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Water pollution can reduce economic growth by a third: World Bank
News ImageHeavily polluted water is reducing economic growth by up to a third in some countries, a World Bank report said Tuesday, calling for action to address human and environmental harm. The report relied on what the Bank said was the biggest-ever database assembled on global water quality using monitoring stations, satellite data and machine learning models. "Clean water is a key factor for economic growth.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:17:52 -0400
India's Moon probe enters lunar orbit
News ImageIndia's Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft entered lunar orbit on Tuesday, executing one of the trickiest manoeuvres on its historic mission to the Moon. After four weeks in space, the craft completed its Lunar Orbit Insertion as planned, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement. ISRO chief K. Sivan said the manoeuvre was a key milestone for the mission, adding he was hoping for a perfect landing next month.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 13:54:41 -0400
AstraZeneca's Imfinzi combination fails advanced lung cancer study
News ImageThe clinical trial, called NEPTUNE, was testing Imfinzi along with FDA-approved tremelimumab and comparing the combination to platinum-based chemotherapy to treat patients whose cancer had spread to other parts of the body. London-listed AstraZeneca said though the trial involved a wide range of patients, the primary group being tested had high levels of mutations in their DNA.
Wed, 21 Aug 2019 02:35:51 -0400
Going 'nude': UK supermarkets test plastic-free zones
News ImageBritish supermarkets are starting to go "nude". Bowing to pressure from environmentally conscious consumers, big brand shops have begun taking steps to strip their shelves of plastic wrapping over concerns about saving the oceans from waste. Now retailers in Britain -- where even bunches of bananas are often sealed in plastic to keep them fresh and undamaged during long-distance shipping -- are gradually following suit.
Wed, 21 Aug 2019 00:41:43 -0400
Has LIGO detected its first smash-up of black hole and neutron star? Stay tuned
News ImageThe Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, has detected mergers of black holes, and even a couple of neutron star smash-ups. But it hasn't yet confirmed the signature of a black hole gobbling a neutron star. That could soon change. Over the past week, physicists have been buzzing over an Aug. 14 detection made by the twin LIGO detectors in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., as well as by the European Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy. Those L-shaped facilities monitor ever-so-slight fluctuations in laser beams to look for wobbles in spacetime caused by passing gravitational waves. The types of waves Read More
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 21:27:49 -0400
Stem Cells Could Regenerate Organs But Only If the Body Wont Reject Them
News ImageMany of the most common diseases, like heart failure, liver failure, Type 1 diabetes and Parkinsons disease, occur when cells or whole organs fail to do their job. Wouldnt it be fantastic if it were possible to replace cells in these defunct organs? That is exactly what physician-scientists in the field of regenerative medicine are trying to do.I am a surgeon and stem cell scientist and am interested in regenerating failing organs with stem cells because for many diseases we dont have good treatment options yet.In a recent paper, my colleagues and I figured out why stem cells derived from a patients own tissue are sometimes rejected by their own immune systems. We also developed a solution that we think may solve the problem: stem cells that are stripped of their immune features and cant trigger rejection.The Search for the Ideal Starter CellA few years ago a breakthrough occurred that many scientists believed would help fast-track the goal of regenerating organs. That was the identification of proteins that turn on genes that allowed researchers to reprogram adult cells. These proteins transformed cells back into their embryonic-like stem cell state. This gives them the capacity to turn into almost any cell type like liver or heart or any other cell of interest.These stem cells can theoretically be used as an inexhaustible source for cells. Scientists believed these cell products could be used to restore the functions of organs and treat diseases. However, regenerating cells and organs from a patients own cells and then returning them to that same patient turned out to be trickier than expected.Researchers are still debating what is the ideal starting cell type for regenerative medicine. The cells required for these therapies can be grown in bioreactors in the lab. But for cell therapies to succeed, the biggest hurdle we have to overcome is immune rejection.Like transplanted organs, transplanted cells are susceptible to attacks by the recipients immune system. Any cells generated from another individual have different proteins on their surface, called tissue antigens, that tag them as foreign.Once tagged, white blood cells, which defend the body against bacteria, viruses and foreign tissue, target these therapeutic cells for destruction. Physicians use high-dose immunosuppressive drugs to silence this immune response so that patients can tolerate a transplanted organ. But these drugs have significant side effects.To create cells for use in regenerative medicine, scientists envision large-scale collections of stem cells with diverse characteristics and specific tissue antigens. Then just as blood types can be matched, these cataloged stem cells could be matched to the recipient to avoid the patients immune system from rejecting these new cells.One day, hospitals may have enough cell lines to match patients with stem cells based on tissue types. Whether enough cell lines can be banked to serve the wider patient population and whether this strategy will prevent immune responses is yet to be seen.Adult cells are removed from patients, transformed into so-called induced pluripotent stem cells and then, using various chemicals, the cells are made to differentiate into different tissue types. Ideally these are then transplanted into the same patient to fix their damaged tissues. metamorworks/Shutterstock.comHurdles for Using a Patients Own Stem CellsStem cells generated from a patients own cells called autologous stem cells are currently believed to be the most promising strategy for circumventing immune rejection. Autologous stem cells are generated directly from the patient seeking treatment and need to be differentiated into the cell type that needs to be replaced. Since the cells carry the same tissue antigens as the patient, they are tagged as self, and immunologists believe these cells are accepted by the immune system.However, this notion may not be correct. In a previous study, our lab had revealed that minor genetic mutations in the DNA carried by a special part of the cells DNA, the mitochondrial DNA, can trigger an immune response.Mitochondria are small structures inside cells that carry their own set of genes that are responsible for generating energy for the cell. Because every cell has many mitochondria, they carry many copies of the mitochondrial DNA. Spontaneous changes in mitochondrial genes, called mutations, alter the shape of the proteins