SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Danish scientists are expecting results that will show that “finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible”.
They are conducting clinical trials to test a “novel strategy” in which the HIV virus is stripped from human DNA and destroyed permanently by the immune system.
The move would represent a dramatic step forward in the attempt to find a cure for the virus, which causes Aids.
The scientists are currently conducting human trials on their treatment, in the hope of proving that it is effective. It has already been found to work in laboratory tests.
The technique involves releasing the HIV virus from “reservoirs” it forms in DNA cells, bringing it to the surface of the cells. Once it comes to the surface, the body’s natural immune system can kill the virus through being boosted by a “vaccine”.
In vitro studies — those that use human cells in a laboratory — of the new technique proved so successful that in January, the Danish Research Council awarded the team 12 million Danish kroner (£1.5 million) to pursue their findings in clinical trials with human subjects.
These are now under way, and according to Dr Søgaard, the early signs are “promising”.
Dr Ole Søgaard, a senior researcher at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark who is part of the research team, said: “I am almost certain that we will be successful in releasing the reservoirs of HIV.
“The challenge will be getting the patients’ immune system to recognise the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems.”
Fifteen patients are currently taking part in the trials, and if they are found to have successfully been cured of HIV, the “cure” will be tested on a wider scale.
Dr Søgaard stressed that a cure is not the same as a preventative vaccine, and that raising awareness of unsafe behaviour, including unprotected sex and sharing needles, remains of paramount importance in combating HIV.
With modern HIV treatment, a patient can live an almost normal life, even into old age, with limited side effects.
However, if medication is stopped, HIV reservoirs become active and start to produce more of the virus, meaning that symptoms can reappear within two weeks.
Finding a cure would free a patient from the need to take continuous HIV medication, and save health services billions of pounds.
The technique is being researched in Britain, but studies have not yet moved on to the clinical trial stage. Five universities — Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, London, University College, London and King’s College, London — have jointly formed the Collaborative HIV Eradication of Reservoirs UK Biomedical Research Centre group (CHERUB), which is dedicated to finding an HIV cure.
They have applied to the Medical Research Council for funding to conduct clinical trials, which will seek to combine techniques to release the reservoirs of HIV with immunotherapy to destroy the virus.
In addition, they are focusing on patients that have only recently been infected, as they believe this will improve chances of a cure. The group hopes to receive a funding decision in May.
“When the first patient is cured in this way it will be a spectacular moment,” says Dr John Frater, a clinical research fellow at the Nuffield School of Medicine, Oxford University, and a member of the CHERUB group.
“It will prove that we are heading in the right direction and demonstrate that a cure is possible. But I think it will be five years before we see a cure that can be offered on a large scale.”
The Danish team’s research is among the most advanced and fast moving in the world, as that they have streamlined the process of putting the latest basic science discoveries into clinical testing.
This means that researchers can progress more quickly to clinical trials, accelerating the process and reaching reliable results sooner than many others.
The technique uses drugs called HDAC Inhibitors, which are more commonly used in treating cancer, to drive out the HIV from a patient’s DNA. The Danish researchers are using a particularly powerful type of HDAC inhibitor called Panobinostat.
Five years ago, the general consensus was that HIV could not be cured. But then Timothy Ray Brown, an HIV sufferer — who has become known in the field as the Berlin Patient — developed leukaemia.
He had a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made his cells resistant to HIV. As a result, in 2007 Mr Brown became the first man to ever be fully cured of the disease.
Replicating this procedure on a mass scale is impossible. Nevertheless, the Brown case caused a sea change in research, with scientists focusing on finding a cure as well as suppressing the symptoms.
Two principal approaches are currently being pursued. The first, gene therapy, aims to make a patient’s immune system resistant to HIV. This is complex and expensive, and not easily transferrable to diverse gene pools around the world.
The second approach is the one being pursued by Dr Søgaard and his colleagues in Denmark, the CHERUB group in Britain, and by other laboratories in the United States and Europe.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It was built to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang in the hunt for the so-called God Particle, but now the technology behind the world’s biggest physics experiment may also provide a new way to treat cancer.
