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Evolution approves Cowal life extension project – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

PERTH ( Gold miner Evolution Mining has approved developments at its Cowal mine, in New South Wales, which will increase the mine life by eight years to 2032.

The expansion project earlier this month received New South Wales regulatory approvals.

The mine life extension project will see production increasing by 1.2-million ounces, with the dual leach project to entail implementation of an additional leaching circuit designed to recover gold from the flotation tailings stream.

Evolution noted that detailed metallurgical testwork has verified that overall plant recovery can be increased by 4% to 6%, which could increase gold production by between 10 000 oz/y and 14 000 oz/y.

Between A$35-million and A$40-million will be spent over 2018 and 2019, with commissioning of the project expected in early 2019.

Securing the mine life of this high-quality cornerstone asset for at least 15 years provides a strong platform to continue to grow our business, said Evolution executive chairperson Jake Klein.

Cowal has generated a net mine cash flow of A$253-million, representing 36% of the A$703-million purchase price, in the six quarters since Evolution acquired it in July 2015. Over that period, ore reserves have also increased by 2.28-million gold ounces, or 145%.

The ore reserve is currently estimated at 116.7-million tonnes, at 0.85 g/t gold for 3.2-million ounces, while the resource is estimated at 177.6-million tonnes, at 0.88 g/t gold for just over five-million ounces.

The implementation of the dual leach project will also enable the incremental cotreatment of existing stockpiles of high-grade oxide ore reserves.

While studies are ongoing, this has the potential to bring forward an additional 10 000 oz/y to 12 000 oz/y of gold production from 2020 onward. However, a further modification to the mining permit will be required before this can be implemented.

Further, throughput improvements from the current 7.5-million-tonne-a-year to 9.5-million-tonne-a-year are also being assessed as an opportunity to deliver economies of scale, bring forward the treatment of low-grade stockpiles and reduce ore rehandling. Klein said this would involve the introduction of a secondary crusher to the plant.

This project was currently in the scoping phase and would also require a modification of the current mining permit.

Meanwhile, Evolution on Thursday reported a 26% increase in underlying net profit for the six months to December 31, compared with the previous corresponding period, with record underlying net profit recorded at A$136.3-million.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) were also up by 21% to A$345.3-million, while revenue increased by 17% to A$711.2-million.

During the interim period, group gold production increased by 12% to 423 120 oz, while average C1 cash costs were reported at A$667/oz, compared with the A$700/oz reported in the previous corresponding period.

Gold production during the period under review increased on the back of the acquisition of the Ernest Henry mine, in Queensland, which delivered 14 257 oz of gold in the December quarter.

The record half-year underlying net profit and an Ebitda margin of 50% is a clear reflection of the quality of Evolutions asset portfolio and consistent operational performance, Klein said on Thursday.

With Ernest Henry only contributing for two months of the [six months to] December, we expect further improvement once the full impact of this asset on group costs and cash flow becomes evident.

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Evolution approves Cowal life extension project – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

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Major South African coal extension project on cards South32 – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

JOHANNESBURG ( A decision will be taken in the June quarter on go-ahead for the Klipspruit Life Extension coal project in Mpumalanga, which is said to have robust economics.

The original BHP Billiton capital expenditure (capex) of $500-million-plus for the two-year development has been more than halved under South32 to below $250-million, South32 CEO Graham Kerr told Creamer Medias Mining Weekly Online during a media conference call.

While the Klipspruit Life Extension coal project is export orientated and earmarked to make use of existing rail access, its location in relation to Eskoms new coal-fired Kusile power station, which is under construction, could see it playing a role in domestic supply.

All the key environmental approvals have been obtained and the go-ahead decision will be made at the end of South32s current financial year on June 30.

Certainly, as Ive been watching the project go through, its had very robust economics, said Kerr.

During the last 18 months of project study, the South32 team under president and COO Africa Mike Fraser has maximised optionalities, given the long-term uncertainty in the arbitrage between domestic and export.

What weve been able to introduce into this project is a lot of flexibility, which has enabled us to reduce capital but also to give us optionality should the market strengthen out of our current prediction range. There is certainly potential for a long life out of this resource Fraser told Mining Weekly Online.

Project capital expenditure (capex) of $30-million is expected in this financial year to June 30, to fund study costs and the acquisition of land in preparation for the Klipspruit Life Extension project.

After a turnaround from loss to profit in the half-year to December 31, cash-rich South32 has resolved to pay an interim dividend of $0.036 a share for the half-year ended December 31, which means a dishing out of $192-million to shareholders from the pile of cash it generated in the period, compared with the corresponding period’s loss, which was impacted by the recognition of impairment charges totalling $1.7-billion.

The company came away with 197%-higher free cash of $626-million to boost its net cash position to $859-million on operational optimisation and leverage.

The rise in profit came as revenue climbed 8% to $3.2-billion.

Compared with the first half of 2016, controllable costs were cut by $239-million and capex by $116-million.

Capex guidance for this financial year remains unchanged at $450-million.

Exploration expenditure of $16-million is expected within the companys existing footprint, with exploration already started on high-grade manganese within the southern areas of Groote Eylandt, in Australia.

Continued pursuit of additional greenfield exploration opportunities could lead to an increase in expenditure.

The corporate tax rates applicable to the group include Australia at 30%, South Africa at 28%, Colombia at 40% and Brazil at 34%.

Better prices for metallurgical coal, energy coal, manganese ore and manganese alloy were the main contributors to increasing revenue by $661-million.

Higher average realised silver, lead and zinc prices increased sales revenue and chipped in an additional $93-million, but lower average realised prices for alumina cut revenue by $39-million.

Price-linked costs fell by $47-million on lower raw material prices at the alumina and aluminium operations and a reduction in treatment and refining charges for Cannington silver concentrates.

An increase in controllable costs is anticipated in the six months to June 30 as working capital unwinds.

The Sydney-, Johannesburg- and London-listed BHP Billiton spinoffs swing to profit included its restarting of 22 pots at Aluminium South Africa, which were taken offline in September 2015, as well as the opportunistic increase of manganese ore production in the wake of manganeses price surge.


With 22 pots that were suspended in September 2015 back on stream, South32s Hillside aluminium smelter is back at full tilt.

Saleable production from Hillside, which sources power from State utility Eskom under long-term contracts, increased by 1% to 356 000 t in the six months to December 31, on fewer load-shedding events.

We continue to identify opportunities for further energy efficiency but we are very happy at the current level of efficiency, said Fraser.

Operating unit costs fell by 8% to $1 380/t on lower raw material prices and a weaker South African rand offsetting higher aluminium price-linked power costs.

Some 72 pots are scheduled to be relined this year.

The price of electricity supplied to potlines 1 and 2 is linked to the London Metal Exchange (LME) aluminium price and the rand/dollar exchange rate. The price of electricity supplied to potline 3 is rand based and linked to South African and US producer price indices.

Saleable production from Mozal Aluminium, in Mozambique, increased by 2% to 136 000 t in the six months to December 31, with an 11% increase in sales reflecting the timing of shipments between periods.

Operating unit costs decreased by 12% to $1 448/t in the first half of the 2017 financial year, reflecting stronger sales and lower raw materials prices.

A total of 39 Mozal pots were relined in the period at $193 000 a pot, compared with 69 pots at $212 000 a pot in the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

A total of 106 pots are now scheduled to be relined in this financial year.

Mozal Aluminium uses hydroelectric power generated by Hidroelctrica de Cahora Bassa, which delivers power into the South African grid to Eskom, with Mozal sourcing the power through the Mozambique transmission company, Motraco.

We get some protection in terms of the cost of the Hillside business when the LME price goes down and foreign exchange doesnt work in our favour. So, it provides a bit of a natural hedge, whereas we dont get that same benefit at Mozal. But likewise, as the exchange goes the other way and we actually see aluminium prices increase, we get more out of Mozal than we do out of Hillside, Kerr said in response to Mining Weekly Online.


The block development project at the Wessels underground manganese mine in South Africas Northern Cape will reduce cycle times by allowing mining activity to relocate closer to critical infrastructure. Commissioning is expected in the March 2017 quarter.

Manganese alloy saleable production fell 20% to 37 000 t on furnace instability at Metalloys in South Africas Gauteng province, where only one of the four manganese furnaces is operating, compared with all four of the manganese furnaces at Temco, in Australia, being expected to return to full capacity once scheduled maintenance is completed in the March quarter.

Saleable ore production from South32s 44.4%-owned South Africa manganese mines increased by 23% to 934 000 wet metric tons (wmt) with market conditions supporting a drawdown of Wessels concentrate stockpiles and the use of higher cost trucking to access export opportunities.

Wessels concentrate accounted for 15% of external sales in the six months to December 31, compared with 4% in the prior corresponding period.

Manganese ore production from South Africa will remain configured for an optimised rate of 2.9-million wmt a year, with opportunistic action when market fundamentals are supportive.

Tragically, the company lost an employee in the half-year, which has prompted it to invest time, energy and leadership in make a lasting change to its safety performance.

The fatality at Metalloys has hit very hard and new practice to avoid a recurrence has been shared across the group.

Permanent processes have been embarked upon following the internal investigation, supplemented by external engagements.


At South Africa Energy Coal, coal production guidance is 30.9-million tonnes, 17-million tonnes of it for the domestic market and 13.9-million tonnes for export.

The $103-million impact in the period of the lower production at South Africa Energy Coal followed the suspension of the North plant at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex, scheduled maintenance and the repositioning of draglines.

Saleable production from the 92%-owned South Africa Energy Coal decreased by 9% to 14.8-million tonnes in the six months to December 31, reflecting the prior suspension of the North plant at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex, and export sales were also impacted by Transnet’s yearly rail maintenance cycle.

Future production will benefit from additional capital investment at the Wolvekrans Middelburg Complex that will open up new mining areas.

In Australia, steps to acquire Metropolitan Colliery, to realise synergies with Illawarra Metallurgical Coal in Australia, are well advanced and the access agreement for Worsley Alumina in the West Marradong mining area is being completed.

In South America, unlocking more value at Cerro Matosos La Esmeralda nickel prospect is envisaged. In Canada, exploration for copper, nickel and platinum group element mineralisation at Huckleberry is being started.

Underlying earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortisation increased by $522-million to $1.1-billion in the six months to December 31, as higher prices for most of its commodities offset lower volumes, giving rise to an increase in sales revenue of $240-million and a rise in operating margin from 20% to 37%.

Our strong balance sheet and simple capital management framework is designed to reward shareholders as financial performance improves.

