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Category Archives: Immortality Medicine

AgeX Therapeutics and Pluristyx Announce Manufacturing, Marketing, and Distribution Agreement to Expand Access to Clinical-Grade Human Pluripotent…

Posted: June 17, 2020 at 12:45 am

ALAMEDA, Calif. & SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- AgeX Therapeutics, Inc.. (AgeX: NYSE American: AGE), a biotechnology company developing therapeutics for human aging and regeneration, and Pluristyx, Inc. (Seattle, WA), an advanced therapy tools and services company serving customers in the rapidly growing fields of regenerative medicine and cellular and gene therapies, today announced they have entered into a Manufacturing, Marketing, and Distribution Agreement through which Pluristyx will undertake these activities on behalf of AgeX with respect to AgeXs research- and clinical-grade ESI brand human embryonic stem cells, sometimes referred to as hESCs.

The agreement builds on Pluristyxs strategy to manufacture, market, and distribute high-quality standardized Ready-to-Use and Ready-to-Differentiate pluripotent stem cells to industry and academic scientists intent on developing therapeutic products to treat human disease. AgeXs ESI hESC lines are distinguished for being the first clinical-grade hESC lines created under current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). The AgeX ESI hESC lines are listed on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Stem Cell Registry and are among the best characterized and documented stem cell lines available worldwide.

The agreement is a key step in AgeXs licensing and collaboration strategy to facilitate industry and academic access to its hESC lines, its PureStem cell derivation and manufacturing platform, and its UniverCyte immunotolerance technology in order to generate near- and long-term revenues.

A recent FDA IND clearance for a biotech company to begin a human trial for a cell therapy candidate derived from an AgeX ESI hESC line has amplified interest from industry and academia to utilize our cells in regenerative medicine. It is AgeXs goal to make its cell lines the gold standard when it comes to therapeutic products derived from pluripotent stem cells. We are delighted to be working with the Pluristyx team given their extensive cGMP manufacturing experience with pluripotent stem cells, said Dr. Nafees Malik, Chief Operating Officer of AgeX.

Pluristyx is excited to be working with AgeX and their ESI hESC lines. As AgeX intends to make their cell lines the gold standard, our aim is to disrupt and redefine stem cell therapy manufacturing with our proprietary, high-density format, Ready-to-Use and Ready-to-Differentiate hESC lines, which will dramatically reduce both cost and time in translating revolutionary therapies from bench to bedside, said Dr. Benjamin Fryer, CEO of Pluristyx.

Academic and biopharma organizations will need to obtain separate commercial licenses from AgeX in order to advance their cellular product candidates generated from AgeX hESC lines into human clinical trials and commercialization. AgeX retains all rights to manufacture its own in-house cellular products as well as to extend license rights to other third parties.

About AgeX Therapeutics

AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. (NYSE American: AGE) is focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapeutics for human aging. Its PureStem and UniverCyte manufacturing and immunotolerance technologies are designed to work together to generate highly defined, universal, allogeneic, off-the-shelf pluripotent stem cell-derived young cells of any type for application in a variety of diseases with a high unmet medical need. AgeX has two preclinical cell therapy programs: AGEX-VASC1 (vascular progenitor cells) for tissue ischemia and AGEX-BAT1 (brown fat cells) for Type II diabetes. AgeXs revolutionary longevity platform induced Tissue Regeneration (iTR) aims to unlock cellular immortality and regenerative capacity to reverse age-related changes within tissues. AGEX-iTR1547 is an iTR-based formulation in preclinical development. HyStem is AgeXs delivery technology to stably engraft PureStem cell therapies in the body. AgeXs core product pipeline is intended to extend human healthspan. AgeX is seeking opportunities to establish licensing and collaboration arrangements around its broad IP estate and proprietary technology platforms and therapy product candidates.

For more information, please visit or connect with the company on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

About Pluristyx

Established in 2018, Pluristyx Inc. is a privately held, early-stage company providing a complete cell manufacturing solution. As an advanced therapy tools company, Pluristyx helps companies and researchers solve manufacturing challenges in the field of drug development, regenerative medicine, and cell and gene therapy. Pluristyx is led by a team with decades of industry experience each with specific expertise in key areas needed to develop and manufacture pluripotent stem cells. Pluristyx provides know how in every stage of the process from cell banking through scale-up of clinical grade material as well as all aspects of process development and manufacturing.

For more information, please visit or connect with the company on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statements for AgeX

Certain statements contained in this release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any statements that are not historical fact including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as will, believes, plans, anticipates, expects, estimates should also be considered forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the business of AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. and its subsidiaries, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in more detail in the Risk Factors section of AgeXs most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commissions (copies of which may be obtained at Subsequent events and developments may cause these forward-looking statements to change. In addition, with respect to AgeXs Manufacturing, Marketing and Distribution Agreement with Pluristyx there is no assurance that (i) Pluristyx will generate significant sales of AgeX ESI hESC lines, or (ii) AgeX will derive significant revenue from sales of ESI hESC lines by Pluristyx. AgeX specifically disclaims any obligation or intention to update or revise these forward-looking statements as a result of changed events or circumstances that occur after the date of this release, except as required by applicable law.

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Avoid eating these artificial preservatives whenever possible – Yahoo Lifestyle

Posted: at 12:45 am

Food Flashexplores the wild world of food news, from the health benefits of red wine to why dark chocolate is actually good for you.

Our favorite foods all have a shelf life, but did you know that many of them are living far beyond their original expiration date?

Thanks to artificial preservatives, fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products last much longer now than they naturally would, and that is not necessarily good news.

Not all preservatives are bad for you, of course. Humans have been using natural preservatives like salt and sugar for thousands of years to keep food from spoiling,

Be cautious with artificial preservatives, though. According to Healthline, many of them can have harmful effects on your health.

Sulfites, for example, are used to prevent discoloration, but they have been linked to asthma.

Sodium benzoate is found in sodas and used in fermentation, but its also considered a carcinogen.

Nitrite, another carcinogen, gives hot dogs their unique red color.

Try avoiding preservatives as much as you can by shopping for organic, fresh and naturally labeled products.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like reading abouthow our favorite foods of today have a secret past.