Scientists working at CERN, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, are developing new types of radiotherapy that can destroy tumours while damaging less of the surrounding tissue, helping to reduce side effects.
They have begun a five year research project to test different beams of ions – electrically charged atoms – for their ability to kill cancer cells.
Engineers are carrying out a £14 million upgrade on one of the particle accelerators linked to the LHC so that it can carry out medical research.
Physicists behind the project hope it will allow them to produce more effective treatments that can be afforded by the NHS.
Dr Stephen Myers, director of accelerator technology at CERN, said they were already working with a British company to build smaller versions of the 250 foot long ring needed to produce the particles so that it can be installed in hospitals.
He said: “We are hoping to develop new types of cancer therapy by testing all the different types of ions – like oxygen or carbon – to see which is the best.
“Current radiotherapies caused collateral damage to the surrounding tissue and that makes it difficult to treat some types of cancer, like eye melanomas or those that are hard to reach.
“Low energy ion beams can cause less damage as the destruction of the cells is dependent on the energy of the beam and it can be focused very precisely onto a tumour.
“This can allow patients to recover faster and surgeons can destroy more of the tumour, so survival rates are much better.
“We would like to see if we can bring everything down to a regular sized from and put one in every teaching hospital in Europe.”
Current radiotherapy techniques use X-rays and electron beams that are fired into the body to kill cancer cells, but can cause a lot of damage to healthy tissues, bringing unpleasant side effects.
A new type of radiotherapy which uses beams of particles known as protons is already starting to be used and has been found to produce better results.
The protons can be focused with greater accuracy than current radiotherapy methods, meaning that doctors can target more of the cancer without damaging the surrounding tissue.
However, proton beam therapy, as it is known, is available in just 32 hospitals around the world and just one in the UK – the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, where it is used to treat eye tumours.
Two more proton beam therapy centres are planned in Britain – with one due to be built in Manchester and another in London.
However, it costs hospitals £120 million for a proton beam therapy machine and treating a patient can cost between £90,000 and £120,000 each.
Scientists at CERN are now working with London-based company Advanced Oncotherapy to develop smaller and cheaper proton beam devices so that they can be more widely available.
Dr Michael Sinclair, the firm’s chief executive, hopes to install at least 10 new machines within the next five years.
He said that it could mean 12,000 cancer patients could receive the new type of treatment.
He said: “Proton beam therapy offers a significant improvement for patients with cancer than conventional radiotherapy, but so far the big problem has always been the cost.
“The machine developed by CERN has significant clinical advantages and will cost a third of equivalent equipment that is currently available.
“This is a game-changer – bringing a more effective cancer treatment to the masses.”
Britain contributes around £100 million a year to CERN, with the bulk of that being used to pay for the Large Hadron Collider.
Earlier this year, scientists announced that they had discovered a new type of particle that is believed to be a Higgs boson – the elusive so called God Particle that is believed to give other subatomic particles mass.
The 17 mile long particle accelerator, which is sited beneath the Swiss French border, near to Geneva, has now been shut down for two years while it undergoes a £70 million upgrade.
It is fed by a number of smaller particle accelerators which fire atoms or protons into the LHC for experiments.
Engineers are to convert one of these, known as the Low Energy Ion Ring, or LEIR, so that it can be used for biomedical research.
As well as testing different ions for their ability to kill cancer cells, scientists will also use it for experiments on how exposure to radiation from space can affect astronauts.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Men found it twice as hard to guess a woman’s mood than a man’s after being shown pictures of people’s eyes and estimating how they were feeling, researchers found.
However, the study showed that it is not because of men’s lack of trying - the male volunteers were given brain scans while they looked at the pictures, and the data suggested an unusual reason for the difficulty in reading women’s feelings.
When looking at male eyes, men related what they saw to themselves, with the parts of their brains linked to past thoughts and feelings lighting up, the Daily Mail reported.
