Simple inexpensive stem cell procedure cures blindness

In a world-first breakthrough, University of New South Wales (UNSW) medical researchers have used stem cells cultured on a simple contact lens to restore sight to sufferers of blinding corneal disease.

Sight was significantly improved within weeks of the procedure, which is simple, inexpensive and requires a minimal hospital stay.

The research team from UNSW’s School of Medical Sciences harvested stem cells from patients’ own eyes to rehabilitate the damaged cornea. The stem cells were cultured on a common therapeutic contact lens which was then placed onto the damaged cornea for 10 days, during which the cells were able to re-colonise the damaged eye surface.

While the novel procedure was used to rehabilitate damaged corneas, the researchers say it offers hope to people with a range of blinding eye conditions and could have applications in other organs…

The procedure is totally simple and cheap,” said lead author of the study, UNSW’s Dr Nick Di Girolamo. “Unlike other techniques, it requires no foreign human or animal products, only the patient’s own serum, and is completely non-invasive.

“The operation is relatively non-invasive. The patient merely comes into the hospital for a couple of hours to have their eye prepared and the lens put in place, and then they’re able to go home,” said Dr Stephanie Watson.

“There’s no suturing, there is no major operation: all that’s involved is harvesting a minute amount – less than a millimeter – of tissue from the ocular surface,” said Dr Di Girolamo.

Bravo for UNSW! I wonder if they had appropriate approval from the Eye God and his seventeen special churches.

I know, I know. Point is – so much of this kind of research has been dispersed and delayed because of eight years of faith-based mumbo-jumbo getting in the way of scientific research in the center of the self-important world.

Tinkling diaper helps out with toilet training

A new study appearing in Neurology and Urodynamics evaluates the use of a daytime diaper that uses a musical “wetting alarm” for children in day-care centers. The findings show that wetting alarm diaper training is an effective option for toilet training in a child-friendly way.

Thirty-nine healthy young children between 18 and 30 months old were selected at random for a wetting alarm diaper training or control wearing a placebo alarm. Toilet behavior was observed during a period of 10 hours by independent observers before the study, at the end of the three-week trial and 2 weeks after training. Children in the wetting alarm diaper training group achieved independent bladder control 51.9 percent of the time and did significantly better than the control group’s 8.3 percent.

Parents or day-care providers are informed quickly by the alarm when the diaper is soiled and wetted. The alarm thus releases caretakers from continuous observation of their charges and allows the adults to carry out their activities as long as they stay within the reach of the signal.

Toilet training is a milestone in a child’s development and rearing. The potential for side-effects such as hygienic problems, skin irritation and social embarrassment continues until a child has acquired the skills associated with toilet training…

“We believe that one of the important advantages of the wetting alarm diaper training method is that the child and the caregiver are immediately informed of leakage,” says Jean-Jacques Wyndaele. “The alarm itself distracts the child out of his activity and strengthens the awareness of bladder behavior. By bringing the child to the bathroom at that moment, further reinforcement of its awareness is given.”

If you pick the right tune you can also develop interesting reverse political side effects. Like, filling up your drawers every time you hear Hank Williams, Jr.

Mitsubishi hopes to electrify Japan next month with the i-Miev

Mitsubishi Motors announced that its heavily anticipated i-MiEV electric car will begin being leased to corporate and government customers in Japan in July. Individuals who want to purchase the EVs will have to wait until next April, when it will sell for a suggested $45,000 U.S. (before taxes).

The all-electric vehicle will have 100 mile range using lithium ion batteries. The i-MiEV will have an onboard charger so that it can charge into standard outlets in Japan (100 or 200 volt). Charge times to replenish the 16 kWh battery pack will be 7-14 hours, although Mitsubishi is developing fast charging stations that will take just half an hour…

Mitsubishi has been stoking demand for the EVs around the world by selecting cities as their first international locations for field tests. Vancouver B.C., Portland and the Principality of Monaco will all receive early i-MiEVs to evaluate their suitability outside of Japan.

Mitsubishi will be among the first large-scale automotive OEMs to sell an EV in more than a decade.

Drafting behind Mitsubishi with all electric vehicles will be Subaru, Toyota, and Nissan, which has powerful partners in Renault and charging station vendor Better Place.

Certainly, there’s a place for electric among commuter-mobiles.

My wife’s roundtrip to her IT department uses 1 gallon of gas = 24 miles, 5 days a week. At $45K, I don’t see her replacing her ancient Volvo any time soon. I think a Smart Car, Honda Insight or even a Toyota Yaris is more likely if and when she does.

Let’s see if the economies of scale get the i-Miev down to that price range.

