The 10-year survival rate for cancer, once regarded as an incurable disease, has steadily been improving in Japan and if the cancer can be detected early enough, this survival rate increases further.

 

The National Cancer Center Japan has announced that the 10-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with cancer between 2004 and 2007 was 58.3%. A study was conducted using the statistics of 94,000 cancer patients aged between 15 and 94 at 21 cancer medical facilities, where they had been diagnosed. Cases of death other than cancer were not included in the calculation of survival rates. This figure is a 1.1 percentage point increase compared to the survival rate during the previous study, based on cancer patients diagnosed from 2003 to 2006. This is the sixth time the National Cancer Center has announced the 10-year survival rate and it continues to improve due to advances in treatment, such as new medicine development.

 

A closer look at the 10-year survival rates by cancer type shows that prostate cancer had the highest rate with 98.8% and those for breast, thyroid, and uterine cancers were all above 80%. Those with a survival rate of less than 20% were gallbladder and bile duct with 19.1%, liver with 16.1%, and pancreatic with 6.2%. Meanwhile, the 5-year survival rate, based on a study of 148,000 patients diagnosed with cancer between 2010 and 2012 at 32 facilities nationwide, stood at 68.6%. This was a 0.2-point rise from the previous study based on diagnoses given between 2009 and 2011. The survival rate for prostate cancer was 100% and for breast cancer it was 93.6%.

Read the full article at: www.nippon.com

The COVID-19 vaccine may spell the end of the pandemic, but while mass vaccination is not available it is vital to stop community transmission. The new antiviral drug MK-4482 / EIDD-2801 or Molnupiravir, has managed to suppress “completely” the transmission of the coronavirus in just 24 hours , according to studies by the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Georgia State University.  “This is the first demonstration of an orally available drug that quickly blocks the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 , so it could be a game changer,” the researchers explained in the work published in the journal Nature Microbiology .  The antiviral drug was developed at Emory University in Atlanta by the drug innovation company Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), which was licensed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which partnered with Merck & Co. Molnupiravir was originally designed to treat the flu and prevent the virus from making copies of itself, creating errors during viral RNA replication.

 

The experts detail that tests were carried out on ferrets and it was observed that they presented a reduction in the amount of viral particles. Then those ferrets were put with others that had not been treated. None of the ferrets in the second group became infected with COVID-19.  “We believe that ferrets are a relevant transmission model because they easily spread SARS-CoV-2, but for the most part they do not develop a serious disease, which is very similar to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in young adults,” he said. Dr. Robert Cox, a postdoctoral fellow in the Plemper group and co-lead author of the study.  “We observed early on that MK-4482 / EIDD-2801 has broad spectrum activity against respiratory RNA viruses and that oral treatment of infected animals with the drug reduces the amount of viral particles spread by several orders of magnitude, drastically reducing transmission. These properties made MK-4482 / EIDD / 2801 a powerful candidate for the pharmacological control of Covid-19 ”, the report adds.

 

If this ferret-based data is translated into humans, Covid-19 patients treated with the drug could become non-infectious within 24 hours of starting treatment. The drug can be taken orally, and treatment can be started early for a triple potential benefit: inhibiting patients’ progress to severe disease, shortening the infectious phase to alleviate the emotional and socioeconomic cost of prolonged patient isolation, and containing quickly local outbreaks. Molnupiravir is currently in advanced phase II / III clinical trials. It is being tested in three different doses every 12 hours for five days in patients with SARS-CoV-2.

 

Findings published in Nat. Microbiology (Dec. 3, 2020):

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-020-00835-2

Read the full article at: www.entrepreneur.com

A team of researchers from Duke University, the University of the Witwatersrand and Hunter College has found that elephants have the highest volume of daily water loss ever recorded in a land animal. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes experiments they conducted with captive elephants to measure how much water they lose.

 

Many animals, such as humans, keep cool in hot weather by perspiring—as sweat evaporates, the skin is cooled down. Other animals, such as dogs, keep cool by panting—and still others, such as elephants, have large organs that work as a cooling system—their ears keep them cool when it is hot. Elephants have sweat glands, as well, but they are small and located in their feet, near their cuticles. Elephants are also known to drink an enormous amount of water—hundreds of liters every day. Such huge amounts of water help to keep elephants cool by its presence in the body, but it is also needed to break down the huge amounts of food that elephants eat—and because their digestion process is so inefficient, they defecate from 12 to 15 times a day. Elephants also lose a lot of water through urinating, as well.

