Coenzyme Q10 helps veterans battle Gulf War illness symptoms

EEV: Requested Post from the CNO site:


Coenzyme Q10 helps veterans battle Gulf War illness symptoms

– CoQ10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant made by the body to support basic cell functions, including directly assisting mitochondrial energy production. Over a course of three and a half months, the veterans in the study received a pill form of either CoQ10 or a placebo. Researchers found 80 percent of those who received 100mg of CoQ10 had improvement in physical function. The degree of improvement correlated to the degree in which CoQ10 levels in the blood increased.
* Published in the Nov. 1 issue of Neural Computation Continue reading “Coenzyme Q10 helps veterans battle Gulf War illness symptoms”

Another Guilty Plea in Navy Corruption Ring

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A retired Navy lieutenant commander pleaded guilty to federal charges of overcharging the Navy for port services for U.S. ships and using some of the money “to treat Navy officials to lavish dinners, cocktails and entertainment,” federal prosecutors said.

Edmond A. Aruffo, 45, who retired in 2007, is the seventh defendant charged, and the fourth to plead guilty, in what the U.S. Attorney’s Office called an “expanding corruption scandal” involving defense contract Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Aruffo, who became manager of GDMA’s Japan operations in 2009, pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States. He faces up to 5 years in prison at his Oct. 3 sentencing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement that Aruffo, of San Diego, was “part of a massive fraud and bribery scheme that cost the U.S. Navy more than $20 million.”

Continue reading “Another Guilty Plea in Navy Corruption Ring”

Lobbyist Helped Foreigner Influence Elections, Feds Say

By ANNIE YOUDERIAN

–  “that he wanted the next mayor to fire the chief of police and replace him with a person of Encinas’ choosing,”

Egypt's Presidential Elections 2012

(CN) – A San Diego lobbyist conspired to funnel more than $500,000 from a wealthy Mexican businessman into political campaigns, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.

Marco Polo Cortes was arrested Tuesday in San Diego on charges that he helped the businessman, who is not named in the complaint, donate to political campaigns under a straw donor’s name.

He made an initial appearance in Federal Court in San Diego on Wednesday.

His alleged co-conspirators, Ravneet Singh and Ernesto Encinas, were named in a similar complaint unsealed Tuesday.

Singh is the founder of ElectionMall, a company that provides social media services to political campaigns around the world. Encinas is a retired detective for the San Diego Police Department who provides security detail for the Mexican businessman. Both men helped the foreigner illegally donate to campaigns in San Diego, according to the complaint. Continue reading “Lobbyist Helped Foreigner Influence Elections, Feds Say”

Huge nationwide prostitution ring promised women a luxury lifestyle but subjected them to ‘modern-day slavery’ where they were branded with bar codes

  • San Diego street gang ran prostitution ring across 46 cities in 23 states
  • Women and girls were promised a luxury life but instead treated like slaves
  • 24 San Diego residents have been arrested, most in raids across U.S.

By Associated Press and Daily Mail Reporter

UPDATED:          12:40 EST, 9 January 2014

A San Diego street gang operated a vast nationwide prostitution ring that spanned 46 cities in 23 states, federal prosecutors revealed on Wednesday.

The group promised luxury lifestyles to girls and women but instead they were branded with tattoos and bar codes, and treated like slaves.

‘The kind of sex trafficking described in this indictment is nothing less than modern-day slavery,’ said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy as she announced racketeering conspiracy charges for 24 people.

Scene: A San Diego ran a massive prostitution ring that subjected women to horrific conditions from the North Park neighborhood of the city 

Scene: A San Diego ran a massive prostitution ring that subjected women to horrific conditions from the North Park neighborhood of the city Continue reading “Huge nationwide prostitution ring promised women a luxury lifestyle but subjected them to ‘modern-day slavery’ where they were branded with bar codes”

Greater density of coronary artery calcium associated with lower risk of CHD, CVD

Chicago – Michael H. Criqui, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues determined the independent associations of coronary artery calcium (CAC) volume and CAC density with cardiovascular disease events. An increasing body of evidence suggests that greater calcium density in plaques (measured by computed tomography) is associated with decreased CVD risk.

The study included 3,398 men and women from 4 race/ethnicity groups; non-Hispanic white, African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese. Participants were 45-84 years of age, free of known CVD at baseline, had CAC greater than 0 on their baseline CT, and were followed up through October 2010.

Continue reading “Greater density of coronary artery calcium associated with lower risk of CHD, CVD”

Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe

Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe

The US Navy said on Thursday it has suspended the deputy commander of a unit responsible for port and harbor security as a result of allegations in connection with a widening corruption probe involving Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine (Asia).

Continue reading “Another US Navy officer suspended in widening corruption probe”

SoCal Woman Screwed Nuns Out of $285,000

 

 

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A jury Tuesday convicted a Southern California woman of defrauding an order of nuns of $285,000: promising to buy a house for elderly and ill nuns with it, but spending it on lingerie, manicures, a sports car and her failing business.

Linda Rose Gagnon aka Linda Gualtieri-Gagnon, 59, formerly of Orange, was convicted of three counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

She defrauded the U.S. Province of the Religious of Jesus and Mary of $285,000 by claiming she was an expert in short sales and foreclosures, and promising to use the money the nuns had set aside to buy a home for retired and ailing sisters.

But it took Gagnon only 64 days to blow all the nuns’ money on herself, the U.S. attorney said in a statement. She used some of it “to fund the unprofitable operations of her real estate finance company, Rose Enterprise, Inc.” The rest she spent on “personal expenses, including travel, lingerie, groceries, manicures, hair dressing, restaurants, lease payments for an Audi TT sports car, and valet pet-sitting services for her dog.”

After stringing along the nuns for months, Gagnon asked for another $285,000, claiming she needed it to buy the house because the nuns’ first $285,000 “was tied up in a ‘triple escrow,'” prosecutors said in the statement.

Gagnon will be sentenced on Feb. 24, 2014. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison on each count.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/11/13/62846.htm

 

Top US navy intelligence officers suspended as bribery scandal widens / Vice-Admiral, and Rear Admiral now cut off from access to classified material

Vice-Admiral Ted Branch and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless have also been cut off from access to classified material
  •  Reuters in Washington
  • theguardian.com,  Friday 8 November 2013 23.33 EST
Michael Misiewicz in 2010
Michael Misiewicz, the first officer charged. Photograph: Heng Sinith/AP

Two of the US navy’s top intelligence officials had their access to classified materials suspended on Friday over their ties to a widening bribery scandal involving a Singapore-based defence contractor, the navy said.

Vice-Admiral Ted Branch, director of naval intelligence, and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, the director of intelligence operations, were also put on temporary leave because of allegations of “inappropriate conduct”.

“There is no indication, nor do the allegations suggest, that in either case there was any breach of classified information,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the navy’s chief of information, said in a statement.

Branch and Loveless are the most senior navy officials so far linked to a case involving Leonard Glenn Francis, whose company Glenn Defense Marine Asia helped arrange maintenance and resupply visits for navy ships to Asian ports.

Francis, a Malaysian national, is accused of providing prostitutes, money, concert tickets and other gifts in exchange for sensitive and classified navy information, such as ship movements. He would use that information to arrange visits by US navy vessels to ports where his company had contracts.

The US Justice Department estimated that Francis, who was arrested in San Diego in September, provided hundreds of millions of dollars in services to the navy.

Three other Navy officials have already been charged over the affair. They include Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz, charged in September with accepting paid travel, the services of prostitutes and Lady Gaga concert tickets from Francis’s company, California prosecutors said.

On Wednesday, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez was arrested in Florida and charged with accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash from Francis “in exchange for classified and internal US navy information,” prosecutors said.

Kirby said that although Branch and Loveless had not been charged, the suspension of their access to classified materials was “deemed prudent given the sensitive nature of their current duties”. He said the allegations against them involve conduct that occurred before their current assignments.

Kirby said it was possible more navy officials would be implicated in the widening scandal.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/09/us-navy-intelligence-officers-suspended-asian-bribery-scandal

Feds: Navy Secrets Bought With Hookers, Gaga Tix

SAN DIEGO November 4, 2013 (AP)
By JULIE WATSON Associated Press

Nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” the gregarious Malaysian businessman is well known by U.S. Navy commanders in the Pacific, where his company has serviced warships for 25 years.

But prosecutors in court papers say Leonard Francis worked his connections to obtain military secrets by lining up hookers, Lady Gaga tickets and other bribes for a U.S. commander, in a scandal reverberating across the Navy.

The accusations unfolding in a federal court case in San Diego signal serious national security breaches and corruption, setting off high-level meetings at the Pentagon with the threat that more people, including those of higher ranks, could be swept up as the investigation continues. A hearing Nov. 8 could set a trial date.

Navy commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz passed confidential information on ship routes to Francis’ Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, according to the court documents.

Misiewicz and Francis moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where Francis could inflate costs, according to the criminal complaint. The firm overcharged the Navy millions for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, the prosecution alleges.

“It’s pretty big when you have one person who can dictate where ships are going to go and being influenced by a contractor,” said retired Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, who has no direct knowledge of the investigation. “A lot of people are saying how could this happen?”

So far, authorities have arrested Misiewicz; Francis; his company’s general manager of global government contracts, Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II. Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for luxury trips, prostitution services, etc. All have pleaded not guilty.  Defense attorneys declined to comment.

Senior Navy officials said they believe that more people would likely be implicated in the scheme, but it’s too early to tell how many or how high this will go in the naval ranks. Other unnamed Navy personnel are mentioned in court documents as getting gifts from Francis.

Francis is legendary in military circles in that part of the world, said McKnight, who does not know him personally. He is known for extravagance. His 70,000-foot bungalow in an upscale Singapore neighborhood drew spectators yearly since 2007 to its lavish, outdoor Christmas decorations, which The Straits Times described as rivaling the island city-state’s main shopping street with replicas of snowmen, lighted towering trees, and Chinese and Japanese ornaments.

“He’s a larger-than-life figure,” McKnight said. “You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is.”

Navy spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby said Navy Criminal Investigative Service agents initiated their probe in 2010, but declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

That same year, Misiewicz caught the world’s attention when he made an emotional return as a U.S. Naval commander to his native Cambodia, where he had been rescued as a child from the violence of the Khmer Rouge and adopted by an American woman. His homecoming was widely covered by international media.

Meanwhile, Francis was recruiting him for his scheme, according to court documents.

Misiewicz’s family went to a Lion King production in Tokyo with a company employee and was offered prostitution services. Within months, the Navy commander was providing Francis ship movement schedules for the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and other ships, according to the criminal complaint.

Shortly after that, the manager wrote to Francis: “We got him!!:),” according to court documents.

Misiewicz would refer to Francis as “Big Brother” or “Big Bro” in emails from a personal account, while Francis would call him “Little Brother” or “Little Bro,” according to the complaint.

The company bilked the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand alone, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.

In December 2011, the two exchanged emails about the schedule of the USS Blue Ridge, investigators say. According to court documents, Francis wrote Misiewicz: “Bro, Slide a Bali visit in after Jakarta, and Dili Timor after Bali.”

The complaint alleges Misiewicz followed through on the demands: In October 2012, the USS George Washington was scheduled to visit Singapore and instead was redirected by the Navy to Port Klang, Malaysia, one of Francis’ preferred ports where his company submitted fake contractor bids.

After Francis offered Misiewicz five tickets to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand in 2012, Francis wrote: “Don’t chicken out bro we need u with us on the front lines,” according to court documents.

The federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis.

The defendants face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

—————

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Satish Cheney in Singapore contributed to this report.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/feds-navy-secrets-bought-hookers-gaga-tix-20773021?singlePage=true

Couple had two children taken away from them for A YEAR because military vet dad was taking medical marijuana prescribed to him by a doctor to treat his PTSD

  • Michael Lewis and his partner Lauren  Taylor had their two young son taken from them by local welfare  officials
  • The official had determined that Lewis’  medical marijuana was a hazard
  • A Gulf War vet he had been prescribed the  drug to help alleviate migraines
  • It took a year before the couple had  their sons returned to them
  • They claim the misconduct by city and  county officials cost them physically and emotionally and have filled a lawsuit  seeking damages

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 23:46 EST, 3  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 03:52 EST, 4 September 2013

A couple who had their two young children  placed in foster care for nearly a year because of their use of medical  marijuana are seeking punitive damages after a judge ruled that local welfare  officials had no grounds for ever taking the children.

Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor are suing  local Health and Human Services officials and police officers in Coronado,  California, accusing them of false imprisonment, battery, negligence and civil  rights violations, according to a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court last  month.

