Looking for lessons in cancer’s ‘miracle’ responders

  • Cancer Cells

Nearly every oncologist can tell the story of cancer patients who beat the odds, responding so well to treatment that they continued to live many years disease-free, while most of their peers worsened and eventually died.

Dr. David Solit decided to find out why.

Solit, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, delved into the case of a woman with advanced bladder cancer who volunteered for a 45-patient study of the Novartis drug Afinitor. He discovered that a combination of two gene mutations made her particularly receptive to the treatment.

“Every other patient died, but she’s without evidence of disease for more than three years now,” said Solit.

Over the past century, such patients – sometimes called “outliers” or “super responders” – have stood out by staging remarkable recoveries, or long-term benefit, from cancer drugs that provide little or no help to others. Little heed has been paid to them because there was no way to know why they fared so well. In most cases, the drugs that helped them were abandoned because they helped too few patients.

Now, armed with huge advances in genetic sequencing technology and growing knowledge of the genetic underpinnings of cancer, a handful of top academic centers are taking a new look at outlier patients. The research may lead to new uses for well-known treatments as it becomes clearer why particular patients respond so well, or even revive drugs left for dead if the right patient population for the treatment can be identified.

“These experiences have always been out there, where somebody’s grandmother was told she had two months to live and they tried something and she bounced back,” said Dr. Bill Hahn, an oncologist with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “But nobody ever understood why grandma responded in such a really amazing way.”

The Bethesda, Maryland-based National Cancer Institute (NCI) and academic researchers it sponsors have just launched “super responder” initiatives to match patients having little-known gene mutations to drugs already shown to help others with the same mutations, even if their tumors are for a variety of organs.

New York’s Sloan-Kettering, prompted largely by Solit’s research, aims to create an “outlier” clinic devoted to explaining exceptional responses. Other projects are underway at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center and Boston’s Dana-Farber.

Drugmakers are cautious, if only because they are sufficiently busy trying to develop new medicines against some 300 identified cancer gene mutations. With the priority on developing drugs that will help large numbers of patients, they are reluctant, at least for now, to look backward to salvage failed drug studies.

“We’ve tried to develop our drugs very specifically so we actually develop the drug for the right population of patients” in the first place, said Sandra Horning, a senior oncology executive at Roche’s Genentech unit.

But Harold Varmus, director of the NCI, says drugmakers stand to benefit hugely from outlier research.

“(Drugmakers) are struggling now,” Varmus said. “They know there’s a lot of genetic damage in tumors, but they don’t know which kind of genetic damage represents the best target for developing new drugs.”


Fueling the research is new technology that has brought the cost of sequencing the human genome down from tens of millions of dollars to about $5,000. The cost of such analysis is expected to drop to as little as $1,000 in the next few years.

“It will be cheaper to do your whole genome sequencing than to get an MRI scan,” said Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. “When that happens, identifying whether a mutation is making you an exceptional responder will be much easier.”

Austin expects special-responder research will eventually link individual gene mutations to totally different ailments beyond cancer, allowing drugmakers to broaden the use of their medicines.

A tumor sample from Solit’s patient underwent whole genome sequencing – meaning all genes within it were analyzed for mutations, or variations, in the repeat stretches of compounds called bases that make up the genetic code.

“She had 17,000 mutations in her tumor that were not found in her normal cells,” Solit said. After months of analyzing 140 mutations that were considered suspects, two of them – genes named TSC1 and NF2 – stood out.

“It was like, ‘Wow,’ that’s why the patient was unique, and why even though Afinitor was generally disappointing in the bladder cancer trial, it was the right drug for her,” Solit said. “It was the combination of both mutations that probably led to her complete response,” especially the TSC1 mutation.

Zeroing in on the two genes – among more than 20,000 human genes that make proteins – would not have been possible even five years ago, Solit said. “Maybe we would have looked at one gene and if that didn’t show anything we’d look at another. Now we can sequence the entire genome and look at every gene, every needle in the haystack, at the same time.”

