The Deadly Mystery of Prions

Deer that became zombies

zomDeer in at least 22 U.S. states and parts of Canada have died from a neurological disease called “chronic wasting disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Authorities are concerned that this illness, which is sometimes dubbed “zombie deer disease,” might spread to people, just as “mad cow disease” has done in the past.
Chronic wasting disease can cause a number of symptoms in animals, including drastic weight loss, a lack of coordination, drooling, listlessness or a “blank” facial expression, and a lack of fear of people, according to the CDC. It infects members of the deer (cervid) family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, reindeer, moose and elk.
The disease was first discovered in Colorado in 1967, according to the CDC, and so far, no cases in humans have ever been reported.
Indeed, the infectious proteins that cause chronic wasting disease — called prions — don’t easily jump between species, said Mark Zabel, associate director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University. But it’s known that these proteins can evolve to infect other species, Zabel said. For example, the type of prion that causes so-called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow disease,” was transmitted to people who ate infected meat (mostly in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and ’90s), resulting in several hundred human infections.
“We have every reason to suspect” that chronic wasting disease could pass to humans, Zabel told Live Science. The disease “may still be evolving, and it may be just a matter of time before a prion evolves in a deer or elk that is capable of infecting a human, he said.” [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]

Concerns

Recently, researchers in Canada raised concerns about the possibility that the disease could jump to humans, after a study showed that macaque monkeys could get the disease from eating infected meat. Out of five monkeys that were fed infected white-tailed-deer meat, three tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to The Tyee, a Canadian news outlet. This is the first time that the disease has been found to spread to primates through the consumption of infected meat, according to the Associated Press.
Infectious prions cause disease when they start to fold abnormally and trigger the misfolding of other, similar proteins. Studies by Zabel’s lab and others have shown that the prion proteins that cause chronic wasting disease are “flexible,” meaning they can “adopt many different shapes relatively easily,” Zabel said.
Moreover, some studies have shown that researchers can artificially evolve the prions that cause chronic wasting disease (either in a test tube or animal models) so that the altered prion proteins can cause human proteins to misfold, Zabel said.
This suggests that if chronic-wasting-disease prions evolve in nature, they could potentially cross the species barrier, he said.

The mystery of prions

prnp-prp-prion
A number of fatal neurodegenerative diseases in humans–such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), kuru and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS) disease–are thought to be caused by a mysterious infectious agent known as a prion. Prions also cause disease in a wide variety of other animals, including scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows.

Just, what are prions and how do they cause disease?

Prions are proteins that have changed their normal shape. Proteins are the building blocks of living cells that are used by our bodies either as structural elements or as signaling molecules that carry information throughout our body. They consist of chains of amino acids folded into complex shapes. When the shape of a protein changes the spectrum of waves it is emitting changes. The prion protein is now transmitting a different informational message into your body. In effect, your body is now tuned to a new radio station and instead of classical music you may be getting hard-rock. When the prion creates a “disease” in the body it is known as a “mutant prion” since it can start a chain reaction and persuade other proteins to follow its example. That process can spread the disease through the cells and eventually to the brain. Just as we have “informational medicine” like homeopathy that can be used to heal us, we now have “informational disease” that can kill us.

Western science, and therefore our approach to the way in which we handle our food supply, has been confronted with an informational disease — mad-cow disease. The phenomenon was not a part of classical biochemistry and was only officially recognized in 1997 when Dr. Stanley Prusiner of UCSF won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for “his pioneering discovery of an entirely new genre of disease-causing agents.” Dr. Prusiner had discovered that altered versions of proteins, which he dubbed prions, are to blame for a family of human and animal diseases. Prusiner had pursued his specific area of research since 1972 but was met with incredulity, criticism, and controversy. Unlike bacteria, virus, or parasites, an “infectious” prion cannot be destroyed by heat, freezing or radiation. For example, to destroy mutant-prion infected meat the USDA facility at Ames, Iowa uses a tissue digestor, a large stainless steel vat that melts the carcasses in boiling lye under pressure, then dries the liquid into a powder that is incinerated.

Initially, mad-cow disease was a scientist’s worst nightmare since no one knew how it was transmitted. Early estimates were that millions of people in the United Kingdom could get the brain-wasting degenerative disease. Even through in the United Kingdom more than 185,000 cattle were found to be infected, only 143 cases of the always-fatal human version of the disease have been diagnosed. The number of new human cases has now leveled off at fewer than 20 a year. Only 10 people outside of the United Kingdom are known to have died from the human form of the disease. One cause for the low death rate could be the body’s quality control system for handling misfolded proteins. When a cell detects such prions it sends a signal to the nucleus to activate a program to destroy these mistakes. However, a disturbing note is that Britain, on Dec. 17, 2003, reported the first case of a person dying after a blood transfusion from an infected donor.

 

Mad cow disease

Glow in cattle’s eyes may be a sign of mad cow disease

Mad-cow disease, officially known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was first diagnosed in 1986 in Britain. Researchers quickly decided that cattle had gotten the disease from eating brains and nerve tissue of sheep infected with scrapie a variant of mad-cow disease. The tissues had been mixed into cattle feed along with the ground-up carcasses of other animals – including other cows. Such “rendered” feed has now been banned for most food animals. Today Japan tests every cow that enters the food supply for BSE, and Europe tests every animal older than 30 months (the age at which the incidence of BSE starts to climb). However, currently in the United States only about 20,000 of the 35 m5 million cattle slaughtered each year are tested for BSE, i.e., an insignificant 0.06% are tested.

If BSE is an “informational” disease than there should be other variations. We know that mad-cow disease can be caused by a mutation of a single gene, a so-called spontaneous case. Similar spongy-brain diseases have also appeared in at least 10 animal species. Included are farmed mink, domestic cats, cougars, bison, and African antelope (kudu & oryx). The so-called chronic wasting disease also strikes mule deer, white-tailed deer, and elk in the wild. Sheep carry a variant of mad-cow disease known as scrapie. Shepherds and pathologists have recognized it since the 18th century. Sheep haven’t been known to transmit their brain disease to people despite centuries of opportunity. In fact, potted sheep’s brain is a national dish in Scotland. This has raised questions about current theories regarding the scrapie as the trigger of BSE in Britain.

Is there maybe another underlying cause for these diseases, and the unparalleled large surge of mad-cow disease in the United Kingdom?