The lawsuit stems from an incident on August  5, 2011, when local police received an anonymous tip that the couple were  operating an illegal covert daycare operation and exposing children to  marijuana.

x
Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor are suing local welfare  officials and police officers in Coronado, California after their two sons were  placed in foster care for nearly a year because of their use of medical  marijuana The couple, Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor, have sued Coronado, two  city police officers, the county and seven Health and Human Services department  specialists, accusing them of false imprisonment, battery, negligence and civil  rights violations, according to a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court this  month.

Police found no evidence of a daycare center  at the house, but they did find Lewis’ prescribed marijuana.

A former Gulf War vet, he had been prescribed  the drug to help alleviate migraines he suffered after being exposed to  chemicals.

Lewis was able to provide the cops with a  valid California doctor’s recommendation which they were happy to accept.

But three days later, agents from the United States  Department of Health and Human Services showed up at the family’s home, reports  Courthousenews.com.

A former Gulf War vet, Michael Lewis had been prescribed marijuana to help alleviate migraines he suffered after being exposed to chemicals
A former Gulf War vet, Michael Lewis had been prescribed  marijuana to help alleviate migraines he suffered after being exposed to  chemicals

Citing the discovered marijuana as a ‘hazard’  in their official report, the agents removed the couple’s two young boys –  Cameran, then aged four, and Bailey, aged two – and placed them in an emergency  shelter for ‘abused, abandoned, and neglected children’ in San  Diego.

Even though the Center immediately determined  that the kids were ‘developmentally on target and there were no concerns for  them’, the children were kept from their parents for a year.

In their lawsuit, Lewis and his wife claim  the County repeatedly lied to the Courts, inventing tales of ‘abuse’ and  ‘neglect’ to keep the family separated.

Lewis was accused of being a forger and a  drug dealer who suffered from mental illness, while officials disregarded  evidence that his marijuana use had been recommended by a physician and  practiced away from the youngsters, and that Taylor did not use pot at  all.

After a year of anguish, Lauren Taylor had her boys returned after a judge ruled that the HHS had no grounds on which to continue holding themA
fter a year of anguish, Lauren Taylor had her boys  returned after a judge ruled that the HHS had no grounds on which to continue  holding them

Finally, on August 2, 2012, the children were  returned to their parents after a judge ruled that the HHS had no grounds on  which to continue holding them.

The family was overjoyed at being reunited  and now a year later has filed a  lawsuit.

They claim the misconduct by city and  county  officials has cost them physically and emotionally – from costly  drug tests and  supervised visitation to eviction and going a year  without the bond of family  life.

They are now suing for abduction of a child,  invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent  infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment and are seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and  punitive damages.

xx

Michael Lewis and Lauren Taylor were overjoyed in August  2012 when their boys were returned to them almost a year after they had first  been taken away

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410916/California-couple-children-taken-away-war-vet-dad-taking-medical-marijuana-PTSD.html#ixzz2dzK0rpir Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Christian family home after ill-fated Pacific voyage to escape US tyranny

EEV: Hmmm, Never seen a headline from a major paper quite like this. I am strongly patriotic, and do have issues posting this.

Couple rescued after setting off for Kiribati in a small boat with two young children to flee ‘state control’ of religion

 

    • Staff and agencies
    • theguardian.com,   Wednesday 14 August 2013 21.54 EDT
Hannah Gastonguay disembarks in Chile with her baby Rabah, daughter Ardith and husband Sean.

Hannah Gastonguay disembarks in Chile with her baby Rabah, daughter Ardith and husband Sean. Photograph: AP

An Arizona family who set sail for the tiny island of Kiribati to escape abortion, homosexuality and “the state-controlled church” in the US are back home after their boat foundered in the Pacific.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, said she and her husband, Sean, 30, had “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us” when they took their two small children and her father-in-law and set sail from San Diego in May.

But after storms damaged the boat and left them drifting for weeks they had to be rescued by a Venezuelan fishing vessel, and were then transferred to a Japanese cargo ship and taken to Chile.

Sean Gastonguay told KTVK-TV he would now have to find work to repay the $10,000 the family borrowed from the US State Department to fly home.

The family moved from Arizona to San Diego last year and decided to head for Kiribati because they believed it was less likely to interfere with their religion.

“They say it’s the least developed island so I figured: undeveloped, less corruption,” Sean Gastonguay said.

US “churches aren’t their own”, Hannah Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence. “Jesus isn’t the head of the church. God isn’t the head of the church.”

Among other differences, she said, they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with”.

Hannah gave birth to the couple’s eight-month-old daughter Rabah on the boat before they left San Diego. Also on board were three-year-old Ardith and Sean’s father, Mike.

At first the seas were calm, but later they were hit by storms. After they had been on the ocean for about two months they were down to “some juice and some honey” and what fish they could catch.

Still, we “didn’t feel like we were going to die or anything,” Hannah said. “We believed God would see us through.”

At one point a fishing boat came into contact with them but left without providing assistance. A Canadian cargo ship came along and offered supplies, but when they pulled up alongside it, the vessels bumped and the smaller ship sustained even more damage.

They were getting hit by “squall after squall, after squall.”

“The deck started separating from the hull, that was toward the end of it, the water would come in so we were constantly pumping and lots of stuff was getting damaged,” Sean told KTVK.

“We were in the thick of it, but we prayed,” Hannah said. “Being out on that boat, I just knew I was going to see some miracles.”

Eventually, their boat was spotted by a helicopter that had taken off from a nearby Venezuelan fishing vessel, which ended up saving them.

“The captain said, ‘Do you know where you’re at? You’re in the middle of nowhere,'” she said.

They were on the Venezuelan ship for about five days before transferring to the Japanese cargo ship, where they spent nearly three weeks before landing in the Chilean port of San Antonio.

Sean Gastonguay said he believed his family was never in real danger and had been blessed with meeting many new friends.

Hannah said now the family were back in Arizona they would “come up with a new plan”.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/15/christians-pacific-voyage-rescue-kiribati

US student jailed without food, water reaches $5.2m settlement / He was Innocent

Reuters
Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013

SAN DIEGO – A California university student who was left handcuffed in a federal holding cell for nearly 5 days without food or water has reached a US$4.1 million (S$5.2 million) settlement with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), his lawyers said on Tuesday.

Daniel Chong, who was rounded up along with eight other people in an April 21, 2012, drug raid at a San Diego area home, has said that he was forced to drink his own urine and nearly died after being placed in the cell and apparently forgotten.

After the ordeal, the 24-year-old student of the University of California, San Diego, spent five days in a San Diego hospital, three of them in intensive care. Last year, he filed a US$20 million claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against the DEA.

On Tuesday, his attorneys, Eugene Iredale and Julia Yoo, said they had settled that claim with the DEA for US$4.1 million.

“To its credit, the government has responded by acknowledging responsibility, apologising personally to Daniel and instituting changes in policies regarding safety checks for prisoners in temporary holding cells at DEA facilities,” Iredale said. “What happened to Daniel Chong should never happen to any human being on the face of the planet.”

A spokeswoman for the DEA said the agency was investigating the incident but referred calls regarding the settlement to the Department of Justice. A spokesman there could not immediately be reached for comment.

The DEA previously acknowledged that Chong had been accidentally left in a holding cell, and the head of the DEA’s San Diego office said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” by the incident.

Chong’s lawyers have said that he was arrested at the home of friend during a raid by a drug enforcement task force investigating an ecstasy trafficking ring that included DEA agents, sheriff’s deputies and San Diego police officers.

Iredale said that once authorities determined Chong was not part of the ring, a San Diego police officer put him in the 5-foot by 10-foot cell with his hands cuffed behind his back, telling him, “We’ll come to get you in a minute.”

Instead, Chong remained in the cell for four and a half days and by the time he was found he was suffering from severe dehydration, muscle deterioration, hallucinations, liver and kidney failure and extremely high levels of sodium, according to his attorneys. He lost 15 pounds during the ordeal.

The DEA said in a statement issued at the time that agents detained nine people including Chong during the raid and seized some 18,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, hallucinogenic mushrooms and prescription medicines, firearms and ammunition.

 

http://news.asiaone.com/news/edvantage/us-student-jailed-without-food-water-reaches-52m-settlement

US Man faces 13 years in jail for writing message in chalk against a Bank

Saturday, 29 June 2013

You know things are not well when Ecaudor offers the US Government $25 million in Human Rights training. The US can sure use the money.

A San Diego man could be found guilty of a series of misdemeanor charges that would land him in jail for as many as 13 years, all for writing down his opinions on sidewalk in children’s chalk.

Jeff Olson, 40, took his displeasure with the Federal bailout of large banks like Bank of America to the streets when he began chalking slogans like “No Thanks, Big Banks” and “Shame on Bank of America” outside of three separate Bank of America branches in San Diego.

But after a after a bank security manager called the city repeatedly to complain about Olson’s washable messages, the city decided to charge him with 13 counts of vandalism, a misdemeanor. If found guilty however, the sentence could include a $1,000 fine as well as a year in prison.

Olson defended his speech to the local CBS station: “Always on city sidewalks, washable chalk, never crude messages, never vulgar, clearly topical.”

While free speech is supposedly protected by the US First Amendment, the judge for the case has barred the amendment being used as a defense by Olson, and says that the trial will only be about whether Olson is guilty of ‘vandalism’ or not.

The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, sent a message to the city council president asking him to help close the case, calling it a waste of taxpayer money.

“This young man is being persecuted for thirteen counts of vandalism stemming from an expression of political protest that involved washable children’s chalk on a City sidewalk,” the mayor said.

Concerned with media coverage surrounding Olson’s trail, the judge, Howard Shore, further curtailed Olson’s First Ammendment rights, and issued a gag order Thursday prohibiting him speaking to the media. Shore then went on to dismiss the notion that Olson would find himself with any serious jail time because of the chalk protest

Maldives girl gets 100 lashes for pre-marital sex

 

Flogging sentence for Maldives girl

A 15-year-old rape victim has been sentenced to 100 lashes for engaging in premarital sex, court officials said.

The charges against the girl were brought against her last year after police investigated accusations that her stepfather had raped her and killed their baby. He is still to face trial.

Prosecutors said her conviction did not relate to the rape case.

Amnesty International condemned the punishment as “cruel, degrading and inhumane”.

The government said it did not agree with the punishment and that it would look into changing the law.

Baby death

Zaima Nasheed, a spokesperson for the juvenile court, said the girl was also ordered to remain under house arrest at a children’s home for eight months.

She defended the punishment, saying the girl had willingly committed an act outside of the law.

Officials said she would receive the punishment when she turns 18, unless she requested it earlier.

The case was sent for prosecution after police were called to investigate a dead baby buried on the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, in the north of the country.

Her stepfather was accused of raping her and impregnating her before killing the baby. The girl’s mother also faces charges for failing to report the abuse to the authorities.

The legal system of the Maldives, an Islamic archipelago with a population of some 400,000, has elements of Islamic law (Sharia) as well as English common law.

Ahmed Faiz, a researcher with Amnesty International, said flogging was “cruel, degrading and inhumane” and urged the authorities to abolish it.

“We are very surprised that the government is not doing anything to stop this punishment – to remove it altogether from the statute books.”

“This is not the only case. It is happening frequently – only last month there was another girl who was sexually abused and sentenced to lashes.”

He said he did not know when the punishment was last carried out as people were not willing to discuss it openly.

(BBC News)

http://updatednews.ca/2013/02/26/maldives-girl-gets-100-lashes-for-pre-marital-sex/

 

Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible

    February 19th, 2013          | by Charles Q. Choi                     

Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say.

Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons.

But brain implants are invasive technologies, probably of use only to people in medical need of them. Instead, electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind, techniques virtually everyone might be able to use.

His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

“We want something we can use in the coffee shop to have fun,” Coleman says.

The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others.

The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.

Using the electronic tattoos, Coleman and his colleagues have found they can detect brain signals reflective of mental states, such as recognition of familiar images. One application they are now pursuing is monitoring premature babies to detect the onset of seizures that can lead to epilepsy or brain development problems. The devices are now being commercialized for use as consumer, digital health, medical device, and industrial and defense products by startup MC10 in Cambridge, Mass.

image

Electronic telekinesis? Digital telepathy?

In past studies, Coleman’s team found that volunteers could use caps studded with electrodes to remotely control airplanes and flew an unmanned aerial vehicle over cornfields in Illinois. Although the electronic tattoos currently cannot be used to pilot planes, “we’re actively working on that,” Coleman says.

These devices can also be put on other parts of the body, such as the throat. When people think about talking, their throat muscles move even if they do not speak, a phenomenon known as subvocalization. Electronic tattoos placed on the throat could therefore behave as subvocal microphones through which people could communicate silently and wirelessly.

“We’ve demonstrated our sensors can pick up the electrical signals of muscle movements in the throat so that people can communicate just with thought,” Coleman says. Electronic tattoos placed over the throat could also pick up signals that would help smartphones with speech recognition, he added.

Invasive brain implants remain better at reading brain activity, Coleman notes.

But neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University Medical Center says there is a need for noninvasive technologies such as these for the brain. “People will want to navigate environments just by thinking, or play games just by thinking,” says Nicolelis, who did not take part in this research.

Coleman detailed his group’s most recent findings in Boston on Feb. 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Top Image: Image of a piece of electronics with physical properties, i.e. stiffness, bending rigidity, thickness and mass density, matched to the epidermis. Such ‘epidermal’ electronic systems seamlessly integrate and conform to the surface of the skin in a way that is mechanically invisible to the user. The devices have the potential to provide a range of healthcare and non-healthcare related functions. Image courtesy John A. Rogers.

Middle Image: The Neural Interaction Lab led by UC San Diego bioengineering professor Todd Coleman is working with Mary J. Harbert, MD, director of neonatal neurology UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital, to study the use of stamp-sized wearable patches of tiny circuits, sensors, and wireless transmitters to replace bulky wires currently used to monitor newborns in the neonatal ICU. The greatest advance in the neonatal ICU for premature babies has been stabilizing the heart and lung. But nowadays, experts are increasingly focusing on brain injury: under-development of the cerebral vasculature, hemorrhage, and seizures commonly occur in premies. If left unchecked, they can lead to epilepsy or cognitive development problems. Image courtesy Todd Coleman/UCSD.

Bottom Image: The Neural Interaction Lab led by UC San Diego bioengineering professor Todd Coleman is working with Ricardo Gil da Costa, PhD, at the Salk Institute to examine the use of wearable flexible electronics on the forehead to monitor congnitive impairment with systems that are minimally obtrusive. These patches of sensors monitor electrical rhythms of the brain and can wirelessly transmit information optically (via LEDs) or electromagnetically (via flexible antennas) to provide quantitative measures of attentional modulation that co-vary with the progression of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and schizophrenia. These minimally obtrusive wearable electronics provide promise for future clinical brain monitoring applications for hospitals and laboratories, outpatient clinics or even at home. Image courtesy Todd Coleman/UCSD.

Charles Q. Choi has written for Scientific American, The New York Times, Wired, Science and Nature, among others. In his spare time, he has traveled to all seven continents, including scaling the side of an iceberg in Antarctica, investigating mummies from Siberia, snorkeling in the Galapagos, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, camping in the Outback, avoiding thieves near Shaolin Temple and hunting for mammoth DNA in Yukon.

http://txchnologist.com/post/43496630304/temporary-tattoos-could-make-electronic-telepathy

 

California Declares War on Freedom of the Press

 

 

 Press Groups Attack Public Access Shell Game by Court Bureaucrats

 

By BILL GIRDNER

 

California court administrators are trying to create a new definition for public documents that appears aimed at limiting press access. News and First Amendment groups submitted comments Friday calling the change a semantic “sleight of hand” that undermines fundamental press and public freedoms.

The new definition, slipped into proposed rules for electronic filing, appears intended to deny press access to newly filed controversies until after a series of bureaucratic tasks are completed, a process that can take days or weeks.

Press and First Amendment groups have delivered a lengthy comment to the Judicial Council, the policy-making body for California’s courts, attacking the administrators’ gambit. Those joining in the comment include the powerful California Newspaper Publishers Association, that counts the Los Angeles Times as a member, in addition to Californians Aware, the First Amendment Coalition and Courthouse News Service.

“It appears the true purpose of introducing the concept of an ‘officially filed’ document into the Rules of Court is to provide the administrators with justification for denying public access to records that have been ‘filed,’ under the long-understood meaning of that term, until after they have been “officially filed,” wrote Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Roger Myers and Katherine Keating with Bryan Cave on behalf of the press and First Amendment groups.

An officially filed document, according to the proposed rules, is one that has been “processed and reviewed,” in other words, worked on by civil servants who create a computer record and run through a host of additional procedures.

In Sacramento’s courthouse, those procedures take about six weeks.

“The proposed rule change would thus give court administrators unbridled discretion to delay press and public access to fundamentally public records until administrators decide such access is appropriate — even if it is days or weeks after the ‘filed’ date,” said the Bryan Cave lawyers.

“The Judicial Council should not countenance the definitional sleight of hand when the public’s access to court records — a right that is fundamental to the transparency of the judicial branch of our government — is at issue,” they said.

The quiet attempt to work a new definition of court records into e-filing rules is consistent with past policy of the Administrative Office of the Courts, whose former director William Vickrey attempted a similar semantic shell game by referring to filed documents as “pre-filed,” in order to oppose prompt access by the media.

“In the proposed rules, the dubious notion of a ‘pre-filed’ document has been replaced with the equally dubious notion of an ‘officially filed’ document,” said the comment from the press corps.

Vickrey and his office came under fire from the Legislature and trial court judges around the state on issues that ranged from financial mismanagement to perceived arrogance.

He retired in 2011, his longtime lobbyist Curt Child was appointed head of operations last year, and the office was said to be reformed.

But the effort to create a new definition for court documents shows little tendency toward reform and instead continues the office’s old, restrictive view on public access.

Federal and state court rulings establish that timely access to public documents is part of the overriding First Amendment right. News loses interest to readers as time goes by and news outlets report new matters on the day they happen rather than a day, a week or six weeks later.

“It appears the primary — and perhaps sole — purpose of the ‘officially filed’ concept is to justify arguments by court administrators that the public has no right to access a court record until court staff deem it fit for public viewing,” said the press comments. “The access delays that would inevitably result would violate the federal constitutional right of timely access to court records and be contrary to the practices of state and federal courts around the nation.”

As an example of hot news tied to a court filing, football player Junior Seau’s family sued the NFL on Wednesday in San Diego and the news was reported by national sports pages that same day. But reporters could not get the document from the court because San Diego Superior Court denies access to court documents until they are processed.

That delay is contrary to courthouse traditions. Courts throughout the nation traditionally give journalists access to new filings, such as the Junior Seau matter, on the day they are filed, when the news is hot.

But that tradition has been under attack in local California courts that fell in line with the central administrative office and adopted its financially disastrous software for processing cases at a cost of a half-billion dollars in public money.

Orange County and San Diego are two of the California courts that adopted that cumbersome and now-defunct software, and both courts are now pushing electronic filing of court documents. Orange County, in particular, now requires that lawyers file electronically but nevertheless denies public access for a substantial amount of time while new matters are processed into that old software, called the Court Case Management System.

 

Rush to Rules

The mandatory e-filing policy in Orange County is the direct result of a bill passed by the California Legislature last summer that OK’d a pilot program and said the experience from the pilot program should shape statewide rules on e-filing.

But the new statewide rules were written and proposed before the pilot program had even started, and now administrators are trying to push them through the courts’ policy-making body, the Judicial Council, when the pilot program is less than a month old.

“Assembly Bill 2073 explicitly requires the Judicial Council to adopt mandatory e-filing rules that are ‘informed’ by a study of the Orange County pilot program,” said the press comments. “But instead of following this mandate, the proposed rules were drafted and circulated before the Orange County pilot program even began.”

“The prospect of precipitously adopting mandatory e-filing rules is especially troubling in light of the recent debacle over the California Case Management System,” the comments continued. “Given the enormous amount of public funds spent on that failed project, caution is essential to ensure that the delays and inconsistencies in public access associated with CCMS do not carry over into the expansion of e-filing.”

In obtaining passage of the pilot program legislation, with the help of the central administrative office, Orange County court officials told the legislators that “E-filing makes the court records available faster and sooner to everyone, including the public.”

However, reporters who cover Orange County have found that not to be true.

In December, a two-day spot check of paper-filed complaints compared with e-filed complaints showed that the paper cases were actually processed more quickly by a day or two than the e-filed cases, a result that mirrors earlier surveys on the delays in access to e-filed, complex cases, that are often the most important and newsworthy cases.

“After that court implemented e-filing for certain categories of cases, e-filed documents were not typically available until a day or two after their paper-based counterparts were accessible,” said the press comments.

When that discrepancy was reported in a news article late last year, Orange County court officials appeared to accelerate the processing of e-filed complaints and the delays went down. But by mid-January, the delay had again increased to two and three days between the time a case is actually “filed” and the time it is “officially filed.”

In one of the many aberrations that take place when administrators control press access, the most minor cases, referred to as limited cases, are processed first and appear more quickly for public view than the more important, or unlimited cases, that take much longer.

The press comments by the Bryan Cave lawyers noted that members of the Legislature were told e-filing would be “facilitating public access,” while court administrators were instead using the legislation “as a hook to undermine public access.”

 

Courthouse Tradition

Press access in the CCMS and now e-filing courts contrasts sharply with traditional press access in California and the nation.

Roughly a decade ago, news reporters in Orange County reviewed newly filed civil cases on the day they were filed at the end of the day, in a wooden box in the records room that was connected to the intake windows for new filings.

A survey of press and public access in courts around the nation, attached to Friday’s press group comments, shows that traditional, same-day press access remains the norm in most federal and state courts in the nation. The exceptions, as the survey demonstrates, are precisely those California courts that are rushing to implement electronic filing.

Federal courts, for example, have moved toward electronic filing but at the same time they put in place a host of local variations that preserve traditional, same-day press access.

Some of the federal courts send new filings directly onto public terminals at the courthouse without any processing from court officials, providing nearly instantaneous public access.

Other federal courts provide an electronic in-box that allows the press to review newly filed cases before they are processed, in other words when they are “filed” and before they are “officially filed” in the parlance of the new rules proposed for California.

Along that line, Courthouse News has repeatedly asked officials in Orange County Superior Court to provide the press with access to the electronic in-box for new filings, in order to preserve the old status quo of same-day access for the press. The vendor for the e-filing service in Orange County has said such access is completely feasible, that it is simply a matter of the court’s discretion.

But that request has repeatedly been turned down by the Orange County clerk.

Instead, the court’s pilot program for e-filing has come accompanied by pre-written rules that, according to the comments from the press groups, appear aimed at justifying the ongoing denial of press access.

“Rights fundamental to the democratic process — like the right to know what goes on in the courts — are meaningless if they can be disregarded when they become inconvenient,” the press comment concluded. “As history has taught us, rushing forward without taking the time to assess how these systems will actually work for all concerned is quite likely to result in a system that is worse rather than better.”

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/01/25/54290.htm

Press Groups Attack Public Access Shell Game by Court Bureaucrats ” No more freedom of the press? “

By BILL GIRDNER

California court administrators are trying to create a new definition for public documents that appears aimed at limiting press access. News groups submitted comments Friday calling the change a “semantic sleight of hand” that undermines fundamental press and public freedoms.

“It appears the true purpose of introducing the concept of an ‘officially filed’ document into the Rules of Court is to provide the administrators with justification for denying public access to records that have been ‘filed,’ under the long-understood meaning of that term, until after they have been “officially filed,” wrote Rachel Matteo-Boehm, Roger Myers and Katherine Keating with Bryan Cave.

An officially filed document, according to the proposed rules, is one that has been “processed and reviewed,” in other words, worked on by civil servants who create a computer record and run through a host of additional procedures.

In Sacramento’s courthouse, those procedures take about six weeks.

The change in definition, slipped into proposed rules for electronic filing, appears intended to give officials an excuse to deny press access to newly filed controversies, until after all the bureaucratic tasks are done.

“The proposed rule change would thus give court administrators unbridled discretion to delay press and public access to fundamentally public records until administrators decide such access is appropriate — even if it is days or weeks after the ‘filed’ date,” said the Bryan Cave lawyers.

Their comments were made on behalf of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, Californians-Aware, The First Amendment Coalition and Courthouse News Service.

“The Judicial Council should not countenance the definitional sleight of hand when the public’s access to court records — a right that is fundamental to the transparency of the judicial branch of our government — is at issue,” they said.

The quiet attempt to work a new definition of court records into e-filing rules is consistent with past policy of the Administrative Office of the Courts, whose former director William Vickrey attempted a similar semantic shell game by referring to filed documents as “pre-filed,” in order to support his argument against prompt access by the media.

“In the proposed rules, the dubious notion of a ‘pre-filed’ document has been replaced with the equally dubious notion of an ‘officially filed’ document,” said the comment from the press corps.

Vickrey and his office came under fire from the Legislature and trial court judges around the state on issues that ranged from financial mismanagement to perceived arrogance.

He retired in 2011, his longtime lobbyist Curt Child was appointed head of operations last year, and the office was said to be reformed.

But the effort to create a new definition for court documents shows little tendency toward reform and instead continues the office’s old, restrictive view on public access.

Federal and state court rulings establish that timely access to public documents is part of the overriding First Amendment right. News loses interest to readers as time goes by and news outlets report new matters on the day they happen rather than a day, a week or six weeks later.

“It appears the primary — and perhaps sole — purpose of the ‘officially filed’ concept is to justify arguments by court administrators that the public has no right to access a court record until court staff deem it fit for public viewing,” said the press comments. “The access delays that would inevitably result would violate the federal constitutional right of timely access to court records and be contrary to the practices of state and federal courts around the nation.”