By linking the TSC1 mutation to bladder cancer, Solit has discovered a new “biomarker,” or suspected link, to the disease, while simultaneously identifying a possible appropriate drug for patients with any type of cancer who have that mutation.

The next step, he said, is to develop a diagnostic test for the TSC1 mutation and use it to screen patients being treated at his hospital for all varieties of cancer.

“We hope by year’s end to be routinely doing TSC1 testing on large numbers of patients,” Solit said. “The mutation could be important across tumor types.”

Once a small group of patients with the mutation is identified, they would all be treated with Afinitor – which is now approved for cancers of the breast, kidney and pancreas – regardless of the type of cancer.

“If I was sitting in a pharmaceutical firm and I read about David Solit’s case, I would say, ‘Gee, this is a remarkable change: the mutations that can be found are reasonable targets for developing drugs,'” the NCI’s Varmus said.


Hundreds of drugs have been abandoned over the years after failing clinical trials, although many had their own exceptional responders.

Some of those drugs could be resurrected, and newer ones could be saved, if the genetic links are established, Solit said. He sees Roche’s Avastin as a candidate for study for new, or more targeted, uses as well.

With annual sales of more than $6 billion, Avastin is approved to treat cancers of the colon, lung and kidney.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late 2011 withdrew its approval of Avastin for breast cancer, three years after clearing it for the condition. Subsequent research showed the drug was not effective enough to justify its risks, even though some women had strong responses to the medicine.

Philippe Bishop, a senior research executive at Roche’s Genentech unit, said exceptional responses have been seen in patients taking Avastin for breast cancer and other cancers, but no specific genetic reason has been identified.

To get a clearer picture, the company last year started an online study called Invite, in which patients who have taken Avastin are asked to donate a saliva sample for genetic analysis, and to complete a survey that can help assess whether they had an exceptional response to Avastin.

“We’re trying to correlate what makes them unique and maybe what part of their genetic makeup makes them do so well,” Bishop said, adding that exceptional response would be defined as being alive for a long time without their disease getting worse.

MD Anderson, meanwhile, is encouraging its doctors to submit tumor samples from exceptional responders in past drug trials for a detailed genetic analysis.

“We’re looking at data from several dozen trials in a variety of cancers,” said senior researcher Dr. Funda Meric-Bernstam.

She noted exceptional responders also include patients who fare exceptionally poorly in trials, in terms of side effects or development of drug resistance. “They are the flip side of the coin, so we want to know why their tumor outsmarted the drug.” That information could help in designing drugs that sidestep side effects and produce more-prolonged benefit.

Novartis, like Genentech and other drugmakers, designs its cancer studies around patients with a single pre-identified cancer-gene mutation.

But research chief Mark Fishman said the Swiss drugmaker has also begun routinely sequencing tumors of the patients for another 300 known cancer-gene mutations before they enter early-stage studies, an extra step that could help explain eventual exceptional responses to its drugs.

“In any given patient, if we analyze only one gene we may not have a complete enough picture of the cancer because sometimes you have a time bomb sitting in another gene,” Fishman said. Such interaction of cancer genes is a main reason drugs no longer work – why the cancer recurs – after an initial period of effectiveness from a drug, he said.

Dana-Farber’s Hahn said he knows of no trials that have pulled together patients having the same gene mutation as one already tied to a special response to a given drug. But Dana-Farber, the NCI and Sloan-Kettering have such studies on their drawing boards, he said.

The research centers will have to work together nationally and overseas to find patients with the shared mutations, Hahn said. “Even if there are only one or two in individual hospitals, you can put them together and do a trial that has a reasonable number of patients.”

An NCI initiative is attempting to recover tumor samples from exceptional responders in up to 200 U.S. drug trials it has supported. It will sequence them to find “actionable mutations” that can be targeted for improved treatment.