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Were sorry to say this fast-food restaurant map is totally fake

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15 of our favorite retailers that are selling fabric face masks

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Young Blood and Old Blood | In the Pipeline – Science Magazine

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 12:53 am

So lets do a non-coronavirus post for the weekend. Over the years, Ive sporadically reported on the (rather contentious) field of aging and its biochemical implications. Many readers will recall the results of the past few years that claim that infusion of young-animal plasma into aged animals seems to have many beneficial effects. Of course, this field is well stocked with controversy. Not everyone believes the results, from what I can see (although, for what its worth, there seem to be an increasing number of papers on it). If theyre real, not everyone thinks that they can be readily extrapolated to humans. And even if they can, it doesnt take very much thought to see a number of ethical implications as well.

There have been a couple of recent papers that will stir things up even more. This preprint from a multinational research team (UCLA and many others) details work on several methylation clocks of molecular aging. DNA is methylated (especially on cytosine residues) to a number of transcriptional effects, and the number and distribution of such methyl groups definitely change over the lifespan of most animals. The Horvath lab at UCLA has made a specialty out of this epigenetic research area for some years now, and the changes in DNA methylation with aging seem pretty well established (even if quantifying them is trickier). This new paper draws on a large number of rat samples, with an overall methylation clock detailed, as well as more specific ones for brain, liver, and blood tissue. The addition of an even larger set of human tissue samples provides two more cross-species methylation clocks as well. Previous work from the group has provided similar clocksfor mice, which correlate well with known lifespan-extending interventions such as caloric restriction (reviewed here).

This new preprint details the readouts of such clocks after treatment of two-year-old rats (and their various tissues) with a proprietary plasma preparation from a company called Nugenics Research (update: corrected spelling of the name). I dont think thats going to make publication of this paper in a journal any easier, because that preparation is resolutely not described in any detail at all in the paper, from what I can see. This is no indictment of the paper or its results, but it does make them rather difficult to reproduce, doesnt it? Two of the papers authors are founders and/or owners of Nugenix, and Horvath and another author are consultants for the company (all this, to be sure, is stated in detail).

At any rate, the effects of the plasma preparation on both the methylation signatures and on more traditional readouts of physiological function seem to be pretty dramatic, after two rounds of treatment in elderly rats. By the DNA methylation clock, the ages of the blood, heart, and liver tissue were basically halved (there was much less effect on the hypothalamus, interestingly). Markers of inflammation and oxidative stress went down significantly in the treated animals, and many other blood parameters changed for the better as well (HDL, creatinine, and more). The animals performed better in physical and cognitive tests (grip strength, maze test) with numbers approaching that of the young animals themselves. The authors say that this work supports the notion that aging can be systemically controlled, at least in part through the circulatory system with plasma as the medium.

Meanwhile, this paper has also just come out, which looks at whether such effects are due to factors coming in from the young animals or things being removed from the old ones. The authors, from UC-Berkeley and the California Pacific Medical Center, are looking at what they call a neutral blood exchange. They replace half the blood volume in mice (both young and old) with isotonic saline plus added albumin protein. The effect of this on the older animals was also significant, with noticeable improvements in wound-healing ability, neurogenesis, and fibrosis/fatty deposits in the liver. The younger mice were not really changed by the treatment. The authors tried several control experiments to make sure that this wasnt an effect being driven by added albumin protein, and it apparently isnt. They conclude that removal and substitution of old plasma is sufficient for most if not all observed positive effects on muscle, brain and liver in parabiosis-type experiments. It doesnt exclude the idea of there being beneficial factors in young plasma, but suggests that this is not the driver of many of the results seen. (It would be very interesting to check the DNA methylation status of various tissues before and after this treatment!)

The paper wastes no time in noting that therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is already an FDA-approved process (as witness convalescent plasma treatment in the current coronavirus epidemic), and it says that Phase II and III human trials are being planned on the basis of these results.That will be quite interesting to watch, says the 58-year-old dude writing this blog. Overall, I still find such results hard to believe, but at the same time they seem to be showing up from multiple experiments. This second paper especially seems to be a very testable hypothesis indeed. Thats a good thing, because in the end, its going to be reproducible human clinical data that decide whether this is real or not so Im glad that feasible experiments will allow such data to be collected. Something to watch. . .

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BLM’s anti-Semitism must be addressed – San Diego Jewish World

Posted: at 12:53 am

By Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel

CHULA VISTA, California Jews have always possessed this ability to reorient themselves to the challenges of a changing world. Our ancestors demonstrated a certain toughness when it came to survival. Mark Twain expressed this idea best in 1897:

But nowadays, here in the United States, I am seriously beginning to doubt whether the American Jew has what it takes to survive as a minority faith in our country.

On May 30th, 2020, the nation witnessed a spectacle that was reminiscent of the time Hitler and his brownshirts seized power in Germany. As my fellow writer, Bruce S. Ticker observed in his penetrating article, Rioting in Los Angeles was an anti-Jewish pogrom for San Diego Jewish World, The Jews of the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles were exposed to a modern, American-style pogrom on May 30 that should enrage us all. Not only were Jewish businesses sacked but five synagogues and three Jewish schools were reportedly vandalized in George Floyds name by thugs. Ticker drew inspiration from Daniel Greenfield, who wrote on his blog, One small business owner described a Late Saturday night with people driving down the Fairfax district streets screaming effing Jews.

Close your eyes.

Imagine listening to the sound of broken glass.

Can you visualize the horror the peaceful Jewish community of Fairfax experienced?

With the eye of your imagination, think back to the date of November 9-10, 1938, when the German paramilitary led their thugs to initiate a pogrom against the German Jews throughout Nazi Germany, as the German population looked on. Some were cheering, most were probably shocked, and others chose not to get involved.

Now open your eyes to our present.

This time, the pogrom took place in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles. And the local Jewish reaction?

Jewish leaders have gone out of their way to show support for the wrongful death of George Floyd. This is very understandable.

But our fellow Jews have gone out of their way to show complete solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, ignoring the fact this movement calls Israel an Apartheid State and in a manifesto, accuses Israel of perpetuating a genocide against the Palestinians.[1] In addition, Jews are considered racist by virtue of being white.

And the Jewish reaction?

What reaction?

Call it Silence of the Lambs.

One local rabbinical colleague, whose name I will keep anonymous, claimed that we must honestly and genuinely address the root causes of the local protests the inequity in enforcement and the systemic racism.

I must take issue with my esteemed colleague.

The conflation of looting and peaceful protests is antithetical to one another. The looting in many of the countrys inner cities have harmed Black and other minority businesses. Several Black officers have been shot by the militant anarchists.

Did their lives matter?

