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Comment: Re:who cares? (Score 4, Insightful) 168

by Guppy (#48589729) Attached to: Airbus Attacked By French Lawmaker For Talking To SpaceX

an idiotic remark that is inconsequential to anything.

Is it? I'm really surprised that Airbus had the chutzpah (or political naivete).

You see, Airbus gets quite a bit of help from the governments of Europe -- subsidies, contracts; I wouldn't be surprised if they had a major hand in the mergers that formed the company in the first place. Most likely, the lawmaker is thinking of Airbus as being little different from some wayward administrative division in his own bureaucracy, now in need of a rebuke for not supporting the government's agenda.

Comment: Re:Diversity is good, especially in SciFi (Score 1) 368

by Guppy (#48543773) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

Hey, you know what else won't be the same? Language!

The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi would be a good example of a story that pushes that boundary (within the constraints of being able to still communicate with the reader). Not just choosing to invent silly terms for familiar things, but creating a culture-shock effect, where new slang is invented to reflect a new culture.

Comment: Re:Summary of Trailer (Score 1) 390

by Guppy (#48488619) Attached to: First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released

This seems like canon, I thought all the stormtroopers were clones of Jango Fett

Presumably at some point the clone tanks get blown up, or maybe conscripts ended up being cheaper than clones.

Although it would be more interesting if some random strain of the common flu ended up adapting itself perfectly to that nice monoculture of Fetts, and killed them all off (except for Boba, who got a flu shot).

Comment: Re:Google also has a plan (Score 2) 334

by Guppy (#48437653) Attached to: The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

Practically, the EU branch of their offices needs to be little more than a cubicle with a lawyer and desk.

But oddly enough, on paper it seems a huge portion of Google "exists" in the EU, legally speaking. As far as revenues and expenses go, a huge portion of Google's revenues and expenses are "generated" there, (specifically, Ireland), thanks to an international tax dodge.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise, but is it just one ingredient? (Score 4, Interesting) 422

by Guppy (#48182019) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Sodium benzoate

My money is on the sugar/syrup itself, acting through the insulin-like growth factor system. There is substantial evidence that decreased IGF activity lengthens lifespan and reduces cancer risk, while increased activity drives increased cell-division activity and apoptosis.

Comment: Research Paper Link (Score 5, Informative) 422

by Guppy (#48181999) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

1) What is the name of the paper?

Found it: http://ajph.aphapublications.o...
"Soda and Cell Aging: Associations Between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys"

Objectives. We tested whether leukocyte telomere length maintenance, which underlies healthy cellular aging, provides a link between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and the risk of cardiometabolic disease.

Methods. We examined cross-sectional associations between the consumption of SSBs, diet soda, and fruit juice and telomere length in a nationally representative sample of healthy adults. The study population included 5309 US adults, aged 20 to 65 years, with no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, from the 1999 to 2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Leukocyte telomere length was assayed from DNA specimens. Diet was assessed using 24-hour dietary recalls. Associations were examined using multivariate linear regression for the outcome of log-transformed telomere length.

Results. After adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, sugar-sweetened soda consumption was associated with shorter telomeres (b=–0.010; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.020, 0.001; P=.04). Consumption of 100% fruit juice was marginally associated with longer telomeres (b=0.016; 95% CI=0.000, 0.033; P=.05). No significant associations were observed between consumption of diet sodas or noncarbonated SSBs and telomere length.

Conclusions. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print October 16, 2014: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302151)

Comment: Good reasons not to rush to unguided usage (Score 1) 193

by Guppy (#48123047) Attached to: Experts Decry Randomized Ebola Treatment Trials As Unethical, Impractical

It also means that for those that are infected, there's so little chance of survival with "traditional" treatments that they have very little to lose by trying something experimental. Even if a treatment gives them cancer, or HIV, or leaves them with something like chronic fatigue syndrome, they're still going to enjoy quality of life better than they would if they're dead.

I would posit that the problem is not that the currently infected individual faces any fate worse than death.

The problem is that lack of high-quality data may forestall the development of more effective therapies, which means you are condemning people infected in the future to death. This latter group seems abstract and hazy, compared to the concrete suffering we can see before us, but eventually the future becomes the now, and we'll have to deal with it.

