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41st Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting: "Aging in a Changing World" (Oct. 18-20, 2012, Vancouver, Canada, North America)

Posted: October 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm

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Achieving the 80/20 Point in General Health is Easy, But Anything More is Near Impossible

Posted: at 3:48 pm

So the future of medicine is golden, biotechnology is in the throes of a vast expansion of capabilities and free-fall in costs, and we have a good idea as to how to go about reversing aging - if the research community would just stop tinkering with efforts to merely slow down aging and get on with achieving the all-round better goal of rejuvenation. We should all donate money and time to help out, because it's not as though we can take it with us and irreplaceable time is ticking away. A shot at lifespans of centuries and longer is coming, with not so much time left in which to reach for that goal.

Putting all of that to one side for the moment, there is the arguably less important question of how to optimize heath and life span given the present poor tools to hand. Many people spend a great deal of time talking and debating on this topic, immersing themselves in the world of what presently exists, and giving little thought to what might lie ahead. A vast industry caters to people who think they've found the better mousetrap when it comes to personal health and aging. They're all wrong, of course, but that doesn't stop the flow of commerce.

The sad truth of the matter is that it's simple and easy to achieve the 80/20 result in health and longevity within the bounds of the tools we have available to us today, provided you're starting out as a basically ordinary, healthy individual. Exercise regularly, the 30 minutes daily of aerobic exercise that has been recommended by physicians since way back when, and practice calorie restriction with optimal nutrition - i.e. eat a sane diet, not very much of it, and obtain the necessary levels of micronutrients while doing so. There's also the matter of not harming yourself greatly, but just as I shouldn't have to mention avoidance of knives and falling rocks, I shouldn't have to mention things like giving up smoking.

These things are not rocket science. They are widely known and most have been advocated for centuries. The supporting statistical data is far better now than at any point in the past, and so you have no excuses: if you're not adopting these practices then it is because you have decided to accept a shorter life expectancy and greater odds of ill health in exchange for the dissipations that you presently enjoy. No-one's perfect, right?

But here is an interesting thing about trying to reliably forge ahead beyond the 80/20 point in personal health, in search of the optimum level of improvement: it's next to impossible to go further or reliably measure that you have gone further. The research community has expended billions without being able to determine how you can do that - so what makes you think that you can do any better given your far more limited resources? Metabolism and its interactions are so very, very complex. We can list with some confidence what is good for you, but talking about what is optimal is far beyond present capabilities.

For example, to pick one line item, let us consider calorie restriction. It works amazingly well in short-lived animals and improves short-term measures of human health far more than any presently available medical technology can manage. But once we get to an examination of longer lived animals (such as we primates) over the long term, it starts to become much harder to pin down the best, most optimal way to do things - certainly, the present primate studies are beginning to look as though they will generate as much ambiguity as data.

Dietary Restriction: critical cofactors to separate healthspan from lifespan benefits

Dietary restriction (DR), typically a 20-40% reduction in ad libitum or "normal" nutritional energy intake, has been reported to extend lifespan in diverse organisms including yeast, nematodes, spiders, fruit flies, mice, rats and rhesus monkeys. The magnitude of the lifespan enhancement appears to diminish with increasing organismal complexity. However, the extent of lifespan extension has been notoriously inconsistent, especially in mammals.

Recently, Mattison et al. report that DR does not extend lifespan in rhesus monkeys in contrast to earlier work of Colman et al. Examination of these papers identifies multiple potential confounding factors. Among these are the varied genetic backgrounds and composition of the "normal" and DR diets. In the monkeys, the correlation of DR with increased healthspan is stronger than that seen with lifespan, and indeed may be separable. Recent mechanistic studies in Drosophila implicate non-genetic cofactors such as level of physical activity and muscular fatty acid metabolism in the benefits of DR. These results should be followed up in mammals. Perhaps levels of physical activity among the cohorts of rhesus monkeys contributes to inconsistent DR effects.

To understand the maximum potential benefits from DR requires differentiating fundamental effects on aging at the cellular and molecular levels from suppression of age-associated diseases, such as cancer. To that end, it is important that investigators carefully evaluate the effects of DR on biomarkers of molecular aging, such as mutation rate and epigenomic alterations. Several short-term studies show that humans may benefit from DR in as little as 6 months, by achieving lowered fasting insulin levels and improved cardiovascular health.

Optimized healthspan engineering will require a much deeper understanding of DR.

That last sentence is worth considering at length - but remember that the 80/20 win for personal health is still right here, easily achieved. Instead of trying to go further in a presently impossible attempt at optimization, a better use of that time and energy lies in supporting research and development of rejuvenation biotechnology. Even a magically optimized personal health program would not allow most people to live to 100 with today's technology - the only way that the vast majority of us will get to see a three digit birthday cake is through progress in longevity science and its clinical applications.

So if you're going to spend any effort on this whole living longer in good health thing, spend it wisely. Don't chase rainbows.


Comparing Longevity and Damage Resistance in Bivalves

Posted: at 3:47 pm

Much like mammals, bivalve molluscs exhibit a very wide range of life spans. At the known outer end stands the arctic quahog at more than four centuries, and much studied in recent years so as to understand the roots of its longevity. That research project is still ongoing, as are similar comparative studies of aging and longevity in a range of other species.

