Mimicking birdsongs

first_imgResearchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a simple device that mimics complex birdsongs. The device uses air blown through a stretched rubber tube to re-create birdsongs found in nature, including those of zebra and Bengalese finches. It was developed by L. Mahadevan and his lab group. Mahadevan is the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, of organismic and evolutionary biology, and of physics.The group found that the inherent complexity in bird songs might actually be the result of a simple, controllable instability in the structure of the specialized organ used to create song, known as a syrinx. Their research suggests that birds may have harnessed the physical properties of a soft material to produce and control their songs; thus, evolution may have found simpler ways to create complex behaviors.The research was published recently in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, and was co-authored by Aryesh Mukherjee and Shreyas Mandre, both former group members of the lab.  Mahadevan is also a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.Engineering birdsongsSEAS researchers developed a simple device that mimics complex birdsongs.last_img read more

Hitchhiking his way to better drug delivery

first_imgWhen Samir Mitragotri entered the University of Mumbai as an undergraduate in the late 1980s, there was only one academic option for students in the technology track: chemical engineering.“None of us really knew what chemical engineering was when we chose to study it, and I was pretty sure I was going to end up working at a petrochemical company,” he says. But when he decided to continue his studies with a Ph.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he discovered something that would forever change his life: biology. “It was really mind-opening, the idea that engineers have a place in biology, and that there are biological problems that can be addressed by engineers in a unique way.”Today Mitragotri is, appropriately, the Hiller Professor of Bioengineering and Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Wyss Institute and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.“My lab likes to exist at the interface, or boundary, between different disciplines. Over the years I’ve realized many interesting opportunities exist at interfaces that are hard to imagine or know about if you’re working exclusively within the confines of one field. Sometimes there’s a solution waiting for a problem, or a problem waiting for a solution, and those are best matched at that interface,” he says. Given his natural affinity for edges and boundaries, it is fitting that his research centers around biological barriers.A macrophage, or white blood cell, can carry a nanoparticle “backpack” (purple) deep into tissues to target specific sites of injury and disease. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard UniversityBiological barriers exist at multiple levels in our bodies. The outermost barrier is our skin, which keeps precious moisture (and all of our innards) in and harmful foreign invaders, from viruses to insects to the sun, out. Inside the body, the junctions between the cells that make up our arteries, veins, and capillaries form a barrier that keeps our blood flowing through our vessels rather than seeping everywhere. Our stomachs are filled with acid that kills and dissolves pathogens in our food. And our immune systems function like police forces that recognize, seek out, and destroy harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and even cancer cells. Understanding how these different kinds of barriers work, and how to potentially control the flow of molecules across them, is what gets Mitragotri out of bed in the morning.“We engineers do things in biology that are very different from what biologists generally do. Some of that might be creativity, some of it may be ignorance,” he says, with a laugh. “While biology has traditionally been about observing how things behave in nature, I tell my students that the best way to learn about a barrier is to disrupt it and see how it responds. If we do this with all the barriers, that knowledge bank can form the basis for creating better drug delivery methods. If we know how far we can perturb a barrier without compromising it, that gives us a clue about how best to deliver a drug across it.”Many pharmaceutical drugs are small molecules taken orally as a pill or liquid, and are absorbed into the body through the gut. The drug landscape, however, is beginning to shift to biological products such as vaccines, gene therapies, and recombinant proteins, all of which would be destroyed by the stomach and must be injected directly. In attempting to bypass the barrier of the gut by injecting them into the blood, however, these drugs run into new enemies: the liver and the spleen, which together form a kind of dynamic barrier that keeps harmful substances out of the body.“These are the clearing organs; their capillaries are lined with macrophages that are always on the lookout for any foreign substances to get rid of,” explains Mitragotri. “They’re especially good at clearing nanoparticles. If you deliver a tumor-fighting drug encapsulated in nanoparticles to a patient via an IV, less than 1 percent of the drug will actually get to the tumor.”Samir Mitragotri is using the body’s own blood cells to deliver drugs to their targets more efficiently and safely. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard UniversityMotivated by this and other dire statistics, Mitragotri and his team set out to develop a system that could help prevent nanoparticles from being cleared from the blood before they get to their target tissues. They quickly realized that blood cells are naturally able to do all the things that they wanted nanoparticles to do: red blood cells can live for up to four months and travel through the liver once a minute without being cleared; macrophages (or white blood cells) can infiltrate deep into tissues and hone in on sites of inflammation (i.e., tumors); and platelets selectively bind to specific places within the vasculature when injury occurs. Could nanoparticles somehow harness these cells’ special abilities to avoid being cleared from the blood and deliver their drugs more effectively?Beginning more than a decade ago, Mitragotri and colleagues at University of California, Santa Barbara, attached nanoparticles to the red blood cells of rodents and reintroduced the cells into the rodents’ bloodstreams. Almost miraculously, the rodents’ macrophages ignored the nanoparticles and treated the red blood cells normally, allowing them to remain in the blood rather than being cleared by the liver. “That was the first victory,” Mitragotri recalls.Eventually, the nanoparticles disappeared from the circulating blood, but the red blood cells did not. “Where did the nanoparticles go? In recent studies in collaboration with researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, we figured out that they got squeezed off the red blood cells in the capillaries, which are smaller in diameter than the blood cells themselves,” says Mitragotri. When the red blood cells were squeezed through those capillaries, the nanoparticles sheared off and got deposited in whatever organ the capillaries happened to be in. By changing which blood vessel the red-blood-cell-bound nanoparticles were injected into, the researchers could ensure that the nanoparticles would end up in whatever organ was downstream of the injection site. When the researchers introduced the “hitchhiked” nanoparticles into the carotid arteries of mice, 10 percent of them ended up in the brain compared with 1 percent when injecting nanoparticles by themselves — a 10-fold increase in delivery efficiency.In his latest paper, published in Nature Communications, Mitragotri and colleagues demonstrated that this hitchhiking method works in multiple organs in mice and pigs, and in whole human lungs, where a full 41percent of the nanoparticles introduced into blood were deposited into the lung. “In this study,” the authors write, “we have advanced the original concept of red-blood-cell hitchhiking from a prototype with modest delivery in mice, to the brink of mapping out the clinical studies.”In addition to the many potential applications of attaching nanoparticles to red blood cells, Mitragotri’s lab is also investigating hitchhiking them onto monocytes, the cells that differentiate into the macrophages that actively fight diseases like cancer. “Monocytes will eat nanoparticles if you try to attach them directly, so we had to figure out how to overcome that problem,” says Mitragotri.“We discovered that monocytes care a lot about whether particles are round or disk-like, and hard or soft. It turns out they can’t internalize disk-shaped, soft nanoparticles, so that’s what we made.” The monocytes came after those nanoparticles with a vengeance, as expected, but then simply held them on their surfaces without engulfing them. When the researchers induced monocytes with these “backpacks” to cross an endothelial barrier mimicking a blood-vessel wall, the monocytes carried their backpacks along with them, providing an effective transport method for delivering drugs to their target tissues.Mitragotri and his colleagues are now using that strategy not only to deliver drugs to a target, but to control macrophages themselves. Macrophages change their physical shape and chemical processes in response to their environment — that’s partly why they’re such good defenders. But tumors have evolved a sneaky mechanism of turning macrophages “off” when they arrive to try to kill the tumor; thus, nearly 50 percent of a given tumor may be composed of dormant macrophages. “We think that with this method, we can deliver the right trigger to the macrophages so that they can be polarized to the right type for fighting different diseases,” says Mitragotri. “We’re still in the very early stages of that in the lab.”last_img read more

