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Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

Guppy Re:A Priority (55 comments)

It has been done during the 1995 Kikwit Ebola outbreak in Zaire. They tried it on eight patients and only one died. I have found no indication that any health care workers were infected.

Just in case anyone is curious, here is the actual paper:

Between 6 and 22 June 1995, 8 patients in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, who met the case definition used in Kikwit for Ebola (EBO) hemorrhagic fever, were transfused with blood donated by 5 convalescent patients. The donated blood contained IgG EBO antibodies but no EBO antigen. EBO antigens were detected in all the transfusion recipients just before transfusion. The 8 transfused patients had clinical symptoms similar to those of other EBO patients seen during the epidemic. All were seriously ill with severe asthenia, 4 presented with hemorrhagic manifestations, and 2 became comatose as their disease progressed. Only 1 transfused patient (12.5%) died; this number is significantly lower than the overall case fatality rate (80%) for the EBO epidemic in Kikwit and than the rates for other EBO epidemics.

about two weeks ago

Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

Guppy Re:Doesn't make sense to me (55 comments)

Neither the summary or the linked article use the term, but what they're using is known as "convalescent serum". As the parent poster stated above, it's been in use for over a century now, but has only fallen out of fashion in modern times -- mainly because it has been superseded by vaccines and anti-infectives that are cheaper, more reliable, more convenient, and easier to mass-produce.

Trivia note: While Type-O may be the universal blood donor, the ideal serum donor is Type AB.

about two weeks ago

Survivors' Blood Holds Promise, But Draws Critics, As Ebola Treatment

Guppy Humoral vs. Cell-mediated Immune responses (55 comments)

Couldn't this approach be used for any infectious disease for which there's no effective cure but there are some survivors? Are there just no Western diseases that fit the profile? I suppose you need both a person sick with a deadly infection and a recent survivor of a same infection (with the same blood type). So it may just be the case that we simply don't experience that scenario enough to develop this solution. But I'm curious if this approach has been used outside of Ebola in Africa.

It's not used much today, because we've largely conquered the disease agents that such an approach works against. Typically, it works well against infectious agents which are highly vulnerable to a Humoral (antibody-mediated) immune response. Co-incidentally, this also means most vaccines work extremely well against those same disease agents. Unfortunately, Ebola doesn't yet have a commercially available vaccine, but I would expect such a vaccine to work well.

There are only a few examples in the West where we still use this approach -- one that I can think of, is the use of anti-HepB sera in infants born to infected mothers, and for emergency prophylaxis of needlestick injuries involving Hepatitis B exposure. For the bulk of the population, Hepatitis B vaccination works well enough (and is far cheaper).

What it doesn't work well against, are infectious agents that don't respond well to natural antibody defenses. For instance, most anti-HIV antibodies do not defend well against HIV, anti-HepC antibodies do not protect against Hepatitis C, nor do anti-TB antibodies protect against Tuberculosis. For those agents, an effective response depends on cell-mediated immunity.

about two weeks ago

Obama Administration Seeks $58M To Put (Partly) Toward Fighting Ebola

Guppy Re:They didn't build that (105 comments)

ZMapp is produced by a private firm

If you follow the money, it'll lead back to a grant funded by the Federal government (in this case, both the U.S. and Canadian governments).

Ebola therapeutics were (and probably still are) anticipated to be a profit-less product segment, as far as the civilian commercial market is concerned. The affected population can't afford any resulting product, plus previous outbreaks were sporadic with small numbers of fatalities. The only potential "customers" -- at the time research was initiated over a decade ago -- were governments who might be interested in stockpiling treatments for future bio-defense use.

Now, a few of the large pharmaceutical companies still maintain and fund tropical-diseases divisions, despite the lack of profitability (for instance, Glaxo's division is largely a legacy of British Colonial days, which they've carried ever since). But I highly doubt a small biotech like Mapp Biopharm would ever do so without being paid most of the cost up-front.

about two weeks ago

Interview: Ask Christopher "moot" Poole About 4chan and Social Media

Guppy "Black Hole" of the Internet? (220 comments)

Even though 4Chan can rightly be considered the black hole of the internet

That's actually pretty generous. Usually I hear 4chan referred to in the context of it being another kind of "hole" of the internet.

about three weeks ago

New Nigerian ID Card Includes Prepay MasterCard Wallet

Guppy Re:Are Mastercard paying for the privilege? (62 comments)

Are Mastercard paying for the privilege?