Here, researchers compare resistance to various forms of physical stress and damage in different bivalve species. As you might expect from the view of aging put forward earlier today, longer-lived species are more resistant to most forms of damage:

Bivalve molluscs are newly discovered models of successful aging. Here, we test the hypothesis that extremely long-lived bivalves are not uniquely resistant to oxidative stressors (eg, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, as demonstrated in previous studies) but exhibit a multistress resistance phenotype.

We contrasted resistance (in terms of organismal mortality) to genotoxic stresses (including topoisomerase inhibitors, agents that cross-link DNA or impair genomic integrity through DNA alkylation or methylation) and to mitochondrial oxidative stressors in three bivalve mollusc species with dramatically differing life spans: Arctica islandica (ocean quahog), Mercenaria mercenaria (northern quahog), and the Atlantic bay scallop, Argopecten irradians irradians (maximum species life spans: more than 500, more than 100, and ~2 years, respectively).

With all stressors, the short-lived A i irradians were significantly less resistant than the two longer lived species. Arctica islandica were consistently more resistant than M mercenaria to mortality induced by oxidative stressors as well as DNA methylating agent nitrogen mustard and the DNA alkylating agent methyl methanesulfonate. The same trend was not observed for genotoxic agents that act through cross-linking DNA. In contrast, M mercenaria tended to be more resistant to epirubicin and genotoxic stressors, which cause DNA damage by inhibiting topoisomerases.

To our knowledge, this is the first study comparing resistance to genotoxic stressors in bivalve mollusc species with disparate longevities. In line with previous studies of comparative stress resistance and longevity, our data extends, at least in part, the evidence for the hypothesis that an association exists between longevity and a general resistance to multiplex stressors, not solely oxidative stress.

In mammals, you might look to the naked mole rat as an analogous species: very resistant to all sorts of biological and cellular damage, and extremely long-lived in comparison to similar sized rodent species.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23051979


Considering Longevity in Terms of Damage Versus Damage Repair

Posted: at 3:47 pm

Here is a framework for thinking about aging and longevity: various forms of low-level biological damage accrue as a result of the operation of metabolism, degrading organs and tissues and ultimately causing death. Where natural selection favors longer-lived individuals, mechanisms will evolve to repair, minimize, or resist the effects of this damage. So aging is driven by damage, but genetic programs interact with that damage, evolved to try to do something about it.

Thus we could expect to be able to manipulate life span either by repairing damage or by altering the programs. The former approach should produce far more effective means of healthy life extension, however, including rejuvenation of the old. In comparison, and from what we've seen so far in longevity science, modestly slowing aging is about the best we can expect from the near future of genetic and metabolic alterations.

In spite of exciting new insights into regulatory mechanisms that modulate the aging process, the proximal cause of aging remains one of the unsolved big problems in biology. An evolutionary analysis of aging provides a helpful theoretical framework by establishing boundary conditions on possible mechanisms of aging. The fundamental insight is that the force of natural selection diminishes with age. This does not preclude senescence (age-related decrease in individual fitness) from occurring in natural populations. Senescence can develop because some genes have non-separable, but typically different or opposite, functions in reproductive-age and in old individuals. Such genes, selected according to their "youthful" function, may thus impose a distinct senescent phenotype in old age.

In general, however, unless a controversial formulation of group selection is invoked, traits that would become manifest only in old age cannot evolve. This precludes the evolutionary emergence of aging programs, which have been sometimes postulated to exist in analogy to developmental and other biological programs. (By the same token, selective pressure that diminishes with age would also prevent extreme longevity from evolving, if "extreme" denotes a potential life span much longer than that imposed by extrinsic mortality in a given environment.) This and other arguments against the existence of an aging program have been discussed previously.

The evolutionary perspective sketched out above does not specify the mechanisms that underlie aging, but it helps to narrow down the possibilities. As already discussed, an evolved deterministic aging program can be ruled out, perhaps with the exception of specific niche situations. In the absence of adaptive life-curtailing processes driven by a putative aging program, we are left with untargeted pro-aging, destabilizing phenomena which, in principle, may range from purely stochastic to side-effects of "legitimate" biochemical pathways. These destabilizing forces are counteracted by evolved, and genetically controlled, longevity assurance (or repair/maintenance) processes. The interplay of these countervailing forces determines the life span.

While I have previously presented my detailed interpretation of this model, its central tenets bear repeating: (a) the destabilizing processes that drive aging are neither evolved nor adaptive; (b) in contrast, longevity assurance mechanisms are under genetic control; (c) together, these two opposing forces determine life span; (d) the average life span of a species is set by evolving longevity assurance mechanisms so as to optimize reproductive success under environmental conditions typical for that species.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2012.00189


Stem Cell Transplants as a Way to Regenerate Myelin

Posted: at 3:47 pm

Stem cell therapies offer all sorts of possible ways to intervene in disorders of the brain and nervous system: the evidence suggests that, as for other parts of the body, there is a lot that can be achieved by dropping in a bunch of fully functional cells of the right type and letting them get to work. Or, alternately, by finding ways to stimulate existing cell populations into working harder.

Most of these approaches fall into the category of patches: increasing the pace of repair and recreation of destroyed resources, but doing little to address the underlying reasons for damage and destruction. As a strategy this is second-rate, especially in the brain, but it is how the mainstream of medical research proceeds. In part we can blame regulatory bodies for the focus on patching end results rather than preventing root causes: the way in which requirements and costs are imposed on the development of new therapies leads to a situation in which it the less expensive (and in some cases only) path is to build treatments for late stage disease.