Veggies Prevent Cancer

first_img“A recent study showed that lycopene intake, almost entirely from tomato-based foods,was related to a lower risk of prostate cancer,” said Gail Hanula. Your mother told you to eat all your veggies. She was giving you better advice than sheknew. Hanula said betacarotene has had a lot of press, too. “It was the ‘wonder vitamin’ ofthe past few years,” she said. Betacarotene is the yellow-orange food pigment whichthe body converts into vitamin A. Studies have shown that people who eat at least five fruit and vegetable servings a dayhave clear benefits. They have lower rates of lung, prostate, bladder, esophageal andstomach cancers. That supports a theory on why Mediterranean people have lower cancer rates. Theirdiets have many tomato-rich dishes. Their diets are often lower in saturated fats andhigher in fiber than the typical American diets. Georgia farmers grow many crops known for their high carotenoid content. Extensionhorticulturist Terry Kelley said tomatoes, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and leafygreens grow well in south Georgia. “They’re nutrition bargains,” Hanula said. “A medium carrot has 30 calories andprovides enough vitamin A for two days.” “That way you’re likely to get all of the nutrients you need for good health,” she said.”And you get other substances which might protect against cancer.” “Diets high in fruits and vegetables decrease the risk of certain types of cancer,”Hanula said. “But exactly why isn’t known.” Tomatoes, oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes and winter squash have more carotenoidsthan white or light-colored veggies. Dark green and orange vegetables have more of thehelpful pigment than others. Don’t just eat the same fruit or veggie over and over, she said. Eat a variety. Vegetables are low in calories, rich in vitamins and high in fiber. Lycopene, she said, is just one of more than 500 carotenoid pigments found in fruitsand vegetables. It’s getting a lot of attention lately. New research links lycopene andother carotenoids with reduced cancer risk. Hanula is a nutrition and health specialist with the University of Georgia ExtensionService. Betacarotene supplements, though, haven’t been shown to decrease cancer risk. It maybe, Hanula said, that some other substance in betacarotene-rich foods may be thecancer preventer. In 1996, Georgia growers picked 90,000 tons of tomatoes from 4,500 acres. The cropwas valued at more than $43 million. “Three of the four tomato-based foods studied — tomato sauce, tomatoes and pizza –were related to a lower risk of prostate cancer,” Hanula said.last_img read more