“This is an incredibly promising opportunity,” Varmus said, “for us to take advantage of our new skills and analyze what’s really wrong with the cancer cell, and figure out if we have some ways to destroy that cell.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/16/looking-for-lessons-in-cancer-miracle-responders/?intcmp=features#ixzz2f7lpaEcu

Lobsters may be the answer to immortality

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    A young lobster is seen on Friendship Long Island, Maine. Scientists have now figured out where the growth rings are to determine the age of a lobster. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Scientists say they may have found the key to eternal life in an unexpected creature – lobsters.

Research shows the crustaceans possess an enzyme called telomerase, which makes them ‘biologically immortal.’ Growing older doesn’t raise their chance of death, The Sun reported.

In other living creatures, strands of DNA get shorter as cells replicate and die, and they eventually become too badly damaged to copy new cells.

But in lobsters, telomerase prevents DNA strands from shortening, allowing perfect cells to replicate again and again, according to biologist Simon Watts, founder of ReadySteadyScience.com.

The average lobster weighs under 2 pounds, but near the coast of Maine in 2009, fishermen caught a lobster that weighed 19 pounds, meaning the creature was approximately 140 years old.

Medical experts hope further studies about telomerase will help discover new ways to increase lifespan and prevent cancer.

Click for more from The Sun.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/12/lobsters-may-be-answer-to-immortality/?intcmp=obnetwork#ixzz2f1s3MaGr

Ethiopian farmer claims he is 160 years old

  • 160 Year Old Man.jpg

    Ethiopian farmer Dhaqabo Ebba claims to be a staggering 160 years old, which would make him the world’s oldest living man. (news.com.au)

Many people won’t be aware of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1895, but one man doesn’t just know about the battle – he claims to have lived through it.

Retired farmer Dhaqabo Ebba, from Ethiopia, says he is a staggering 160 years old, which would make him the world’s oldest living man.

He claims to have clear memories of Italy’s invasion of his country in the 19th century. However, there is no birth certificate to prove his age.

In a statement to Oromiya TV, he provided so much detail on the history of his local area that reporter Mohammed Ademo became convinced that Mr Ebba must be at least 160 years old.

This would make him 46 years older than the oldest ever recorded man.

“When Italy invaded Ethiopia I had two wives, and my son was old enough to herd cattle,”said Ebba.

He then recounted his eight-day horseback rides to Addis Ababa as a child – a journey that takes only a few hours today.

As Ebba grew up in an oral society, there is no paper trail and no living witnesses to verify his age.

However, if his claim can be medically confirmed, he would oust 115-year-old Misao Okawa, who is currently recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest living person.

Click for more from news.com.au.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/12/ethiopian-farmer-claims-is-160-years-old/#ixzz2ejsl1AFi

‘Sixth sense’ exists in brain, scientist says

  • brain power

Telepathy? Psychokinesis? Mind-reading? Nope.

The brain does have a “sixth sense” beyond taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing, researchers say, but it’s nothing worthy of the X-Men.

According to Utrech University’s Benjamin Harvey, a sixth part of the human brain works topographically, as do the five sections associated with senses, to map numbers in our brains and count items in the world at large, a concept referred to as “numerosity.”

“We use symbolic numbers to represent numerosity and other aspects of magnitude, but the symbol itself is only a representation,” Harvey said in a press release announcing the news.

To uncover this “sixth sense,” Harvey and his colleagues asked eight adult study participants to look at patterns of dots that varied in number over time, all the while analyzing the neural response in their brains.

Their efforts revealed a topographical layout of numerosity in the human brain; the small quantities of dots the participants observed were encoded by neurons in one part of the brain, and the larger quantities, in another. This finding demonstrates that topography can emerge not just for lower-level cognitive functions, like the primary senses, but for higher-level cognitive functions, too.

“We are very excited that association cortex can produce emergent topographic structures,” Harvey said.

