE.””Gene-editing will be a revolution in fertility treatment, because right now, we have to discharge too many embryos because we find abnormal ones – there is no way we can use them – but soon gene-editing will become a reality and will change the lives of couples who will no longer have to go through countless IVF treatments.”

Couples can tailor-make their babies – Khaleej Times

Recommendation and review posted by sam

No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science – The Globe and Mail

By now, most of us have heard about Googles so-called anti-diversity manifesto and how James Damore, the engineer who wrote it, has been fired from his job.

Titled Googles Ideological Echo Chamber, Mr. Damore called out the current PC culture, saying the gender gap in Googles diversity was not due to discrimination, but inherent differences in what men and women find interesting. Danielle Brown, Googles newly appointed vice-president for diversity, integrity and governance, accused the memo of advancing incorrect assumptions about gender, and Mr. Damore confirmed last night he was fired for perpetuating gender stereotypes.

Despite how its been portrayed, the memo was fair and factually accurate. Scientific studies have confirmed sex differences in the brain that lead to differences in our interests and behaviour.

As mentioned in the memo, gendered interests are predicted by exposure to prenatal testosterone higher levels are associated with a preference for mechanically interesting things and occupations in adulthood. Lower levels are associated with a preference for people-oriented activities and occupations. This is why STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields tend to be dominated by men.

We see evidence for this in girls with a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who are exposed to unusually high levels of testosterone in the womb. When they are born, these girls prefer male-typical, wheeled toys, such as trucks, even if their parents offer more positive feedback when they play with female-typical toys, such as dolls. Similarly, men who are interested in female-typical activities were likely exposed to lower levels of testosterone.

As well, new research from the field of genetics shows that testosterone alters the programming of neural stem cells, leading to sex differences in the brain even before its finished developing in utero. This further suggests that our interests are influenced strongly by biology, as opposed to being learned or socially constructed.

Many people, including a former Google employee, have attempted to refute the memos points, alleging that they contradict the latest research.

Id love to know what research done [] for decades hes referring to, because thousands of studies would suggest otherwise. A single study, published in 2015, did claim that male and female brains existed along a mosaic and that it isnt possible to differentiate them by sex, but this has been refuted by four yes, four academic studies since.

This includes a study that analyzed the exact same brain data from the original study and found that the sex of a given brain could be correctly identified with 69-per-cent to 77-per-cent accuracy.

Of course, differences exist at the individual level, and this doesnt mean environment plays no role in shaping us. But to claim that there are no differences between the sexes when looking at group averages, or that culture has greater influence than biology, simply isnt true.

In fact, research has shown that cultures with greater gender equity have larger sex differences when it comes to job preferences, because in these societies, people are free to choose their occupations based on what they enjoy.

As the memo suggests, seeking to fulfill a 50-per-cent quota of women in STEM is unrealistic. As gender equity continues to improve in developing societies, we should expect to see this gender gap widen.

This trend continues into the area of personality, as well. Contrary to what detractors would have you believe, women are, on average, higher in neuroticism and agreeableness, and lower in stress tolerance.

Some intentionally deny the science because they are afraid it will be used to justify keeping women out of STEM. But sexism isnt the result of knowing facts; its the result of what people choose to do with them.

This is exactly what the mob of outrage should be mobilizing for, instead of denying biological reality and being content to spend a weekend doxxing a man so that he would lose his job. At this point, as foreshadowed in Mr. Damores manifesto, we should be more concerned about viewpoint diversity than diversity revolving around gender.

Debra Soh writes about the science of human sexuality and holds a PhD in sexual neuroscience from York University.

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No, the Google manifesto isn’t sexist or anti-diversity. It’s science – The Globe and Mail

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Dewmar International BMC, Inc. (DEWM) Announces Investment in New West Genetics, Better Than Expected Progress … – Benzinga

Company Formally Announces Trials at University of Kentucky, Purdue University and the University of Nevada, Reno

NEW ORLEANS, LA–(Marketwired – Aug 11, 2017) – Dewmar International BMC, Inc. (the “Company”)(OTC PINK: DEWM)today discussed its investment in New West Genetics (“New West”) and the phenomenal progress that has been achieved in only the past year.

Dewmar International Health & Wellness Research Consortium, LLC, a subsidiary of Dewmar, is a direct investor in New West Genetics and through New West, the consortium is using proprietary technologies and a knowledge base to genetically engineer the cannabis sativa plant to create low THC varieties that will be far superior to the common varieties known in the world today.

