Engineered Immune Cells Shrink Tumors

Posted on August 31, 2006  Comments (0)

Tumors Shrunk by Engineered Immune Cells, Scientists Say by Stefan Lovgren, on an extermintal treatment with 17 patients so far:

“This is the first example of an effective gene therapy that works in cancer patients,” said Steven Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and leader of the research team.

The therapy has so far been applied only to melanoma patients. But the researchers are optimistic that their treatment can be used for many other types of cancer.

The team has already engineered similar immune cells for more common tumors, such as breast, lung, and liver cancers.

His team focused on T (thymus) cells, a type of specialized immune cell that can learn to recognize and attack specific “foreign” objects, such as the cancer cells that make up tumors.

In the new study, researchers created tumor-fighting cells by harvesting normal T cells from melanoma patients and genetically engineering these cells to carry receptor proteins on their surfaces that recognize cancer markers.

Excercize and Learning

Posted on August 31, 2006  Comments (0)

Increasingly, researchers are finding that brain activity and brain development are enhanced by physical exercise. It now appears that exercise can help kids learn at school.

Listen to the podcast from NPR today
Exercise Improves Learning and Memory, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1999.

Ocean Power Plant

Posted on August 30, 2006  Comments (3)

Interest in ocean power resurges by Dennis Camire via A new wave of interest in ocean power:

Ocean thermal power plants, which generate electricity from the temperature difference between the tropics’ warm surface water and deep cold water, could be built on land in several hundred areas around the globe’s equatorial zones and also could be constructed as floating plants.

A recent Electric Power Research Institute study found sites in Maine, Alaska, California and Washington that had good potential for tidal power generation with production costs ranging from 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour to 10.8 cents. By comparison, the average retail cost of electricity to U.S. consumers in May was 8.64 cents per kilowatt hour.

Related: Wind PowerSolar Tower Power GenerationLarge-Scale, Cheap Solar ElectricityMIT’s Energy ‘Manhattan Project’Wind Power Technology Breakthrough
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Wakamaru Robot

Posted on August 30, 2006  Comments (0)

Wakamaru Robot

Another human like robot from Japan (by Mitsubishi): Wakamaru

Unlike conventional robots operated by human instructions, “wakamaru” acts spontaneously, based on his own and his owner’s daily life schedules that he stores. His autonomous behavior is composed of time, place, and behavior, three elements. He uses to approach people and move around according to the time of day, thereby blending in with its owners’ lifestyles.

Read more about the technology behind the robot.

Related: Toyota RobotsDomestic robot to debut in Japan, BBC News – Tour the Carnegie Mellon Robotics LabRobot Learningposts on robotics

Proton Treatment Could Replace x-ray

Posted on August 30, 2006  Comments (1)

MIT proton treatment could replace x-ray use in radiation therapy:

Scientists at MIT, collaborating with an industrial team, are creating a proton-shooting system that could revolutionize radiation therapy for cancer. The goal is to get the system installed at major hospitals to supplement, or even replace, the conventional radiation therapy now based on x-rays.

The fundamental idea is to harness the cell-killing power of protons — the naked nuclei of hydrogen atoms — to knock off cancer cells before the cells kill the patient. Worldwide, the use of radiation treatment now depends mostly on beams of x-rays, which do kill cancer cells but can also harm many normal cells that are in the way.

IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Program

Posted on August 29, 2006  Comments (0)

IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Program (IBM broke link – how hard it is to just keep links alive?)

IBM Ph.D. Fellowships are awarded worldwide. IBM Ph.D. Fellows are awarded tuition, fees, and a stipend of $17,500 (US) for one academic year. IBM Ph.D. Fellowships are awarded annually but may compete annually to be renewed for up to three years, based on the Award Recipient’s continued exceptional academic standing, progress and achievement, and sustained interaction with IBM’s technical community. All Award Recipient’s wishing for an award renewal must be renominated to compete for an award renewal.

Students must be nominated by a faculty member. They must be enrolled full-time in a college or university Ph.D. program, and they should have completed at least one year of study in their doctoral program at the time of their nomination.

Open for nominations approximately September 19 through October 31, 2006.

Update this link seem to work now (hopefully they will have less pointy haired bosses in charge from now on but who knows…).

Science of the High Jump

Posted on August 29, 2006  Comments (2)

Science of the sporting life:

high jumper seems to translate the horizontal velocity of the run-up into vertical motion over the bar, but what actually happens is more related to springs, Dapena says. “The fast run-up makes the muscles of the takeoff leg stretch very quickly after the takeoff foot is planted on the ground, and this stimulates those muscles, which can then make larger forces.”