Damage to myelin, the sheathing for axons in nerve cells, is at the root of a number of serious medical conditions. As is the case for most of our biology the integrity of myelin declines with age; some fraction of the age-related decline in cognitive function that occurs for everyone is thought to stem from progressively less effective myelination in the brain. A number of research groups are engaged in ongoing work with stem cells aimed at the repair of myelin, and here is one example:

Stem Cells Myelinate Human Brain

Neural stem cells transplanted into the brains of people with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease (PMD) can differentiate and begin producing the myelin sheaths that these patients lack, according to results of a Phase I clinical trial. ... If the stem cell transplants do ultimately demonstrate benefit, they could help more than just PMD patients ... There's a wide range of possible myelin disorders that could be targeted, including demyelinating disorders like multiple sclerosis and preterm babies at risk for cerebral palsy due to white matter injury.

Here, as in many other cases, a therapy is under development for use with specific named diseases - but it might also prove helpful as a treatment for aging, as an attempt to retard loss of cognitive function. Yet there is no path to legally produce therapies for general use in all old people in the US: the FDA doesn't recognize treatment of aging as a legitimate use of medicine, and short a revolution there's little hope of changing that situation through existing paths. Until this changes, a great deal of promising work will be sidetracked into narrow usage for late stage specific diseases, and any real progress towards clinical applications for aging will have to happen outside the US research community.


Treating Neurodegeneration by Increasing Neural Plasticity

Posted: at 3:47 pm

One line of research into treatments for neurodegenerative disorders involves spurring the brain to establish new neural connections to replace those that have been damaged or lost. This seems like an inferior strategy in comparison to trying to identify and remove root causes, one that can only delay the inevitable, but it's nonetheless a fairly entrenched field of work.

Here is an example of this sort of research - and note that as for other similar efforts there are hints that an induced increase in neural plasticity would be beneficial for cognitive function in all older individuals:

Researchers have developed a new drug candidate that dramatically improves the cognitive function of rats with Alzheimer's-like mental impairment. Their compound, which is intended to repair brain damage that has already occurred [by] rebuilding connections between nerve cells.

[The scientists] have been working on their compound since 1992, when they started looking at the impact of the peptide angiotensin IV on the hippocampus, a brain region involved in spatial learning and short-term memory. ... angiotensin IV, or early drug candidates based on it, were capable of reversing learning deficits seen in many models of dementia. The practical utility of these early drug candidates, however, was severely limited because they were very quickly broken down by the body and couldn't get across the blood-brain barrier.

Five years ago, [the scientists] designed a smaller version of the molecule [called] Dihexa. Not only is it stable but it can cross the blood-brain barrier. An added bonus is it can move from the gut into the blood, so it can be taken in pill form. The researchers tested the drug on several dozen rats treated with scopolamine, a chemical that interferes with a neurotransmitter critical to learning and memory. Typically, a rat treated with scopolamine will never learn the location of a submerged platform in a water tank, orienting with cues outside the tank. After receiving the [drug], however, all of the rats did, whether they received the drug directly in the brain, orally, or through an injection.

[The researchers] also reported similar but less dramatic results in a smaller group of old rats. In this study the old rats, which often have difficulty with the task, performed like young rats. While the results were statistically valid, additional studies with larger test groups will be necessary to fully confirm the finding.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-10/wsu-pad101012.php


Cell therapy portfolio outperforms major indices year-to-date

Posted: at 3:46 pm


On August 10 we created a model portfolio in Google Finance of 29 public companies in the cell therapy sector then we compared how that portfolio was doing against the major indices year-to-date (Since 1 January 2012).  See that post here.  Bottom line: even though we are still in a relatively bullish market, the CT portfolio was doing better.  Significantly better.
So how is the sector portfolio doing now that we've been through three quarters?
CT model portfolio compared to 3 major indices YTD
In case you can't read the image above, the blue line represents the cell therapy portfolio and here are the stats on performance since 1 January 2012:
  • Cell Therapy Portfolio:  +24.44%
  • Dow Jones:  +4.5%
  • S+P 500:  +6.78%
  • Nasdaq:  +10.26%
The only change I've made to the portfolio of 29 companies listed in our August 10 post is to add Thermogenesis (KOOL).  Today its stock is at .968 up from .7 at the beginning of the year.
You do or should know, I'm no financial analyst.  I'm not entirely sure what assumptions are behind this 'model portfolio' or precisely what one should take from this snapshot but what is clear to me is that at least from one perspective the sector is treating investors fairly well.
I certainly welcome comments from more sophisticated investors or analysts.  In fact, if anyone with that kind of experience or expertise wants to write a guest post on this blog providing a more sophisticated commentary on what this all means, I would very much welcome the contribution.
In the meantime, I hope this helps.
Post-publication addition:
Carter Gould, Associate Biotech Analyst at Dawson James Securities emailed me to point out that the cell therapy portfolio is simply riding the bull wave of biotech in general and and the portfolio has not done even half as well as the broader biotech (BTK) index which is up 45% YTD.  All very true.  Here is a YahooFinance snapshot of the BTK performance vs the three major indices.

http://www.celltherapyblog.com hosted by http://www.celltherapygroup.com


Hydration forces as a tool for the optimization of core-shell nanoparticle vectors for cancer gene therapy

Posted: at 3:46 pm

Soft Matter, 2012, Advance ArticleDOI: 10.1039/C2SM26389K, PaperM. J. Santander-Ortega, M. de la Fuente, M. V. Lozano, M. E. Bekheet, F. Progatzky, A. Elouzi, I. F. Uchegbu, A. G. SchatzleinThe high cationic charge density of the polymers used in synthetic gene therapy vectors makes these systems toxic and induces non-specific interactions with blood components.To cite this article before page numbers are assigned, use the DOI form of citation above.The content of this RSS Feed (c) The Royal Society of Chemistry (Source: RSC - Soft Matter latest articles)

