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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Carol of the Bells Played on iPads







For Christmas this year the folks at North Point Community Church in Georgia wanted to mix things up a bit. Using borrowed iPhones and iPads, they formed an “iBand” and performed the traditional bell choir song “The Carol of the Bells” using only the Apple devices. Merry iChristmas!
The apps used for the performance included: SoundGrid, NLogFree, Melody Bell, Guitarist (Nylon String), iGog (MoreVox Acoustic 1 sound, drums), Bassist (bass), Guitarist (Electric)

North Point’s iBand from North Point Web on Vimeo.

Stem cell transplant has cured HIV infection in 'Berlin patient', say doctors

Keith Alcorn

Timothy Ray Brown gave an interview to German magazine Stern.
Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.
The man received bone marrow from a donor who had natural resistance to HIV infection; this was due to a genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptor being absent from his cells. The most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 as its ‘docking station’, attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells, and people with this mutation are almost completely protected against infection.
The case was first reported at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, and Berlin doctors subsequently published a detailed case history in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2009.
They have now published a follow-up report in the journal Blood, arguing that based on the results of extensive tests, “It is reasonable to conclude that cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this patient.”

The case history

The 'Berlin patient' is an HIV-positive man who developed acute myeloid leukaemia, received successful treatment and subsequently experienced a relapse in 2007 that required a transplant of stem cells.
Doctors chose stem cells from an individual who had an unusual genetic profile: a mutation inherited from both parents that resulted in CD4 cells that lacked the CCR5 receptor. This mutation, called CCR5 delta 32 homozygosity, is present in less than 1% of Caucasians in northern and western Europe, and is associated with a reduced risk of becoming infected with HIV.
This is because all new infecting viruses need to use the CCR5 receptor on CD4 cells when infecting an immune system cell of the CD4 type.
Later in the course of HIV infection another type of virus emerges that can use the CXCR4 receptor instead.
Before the stem cell transplant the patient received chemotherapy treatment that destroyed most immune cells and total body irradiation, and also received immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the stem cells.
Antiretroviral therapy was halted on the day of the transplant, and the patient had to receive a second stem cell transplant 13 days after the first one, due to a further relapse of leukaemia.
The patient continued to receive immunosuppressive treatment to prevent rejection for 38 months, and at 5, 24 and 29 months post-transplant colon biopsies were taken to investigate possible graft-versus-host disease in the intestine. At each investigation additional samples were taken to check for signs of HIV infection in the abundant immune cells of the gut wall.
During the 38 month follow-up period the donor CD4 cells repopulated the mucosal immune system of the gut, to such an extent that the frequency of CD4 cells was almost twice as high as in HIV-negative healthy controls, and this phenomenon was also seen in a control group of ten HIV-negative individuals who received stem cell transfers.
The repopulation of CD4 cells was accompanied by the complete disappearance of host CD4 cells, and after two years the patient had the CD4 count of a healthy adult of the same age.
One of the challenges for any approach to curing HIV infection is long-lived immune system cells, which need to be cleared before a patient can be cured. In the case of the Berlin patient CCR5-bearing macrophages could not be detected after 38 months, suggesting that chemotherapy had destroyed these longer-lived cells, and that they had also been replaced by donor cells.
The German researchers and San Francisco-based immunologist Professor Jay Levy believe that the findings point to the importance of suppressing the production of CCR5-bearing cells, either through transplants or gene therapy.
The patient did not resume antiretroviral therapy after the transplant.
Nevertheless HIV remained undetectable by both viral load testing (RNA) and tests for viral DNA within cells, and HIV antibody levels declined to the point that the patient has no antibody reactivity to HIV core antibodies, and only very low levels of antibodies to the HIV envelope proteins.
Seventeen months after the transplant the patient developed a neurological condition, which required a brain biopsy and lumbar puncture to sample the cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic purposes. HIV was also undetectable in the brain and the CSF.
An additional indication that HIV is not present lies in the fact that the patient’s CD4 cells are vulnerable to infection with virus that targets the CXCR4 receptor. If any virus with this preference was still present, the researchers argue, it would be able to swiftly infect the large population of memory CD4 cells that has emerged.