Common limitations of a new core provider

first_img continue reading » In our continuing series discussing the survey by Callahan & Associates and their webinar, “It’s All About the Core,” today we look at and analyze the response of credit union executives when asked what common limitations they encountered after selecting and transitioning to a new core technology provider. A credit union core system review and the resulting core migration carries many changes for an organization, and usually, the migration to a new provider brings technology the credit union was otherwise lacking. It’s a known fact that this is no small project, and it is always assumed you will encounter some obstacles along the way. Here are the most common shortcomings that caught these executives off guard:1) Lending Capabilities. With lending being such a huge driver to the bottom line and ultimate success of a credit union, it is no wonder that this tops the list. No matter how robust a lending platform is, there’s always room for improvement on this all-important platform. The biggest complaint is the apparent disconnect in loan origination systems, especially as it pertains to commercial lending versus consumer lending. With these two very distinct lending processes, many CU’s still found they have to navigate separate and disparate systems, even after a core migration. 5SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Yes, hard right does follow Christianity

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionThank you for Shelby Bryson’s Feb. 13 letter, “Hard-right is not in line with Christianity”: Unfortunately, in actuality, the hard-right IS in line with Christianity, the world’s largest religion. It’s rather Jesus-belief, New Testament faith in the Lord Jesus of Nazareth, that the hard-right is not in line with.The Old Testament shows us what the world was like before Jesus died for our sins. Jesus radically changed the world by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. Jesus saying, “It is finished” just before dying means that he had fulfilled the Old Testament and replaced it with the New Testament as the contract under which to live.The verses Shelby quotes are all from the New Testament, the employee’s manual of Jesus believers. Christians use the Bible, which is only three parts New Testament to 10 parts Old Testament. If you mix just three parts of green with 10 parts of red, the color you get will still look red. In the same way, the Bible as used by Christians pretty much looks like the Old Testament.Joel NelsonSchenectadyMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationSchenectady’s Lucas Rodriguez forging his own path in dance, theater, musicSchenectady, Saratoga casinos say reopening has gone well; revenue down 30%Troopers: Schenectady pair possessed heroin, crack cocaine in Orange County Thruway stopSchenectady police reform sessions pivot to onlinelast_img read more

Remarks by Governor Wolf at Corporal Bryon Dickson Exit Dedication

first_img October 02, 2015 Remarks Interstate 84 Westbound, Exit Ramp #30Blooming Grove, PATRANSCRIPT:We are here to pay tribute to a hero. Corporal Bryon Dickson gave his life in the service of the people of Pennsylvania. Like his colleagues – including Alex Douglass here today – in the Pennsylvania State Police, he chose to serve his Commonwealth.And like his colleagues, he did this voluntarily. He did it knowing the risks he was taking for himself. And for his family. And his wife Tiffany. And his two sons – Bryon and Adam. And he paid the ultimate priceSo in dedicating this exit ramp to his memory, we are honoring him for his specific act of selfless heroism. But we are also honoring him for the valiant gesture he made to all of us in volunteering for this duty. For being so willing to serve us.This is a good time to reflect on the generosity of all who choose to serve us as public servants. Our society depends on good citizens like Corporal Dickson. People like Corporal Dickson keep us secure in our homes. They protect our neighborhoods. And they make our highways safer. We could not do the things we do in our daily lives if it weren’t for the good people like Corporal Dickson.From this point on, many people will take this exit and see this sign. Many of them will wonder who Corporal Dickson was and what he did. We need to do what we can to make sure we never forget him. We need to make sure we never forget what he did for us. And we need to make sure we never take for granted the noble and important things his fellow public servants do for us everyday.Thank you once again to Corporal Dickson’s family. And thanks to all the members of our Pennsylvania State Police.### SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Remarks by Governor Wolf at Corporal Bryon Dickson Exit Dedicationlast_img read more

