Tag: science

Boosting The Immune System With Vaccines To Fight Cancer

cancer cells

Immunotherapies have been taking the biotech world by storm. Among these are cancer vaccines, which are directed at solid tumors and aim to boost patients’ immune systems to fight cancer.

The cancer vaccine world is broad, with many players.Here’s an overview of some of the current efforts underway by European biotechs.

One big player in the cancer vaccine world is BioNTech, a German biotech working on personalized mRNA-based immunotherapies.

We try to provide individualized immunotherapies. If you try to compare two patients’ tumors, they are never the same. We recognize this fact and try to develop individualized treatments for each patient,” Sean Marett, the company’s COO, said last June 20 at Labiotech Refresh in Berlin.




One of BioNTech’s cancer vaccine platforms is IVAC (Individualized Vaccines Against Cancer) MUTANOME, where patient’s tumors are sequenced to identify neoantigens, which are then incorporated into an mRNA-based vaccine.

We’re doing, effectively, de novo target discovery in real time,” Marett says.

The company also has two approaches, FixVAC and RNA WAREHOUSE, which are based on the knowledge that across patient populations, there are shared antigens that are expressed differently in each individual.

“Regarding our FixVac approach, each eligible patient is treated with exactly the same product,” Marett tells Labiotech.

“With respect to our RNA WAREHOUSE concept, we’re calibrating the treatment for each patient to their individualized expression of the cancer-selective shared antigens.”

cancer cells

BioNTech has partnered with big industry players, such as Genentech, to develop its cancer vaccines.

They currently have a number of products in Phase I and Phase I/II clinical trials for various indications, including melanoma, head and neck cancer, and breast cancer.

Another German biotech, CureVac, is also working hard to bring mRNA-based approach to the clinic. Though they recently suffered a Phase II failure of its candidate CV9104 for prostate cancer. The company has additional drugs in the pipeline, including a vaccine targeting non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

syringe

The company has additional drugs in the pipeline, including a vaccine targeting non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“What we’ve learned here is that mRNA is not enough on its own— you have to break tolerance and you have to make it more immunogenic.” CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr told Labiotech in January.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Conspiracy Theory That Rudolf Hess Was Switched for Doppelganger, Debunked By DNA

The British launched four inquires to get to the truth about the doppelganger theory. Credit: AP

Second World War conspiracy theory which suggested Nazi deputy fuhrer Rudolf Hess had escaped justice after being replaced with a doppelganger, has finally been debunked after new DNA evidence came to light.

Hess was arrested in 1941 after parachuting in to Scotland to broker peace with Britain, later tried at Nuremberg and incarcerated in Spandau prison Berlin until his death in 1987.

But British doctor Hugh Thomas who worked at Spandau insisted the prisoner purporting to be Hess did not have the correct scars, prompting four inconclusive investigations by the British government.

Now the mystery has finally been solved after a retired military doctor from the US Army and a forensic scientist from Austria tracked down a blood sample from Hess and compared it to relatives still living in Germany.

The results show there is just a one per cent chance that the blood did not belong to the eminent Nazi.




Dr Sherman McCall was working in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington when he first learned that colleague Rick Wahl had once worked at Spandau and had brought back a smear of Hess’s blood to use as a teaching aid.

Yet it was not until years later that McCall discovered there was doubt over Hess’s identity and asked to use the sample to learn the truth.

Jan Cemper-Kiesslich, a molecular biologist in the DNA Unit at the department of legal medicine, University of Salzburg, Austria, extracted DNA from the dried blood and the pair then hunted down a relative to see if it was a match.

Slides containing Hess’s blood Credit: Heidelberg MEDDAC

Statistical analysis of the results suggests a 99.99 per cent likelihood that the blood sample on the slide comes from a close family member of the living relative of Hess.

The research, published in the journal Forensic Science International Genetics concludes that it is virtually certain “that prisoner ‘Spandau #7’ was indeed was Rudolf Hess, the Deputy Führer of the Third Reich”.

The conspiracy theory claiming that prisoner ‘Spandau #7’ was an impostor is extremely unlikely and therefore disproved,” the authors added.

Soldiers and policemen in Eaglesham inspect the wreckage of the Messerschmitt ME-110 in which Nazi leader Rudolf Hess made his solo flight to Scotland Credit: Hulton Archive

“Due to the lucky event of the presence of a biological trace sample originating from prisoner ‘Spandau #7’ the authors got the unique chance to shed new light on one of the most persistent historical memes of World War II history.”

Dr Turi King, the geneticist at the University of Leicester, UK, who led the forensic examination of the body of Richard III said: “They’ve got a perfect match with the Y chromosome and a living male Hess relative.

