Secretary Shinseki – Please Notify Veterans There’s No Waiting List at the Zumwalt Mesothelioma Treatment Program in Los Angeles

The mesothelioma treatment team at the West LA VA Medical Center would love to have a list of veterans to treat. But there’s no list, no waiting list and no effort to educate our war heroes stricken with asbestos cancer that help is available.You’ve read about the double digit number of veterans who have allegedly died whilewaiting to be treated. We may never know how many veterans with mesothelioma have died after receiving no or sub-standard treatment.According to the popular literature, about 4,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year. Of those, roughly a third were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy. It’s not a stretch to surmise that at least 600 Navy veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year–a diagnosis that carries …

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Monster Media Dedicates Win to Mesothelioma Patient Ron Hill

Tour De Murrieta Race Report 35+Michael JohnsonMonster Media RacingThree days of tough, challenging, gritty racing at the Tour De Murrieta in Southern California. This is what Monster Media Racing is all about. The TDM is one of several key stage races this season for our team. Our mission is simple: race together as a unified team, race hard, go for the win, have fun, and help raise awareness in the fight against mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos.We started our campaign last year by sponsoring the “John Johnson Pro Men’s Criterium” at at the prestigious Dana Point Grand Prix, a race we named after my Dad, who passed away from mesothelioma. We will sponsor the same race again this year. I’m very happy that Monster …

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NASA scientists find evidence of water in meteorite, reviving debate over life on Mars

A team of scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has found evidence of past water movement throughout a Martian meteorite, reviving debate in the scientific community over life on Mars.In 1996, a group of scientists at Johnson led by David McKay, Everett Gibson and Kathie Thomas-Keprta published an article in Science announcing the discovery of biogenic evidence in the Allan Hills 84001(ALH84001) meteorite. In this new study, Gibson and his colleagues focused on structures deep within a 30-pound (13.7-kilogram) Martian meteorite known as Yamato 000593 (Y000593). The team reports that newly discovered different structures and compositional features within the larger Yamato meteorite suggest biological processes might have been at work on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago.The team’s findings have been published in the February issue of the journal Astrobiology. The lead author, Lauren White, is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Co-authors are Gibson, Thomas-Keprta, Simon Clemett and McKay, all based at Johnson. McKay, who led the team that studied the ALH84001 meteorite, died a year ago.”While robotic missions to Mars continue to shed light on the planet’s history, the only samples from Mars available for study on Earth are Martian meteorites,” said White. “On Earth, we can utilize multiple analytical techniques to take a more in-depth look into meteorites and shed light on the history of Mars. These samples offer clues to the past habitability of this planet. As more Martian meteorites are discovered, continued research focusing on these samples collectively will offer deeper insight into attributes which are indigenous to ancient Mars. Furthermore, as these meteorite studies are compared to present day robotic observations on Mars, the mysteries of the planet’s seemingly wetter past will be revealed.”Analyses found that the rock was formed about 1.3 billion years ago from a lava flow on Mars. …

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The Greatest Escape Shows Anything’s Possible

Roger Worthington with John Caron (r) Los Angeles, CA. Riding a motorcycle with a throng of true believers from Marina Del Ray on a sunny Sunday afternoon through Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Malibu without stopping at a single intersection — impossible. Right?Wrong! It is possible if you have a police escort, and the backing of the Pacific Meso Center, the nonprofit dedicated to discovering new and better ways to treat patients with malignant mesothelioma, the same asbestos related cancer that took the life of famed Hollywood icon Steve McQueen more than 30 years ago.Thanks to the Pacific Meso Center, John Caron and I were able to join similarly enthused and awestruck motorcyclists last Sunday in “The Greatest Escape,” an organized ramble up the coast to…

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Robots take over economy: Sudden rise of global ecology of interacting robots trade at speeds too fast for humans

