Canceling Noise

30 06 2014

Audio games may enhance hearing in noisy environments

The ability to hear soft speech in a noisy environment is difficult for many and nearly impossible for the 48 million people in the United States living with hearing loss. Harvard Medical School researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear have programmed a new type of game that trained both mice and humans to enhance their ability to discriminate soft sounds in noisy backgrounds. Their findings are published in PNAS.

 

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

In the experiment, adult humans and mice with normal hearing were trained in a rudimentary “audiogame.” Inspired by sensory foraging behavior, the game required the subjects to discriminate changes in the loudness of a tone presented with a moderate level of background noise. The results suggest new therapeutic options for patients who receive little benefit from conventional sensory rehabilitation strategies.

“Like the children’s game ‘hot and cold,’ our game provided instantaneous auditory feedback that allowed our human and mouse subjects to home in on the location of a hidden target,” said senior author Daniel Polley, HMS assistant professor of otology and laryngology and director of Mass Eye and Ear’s Amelia Peabody Neural Plasticity Unit of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories. “Over the course of training, both species learned adaptive search strategies that allowed them to more efficiently convert noisy, dynamic audio cues into actionable information for finding the target.

“To our surprise, human subjects who mastered this simple game over the course of 30 minutes of daily training for one month exhibited a generalized improvement in their ability to understand speech in noisy background conditions,” Polley said. “Comparable improvements in the processing of speech in high levels of background noise were not observed for control subjects who heard the sounds of the game but did not actually play the game.”

The researchers recorded the electrical activity of neurons in auditory regions of the mouse cerebral cortex to gain some insight into how training might have boosted the ability of the brain to separate signal from noise. They found that training substantially altered the way the brain encoded sound.
 
In trained mice, many neurons became highly sensitive to faint sounds that signaled the location of the target in the game. These neurons also displayed increased resistance to noise, retaining an ability to encode faint sounds even under conditions of elevated background noise.

Daniel Polley in the Amelia Peabody Neural Plasticity Unit of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories. Image: Eric Antoniou/Mass Eye and Ear

Daniel Polley in the Amelia Peabody Neural Plasticity Unit of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories. Image: Eric Antoniou/Mass Eye and Ear

“Again, changes of this ilk were not observed in control mice that watched, and listened, to their counterparts play the game. Active participation in the training was required; passive listening was not enough,” Polley said.

These findings illustrate the utility of brain-training exercises that are inspired by careful neuroscience research, he added.

“When combined with conventional assistive devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, audio games of the type we describe here may be able to provide the hearing impaired with an improved ability to reconnect to the auditory world,” Polley said.

“Of particular interest is the finding that brain training improved speech processing in noisy backgrounds—a listening environment where conventional hearing aids offer limited benefit,” said Jonathon Whitton, lead author on the paper. A principal investigator at the Amelia Peabody Neural Plasticity Unit, Whitton is affiliated with the Program in Speech Hearing Bioscience and Technology, Harvard–MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DC009836 and P30 DC5029 and by a grant from the Mass Eye and Ear Curing Kids Fund.

Adapted from a Mass Eye and Ear news release.

 

By MARY LEACH

 

Hms.harvard.edu [en línea] Cambridge, MA (USA): hms.harvard.edu, 30 de junio de 2014 [REF. 18 in June of 2014] Available on Internet:http://hms.harvard.edu/news/canceling-noise-6-18-14



Paediatrics measurements not always necessary

26 06 2014

Five common measurements or procedures within paediatrics are insufficiently accurate or useful for clinical practice so the popular motto ‘the knowlegde is in the number’ [in Dutch: meten is weten] does not always apply. This has been revealed by research conducted by UMCG PhD student Jolita Bekhof, who works as a paediatrician in the Isala Clinics in Zwolle. Supplementary tests do not lead to less anxiety or symptoms in patients. In paediatrics in particular, it is thus important to critically examine supplementary measurements or tests because most children in the West are healthy. Bekhof will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 18 June.