Lets be honest. Many of those who scream, Black Lives Matter are among the most racist people you can find in our country. They have demonstrated by their words and by their deeds, they do not care about their fellow Black Americans. This is a movement that has done nothing to address the problems of Black on Black murders. In cities like Chicago, sometimes hundreds of innocent people are gunned down by their fellow Blacks.

Apparently, the inner citys Black lives, do NOT matter.

Until the social activists start addressing their legitimate grievances at the leaders who continue to exploit their communitys misery, it is doubtful there will be any kind of meaningful change. Black Lives Matters is a movement that continues to demonize white people for their skin color. Throughout this past week, one could see white Americans admitting they are racist because of their skin-color; some paraded wearing chains, to be yoked like animals.

What can be more racist than that?

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who condemned this type of behavior throughout, had this to say:

Hillel used to say, , . , . , If I am not for myself, who is for me? When I am for myself only, what am I? And if not now, when? Jews can be active in helping other minorities by championing civil rights.

But we cannot turn a blind eye to this retrograde form of anti-Semitism that exists in the Black community.

And the rest, my friends, is commentary.


*Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista. He may be contacted via

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Writing History on the Banks of Spoon River – Patheos

Posted: at 12:53 am

I have been posting about using American poetry as primary historical sources, and last time, I talked about Wallace Stevenss Sunday Morning. That appeared in 1915, in an era of extraordinary social, religious and political ferment. Today Ill discuss another work from that same year, which is famous as a name, but when you actually explore it, it offers some treasures for the historian.

I am referring to Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950), and his Spoon River Anthology, which endlessly repays close reading for its assumptions about the everyday lives and beliefs of ordinary Americans. The couple of hundred poems within the collection are interlaced to form a perfect community portrait. This really is the Great American Novel That Never Was. It has been said that no other volume of poetry except The Waste Land (1922) made such an impact during the first quarter of [the 20th] century.

Each poem its way stands as a short story, which speaks volumes about community assumptions. The Anthology is a goldmine for social history of all kinds, including gender, sexuality, politics, and religion. You actually could teach a whole course about early twentieth century America with this as the core text, and it would fit beautifully into a typical college offering on the era 1877-1919 or so.

In a time of tight censorship, Masters was boldly going into many topics that were deeply sensitive, including (and not limited to) rape, child abuse, abortion, drug abuse, adultery, promiscuity, and sexual diseases. Virtually every poem gets into some issue that would have attracted the wrath of the Hays Code if it had ever found its way into the later cinema. Here is the whole of Julia Miller:

We quarreled that morning,For he was sixty-five, and I was thirty,And I was nervous and heavy with the childWhose birth I dreaded.I thought over the last letter written meBy that estranged young soulWhose betrayal of me I had concealedBy marrying the old man.Then I took morphine and sat down to read.Across the blackness that came over my eyesI see the flickering light of these words even now:And Jesus said unto him, VerilyI say unto thee, To-day thou shaltBe with me in paradise.

Just to take one daring theme of countless, Masters was writing during the first great American discovery of child sexual abuse. Back in 1998 I published a book called Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America (Yale), which offered a wide-ranging history of that theme throughout American history. Among my discoveries, I found the first ever study ever written on the topic in the US, in a collection entitled A System of Legal Medicine (1894). This included a path-breaking essay on Indecent Assault of Children, by the young gynecologist W. Travis Gibb (1863-1939), which reads as if it could have been written a century later.

Over the next quarter century or so, Americans became firmly conscious of the sexual abuse threat in a way they would not be again until the 1980s. Also as in the 1980s, awareness of that threat was firmly linked to feminist causes and agitation. And if I want to illustrate that concern, how better to do so than to use Spoon River? Here is the wrenching Nellie Clark:

I was only eight years old;And before I grew up and knew what it meantI had no words for it, exceptThat I was frightened and told myMother; And that my Father got a pistolAnd would have killed Charlie, who was a big boy,Fifteen years old, except for his Mother.Nevertheless the story clung to me.But the man who married me, a widower of thirty-five,Was a newcomer and never heard itTill two years after we were married.Then he considered himself cheated,And the village agreed that I was not really a virgin.Well, he deserted me, and I diedThe following winter.

Ye young debaters over the doctrine Of the souls immortality I who lie here was the village atheist, Talkative, contentious, versed in the arguments Of the infidels. But through a long sickness Coughing myself to death I read the Upanishads and the poetry of Jesus. And they lighted a torch of hope and intuition And desire which the Shadow, Leading me swiftly through the caverns of darkness, Could not extinguish. Listen to me, ye who live in the senses And think through the senses only: Immortality is not a gift, Immortality is an achievement; And only those who strive mightily Shall possess it.

Note the assumption that in the early twentieth century, in a small mid-Western town, a very ordinary person had access to all the arguments of the militant anti-religious writers, the infidels, not to mention the (Hindu) Upanishads. He appreciates Jesuss own words, which he originally read as poetry not revelation. The coughing reference sadly has a strong relevance today.

Less fortunate was the outspoken anti-religious militant and amateur Bible critic, Wendell P. Bloyd. Jailed for blasphemy, Bloyd was then locked up as insane, and beaten to death by a Catholic guard.

I fight the temptation to quote every last poem here, but just one more, please. In 1915, Americans were deeply divided over the thought of intervening in Europes Great War. Masters was obviously thinking of this in his poem about the Philippine war veteran, Harry Wilmans:

I was just turned twenty-one, And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent, Made a speech in Bindles Opera House. The honor of the flag must be upheld, he said, Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs Or the greatest power in Europe. And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved As he spoke. And I went to the war in spite of my father, And followed the flag till I saw it raised By our camp in a rice field near Manila, And all of us cheered and cheered it. But there were flies and poisonous things; And there was the deadly water, And the cruel heat, And the sickening, putrid food; And the smell of the trench just back of the tents Where the soldiers went to empty themselves; And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis; And beastly acts between ourselves or alone, With bullying, hatred, degradation among us, And days of loathing and nights of fear To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp, Following the flag, Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts. Now theres a flag over me in Spoon River. A flag! A flag!

Have you ever read accounts of how US soldiers went off to war in 1917 expecting the experience to be romantic and idealistic, with no idea of the realities they would be facing? Uh-huh. If something like Harry Wilmans had appeared a decade later, we would immediately attribute it to Lost Generation disillusion.

