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Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Posted: September 22, 2016 at 7:51 pm

Complementary and Alternative Cancer Treatment What is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

Complementary and alternative cancer treatments are often lumped together. But to a cancer specialist, there is a big difference. Complementary therapy is used in addition to mainstream medical treatment. Alternative therapy is used instead of proven treatment. Another term you may hear is integrative medicine. This means combining CAM and standard care to try to treat cancer in a way that involves your body, mind and spirit. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes:

Complementary medicine is a group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. An example of a complementary therapy is using aromatherapy to help lessen a patient’s discomfort following surgery.

Complementary medicine is usually not taught or used in Western medical schools or hospitals. Complementary medicine includes a large number of practices and systems of health care that, for a variety of cultural, social, economic, or scientific reasons, have not been adopted by mainstream Western medicine.

Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine. Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. An example of an alternative therapy is using a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy that has been recommended by a physician.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can include the following:

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The Differences Between Utilitarianism & Ethical Egoism

Posted: June 7, 2016 at 7:44 pm


Consequentialism is a moral theory that states that the consequences of one’s actions are the basis for any morality or judgment toward that action. Both utilitarianism and ethical egoism are theories within consequentialism that focus on the outcome of conduct as the primary motivation of that action and any critique of whether or not that conduct is ethical. The major difference between utilitarianism and ethical egoism is where those acts are directed.

Utilitarianism focuses on the idea of the greater good. Essentially, this ethical theory intends to maximize good for the the most people. The moral worth of any action is judged by how much good results for all sentient beings. While some individuals may suffer from these actions, utilitarianism holds that the conduct may still be ethical if it does more good for a greater number of people than it harms.

Ethical egoism, also known simply as egoism, holds that moral conduct ought to be judged through self-interest. Egoism states that the good consequences for the individual agent outweigh the consequences placed upon others. In egoism, actions could be considered ethical for the individual if the one taking the action is benefited, while any benefit or detriment to the welfare of others is a side effect and not as important as the consequences for the individual.

The primary differences between these two theories, keeping in mind that there are numerous sub-theories within each branch of thought, is the value placed between the individual and others. In utilitarianism, the most ethical action may be that which harms the individual agent but maximizes the positive impact for the most people overall, essentially placing the emphasis on the whole as opposed to the individual. In egoism, the individual has a greater value than others, thus it is ethical to act in one’s own self-interest even if it may potentially harm others.

Utilitarianism seeks to maximize good by minimizing harm to all while egoism seeks to maximize good by keeping the individual happy. In utilitarianism, actions must be judged on the amount of people (or beings) that benefit from the action as opposed to how many the same action may potentially harm. Proponents argue that utilitarianism results in a greater sum of benefit to its harm, based upon outcome and not intention. However, critics of utilitarianism argue that following the interest of the greater good may result in tremendous harm to a large number of individuals.

Meanwhile, egoists argue that acting in self-interest can result in position action because the individual knows best how to benefit his own self, and if everyone were to act in the interest of others, then the general welfare of all would decrease as they are never working for their own good. Egoists trust that others will act in their own interests, thus making it unnecessary to take action solely for their benefit.

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Psoriasis Pictures – Psoriasis Symptoms, Treatment, Cures

Posted: October 17, 2015 at 10:41 pm

There is no substitute for visiting a doctor or dermatologist for help in getting a diagnosis and receiving treatment advice for psoriasis. However, because there are a large number of treatments which are considered effective, some of which are quite simple and inexpensive, many individuals can also find success in treating their psoriasis on their own. How? By informing themselves about the variety of available treatments and then treating themselves through a careful trial-and-error approach. Though there is still no simple cure for all psoriasis, many can find relief and partial or even total clearing of their skin by exploring available treatment options.

In this section describing the treatment of psoriasis, we will briefly review only some of the more popular and effective treatments, some of which involve using prescription or over-the-counter drugs and others which are more natural. However, before describing these treatments lets briefly review what causes psoriasis.

Psoriasis is commonly understood to be a disorder of the immune system, and is called an auto-immune disorder. In psoriasis ones own immune system, and in particular, ones T-helper cells, mistakenly attacks ones own skin cells. Most psoriasis treatments focus on addressing this immune response, either by suppressing the immune system, by removing the source or a link of the immune response, or by treating the symptoms on the skin. Ok, now lets get on to a brief review of some of the more common treatments.