Doctors are keen on measurements for several reasons: they can reduce the uncertainty factor in a diagnosis and they can reassure the patient – or even the doctor. In addition, doctors are trained in the principle of ‘to measure is to know’ and thus have an almost blind trust in figures. However, every measurement could harm the patient, especially if it is invasive. Further, every measurement costs money and false positive results are also possible. If there is not much chance of a particular disease being present, previous research has already revealed that supplementary tests do not make the patient less anxious or reduce the symptoms.

In her thesis, Bekhof tested the reliability and the usefulness of five common measurements or procedures used in paediatrics: measuring the glucose in the urine in the nappies of neonates with the help of test strips, the diagnostic value of clinical symptoms (including glycosuria) when looking for serious infections in premature babies, the fluid balance in ill neonates, the assessment of the degree of shortness of breath in children, and the use of viral tests with bronchiolitis.

Her research revealed that only the testing of glucose with test strips was reliable; the other measurements or procedures were insufficiently accurate or turned out to be insufficiently useful in clinical practice. Bekhof thus came to the conclusion that the motto ‘to measure is to know’ is definitely not always applicable. Bekhof: ‘This starting point only applies on condition that you know what you are measuring, how, why and who.’ Her research also revealed that it could be useful to re-examine many of the routine measurements. According to Bekhof, this certainly applies to paediatrics: ‘In paediatrics in particular, it is important to critically examine supplementary measurements or tests because most children in the West are healthy.’

In clinical practice in Zwolle, the principle is evidence-based practice. That principle creates a self-critical and enquiring attitude, laying the foundations for Bekhof’s thesis: ‘If we cannot find a satisfactory answer to a question in the available literature, we often draw up a research proposal. We then examine whether we can resolve this proposal with a study within our own practice. The topics examined in my thesis have all arisen from such discussions and the resulting studies.’

 

Curriculum vitae

Jolita Bekhof (Leeuwarden, 1971) studied medicine at the University of Groningen and trained as a paediatrician at the UMCG. She conducted her research at the Amalia Kindercentrum of the Isala Clinics in Zwolle. Her thesis is entitled ‘Demystification of commonly used measurements in paediatrics’. She will remain working as a paediatrician at the Isala Clinics after receiving her PhD.

 

 

 

Rug.nl [en línea] Groningen (NED): rug.nl, 26 de junio de 2014 [REF. 13 in June of 2014] Available on Internet:  http://www.rug.nl/news-and-events/news/archief2014/nieuwsberichten/metingen-kindergeneeskunde-niet-altijd-nodig



EyeMusic SSD: Can the blind ‘hear’ colors and shapes?

23 06 2014

What if you could “hear” colors? Or shapes?These features are normally perceived visually, but using sensory substitution devices (SSDs) they can now be conveyed to the brain noninvasively through other senses.

Prof. Amir Amedi: innovating solutions for the blind and visually impaired, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Photo: Hebrew University)

Prof. Amir Amedi: innovating solutions for the blind and visually impaired, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Photo: Hebrew University)

At the Center for Human Perception and Cognition, headed by Prof. Amir Amedi of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Medicine, the blind and visually impaired are being offered tools, via training with SSDs, to receive environmental visual information and interact with it in ways otherwise unimaginable. The work of Prof. Amedi and his colleagues is patented by Yissum, the Hebrew University’s Technology Transfer Company.

SSDs are non-invasive sensory aids that provide visual information to the blind via their existing senses. For example, using a visual-to-auditory SSD in a clinical or everyday setting, users wear a miniature camera connected to a small computer (or smart phone) and stereo headphones. The images are converted into “soundscapes,” using a predictable algorithm, allowing the user to listen to and then interpret the visual information coming from the camera.

With the EyeMusic SSD (available free at the Apple App store at http://tinyurl.com/oe8d4p4), one hears pleasant musical notes to convey information about colors, shapes and location of objects in the world.

Using this SSD equipment and a unique training program, the blind are able to achieve various complex. visual-linked abilities. In recent articles in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience and Scientific Reports, blind and blindfolded-sighted users of the EyeMusic were shown to correctly perceive and interact with objects, such as recognizing different shapes and colors or reaching for a beverage. (A live demonstration can be seen at http://youtu.be/r6bz1pOEJWg).