Its interesting, or depressing, to note that when the US actually entered the Great War in 1917, Masters yielded to nobody in his exalted rhetoric about the mystical experiences that young men would face in the approaching combat. In that movement from his earlier positions, he shared the trajectory of a great many other liberals, pacifists, and specifically religious believers in that short time span between 1915 and 1917.

Spoon River Anthology offers a wonderfully readable portrait of American society around 1915, and very much from the grass roots. Its well worth reading, and citing.

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These are the Winners of the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards – PetaPixel

Posted: at 12:53 am

The World Photography Organization has revealed the winners of this years Sony World Photography Awards, one of the most prestigious competitions in the industry. Each imagefrom the overall winner, to the category winners, to the Open, Student, and Youth winnersdemonstrate the power of photography to not only capture a meaningful moment, but to send a powerful message.

The overall winner and title of Photographer of the Year goes to Pablo Albarenga of Uruguay for his striking portrait series titled Seeds of Resistance. For this series, Albarenga created diptychs by photographing environmental activists alongside the land they are risking their lives to defend, both shot from above.

According to the projects description, the series explores the bond between the defenders and their landa sacred area in which hundreds of generations of their ancestors rest. The top-down view is meant to represent how these activists are willing to literally lay down their lives for their territory.

Photographer: Pablo Albarenga

Title: Seeds of Resistance 3

Image Description: Jos is one of the leaders of the Achuar indigenous people in the Sharamentsa community. He defends his rainforest by generating projects in collaboration with external organizations. One of them aims to create an indigenous group to monitor their territory from the ground and also by using aerial technology such as drones.

Left: Jos lying down in his yard over a banana leaf, dressed in traditional Achuar clothing.

Right: The Achuar rainforest at the back of Joss house. Sharamentsa, Pastaza, Ecuador.

Scroll down to see all of this years Professional Category winners, as well as the winners of the prestigious Open Photographer of the Year, Student Photographer of the Year, and Youth Photographer of the Year awards.

Photographer: Tom Oldham

Title: Black Francis

Image Description: Photographers for MOJO Magazine enjoy a rare degree of freedom and trust with what is usually an open brief. This allows us to capture our own experience with very high profile musicians. However, when photographing famous singers, we are often painfully aware of how many times the sitter has, well, sat. I like to acknowledge this and asked Charles (aka Black Francis) to show me the level of frustration photoshoots can generate. He offered up this perfect gesture of exasperation, and the image ran as the lead portrait for the feature.

Photographer: Ioanna Sakellaraki

Title: Aeiforia

Series Description: In an era of climate change and challenges around sustainability, islands are particularly vulnerable. Insular by their very nature, these land masses usually depend on fossil fuels and imports for energy (despite the high transportation costs). Until a few years ago, the idea of an island being fully reliant on clean energy was almost unthinkable, and yet it is about to become a reality on Tilos in Greece.

This tiny island in the Dodecanese archipelago is the first in the Mediterranean to run almost entirely on renewable energy. Over the years it has received energy from a diesel power plant on the neighboring island of Kos, via an undersea cable, but during the tourist season this has proven unreliable, leading to frequent power cuts. Since 2015, however, the supply on Tilos has been reinforced with a hybrid system exclusively powered by renewable sources including solar and wind power.

These images were taken in the islands capital, Meglo Chori, which is home to just 70 people during the winter. At night the passageways, rooftops and yards are illuminated by moonlight, presenting plenty of opportunities for photography. The islanders use various solar panels and energy devices including some handmade versions. The aim is to keep these running for as long as possible to help sustain households throughout the winter.

My series looks at how these strangely-shaped devices and wires become an organic part of the scenery at night. As darkness falls, a harmonic symbiosis exists between this technology and the dry and mountainous landscape of Tilos. Aeiforia is a Greek word for defining progress based on the use of natural ecosystems and energy sources to ensure future resources.

Photographer: Hsien-Pang Hsieh

Title: Hurry

Image Description: This image was taken shortly after I came to Germany to study. It was the first time I had travelled abroad alone, and I felt under enormous pressure. There were so many things to learn at school, and I was also trying to fit in with everyone else.

Although this man looks as though hes in a rush to get to work, hes actually standing still and its this dichotomy that appealed to me. These days, with life moving at such a frantic pace, its important for people to slow down. When Im facing challenges I look at this picture and it reminds me to take a moment and just breathe.

Photographer: Sandra Herber

Title: Ice Fishing Hut XV

Series Description: Winters in Manitoba, Canada, are long and often bitterly cold. When the temperature drops, and thick ice forms, lakes and rivers in the province play host to some amazing folk architecture in the form of ice fishing huts. These huts, shacks or permies (as they are called in Manitoba) must be transportable, protect their occupants from the elements and allow access to the ice below for fishing. Once these requirements have been met, the owners are free to express their personalities in the shape, structure and decoration of their huts they are large or small, decorated or plain, luxurious or utilitarian and everything in between.

I captured these images on Lake Winnipeg in December 2019. My hope for this series, which is a continuation of work I started in 2018, is to showcase the quirky charm of these huts by presenting a select few in a typology. The typology showing the huts framed in the same, minimalist style and in the same lighting allows the viewer to notice similarities in function and uniqueness in form, as well as to display these utilitarian structures as beautiful works of art.

Photographer: Maria Kokunova

Title: Motherhood

Series Description: It has been four years since I voluntarily isolated myself in a cosy cave of maternity, living in a country house in Leningrad Oblast. I deliberately restrict social contact and limit media consumption my whole life is bound up in my home, children and art practice. Against all expectations, however, my life is far from calm and quiet.

The notion of the cave has become, for me, the quintessence of what a personal experience is made up of. It has been linked to the Anima and the cult of the earth mother, the symbol of fertile soil that both gives life and takes it away. Francis Bacon, developing the idea of Plato, stated that the Idols of the Cave arise from education and custom in short, the past of each individual determines how they perceive things.

For me, isolation in my own cave triggered a childhood trauma that had not been resolved emotionally a stress disorder triggered by a series of four deaths and a suicide in the family over a very short period of time. In this project, I am constructing my own personal cave by combining photographs I have made in my parents house with pictures of the place I am living in now. I pair these images with the experience of a physical presence in Sablinskiye Caves, near my home. In a cave your senses are deprived, encouraging hallucinations. Under similar conditions, my memory produces its own illusions.

My work explores the idea that motherhood, and the awakening of primitive instincts such as unconditional love, aggression and fear of death, make life extremely meaningful. Despite its challenges, in-cave living boosts creativity: it becomes a personal myth, provides a plot for the project and initiates reflective processes.

