Scientists have created an artificial embryo

  • Scientists at the University of Cambridge may have just found a way to create life — without sperm or an egg.
  • The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, created an artificial mouse embryo using only stem cells.
  • While scientists have previously created embryos without sperm — as with the Dolly the Sheep clone — creating life without an egg has previously been impossible, Gizmodo reported.
  • The mouse embryo was created using embryonic stem cells and trophoblast stem cells, which are the cells that produce placenta.
  • Both were grown separately before being combined using a three-dimensional scaffold, and the mixture began to resemble a mouse embryo after four days. Read more (3/8/17 2:45 PM)

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HEAR ME OUT: Abby’s Not Dying, She’s Pregnant


Consider this.


@brittanias and I have been hashing this out and here are some thoughts.  All the symptoms we have seen Abby show so far - sleeplessness, tremors, anxiety, hallucination - could actually be symptoms of something completely different.  Such as, for example, pregnancy. When Abby’s on the radio with Kane, what we see of her does not actually appear to present as a seizure; it presents much more like an anxiety attack.  She’s restless, pacing, her jaw is clenching, her hands are shaking, and then when she hears Marcus she calms down.  What we have NOT seen yet: weakness, collapsing, fainting, sweating, bleeding from the nose or mouth, foaming, rage/mania, or a scan of Abby’s brain.

THEORY: The reminder about Abby also getting fried with the EMP, just like Raven was, and the link of Abby’s symptoms with Raven’s symptoms are a narrative misdirect (perhaps its purpose is to give a reason why Abby’s contraception chip was fried and she didn’t know it); otherwise all the attention paid to the idea that this brain thing could present very differently in different people wouldn’t actually matter, unless it was so they could show us symptoms of something that was not a brain tumor and convince us to believe it was a brain tumor.  So we see Raven hallucinate and then have a seizure, we have Abby explain why, we have Jackson say “but the same thing happened to you, I should check you,” and then we have Abby being stubborn and insisting she’s fine and refusing to let him check her.  So it’s possible that the reason we see Abby’s first symptom - the hallucination (of her child, btw) in the same episode as Raven’s is to make sure we, the audience, are going “oh shit” and immediately assuming they are the exact same kind of hallucination.  Even though hallucinations are a very common symptom of extreme sleeplessness and sleeplessness is a common symptom of a whole huge range of things.

[Edited to add, per Brittany’s suggestion just now: we don’t even know that it was a hallucination. She was alone in the lab; she straight-up could have been dreaming.  (In that fancy bed.)  Just a regular ol’ extremely vivid dream - another common pregnancy symptom.]

Another, slightly more extra, possible indicator that pregnancy is a possibility: the editing of the sex scene.  We didn’t see leadup/cut to black/afterglow like the show usually does; we saw Kane finish.  It’s possible the writers and directors are just plain old Kabby trash like we are, but it’s also possible it’s plot-relevant in some way that we have concrete proof that Kane came inside her.

So this is my prediction.  I don’t think either of them are going to die.  I think for Raven, the narrative purpose of the “oh no you have a brain thing” is not the possibility of death, it’s the seizures.  It’s to put Raven in a situation where we know there is a danger she could completely lose control of her physical body, with all of humanity on the line.  They made a big point of Raven having to switch the rocket to manual, which now means only Raven can fly it.  They made a big point of how they needed all those barrels of hydrazine for the rocket and now they’re down one; what if they can coast on only the remaining fuel as long as the rocket is only carrying the weight of one passenger and they strip out all the unnecessary internal workings to make it lighter?  Then Raven is in space, alone, with all the Nightblood, with brain that could go into seizure at any moment when she’s over-stressed.  We also have Luna’s ability to soothe Raven with her words, and we have Murphy being in the room for every one of Raven’s failed flight simulator drills (playing with a toy car whose controls are very similar to the rocket). I don’t think it’s outside the bounds of possibility that they’re setting us up for Raven to have a seizure as the rocket is landing and even though it’s in manual, Murphy has to figure out how to land it himself while Raven’s incapacitated and Luna is trying over the headset to soothe her out of her seizure.