“We believe this will lead to a much more complete understanding of humans’ unique numerical and mathematical skills,” Harvey said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/09/09/sixth-sense-exists-in-brain-scientist-says/?intcmp=features#ixzz2eYWSc3oN

12-year-old draws attention to colon cancer gene


As the school year begins, most middle school students are focused on scoring new clothes, notebooks and a cool backpack. But 12-year-old Ansleigh Adkins has a more serious topic on her mind: colon cancer.

Ansleigh recently found out that she carries a hereditary gene – shared by her late aunt and father – that puts her at a higher risk for developing the disease.

“Her family has a known history of colon cancer and a syndrome called familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP,” said Dr. Matthew Kalady, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

FAP is a rare genetic syndrome that causes polyps to form in the colon at a young age. If left untreated, doctors say it is certain that patients will go on to develop colon cancer.

“Ansleigh had over thousands of polyps in her colon,” Kalady said. “Her colon is about 3 feet long, and when you think about all the polyps in there, there’s very little spots of normal lining of the colon.”

As a result of her diagnosis, Ansleigh had her entire colon removed through a two-inch incision during surgery at Cleveland Clinic. The procedure will help lower her risk of cancer, and Ansleigh hopes that her experience will encourage others to pay attention to their family history and get screened as well.

“You want to make sure you’re healthy and everything,” Ansleigh said. “You don’t want to be sick your whole life.”

For more information on Cleveland Clinic, visit Clevelandclinic.org.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/09/08/12-year-old-draws-attention-to-colon-cancer-gene/?intcmp=features#ixzz2eYVXmqhw

What’s the $6 Million Dollar Man worth today?

  • six million dollar man.jpg

    The title screen from “The Six Million Dollar Man,” a popular TV series from the 1970s. (ABC)

The “Four Hundred Grand Guy” doesn’t have the same ring.

In the popular TV show “The $6 Million Man,” Lee Majors plays former astronaut Steve Austin, whose broken body must be rebuilt with bionic implants following a crash. In its famous opening sequence, a narrator explains how “technology can help,” overlaying scenes of Austin lifting hundreds of pounds and racing at 60 miles per hour.

“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster,” the narrator intones.

In today’s dollars, Steve Austin would have been worth $31.5 million rather than $6 million. But today’s superman would cost more like $460,000, thanks to advances in science and technology that won’t offer superspeed and ultravision but can at least replicate some basic functionality for the injured — and that’s amazing in itself.

Bionic Legs, Cost: $115,000
“In ‘$6 Mil,’ they ran my behind off,” Majors told FoxNews.com Wednesday. That’s thanks to bionic legs that let him run at tremendous speeds in the TV show.

Real science has made leaps and bounds in bionic limbs, with several companies selling prosthetics that let amputees walk and even run again. Double leg amputee Oscar Pistorius won gold medals at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, for example, thanks to Flex-Foot Cheetah replacement feet from Ossur. Each Ossur blade costs between $15,000 and $18,000.

Then there’s the wearable exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics. Developed by the military to allow soldiers to carry heavy weights long distances, the computer-controlled, battery-driven, 48-pound frame straps around a limb; you can move it forward by simply pushing your arms.

This real life “Iron Man” uses two lithium batteries, motors, computer chips and a hand-operated console. It’s available at 30 hospitals around the country so far, and costs up to $140,000. While it won’t allow anyone to run like Steve Austin, for a wounded warrior, regaining motility is remarkable in itself.

The most advanced bionic limb comes from Otto Bock. Called the Genium X3, it’s a carbon-fiber, microprocessor-controlled “intelligent” prosthetic with integrated gyroscopes and acceleration sensors.

“The X3 is the first certified waterproof knee in the world,” Bill Sampson, who runs Sampsons’s Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab in Schenectady, NY, told FoxNews.com. “We’re in the process of fitting a patient here with the X3 right now.” The world’s most advanced replacement leg sells for $115,000, he said.

