Engineered Immune Cells Offer Promise

Engineered Immune Cells Offer Promise

Engineered Immune Cells Offer Promise

 

By D. S. Mitchell

 

Sending Signals

Scientists have genetically engineered immune cells cable of delivering anticancer-signals to organs where cancer may spread. Immunotherapy is a pillar of cancer treatment; strengthening the patient’s immune system and then directing the bolstered immune system to attack tumors. In this effort, Adoptive Cell Transfer is proving successful. With this immunotherapy treatment a patient’s immune cells are collected, engineered for the patient’s specific cancer and then reintroduced into the patient to treat their cancer. There are numerous types of Adoptive Cell Transfer and the most prominent one is called CAR T Cell Therapy.

Cancer Fighting Immune Cells

In 2010 two blood cancer patients received an experimental immunotherapy, and their disease went into remission. The cancer fighting immune cells used in the treatment were still circulating in their bodies,  ten years after the experimental dosing. It indicates that the treatment can be long lasting. Doug Olsen, a native Californian, was one of the patients, “From a patient’s viewpoint, when you are told you are pretty much out of options, the important thing is always to maintain hope. And certainly, I hoped this was going to work”, said Doug Olsen at a news briefing. The CAR T Cell Therapy used the patients’ genetically engineered immune cells to track down and destroy cells that cause cancer.

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Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

Russian hackers are causing world wide problems.

Russian Cyber Attacks Targets and Purpose

By Joseph Wales and D. S. Mitchell

 

A Consistent Threat

Headlines linking Russia to a web of cyber attacks against a variety of sovereign nations has become daily bread for decision-makers and the public alike. Whether it’s the NotPetya attack, the recent shut down of the Colonial Pipeline, or meddling in foreign elections; Russia is a consistent and aggravating threat. Russia uses cyber operations alongside non-military and military methods to pursue its strategic goals. It views this as an ongoing information confrontation.

Back in Time

Russia began attacks on the United States in 1996 with the Moonlight Maze attack. The Moonlight Maze resulted in the theft of a massive amount of classified information from several U.S. government agencies. Those effected included NASA, the Department of Energy, the Defense Department, and numerous private sector entities and defense contractors. The attack caused a serious breach, compromising national security interests, strategies, and capabilities.

Ukraine Intimidation

Russian state-sponsored attacks are on the rise, most famously Russian cyber ninjas are behind the recent mischief in Ukraine. Several cyber events have  knocked out major government websites this month. This cyber-intrusion is aimed to intimidate society and destabilize the situation in the country, stopping the work in the public sector, and crushing citizens trust in the governing authorities.

What It Includes

Russia’s cyber warfare units employ hacker attacks, internet surveillance SORM technology, dissemination of  propaganda and misinformation, political trolling, and all means of social media manipulation. Most of these attacks, although not technically in house operations,  are still coordinated by the Russian FSB. The FSB replaced the notorious KGB, but a change in initials doesn’t change the mission.

How Many From Russia?

Over the past year, 58% of all cyber-attacks observed by Microsoft from nation-states came from Russia. Moreover, these attacks are increasingly effective, jumping from a 21% rate in 2020, to a 32% successful compromise rate in 2021. Russian nation-state attacks are increasingly targeting government agencies for intelligence gathering, which saw a hike from 3% to 53% in a year—these attacks target agencies involved in national security, defense, and foreign policy. The top three nations targeted by Russian cyber attacks were Ukraine, UK, and the United States.

Common Causes For Cyber Attacks

Most often, cyber-attacks occur because the attackers want something:

  • IT infrastructure
  • Clients’ lists
  • Customer database
  • Customers or staff’ email addresses and login details
  • Sensitive personal data
  • Customers’ financial details such as credit card data
  • Business’ financial details

Russian Motives

Putin’s motivation is different.  Putin life goal is to restore the territory lost with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The Russian president views cyber-attacks as a natural extension for achieving his goals. For instance, how the Russian military hacked Olympic enemies for revenge, and how it hacked the Democratic National Committee to bolster Trump’s chances in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Russians are mainly interested in influence operations without physical manipulation.

Classic Influence Operation

What we saw in the 2016 U. S. elections was a classic influence operation. This was also Putin’s aim when hacking Russia’s perceived Olympic enemies. Russia wanted information it could use against these enemies in social media campaigns. Manipulation of the news, creating new mind sets, instigating social rifts.

China, A Different Animal

On the other hand, China has also been actively involved in passive cyber-attacks. However, in the case of China, their main focus seems to center on economic, technology both military and civilian. They are going after intellectual property and stealing it to improve their advantage in world trade. For instance, they infiltrated and copied the plans of the fighter jets F-35 and F-22. The Chinese now have the largest navy in the world, thanks to learning many western secrets. The issues of Hong Kong and Taiwan are just below the surface.