We have declared our first interim dividend and will continue to manage our financial position to ensure we retain the right balance of flexibility and efficiency, Kerr told journalists.

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Major South African coal extension project on cards South32 – Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly

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Why Do People Want to Live So Long, Anyway? – TIME

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is famous for a lot of reasons. He’s an acclaimed bioethicist and oncologist who advised President Obama on health care and has two very well known brothers, but another thing people always seem to remember about him is that article he wrote in 2014: “Why I Hope to Die at 75.”

More than 1,000 people have sent him letters and emails–some saying he’s insane and ungrateful, others thanking him for voicing the same thoughts for which they’d been ridiculed. One 75-year-old man who died in upstate New York requested that his mourners, instead of making a donation, sit down and read the piece.

Emanuel’s embrace of an early end–one that’s only a few years shy of the U.S. life expectancy of 78.8–is the exact opposite of how most people in America feel about dying. In a survey from the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of American adults said they wanted to live to be up to 100 years old. But why?

“The quest to live forever, or to live for great expanses of time, has always been part of the human spirit,” says Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Emory Center for Ethics. People now seem to have particular reason to be optimistic: in the past century, science and medicine have extended life expectancy, and longevity researchers (not to mention Silicon Valley types) are pushing for a life that lasts at least a couple decades more.

Of course, people want to juice their life spans for reasons beyond their pioneering spirits. “The thing that is most difficult and inscrutable to us as mortal beings is the fact of our own death,” Wolpe says. “We don’t understand it, we don’t get it, and as meaning-laden beings, we can’t fathom what it means to not exist.” In other words, thinking about the infinite desert of death can trigger the worst kind of FOMO.

At the same time, the odds of living a long life that’s also a good, healthy one are slim. Almost all people complete their most meaningful years before age 75, Emanuel writes in his essay, so living past that age is rarely as good as it may sound. Physical function crumbles for about half of Americans at around age 80, and aging makes all of us mentally slower and less creative. We may die later, but we don’t age slower.

Older folks understand this better than younger people. “What you see when you actually look at people at the end of life, to a large degree, is a sense of a life well lived and a time for that life to transition itself,” says Wolpe. “Younger people have a harder time with that, but older people don’t.”

When people are asked how long they hope to live, however, attitude seems to make a greater difference than how old they are. A study of young and middle-aged people ages 18 to 64 found that 1 in 6 preferred to die before age 80. Those who did tended to hold more negative beliefs about what old age would be like. Still, the vast majority of people surveyed wanted to live a good long life and had sunnier expectations for their own old age.

That’s why Emanuel isn’t trying to persuade many people to drop the quest for a longer life: evidence, he knows, is no match for the human ego. “One of the things I don’t understand is why the Silicon Valley types want to live forever,” Emanuel says. “Obviously they believe the world can’t possibly survive without their existence, and so they think their immortality is so critical to the survival of the world.”

There is, however, an ethical way to chase life extension in a way that benefits everyone. “The proportion of the population that dies before 75, that’s the number we ought to be looking at and tracking,” Emanuel says. “We want to get everyone to 75.”

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Why Do People Want to Live So Long, Anyway? – TIME

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Batteroo Boost, The Battery Life Extender Is Now Available Worldwide – PR Newswire (press release)

Crafted from stainless steel, less than 0.1 millimeter thin, Batteroo boost sleeves slip over disposable batteries to increase the usable lifespan of different battery operated devices such as children’s toys, flashlights, remote controls, wireless keyboards, video game controllers, portable radios, and blood pressure monitors. Batteroo is currently available for AA, AAA, C, and D-cell batteries, and retail prices start at $10.00 for a pack of four.

While many battery-operated devices stop working due to “Dead” Batteries, Often, there is still a significant amount of energy left in those “Dead” batteries. Batteroo Boost’s electronic-circuitry taps into the battery’s remaining energy, resulting in significant performance improvement and useable life extension. By increasing the time consumers can use their battery operated devices before needing to replace their batteries, Batteroo Boost saves them money resulting from buying fewer batteries, saves our planet by reducing the number of batteries that end up in landfills, and saves energy and raw material used to produce and transport fewer batteries around the globe.

Of the reported 15 billion disposable batteries that are sold each year, only two percent are recycled properly, according to estimates. If we line up the batteries that are thrown away, they would circle the earth more than 18 times, each year. Battery manufacturing was listed as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in a 2010 study conducted by the California Department of Resources Recycling. The Batteroo Boost technology offers a solution to reduce this unnecessary waste and resulting harm to our environment.

“Disposable Batteries, while allowing us to be mobile, are very inefficient power delivery systems. As an example, at 10c/KWh, a household that pays $200 per month for electricity, would have to pay $440,000 per month if using batteries instead of utility companies. With such expensive energy, it is a shame that a significant number of them get thrown away with more than 80% of energy still left inside,” said Bob Roohparvar Ph.D. Batteroo’s CEO. “Batteroo is good for consumers, good for environment, but not necessarily good for the $14 billion disposable battery industry. But progress happens and industries have to adapt.”

Batteroo Boost sleeves for AA, AAA, C and D type batteries are commercially available online at Batteroo Corporation anticipates availability of Batteroo Boost in retailers, both online and Brick-and-mortar in the second half of this year. For wholesale inquiries, please contact

About Batteroo

Batteroo Corporation is an innovator of intelligent power management and delivery systems. Batteroo Boost technology makes contact with the positive and negative terminals of a common battery to access the untapped energy remaining in the battery before it is thrown away. Batteroo has been tested and shown to extend the life of disposable alkaline batteries on a variety of battery-operated home and office gadgets. The reduction of battery usage resulting from Batteroo’s life extension technology saves consumers money and saves landfills from toxic battery waste that results in soil contamination and a laundry list of negative environmental impacts. The company was cofounded by Bob Roohparvar Ph.D., who holds more than 20 patents in his 30-year career in power management, semiconductors, and consumer products, and Frankie Roohparvar, executive chairman and cofounder, who holds more than 500 patents. For more information visit

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Batteroo Boost, The Battery Life Extender Is Now Available Worldwide – PR Newswire (press release)

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Only Human – New Republic

This might be another way of saying that the idea of living forever is as influential as the actual possibility of living forever. Immortality is a long shot. But why is it such big business now?

The future, as a concept, has always been lucrative; the more abstract, the better. Though OConnell doesnt focus strictly on Silicon Valleytranshumanists dot the globetranshumanism is a distinctly Californian project. The state has a long legacy of self-improvement programs, exercise crazes, and faddish diets, amounting to a unique brand of bourgeois spirituality. California is a pusher for freedom. Lifestyle is supreme.

These days, this utopian futurism can take the shape of New Age management philosophy, corporate wellness, or the annual conference Wisdom 2.0, which brings together tech luminaries and the spiritual leaders of industry, from Eileen Fisher and Alanis Morissette to the CEOs of Slack and Zappos. Recent years have seen an uptick in venture capitalbacked products that carry the promise of not just a better, more productive you, but a better life overall. From Soylent (a meal-replacement drink) to nootropics (capsules that purportedly level-up ones cognitive ability), investors are pursuing extended youth, neurological enhancement, and physical prowess.

Of course, much of this is less new than it feels. In Silicon Valley, there are no new ideas, only iterations. Soylent looks a lot like SlimFast, a protein drink marketed to dieting women since the 1970s. Nootropics tend to contain ingredients like l-theaninefound in green teaand caffeine. These companies web design has a lot to do with this illusion of newnesssexy front-end design signals trustworthiness and hints that there is something technologically impressive happening on the back end. Their products get a boost from their association with work-addicted engineers, who turn to them as high-tech solutions to self-created high-tech problems. But this promise is bigger than Silicon Valley, and carries with it a distinctly Californian air of self-improvement, of better living through technology.

It is tempting to see transhumanism, too, as merely the latest rebranding of a very old desire. Many of OConnells subjects specialize in the hypothetical. Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist who sees death as a disease to be cured. Anders Sandberg, a neuroscientist working on mind uploading, wishes literally to become an emotional machine. He is also an artist who creates digital scenes resembling early-web sci-fi fan art, and gives them dreamy names such as Dance of the Replicators and Air Castle. Zoltan Istvan, a former journalist who claims to have invented the sport of volcano-boarding, ran a presidential campaign that saw him travel across the country in a coffin-shaped bus to raise awareness for transhumanism. He campaigned on a pro-technology platform that called for a universal basic income, and promoted a Transhumanist Bill of Rights that would assure, among other things, that human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms be entitled to universal rights of ending involuntary suffering.

Then theres Max More, a co-founder of Extropianism, who runs the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Alcor is a cryopreservation facility that houses the bodiesor disembodied heads, to be attached at a later date to artificial bodiesof those hoping to be reanimated as soon as the technology exists. The bodies, OConnell writes, are considered to be suspended, rather than deceased: detained in some liminal stasis between this world and whatever follows it, or does not. Alcor is the largest of the worlds four cryopreservation facilities, and houses 149 patients, nearly 70 percent of whom are male. (Alcor also cryopreserves pets.) Its youngest patient is a two-year-old who died due to a rare form of pediatric brain cancer; her case summary, posted on Alcors web site, shares that her parents, both living, also intend to be cryopreserved. No doubt being surrounded by familiar faces of loving relatives will make the resumption of her life . . . easier and more joyful, the case summary ends hopefully, heartbreakingly. To date, science has not suggested that reanimation will ever be possible; the dream of re-uploading ones mind into a new, living body, at a yet-to-be-determined date, remains just that: a dream.

Those working on immortality are long-term thinkers and fall, broadly, into two camps: those who want to free the human from the body, and those who aim to keep the body in a healthy condition for as long as possible. Randal Koene, like Max More, is in the first group. Instead of cryonics, he is working toward mind uploading, the construction of a mind that can exist independent of the body. His nonprofit organization, Carboncopies, aims for the effective immortality of the digitally duplicated self. Koene compares mind uploading to kayaking. It might be like the experience of a person who is, say, really good at kayaking, who feels like the kayak is physically an extension of his lower body, and it just totally feels natural, he tells OConnell. So maybe it wouldnt be that much of a shock to the system to be uploaded, because we already exist in this prosthetic relationship to the physical world anyway, where so many things are experienced as extensions of our bodies.