Bionic Arms, Cost: $200,000 (est.)
Austin’s incredible bionic arm is shown lifting 150 pounds or more in the opening sequence.

We’re not quite there yet, but researchers are doing some amazing work. For example, the Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program from DARPA, the Pentagon’s advanced research group, has been working on direct, reliable connections between prosthetic limbs and the brain, spinal cord, and neurons in replacement limbs.

That’s just a research dream at present. But real-world work from a related group at The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago allows an amputee to actually feel what they are touching with a prosthetic hand. The technique involves rerouting nerves that once led to a missing limb to other muscles instead. A standard prosthetic costs upwards of $150,000, said Gregory Dumanian, who co-developed the targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) technique. These bionic arms, when available to the public would increase the cost, he told ABCNews recently — call it $200,000.

Bionic Eyes, Cost: $145,000
Steve Austin wore a bionic eye with a zoom lens and night vision, as well as other high tech capabilities like infrared filters. Such technology remains in the realm of science fiction, although some advances have made progress toward restoring sight.

The Alpha IMS from German company Retinal Implant AG is connected directly to the brain via 1,500 electrodes and is essentially a self-contained bionic eye, as opposed to other models that require external processing — essentially making the user wear a computer around. Tested in January, the high-resolution device allowed four of nine test subjects to read letters and essentially regain “visual functions useful for daily life.”

That product is still in testing in Europe. But the Argus II from Second Sight is approved for use in the U.S for treatment of a rare condition called retinitis pigmentosa. The Argus II bypasses the rods and cones in the eye and sends its own electrical signal through the retina to the brain via the optic nerve.

Duke University is one of 12 centers around the country offering the device, beginning this month. For each Argus II, Duke pays $145,000.

“Retinitis pigmentosa is a condition we have no treatment for,” said Dr. Paul Hahn, a retinal ophthalmologist and surgeon at Duke. “To finally have something that we can say, ‘We can try this,’ gives patients hope.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/08/28/whats-6-million-dollar-man-worth-today/?intcmp=features#ixzz2dzB9t5E1

Transparent artificial muscle plays music

Discovery News
  • musclemusicplayer.jpg

    Jeong-Yun Sun (left) and Christoph Keplinger (right) demonstrate their transparent ionic speaker. (Eliza Grinnell/SEAS Communications)

It’s a tall order: make a material that conducts electricity, stretches like rubber, expands and contracts when hit with electric current, and is clear as glass. There have been many attempts, but they’ve all fallen short.

Now a Harvard University team has done it by combining a transparent hydrogel with a conductive polymer that behaves like a motor. The work could lead to artificial muscles, transparent loudspeakers and power sources that generate electricity when squeezed or stretched.

The study, led by Zhigang Suo, professor of mechanics and materials, appears in this week’s journal Science.

“Suo and his team combined, in a very clever way, two known things,” said John Rogers, a materials science professor at the University of Illinois, who has done extensive work on flexible, implantable devices. “The result — a transparent, artificial muscle — is something that is new, and potentially important as a technology for noise cancelling windows, haptic display interfaces, tunable optics and others.” Rogers was not involved in this study.

RELATED: New Material Gets Bigger When Squeezed

Stretchable electronics have been made with networks of ultra-thin metal wires, embedding stiff conductive “islands” of electronic components in stretchable sheets, or by using carbon nanotubes. Some research teams have tried mixing polymers with metals. But none of these approaches has been ideal. They are not as flexible or conductive as materials scientists would like.

The Harvard team managed to make a conducting material that stretches as much as good rubber, up to five times its length.

To make the hydrogel, Suo and his colleagues combined a chemical called polyacrylamide with salt water. In the mixture, the polyacrylamide molecules formed a lattice, and the salt ions, which conduct electricity, occupied the open spaces. One surprise was the conductivity — it was about as good as a typical touch screen. “Typically an ionic conductor like this is several orders of magnitude lower. They were written off as viable conductors,” Suo said.

