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HIV Virus Cure for Cancer !

Researchers have taken the HIV virus, modified it and then used it to reprogram a cancer patients white blood cells to attack and completely kill off the cancer

Imagine pitting one fatal disease against another and staging the warfare inside the body of a 6-year-old girl who was 48 hours away from total organ failure.

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Now imagine you’re the parent of that child.

For one Pennsylvania family this was the reality they were facing when their doctors had no other option but to treat their daughter Emily, who was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), with genetically altered HIV.

A research team at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, led by Dr. Carl June, had genetically engineered T cells and used them to help several adult patients in a clinical trial with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and ALL. The T cells needed a partner to bond with to fight the cancerous B cells that plagued Emily.

Enter HIV — the virus that causes AIDS. The idea was to use the genetically engineered HIV cells to bond with the patient’s cultured T cells to seek out the cancerous B cells and destroy them.

But HIV?

“HIV is a scary thing,” acknowledged Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of Translational Research at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor of Pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Grupp, and his team, treated Emily with the new procedure in April 2012, funded, in part, by a $16 million research grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Grupp explains the process: “We’re taking the property of HIV that is valuable and isolating that property. We use the virus to basically genetically engineer T cells from kids that are good at fighting viruses and potentially good at fighting cancer. The trouble is they don’t seek cancer. We try to force the T cells to seek cancer so we put the gene in the cell. Turns out the HIV-type virus is very good at inserting into genes and cells. That’s the function we want.

“The type we use has been genetically engineered and all the characteristics of the HIV that can cause disease are out of it,” Grupp said. “It can’t grow. It can’t make copies of itself. The crippled form of HIV only retains the function of putting a gene into a cell.”

Emily Whitehead, a plucky, bright girl — call her Emma, she asks — was no longer a candidate for chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant, a standard treatment for her type of leukemia.

In early May of 2010, at age 5, she had had a clean bill of health from her pediatrician, aside from a few swollen glands everyone chalked up to a recent cold. But as the month progressed there were signs something was amiss: blood crusting at the bottom of her nose that couldn’t be explained, blood from her gums while brushing her teeth, bruising — Kari, her mother, called her husband at work when she counted 21 bruises on Emma’s body while she was in the bathtub. She developed debilitating pain in her knees, too. A family member recognized the signs.

“My sister-in-law, a nurse, called me, crying, and said, ‘You realize, Em’s symptoms can be leukemia,’ ” her father Tom Whitehead recalled. “I said, ‘You need to calm down. We’ll take her to the doctor in the morning.’ ”

Emma woke at 1 a.m. crying in pain. Her knees hurt like never before.

“From the beginning Emily had one of the roughest induction phases they had seen in years,” Whitehead said. “She started chemo on May 28 and by June 11 she’d developed necrotizing fasciitis in both legs. The surgeon said they might have to remove her left leg from the knee down.”

The surgery worked. But not before infection took hold and her wounds had to be repacked every 48 hours.

“Still, she was in remission and [we thought] maybe this is one of the toughest induction phases,” Whitehead said.

For awhile, until October 2011, Emma underwent chemotherapy and would be out playing again within hours of receiving chemo.

“She never complained through any of it. We explained from the beginning: ‘You have cancer. You are one of the strongest kids. Not all kids are strong enough but you will beat cancer.’ One day she was crying and said, ‘I’m not brave enough. I’m really scared all the time.’

“I said, ‘The biggest heroes in history were scared to death whenever they did something heroic. Don’t confuse being brave with being scared.’ From then on she didn’t complain. She said, ‘Just tell me when it’s going to hurt. Don’t lie to me,’ ” Whitehead recalled.

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But the remission didn’t stick and more chemo didn’t help.

“The typical treatment is bone marrow transplant but she relapsed, got more intensive chemo, then relapsed again. From that time forward we could not get back into remission and couldn’t control it with chemo so bone marrow transplant was off the table,” Grupp said.

As Emma clung to life, doctors suggested the new treatment that had the mysterious name, Cart 19. The clinical trial, now called CTL019, uses immune T cells taken from a patient’s own blood. These T cells are genetically modified in the lab to express a protein that will bind to a target found on cancerous B cells. The engineered HIV is the agent that seems to make the process work, researchers found.

“The [HIV] virus has been engineered so it can’t cause disease anymore but retains its ability to reprogram the immune system so it will now attack cancer cells,’’ June said in a video that documents Emma’s story. “We call those modified immune cells serial killer cells. Each infused cell can kill more than 1,000 different tumor cells.”

Three adults were treated with this procedure before Emma. Two went into complete remission and have remained as such for 21/2 years. The Whiteheads decided to proceed.