MedWorm Sponsor Message: Please support the Doctors In Chains campaign for the medics tortured and sentenced for up to 15 years in Bahrain. #FreeDoctors


Yamanaka and the Frailty of Peer Review

Posted: at 3:46 pm

More than one back story exists on
Shinya Yamanaka and his Nobel Prize, but one that has received little
attention this week also raises questions about hoary practice of
peer review and publication of research – not to mention the
awarding of billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

The Yamanaka tale goes back to a 2010
article in the New Scientist magazine by Peter Aldous in which the
publication examined more than 200 stem cell papers published from
“2006 onwards.” The study showed an apparent favoritism towards
U.S. scientists. Also specifically reported were long delays in
publication of Yamanaka's papers, including in one case 295 days.
Here is part of what Aldous wrote,

“All's fair in love and war, they
say, but science is supposed to obey more noble ideals. New findings
are submitted for publication, the studies are farmed out to experts
for objective 'peer review' and the best research appears promptly
in the most prestigious journals. 

“Some stem cell biologists are crying
foul, however. Last year(2009), 14 researchers in this notoriously
competitive field wrote
to leading journals
 complaining of "unreasonable or
obstructive reviews". The result, they claimed, is that
'publication of truly original findings may be delayed or rejected.' 

“Triggered by this protest, New
Scientist scrutinised the dynamics of publication in the most
exciting and competitive area of stem
cell research
, in which cells are 'reprogrammed' to
acquire the versatility of those of an early-stage embryo. In this
fast-moving field, where a Nobel prize is arguably at stake,
biologists are racing feverishly to publish their findings in top

“Our analysis of more than 200
research papers from 2006 onwards reveals that US-based scientists
are enjoying a significant advantage, getting their papers published
faster and in more prominent journals (find
our data, methods and analyses here

“More mysterious, given his standing
in the field, is why two of Yamanaka's papers were among the 10 with
the longest lags. In the most delayed of all, Yamanaka reported that
the tumour-suppressing gene p53 inhibits the formation of
iPS cells. The paper took 295 days to be accepted. It was eventually
published by Nature in August 2009 alongside four similar
studies. 'Yamanaka's paper was submitted months before any of the
others,' complains Austin
 at the University of Cambridge, UK, who coordinated
the letter sent to leading journals. 

“Yamanaka suggests that editors may
be less excited by papers from non-US scientists, but may change
their minds when they receive similar work from leading labs in the
US. In this case, Hochedlinger submitted a paper similar to
Yamanaka's, but nearly six months after him. Ritu
, Nature's chief biology editor, says that each paper
is assessed on its own merits. Hochedlinger says he was unaware of
Yamanaka's research on p53 before publication.”

Last week, Paul Knoepfler of UC Davis
wrote of other issues dealing with peer review, but coincidentally
also dealing with iPS cells. What New Scientist and Knoepfler are
discussing is not an isolated situation. It is part of a continuum of
complaints, both serious and self-interested but exceedingly
pervasive. A Google search today on the term “problems with peer
review” turned up 10.1 million references.  Writing on Ars Technica last year, Jonathan Gitlin, science policy analyst at the National
Human Genome Research Institute
,  summarized many of the issues, citing a “published” (our quotation marks)
study that said peer review doesn't work “any better than chance.”
Gitlin said,

“A common criticism is that peer
review is biased towards well-established research groups and the
scientific status quo. Reviewers are unwilling to reject papers from
big names in their fields out of fear, and they can be hostile to
ideas that challenge their own, even if the supporting data is good.
Unscrupulous reviewers can reject papers and then quickly publish
similar work themselves.” 

At the $3 billion California stem cell
agency, peer review is undergoing some modest, indirect examination
nowadays. The agency is moving towards tighter scrutiny of budgets
proposed by applicants. And, following a record wave of appeals this
summer by disgruntled applicants rejected during peer review, it is
also moving to bring the appeal process under more control.
As the agency tries to move faster and
more successfully towards development of commercial therapies, it may
do well to consider also the frailties of its peer review process and the
perils of scientific orthodoxy.   


Yamanaka: ‘Rejected, Slow and Clumsy’

Posted: at 3:46 pm

This week's announcement of the Nobel
for Shinya Yamanaka brought along some interesting
tidbits, including who was “snubbed” as well as recollections
from the recipient.

Jon Bardin of the Los Angeles Times
wrote the “snubbed” piece and quoted Christopher Scott of
Stanford and Paul Knoepfler of UC Davis about the selection issues.
Bardin's piece mentioned Jamie Thomson and Ian Wilmut as scientists
who also could have been considered for the award but were not named.
Ultimately, Bardin wrote that the award committee was looking for a
“singular, paradigm shifting discovery,” which he concluded was
not the case with Thomson or Wilmut.
How Yamanaka arrived at his research
was another topic in the news coverage, much of it dry as dust.
However, Lisa Krieger of the San Jose Mercury News began her story
with Yamanaka's travails some 20 years ago. At the time, no one was returning his phone
calls as he looked for work, and he was rejected by
50 apparently not-so-farsighted American labs.
But that job search in 1993 came only after Yamanaka
decided he was less than successful as an orthopedic surgeon,
according to an account in JapanRealTime. “Slow and clumsy” was
how Yamanaka described himself.
And so he moved on to research. But
again he reported stumbling. In this case, he found a way to reduce
“bad cholesterol” but with a tiny complication – liver cancer.
That in turn sent him on a journey to learn how cells proliferate and
develop, which led him to the work that won the Nobel Prize.
Yamanaka said his original interest in
orthopedic medicine was stimulated by his father along with the treatments
for injuries young Yamanaka received while playing rugby and learning judo. The JapanRealTime account continued,