The link to food supply and heritage factors

An organic farmer, Mark Purdey, and a number of researches are putting forth an

hypothesis based upon environmental causal factors. They implicate a warble fly eradication program mandated in the early 1980s by the British government. Warble flies lay their eggs in a cow’s skin, causing health problems and reducing the value of cow hides. To combat this heavy doses of organophosphate insecticides were used. These were poured along the spinal column of cows to be absorbed into the cow’s body. They exert their toxic effect by entering the central nervous system and deforming the molecular shape of various nerve proteins. Organophosphates were developed by Nazi chemists during the course of World War II as a biological weapon. The effects of organophosphates can be made more severe because they remove copper from the body leaving the door open for manganese or similar metals to replace the copper in the prion protein. This creates a condition akin to the occupational disease known as “Manganese Madness.” The “informational” disease caused in humans by BSE is called variant Crueutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)s. In addition to CJD and vCJD, could other degenerative ailments in humans, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease involve abnormal changes in the shapes of proteins caused by environmental factors that affect us directly or indirectly via our food supply?
“Confusingly, researchers also recognized that some prion diseases, such as GSS, were inherited. The pattern of inheritance was recognized as being autosomal and dominant, meaning that if a parent developed GSS, there was a 50 percent chance that a child of either sex would also develop the disease. Any explanation for the cause of a prion disease therefore has to account for random, inherited and transmitted variants of the disease.
“Although there is not yet a universally accepted explanation of this puzzle, progress is being made. We now know that a normal cellular protein, called PrP ( for proteinaceous infectious particle) and which is found in all of us, is centrally involved in the spread of prion diseases. This protein consists of about 250 amino acids.
“Some researchers believe that the prions are formed when PrP associates with a foreign pathogenic nucleic acid. This is called the virino hypothesis. (Viruses consist of proteins and nucleic acids that are specified by the virus genome. A virino would also consist of proteins and nucleic acids, but the protein component is specified by the host genome, not the pathogen genome). In support of the virino hypothesis is the existence of different strains of prions that cause differing patterns of disease and breed true; the existence of strains in pathogens is usually the result of changes in the nucleic acid sequence of the infectious agent. Scientists have not found any nucleic acid associated with a prion, however, despite intensive efforts in many laboratories. Furthermore, prions appear to remain infectious even after being exposed to treatments that destroy nucleic acids.
“This evidence has led to the now widely accepted prion theory, which states that the cellular protein PrP is the sole causative agent of prion diseases; there is no nucleic acid involved. The theory holds that PrP is normally in a stable shape (pN) that does not cause disease. The protein can be flipped, however, into an abnormal shape (pD) that does cause disease. pD is infectious because it can associate with pN and convert it to pD, in an exponential process–each pD can convert more pN to pD.
“Prions can be transmitted, possibly by eating and certainly by inoculation either directly into the brain or into skin and muscle tissue. Exponential amplification of the prion (converting pN into pD in the body) would then result in disease. Occasional, sporadic cases of prion diseases arise in middle or old age, presumably because there is a very small but real chance that pN can spontaneously flip to pD; the cumulative likelihood of such a flip grows over the years. Inherited cases of CJD and GSS may result from mutations in the PrP gene, which gives rise to changes in the amino acid sequence of the PrP protein. This change would increase the probability of pN transforming into pD, so that the disease would almost certainly occur.

Scientific Research

300px-R7_prion“Physical analysis of the structure of PrP provides some direct evidence for the existence of two different (normal and aberrant) shapes. Recently the structure of the core part of the PrP protein was determined by magnetic resonance image analysis. Mutations that cause prion disease are clustered within or adjacent to key structural elements in the protein, so it is easy to imagine that mutations destabilize the structure of pN and cause it to reconfigure into pD.
“The prion theory has not been proved correct, but much evidence now supports it. We do not yet know why the pD structure of a prion would result in neurodegeneration, but we do know that prion protein accumulates in brain tissue. One part of the prion protein can cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death; perhaps this mechanism explains the pattern of the disease.
“Prions have long intrigued scientists because of their unusual properties. Recently the general public has become interested in them as well because of the epidemic of BSE, more dramatically known as mad cow disease. Hundreds of thousands of infected animals have been eaten by Europeans and particularly the British over the past 10 years. The latest research suggests that the infected meat may pose a threat to human health, but the significance of that threat may not become apparent for years. Although it is generally considered a British problem, BSE is almost certainly a natural disease of cattle, so it is undoubtedly found in other countries as well. The normal incidence of BSE is vanishingly small, however. The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that BSE has not been identified in any U.S. cattle.

Could Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s be infectious?

The archetypal prion-based disease is kuru, which spread through cannibalistic rituals in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Kuru affected mostly women and children of the Fore tribe, who ate brains and spinal cords of deceased relatives, and subsequently developed body tremors, balance problems and slurred speech. There’s no cure for kuru and sufferers always died. But it no longer strikes as cannibalism in the region has been eliminated.
Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep and goats and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows. When transmitted to humans during the “mad cow disease” outbreak in Europe, BSE resulted in variant CJD (vCJD).
The newly described addition to the prion disease canon, Shy-Drager syndrome (SDS) or multiple system atrophy (MSA), was first recognised in the early 1960s and has many features in common with Parkinson’s disease.
The most important of these is that a protein known as α-synuclein (α-syn) accumulates in the brain, in both Parkinson’s and SDS/MSA. This accumulation is very similar to what happens in CJD, where the prion protein (PrP) accumulates, and also in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, where two types of proteins, known as amyloid beta (Aβ-amyloid) and tau, build up in the brain.

1223_NID_CJD_Disease_1280

Infected with prions, the brain of a vCJD victim reveals spongy areas (yellow).

The clumps and tangles of these various aggregated proteins cause neurons to degenerate and die. This is a cumulative process which takes between months and decades to manifest as overt disease.
In fact, many of the neurodegenerative diseases of the ageing brain are associated with the accumulation and deposition of specific proteins. It has long been suspected that neurodegenerative diseases in general may all ultimately be caused by this process of proteins getting caught in the wrong process, and misfolding.
This misfolding sets off a cascade of events: the proteins oligomerise (a number of identical molecules join together); accumulate; nucleate (form a nucleus or centre); polymerise (combine to build a structure with its components); self-replicate; and eventually, propagate and spread throughout the brain. Many of these protein changes also occur in the usual food cooking process (aggregation of proteins caused by heating) or food preparation (the solidification of proteins in the refrigerator).
Finally, some but not all of these misfolded proteins gain the ability to be transmitted between people and animals. In fact, the word “prion” was coined by Prusiner in 1982 to describe this property of a pro_teinaceous in_fectious particle. And we don’t yet know of ways to easily “dis-infect” or kill these proteins. All kinds of chemicals that kill bacteria and viruses do not harm prions.
Infectious Proteins
Scientists have always kept – and still do – an open mind about whether Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions are transmissible. We’ve known since the early 1960s that amyloid fibrils – the accumulations of Aβ-amyloid in the brain – are self-propagating entities.
In diseases involving amyloid protein, the “amyloid enhancing factor”, which causes the disease to progress, is thought to be amyloid itself. In other words, the amyloid is self-replicating and makes copies of itself exponentially.