As an example of hot news tied to a court filing, football player Junior Seau’s family sued the NFL on Wednesday in San Diego and the news was reported by national sports pages that same day. But reporters could not get the document from the court because San Diego Superior Court delays access to court documents until they are processed.

That delay is contrary to courthouse traditions. Courts throughout the nation traditionally give journalists access to new filings, such as the Junior Seau matter, on the day they are filed, when the news is hot.

But that tradition has been under attack in local California courts that fell in line with the central administrative office and adopted its financially disastrous software for processing cases at a cost of a half-billion dollars in public money.

Orange County and San Diego are two of the California courts that adopted that cumbersome and now-defunct software, and both courts are now pushing electronic filing of court documents. Orange County, in particular, now requires that lawyers file electronically but nevertheless delays public access for a substantial amount of time while new matters are processed into that old software, called the Court Case Management System.

That mandatory e-filing program is the direct result of a bill passed by the California Legislature last summer that OK’d a pilot program in Orange County and said the experience from the program should shape statewide rules on e-filing.

But those new rules were written and proposed before the pilot program had even started, and now administrators are trying to push them through the courts’ policy-making body, the Judicial Council, when the pilot program is less than a month old.

“Assembly Bill 2073 explicitly requires the Judicial Council to adopt mandatory e-filing rules that are ‘informed’ by a study of the Orange County pilot program,” said the press comments. “But instead of following this mandate, the proposed rules were drafted and circulated before the Orange County pilot program even began.”

“The prospect of precipitously adopting mandatory e-filing rules is especially troubling in light of the recent debacle over the California Case Management System,” the comments continued. “Given the enormous amount of public funds spent on that failed project, caution is essential to ensure that the delays and inconsistencies in public access associated with CCMS do not carry over into the expansion of e-filing.”

In obtaining passage of the pilot program legislation, with the help of the central administrative office, Orange County court officials told the legislators that “E-filing makes the court records available faster and sooner to everyone, including the public.”

However, reporters who cover Orange County have found that not to be true.

In December, a two-day spot check of paper-filed complaints compared with e-filed complaints showed that the paper cases were actually processed more quickly by a day or two than the e-filed cases, a result that mirrors earlier surveys on the delays in access to e-filed, complex cases, often the most important and newsworthy cases in the court.

“After that court implemented e-filing for certain categories of cases, e-filed documents were not typically available until a day or two after their paper-based counterparts were accessible,” said the press comments.

When that discrepancy was reported in a news article late last year, Orange County court officials appeared to accelerate the processing of e-filed complaints and the delays went down. But by mid-January, the delay had again increased to two and three days between the time a case is actually “filed” and the time it is “officially filed.”

In one of the many aberrations that take place when administrators control press access, the most minor cases, referred to as limited cases, are processed first and appear more quickly for public view than the more important, or unlimited cases, that take much longer.

The press comments noted that while legislators were told e-filing would be “facilitating public access,” court administrators were instead using the legislation “as a hook to undermine public access.”

Press access under CCMS and now e-filing contrasts sharply with traditional press access in California and the nation.

Roughly a decade ago, news reporters in Orange County reviewed newly filed civil cases on the day they were filed at the end of the day, in a wooden box in the records room that was connected to the intake windows for new filings.

A survey of press and public access in courts around the nation, attached to Friday’s comments from press groups, shows that traditional, same-day press access remains the norm in most federal and state courts in the nation. The exceptions, as the survey demonstrates, are precisely those California courts that are rushing to implement electronic filing.

By contrast, federal courts have moved toward electronic filing while putting in place a host of local variations that preserve traditional, same-day press access.

Some of the federal courts send new filings directly onto public terminals at the courthouse without any processing from court officials, providing nearly instantaneous public access. Other federal courts provide an electronic in-box that allows the press to review newly filed cases before they are processed, in other words when they are “filed” and before they are “officially filed” in the parlance of the new rules proposed for California.

Courthouse News has repeatedly asked officials in Orange County Superior Court to provide the press with access to the electronic in-box for new filings, in order to preserve the old status quo of same-day access for the press. The vendor for the e-filing service in Orange County has said such access is completely feasible, that it is simply a matter of the court’s discretion.

But that request has repeatedly been turned down by the Orange County clerk. Instead, the court’s pilot program has come accompanied by pre-written rules that, according to the comments from the press groups, appear aimed at justifying the ongoing delays in press access.

“Rights fundamental to the democratic process — like the right to know what goes on in the courts — are meaningless if they can be disregarded when they become inconvenient,” the press comment concluded. “As history has taught us, rushing forward without taking the time to assess how these systems will actually work for all concerned is quite likely to result in a system that is worse rather than better.”

 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/01/25/54290.htm

$11.4 Million for Drug Kickbacks : Naproxen, Xodol, Fexmid, Dolgic

 

 

 

SAN DIEGO (CN) – San Diego-based Victory Pharma will pay $11.4 million in civil and criminal fines for paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed its drugs, federal prosecutors said.

Victory entered a deferred-prosecution agreement, agreed to pay a criminal forfeiture of $1.4 million and another $9.9 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

It paid kickbacks to doctors who prescribed its Naprelan (Naproxen), Xodol (acetaminophen with hydrocodone), Fexmid (cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant), and Dolgic (acetaminophen with butalbital, a barbiturate). Some of the patients were on Medicare.

“The kickbacks included tickets to professional and collegiate sporting events, tickets to concerts and plays, spa outings, golf and ski outings, dinners at expensive restaurants, and numerous other out-of-office events,” the U.S Attorney’s said in a statement. “Victory also encouraged its sales representatives to schedule paid ‘preceptorships,’ which involved sales representatives ‘shadowing’ doctors in their offices. The settlement also resolves allegations that Victory improperly used these preceptorships to induce doctors to prescribe Victory’s products.”

The prosecutions began when a former Victory sales rep, Chad Miller, filed a qui tam whistleblower complaint. Miller will get $1.7 million from the settlement.

The Justice Department said it has recovered $13.9 billion under the False Claims Act since January 2009, $10.1 billion of it from health care fraud

http://www.courthousenews.com/

Are Santa’s Visits Legal?

  by Jill  Harness – December 25, 2012 – 9:30 AM

 

Sometime between when you went to bed last night and when the sun came up  this morning, a fat man in a red suit shimmied down your chimney to leave  presents (or, if you were naughty, coal) under your tree. Though you’re not  likely to raise a fuss because the only thing Santa takes from your home is that  plate of cookies, you might wonder: Is old Saint Nick actually breaking the law  by coming into your house?

According to San  Diego criminal lawyer Peter Liss, Santa has nothing to worry about—at least  in California. That’s because trespassing involves entering a property without  consent, but by wishing for presents on mall Santas’ laps, sending letters to  the North Pole, and leaving out milk and cookies, people across the world have  implied that Mr. Claus is, in fact, welcome in their homes.

That doesn’t mean you should go around playing Santa Claus, though.  Gaining entry into someone’s property through impersonation of a celebrity is  fraud. In fact, The Legal Geeks argue  that Jack  Skellington, the most famous Santa impersonator of all, could be left facing  all kinds of criminal charges, including: conspiracy; kidnapping; false  impersonation; torture (at the “hands” of Mr. Oogie Boogie); breaking and  entering; and assault and battery on an unknown number of families.

So remember, everyone: Leave out your milk and cookies for Mr. Claus, but  don’t get into the Christmas spirit by pretending to be St. Nicholas.  You could get in a heap of trouble.

Merry Christmas!

Read the full text here:  http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/154988#ixzz2G5PdR9r0 –brought to you by mental_floss!

Complete Genomics CEO rebuts warnings of national security risks / “a world in which a virus engineered to kill a specific individual can be ordered online for $500 “?

14 Dec 2012 | 20:53 GMT | Posted by Monya Baker |

In a letter to employees, sequencing company Complete Genomics CEO Cliff Reid predicts that the acquisition of his company by Chinese sequencing giant BGI will win approval by national security regulators and be completed by the end of March in 2013.

Back in September, the companies announced a $118-million dollar agreement under which Complete Genomics, which has a proprietary technology for sequencing human genomes, would become a BGI-owned subsidiary, with staff and facilities to remain in Mountain View, California. In a spurned counter-offer, San Diego, California-based Illumina presented itself as a better suitor to Complete Genomics, predicting that a deal with BGI would be blocked by part of the U.S. Treasury Department that oversees foreign investment in the U.S. (See Illumina, BGI spar over Complete Genomics)

Reid countered that Illumina’s proposal to acquire Complete Genomics would likely not get past antitrust regulators since Illumina dominates the sequencing market.

Reid’s letter came on the same day as an editorial in the San Jose Mercury News urging the committee on foreign investment to carefully scrutinize BGI’s acquisition of Complete Genomics for its impact on jobs and potential to advance bioweapons.

Reid noted in his letter that BGI already owns Illumina sequencing machines, and Illumina itself has a Chinese subsidiary selling directly to Chinese customers.

The editorial, by Michael Wessel and Larry Wortzel, two members of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressionally appointed advisory group, referred to a speculative scenario described in the Atlantic. It describes a world in which a virus engineered to kill a specific individual can be ordered online for $500. It goes on to note that North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran might all be willing to pay Chinese scientists from BGI for such projects.

The ability to design and synthesize a viral assassin would require technologies that go far, far beyond that required to sequence a human genome. Stanford synthetic biologist Drew Endy said the Atlantic article read like science fiction, at least for now. “I was shocked to see it published in that venue.”

Asked by Nature how worried he was that Complete Genomics’ technology could be used for bioweapons, Wessel said “The capabilities described in the Atlantic article might seem like science fiction, but so did the prospect of the Stuxnet-type virus just a couple of years ago.” (Stuxnet is a sophisticated computer worm that infected and disrupted machines used by Iran to refine uranium.)

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has taken no position on the transaction, Wessel said. “These concerns deserve to be strictly scrutinized by CFIUS [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.] to ensure that U.S. national security interests are protected.”

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/12/complete-genomics-ceo-rebuts-warnings-of-national-security-risks.html

In vitro study finds digested formula, but not breast milk, is toxic to cells

Contact: Catherine Hockmuth chockmuth@ucsd.edu 858-822-1359 University of California – San Diego

Findings may help explain development of fatal condition in premature infants

             IMAGE:   This microscopic image of cells shows the effects of breast milk vs. infant formula digestion. Cells are alive and healthy after the digestion of breast milk (top row) with only…

Click here for more information.     

Free fatty acids created during the digestion of infant formula cause cellular death that may contribute to necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe intestinal condition that is often fatal and occurs most commonly in premature infants, according to a study by University of California, San Diego bioengineers. Their report, which was based on in vitro tests comparing the digestion of fresh human breast milk and nine different infant formulas, was published online in the journal Pediatric Research.

Scientists have long known that premature infants fed formula are more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis than those fed breast milk. The condition is the leading cause of death from gastrointestinal diseases in premature infants, but the underlying mechanism has not been understood.  Alexander Penn, a research scientist working in the Microcirculation Laboratory of bioengineering Professor Geert Schmid-Schönbein from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, believes they have come closer to an answer.

Penn and others had previously determined that the partially digested food in a mature, adult intestine is capable of killing cells, due to the presence of free fatty acids which have a “detergent” capacity that damages cell membranes.  The intestines of healthy adults and older children have a mature mucosal barrier that may prevent damage due to free fatty acids. However, the intestine is leakier at birth, particularly for preterm infants, which could be why they are more susceptible to necrotizing enterocolitis.

Therefore, the researchers wanted to know what happens to breast milk as compared to infant formula when they are exposed to digestive enzymes.   They “digested,” in vitro, infant formulas marketed for full term and preterm infants as well as fresh human breast milk using pancreatic enzymes or fluid from an intestine. They then tested the formula and milk for levels of free fatty acids. They also tested whether these fatty acids killed off three types of cells involved in necrotizing enterocolitis: epithelial cells that line the intestine, endothelial cells that line blood vessels, and neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that is a kind of “first responder” to inflammation caused by trauma in the body.

             IMAGE:   This chart shows the high concentration of unbound (cytotoxic) free fatty acids (FFAs) (shown in white) created by the digestion of infant formula compared to the relatively small presence of…

Click here for more information.     

Overwhelmingly, the digestion of formula led to cellular death, or cytotoxicity – in less than 5 minutes in some cases – while breast milk did not. For example, digestion of formula caused death in 47 percent to 99 percent of neutrophils while only 6 percent of them died as a result of milk digestion.  The study found that breast milk appears to have a built-in mechanism to prevent cytotoxicity. The research team believes most food, like formula, releases high levels of free fatty acids during digestion, but that breast milk is digested in a slower, more controlled, process.