“'My father probably still thinks in
heaven that I’m a doctor,' he said in the interview(with Asahi
last April). 'IPS cells are still at a research phase and
have not treated a single patient. I hope to link it to actual
treatment soon so I will be not embarrassed when I meet my father

And then there was, of course, the much-repeated story from the researcher who shared the Nobel with Yamanaka, John Gurdon. He has preserved to this day a
report from a high school biology teacher that said the 15-year-old
Gurdon's desire to become a scientist was “quite ridiculous.”
The teacher, who is unnamed, wrote,

“If he can’t learn simple
biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a
specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part
and of those who would have to teach him.”


Tighter Controls on Stem Cell Grant Budgets Hits Quorum Bump

Posted: at 3:46 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – A move to tighten
budget controls on grants from the $3 billion California stem cell
agency stalled Monday, but it appears that the plan is headed for
ultimate approval.

The proposal was up for consideration
by the agency's directors' Science Subcommittee, which could not act
on it after it lost its quorum.
Members of the panel generally favored
the stronger budget controls, but had questions about the specifics
of implementing the plan during closed-door reviews of grant
applications. The proposal is likely to be altered to respond to
those concerns. It would then either come back to the Science
Subcommittee or go to the full board.
The plan would make it clear to
recipients of large grants that approval of an application by the
agency's governing board does not provide a carte blanche to
researchers. Ellen Feigal, senior vice president for research and
development, said it can be “extremely difficult” for CIRM staff
to deal with budget problems in grants following board approval.
The committee also approved a plan to
speed the application process on its next disease team round, which
is aimed at driving research into the clinic. The concept proposal
for that round is scheduled to come before directors later this
month. The round will be limited to “more mature stage” research
that is close to a clinical trial, if not in one. Feigal said 10 to
15 applications are expected.
Another proposal to add more millions
to CIRM's strategic partnership program was also approved.


Yamanaka and the Golden State

Posted: at 3:46 pm

The iPierian biopharmaceutical company
in South San Francisco was quick to make a change in its web site
this morning after the Nobel Prize for medicine was announced.

Altered was the bio for one of its
scientific advisors, Shinya Yamanaka, to note that he had won the
Nobel. The bio is tucked away on the site, but it is likely that the
company, which specializes in iPS work, will figure out how to put
the news out front on its home page as well as issue a press release.
It was all part of the reaction today
in California to the Nobel for Yamanaka, who has substantial links to
the Golden State, including UCSF and the Gladstone Institutes.
Both enterprises moved with greater
deftness than iPierian. Yamanaka is a professor at UCSF and a senior
investigator at Gladstone, and the organizations quickly put together a news conference this morning that featured Yamanaka on a video
hook-up from Japan.
UCSF, which is allied with Gladstone,
issued a press release that quoted the president of Gladstone, R.
Sanders Williams
, who also mentioned the California stem cell agency.
Williams said,

“Dr. Yamanaka’s story is a
thrilling tale of creative genius, focused dedication and successful
cross-disciplinary science. These traits, nurtured during Dr.
Yamanaka’s postdoctoral training at Gladstone, have led to a
breakthrough that has helped propel the San Francisco Bay Area to the
forefront of stem cell research. Dozens of labs — often supported
by organizations such as the California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine (CIRM)
and the Roddenberry Foundation–have adopted his

CIRM, which is the state's $3 billion
stem cell effort, published an item on its blog quoting CIRM
President Alan Trounson. He said,

"There are few moments in science
that are undisputed as genuine elegant creativity and simplicity.
Shinya Yamanaka is responsible for one of those. The induced
pluripotent stem cells he created will allow us to interrogate and
understand the full extent and variation of human disease, will
enable us to develop new medicines and will forever change the way
science and medicine will be conducted for the benefit of mankind. An
extraordinary accomplishment by a genuinely modest and brilliant
scientist. He absolutely deserves a Nobel award.”

The CIRM item by Amy Adams, the
agency's communications manager, said that just five years after
Yamanaka's research,

“CIRM alone is funding almost $190
million in awards developing better ways of creating iPS cells and
using those cells to develop new therapies (the
full list of iPS grants is on our website

One of the recipients of CIRM's iPS
cash is the well-connected iPierian, which has taken in $7.1 million.
Yamanaka, however, has never received a grant from the agency, and
it is not known whether he ever applied since CIRM releases only the
names of researchers whose applications were approved.


Stem Cell Orthodoxy and Peer Review

Posted: at 3:46 pm

Going against the grain can be
difficult as UC Davis stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler learned
again in connection with his research that dealt with similarities
between cancer and iPS cells.

His “unsettling” findings troubled
some scientists who reviewed his paper prior to its publication in
September in Stem Cells and Development. (See here and here.)
As many readers know, iPS or
reprogrammed adult cells are currently a hot research avenue in stem
cell research because they avoid many of the ticklish ethical and
political problems connected with human embryonic stem cells.
Knoepfler shared his thoughts on the
publication and peer review process on his blog last week. He wrote,

“Not surprisingly...there are certain
members of the stem cell field who would rather focus away from the
ideas that iPS cells are similar in some respects to cancer.”