 

Read the full article at: phys.org

A new study, led by U.S. National Science Foundation-funded researchers at the University of California, Irvine, has deepened the understanding of epigenetic mechanisms in tumorigenesis and revealed a previously undetected repertoire of cancer driver genes. The results were published in Science Advances.

 

Using a new prediction algorithm, called DORGE (Discovery of Oncogenes and tumor suppressoR genes using Genetic and Epigenetic features), researchers were able to identify novel tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and oncogenes (OGs), particularly those with rare mutations, by integrating the most comprehensive collection of genetic and epigenetic data.

 

“Existing bioinformatic algorithms do not sufficiently leverage epigenetic features to predict cancer driver genes, despite the fact that epigenetic alterations are known to be associated with cancer driver genes,” said Wei Li, senior author of the study. “Our computational algorithm integrates public data on epigenetic and genetic alternations to improve the prediction of cancer driver genes.”

 

Cancer results from an accumulation of key genetic alterations that disrupt the balance between cell division and apoptosis. Genes with “driver” mutations that affect cancer progression are known as cancer driver genes and can be classified as TSGs and oncogenes OGs based on their roles in cancer progression. This study demonstrated that cancer driver genes, predicted by DORGE, included both known cancer driver genes and novel driver genes not reported in current literature. In addition, researchers found that the novel dual-functional genes, which DORGE predicted as both TSGs and OGs, are highly enriched at hubs in protein-protein interaction and drug/compound-gene networks.

 

“Our DORGE algorithm successfully leveraged public data to discover the genetic and epigenetic alterations that play significant roles in cancer driver gene dysregulation,” explained Li. “These findings could be instrumental in improving cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment efforts in the future.”

Read the full article at: www.nsf.gov

Samsung Electronics recently stated that it anticipates mass commercialization of sixth-generation (6G) services by 2030. It is projected that the 6G standard network could start as early as 2028 with mass commercialization of the system taking place in 2030, as stated in its publication entitled “The Next Hyper-Connected Experience for All.”

Choi Sung-Hyun, head of the Advanced Communications Research Center at Samsung Research, said that the period it takes to start preparing for 6G research and commercialization would be approximate ten years. South Korea seeks to attain the first implementation and commercialization of 6G mobile telecommunication worldwide by 2028. The country has an excellent track record and was the first to launch a 5G network commercially in April 2019. In line with this, Samsung assembled a research team for developing 6G technologies, which would ensure an advantage in the marketplace. The advancement of 5G into 6G would usher a new era of mobile technology.

Read the full article at: www.koreatechtoday.com

If songbirds could appear on “The Masked Singer” reality TV competition, zebra finches would likely steal the show. That’s because they can rapidly memorize the signature sounds of at least 50 different members of their flock, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

In recent findings published in the journal Science Advances, these boisterous, red-beaked songbirds, known as zebra finches, have been shown to pick one another out of a crowd (or flock) based on a particular peer’s distinct song or contact call. Like humans who can instantly tell which friend or relative is calling by the timbre of the person’s voice, zebra finches have a near-human capacity for language mapping. Moreover, they can remember each other’s unique vocalizations for months and perhaps longer, the findings suggest.

 

“The amazing auditory memory of zebra finches shows that birds’ brains are highly adapted for sophisticated social communication,” said study lead author Frederic Theunissen, a UC Berkeley professor of psychology, integrative biology and neuroscience. Theunissen and fellow researchers sought to gauge the scope and magnitude of zebra finches’ ability to identify their feathered peers based purely on their unique sounds. As a result, they found that the birds, which mate for life, performed even better than anticipated.

 

“For animals, the ability to recognize the source and meaning of a cohort member’s call requires complex mapping skills, and this is something zebra finches have clearly mastered,” Theunissen said.

A pioneer in the study of bird and human auditory communication for at least two decades, Theunissen acquired a fascination and admiration for the communication skills of zebra finches through his collaboration with UC Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Julie Elie, a neuroethologist who has studied zebra finches in the forests of their native Australia. Their teamwork yielded groundbreaking findings about the communication skills of zebra finches.