Currently, many neonatal intensive care units are moving towards formula-free environments, but breastfeeding a premature infant can be challenging or physically impossible and supplies of donor breast milk are limited. To meet the demand if insufficient breast milk is available, less cytotoxic milk replacements will need to be designed in the future that pose less risk for cell damage and for necrotizing enterocolitis, the researchers concluded.

This may be of benefit not only to premature infants, but also to full-term infants at higher risk for disorders that are associated with gastrointestinal problems and more leaky intestines, such as autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Sharon Taylor, a professor of pediatric medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego, said the study offers more support to an already ongoing push by hospitals, including neonatal intensive care units, to encourage breastfeeding even in more challenging circumstances in the NICU. For patients who are too premature or frail to nurse, Dr. Taylor said hospital staff should provide consultation and resources to help mothers pump breast milk that can be fed to the baby through a tube.

The research was carried out in collaboration with Dr. Taylor, Karen Dobkins of the Department of Psychology, and Angelina Altshuler and James Small of the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NS071580 and GM85072).  The researchers conclude that breast milk has a significant ability to reduce cytotoxicity that formula does not have. One next step is to determine whether these results are replicated in animal studies and whether intervention can prevent free fatty acids from causing intestinal damage or death from necrotizing enterocolitis.

Early life exposure to BPA may affect testis function in adulthood

2010 study posted for filing

 

Exposure to environmental levels of the industrial chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in the womb and early life may cause long-lasting harm to testicular function, according to a new study conducted in animals. The results are being presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

 

“We are seeing changes in the testis function of rats after exposure to BPA levels that are lower than what the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency consider safe exposure levels for humans,” said Benson Akingbemi, PhD, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at Auburn (Ala.) University. “This is concerning because large segments of the population, including pregnant and nursing mothers, are exposed to this chemical.”

 

Many hard plastic bottles and canned food liners contain BPA, as do some dental sealants. BPA acts in a similar manner as the female sex hormone estrogen and has been linked to female infertility. This chemical is present in placenta and is able to pass from a mother into her breast milk. In their study of the male, Akingbemi and colleagues saw harmful effects of BPA at the cellular level, specifically in Leydig cells. These cells in the testis secrete testosterone, the main sex hormone that supports male fertility. After birth, Leydig cells gradually acquire the capacity for testosterone secretion, Akingbemi explained.

 

The process of testosterone secretion was decreased in male offspring of female rats that received BPA during pregnancy and while nursing. The mothers were fed BPA in olive oil at a dose of either 2.5 or 25 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. Akingbemi said this is below the daily upper limit of safe exposure for humans, which federal guidelines currently put at 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A control group of pregnant rats received olive oil without BPA. Male offspring, after weaning at 21 days of age, received no further exposure to BPA.

 

Using a combination of analytical methods, the investigators studied the development of Leydig cells in male offspring. The capacity for testosterone secretion was assessed at 21, 35 and 90 days of age. The amount of testosterone secreted per Leydig cell was found to be much lower in male offspring after early-life exposure to BPA than in offspring from control unexposed animals.

 

“Although BPA exposure stopped at 21 days of age, BPA’s effects on Leydig cells, which were seen immediately at the end of exposure and at 35 days, remained apparent until 90 days of age, when the rats reached adulthood,” Akingbemi said. “Therefore, the early life period is a sensitive window of exposure to BPA and exposure at this time may affect testis function into adulthood.”

Vitamin D deficiency linked to Type 1 diabetes

Contact: Kim Edwards
kedwards@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California – San Diego

A study led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has found a correlation between vitamin D3 serum levels and subsequent incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The six-year study of blood levels of nearly 2,000 individuals suggests a preventive role for vitamin D3 in this disease. The research appears the December issue of Diabetologia, a publication of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

“Previous studies proposed the existence of an association between vitamin D deficiency and risk of and Type 1 diabetes, but this is the first time that the theory has been tested in a way that provides the dose-response relationship,” said Cedric Garland, DrPH, FACE, professor in UCSD’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

This study used samples from millions of blood serum specimens frozen by the Department of Defense Serum Registry for disease surveillance. The researchers thawed and analyzed 1000 samples of serum from healthy people who later developed type 1 diabetes and 1000 healthy controls whose blood was drawn on or near the same date but who did not develop type 1 diabetes. By comparing the serum concentrations of the predominant circulating form of vitamin D – 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) – investigators were able to determine the optimal serum level needed to lower an individual’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Based mainly on results of this study, Garland estimates that the level of 25(OH)D needed to prevent half the cases of type 1 diabetes is 50 ng/ml. A consensus of all available data indicates no known risk associated with this dosage.

“While there are a few conditions that influence vitamin D metabolism, for most people, 4000 IU per day of vitamin D3 will be needed to achieve the effective levels,” Garland suggested. He urges interested patients to ask their health care provider to measure their serum 25(OH)D before increasing vitamin D3 intake.

“This beneficial effect is present at these intakes only for vitamin D3,” cautioned Garland. “Reliance should not be placed on different forms of vitamin D and mega doses should be avoided, as most of the benefits for prevention of disease are for doses less than 10,000 IU/day.”

 

###

 

Garland’s co-authors from UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Naval Health Research Center include Edward Gorham, PhD; Sharif Mohr, PhD; and Heather Hofflich, DO; Alina Burgi and Kenneth Zeng of the Naval Health Research Center, and Camillo Ricordi MD, of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute.

The study was supported by a Congressional allocation to the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami through the Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California.

Navy Awards Contracts for Effort to Attack Enemy Networks

Nov. 9, 2012 – 03:57PM   |
By ARAM ROSTON   |

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command’s $98 million dollar contract, announced this week, was awarded to 14 small companies for “Integrated Cyber Operations support.”

Although the contract comes just a month after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s declaration of an aggressive cyber doctrine, that appears to be coincidence: The solicitation for the Navy SPAWAR’s cyber effort was first issued in October 2011.

According to that original contract solicitation, the integrated cyber operations include “computer network defense, computer network exploitation, and computer network attack.” The solicitation defines network attacks as: “Actions taken through the use of computer networks to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy information resident in computers/computer networks or the computers and networks themselves.”

As a practical matter, it’s unclear how the technology would be fielded. It’s still not clear what law governs the use of cyber attacks, though the State Department’s top lawyer has said that a cyber attack in certain cases could be considered a “use of force” and would be subject to international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict.

The 14 companies won the contract as part of a multiple-award contract and will compete for task orders. SPAWAR spokesman Jack O’Neill says this type of contract, favored by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, “is supposed to breed better efficiencies, and better prices.”

The companies awarded the contract are Anchored Systems (JV), Washington, D.C.; Ausgar Technologies, San Diego, Calif.; Burke Consortium Inc., Alexandria, Va.; The Cybrix Group, Tampa, Fla.; Flatter and Associates Inc., Stafford, Va.; GRSI, Frederick, Md.; ISHPI Information Technologies Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C.; Mandex Inc. Fairfax, Va.; Mystikal Solutions LLC, San Antonio, Texas; Sentar Inc., Huntsville, Ala.; SPARC LLC, Charleston, S.C.; Stargates Inc., Arlington, Va.; Strohmier Consulting LLC, Ashburn, Va.; and Technical and Project Engineering, Kingstowne, Va.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20121109/C4ISR01/311090015/Navy-Awards-Contracts-Effort-Attack-Enemy-Networks?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Statins may worsen symptoms in some cardiac patients: those with diastolic heart failure (DHF) experienced the opposite effect, including increased dyspnea, fatigue, and decreased exercise tolerance.

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
jstawarz@chestnet.org
847-498-8306
American College of Chest Physicians

Although statins are widely used to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular disorders, new research shows that the class of drugs may actually have negative effects on some cardiac patients. A new study presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), found that statins have beneficial effects on patients with systolic heart failure (SHF), but those with diastolic heart failure (DHF) experienced the opposite effect, including increased dyspnea, fatigue, and decreased exercise tolerance.

“Systolic heart failure is most often due to coronary artery disease and appears to have more of an inflammatory component than diastolic heart failure,” said Lawrence P. Cahalin, PhD, PT, Northeastern University, Boston, MA. “It is possible that statins would help patients with systolic heart failure more than patients with diastolic heart failure due to the cholesterol-lowering and antiinflammatory effects of statins.”

Researchers from Northeastern University and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, retrospectively reviewed the charts of 136 patients with heart failure in order to examine the effect of statins on pulmonary function (PF) and exercise tolerance (ET) in patients with DHF vs. SHF. A non-statin group (82 percent of patients had DHF) of 75 patients was compared with a statin group (72 percent of patients had DHF) of 61 patients. Atorvastatin was prescribed in 75 percent of the patients on statins.

Results of the analysis showed that overall PF and ET of patients in the statin group were significantly lower than patients in the non-statin group. Further subgroup analyses revealed that PF measures in the DHF statin group were 12 percent lower than PF measures in the DHF non-statin group. Furthermore, the amount of exercise performed by patients with DHF who were on a statin was almost 50 percent less than patients with DHF not on a statin.

“Some patients with diastolic heart failure may be more prone to the adverse effect of statins on muscle. It may be that patients with particular preexisting factors will experience unfavorable results from statin therapy, including exercise intolerance, dyspnea, and fatigue,” said Dr. Cahalin.

Although the PF and ET measures in the SHF statin group were not significantly greater than in the SHF non-statin group, the PF measures were 11 percent to 14 percent higher, and the peak ET measures were 2 percent to 7 percent higher than the PF and ET measures of the SHF non-statin group, suggesting that statins did benefit patients with SHF.

“Not all statins are alike and not all patients are alike. Some statins are stronger than others and are likely to act differently, given particular patient characteristics, and produce different degrees of wanted and unwanted effects,” said Dr. Cahalin. “In our continuing study, we hope to identify patient characteristics that are associated with favorable and less than favorable results from statin therapy.”

Although the new data suggest that statins may actually worsen symptoms in patients with DHF, researchers feel that the benefits of using statins in patients with SHF and DHF outweigh the risks.

“Due to beneficial effects on lipids and other cardiovascular factors, statins are becoming a standard treatment for many patients with or without systolic or diastolic heart failure. It is likely that the use of statins for these conditions will continue to increase,” said Dr. Cahalin. “However, if patients taking a statin are short of breath, fatigued, and unable to exercise or perform functional tasks, then exams of muscle strength and endurance, as well as pulmonary function and exercise tolerance, are warranted.”

“Statins provide significant benefits for patients with cardiovascular disease, said Kalpalatha Guntupalli, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “However, as for any new medication prescribed, clinicians should closely monitor the effects that different types of statins have on individual patients.”

 

###

 

CHEST 2009 is the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 31-November 5 in San Diego, CA. The ACCP represents 17,400 members who provide patient care in the areas of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine in the United States and throughout the world. The ACCP’s mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, education, research, and communication. For more information about the ACCP, please visit the ACCP Web site at www.chestnet.org.

High fructose corn syrup: A recipe for hypertension

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Shari Leventhal
sleventhal@asn-online.org
202-558-8423
American Society of Nephrology

Elevated dietary fructose linked to high blood pressure

A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, California. The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may help prevent hypertension.

Over the last 200 years, the rate of fructose intake has directly paralleled the increasing rate of obesity, which has increased sharply in the last 20 years since the introduction of HFCS. Today, Americans consume 30% more fructose than 20 years ago and up to four times more than 100 years ago, when obesity rates were less than 5%. While this increase mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension, studies have been inconsistent in linking excess fructose in the diet to hypertension.

Diana Jalal, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center), and her colleagues studied the issue in a large representative population of US adults. They examined 4,528 adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Fructose intake was calculated based on a dietary questionnaire, and foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy were included. Dr. Jalal’s team found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams per day of fructose (2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) increased their risk of developing hypertension. Specifically, a diet of more than 74 grams per day of fructose led to a 28%, 36%, and 87% higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. (A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.)

“These results indicate that high fructose intake in the form of added sugars is significantly and independently associated with higher blood pressure levels in the US adult population with no previous history of hypertension,” the authors concluded. Additional studies are needed to see if low fructose diets can normalize blood pressure and prevent the development of hypertension.

Study co-authors include Richard Johnson, MD, Gerard Smits, PhD, and Michel Chonchol, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center). Dr. Richard Johnson reports a conflict of interest as the author of “The Sugar Fix”. The authors report no other financial disclosures.

 

###

 

EDITOR: The study abstract, “Increased Fructose Intake is Independently Associated with Elevated Blood Pressure. Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2003-2006),” (TH-FC037) will be presented as part of a Free Communications Session during the American Society of Nephrology’s 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition on Oct. 29 at 4:24 pm in Room 2 of the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA and on Oct. 30 at 12:30 pm in Room 12.