Knoepfler, whose research was financed
in part by the California stem cell agency, wrote,

“Once we had a manuscript together
comparing iPS cells to cancer cells, we sent it to several high
profile journals without much luck. We thought that the fact that our
data indicated that iPS cells are similar to cancer cells might make
reviewers and editors excited. We thought that the paper was novel
and thought provoking in a number of ways. At the same time I
realized the theme of the paper would be controversial. 

“I would say two general things about
the review process at the two journals that turned down the paper.
First, the reviewers at these journals were enormously helpful with
their suggestions and helped us improve the paper substantially.
Second, they were clearly very uncomfortable with the notion that iPS
cells are related in some ways to cancer so unsettled in fact that I
believe it influenced their reviews.”

At one journal, a reviewer said the
findings were either “not sufficiently novel” or “trivial.”
“Little useful insights” said another. And a third said, “many
unsettling results....”
Knoepfler commented on this blog,

“Yeah, it may be unsettling that iPS
cells share traits with cancer cells, but if that is the reality,
isn’t it important that people know that and think about it, talk
about it, and address the issue with eyes open?”

Knoepfler's item and similar comments
from other researchers that can found elsewhere on the Internet
indirectly raise questions about the California stem cell agency's process
of peer review of applications for hundreds of millions of dollars in
funding, especially in the wake of this summer's unprecedented rash of appeals of decisions by grant reviewers.
The key question is whether the agency's closed-door process reinforces orthodoxy or, in fact, is all but controlled by what
amounts to scientific conventional wisdom. Obviously, no researcher
likes to see a paper rejected or a grant denied. But the record
number of appeals at CIRM and other private complaints could well indicate
that potentially profitable proposals are receiving a less than
welcome reception behind closed doors from agency reviewers.
The agency's board itself is
hard-pressed to make such determinations. It is hamstrung by
procedures that do not permit it to expand an application directly –
only a staff-written summary. Names of applicants and institutions
are censored, although the board is required by law to discuss in
public most aspects of a research proposal. Exceptions are permitted for proprietary information. Additionally, a handful of the 29 members of the governing board do participate in the reviews, which come before final action by the board. 
Currently the agency is pushing hard to
commercialize stem cell research and fulfill at least some of the
promises to voters that were made in 2004. To do that, the agency may
well have to step outside of the normal comfort zone of the good
burghers of stem cell science.


Company Recalls Nutrition Bars

Posted: at 2:20 am

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Nearly 80 Types of Peanut, Almond Butter Recalled

Several Crunch brand and Ridge Bar brand nutrition bars are being recalled due to possible health risk, Creative Energy Foods, Inc., announced Friday.

The nutrition bars being recalled include Crunch thinkThin varieties in the following flavors: Mixed Nuts; White Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts; Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts; Caramel Dipped Mixed Nuts; Cherry & Mixed Nuts; Blueberry & Mixed Nuts; and Cranberry Apple & Mixed Nuts.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the recalled products were sold at retail chain stores nationwide between March 2010 and October 12, 2012.

The nutrition bars are being voluntarily pulled from shelves because they contain blanched roasted peanuts supplied by Sunland, Inc., that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Salmonella can cause serious and fatal infections. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The other nutrition bars being recalled by Creative Energy Foods are Ridge Bar brand bars in the Peanut Butter Crunch flavor. These too contain blanched roasted peanuts supplied to CEF by Sunland, Inc., that may be contaminated with Salmonella. The only Ridge Bar products included in this recall are those sold online.

No illnesses have been associated with the Crunch or Ridge Bar products to date.

Consumers who have these products should not consume them and should dispose of them.

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Company Recalls Nutrition Bars

The Fitness Business

Posted: at 2:19 am

by Chai Li Tiing, bizhive@theborneopost.com. Posted on October 14, 2012, Sunday

In recent years, the cat city has seen a rise in the number of health and fitness establishments a landscape that is in stark contrast with just a decade ago, when there was virtually no semblance of an exercising culture among the Kuching city folk.

In a place where development is picking up pace rapidly, people are inevitably seeing many aspects of their lives change in tandem with the citys changes.

Among the changes that can be observed include an increasingly fastpaced lifestyle and work culture, better access to higher education and heightened standards of living.

These aspects, coupled with more exposure to foreign cultures from technological advancement, have set the stage for an increased awareness about the importance of health and bigger demand for fitness related facilities.

On the other hand, people are finding themselves chained to their desks and keeping indoors more and more as the Internet and online games take precedence over outdoor activities and sports.

In the modern fast food-eating couch-potato culture, the latent realisation has proven timely as body-building and group fitness exercises such as yoga, Pilates as well as the latest Zumba see a surge in popularity among Kuching folks.

There has been a longstanding misconception that exercises and workouts are aimed at losing weight per se.

As such, many made excuses for not exercising or believed that they were leading a healthy life, therefore need not make any changes.

However, an increasing number of yuppie s have brought on a shift in the fitness paradigm, likely influenced by western culture.

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The Fitness Business

Health care future hinges on presidential vote

Posted: at 2:19 am

The signature achievement of President Barack Obamas term could be out the door if Mitt Romney wins in November, but the debate over the future of health care in America will continue and possibly dominate the next term no matter who gets elected.