 

Zebra finches usually travel around in colonies of 50 to 100 birds, flying apart and then coming back together. Their songs are typically mating calls, while their distance or contact calls are used to identify where they are, or to locate one another. “They have what we call a ‘fusion fission’ society, where they split up and then come back together,” Theunissen said. “They don’t want to separate from the flock, and so, if one of them gets lost, they might call out ‘Hey, Ted, we’re right here.’ Or, if one of them is sitting in a nest while the other is foraging, one might call out to ask if it’s safe to return to the nest.”

Read the full article at: www.sciencedaily.com

With help from computer algorithms, researchers designed proteins from scratch that can trounce the coronavirus in lab animals.

Using computational tools, a team of researchers at the University of Washington designed and built from scratch a molecule that, when pitted against the coronavirus in the lab, can attack and sequester it at least as well as an antibody does. When spritzed up the noses of mice and hamsters, it also appears to protect animals from becoming seriously sick.

Read the full article at: www.nytimes.com

An artificial intelligence model can detect people who are asymptomatic with Covid-19, through cellphone-recorded coughs. The work was led by Brian Subirana and colleagues at the MIT Auto-ID Lab.

 

Asymptomatic people who are infected with Covid-19 exhibit, by definition, no discernible physical symptoms of the disease. They are thus less likely to seek out testing for the virus, and could unknowingly spread the infection to others. But it seems those who are asymptomatic may not be entirely free of changes wrought by the virus. MIT researchers have now found that people who are asymptomatic may differ from healthy individuals in the way that they cough. These differences are not decipherable to the human ear. But it turns out that they can be picked up by artificial intelligence.

 

In a paper published recently in the IEEE Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology, the team reports on an AI model that distinguishes asymptomatic people from healthy individuals through forced-cough recordings, which people voluntarily submitted through web browsers and devices such as cellphones and laptops. The researchers trained the model on tens of thousands of samples of coughs, as well as spoken words. When they fed the model new cough recordings, it accurately identified 98.5 percent of coughs from people who were confirmed to have Covid-19, including 100 percent of coughs from asymptomatics — who reported they did not have symptoms but had tested positive for the virus.

 

The team is now working on incorporating the model into a user-friendly app, which if FDA-approved and adopted on a large scale could potentially be a free, convenient, noninvasive prescreening tool to identify people who are likely to be asymptomatic for Covid-19. A user could log in daily, cough into their phone, and instantly get information on whether they might be infected and therefore should confirm with a formal test. “The effective implementation of this group diagnostic tool could diminish the spread of the pandemic if everyone uses it before going to a classroom, a factory, or a restaurant,” says co-author Brian Subirana, a research scientist in MIT’s Auto-ID Laboratory.

Read the full article at: news.mit.edu

A mysterious object resembling the freestanding plank sculptures of the late Minimalist artist John McCracken—or the alien-built monoliths in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic 2001: A Space Odyssey—has been discovered in a remote area of the Utah desert, prompting theories ranging from extraterrestrial visitation to avant-garde installation.

Biologists of the Utah Division of Wildlife spotted the monolith from a helicopter while conducting a routine count of bighorn sheep in the area. The location of the monolith has not been disclosed, but aerial footage showing the object installed within a red rock canyon suggests that it lives somewhere in southern Utah, which has a distinct topological landscape.

According to Bret Hutchings, the pilot of the helicopter, the monolith, which appears to be made from steel or metal, is between 10 and 12 ft tall and was likely installed on the site rather than dropped from above by celestial visitors. “I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings told KSL news.

No artist has come forth to claim credit for the monolith yet, and David Zwirner, which represents McCracken, did not respond to a request for comment at the time of this writing. There is no known record of the artist’s work installed in the Utah desert, although McCracken did live in-between nearby northern New Mexico and New York until his death in 2011.

The wilderness of the Southwestern US has a rich and storied history of Land Art and especially for works that retain their magic and mystery by being largely inaccessible or challenging to locate, from Robert Smithson’s 1970 magnum opus Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake to Michael Heizer’s 1969 Double Negative near the Utah border in Nevada.

Read the full article at: www.theartnewspaper.com