Tag Archives | Science

Gene editing saves girl dying from leukaemia in world first


In a breakthrough case, genetically engineered immune cells have successfully killed off cancerous cells in one-year-old Layla’s bone marrow. While it’s too early to determine whether the cancer is gone for good, doctors and scientists say there is currently no sign of it returning.

Michael Le Page via New Scientist:

For the first time ever, a person’s life has been saved by gene editing.

One-year-old Layla was dying from leukaemia after all conventional treatments failed. “We didn’t want to give up on our daughter, though, so we asked the doctors to try anything,” her mother Lisa said in a statement released by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Layla (pictured above) was treated.

And they did. Layla’s doctors got permission to use an experimental form of gene therapy using genetically engineered immune cells from a donor. Within a month these cells had killed off all the cancerous cells in her bone marrow.

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India is training ‘quacks’ to do real medicine. This is why

Doctor Tom Saves The Day!
Priyanka Pulla asks if there can ever be legitimacy in ‘quackery’.

Aditya Bandopadhyay has treated the sick for more than twenty years. He works in the village of Salbadra, in the state of West Bengal, India. He has no degree in medicine.

Bandopadhyay was trained in the rudiments of clinical medicine by a homeopath who also happened to practise modern medicine on the side. Bandopadhyay charges every patient just 10 rupees (15 US cents) per visit, notching it up to 20 rupees for house calls. His arsenal includes antibiotics, intravenous saline and chloroquine phosphate for the viral fevers, dysentery and malaria common in the region. But he doesn’t always give his patients medicines; sometimes he just advises them on personal cleanliness. “Tribal people are not very hygienic,” Bandopadhyay says. So he teaches them how to purify water, sprinkle DDT during outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease and use clean sanitary towels during menstruation.… Read the rest

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Our Planet Is Among the First of Many, Many Earths

G. Bacon / NASA / ESA

G. Bacon / NASA / ESA

A new study finds that many more “Earths” are on the way.

Adrienne LaFrance via The Atlantic:

Throughout the universe, trapped in the halos of dark matter, there is enough planet-making material to create at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 more Earth-like planets. A billion trillion of them. In the Milky Way alone, that would mean another 5 billion Earth-like planets over time.

That’s according to new research by astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, whose findings suggest that Earth, and the life it supports, is only among the first in a massive sprawl of potentially habitable planets that will eventually form in the universe.

“We show that this would imply at least a 92 percent chance that we are not the only civilization the universe will ever have,” wrote Peter Behroozi and Molly Peeples, whose conclusions are drawn from a mix of Hubble and Kepler data.

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Writer and Musician Michael Garfield Discusses Consciousness, Psychedelics, Technology and More on Midwest Real

Via Midwest Real

michaelgarfield.net - more reviews


Michael Garfield can only be described as a polymath. At times, exchanging words with him feels kind of like speaking to a library with a mouth. I’m not really sure how he does it (I promise, I’m not just glad-handing).

Aside from being well-read and spoken, Michael is also something of a serial creative. He’s writer with credits on sites like Big Think and Reality Sandwich, he paints and makes music.

For more on Michael, head to his site.

Photo: Reid Godshaw

For dozens more podcasts like this, head to midwestreal.netDig the show? Stop on by our iTunes channel to review and subscribe.

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Sinking Atomistic Thinking: Psychedelic Eyes Episode #2

What can a flooded island in the South Pacific tell us about our own future?  Have you changed addictive behaviors after having a psychedelic experience?  Will the Middle East be too hot to live in by the end of the century?  I ask these questions in Episode #2 of Psychedelic Eyes.

If you enjoy this, connect to me on social media and check out my new book here.

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Sleepwalkers feel no pain, remain asleep despite suffering injuries


American Academy of Sleep Medicine via ScienceDaily:

A new study of sleepwalkers found an intriguing paradox: Although sleepwalkers have an increased risk for headaches and migraines while awake, during sleepwalking episodes they are unlikely to feel pain even while suffering an injury.

Results show that sleepwalkers were nearly 4 times more likely than controls to report a history of headaches (odds ratio = 3.80) and 10 times more likely to report experiencing migraines (OR = 10.04), after adjusting for potential confounders such as insomnia and depression. Among sleepwalkers with at least one previous sleepwalking episode that involved an injury, 79 percent perceived no pain during the episode, allowing them to remain asleep despite hurting themselves.

“Our most surprising result was the lack of pain perception during the sleepwalking episodes,” said principal investigator Dr. Regis Lopez, psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Hospital Gui-de-Chauliac in Montpellier, France. “We report here, for the first time, an analgesia phenomenon associated with sleepwalking.”

Study results are published in the Nov.

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A Rock With Guts: The Pyura Chilensis


The wild looking “living rock with guts” is actually called Pyura chilensis and resides off the coast of Chile and Peru. Apparently locals like to eat it in stew.

Jess Zimmerman at Grist has more information:

The fact that this sea creature looks exactly like a rock with guts is not even the weirdest thing about it. It’s also completely immobile like a rock — it eats by sucking in water and filtering out microorganisms — and its clear blood mysteriously secretes a rare element called vanadium. Also, it’s born male, becomes hermaphroditic at puberty, and reproduces by tossing clouds of sperm and eggs into the surrounding water and hoping they knock together. Nature, you are CRAZY.

This odd reproduction process is called “selfing.” Read more here.

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How Much Consciousness Does an Octopus Have?

Octopus fanned-out
Over at Wired, Emily Reynolds explores the mysteries and ethics of consciousness. Will we ever be able to quantify it?

What about an iPhone? And how much consciousness can we meaningfully ascribe to someone in a coma?

Animals ranging from parrots to elephants continue to challenge our perception of consciousness, long-held as a uniquely human trait. But the reaches of consciousness don’t stop at animals. As artificial intelligence gets smarter, we are faced with moral dilemmas of how machines could one day not just think but also feel.

The ethics of consciousness, not just in humans but also animals and machines, is complex. To try and make sense of it, research is currently underway to develop a method for objectively measuring consciousness — a formula that could explain how aware any living, or artificial, being is.

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