Scientific community abuzz regarding potential cancer breakthrough
US researchers said Monday they have discovered how to keep tumor cells alive in a lab, generating buzz in the scientific community about a potential breakthrough that could transform cancer treatment.
Until now, scientists have been unable to make cancer cells thrive for very long, or in a condition that resembles the way they act in the body. Doctors diagnose and recommend treatment largely based on biopsied tissue that is frozen or set in wax.
The advance has sparked new hope that someday doctors may be able to test a host of cancer-killing drugs on a person’s own tumor cells in the lab, before returning to the patient with a therapy that is a proven to be a good match.
“This would really be the ultimate in personalized medicine,” said lead author Richard Schlegel, chairman of the department of pathology at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“The therapies would be exactly from their tissues. We would get normal tissue and tumor tissue from a particular patient and specifically match up their therapies,” he told AFP.
“We are really excited about the possibilities of testing we can do with this.”
The method, described in the online edition of the American Journal of Pathology, borrows from a simple method used in stem cell research, experts said.
Lung, breast, prostate and colon cancers were kept alive for up to two years using the technique, which combines fibroblast feeder cells to keep cells alive and a Rho kinase (ROCK) inhibitor that allows them to reproduce.
When treated with the duo, both cancer and normal cells reverted to a “stem-like state,” Schlegel said, allowing researchers to compare the living cells directly for the first time.
If other scientists can replicate the technique — and three labs in the United States are already working on it — the advance could herald a long-awaited transformation in the way cancer cells are studied.
“A tumor from one patient is different from a cancer from another patient, and really that is one important reason why so many clinical trials fail,” said Marc Symons, investigator at the Center for Oncology and Cell Biology at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York.
“I think it is fair to say this revolutionizes the way we think of cancer treatment,” added Symons, who was not involved in the study.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world, killing 7.6 million people in 2008, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. - rawstory
Alexander Graham Bell speaks from the 1880s
Alexander Graham Bell foresaw many things, including that people could someday talk over a telephone. But the inventor certainly never could have anticipated that his audio-recording experiments in a Washington lab could be recovered 130 years later and played for a gathering of scientists, curators and journalists.
"To be or not to be..." a man's voice can be heard saying in one recording as it was played on a computer at the Library of Congress on Tuesday. The speaker from the 1880s recites a portion of Hamlet's Soliloquy as a green wax disc crackles to life from computer speakers.
The early audio recordings — which revealed recitations of Shakespeare, numbers and other familiar lines — had been packed away and deemed obsolete at the Smithsonian Institution for more than a century. But new technology has allowed them to be recovered and played.
The technology reads the sound from tiny grooves with light and a 3D camera.
The recordings offer a glimpse into the dawn of the information age, when inventors were scrambling to make new discoveries and secure patents for the first telephones and phonographs, even early fiber optics.
A second recording, on a copper negative disc, reveals a trill of the tongue and someone reciting the numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6.
A third recording catches perhaps the first sound of disappointment as Bell's recording device seemed to hit a technical glitch.
"Mary had a little lamb and its fleece was white as snow," a voice says. "Everywhere that Mary went ... Oh no!"
On Nov. 17, 1884, Bell's lab recorded the word "barometer" several times on a glass disc with a beam of light. It and about 200 other experimental records were packed up and given to the Smithsonian, seemingly never to be played again.
Hotbed of innovation The recordings date back to the 1880s. Bell had moved from Boston to Washington after obtaining a patent on March 10, 1876, for his invention of the telephone, which occurred when his employee Thomas Watson heard him shouting over a wire in the next room. He joined a growing group of scientists who made the nation's capital a hotbed for innovations.
Bell partnered with his cousin Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter to create Volta Laboratory Associates in Washington in the early 1880s.
During this time, Bell sent the first wireless telephone message on a beam of light from the roof of a downtown Washington building — a forerunner to modern fiber optics. He and other inventors also were scrambling to record sound on anything they could find, including glass, rubber and metal. One early sound record looks like a smashed soup can.
Inventors at the time were in intense competition. Bell, Emile Berliner and Thomas Edison, who invented the phonograph to record sound on tin foil in 1877, each left objects and documentation with the Smithsonian to help prove their innovations were first.
Bell went so far as to seal some devices in tin boxes for safe keeping at the Smithsonian. Edison's earliest recordings are thought to be lost.
"This stuff makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck," said Curator Carlene Stephens of the National Museum of American History before Bell's recordings were played Tuesday. "It's the past speaking directly to us in a way we haven't heard before."
Key resource for research The museum's collection of about 400 of the earliest audio recordings, including 200 from Bell's lab, will likely become a key resource for new research on communications and early technology now that they can be played back, Stephens said.
"These materials have been in a cupboard and virtually unknown for decades," she said. "The collection has been silent."
The Library of Congress partnered with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley to offer the first listen of these early recordings on Tuesday. Scientists have spent the past 10 years and about $1 million to develop the technology to create high-resolution digital scans of the sound discs.
This year, scholars from the Library of Congress, the Berkeley Lab and the Smithsonian gathered in a new preservation lab at the Library of Congress and recovered sound from those early Bell recordings. A $600,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences funded the pilot project, and the Smithsonian hopes to continue the work if future grants can be secured.