“If this person was a doppelgänger, you wouldn’t get that match, so from that point of view it’s a good sign.”

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Strange Jellyfish-Like ‘Blobs’ Found In 600 Million Year Old Rocks In China Are Earliest Animals Ever Found

Strange “blobs” found in China could be evidence of the first animals that ever existed, experts say. Fossil evidence of the ancient creatures, which resemble jelly fish, was discovered in 600 million-year-old rocks.

The previously unknown animal doesn’t have a name yet but microscopic analysis showed similar features to comb jellies – including tentacles and mucous layers.

The carnivorous comb jelly species still exist today, feeding on small marine organisms.

The oldest animal to have ever lived was previously thought to be the Dickinsonia, an organism called an ediacaran, which lived 541 million years ago.

The origin and earliest evolution of animals is a fascinating question that has puzzled scientists for many decades,” said Dr Zhenbing She at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, who led the team behind the discovery.

Dr She’s team found fossils measuring around 0.7 millimetres across in a drill core taken from the Doushantuo Formation in China.

The discovery of the jellyfish – revealed in a report by Graham Lawton in New Scientist – existed more than 40 million years earlier than the Dickinsonia, researchers claim.

If the fossil is an ancient relative of a comb jelly, this would suggest that it was part of of a larger food web and a complex ecosystem.

Microscopic analysis of the rocks revealed what appear to be tentacles, muscle tissue, nerve cells, gonads, mucous layers and clusters of hairlike-structures.




Fossils dating as far back as 631 million years ago have already been found in these beds, but scientists have not been able to determine exactly what they are.

They are only visible through microscopes and may just be cells from algae or developing animal embryos.

Dr She said that the fossils’ features are similar to the comb jelly Ctenophora because the fossil’s hair clusters look like structures called ctenes that comb jellies use to swim.

The fossils most closely resemble the living genus of comb jellies called Pleurobrachia, or sea gooseberries.

If the new fossils are comb jellies, then it opens the door for more discoveries as the majority of comb jellies today feed on small marine species.

If the fossil was also a carnivore, it must have fed on other species which are yet to be revealed.

There are many other creatures in the deposit, but we are not sure what they are,” Dr. She added.

The 558-million-year-old Dickinsonia, which was discovered last year, was described as a combination of a jellyfish, a worm, a fungus and a lichen.

The oval-shaped lifeform existed at least 20 million years before the “Cambrian explosion” of animal life, according to the research.

The Cambrian explosion took place about 540 million years ago and saw the emergence of modern-looking animals such as snails, bivalves and arthropods.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

The Truth About Empty Space

We often think of outer space as a never-ending vacuum filled with the occasional galaxy. What we don’t realize is that away from our eyes, this vacuum comes alive.

In order to understand what truly happens behind our backs in the vacuum, we must start by examining space itself.

So what is space? Quantum Field Theory tells us that space is composed of fundamental quantum fields, with a separate field for every particle that makes up our universe.

Electrons, quarks, neutrinos, and other fundamental particles are just the oscillations of the field with different energies. In specific, they have quantum energy, which exists as multiples of a baseline energy.

You can think of this as a ladder with energy levels. Each rung of the ladder represents the existence of one additional particle in that quantum state.

So the bottom of the ladder would be where there is no energy, meaning there are no particles. This is known as the vacuum state.




But as we will see, we cannot actually have zero-energy. Instead, the quantum field gently vibrates randomly. Sometimes this produces enough energy to form particles out of seemingly nothing!

The particles arising out of the fluctuation of quantum fields are called virtual particles.

Empty space is teeming with these virtual particles or “wiggles in the field”.

But there is a catch; these particles are created in particle and anti-particle pairs. They live only for a short instance of time until they destroy each other, popping in and out of existence.

The higher the energy of the particle, the lesser time it can exist. Wait a minute. Virtual Particles? That sounds sketchy. Let me show you the proof.

By definition, these elusive particles only exist when we aren’t watching, but their presence can be felt throughout the universe. In 1948, Hendrick Casimir came up with an ingenious idea to observe these virtual particles.

The Implications of Virtual Particles

Well, these seemingly insignificant particles have made quite an impact on the universe we know today. Not only do they explain “particle-particle interaction“, but they can be traced back to the origin of the universe itself!

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Here’s the Best-Ever Image of the Black Hole Devouring Our Galaxy

Researchers have captured the best-ever image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, by using a new computer model to see through the haze of plasma surrounding the cosmic monster.

The galactic centre is full of matter around the black hole, which acts like frosted glass that we have to look through to see the black hole,” Max Planck Institute researcher Eduardo Ros said of the discovery.

