Living Cells ‘Hacked’ and Hijacked by MIT 

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Sarah Knapton reports: Scientists at MIT have proven they can ‘hack’ living cells and programme them to carry out new tasks.

In the same way that computer language tells a machine how to operate, researchers have shown it is possible to write DNA ‘code’ and insert it into bacteria to alter how they function.

“You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer. Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”

They hope that one day cells could be programmed so they could release cancer drugs on encountering a tumour, or allow plants to fight back with insecticide when a pest comes near. Read the rest of this entry »


What Happens an Hour After Drinking Locally Sourced, Sustainable, Organic Kale Juice?

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Michelle Minton and Gregory Conko write: We’ve all done it: shared a story about some study showing that chocolate is a weight-loss miracle food or a story about how KFC serves deep-fried rat before realizing—too late—we perpetuated an untruth. We spread an inaccurate, viral story and made everyone online a little dumber. Hopefully, such experiences make us a little more skeptical, a little less inclined to take hyperbolic headlines at face-value. You might have seen this infographic making the rounds lately, claiming to show “what happens to your body an hour after drinking a can of coke.” It’s the most recent example of why you shouldn’t always believe what you read. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Correct’ Sex is Mandatory: California’s Sexual Re-Education Camps are Coming Soon

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Ashe Schow writes: Not content to redefine consent to mean asking permission before every step of the sexual process, California is now on the path to teaching high school students the proper way to have sex — because human nature is non-stop-panic-4now wrong.

“The ‘yes means yes’ law effectively defines every sexual encounter as rape unless you follow the law’s specific requirements — or unless neither party turns the other in to police.”

To recap: Last year California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law aiming to redefine consent as an “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement,” that is “ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.” Saying “no” to unwanted sexual contact was no longer necessary, as a “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.” Also, previous sexual history “should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.” Alcohol also negates consent, since the line between “intoxicated” and “incapacitated” can be decided after the fact by an accuser.

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“Now de Leon is moving on to round two: Teaching high school students the “correct” way to have sex. Human nature is no longer the correct way. De Leon knows the correct way — and it involves a lot of questions.”

This means that every time two college students have sex they have to act like they’ve never met before and ask for approval for everything from the first kiss and touch through intercourse. I tried multiple times to ask the sponsor of the California bill, State Sen. Kevin de Leon, how someone could prove they obtained consent under his law, but only received press releases and quoted paragraphs from the bill. When asked to clarify how one would prove they had obtained consent, his spokeswoman didn’t respond. Read the rest of this entry »


Rhode Island: Social Media, Hookup Apps Blamed For Spikes In Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Other STDs

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 reports: New cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and HIV are on the rise in Rhode Island, a trend that the state health department attributed in part to social media as people increasingly turn to their phones to arrange “casual and often anonymous sexual encounters.” Better testing has also contributed to the rising number of infections, the department said.

“This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”

— Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health

“Despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs [sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV over the years, there is more work to do,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a release. “This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent.”

Teen Girl Using Computer --- Image by © L. Clarke/CORBIS

“The ease of seeking sex partners through classified ad sites may promote risky behaviors that increase transmission of STDs.”

From 2013 to 2014, syphilis cases rose by 79 percent, gonorrhea by 30 percent and HIV cases by nearly 33 percent, the department said. New cases of these increased faster among men who have sex with men and had a greater impact on African-Americans and Hispanics as well as on youth.

[Read the full text here, at International Business Times]

Although the health department stated that the rising rates followed national trends, the most recent data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that from 2012 to 2013, rates of gonorrhea remained stable and rates of syphilis increased only among men. Read the rest of this entry »


Medical News: Protein Extracted from Australian Sea Coral Prevents HIV Infection

Underwater shot of the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia. (CC/Steve Evans)

Underwater shot of the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia. (CC/Steve Evans)

“It’s always thrilling when you find a brand-new protein that nobody else has ever seen before…”  

Brooks Hays writes: A new protein, extracted from coral collected from reefs off the north coast of Australia, shows the ability to block HIV from entering and destroying immune cells, or T cells.

“..And the fact that this protein appears to block HIV infection — and to do it in a completely new way — makes this truly exciting.”

–Dr. Barry O’Keefe.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute discovered that the proteins, called cnidarins, prove remarkably effective at quashing the transmission abilities of HIV. If the proteins stand up to further testing, they could be incorporated into sexual lubricants and gels as a new barrier against HIV infection. Read the rest of this entry »