The candidates competing visions could scarcely be more dissimilar, even though Obamas Affordable Care Act was closely modeled after the health care plan Romney signed into law while governor of Massachusetts.

If President Barack Obama wins re-election, he can be expected to fully phase in the 2010 law which is designed to extend health coverage to millions of Americans without insurance. And he likely will retain the basic structures of Medicare and Medicaid, the Great Society programs that provide health coverage to the elderly and the poor respectively.

Should Romney win the presidency, count him on him to try to repeal the 2010 law which has earned the nickname Obamacare, while launching a sweeping transformation of Medicare and Medicaid.

The competing roads on dealing with the millions of Americans without health insurance while simultaneously trying to restrain the growth of federal health programs has been a dominant dispute in a testy presidential race that is sure to get testier in the coming weeks.

During the first presidential debate this month in Denver, Obama complained that Romney wants to replace the 2010 health law but he hasnt described what exactly wed replace it with other than saying were going to leave it to the states.

By contrast, Romney argues that the health law has discouraged small companies from hiring people. During the same debate, he assailed Obama for spending his energy and passion during his first two years in office fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs.

No matter who wins the election, the grim reality of Americas health care system is not going to vanish. Even under Obamas health law, as many as 20 million Americans will still lack health coverage. If Romney either persuades Congress to repeal the law or allows states to ignore it, some predict that the number of uninsured people could climb to nearly 50 million.

In addition, the crushing costs borne by the federal government to finance Medicare and Medicaid only will grow more burdensome. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that combined federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will increase from $822 billion this year to more than $1.6 trillion by 2022.

By contrast, the CBO calculates that by 2022, the government will spend just $647 billion on domestic discretionary programs such as housing, education, and transportation. In essence, the government will be devoting more financial resources to the elderly as opposed to the young.

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Health care future hinges on presidential vote

Anti-Aging Company Launches New Reports after Study Shows that the Diabetes Patients Show Early Cardiovascular Aging …

Posted: at 2:18 am

Anti-aging website, http://antiagingproductsreviewed.com/ has announced a new anti-aging reports on natural aging solutions after a new study reveals that those with type 2 diabetes show signs of aging in their cardiovascular system much earlier than those without the condition.

Houston, TX. (PRWEB) October 13, 2012

The professionals at Anti Aging Products Reviewed announced these new reports as part of their larger effort to help people fight off against the internal signs of aging in safe and natural ways.

This study was designed to bring certain issues to light regarding aging for those with the very common disease of type 2 diabetes, and the company Anti Aging Products reviewed hope it will be the boost that people need to learn more about preventing internal aging signs and symptoms. The company hopes that the reports, along with the information about aging and type 2 diabetes released in this new highly publicized study, will encourage more people to get the information they are looking for about the aging process.

The new reports are designed to bring light to ways to get the body healthy during the aging process and will also feature reviews on the wildly popular the Marine D3 product and provide insight on how this all natural supplement can help with aging related issues. The companys new reports have recently launched on their website and are now available to the public for free.

To find out more about the company and the best anti-aging solutions available in todays market, visit: http://antiagingproductsreviewed.com/.

Keith Bax antiagingproductsreviewed.com 978-539-4586 Email Information

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Anti-Aging Company Launches New Reports after Study Shows that the Diabetes Patients Show Early Cardiovascular Aging ...

Streamline Health® Adds Michael Valentine To Board Of Directors

Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

CINCINNATI and ATLANTA, Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Streamline Health Solutions, Inc. (STRM), a leading provider of SaaS-based enterprise content management, business analytics, computer assisted coding (CAC), and clinical documentation improvement (CDI) solutions for healthcare providers, today announced the addition of Michael Valentine, Chief Executive Officer of Netsmart, to its Board of Directors.

"I am excited to have Michael as a resource for our Board of Directors with his in-depth understanding of the health information technology space," said Robert E. Watson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Streamline Health. "Michael will be a valuable contributor as we continue to grow the company."

Mr. Valentine joined Netsmart in May 2011 from Cerner Corporation, where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He held a succession of business ownership roles during his 13 years at Cerner. Prior to his role as Chief Operating Officer, he maintained ownership of client delivery and strategic partnerships for Cerner's worldwide operations, and was the driving force behind advancements made in standardization and centralization of Cerner's delivery model.Prior to joining Cerner, Mr. Valentine founded and managed a Midwest-based technology solutions and services company. Before that, he was an executive in telecommunications and technology industry groups at Andersen Consulting for seven years.

"Having worked in almost all aspects of healthcare over the last 15 years, I've gained a solid understanding of the priorities and challenges that provider organizations face. I see Streamline Health as offering the kinds of solutions that will serve as key building blocks as healthcare providers reshape both their care and business processes," said Michael Valentine. "I look forward to working with the Board and the management team to deliver real value to both the clients and shareholders."

About Streamline HealthStreamline Health Solutions, Inc. (STRM) is a leading provider of SaaS-based healthcare information technology (HCIT) solutions for hospitals and physician groups with offices in Cincinnati, Atlanta and New York.The company's comprehensive suite of solutions includes: enterprise content management (ECM), business analytics, integrated workflows, clinical documentation improvement (CDI), and computer assisted coding (CAC). Across the revenue cycle, these solutions offer healthcare enterprises a flexible, customizable way to communicate between disparate departments and information systems to improve processes, boost productivity, and optimize clinical, administrative and financial performance. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.streamlinehealth.net.