Powerful Jet

Credit: The Astrophysical Journal

The fresh image of the black hole, which is twice the resolution of the previous best one, is described in a new paper in The Astrophysical Journal. 

Researchers used 13 powerful telescopes around the world to capture the image and have been teasing its release since earlier in January.

According to reports, strophysicists had assumed that such a black hole would show a gigantic jet of matter and radiation.

Surprisingly, they didn’t find such a jet coming out of the Milky Way’s monstrous black hole. Either it doesn’t have one — or they can’t see it because it’s pointed directly at us.

No Danger




Even if that were the case, Ros cautioned, it’s not cause for alarm.

If anything is there, it will be a length that is 1,000 times less than the distance to us,” Ros said. “There is no danger at all – we should not fear the supermassive black hole.

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NASA Spacecraft Finds Water In Search For Origins Of Life On Asteroid

A NASA spacecraft that just arrived last December 2018 on an asteroid has already made its first big discovery: ingredients for water.

Scientists hope that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will shed light on the mysteries of Bennu, an asteroid the size of a skyscraper that could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth.

The craft only arrived at the asteroid in recent days but the discovery of water is a major breakthrough that scientists hope can be matched by more discoveries in the future.

It was found when OSIRIS-REx flew close to the asteroid and picked up traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules in its rocky surface. Those make up part of the recipe for water – itself a key ingredient in life itself.




The probe, on a mission to return samples from the asteroid to Earth for study, was launched in 2016. Bennu, roughly a third of a mile wide (500 meters), orbits the sun at roughly the same distance as Earth.

There is concern among scientists about the possibility of Bennu impacting Earth late in the 22nd century.

We have found the water-rich minerals from the early solar system, which is exactly the kind of sample we were going out there to find and ultimately bring back to Earth,” University of Arizona planetary scientist Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx mission’s principal investigator, said in a telephone interview.

Asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago.

Scientists believe asteroids and comets crashing into early Earth may have delivered organic compounds and water that seeded the planet for life, and atomic-level analysis of samples from Bennu could provide key evidence to support that hypothesis.

OSIRIS-REx will pass later this month just 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from Bennu, entering the asteroid’s gravitational pull and analyzing its terrain.

From there, the spacecraft will begin to gradually tighten its orbit around the asteroid, spiraling to within just 6 feet (2 meters) of its surface so its robot arm can snatch a sample of Bennu by July 2020.

The spacecraft will later fly back to Earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen for a parachute descent in the Utah desert in September 2023.

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How Did Science Changed the World? Let Me Tell You How.

We all accept that science has changed the world we live today with scientific experiments, researches, innovations, and inventions.

Science has made human life much more convenient and easier by saving labor, time and much more with new technologies.

Indeed, its series of discoveries has helped understand the nature of the world and has improved for the betterment of the society. To know more, explore the below points on how science has changed the world.




Chemistry

Chemistry is a branch of science concerned about the reactions, composition, structure, substances and much more that exists in this universe.

This branch of physical science has helped in transforming and informing the world completely. Through the help of chemistry, the world is in continual advancement in terms of technology, medicines and much more.

Among all, the world most famous chemist of all time who has changed the world completely includes Dmitri Mendeleev, Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, Antoine Lavoisier and much more with their contributions, inventions, and discoveries.

Physics

Physics is one of the oldest academic branches of knowledge today. This branch of science is concentrated on the study of matters, motion, time, space and much more, Physics is known as the knowledge of nature.

The world most famous physicist of all time who has changed the world completely includes, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Alva Edison and much more.

Biology

The branch of science concerned about the study of living organisms, Biology is concentrated on structure, function, development/ growth, distribution, identification and so on of a living being.

It is one of the most important branches of science as it helps people understand the entire body, resources and potential threats in the environment and so on.

Biology has many branches, among all botany, zoology, microbiology, genetics, anatomy, astrobiology etc.

Among all the biologist, Louis Pasteur is one scientist who has changed the world completely with his innovation.

Louis Pasteur: Born in 1822, Louis Pasteur is one of the most famous scientist known for discovering Rabies vaccines and Anthrax vaccines.

This famous French microbiologist, biologist, and chemist, Louis Pasteur’s discoveries includes vaccination, microbial fermentation, pasteurization and much more.

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According Scientists, Earth Have Experienced A Massive Asteroid Strikes 290 Million Years Ago

Experts say the mysterious rise in strikes may have spelled doom for the dinosaurs, who were wiped out by an asteroid around 60million years ago.

It’s perhaps fair to say it was a date with destiny for the dinosaurs,” said study author Dr Thomas Gernon, from the University of Southampton.

Their downfall was somewhat inevitable given the surge of large space rocks colliding with Earth.” Space boffins at the University of Southampton examined asteroid craters on the moon to come to their finding.

