What we're talking about Life, Death, and ERVs Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life, Death, and ERVs

I read an interesting article in Scientific American that discussed the so-called Peto’s Paradox. Dr. Richard Peto (University of Oxford) came up with the idea that if every cell has an equal probability of becoming cancerous, then larger animals would be predicted to develop cancer at higher rates than smaller animals. As it turns out,…

For quite a while, now, there has been a connection between Endogenous Retroviruses and HIV. For some unknown reason, some of the young ERVs in humans, the ones that can still code for a protein here and there, are reactivated in HIV+ patients. Scientists have found ERV RNA in HIV+ patient plasma, and they have…

In a phenomenon known as Peto's paradox, large mammals do not develop cancer more often than small mammals, despite having more cells that could go haywire. On Life Lines, Dr. Dolittle writes "Some researchers suggested that perhaps smaller animals developed more oxidative stress as a result of having higher metabolisms. Others proposed that perhaps larger animals have more genes that suppress tumors." But a new hypothesis argues that large mammals have evolved to minimize the activity of ERVs, which are ancient viral elements integrated into our DNA. Active ERVs can cause cancer and possibly other diseases; mice exhibit about 3300 active ERVs, while humans exhibit about 350. On the blog known as ERV, Abbie Smith writes "some of the young ERVs in humans, the ones that can still code for a protein here and there, are reactivated in HIV+ patients." Researchers are considering targeting these ERVs in order to combat HIV; as Abbie writes, "You could train the HIV+ individuals immune system to ‘see’ the ERV components in an HIV infected CD4+ T-cell, and BAM! Kill the HIV infected cell!" But she warns that other ERV components are expressed in many normal human cells, and teaching our immune system to target them might be a very bad idea.

Channel Surfing

Life Science

I have to admit that my first response to these reports out of Britain that stem cells had been successfully used to repair a complete spinal cord transection was skepticism — incredulity even. They’re reporting that a man with a completely severed spinal cord at level T10-T11 is able to walk again! The Guardian gushes!…

Browse this list of images…all of them of real, live, genuine zombified organisms. Just in time for Halloween!

A paper that made extravagant weight loss claims for green coffee beans has been retracted. This study had been touted by Dr Oz, of course — no fraud is to ludicrous for him — and rebutted by Scott Gavura, and I’m generally suspicious of any dietary supplement that promises weight loss without reducing calories or…

Physical Science

“The anthropic principle – the idea that our universe has the properties it does because we are here to say so and that if it were any different, we wouldn’t be around commenting on it – infuriates many physicists, including [Marc Davis from UC Berkeley]. It smacks of defeatism, as if we were acknowledging that…

That’s “Mass” as in Massachusetts, not the stuff associated with the Higgs field… specifically, North Adams, MA, where I’ll be this Saturday night, October 25th, at the Secret Science Club screening of Particle Fever. This will be at the MASS MoCA, tickets here. The Secret Science Club is a regular gathering in New York City…

“The most amazing lesson in aerodynamics I ever had was the day I climbed a thermal in a glider at the same time as an eagle. I witnessed, close up, effortlessness and lightness combined with strength, precision and determination.” -Norman Foster It’s called the “Eagle Nebula” because the shape of the nebula itself faintly resembles…

Environment

Its at The Conversation and a retweet near you, no doubt. By

that I wrote is here.

I could rephrase this question. What should we do about climate change. The reason I might rephrase this is because we may not ben that sure of what we can do, but we should do something. Or, more accurately, some things. There are a lot of possible things we can do, and we have little…

Humanities

Sins of Our Fathers, by Shaw Otto, is coming out shortly but can be preordered. JW, protagonist, is a flawed hero. He is not exactly an anti-hero because he is not a bad guy, though one does become annoyed at where he places his values. As his character unfolds in the first several chapters of…

Article series investigates lead poisoning at the nation’s gun ranges; autopsy shows coal miner was wrongly denied black lung benefits; health care workers take part in mass protective gear training; and a Wells Fargo employee sends a big email about income inequality.

Recent pieces address healthcare workers’ safety and the research behind controlling Ebola’s spread; end-of-life planning; contraception; and more.

