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On this day in 1604 Johannes Kepler began systematically observing a new, very bright star that had abruptly appeared in the constellation Ophiuchus. For three weeks, the star outshone all other heavenly bodies save the Sun, the Moon and Venus. The star was even visible during the day. We now know that the star was a supernova, the most recent one to have exploded in our own galaxy. The drawing is Kepler’s own of the new star (the star is marked N on the right ankle of Ophiucus, the serpent bearer). The image shows (in false color) the infrared emission from supernova remnant; it was made by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope four centuries after the supernova first appeared in the sky.

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Ambassador Dr. Jane Goodall has joined the advisory board of Mongabay.org. This is the non-profit branch of Mongabay.com, an environmental and science website with a special focus on tropical forests.Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1013-hance-jane-goodall.html#HDQWXA8sHOooWyAl.99
news from the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP-UNEP)

Ambassador Dr. Jane Goodall has joined the advisory board of Mongabay.org. This is the non-profit branch of Mongabay.com, an environmental and science website with a special focus on tropical forests.
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1013-hance-jane-goodall.html#HDQWXA8sHOooWyAl.99

news from the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP-UNEP)


Adipose cells or adipocytes are specialized connective tissue for the storage of fat. The large adipocytes are held in place by strands of collagen fibers and a fine network of reticular fibers. A large capillary is seen near the cell surface. Credit: Dr. Richard Kessel & Dr. Randy Kardon/Tissues & Organs/Visuals Unlimited, Inc.

text from Daily Anatomy
Adipose cells or adipocytes are specialized connective tissue for the storage of fat. The large adipocytes are held in place by strands of collagen fibers and a fine network of reticular fibers. A large capillary is seen near the cell surface. 

Credit: Dr. Richard Kessel & Dr. Randy Kardon/Tissues & Organs/Visuals Unlimited, Inc.
text from Daily Anatomy

'Bionic eye’ helps blind man see again after 33 years (VIDEO)

A previously blind man from North Carolina has been granted the ability to digitally see once again through a new “bionic eye” which can transform light into images.

Larry Hester, 66, was blind for 33 years before scientists at Duke University, in North Carolina, switched on the device.


As the “eye” was switched on, Hester jumped from the shock initially, before his face broke into a persistent smile and his wife, Jerry, rushed over to him to share his joy. “Can you really see?” she said, adding: “Can I give him a kiss?”

Hester became only the seventh person in the US to have the eye – and he expressed his good fortune to his doctors. 

“I just wonder how I have been so lucky,”
 he said. “Why me? But if I can use what I learn from this to help others with RP, it will not just be for my benefit.” 

Both Larry and Jerry Hester had lost hope of any improvements in Larry’s eyesight until Jerry found an article in a magazine last year. 

“We’ve lived all these years without having any hope of any change so when I saw it, I was very, very excited,” she said. 

He had the “eye” implanted several weeks ago. However, his first “lesson” on how to use it began on Monday morning. 

The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System (‘Argus II’) received FDA approval in February 2013. 

The bionic eye uses wireless technology, through which a sensor is implanted in the eye to pick up light signals sent from a camera mounted on special eyeglasses, Duke University said in a statement. 

The mini video-camera in the glasses worn by the patient connects to a sensor which completely bypasses any damaged photoreceptors in the patient’s brain. 

The treatment’s success was described upon the granting of FDA approval on the department’s website. 

“Results of the clinical study showed that the System helped subjects: identify the location or movement of objects and people; recognize large letters, words, or sentences; and helped in other activities of daily life, such as detecting street curbs and walking on a sidewalk without stepping off,”the FDA noted. 