The Berlin patient speaks to the press

The `Berlin patient`, Timothy Ray Brown, a US citizen who lives in Berlin, was interviewed this week by German news magazine Stern.
His course of treatment for leukaemia was gruelling and lengthy. Brown suffered two relapses and underwent two stem cell transplants, as well as a serious neurological disorder that flared up when he seemed to be on the road to recovery.
The neurological problem led to temporary blindness and memory problems. Brown is still undergoing physiotherapy to help restore his coordination and gait, as well as speech therapy.
Friends have noticed a personality change too: he is much more blunt, possibly a disinhibition that is related to the neurological problems.
On being asked if it would have been better to live with HIV than to have beaten it in this way he says “Perhaps. Perhaps it would have been better, but I don’t ask those sorts of questions anymore.”
Timothy Brown is now considering a move from Berlin to Barcelona or San Francisco, and, reports Stern magazine, enjoying a drink and a cigarette.
Stern also interviewed Dr Gero Hütter, who was in charge of Timothy Brown’s treatment. Dr Hütter told Stern that as a scientist he was “in the right place, at the right time” and that “for me it is important to have overthrown the dogma that HIV can never be cured. Something like this is the greatest thing one can achieve in medical research”.

Implications for future approaches to curing HIV infection

If a cure has been achieved in this patient, it points the way towards attempts to develop a cure for HIV infection through genetically engineered stem cells.
The German researchers and San Francisco-based immunologist Professor Jay Levy believe that the findings point to the importance of suppressing the production of CCR5-bearing cells, either through transplants or gene therapy.
Scientists were sufficiently intrigued by the Berlin patient that they met in Berlin in 2009 to discuss how they could coordinate efforts to identify CCR5-delta32 homozygous donors and expand the supply of stem cells from these donors, for example through sampling blood cells from the umbilical cord of babies born to mothers who are homozygous for CCR5-delta32, in order to eventually facilitate stem-cell therapy.
Gene therapy techniques which can transform stem cells – and all their descendents – into cells resistant to HIV entry may be a more practical option than looking for matching donors.
Several US research groups announced in October 2009 that they had received funding to explore techniques for engineering and introducing CCR5-deficient stem cells.
If these approaches prove successful they will be expensive, so in the early stages it is likely that they would be reserved for people with no remaining treatment options or a cancer requiring bone marrow or stem cell transfer.
As Timothy Brown’s experience shows, curing HIV infection through ablative chemotherapy, immunosuppressive drugs and stem cell transfer is not a course of treatment for the faint-hearted. It has required courage, determination and a lot of support to become the first person to be pronounced `cured` of HIV infection.

Reference

Allers K et al. Evidence for the cure of HIV infection by CCR5Δ32/ Δ32 stem cell transplantation. Blood, advance online publication December 8, 2010.
Hutter G et al. Transplantation of selected or transgenic blood stem cells – a future treatment for HIV/AIDS. J Int AIDS Soc 12: 10, 2009.
Hutter G et al. Long-term control of HIV by CCR5 CCR5Δ32/ Δ32 stem-cell transplantation. N Engl J Med. 360: 692-8, 2009.
Thanks to Greta Hughson for translation.
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Liam Neeson Confirmed for Taken 2, TV Series on the Way

By Krystal Clark
From  http://screencrave.com/

takenalp5 11 09 Liam Neeson Confirmed for Taken 2, TV Series on the Way

Liam Neeson has been all about action films ever since Taken debuted in theaters early last year. It was a sleeper hit, and became somewhat of a cult phenomenon. He followed that performance with Zeus from Clash of the Titans and Hannibal in The A-Team, now he’s returning to his vengeful roots in the sequel Taken 2. Yes, it is happening.


According to Deadline, Neeson will begin production on Taken 2 this spring. They also revealed that writer Luc Besson and the production company EuropaCorp have plans to bring Taken to the small screen. In terms of the timeline, it would follow the events that occur in the sequel. Does this mean that we can expect week after week of random kidnappings followed by extreme beatings and shoot-outs?

Speaking of shootouts, another action flick known for its gun play will also be turned into a TV series. The Transporter franchise, which solidified Jason Statham as a one-man ass kicking machine is a possible candidate. With the success of shows like “Nikita” it seems that renegade assassins and vigilantes are all the rage.

The Transporter will cost about $48 million and the series run will consist of 12 episodes. Production will start early next year and the first episodes will be delivered in November. Who will star as the lead in this and Taken? We’re not sure but we’ll let you know when we find out.

What Can $150k Buy in Real Estate Around the World?