The study suggested that they understood what other men felt by remembering similar moments in their own lives, and then used them to evaluate the image, the researchers said.
But when they looked at female eyes, the men were baffled, as their brains searched for memories of when they had seen another woman who looked similar to the image, and meant men found it harder to empathise with women’s feelings.
The scientists found that the amygdala, a part of the brain believed to be important for empathy with others, showed more activity when men looked at a man, rather than a woman.
The researchers, from the LWL University Hospital in Bochum, western Germany, said the male ability to decipher a woman's thoughts from her expression relates to earlier periods of history when being able to tell what another man was thinking – and whether he posed a threat – was much more important.
Commenting on the results of the study, published in journal PLoS ONE, the researchers said: “As men were more involved in hunting and territory fights, it would have been important for them to be able to predict and foresee the intentions and actions of their male rivals.”-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – From Terminator-style enhanced contact lenses to robot carers, the scientists behind Google Glass have created some eye-popping inventions, writes Shona Ghosh.
“We have succeeded in making people live longer. Now we need to make them live better.
So reads the tagline for the Nursebot, a robotic carer that helps look after the elderly in their homes, reminding them to take their medication, see the doctor and even doing the washing. This slightly creepy catchphrase, which sounds like something from a dystopian science fiction film, was dreamt up by Sebastian Thrun, the ex-Stanford professor responsible bringing his robotics expertise to Google.
If Thrun’s work on Google’s augmented reality glasses and driverless cars defies imagination, then Nursebot and the rest of his research point towards even more eye-popping inventions.
Thrun’s focus on how robots sense and navigate their surroundings won him the attention of Google co-founder Larry Page in 2005 when, along with his Stanford lab team, he unveiled Stanley, a self-driving car. Impressed by Stanley’s performance at a desert race sponsored by the US military, Page hired the team to apply their expertise in navigation to Google’s own mapping services. Google Street View was born in 2007, with driverless cars following a few years later.
This wasn’t Thrun’s first brush with Google, nor Google’s with robots. When working on the Nursebot in 2000, Thrun and his team won funding and spare parts from a local robotics obsessive named Andy Rubin. Rubin would go on to set up a software company – aptly named Android Inc. – and sell it to Google in the same year Thrun would meet Larry Page.
Thrun’s breakthroughs in driverless cars don’t just have implications for consumers. Funded by the US defence department, his team built the Segbot, a modified version of the Segway, to explore the scooter’s potential in battle. And citing a paper by Thrun and his co-researchers at Stanford, BAE Systems have recently patented a method of tracking that could be used by soldiers to navigate combat zones, particularly indoors where GPS readings become inaccurate. Given that Thrun’s Stanford co-researcher on driverless cars, David Stavens, worked on NASA’s 2009 Mars Rover project, it’s feasible that the technology has implications for space exploration too.
Now it seems Thrun is bringing some aspects of these prototypes to life in Google’s R&D labs, though the precise nature of his work there is under wraps. Recent patents filed under his name give some hint, however, like the 3D mapping system that helps self-driving vehicles detect road features such as traffic lights, or an auto-pilot system for cars. Google’s tests for its cars show they can already safely navigate around the streets of Nevada, partly due to Thrun’s earlier work in 3D mapping.
If Thrun makes machines more intelligent, his co-creator on Google Glass, Babak Parviz, specialises in making humans more machine. Parviz was brought onto Glass due to his research on nanotechnology, essentially engineering at a molecular level. Or as his Google+ profile would have it: “I dig making really small things.”
As with Thrun, it isn’t entirely clear what advances in the field he has made in the secrecy of Google’s labs, but he has made prior breakthroughs in wearable technology. In 2008, he was tackling the problem of fusing electronics with unusual materials like plastic or glass – a clear precursor to his work on creating a pair of glasses with a visual display for Google.