We know that the Alzheimer’s disease-causing human Aβ-amyloid can cross-seed Aβ-amyloid accumulation in genetically susceptible rodents. Mice carrying an unstable and genetically modified human protein can then be “infected” by giving them a dose of the human abnormal protein. But there’s still no direct evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is transmissible between people.
Working out whether SDS/MSA is transmissible, at least from humans to genetically susceptible transgenic cell and rodents, is the first step in testing if it’s transmissible from humans to primates, or indeed among people.
As a precautionary measure, the authors of the paper warn we should now take additional safety precautions in the neurosurgical clinics where deep brain stimulation is used to control the tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. Because of the overlap in symptoms and signs of Parkinson’s with SDS/MSA, it’s likely that some people with the newly described disease have been treated by deep brain stimulation.
It’s important to ensure that cross-contamination of neurosurgical equipment doesn’t occur because we don’t want to inadvertently transmit a disease between humans. Using disposable stimulation electrodes, for instance, will be mandatory in the future. Similar concerns have already been raised about other neurodegenerative illnesses, such as diseases involving misfolded tau protein, which cause frontotemporal dementia.
With the publication of this paper, the spectrum of prion diseases has been enlarged, perhaps considerably. But until it becomes possible to evaluate the role of intra-species transmission, SDS/MSA will have to remain in the category of “hypothetically transmissible to a genetically susceptible recipient”.
It’s premature to classify it as being the same as CJD, which is clearly transmissible within and between species. That has been made apparent by the mad cow saga, which still has years to run due to the long latency from prion infection to overt disease.

The impact on the future

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Some have come up with the idea that on a long term view, the existence of prions and their devastating consequences in living organisms together with their way of transmission will definitely change human nutrition habits.
“Science is trying to find a prevention and a solution for the phenomenon of prions”, says Dr. Peter Weiler, who was formerly teaching at the German university in Potsdam. “However, they come in a variety of forms and spread in a way that doesn’t follow any known pattern. Always more species are being discovered to develop prion-based disease. Meat-eating from animals that were once alive might become a deadly danger one day – or a luxury not affordable for everybody.”
So will meat-eaters soon have to give up on their preferred dishes?
Weiler thinks that meat will be created from cell cultures on day.
“Nature won’t be able to cope with the current habits of a human population that increases at such a high rate,” he says.
To the question whether prions might be the answer of nature to human behavior, we only receive an enigmatic smile.

 

Sources:

iflscience.com

livescience.com

Foundation for Mind-being Research

American Scientific

You may also want to read:

Mad cow disease remains a threat. New blood tests could detect it

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Is the future of beef animal-free?

 

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Tissue regeneration: Researchers create gel that regrows tooth enamel

…and eliminates pain associated with tooth decay

Our article “How to Heal Cavities Naturally” has triggered an ongoing discussion ever since it was posted.

However, science has developed a new technique that holds the promise of tooth regrowth.

Researchers say tooth gel will regrow enamel and cover painful blemishes.

Dual discoveries in tissue regeneration at the University of Southern California propose a promising method to regrow nonliving hard tissue, lessening or even eliminating pain associated with tooth decay, which the National Institutes of Health calls the most prevalent chronic disease.

newly-grown-enamel-jpg-scale-large

Nearly grown enamel

Janet Moradian-Oldak, a dentistry professor at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, has investigated methods to regrow tooth enamel for the past two decades. The process is especially tricky because unlike bone, mature enamel cannot rejuvenate. Tooth enamel is a nonliving tissue.

The a-ha moment came October 22 when, in collaboration with lead author Sauma Prajapati of USC and other colleagues, she published a study in the Biomaterials journal saying matrix metalloproteinase-20, an enzyme found only in teeth, chops up amelogenin proteins, which facilitate organized enamel crystal formation. MMP-20 clears the way for hard material to usurp vacated space.

Her team is the first to define the function of an enzyme for preventing protein occlusion inside a crystal, she said.

“MMP-20 is released at a very early stage of enamel formation,” said Moradian-Oldak, the study’s senior author. “MMP-20 chops up proteins during the crystallization of enamel. Together with other enzymes, it gets rid of ‘sludge’ so the enamel making cells in the body can add more mineral and make enamel, the hardest bioceramic in the human body.”

Repairing tooth decay
Moradian-Oldak will marry the MMP-20 discovery with another study published Nov. 2 in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Informatics, which concluded an amelogenin-chitosan hydrogel could repair early tooth decay by growing an enamel-like layer that reduces lesions by up to 70%.

“Recognizing MMP-20’s function in biomineralization is one of the first steps to learning how dental enamel forms in nature,” said Qichao Ruan, lead author of the hydrogel study and a postdoctoral research associate in the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology at USC. “The findings regarding MMP-20 not only help us to further understand the mechanisms of enamel formation but also can be applied in the design of novel biomaterials for future clinical applications in dental restoration or repair.”

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any type of enamel regrowing gel. USC is in preclinical trials. Moradian-Oldak said one day people may be able to use an overnight mouth guard or teeth strips saturated with hydrogel to regrow enamel-like substances and reduce teeth sensitivity.

Finding the right fix
Products such as toothpaste and mouthwash containing fluoride and casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate promote remineralization of initial enamel lesions; however, they need to be used regularly and are more of a tire patch than a real solution, Moradian-Oldak said. It plugs up the problem so people don’t feel pain. The gel, however, fills the cracks and holes with an enamel-like substance.

In the United States, 92% of adults aged 20 to 64 have had dental decay in their permanent teeth, Moradian-Oldak said. Grinding teeth at night, gum recession, and the disappearance of enamel over a lifetime due to demineralizing acidic food and drink are all common problems people everywhere face.

When tested in an environment that mimics an oral cavity’s biochemical processes, the gel created a robust attachment, eliminating the threat of secondary cavities in the same spot, Ruan said. The gel could be more effective than traditional crowns, whose adhesion weakens over time, he added.

“Besides biocompatibility and biodegradability, the gel has unique antimicrobial and adhesion properties that are important for dental applications,” Ruan said.

MMP-20 carves out proteins that decrease enamel strength
USC researchers tested their theory using wild type mice and MMP-20 null mice. The MMP-20 null mice had inconsistent enamel hydroxyapatite crystals that were shorter, wider, and thinner than those found in the wild type mice.

Some 31% of the enamel nanocrystals area isolated from MMP-20 mice were imperfect, whereas only 10% of the area was imperfect in crystals from wild type mice.

The gel that produces enamel-like growth
In preparation for a possible human study, USC researchers used human molars without any lesions. They sliced teeth into three or four blocks, created artificial tooth decay, then cycled the samples in artificial saliva with pH 4.6, 7.0, and 6.5.

Normal salivary pH is between 6 to 7 but could quickly fluctuate between 5.3 to 7.8 based on food and beverage intake.

A sample of supersaturated calcium and phosphate ions in a remineralization solution produced an enamel-like substance; however, it created a disorganized structure with irregular crystals. In contrast, the hydrogel grew oriented crystals, reducing the depth of the lesions by 50% to 70% after seven days of hydrogel application. It is a big improvement over other methods, Ruan said.

“In one study, it was reported that only about 24% of tooth decay was recovered after 12 days of pH cycling with sodium fluoride treatment,” he said.

The next step is to alter the gel recipe using MMP-20 to create a stronger enamel-like seal, Moradian-Oldak said.

“We create a protective cover on enamel,” she said. “We restore the structure of enamel, and it will prevent decay from progressing.”

The studies were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (DE-13414 and DE-020099) and USC Coulter Translational Research Partnership Program via the Wallace Coulter Foundation (WCF/GRZYWACZ/2011).