 

In another use of EyeMusic, it was shown that other fast and accurate movements can be guided by the EyeMusic and visuo-motor learning.  In studies published in two prestigious scientific journals, Neuron and Current Biology, it was demonstrated that the blind can characterize sound-conveyed images into complex object categories (such as faces, houses and outdoor scenes, plus everyday objects) and could locate people’s positions, identify facial expressions and read letters and words. (See YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/amiramedilab for demonstrations.)

Despite these encouraging behavioral demonstrations, SSDs are currently not widely used by the blind population. However, in a recent review published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, the reasons that have prevented their adoption have changed for the better over the past few years. For instance, new technological advances enable SSDs to be much cheaper, much smaller and lighter, and they can run using a standard Smart phone. Additionally, new computerized training methods and environments boost training and performance.

The Hebrew University research has shown that contrary to the long-held conception of the cortex being divided into separate vision-processing areas, auditory areas, etc., new findings over the past decade demonstrate that many brain areas are characterized by their computational task, and can be activated using senses other than the one commonly used for this task, even for people who were never exposed to “original” sensory information at all (such as a person born blind that never saw one photon of light in his life).

When processing “visual’ information” conveyed through SSD, it was shown by the researchers that congenitally blind people who learned to read by touch using the Braille script or through their ears with sensory substitution devices use the same areas in the visual cortex as those used by sighted readers. A recent example of this approach was just published in Current biology, showing that blind subjects “see” body shapes via their ears using SSD equipment and training.

There is a whole network of regions in the human brain dedicated to processing and perceiving of body shapes, starting from the areas processing vision in the cortex, leading to the “Extrastriate Body Area,” or EBA, and further connecting to multiple brain areas deciphering people’s motion in space, their feelings and intents.

 

In tests with the blind, it was found that their EBA was functionally connected to the whole network of body-processing found in the sighted. This lends strength to the researchers’ new theory of the brain as a sensory-independent task machine, rather than as a pure sensory (vision, audition, touch) machine.

“The human brain is more flexible than we thought,” says Prof. Amedi. “These results give a lot of hope for the successful regaining of visual functions using cheap non-invasive SSDs or other invasive sight restoration approaches. They suggest that in the blind, brain areas have the potential to be ‘awakened’ to processing visual properties and tasks even after years or maybe even lifelong blindness, if the proper technologies and training approaches are used.”

 

 

 

New.huji.ac.il [en línea] Jerusalem (ISR): new.huji.ac.il, 23 in June of 2014 [REF. 09 March of 2014] Available on Internet: http://new.huji.ac.il/en/article/19856

 



Combined Vaccines Improve Survival in Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer

19 06 2014

Combining two specific anti-cancer vaccines, rather than administering one as monotherapy, doubles the 1-year survival probability in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), according to the results of a phase II study presented January 14, two days in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) 2014 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

Adding the immunotherapy CRS-207 to GVAX Pancreas, rather than giving GVAX alone, sparked the improvement, most markedly in patients who received at least two doses of GVAX and at least one dose of CRS-207, and in those who had received two or more prior treatment regimens, the study’s researchers found in the randomized study.

 

“This is the first time a randomized study has shown that immunotherapy is effective in pancreatic cancer. This study is just a first step, and we believe we’ll be able to take this approach further,” said lead study author Dung T. Le, MD, an assistant professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, Maryland. “Various chemotherapy drugs are used, but there are no standard treatment options for second- or third-line therapy in this setting. We’re excited these patients may soon have an alternative to chemotherapy that could come with fewer side effects.”

 

Advanced pancreatic cancer has a very poor prognosis, ASCO said in a written statement. The best reported median survival of 11 months comes from first-line treatment with the chemotherapy regimen FOLFIRINOX. However, due to its side effects, only the fittest patients qualify for this treatment, and reported survival with other chemotherapy regimens is lower, according to the statement. For patients whose disease progresses despite first-line treatment, the median survival ranges from 4 to 6 months with second-line therapy, and 2 to 4 months with third-line therapy.

 

The new study tested an innovative strategy designed to stimulate an immune response against pancreas tumor cells, potentially improving outcomes for such patients with a regimen that appears to be better tolerated than chemotherapy.