Quite aside from Glass, though, Parviz has form in enhancing human sight, having already created augmented reality contact lenses. In 2009, he voiced his admiration for the Terminator films, pointing to the “virtual captions that enhance the cyborg’s scan of a scene.” By 2011, working with Microsoft, he had helped develop contact lenses that could help diabetics monitor their blood sugar electronically and without the hassle of needles.
Containing minute components, the lenses are big enough to accommodate LEDs, but small enough not to melt the wearer’s eyes. Engineering at such a microscopic level required Parviz and his team to cram hundreds of LEDs into each lens, powering a Terminator-like display of words, charts and photographs.
Partway through the project, Parviz and his team noted that building tiny radios, sensors and antennae into the lenses meant they could keep tabs on bodily functions. According to Parviz, many of the “biomarkers” that doctors glean from blood samples are also found on the surface of the eye, meaning that suitably customised lenses could measure blood sugar or cholestoral levels. Low blood sugar would bring up an alert before the wearer’s eyes, prompting them to eat a snack before the effects of hypoglycemia set in.
Also working on the project in 2011 was Microsoft’s senior researcher, Desney Tan, who curiously identified the same flaws that might hamper the adoption of Google Glass now.
“They aren’t socially quite as intrusive as wearing the goggles that are sort of the state of the art in the field right now,” said Tan in a company blog post. Though developed before Google Glass, the lenses have not been tested for human use as yet and may not beat the search giant’s glasses to the consumer market.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Parviz was attracted to Google. Long before he was approached either by the search company or even Microsoft, he had detailed his vision of his contact lenses as a platform for developers.
“We already see a future in which the humble contact lens becomes a real platform, like the iPhone is today, with lots of developers contributing their ideas and inventions,” he wrote in 2009. “As far as we’re concerned, the possibilities extend as far as the eye can see, and beyond.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: The Telegraph
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – New federal figures show the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees. Many governments set a 2-degree increase as the upper limit.
Scientists say the rise in CO2 reflects the global economy revving up and burning more fossil fuels, especially in China.
U.S. government scientists report that carbon dioxide levels jumped by 2.67 parts per million for a total of just under 395 parts per million compared to 2011.
That's the second highest rise in carbon emissions since records started being kept in 1959. Only 1998 had a bigger increase.
Scientists say hopes of limiting warming to 2 degrees are fading away to almost nothing.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A system for observing neurons fire in a live mouse could be a useful tool for studying new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Researchers first used a gene therapy approach to cause the mouse’s neurons to express a green fluorescent protein that was engineered to be sensitive to the presence of calcium ions. When a neuron fires, the cell naturally floods with calcium ions. Calcium stimulates the protein, causing the entire cell to fluoresce bright green.
A tiny microscope implanted just above the mouse’s hippocampus—a part of the brain that is critical for spatial and episodic memory—captures the light of roughly 700 neurons. The microscope is connected to a camera chip, which sends a digital version of the image to a computer screen.
The computer then displays near real-time video of the mouse’s brain activity as a mouse runs around a small enclosure, which the researchers call an arena.
The neuronal firings look like tiny green fireworks, randomly bursting against a black background, but the scientists have deciphered clear patterns in the chaos.
“We can literally figure out where the mouse is in the arena by looking at these lights,” says Mark Schnitzer, an associate professor of biology and of applied physics at Stanford University and senior author on a paper, recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
When a mouse is scratching at the wall in a certain area of the arena, a specific neuron will fire and flash green. When the mouse scampers to a different area, the light from the first neuron fades and a new cell sparks up.
“The hippocampus is very sensitive to where the animal is in its environment, and different cells respond to different parts of the arena,” Schnitzer says. “Imagine walking around your office. Some of the neurons in your hippocampus light up when you’re near your desk, and others fire when you’re near your chair. This is how your brain makes a representative map of a space.”
The group has found that a mouse’s neurons fire in the same patterns even when a month has passed between experiments. “The ability to come back and observe the same cells is very important for studying progressive brain diseases,” Schnitzer says.