 

Source: Dentistry IQ

Science, Parascience, Religion, Imagination And The Deception Of The Human Mind

Official blog of Lara Lamberti

The Human Mind

mysterypic

So, that’s it.

I’m working on a new mystery series, and with this, I’m into a certain kind of research, and lots of questions and subjects of investigation are coming up on the way.

When I’m confronted with the decision whether to create fiction or documentary, I mostly end up with fiction.

I’ve been into the unexplained for many years now, after many other years when I studied psychology, visited a shamanic school, learned aroma therapy, was instructed in leading people into deep meditation, and many more things. I stayed with Berber people for weeks in the desert and participated in Native American shamanic rituals during my extensive stays in the U.S. I could say that I’ve seen a whole lot of the universe beyond the materialistic every day world.

I have to admit that while studying everything that was available about unexplained facts and  phenomena the whole UFO subject…

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So You Think We Are The Most Advanced Civilisation To Ever Inhabit This Planet? Think Again!

 Written by:

There are many inexplicable structures scattered to the far flung reaches of this planet. No matter the continent or the country, each has its own inexplicable megalithic sites and mystifying edifices.
Some of these are well known whereas others are hidden away, covered in dense undergrowth or placed in remote locations, still awaiting discovery.
Archaeologists and historians have investigated many of the more renowned sites and have provided the public with their conclusions. These conclusions are generally accepted as fact, even though the majority are based upon nothing more than supposition and assumption.
Whether the deductions are regarding age and origin, or construction methods, they are usually formulated from ideas and hypothesis. There are very few historical records, and even fewer known facts regarding these amazing structures.
A prime example of this lack of true knowledge is the Great Pyramid of Giza. This is one of the best known ancient structures in the world. It is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Yet very few real facts are known about this mysterious building.
Although nothing more than assumption, based upon speculative archaeological dating methods, it is generally accepted by historians and Egyptologists that the great pyramid was constructed between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago, by the Egyptians, as a tomb for the forth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, also known as Cheops. It was supposedly built over a twenty year period, culminating in 2,560BC. Everything that is claimed by Egyptologists regarding this pyramid is based upon nothing more than a single mark found in an interior chamber naming a work gang (or so it is proposed). Hardly concrete evidence!
Although the actual construction process is completely unknown many theories have been proposed about how the huge megalithic blocks used in its construction were moved and positioned. Although intriguing, the method of construction is, and will most probably remain, a complete mystery.
If as claimed however, the Great Pyramid was constructed in just 20 years, then its builders were nothing short of phenomenal!
There are estimated to be 2,300,000 blocks used in the construction, each weighing anywhere between 2.5 and 80 tons. To complete the construction in just 20 years, each block would have to be quarried, cut, transported and put into place every 4.6 minutes, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, for twenty years.
Furthermore, the above timescale completely ignores the thousands of highly polished, precisely cut casing stones. Stones that were so precisely carved that they fitted together with a tolerance of just 1/50th of an inch – a feat that could only be accomplished today with modern machining methods.
If one further considers that much of the stone used in the construction was quarried in Aswan, almost 500 miles away, and had to be transported across gruelling landscape and the river Nile to its destination, one soon realises how ludicrous this “built in 20 years” assertion is.
One has to ponder that if a “fact” as basic as the logistics required for its construction could be so woefully ridiculous, then one has to question every other assertion made about this enigmatic masterpiece.
What has been discovered about its construction however, will probably astonish many.
Firstly the Great Pyramid of Giza has not four, but eight sides! Each of its four faces is split perfectly into two concave halves, and the only time this is visible to the naked eye is for a few minutes at sunrise and sunset on the spring and autumn equinoxes, when a shadow is cast by the sun highlighting its concavity.
This fact was only discovered quite by accident in 1940, when a British Air Force pilot, P. Groves, was flying over the pyramid. He happened to notice the concavity and captured it in the photograph shown below.

The 8 sided Great Pyramid

The 8 sided Great Pyramid

However, as fascinating as this is, it is nothing compared to other amazing facts discovered within this intriguing construction. Discoveries that most archaeologists and Egyptologists would dismiss as chance or coincidence, and banish from their thoughts, as to acknowledge them would necessitate abandoning their current beliefs and reassessing their whole ethos. Before we explore further the astounding discoveries unearthed regarding this remarkable construction itself, let us ponder some incredible artefacts found within the pyramid. During excavations thousands upon thousands of bowls, dishes and other stoneware were discovered, approximately 40,000 in total. That in itself is not particularly newsworthy. However, when one takes a closer look at some of these finds, one has to ask just how they were created by a relatively primitive people, with extremely primitive tools. One example is sitting in a museum in Cairo. Hewn from a solid lump of granite with such precision its creation cannot be replicated today, even with our modern machining methods. This particular bowl is completely circular with no flat base upon which to sit. It is so flawlessly created that the entire bowl balances perfectly on a round tipped bottom no bigger than the tip of a hen’s egg. This requires that the entire bowl have a symmetrical wall thickness without any substantial error. The skill required to produce such an extraordinary piece would raise the eyebrows of any modern day machinist. To produce such a piece in clay would be very impressive. To do so in granite, one of the hardest substances known to man, is inconceivable. Yet once again we are expected to believe that this remarkable creation was sculptured with nothing more sophisticated that a copper chisel and stone mallet!

However, this amazing precision was not just limited to stoneware, but was also prevalent in the construction of the pyramid itself.

A perfectly sculptured granite bowl supposedly crafted with just primitive tools – yeah right

A perfectly sculptured granite bowl supposedly crafted with just primitive tools
– yeah right

The upper chamber within the Great Pyramid has walls that are perfectly vertical, and a floor and ceiling that are perfectly horizontal, to within one fiftieth of an inch! Considering that this chamber is constructed from huge granite blocks, weighing up to 80 tons each, along with the fact that the Egyptians did not possess tools capable of measuring with such precision, one has to ask how they managed to achieve such remarkable accuracy. Additionally, the Giza pyramid is aligned to true north so precisely, it can be measured to within one five hundredth of a degree. A feat we have only managed to get remotely close to fairly recently and they did all of this with nothing more than stone mallets, copper chisels, and hemp ropes? Can we be absolutely certain that the Great Pyramid of Giza was really built by the Egyptians? Or is it more feasible that an older more advanced civilization were the true builders?

One only needs to investigate the complicated mathematics and geometry encoded into the construction of the Great Pyramid, to realize that something is very very wrong with the orthodox explanations. Mathematical knowledge that, according to conventional understanding of the Egyptian civilization, they did not possess. In 1859 an Englishman by the name of John Taylor made an astounding discovery. Whilst working on the dimensions of the pyramid he carried out some basic mathematical sums. He divided the measurement of half the perimeter by the height of the pyramid (measured in cubits). This gave the number 3.1415. This might seem insignificant until one realizes that this is the number of Pi , a formula that is not recorded anywhere in ancient Egyptian writings or texts, and is believed to have been completely unknown to them. A coincidence one might suppose. But the coincidences don’t end there. If one takes the surface area of the four sides and divides that by the surface area of the base. The result is 1.6180339887, otherwise known as the Golden Ratio (golden number) or Phi, another unique number not known to have been discovered at the [supposed] time of the pyramids construction. The Golden Ratio is believed to be a constant in the universe, and is found in many geometric forms in nature.