Aubrey de Grey is in the second, body preservationist group, whose efforts tend to be slightly more modest: Rather than solving death, they focus on extending life. His nonprofit, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, focuses on research in heart disease and Alzheimers, and other common illnesses and diseases. (SENS, like many organizations the transhumanists are involved with, has received funding from Thiel.) De Greys most mainstream contribution is the popularization of the concept of longevity escape velocity, which OConnell explains as such: For every year that passes, the progress of longevity research is such that average human life expectancy increases by more than a yeara situation that would, in theory, lead to our effectively outrunning death. One might dismiss such transhumanist visions as too extreme: so many men, so much hubris. And yet, at a time of great cynicism about humanityand the future were all barreling towardthere is something irresistible about transhumanism. Call it magical thinking; call it radical optimism.

A quest for immortality may be the ultimate example of overpromising and under-delivering, but it will still deliver something. Indeed, plenty of the Extropian dreams of anti-aging have already been realized, though these accomplishments now look less futuristic than we previously imagined. Thanks to improved health care, sanitation, and education, we are living longer than our ancestors could have imagined. We sleep with our cell phones. Prosthetics have become increasingly personalized and affordable. Roboticized microsurgery blurs the lines between human and machine skill. In more staid quarters (where most of the money is), the quest for transhumanism is simply biotech.

OConnells focus is on the more extreme transhumanists, those committed to eternal life. But he also meets a few of the transhumanists taking this more incremental approach, edging us closer to longer and healthier lives. Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist working on brain-machine interface technology, created a robotic exoskeleton that can be controlled by brain activity. He exhibited it at the 2014 World Cup, to give a sense of how human and robot might work together in the future. A clear practical application of his work would be to help paraplegics increase their mobility and activity. Its technology that doesnt demand that we radically overhaul our idea of reality. It allows us to make minor adjustments.

Nicolelis does not seem to share the technologists passion for scalability; though he has proven that brain activity can be translated into dataand that data can be translated into movementhe is not drawn to large-scale projects like whole-brain emulation. I dont think we will ever be able to broadcast from one brain to another the essence of the human condition, he told Popular Mechanics last year. We love analogies, metaphors, expecting things, and predicting things. These things are not in algorithms.

As transhumanism gradually alters the length and quality of human life, it will also alter political and cultural life. If the average human life were to span 100 healthy years, then society, the economy, and the environment would be drastically transformed. How long would childhood last? What would the political landscape look like if baby boomers were able to vote for another 50 years? OConnells foray into transhumanism comes at a moment when our democratic institutions look weaker than ever. Wealth is increasingly concentrated among a small group of people. The future, while always uncertain, looks, for many, particularly bleak. Envisioning a future in which transhumanisms wildest desires are realized is a heady thought experiment, one that quickly devolves into a vision of dystopia: too little space, too many bodies, andif brains are uploaded from centuries pastobsolete software.

As exciting, ambitious, fantastical, or practical as the transhumanists aims may be, they neglect to offer a fully fledged vision for society should they be successful. It would hardly be the first time that actors in Silicon Valley, with an emphasis on speed and scale, innovated firstthen scrambled to address the repercussions after they had already arrived.

This is both a core promise and the fundamental problem of transhumanism: It exempts those involved from their debt to the present. As Bill Gates put it in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit, It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB for rich people to fund things so they can live longer. OConnell finds it odd, too, that billionaire entrepreneurs are more interested in developing AI than in eradicating grotesque income inequality in their own country. Of course, experimentation is essential to progress, and researchers claim their work will benefit all of humanity in the future. But it raises the question: What future and for whom?

There is something deeply sad about transhumanism, tooa yearning, one that perhaps harks back to the self-improvement doctrines that have so colored California since the halcyon days of the midcentury. The promise of a better worlda better youis hard to turn away from these days. We are not more than human; we have not found a way to transcend. In the weeks between the election and the inauguration, our collective visions of the future adjusted to accommodate the possibilities of rampant corruption and the rapid perversion of constitutional freedoms, among many other things. It feels indulgent to fantasize about a future in which humanity is optimized for immortality; it feels indulgent to fantasize about a future at all.

Yet I cannot fault the transhumanists for wanting more: more from life, more of life itself. In How We Became Posthumanpublished in 1999, and now a touchstone of writing on transhumanismthe literary critic N. Katherine Hayles detailed her ideal version of a posthuman world:

If my nightmare is a culture inhabited by posthumans who regard their bodies as fashion accessories rather than the ground of being, my dream is a version of the posthuman that embraces the possibilities of information technologies without being seduced by fantasies of unlimited power and disembodied immortality that understands human life is embedded in a material world of great complexity, one on which we depend for our continued survival.

To focus on the extremes of posthuman ambition is, it seems to me, to miss the point. As a species, we are slowly nudging along a spectrum. Hayless vision is solidly in the middle with its mortality and fallibility, rendered not obsolete but more manageablemore human.

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Only Human – New Republic

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Older women reduce their endometrial cancer risk with weight loss – Fox News

Postmenopausal women who intentionally lost weight over the course of three years had a much lower risk of endometrial cancer up to 11 years later compared to women whose weight didn’t change, a U.S. study finds.

Overall, women who intentionally lost 5 percent or more of their body weight had 29 percent lower risk of developing endometrial cancer during the study period, and the effect was most pronounced for obese women, whose risk dropped by 66 percent with weight loss.

“We decided to do the study because we realized that, although obesity increases the risk of endometrial cancer, research couldn’t say if intentional weight loss, especially among older persons, could reduce that risk,” lead author Juhua Luo, of the School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington, told Reuters health in an email.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in the U.S. and the fourth most common cancer among women. About 2.8 percent of American women will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer at some point during their lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Body fat is thought to increase risk of this hormone-sensitive cancer by increasing the amount of estrogen a woman produces, the researchers write in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For their study, Luo and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 36,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 who participated in the larger, long-term Women’s Health Initiative study.

All the women were weighed at the beginning of the study period and again three years later when they were also asked if they had intentionally tried to lose weight in the previous few years. The study team followed the women for an average of 11 more years and found that 566 women were diagnosed with endometrial cancer during that time.

With women whose weight remained stable as the reference point, researchers found that women who dropped pounds were significantly less likely to develop endometrial cancer, and those who gained weight saw an 8 percent to 23 percent increase in risk. For women who had not used hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms and gained weight, risk rose by 30 percent.

“It is not too late to lose weight to reduce cancer risk, even if you are older,” Luo said.

The study only looked at older women, but Luo said she thinks it is reasonable to think the effects might apply to younger women too, and more research is indicated.

“The majority of women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed with early-stage tumors that are associated with a high cure rate. However, despite this paradigm, not only is the incidence of endometrial cancer increasing, but the number of women who die as a result of the disease also is increasing,” Dr. Jason Wright, chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York Presbyterian Hospital, writes in an editorial accompanying the study.

In 2016, the number of deaths from endometrial cancer in the United States reached 10,170, which is a 25 percent increase compared with just five years earlier, he writes.

Luo’s findings suggest that weight loss, even by a modest amount, can lower a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer, Wright told Reuters Health by email.

“Fatty tissue releases estrogen which can stimulate the endometrium and increase a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer,” Wright said.

At present, the only women for whom screening is recommended are those with Lynch syndrome, a genetic abnormality that predisposes women to the development of endometrial and colorectal cancer among other cancer types, Wright noted.

“Most endometrial cancers will have symptoms early such as vaginal bleeding. Women with vaginal bleeding should consult with their physician for evaluation,” he said.

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Older women reduce their endometrial cancer risk with weight loss – Fox News

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With health care repeal looming, women turn to IUDs and other long-term birth control – Kansas City Star

Kansas City Star
With health care repeal looming, women turn to IUDs and other long-term birth control
Kansas City Star
The IUD has become the go-to option for women like Sowle who are looking for safe and effective contraception that doesn't involve the hassle or specific hormones associated with daily pills and can last for years at a time. Because the … While the

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With health care repeal looming, women turn to IUDs and other long-term birth control – Kansas City Star

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Testosterone therapy may help prevent heart disease – Bel Marra Health

Home Men’s Health Testosterone therapy may help prevent heart disease

Recent research published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics has revealed that long-term testosterone therapy (TTh) for males who have hypogonadism (or testosterone deficiency) may also help prevent cardiovascular (CV) disease. Testosterone (T) is the main male sex hormone and is responsible for the development of male reproductive tissuesit also encourages muscle, bone, and body hair growth. Males with a testosterone deficiency are at risk for developing osteoporosis, as insufficient levels contribute to weakness and bone loss.

Researchers followed two groups of men for eight years for an observational study to determine whether testosterone therapy had an effect on the risk of cardiovascular disease. The first group had been treated with testosterone therapy for their hypogonadism, while the second group had not. After the eight years, only two men from the first group had died, and neither instance was related to cardiovascular disease.

In contrast, there were 21 deaths in the second group, 19 of which were caused by cardiovascular-related events. This group also saw 26 non-fatal myocardial infarctions or heart attacks, and 30 non-fatal strokes, while the first group experienced none. Based on these results, the team concluded that long-term testosterone therapy for men with hypogonadism may be an effective method to help improve cardiometabolic function and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and related events.

These results show that there may be a protective benefit gained when treating hypogonadal males with long-term testosterone therapy, and with further research, it may be utilized to help prevent cardiovascular disease and events, as well as to treat testosterone deficiency.

Related Reading:

Heart disease risk in men linked to high testosterone and low estrogen

Testosterone may be linked to hardening of blood vessels associated with heart disease: Study

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Testosterone therapy may help prevent heart disease – Bel Marra Health

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Stem cells: PTH regulates bone marrow progenitor fate : Nature … –

Stem cells: PTH regulates bone marrow progenitor fate : Nature …
New research published in Cell Metabolism reveals an important mechanism underlying the anabolic effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH) on bone. Mice with …

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Stem cells: PTH regulates bone marrow progenitor fate : Nature … –

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Mayo researcher Abba Zubair is sending stem cells for study on the International Space Station – Florida Times-Union

As a boy growing up in Nigeria, Abba Zubair dreamed of becoming an astronaut.

But as he prepared to apply to college, an adviser told him to find a different path.

He said it may be a long time before Nigeria sends rockets and astronauts into space, so I should consider something more practical, Zubair saud.

He decided to become a physician, and is currently the medical and scientific director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. And while hell almost certainly never get to make a journey outside the Earths atmosphere himself, if the weather stays good Saturday hell be sending a payload into space.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch at 10:01 a.m. Saturday from the Kennedy Space Center on a cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. Among the cargo it will be carrying are several samples of donated adult stem cells from Zubairs research lab.