New West’s business strategy is using genomic technology and data-driven discovery to create large-scale, harvestable cannabis, greatly enhancing the sustainability of the industry and paving the way for large-scale product development of novel nutritional and therapeutic extracts, serving the fastest growing and largest segment of the cannabis market, to use its technology and its knowledge base of genetic engineering to develop and market what it believes are superior, differentiated products.

For thousands of years and since the first farms appeared on the face of the earth, farmers saved seeds from one farming season to another. There wasn’t anything that was truly proprietary, seed types mutated to a certain climate and soil type, and all the farmers in a region of the world essentially farmed the same variety.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office throughout its history refused to grant patents on seed types. They viewed seeds as a form of life and refused to grant patents on a living thing that had way too many variables that couldn’t be controlled. This all changed in 1980 when in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court finally decided to allow the patenting of seeds. This created an entire industry which is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide today.

Over the past few decades, smaller seed companies have been bought out and the industry is essentially controlled by major players such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Dupont and BASF. Monsanto is the world leader and the intellectual property is so valuable that companies such as Monsanto create internal programs with safeguards to protect their intellectual property. In the case of Roundup seeds, which is owned by Monsanto, farmers are required to sign agreements that they will not save the seeds after harvesting and they will not sell the seeds to other farmers.

The revival of industrial hemp (also referred to as hemp) in the United States is well underway but for decades, hemp has been illegal to grow in the United States.Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, it is no longer considered illegal to grow. Hemp fiber has always been known as the longest and strongest natural fiber known to man. It is of superior strength and durability as compared to other natural fibers. Hemp and all products made of hemp fiber are biodegradable. Hemp has also been used to make clothing, money, rope and many other essential products.

Over the past 2 decades, hemp has morphed into a super food besides the industrial applications, which has a history spanning many centuries. For example, hemp seeds contain about 44% oil by weight in which 80% is a perfect balance of Omega-3, that is known to improve heart function, and Omega-6 essential fatty acids which are essential in hair and skin growth. The protein profile of hemp seeds is more complete than the protein of fish, chicken and red meat. Hemp protein contains all known amino acids and the 9 essential ones that adult bodies can’t produce.

Industrial hemp is also rich in cannabinoids, the chemical structures in industrial hemp that are being studied for a wide range of medical ailments including cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Some strains of industrial hemp are also rich in CBD (cannabidiol). Cannabidioil is non-psychoactive while having the potential to possess a variety of therapeutic properties in many medical conditions. CBD has been studied for its therapeutic potential in many serious medical ailments such as epilepsy, cancer, pain, arthritis, and many others. CBD oils and infused products can be purchased in the entire United States without a prescription.

There is a tremendous demand for hemp seed genetics. Today, companies throughout the world are trying to genetically engineer the hemp plant to make it an even better superfood with greater percentages of certain cannabinoids and even higher levels of protein per plant.

New West Genetics has made significant progress in 2017 including entering into a seed licensing deal with potential revenue of $3 million over 3 years. The company’s proprietary RELY hemp seed is the first United States hemp-bred seed to pass a Colorado Department of Agriculture trial. RELY was planted in five diverse regions including variations in altitude and weather pattern. The result of the trial reached a successful endpoint when the THC content never exceeded .2% (two-tenths of a percent THC). In a Colorado seed lab test, the RELY seed resulted in 99% purity, 99% germination and 0% weeds.

“Ultimately, my vision is to conduct research with the assistance of New West and one or more Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create a high CBD, low THC producing hemp seed that contains the proper combination of healing and pain relief proteins to manufacture and distribute the first over-the-counter nutritional supplement to generate millions of dollars in revenue per month,” says Dr. Marco Moran, CEO of Dewmar International.

This will not be Dr. Moran’s time to create such a high profit earning business model and thanks to the vision and continued support of Dr. Ivory Toldson, Jr., former Executive Director of White House Initiative on HBCUs.Dewmar participated in the Billion Dollar Corporate round table discussion at a prior year’s conference in Washington, D.C. which afforded both him and Dewmar President, J.D. Houston, the opportunity to personally meet and discuss hemp growing programs with Chancellors, Provosts, Deans and Presidents of many top HBCU Agricultural Programs who collectively control thousands of acres of land and whom all gladly accepted our program offerings.