Another coincidence? If so prepare to be astonished because these remarkable coincidences don’t end there!

By dividing the distance of the half perimeter by the total height (measured in metres) the result is the Golden Number (Phi) squared.

If one were to draw a square the same size as the base of the pyramid, then draw a circle with the same circumference as the square. The radius of this circle would equal the height of the pyramid.

By taking the length of the pyramid and subtracting the height. The number left is 314.16 or 100 times Pi.

Adding together the surface area of two sides of the pyramid equals 100 times the Golden Number squared.

If one adds together the length of two sides, the resultant figure equals the distance a point on the equator travels in meters, in one second, as the Earth rotates on its axis.

If the Great Pyramid was just a few centimeters larger or smaller, none of the above would be true!

Still believe in coincidences?

These remarkable discoveries continue inside the pyramid.

In the upper chamber the length of the four sides added together equals 10 times Pi. If one then subtracts the length of one side one is left with 10 times Phi squared.

It appears that the mathematics and geometry used in the design and construction of the Great Pyramid far surpasses any known knowledge the Egyptians were acknowledged to possess.

A further fact to consider when contemplating the amazingly complex equations used in the design and construction of the Great Pyramid is that many of the above mathematical formulae relate to measurements determined in meters, or metric. The astonishing realization here is that the length of a meter is based upon precise calculations of the circumference of the Earth, a distance supposedly only discovered by Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician, in the third century BC. The meter itself was not discovered until 1793AD!

Or should that really say re-discovered?

The advocates of the Egyptology theory insist that the only measuring device available to the Egyptians was the cubit, a varying approximate measuring device with a length supposedly equal to the average length of the forearm. This conclusion is based upon the discovery of a pictogram of a forearm found engraved upon an ancient cubit. But then I suppose this is to be expected, as most of our established history is based upon nothing more than the reputable science of “best guess”!

In 1925 experts and archaeologists including Jean Phillipe Lauer, Eugene Emile Antoniadi, and Jean Kerisel, deduced the actual measurement of the cubit from the dimensions of the Great Pyramid. It is now universally accepted that the true length of a cubit is 0.5236 of a meter or 52cm 3mm and 6/10 of a mm.

However, there are other methods to arrive at this figure. If one were to draw a circle with a diameter of one meter 1 sixth of the circumference of this circle would equal 0.5236 of a meter. Another formula used to arrive at this figure is Pi minus Phi squared, the result is an identical 0.5236!

Whichever process is used to arrive at the precise measurement of a cubit, one has to accept that, given our present understanding of their knowledge, neither of the above methods could have been known to the ancient Egyptians. Yet the very dimensions of the Great Pyramid itself prove beyond any doubt that whoever did build it, either had knowledge of the metric system, or knowledge of intricate mathematical formulae.

There is nonetheless a further measurement encoded into the dimensions of the Great Pyramid. A number that when revealed, shocked and dumbfounded its discoverer, and scientists and mathematicians worldwide.

If one takes a birds eye view of the pyramid (as in the diagram below), and then draws two circles, one inside the base and one outside, then subtracts the circumference of the inner circle from that of the outer, one is left with the number 299,79613.This might seem unremarkable until one realises that this is the measurement of the speed of light! (299,792,458 meters per second).

 

The speed of light encoded into the Great Pyramids dimensions

The speed of light encoded into the Great Pyramids dimensions

Many, including scholars and historians, will reject the above, insisting that it is all mere chance and coincidence, whilst maintaining that the Egyptians managed to quarry, cut, dress, transport, and place, millions of huge stone blocks with nothing more than primitive tools, and do so with such accuracy and precision that we, as a supposedly vastly more technologically advanced civilization, couldn’t replicate today. However, the anomalies of the Great Pyramid of Giza are just the very tip of the iceberg. When one begins to investigate the myriad of other ancient megalithic and prehistoric monuments around the globe, or analyses countless artifacts discovered at these sites, one soon begins to question the reliability of mainstream explanations of these structures and relics, and how or who supposedly built them. Perhaps this article so far hasn’t completely answered the poser set in the title, and some might consider it has rather offered just anecdotal evidence of a long lost, ancient, and highly civilized society. However, the above is just a taster of the astonishing data to be presented in next issues continuation of this article.

All I can tell you about the next expose is:“Prepare to have your mind blown……”

 

Source: Malta Now

Article written by: Graham Prick

West Completely Ignores Massacre Of Christians and Assyrians In Syria

The article about the massacre of Christians in Syria posted below was published in November 2013. Nothing has changed since that moment. And while the world is talking about MH17, the Ukraine, ISIS and the Middle East, the massaker of Christians in Syria is silently going on, and nobody talks about it. The “ethnical cleansing” also concerns the Assyrians.

Is it political correctness that prevents the media from talking?

If you search the Internet, you find little news about the ongoing horror except a few notes about ISIS forcing Christiansto accept their rules.

Assyrians and Christians are under attack in Syria

With extremists battling for control of Iraq’s largest oilfield on Tuesday, upping the stakes in a burgeoning war against the central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians once again find themselves at risk.

Over the past 10 days, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a fundamentalism jihadist group, has streamed across the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq from its bases in eastern Syria, capturing a line of towns and cities, including several with large Assyrian and Chaldean Christian populations.

Some 160 Christian families have fled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, for Christian-inhabited towns and villages in northern Iraq over the past week, according to Associated Press.

Hundreds more have left seeking safety in the autonomous Kurdish region to the east. Mosul was home to about 130,000 Christians before the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and following last week’s Isis takeover, is reported to be almost empty of Christian families.

Assyrians are one of the oldest indigenous communities in the region. Their roots in what is today northern Iraq and eastern Syria go back over 2,000 years, with the latter stages of that history increasingly marred by bloodshed.

During the dying days of the Ottoman Empire as the first World War unfolded, about 750,000 Assyrians were killed as part of the broader slaughter of Christian Armenians and Greeks in modern-day Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Then in 1933, about 3,000 Assyrian Christians were killed by Iraqi soldiers and Kurds in the northern Iraqi town of Sumel, leading to mass migration across the border to Syria.

Hellish time

More recently, Christians in Iraq have experienced a hellish time. On Christmas Day last year, 37 people were killed in a series of car bomb attacks close to churches in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital. MIDEAST_SYRIA_BEI102-2013MAY04_191925_137.jpg

The wave of kidnappings, bombings and assassinations following the 2003 invasion saw many of the city’s Christians flee to northern Iraq where they have lived in relative safety, until now. As a result, Iraq’s Christian community is today thought to number just 40 per cent of its pre-2003 figure, and today, in the face of the Isis assault, is on the move again.