Education

The ‘Nifty Fifty (times 4)’, a program of Science Spark, presented by InfoComm International, are a group of 200 noted science and engineering professionals who will fan out across the Washington, D.C. area in the 2014-2015 school year to speak about their work and careers at various middle and high schools. Meet Nifty Fifty Speaker Nick Schneider When NASA’s…

According to a new statement from the CDC, while Ebola is deadly to humans and animals, it is very difficult to catch. Therefore, they concluded that pets are not at significant risk of Ebola in the US. Moreover, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming ill in Africa. For more information, visit…

I have. So I surfed the web and found this neat video from Smithsonian that explains it all.

Politics

More thread.

According to a new statement from the CDC, while Ebola is deadly to humans and animals, it is very difficult to catch. Therefore, they concluded that pets are not at significant risk of Ebola in the US. Moreover, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming ill in Africa. For more information, visit…

This is an endorsement by Climate Hawks Vote, which I support. Climate Hawks Vote is delighted to endorse Scott Peters in California’s 52d Congressional District of San Diego for his strong climate leadership and for taking first place in our August 2014 survey. And his approach just may break partisan gridlock in Congress. Scott Peters…

Medicine

Supporters of science-based medicine and keeping pseudoscience out of medicine have a few years to prepare for an onslaught of crappy studies “proving” the value of “integrative” oncology. No doubt at this point you’re wondering just what the heck Orac is talking about. I will tell you. It involves an institution we’ve encountered before and…

Remember how I said my lab wanted to do a PPE response video to Sanjay Guptas terrifying attempt? But we couldnt for liability reasons? Now there is an even better option! We can all take a peek into how Ebola patients are treated at Emory University, and get to see their protocols for putting on/taking off PPE:…

To all bits of clockwork that are adjusted in our bodies according to our day-night timetable, we can now add two more: cancer growth and the schedules of our internal complements of bacteria. Cancer, according to a new Weizmann Institute study, may grow and spread more at night. In this scenario, our cells are getting…

Brain & Behavior

According to a new statement from the CDC, while Ebola is deadly to humans and animals, it is very difficult to catch. Therefore, they concluded that pets are not at significant risk of Ebola in the US. Moreover, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming ill in Africa. For more information, visit…

I have. So I surfed the web and found this neat video from Smithsonian that explains it all.

When it comes to substance abuse disorders, public health and the public at-large are hardly on the same page — in fact, they’re not even reading the same book. And that’s a serious problem for sustaining and strengthening efforts to treat addiction and advancing effective public health policy.

Technology

My whole housing development recently changed Internet Service Providers. We now have optical fibre from Ownit, offering hundreds of megabits per second. It works just fine. But there’s a security issue and Ownit aren’t taking it seriously. All over Sweden, Ownit are deploying wifi routers that work out of the box. If you want to…

According to a new statement from the CDC, while Ebola is deadly to humans and animals, it is very difficult to catch. Therefore, they concluded that pets are not at significant risk of Ebola in the US. Moreover, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming ill in Africa. For more information, visit…

I might. This is a preliminary look, based just on the web site and some tweets with the developer, of the imp (all lower case), a small computer somewhere in technology and power, perhaps, between a Raspberry pi (which is mainly a hobbiest toy) and the Intel Nuk (which is sort of a non-Mac Mac…

Information Science

Science Online was an amazing annual unconference that started a few years back and grew and became part of the reshaping of public communication about science. This year, the people running the conference started out with the plan to move the conference to a new venue, Atlanta, and last week abruptly announced that the conference…

So what do I mean by Big Deals. In the world of academic libraries, a Big Deal is when we subscribe to the electronic versions of all (or almost all) of a journal publisher’s offerings. Usually for it to qualify as a Big Deal, the publisher in question is going to be one of the…

I used Google N-gram Viewer to inspect the occurrence of the word “Ebola” in the Google-indexed literature. A few instances of Ebola came up earlier than the disease being known, so I figured they were references to the place name in Zaire/Congo, after which the disease is named. And that was in fact the case.…

Jobs

Article series investigates lead poisoning at the nation’s gun ranges; autopsy shows coal miner was wrongly denied black lung benefits; health care workers take part in mass protective gear training; and a Wells Fargo employee sends a big email about income inequality.

This week’s snapshot of just one work-related fatality in the U.S. This one occurred on October 7 at a Kia Motors manufacturing plant.

Too bad Murray’s Chicken doesn’t care as much about working conditions for its employees, as it does about the living conditions for its birds.