Dewmar is also proud to announce that New West’s seeds have been entered into trials at the University of Kentucky and Purdue, two of the leading agricultural colleges in the United States. Both universities are active participants in the nationwide revival of the hemp industry.

New West has 4 breeding sites this year plus a 20-acre site which is currently producing hemp from the genetically engineered seed RELY. This large production will give the company verifiable yield rates, which will be demonstrable to large buyers who are looking for seeds in the United States.

One of the key researchers behind New West’s work is Dr. John McKay. Dr. McKay is the Chief Investigator at the McKay Lab at Colorado State. The McKay Lab studies the ecology, evolution and genetics of local plant adaptation in natural plant populations. Dr. McKay was invited as a special guest by Dr. Moran to meet his long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Toldson, at a national White House Initiative on HBCU conference years ago. By the end of the conference, Dr. McKay renewed and strengthened his commitment to advance the post-graduate education and increased participation of HBCU students in the studies of Plant Genetics.

“For the past several years, I have worked quietly, yet diligently, toward my vision of empowering HBCU’s across the country with agricultural programs to become financially self-sufficient due to favorable changes in the Farm Bill by aiding them in implementing strong industrial hemp programs. I met with Dr. McKay on numerous occasions in Colorado and in Washington, D.C. to develop the proper partnership that entailed both an investment by our Company and in depth discussions with former the White House via, Dr. Ivory Toldson, Jr. to propose the initiation of grants and creative funding mechanisms for HBCU Agricultural Programs,” said Dr. Moran.

Click on the link here to learn more about why Dewmar considers themselves a perfect investor and implementation partner with New West Genetics; the leaders in cannabis sativa seed breeding and THC trials. Dewmar’s strategic HBCU initiative partnership with MJardin and GHD was formed to implement state of the art growth programs paired with New West leadership in plant genetics. This unique, selfless combination is not be matched by any other consortium within the industry.

“Dewmar boasts that its product development, R&D, manufacturing, brand management and retail product placement verticals create a massive seed-to-consumer retail sales program that is not easily duplicated. This quiet storm of success is a result of years of strategically calculated and well-groomed proper planning over the past 5 years and the time has come to execute,” says J.D. Houston, Dewmar International President.

Dr. Marco Moran states, “We are one of the most respected suppliers of the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, and they have an increasing number of food and beauty supply products that contain hemp oils, seeds, proteins and powders. My vision is to have HBCU farms with thousands of acres across the U.S. supplying the best in hemp seed byproducts for the millions of consumers worldwide as they become more educated about the positive effects of CBD and of hemp infused medicinals.”

Unfortunately, for now, most of the hundreds of millions of dollars of hemp products sold in the U.S. are imported mainly from China and Canada.However, Dewmar plans to grab its fair share of the market as an official registered supplier of Walmart JUMP (Jobs in U.S. Manufacturing) for the fourth year. Furthermore, as Chair of the Mississippi District Export Council, Dr. Moran is perfecting the Company’s ability to increase revenue via exports and to utilize the many tools offered by the United States Commercial Service which is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

In fact, Dr. Moran has accepted a request from one of the top credentialed, licensed female cardiologists in the state of Mississippi to develop one of the first over-the-counter (OTC) heart healthy CBD + hemp protein infused nutritional supplements.This physician and the team of Dewmar Medical Advisory Board practitioners plan to schedule a clinical study soon after product launch to track the long-term effectiveness of the product to prevent or reduce the chances of heart disease and to greatly improve heart health in a high risk patient population.

About Dewmar International BMC, Inc.

Dewmar International BMC, Inc. is a certified service-disabled veteran-owned business concern, new product development, manufacturing and brand management company. Established in 2003, Dewmar’s primary business strategy has been in creating high profit margins with functional foods and beverages, such as Lean Slow Motion Potion; the longest placement period of all relaxation beverages in Walmart’s history and Kush Cakes; the top selling relaxation brownie in the U.S. market. The company has offices in Clinton, MS; Houston, TX; Denver, CO and New Orleans, LA. Dewmar was rated by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of the State’s top 15 publicly traded companies.

Follow Dewmar on its official Facebook and Twitter sites where the CEO is inclined to provide information, sometimes on a daily basis, about some of the Company’s current activities. Also, subscribe to our Company Newsletter on the bottom right of our homepage to receive updates.

Click here for the Safe Harbor Statement.

