Anti-CD47: A Way to Cure Cancer

One drug called anti-CD47 has the capabilities to cure not one type of cancer, but all forms of cancer. Breast, colon, lung, prostate, and liver can all be cured with an antibody drug that is created from a protein already found inside the body.

CD47 is a protein that protects healthy parts from the immune system when it goes into attack mode. The problem is that tumors use this protein to protect themselves from the immune system. This was first discovered by biologist Irving Weismann around a decade ago at Stanford University School of Medicine. He discovered that leukemia cells had higher traces of CD47 than other healthy parts of the body.

Weismann discovered that by using an antibody to block the CD47 the immune system was able to recognize lymphomas and leukemias as a threat to the body in mice. What is really impressive is that most recently Weismann and colleagues have discovered that CD47 is not only present on these types of tumors but all tumors, and they always seem to have higher levels of the protein than healthy cells.

They ran tests by placing the cancerous cells in a petri dish with an immune cell called macrophages and anti-CD47. They discovered that when the cancer cell was placed only with the macrophages, the cell was completely left alone; however, when they added the anti-CD47 the macrophages attacked the cell.

They also ran tests by implanting tumors in the feet of mice because they are easier to spot in this area. Out of the ten mice injected with human bladder cancer, 10 out of 10 mice had cancer spread to the lymph nodes. After treatment with anti-CD47, only one of the mice showed any cancer in the lymph nodes, and this tumor was showing signs of shrinkage. The mice with colon cancer injected had shrunk to less than one-third of its original size. All five mice that were injected with breast cancer cells had complete elimination of all cells after being treated with anti-CD47.

Although Weismann was positive about the results, “We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis.” Other researchers such as cancer researcher Tyler Jacks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge feel this study still has a long way to go. He said, “The microenvironment of a real tumor is quite a bit more complicated than the microenvironment of a transplanted tumor.”

There is also some questioning about anti-CD47 also attacking blood cells when it is released. Although the mice do increase their production of new blood cells, this might be something to stay alerted to. Also, the effects of combining anti-CD47 with chemotherapy could be counterproductive if the body is producing more CD47 as a result of the stress the treatment puts on the body.

The study has been given a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for human testing. Weismann is fully confident about the results he expects to see and said, “We have enough data already that I can say I’m confident that this will move to phase I human trials.”

The US Fires the World’s Most Powerful Laser – Next It Will Create A Star!

The United States’ National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California just fired off the most powerful laser in history. The laser put out a beam measured at 2-megajoules, enough to put it on spot #1 for the most powerful laser in the world.

So what’s the point of this? Well, to create a small star of course! The researchers fired off a single beam of light that is then split into 48 separate beams. The beams are bounced around a warehouse that’s about the size of three football fields using mirrors, eventually the 48 beams get split up into 192 different beams and are taken through amplifiers that increase the strength of the laser every single time they bounce around the facility.

After the laser has made its way to the final exit point, the laser contains about 1,000 times the energy of all the power plants currently in place in the U.S. or about Five Trillion Watts of energy. Since this was just a test, the facility didn’t go through with the full experiment – that’s going to happen later this year when they will be shooting the laser at the small frozen hydrogen fuel cell in the image to the right. The fuel cell is going to be wrapped inside a gold plated cylinder called the Hohlraum.

This Gold plate is going to be located inside of a 32.8 foot ignition chamber and will turn the lasers into X-rays that will in turn compress the hydrogen cell at one hundred billion atmospheres in just 1/1,000,000 of a second.

Why? Because this will create a small start … a SUN! … on earth! They hope that the star is going to generate more power than the energy used to get the laser to shoot, not to mention, the chamber needs to be able to contain the heat that is going to be generated by the creation of  the star. That’s if they get to make a star in the first place.

Most of the funding that the NIF has been receiving comes from the US Nuclear Weapons Complex, which uses the facility to test the physics of nuclear bombs, and the US Department of Energy’s fusion-energy budget. If they can’t get the laser to induce fusion the way they plan, the US Department of Energy Fusion-Energy budget is going to get moved around to an alternative approach that uses magnets rather than lasers to induce fusion.  In this huge economic downfall that we’ve been having in the US, it’s nice to know America still has it in the bag!  [via Gizmodo via Physorg]

A Baffling Illness Strikes Africa Which Turns Children Into Violent Zombies

The World Health Organization is on high alert about new Ugandan outbreak that turns children into violent and mindless humans “zombies” for lack of better terms.