Zubair believes adult stem cells, extracted from bone marrow, are the future of regenerative medicine. Currently at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville they are being used in clinical trials to treat knee injuries and transplanted lungs.

But a big problem with using stem cells to treat illnesses is that it may require up to 200 million cells to treat a human being and the cells take a long time to reproduce. Based on studies using simulators on Earth, Zubair believes that the stem cells will more quickly mass produce in microgravity.

Thats the hypothesis hell be testing as the stem cells from his lab spend a month aboard the space station. Astronauts will conduct experiments measuring changes in the cells. They will then be returned on an unmanned rocket and Zubair will continue to study them in his lab.

We want to understand the process by which stem cells divide so we can grow them at a faster rate and also so we can suppress them when treating cancer, he said.

Zubair became interested in the idea of sending stem cells into space four years ago, when he learned of a request for proposals that involved medicine and outer space. Hes been trying to arrange to send stem cells into space for three years.

In May 2015, he sent stem cells to the edge of space as a hot-air balloon carried a capsule filled with cells from his lab to about 100,000 feet then dropped the capsule. The idea was to test how the cells handled re-entry into the Earths atmosphere.

It turned out well, he said. The cells were alive and functioning.

Zubair was supported in that effort as he is being supported in sending cells to the space station by the Center for Applied Spacee Technology. Its chief executive is Larry Harvey, a retired Navy pilot and former astronaut candidate who lives in Orange Park.

While stem cells have myriad potential medical applications, one that particularly interests Zubair is the use of them in treating stroke patients. Its a personal cause to Zubair, whose mother died of a stroke in 1997.

Weve shown that an infusion of stem cells at the site of stroke improves the inflammation and also secretes factors for the regeneration of neurons and blood vessels, he said.

Zubair hasnt entirely given up on his old dream of being an astronaut. Hes applied for the civilian astronaut program. But he doesnt expect that to happen.

Im not sure I made the cut, he said. I just wanted to apply.

And he realizes what a long, strange trip hes made.

I have come so far from Africa to here, he said, and now Im sending stem cells into space.

Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413

Mayo researcher Abba Zubair is sending stem cells for study on the International Space Station – Florida Times-Union

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Upstate Opens Cord Blood Bank, Only the Second Public Cord Blood Bank in New York and One of Only 32 in the US – Newswise (press release)

Newswise Upstate Medical University opens the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, only the second public cord blood bank in New York and one of only 32 in the US.

The $15 million, 20,000 square foot facility features a state of the art processing laboratory and cryogenic storage containers that can store nearly 14,500 units of cord blood. The building is located on Upstates Community Campus, 4910 Broad Road in Syracuse, home to Upstates obstetric services. The cord blood bank opened Feb. 9.

The bank will collect, test, process, store and distribute umbilical cord blood donated by families throughout central and northern New York to be used by those in need of life-saving medical treatments and for medical research.

The bank is currently accepting cord blood donations from families who give birth at Upstates Community Campus. Cord blood donations will be accepted from families who give birth at Syracuse’s Crouse Hospital and St. Josephs Hospital Health Center as early as summer 2017. Agreements with other area hospitals will be forthcoming.

Umbilical cord blood is blood that remains in the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth. Cord blood that is not donated is discarded as medical waste. It is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells that have the potential of being used in the treatment of dozens of diseases, like blood cancers and bone marrow diseases such as sickle cell anemia.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco played a key role in securing the $15 million funding for the building, enabling Syracuse to have one of only two public cord blood banks in New York and one of only 32 in the United States.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank responds directly to the mission of our academic medical center, said Upstate President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP. It is a community resource that will improve the health of individuals here, throughout our region and beyond. Whether the cord blood is used for transplantation or research, we are providing hope of better health and new treatments.

Laraque-Arena said she was grateful for the support of New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco. I applaud Senator DeFranciscos efforts to move this project forward and to enable Upstate to be at the forefront of this impactful initiative, Laraque-Arena said.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank is a project near and dear to my heart, said DeFrancisco. Its a project that has been a long time coming, and I am absolutely ecstatic that the public bank is now open and receiving donations of umbilical cord blood. I look forward to witnessing the many cures that will result from having the use of cord blood available right here in Upstate.

Upstates Robert Corona, DO, MBA, professor and chair of the Department of Pathology, said the Upstate Cord Blood Bank would put to good use what is often referred to as medical waste.The blood from the umbilical cord and placenta, cord blood, contains hematopoietic stem cells that have potential to treat many diseases including cancer, genetic disorders and blood disorders, he said. What was once medical waste becomes a source of life saving cells and a significant contribution to the field of regenerative medicine. Stem cells show great potential in treating all sorts of neurologic disorders including metabolic disorders, spastic cerebral palsy and autism. We are truly fortunate to have a new Cord Blood Bank in our community as a cutting-edge patient care and research resource.

Nicholas Greco, PhD, executive director and tissue bank director of the Upstate Cord Blood Bank, said the use of cord blood in treatment for various diseases has expanded. Historically, cord blood from public banks in transplantation has focused on the safety and use in regenerating dysfunctional or damaged bone marrow. But, within the last decade, family banks have focused on using cord blood- and cord tissue-derived stem cells to replace or regenerate human cells, tissue or organs, to restore or establish normal function (regenerative medicine). These emerging uses, extend patient options for treatment and cures.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher applauded the opening of the Upstate Cord Blood Bank. New Yorks ongoing investment in medical research and education provides far reaching benefits for our students and faculty as well as communities not only in New York state but around the globe, Zimpher said. Congratulations to President Laraque-Arena and the entire SUNY Upstate community on the opening of this new facility, which is certain to advance research in a vital field of study, enhance patient care, and provide new educational opportunities for students.

Designation as a public cord blood bank The designation of Upstate Cord Blood Bank as a public blood bank is important in that there is no cost to donate and donated cord blood is available to anyone who needs it. Once donated, the cord blood will be stored in the bank and made available to transplant centers in the United States and throughout the world for patients needing life-saving transplants. The cord blood units will be listed initially on the Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide registry and on the Be The Match registry maintained by the National Marrow Donor Program, which maintains a large listing of cord blood units available for transplant. Those units that are not suitable for transplantation will be made available to researchers, both at Upstate Medical University and around the country.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank will in the near future open a family cord blood bank that will collect, test, process, store, and distribute a babys umbilical cord blood only for use by families who have a need for future use. An initial fee and annual fee will be charged for collection, processing and storage of umbilical cord blood in the family bank.

The Upstate Cord Blood Bank will operate under strict guidelines and protocols, established by state and federal health organizations, including the state Health Department, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), AABB and the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).

As is currently under way at Crouse Hospital and St. Josephs Hospital Health Center, Upstate will work with regional hospitals to develop guidelines and agreements to enable mothers who deliver in these facilities the ability to donate their cord blood for free.

Upstate officials hope the cord blood bank will ultimately receive donations from 10,000 births a year, which would represent 50 percent of the approximately 20,000 births in Central New York annually.

How is cord blood donated Once a mother has delivered her baby and after the umbilical cord is clamped and cut as is done with all deliveries, a medical provider will insert a needle into the umbilical vein that is still attached to the placenta. The process, which takes less than 10 minutes, yields about 3 to 5 ounces of cord blood, which is then sent to the Upstate Cord Blood Bank for testing, processing and storage. There is no pain for the mother or baby nor is their safety compromised during the delivery.

Treatments with cord blood Stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood, researchers say, may be more suitable for transplants than the more common stem cells taken from bone marrow as treatment for various cancers. Umbilical cord blood has an underdeveloped immune cell system providing less of a chance that the transplanted cells will attack the recipients immune system. Hematopoietic stem cells are capable of forming all different types of blood forming cells in the human body. They are used to treat some cancers, metabolic disorders and immunodeficiency diseases, and bone marrow disorders, such as sickle cell anemia. Cord blood is rich in these hematopoietic stem cells.

Research with cord blood Umbilical cord blood stem cells will be valuable for medical research, in studies seeking to advance new treatments for cancer and using cord blood to treat and cure diseases that are not cancers, that is, in regenerative medicine applications. These latter applications may regenerate new tissues such as heart, muscle, skin, and neuronal tissues. Some Upstate researchers have expressed an interest in working with stem cells from umbilical cord blood. An available supply of cord blood would enhance and expedite research studies on finding new treatments for various diseases.

Upstate Cord Blood Bank credits: Architect: Francis Cauffman, New York, N.Y. Engineer: Buro Happold Engineers, New York, N.Y., Project Management: Pike Construction Company, Rochester, N.Y.; General Contractor: Murnane Building Contractors, East Syracuse, N.Y.

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Upstate Opens Cord Blood Bank, Only the Second Public Cord Blood Bank in New York and One of Only 32 in the US – Newswise (press release)

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Stem Cells and Aging | Life Code

Adult stem cell function declines with age leading to the decline in fitness

The potential therapeutic use of stem cells is a very hot topic these days. Most of the attention has focused on embryonic stem cells and induced Pluripotent Stem cells (iPS cells), which can form every tissue type in the body to regenerate failing organs. The problem is that detailed knowledge is lacking for how to stimulate the embryonic stem cells to form differentiated tissues (e.g. cells that form the heart, pancreas, muscle, and brain). Moreover, because embryonic stem cells are unlimited in their ability to form any type of tissue, the risk of cancer looms large over the therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells. For example, both embryonic and IPS stem cells can form tumors called teratomas when injected into immune-compromised mice. Enter the bodys adult stem cells, which have not generally been associated with cancer and have been used safely as therapeutics in many countries. The problem with adult stem cells is that it is difficult to get enough of them to be effective for most indications or target the harvested adult stem cells to the proper tissue. Moreover, there are scores of different types of adult stem cells in the body, so picking the best type of adult stem cell for a particular therapeutic can be challenging. Thus, adult stem cell therapeutics with all its potential to regenerate damaged organs and tissues is still a work in progress.

But what about the many populations of endogenous adult stem cells that everyone has embedded in every organ system of the body? All the organs and differing tissues of the body appear to have adult stem cells available for regenerating cells in case of injury or disease. It was recently discovered that even brain neurons and heart muscle cells (previously thought to be non-dividing and irreplaceable in adults) have their own reservoirs of adult stem cells for regeneration. Unfortunately, as we age most adult stem cell populations either decline in number and/or lose the ability to differentiate into functional tissue-specific cells. For example, cardiac muscle stem cells exist but old folks have only one half the number of cardiac stem cells found in young people. Thus, adult stem cells become more and more dysfunction with age, which progressively increases organ and tissue dysfunction with age.