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Dewmar International BMC, Inc. (DEWM) Announces Investment in New West Genetics, Better Than Expected Progress … – Benzinga

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Pfizer Plans Gene Therapy Manufacturing Investment in North … – BioPharm International

Pfizer is moving forward with plans to invest in a new clinical and commercial gene therapy manufacturing facility in Sanford, NC, but the work is still in the preliminary stages, said the company. A $100-million investment in the Sanford facilities is expected to create 40 jobs, according to a press release from the North Carolina governors office.

The facility will build upon a technology first developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gene therapy focuses on highly specialized, one-time treatments that address the root cause of diseases caused by genetic mutation. The technology involves introducing genetic material into the body to deliver a correct copy of a gene to a patients cells to compensate for a defective or missing gene.

Gene therapy is an important area of focus for Pfizer. In 2016, the company acquired Bamboo Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company based in Chapel Hill focused on developing gene therapies for the potential treatment of patients with certain rare diseases related to neuromuscular conditions and those affecting the central nervous system. Pfizer also committed $4 million to support postdoctoral fellowships in North Carolina universities for training in gene therapy research, according to the press release.

A performance-based grant of $250,000 from the One North Carolina (NC) Fund will help facilitate Pfizers expansion. The One NC grant will formally be awarded to Wyeth Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

Source: Pfizer, NC Governors Office

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Pfizer Plans Gene Therapy Manufacturing Investment in North … – BioPharm International

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Americans want a say in human genome editing, survey shows – Los Angeles Times

When it comes to CRISPR, our society has some important decisions to make.

Just last week, scientists reported a new first in the journal Nature: They edited heritable cells in human embryos to treat an inherited form of heart disease. The day after the research was published, a group of genetics experts published a statement calling for further debate before applications of the technology are taken any further in humans.

According to a new survey of 1,600 adults published in the journal Science today, much of the American public shares this desire for engagement in decision-making. Led by Dietram Scheufele, a professor of science communication at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the study found that while support for gene editing applications varies, a majority of respondents think the public should be consulted before genome editing is used in humans.

Gene editing presents the potential for remarkable benefits.

The potential to cure genetic disease and to ensure the safety of the world’s food supply in the face of climate change are perhaps the most exciting opportunities, said Jennifer Doudna, a chemist at UC Berkeley who was an early pioneer of the powerful gene-editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 and was not involved in the new study.

But it also raises some serious ethical questions, especially when we turn our attention to tweaking the human genome, Scheufele said. Many people find some applications like disease treatment valuable, and others like making your children more intelligent morally shaky.

For example, scientists may eventually develop a cure for what some people dont consider an illness like a disability, Scheufele said. Would those who chose not to undergo genetic therapy or who couldnt afford it then be discriminated against even more as a result?

These and other ethical concerns go beyond the bounds of science, Scheufele says, and his poll results show that the public wants to be involved in the debate.

Oregon Health & Science University

Embryos develop into blastocysts after co-injection, which could someday be used in fertility clinics to help people trying to have children free of genetic disease.

Embryos develop into blastocysts after co-injection, which could someday be used in fertility clinics to help people trying to have children free of genetic disease. (Oregon Health & Science University)

Because of the fast-moving progress of gene editing research and the vast potential for both beneficial applications and negative consequences, many experts have called for public engagement on the issue including in a consensus report released this year by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

The new study strove to answer some questions emerging from the National Academies report. First, how do people feel about different applications of gene editing? And secondly, do Americans agree that the public should be consulted on gene editing applications? Similar questions had been asked in previous polls, but the authors wanted to get some more specific data.

Human genome editing can be used for two broad purposes: therapy or enhancement. Therapeutic applications include the treatment of genetic disorders like muscular dystrophy or sickle cell disease, while enhancement might be used to change your daughters eye color or make her grow taller.

Each of these changes can be heritable or not, depending on which type of cell is tweaked. Somatic cells are nonreproductive, so any changes to these cells will not be passed on to future generations. Germline cells, on the other hand, are heritable therefore, any modifications will be inherited by the treated persons children and grandchildren.

Reprinted with permission from D.A. Scheufele et al., Science 357:6351 2017

A graphic from the paper showing the acceptance of gene editing by application.

A graphic from the paper showing the acceptance of gene editing by application. (Reprinted with permission from D.A. Scheufele et al., Science 357:6351 2017)

The new poll shows that two-thirds of Americans support therapeutic applications, whether to somatic (64% support) or germline (65% support) cells. When it comes to enhancement, however, there is much less approval. Only 39% of respondents find somatic enhancement acceptable, with 35% saying it is unacceptable. Levels of support dropped even lower for heritable germline enhancement, to 26% in acceptance and 51% in opposition.