“Each day we went to bed in fear . . . In our own houses we knew no rest,” a Christian woman from Alqosh in northern Iraq told reporters, speaking of the threat from jihadists.

The danger to Christians in northern Iraq appears not only in the form of jihadists. With Isis viewed as likely to encounter difficulty in holding on to territory in the face of an impending fight-back from better-equipped government forces, a long-standing threat to the slivers of territory in northern Iraq inhabited by Christians has appeared.

Kurdish militias

According to the Assyrian International News Agency, a total of 14 Assyrian towns and villages in the north have in the past week fallen under the control of Kurdish militias.

Iraq’s Kurds have their own designs of expanding territorial control across the north, including to the oil-rich city of Kirkuk which Kurdish peshmerga control since late last week.

The peace and stability enjoyed in Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region in the north of the country and home to the country’s five million Kurds, has proved a rare bright spot in Iraq’s recent history.

“The Kurds control now most of the disputed territories,” said Wladimir Van Wilgenburg, a columnist with Al Monitor and an expert on Kurdish affairs. “They now almost have their national desired borders, only in Diyala [province] there is still a border with the Iraqi army, the rest of the 1,000km is with the Isis.”

Syrian threat In Isis-controlled eastern Syria, Christians have fared little better. Last March, the jihadist group announced Christians there must convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Churches have been damaged and crosses, paintings and statues burned in Raqqa, a city in Syria’s east. Several Syrian and foreign priests have been kidnapped and killed by jihadists in Syria over the past three years.

But Christians are preparing to fight back. Their militias today form an important cog in the Syrian regime’s fighting force in the shape of National Defence Forces – groups of civilians armed by the Syrian regime.

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has called on civilians to take up arms and fight against Isis; reports say about 600 Christians in the town of Bartella, 20km from Isis-controlled Mosul, are defending their homes with machine guns and other light weapons.

With the US and other Western governments slow to become involved in another Iraq quagmire, the threat to Christians and other minorities is set to mount.

Jihads_aim_at_toddler

Manipulation: This picture of a toddler threatened with guns has been posted again and again to support the rage against the issues mentioned above. But it is not a Palestinian, nor a Ukrainian child. This is a scene from Syria where during “ethnical cleansing” guns are put at the head of a Christian child in Syria.  (article)

Article from November 2013

churchdamagesOne of the worst Christian massacres—complete with mass graves, tortured-to-death women and children, and destroyed churches—recently took place in Syria, at the hands of the U.S.-supported jihadi “rebels”; and the U.S. government and its “mainstream media” mouthpiece are, as usual, silent (that is, when not actively trying to minimize matters).

The massacre took place in Sadad, an ancient Syriac Orthodox Christian habitation, so old as to be mentioned in the Old Testament. Most of the region’s inhabitants are poor, as Sadad is situated in the remote desert between Homs and Damascus (desert regions, till now, apparently the only places Syria’s Christians could feel secure; 600 Christian families had earlier fled there for sanctuary from the jihad, only to be followed by it).

In late October, the U.S-supported “opposition” invaded and occupied Sadad for over a week, till ousted by the nation’s military. Among other atrocities, 45 Christians—including women and children—were killed, several tortured to death; Sadat’s 14 churches, some ancient, were ransacked and destroyed; the bodies of six people from one family, ranging from ages 16 to 90, were found at the bottom of a well (an increasingly common fate for “subhuman” Christians).

The jihadis even made a graphic video (with English subtitles) of those whom they massacred, while shouting Islam’s victory-cry, “Allahu Akbar” (which John McCain equates to a Christian saying “thank God”). Another video, made after Sadad was liberated shows more graphic atrocities.

Here are the words of Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama (another detailed account, with pictures, appears here):

”What happened in Sadad is the most serious and biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two years and a half… 45 innocent civilians were martyred for no reason, and among them several women and children, church-being-burned-christimany thrown into mass graves. Other civilians were threatened and terrorized. 30 were wounded and 10 are still missing. For one week, 1,500 families were held as hostages and human shields. Among them children, the elderly, the young, men and women…. All the houses of Sadad were robbed and property looted. The churches are damaged and desecrated, deprived of old books and precious furniture… What happened in Sadad is the largest massacre of Christians in Syria and the second in the Middle East, after the one in the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq, in 2010.”

In the Iraqi attack of 2010, al-Qaeda linked jihadis stormed the church during service killing some 60 Christian worshippers (see here for graphic images of the aftermath).

While the archbishop is correct that this is the “largest massacre of Christians in Syria,” it is but the tip of the iceberg of the persecution the nation’s Christian minority has suffered—including beheadings, church bombings, kidnappings, rapes, and dislocation of hundreds of thousands of Christians—since the war broke out (see Syria entries in monthly persecution series).

A month before Sadad, another ancient Christian region, Ma‘loula, one of the world’s very few regions that still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, was besieged by the jihadis, its churches bombarded and plundered, its inhabitants forced to convert to Islam or die. The last words of one man who refused were: “I am a Christian, and if you want to kill me for this, I do not object to it.”

The archbishop concluded his statement concerning Sadad by asking: “We have shouted aid to the world but no one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers? I think of all those who are suffering today in mourning and discomfort: We ask everyone to pray for us.”

Serge Trifkovic—who hails from a European region especially acquainted with Islamic jihad—responds to the archbishop as follows:

_”That no “human consciousness” is to be found in the White House, or in the editorial offices of the leading Western media, is now a matter of well-established record. Just try searching for “Sadad” (or alternatively “Saddad”) on the websites of the Department of State or The New York Times. Ditto the leading European dailies, the CNN/BBC/RTF, the human-rights defending “NGOs” et al.

“The problem, of which Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh appears unaware, is no longer in the Western elite’s mere indifference to the impending demise of Christianity in the lands of its birth, but in its active, ongoing, and open contribution to that demise. Cyprus (1974) and the Balkans (1991-9) provided the test, Iraq (2003-today) the conclusive proof. In Syria the Obama administration remains committed to supporting the rebels—ah, yes, only the “moderate” ones, like the Christian-murdering “Free Syrian Army” (discretion advised again), not “even though” the result will be the same, but precisely because it will be.”_

In one of the Arabic videos documenting the aftermath of the Sadad massacre, as the mutilated bodies of one family are drawn from a well (around :30 second mark), a middle-aged male relative, in tears, says:

205553_1860815433836_1044442769_2117339_4647893_n”The most precious in the whole universe [his family], are now gone, leaving me alone, but thank God I am still surrounded by these loving people who remain. I want to say, let people [the jihadis] return to their minds. The problems of the world can only be solved by knowledge and brains. Enough insanity, the nerves of the people are shredded. Enough, enough—return to your minds; you people, you humans—return to your humanity, enough crimes.”

As a sign of the times, here is a Syrian, an “easterner,” evoking rationalism and humanity, products of the Christian West, at a time when the post-Christian West is governed by anything and everything—propaganda, emotionalism, mindless indoctrination—but the twain.