Biologics- Biologics are a new class of drugs for treating more severe cases of psoriasis, and include Amevive, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and now Stelara, among others. Amevive works by blocking the T-cell immune response, and Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade work by blocking another key factor in the immune response, which is called TNF-alpha. Stelara, the most recent to be approved, works by blocking the activation of some of the interleukin chains in the immune response. The biologics have given hope to many with moderate to severe psoriasis who were not previously helped by other treatments, however biologics also have a higher risk of sometimes serious side effects, such as infections. Other drawbacks are that the biologics usually have to be administered by injection or infusion, do not work for everybody, are very expensive, and the symptoms of psoriasis usually return after treatment ends.

Coal Tar- An old and common form of treatment used to control mild cases of psoriasis, coal toar is used in shampoos and creams. Though coal tar can reduce itching and inflammation for some people, it is only moderately effective, is messy, can irritate the skin and in high concentrations can be toxic and possibly carcinogenic.

Coconut Oil- Coconut oil has been receiving more attention recently as a treatment for psoriasis sufferers, both as a dietary supplement and as a skin ointment. Coconut oil contains high levels of lauric acid, which is known to help destroy candida in the intestinal tract, thereby healing one of the possible underlying causes of psoriasis. Coconut oil has also been shown to reduce inflammation, both when taken as a nutritional supplement or when applied to the skin.

Cyclosporin- Cyclosporin is an immunosuppressant and is effective at reducing psoriatic symptoms because it reduces and suppresses the immune system For the same reason, however, cyclosporin comes with a higher risk of side-effects and is usually only prescribed for more severe cases of psoriasis.

Diet Modification- Modifying ones diet can often be the most effective form of controlling psoriasis. Why? There is increasing evidence that byproducts from food may be the triggers for the immune response which causes psoriasis. Some researchers have proposed that leaky gut syndrome (also called intestinal hyperpermeability) may be responsible for the leaking of food-based agents from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. Thus, diet modification may help by not only removing the food triggers from ones system, but also by helping to heal ones intestinal tract, perhaps by combatting an overgrowth of candida, which is one possible cause of leaky gut syndrome. Those that are serious about controlling their psoriasis and that want to do so with minimal cost and risk of side-effects from medications should explore the research available on controlling psoriasis through modifying ones diet. Some common food triggers include dairy products, highly acidic foods, fermented foods, alcohol, sugars, nuts, wheat, gluten, nightshades, and many others; however, it is important to recognize that different people may have different food triggers- one needs to experiment for oneself. Also, in addition to removing certain items, many have benefitted from adding other items to their diet, such as cocounut oil, fish oil and other omega 3s, folic acid, zinc, antioxidants, Vitamin D and probiotics.

Dithralin (Anthralin) Dithralin is a synthetic form of an extract from the bark of the South American araroba tree. It is often quite effective, and works by blocking cell proliferation. It often takes a while to start working and can stain and irritate the skin. Dovonex and other Vitamin D analogues- Dovonex, the brand name for calcipotriene, is the most well known and widely used form of the Vitamin D analogues which are used to treat psoriasis. Others are Vectical and tacalcitol. Dovonex is a synthetic form of Vitamin D3, and works by inhibiting skin cell growth and proliferation. Many people report good results with Dovonex, and the known side effects are minimal, however, it can take a number of weeks before seeing results and some people report minimal clearing. Recently, the Vitamin D analogues have also sometimes been formulated to include hydrocortisone.

Methotrexate- Like cyclosporin, methotrexate is a systemic medication with more potentially serious side effects, but which can also offer relief for more serious cases of psoriasis as well as severe cases of psoriatic arthritis. Methotrexate works by inhibiting cell growth, and was originally approved for use as a chemotherapeutic treatment for cancer. The most serious potential side-effect of taking methotrexate is liver damage, and its use must be monitored by medical professionals.

Moisturizers- There are many forms of moisturizers used to treat psoriasis, which are helpful because they not only can soothe the skin and reduce itching, but because they can also help remove the top layer of scales, allowing other agents to more easily reach and treat the underlying skin cells. Oatmeal baths, salicyclic acid, epsom salt baths, saltwater bathing, and a variety of oils are just a few of many moisturizing treatments. Some moisturizers, such as coconut oil and ocean or salt water, may also work by reducing inflammation as well as merely lifting scales and soothing skin.