ASN Renal Week 2009, the largest nephrology meeting of its kind, will provide a forum for 13,000 professionals to discuss the latest findings in renal research and engage in educational sessions related to advances in the care of patients with kidney and related disorders. Renal Week 2009 will take place October 27 – November 1 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego.

Founded in 1966, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is the world’s largest professional society devoted to the study of kidney disease. Comprised of 11,000 physicians and scientists, ASN continues to promote expert patient care, to advance medical research, and to educate the renal community. ASN also informs policymakers about issues of importance to kidney doctors and their patients. ASN funds research, and through its world-renowned meetings and first-class publications, disseminates information and educational tools that empower physicians.

Higher folates, not antioxidants, can reduce hearing loss risk in men

2009 study posted for filing

Contact: Matt Daigle
newsroom@entnet.org
703-535-3754
American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery

New research released at world’s largest ENT meeting

San Diego, CA – Increased intakes of antioxidant vitamins have no bearing on whether or not a man will develop hearing loss, but higher folate intake can decrease his risk by 20 percent, according to new research presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, in San Diego, CA.

The study, which identified 3,559 cases of men with hearing loss, found that there was no beneficial association with increased intakes of antioxidant vitamins such as C, E, and beta carotene. However, the authors found that men over the age of 60 who have a high intake of foods and supplement high in folates have a 20 percent decrease in risk of developing hearing loss.

Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States, affecting more than 36 million people. High folate foods include leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lettuces, dried or fresh beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate. Baker’s yeast, liver and liver products also contain high amounts of folate.

The authors believe this is the largest study to delve prospectively into the relation between dietary intake and hearing loss. They used the most recent figures from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study cohort from years 1986 to 2004, a group consisting of 51,529 male health professionals. They were first enrolled into this study in 1986 and filled out detailed health and diet questionnaires every other year. The authors believe their findings can allow greater education, prevention, and screening efforts.

 

###

 

Title: Vitamin Intake and Risk of Hearing Loss in Men
Author: Josef Shargorodsky, MD; Gary Curhan, MD; Sharon Curhan, MD; Ronald Eavey, MD
Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 10:30-11:50 am

Information for the Media: The AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO Newsroom will be located in the San Diego Convention Center, Mezzanine Level, Room 14A. Hours of operation: Saturday, October 3, 12 pm to 5 pm; Sunday-Tuesday, October 4- 6, 7:30 am to 5 pm; and Wednesday, October 7, 7:30 am to 2 pm (all hours Pacific time). The newsroom serves as a work space for credentialed members of the news media. The newsroom is managed and staffed by the AAO-HNS Communications Unit. Please see the AAO-HNS website for media credentialing requirements for the event.

Onsite Newsroom contact: 1-619-525-6202

About the AAO-HNS

The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (http://www.entnet.org), one of the oldest medical associations in the nation, represents more than 12,000 physicians and allied health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. The Academy serves its members by facilitating the advancement of the science and art of medicine related to otolaryngology and by representing the specialty in governmental and socioeconomic issues. The organization’s vision: “Empowering otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons to deliver the best patient care.”

 

British secret service put me in jail, claims Prince Harry’s party model

A former model jailed hours after claiming she enjoyed a “drunken fumble” with a naked Prince Harry in a Las Vegas hotel room has blamed the British secret service for her month-long stay in prison.

British secret service put me in jail, claims Prince Harry’s party model

Carrie Reichert, right, claims that she had spent 20 minutes alone with Prince Harry after being hand-picked to attend the party Photo: BAUER-GRIFFIN/EROTEME.CO.UK

10:46PM BST 23 Oct 2012

Carrie Reichert, who claims she is 32 but according to police records is 40, said in August that she had spent 20 minutes alone with Prince Harry after being hand-picked to attend the hotel party.

Within hours of going public, she was arrested for allegedly bouncing £13,000 worth of cheques and spent almost a month in one of the toughest prisons in the US.

Yesterday, Miss Reichert said she had not been treated fairly and blamed her incarceration on the intervention of British security services. She said: “I believe the British secret service or whoever protects the royals have something to do with my situation.”

In August, Prince Harry was photographed playing strip billiards with a girl in a £5,100 eight-room suite at the Encore Wynn resort.

Miss Reichert, a beautician, claimed she was one of 10 “really pretty girls” who were hand-picked to attend the party and described Prince Harry as a “gentleman”. She said that they shared a kiss that was “fun” and “not romantic”.

She said the pair then had a conversation about her childhood in Britain before enjoying a “drunken fumble”. She told the People newspaper: “I’m not going to pass an opportunity to party with Prince Harry. Harry was already undressed [when I arrived]. It was just crazy, he looked actually delirious.

“There was a pool table and he was playing air guitar with pool sticks. We kissed for 15 to 20 minutes. I am sure someone stumbled in as there were people going in and out of rooms all the time. We kissed again and he said ‘that was great’.”

Her claims are strongly denied by royal aides, who said they were “completely untrue” and that she was not even present on the night of the party.

Miss Reichert told the newspaper that she was 32, but the warrant issued for her arrest in the US disclosed her true age.

She was arrested at San Diego airport shortly after the interview was published on Aug 24 for allegedly writing four “rubber” cheques worth a total of £13,000.

She denies the charges, which date back to 2003, claiming that the cheques related to a failed business venture. She spent almost a month in Harrison County jail in Mississippi, which is known as one of the toughest prisons in the country.

Donald Rafferty, her lawyer, said her treatment appeared excessive. He said: “She became very high-profile very quickly because of an interview she gave that had an impact.

“I am not convinced that Mississippi authorities were the ones necessarily stirring [things], but something was. She is disappointed and very upset over the way this is going down. She has several legitimate defences.”

In the US, writing cheques which do not clear can be a criminal offence. Officials at the circuit court of Harrison County confirmed that Miss Reichert had been arrested on a “felony bad cheque” charge.

According to Mr Rafferty, US authorities did not need to jail Miss Reichert but could have released her on bail. The Mississippi attorney general, however, treats “bad cheque” charges seriously and Miss Reichert could spend up to five years in prison if found guilty.

The attorney general in Mississippi said: “It is an open case and it would be inappropriate for us to comment.”

Prince Harry’s trip raised concerns about his royal security officers, who accompanied him but failed to intervene and stop photographs being taken.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/prince-harry/9628950/British-secret-service-put-me-in-jail-claims-Prince-Harrys-party-model.html

 

Make-up ‘triggers early menopause’: Warning on chemicals in cosmetics and hairspray that can cause to stop more than two years early

  • A group of chemicals  known as pthalates are already thought to  raise the risk of cancer, diabetes and obesity
  • Researchers at Washington  University, Missouri, believe they may also cause early menopause
  • Chemicals are found in plastics, cosmetics,  household products and food packaging

By Sophie Borland

PUBLISHED:18:06 EST, 23  October 2012| UPDATED:18:06 EST, 23 October 2012

 

Chemicals found in make-up, hairspray and  food packaging are causing women to hit the menopause early, researchers  warn.

Those exposed to high doses have been found  to go through the change almost two and a half years before other  women.

And in some cases, these chemicals may be  causing women to stop having periods 15 years too soon, say  scientists.

Bad for your health?: Researchers believe pthalates - chemicals found in cosmetics - may bring on early menopause  

Bad for your health?: Researchers believe pthalates –  chemicals found in cosmetics – may bring on early menopause

There is already is widespread concern over  the potential health risks of pthalates, a group of chemicals found in plastics,  cosmetics, household products and food packaging.

Recent studies have shown they may increase  the risk of cancer, diabetes and obesity and there is even evidence they may  feminise the brains of young boys.

Now American researchers say the chemicals  are disrupting women’s reproductive systems,  including their ovaries, and  leading to early menopause.

Dr Natalia Grindler, from Washington  University in St Louis, Missouri, and colleagues looked at the levels of  pthalates in the blood or urine of 5,700 women.

Long-term impact: Pthalates have previously been linked to increased risks of cancer, diabetes and obesity 

Long-term impact: Pthalates have previously been linked  to increased risks of cancer, diabetes and obesity

Those with the highest amounts were found to  have gone through the menopause an average of 2.3 years before the others. The  typical age of the menopause is 51, so women exposed to the highest levels were  hitting it aged 49.

But Dr Grindler told the American Society of  Reproductive Medicine’s conference in San Diego, California, that some women may  be going through the menopause 15 years early, in their  mid-thirties.

An early menopause is linked to far higher  rates of strokes, heart disease, bone problems and fatal brain  haemorrhages.

Dr Grindler said: ‘We don’t know yet if some  of them are going through it one year earlier or some are going through it 15  years earlier.

‘Early menopause has a lot of impact on your  health. We absolutely think these chemicals have the potential to affect ovarian  function and human reproduction.

‘There’s a lot that we don’t know at this  point, our research is still preliminary, but it’s enough to suggest it is  having a detrimental impact in the long term.’

She could not explain why some women were  exposed to higher levels of these chemicals. It may be that they wore more  make-up, drank bottled water or ate more packaged foods.

But British experts urged women not to worry  themselves unnecessarily.

Professor Richard Sharpe, who specialises in  reproductive health at the University of Edinburgh said: ‘My concern is not high  at this stage. Phthalate exposure is ubiquitous and thus impossible to avoid  altogether.

‘Eating fresh, unpackaged food can reduce  phthalate exposure but will not eliminate it.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2222190/Make-triggers-early-menopause-Warning-chemicals-cosmetics-hairspray-cause-stop-years-early.html#ixzz2AAsSzSnN Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

New study shows that a cough medicine ingredient could effectively treat prostate cancer: noscapine reduced tumor growth in mice by 60% and limited the spread of tumors by 65%

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Dr. Israel Barken
drbarken@pcref.org
619-461-8181
MedInsight Research Institute

Baltimore, MD — A study published today in the December issue of the European medical journal Anticancer Research demonstrates that an ingredient used in a common cough suppressant may be useful in treating advanced prostate cancer. Researchers found that noscapine, which has been used in cough medication for nearly 50 years, reduced tumor growth in mice by 60% and limited the spread of tumors by 65% without causing harmful side effects.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 186,320 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and 28,660 will die from it. One man in 6 will get prostate cancer during his lifetime. Although slow-growing in most men, the cancer is considered advanced when it spreads beyond the prostate. There is no known cure.

The laboratory study was a joint effort by Dr. Israel Barken of the Prostate Cancer Research and Educational Foundation, Moshe Rogosnitzky of MedInsight Research Institute, and Dr. Jack Geller of The University of California San Diego. Noscapine has previously been studied as a treatment for breast, ovarian, colon, lung and brain cancer and for various lymphomas, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and melanoma. This study, however, is the first to demonstrate its effectiveness in treating prostate cancer.

Noscapine is a naturally-occurring substance, a non-addictive derivative of opium. As a natural substance, noscapine cannot be patented, which has limited the potential for clinical trials. Rogosnitzky notes that drug companies are generally unwilling to underwrite expensive clinical trials without being able to recoup their investment. A synthetic derivative of noscapine has been patented but has not yet reached the clinical testing phase.

Since noscapine is approved for use in many countries as a cough suppressant, however, it is available to doctors to prescribe for other uses as well. This common practice is known as “off-label” prescription. Noscapine is increasingly being used off-label to treat a variety of cancers. Dr. Barken used noscapine to treat a handful of prostate cancer patients before retiring from clinical practice. Encouraged by the success of these treatments, his foundation funded the laboratory study being reported in the December 2008 edition of Anticancer Research.

As founder and medical director of the Prostate Cancer Research and Educational Foundation in San Diego, Dr. Barken is encouraging academic institutions to follow up this successful laboratory research with a human clinical trial. He has pioneered a web-based patient tracking system that will greatly reduce the cost of the trial while cutting the time necessary to complete the study. Using the web-based tracking system will also allow doctors outside the U.S. to enroll patients in the research.

Rogosnitzky, director of research at MedInsight Research Institute, points out the significant advantages that noscapine could present as a treatment for prostate cancer. “Noscapine is effective without the unpleasant side effects associated with other common prostate cancer treatments. Because noscapine has been used as a cough-suppressant for nearly half a century, it already has an extensive safety record. This pre-clinical study shows that the dose used to effectively treat prostate cancer in the animal model was also safe.”

Hormone therapy and chemotherapy, along with radiation and surgery, are currently used to slow the progression of advanced prostate cancer. Side effects resulting from these treatments include impotence, incontinence, fatigue, anemia, brittle bones, hair loss, reduced appetite, nausea and diarrhea. No toxic side effects were observed in the laboratory study of noscapine.

 

###

 

About MedInsight Research Institute

MedInsight Research Institute is committed to bringing relief to those who suffer from cancer or chronic medical conditions by making doctors aware of commercially unsponsored medications, off-label (secondary) uses for approved medicines, long-lost therapies, and specialized tests that enable treatment to be tailored to the individual. As a US-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the institute works to bridge the ever-widening gap between medical research and actual medical practice. MedInsight’s website is www.medinsight.org.

