Monday, 28 August 2017

This App Could Help the Blind Experience the Solar Eclipse

App to Assist Blind People to Experience Eclipse

After a blind colleague had asked solar astrophysicist Henry Trae Winter to describe what an eclipse would be like, it kept him thinking and speculating on it thereafter. Winter commented that he was caught totally flat-footed and had no knowledge how to convey what seems to go on during an eclipse to someone who had never seen it before in their life.

He recalled a story which a friend had narrated to him about how crickets could begin to chirp in the middle of the day as the moon tends to cover the sun at the time of an eclipse. This story he had conveyed to his colleague. Winter informed that the reaction she had seemed powerful which he wanted to reproduce that sense of awe and wonder to as many as he could all over the country.

He began working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts intending to build an app to assist blind people in experiencing this summer’s eclipse. Winter informed that he was of the opinion that it is a glaring omission that it is time to answer. Eclipse soundscapes that has been launched for iPads and iPhones recently tends to feature real-time narration of various phases of the eclipse planned for the location of the user.

Rumble Map – Hear/Feel Phenomena

`Rumble map’ enables the users to hear as well as feel the phenomena when they tend to touch photos of earlier eclipse. The dark spaces in the photos, such as the solid black face of the moon are quiet when touched.

Wispy strands of sunlight shining out from behind the moon release lower hums and on touching the brighter spaces such as the shards of light which peek out from behind the valleys of the moon tend to produce higher frequencies.

The sounds are combined with vibrations, soft for darker spaces and more intense for brighter areas. Miles Gordon, the apps’ audio engineer had informed that they managed in creating frequencies which resonate with the body of the phone so the phone is vibrating completing utilising the speaker.

Winter had stated that `the goal of this app was not to give someone who is blind or visually impaired the exact same experience as a sighted person but hoped this as a prototype, a first step something they can learn from, in making the next set of tools’.

Other tools exist to enable blind people in experience the eclipse including perceptible maps as well as book though it is still comprehended as visual phenomena. Less recognized are the changes in temperature, wildlife behaviour, weather pattern which supplement total eclipses.

Software Easy for Navigation

Colleague, Chancey Fleet who had first asked Winter, to describe an eclipse during a conference some months back was doubtful when she learned about his idea for an app. Fleet who is an accessible technology educator at a library in New York, had informed that `the first time she had heard that blind people were being asked to pay attention to the eclipse, she sort of laughed to herself and attempted to contain her dismissive reaction.

However on learning about the sounds connected with the eclipse, she seems interested in trying out the app of Winter. Fleet commented that she is looking forward in experiencing it and not just hearing or reading about it and nothing is just visual really. The app development team had the support of Wanda Diaz Merced an astrophysicist, who is blind, to ensure that the software is easy for navigation.

She is of the belief that the app will show people that there is more to an eclipse than spooky midday darkness. Diaz Merced had commented that `people will discover, Oh I can also hear this and I can also touch it’.

Eclipse Soundscapes – Grant from NASA

She also perceives the app as a tool to get more blind kids involved in science stating that` it is very important’. The Eclipse Soundscapes team supported by a grant from NASA has engaged the National Park Service, Brigham Young University together with citizen scientists to record audio of how people as well as wildlife tend to respond at the time of the eclipse.

Phase two of the project is to build an available database for those recordings in order that blind people could access them with ease. That is the component of the project which Diaz Merced is excited about from a scientific perspective.

After Fleet had lost her sight in her late 20s she had to develop her own computer program in order to alter telescope data to sound files in order to continue her research. She expects that this project would spur more interest in making the data reachable to scientists like her.

Diaz Merced had commented that what she hopes is that databases in science will use this database model for people like them to be capable of having meaningful access to the information and probably through the database they will not be segregated. And in this way she hopes that the impact of the eclipse would last much longer than a day.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Osteoporosis: Potential New Drug Target Uncovered

Altering Healing Methods – Osteoporosis

New reason for osteoporosis has been discovered by researchers in the so-called senescent cells of the body. By directing these particular cells with anti-aging drugs, the discoveries have the possibility of altering healing methods for the treatment of growth-related bone loss.