Omega 3s (Fish Oil)- Dietary supplements such as fish oil containing Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation and some studies and people report good results.

Phototherapy, Sunlight- There are a number of different forms of phototherapy used to control psoriasis, which work by reducing skin cell growth. Though often effective, with phototherapy symptoms get worse before they get better, and the potential for overexposure brings with it a carcinogenic risk, hence the importance of medical oversight when choosing phototherapy.

Retinoids Topical retinoids such as Tazorac come in creams and gels, and are a synthetic form of Vitamin A. Tazorac is the brand name for Tazoratene, and is also used to treat acne. Skin irritation is one side-effect, and it often takes 2-12 weeks to see results.

Topical Corticosteroids- The most common form of treatment. Topical steroids such as hydrocortisone are used in a variety of forms and applied to the skin. They work by reducing the inflammatory reaction. Topical steroids will usually provide temporary relief and reduce inflammation, scaling and itching, however, they do not address the underlying source of the symptoms, and because of side effects are usually only recommended for temporary use.

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Libertarianism in the United States – Wikipedia, the free …

Posted: August 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Libertarianism in the United States is a movement promoting individual liberty and minimized government.[1][2] The Libertarian Party, asserts the following to be core beliefs of libertarianism:

Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.[3][4]

Through 20 polls on this topic spanning 13 years, Gallup found that voters who are libertarian on the political spectrum ranged from 17%- 23% of the US electorate.[5] This includes members of the Republican Party (especially Libertarian Republicans), Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, and Independents.

In the 1950s many with classical liberal beliefs in the United States began to describe themselves as “libertarian.”[6] Academics as well as proponents of the free market perspectives note that free-market libertarianism has spread beyond the U.S. since the 1970s via think tanks and political parties[7][8] and that libertarianism is increasingly viewed worldwide as a free market position.[9][10] However, libertarian socialist intellectuals Noam Chomsky, Colin Ward, and others argue that the term “libertarianism” is considered a synonym for social anarchism by the international community and that the United States is unique in widely associating it with free market ideology.[11][12][13]

Arizona United States Senator Barry Goldwater’s libertarian-oriented challenge to authority had a major impact on the libertarian movement,[14] through his book The Conscience of a Conservative and his run for president in 1964.[15] Goldwater’s speech writer, Karl Hess, became a leading libertarian writer and activist.[16]

The Vietnam War split the uneasy alliance between growing numbers of self-identified libertarians, anarchist libertarians, and more traditional conservatives who believed in limiting liberty to uphold moral virtues. Libertarians opposed to the war joined the draft resistance and peace movements and organizations such as Students for a Democratic Society. They began founding their own publications, like Murray Rothbard’s The Libertarian Forum[17][18] and organizations like the Radical Libertarian Alliance.[19]

The split was aggravated at the 1969 Young Americans for Freedom convention, when more than 300 libertarians organized to take control of the organization from conservatives. The burning of a draft card in protest to a conservative proposal against draft resistance sparked physical confrontations among convention attendees, a walkout by a large number of libertarians, the creation of libertarian organizations like the Society for Individual Liberty, and efforts to recruit potential libertarians from conservative organizations.[20] The split was finalized in 1971 when conservative leader William F. Buckley, Jr., in a 1971 New York Times article, attempted to divorce libertarianism from the freedom movement. He wrote: “The ideological licentiousness that rages through America today makes anarchy attractive to the simple-minded. Even to the ingeniously simple-minded.”[21]

In 1971, David Nolan and a few friends formed the Libertarian Party.[22] Attracting former Democrats, Republicans and independents, it has run a presidential candidate every election year since 1972. Over the years, dozens of libertarian political parties have been formed worldwide. Educational organizations like the Center for Libertarian Studies and the Cato Institute were formed in the 1970s, and others have been created since then.[23]

Philosophical libertarianism gained a significant measure of recognition in academia with the publication of Harvard University professor Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia in 1974. The book won a National Book Award in 1975.[24] According to libertarian essayist Roy Childs, “Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia single-handedly established the legitimacy of libertarianism as a political theory in the world of academia.”[25]

Texas congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns for the Republican Party presidential nomination were largely libertarian. Paul is affiliated with the libertarian-leaning Republican Liberty Caucus and founded the Campaign for Liberty, a libertarian-leaning membership and lobbying organization.