Hester will be receiving follow-up lessons on how to incorporate the device into his day-to-day life to the greatest effect, “learning to discern shapes and objects from the flashes generated by the device,”Duke said in its statement.

watch the video on RT’s website 

For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope
By 
Gretchen Vogel 



Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder.
“The diabetes research community has been waiting for ages for this type of breakthrough,” says Jorge Ferrer, who studies the genetics of β cells at Imperial College London. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.
Throughout the day, the pancreas regulates the body’s blood sugar levels, responding to an increase in glucose after a meal by secreting insulin, which helps cells take up the sugar. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly kills the β cells for still-unknown reasons, and the body is left without insulin. People control their diabetes by injecting carefully calibrated doses of insulin. But matching the precise insulin control achieved by the healthy pancreas is almost impossible, so researchers have hoped for decades to find a way to replace the missing cells.
When scientists isolated human embryonic stem (ES) cells in 1998, hopes soared. ES cells are pluripotent, which means that in theory they can turn into any of the body’s cell types—including β cells. Indeed, one of the first things researchers tried to make from ES cells was pancreatic β cells. Later they tried with so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, made by reprogramming adult cells into an embryolike state. Either way, “it’s proved to be an extraordinarily complicated undertaking,” says Mark Magnuson of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who studies pancreatic development.
Several teams have turned stem cells into precursors of β cells, which mature when placed into experimental animals. But the cells take 6 weeks to become fully functional β cells, and they can’t be studied easily outside the body. Nevertheless, a clinical trial started last month to test their therapeutic use in patients.
In Cell this week, Melton and his colleagues report a complex recipe that can transform either human ES cells or iPS cells directly into functional β cells. The breakthrough is based on more than a decade of tenacious work in Melton’s lab. He and his colleagues have painstakingly studied the signals that guide pancreas development, applying what they and others have found to develop a method that turns stem cells into mature β cells. “There’s no magic to this,” Melton says. “It’s not a discovery so much as applied developmental biology.”
The protocol “is reproducible, but it is tedious,” Melton adds. The stem cells are grown in flasks and require five different growth media and 11 molecular factors, from proteins to sugars, added in precise combinations over 35 days to turn them into β cells. On the bright side, Melton says, the technique can produce 200 million β cells in a single 500 ml flask—enough, in theory, to treat a patient. Melton says the protocol seems to work equally well with ES and iPS cell lines.
Before the cells can be used to treat type 1 diabetes, researchers need to find a way to protect them from immunologic rejection. The same autoimmune response that triggered the disease would likely attack new β cells derived from the patient’s own iPS cells, and a normal immune response would destroy ES-derived β cells, which would appear foreign. (That has been a challenge for efforts to treat type 1 diabetes with received transplants of β cells from deceased organ donors.) Melton and colleagues are now exploring how to physically encapsulate their stem cell–derived β cells, as well as ways to modify the β cells to enable them to ward off immune attack.
In the meantime, the cells should help the study of the autoimmune disorder. The technique “potentially provides ways to create model systems for studying the genetic basis of diabetes, or to discover novel therapies to enhance existing β cells,” Ferrer says. Melton says his lab has iPS cell lines from people with diabetes—both type 1 and type 2, in which the β cells are not destroyed—and healthy controls. They are generating β cells from those cell lines to look for differences that might explain how the different forms of the disease develop. They will also screen for chemicals that can stop or even reverse the damage diabetes does to β cells.  
Melton says his son and daughter—now 23 and 27 years old—were pleased but unsurprised by his group’s progress. Reversing the parent-child role, they gently nagged him to “get going and solve the [immune-rejection] problem.”
source

For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope

By 

Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure. This week, he and his colleagues report a potentially significant step toward that goal: a recipe that can turn human stem cells into functional pancreatic β cells—the cells that are destroyed by the body’s own immune system in type 1 diabetes patients such as Melton’s son and daughter. The cells the researchers produced respond to glucose by producing insulin, just as normal β cells do. And when implanted into mice with a form of diabetes, the cells can cure the disorder.

“The diabetes research community has been waiting for ages for this type of breakthrough,” says Jorge Ferrer, who studies the genetics of β cells at Imperial College London. The lab-generated cells should be a valuable tool for studying diabetes and, Melton hopes, could eventually be used to treat patients.