F&C subject to £700m buyout from Canadian bank

first_imgHe added: “F&C and BMO both take pride in having built distinctive and engaging brands – grounded in a long history of trust – and we share a deeply held conviction in working in the best interests of our clients.”Richard Wilson, Downe’s counterpart at F&C, said changes implemented in recent years put the cpmpany in a good position to develop.“Looking forward, BMO represents a unique opportunity to broaden and accelerate our ambitions,” he said.“The products, geographic presence and cultures of both organisations are truly complementary, and, with BMO’s commitment to growth, this is clearly a very positive outcome for both our clients and employees. We look forward to joining the BMO organisation.”At the end of 2013, F&C reported assets under management (AUM) of £82bn, down from £95bn just 12 months’ prior.At the time, more than 80% of its AUM stemmed from European institutional clients, according to IPE’s Top 400 Asset Managers 2013. F&C Asset Management is set for a £700m (€845m) acquisition by the asset management arm of Canada’s Bank of Montreal in a deal that values the company at a nearly 30% premium over its pre-deal stock price.BMO Financial Group, both the bank and BMO Global Asset Management’s parent company, announced today that it would offer F&C shareholders 120 pence per share, significantly up from its 93.8 pence price at the end of last week and resulting in a £708m offer.The Canadian group said F&C’s board would unanimously recommend shareholders accept the deal, with the acquisition set to close in May, subject to regulatory approval.Bill Downe, CFO at BMO, praised F&C’s “established pedigree” in fixed income, equity and property investments.last_img read more

Man found dead

first_imgSalvador’s lifeless body was discovered by his aunt Helen Martinez, 56, around 7:35 a.m. on May 9, a police report showed.According to Martinez, Salvador was binge drinking and was not eating his daily meals days before the incident. Initial investigation conducted by the Talisay City police station showed no indication that the man was murdered.Martinez’s body was brought to a mortuary for a “post-mortem examination.”/PN BY MAE SINGUAY AND CYRUS GARDEBACOLOD City – He was found dead inside their house in Barangay Katilingban, Talisay City, Negros Occidental.Police identified him as 46-year-old Raul Salvador.last_img

Changes Loom For Southeast Indiana Red Cross

first_imgLAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – The American Red Cross is restructuring its Southeast Indiana Chapter, which has served Dearborn, Ripley, Ohio and Switzerland counties for the past three years.The Red Cross Chapter is currently headquartered in Lawrenceburg and holds a satellite office in Osgood, and is part of the Greater Cincinnati-Dayton Region of the American Red Cross.On November 1, Ripley and Switzerland counties will become part of the Indianapolis Region. Dearborn and Ohio Counties will continue as part of the Greater Cincinnati Region.The move is part of a national restructuring effort and does not change services provided to the region.“This will not change in any way the coverage of the American Red Cross in any of these counties. We will still be there to help families after fires, tornados, floods, etc. We will still help families find their loved ones in the military. We will still be there to teach classes such as First Aid, CPR, AED, Swimming, and Baby Sitting,” said John Ryle, Executive Director of the Southeastern Indiana Chapter.This chapter has responded to every call over the past three years. They have worked with local fire departments, Emergency Management Agencies and local governments to provide comprehensive coverage for citizens.“Although I will not continue to serve as Executive Director, I plan to volunteer as I did before becoming a part of the staff. This organization offers a service that no other can. We are a part of the community and plan to stay that way,” stated Ryle.The American Red Cross is funded solely by donations and those interested in volunteering can contact (513) 579-3000 or access further information here.last_img read more

MPA’s 5-class proposal for high school basketball approved

first_imgROCKPORT — The Maine Principals’ Association’s proposal to add a fifth class to the state’s high school basketball ranks next season was approved Thursday morning.Membership voted in favor of the proposal 67-29.The change from the traditional four-class system is an effort to address a southward shift in the population that has contributed to declining school enrollments in northern Maine.A Class AA for the state’s largest basketball-playing schools is meant to reduce the gap between the largest and smallest schools within a class and create more balanced competition.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textlast_img