Sep. 11, 2013 — Recently, the global financial market experienced a series of computer glitches that abruptly brought operations to a halt. One reason for these “flash freezes” may be the sudden emergence of mobs of ultrafast robots, which trade on the global markets and operate at speeds beyond human capability, thus overwhelming the system. The appearance of this “ultrafast machine ecology” is documented in a new study published on September 11 in Nature Scientific Reports.The findings suggest that for time scales less than one second, the financial world makes a sudden transition into a cyber jungle inhabited by packs of aggressive trading algorithms. “These algorithms can operate so fast that humans are unable to participate in real time, and instead, an ultrafast ecology of robots rises up to take control,” explains Neil Johnson, professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), and corresponding author of the study.”Our findings show that, in this new world of ultrafast robot algorithms, the behavior of the market undergoes a fundamental and abrupt transition to another world where conventional market theories no longer apply,” Johnson says.Society’s push for faster systems that outpace competitors has led to the development of algorithms capable of operating faster than the response time for humans. For instance, the quickest a person can react to potential danger is approximately one second. Even a chess grandmaster takes around 650 milliseconds to realize that he is in trouble — yet microchips for trading can operate in a fraction of a millisecond (1 millisecond is 0.001 second).In the study, the researchers assembled and analyzed a high-throughput millisecond-resolution price stream of multiple stocks and exchanges. From January, 2006, through February, 2011, they found 18,520 extreme events lasting less than 1.5 seconds, including both crashes and spikes.The team realized that as the duration of these ultrafast extreme events fell below human response times, the number of crashes and spikes increased dramatically. They created a model to understand the behavior and concluded that the events were the product of ultrafast computer trading and not attributable to other factors, such as regulations or mistaken trades. Johnson, who is head of the inter-disciplinary research group on complexity at UM, compares the situation to an ecological environment.”As long as you have the normal combination of prey and predators, everything is in balance, but if you introduce predators that are too fast, they create extreme events,” Johnson says. …

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Brain cancer survival improved following FDA approval of bevacizumab

Aug. 19, 2013 — A new population-based study has found that patients with glioblastoma who died in 2010, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of bevacizumab, had lived significantly longer than patients who died of the disease in 2008, prior to the conditional approval of the drug for the treatment of the deadly brain cancer. Bevacizumab is used to treat patients with certain cancers whose cancer has spread.The study appears in the journal Cancer.”There has been a great deal of debate about the effectiveness of bevacizumab in treating patients with glioblastoma,” says lead author Derek Johnson, M.D., a neuro-oncologist at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. “Our study found that, at the population level, treatment strategies involving bevacizumab prolonged survival in patients with progressive glioblastoma.”Researchers analyzed data on 5,607 adult patients from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database before and after the conditional approval of bevacizumab for the treatment of glioblastoma in 2009. The SEER database covers 18 geographic areas of the U.S., which collectively represent 28 percent of the U.S. population.Researchers studied survival in 1,715 patients with glioblastoma who died in 2006, 1,924 who died in 2008 and 1,968 who died in 2010. “The difference in survival between 2008 and 2010 was highly significant and likely unrelated to any advancements in supportive care,” Dr. Johnson says. “This study provides the strongest evidence to date that bevacizumab therapy improves survival in patients with glioblastoma.”Glioblastoma, is an aggressive cancer in which tumors grow rapidly and spread rapidly to new sites. It is the most common malignant brain tumor in adults and accounts for about 22 percent of all brain cancers. …

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Brain discovery could help schizophrenics

July 15, 2013 — The discovery of brain impairment in mice may eventually lead to better therapies for people with schizophrenia and major depression.Studying rodents that have a gene associated with mental illness, Michigan State University neuroscientist Alexander Johnson and colleagues found a link between a specific area of the prefrontal cortex, and learning and behavioral deficits.While much work needs to be done, the discovery is a major step toward better understanding mental illness. While antipsychotic drugs can treat hallucinations related to schizophrenia, there essentially is no treatment for other symptoms such as lack of motivation or anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.”This study may well suggest that if we start targeting these brain-behavior mechanisms in people with mental illness, it may help to alleviate some of the cognitive and motivational symptoms, which to date remain largely untreated with current drug therapies,” said Johnson, MSU assistant professor of psychology.The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Schizophrenia, a disabling brain disorder marked by paranoia and hearing voices that aren’t there, affects some 2.4 million Americans and runs in families, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.The researchers conducted a series of experiments with two groups of mice — those with the gene associated with mental illness and those without the gene (or the control group).In one experiment, related to cognition, the mice were presented with tasty food when they responded on one side of a conditioning box. After repeated feedings, the food was switched to the other side of the box. The mice with the mental illness gene had a much more difficult time learning to adapt to the new side.In another experiment, related to motivation, the mice had to respond an increasing number of times each time they wanted food. By the end of the three-hour session, all mice with the mental illness gene stopped responding for food, while half of the control group continued on.Johnson said the deficiencies may suggest a problem in the prefrontal cortex area known as the orbitofrontal cortex, and that further research should target this area.His co-investigators include Hanna Jaaro-Peled, Akira Sawa and Michela Gallagher from Johns Hopkins University.