Any Cut Back Coming?

Evelyn Farkas, a former defense official for Obama, argued that the Russian government would not be stopping state-sponsored cyber-attacks against America or any other nation, unless the consequences  were so painful that continuation of such behavior would be unthinkable. Despite President Biden’s meeting with Putin recently, the Russians seem immovable, denying responsibility for their ongoing computer attacks. During their meeting, Biden argued that some crucial infrastructures such as energy and water systems should be off-limits to any type of attack. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is enough mettle in the whole of the U.S. government to go after Putin and/or Xi Jinping with a cyber sledge hammer. Unless Putin and his cyber ninja forces are caused real pain, the attacks will continue.

 

Patient Gets Genetically Modified Pig Heart

57 Year Old Gets Genetically Modified Pig Heart

57 year old American man gets genetically engineered pig heart in historic surgery.

57 Year Old Gets Genetically Modified Pig Heart

“It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it is a shot in the dark, but it is my last chance,” said the recipient of a genetically modified pig heart last week. 

By MAHINROOP PM and D. S. Mitchell

 

A Major Breakthrough 

American doctors have successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a desperately ill 57 year old patient. It is an unquestionable achievement, a breakthrough for medical science. The patient, David Bennet is doing well after the surgery. The organ transplant proved that a genetically modified animal heart can serve like a human heart without immediate rejection by the body. Bennet had been connected to Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, a heart lung bypass machine, in order to remain alive. The patient was informed of the procedure’s risks and that the procedure was experimental with unknown risks before consenting to receive the heart transplant.

Emergency 

Because Bennet faced certain death without the Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency authorization for the surgery last week. The doctors at University of Maryland Medicine performed the procedure called Xenotransplantation.  Bennet had been on cardiac support for almost two months and couldn’t receive a mechanical heart pump because of an irregular heart beat. Neither could he receive a human transplant, because he had a history of treatment noncompliance.

Organ Shortage Crisis

“This was a breakthrough surgery and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis. There are simply not enough human hearts available to meet the long list of potential recipients. We are proceeding cautiously, but we are also optimistic that this first in the world surgery will provide an important new option for patients in the future,” said Bartley P Griffith, Professor in transplant surgery at University of Maryland Medicine.

High Risk 

Although the process can potentially save thousands of lives, it comes with many risks including the chance of triggering a dangerous immune response. Such responses can trigger an immediate rejection of the organ, leading to the immediate death of the patient. A  new drug was combined with conventional anti-rejection drugs to suppress the immune system and hopefully will prevent Benet’s body from rejecting the foreign organ.

Ethical and Technical Hurdles

Doctors will monitor Bennet for the rest of his life to determine whether the transplant provides the hoped for lifesaving benefits vs complications. The ultimate focus of xenotransplantation research is on genetically modified pigs because of the physiologic similarities between pigs, human  and non-human primates. Revivicor, a biotechnology company located in Virginia provided the pig heart for the transplantation.

What The Future Offers

Transplant surgeons are hoping that recent advances will enable them to give more people animal organs. Physicians believe that the surgery will kickstart clinical xenotransplantation. As with everything, there are numerous ethical, as well as regulatory issues confronting the wholesale use of animal harvested hearts, and other organs, to sustain human life. Only time will tell.

BMW Previews Car That Changes Color

BMW Previews Car That Changes Color 

BMW is leading the way in real and virtual driving experience

BMW Previews Car That Changes Color

Editor: The German car company BMW recently showcased a “color changing” car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The BMW iX Flow, employs “electronic ink technology” that makes it possible to change the car’s exterior color.  An app is used to trigger the color change. The company even claims energy efficiency. 

By Dani Davis

OMG

I saw this come up on Twitter and I said, “Hell, yeah!” Cool as shit. How many times have you loved a car, but the color just wasn’t you? A bright yellow Mercedes comes to mind. Well, BMW has come up with the solution to that problem. The company has developed a car with an ink coating that acquiesces to the driver’s mood with just the tap of an app on the owner’s phone. So, on to what I learned about BMW’s dive  into driver psychology.

The News

Quite literally, BMW has a car that can change its color on demand. The reason is that the exterior has an E Ink coating. The fascinating feature of E Ink is that it can cover the surface of an entire automobile. Believe it or not, this is similar to the technology used in Kindle e-book readers. The BMW’s color changing car was featured recently here in the United States at the CES 2022 Trade Show in Vegas, where it got cheers; and a few jeers from the Twitter-verse.