“As we told her parents, Emma would be the first kid ever to get this and only the fourth person to get this,” Grupp said.

Since Emma’s procedure, 15 children have had the procedure.

“Of the first six patients we reported on in the literature, five went into complete remission, one of those had reoccurement of the disease. That’s what we are seeing in the study, an 80 percent short-term response rate. How that holds up in time we’re not in a position to say. But we’re very impressed by the short-term response rate. We will have to follow these kids,” Grupp said.

Whitehead hasn’t quite exhaled. “We’re thankful for every day but still nervous every day.”

Emma’s success wasn’t instantaneous, however. In fact, “she could not have gotten any sicker without dying,” Grupp said.

After the April procedure, Emma had an averse reaction. She couldn’t breathe on her own. Her blood pressure skyrocketed. Doctors put Emma into a coma. She was in too much pain. At one point she had 17 IV pumps keeping her alive, her father said.

After a few days on the ventilator a doctor took the Whiteheads into the hospital’s hallway to deliver the bad news. The procedure didn’t work.

“She’s not going to be here tomorrow,” they said. “Kids can’t survive this,’ ” Whitehead said.

Whitehead refused to accept the opinion. “I said, ‘I can’t tell you how I know this for sure, but she will be here tomorrow.’ ”

Then, a discovery.

All the activated T cells produced inflammatory proteins and one of the proteins — interleukin 6 (IL6) — went through the roof. Someone in the research lab hit upon an idea. June’s daughter had taken a drug to aid her rheumatoid arthritis, which is exacerbated by IL6. Maybe the treatment to reduce IL6 could be the answer.

“Turns out this particular inflammatory protein can be blocked with the drug designed to block rheumatoid arthritis,” Grupp said.

Within hours after receiving the arthritis medication, Emma began to recover.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’d ever seen,” Grupp said. “Her fever went away almost immediately. Her breathing difficulties resolved overnight. She was on three meds for her blood pressure and we couldn’t get rid of them fast enough because she didn’t need them anymore. From that point forward she’s been fine.

Today, Emma is 8 and a healthy second-grader. Her Facebook page, Prayers for Emily (Emma) Whitehead, has had more than 300,000 views so far and nearly 22,000 “likes.”

In June, Emma, clutching a bright purple stuffed animal, and her parents walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol to urge legislators to support the research that saved her life. The Whiteheads traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of Family Advocacy Day sponsored by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals.

The trials are ongoing.

“In principle, the T-cell approach might be adapted to other cancers but this type of thing only works for that kind of cancer,” Grupp said. “There’s every intent in the next six months or so to get a clinical trial that involves multiple adult and pediatric hospitals.”


10 Fascinating Facts About Thomas Alva Edison

You only have to look around you to see things that Thomas Alva Edison invented or made better. The prolific inventor (in his 84 years, Edison had 1,093 patents to his name) contributed to the incandescent light bulb, phonograph, electrical systems, motion picture camera, telegraph, telephone, X-ray and so on.
Edison with his phonograph (1877). To "hear" Edison bit into his phonograph so the sound vibration traveled through his teeth to his inner ear.
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Most people think of the light bulb when they think of Edison, but did you know that the "Wizard of Menlo Park" actually didn't invent the thing? Did you know about his idea of using cement to build homes, furniture, refrigerators and even pianos? Or, how about his role in the execution of a rogue elephant by electrocution?
In honor of his birthday (he was born in February 11, 1847), Neatorama has cobbled up 10 fascinating facts about Thomas Edison, the world's most famous and prolific inventor:

1. Teacher Thought Edison was "Addled"

Edison was an inquisitive child but a poor student as his mind often wandered. The youngest of 7 siblings, "Al" as he was called in his youth, was deemed "addled" by his school teacher.
When she found out, Edison's mother was angry and pulled him out of school after only three months of formal education. She home schooled him instead. Edison later recounted "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint."

2. Edison Built His First Lab at the Age of 10

When Edison turned 9, his mother gave him an elementary science book on how to do chemistry experiments at home. Edison was hooked: he did every experiments in the book and soon spent all his spare money buying chemicals.
At the tender age of 10, Edison built his first science laboratory in the basement of his family's home. His father tried to bribe him with a penny if only Edison would get out of the basement and go read a book. This he did, but he also used the penny to buy more chemicals for experiments. And to make sure no one took his prized chemicals, he labeled all his bottles "poison."