Written by David Miller 
With the global credit crunch spiraling into an economic crisis, here’s what $150k can buy you right now around the world.
Argentina: Centro, Buenos Aires

USD Price: $149,000
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 1
Notes / Link: This place is fully remodeled and right in El Centro, 2 blocks from Teatro Colon.

Chile: Villarrica, Region 9

USD Price: $110,000
Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 3
Notes / Link: This house is in the town of Villarrica, and has world-class backcountry terrain all around.
Russia: Chystye Prudy Area, Moscow

USD Price: $152,000 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 2
Notes / Link: Right in the center of Moscow.
South Africa: Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape

USD Price: $152,200 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 5 Bathrooms: 3
Notes / Link: This pad has a barbecue, garden, and you’re close to one of the sickest surf spots in the world.
Australia: Deniliquin, New South Wales

USD Price: $144,400 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 5 Bathrooms: 3
Notes / Links A full on 27-acre farm near thetown of Deniliquin. Extremely affordable Australian home loans are also available.
Portugal: Evora, Alentejo

USD Price: $150,500 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 1
Notes / Link: in sweet village of Viana do Alentejo.
Indonesia: Lovina, Bali

USD Price: $107,000 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 2
Notes / Link: A straight-up private villa on Bali with mature palms / banana trees and some kind of ‘split level swimming pool’. Ridiculous.
Croatia: Porec, Istria

USD Price: $150,700 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 2
Notes / Link: A 3-bedroom apartment with beach only 3 minutes away, along with the yacht marine of Cervar village.
Czech Republic: Prosek, Prague

USD Price: $144,000 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 2 Bathrooms: 1
Notes / Link: A newly renovated apartment with 74 m2 of living space and a 6-minute commute via subway to the city center.
New Zealand: Foxton

USD Price: $125,500 (approx.)
Bedrooms: 4 Bathrooms: 2

20 Overlooked National Landmarks in the U.S.

Written by Hal Amen
 From http://matadornetwork.com/

America is large, with tons of landmark sites beyond Niagara, Mt. Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty.

Bear Butte  

1. Bear Butte, SD
Overshadowed by: Nearby Mt. Rushmore
Cool features: The 4,400ft igneous uplift, just north of the Black Hills, is held as sacred by the Lakota, Cheyenne, and other American Indian peoples of the region, who often make pilgrimages to the butte and leave offerings on its slopes. Respectful visitors can check it out in Bear Butte State Park.
Photo: Lars Plougmann

St. Augustine, Florida
 
2. St. Augustine, FL
Overshadowed by: Jamestown, VA
Cool features: Founded by the Spanish in 1565, St. Augustine is “the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United States” (Wikipedia). The picture above is taken in front of the Fountain of Youth, a tribute to what Spanish explorers were looking for when they came to Florida.
Photo: minds-eye

Petrified wood
 
3. Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
Overshadowed by: Nearby Grand Canyon National Park
Cool features: Adjacent to northeastern Arizona’s Painted Desert, Petrified Forest is pretty colorful itself. It’s also home to fossilized trees that grew 225 million years ago.
Photo: Skinned Mink

Angel Island

4. Angel Island, CA
Overshadowed by: Alcatraz Island, Ellis Island
Cool features: San Francisco Bay’s Angel Island was the point of entry for many Asian immigrants to America. Its museum and research center make it a great place to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
Photo: Franco Folini

Ghost Ranch still life
 
5. Ghost Ranch, NM
Overshadowed by: The Santa Fe art scene
Cool features: The Ghost Ranch complex is a 21,000-acre retreat near Abiquiu and is where American artist Georgia O’Keeffe found much of the inspiration behind her landscape and nature paintings. Dinosaur fossils are also frequently uncovered on the property.
Photo: Randy Pertiet

Shoshone Falls  

6. Shoshone Falls, ID
Overshadowed by: Niagara
Cool features: This falls in southern Idaho is 45 feet taller than its world-famous counterpart in the East and fills a spillage width of 1,000 feet during runoff season. Swimming, boating, hiking, and picnicking opportunities are available.
Photo: The Shutterbugette

Davis Monthan AFB boneyard  

7. Airplane Boneyard, AZ
Overshadowed by: Real airports
Cool features: The aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, near Tuscon, is one of many such storage and scrap facilities in the American Southwest, where a dry climate and hard, compacted soil make it feasible to leave huge planes to sit for decades.
Photo: PhillipC