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The James Webb Telescope Deployed

The James Webb Telescope Deployed

The deployment of the James Webb telescope is a big damn deal. Congratulations, NASA.

The James Webb Telescope Deployed

Editor: JWST is a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. It will serve thousands of astronomers worldwide. The project is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. The telescope is named after James E. Webb, who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program. The James Webb Telescope will likely be pointing at stars and seeing its “first light” around mid-March. However, NASA says not to expect the first “showpiece” photos from Webb until May 24, 2022.

By D. S. Mitchell

Deployment

The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on December 25th from Kourou Launch Station in French Guiana with the help of Ariane-5 ECA rocket. The space telescope was folded and literally ferried  into space because it was too large to fit inside its launching rocket. A team of NASA techies spent several hours on Saturday, January 8, 2022 opening the final mirror, according to NASA. It is expected to take  another five months to complete setup; including aligning the telescope’s optics and calibrating its scientific instruments. The most powerful telescope of all time will begin transmitting later this spring.

Long Held Secrets

It is expected the JWST will answer many questions scientists have pondered for millennia. The James Webb Telescope will replace Hubble, NASA’s current eye in space. JWST is now orbiting  a somewhat mystical area of space where the gravity and centripetal forces of the Sun and the Earth are ‘just right’. This ‘just right’ region allows objects to remain in a relatively “stable” position. This invisible point in space is known as an Earth-Sun Lagrange point. With its final course adjustment complete, the JWST is now orbiting around the sun at a distance of nearly 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

An Amazing Milestone

Space journalists agree that the deployment of JWST is an incredible achievement. The James Webb Space Telescope will scan the universe for light streaming from stars and galaxies formed billions of years ago. In fact, the telescope is a time machine, carrying the observer back to the beginning of the universe; to the Big Bang. JWST observations will be used to study the history of the Universe, including the evolution of our own solar system, and the formation of distant solar systems capable of supporting life on Earth-like exoplanets. Amazingly, the JWST will be able to provide information about the atmospheres of these exoplanets. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world’’.

Fears Of The Metaverse Are Justified

OPINION: Fears Of The Metaverse Are Justified

A metaverse is a network of 3 D virtual worlds focused on social connection.

OPINION: Fears Of The Metaverse Are Justified

Editor: The world of the future may be at hand. Like other new technologies the potential is great, the threat terrifying. The development of the metaverse should put us all on high alert for the nearly inevitable privacy abuses, misinformation campaigns,  and unprecedented targeting.

By Joseph Wales

A New Name

In late 2021, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta as the parent company to Instagram and Facebook. This move left many of us in the dark; not understanding what Meta is and the future direction of the company. Since the announcement it has emerged that the main idea behind Meta is developing a 100% virtual world with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and VR (Virtual Reality) enhancements. A world where our interactions will be more digital than physical. The technology growth rate is at an all-time high. Most believe that the tech gurus have more power than they deserve and legal restrictions are necessary. Before we go into the nitty-gritty details, let’s look at what metaverse is.

What Is The Metaverse?

As mentioned above, think of the metaverse as a virtual universe. The metaverse combines numerous technologies, including Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and eye-tracking. These technologies combine to create the ultimate virtual experience. Now might be a good time to read or watch “Ready Player One.” It is a story set in 2045, where all people turn to VR to escape the real world. The feature could help you get a rough idea of how a metaverse might look.

What Is Inside The Metaverse?

The metaverse is usually digital assets, 3D avatars, games, and businesses. Each metaverse can have their virtual economy. There are endless activities to engage in while in the metaverse. You could meet friends, join virtual events, host business meetings, monetize your creations, and so on. The metaverse closely resembles the real world. Most have their own economies and accept virtual currency. For instance, Cryptoxles, a metaverse, accepts ETH, while Decentraland uses their original currency, MANA. The only significant difference is that you can travel the world, go to the store, climb Mt. Everest, all from your home’s comfort. Access to the metaverse is via an VR headset.

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Cryptocurrency: A Quick Guide

Cryptocurrency: A Quick Guide

'Crypto' is any form of digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure transactions.

Cryptocurrency: A Quick Guide

Quite simply, cryptocurrency is digital money. It does not exist in the real world. There are no physical coins, or bills associated with it. It is not like stocks, real estate, jewelry, art, gold, and other valued metals. Cryptocurrency has no use or value other than the possession of it.  Cryptocurrencies are not associated to valuable assets — they are not tied to anything of value in the real world, and this often causes the ‘value’ to fluctuate erratically. 