3. Edison Was Deaf and He Liked It That Way!

At around the age of 12, Edison started to lose his hearing. One legend has it that a train conductor smacked him in the ears after he started a fire in a boxcar by doing experiments. Edison himself said that he was injured when the conductor picked him up by the ears onto a moving train. Others had said that it caused by a bout of scarlet fever during childhood. In all likelihood it was a genetic condition as both Edison's father and one of his brothers also suffered from hearing loss.
But one thing's for sure: Edison actually liked being deaf (technically, he was hard of hearing, not completely deaf). He said that it made it easier for him to concentrate on his experiments.
Oh, one more thing: Edison actually did have a laboratory in a boxcar that caught on fire! Then 12-year-old Edison took a job selling newspaper and candies on the Grand Trunk Railroad from Port Huron to Detroit. He set up a lab for chemistry experiments and a printing press in the baggage car, where he published the Grand Trunk Herald, the first newspaper published on a train.

4. Edison Saved a Boy From a Runaway Train

At the Grand Trunk Railroad, 14-year-old Edison saved 3-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from a runaway boxcar. Jimmie's father, station agent J.U. MacKenzie was so grateful that he taught Edison how to operate the telegraph machine.
Later, Edison became a telegraph operator for Western Union. He requested the night shift so he could have more time for his experiments. One day he accidentally spilled sulphuric acid while experimenting on a battery. The acid ran between the floorboards and onto his boss' desk below. Needless to say, Edison was fired the next morning.

5. Edison's First Patented Invention was a Flop

In 1869, when Edison was just 22 years old, he got his first patent for a telegraphic vote-recording machine for the legislature. Each legislator would move a switch on Edison's machine that would record his vote on a particular bill.
When a business partner brought the invention to Washington D.C., this is what Congress had to say about it:
The chairman of the committee, unimpressed with the speed with which the instrument could record votes, told him that "if there is any invention on earth that we don't want down here, that is it." The slow pace of roll call voting in Congress and other legislatures enabled members to filibuster legislation or convince others to change their votes. Edison's vote recorder was never used. (Source: The Edison Papers)
From then on, Edison decided that he would only invent something if there was a market for it.

6. Edison Proposed Marriage ... by Morse Code!

On Christmas Day in 1871, at the age of 24, Edison married his 16-year old employee Mary Stilwell, after meeting her just two months earlier. By February, Edison was exasperated at his wife's inability to invent that he wrote in his diary "Mrs Mary Edison My wife Dearly Beloved Cannot invent worth a Damn!!" and "My Wife Popsy Wopsy Can't Invent." Mary gave birth to three children, the first two Edison nicknamed "Dot" and "Dash."

Two years after Mary died, Edison met and married 20-year-old Mina Miller. The story of how the two met is quite interesting: After Mary's death, Edison regularly went to Boston and stayed with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Gilliard. The Gilliards made sure that some eligible young lady was "visiting" at the same time. Edison, who was half-deaf, bug-eyed, plagued with halitosis and bad dandruff, would stick his face very close to the girl's in order to hear her words. This naturally creeped them all out!
One day, the Gilliards introduced Edison to Mina Miller, to whom Edison was immediately smitten:
Edison found his own version of paradise in Fort Myers, then a small village, and apparently decided that he must do three things: build a winter home in Florida, marry Mina, and bring her to his tropical Eden. Once back in New York, Edison--normally a workaholic--was obsessed with his new love. He wrote in his diary at this time: "Saw a lady who looked like Mina. Got thinking about Mina and came near being run over by a streetcar. If Mina interferes much more will have to take out an accident policy."(Source: Anatomy of Some Celebrated Marriages by D. Wallechinsky and I. Wallace, The People's Almanac)
Edison taught Mina Morse code so they could communicate in secret by tapping into each other's hands when her family was around. One day, Edison asked .-- --- ..- .-.. -.. -.-- --- ..- -- .- .-. .-. -.-- -- . and Mina replied -.-- . ...

7. Edison Has a Mysterious Tattoo on His Arm

According to a 1911 policy with the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, Edison had five dots tattooed on his left forearm. No one knew what the dots meant.
Interestingly, Edison was credited for inventing the basic tattoo machine. In 1876, he patented the Stencil-Pens, an engraving device that many years later was modified by Samuel O'Reilly to make the world's first tattoo machine.
Though it would've been a neat thing, there was simply no evidence that Edison used his invention to give himself a tattoo.

8. The Edison Invention That Killed

After Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895, Edison directed his employee, a glassblower named Clarence Dally to develop a fluoroscope (then called the Edison X-ray focus tube). The device was a commercial success and ultimately became the basis of modern fluoroscopy used in hospitals today.
At the time, X-rays were not believed to be dangerous and Clarence had a habit of testing X-ray tubes on his hands. In 1900, he had developed lesion on his wrist that wouldn't heal after several skin grafts and was so tenacious that his hand had to be amputated. Edison kept Dally on his payroll, even when he was so sick that he couldn't work any more. Clarence's condition worsened and even after the amputations of both of his arms, he died of cancer.