There are many examples revealing the role of adult stem cells in aging. First, the outer surface of your skin continuously sloughs off dead cells, so that adult stem cells must continuously replenish the dying skin cells to maintain the skin as an effective protective barrier to the outside world. With age, there are progressively fewer functional skin stem cells, so cell turnover in the skin slows, leading to thinner, dryer skin that loses its elasticity and youthful beauty. Second, hair also thins and goes grey, as functional follicle stem cell decline and the adult stem cells generating hair color also decline. Third, the differing adult stem cells that maintain the tissues composing skeletal muscle, pancreas, heart, bone, liver, kidney, and the immune system lose functional capacity, raising the potential for decline in tissue function or outright failure with age. As a final example, the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch slowly wane with age, as the declining stem cell populations responsible for maintaining these functions are unable to fully replenish the sensory neurons after injury and random cell death.

If your own adult stem cells are a key factor in aging and disease, then one novel way to slow aging and disease is to stimulate your own adult stem cells to maintain their proper numbers and functional capacity to differentiate into the various tissues as needed for repair and regeneration. This makes sense, because in most, if not all, organs of the body, old cells are continually being replaced by new cells coming from the adult stem cell populations. If stem cells are not producing enough new cells, then organs slowly decline in function as you age. Thus, stimulating your own stem cells can be a winning strategy to stave off many of the disorders associated with aging.

In practice, however, stimulating adult stem cell populations in the body is not a simple task. If the proliferation of adult stem cells is over stimulated, then one may get overgrowth of tissues or a potential tumor. Alternatively, one may stimulate the stem cells to proliferate in a balanced and regulated way, but the stem cells lose functionality and cannot differentiate into the desired specialized tissues to replace senescent cells. These twin problems promoting over stimulation or dysfunctional stem cells put real limits on any proposed therapeutic for stimulating stem cells. For example, most current treatments to stimulate immunity or stem cells (nave T cells) rely on complex carbohydrates from mushrooms or microorganisms to provide antigenic material that can stimulate immunity. This will activate the immune system stem cells to make more differentiated non-stem memory T cells directed against the antigenic material, but it does nothing to stimulate more immune stem cells (nave T cells). Indeed, chronic use of such stem cell enhancers may actually lead to stem cell depletion, as more adult stem cells are exhausted from the requirement to respond to the constant presence of the polysaccharide antigen. Indeed, one theory of how the HIV virus causes a defective immune system is that it exhausts the supply of nave T cells by the repeated attacks of the mutating HIV virus.

Stem Cell 100TM is a nutraceutical supplement that improves the function of your existing stem cells rather than over stimulate stem cells to differentiate or divide. By promoting the stability and vitality of adult stem cells they have the capacity to divide when the body signals a need for more stem cells and differentiated cells. When an organ or tissue is damaged, it will send out natural signals that new cells are needed to replace old or damaged cells. Stem Cell 100TM allows the adult stem cells to respond to the damage signal by provided new differentiated cells to replace the old damaged cells and also make more adult stem cells to keep up the stem cell population. Two other compounds in Stem Cell 100TM provide further natural support for stem cells.

(Note that not everyone will experience the same effects, as conditions vary among individuals. The general expectation is that for most health measurements that are in the Normal Range for your age, Stem Cell 100TM will promote readings that you had when some 20 years younger.)

The statements above have not been reviewed by the FDA. Stem Cell 100TM is not meant as a preventive or treatment for any disease.

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Stem Cells and Aging | Life Code

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Stem cells collected from fat may have use in anti-aging treatments – Science Daily

Stem cells collected from fat may have use in anti-aging treatments
Science Daily
Adult stem cells collected directly from human fat are more stable than other cells — such as fibroblasts from the skin — and have the potential for use in anti-aging treatments, according to researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the

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Stem cells collected from fat may have use in anti-aging treatments – Science Daily

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Hello, again, Dolly – The Economist

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Hello, again, Dolly – The Economist

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In a possible step forward for gene therapy, researchers made mice glow like fireflies – Phys.Org

February 16, 2017 by Taylor Kubota Colin McKinlay and Jessica Vargas are co-lead authors of research that could mark a significant step forward for gene therapy by providing a new way of inserting therapeutic proteins into diseased cells. Credit: L.A. Cicero

Timothy Blake, a postdoctoral fellow in the Waymouth lab, was hard at work on a fantastical interdisciplinary experiment. He and his fellow researchers were refining compounds that would carry instructions for assembling the protein that makes fireflies light up and deliver them into the cells of an anesthetized mouse. If their technique worked, the mouse would glow in the dark.

Not only did the mouse glow, but it also later woke up and ran around, completely unaware of the complex series of events that had just taken place within its body. Blake said it was the most exciting day of his life.

This success, the topic of a recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could mark a significant step forward for gene therapy. It’s hard enough getting these protein instructions, called messenger RNA (mRNA), physically into a cell. It’s another hurdle altogether for the cell to actually use them to make a protein. If the technique works in people, it could provide a new way of inserting therapeutic proteins into diseased cells.

“It’s almost a childlike enthusiasm we have for this,” said chemistry Professor Robert Waymouth. “The code for an insect protein is put into an animal and that protein is not only synthesized in the cells but it’s folded and it becomes fully functional, capable of emitting light.”

Although the results are impressive, this technique is remarkably simple and fast. And unlike traditional gene therapy that permanently alters the genetic makeup of the cell, mRNA is short-lived and its effects are temporary. The transient nature of mRNA transmission opens up special opportunities, such as using these compounds for vaccination or cancer immunotherapy.

Making a protein

Gene therapy is a decades-old field of research that usually focuses on modifying DNA, the fundamental genetic code. That modified DNA then produces a modified mRNA, which directs the creation of a modified protein. The current work skips the DNA and instead just delivers the protein’s instructions.

Previous work has been successful at delivering a different form of RNA – called short interfering RNA, or siRNA – but sending mRNA through a cell membrane is a much bigger problem. While both siRNA and mRNA have many negative charges – so-called polyanions – mRNA is considerably more negatively charged, and therefore more difficult to sneak through the positively charged cell membrane.

What the researchers needed was a positively charged delivery method – a polycation – to complex, protect and shuttle the polyanions. However, this alone would only assure that the mRNA made it through the cell membrane. Once inside, the mRNA needed to detach from the transporter compound in order to make proteins.

The researchers addressed this twofold challenge with a novel, deceptively straightforward creation, which they call charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs).

“What distinguishes this polycation approach from the others, which often fail, is the others don’t change from polycations to anything else,” said chemistry Professor Paul Wender, co-author of the paper. “Whereas, the ones that we’re working with will change from polycations to neutral small molecules. That mechanism is really unprecedented.”

As part of their change from polycations to polyneutrals, CARTs biodegrade and are eventually excreted from the body.

The power of collaboration

This research was made possible through coordination between the chemists and experts in imaging molecules in live animals, who rarely work together directly. With this partnership, the synthesis, characterization and testing of compounds could take as little as a week.

“We are so fortunate to engage in this kind of collaborative project between chemistry and our clinical colleagues. It allowed us to see our compounds go from very basic building blocks – all the way from chemicals we buy in a bottle – to putting a firefly gene into a mouse,” said Colin McKinlay, a graduate student in the Wender lab and co-lead author of the study.

Not only did this enhanced ability to test and re-test new molecules lead to the discovery of their charge-altering behavior, it allowed for quick optimization of their properties and applications. As different challenges arise in the future, the researchers believe they will be able to respond with the same rapid flexibility.

After showing that the CARTs could deliver a glowing jellyfish protein to cells in a lab dish, the group wanted to find out if they worked in living mice, which was made possible through the expertise of the Contag lab, run by Christopher Contag, professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology. Together, the multidisciplinary team showed that the CARTs could effectively deliver mRNA that produced glowing proteins in the thigh muscle or in the spleen and liver, depending on where the injection was made.

A bright future ahead

The researchers said CARTs could move the field of gene therapy forward dramatically in several directions.

“Gene therapy has been held up as a silver bullet because the idea that you could pick any gene you want is so alluring,” said Jessica Vargas, co-lead author of the study, who was a PhD student in the Wender lab during this research. “With mRNA, there are more limitations because the protein expression is transient, but that opens up other applications where you wouldn’t use other types of gene therapy.”

One especially appropriate application of this technology is vaccination. At present, vaccines require introducing part of a virus or an inactive virus into the body in order to elicit an immune response. CARTs could potentially cut out the middleman, directly instructing the body to produce its own antigens. Once the CART dissolves, the immunity remains without any leftover foreign material present.

The team is also working on applying their technique to another genetic messenger that would produce permanent effects, making it a complementary option to the temporary mRNA therapies. With the progress already made using mRNA and the potential of their ongoing research, they and others could be closer than ever to making individualized therapeutics using a person’s own cells. “Creating a firefly protein in a mouse is amazing but, more than that, this research is part of a new era in medicine,” said Wender.

Explore further: Don’t kill the messenger RNA

More information: Colin J. McKinlay et al. Charge-altering releasable transporters (CARTs) for the delivery and release of mRNA in living animals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1614193114

FedEx, UPS, DHLwhen it comes to sending packages, choices abound. But the most important delivery service you may not have heard of? mRNA. That’s short for messenger RNA, which is how your DNA sends blueprints to the protein-assembly …

Katie Whitehead, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, recently received the Young Faculty Award (YFA) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The YFA is a prestigious …

Alternative splicing significantly expands the form and function of the genome of organisms with limited gene numbers and is especially important for several stages of mouse spermatogenesis.

A tiny therapeutic delivery system that can control the body’s ability to manufacture proteins has been developed by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) researchers.

A new scientific study conducted by a team of leading geneticists has characterized how cells know when to stop translating DNA into proteins, a critical step in maintaining healthy protein levels and cell function. In the …

The progressive dementia suffered by patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects millions of people globally each year and puts considerable strain on healthcare services. The mechanisms behind AD are not yet clear, and …

New DNA-based research provides compelling evidence that a group of strange-looking fish living near the mouth of the Congo River are evolving due to the intense hydraulics of the river’s rapids and deep canyons. The study, …

( team of researchers with members from the University of Arizona and New Mexico State University has discovered how a species of moth is able to repair oxidative muscle damage without consuming antioxidants. …

At what point on the journey along the branches of the evolutionary tree does a population become its own, unique species? And is a species still distinct, if it mates with a different, but closely related species? Evolutionary …

A new University of Queensland-led study could help scientists more accurately predict and explain patterns of diversity in nature.