About Prostate Cancer Research and Educational Foundation (PC-REF)

PC-REF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation based in San Diego, California. It was founded by Dr. Israel Barken in 1997. PC-REF focuses on patient education, and provides financial support for innovative prostate cancer research projects. Its focus is on research ideas that can benefit today’s patients. PC-REF’s web site is www.pcref.org

Down’s symptoms may be treatable in the womb

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@newscientist.com
44-207-611-1210
New Scientist

A PREGNANT woman who knows her unborn child has Down’s syndrome might one day be able to prevent some symptoms before giving birth.

That at least is the hope raised by experiments in mice. When fetal mouse pups that had a syndrome similar to Down’s were treated with nerve-protecting chemicals, some of the developmental delays that are part of the condition were removed.

Children with Down’s have an extra copy of chromosome 21, while mice engineered to have a similar condition are given an extra copy of a segment of chromosome 16. In both species, the development of certain motor and sensory abilities is delayed. These “trisomic” individuals may also have learning difficulties and symptoms of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Inhibiting the neurotransmitter GABA in trisomic mice can improve cognition and some have suggested this could be used in children. It would be even better, however, to treat Down’s before a child is born and so improve cognitive potential.

Previous studies both of people with Down’s and trisomic mice have also revealed malfunctions in glial cells – brain cells that regulate the development of neurons by releasing certain proteins. The aberrant cells produce less of these proteins than normal. And adding segments of some of these proteins – known as NAP and SAL – to cultured neurons from people with Down’s, which would otherwise degenerate, seems to protect the neurons (Current Pharmaceutical Design, DOI: 10.2174/138161207780618957).

Armed with this knowledge, Catherine Spong and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, injected NAP and SAL into mice pregnant with trisomic pups in the middle of their pregnancy. When the pups were born, they reached developmental milestones such as grasping a rod, righting themselves and responding to tactile stimulation at the same time as normal mice (Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol 112, p 1242). “We were able to prevent a significant amount of the delay,” says Spong.

The brains of the treated mice also showed normal levels of ADNP – one of the regulatory proteins underproduced by Down’s-affected glial cells – and of another compound that is a marker for healthy glial cells. Both findings indicate that some effects of Down’s had been removed.

Now Spong is watching to see if mice treated as fetuses also display less of a learning deficit as they mature. She hopes that the prenatal treatment might permanently increase the expression of the proteins in question.

What works in mice or cultured human cells doesn’t always work in people, of course. Several compounds have shown promise in human cells for the treatment of Alzheimer’s but disappointed when tested in people, warns Jorge Busciglio, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who was one of the team that treated cultured human neurons with NAP and SAL. Nonetheless he is cautiously optimistic.

Charles Cantor of the company Sequenom in San Diego, California, which is developing a non-invasive prenatal blood-screening test for Down’s (New Scientist, 11 October, p 10), is excited at the prospect of a prenatal treatment. “I’d love to see these early screening tests lead to therapy and not just termination,” he says. “It would have a big impact, especially for families that are not willing to consider abortion as an option.”

No significant influenza (FLU) vaccine effectiveness could be demonstrated for any season, age or setting after adjusting for county, sex, insurance, chronic conditions recommended for influenza vaccination and timing of influenza vaccination

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Heather Hare
585-273-2840
JAMA and Archives Journals

Use of the influenza vaccine was not associated with preventing hospitalizations or reducing physician visits for the flu in children age 5 and younger during two recent seasons, perhaps because the strains of virus in the vaccine did not match circulating strains, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Influenza causes substantial illness among young children; therefore, the United States and other countries have expanded their childhood vaccination requirements, according to background information in the article. As of June 2006, U.S. health officials recommend annual vaccinations for all children age 6 to 59 months. “An inherent assumption of expanded vaccination recommendations is that the vaccine is efficacious in preventing clinical influenza disease,” the authors write.

Peter G. Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues studied 414 children age 5 and younger who developed influenza during the 2003-2004 or 2004-2005 seasons (245 seen in hospitals or emergency departments, and 169 seen in outpatient practices). Their vaccination status was compared with that of more than 5,000 children from the same three counties who did not have influenza during those seasons.

Before the researchers considered any other factors, children with influenza appeared to have lower vaccination rates than children without influenza. “However, significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for any season, age or setting after adjusting for county, sex, insurance, chronic conditions recommended for influenza vaccination and timing of influenza vaccination (vaccine effectiveness estimates ranged from 7 percent to 52 percent across settings and seasons for fully vaccinated 6- to 59-month olds),” the authors write.

A suboptimal match between the strain of influenza in the vaccine and that circulating in the public during those two seasons may have contributed to the poor effectiveness, the authors note. In 2003-2004, 99 percent of circulating influenza strains were caused by the influenza A virus, but only 11 percent of influenza A strains across the United States were similar to those in the vaccine. “The 2004-2005 season was less severe and the vaccine was a better match to circulating strains than in 2003-2004, but still only 36 percent of virus isolates were antigenically similar to vaccine strains,” they write.

This study comparing cases with controls adds important information about vaccine effectiveness in children but should be combined with additional research, including studies of years with good vaccine match, they conclude. “Further studies of influenza vaccine effectiveness are needed using a variety of study designs (that adjust for confounders) to assess the yearly impact of influenza vaccination programs for children, particularly as higher rates of vaccination are achieved in the study population,” the authors write.

###

(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162[10]:943-951. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor’s Note: This work was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as part of the New Vaccine Surveillance Network and the National Vaccine Program Office, and some subjects in Cincinnati were recruited through a study funded by QuickVue Influenza Test (Quidel Corp., San Diego, Calif.). Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc

Military, Government to Train Using Zombie Crisis Scenario

Sep. 17, 2012 – 03:18PM

By GIDGET FUENTES

Know how to stop the undead? An October exercise in California will pit military trainees against a horde of role-players exhibiting zombielike behavior. Here, participants in a “zombie walk” in Sweden show their stuff.

Know how to stop the undead? An October exercise in California will pit military trainees against a horde of role-players exhibiting zombielike behavior. Here, participants in a “zombie walk” in Sweden show their stuff.   (Jonathan Nackstrand / Agence France-Presse via Get)

SAN DIEGO — Forget the H1N1 pandemic. Could a future crisis arise from an outbreak of viruses that destroy brain cells and render people violently catatonic, like zombies?

The far-fetched scenario of a government grappling a zombielike threat — think movies like “Night of the Living Dead” or, more comically, “Zombieland” — has captured the attention and imagination of Brad Barker, president of the security firm HALO Corp. Next month, his outfit will incorporate — no kidding — zombies into a disaster-crisis scenario at the company’s annual counterterrorism summit in San Diego, a five-day event providing hands-on training, realistic demonstrations, lectures and classes geared to more than 1,000 military personnel, law enforcement officials, medical experts, and state and federal government workers.

HALO will take over the 44-acre Paradise Point resort in the city’s popular Mission Bay and create a series of terrorist scenarios, with immersive Hollywood sets including a Middle Eastern village and a pirates’ haven. Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA and NSA director, and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poiré Romero will speak during the summit, which runs Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.

Barker calls the scenario “Zombie Apocalypse.” The phrase took off last year after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a campaign aimed at underscoring the importance of being prepared for major emergencies, natural disasters and pandemics. In the CDC’s Preparedness 101 program, fictional zombies are used to drive home the message that Americans must be ready for any emergency — even the kind that, hypothetically, could stem from a brain-eating virus pandemic. Zombies also star in a 40-page comic book the CDC published, a tongue-in-cheek take on the serious scenario of a mutated virus that quickly spreads as the government dispatches its military to maintain order while infectious disease specialists scour for a vaccine.

Naturally, Marine Corps Times got in on the fun, too, publishing a lighthearted “zombie war deployment guide” that appeared in the Aug. 1, 2011, issue. The story examined various tactics and gear that “experts” consider essential to wage a successful campaign on the undead.

“The Zombie Apocalypse is very whimsical,” Barker said, noting the setting is intended to add some levity to the more dire scenarios summit-goers will encounter — incidents depicting active shooters inside a hospital or downed pilots trapped behind enemy lines, for instance. The pandemic medical nightmare is bound to be an attention-getter among people attending the summit.

“They are going to see a lot of stuff go down,” Barker added. “It is a Hollywood production.”

The zombies who roam the island will harass the troops, first-aid teams and medical responders participating, Barker said. HALO declined to detail the scenario just yet, saying only that the idea is to challenge authorities as they respond to extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.

For the record: Zombies are not real. However, earlier this year the word was used rather liberally to describe a rash of incidents involving cannibalistic attacks — the most high-profile of which, in late May, involved one man biting the flesh off another man’s face. Police suspect drugs, not a brain-eating virus, provoked the attack.

Beyond zombies, the HALO event will weave in lessons learned from real disasters and terror events, including attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and the deadly 2008 bombing in Mumbai, India. Cyberterrorism will have a leading role in sessions and courses throughout the summit, as well.

“The new battlefield is cyberspace, for sure,” Barker said.

That means that during the summit, participants’ cell phones and email accounts could be hacked, said Tim McAtee, a former Marine now working as HALO’s tactical operations director. Some, he said, might be rattled when they realize how easy it is for a hostile force to compromise personal information and what the broader national-security implications of a cyber attack can be.

“The awareness,” he said, “is going to be monumental.”

HALO is composed of former military special operators, and intelligence and national security experts. They train military units, as well as federal and state agencies, in security, counterterrorism, force protection, emergency response and disaster management.

To pull off such an elaborate production, HALO has partnered with Strategic Operations Inc., which specializes in hyper-realistic tactical and combat trauma training that make use of various special effects and actors performing as role players. The company has helped train thousands of Marines, sailors and soldiers in counterinsurgency missions, urban patrols, security operations and combat trauma over the past decade at its San Diego training studio and on military bases.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120917/TSJ01/309170011/Military-Government-Train-Using-Zombie-Crisis-Scenario?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

Ingredient found in green tea significantly inhibits breast cancer growth in female mice: EGCG decreases in TCSA (66%), tumor weight (68%) 5 weeks

Repost from 2008

Contact: Donna Krupa dkrupa@the-aps.org 703-967-2751 American Physiological Society

SAN DIEGO, CA — Green tea is high in the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin-3- gallate) which helps prevent the body’s cells from becoming damaged and prematurely aged. Studies have suggested that the combination of green tea and EGCG may also be beneficial by providing protection against certain types of cancers, including breast cancer. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Mississippi researchers now finds that consuming EGCG significantly inhibits breast tumor growth in female mice. These results bring us one step closer to better understanding the disease and potentially new and naturally occurring therapies.

The study was conducted by Jian-Wei Gu, Emily Young, Jordan Covington, James Wes Johnson, and Wei Tan, all of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS. Dr. Gu will present his team’s findings, entitled, Oral Administration of EGCG, an Antioxidant Found in Green Tea, Inhibits Tumor Angiogenesis and Growth of Breast Cancer in Female Mice, at the  121st Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society (APS; www.the-APS.org/press), part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.

The Study

Epidemiological studies suggest that green tea and its major constituent, EGCG, can provide some protection against cancer. Because these studies were very limited, the anti-cancer mechanism of green tea and EGCG was not clear. As a result, the researchers examined whether drinking EGCG (just the antioxidant infused in water) inhibited the following: expression of VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor, which is found in variety of breast cancer types); tumor angiogenesis (thought to help tumors to expand by supplying them with nutrients); and the growth of breast cancer in female mice.

Seven week old female mice were given EGCG (25 mg/50 ml) in drinking water for five weeks (approximately 50-100 mg/kg/day.) The control mice received regular drinking water. In the second week of the study mouse breast cancer cells were injected in the left fourth mammary glands of the mice. Tumor size was monitored by measuring the tumor cross section area (TCSA). Tumors were eventually isolated and measured for tumor weight, intratumoral microvessel (IM) density (using staining), and VEGF protein levels (using ELISA).

At the end of the five week period the researchers found that oral consumption of EGCG  caused significant decreases in TCSA (66%), tumor weight (68%), IM density 155±6 vs.111±20 IM#mm^2) and VEGF protein levels (59.0±3.7 vs. 45.7±1.4 pg/mg) in the  breast tumors vs. the control mice, respectively (N=8; P<0.01).  Further, VEGF plasma levels were lower in EGCG mice than in control mice (40.8±3.5 vs. 26.5±3.8 pg/ml P< 0.01).

Dr. Gu, the senior researcher for the study, hypothesized that the reason for the link between EGCG and the reductions in the cancer data was because EGCG directly targets both tumor blood vessels and tumor cells of breast cancer for suppressing the new blood vessels formation in breast tumor, the proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells.