As far as Abby, I think the narrative purpose of “oh no you also have the brain thing” could very plausibly be to set us up in the only conceivable situation where Abby would have to consent to let Jackson give her a full medical scan. If there wasn’t a chance she was seriously sick, she’d never allow it.  There’d be no point.  But if she got pregnant in Polis, then she’s less than 2 months along, which means she might not be showing and most of her symptoms might easily look like something else, especially if she already thought there was a chance she did have something else.  So my guess is that she’s going to end up pushing herself and pushing herself until she has some kind of a meltdown or collapses from exhaustion or something happens where she finally has to face the thing she’s been trying not to have to face, her fear that she might also have what Raven has.  But she’d never say “sure go ahead give me a full physical” unless she had a very good reason and Jackson had reached a point of no longer being willing to be talked out of it.  Exhaustion, anxiety/tremors, and lack of sleep could all very easily be a combination of stress, overwork and pregnancy; hallucinations or lucid dreams sometimes are as well.  Especially given that the content of the dream was her child, in danger.

In terms of the narrative purpose to be served by Abby possibly being pregnant, there are a couple possibilities.  One important thing to remember, which I had forgotten until an anon just reminded me of it, is that all the Sky People are universal blood donors, while the Grounders are not.  It’s possible that the “disappointing setback” the episode description for 408 mentions with regard to the experiment on the Grounder redshirt is because maybe a Grounder can’t take another Grounder’s blood if they aren’t type-compatible.  So that means they can’t go to space to manufacture Nightblood synthetically, and they can’t use Luna’s bone marrow to save all the Grounders; they could save all the Sky People, and they could save Grounders compatible with Luna’s blood type, but that’s all.  But if they had, oh, let’s say, Nightblood embryonic stem cells from a baby of two Skaikru universal-donor parents, then by the magic of television science (I DON’T THINK ANY OF THIS IS REAL, I JUST MEAN BY THE RULES OF HOW THIS SHOW WORKS), that could crack the code for a vaccine that could save everyone, as Clarke always intended – not just the Sky People.  

Another factor is that a number of people have tossed around the idea of long-term cryosleep and the theories about a five-year time jump in the finale being connected; that is, maybe one of the “lifeboats” they come up with to save some portion of the group is related to putting people in long-term stasis.  @knowlesian has a fantastic theory I’ll be making her elucidate when she guest-hosts Meta Station next week about how it’s possible that Cadogan’s secret “thirteenth level” was not merely a fancier bunker, but pods for long-term space travel in cryosleep similar to the ones we learned about in that story about the asteroid miners for whom Becca invented Nightblood in the first place. It was to protect them from solar radiation while in cryosleep for long space journeys.  (One factor to consider here is the constant reiteration that Raven’s brain could heal itself if she just took it easy, which of course she never fuckin’ does; however, a five-year nap in cryostasis is probably enough time for her to wake up rested and ready for the writers not have to keep writing seizures into her storyline for Season 5.)  Again, using the magic of Television Science, something something handwave handwave the Nightblood in the placenta keeps the fetus safely in stasis while Abby goes under so they don’t have to deal with the fact that she’ll still only be 2 months along when the death wave comes.  This also makes room for the most crackpot of my crackpot Pregnant Abby theories, the idea that the season’s continued thematic parallels of Abby with Bellamy (up to and including very literal moments like Abby napping on the couch and dreaming of the 100 vs. Bellamy napping on the couch while Clarke drafts the list of the new 100) are actually clues as well.  There were 100 spots on the dropship but 101 passengers, because Bellamy stowed away.  If Cadogan left 100 cryosleep pods, there would be 101 passengers if Abby’s pregnant.

On a thematic level, of course, a baby symbolizes hope and possibility and the future; it’s a nice narrative device to tie the theme of hope which has always been primarily centered on Kane and Abby’s relationship over the course of the show and make it literal.  The first Skaikru baby being born to the Chancellors feels right, and it ramps up the emotional stakes for both of them to stratospheric levels because everything is more risky for a pregnant woman. It’s also a nice way to set up a long-term possibility for Season 5 where we get to see Skaikru emerging from the wreckage, trying to rebuild a home, and a radiation-immune Nightblood baby as a sign that the human race will continue is a nice sort of thematic illustration of that sense of possibility.  



h/t again to @brittanias and @knowlesian, as well as to @reblogginhood who occasionally feeds my tin hat conspiracy theories with things like “Vesta was a fertility goddess I’M JUST SAYING”

Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump: Comparing first 100 days of last six presidents
The first 100 days have been bumpy for other modern presidents, but none had as rocky a ride as Donald Trump has encountered during his opening days in office. Here's a look back.