It’s well known that when the DNA in a cell is damaged, the cell responds by activating specific genes that help defend the integrity of its genome. But less well studied is the fact that the cell actually shuts down the …

Climate change from political and ecological standpoints is a constant in the media and with good reason, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist, but proof of its impact is sometimes found in unlikely places.

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In a possible step forward for gene therapy, researchers made mice glow like fireflies – Phys.Org

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Gene Therapy Technologies, Markets and Companies 2017 – Research and Markets – Business Wire (press release)

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research and Markets has announced the addition of Jain PharmaBiotech’s new report “Gene Therapy – Technologies, Markets and Companies” to their offering.

Gene therapy technologies are described in detail including viral vectors, nonviral vectors and cell therapy with genetically modified vectors. Gene therapy is an excellent method of drug delivery and various routes of administration as well as targeted gene therapy are described. There is an introduction to technologies for gene suppression as well as molecular diagnostics to detect and monitor gene expression.

Clinical applications of gene therapy are extensive and cover most systems and their disorders. Full chapters are devoted to genetic syndromes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and viral infections with emphasis on AIDS. Applications of gene therapy in veterinary medicine, particularly for treating cats and dogs, are included.

Research and development is in progress in both the academic and the industrial sectors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US is playing an important part. As of 2015, over 2050 clinical trials have been completed, are ongoing or have been approved worldwide. A breakdown of these trials is shown according to the geographical areas and applications.

The markets for gene therapy are difficult to estimate as there is only one approved gene therapy product and it is marketed in China since 2004. Gene therapy markets are estimated for the years 2016-2026. The estimates are based on epidemiology of diseases to be treated with gene therapy, the portion of those who will be eligible for these treatments, competing technologies and the technical developments anticipated in the next decades. In spite of some setbacks, the future for gene therapy is bright. The markets for DNA vaccines are calculated separately as only genetically modified vaccines and those using viral vectors are included in the gene therapy markets

Profiles of 188 companies involved in developing gene therapy are presented along with 233 collaborations. There were only 44 companies involved in this area in 1995. In spite of some failures and mergers, the number of companies has increased more than 4-fold within a decade. These companies have been followed up since they were the topic of a book on gene therapy companies by the author of this report.

Key Topics Covered:

Part I: Technologies & Markets

1. Introduction

2. Gene Therapy Technologies

3. Clinical Applications of Gene Therapy

4. Gene Therapy of Genetic Disorders

5. Gene Therapy of Cancer

6. Gene Therapy of Neurological Disorders

7. Gene Therapy of Cardiovascular Disorders

8. Gene therapy of viral infections

9. Research, Development and Future of Gene Therapy

10. Regulatory, Safety and Ethical Issues of Gene Therapy

11. Markets for Gene Therapy

12. References

Part II: Companies

13. Companies involved in Gene Therapy

For more information about this report visit

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Gene Therapy Technologies, Markets and Companies 2017 – Research and Markets – Business Wire (press release)

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

‘Speed’ and other recreational stimulants tied to heart damage – Fox News

Middle-aged adults who use recreational amphetamines like “speed,” “ecstasy” or “ice” may develop a prematurely aging heart and experience health problems normally associated with older people, a recent study suggests.

People may crave the euphoric feelings produced by amphetamines, but these drugs have long been linked to heart attack, stroke, artery wall damage, bleeding in the brain, abnormal heart rhythm and sudden cardiac death, said lead study author Dr. Stuart Reece of the University of Western Australia in Crawley.

“It makes sense that all these different issues are linked by an underlying acceleration of the aging effect,” Reece said by email. “We found that the effect was very considerable indeed.”

Amphetamines are a stimulant and they send what’s known as the sympathetic nervous system, or “fight or flight” hormone adrenaline into overdrive. Previous research has linked these drugs to premature aging of the skin, and the current study suggests amphetamines might also prematurely age the heart.

For the study, researchers measured blood flow through a main artery in the upper arm and forearm for 713 people in their 30s and 40s at a clinic for substance misuse. Arteries harden with age.

Each patient was asked about drug use and placed in one of four groups: non-smokers, smokers, amphetamine users and methadone users. Methadone is a substitute for heroin given to people trying to overcome addiction to that illegal drug.

Researchers used a blood pressure cuff and monitoring system to calculate what they described as biological vascular age by matching the extent of hardening in the arteries with chronological age, gender and height.

Almost all of the 55 amphetamine users in the study had used these stimulants within the previous week, and about half had used the drugs in the previous day before doing the blood pressure cuff tests.

Even after accounting for several risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as weight, cholesterol levels and inflammation, amphetamine use was still independently associated with an “advancement” of cardiovascular age, researchers report in Heart Asia.

The accelerated aging seen with amphetamines appeared to be even more pronounced than with tobacco use and was equivalent to about a 25 percent increase over chronological age, Reece told Reuters Health. In other words, adding a decade of aging to an average 40-year-old.

Beyond the small number of amphetamine users in the study, another limitation is the lack of data on how much of the stimulants people used, the authors note.

All stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical linked to pleasure, movement and attention.

Stimulants like Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta are often prescribed to children and adults diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in doses that are not associated with cardiovascular problems.

“At therapeutic doses, stimulant medications have been shown to be safe,” said Dr. Jose Martinez-Raga, a researcher at the University of Valencia in Spain who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Amphetamine abuse implies using these stimulant drugs over long periods of time and generally with much larger doses than those commonly prescribed for medical reasons,” Martinez-Raga added by email.

When people take amphetamines in higher doses than those typically prescribed, people can experience a rapid surge of dopamine in the brain that can trigger feelings of euphoria and increase the risk of addiction.

“No medical patient smokes or shoots their pills,” Reece said. “These high levels are very addictive, they are very damaging, and they produce great spikes in blood pressure and heart rate which are straining and damaging both for the heart itself and for the blood vessels.”

SOURCE: Heart Asia, online February 9, 2017.

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‘Speed’ and other recreational stimulants tied to heart damage – Fox News

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Hyperprolactinaemia: diagnosis and management – GP online

Raised prolactin levels and their management, including clinical presentations, recent research on dopamine agonists and when surgery may be indicated.

Coloured CR scan showing a side view of a tumour (orange) of the pituitary gland (Picture: Science Photo Library)

Hyperprolactinaemia is a raised level of prolactin in the blood. This hormone stimulates breast epithelial cell proliferation and induces milk production. However, excessive production of prolactin can lead to infertility and gonadal dysfunction.1

Prolactin suppresses gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH), resulting in suppression of ovulation in females and reduced testosterone levels and hypogonadism in males.

Prolactin levels are normally high during pregnancy and lactation. Levels also increase after meals, after exercise and during stress, as well as during sleep.

Abnormally high levels of prolactin may be caused by a prolactin-secreting pituitary tumour (prolactinoma), or by a non-secreting pituitary tumour that prevents dopamine (a prolactin release-inhibiting hormone) from reaching normal prolactin-producing cells.

Common and rarer causes

Prolactinomas are the most common cause of hyperprolactinaemia, although it has many different causes. They are benign tumours that account for 40% of pituitary tumours and are the most common type of pituitary adenomas. More than 90% are intrasellar microprolactinomas (

Primary hypothyroidism may lead to hyperprolactinaemia as a consequence of increased synthesis of thyrotropin-releasing hormone, which stimulates prolactin production.

Severe liver disease and chronic renal failure can also be causes. Head injuries, brain surgery and cranial radiotherapy can also cause hyperprolactinaemia.


The commonest medications to cause hyperprolactinaemia are antipsychotic drugs. Antidepressants, opiates, verapamil and oestrogens can also lead to hyperprolactinaemia.

Mildly increased prolactin levels (400-600mu/L) may be physiological and asymptomatic but higher levels are usually pathological. Very elevated levels (above 5,000mu/L) usually imply a prolactin-secreting pituitary tumour. Most patients with a prolactinoma are women.

The clinical presentation in women is more obvious and so occurs earlier than in men. Women present most commonly with galactorrhoea (up to 90% of cases), menstrual disturbance, reduced fertility and libido. Men present with galactorrhoea (10-20% of men), loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and occasionally, reduced fertility and gynaecomastia.

In both sexes, a macroadenoma (>10 mm in diameter) can cause mass effects, which may result in visual-field defects or headache.

In both sexes, long-standing hyperprolactinaemia can lead to low bone mineral density with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

A single measurement of prolactin level is usually adequate to diagnose hyperprolactinaemia. However, when the result is borderline, the test should be repeated. The pain/stress of venepuncture can actually elevate prolactin levels. Obviously, pregnancy must be excluded, if relevant. Renal and thyroid function tests should also be performed.

When other causes of hyperprolactinaemia have been excluded, the diagnosis of a prolactinoma is usually confirmed by a pituitary MRI scan.

Patients with macroadenomas that extend beyond the sella should undergo testing to exclude visual field defects, and also dynamic testing of the anterior pituitary function to exclude hypopituitarism.

Treatment of hyperprolactinaemia will vary according to the cause – for example, a drug review may be required where it is drug-related. The aim of treatment is to improve symptoms and avoid the long-term effects of oestrogen deficiency in women or testosterone deficiency in men.

Dopamine agonists suppress prolactin in most patients, normalise gonadal function and stop galactorrhoea. In patients with prolactinomas, they reduce the size of the tumour.2

Cabergoline and bromocriptine are both ergot-based dopamine receptor agonists. Cabergoline is the first-line treatment for prolactinomas as it has greater efficacy in suppressing prolactin secretion. It is better tolerated and has a more convenient dosing regimen when compared with bromocriptine.

The MHRA issued a warning in the past about the safety of dopamine agonists for treating hyperprolactinaemia, due to concerns about an association with chronic pleuropulmonary, pericardial and retroperitoneal fibrosis, and particularly fibrotic valvular heart disease.3

However, recent studies have not shown a clinically significant association between the use of ergot-derived dopamine agonist drugs for the treatment of hyperprolactinaemia and valvulopathy.4,5

In some patients with microprolactinomas, withdrawal of treatment can be tried after three years, as microprolactinomas can spontaneously resolve, especially after the menopause or pregnancy. Transsphenoidal surgery is an option in infertile patients who cannot tolerate or are resistant to dopamine agonists. It may also be performed if a macroadenoma does not shrink with drug treatment.

Definitive treatment depends on the size of the tumour and the patient’s wishes (including future fertility).