 

Original article by: Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians

Image credit

“Tokyo should no longer be inhabited”

Japan Doctor: “Tokyo should no longer be inhabited” — Everyone here is a victim of Fukushima — People truly suffering — Bleeding under skin, urinary hemorrhaging — Children’s blood tests started changing last year — Time running short… up to physicians to save our citizens and future generations

110527_3

Dr. Shigeru Mita’s essay published in the newsletter of Association of Doctors in Kodaira (Tokyo), translated by WNSCR, July 16, 2014: Why did I leave Tokyo? To my fellow doctors, I closed the clinic in March 2014, which had served the community of Kodaira for more than 50 years, since my father’s generation, and I have started a new Mita clinic in Okayama-city on April 21. […] It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation […] contamination in the east part [of Tokyo] is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and the west part is 300-1000 Bq/kg. […] 0.5-1.5 Bq/kg before 2011. […] Tokyo should no longer be inhabited […] Contamination in Tokyo is progressing, and further worsened by urban radiation concentration […] radiation levels on the riverbeds […] in Tokyo have increased drastically in the last 1-2 years. […] Ever since 3.11, everybody living in Eastern Japan including Tokyo is a victim, and everybody is involved. […] The keyword here is “long-term low-level internal irradiation.” This differs greatly from medical irradiation or simple external exposure to radiation. […] People are truly suffering from this utter lack of support. […] If the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it [is] in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves. […] Residents of Tokyo are unfortunately not in the position to pity the affected regions of Tohoku because they are victims themselves. Time is running short. […]Fukushima Anniversary Protest in Tokyo

Dr. Mita on patient symptoms since 2011: White blood cells, especially neutrophils, are decreasing among children […] Patients report nosebleed, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary hemorrhage, skin inflammations […] we began to notice changes in children’s blood test results around mid-2013 […] Other concerns I have include symptoms reported by general patients, such as persistent asthma and sinusitis […] high occurrences of rheumatic polymyalgia […] Changes are also noticeable in the manifestation of contagious diseases such as influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and shingles. […]

See also: Japan Physician: I hope adults will leave Tokyo, not just children — Strange things happening — Medications don’t seem to work — Rare diseases increasing dramatically (VIDEO)

And: Japan Physician: Parents should evacuate children from Tokyo; Danger from Fukushima radiation — “The threat has seemed to be spreading” — “I’ve seen a lot of patients badly affected”

Source: Enenews

NASA Reports Mysterious Signal From Outer Space

By:

NASA has detected a mysterious signal from deep outer space. The signal was detected using the agency’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. One intriguing possibility is that the X-rays are produced by the decay of sterile neutrinos, a type of particle that has been proposed as a candidate for dark matter.

“We know that the dark matter explanation is a long shot, but the pay-off would be huge if we’re right,” said Esra Bulbul of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass. who led the study. “So we’re going to keep testing this interpretation and see where it takes us.”

While the NASA X-ray mysterious signal holds exciting potential, these results must be confirmed with additional data to rule out other explanations and determine whether it is plausible that dark matter has been observed.

Astronomers think dark matter constitutes 85% of the matter in the Universe, but does not emit or absorb light like “normal” matter such as protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the familiar elements observed in planets, stars, and galaxies. Because of this, scientists must use indirect methods to search for clues about dark matter.

NASA’s latest mysterious signal results from Chandra and XMM-Newton consist of an unidentified X-ray emission line, that is, a spike of intensity at a very specific wavelength of X-ray light. Astronomers detected this emission line in the Perseus galaxy cluster using both Chandra and XMM-Newton. They also found the line in a combined study of 73 other galaxy clusters with XMM-Newton.

The authors suggest this emission line could be a signature from the decay of a “sterile neutrino.” Sterile neutrinos are a hypothetical type of neutrino that is predicted to interact with normal matter only via gravity. Some scientists have proposed that sterile neutrinos may at least partially explain dark matter.

“We have a lot of work to do before we can claim, with any confidence, that we’ve found sterile neutrinos,” said Maxim Markevitch, a co-author from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “But just the possibility of finding them has us very excited.”

NASA says the mysterious signal has one source of uncertainty. The detection of this emission line is pushing the capabilities of the two observatories in terms of sensitivity. Also, there may be explanations other than sterile neutrinos if this X-ray emission line is deemed to be real.

There are ways that normal matter in the cluster could have produced the line, although the team’s analysis suggested that all of these would involve unlikely changes to our understanding of physical conditions in the galaxy cluster or the details of the atomic physics of extremely hot gases.

The NASA authors of this mysterious signal note that even if the sterile neutrino interpretation is correct, their detection does not necessarily imply that all of dark matter is composed of these particles. As previously reported by NewsOXY, scientists found a newly discovered water planet in 2012. It is located in the right distance from its sun to hold life.

Source: Newsoxy.com

Cancer Breakthrough: Researchers Find Treatment That Kills Every Kind Of Cancer Tumor

Researchers might have found the Holy Grail in the war against cancer, a miracle drug that has killed every kind of cancer tumor it has come in contact with.

The drug works by blocking a protein called CD47 that is essentially a “do not eat” signal to the body’s immune system, according to Science Magazine.

This protein is produced in healthy blood cells but researchers at Stanford University found that cancer cells produced an inordinate amount of the protein thus tricking the immune system into not destroying the harmful cells.

With this observation in mind, the researchers built an antibody that blocked cancer’s CD47 so that the body’s immune system attacked the dangerous cells.

So far, researchers have used the antibody in mice with human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver and prostate tumors transplanted into them. In each of the cases the antibody forced the mice’s immune system to kill the cancer cells.

“We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis,” said biologist Irving Weissman of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California.

One side effect of the treatment was that healthy cells were subjected to short-term attacks by the mice’s immune system, but the effect was nothing in comparison to the damage done to the cancer cells.

Weissman’s group recently received a $20 million dollar grant to move their research from mouse to human safety testing.

Reposted from: nypost

World is unprepared for major El Niño later this year

Wild weather is coming in 2014, with floods, storms and droughts expected around the Pacific, but little is being done to protect the people on the front line

el-nino-noaaTHE weather is preparing to go wild, and will wreak havoc and death around the globe later this year. An El Niño, a splurge of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, is coming. It will unleash floods in the Americas, while South-East Asia and Australia face drought. Yet little is being done to address these consequences.

“The tropical climate system is primed for a big El Niño,” says Axel Timmermann of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu (see diagram).

An El Niño begins when warm water near Indonesia spreads eastwards and rises to the surface of the Pacific. The warm water carries rain with it, so El Niño takes rain from Asia and Australia and dumps it on the Americas (see “Rising waters“).

The effects can be deadly. A big El Niño in 1997-98 killed 20,000 people and caused almost $97 billion of damage.

Meteorologists contacted by New Scientist all expect an El Niño at the end of this year. And it looks like a big one, says Wenju Cai of CSIRO, Australia’s national research agency, in Melbourne. The more heat in the Pacific, the bigger the El Niño, and right now, 150 metres below the surface, a ball of warm water is crossing that ocean. “It’s huge,” says Cai.

Yet official forecasts remain cautious. As recently as 5 May, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration only said the odds of an El Niño would exceed 50 per cent this year.

