‘Liquid biopsy’ blood test predicts cancer

A new blood test that can detect methylation of DNA can accurately predict whether a person has any one of 50 cancers and where the tumour is growing…

…In all, more than 15,000 volunteers from over 140 clinics in North America took part, and their samples revealed that this ‘liquid biopsy’ had a 0.7% false positive rate for cancer detection. The test was also able to predict the tissue that the cancer originated in with more than 90% accuracy. It performed best on 12 of the most common cancers, including ones that are most lethal and have no established screening paradigms such as pancreatic and ovarian cancers…

The test works because when a tumour cell dies its DNA enters the bloodstream. This genetic material still carries methylation patterns that differ from healthy cells, and this is what the liquid biopsy measures. ‘The test exploits the fact that cancers are abnormally methylated, and … that different cancers have different methylation patterns,’ explains study co-author Eric Klein from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Fortunately, solid scientific research finds a way to keep to task, direction mostly unaffected by the politics of ignorance.

Smart thermometers tracking coronavirus spreading


Click to enlargeClusters of fever Kinsa’s software deems unusual

A company that uses internet-connected thermometers to predict the spread of the flu says it is tracking the coronavirus in real time — something that had been impossible, given the lack of testing for the disease.

Kinsa Health has sold or given away more than a million smart thermometers to households in which two million people reside, and thus can record fevers almost as soon as consumers experience them.

For the last few years, Kinsa’s interactive maps have accurately predicted the spread of flu around the United States about two weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own surveillance tool, the weekly FluView tracker.

RTFA. This is coming up online on my site at 2AM MDT, 20 March. Kinsa’s update(s) will be posted frequently…starting this week.

Scary enough. The county where my wife and I live is identified as “Mild…but, atypical illness level.” Here’s the link to Kinsa’s Health Weather Map

Wuhan reports no new coronavirus cases today — travelers not so good

The central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported no new infections for the first time. However imported cases in China surged by a record number, led by new infections in the capital of Beijing.

The new imported infections also accounted for all of the new confirmed cases in mainland China, placing more pressure on authorities to screen travellers at key travel hubs…

That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,928, the health authority said in a statement on Thursday.

The death toll from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,245 as of the end of Wednesday, up by eight from the previous day.

This in from Australia in the last half-hour. Caught a mention of it a short while earlier on Rachel Maddow’s show. No doubt, we’ll have more details in the morning.

The sun does continue to rise. Human beings continue to learn more – some of us – every day.

Scrub away Facebook tracking your history — even when you’re Off Facebook

Ever suspect the Facebook app is listening to you? What we now know is even creepier.

Facebook is giving us a new way to glimpse just how much it knows about us: On Tuesday, the social network made a long-delayed “Off-Facebook Activity” tracker available to its 2 billion members. It shows Facebook and sister apps Instagram and Messenger don’t need a microphone to target you with those eerily specific ads and posts — they’re all up in your business countless other ways.

You can see how Facebook is stalking you…The “Off-Facebook Activity” tracker will show you 180 days’ worth of the data Facebook collects about you from the many organizations and advertisers in cahoots with it. This page, buried behind lots of settings menus (here’s a direct link), is the product of a promise CEO Mark Zuckerberg made during the height of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal to provide ways we can “clear the history” in our accounts.

The article is worthwhile, an easy read…and here’s a link to the article. Meanwhile, I’ve included the direct link in the paragraph above. It is easy enough to just click the link, read and make your choice(s).

I did.

Atmospheric river storms are getting stronger

Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of moisture in the atmosphere that extend from the tropics to higher latitudes. These rivers in the sky can transport 15 times the volume of the Mississippi River. When that moisture reaches the coast and moves inland, it rises over the mountains, generating rain and snowfall and sometimes causing extreme flooding.

Recently…a team of researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Army Corps of Engineers in the first systematic analysis of damages from atmospheric rivers due to extreme flooding. We found that while many of these events are benign, the largest of them cause most of the flooding damage in the western U.S. And atmospheric rivers are predicted to grow longer, wetter and wider in a warming climate.

RTFA. More info. A scale for evaluating the dangerous potential in these rivers. Another wake-up call for this nation.

New images of Mars north polar icecap


Mars northern polar cap, showing the spiral troughs in the ice
Mars Global Surveyor/Malin Space Science Systems

The European Space Agency recently released an image of the red planet’s north polar region and its stunning ice caps…The image, taken by the Mars Express orbiter, highlights some of the natural processes that shape the planet’s surface…

Scientists think that this unique pattern is formed by katabatic winds, that carry higher-density air to lower elevations. On Mars, these winds ferry cold, dense air from the regions’ glaciers down to lower elevations containing valleys and depressions…At the same time, Mars is rotating (just like the Earth) creating another cool phenomenon called the coriolis effect, which manifests as the spiral pattern we see in the image.

Enjoy this brief article. Commenters seem agreed Elon Musk will get folks there sooner than NASA. Even with an administration [sooner or later] that understands science better than one relying on bigotry and ignorance to operate.