Burial mound, Ohio
 
8. Indian Mounds, nationwide
Overshadowed by: An apparent educational basis in the study of Native American history
Cool features: Burial mounds scattered across the country, with high concentrations along the Mississippi, belie the idea that North American Indians never created monumental structures. The mound pictured above is just outside Columbus, OH.
Photo: spisharam

Sand dunes, CO  

9. Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
Overshadowed by: Colorado’s mountains
Cool features: This new national park, created in 2004, is surprisingly overlooked, given it has the tallest dunes in North America and a backdrop made up of 14′ers in the Sangre de Cristo Range. It’s also a great place to get started sandboarding.
Photo: knasen

Seattle underground tour  
10. Seattle Underground
Overshadowed by: Ground-level Seattle
Cool features: In 1889, a fire burned Seattle to the ground. To rebuild, citizens raised the city, constructing the new directly on top of the old. Matador Goods coeditor Michelle Schusterman blogs about this landmark in Before the Streets Were Raised.
Photo: zaui


Kiva at Chetro Ketl  
11. Chetro Ketl, NM
Overshadowed by: Pueblo Bonita and the greater Chaco Canyon
Cool features: The name of the historical culture and the canyon that housed it has penetrated into public awareness much more so than one of its most intricate and well preserved pueblos, Chetro Ketl. The canyon is a national historic park, with camping open year round.
Photo: snowpeak

Bucksport bridge  
12. Penobscot Narrows Bridge, ME
Overshadowed by: Golden Gate, Brooklyn, and other famous U.S. bridges
Cool features: The engineering sophistication that went into the four-year-old bridge seems incongruous with its location in small-town Maine. But the coolest part is the observation post built into the western tower. It’s the tallest such observatory in the world.
Photo: sskennel

Girl at White Sands  
13. White Sands National Monument, NM
Overshadowed by: New Mexico’s archaeological sites
Cool features: New Mexico’s White Sands is 275 square miles of gypsum dunes, 15 miles southwest of Alamogordo.
Photo: a4gpa

Palo Duro sunrise  
14. Palo Duro Canyon, TX
Overshadowed by: Grand Canyon
Cool features: Though nowhere near the scope of America’s “grand” master, Palo Duro is the second largest canyon system in the country. It’s currently protected by a Texas state park of the same name.
Photo: r w h

Natchez Trace from the air  
15. Natchez Trace Parkway
Overshadowed by: Blue Ridge Parkway
Cool features: Not nearly as mountainous as its Blue Ridge counterpart, the Natchez Trace Parkway makes for a smooth 444-mile cruise from southwestern Mississippi up to the outskirts of Nashville. It follows the path of the old Natchez Trace, which once served as a hunting and trade route for native peoples and later Europeans/Americans.
Photo: brandongreer

Fort Ticonderoga from Mt. Defiance  
16. Fort Ticonderoga, NY
Overshadowed by: Gettysburg
Cool features: This strategic fort was captured by the Green Mountain Boys at the start of the American Revolution. Also overlooked is the fact that infamous traitor Benedict Arnold was instrumental in the Revolutionary forces’ 1775 victory here.
Photo: Slabcity Gang

Shiprock  
17. Shiprock, NM
Overshadowed by: Monument Valley
Cool features: Like Bear Butte, Shiprock is considered sacred by the indigenous peoples of the region. To me, it looks like that sweet mobile fortress in Krull.
Photo: bowiesnodgrass

African Burial Ground  
18. African Burial Ground, NYC
Overshadowed by: New York’s many other historical and cultural offerings
Cool features: In 1991, the remains of 400 Africans (both free and enslaved) were uncovered in Lower Manhattan. You can read more about the site at Collazo Projects, the blog of Matador’s managing editor, Julie Schwietert.
Photo: A. Strakey

Great Basin NP vista  
19. Great Basin National Park, NV
Overshadowed by: Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, and other Western parks
Cool features: Established in 1986, Great Basin is an infant in Western national park terms. Highlights include the Lehman Caves, plenty of backcountry camping opportunities, and the oldest known trees in the world. Find it off Highway 50, just across the Utah border.
Photo: Alaskan Dude

McDonald Observatory  
20. McDonald Observatory, TX
Overshadowed by: Mauna Kea Observatory, HI
Cool features: The height and aridity of the Davis Mountains, located in West Texas, make for good stargazing at McDonald, one of the most powerful observatories in the country.
Photo: Chuck 55

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