A patient has become the first in the UK to receive an experimental stem cell treatment that has the potential to save the sight of hundreds of thousands of Britons. By December, doctors will know whether the woman, who has age-related macular degeneration, has regained her sight after a successful operation at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London last month. Over 18 months, 10 patients will undergo the treatment. The transplant involves eye cells, called retinal pigment epithelium, derived from stem cells and grown in the lab to form a patch that can be placed behind the retina during surgery.
The potential is huge. Although the first patients have the ‘wet’ form of macular degeneration, the doctors believe it might also eventually work for those who have the ‘dry’ form, who are the vast majority of the UK’s 700,000 sufferers.
The surgery is an exciting moment for the 10-year-old London Project to Cure Blindness, a collaboration between the hospital, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and the National Institute for Health Research, which was formed to find a cure for wet age-related macular degeneration, the more serious but less common form of the disease.
Prof. Pete Coffey of UCL, one of the founders of the London Project, said he would not be working on the new treatment if he did not believe it would work. He hopes it could become a routine procedure for people afflicted by vision loss, which is as common a problem among older people as dementia.
“It does involve an operation, but we’re trying to make it as straightforward as a cataract operation,” he said. “It will probably take 45 minutes to an hour. We could treat a substantial number of those patients.”
First they have to get approval. The trial is not just about safety, but also efficacy. There will be a regulatory review after the first few transplants to ensure all is going well. The group of patients chosen have the wet form of the disease and experienced sudden loss of vision within about six weeks. The support cells in the eye, which get rid of daily debris and allow the seeing part to function have died.
There is a possibility of restoring their vision,” said Coffey. The aim of the transplant is to restore the support cells so the seeing part of the eye is not affected by what would become an increasingly toxic environment, causing deterioration and serious vision loss. The surgery is being performed by retinal surgeon Prof Lyndon Da Cruz from Moorfields, who is also a co-founder of the London Project.
The easiest way to look inside the body is to do a quick CT scan. If you need something better, you can make a reservation for an injection of liquid metal contrast and a cage-rattling MRI. But if you need something more than a glimpse of the anatomy, an actual comparative look at which tissues are under-performing, and which are over-performing (as in cancer), you will probably need a PET scan.
Generating a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) image requires an injection with a modified version of some essential molecule in the particular metabolic pathway you want to examine. To see rapidly metabolizing tumors that might be taking up a lot of glucose, for example, you get a radioactive version of that sugar known as fluorodeoxyglucose. When this tracer is trapped in presumptive cancer cells, its positrons eventually decay and they fire off two gamma rays in exactly opposite directions. Scintillating crystals downshift the energy from those gammas into the optical range, which can then be converted into an electrical signal using an appropriate photodetector.
The secret to getting pixels or voxels out of all this is to gate your detectors for precise coincidence between the two opposed gammas. This requires speed — 300-picosecond speed. This timing accuracy then allows for the localization in 3D space of the point of origin for the initial decay.
The fundamental problem with current PET machines is that you are given a relatively massive tracer dose, but then you are scanned with a relatively narrow detector ring that slowly plods along collecting the gammas in mere 20-cm-width segments. For a large bore scanner, that’s a relatively small detector cross section compared with the full 360-degree spherical emission range.
What this means is that your body is emitting precious radioactive signal (precious in that you are paying for it with the initial absorbed dose), but the underpowered hardware is letting the bulk of it slip out the sides and go to waste. Stated another way, it is the patient that ultimately pays the price of a poorly matched tracer and detector — both in terms of how long they need to remained stuffed inside the machine, and how many times they can safely be subjected to the ordeal.
The solution to this problem, one now embraced by a collaborative effort funded by the DOE to the tune of $15.5 million, is to scan the whole body at once. Recognizing the aforementioned truths, several cooler heads have gotten together to provide for any and all that which industry alone has so far failed to deliver. The project sprang from an effort at Berkeley originally called OpenPET, which had the noble aim of opening and democratizing PET electronics. High-speed coincidence detectors are nothing new; they are the bread-and-butter of all sorts of high-energy physics mega-projects. For that matter, so is the scintillator and photodetector hardware. OpenPET has now evolved into the Explorer project, which will produce a PET machine with an unprecedented half-a-million detectors.