According to the report of the National Osteoporosis Foundation – NOF, which is in the United States, around 10 million people tend to live with osteoporosis, a disorder where the bones tend to get brittle and break while another 44 million U.S individuals are presumed to have low bone density. Moreover the NOF had warned that almost half of all people in the country from 50 years and above tend to be at risk of breaking a bone and need to be worried about bone health.

A new cause for osteoporosis in mice had been discovered by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The leading author of the study is said to be Joshua N. Farr of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Centre on Aging and Division of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic college of Medicine. The results had been published in the journal – Nature Medicine. The so-called senescent cells of the body are the ones which are involved in the usual development of aging and in diseases connected to aging.

Senolytic Drugs

Farr together with his colleagues, in the new study for osteoporosis, had designed numerous mouse models in which the mice had bone loss, aged between 20 and 22 months, which is comparable of being over 70 years old in the case of human years. The researchers had directed these cells in a series of ways.

They had switched off the genes for these cells and had eliminated them utilising the so-called senolytic drugs that had been meant to kill off senescent cells. Eventually they had utilised a drug which tends to constrain the activity of a kind of enzyme known as Janus kinase enzymes in order to obstruct the production of a pro-inflammatory element secreted by senescent cells.

The director of the Aging Bone and Muscle program at Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Centre on Aging, Dr Sundeep Khosla, had explained that the results of the research, stating that the effects of all three approaches on osteoporosis were strikingly similar.`They had enhanced bone mass together with strength by decreasing bone resorption though maintaining or increasing bone formation which is fundamentally different from all present osteoporosis drug’.

Combination Senolytic Drug – Eradicated Senescent Cells

Some of these methods had also been attempted on young mice of about 12 months. Genetically killing off senescent cells and constraining them with senolytic drugs did not show any beneficial effect on the bones of the young mice.

This further had strengthens the causal link between senescent cells and the growth-related osteoporosis. The drug senolytic utilised were dasatinib and quercetin had been administered in combination once a month. Co-corresponding research author Dr James Kirkland, Ph.D., director of the Kogod Centre on Aging had moreover explained the results.

He stated that although the combination of this senolytic drug had been present only in the mice for a few hours, it had eradicated senescent cells and had a long-lasting effect. He further added that this is another piece of the mounting evidence which senolytic drugs are targeting basic aging processes and could have widespread application in treating various chronic diseases’.

Bone Resorption

The authors moreover explained the advantage of administering this drug combination only occasionally, which is said to be at clearly set monthly intervals in comparison to the presently available osteoporosis medication that tends to be taken on daily basis and can have serious side effects.

The authors explained that the prevailing medication for osteoporosis seems to have a significant negative effect wherein it tends to decrease the bone resorption which in turn reduces the bone formation.

 Bone resorption is related to the process wherein the bone is naturally removed throughout one’s lifetime while new bones tend to form. In this study the senolytic drugs utilised is said to have lowered the bone resorption though preserved bone formation as well as at times increased it.

Khosla had stated that though they are aware from earlier work that the accumulation of senescent cells tend to cause tissue dysfunction, the role of cell senescence in osteoporosis at this point had been unclear.

He added that the novelty of this work for the bone field is in the fact that instead of targeting a bone-specific pathway as is the case for all present treatments for osteoporosis, they had directed theessential aging process which had the potential of improving not only bone mass but also ease other growth-related conditions as a group.

He concluded that they need to continue in pursuing these potential interventions that target important aging mechanisms as hopefully, an ultimate way of reducing the burden of fracture together with other conditions, like cardiovascular dysfunction, diabetes and frailty.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Gene Editing Transforms Research Similar to Cut and Paste Tool

Gene Editing

Latest gene editing research makes manipulating genes as easy as the cut-and-paste job

Gene Editing has always been dream of a number of the scientists and researchers but the real application of it was never such successful. The advancement made in the bio medical technology in the last decade and on-going research in the gene editing methodologies and techniques had given a ray of new hope to the researchers. Scientists have been altering genes for quite some time and it has been widely used in the field of agriculture and pharmaceuticals. However this is the first time that the researchers have been successful in performing gene editing with human embryo.