Many of Earth’s ancient craters have worn away after millennia of eroding weather and tectonic plate shifts. The moon doesn’t have this problem, meaning its oldest impact holes are still in tact.

Because Earth and its neighbour have been hit by the same proportion of asteroids over time, scientists can date the moon’s craters to understand more about our own.




For the new study, experts tracked the age of the moon’s craters using images and thermal data from Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) space probe.

If a crater gives off more heat, it means it is younger because it is surrounded by larger boulders.

Over millions of years, these boulders break down into fine moon dust that comes up cold on the LRO’s heat cameras.

Scientists studied craters formed in the past billion years, and found there were fewer before 290 million years ago.

In fact, the rate of crater formation since then has been two to three times higher than in the previous 700 million years.

It’s unclear what caused the jump, but scientists think it may be linked to massive collisions taking place in the asteroid belt before 290 million years ago.

This could have created a mass of debris that has since rained down on other parts of the solar system.

The team say asteroid strikes probably played a massive role in Earth’s big extinction events, including the destruction of the dinosaurs.

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Lost Cities In The Amazon Rainforest Were Home To A Million People Before Europeans Arrived

Aerial photo of archaeological site Mt05, a circular enclosure located in the Amazon rainforest containing evidence of pre-Columbian societies living there ( José Iriarte )

Up to a million people once lived in parts of the Amazon previously thought to have been uninhabited, according to new findings.

Working in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, a team led by archaeologists at the University of Exeter unearthed hundreds of villages hidden in the depths of the rainforest.

These excavations included evidence of fortifications and mysterious earthworks called geoglyphs.

The discovery supports the theory that millions of people lived in the Amazon prior to the arrival of Europeans – who eradicated much of the indigenous population through a combination of disease and warfare.

“The idea of Amazonia as a paradise that has never been touched by humans is not true,” Dr Jonas Gregorio de Souza, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter said.




In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, Dr Gregorio de Souza and his colleagues describe their exploration of a 1800 km stretch of southern Amazonia that was occupied by pre-Columbian “earth-building cultures” until around 1500.

Researchers have traditionally assumed ancient Amazonian communities stuck close to the region’s river systems.

Early estimates for the population of the Amazon prior to the arrival of Europeans were therefore fairly conservative – around one million for the entire region.

Part of the ditch of archaeological site Mt09 in the southern Amazon (José Iriarte)

However, the new findings suggest the occupation of the Amazon was far more extensive, with settlements spreading far inland.

This gives weight to recent estimates that the population of the region was closer to ten million at the time of European arrival.

As with other parts of the Amazon and South America as a whole, the arrival of Europeans in the form of Portuguese explorers and colonisers likely led to the collapse of these once-flourishing societies.

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This Robot Recreates The Walk Of A 290-Million-Year-Old Creature

How did the earliest land animals move? Scientists have used a nearly 300-million-year old fossil skeleton and preserved ancient footprints to create a moving robot model of prehistoric life.

Evolutionary biologist John Nyakatura at Humboldt University in Berlin has spent years studying a 290-million-year-old fossil dug up in central Germany’s Bromacker quarry in 2000.

The four-legged plant-eater lived before the dinosaurs and fascinates scientists “because of its position on the tree of life,” said Nyakatura.

Researchers believe the creature is a “stem amniote“—an early land-dwelling animal that later evolved into modern mammals, birds and reptiles.

Scientists believe the first amphibious animals emerged on land 350 million years ago and the first amniotes emerged around 310 million years ago.

The fossil, called Orabates pabsti, is a “beautifully preserved and articulated skeleton,” said Nyakatura. What’s more, scientists have previously identified fossilized footprints left by the 3-foot-long (90 cm) creature.




Nyakatura teamed up with robotics expert Kamilo Melo at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne to develop a model of how the creature moved.

The researchers built a life-size replica of the prehistoric beast—”we carefully modeled each and every bone,” said Nyakatura—and then tested the motion in various ways that would lead its gait to match the ancient tracks, ruling out combinations that were not anatomically possible.

They repeated the exercise with a slightly-scaled up robot version , which they called OroBOT. The robot is made of motors connected by 3D-printed plastic and steel parts.

The model “helps us to test real-world dynamics, to account for gravity and friction,” said Melo. The team also compared their models to living animals, including salamanders and iguanas.

Technology such as robotics, computer modeling and CT scans are transforming paleontology, “giving us ever more compelling reconstructions of the past,” said Andrew Farke, curator at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California, who was not involved in the study.

Based on the robot model, the scientists said they think the creature had more advanced locomotion than previously thought for such an early land animal.

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Pass it on: New Scientist