Over 90% of microadenomas remain stable or gradually reduce their secretion of prolactin. One third of patients with idiopathic hyperprolactinaemia improve without treatment. This is more common in women around their menopause.

However, recurrence rates of hyperprolactinaemia are as high as 80 per cent, and therefore the majority of patients require long-term medical treatment.

This is an updated version of an article that was first published in September 2009.

Useful website: Pituitary Foundation

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Hyperprolactinaemia: diagnosis and management – GP online

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith

Latest Research Predicts Endocrinology Drugs Market in Nascent Stage set for advancing growth by 2021 – Satellite PR News (press release)

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Endocrinology Drugs MarketResearch Report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the Endocrinology Drugs Industry for 2016-2020. Endocrinology Drugs Market, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years and discussion of the key vendors effective in this market. To calculate the market size, the report considers the revenue generated from the sales of Endocrinology Drugs globally.

For further information on this report, please visit-

The Endocrinology Drugs Market report contains a comprehensive market and vendor landscape in addition to a SWOT analysis of the key vendors. The study was conducted using an objective combination of primary and secondary information including inputs from key participants in the industry. Following Companies Are Key Players of the Endocrinology Drugs Market:

Other Prominent Vendors of Endocrinology Drugs Market Are:

As vendors are facing the problem of a decline in venture capital investment, they are increasingly following the strategy of outsourcing. Different parts of research such as product characterization testing and toxicology testing are outsourced to third-party research organizations. Similarly, some vendors outsource the pharmaceutical product manufacturing or the entire manufacturing process to contract manufacturing organizations. This reduces the operational costs, as most companies do not have to maintain expensive R&D laboratories and scientists. Pharmaceutical companies rely on the contract manufacturing organizations based in India, China, Russia, and Eastern Europe to manufacture and process their products.

Ask Sample PDF of Endocrinology Drugs Market Report @ According to the Endocrinology Drugs Market report, the increase or decrease in the release of endocrine hormones leads to disorders such as diabetes, hypogonadism, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism. The prevalence of diabetes is rising because of obesity, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity among individuals. The prevalence of hypogonadism also increases in men with diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart or renal disease, or in individuals who are on opiate or glucocorticoid therapy. Thus, the increase in the prevalence of these diseases will lead to the increase in the intake of medications, propelling the market growth. Report also presents Geographical Segmentation analysis of Endocrinology Drugs Market of Americas, APAC, EMEA region.

For Any Query, Contact Our Expert@ Further, the Endocrinology Drugs Market report states that the patent expiry of major approved drugs is expected to impact the market adversely and slow down its growth during the forecast period.

Key questions answered in Endocrinology Drugs market report:

No of Pages: 118

Price of Report:$ 2500 (Single User License)

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Latest Research Predicts Endocrinology Drugs Market in Nascent Stage set for advancing growth by 2021 – Satellite PR News (press release)

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Scientists create scorecard index for heart-damaging chemo drugs – Medical Xpress

February 15, 2017 A single human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte (hiPSC-CM). Cells such as these were used to assess tyrosine kinase inhibitors for cardiotoxicity in a high-throughput fashion. Credit: Dr. Arun Sharma at Dr. Joseph Wus laboratory at Stanford University

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine used heart muscle cells made from stem cells to rank commonly used chemotherapy drugs based on their likelihood of causing lasting heart damage in patients.

Drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors can be an effective treatment for many types of cancers, but they also have severe and sometimes fatal side effects. Using lab-grown heart cells, Stanford researchers were able to assess the drugs’ various effects on heart muscle cells, including whether the cells survived, were able to beat rhythmically and effectively, responded appropriately to electrophysiological signals and communicated with one another.

The researchers found that their assay can accurately identify those tyrosine kinase inhibitors already known to be the most dangerous in patients. In the future, they believe their system may prove useful in the early stages of drug development to screen new compounds for cardiotoxicity.

“This type of study represents a critical step forward from the usual process running from initial drug discovery and clinical trials in human patients,” said Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and a professor of cardiovascular medicine and of radiology. “It will help pharmaceutical companies better focus their efforts on developing safer drugs, and it will provide patients more effective drugs with fewer side effects.”

A paper describing the research will be published Feb. 15 in Science Translational Medicine. Wu, who holds the Simon H. Stertzer Professorship, is the senior author. Former graduate student Arun Sharma, PhD, is the lead author.

‘Multiple measurements’

“We used multiple measurements to accurately predict which of the tyrosine kinase inhibitors were the most cardiotoxic,” said Sharma. “The drugs with the lowest safety indices in our study were also those identified by the Food and Drug Administration as the most cardiotoxic to patients. Other drugs that are not as cardiotoxic performed much better in our assays.”

Validating the researchers’ cardiac-safety test on drugs with extensive clinical track records is necessary before the assay can be used to predict with confidence the likely clinical outcomes of drugs still under development.

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Sharma, Wu and their colleagues created heart muscle cells called cardiomyocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, from 11 healthy people and two people with kidney cancer. They grew the lab-made cardiomyocytes in a dish and tested the effects of 21 commonly used tyrosine kinase inhibitors on the cells.

They found that treatment with drug levels equivalent to those taken by patients often caused the cells to beat irregularly and begin to die. The cells also displayed differences in the electrophysiological signaling that controls their contraction. The researchers used these and other measurements to develop a cardiac safety index for each drug.

They found that those drugs known to be particularly dangerous to heart function, such as nilotinib, which is approved for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia, and vandetanib, which is approved for the treatment of some types of thyroid cancer, also had the lowest safety indices based on the assay; conversely, those known to be better tolerated by patients ranked higher on their safety index. Prescribing information for both nilotinib and vandetanib contains warnings from the FDA about the drugs’ potential cardiotoxicity.

An activity increase in an insulin responsive pathway

Six of the 21 tyrosine kinase inhibitors tested were assigned cardiac safety indices at or below 0.1the threshold limit at which the researchers designated a drug highly cardiotoxic. Three of these six are known to inhibit the same two signaling pathways: VEGFR2 and PDGFR. The researchers noticed that cells treated with these three drugs ramped up the activity of a cellular signaling pathway that responds to insulin or IGF1, an insulinlike growth factor.

This discovery, coupled with the fact that treatment with insulin or IGF1 is known to enhance heart function during adverse cardiac events such as heart attacks, led the researchers to experiment further. They found that exposing the cells to insulin or IGF1 made it less likely they would die due to tyrosine kinase inhibitors blocking the VEGFR2 and PDGFR pathways. Although more research is needed, these findings suggest it may be possible to alleviate some of the heart damage in patients receiving these chemotherapies.

The current study mirrors another by Wu’s lab that was published in April 2016 in Nature Medicine. That research focused on the toxic effect of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin on iPS cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Doxorubicin, which indiscriminately kills any replicating cells, is increasingly being replaced by more targeted, cancer-specific therapies such as the tyrosine kinase inhibitors tested in the current study.

“The switch from doxorubicin is a result of the paradigm shift in cancer treatment to personalized, precise treatment as emphasized by President Obama’s 2015 Precision Medicine Initiative,” said Wu. “Moving even further, we’re discovering that many tyrosine kinase inhibitors are themselves significantly cardiotoxic, and some have been withdrawn from the market. There is a critical need for a way to ‘safety test’ all drugs earlier in development before they are administered to patients. Our drug safety index is a step in that direction.”

Explore further: Stem cell-based screening methods may predict heart-related side effects of drugs

More information: “High-throughput screening of tyrosine kinase inhibitor cardiotoxicity with human induced pluripotent stem cells,” Science Translational Medicine,

Coaxing stem cells from patients to become heart cells may help clinicians personalize drug treatments and prevent heart-related toxicity.

Heart muscle cells made from induced pluripotent stem cells faithfully mirror the expression patterns of key genes in the donor’s native heart tissue, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. …

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center have determined that chronic myeloid leukemia patients who are treated with a class of oral chemotherapy drugs known as a tyrosine kinase inhibitors have significant side effects and quality-of-life …

Some cancers can be effectively treated with drugs inhibiting proteins known as receptor tyrosine kinases, but not those cancers caused by mutations in the KRAS gene. A team of researchers led by Jeffrey Engelman, at Massachusetts …

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of myeloid stem cells that develops in both adult and pediatric populations. Mutations that cause hyperactivation of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) are commonly found in AML, …

Fat cells are not simply big blobs of lipid quietly standingby in the bodyinstead, they send out hormones and other signaling proteins that affect many types of tissues. Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have identified …

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine used heart muscle cells made from stem cells to rank commonly used chemotherapy drugs based on their likelihood of causing lasting heart damage in patients.

Research published today in Nature from scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah shows how epithelial cells naturally turn over, maintaining constant numbers between cell division and cell death.

Scientists are working to understand the mechanisms that make weight loss so complicated. Exercise burns calories, of course, but scientists are also looking at how the body burns more energy to stay warm in cold temperatures.

Biologists have known for decades that enduring a short period of mild stress makes simple organisms and human cells better able to survive additional stress later in life. Now, scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical …

A puzzling question has lurked behind SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), the leading genetic cause of death in infants.

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Scientists create scorecard index for heart-damaging chemo drugs – Medical Xpress

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Cardiac Muscle Cells Create Living Diode – Controlled Environments Magazine

Scientists are one step closer to mimicking the way biological systems interact and process information in the body a vital step toward developing new forms of biorobotics and novel treatment approaches for several muscle-related health problems such as muscular degenerative disorders, arrhythmia, and limb loss.

Using cardiac muscle cells and cardiac fibroblasts cells found in connective heart tissue researchers at the University of Notre Dame have created a living diode, which can be used for cell-based information processing, according to a recent study in Advanced Biosystems. Bioengineers created the muscle-based circuitry through a novel, self-forming, micro patterning approach.

Using muscle cells opens the door to functional, biological structures or computational tissues that would allow an organ to control and direct mechanical devices in the body. The design arranges the two types of cells in a rectangular pattern, separating excitable cells from nonexcitable cells, allowing the team to transduce electrical signals unidirectionally and achieve a diode function using living cells. In addition to the diode-like function, the natural pacing ability of the muscle cells allowed Pinar Zorlutuna, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and her team to pass along information embedded in the electrical signals by modulating the frequency of the cells electrical activity. Zorlutunas research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Muscle cells have the unique ability to respond to external signals while being connected to fibroblasts internally through intercellular junctions. By combining these two cell types, we have the ability to initiate, amplify and propagate signals directionally, says Zorlutuna, who is also director of the Tissue Engineering Laboratory at the university. The success of these muscle-cell diodes offers a path toward linking such cell-based circuitry to a living system and creating functional control units for biomedical engineering applications such as bioactuators or biosensors.