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Flowers: Pistil leads pollen in life-and-death dance

June 20, 2013 — Pollination, essential to much of life on earth, requires the explosive death of the male pollen tube in the female ovule. In new research, Brown University scientists describe the genetic and regulatory factors that compel the male’s role in the process. Finding a way to tweak that performance could expand crop cross-breeding possibilities.Millions of times on a spring day there is a dramatic biomolecular tango where the flower, rather than adorning a dancer’s teeth, is the performer. In this dance, the female pistil leads, the male pollen tubes follow, and at the finish, the tubes explode and die. A new paper in Current Biology describes the genetically prescribed dance steps of the pollen tube and how their expression destines the tube for self-sacrifice, allowing flowering plants to reproduce.High school biology leaves off with this: In normal pollination, sperm-carrying pollen grains land on the pistil’s tip, or stigma, and grow tubes down its style to reach the ovaries in the ovules at the pistil’s base. Once the tubes reach their destination, they burst open and release their sperm to fertilize each of the two ovaries in every ovule.In his lab at Brown University, Mark Johnson, associate professor of biology, studies the true complexity of intercellular communications that conduct this process with exquisite precision.Among the fundamental biology questions at play in the sex lives of flowers, for example, are how cells recognize each other, know what to do, and know when to do it. Last year, for instance, Johnson and his research group showed how, for all the hundreds of pollen tubes that grow through the pistil, each ovule receives exactly two fertile sperm.As we drill into the details, it’s a really great system for understanding how cellular identity is established and read by another cell,” Johnson said. “The moves in the dance between the pollen and the pistil are a back-and-forth [of signals] as the pollen tube is growing. It’s quite a dynamic system that happens over the course of a few hours.”Making the male listenIn the new paper, Johnson’s group, led by third-year graduate student Alexander Leydon, sought to discover what convinces the male pollen tubes to stop growing and burst when they reach the ovule. Scientists have begun to understand the female’s commands, but not the male’s ability to listen.What they knew from a prior study is that the gene expression in pollen tubes that had grown through a pistil was much different than that of pollen tubes grown in the lab. …

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Scientists confirm theory regarding the origins of the sucking disc of remora fish

June 6, 2013 — Remora fish, with a sucking disc on top of their heads, have been the stuff of legend. They often attach themselves to the hulls of boats and in ancient times were thought to purposely slow the boat down. While that is a misunderstanding, something else not well understood was the origins of the fish’s odd sucking disc. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution and London’s Natural History Museum, however, have solved that mystery proving that the disc is actually a greatly modified dorsal fin.The research is published in the Journal of Morphology.The world’s eight species of remoras range from 1 to 3 feet and are primarily found in tropical open-ocean waters. They use their sucking disc to attach themselves to large marine animals and feed off of scraps of food and parasites from the larger animal.The idea that the sucker disc is developed from the dorsal fin is not new and dates to the early 1800s. Since then, many scientists have suggested it was derived from the dorsal fin but nobody had studied the development of the remora from its earliest larval stages. “One reason I think this hasn’t been done before is due to the difficulty in finding early stage remora larvae” said Dave Johnson, zoologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of the research. “In our study we closely tracked the development of the sucking disc beginning with tiny remora larvae, through to juvenile and adult remoras. We followed the earliest stages of the disc’s development by matching the first vestiges of elements of the sucking disc with the first vestiges of elements of the dorsal fins of another fish, the white perch (Morone americana), which has the typical dorsal fin of most fishes.”By doing this, the team was able to identify which of three main fin elements — the distal radials, the proximal-middle radials, and the fin spines — are radically modified and develop into the different elements of the remora’s unusual disc.Up to a certain stage in the fish’s development, the dorsal fin can be seen developing in the same way and looking very similar in both fishes. Then, through a series of small changes, the remora’s dorsal fin begins to expand and shift towards the head. …

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