Better, precise and influential than ever before

The latest will be better and more precise to work with thereby allowing scientists to later the DNA of the living cells ranging from the plants, animals to humans. In simple word the new age technology will be just the cut-and-paste tool used in the modern programs.

Gene editing isn’t very fancy or dreadful area of the bio medical technology rather it is a fun, exciting and optimistic field of work. Herein scientists devote their time towards finding and fixing the defective genes through genetic therapies or gene editing methods. The latest tool called CRISPR-Cas9 brought a boom in the research as it got adopted in the laboratories across the globe quite faster than expected. Using this tool is extremely simple and requires minimal training but paves the way for the manipulation of multiple genes at the same time with higher success rate.


Overcoming the problems & issues

The major issue or problem associated with the gene editing is that it requires highest level of precision to bring desirable results. A minor mistake can lead to grave mistakes like accidently cutting the DNA. Researchers also make use of out-of-body treatments in order to ensure that they solve one problem but don’t end up in sparking another. Manipulation of genes in plants and animals using bio medical technology is not seen as the right thing to do by many and when it comes to human experiments then it becomes a matter of medical ethics.

Researchers and scientists wishes to do away with the defective genes in the human body by altering the genes in sperms, embryos and eggs and helps in spreading the changes in the future generations. This whole process is known as ‘germline engineering’ but a number of people believe that this is ethically not the right approach as we are taking the away the right to consent from our future generation by manipulating the genes. Secondly if any kind of long term negative effects are associated then it will come in foreground in the initial years and we will be designed corrupt genes unknowingly.

Embroiled in the ethics controversy stemming from the gene editing using bio medical technology, a number of nations have banned such researches. Like Europe doesn’t allow any kind of germline research when comes to human testing while Britain at most only allows scientists to carry out lab research.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Size matters: for bacteria, smaller is better for causing superbug infections

small cells

New Insight – Common Hospital Superbugs Cause Infection

A fresh understanding has been discovered into how one of the most public hospital superbugs tend to cause infection, something which could have been utilised to develop fresh antibiotic treatments, by the scientists at the University of Sheffield. Infection is harmful which can be due to micro-organisms that are considered as germs.

Micro-organisms or microbes are said to be living organisms which seem to be so miniature in size that they are not seen without the help of a very powerful microscope and they are microscopic. The micro-organisms which tend to cause infection are called pathogens. Bacteria viruses, pathogenic fungi together with the parasites are said to be some examples of micro-organisms which tend to cause the infection.

Led by researchers from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, of the University of Sheffield had explored the Enterococcus faecalis, a kind of bacteria which is usually found in the digestive tracts of humans and multi-resistant to antibiotics, could overcome the other microorganisms causing life-threatening infections. E-faecalis is often responsible in causing hospital-acquired infection like urinary tract infections, heart valve infections and bacteraemia, but the scientist presently tend to have little knowledge regarding the same.

Study – Formation of Short Chains of Cells

The University of Sheffield-led research team has now established several difficult mechanisms directing the maintenance of the distinctive shape of E. faecalis which tend to form cell pairs or short chains of cells. The team has disclosed that the development of short chains of cells tends to be a vital element in stopping bacteria from being recognised as a risk by the immune system.

This in turn allows infection to spread. Dr Stephane Mesnage, leading the research from the University of Sheffield stated that `their study describes that the formation of short chains of cells by E. faecalis seems to be a critical step in causing an infection. Bacteria which tend to form long chains of cells are recognised efficiently and immersed by the host immune system while short chains of cells are efficiently recognised and immersed by the host immune system and spread in the host to cause infection’.

He further added that `E. faecalis is an opportunistic pathogen and is naturally resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, inclusive of synthetic penicillin derivatives. Following an antibiotic treatment, E. faecalis can out-compete other microorganisms in causing infection. Their work recommends that targeting the mechanisms controlling the formation of short chains of cells could be a novel strategy for developing new treatments to combat E. faecalis infections’.