Photographer: Chung Ming Ko

Title: Wounds of Hong Kong 7

Image Description: Chu, a 17-year-old Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (DSE) student, was hit by a police baton while taking part in a human chain at Tai Po Station, Hong Kong, on 7 September 2019. He was seen lying in his own blood on cable TV. Chus head needed stitches and the phalanx of the little finger on his right hand was broken, requiring six bone screws. He has decided to postpone his DSE for a year in order to tackle his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Photographer: Robin Hinsch

Title: Natural gas flaring site, Ughelli, Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Series Description: Covering 70,000 sq km (27,000 sq miles) of wetlands, the Niger Delta was formed primarily by sediment deposition. The region is home to more than 30 million people and 40 different ethnic groups, making up 7.5% of Nigerias total land mass. It used to boast an incredibly rich ecosystem, containing one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet, before the oil industry moved in.

The Nigerian department of petroleum resources estimates that 1.89 million barrels were spilled in to the Niger Delta between 1976 and 1996. Whats more, a report from the United Nations suggests there have been a total of 6,817 spills between 1976 and 2001, amounting to some three million barrels of oil. So far, the authorities and oil companies have done little to clean up and neutralize the Delta, and oil spills are still very common. Half of the spills are caused by pipeline and tanker accidents, while others are the result of sabotage (28%), oil production operations (21%), and inadequate production equipment (1%).

Another issue in the Niger Delta is gas flaring, a byproduct of oil extraction. As the gas burns it destroys crops, pollutes water and has a negative impact on human health. Wahala was shot in Nigeria in 2019 and draws attention to untamed economic growth and its negative impact on ecology.

Photographer: Ronny Behnert

Title: Torii Einootsurugi

Image Description: Einootsurugi was one of the torii which was totally hidden. It was difficult to find that amazing spot but after a few hours of searching and exploring I found the torii. The special feature here was the symmetrical arrangement through the two lamps in the foreground. I spent more than three hours at this spot because of the spiritual atmosphere at this place!

Photographer: Brent Stirton

Title: Pangolins in Crisis 1

Image Description: A Temmincks Pangolin learns to forage again after being rescued from traffickers on the Zimbabwe/South Africa border. Pangolin caregivers at this anonymous farm care for rescued, illegally trafficked pangolins, helping them to find ants and termites to eat and keeping them safe from predators and poachers.

This is one of only three true Pangolin rescue and rehabilitation sites in the world. Pangolins are the worlds most illegally trafficked mammals, with an estimated one million being trafficked to Asia in the last ten year. Their scales are used in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine and their meat is sold as a high-priced delicacy. As a result, pangolins are listed as critically endangered and all trade or consumption is illegal.

The Tiki Hywood trust undertakes public awareness campaigns on Pangolins, trains law enforcement and judiciary personnel, conducts research, and rehabilitates pangolins that have been confiscated from the illegal trade. They are based in Zimbabwe but operate with partners across Africa and Asia.

Photographer: Cesar Dezfuli

Title: Oumar. Guinea Conakry (1999).

Image Description: Left: Oumar portrayed on 1st August 2016 on board of a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean sea.

Right: Oumar portrayed on 19th January 2019 in Italy, where he currently lives.

Photographer: ngel Lpez Soto

Title: Senegalese Wrestlers 3

Series Description: Wrestling has become the number one national sport in Senegal and parts of The Gambia. It belongs to a larger West African form of traditional wrestling (known as Lutte Traditionnelle) and is more popular than football.

Senegalese wrestlers practice two forms of the sport: Lutte Traditionnelle avec frappe and Lutte Traditionnelle sans frappe (international version). The sport has become a means of social ascendance, making some athletes millionaires. Fights have been known to attract audiences of around 50 thousand in a stadium. For many, its a slice of African life, tradition and culture, in which there is a mix of animist and Muslim beliefs.

These pictures show wrestlers training on a beach in Dakar.

Photographer: Alessandro Gandolfi

Title: Immortality 8

Image Description: Pieve Emanuele (Milan, Italy), the Simulation Lab with a robot-patient created by Humanitas University: an extremely realistic scenario but one with zero risks, enabling the students to train for every type of emergency.

To learn more about the images above, or if you want to see the 2nd and 3rd place winners in each category, or explore some of the previously-announced Open and National Award winners, head over to the World Photography Organizations website.

About the author: All photos credited individually, used courtesy of the World Photography Organization.

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Ramdesivir, hailed as cure for COVID-19: is history repeating itself? – National Herald

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 4:59 pm

In June 2002, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Oseltamivir for prophylaxis and treatment of influenza. In 2005 SE Asia witnessed another corona virus (H5N1) outbreak avian or bird flu. Panic mongers went on an overdrive and projected up to 200 million deaths. Governments across the globe stockpiled the drug worth billions of dollars in a bid to prepare to meet the pandemic. It turned out to be unnecessary and ended in an anti-climax. Deaths due to the bird flu epidemic did not exceed a few hundred.

In 2009 we had another outbreak of coronavirus, this time the Swine Flu(H1N1). In no time, the WHO declared the A/H1N1 influenza a pandemic. The National Institute for Health and Care Exellence (NICE), the CDC, the WHO, and the ECDC were also quick to recommend the use of Oseltamivir both for treatment as well as prophylaxis. WHO included the drug in the list of essential medicine.

A red flag was raised in 2009 itself by Keiji Hayashi, a Japanese physician. He pointed out that the key piece of evidence for the conclusion--that Tamiflu reduced the risk of secondary complications such as pneumonia--was based on a manufacture-authored, pooled analysis of 10 manufacturer-funded trials, 8 of which were unpublished.

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COVID-19: Ministry of Ayush starts clinical trials for Ashwagandha and 4 other Ayurvedic herbs for coronavirus treatment; Here is what you need to…

Posted: at 4:59 pm

In a recent positive development, Ministry of Ayush, in collaboration with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has started clinical trials testing formulation of four important Ayurvedic herbs in fighting the novel coronavirus. The medicines under study include ashwagandha, guduchi, yasthimadhu, peepli and another formulated drug, 'Ayush 64'.

The trials, which will be done on health workers first will be conducted in high-risk zones identified by the Arogya Setu App first. Reports say that over 50 lakh people from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune will be a part of the clinical trial. Ayush ministry is also studying the impacts of Ayush-based prophylactic interventions in some preventive cases. In the first phase, patients are likely to be administered ashwagandha and later, the other drugs will be given to patients, depending on how they react or severity of the symptoms.