The disease is called the Nodding Disease and it has struck thousands of children in the Northern Uganda Region, this illness causes seizures, violent behavior, and personality changes that make the children do irrational and “unsafe” things.

The main problem with this disease is that there is no known cure, once a child contracts the disease they lose all hope for ever having a normal future and eventually die from violent acts, or from mental retardation disorders.

The most severe of the violent acts is catching buildings on fire, it is reported that more than 200 people have been killed by fires started by children that have this disease.

Peter Spencer has been studying the disease for several years now, and figured out that before the child conducts a violent act, they go into small nodding seizures that often begin when the child begins to eat, or sometimes when he/she feels cold. These seizures are brief and halt after the child stops eating or when they feel warm again. This could explain why they start houses on fire, but it’s not a 100% definitive fact.

According to Wikipedia, these seizures can manifest themselves with a wide degree of severity. Spencer, has stated that upon presentation with food, “one or two [children] will start nodding very rapidly in a continuous, pendulous nod. The child next door will suddenly go into a grand-mal seizure, others will freeze.”

It is currently unknown what causes the disease, but it is believed to be connected to infestations of the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus, which is prevalent in all outbreak areas.  O. volvulus, a nematode, is carried by the black fly and causes river blindness. In 2004, most children suffering from nodding disease lived close to the Yei River, a hotbed for river blindness, and 93% of nodding disease sufferers were found to harbor the parasite–a far higher percentage than in children without the disease.

Pauline Oto and Thomas are two children living in Northern Uganda that have contracted the disease, their mother Grace Lagat, has to tie them up using fabric like handcuffs every time she steps out of the house, but according to reports, the children gnaw at their fabric restraints and try to escape whatever is keeping them from going out into the public.

The disease is not new.  It popped up in the 1960s in Sudan.  From there it slowly spread to Libya and Tanzania.

The Uganda infections, however, are a new outbreak – and it’s a very troubling sign.  The jump into a new region could be pure coincidence, or it could indicate the disease has become more virulent or found a new transmissions vector. Which, if it gets into the US it can cause a lot of problems.

 

Aspirin Does More Than Just Cut Cancer Risk, It Keeps It From Spreading Too

An apple a day, keeps the doctor away, that old saying was engraved on every child since the beginning of time to remind them to eat healthier. This came about because apples contain Vitamin C, which aids the immune system, and phenols, which reduce cholesterol. But an even better phrase that works for adults and young would be – an aspirin a day keeps cancer at bay.

Aspirin has become the pill of choice to doctor wannabe mothers, and for good reason too. A while back news broke out that aspirin can reduce the risk of cancer by over 60 percent, which is great, but now researchers at the University of Oxford said that the small pill can also stop the spread of cancer in patients who already suffer from the disease.

According to Peter Rothwell, the lead researcher, the aspirin achieves this by affecting blood platelets to reduce inflammation. In his study, he determined that cancer patients who take daily aspirin prevent their cancer from spreading over %50 of the time in compare to those who don’t take the drug.

Like any other drug and medical treatment, before you start taking aspirin on the daily basis, consult your doctor. Aspirin does have some side effects, if the pill works by preventing inflammation in the blood platelets; this means the blood is thinned out. Meaning you can have internal bleeding.  [The Lancet]

Round Trip to Mars for $500K

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX has announced that it should be ready to take people on trips to Mars and back for as little as $500,000. Extreme Tech reported him saying that the price was so that even average people could take flight. He did also mention during the interview with BBC that the average person “after they’ve made some savings.” It is still an extremely cool development in the world of space flight.

SpaceX, which has already been awarded a contract to make supply runs to the International Space Station, has a goal in mind to make all of their space shuttles reusable. This is how they plan to cut down on the cost of making space shuttles and space flight.

Another way that Musk is proposing to make the shuttle cheaper to create is by refueling it on Mars. This will eliminate the need for carrying fuel, and be able to create a much lighter shuttle. Although, as of yet Musk has not released information on how he proposes to do such a thing.

There are many critics of SpaceX. Some believe private space flight should not be allowed. Others point out that the company has only made seven launches so far, which the first three were failures. They have also yet to actually go to the International Space Station; however, that would actually have more to do with NASA than SpaceX.