they encode. These mutated proteins, which we call neoantigens, re-tag the cells as foreign, alert the immune system and target the stem cells for destruction.Cells That Lack Immune Features May Be the SolutionOur latest study reveals that neoantigens can spontaneously occur in a patients own cells. This renders them susceptible to rejection when used as part of stem cell-based treatment. We showed in mice and humans that minor changes in the mitochondrial DNA can occur when the patients cells are being reprogrammed into stem cells so that they can produce different types of cells. This can also happen while the cells are multiplying in plates or bioreactors outside of the body, giving rise to neoantigens.The likelihood of neoantigens arising increases with the time it takes to manufacture a particular type of cell. If white blood cells recognize neoantigens after injecting the cells back into the animal or human, they may trigger a strong immune response leading to tissue rejection.Neoantigens can thus jeopardize the whole strategy of autologous cell transplantation. So to use this form of cell transplantation, it may be necessary to test all cell products for mutations in the mitochondrial DNA.To dodge the immune system and make regenerative stem cell therapies widely available to the general public, our lab aims to engineer stem cells lacking any immune features.Modern gene editing tools now allow us to make very specific edits and create engineered cell products without any tissue type tags. We recently published our early success with both edited mouse and human stem cells, which survived after transplantation into different mouse models with different tissue types. This was the first report of universal cells that completely circumvented rejection by a foreign immune system. We believe this concept could lead to the manufacturing of universal cell products for all patients and has the potential to transform health care.This story first ran in The Conversation on August 19.Image: Reuters
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 20:15:00 -0400
China hopes U.S. will come back to the table at Chile climate talks
News ImageChina hopes to welcome the United States "back to the negotiating table" to discuss global efforts to limit climate change at a United Nations summit to be hosted by Chile in December, its top climate change envoy said on Tuesday. Trump has signalled his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord and been dismissive of regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 18:52:07 -0400
China hopes U.S. will come back to the table at Chile climate talks
News ImageChina hopes to welcome the United States 'back to the negotiating table' to discuss global efforts to limit climate change at a United Nations summit to be hosted by Chile in December, its top climate change envoy said on Tuesday. Trump has signaled his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord and been dismissive of regulations aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 18:47:34 -0400
Plague-infected prairie dogs thwart Phish concert-goers camping plans
News ImageThe jam-band Phish announced Tuesday that plague-infected -- yes, that plague -- prairie dog colonies had forced the cancellation of overnight camping and vending for its annual concert series near Denver. The band will still play over the Labor Day holiday weekend but said in a statement that health officials overseeing Colorado's Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge urged precautionary measures like restricting parking and camping to prevent potential spread of the disease. "We recognize the tremendous inconvenience this may cause for those who had planned on camping," said Phish, a rock band known for its improvisation and hardcore fan base.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:44:37 -0400
Inovio Ends Enrollment in Anal Dysplasia Study on VGX-3100
News ImageInovio (INO) closes enrollment in the phase II study evaluating VGX-3100 for the treatment of HPV-related high-grade anal dysplasia. Shares up.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:14:09 -0400
Higher oxygen levels helped dinosaurs to thrive and spread, experts find
News ImageRising levels of oxygen in the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago helped dinosaurs in North America to flourish, scientists have found.Levels of the gas rose by nearly a third in three million years, which experts say is very rapid in geological terms.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 17:06:16 -0400
Britain tops healthy league table in supermarket sold food, Oxford University study finds
News ImageBritain isnt on a junk food diet - the foodsold in its supermarkets tops health league tables, a study by Oxford University suggests. The study of more than 400,000 food and drink products from 12 countries ranked Britain best for the levels of sugar, fat, salt and calories in common foods. The ranking came despite the fact the UK has the highest obesity levels in western Europe. And the US - which has the highest obesity levels in the world - was found to have the second healthiest offerings on sale, followed by Australia. The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford analysed assessed countries using Australias Health Star Rating system which measures the levels of the nutrients such as energy, salt, sugar, saturated fat as well as protein, calcium and fibre. Almost two thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese It found that the UK had the highest average Health Star Rating of 2.83, followed by the US at 2.82 and Australia at 2.81. India got the lowest rating of just 2.27 followed by China at 2.43 with Chile coming third from bottom at 2.44. The results were published in Obesity Reviews. Lead author Dr Elizabeth Dunford said: Globally were all eating more and more processed foods and thats a concern because our supermarkets shelves are full of products that are high in bad fats, sugar and salt and are potentially making us sick. Our results show that some countries are doing a much better job than others. Later this year, Public Health England is due to issue new calorie guidelines setting out stringent calorie limits on hundreds of foods, such as sandwiches and ready meals. The body has already set targets for sugar content of common foods, which critics say would result in the elimination of traditional sweets, such as Sherbet Lemons and Parma Violets.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:50:14 -0400
Kamala Harris, in Reversal, to Participate in Climate Town Hall
News ImageAfter previously declining the invitation due to a scheduling conflict, the California Senator became the 10th confirmed participant in the September 4th event
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:08:02 -0400
US Space Command will launch this month, ahead of Trump's Space Force
News ImageVice President Mike Pence announced that the U.S. Space Command, a crucial step to the creation of the Space Force, would be established next week.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:42:04 -0400
We've killed off more than 50% of forest animals on Earth, a new report found even more evidence of a 6th mass extinction
News ImageForests are our "greatest natural ally in the fight against global warming," said one conservationist.
Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:40:00 -0400
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