For example, if a particular neuron in a test mouse stops functioning, as a result of normal neuronal death or a neurodegenerative disease, researchers could apply an experimental therapeutic agent and then expose the mouse to the same stimuli to see if the neuron’s function returns.
Although the technology can’t be used on humans, mouse models are a common starting point for new therapies for human neurodegenerative diseases, and Schnitzer believes the system could be a very useful tool in evaluating pre-clinical research.
The researchers have formed a company to manufacture and sell the device. -www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: Stanford University
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A new genetically-engineered virus has been developed to kill cancer tumors and prevent the growth of new ones, according to a study. It was tested in 30 terminally-ill liver cancer patients and proved to significantly prolong their lives.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Nature Medicine, describes a four-week trial of the vaccine Pexa-Vec or JX-594 marking a step forward towards a successful treatment of solid tumors, AFP reports.
Sixteen out of 30 patients who were given a high dosage of therapy lived for 14.1 months on average, while the other 14 patients were given a low dosage and survived for 6.7 months.
"For the first time in medical history we have shown that a genetically-engineered virus can improve survival of cancer patients," study co-author David Kirn from California-based biotherapy company Jennerex told AFP.
The results of the study indicate that "Pexa-Vec treatment at both doses resulted in a reduction of tumor size and decreased blood flow to tumors," Jennerex said in a statement. “This is the first randomized clinical trial of an oncolytic immunotherapy demonstrating significantly prolonged overall survival.”
Pexa-Vec is a leading product of Jennerex, which is a private biotherapeutics company based out of San Francisco, USA, that is focused on development and commercialization of therapies that would combat solid tumors.
The new treatment uses oncolytic immunotherapy, which is a genetically modified type of virus that attacks tumors to induce a systemic immune response to cancer. It selectively replicates in tumor cells to achieve an antitumor effect.
The new virus "is designed to multiply in and subsequently destroy cancer cells, while at the same time making the patients' own immune defense system attack cancer cells also," added Kirn.
Authors of the study argue that despite certain progress in development of various cancer treatments majority of solid tumors remain “incurable once they are metastatic [have spread to other organs]," according to the study.
And this trial shows concrete progress and proves that “Pexa-Vec treatment induces an immune response against the tumor."
Pexa-Vec has been engineered from the vaccinia virus, which has been used in the past to treat smallpox.
Some of the side effects included flu-like symptoms lasting a day or two in all patients and severe nausea and vomiting was reported in another patient.
The study argues that a larger trial is needed to confirm the results of the trial and a follow-up phase with about 120 patients is already in progress.
Jennerex also stated that it is “currently enrolling patients in multiple mid and late-stage trials with Pexa-Vec with the goal of bringing this groundbreaking therapy to market.”
On top of that other trials are underway to see how Pexa-Vec can help patients with other types of cancer tumors.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Among the things described as “elegant” by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the past month or so are such diverse wonders as an arthritis medicine, a heat-powered laser, an immune system response, a palliative care strategy, the modularity of biological systems, an electrical switch smaller than a human hair “that can flex like a tiny beckoning finger,” and the mathematical structure of birdsong, specifically Bengalese finches.
The only trait these research topics share is that someone, somehow, found each of them elegant, harmonious, even beautiful.
Symmetry, unity, harmony, elegance and beauty are concepts that crop up in science with striking regularity. From the music of the spheres that inspired the earliest Greek philosophers to modern supersymmetrical string theory, physics has been especially prone to mistake a beautiful theory for a true one. But there is a growing sense that biologists, psychologists, economists and even mathematicians can also be preoccupied with subjective aesthetics over falsifiable science, and confuse the one for the other.
The AAAS’s annual conference next month is on the theme of “The Beauty and Benefits of Science.”
“Beauty can often guide you toward the truth, but sometimes it can seduce you away,” said David Orrell, a Canadian mathematician whose new book Truth or Beauty: Science and the Quest for Order, sketches the historical roots of this idea, and applies it to the scientific problems of today, in which the most beautiful predictions are beyond our capacity for experimentation.