Gu concluded by saying, “In this study we have demonstrated that the frequent ingestion of EGCG significantly inhibits breast tumor growth, VEGF expression and tumor angiogenesis in mice. We believe our findings will help lead to new therapies for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer in women.”

###

 

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs  function to create health or disease. The American Physiological Society (APS; www.The-APS.org/press) has been an integral part of this  discovery process since it was established in 1887.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The APS annual meeting is part of the Experimental Biology 2008 (EB ’08) gathering and will be held April 5-9, 2008 at the San Diego, CA Convention Center. To schedule an interview with Dr. Gu please contact Donna Krupa at 301.634.7209 (office), 703.967.2751 (cell) or DKrupa@the-APS.org.

Researchers show that Liver Fibrosis can be stopped, cured and reversed

Contact: Debra Kain ddkain@ucsd.edu 619-543-6163 University of California – San Diego

Modified protein developed by UC-San Diego researchers may lead to first cure for cirrhosis of the liver

University of California, San Diego researchers have proven in animal studies that fibrosis in the liver can be not only stopped, but reversed.  Their discovery, to be published in PLoS Online on December 26, opens the door to treating and curing conditions that lead to excessive tissue scarring such as viral hepatitis, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, pulmonary fibrosis, scleroderma and burns.

Six years ago, the UC San Diego School of Medicine research team discovered the cause of the excess fibrous tissue growth that leads to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, and developed a way to block excess scar tissue in mice.  At that time, the best hope seemed to be future development of a therapy that would prevent or stop damage in patients suffering from the excessive scarring related to liver or lung disease or severe burns.

In their current study, Martina Buck, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at UCSD and the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and Mario Chojkier, M.D., UCSD professor of medicine and liver specialist at the VA, show that by blocking a protein linked to overproduction of scar tissue, they can not only stop the progression of fibrosis in mice, but reverse some of the cell damage that already occurred.

In response to liver injury – for example, cirrhosis caused by alcohol – hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activated by oxidative stress results in large amounts of collagen.  Collagen is necessary to heal wounds, but excessive collagen causes scars in tissues.  In this paper, the researchers showed that activation of a protein called RSK results in HSC activation and is critical for the progression of liver fibrosis.  They theorized that the RSK pathway would be a potential therapeutic target, and developed an RSK inhibitory peptide to block activation of RSK.

The scientists used mice with severe liver fibrosis – similar to the condition in humans with cirrhosis of the liver – that was induced by chronic treatment with a liver toxin known to cause liver damage. The animals, which continued on the liver toxin, were given the RSK-inhibitory peptide.  The peptide inhibited RSK activation, which stopped the HSC from proliferating.  The peptide also directly activated the caspase or “executioner” protein, which killed the cells producing liver cirrhosis but not the normal cells.

“All control mice had severe liver fibrosis, while all mice that received the RSK-inhibitory peptide had minimal or no liver fibrosis,” said Buck.

Buck explained that the excessive collagen response is blocked by the RSK-inhibitory peptide, but isn’t harmful to the liver.  “The cells continue to do their normal, healing work but their excess proliferation is controlled,” Buck said.  “Remarkably, the death of HSC may also allow recovery from liver injury and reversal of liver fibrosis.”

The researchers found a similar activation of RSK in activated HSC in humans with severe liver fibrosis but not in control livers, suggesting that this pathway is also relevant in human liver fibrosis.  Liver biopsies from patients with liver fibrosis also showed activated RSK.

The study expands on work reported in 2001 in the journal Molecular Cell announcing that a team led by Buck had found that a small piece of an important regulatory protein called C/EBP beta was responsible for fibrous tissue growth, or excessive scar tissue following injury or illness.  When normal scarring goes awry, excessive build-up of fibrous tissue can produce disfiguring scars or clog vital internal organs and lead to serious complications.  Buck and colleagues developed a mutated protein that stopped this excessive fibrous tissue growth.

“Six years ago, we showed a way to prevent or stop the excessive scarring in animal models,” said Buck.  “Our latest finding proves that we can actually reverse the damage.”

Worldwide, almost 800,000 people die from liver cirrhosis each year, and there is currently no treatment for it.  Excessive tissue repair in chronic liver disease induced by viral, toxic, immunologic and metabolic disorders all result in excessive scar tissue, and could benefit from therapy developed from the UCSD researchers’ findings.

###

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs and UCSD’s Medical Research Foundation.  Buck is the recipient of a Howard Temin Award from the National Cancer Institute.

* Reposted for Filing

Compound in human milk associated with reduced transmission from HIV-infected mother to breastfed infant ( human milk oligosaccharides )

Contact: Debra Kain ddkain@ucsd.edu 619-543-6163 University of California – San Diego

Breastfeeding may protect infants from HIV transmission

An international team of researchers has found that certain bioactive components found in human milk are associated with a reduced risk of HIV transmission from an HIV infected mother to her breast-fed infant.  Their study will be published in the August 15 online edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“In developing countries, HIV-infected mothers are faced with the decision of whether or not to breastfeed their babies,” said Lars Bode, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.  “Breastfeeding exposes the baby to the virus and increases the risk of the baby dying from HIV infection; but not breastfeeding increases the risk for the baby to die from other intestinal or respiratory infections.”

Bode and colleagues set out to find why the vast majority of breast-fed infants do not acquire HIV-1, despite continuous exposure to the virus in their mother’s milk over many months. Even in the absences of antiretroviral drugs, only 10 to15 percent of infants will acquire HIV infection from their HIV-infected mothers.

They discovered that immunologically active components called human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) – a type of carbohydrate made up of several simple sugars linked together – may protect from HIV transmission.  These complex oligosaccharides are the third-most abundant component of breast milk, yet are not digestible and therefore become highly concentrated in the mucosal surfaces of the infant’s gastrointestinal tract.

“HMO act as prebiotics that promote the growth of desirable bacterial communities in the infant’s intestine,” said Bode.  Additionally, HMO structurally resembles sugar chains called glycans that are normally found on epithelial cell surfaces, and can serve as “decoy” receptors to inhibit pathogens from binding. Last, HMO exhibit anti-inflammatory activity and have been shown to modulate immune cell responses in cell and animal models.

The researchers analyzed HMO amount and composition in breast milk samples collected from more than 200 women as part of a larger study of HIV-infected women and their infants in Lusaka, Zambia, following them from birth to 24 months.  (Most were recruited to the study and followed before antiretroviral therapy became available to them, thus offering a unique look at associations between HMO and HIV transmission.)

Higher concentrations of HMO in milk were associated with protection against postnatal HIV transmission, independent of other known risk factors. In the future, a better understanding of how individual HMO facilitate or obstruct HIV transmission may guide the development of interventions to complement antiretroviral strategies and more effectively prevent transmission, according to the researchers.

###

Additional contributors to the study included Lauren Hsiao and Caroline Nissan, UC San Diego; Louise Kuhn and Hae-Young Kim, Columbia University; Moses Sinkala, Lusaka District Health Management Team, Zambia; Chipepo Kankasa and Mwiya Mwiya, University Teaching Hospital, University of Zambia; Donald M. Thea, Boston University; and Grace M. Aldrovandi, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, USC.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) (DE021238) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH) (HD39611, HD40777, HD57617) and a University of California, San Diego, Center for AIDS Research Pilot Development Grant

How antipsychotic medications cause metabolic side effects such as obesity and diabetes

LA JOLLA, Calif. — In 2008, roughly 14.3 million Americans were taking antipsychotics—typically prescribed for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or a number of other behavioral disorders—making them among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S. Almost all of these medications are known to cause the metabolic side effects of obesity and diabetes, leaving patients with a difficult choice between improving their mental health and damaging their physical health. In a paper published January 31 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) reveal how antipsychotic drugs interfere with normal metabolism by activating a protein called SMAD3, an important part of the transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta) pathway.

The TGFbeta pathway is a cellular mechanism that regulates many biological processes, including cell growth, inflammation, and insulin signaling. In this study, all antipsychotics that cause metabolic side effects activated SMAD3, while antipsychotics free from these side effects did not. What’s more, SMAD3 activation by antipsychotics was completely independent from their neurological effects, raising the possibility that antipsychotics could be designed that retain beneficial therapeutic effects in the brain, but lack the negative metabolic side effects.

“We now believe that many antipsychotics cause obesity and diabetes because they trigger the TGFbeta pathway. Of all the drugs we tested, the only two that didn’t activate the pathway were the ones that are known not to cause metabolic side effects,” said Fred Levine, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford-Burnham and senior author of the study.

In a previous study aimed at developing new insights into diabetes, Dr. Levine and his team used Sanford-Burnham’s high-throughput screening capabilities to search a collection of known drugs for those that alter the body’s ability to generate insulin, the pancreatic hormone that helps regulate glucose. That’s when they first noticed that many antipsychotics alter the activity of the insulin gene. In this current study, the researchers set out to connect the dots between antipsychotics and insulin. In doing so, experiments in laboratory cell-lines showed that antipsychotics known to cause metabolic side effects also activated the TGFbeta pathway—a mechanism that controls many cellular functions, including the production of insulin—while the drugs without these side effects did not.

Wondering whether their initial laboratory observations were relevant to the human experience, the researchers reanalyzed previously published gene expression patterns in brain tissue from schizophrenic patients treated with antipsychotics. What they found supported their earlier findings—TGFbeta signaling was activated only in those patients receiving antipsychotic treatment. Looking further, they found that the extent to which each antipsychotic drug activated the TGFbeta pathway in human brains correlated very closely with the extent to which those same drugs activated SMAD3 and affected the insulin promoter in their cell culture experiments.

The TGFbeta pathway also plays an important role in metabolic disease in people who don’t take antipsychotic medications. “It’s known that people who have elevated TGFbeta levels are more prone to diabetes. So having a dysregulated TGFbeta pathway—whether caused by antipsychotics or through some other mechanism—is clearly a very bad thing,” said Dr. Levine. “The fact that antipsychotics activate this pathway should be a big concern to pharmaceutical companies. We hope this new information will lead to the development of improved drugs.”

###

This study was funded by a gift from Mr. T. Denny Sanford to the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at Sanford-Burnham. Co-authors include Thomas Cohen, Sanford-Burnham and University of California, San Diego; S. Sundaresh, NextBio; and Fred Levine, Sanford-Burnham.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. The Institute consistently ranks among the top five organizations worldwide for its scientific impact in the fields of biology and biochemistry (defined by citations per publication) and currently ranks third in the nation in NIH funding among all laboratory-based research institutes. Sanford-Burnham is a highly innovative organization, currently ranking second nationally among all organizations in capital efficiency of generating patents, defined by the number of patents issued per grant dollars awarded, according to government statistics.

Sanford-Burnham utilizes a unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is especially known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a U.S.-based, non-profit public benefit corporation, with operations in San Diego (La Jolla), Santa Barbara, and Orlando (Lake Nona). For more information, please visit our website (http://www.sanfordburnham.org) or blog (http://beaker.sanfordburnham.org). You can also receive updates by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Study shows why synthetic estrogens wreak havoc on reproductive system

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine now have a clearer understanding of why synthetic estrogens such as those found in many widely-used plastics have a detrimental effect on a developing fetus, cause fertility problems, as well as vaginal and breast cancers.

Preliminary results of the study will be presented at the 2008 Society for Gynecologic Investigation (SGI) Annual Scientific Meeting held March 26-29 in San Diego, California. The study was led by Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Science and section chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Yale School of Medicine.

Past research shows that exposure to the synthetic estrogen diethylstilbestrol (DES) alters the expression of HOXA10, a gene necessary for uterine development, and increases the risk of cancer and pregnancy complications in female offspring.

The team sought to understand why a developing female fetus exposed to DES might develop uterine cancer and other problems years after exposure. Even though DES is no longer on the market, the authors chose to study its effects to gain insight into how similar synthetic estrogens might work.

The team studied DNA from the offspring of 30 pregnant mice injected with DES. They found changes in certain regions of the HOXA10 gene. These alterations continued beyond the time of development and persisted into adulthood, indicating that exposure to DES and similar substances results in lasting genetic memory, known as “imprinting.”

“We found that HOXA 10 protein expression was shifted to the bottom portion of the uterus in the female offspring,” said Taylor. “We also found increased amounts of the enzyme responsible for changes in the DNA. Rather than just changing how much of the protein is there, DES is actually changing the structure of the HOXA 10 gene.

“These findings bring us closer to understanding the way in which DES interacts with the developing reproductive system,” said Taylor.

Pregnant women are frequently exposed to other similar substances with estrogen-like properties, such as Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is found in common household plastics and has recently been linked to long-term fertility problems. Like DES, these other substances may also impact female reproductive tract development and the future fertility of female fetuses.

###

Other authors on the abstract included Jason Bromer, who will present the abstract, and Jie Wu. This abstract is an SGI Trainee Plenary Session Selection and winner of the SGI President’s Presenter Award.