To get the fastest vertical acceleration, your foot must push against the ground for as long as possible. And that requires the runner to, as Dapena says, run with “the butt scraping the ground.” Still, there’s a tradeoff — if you run too low, your overly flexed knees will create a puny push-off.

Related: Score One for Sports Scienceposts related to athleticsMinistry of Silly Walks

Open Access Legislation

Posted on August 28, 2006  Comments (5)

25 provosts from top universities jointly released a letter supporting current legislation to require open publication of scientific research. Good.

Open access can also match the missions of scholarly societies and publishers who review, edit, and distribute research to serve the advancement of knowledge. Sharing the fruits of research and scholarship inevitably leads to the creation of more research and scholarship, thus highlighting the need for publishing professionals to manage the selection and review of the highest quality research, both publicly and privately funded. Open access to publications in no way negates the need for well-managed and effective peer review or the need for formal publishing.

via: e3 Information Overload, Rallying Behind Open Access:

The Federal Public Research Access Act would require federal agencies to publish their findings, online and free, within six months of their publication elsewhere.

Related: Britain’s Royal Society Experiments with Open Access by John Hunter:

It seems to me most grants for scientific research should require open publication. I can imagine exceptions, but it seems to me that the expectation should be for open publication, in this day and age, and only allow non-open publication with a good reason.

For public funded research this open access expectation seems obvious. For private foundations in most cases I would think open access publication makes sense also. What business model is used to allow open access is not important, in my opinion. The important factor is open access, how that is accomplished is something that can be experimented with.

If I were making the decision for a university I would have expectations that we publish openly.

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Cancer cell ‘executioner’ found

Posted on August 28, 2006  Comments (0)

Cancer cell ‘executioner’ found:

Healthy cells have a built-in process which means they commit suicide if something is wrong, a process which fails in cancer cells.

The University of Illinois team created a synthetic molecule which caused cancer cells to self-destruct.

They found the molecule PAC-1 did trigger the transformation, and cancer cells from mice and from human tumours could be prompted to self-destruct – a process called apoptosis.

Beneficial Bacteria

Posted on August 28, 2006  Comments (6)

Sick of Getting Sick? Embrace Your Inner Bacteria!, NPR:

Over there, one type of bacteria has settled into a tidy corner of your intestine and is helping to synthesize vitamin K from last night’s dinner. That’s an important blood-clotting substance. And without the help of a neighboring microbe, the broccoli you downed would be no more digestible than a fallen log.

Right this minute, in the moist, warm grottos throughout your body, encounters with friendly bacteria are teaching your immune cells how to recognize dangerous invaders. The ability to distinguish friend from foe is crucial to keeping you healthy. And by acting as a thick ground cover, these benign bacteria crowd out truly noxious germs — salmonella, say, or dangerous versions of E. coli.

The title of NPR’s article is a bit misleading as the focus of the story is really on the potential harm from antibiotics. Bacterial Evolution in Yogurt provides some additional information on the benefits of bacteria. Here are more good bacteria articles:: Friendly bacteria ‘target ulcers’Over-sixties advised to boost daily diet with ‘good’ bacteriaUSC researcher underscores the benefits bacteria can provideBacteria Added to Gum, Toothpaste and DeodorantHow ‘good’ bacteria could counter overuse of antibiotics

via: Take care of those microbes in your gut

Related: articles on the overuse of antibioticsAntibiotic Resistance and You

Bell Labs Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Posted on August 27, 2006  Comments (0)

The Bell Labs Graduate Research Fellowship Program (link broken by idiots) is designed to increase the number of minorities and women in the fields of science, math, engineering and technology. Fellowships are awarded to women and members of a underrepresented minority groups who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The program is primarily directed to graduating college seniors, but applications from first-year graduate students will be considered in the following fields: Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Communications Science, Computer Science/Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Information Science, Materials Science, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Operations Research, Physics and Statistics.

Update: Why are huge companies not even able to follow the most basic web usability concepts. It is amazing to me how incompetent these people are. This link works (even just looking at the url you can tell this is likely to die soon – I have yet to see a well planned web site that uses such a completely lame url) – for who knows how long. Would someone please hurry up and replace idiots that can’t follow the simple web practices with someone who does and let those who don’t copy textbooks by hand or whatever they are able to do.

Related: NSF Graduate Research Fellowshipblog posts on fellowships and scholarships
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