Afghanistan has bumper crop of wheat – fewer poppies

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The Afghan government has said that the bumper wheat harvest expected this year can be attributed in part to its successful poppy eradication programme. Officials say the success of the scheme – especially in Nangarhar province – has helped the country to reap its biggest wheat harvest in 30 years

An official in the ministry of counter-narcotics told the BBC that increased demand for wheat meant that it was selling for a higher price, in contrast to the the relatively low prices currently being paid for opium.

The minister also predicted improved yields of rice and corn.

The main reason for the bumper harvest is increased rainfall, but other factors were responsible including the more farmland devoted to wheat, which comes after last year’s high prices for the crop. Improved provision of seeds and fertilisers to farmers was also cited as a factor.

The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says that the government’s poppy eradication programme has also contributed to better harvests, even if its writ does not extend to areas of the country where the Taliban are active – such as Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Our correspondent says the construction of better roads has also helped farmers, by them to sell their produce more speedily.

Commerce always rules. Someday the ideologues of the world will take their crusades off to an honest job somewhere – and leave people to get on with earning a living.

Protestors against Electronic Arts new game – working for EA

Electronic Arts has been playing games with attendees of the nation’s biggest video-game trade show.

The game publisher hired a group of nearly 20 people to stand outside the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Wednesday and appear to protest the upcoming EA game “Dante’s Inferno.” EA spokeswoman Holly Rockwood says the stunt was arranged by a viral marketing agency hired by EA.

The group claimed to be protesting the third-person action game – loosely based on Dante Aligheri’s poem “Divine Comedy” – because they said the game glorified eternal damnation.

The fake religious protesters passed out pamphlets and held up picket signs with messages such as “Hell is not a Video Game” and “Trade in Your PlayStation for a PrayStation.”


FTC shuts down gangster ISP

The Federal Trade Commission had a rogue Internet Service Provider that recruits, knowingly hosts, and actively participates in the distribution of spam, child pornography, and other harmful electronic junk shut down by a district court judge.

The FTC order shuts off Pricewert LLC, which does business under a variety of names including Triple Fiber Network (3FN) and APS Telecom, a company it said actively recruit and collude with criminals seeking to distribute a whole host of nastiness including child pornography, spyware, viruses, trojan horses, phishing, botnet command and control servers, and pornography featuring violence, bestiality, and incest. The FTC said Pricewert advertised its services in the darkest corners of the Internet, including a forum established to facilitate communication between criminals.

The FTC also alleges that the defendant engaged in the deployment and operation of botnets. Botnets can be used for a variety of illicit purposes, including sending spam and launching denial of service attacks. According to the FTC, the defendant recruited bot herders and hosted the command-and-control servers – the computers that relay commands from the bot herders to the compromised computers known as “zombie drones…”

Pricewert, based in San Jose, California, shielded its criminal clientele by either ignoring take-down requests issued by the online security community or shifting its criminal elements to other Internet Protocol addresses it controlled to evade detection…

In an interview with The Washington Post’s Security Fix, FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz said, “Anything bad on the Internet, they were involved in it. We’re very proud, because in one fell swoop we’ve gone after a big facilitator of some of the utterly worst conduct.”

Will they do anything about ISP’s capping bandwidth, now? That’s not exactly gracious conduct.

Does life give you a queasy stomach? You might be a Conservative!

Are you someone who squirms when confronted with slime, shudders at stickiness or gets grossed out by gore? Do crawly insects make you cringe or dead bodies make you blanch?

If so, chances are you’re more conservative — politically, and especially in your attitudes toward gays and lesbians — than your less-squeamish counterparts, according to two Cornell University studies.

The results, said study leader David Pizarro, Cornell assistant professor of psychology, raise questions about the role of disgust — an emotion that likely evolved in humans to keep them safe from potentially hazardous or disease-carrying environments — in contemporary judgments of morality and purity.

In the first study…[the authors] surveyed 181 U.S. adults from politically mixed “swing states.” They subjected these adults to two indexes: the Disgust Sensitivity Scale (DSS), which offers various scenarios to assess disgust sensitivity, and a political ideology scale. From this they found a correlation between being more easily disgusted and political conservatism…

And in a separate study…colleagues found a link between higher disgust sensitivity and disapproval of gays and lesbians. For this study, the researchers used implicit measures (measures that have been shown to assess attitudes people may be unwilling to report explicitly; or that they may not even know they possess).

Liberals and conservatives disagree about whether disgust has a valid place in making moral judgments, Pizarro noted. Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something — gay sex between consenting adults, for example — is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason. Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm…

Proving once again that nutballs avoid reason at all costs when making social and political decisions.