When these results were broken down by how religious respondents were, some variation emerged. Religious people are less supportive of genome editing overall. Only half of them expressed some support of treatment applications, compared with 75% of nonreligious respondents. When it comes to enhancement, 28% of religious respondents and 45% of nonreligious people reported some level of support.

The authors also ranked respondents in terms of low, medium and high knowledge by their score on a nine-question factual quiz. Those in the high-knowledge category were far more supportive of treatment applications, with 76% in support compared with only 32% of low-knowledge respondents.

When asked about enhancement applications, the high-knowledge group was very polarized, with 41% in support and a nearly equal amount in opposition. In contrast, half of low-knowledge people reported that they neither support nor oppose gene editing.

Robert Blendon, who studies health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that the polarization could be there for a reason. Those who know more about the technology have probably learned about it because they have a vested interest maybe a genetic disease runs in their family or they are concerned with ethical consequences.

Reprinted with permission from D.A. Scheufele et al., Science 357:6351 2017

A graphic from the paper showing the opinions of respondents based on religiosity and knowledge.

A graphic from the paper showing the opinions of respondents based on religiosity and knowledge. (Reprinted with permission from D.A. Scheufele et al., Science 357:6351 2017)

The more religious people were, the less likely they were to trust the scientific community to responsibly develop new technologies. This trend was opposite when it came to knowledge: The more knowledgeable people were about the technology, the more likely they were to trust the scientists.

While the two groups may have very different reasons, both highly religious and highly knowledgeable people agreed that the public should be involved in decision-making before gene editing is used in humans.

Blendon said that while its clear the public wants a say in how gene editing is used, its unclear exactly what public engagement looks like. The first way most people might think of being consulted is through their elected officials, but other surveys suggest that the public actually doesnt think the government should be making decisions about genome technology.

Scheufele said that there is currently no infrastructure in place for crucial two-way communication between scientists and the public on the genome editing issue but its important to develop it.

Diverse groups and perspectives have an important role to play in shaping the early stages of human genome editing research, Scheufele said. Scientists may not think to investigate all the questions that the public may deem vital.

If we ask the wrong questions, he said, then we may have perfect technical answers to all the wrong questions.


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Americans want a say in human genome editing, survey shows – Los Angeles Times

Recommendation and review posted by sam

MoU signed to commercialise gene therapy in India – Odisha Sun Times

New Delhi: In a bid to advance research and commercialise regenerative medicine and gene therapy in India, the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprise (ABLE) a consortium of biotechnology companies on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Japan-based trade association.

The collaboration between ABLE and Forum for Innovative Regenerative Medicine (FIRM) will focus on advancing the individual and common missions by sharing information including technology, policy and laws partnerships and opportunities such as co-sponsoring meetings and other cooperation based on common concern.

It will also help advance and promote commercialisation of life saving products in regenerative medicine within India, Japan and other countries.

We are proud to be a partner in this revolutionary research and industry collaborations. The partnership is a step forward to enhance the learning and training on cell and gene treatment leading to enhancement of the cell and gene therapies which help to address major unmet medical needs in India, P. Manohar, Head (Committee for regenerative medicine group) at ABLE, said in a statement on Friday.

Our association with ABLE is an opportunity to work towards the advancement of the field (of regenerative medicine and cell and gene therapies) and tap on the potential to transform human healthcare. Through the partnership, we can share learnings and insights to contribute towards curing major human illness, added Yuzo Toda, Chairman at FIRM. (IANS)

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MoU signed to commercialise gene therapy in India – Odisha Sun Times

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Springfield Mom Works to Raise Awareness after Son Diagnosed with Rare Genetic Disorder – KRCU

Parker Atchley is your typical four-year-old in many ways. Hes shy at first but usually opens up after he gets to know you, he loves anything with wheels, baseball and splashing in water, and he sticks pretty close to his mom, but a grandma will do if moms not available.

Hes an adorable, blonde boy with dark-rimmed glasses and a stare that makes you feel like hes thoroughly assessing you but that also melts your heart.

He also is suffering from a rare diseaseor at least a disease that only a few have been diagnosed with so far.