From the social psychology of human behaviour to the grand unifying dreams of cosmology, he shows how the irresistible popularity of supposedly beautiful but otherwise fanciful and unprovable ideas has fed the impression that some branches of science are all fizz and no gin.
“Science actually has its own aesthetic, which is based on a very queer set of principles, these things like unity and stability and symmetry and so on,” said Mr. Orrell, a consultant with a math PhD from Oxford who has previously written on the weakness of predictions. “They work very well for certain problems.”
The problem is that the problems themselves are changing, and the old virtue of beauty is increasingly distracting. As Christopher Shea put it in the Chronicle of Higher Education, science has a “beauty problem,” and it is getting worse.
“From Euclid and Pythagoras down to 20th-century physicists, many who explore the underlying laws of the natural world have seen truth and beauty as inextricably intertwined,” Mr. Shea wrote, and cited some of the poets and scientists alike who have said so.
The most famous one is the poet John Keats, whose Ode on a Grecian Urn ends with the enigmatic line: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty — that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” But Emily Dickinson also imagined dying for beauty, and meeting in the tomb one who died for truth, and realizing they are “brethren.” Murray Gell-Mann, the U.S. physicist who won the Nobel prize for work on quarks and other elementary particles, said in a much cited TED talk about particle physics: “Symmetry exhibits the simplicity… That will account for why beauty is a successful criterion for selecting the right theory.”
‘The idea that the universe is a little bit off-balance, that it’s slightly askew, is actually what drives it, what allows it to evolve, what allows it to change, and what makes it interesting’
For each, seeing truth as beauty and vice versa reflects a common desire to see ourselves, and our values and ways of thinking, reflected in the world around us, just as the Pythagoreans of ancient Greece discovered the mathematics of harmonic vibration and concluded that the entire world could be reduced to something like a musical score. It captures a special trait of scientific insight, that it really is awe-inspiring and beautiful to reduce the world to a simple, elegant law, to hear the music behind the noise.
But the problems that fit that mould are largely solved. The physicist Robert Laughlin of Stanford University calls this a shift from the Age of Reductionism to an Age of Emergence, “a time when the search for the ultimate causes of things shifts from the behaviour of parts to the behaviour of the collective.”
He means that science in general has progressed from being primarily focused on reducing the complex world to simple laws — as it did for example with natural selection or gravity or the unification of electricity and magnetism — to being more interested in the strange properties that emerge from complex systems, like consciousness, climate or economics.
These do not reduce to single laws — the stuff of which scientific beauty is made — and to try is to miss the point. On this view, Mr. Orrell said, the notion of truth as simple, elegant, timeless beauty conceals reality rather than reveals it. It used to be a guide, for example in predicting how to fill the gaps in the periodic table, but now it serves as more of a distraction.
To illustrate the shift from reduction to emergence in science, Mr. Orrell compared classical architecture, such as the Parthenon with its rigid columns and timeless architectural order, to the modern shimmering curves of Frank Gehry’s buildings, like the Art Gallery of Ontario. It is like the difference between classical and jazz music, in which the former prefers order, repeatability and the traditional idea of sublime and timeless beauty, but the latter is more interested in chaos, complexity, improvisation, and a vision of beauty that is more temporary and unique.
Elegance, on the traditional view, says the simplest explanation is best. Symmetry says the most balanced and universal explanation is best. Harmony says the most graceful theoretical arrangements are best. In the case of Einstein’s theory that unified mass and energy, these ideals coincided in the undeniably beautiful cipher E=mc[squared].
But it is an exaggeration, all this symmetry, unity, stability and elegance, Mr. Orrell said. Appreciating them requires a blind eye to the chaos, impermanence and complexity we see around us, the jazz of the universe. The traditional view of scientific beauty has become, as Mr. Orrell describes it, “ossified and a bit clichéd.”