Throughout the day, the pancreas regulates the body’s blood sugar levels, responding to an increase in glucose after a meal by secreting insulin, which helps cells take up the sugar. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly kills the β cells for still-unknown reasons, and the body is left without insulin. People control their diabetes by injecting carefully calibrated doses of insulin. But matching the precise insulin control achieved by the healthy pancreas is almost impossible, so researchers have hoped for decades to find a way to replace the missing cells.

When scientists isolated human embryonic stem (ES) cells in 1998, hopes soared. ES cells are pluripotent, which means that in theory they can turn into any of the body’s cell types—including β cells. Indeed, one of the first things researchers tried to make from ES cells was pancreatic β cells. Later they tried with so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, made by reprogramming adult cells into an embryolike state. Either way, “it’s proved to be an extraordinarily complicated undertaking,” says Mark Magnuson of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who studies pancreatic development.

Several teams have turned stem cells into precursors of β cells, which mature when placed into experimental animals. But the cells take 6 weeks to become fully functional β cells, and they can’t be studied easily outside the body. Nevertheless, a clinical trial started last month to test their therapeutic use in patients.

In Cell this week, Melton and his colleagues report a complex recipe that can transform either human ES cells or iPS cells directly into functional β cells. The breakthrough is based on more than a decade of tenacious work in Melton’s lab. He and his colleagues have painstakingly studied the signals that guide pancreas development, applying what they and others have found to develop a method that turns stem cells into mature β cells. “There’s no magic to this,” Melton says. “It’s not a discovery so much as applied developmental biology.”

The protocol “is reproducible, but it is tedious,” Melton adds. The stem cells are grown in flasks and require five different growth media and 11 molecular factors, from proteins to sugars, added in precise combinations over 35 days to turn them into β cells. On the bright side, Melton says, the technique can produce 200 million β cells in a single 500 ml flask—enough, in theory, to treat a patient. Melton says the protocol seems to work equally well with ES and iPS cell lines.

Before the cells can be used to treat type 1 diabetes, researchers need to find a way to protect them from immunologic rejection. The same autoimmune response that triggered the disease would likely attack new β cells derived from the patient’s own iPS cells, and a normal immune response would destroy ES-derived β cells, which would appear foreign. (That has been a challenge for efforts to treat type 1 diabetes with received transplants of β cells from deceased organ donors.) Melton and colleagues are now exploring how to physically encapsulate their stem cell–derived β cells, as well as ways to modify the β cells to enable them to ward off immune attack.

In the meantime, the cells should help the study of the autoimmune disorder. The technique “potentially provides ways to create model systems for studying the genetic basis of diabetes, or to discover novel therapies to enhance existing β cells,” Ferrer says. Melton says his lab has iPS cell lines from people with diabetes—both type 1 and type 2, in which the β cells are not destroyed—and healthy controls. They are generating β cells from those cell lines to look for differences that might explain how the different forms of the disease develop. They will also screen for chemicals that can stop or even reverse the damage diabetes does to β cells.  

Melton says his son and daughter—now 23 and 27 years old—were pleased but unsurprised by his group’s progress. Reversing the parent-child role, they gently nagged him to “get going and solve the [immune-rejection] problem.”

source

Researchers Just Discovered The Brightest Dead Star Ever Found
Astronomers using NASA’s NuSTAR telescope array have found something beautiful about 12 million light-years from our planet Earth: The brightest dead star, or pulsar, ever found. It’s only called a dead star because it’s the leftovers from a supernova — this thing is still very much alive, pumping out around 10 million suns’ worth of energy, according to NASA. Scientists originally thought the pulsar, located in the Messier 82 galaxy, was a black hole, but it turns out that isn’t the case at all.
“You might think of this pulsar as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ of stellar remnants,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in a NASA release about the pulsar. “It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass.”
from Time

Researchers Just Discovered The Brightest Dead Star Ever Found

Astronomers using NASA’s NuSTAR telescope array have found something beautiful about 12 million light-years from our planet Earth: The brightest dead star, or pulsar, ever found. It’s only called a dead star because it’s the leftovers from a supernova — this thing is still very much alive, pumping out around 10 million suns’ worth of energy, according to NASA. Scientists originally thought the pulsar, located in the Messier 82 galaxy, was a black hole, but it turns out that isn’t the case at all.