Sitting on the floor of her living room in southeast Springfield, Parkers mom, Kathryn Atchley, said they got a diagnosis in January: KIF1A-related disorder. It was a long journey to get to that point.

“When he was around one, we realized that something was off. We weren’t sure. The director of the day care he was going to actually called a meeting with us to talk about some concerns because he wasn’t walking at that point. He had just started traversing around furniture,” she said.

His balance was also off. Kathryn and her husband, Tyler, thought maybe it was an ear or eye problem. They took Parker to a pediatrician, an ear, nose and throat doctor and a neurologist. All tests came back normal. So they enrolled him in physical therapy. As he got older, they held onto hope that Parker would get better, but he didnt and they grew more and more frustrated.

“It started getting really worrisome when we realized that he was losing skills. Two years ago he used to be able to stand up on his own, and he can’t do that anymore. He was taking nine steps at a time, and he can’t do that anymore,” said Kathryn.

The Atchleys took Parker to a second neurologist who recommended genetic testing. They finally got the diagnosis that Kathryn said changed everything.

“Cause then we realized it wasn’t just a rare disorder, it was neurodegenerative,” she said.

They no longer clung to the hope that Parker was just delayed and that physical therapy could help him catch up.

Dr. Wendy Chung, a physician with Columbia University in New York, saidKIF1A-related disorder is a genetic condition, caused by a mutation in the KIF1A gene, which was identified fairly recentlyin the last 10 years or so. It affects the brain and nervous system and, while some with the disorder are affected mildly, others, including Parker, can have severe disabilities. Those include muscle tightening, spasticity and difficulty developing. The most disheartening thing about the condition, she said, is that its degenerative.

“That is that children take steps back. They lose abilities. They lose vision,” said Dr. Chung

The first piece of advice given to the Atchleys by the neurologist was to go online and find other families affected by KIF1A. Kathryn said the doctor had never heard of the disorder before.

“He was very upfront and honest and said, you know, ‘I’m learning this as you guys learn it,'” she said.

She found a Facebook support group for families with children who have KIF1A-related disorder, and, at the time, there were only 20 families in the group. Its since grown some as more kids get diagnosed through whole genome testing.

Dr. Chung said shed venture to guess that the vast majority of people with KIF1A-related disorder dont even realize they have this condition.

“There are a lot of individuals out there that have symptoms who just don’t know what they are. There’s powerful new sequencing and genetic technology to figure that out, and, you know, I think that’s what people like me are trying to do is make sure patients get access to that type of testing,” said Dr. Chung.

Whole Exome Sequencing, a fairly expensive test that can be cost prohibitive, isnt covered by all insurance companies.

But Dr. Chung said other tests on children to get a diagnosis, such as MRIs and brain scans, are also expensive and dont always result in an answer. And she said having a diagnosis is valuable at many levels.

“Certainly I think for the families just having an answer about what this is and what to expect and what they can do to keep their child healthy and learning and, you know, improve their quality of life or maintain their quality of life, I think is huge if you ask any of the families. I think the other portion of this is that you don’t waste your time doing things that are not necessary,” she said.

According to Dr. Chung, more diagnoses ofKIF1A-related disorder will hopefully lead to more research to find a cure.

Parents of kids with KIF1A-related disorder, including Kathryn Atchley, are working to raise awareness about the condition and money for research.

“You know, in connecting with other families I think there’s a lot of us parents that, ‘I don’t want to sit by and do nothing and just kind of let the medical community figure it out,'” said Kathryn.

Dr. Chung has taken KIF1A parents under her wing and tells them shes their Sherpatheir guide through a frightening diagnosis up what she calls a large mountain as they try to seek treatment for their children. Currently, treatment is supportive and consists of things like physical therapy, getting seizures under control and helping patients maintain their mobility.

Dr. Chung calls herself an optimistic person and is hopeful a cure will be found one day, but she doesnt know if it will be five, ten or twenty years down the road. She also calls herself a realist and said scientists are just beginning to understand KIF1A-related disorder. But she knows that scientific knowledge, especially in neuroscience is growing much more rapidly than ever before.

“So I’m confident that treatments are going to be available in the future. The question though is, you know, how quickly can we accelerate that? You know…is the future going to be 20 years off? Can we accelerate it to be five years off? And that, I think, is still fundamentally unknown,” said Dr. Chung.

After the diagnosis, Kathryn said they began adjusting their hopes and dreams for their son. She couldnt look at Parker without crying.