Developing Radical Solutions

Bacterial size matters, research – multiple mechanisms controlling septum cleavage and diplococcus formation are said to be critical for the virulence of the opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis, has been published in PLOS Pathogens – Bacterial size matters (PLOS Pathogens journal. Discoveries from the study construct on the position of the University of Sheffield at the forefront of the world-class research into infectious diseases.

The scientists at the University have been developing radical solutions to the global threat of disease together with antimicrobial resistance as a means of signature research projects like Florey, Imagine and the Sheffield Antimicrobial Resistance Network – SHAMROK.

Moreover the University has also been training the next generation of highly skilled scientist through its undergraduate as well as postgraduate programmes in locating some new exciting approaches to bioscience in attempting some of the biggest biomedical issues in the world. Having almost 27,000 of the brightest students from across 140 countries and learning together with 1,200 of the best academics from all over the world, the University of Sheffield is said to be one of the most leading universities in the world.

Being one of the members of the prestigious Russell Group of leading-led institutions of UK, Sheffield tends to provide outstanding teaching and research excellence across an extensive range of disciplines.

Power of Discovery/Understanding – Means of Transforming the World

With the combination of the power of discovery together with understanding, staff and students at the university have been devoted in discovering new means of transforming the world in which we tend to live in. Sheffield is believed to be the only university to be included in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisation to Work for 2017 and has been voted as number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014.

 It has also won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in the last decade in recognition of the amazing contribution to the intellectual, economic, cultural as well as the social life, to the United Kingdom. It is said that Sheffield had six Nobel Prize winners among former staff as well as students and its alumni tend to be holding positions of exceptional responsibilities together with influence all across the globe thus making a significant contributions in their selected fields.

The global research partners together with the clients comprise of Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus together with many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Cow Antibodies Bring Hope for eEfective AIDS Vaccine Soon

Potential HIV antibody detected in cows

The immune system provides human protection against all possible viruses. Researchers from the US found a solution to inject patients the antibodies. They are produced by cows. Cows could be the key to the development of an HIV vaccine. According to a new study, they are able to produce effective antibodies.

Special cows are given special treatment: "These are probably the most carefully watched and pampered cows around the world. Their entire diet are strictly controlled, their health is checked daily.

The animals, of whom Matthew Frieman speaks here, are drug factories on four legs, says the US Virology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. To make them, scientists have changed the genotype of cattle. "These transgenic cows have an additional chromosome in their cell nuclei, and they contain genes from humans that encode human antibodies, and the interesting thing about this technology is that if you vaccinate such a cow against a particular pathogen, it does not produce any cow antibodies against it”.

Despite years of research, there is still no vaccine against HIV infection. This is because the virus is constantly changing, even in the body of an already infected human being. Science is therefore feverishly searching for a so-called broadly neutralizing HIV antibody. This would protect against a variety of HIV strains.

An international research team has for the first time injected HIV proteins into four calves to test the response of the ruminant's immune system to the intruder. To the astonishment of the scientists, the cows produced within a very short time broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies. Already after 42 days, the cow antibodies neutralized 20 percent of the tested HIV strains. After 381 days it was as much as 96 percent, as the researchers reported in the journal "Nature".

Side effects of cow digestion

Although a small percentage of people are able to produce broad-neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies, it takes three to five years. One reason for this is that antibodies that act against the HI virus differ strongly from normal human antibodies.

To effectively attach to a virus, it needs a chain of about 30 amino acids that protrudes from the antibody. This is twice as long as that of an ordinary human antibody. For a cow antibody, however, it is short. And so the researchers came to the idea of trying their luck in cows. The complex digestive system of ruminants, which are populated with pathogenic bacteria, may be due to the fact that cows are capable of producing such antibodies.

Hope for vaccine


The researchers now hope to use the obtained findings to bring the human body to produce antibodies with long amino acid sequences. This could be the basis for an effective vaccine, the researchers believe. It is also possible that the cow antibodies themselves could be used for a drug for HIV treatment should their effectiveness be confirmed in other organisms

Anthony Fauci, director of the American National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, supported the research, the BBC said: "Already at the beginning of the epidemic, we have recognized that the HI virus is very good at evading immunization. That is why exceptional immune systems that produce broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies are very interesting - whether they are human or cows. "