“You might think of this pulsar as the ‘Mighty Mouse’ of stellar remnants,” said Fiona Harrison, the NuSTAR principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, in a NASA release about the pulsar. “It has all the power of a black hole, but with much less mass.”

from Time



Prosthetic hands endowed with a sense of touch
By 
Elizabeth Pennisi 





Four years ago, Igor Spetic lost his right arm in an industrial accident. Doctors outfitted him with a prosthetic arm that restored some function, but they couldn’t restore his sense of touch. Without it, simple tasks like picking up a glass or shaking hands became hit-or-miss propositions. The lack of touch also robs Spetic of basic pleasures. “I would love to feel my wife’s hand,” he says. In time, he may regain that pleasure: Two independent research teams have now equipped artificial hands with sensors that send signals to the wearer’s nerves to recreate this missing sense.
The sensing technologies work only in the lab, but they have proved durable, and amputees who have tried them, including Spetic, say that they are effective. One technology advances the range of touch sensations available, while the other promises to enable touch through a better way to attach the prosthesis. “All of these results are very positive,” says Mandayam Srinivasan, a neuroengineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who was not involved in either project. “Each of them fills a piece of the puzzle in terms of [prosthesis] development.”
Almost 40 years ago, researchers tried to provide sensory feedback by adding pressure sensors to prostheses that relayed the sensation through electrodes attached to nerves. But for the most part, they just made it seem like the hand was tingling. And durability has been an issue in such efforts, too. In February, Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and his team showed that it was possible for sensor-equipped prosthetic arms to gently or powerfully grab objects and even to distinguish a round from a square object. But the study lasted just 4 weeks, in part because of the delicate interface with the body.
Dustin Tyler thought he could do better. The biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his colleagues outfitted prostheses worn by Spetic and a second amputee with more than a dozen pressure sensors, the outputs of which  were conveyed by wires to a computer. The computer processes all incoming signals to create specific patterns of electrical impulses that vary in duration and intensity. For Spetic, more wires relay those electrical impulses to nerves in the arm via three electrodes built into cuffs implanted under the skin. Each electrode goes to a different nerve and from there branches for a total of 20 potential points of connection. The other amputee was similarly fitted but with fewer points of connection. Depending on which point gets the signal, the brain “feels” something on a different place on the hand, say the thumb or pinkie. Tyler thinks the signals are not exactly the same as would come from a real hand, but must be close enough to trigger the particular sensation.
read more from the source 
Prosthetic hands endowed with a sense of touch

Four years ago, Igor Spetic lost his right arm in an industrial accident. Doctors outfitted him with a prosthetic arm that restored some function, but they couldn’t restore his sense of touch. Without it, simple tasks like picking up a glass or shaking hands became hit-or-miss propositions. The lack of touch also robs Spetic of basic pleasures. “I would love to feel my wife’s hand,” he says. In time, he may regain that pleasure: Two independent research teams have now equipped artificial hands with sensors that send signals to the wearer’s nerves to recreate this missing sense.

The sensing technologies work only in the lab, but they have proved durable, and amputees who have tried them, including Spetic, say that they are effective. One technology advances the range of touch sensations available, while the other promises to enable touch through a better way to attach the prosthesis. “All of these results are very positive,” says Mandayam Srinivasan, a neuroengineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who was not involved in either project. “Each of them fills a piece of the puzzle in terms of [prosthesis] development.”

Almost 40 years ago, researchers tried to provide sensory feedback by adding pressure sensors to prostheses that relayed the sensation through electrodes attached to nerves. But for the most part, they just made it seem like the hand was tingling. And durability has been an issue in such efforts, too. In February, Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and his team showed that it was possible for sensor-equipped prosthetic arms to gently or powerfully grab objects and even to distinguish a round from a square object. But the study lasted just 4 weeks, in part because of the delicate interface with the body.