Researchers may well end up heading down blind alleys, trying to optimize ineffective strategies that end up sucking up resources (money, scientists, labs, mindshare). The history of medicine is full of useless or even harmful therapies that were developed without the benefit of rigorous clinical trials -- difficult to treat conditions like cancer were especially prone to this phenomenon (for instance, the radical mastectomy procedure for breast cancer -- painful, disfiguring and debilitating, developed during an age of heroic surgery... a "gold standard" treatment yet much much later proven to offer no survival benefit in the majority of situations).

Comment: Re:A Priority (Score 3, Informative) 55

by Guppy (#47843285) Attached to: Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

It has been done during the 1995 Kikwit Ebola outbreak in Zaire. They tried it on eight patients and only one died. I have found no indication that any health care workers were infected.

Just in case anyone is curious, here is the actual paper:

Between 6 and 22 June 1995, 8 patients in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, who met the case definition used in Kikwit for Ebola (EBO) hemorrhagic fever, were transfused with blood donated by 5 convalescent patients. The donated blood contained IgG EBO antibodies but no EBO antigen. EBO antigens were detected in all the transfusion recipients just before transfusion. The 8 transfused patients had clinical symptoms similar to those of other EBO patients seen during the epidemic. All were seriously ill with severe asthenia, 4 presented with hemorrhagic manifestations, and 2 became comatose as their disease progressed. Only 1 transfused patient (12.5%) died; this number is significantly lower than the overall case fatality rate (80%) for the EBO epidemic in Kikwit and than the rates for other EBO epidemics.

Comment: Re:Doesn't make sense to me (Score 2) 55

by Guppy (#47843273) Attached to: Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

Neither the summary or the linked article use the term, but what they're using is known as "convalescent serum". As the parent poster stated above, it's been in use for over a century now, but has only fallen out of fashion in modern times -- mainly because it has been superseded by vaccines and anti-infectives that are cheaper, more reliable, more convenient, and easier to mass-produce.

Trivia note: While Type-O may be the universal blood donor, the ideal serum donor is Type AB.

Comment: Humoral vs. Cell-mediated Immune responses (Score 4, Informative) 55

by Guppy (#47843229) Attached to: Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

Couldn't this approach be used for any infectious disease for which there's no effective cure but there are some survivors? Are there just no Western diseases that fit the profile? I suppose you need both a person sick with a deadly infection and a recent survivor of a same infection (with the same blood type). So it may just be the case that we simply don't experience that scenario enough to develop this solution. But I'm curious if this approach has been used outside of Ebola in Africa.

It's not used much today, because we've largely conquered the disease agents that such an approach works against. Typically, it works well against infectious agents which are highly vulnerable to a Humoral (antibody-mediated) immune response. Co-incidentally, this also means most vaccines work extremely well against those same disease agents. Unfortunately, Ebola doesn't yet have a commercially available vaccine, but I would expect such a vaccine to work well.

There are only a few examples in the West where we still use this approach -- one that I can think of, is the use of anti-HepB sera in infants born to infected mothers, and for emergency prophylaxis of needlestick injuries involving Hepatitis B exposure. For the bulk of the population, Hepatitis B vaccination works well enough (and is far cheaper).

What it doesn't work well against, are infectious agents that don't respond well to natural antibody defenses. For instance, most anti-HIV antibodies do not defend well against HIV, anti-HepC antibodies do not protect against Hepatitis C, nor do anti-TB antibodies protect against Tuberculosis. For those agents, an effective response depends on cell-mediated immunity.

Comment: Re:They didn't build that (Score 3, Insightful) 105

by Guppy (#47840577) Attached to: Obama Administration Seeks $58M To Put (Partly) Toward Fighting Ebola

ZMapp is produced by a private firm

If you follow the money, it'll lead back to a grant funded by the Federal government (in this case, both the U.S. and Canadian governments).

Ebola therapeutics were (and probably still are) anticipated to be a profit-less product segment, as far as the civilian commercial market is concerned. The affected population can't afford any resulting product, plus previous outbreaks were sporadic with small numbers of fatalities. The only potential "customers" -- at the time research was initiated over a decade ago -- were governments who might be interested in stockpiling treatments for future bio-defense use.

Now, a few of the large pharmaceutical companies still maintain and fund tropical-diseases divisions, despite the lack of profitability (for instance, Glaxo's division is largely a legacy of British Colonial days, which they've carried ever since). But I highly doubt a small biotech like Mapp Biopharm would ever do so without being paid most of the cost up-front.

Sentient plasmoids are a gas.