The Dragon spacecraft that SpaceX has created is actually quite small, and anyone that would be traveling to Mars would have to spend 214 days inside the shuttle. Also, hopefully there would be screening in place to weed out anyone who has medical problems or who suffers from claustrophobia, and this will not just be whoever has the money can go.

All Women Need to “Climax” Is Exercise

A new study has come to a fascinating conclusion for women.  It says that all women really need to reach “Climax” is not a man or even an “electrical assistant”, but exercise.

The idea that women could reach this point while working out has been tossed around in the media for a long time.  According to the researcher on the study Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, now there is qualitative and quantitative data to back up the long help beliefs.

The study used online surveys to gather data from women ages 18 to 63 with an average age of 30 and 69 percent reported being heterosexual.  In the survey there were answers from two groups of women:  124 that confessed to having “exercise-induced climax,” and 246 women that reported some kind of sexual pleasure from exercise.

Out of both groups 40 percent reported having “induced-pleasure” on 11 different occasions.  This led some women to become embarrassed when they were working out in a public area.

The exercises have been labeled “coregasms” because abdominal muscle exercises are most commonly related to causing orgasms.  Forty-five percent said their first experience was related to abdominal exercise.  Other exercises attributed were biking or spinning with 19 percent; 9.3 percent happened while climbing poles or ropes; 7 percent with weight lifting; and 7 percent running.  There were also other varied exercises such as swimming, elliptical machines, yoga, and aerobics.  The pleasure group had more exercises linked than the “climax” group.

Some of the women were very detailed on the open-ended questions of the surveys, which gave the researchers much more narrowed information.  For instance, the abdominal exercise where the woman would have to place her arms on a “captain’s chair” and raise her knees to her chest produced more “climaxes” than other exercises.

This also helped to determine that the “climax” resulted after multiple sets rather than just a couple of repetitions. So, the more a woman exerted herself she was more likely to reach “climax” or at the very least have some sort of pleasure.

There is still much more research to be conducted as researchers are still not sure why exercise leads to this kind of climax.  In the meantime, they hope their study will help women learn more about their bodies, and maybe find another important reason for exercise.

This is How an Eciton Soldier Ant Bite Looks Like Up Close

When you look at the size of the tusks on the Eciton soldiers, the first thing that comes to mind is – damn, they are some serious beasts. Then You see a picture like the one above taken by Alex Wild and the image of having hundreds of these ants piercing your skin with their tusks is enough to deter you from ever messing with their ant pile.

When I e-mailed Alex about the image, he said that the tusks are used to anchor themselves to their victim. Once they are anchored, they start to jam their stingers over and over again injecting venom that will eventually kill or subdue the victim/attacker.

As you can see from the image, the tusks actually pierce the bottom of the skin, once they are anchored; they are pretty difficult to remove from your skin. The size of the tusks however, prevents them to carry anything around, so they stick to fighting and killing off anyone or anything that tries to get close to their hill. For the most part, these ant colonies have hundreds of small larvae that birds like to eat. The primary job of the army ant is to make the attempts of these birds as horrible as possible.

I have no idea what Alex was thinking when he let the ant bite his finger in the name of photography, but he said that the army ant bite is actually not that bad, he compared it to being less painful than a honey bee – still, makes for an awesome picture. Check out his portfolio, it’s definitely worth it!

Video Footage of a T Cell Attacking a Cancer Cell

Every day, our body’s T-Cells hunt down Cancerous cells and destroy them before they get big enough to turn into a real problem. It’s estimated that at least 3 times a day, our bodies get flushed out of cancer cells. The video above is comes from Cambridge University’s Under the Microscope series shows a white blood cell and a cancer cell. The T cell (green), first identifies then engulfs its victim in order to destroy it. The process is extremely slow, the video was sped up 92 times in order for it to be of any actual educational value. But it’s very cool.

***

Cells of the immune system protect the body against pathogens. If cells in our bodies are infected by viruses, or become cancerous, then killer cells of the immune system identify and destroy the affected cells. Cytotoxic T cells are very precise and efficient killers. They are able to destroy infected or cancerous cells, without destroying healthy cells surrounding them. The Wellcome Trust funded laboratory of Professor Gillian Griffiths, at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, investigates just how this is accomplished. By understanding how this works, we can develop ways to control killer cells. This will allow us to find ways to improve cancer therapies, and ameliorate autoimmune diseases caused when killer cells run amok and attack healthy cells in our bodies.