Next, they put a thin layer of the hydrogel, just 100 microns, on both sides of a piece of elastic adhesive mounting tape.

Essentially what they created was a three-layer “sandwich,” with the tape serving as an insulating material sandwiched between the two conducting layers of hydrogel. Next, the researchers attached a copper electrode to each end of the sandwich.

When they ran a current through the electrodes, the sheet expanded and contracted, depending on how much voltage was applied.

RELATED: Device Mimics Human Muscle Size, Strength

This is just the way muscles work; an electrical signal from the nervous system goes to a muscle and causes it to contract or expand. And it’s also how speakers make sound. In both cases, current is causing the material to change shape.

In one experiment the scientists attached the other end of the electrodes to a music player and added a current. The rubber sheet vibrated, just like a speaker diaphragm.

If the polymer sheet was squeezed or stretched, either by pinching it or when it vibrated in response to sound, it also generated a small current — just like some types of condenser or ribbon microphones do.

Suo suggested that the transparent sheet could work as an active noise-cancelling layer on windows. The vibrations from loud noises would make the hydrogel generate an electric current, which could be be used to produce another signal to cancel out the sound.

“We’re all, evidently, excited about the possibilities,” Rogers said.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/08/30/transparent-artificial-muscle-plays-music/#ixzz2dz9opor3

Scientists grow replicas of ‘mini human brains’ from stem cells

  • Stem cells istock.jpg

Scientists have grown the first mini human brains in a laboratory and say their success could lead to new levels of understanding about the way brains develop and what goes wrong in disorders like schizophrenia and autism.

Researchers based in Austria started with human stem cells and created a culture in the lab that allowed them to grow into so-called “cerebral organoids” – or mini brains – that consisted of several distinct brain regions.

It is the first time that scientists have managed to replicate the development of brain tissue in three dimensions.

Using the organoids, the scientists were then able to produce a biological model of how a rare brain condition called microcephaly develops – suggesting the same technique could in future be used to model disorders like autism or schizophrenia that affect millions of people around the world.

“This study offers the promise of a major new tool for understanding the causes of major developmental disorders of the brain … as well as testing possible treatments,” said Paul Matthews, a professor of clinical neuroscience at Imperial College London, who was not involved in the research but was impressed with its results.

Zameel Cader, a consultant neurologist at Britain’s John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, described the work as “fascinating and exciting”. He said it extended the possibility of stem cell technologies for understanding brain development and disease mechanisms – and for discovering new drugs.

Although it starts as relatively simple tissue, the human brain swiftly develops into the most complex known natural structure, and scientists are largely in the dark about how that happens.

This makes it extremely difficult for researchers to gain an understanding of what might be going wrong in – and therefore how to treat – many common disorders of the brain such as depression, schizophrenia and autism.

Growing stem cells

To create their brain tissue, Juergen Knoblich and Madeline Lancaster at Austria’s Institute of Molecular Biotechnology and fellow researchers at Britain’s Edinburgh University Human Genetics Unit began with human stem cells and grew them with a special combination of nutrients designed to capitalize on the cells’ innate ability to organize into complex organ structures.

They grew tissue called neuroectoderm – the layer of cells in the embryo from which all components of the brain and nervous system develop.

Fragments of this tissue were then embedded in a scaffold and put into a spinning bioreactor – a system that circulates oxygen and nutrients to allow them to grow into cerebral organoids.

After a month, the fragments had organized themselves into primitive structures that could be recognized as developing brain regions such as retina, choroid plexus and cerebral cortex, the researchers explained in a telephone briefing.

At two months, the organoids reached a maximum size of around 4 millimeters (0.16 inches), they said. Although they were very small and still a long way from resembling anything like the detailed structure of a fully developed human brain, they did contain firing neurons and distinct types of neural tissue.

“This is one of the cases where size doesn’t really matter,” Knoblich told reporters.