The teams work presents a new option in biocomputing, which has focused primarily on using gene circuitries of genetically modified single-cells or neuronal networks doped with chemical additives to create information processing systems. The single-cell options are slower to process information since they rely on chemical processes, and neuronal-based approaches can misfire signals, firing backward up to 10 percent of the time.

Zorlutuna explores biomimetic environments in order to understand and control cell behavior. She also studies cell-cell and cell-environment interactions through tissue and genetic engineering, and micro- and nanotechnology at the Notre Dame Center for Nano Science and Technology. She is a researcher at the Universitys Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine and the Harper Cancer Research Institute.

Source: University of Notre Dame

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Cardiac Muscle Cells Create Living Diode – Controlled Environments Magazine

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Nurse asking people to sign up as bone-marrow donors – Kewanee Star Courier

Wyoming resident and pediatric nurse Elizabeth Groter has partnered with DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support), the nonprofit leading the fight against blood cancer, to host a bone marrow registration drive in Toulon Friday. The event will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Stark County High School cafeteria, and will help register potential lifesaving donors. Anyone in good general health who is between 18 and 55 can register. The process involves filling out a simple form, understanding the donation methods and swabbing the inside of each cheek for 30 seconds. There is no charge to register. Donations help DKMS cover the $65 registration processing fee but are not required. Groter is a pediatric nurse at Childrens Hospital of Illinois, and a DKMS representative. She was inspired to host a drive with DKMS after experiencing first-hand how simple it is to be added to the KDMS bone marrow registry. With her job experience, Groter has met countless children battling leukemia and other blood cancers who are in need of bone marrow transplants, and wanted to make a difference by helping to grow the registry to find lifesaving matches for patients. Groters uncle is a leukemia survivor and another source of her inspiration. Becoming a part of the bone marrow registry to be a possible match for someone with blood cancer is so incredibly easy, and Im going to make it even easier for you. By doing something as simple as this, you could possibly change someones life in an instant, said Groter. According to DKMS, 70 percent of people suffering from blood-related illnesses must rely on donors outside their families to save their life. Swabbing your cheek is all it takes to register as a potential donor. Anyone who wishes to register as a potential donor but is unable to attend Fridays drive can register online at DKMS is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating blood cancers like leukemia and other blood-related illnesses. The organization inspires men and woman around to the world to register as bone marrow and blood stem cell donors.

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Nurse asking people to sign up as bone-marrow donors – Kewanee Star Courier

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Nanofiber matrix sends stem cells sprawling in all directions – Gizmag – New Atlas

Human stem cells grown on Kyoto University’s “fiber-on-fiber” culturing system(Credit: Kyoto University)

Mighty promising as they are, stem cells certainly aren’t easy to come by. Recent scientific advances have however given their production a much-needed boost, with a Nobel-prize winning technology that turns skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells and another that promises salamander-like regenerative abilities being just a couple of examples. The latest breakthrough in the area comes from Japanese researchers who have developed a nanofiber matrix for culturing human stem cells, that they claim improves on current techniques.

The work focuses on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), which have the ability to mature into any type of adult cell, be they those of the eyes, lungs or hair follicles. But that’s assuming they can be taken up successfully by the host. Working to improve the odds on this front, scientists have been exploring ways of culturing pluripotent stem cells in a way that mimics the physiological conditions of the human body, allowing them to grow in three dimensions rather than in two dimensions, as they would in a petrie dish.

Among this group is a team from Japan’s Kyoto University, which has developed a 3D culturing system it says outperforms the current technologies that can only produce low quantities of low-quality stem cells. The system consists of gelatin nanofibers on a synthetic mesh made from biodegradable polyglycolic acid, resulting in what the researchers describe as a “fiber-on-fiber” (FF) matrix.

The team found that seeding human embryonic stem cells onto this type of matrix saw them adhere well, and enabled an easy exchange of growth factors and supplements. This led to what the researchers describe as robust growth, with more than 95 percent of the cells growing and forming colonies after just four days of culture.

And by designing a special gas-permeable cell culture bag, the team also demonstrated how they could scale up the approach. This is because several of the cell-loaded matrices can be folded up and placed inside the bag, with testing showing that this approach yielded larger again numbers of cells. What’s more, the FF matrix could even prove useful in culturing other cell types.

“Our method offers an efficient way to expand hPSCs of high quality within a shorter term,” the team writes in its research paper. “Additionally, as nanofiber matrices are advantageous for culturing other adherent cells, including hPSC-derived differentiated cells, FF matrix might be applicable to the large-scale production of differentiated functional cells for various applications.”

The research was published in the journal Biomaterials.

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Nanofiber matrix sends stem cells sprawling in all directions – Gizmag – New Atlas

Recommendation and review posted by simmons

Global Gene Therapy Technologies, Markets and Companies 2016-2026 – Research and Markets – PR Newswire UK (press release)

DUBLIN, Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —

Research and Markets has announced the addition of Jain PharmaBiotech’s new report “Gene Therapy – Technologies, Markets and Companies” to their offering.

Gene therapy technologies are described in detail including viral vectors, nonviral vectors and cell therapy with genetically modified vectors. Gene therapy is an excellent method of drug delivery and various routes of administration as well as targeted gene therapy are described. There is an introduction to technologies for gene suppression as well as molecular diagnostics to detect and monitor gene expression.

Clinical applications of gene therapy are extensive and cover most systems and their disorders. Full chapters are devoted to genetic syndromes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders and viral infections with emphasis on AIDS. Applications of gene therapy in veterinary medicine, particularly for treating cats and dogs, are included.

Research and development is in progress in both the academic and the industrial sectors. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the US is playing an important part. As of 2015, over 2050 clinical trials have been completed, are ongoing or have been approved worldwide.A breakdown of these trials is shown according to the geographical areas and applications.

The markets for gene therapy are difficult to estimate as there is only one approved gene therapy product and it is marketed in China since 2004. Gene therapy markets are estimated for the years 2016-2026. The estimates are based on epidemiology of diseases to be treated with gene therapy, the portion of those who will be eligible for these treatments, competing technologies and the technical developments anticipated in the next decades. In spite of some setbacks, the future for gene therapy is bright.The markets for DNA vaccines are calculated separately as only genetically modified vaccines and those using viral vectors are included in the gene therapy markets

Profiles of 188 companies involved in developing gene therapy are presented along with 233 collaborations. There were only 44 companies involved in this area in 1995. In spite of some failures and mergers, the number of companies has increased more than 4-fold within a decade. These companies have been followed up since they were the topic of a book on gene therapy companies by the author of this report.

Key Topics Covered:

Part I: Technologies & Markets

1. Introduction

2. Gene Therapy Technologies

3. Clinical Applications of Gene Therapy

4. Gene Therapy of Genetic Disorders

5. Gene Therapy of Cancer

6. Gene Therapy of Neurological Disorders

7. Gene Therapy of Cardiovascular Disorders

8. Gene therapy of viral infections

9. Research, Development and Future of Gene Therapy

10. Regulatory, Safety and Ethical Issues of Gene Therapy

11. Markets for Gene Therapy

12. References

Part II: Companies

13. Companies involved in Gene Therapy

For more information about this report visit

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SOURCE Research and Markets


Excerpt from:
Global Gene Therapy Technologies, Markets and Companies 2016-2026 – Research and Markets – PR Newswire UK (press release)

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Gene therapy treats muscle-wasting disease in dogs – Medical Xpress

February 15, 2017 In a study replacing the mutated gene responsible for myotubular myopathy with a healthy gene throughout the entire musculature of affected dogs, researchers observed a relationship between dosage and survival. Credit: Martin Childer lab/UW Medicine

Work on gene therapy is showing significant progress for restoring muscle strength and prolonging lives in dogs with a previously incurable, inherited neuromuscular disease. UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine scientists are leading the multi-institutional research effort.

The disease arises from a mutation in genes that normally make a protein, called myotubularin, essential for proper muscle function. Puppies with this naturally occurring mutation exhibit several features of babies with the same defective gene. The rare disorder, called myotubular myopathy, or MTM, affects only males. It causes fatal muscle wasting. Both dogs and boys with the disease typically succumb in early life due to breathing difficulties.

For decades, researchers have struggled to find suitable treatments for genetic muscle diseases like this one. Four collaborating research groups in the United States and France found a way to safely replace the disease-causing MTM gene with a healthy gene throughout the entire musculature of affected dogs.

Their most recent findings were published online this week in Molecular Therapy.

Their paper reports that diseased dogs treated with a single infusion of the corrective therapy were indistinguishable from normal animals one year later.

“This regenerative technology allowed dogs that otherwise would have perished to complete restoration of normal health,” said Dr. Martin K. “Casey” Childers, UW Medicine researcher and physician. Childers is a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and co-director of the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine.

Gene therapy holds the promise to treat many inherited diseases. To date, this approach has not been widely translated into treatment of skeletal muscle disorders.

“We report here a gene therapy dose-finding study in a large animal model of a severe muscle disease where a single treatment resulted in dramatic rescue,” said Childers. The findings demonstrate potential application across a wide range of diseases and broadly translate to human studies. The data supports the development of gene therapy clinical trials for myotubular myopathy, the researchers concluded.

UW Medicine researchers David Mack, Melissa Goddard, Jessica Snyder, Matthew Elverman, and Valerie Kelly co-authored the report, “Systemic AAV8-mediated gene therapy drives whole-body correction of myotubular myopathy in dogs.” This study was conducted in collaboration with Harvard University, Medical College of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, INSERM, and Genethon.

Explore further: Gene therapy leads to robust improvements in animal model of fatal muscle disease

More information: Molecular Therapy, , DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.02.004

Preclinical studies show that gene therapy can improve muscle strength in small- and large-animal models of a fatal congenital pediatric disease known as X-linked myotubular myopathy. The results, appearing in the Jan. 22 …

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Work on gene therapy is showing significant progress for restoring muscle strength and prolonging lives in dogs with a previously incurable, inherited neuromuscular disease. UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative …

Purdue University and Indiana University School of Medicine scientists were able to force an epigenetic reaction that turns on and off a gene known to determine the fate of the neural stem cells, a finding that could lead …

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A new study shows how errors in a specific gene can cause growth defects associated with a rare type of dwarfism.

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Gene therapy treats muscle-wasting disease in dogs – Medical Xpress

Recommendation and review posted by Bethany Smith