NASA, SDO: Year 5

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

Turn up the sound. Set resolution as high as you can. A stunning video.

First IVF births using new screening tool for genetic disease

The first three babies screened at the embryonic stage with karyomapping, a novel screening tool for genetic disease, have been born…

For couples who are at risk of passing on genetic disease to their offspring, the technology helps determine which embryos are disease-free and viable for implantation following in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to the firm, New Jersey-based Reprogenetics.

Although preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has been available for decades, karyomapping takes advantage of advances in genetic sequencing that have reduced the price, time, and complexity of the process. Thus, the main benefit of karyomapping is the diminished amount of time it takes for couples to get results and get pregnant, company officials said…

“This is considered the ‘inevitable evolution’ of genetic studies for our field,” Robert Greene, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist in Syracuse, N.Y., told MedPage Today. “The race … has been in making the technique practical. It will only be adopted clinically if it meets those practical considerations. Otherwise, most centers will stick with the current technique until the price comes down…”

As with other forms of PGD, karyomapping can test for genetic diseases such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and fragile X syndrome. Konstantinidis said the tool can detect 60 genetic disorders and has been performed on more than 1,000 embryos to date.

Another simple scientific tool enabling easier, broader choices to folks getting ready to have children. Hopefully, a decision involving some forethought.

Hopefully, a process liable to lass and less interference from politicians governed by pandering to superstition and ignorance.

Smoking is bigger cause of mortality than previously accepted

Deaths due to smoking increased by 17% with the inclusion of multiple diseases that do not have established relationships with cigarette smoking, data from five large cohort studies showed.

The analysis of almost 1 million adults showed that smoking increased the risk of dying of one of the diseases by 30% (breast cancer) to 500% (intestinal ischemia) as compared with nonsmokers. Researchers found that 17% of excess deaths attributable to smoking resulted from the additional smoking-associated diseases…

The newly associated diseases included cancers, infections, pulmonary diseases, and cardiovascular diseases…”These associations should be investigated further and, when appropriate, taken into account when the mortality burden of smoking is investigated,” Brian Carter’s group concluded.

What’s unique about this study is the data,” the American Lung Association’s Norman Edelman told MedPage Today. “They have large populations and very large numbers, which provide the statistical power to identify small, but statistically significant effects that couldn’t be seen in smaller studies. Most of these [diseases] have been suspected, and now we know that there are many other things related to smoking other than the dozen or so that have already been proven.”

“When you run the numbers and add up all the deaths attributable to smoking, you come up with an astonishing increase,” he added.

RTFA for methodology, analysis and a caution or two.

Boy, am I glad I quit smoking 57 years ago. 🙂