Safe Harbor statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995Statements made by Streamline Health Solutions, Inc. that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties and are no guarantee of future performance. The forward looking statements contained herein are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, included herein. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the timing of contract negotiations and execution of contracts and the related timing of the revenue recognition related thereto, the potential cancellation of existing contracts or clients not completing projects included in the backlog, the impact of competitive products and pricing, product demand and market acceptance, new product development, key strategic alliances with vendors that resell the Company's products, the ability of the Company to control costs, availability of products obtained from third party vendors, the healthcare regulatory environment, potential changes in legislation, regulation and government funding affecting the healthcare industry, healthcare information systems budgets, availability of healthcare information systems trained personnel for implementation of new systems, as well as maintenance of legacy systems, fluctuations in operating results, effects of critical accounting policies and judgments, changes in accounting policies or procedures as may be required by the Financial Accountings Standards Board or other similar entities, changes in economic, business and market conditions impacting the healthcare industry, the markets in which the Company operates and nationally, and the Company's ability to maintain compliance with the terms of its credit facilities, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Streamline Health Solutions, Inc. filings with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect management's analysis only as of the date hereof. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly release the results of any revision to these forward-looking statements, which may be made to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

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Streamline Health® Adds Michael Valentine To Board Of Directors

Health Care Is No. 2 Concern on Voters' Minds

Posted: at 10:16 am

THURSDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Health care is now the second most important issue in the presidential election, topped only by concerns about the economy, according to a study that analyzed 37 national opinion polls.

That's the highest health care has ranked as a presidential election issue since 1992, according to the researchers.

The study also found that voters who consider health care the top issue are more likely to side with President Barack Obama over challenger Mitt Romney on the Affordable Care Act and Medicare.

The analysis of survey data, conducted by 17 different organizations, revealed that 20 percent of respondents said health care/Medicare was the most important issue in their 2012 voting choice. The economy and jobs was first, at 51 percent.

Voters who said health care/Medicare was the most important issue were much more supportive of the Affordable Care Act than the general public. Forty-one percent of such voters said they were much less likely to vote for a candidate who would repeal all or part of the act, while 14 percent said they were much more likely to vote for such a candidate.

An average of current polls shows that about 44 percent of people support the act and 45 percent oppose it.

The study also found that 27 percent of people support and 66 percent oppose changing Medicare to provide seniors with a fixed amount of money they could use to buy either private health insurance or Medicare coverage.

Among voters who said health care/Medicare is the most important issue, 39 percent said they were much less likely to vote for a candidate who supported such a change in Medicare, and 11 percent said they were much more likely to vote for such a candidate.

The study was published online Oct. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The economy dominates most voters' thinking in terms of their priorities for choosing a candidate," study co-author Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a school news release. "But in a close election, the two candidates' stands on health care issues could help swing the balance among some voters."

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Health Care Is No. 2 Concern on Voters' Minds

Media Asked To Increase Reportage On Nutrition Issues.

Posted: October 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Health News of Friday, 12 October 2012

Source: Mathias Aboba-Tamale

Ghanaian Journalists have been encouraged to use the powerful tool of the media to bring into the spotlight issues of nutrition for public attention and discussion so as to increase awareness of the impact of under nutrition among the population as a way to help generate solutions for optimal nutrition for increased productivity and national development. The called was made by the Mrs Wilhelmina Okawbi, Deputy Director in charge of nutrition, Ghana Health Services. Mrs Okwabi made the appeal during a days seminar on nutrition advocacy and reporting organized by the Ghana Health Service in collaboration with USAID for Journalists in the three regions of the north in Tamale. Presenting the 2011 Ghana nutrition profiles results Mrs Okwabi, pointed out that the major nutrition challenges in the country are; stunting (too short for age), wasting (low weight for height), anaemia (iron deficiency) and iodine deficiency. She mentioned some of the dire consequences of under nutrition to include: low productivity in adults, growth and learning impairment in children, reproduction challenges in women and mortality in all populations. Mrs Okwabi revealed that every in Ghana some 12,000 children die because their weight is too low for their age (underweight). According to her the survey has also shown that anaemia is very high in Ghana accounting for 20% of maternal mortality in the country. In her view, Ghana stands to gain tremendously if the nation is able to increase nutrition security to the population particularly women and young children. The nutrition profiles results for 2011 reveals that if Ghana is able to reduce stunting alone economic gains accruing to the country could exceed 720 million cedis (US$504 million) by 2020. The Northern Regional Director of Health Service Dr Akwesi Twumasi in his address to the participants said if Ghana does not place nutrition high on the national development agenda there is no way the country can achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); if at all we make some gains such gains are not sustainable and soon erode. Dr Twumasi charged journalist and health workers to be champions of nutrition to support change. On the role of the media in promoting nutrition, Esi Amoaful, Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer, Ghana Health Service, said the media as a powerful education tool can be used to sensitize the public about the importance of good sanitation and proper nutrition. She disclosed that one of the biggest nutrition challenges facing Ghanaians is the poor handling of food. Mrs Amoaful urged the media to take on the issue of people preparing and selling food and fresh meat to the public under insanitary conditions stressing no food is nutritious after it has been contaminated. Equally the media can play a key role in helping to change poor eating habits such as the eating of solely grains, fatty, and sugary foods while encouraging variety and balance diets and consumption of local foods. The one day seminar drew Journalists from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions to deliberate on ways of making nutrition a priority on the development agenda. It was under the theme: Build the future. Invest in nutrition now.

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Media Asked To Increase Reportage On Nutrition Issues.

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