 

GVAX is made from two pancreatic cancer cell lines that are irradiated so that they secrete the protein GM-CSF, which stimulates the immune system. The drug is given intradermally after low-dose cyclophosphamide (CY), which inhibits regulatory T cells, Le explained. CRS-207 is composed of live-attenuated Listeria monocytogenes engineered to stimulate an immune response against the protein mesothelin, which is present at high levels on pancreatic cancer cells, the authors and ASCO wrote.

 

In mouse tumor models, the two types of vaccines have proved synergistic, and in a phase I study of CRS-207, three patients with PDAC who had received prior GVAX lived ≥15 months, the authors noted.

 

The study by Le et al included 90 patients with metastatic PDAC, the most common form of pancreatic cancer, who were randomly assigned 2:1 to treatment with two doses of CY/GVAX followed by four doses of CRS-207 (arm A), all three weeks apart for a 20-week course of treatment; or six doses of CY/GVAX every three weeks (arm B). Courses could be repeated. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS), and secondary endpoints were safety and clinical and immune responses. Nearly all patients had received at least one prior course of chemotherapy, and 51% of them had received two or more prior regimens.

 

At a planned interim analysis, with a median follow-up of 7.8 months, the median OS was 6.1 months for the two-vaccine therapy compared with 3.9 months for therapy with GVAX (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.59, two-sided log rank P = .03). About 24% of patients in arm A were still alive after 1 year, compared with 12% in arm B, Le said.

 

Among patients who received at least three doses of vaccine (about 70% of all patients), those in arm A who received two doses of GVAX and at least one dose of CRS-207 had a median OS of 9.7 months compared to 4.6 months for those who took three or more doses of CY/GVAX alone (HR = 0.53, two-sided log rank P = .03). Investigators observed stabilization of CA19-9, a tumor marker in PDAC, in 32% of patients in arm A versus 13% of patients in arm B.

 

Based on the benefit observed at this interim analysis, the study was stopped and patients were allowed to cross over from arm B to arm A.

 

The side effects of the vaccine were relatively mild, resolved quickly, and did not get worse with each dose of treatment (as is often the case with chemotherapy), ASCO wrote. The side effects included local reactions after GVAX, and transient fevers, rigors, and lymphopenia after CRS-207, according to the authors.

 

“CY/GVAX followed by CRS-207 shows extended survival with manageable toxicity in previously treated metastatic PDA and warrants further study,” the authors concluded.

 

The GVAX/CRS-207 combination is also being looked at in other clinical studies. The researchers are about to launch a large phase II study that will compare the vaccine combination versus CRS-207 alone versus chemotherapy as second-line or greater therapy for metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to ASCO. They are also looking at combining GVAX/CRS-207 with immune checkpoint inhibitors such as ipilimumab and anti-PD-1/PD-L1. A study testing GVAX/ipilimumab as a maintenance treatment for patients whose disease became stable on FOLFIRINOX has recently opened.

 

 

Le DT, Wang-Gillam A, Picozzi V Jr, et al. A phase 2, randomized trial of GVAX Pancreas and CRS-207 immunotherapy versus GVAX alone in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma: Updated results. Presented at: the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium; January 16-18, 2014; San Francisco, California. Abstract 177.

 

By Beth Fand Incollingo

 

Onclive.com [en línea] New Jersey (USA): onclive.com, 19 in June of 2014 [REF. 14 in January of 2014] Available on Internet: http://www.onclive.com/conference-coverage/gcs-2014/Combined-Vaccines-Improve-Survival-in-Metastatic-Pancreatic-Cancer



With the right rehabilitation, paralyzed rats learn to grip again

16 06 2014

After a large stroke, motor skills barely improve, even with rehabilitation. An experiment conducted on rats demonstrates that a course of therapy combining the stimulation of nerve fiber growth with drugs and motor training can be successful. The key, however, is the correct sequence: Paralyzed animals only make an almost complete recovery if the training is delayed until after the growth promoting drugs have been administered.