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A Wafer-Thin Practice | Hans Boersma – First Things

Posted: at 4:59 pm

Who would have thought that a virus would make us reflect deeply on what it means to be the church? Yet COVID-19 has brought into sharp relief the basic divide in North American Christianity between those who think of the church as a voluntary association of like-minded individuals and those who believe it is the real body of Christ, into which we are incorporated. The emphasis on the individual in large swaths of contemporary culture results in an anemic ecclesiology, as the recent crisis makes clear.

John Williamson Nevin, one of the key representatives of German Reformed Mercersburg theology, sharply attacked the revivalism of his day, commenting in his 1849 article on The Sect System: The sect mind . . . in proportion as it has come to be unchurchly and simply private and individual is always necessarily to the same extent unsacramental.

Abraham Kuyper, the great Dutch Reformed theologian and statesman, observed in his 1898 Lectures on Calvinism that Calvinism, by praising aloud liberty of conscience, has in principle abandoned every absolute characteristic of the visible Church. He described it as a liberty of conscience, which enables every man to serve God according to his own conviction and the dictates of his own heart.

Baptist theologian Curtis Freeman, in his 2014 book Contesting Catholicity, similarly laments soul competencythe radical emphasis on individual consciencewhich, beginning in the nineteenth century, has come to dominate Baptist theology.

Nevin, Kuyper, and Freeman all share the same concern about the inversion of the relationship between the church and the believer.

The Internet has been abuzz lately about virtual communion: Why not have the priest do his thing in front of the camera, while we partake by ourselves looking into the screenwith social distance serving as one of the few remaining ritual demands? Why forgo the heavenly manna now that we have the technological know-how to make it rain down virtually into the privacy of our homes?

The Jesuit patristic scholar Henri de Lubac has a few things to teach us about virtual communion in his 1947 book Catholicism. It is a lengthy broadside against individualism in the Catholic tradition. It may seem odd for a Catholicespecially a pre-Vatican II Catholicto worry about people prioritizing the individual over the church. But he did, and his worries are eerily relevant to the rush toward virtual communion among todays tech-savvy evangelicals.

De Lubac was troubled by a Eucharistic individualism that he believed had shaped the mindset of many of his Catholic contemporaries. Convinced as they were that the body of Christ in the Eucharist was the true body (corpus verum), all that seemed to matter was to partake. Once the miraculous medicine of immortality had been ingested, one might as well turn back down the aisle and walk out of church, for the one and only reason for going to Mass had now been performed. De Lubac was agitated, rightly I think, with the individualismyes, the selfish consumerism and greedin this Eucharistic spirituality.

The underlying premise of the embrace of virtual communion is that form and matter, media and message can (and perhaps ought to) be disentangled from each other. Our technological age makes its own, unique demands, and so, for many, to insist on eating the body (the Eucharist) as a body (the church) betrays unhealthy Luddite technophobia.

De Lubac countered the gnostic demon at work. He asked his readers to think about what it means to eat the body (the Eucharist) as a body (the church), pointing out the close link between embodiment and community. Turning to 1 Corinthians 10:1617 (The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread), de Lubac pointed out that for Saint Paul, participation (koinnia, communion) of the body of Christ (the Eucharist) turns us into the body of Christ (the church).

All this talk of the body of Christ is no mere metaphor. Saint Augustine, in his famous Sermon 227, writes about the Eucharist: If you have received worthily, you are what you have received, for the Apostle says: The bread is one; we though many, are one body. The African bishop seems to suggest that believers, by partaking of communion, are transubstantiated (well, changed) into the body of Christ. When we eat Christ, we become Christ.

The Christian tradition has typically treated body and body (Eucharist and church) as mutually dependent. On the one hand, the Eucharist makes the church. This seems to be the Pauline logic of 1 Corinthians 10 and of Augustine in Sermon 227. On the other hand, the church makes the Eucharist: We offer up our giftsour entire livesin Christ on the altar. Body and body depend on each other. Neither can go it alone. The reason is simple: The two are one flesh (Eph. 5:31).

Eating and drinking in front of the screen usually indicates a theology of real absence: Neither consecrated bread nor epicletic invocation of the Spirit is required if communion is a mere mental exercise. Indeed, a memorialist communion celebration is virtual by definition, even if it takes place in a church.

Which raises an interesting question: Could we do virtual consecration? True, the priest would not be able to put his hand on the bread and the wine on my coffee table at home, but hey, such pesky manual acts predate YouTube and Zoom by quite a few centuries, and surely by now theyve become obstacles that stand in our way? How central could the sense of touch really be?

Come to think of it, why did it take us so long to get with the times? Why limit YouTube to the COVID-19 pandemic? If consecration works regardless of place, why set physical foot in the church ever again? Heres a modest proposal: Lets have one clericwe could ask the archbishop of Canterbury or the bishop of Romedo his consecrating thing, while the rest of us chill in our TV rooms, giving thanks for the great sacrifice. Actually, is it even necessary to turn to the screen for Franciss latest clip? Surely, watching him elevate the host isnt of the essence of things, as long as I know that he has consecrated also the bread on my plate.

I agree. Its a gnostic argument ad absurdum. But the reason it works is that every stepincluding the very first oneis an exercise in spirituality that treats the Eucharist as a consumer service satisfying my individual religious demands rather than as the chief act of divine worship through which were transfigured so as to become the body of Christ that we eat.

The individualism of pre-Vatican II Catholics is different from that of contemporary evangelicals. The former stems from an over-reliance on real presence: As long as I myself have partaken of the true, Eucharistic body of Christ, I might as well discount the mystical body of the church. The latter is (most of the time) connected to a belief in real absence: If Christ is not bodily present, then our communal, bodily presence can hardly be of significance.

In truth, the bodily presence of Christ in the wafer and the bodily presence of the believers in church are two sides of the same coin. Eucharist via Zoom evacuates the (ecclesial) body even while confecting the (Eucharistic) body. Its a practice that puts asunder what God has joined together.

Catholic and evangelical expressions of consumerist individualism may be located on opposite sides of the theological spectrum, but both fail to recognize that body and body, Christ and the church, are one and the same. When it comes to prioritizing the individual over the church, the difference is, well, wafer-thin.

Hans Boersmais the Saint Benedict Servants of Christ Professor in Ascetical Theology at Nashotah House.