“The idea that the universe is a little bit off-balance, that it’s slightly askew, is actually what drives it, what allows it to evolve, what allows it to change, and what makes it interesting,” Mr. Orrell said. “Like the universe itself, our models are impermanent, flawed and delicately contrived — and that is the most beautiful thing about them.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The search for the long-vilified English King Richard III, who died in battle in 1485 and whose image as a nasty tyrant was immortalized by William Shakespeare, appears to have ended.
In a dramatic Monday morning press conference, researchers from England's University of Leicester announced they had identified "beyond all reasonable doubt" Richard III's skeletal remains. The remains had been unearthed last August by an archaeological team from beneath a parking lot where the friary that reportedly held Richard III's body once stood.
For nearly 40 minutes on Monday, a team of scientists and historians reported the results of detailed medical, historical, genealogical, and genetic studies conducted after archaeologists discovered a skeleton that they believed to be Richard III. (Related: "Shakespeare's Coined Words Now Common Currency.")
Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester, and Kevin Schürer, a genealogist at the school, turned up the most compelling evidence. By poring over historical records and documents, Schürer conclusively identified two of Richard III's living descendants: Michael Ibsen, a furniture maker in London, England, and a second individual who now wishes to remain anonymous.
King took DNA samples from the two descendants and compared them to a sample of ancient DNA obtained from the skeleton from the friary. "There is a DNA match," King told reporters, "so the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III."
Richard III died at age 32 of injuries he sustained at the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, and the new evidence fits closely with these records.
University of Leicester osteologist Jo Appleby showed two gruesome head injuries that Richard received in his last moments—one likely inflicted from behind by an assailant bearing a halberd, a medieval weapon consisting of an axe blade topped with a spike. In addition, Appleby found several other wounds that she described as "humiliation injuries," likely inflicted on Richard's dead body.
Historical accounts suggest that Richard's enemies stripped his body after the battle and threw his corpse over a horse "and this," says Appeleby, "would have left his body exposed to [humiliation] injuries."
The osteologist's studies also revealed that Richard was a man of slight build who suffered from a medical condition known as idiopathic adolescent scolosis, a curvature of the spine that developed after ten years of age and that may have brought back pain to the future king.
This emerging scientific picture of Richard fits with a description of the king written by John Rous, a medieval English historian, in the late 15th century. According to Rous, Richard III "was slight in body and weak in strength."
The King's enduring image as a cruel despot was cemented by Shakespeare, who portrayed him as a glowering monster so repugnant "that dogs bark at me as I halt by them."
In Shakespeare's famous play, the hunchbacked king claws his way to the throne and methodically murders most of his immediate family—his wife, older brother, and two young nephews—until he suffers defeat and death on the battlefield at the hands of a young Tudor hero, Henry VII.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Google acknowledges the fact that many great scientists in our history developed their curiosity for science at an early age. That’s why it is launching today its third annual Google Science Fair in partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American. The main objective here is discover and support the next-generation of scientists and engineers who will shape the face of the world. Google is inviting students, aging from 13 to 18, to join one of the world’s largest online science competitions to submit their own ideas. Over 13 languages are supported and the deadline for submissions will be on the 30th of April at 11:59 pm PDT.
Google will then pick 90 regional finalists in June and will select the top 15 finalists from the list. The lucky 15 will be flown to Google headquarters to join the final event on September 23rd. During the finals, judges will pick winners in the 13-14, 15-16, 17-18 age categories and one will be selected as the Grand Prize winner. Prizes for the 2013 Science Fair include a $50,000 scholarship from Google, a trip to the Galapagos with National Geographic Expeditions, experiences at CERN, Google or the LEGO Group and digital access to the Scientific American archives for the winner’s school for a year. Scientific American will also award a $50,000 Science in Action prize to one project that makes a practical difference by addressing a social, environmental or health issue.
Google Google is an Internet Search company with profits mainly derived from its AdWords advertising program. Google is also known for other high-profile web-related products such as Chrome, GMail, Google Docs or Google Map, and it has also made a very successful entry into the mobile handset market with its Android mobile operating system. The company was created in 1998 and went public in 2004. Google is one of the most visited site in the world. -www.shfaqna.com/English