 

A constricted carotid artery – as pictured here above right – can lead to a stroke. (Photo: Zephyr / Science Photo Library)

A constricted carotid artery – as pictured here above right – can lead to a stroke. (Photo: Zephyr / Science Photo Library)

 

Only if the timing, dosage and kind of rehabilitation are right can motor functions make an almost full recovery after a large stroke. Rats that were paralyzed down one side by a stroke almost managed to regain their motor functions fully if they were given the ideal combination of rehabilitative training and substances that boosted the growth of nerve fibers. Anatomical studies confirmed the importance of the right rehabilitation schedule: Depending on the therapeutic design, different patterns of new nerve fibers that sprouted into the cervical spinal cord from the healthy part of the brain and thus aid functional recovery to varying degrees were apparent. The study conducted by an interdisciplinary team headed by Professor Martin Schwab from the Brain Research Institute at the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich’s Neuroscience Center is another milestone in research on the repair of brain and spinal cord injuries.

 

“This new rehabilitative approach at least triggered an astonishing recovery of the motor skills in rats, which may become important for the treatment of stroke patients in the future,” says first author Anna-Sophia Wahl. At present, patients have to deal with often severe motor-function, language and vision problems, and their quality of life is often heavily affected.

 

Allow nerves to grow first, then train

 

On the one hand, the treatment of rats after a stroke involves specific immune therapy, where so-called Nogo proteins are blocked with antibodies. These proteins in the tissue around the nerve fibers inhibit nerve-fiber growth. If they are blocked, nerve fibers begin to sprout in the injured sections of the brain and spinal cord and relay nerve impulses again. On the other hand, the stroke animals, whose front legs were paralyzed, underwent physical training – namely, gripping food pellets. All the rats received antibody treatment first to boost nerve-fiber growth and – either at the same time or only afterwards – motor training.

 

The results are surprising: The animals that began their training later regained a remarkable 85 percent of their original motor skills. For the rats that were trained straight after the stroke in parallel with the growth-enhancing antibodies, however, it was a different story: At 15 percent, their physical performance in the grip test remained very low.

 

Meticulous design very promising

 

The researchers consider timing a crucial factor for the success of the rehabilitation: An early application of growth stimulators – such as antibodies against the protein Nogo-A – triggers an increased sprouting and growth of nerve fibers. The subsequent training is essential to sift out and stabilize the key neural circuits for the recovery of the motor functions. For instance, an automatic, computer-based analysis of the anatomical data from the imaging revealed that new fibers in the spinal cord sprouted in another pattern depending on the course of treatment. By reversibly deactivating the new nerve fibers that grow, the neurobiologists were ultimately able to demonstrate for the first time that a group of these fibers is essential for the recovery of the motor function observed: Nerve fibers that grew into the spinal cord from the intact front half of the brain – changing sides – can reconnect the spinal cord circuits of the rats’ paralyzed limbs to the brain, enabling the animals to grip again.

 

“Our study reveals how important a meticulous therapeutic design is for the most successful rehabilitation possible,” sums up study head Martin Schwab. “The brain has enormous potential for the reorganization and reestablishment of its functions. With the right therapies at the right time, this can be increased in a targeted fashion.”

 

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Ethz.ch [en línea] Zürich (CH): ethz.ch, 16 de junio de 2014 [REF. 13 in June of 2014] Available on Internet:

HTTPS://www.ethz.ch/en/news-and-events/eth-news/news/2014/06/with-the-right-rehabilitation-paralyzed-rats-learn-to-grip-again.html



Molecular characterization of families without identified genetic cause hereditary colon cancer

12 06 2014

During the last decades, a great effort has been made to elucidate the genetic de de familial colorectal cancer cases. In spite of that, including the latest technological advances that have allowed to study genome and exome full de de affected families members, It is not yet possible to explain large part de genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer.

Program de Cancer hereditary del ICO-IDIBELL line de work directing the researcher Laura Velasco Valley is dedicated to the study of molecular de families de high risk which is not yet known genetic cause de this predisposition to develop cancer de colon and rectum.

 

In order to identify new genes de Cáncer hereditario has been sequenced the full exome, i.e. the coding part del genoma, de de cancer de one de these families affected members. The family studied showed a pattern de apparently dominant inheritance, and family members with cancer had not developed polyps in the colon. Unexpectedly, identified mutations in a gene already known de predisposition to colorectal cancer and polyposis colon that follows a recessive pattern de legacy, Gene MUTYH.