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Questions and Answers About Psoriasis

Posted: July 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm

October 2013

This publication contains general information about psoriasis. It describes what psoriasis is, what causes it, and what the treatment options are. If you have further questions after reading this publication, you may wish to discuss them with your doctor.

Psoriasis is a chronic (long-lasting) skin disease of scaling and inflammation that affects greater than 3 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 5 million adults. Although the disease occurs in all age groups, it primarily affects adults. It appears about equally in males and females.

Psoriasis occurs when skin cells quickly rise from their origin below the surface of the skin and pile up on the surface before they have a chance to mature. Usually this movement (also called turnover) takes about a month, but in psoriasis it may occur in only a few days.

In its typical form, psoriasis results in patches of thick, red (inflamed) skin covered with silvery scales. These patches, which are sometimes referred to as plaques, usually itch or feel sore. They most often occur on the elbows, knees, other parts of the legs, scalp, lower back, face, palms, and soles of the feet, but they can occur on skin anywhere on the body. The disease may also affect the fingernails, the toenails, and the soft tissues of the genitals, and inside the mouth. Although it is not unusual for the skin around affected joints to crack, some people with psoriasis experience joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis. This condition is called psoriatic arthritis.

Individuals with psoriasis may experience significant physical discomfort and some disability. Itching and pain can interfere with basic functions, such as self-care, walking, and sleep. Plaques on hands and feet can prevent individuals from working at certain occupations, playing some sports, and caring for family members or a home. The frequency of medical care is costly and can interfere with an employment or school schedule. People with moderate to severe psoriasis may feel self-conscious about their appearance and have a poor self-image that stems from fear of public rejection and concerns about intimate relationships. Psychological distress can lead to significant depression and social isolation.

Psoriasis is a skin disorder driven by the immune system, especially involving a type of white blood cell called a T cell. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. In the case of psoriasis, T cells are put into action by mistake and become so active that they trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and to rapid turnover of skin cells.

In many cases, there is a family history of psoriasis. Researchers have studied a large number of families affected by psoriasis and identified genes linked to the disease. Genes govern every bodily function and determine the inherited traits passed from parent to child.

People with psoriasis may notice that there are times when their skin worsens, called flares, then improves. Conditions that may cause flares include infections, stress, and changes in climate that dry the skin. Also, certain medicines, including beta-blockers, which are prescribed for high blood pressure, and lithium may trigger an outbreak or worsen the disease. Sometimes people who have psoriasis notice that lesions will appear where the skin has experienced trauma. The trauma could be from a cut, scratch, sunburn, or infection.

Occasionally, doctors may find it difficult to diagnose psoriasis, because it often looks like other skin diseases. It may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis by examining a small skin sample under a microscope.

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Genome Study Predicts DNA of the Whole of Iceland

Posted: March 26, 2015 at 10:47 am

Large genome databases are starting to reveal critical health informationeven about people who have not contributed their DNA.

Maps show how common certain risk-causing DNA mutations are around Iceland.

The CEO of an Icelandic gene-hunting company says he is able to identify everyone from that country who has a deadly cancer risk, but has been unable to warn people of the danger because of ethics rules governing DNA research.

The company, DeCode Genetics, based in Reykjavk, says it has collected full DNA sequences on 10,000 individuals. And because people on the island are closely related, DeCode says it can now also extrapolate to accurately guess the DNA makeup of nearly all other 320,000 citizens of that country, including those who never participated in its studies.

Thats raising complex medical and ethical issues about whether DeCode, which is owned by the U.S. biotechnology company Amgen, will be able to inform members of the public if they are at risk for fatal diseases.

Kri Stefnsson, the doctor who is founder and CEO of DeCode, says he is worried about mutations in a gene called BRCA2 that convey a sharply increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. DeCodes data can now identify about 2,000 people with the gene mutation across Icelands population, and Stefnsson saidthat the company has been in negotiations with health authorities about whether to alert them.

We could save these people from dying prematurely, but we are not, because we as a society havent agreed on that, says Stefnsson. I personally think that not saving people with these mutations is a crime. This is an enormous risk to a large number of people.

The Icelandic Ministry of Welfare said a special committee had been formed to regulate such incidental findings and would propose regulations by the end of the year.

Kri Stefnsson

The technique used by DeCode to predict peoples genes offers clues to the future of so-called precision medicine in other countries, including the U.S., where this year President Barack Obama called for researchers to assemble a giant database of one million people (see U.S to Develop DNA Study of One Million People). A large enough U.S. database could also be used to infer genes of people whether or not they had joined it, says Stefnsson, and could raise similar questions about whether and how to report health hazards to the public.