By Mahinroop PM

‘Crypto’ Defined

Cryptocurrency or ‘crypto’ is any form of digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure transactions and advanced coding to store and transmit cryptocurrency data between wallets and public ledgers. Cryptocurrencies do not have a central regulatory authority and they use a decentralized system to record transactions. Cryptocurrency is a digital payment system that does not rely on banks to verify transactions. Cryptocurrency is a peer-to-peer system which enables anyone to send and receive payments anywhere in the world.  The cryptocurrency payments exist as digital entries to an online database featuring specific transactions. The transactions are recorded in a public ledger when cryptocurrency funds are transferred and cryptocurrency is stored in digital wallets.

Bitcoin Emerges

The ultimate aim of cryptocurrency encryption is to provide privacy, security and safety. Bitcoin, was founded in 2009, and was the first cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is unquestionably the best known cryptocurrency and is traded like other entities for profit. Skyrocketing prices make cryptocurrency hugely popular among speculative and passionate investors. Other clever and passionate crypto investors use ‘mining’ to make money.

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In Support of Nuclear Energy

 In Support of Nuclear Energy

When ever nuclear power is mentioned there are many that question is use

In Support of Nuclear Energy

By Megan Wallin 

Controversial Power Source

Utter the word “nuclear” in a discussion about the environmental impact of alternative power sources, and you’re likely to garner some attention. While people are happy to indulge solar power, wind power, and other less controversial sources, nuclear energy has a less neutral effect—to put it mildly.

Is It Dirty And Dangerous?

The assumptions regarding nuclear energy range from “dirty” to “dangerous,” with only a scattered few endorsing its use. But, what is nuclear energy? Few can define it. The best answer I can give is, nuclear energy is essentially a zero-emission energy source generating power via fission. Through the process of splitting uranium atoms, heat released by this fission, creates steam to spin electricity-producing turbines which then produces energy for human use.

Research Shows Nuclear Energy Is Viable 

Nuclear energy reduced carbon dioxide emissions by at least 476 million metric tons, according to a 2019 Nuclear Energy Institute study. Energy.gov compares this type of impact to “removing 100 million cars from the road and more than all other clean energy sources combined.”  Additionally, NEI confirmed the efficiency of such practices, stating that wind farms require more than 250 times as much land in order to match nuclear energy plants, and solar plants require 75 times more land. When stored properly, nuclear energy  is also a space saver due to its density. Six decades worth of nuclear energy produced in the U.S. would fill fewer than 10 yards of a football field. And it can be reprocessed.

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DANGER AHEAD: Cyber Hacking On The Rise

Cyber threats to world economies is growing daily

DANGER AHEAD:

Cyber Hacking On The Rise

Colonial Pipeline was hit with a devastating ransomware cyberattack in May 2021 that impacted computerized equipment managing the pipeline. The attack forced the company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline in the United States, crippling gas delivery systems across the Southeast and Mid Atlantic states and panicking consumers.

By William Jones and D.S. Mitchell

Terrorists. Criminals and Cowboys

The ongoing digitization of all aspects of modern life should be concerning.  Governments world-wide are facing new challenges to keep both business and government secrets private in an increasingly threatening world of cyber criminals, state sponsored terrorists, and cowboy hackers. With increasing online and data usage, government databases have become primary targets for hackers and other cyber terrorists and criminals. Recent events have shaken the U.S. government and citizen confidence. Hackers can compromise data and as Chris Krebs said recently, ransomware attackers are the greatest threat to our digital world. Krebs served as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the United States Department of Homeland Security from November 2018 to November 2020.

Cyber Warfare

Cyber warfare is defined as actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation’s computers or networks to cause damage or disruption. It may also include non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, private companies, political or ideological extremist groups, criminal organizations, and activists.  Cyber attacks  have been a cause of concern for years, as the frequency of data breaches has increased along with their complexity and (economic, military, and political) implications, including elections and military catastrophe an ever growing possibility.

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Celebrate World Bee Day May 20, 2021

Celebrate World Bee Day May 20, 2021

May 20th is World Bee Day

World Bee Day Celebration May 20, 2021

Purpose

The purpose of the international day of celebration is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators in the ecosystem.  World Bee Day is celebrated on the birthday of pioneer beekeeper Anton Jansa, May 20, 1734. There’s good reason to pay attention to the bees. There are over 20,000 bee species and most are in decline. This includes the American honeybee. The honeybee is however a small fraction of the bee population.

Keystone Species

Bees are keystone species — ecosystem engineers that are pivotal in supporting healthy habitats for birds, insects, and mammals in ways not always recognized. They pollinate wildflowers and other plants, which is crucial for maintaining genetic diversity of the ecosystem. They also help create and shape natural areas where other animals live and find food.

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