Based on the results obtained in this study, proposed a reorientation process de selection de families for the study del de MUTYH which provides the presence de a pattern de dominant inheritance because of the risk that hold a single allele mutations, the possibility de there are no polyps at the time del diagnosis, as well as de that there are tumors with molecular traits de other de hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes such as de microsatellite instability.

On the other hand, supporting studies, de a specific mutation analysis [KRAS c.34G>T (p.G12C)], characteristic de tumors associated to MUTYH, test de selection de eligible families for the study del gene in germ line.

In addition to involvement del program de Cáncer Hereditario this study has had the collaboration de de de Frankfurt University groups (Dr. Guido Plötz), de Universidad de Oviedo (DrDrXosé S. Bridge) and del Centro Nacional de Genomic analysis (CNAG).

 

Another study team de Valle del to characterize families with no known genetic cause hereditary colorectal cancer, It has conducted a comprehensive study de molecular traits de developed tumors in the context del hereditary colorectal cancer non-polyposis without alterations in genes de del DNA repair, that it would cause the syndrome de Lynch.

To do this, Genomic alterations have been studied, mutations in genes relevant to cancer de colon as they are KRAS, BRAF, TP53 and PIK3CA, and the level de global methylation de both hereditary tumors as sporadic CpG Islands. The results obtained indicate that these hereditary tumors show genomic profiles very similar to profiles de sporadic tumors, both suggestive de high chromosomal instability and low-level de de CpG Islands methylation.

However, they have identified some specific features, as del chromosome gain 2, the loss de 10q or a lower frequency de mutations in TP53, It could be relevant for the clinical management de these patients or for identification de causing defects in germ line de aggregation de cancer in these families. For this project de hereditary Cancer program has had the collaboration de other groups del IDIBELL-ICO (Unit de biomarkers and susceptibility and Laboratorio de Investigación translational).

 

References de items

Nuria Seguí, Matilde Navarro, Marta Pineda, Nicole Koger, Fernando Bellido, Sara González, Olga Campos, Silvia Iglesias, Rafael Valdés-Mas, Adriana López-Dóriga, Marta Gut, Ignacio Blanco, Conxi Lazarus, Gabriel Capellá, Xosé S. Bridge, *Guido Plötz, *Laura Valle. Exome sequencing identifies MUTYH mutations in a family with colorectal cancer and an atypical phenotype. Gut 2014 [Epub ahead of print]

 

Fernando Bellido, Marta Pineda, Rebeca Sanz-Pamplona, Matilde Navarro, Marga Nadal, Conxi Lazarus, Ignacio Blanco, Victor Moreno, Gabriel Capellá, Laura Valle. Comprehensive molecular characterisation of hereditary non-polyposis colorectal tumours with mismatch repair proficiency. European Journal of Cancer 2014 [Epub ahead of print]

 

 

 

Idibell.cat [en línea] Barcelona (ESP): idibell.cat, 12 de junio de 2014 [REF. 03 in June of 2014] Available on Internet:

http://www.idibell.cat/modul/noticies/es/691/caracterizacion-molecular-de-familias-de-cancer-de-colon-hereditario-sin-causa-genetica-identificada



Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, psychedelic pioneer, RIP

9 06 2014

 

 Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, maverick chemist, psychedelic pioneer, and inspiring human being, died June, 2 at 88 years old. Sasha is best known for popularizing MDMA (Ecstasy) and introducing it to the psychological community, and synthesizing hundreds of new psychoactive chemicals that he first tested on himself. His scientific research is detailed in a huge output of papers and books including the seminal tomes TIHKAL and PIHKAL, co-authored with his wife and research partner Ann Shulgin.

As Sasha once said, everyone deserves “the license to explore the nature of his own soul.”

Sasha, you will be missed, and rest-assured the research will continue.

 

By David Pescovitz

 

Alexander “Sasha” Shulgin, Ph.D., was a pharmacologist and chemist known for his creation of new psychoactive chemicals. After serving in the Navy, he earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from U.C. Berkeley in 1954. In the late 50s and early 60s he did post-doctorate work in psychiatry and pharmacology at U.C. San Francisco and worked briefly as research director at BioRad Laboratories before becoming a senior research chemist at Dow Chemical Co.