Shaken, Edison stopped all work on fluoroscopes as revealed in aNew York World interview in 1903:
"Don't talk to me about X-rays," he said. "I am afraid of them. I stopped experimenting with them two years ago, when I came near to losing my eyesight and Dally, my assistant practically lost the use of both of his arms. I am afraid of radium and polonium too, and I don't want to monkey with them." (Source: New York World)

9. Edison's Quirky Invention: the Concrete House

In 1887, Edison embarked on a project that would later prove to be a huge fiasco. He proposed an idea of extracting iron from low-grade ore and was immediately ridiculed by an editorial who called the idea "Edison's Folly." The stubborn Edison immediately invested his own money and built a huge plant and a town around it, only to find years later that it would be far cheaper to mine iron ores!
So, left with all of the heavy machineries from the failed ore project, Edison decided to get into the cement business. He noticed that one could mold concrete into a wide variety of shapes and thought that he could build a house by pouring concrete into a single, giant mold! And not only the house: "everything from bathtubs, windowsills, staircases, and picture frames to electrical conduits and reinforcing rods would be molded right in." (Source: American Heritage)

Edison and a model of his concrete house.
Photo: Edison National Historic Site - US National Park Service

Edison, who grew up poor, thought that he could solve New York's housing problem and clear out the slums by mass producing affordable working man's houses. But first, he needed a model: Edison hired a high-profile architecture firm to create a two-story, two-family house "in the style of Francis I." At Edison's request (he didn't want to be known as "the father of ugly houses"), the model came with a large front porch and intricate exterior moldings.
This, of course, turned out to be impractical - so Edison downscaled his plan and casted his first concrete house on Hixon Street in South Orange, New Jersey, in 1911 (it was later demolished to make way for a supermarket and a parking lot).

Edison's cement houses. Photo: Edison National Historic Site - US National Park Service

In 1917, with Edison's blessing, pocket-watch magnate (apparently there was such a person) Charles Ingersoll constructed 11 concrete houses and offered them at $1,200 each - roughly one third of the usual price - but not a single house was sold!
Some historians and Edison biographers blame the publicity and Edison’s grandiose predictions for the demise of his most altruistic endeavor. No one wanted to live in a house that had been described as “the salvation of the slum dweller.” People were too proud to be stigmatized as having been “rescued from squalor and poverty.”
But there may have been a more important reason for the Edison monoliths’ failure to catch on. The architect Ernest Flagg, writing in Collier’s Weekly seven years later, noted that “Mr. Edison was not an architect— it was not cheapness that wanted so much as relief from ugliness, and Mr. Edison’s early models entirely did not achieve that relief.” From looking at them, it is hard to disagree.
Wait, what about those concrete furniture and piano we talked about? Well, in 1911 Edison boasted that concrete furniture could be made just as attractive as wood but cheaper and more durable. He went on to use air-impregnated "foam" concrete to make a piano, bathtub, and cabinets for his phonographs. Like his concrete houses, however, the Edison concrete furniture just never caught on. (If you have a picture of Edison's concrete piano, please let me know!)

Edison's concrete phonograph cabinets.
Photo: Edison National Historic Site - US National Park Service

10. Electrocuting an Elephant

In the late 1880s, Edison was embroiled in the "War of Currents" with George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla. Edison had promoted the use of direct current (DC) for electric power distribution, whereas Westinghouse and Tesla wanted to use alternating current (AC).
At the time, Edison had over one hundred power stations in the United States that delivered DC electricity to consumers. But because of a power loss due to resistance of the wire during transmission, the power station had to be located within a mile of the consumers. Edison's then-employee, a brilliant Serbian engineer named Nikola Tesla proposed that AC could solve this problem but Edison didn't listen.
Indeed, Edison had previously asked Tesla to improve his electrical power stations with $50,000 ($1 million in 2006 US dollar, Tesla's wages were just $18 a week back then) as a reward. After Tesla delivered, Edison reneged on his offer and thus created bad blood between the two.
Back to the War of Currents: to demonstrate that his DC system was better and "safer," Edison noted that AC had a lethal potential and could be used to electrocute. Though he was against capital punishment, Edison (and a hired employee named Harold P. Brown) developed the electric chair.
In 1903, a circus elephant named Topsy at Coney Island's Luna Park went berserk and killed three people including an abusive trainer, who tried to feed her a lighted cigarette.