Dustin Tyler thought he could do better. The biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and his colleagues outfitted prostheses worn by Spetic and a second amputee with more than a dozen pressure sensors, the outputs of which  were conveyed by wires to a computer. The computer processes all incoming signals to create specific patterns of electrical impulses that vary in duration and intensity. For Spetic, more wires relay those electrical impulses to nerves in the arm via three electrodes built into cuffs implanted under the skin. Each electrode goes to a different nerve and from there branches for a total of 20 potential points of connection. The other amputee was similarly fitted but with fewer points of connection. Depending on which point gets the signal, the brain “feels” something on a different place on the hand, say the thumb or pinkie. Tyler thinks the signals are not exactly the same as would come from a real hand, but must be close enough to trigger the particular sensation.

read more from the source 

Nurse Infected with Ebola in Spain: The case marks the first person to contract the virus outside of West Africa.bit.ly/1uVXDQ7
from The Scientist 

Nurse Infected with Ebola in Spain: The case marks the first person to contract the virus outside of West Africa.
bit.ly/1uVXDQ7

from The Scientist 

A 3D image of the heart, showing the fibres that control heart rhythmScientists at the University of Liverpool have developed a new X-ray technique to identify tissue fibres in the heart that ensure the muscle beats in a regular rhythm.The new 3D images could further understanding of how the body’s heartbeat can be disturbed, which may help medics develop ways to reduce the risk of fibrillation – a condition in which heart muscle contracts chaotically and fails to pump blood rhythmically around the body.The heart needs to pump blood in a regular rhythm to maintain a steady circulation of blood to all parts of the body. It does this through the coordinated action of the muscle tissue, that pumps the blood, and the conducting tissue, which is necessary to distribute an electrical wave to trigger every heartbeat.Read full article: http://bit.ly/TWK6rR
through Neurons Want Food 

A 3D image of the heart, showing the fibres that control heart rhythm

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have developed a new X-ray technique to identify tissue fibres in the heart that ensure the muscle beats in a regular rhythm.

The new 3D images could further understanding of how the body’s heartbeat can be disturbed, which may help medics develop ways to reduce the risk of fibrillation – a condition in which heart muscle contracts chaotically and fails to pump blood rhythmically around the body.

The heart needs to pump blood in a regular rhythm to maintain a steady circulation of blood to all parts of the body. It does this through the coordinated action of the muscle tissue, that pumps the blood, and the conducting tissue, which is necessary to distribute an electrical wave to trigger every heartbeat.

Read full article: http://bit.ly/TWK6rR

through Neurons Want Food 

Adermatoglyphia is an extremely rare medical condition which causes a person to have no fingerprints. There are only four known extended families worldwide which are affected by this condition.Recently, the description of a case of a person from Switzerland lacking fingerprints as an isolated finding was published. The phenotype was mapped to chromosome 4q22. In the splice-site of a 3’ exon of the gene for SMARCAD1-helicase, a point mutation was detected. It results in a shortened form of the skin-specific protein. The heterozygous mode of mutation suggests an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance.Other conditions can cause a lack of fingerprints, but unlike them, adermatoglyphia has no other side effects. Mutations in helicases are involved in other rare genetic diseases, for instance Werner syndrome.Photo source and more information:http://1.usa.gov/1qOLZ1S
source 

Adermatoglyphia is an extremely rare medical condition which causes a person to have no fingerprints. There are only four known extended families worldwide which are affected by this condition.

Recently, the description of a case of a person from Switzerland lacking fingerprints as an isolated finding was published. The phenotype was mapped to chromosome 4q22. In the splice-site of a 3’ exon of the gene for SMARCAD1-helicase, a point mutation was detected. It results in a shortened form of the skin-specific protein. The heterozygous mode of mutation suggests an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance.

Other conditions can cause a lack of fingerprints, but unlike them, adermatoglyphia has no other side effects. Mutations in helicases are involved in other rare genetic diseases, for instance Werner syndrome.

Photo source and more information:http://1.usa.gov/1qOLZ1S

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