In 1960, Sasha tried mescaline for the first time. He the experimented with synthesizing chemicals with structures similar to mescaline such as DOM. After leaving Dow in 1966 to become an independent consultant, Sasha taught public health at Berkeley and San Francisco General Hospital. Although he didn’t invent it, Sasha first synthesized MDMA in 1965; however, he did not try it at that time. In 1In6, the effects of MDMA were described to Sasha by an undergrad at San Francisco State University. Sasha was inspired to cook up a batch of the drug, which he began testing on himself in September of that year. Finding the compound to have worthwhile qualities, in 1977 he introduced the material toLeo Zeff, an Oakland psychologist who worked with psychedelics in his therapy practice. Zeff introduced hundreds of therapists to MDMA and word quickly spread outside the therapist community. Sasha’s partnerAnn Shulginalso conducted psychedelic therapy sessions with MDMA before it was scheduled in 1985.

Since that time, Sasha Shulgin synthesized and bioassayed (self-tested) hundreds of psychoactive chemicals, recording his work in five books and more than two hundred papers. He was a fixure in the psychedelic community, who has spoken at countless conferences, granted frequent interviews, and instilled a sense of rational scientific thought into the world of self-experimentation and psychoactive ingestion. In April of 2010, Sasha and Ann Shulgin were honored for their lifetime of achievements in the field at the Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century conference in San Jose, CA, where a portrait of the couple painted byAlex Greywas unveiled for the first time.

On November 17, 2010, Sasha had a stroke. His recovery went well, but he continued to face a variety of age-related health challenges. On June 2nd, 2014, he died at home in bed surrounded by friends and family.

 

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Boingboing.net [en línea] San Francisco, CA (USA): boingboing.net, 09 de junio de 2014 [REF. 03 in June of 2014] Available on Internet: http://boingboing.net/2014/06/03/alexander-sasha-shulgin-p.html



Advances in Prostate Cancer: Enzalutamide

5 06 2014

A new drug reduces a 81% the risk of progression of metastatic prostate cancer

 

An international phase III study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which involved the Hospital Vall d ’ Hebron and the Vall d ’ Hebron Institut d ’ Oncology (VHIO), shows that the administration of a drug (enzalutamida) prior to chemotherapy in patients with metastatic prostate cancer, reduces a 81% the progression of the disease and, Therefore, the beginning of the treatment and improves survival and quality of life of the patients.

 

 

An international phase III study, made upon 1.717 patients with metastatic prostate cancer castrate-resistant, It shows that the use of the enzalutamide before the chemotherapy drug reduces the risk of death by disease and allows you to delay its progression. In patients with metastatic prostate cancer (castration-resistant) the tumor does not respond anymore to hormonal treatments seeking to reduce male hormones (androgens) that feed cancer cells to grow. This study has shown that administration of enzalutamide prior to chemotherapy in patients with metastasis presenting no symptoms practically, blocking these hormones and allows you to delay the start of chemotherapy up to 28 months.

 

The trial, in which have participated in the Vall D'hebron University Hospital and the Vall D'hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), It has been shown that patients receiving enzalutamide managed to reduce the progression of cancer by 81%, versus patients receiving placebo. On the other hand, It's a treatment with less toxicity involving practically no side effects, except for fatigue and high blood pressure.

 

So far, patients with metastatic prostate cancer who did not respond to hormonal treatment, they did not have alternatives to chemotherapy, but the results of the study agree that with this new treatment, patients who do not have many symptoms, they can delay chemotherapy until 28 months with a better quality of life.

 

Dr. Joan Carles, Head of the program of Genitourinary tumors, CNS and Sarcomas of the Hospital Vall d' Hebrón and VHIO, He explains that "treatment with enzalutamide is easy to manage, has low toxicity and improves the

survival and quality of life of the patients with metastatic prostate cancer. This is the second drug that shows that we can control the disease, delaying its progression". "Thanks to the studies

it being performed in recent years in this line, the survival of these patients has doubled up to the 35-40 months", adds Dr. Joan Carles.