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Mount Sinai Researchers Discover Genetic Origins of Myelodysplastic Syndrome Using Stem Cells

Posted: March 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm

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Newswise (New York March 25, 2015) Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)adult cells reprogrammed back to an embryonic stem cell-like statemay better model the genetic contributions to each patient’s particular disease. In a process called cellular reprogramming, researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have taken mature blood cells from patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and reprogrammed them back into iPSCs to study the genetic origins of this rare blood cancer. The results appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Biotechnology.

In MDS, genetic mutations in the bone marrow stem cell cause the number and quality of blood-forming cells to decline irreversibly, further impairing blood production. Patients with MDS can develop severe anemia and in some cases leukemia also known as AML. But which genetic mutations are the critical ones causing this disease?

In this study, researchers took cells from patients with blood cancer MDS and turned them into stem cells to study the deletions of human chromosome 7 often associated with this disease.

With this approach, we were able to pinpoint a region on chromosome 7 that is critical and were able to identify candidate genes residing there that may cause this disease, said lead researcher Eirini Papapetrou, MD, PhD, Department of Oncological Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Chromosomal deletions are difficult to study with existing tools because they contain a large number of genes, making it hard to pinpoint the critical ones causing cancer. Chromosome 7 deletion is a characteristic cellular abnormality in MDS and is well-recognized for decades as a marker of unfavorable prognosis. However, the role of this deletion in the development of the disease remained unclear going into this study.

Understanding the role of specific chromosomal deletions in cancers requires determining if a deletion has observable consequences as well as identifying which specific genetic elements are critically lost. Researchers used cellular reprogramming and genome engineering to dissect the loss of chromosome 7. The methods used in this study for engineering deletions can enable studies of the consequences of alterations in genes in human cells.

Genetic engineering of human stem cells has not been used for disease-associated genomic deletions, said Dr. Papapetrou. This work sheds new light on how blood cancer develops and also provides a new approach that can be used to study chromosomal deletions associated with a variety of human cancers, neurological and developmental diseases.

Reprogramming MDS cells could provide a powerful tool to dissect the architecture and evolution of this disease and to link the genetic make-up of MDS cells to characteristics and traits of these cells. Further dissecting the MDS stem cells at the molecular level could provide insights into the origins and development of MDS and other blood cancers. Moreover, this work could provide a platform to test and discover new treatments for these diseases.

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Human Augmentation Market by Product, Application, & Geography – Global Forecast to 2020

Posted: March 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm

NEW YORK, March 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The lucrative growth rate of the augmentation market in the future is the major driving factor for the human augmentation market. Human augmentation has not only made human beings’ life easier but has also resulted in its longevity. In the product category of human augmentation, the “wearable augmentation” is expected to have a higher market size as compared to the “in-built augmentation”. The major reason behind its large market size is the growing demand for sophisticated gadgets. The eye-wear holds the highest market share in the North American human augmentation market, due to the presence of a large number of market players, which are launching new products in this region. The North American market is estimated to grow at the highest growth rate between 2014 and 2020.

The global human augmentation market is expected to reach up to $1135 million by 2020, at a CAGR of 43.5% between 2014 and 2020.

The global human augmentation market has been segmented into three categories that include: products segment, application, and geography. The product segment includes the in-built augmentation and wearable augmentation types. The application segment includes the medical, defense, industrial, and others segments. The human augmentation market has also been segmented on the basis of geography. The market by geography has been classified into various economic regions such as North America, Europe, APAC, and ROW.

The major players that offer various products in the human augmentation market are B-Temia Inc. (U.S.), BrainGate Company (U.S.), Ekso Bionics Holdings, Inc. (U.S.), Google Inc. (U.S.), Raytheon Company (U.S.), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (South Korea), and Vuzix Corporation (U.S.).

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Link between powerful gene regulatory elements and autoimmune diseases

Posted: February 17, 2015 at 6:42 am

Investigators with the National Institutes of Health have discovered the genomic switches of a blood cell key to regulating the human immune system. The findings, published in Nature today, open the door to new research and development in drugs and personalized medicine to help those with autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis.