“And one day I was sitting at the coffee table playing with him, and he trailed tears down my face, and I realized that I was really robbing us of our present with Parker,” she said.

Kathryn, who calls herself an optimist in training, doesnt want to stand by and let the disease take away the progress Parker has made. She wants to do all she can to help find a cure.

“I have to get people to care about Parker and the rest of these kids if they’re going to have any hope of finding treatment or a cure,” she said.

Dr. Chung said funding is needed to support research on genetic disorders like KIF1A. You can find out more and donate at Read about the Atchley family’s journey with KIF1A-related disorder on Kathryn’s blog.

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Springfield Mom Works to Raise Awareness after Son Diagnosed with Rare Genetic Disorder – KRCU

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Families with kids with Jordan’s Syndrome meet for study to learn more about rare gene mutation – FOX 5 DC

CHANTILLY, Va. – Families from around the world who have children with a rare gene mutation came to Washington D.C. to participate in a study that could lead to a medical breakthrough.

These families may be from all over, but there is a rare genetic link that brings them all together.

FOX 5 first brought you the story of Shelby and Greg Butler and their 12-year-old daughter Ella with special needs. She was recently diagnosed with a rare gene mutation called PPP2R5D.

Research suggests the mutation is involved in autism, Alzheimers and even cancer, but it still remains much of a mystery. Up until now, around 30 families whose child is diagnosed with it have only spoken on Facebook with each other.

That has been so overwhelming to see these kids that are so similar to her, said Shelby Butler.

Recently, the gene mutation was named Jordan’s Syndrome after the daughter of Joe and Cynthia Lang from California.

Had you told Cynthia and I that a year ago we were going to be doing something like this, we would have said no way, said Joe.

They have made it their mission to gather the country’s top researchers to take a deeper and wider look at Jordan’s Syndrome. Lab work for the study is currently underway at the GeneDx genetics lab in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Historically this type of research would have taken decades maybe to do, and with the rate of science being so quick right now in terms of breakthroughs and discoveries, with gene therapy and other things, we are trying to basically take advantage of that, said Megan Cho, the research program manager at GeneDx.

Families like the Butlers hope others will take advantage of getting tested.

A big takeaway from all this is it gives us hope, said Greg Butler. Gives us hope for Ella, and really, I think it gives hope for a whole lot of other people like Ella who are younger and maybe who have not gotten a diagnosis yet.

If you would like more information about how to get tested for Jordans Syndrome, ask your doctor or geneticist about taking an exome sequencing test.

It is expensive but some insurance companies may cover it. It may also be offered for free through other medical studies.

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Families with kids with Jordan’s Syndrome meet for study to learn more about rare gene mutation – FOX 5 DC

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CRISPR’d pigs offer hope for the human organ transplant shortage – TechCrunch

Pig organs are the same size as human organs and function pretty much the same way, but pig to human transplantation has long been an elusive goal for researchers due to fear of activating dormant viral diseases in the pigs cells.

But theres hope on the horizon, thanks to a new study out in Science today involving CRISPRd piglets. Researchers in the study used the gene-editing technology to effectively cut out a porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) commonly found throughout pig bodies.

The findings represent an important breakthrough in the potential for xenotransplantation, or the use of animal organs in humans.Currently there are more than 117,000 men, women and children on the donor waiting list in the U.S., 22 of whom die each day from lack of a matching donor. The ability to use a pig heart, lungs or other body parts could shore up the shortage and save numerous lives.

This is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate they were able to inactivate PERV and open the way for xenotransplantation without cross-species contamination.

The company behind the study, eGenesis, which was founded by Harvard genome godfather George Church and Luhan Yang, says it used a technique involving a combination of CRISPR and a method preventing primary cell death during the editing process to inactivate all 62 copies of PERV in piglet embryos. Those embryos were then implanted in sows, growing to fully formed piglets, free of PERV.

CRISPR holds enormous potential to wipe out diseases in both humans and animals, upend our food system and has many other applications we likely dont see yet. Just last week, U.S. scientists were able to demonstrate they could successfully CRISPR out a faulty heart gene mutation in human embryos. However, there is still a lot to take into account before applying the technology to fully formed human beings.

eGenesis says it will continue to monitor the piglets for any long-term effects and, according to Yang, will also further engineer the PERV-free pig strain to deliver safe and effective xenotransplantation.

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CRISPR’d pigs offer hope for the human organ transplant shortage – TechCrunch

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