I wouldn't be surprised if they are. Of course, they are likely also anticipating that long-term, the flow of cash will turn the other way around.

about three weeks ago

ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

Guppy Ever-increasing proportion of female physicians (329 comments)

According to this data chart [], about 30% of physicians are female.

As time go on, this will even out. While the ranks of older physicians are male-dominated, females make up just slightly under half the medical school class in the US. In parts of Europe, they already make up the majority:

women make up 54 percent of physicians below the age of 35 in Britain, 58 percent in France and almost 64 percent in Spain, according to the latest figures from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

about a month ago

ACM Blames the PC For Driving Women Away From Computer Science

Guppy Re:What about nursing?? (329 comments)

Because women who want go into medicine end up nurses instead of doctors. This is the result of stereotypes, peer pressure and a largely male establishment.

In 2011-2012, women represented 47.0% of entering students entering medical school, and it's been hovering at just below half (around 47-49%) for the past decade. This value has also been approximately proportional to the gender mix of applicants, which was 47.3% female in 2011-2012.


about a month ago

Study: Seals Infected Early Americans With Tuberculosis

Guppy Tag #WhereIsTheFuckingPaper (74 comments)

Oh, here it is: Pre-Columbian mycobacterial genomes reveal seals as a source of New World human tuberculosis (Paywall -- free Nature summary article here).

Modern strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the Americas are closely related to those from Europe, supporting the assumption that human tuberculosis was introduced post-contact. This notion, however, is incompatible with archaeological evidence of pre-contact tuberculosis in the New World. Comparative genomics of modern isolates suggests that M. tuberculosis attained its worldwide distribution following human dispersals out of Africa during the Pleistocene epoch, although this has yet to be confirmed with ancient calibration points. Here we present three 1,000-year-old mycobacterial genomes from Peruvian human skeletons, revealing that a member of the M. tuberculosis complex caused human disease before contact. The ancient strains are distinct from known human-adapted forms and are most closely related to those adapted to seals and sea lions. Two independent dating approaches suggest a most recent common ancestor for the M. tuberculosis complex less than 6,000 years ago, which supports a Holocene dispersal of the disease. Our results implicate sea mammals as having played a role in transmitting the disease to humans across the ocean.

about a month ago

How To Read a Microbiome Study Like a Scientist

Guppy Re:Home fecal transplant went wrong (53 comments)

While the clinical picture and timing suggests the possibility, it's far from certain that this was a primary infection stemming from his home fecal transplant. I would have liked to see an analysis of anti-CMV IgM titers, although in this case it's also possible that his case was recognized too long afterwards to determine whether or not it was an actual primary infection.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Would You Pay For Websites Without Trolls?

Guppy Re:Something Awful (382 comments)


Well, there are tons of trolls on SA. They just spend their time trolling other sites.

about a month ago

Delays For SC Nuclear Plant Put Pressure On the Industry

Guppy Re:Just red tape? (142 comments)

Don't forget the mercury output as well. It's largely thanks to coal that a few pounds of swordfish steaks now contain (on average) as much mercury as a typical CFL bulb, and the level of mercury in our oceans continues to slowly increase over time.

about a month ago

Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

Guppy Re:Obvious (151 comments)

Actually, the answer is no and that is obvious. Eventually we are going to run into limits driven by the size of atoms (and are in fact already there).

No problem with atomic size limits, let me just whip out my handy quark notcher!

about a month ago

My degree of colorblindness:

Guppy Re:Different colors (267 comments)

Polycarbonate lenses drive me nuts because their Abbe number is too low; everything looks like an old-school 3-D movie (without looking at it through the red/blue 3D glasses) to me when I wear them.

I think there was some specialty lens company that sold a multi-layer achromatic eyeglass lens, but I believe they have since gone out of business, unfortunately.

The best commonly available material for chromatic dispersion is probably CR-39, followed by Trivex, but the index is too low for very high-powered prescriptions.

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Life Beyond the WRT54G Series?

Guppy +1 for router on Uninterruptible Power Supply (427 comments)

I have a Linksys E900 I've been running DD-WRT on for a while, and never had a lick of trouble with it until this week, when the WAN port fried thanks to a power surge (caused by some dumbass with a drill...).

That reminds me, one of the best things you can do for a home router is to put it behind a UPS. I put my father's Linksys wrt54g behind an old APC-300, it was up for over a year continuously afterwards, and only required a reboot when I had to move it around for some maintenance. Even a crappy $25 Belkin can be surprisingly stable when it has a nice clean power supply.

about a month and a half ago

Comcast Confessions

Guppy Re:Get smart ... (234 comments)

Them "Why do you want to cancel?"
Me: "I'm moving to Italy."