Computers make it easier Advances in computer technology made it possible to play back the recordings, Haber said, noting that 10 years ago specialists would have struggled with computer speeds and storage issues. The digital images that now can be processed into sound within minutes would have taken days to process a decade ago.
Many of the recordings are fragile, and until recently it had not been possible to listen to them without damaging the discs or cylinders.
So far, the sounds of six discs have been successfully recovered through the process, which creates a high-resolution digital map of the disc or cylinder. The map is processed to remove scratches and skips, and software reproduces the audio content to create a standard digital sound file.
Carl Haber, senior scientist at the Berkeley Lab, said Bell's recordings and others in the fierce competition of the 1880s marked the start of the information age as we know it.
"The whole idea that you could capture the world as it exists" in a recording, he said, "they got that in this period." - MSN
Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention
Scientists locate exact source of Stonehenge stone
Researchers have been able to match fragments of stone from around the 5,000 year old monument with an outcrop of rock in south-west Wales.
The work - carried out by geologists Robert Ixer of the University of Leicester and Richard Bevins of the National Museum of Wales - has identified the source as a site called Craig Rhos-y-Felin, near Pont Saeson in north Pembrokeshire.
It is the first time that an exact source has been found for any of the stones thought to have been used to build Stonehenge.
The discovery has re-invigorated a long running debate as to whether the smaller standing stones of Stonehenge were quarried and brought from Pembrokeshire by prehistoric humans or whether they were carried all or part of the way to Wiltshire by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years earlier.
Archaeologists tend to subscribe to the 'human transport' theory, while geomorphologists often favour the glacial one.
The debate is solely about Stonehenge's smaller standing stones which are sometimes known collectively as bluestones. The larger stones, or sarsens, are accepted to have been incorporated into the monument several centuries later.
The remarkable find has been reported in the journal Archaeology in Wales and opens up the possibility of finding archaeological evidence of quarrying activity at Craig Rhos-y-Felin which would indicate humans rather than glaciers were responsible for transporting the stone.
Research over recent years by Tim Darvill of Bournemouth University and Geoffrey Wainwright, a former chief archaeologist at English Heritage, suggests that the Pembrokeshire stones may have had a particular ideological significance.
The outcrops where some of the stones come from are thought to have been associated with sacred springs and local Welsh stone circles.
By bringing those particular rocks the 160 miles from Pembrokeshire to Wiltshire, the builders of Stonehenge may have thought they were obtaining more than just plain rock.
Experts have suggested they may have regarded the stone as having supernatural powers. - telegraph
NOTE: at the risk of sounding too 'metaphysical' I keep a 200 gram piece of Preseli Bluestone near me, especially at night. It's said to invoke dimensional connections...it'll also make a decent weapon if I get a 'night visitor'...Lon
Stonehenge Bluestone II: The Story of the Secret Preseli Treasure
The Bluestone Enigma: Stonehenge, Preseli and the Ice Age
TV presenters eat each other's flesh
A Dutch television stunt is generating headlines around the world - for all the wrong reasons.
The two presenters of TV show Proefkonijnen (which means guinea pigs or test rabbits) brought reality television to a whole new level when they ate each other's freshly cooked flesh.
Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno were earlier filmed while they were under local anaesthetic as a surgeon cut a piece of their muscle at a clinic.
Storm watched as flesh was cut from Zeno's abdomen, and Zeno returned the favour when muscle was cut from Storm's bottom.
A chef was brought in to fry their flesh on their TV show, in front of a studio audience.
Zeno and Storm then sat for a candlelit dinner - complete with wine - to dine on each other's muscle.
Storm told ABCNews in the United States that the muscle was cooked to medium-rare in sunflower oil without seasoning.
"Nothing is really that special when you're talking about the taste of the meat, but it is weird to look into the eyes of a friend when you are chewing on his belly," Storm told ABCNews.
"The punchline of the show is to get really simple answers on stupid questions, such as can you shave with ketchup or can you drive blind?
"And we wanted to find out how human flesh tasted."
Storm said the stunt was worth the pain in his behind.
"It was just a few centimetres of meat," he said.
"And now I have a good story about that scar."
Storm and Zeno said the stunt was legal because both entered into the cannibalistic pact voluntarily, Britain's Daily Mail reported.
"A lawyer advised the program's producers that while cannibalism is not itself against the law, the presenters or the surgeon who operated on them could run in to legal difficulties," The Mail said.
"The presenters also claim that there is no risk of ill health, as long as the human meat is properly cooked."
International news headlines ranged from "Cannibalism on Dutch TV generates world-wide repulsion" to "In the worst possible taste: Sick TV stunt features presenters eating EACH OTHER".
The pre-recorded episode will air on December 21. - yahoo
Synchronized mass mourning for Kim Jong-il
Click for video
While most of the globe seems OK that Kim Jong-il is quite dead, things are considerably more doleful in North Korea. North Korean state news has released footage of the public mourning en masse in Pyongyang on Monday.
It's unclear how much of this is sincere, how much is coerced, and how much is just keeping up with appearances.
BTW...the 'Dear Leader' simply liked to look at things...Lon