Some orb-weaving spiders secure their fatherhood by mutilating their partners’ genitalia—the first such discovery in nature, a new study says.
The behavior, which guarantees that the male will father all of her offspring, is the first to suggest that males evolve behaviors to maim external parts of the female genitalia. Published November 5, 2015 in Current Biology, the discovery also adds further nuance to the theory of sexual selection, which holds that males and females within a species compete for opportunities to mate—even if it kills them.
“All the time, we’re discovering [such] new, astonishing adaptations,” says Jutta Schneider, a biologist at the University of Hamburg who wasn’t involved in the study but has collaborated with some of its authors. “This competition has enormous power.”
Spiders in particular get freaky in the pursuit of sexual success, deploying everything from cannibalism to self-castration to land a mate. Castrated' Spiders Are Better Fighters, Study Says.
Say goodbye to Miami and New Orleans. No matter what we do to curb global warming, these and other beloved US cities will sink below rising seas, according to a study Monday.
But making extreme carbon cuts and moving to renewable energy could save millions of people living in iconic coastal areas of the United States, said the findings in the October 12 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal.
Scientists have already established that if we do nothing to reduce our burning of fossil fuel up to the year 2100, the planet will face sea level rise of 14-32 feet (4.3–9.9 meters), said lead author Ben Strauss, vice president for sea level and climate impacts at Climate Central. The big uncertainty is the issue of when.
"Some of this could happen as early as next century," Strauss said. "But it might also take many centuries," he added. "Just think of a pile of ice in a warm room. You know it is going to melt, but it is harder to say how quickly."
To bring this issue home for people in the United States, the study pinpoints at-risk land where more than 20 million people reside.
The authors projected business-as-usual carbon emissions, in addition to the complication of the melting West Antarctic ice sheet, a process some experts fear is irreversible.
The overwhelming majority of DNA viruses found on human skin have never been described before, a new study has found.
Using mapping techniques to isolate virus-like particles from skin swabs in 16 healthy participants, a team from the University of Pennsylvania found that around 95 percent of skin-dwelling viruses are uncharacterised -- essentially 'viral dark matter' who presence is felt, but whose character is uncertain.
The team made its breakthrough by analysing material afresh, and using new techniques for isolating virus-like particles, without depending on previously existing databases.
The material the teams found "had features of viral genetic material but no taxonomic classification", said senior author Elizabeth A. Grice. "There has been a real need for a better understanding of these viruses, given their potential effects on our skin cells as well as on our resident bacteria."
By Michael Snyder An incredible discovery that was recently made in Russia threatens to shatter conventional theories about the history of the planet. On Mount Shoria in southern Siberia, researchers have found an absolutely massive wall of granite stones. Some of these gigantic granite stones are estimated to weigh more than 3,000 tons, and as you will see below, many of them were cut “with flat surfaces, right angles, and sharp corners”. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been discovered before. The largest stone found at the megalithic ruins at Baalbek, Lebanon is less than 1,500 tons. So how in the world did someone cut 3,000 ton granite stones with extreme precision, transport them up the side of a mountain and stack them 40 meters high? According to the commonly accepted version of history, it would beimpossible for ancient humans with very limited technology to accomplish such a thing. Could it be possible that there is much more to the history of this planet than we are
Fox News Sleepless nights raise brain levels of Alzheimer's protein, study finds Fox News After a night of no sleep, even a healthy brain has higher than normal levels of the protein that forms the signature tangles in Alzheimer's disease,...
Business Insider 4 Tips On How To Be Wildly Creative From Pixar's President Business Insider Now President of Pixar Animation Studios, Catmull has spent his professional life being creative: Building teams on new frontiers, astonishing audiences...
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