This. The rep's script is running on rails that he can't really deviate from. To make it easy for both you and him, you need to guide it to an endpoint that won't generate any negative metrics for him.

about 2 months ago

Newly Discovered Virus Widespread in Human Gut

Guppy Physical structure of the phage? (100 comments)

I'm the last author on the paper and it was discovered in my bioinformatics lab in the CS department at SDSU ...

Quick question -- I see from your paper, do you have an idea what it looks structurally? A bunch of media sites have pictures but are using what is obviously stock art (mostly of T-even phages), but from your paper I see that it has no close phylogenetic relationship to known phages (and if your group had e-microscopy or crystallographic data, it would have been in the paper already).

Still, I figured someone skilled in virology might be able to identify some capsid sequences or something, and be able to make a decent guess.

about 2 months ago

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

Guppy Re:cause and/or those responsible (667 comments)

Btw. does anyone here remember the USS Vincennes?

Funny thing, I once bought a used Science Fiction pulp novel from a used book store (up in State College, PA), sometime in the late 90's. Only later did I realize that "USS Vincennes" was stamped on one of the edges, indicating it must have come from some on-board library. It's a small world.

Anyway, to continue with your question -- yes, I remember it pretty well. And there were plenty of talking heads in the media trying to shift some of the blame onto Iran (that it must have been a martyrdom operation where Iran sacrificed it's own citizens to make us look bad, or that Iran shouldn't have operated civilian and military aircraft out of the same airport, or that the pilot should have known better than to fly on a path directly crossing that of a U.S. warship -- all bunk excuses).

But the U.S. government never denied that we were the ones who shot it down, they admitted it quickly and bluntly.

about 2 months ago

Chinese-Built Cars Are Coming To the US Next Year

Guppy Re:I'll buy anything from China except food (431 comments)

At this point, a majority of the apple juice and tilapia we eat in the U.S. is now imported from China -- as well as food additives such as citric acid, sorbic acid, some vitamin additives, and artificial vanilla flavoring.

And while they haven't yet reached a majority market share, frozen spinach, garlic, mushrooms, and cod have large fractions of the supply coming from China.

about 3 months ago

"Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Guppy Re:How to defend youself (396 comments)

against a man armed with a banana?

Trick Question -- he's not attacking, he's just happy to see you!

about 3 months ago



Smaller Testicles correlated with Better Parenting Behavior

Guppy Guppy writes  |  1 year,10 days

Guppy (12314) writes "A recent paper appearing in PNAS (Paywalled) measured Testicular volume and Testosterone levels in fathers of children aged 1-2 years. This information was compared against parenting surveys reported by the children's mothers, as well as MRI imaging of brain activity in the men's Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA), taken while the men were viewing photographs of their children.

The results appeared consistent with past studies hinting of correlation — both Smaller Testicles and lower testosterone levels were found to correlated with both greater reported Nuturing-type behavior, as well as greater stimulated VTA activity. The authors commented that further research was required, given the limited scope of past investigations into the subject, saying "Testicular imaging is sort of a unique niche right now."

Free Summary appearing in Nature here."

Link to Original Source

Slashdot Poll Submission: "R"

Guppy Guppy writes  |  about a year ago

Guppy (12314) writes " R:
  • Type
  • Project for Statistical Computing
  • Daneel Olivaw
  • Dorothy Wayneright
  • Kelly
  • "...Shiver me timbers, matey!"

Tylenol may ease pain of existential distress, social rejection

Guppy Guppy writes  |  about a year ago

Guppy (12314) writes "Does Tylenol reduce existential distress? Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) has been used to relieve mild-to-moderate physical pain for over a century, yet its actual mechanism of action continues to be debated; modern research has demonstrated an intriguing connection with the body's endocannabinoid system, raising the question of whether it may also have subtle psychological effects as well. A recent paper claims Acetaminophen can alter our response to existential challenge; previous findings have suggested that it may blunt the pain of social rejection as well."

Training an Immune System to kill Cancer: A Universal Strategy

Guppy Guppy writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Guppy writes "A previous story reported widely in the media, and appearing both on Slashdot and XKCD described a novel cancer treatment, in which a patient's own T-cells were modified using an HIV-derived vector to recognize and kill leukemia cells. In a follow-up publication, a further development is described which allows for a nearly unlimited choice of target antigens, broadening the types of malignancies potentially treatable with the technique."
Link to Original Source


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