The senior author of the paper, John J. O’Shea, M.D., is the scientific director at NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The lead author, Golnaz Vahedi, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. O’Shea’s lab in the Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch. The study was performed in collaboration with investigators led by NIH Director, Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., in the Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells, causing inflammation. Different tissues are affected in different diseases, for example, the joints become swollen and inflamed in rheumatoid arthritis, and the brain and spinal cord are damaged in multiple sclerosis. The causes of these diseases are not well understood, but scientists believe that they have a genetic component because they often run in families.

“We now know more about the genetics of autoimmune diseases,” said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. “Knowledge of the genetic risk factors helps us assess a person’s susceptibility to disease. With further research on the associated biological mechanisms, it could eventually enable physicians to tailor treatments to each individual.”

Identifying autoimmune disease susceptibility genes can be a challenge because in most cases a complex mix of genetic and environmental factors is involved. Genetic studies have shown that people with autoimmune diseases possess unique genetic variants, but most of the alterations are found in regions of the DNA that do not carry genes. Scientists have suspected that the variants are in DNA elements called enhancers, which act like switches to control gene activities.

Dr. O’Shea’s team wondered if the alterations might lie in a newly discovered type of enhancer called a super-enhancer (SE). Earlier work in the laboratory of Dr. Collins and others had shown that SEs are especially powerful switches, and that they control genes important for the function and identity of each individual cell type. In addition, a large number of disease-associated genetic alterations were found to fall within SEs, suggesting that disease occurs when these switches malfunction.

Dr. O’Shea’s team began by searching for SEs in T cells, immune cells known to play an important role in rheumatoid arthritis. They reasoned that SEs could serve as signposts to steer them toward potential genetic risk factors for the disease.

“Rather than starting off by looking at genes that we already knew were important in T cells, we took an unbiased approach,” said Dr. O’Shea. “From the locations of their super-enhancers, T cells are telling us where in the genome these cells invest their assets–their key proteins–and thereby where we are most likely to find genetic alterations that confer disease susceptibility.”

Using genomic techniques, the researchers combed the T cell genome for regions that are particularly accessible to proteins, a hallmark of DNA segments that carry SEs. They identified several hundred, and further analysis showed that they largely control the activities of genes that encode cytokine and cytokine receptors. These types of molecules are important for T cell function because they enable them to communicate with other cells and to mount an immune response.

But the researchers’ most striking observation was that a large fraction of previously identified alterations associated with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases localized to these T cell SEs. Additional experiments provided further evidence for a central role for SEs in rheumatoid arthritis. When the scientists exposed human T cells to a drug used to treat the disease, tofacitinib, the activities of genes controlled by SEs were profoundly affected compared to other genes without SEs. This result suggests that tofacitinib may bring about its therapeutic effects in part by acting on SEs to alter the activities of important T cell genes.

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China Blocks Many Virtual Private Networks, Used To Skirt Internet Censorship, In New Crackdown

Posted: January 23, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Internet users in China who use virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the country’s Internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall, found the services blocked or only intermittently available Friday, in what analysts see as part of an increasingly vigorous online censorship campaign in the country.

Users of many VPN services in the country reported difficulty accessing the services Friday. The popular service Golden Frog posted an update on its blog confirming that users were experiencing problems.

China blocks a large number of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and those that the authorities deem to contain politically sensitive material, such as information about the 1989 Tiananmen Square killings, or unflattering news stories about Chinese government figures. The websites of several Western news outlets, including the New York Times and BBC have also been blocked at times.

The blocking of these sites, however, has often been more symbolic than effective. Many Chinese Internet users simply accepted the restrictions as a fact of life and used widely-available VPN technology to circumvent them.

We have seen increased web censorship over the past year and I think drawing a correlation to the disruption of consumer-facing VPN services is not a stretch, Charlie Smith of Greatfire.org, which monitors censorship in China, told the Financial Times.

The wave of increased Internet censorship includes the blocking of Google’s Gmail service in December 2014. One U.S.-based expert linked the Internet crackdown to the anti-corruption drive that President Xi Jinping has launched since taking power.

“We all know that China is in the middle of a very ferocious power struggle or political cleansing under the name of an anti-corruption campaign,” Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor with University of California, Berkeley’s School of Information, told The Associated Press. “That to me is a very clearly related fact with the amount of political rumors and information related to China’s high politics showing up in websites outside of China.”

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China Blocks Many Virtual Private Networks, Used To Skirt Internet Censorship, In New Crackdown

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