Most El Niño researchers say forecasters are being too conservative. “One thing I hear over and over again is ‘we do not want to create a panic’,” says Timmermann. There is a reason: forecasting a big El Niño would cause a spike in food prices. “But it may be better to have this reaction at an early stage, when farmers can still adapt, rather than later.”Lightning and Thunderstorm Supercell

The good news is that El Niño is a known quantity. “We already know what happens when a big El Niño hits,” says Zafar Adeel of the United Nations University in Hamilton, Canada. That means vulnerable populations can be identified and emergency plans put in place. But not everywhere has a plan.

California, which faces floods, is well prepared for emergencies and has water rescue teams, says David McEntire of the University of North Texas in Denton. But Central and South America are more vulnerable (see “In the firing line“) and it is unclear what will happen in Asia and Australia (see “Monsoon disruption“). India has invested in water storage in case of drought.

Local forecasts are crucial, says Zafar, because large-scale predictions can get the fine detail wrong. In 1997, after a coarse-grained forecast, Costa Rica moved thousands of cattle away from an area where drought was expected. But they moved into an area of worse drought and died.

A big El Niño does not have to be a disaster. Impacts like shifting fish stocks and changes in rainfall can be handled, or even turned into benefits, if people are prepared for them. “But you need that trigger saying ‘yes it’s going to be a big one’,” says Zafar.

Leader:El Niño forecasters must not repeat mistakes of 1997

Affected areas

Monsoon disruption

Asia and Australia will see less rainfall as a result of El Niño, leading to drought and wildfires. But many impacts depend on how El Niño affects the monsoons, which is hard to predict.

“There is no other phenomenon that can influence the monsoons like El Niño,” says Krishna Kumar of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. If it weakens the Asian monsoons, it will threaten the food supply of billions of people.

Most El Niños weaken east Asian monsoons, but the Indian monsoon may survive. El Niños have caused the Indian monsoon to fail, however the 1997-98 El Niño didn’t, despite being the biggest on record (Science, doi.org/fj7cbx). Kumar says the coming El Niño looks similar to the 1997-98 event, so India might be lucky.

Rising waters

The western US faces storms and floods from an approaching El Niño.

The sea level along California’s coast may rise 30 centimetres, and then be pushed even higher by storm surges, says Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. Extra water may sound good, because California has been hit by a severe drought. But the raised seas may combine with heavy El Niño rains to cause devastating floods, as happened to the San Francisco area in 1997-98.

El Niño also brings warmer weather, which melts ice. In 1997, extra river water in North Dakota and Minnesota may have contributed to the worst flood of the Red river since 1826.

In the firing line

Brazil floodWhen El Niño arrives, Central and South America face a mix of storms, floods and droughts.

These countries are more vulnerable to the effects of El Niño than the US, partly because they have less money. “Poverty is a major cause of vulnerability,” says David McEntire of the University of North Texas in Denton.

However, more-developed regions are not always better off, says McEntire. Development causes its own problems, such as greater use of dangerous chemicals that can escape during disasters. And wealthier regions produce less of their own food, so can run short quickly.

As a result of all these issues, most countries in Latin America have become more vulnerable to El Niño, says Rodney Martínez of the International Research Centre on El Niño in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Even though many have El Niño response plans, the risks have grown thanks to population increases and crops being planted in high-risk zones. Such countries can also struggle to give each area a warning that is local enough.

 

This article appeared first on NewScientist.com

US Scientists Created An Entirely New Lifeform With Artificial DNA

20111006-DNA-Testing-Getty-94114031The first living organism to carry and pass down to future generations an expanded genetic code has been created by American scientists, paving the way for a host of new life forms whose cells carry synthetic DNA that looks nothing like the normal genetic code of natural organisms.

Researchers say the work challenges the dogma that the molecules of life making up DNA are “special”.

Organisms that carry the beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that otherwise could not be made, they have claimed.

“This has very important implications for our understanding of life,” said Floyd Romesberg, whose team created the organism at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. “For so long people have thought that DNA was the way it was because it had to be, that it was somehow the perfect molecule.”

From the moment life gained a foothold on Earth the diversity of organisms has been written in a DNA code of four letters. The latest study moves life beyond G, T, C and A – the molecules or bases that pair up in the DNA helix – and introduces two new letters of life: X and Y.

Romesberg started out with E coli, a bug normally found in soil and carried by people. Into this he inserted a loop of genetic material that carried normal DNA and two synthetic DNA bases. Though known as X and Y for simplicity, the artificial DNA bases have much longer chemical names, which themselves abbreviate to d5SICS and dNaM.

 DNA+sequenceDNA sequence

In living organisms, G, T, C and A come together to form two base pairs, G-C and T-A. The extra synthetic DNA forms a third base pair, X-Y, according to the study in Nature. These base pairs are used to make genes, which cells use as templates for making proteins.

Romesberg found that when the modified bacteria divided they passed on the natural DNA as expected. But they also replicated the synthetic code and passed that on to the next generation. That generation of bugs did the same.

“What we have now, for the first time, is an organism that stably harbours a third base pair, and it is utterly different to the natural ones,” Romesberg said. For now the synthetic DNA does not do anything in the cell. It just sits there. But Romesberg now wants to tweak the organism so that it can put the artificial DNA to good use.

“This is just a beautiful piece of work,” said Martin Fussenegger, a synthetic biologist at ETH Zurich. “DNA replication is really the cream of the crop of evolution which operates the same way in all living systems. Seeing that this machinery works with synthetic base pairs is just fascinating.”

The possibilities for such organisms are still up for grabs. The synthetic DNA code could be used to build biological circuits in cells which do not interfere with the natural biological function; scientists could make cells which use the DNA to manufacture proteins not known to exist in nature. The development could lead to a vast range of protein-based drugs.

The field of synthetic biology has been controversial in the past. Some observers have raised concerns that scientists could create artificial organisms which could then escape from laboratories and spark an environmental or health disaster.

More than 10 years ago, the scientsist Eckard Wimmer, at Stony Brook University, in New York, recreated the polio virus from scratch to highlight the dangers.

Romesberg said that organisms carrying his “unnatural” DNA code had a built-in safety mechanism. The modified bugs could only survive if they were fed the chemicals they needed to replicate the synthetic DNA. Experiments in the lab showed that without these chemicals, the bugs steadily lost the synthetic DNA as they could no longer make it.

“There are a lot of people concerned about synthetic biology because it deals with life, and those concerns are completely justified,” Romesberg said. “Society needs to understand what it is and make rational decisions about what it wants.”

Ross Thyer, at the University of Texas, in Austin, suggested the synthetic DNA could become an essential part of an organism’s own DNA. “Human engineering would result in an organism which permanently contains an expanded genetic alphabet, something that, to our knowledge, no naturally occurring life form has accomplished.

“What would such an organism do with an expanded genetic alphabet? We don’t know. Could it lead to more sophisticated storage of biological information? More complicated or subtle regulatory networks? These are all questions we can look forward to exploring.”

Original article appeared on guardian.co.uk