The elephant was considered a threat and the owners wanted it executed. When animal advocates protested the proposed method of hanging, Edison saw a publicity opportunity and suggested electrocution with AC.
Topsy was fed carrots laced with cyanide and then electrocuted with 6,000-volts AC. She died "without a trumpet or a groan" within seconds. (Source)
Topsy's execution was a public spectacle: about 1,500 people attended and Edison even filmed the event:
Despite of Edison's publicity campaign (he tried to popularize the term for being electrocuted as being "Westinghoused"), Tesla's AC system won out in the end.


The average woman will eat about 350 grams of lipstick in her life—and it could be dangerous to her health!

Woman do not consume 6 to 10 pounds of lipstick per year, regardless of what the Internet might have you believe. These figures are impossible to achieve, short of having the ladies feasting on bars of lipstick daily. A more accurate figure is 24 milligrams per day, found by studies done in 2002. Assuming an average application span of 55 years and assuming the ladies apply lipstick for only 5 days a week, this results in around 350 grams of lipstick ingested over a lifetime.

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However, recent studies have shown that even this small amount could be dangerous, depending on the composition of the lipstick itself.

Lipstick is primarily made up of waxes, fats and oils, but also contain a vast array of other chemicals that control the colour, flavour, stay-fastness etc. While the list of chemicals is diverse, of particular interest to the 2013 study was the metals found. Metal contents of cosmetics are not regulated in the United States and the study evaluated the levels of lead, aluminium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel and titanium found in a number of brands of lipstick.

Given the daily intake, and relating the amounts of these metals contained in the products tested, it was found that many products expose women to higher than acceptable levels of metal intake. What is worse though is that companies are not required to list their metal contents because the FDA does not regulate metal levels in cosmetics. Thus, the consumer has no way of knowing what metals are in the lipsticks and in what concentrations.

So, while dark red glossy lips might rev your man up, you might want to pause for thought before applying that fourth touchup for the day.


One woman's hair was the key to the technology behind the atomic bomb

The task of dropping bombs accurately during WWII was not an easy one. This was before the days of radar, lasers, or even computers. Bombs were generally dropped by “bombers” who used a combination of training and experience to decide when to drop a bomb.

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That was the case until the Carl L Norden company developed the Norden Bombsight. This device was revolutionary, and in tests proved to be accuratae to within 75 feet, something totally unheard of in the day. The Norden Bombsight consisted of three main components: there was an analogue computer that plotted the bombs potential trajectory based on flight conditions, a link to the planes autopilot system that provided environmental information relating to wind speed and direction and a set of crosshairs that allowed the bomber to sight the target.

Of the three, oddly enough, the crosshairs proved to be the most difficult to perfect. The army required a material that would withstand huge fluctuations in temperature as well as the rigours of being mounted in a 1940’s aeroplane. The army eventually discovered that human hair was best suited to the job, but the hair had to be blond, long, and needed to never have been treated with chemicals or heated with a hot brush. Even in the 1940’s, this was a tall order.

But, one woman met all the criteria, and so it was that Mary Babnik Brown became the woman who was to supply the crosshairs for the Norden bombsights. Mary’s hair was blond, some 34 inches long and had never been cut or treated by chemicals in any form. Mary washed her hair twice a week with “pure soap” and brushed her hair twice a day.

She agreed to donate her hair to the war effort and refused any compensation for it, claiming it was her patriotic duty. She only found out what her hair had been used for during the war in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan wrote her a letter of thanks on her 80th birthday.

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Player Reportedly Reaches the End of Flappy Bird

A new video has surfaced of a player hitting a score of 999 in Flappy Bird, which appears to be the end of the game. It’s there he finds a special guest waiting for him.
Flappy Bird might not be available anymore, but that doesn’t mean people like YouTube user pipocaVFX aren’t still playing. Well, at least that’s what he’d like us to believe anyway. In the video above, you can see a player “tapping” away in the upper 900s on his way through some devilishly tight spaces. As he nears the 990 threshold, some very familiar foes begin popping out of pipes. Once he reaches 999 however, the ultimate cameo brings someone near and dear to gamers’ hearts into the mix.
It would be something if it were real, but we’re not entirely convinced. In fact, we’re not convinced at all. The pipocaVFX channel is known for its video game visuals, and for putting different spins on classic franchises like first-person Sonic and first-person Street Fighter. The animation is smooth, and copies Flappy Bird rather well for not being an actual game.
Still, it’s not a bad video, as it’s fairly convincing. The call back to the rumored inspiration for Flappy Bird’s level design makes for a good chuckle. Perhaps someone will truly make it to then end of Flappy Bird one day, but until that day, this parody animation will have to suffice.


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