 

With more emphasis on the male cancer

 

Prostate cancer is the most relevant tumor and which has more impact on man, Since it affects to 57 of each 100.000 men. This means that each year are diagnosed in Spain 25.000 new cases. Usual in this type of cancer treatment consists of surgery and radiotherapy associated or not to hormone therapy (hormonal treatment).Between a 20 and a 30% patients with prostate cancer they will fall and they will end up doing metastasis. In this situation and for more than 60 years, hormone therapy has demonstrated that it is the most effective, but after a period extended this treatment, these patients become resistant to hormone therapy. This group of patients (castration-resistant) they had a survival of 12 months before the 2004, but currently, Thanks to the development of new more effective drugs, is located in 3-4 years. In the service of Oncology medical of the Hospital Vall D'hebron University every year some are diagnosed 200 new cases of prostate cancer, 60 among them are the castration-resistant. These patients have the support and monitoring of a multidisciplinary team made up of professionals of Urology, Radiation Oncology and medical oncology.

 

The main lines of research that is currently being developed in the Vall D'hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and in the centers of international reference in this field, go online to develop drugs that can overcome resistance to treatments developed by this group of patients and allow to prolong their quality and life expectancy.

 

Vhebron.NET [en línea] Barcelona (ESP): vhebron.NET, 05 de junio de 2014 [REF. 01 in June of 2014] Available on Internet:

http://noticies-sala-de-premsa/-/asset_publisher/u7V5/content/un-nou-farmac-disminueix-un-81-el-risc-de-progressio-del-cancer-de-prostata-metastatic/10165 www.vhebron.net/?redirect = http % 3A % 2F % www.vhebron.net/noticies-sala-de-premsa?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_u7V5&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-2&p_p_col_pos=3&p_p_col_count=5 2F



Faith treats allergies with more effective custom vaccines

2 06 2014

Analysis of molecular biology techniques to facilitate the development of custom vaccines that have already benefited to 800 patients.

  • Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe has hosted a course of “Molecular Diagnostics in the pollen patient”
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  • 1 of each 4 Spaniards suffers from some type of allergy, According to the Spanish society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

 

Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe improves the diagnosis of allergies with new more efficient molecular biology techniques that allow the elaboration of vaccines customized to the patient.

Allergy at molecular level analysis was introduced as a technique in the Hospital Universitari La Fe Politècnic i in 2009, After researchers at the La Fe Health Research Institute (IIS faith) They testaran it in patients with food anaphylaxis and proposing to extend it to respiratory allergies.

So far more than 800 patients have benefited from this new technique.

 

Combine the Classic skin testing for allergies with molecular analysis, without forgetting the clinical history of the patient, It allows you to more accurately determine the cause of the allergic disease. “Skin testing to identify the causative agent, and molecular biology, This agent exact proteins that trigger the allergic reaction” He explained the doctor Hernández Fernández de Rojas.

This diagnostic accuracy, added the Doctor Ramón López Salgueiro, IIS La Fe in the service of faith of allergy research, allows development of vaccines (in the case of respiratory allergies) that it specifically affect each patient awareness, increasing the therapeutic efficacy and adherence to treatment.

“There are studies that demonstrate that molecular diagnostics change the composition of the extract allergen selected for the vaccine from the skin tests in a 55% of patients”, warns the Doctor López Salgueiro, so insists on the effectiveness of the technique.

 

Allergy at molecular level analysis is made from a blood sample and molecule by molecule or using microarrays that can be, by nanotechnology, Gets to identify up to 112 components potential allergens in a single drop of blood.

These molecular biology techniques are applied to the allergy also in the University Clinic of Navarra and the Hospital Universitari Vall D'hebron of Barcelona.

 

 

Course of Molecular diagnosis in the patient polyclinic

The Hospital has received a course of “Molecular Diagnostics in the pollen patient” directed to specialists, focused on the Salsolakali (characteristic of the beach dunes plant) and co-organized by the Dr. Dolores Hernández Fernández de Rojas, Head of the Group credited of the IIS faith in allergy and respiratory diseases, and Chief of the service of Allergology of the Hospital La Fe.

Currently, one of every four Spaniards suffers from some type of allergy, According to the latest study Allergy of the Spanish society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology(SEAIC).

 

 

Hospital-lafe.com [en línea] Valencia (ESP): Hospital-lafe.com, 02 in June of 2014 [REF. 22 in May of 2014] Available on Internet: http://www.hospital-lafe.com/