“Our system is not optimized for generation of an entire brain and that was not at all our goal. Our major goal was to analyze the development of human brain (tissue) and generate a model system we can use to transfer knowledge from animal models to a human setting.”

In an early sign of how such mini brains may be useful for studying disease in the future, Knoblich’s team were able to use their organoids to model the development of microcephaly, a rare neurological condition in which patients develop an abnormally small head, and identify what causes it.

Both the research team and other experts acknowledged, however, that the work was a very long way from growing a fully-functioning human brain in a laboratory.

“The human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe and has a frighteningly elaborate number of connections and interactions, both between its numerous subdivisions and the body in general,” said Dean Burnett, lecturer in psychiatry at Cardiff University.

“Saying you can replicate the workings of the brain with some tissue in a dish in the lab is like inventing the first abacus and saying you can use it to run the latest version of Microsoft Windows – there is a connection there, but we’re a long way from that sort of application yet.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/08/28/scientists-grow-mini-human-brains-from-stem-cells/?intcmp=obnetwork#ixzz2dQ68CTiN

What did this man put in his hand?

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    A tattoo artist implants a small RDIF chip into a man’s hand. (animalnewyork/Youtube)

From cartoon characters to celebrities faces and misspelled sayings, there are some strange tattoos out there. But one man may have made it to the top of the list.

Artist Anthony Antonellis barely winced as a Brooklyn body modification specialist cut open the skin between his thumb and index finger with a 0.75 inch blade and inserted a small RFID chip.

The RFID chip is the size of a grain of sand and was encased inside of a glass capsule before being placed under Antonellis’ flesh.

“I Eternal Sunshine‘d that entire hour of my life,” Antonellis told Animal New York who filmed the procedure.

So why did Antonellis go through 30 minutes of pain to have a chip inserted in his hand that is completely invisible from the outside?

The chip stores 1KB of data and contains information for a GIF that is readable by cell phones.

Photo of Routeburn Flats, on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

“Think of it as a changeable, digital net art tattoo vs. fixed information,” Antonellis said.

The GIF is of pixelated rainbow colors and appears on screen when a compatible smartphone is held two centimeters from the chip.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/08/28/what-did-this-man-put-in-his-hand/?intcmp=features#ixzz2dQ5hXf1F

Researchers control each others’ body movements using only their brains

  • TMS1.JPG

    Andrea Stocoo, or subject 2 (the “Receiver”) with his right hand resting slightly above the “fire” key on the keyboard. The screen behind the subject shows the Sender’s game screen which is not seen by the Receiver. (University of Washington)

There’s still no cure for the common cold, but soon we may be able to control each others’ body movements.

Researchers at the University of Washington have successfully completed an experiment where one researcher was able to send a brain signal over the Internet to control the hand movements of his colleague.

“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” experiment participant and researcher Andrea Stocco told ScienceNewsDaily. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”

Stocco and fellow researcher Rajesh Rao donned swim caps with electrodes hooked up to an electroencephalography machine that reads electrical activity in the brain. The two men sat in separate labs and a Skype connection was set up so they could communicate during the experiment, although Rao and Stocco could not see each other.

Rao sat before a computer screen and played a video game using only his mind. When he wanted to fire a cannon, he imagined moving his hand to hit the “fire” button without actually moving any part of his body.

Almost simultaneously, Stocco involuntarily moved his hand to push the space bar on his keyboard as though to hit the “fire” button.

“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.”

Stocco likened the feeling of having Rao move his finger through thought to that of a twitch.

“I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” assistant professor in psychology at the UW’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and Stocco’s wife Chantel Prat said. “There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.”

The University of Washington experiment sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Stocco jokingly likened the results to the “Vulcan mind meld.”

Stocco explains that should they continue to be successful in their research, it could eventually result in helping a flight attendant land a plane should the pilot become incapacitated.

Watch the experiment below:

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/08/28/researchers-control-each-other-body-movements-using-only-their-brains/?intcmp=features#ixzz2dQ5EtxBh