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Promising technologies that will change cancer testing in India – Express Healthcare

Posted: April 21, 2020 at 7:48 pm

All these technologies show amazing promise and some of them are already in use. The scientific community in India is constantly pushing their limits to get to a stage where the diagnosis of cancer will not be a life-altering event for patients

In the last few decades, cancer has become a leading cause of mortality worldwide. According to the WHO, currently, around 10 million new cancers are diagnosed each year worldwide, but unless there is an effective prevention campaign, the number will rise to 20 million in the next 17 years time. Therefore, the global scientific and healthcare community are turning to novel approaches in an attempt to make sure those grim projections dont continue to haunt us. Stronger and effective cancer treatments are certainly part of the development goals, but a premium is also being put on early diagnosis to ensure better medical outcomes and assured prevention.

Today, more focus is given to precision medicine-quantitation, multiplexing and highly precise identification of markers. Precise tools which were once utilised in research settings are now applied in clinical practice with just one goal in mind- faster and more efficient cancer testing.

In this article, we examine top technologies that will improve efficiencies and precision in cancer diagnostics and prevention in India.

Fluid biopsies: Many scientific publications have documented that liquid or fluid biopsies are informative regarding response to a given therapy, are capable of detecting relapse with lead time compared to standard measures, and reveal mechanisms of resistance. According to Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman and CEO, HCG Global, liquid biopsy plays a significant role in those cases where it is difficult to establish a tissue diagnosis in a recurrent or metastatic setting. It is a simple minimally invasive procedure done on blood, plasma or urine sample to identify the genetic material of tumour cells either as ctDNA (Circulating tumour DNA) or CTC (Circulating Tumour cells) or cfDNA (Cell-free DNA) by identification of cancer-associated DNA / RNA / exosomes.

He further lists down some benefits of the same:

Real-time cancer diagnostics: With the need to need to translate recent discoveries in oncology research into clinical practice, cancer experts believe that objective, robust and cost-effective molecular techniques for clinical trials and, eventually, routine use is a must. Real-time PCR has become a useful and cost-effective technique for tumour profiling among clinical laboratories.

Dr Kirti Chadha, Head of Laboratory at Metropolis Healthcare expounds, The pathogenesis of tumours is complex making the surgical management more difficult. Here comes the role of real-time diagnostics which will give an on-table diagnosis to make the treatment successful. A lot of research is going on it like an intelligent surgical knife has been developed by using an old technology where an electrical current heats tissue to make incisions with minimal blood loss, but with this technology, the vapourised smoke is analysed by a mass spectrometer to detect the chemicals in the biological sample allowing identification of malignant tissue. Also, a robotic platform has been developed in treating lung cancer. It combines robotics, software, data science and endoscope innovation to help diagnose lung cancer at an early stage with more accuracy and a lower risk of complications. Similarly, realtime detection of breast cancer at the cellular level by a multispectral confocal scanning system has been developed. These are at research levels or some of them are being approved for use. Introducing advanced technology to traditional methods can also give us better real-time solutions like using digital pathology.

Digital PCR: Digital PCR is the latest and advanced iteration of a conventional quantitative RT-PCR for sensitive and accurate measurement of DNA/RNA from samples. The primary principle behind the technique is similar to q-PCR but differs in the way the sample target is analysed.

Dr Dheeraj Gautam, Head of Department Department of Histopathology, Associate Director- Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine, Medanta- The Medicity says, PCR is a common test used to make many copies (millions or billions) of a particular region of DNA. With best systems, we have the capability to detect as few as ~10 copies of DNA templates. It is routinely used in DNA cloning, cancer diagnostics, and forensic analysis of DNA. For example, it might be a DNA sequence (gene) from a crime scene to match crime suspect, by forensic scientists. Typically, the goal of PCR is to amplify enough of the target DNA region, so that it can be analysed to deliver useful scientific information. Presently, Coronavirus is being tested by this method.

Adding to this, Dr Ajaikumar informs, Digital PCR is a simple and reproducible technique that does not rely on a calibration curve for sample target quantification. Digital PCR works by partitioning a sample of DNA into many individual, parallel PCR reactions. Following PCR amplification, the number of positive vs negative reactions is determined and the absolute quantification of target calculated using Poisson statistics. The benefits are, high precision, better signal to noise ratio, removal of PCR efficiency bias and simplified quantification.

Speaking about the areas in which Digital PCR is currently applied, Dr Chadha reveals, dPCR is currently being applied for absolute allele quantification, rare mutation detection, analysis of copy number variations, DNA methylation, and gene rearrangements in different kinds of clinical samples. The form of digital PCR ie. Digital droplet PCR(ddPCR) is performed in Metropolis for circulating tumour DNA(ctDNA), EGFR/KRAS/NRAS/BRAF mutations in lung and colorectal cancer.

Chromosome Analysis: Since altered genetic mechanisms lead to the development of cancer, chromosome analysis plays a significant role in the diagnosis and treatment monitoring of patients with various types of cancer. Chromosome analysis can be done by karyotyping and CGH(Comparative Genomic Hybridisation) array.

Dr Ajaikumar explains the various techniques that follow under chromosome analysis:

Cytogenetics(Karyotyping and FISH): FISH can identify chromosomal abnormalities such as insertions, deletions, translocations and amplification, through the use of fluorescent dyes that bind to sequences of interest. It is well known that certain types of cancer have specific genetic alterations. So far > 200 rearrangements and fusions have been identified. Examples include BCR-ABL translocation in CML, ALK rearrangement in NSCLC, Her-2 in Breast Cancer, Synovial sarcoma with t(X:18) (p11.2;q11.2), Ewings Sarcoma with t(11:22) (q24;q12.2). FISH is applied to detect genetic abnormalities that include different characteristic gene fusions or the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in a cell or loss of a chromosomal region or a whole chromosome. It is also applied in different research applications, such as gene mapping or the identification of novel oncogenes. FISH has high sensitivity and specificity. With microfluidics FISH, it can be faster and less costly.

Immunohistochemistry: Provides a platform for identification of certain chromosomal alterations through detection of proteins. Examples are the Her-2 testing in Breast and gastric cancer, ALK in NSCLC, TFE3 in Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, MDM2 and CDK4 in certain soft tissue sarcomas like Liposarcomas. They have high sensitivity and specificity of almost 95-97 per cent. They also provide targets for drug therapy.

Molecular testing: Through PCR, Direct sequencing, DNA and Protein microarray techniques and the latest path-breaking technology of NGS. PCR and sequencing are useful when we want to look for the presence of a known genetic alteration such as EGFR mutation in lung adenocarcinoma. But when the alterations are unknown or are likely to involve many loci, a panel of genetic markers can be screened through Next-Generation sequencing.

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS): Massively parallel deep sequencing of a large number of patients with a variety of cancers to analyse the mutation profile of tumours at one go provides a comprehensive understanding of the processes that drive an individuals cancer. This will break the cycle of trial and error medicine, and link the test to patient-tailored action and evidence-based therapy/ treatment plan in cancer. Furthermore, using genomic markers as response predictors to chemotherapy will dramatically improve response rates impacting the risk-benefit ratio for these patients.

Cell Signaling Pathway Testing: According to experts, cancer is caused by genetic and/or epigenetic changes in one cell or a group of cells. These alterations disrupt normal cell function and cause cancerous cells to proliferate and avoid mechanisms that would typically control their growth, division, and migration. Many of these disruptions map to specific cell signalling pathways. These pathways are involved in deregulated cell survival, cell differentiation and apoptosis. They form the hallmark of cancer that include immune evasion, replicative immortality, activate invasion and metastasis, induce angiogenesis, resist cell death, deregulate cellular energetics, sustained proliferative signalling, evading growth suppressors, possess genome instability and mutations, and mediate a tumour associated inflammatory response. Signalling pathways such as Ras proteins through Raf-MEK-Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathways regulate cell survival, cell proliferation and migration/invasion in response to matrix adhesion and growth factor stimulation. Three Ras proteins KRAS, NRAS and HRAS become mutationally activated and promote oncogenesis. Also identified are Wnt/Beta Catenin signalling in APC and NF2 gene in Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Certain growth factors such as RTK-VEGF, TGF Beta, PTEN in several types of cancers, are detected with either FISH or IHC or ELISA or other molecular profiling such as NGS more accurately and form the target for drug therapy.

Tissue microarrays: Tissue microarray technology overcomes the bottleneck of traditional tissue analysis and allows it to catch up with the rapid advances in lead discovery.Dr Chadha further explains, Tissue microarrays consist of paraffin blocks in which up to 1000 separate tissue cores are assembled in array fashion to allow multiplex histological analysis. It is a recent innovation in the field of pathology. A microarray contains many small representative tissue samples from hundreds of different cases assembled on a single histological slide, and therefore allows high throughput analysis of multiple specimens at the same time. It can permit simultaneous analysis of molecular targets at the DNA, mRNA, and protein levels under identical, standardised conditions on a single glass slide, and also provide maximal preservation and use of limited and irreplaceable archival tissue samples. This versatile technique, in which data analysis is automated facilitates retrospective and prospective human tissue studies. It is a practical and effective tool for high-throughput molecular analysis of tissues that is helping to identify new diagnostic and prognostic markers and targets in human cancers and has a range of potential applications in basic research, prognostic oncology and drug discovery. This technique is very versatile as many downstream molecular assays such as immunohistochemistry, cytogenetic studies, Fluorescent In situ-Hybridisation (FISH) etc., can be carried out on a single slide with multiple numbers of samples.

Adding further, Dr Ajaikumar points out, The field of biomarker research can further be escalated by the integration of TMA technology with digital pathology. The most important disadvantage of this technique is that one small tissue core may not be representative of the whole tumour analysed conventionally. Therefore, many such cores of the same may be required to carry out analysis to arrive at a definitive conclusion. This is mainly significant for heterogeneous tumours like a human ovarian tumour. Whether this technology is useful in heterogeneous tumours is still highly debated.

Artificial intelligence-based therapy: Many cancer care experts believe that integration of AI technology can improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosis, aid clinical decision-making, and lead to better health outcomes. AI-guided clinical care has, therefore, the potential to play an important role in reducing health disparities, particularly in low-resource settings.Dr Gautam exemplifies how AI integration can be done in cancer diagnosis. A pathology AI system is a computer programme that assists pathologists in their work or provides automated pathology. Machine learning allows learning a task from data, like providing a diagnosis or a score, or a subtask, like classifying different cancers. A deep learning network is able to learn highly complex visual features just from the image data, achieving expert human performance, he describes.

Similarly, citing more examples, Dr Chadha spells out, AI also has gained importance in therapy designs, for e.g. Google is collaborating with health delivery networks to build prediction models from big data to warn clinicians of high-risk conditions, such as sepsis and heart failure. A neural network was applied to identify breast cancer with the inputs from mammographic images. A convolutional neural network was also performed to identify skin cancer from clinical images. Many start-ups are developing AI-derived image interpretation algorithms and can identify the patients at most risk as well as those likely to respond to treatment protocols. Digital pathology is one such platform which can be used for AI interpretations and diagnosis. Metropolis is one of the first CAP & NABL approved labs in India to adopt this platform. Scanning of slides to create a database which can be used for machine learning and AI-derived image interpretation.

On the anvil

As the scientific community continues to move ahead there will be cross-fertilisation of tests and technologies in the future. Oncologists and histopathologists also indicate a growing significance of pharmacodiagnostics in cancer care due to the development of new improved targeted drugs.

Adds Dr Chadha, This emerging and expanding speciality with major potential for the specific linking of a treatment outcome like a response, toxicity and resistance to a key molecular alteration (e.g. protein overexpression or gene amplification) within a disease state to predict therapeutic response. It is used in measuring response or adverse side effects of both established and newer therapies. In oncology, recent advances with targeted therapeutics have demonstrated the critical importance of appropriate pharmacodiagnostic approaches. It is based on identifying somatic molecular changes in the tumour which forms the basis of molecular targeting of many novel therapies. The development of Herceptin (targeting the human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) oncogene in breast cancer) and Glivec (targeting BCR-ABL translocation in leukaemia) are excellent examples of the close relationship between target expression, pharmacodiagnostic tests and clinical therapeutic response. As treatment response depends on the molecular profile of individual cancer, the major challenge for the future will be to co-develop novel targeted therapies and pharmacodiagnostic tests also called as companion diagnostic tests that will predict patient response to therapy. To successfully integrate novel pharmacodiagnostics into clinical practice the collaboration between pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries, clinical oncologists and researchers must be strengthened.

Going forward, experts reveal immense opportunities for IVD companies to thrive in this business segment. But to be successful, IVD companies must demonstrate the impact their technologies will have on physicians decisions and patient outcomes.



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