Donald Trump (2017)

President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

Approval rating: 43%*

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 24/22*

Major successes: Neil Gorsuch confirmed for Supreme Court; some Obama-era regulations repealed

Major setbacks: Proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act withdrawn from House; immigration orders blocked by federal courts; national security adviser Michael Flynn forced to resign

Of note: FBI confirmed investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russian meddling in election

Barack Obama (2009)

President Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009. (Photo: Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)

Approval rating: 65%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 190/69

Major successes: Stimulus bill passed; children’s health care expanded; equal-pay protections bolstered; federal ban on embryonic stem-cell research lifted

Major setbacks: Nominee for key role of Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Daschle, forced to withdraw

Of note: Stock market bottomed out in March, a sign that the end of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression was in sight

George W. Bush (2001)

President Bush speaks to newly sworn-in White House staff members in an East Room ceremony on Jan. 22, 2001. (Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

Approval rating: 62%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 85/35

Major successes: House passed tax proposal, eventually signed in June, to slash income tax rates

Major setbacks: Failed to act on a blue-ribbon commission report urging changes in homeland security or on warning signs before the terror attacks on New York and Washington that would follow in September

Of note: U.S. spy plane flying over the South China Sea clipped by Chinese fighter jet and forced to land on Chinese soil

Bill Clinton (1993)

President Bill Clinton is sworn in on Jan. 20, 1993. (Photo: Ed Reinke, AP)

Approval rating: 55%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 176/49

Major successes: Family and Medical Leave Act signed

Major setbacks: Furors over gays in the military, firing of White House travel office staffers

Of note: Hillary Rodham Clinton put in charge of signature health care overhaul, which eventually would fail.

George H.W. Bush (1989)

President George H.W. Bush is sworn into office on Jan. 20, 1989. (Photo: Bob Daugherty, AP)

Approval rating: 56%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 95/50

Major successes: Submitted plan to bail out troubled savings and loans, eventually signed in August

Major setbacks: Nominee for Defense secretary, Texas Sen. John Tower, rejected by Senate

Of note:  Worst oil spill on U.S. territory in history when Exxon Valdez supertanker ran aground in Alaska

Ronald Reagan (1981)

President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office on Jan. 20, 1981. (Photo: Barry Thumma, AP)

Approval rating: 68%

Nominees formally submitted/confirmed by Senate: 128/80

Major successes: Proposed major cuts in taxes and domestic spending and an increase in military spending; Iran released U.S. hostages as he was inaugurated

Major setbacks: Fragility in the economy, which would head into recession in July

Of note: Survived assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr.

Sources: Gallup Poll; Partnership for Public Service; USA TODAY research by Susan Page

*As of April 21

Cards Against Megamind

Ever since Scowlofjustice put the idea in my head i’ve spent all day playing Cards Against Megamind with myself. Needless to say i’ve had a WONDERFUL day.

Here’s my day so far: Daddy issues , self loathing and a closed casket funeral

Still, things could be a lot worse. Oh, that’s right, I’m waking up half-naked in a Denny’s parking lot. Guess they can’t.

I was eight days old and still not contributing to society in any meaningful way

Here Is your Minion, he will take third base

You are destined for vehicular manslaughter

He bought their affections with showmanship and extravagant gifts of deliciousness. So I, too, will make vigorous jazz hands and win over Loki, the trickster god.

That’s when I learned a very hard lesson. Good receives all the praise and adulation, while evil is sent to The Make a Wish Foundation

While they were learning the Itsy Bitsy Spider I learned white privilege.

Some days, it felt like it was just me and Minion against fifty years of fanfic

Then it hit me; if I was the bad boy, then I was going to be the Former President George W. Bush

I decided to pick something a little more humble… Megamind: Incredibly handsome criminal genius and master of all poor life choices

You got a present in the mail.
Is it chunks of dead prostitute?

His heart is an erection that lasts longer than four hours that’s inside the entire cast of Downton Abbey

The greatest honor you’ve given me is Cybernetic enhancements

I tell you Minion, there’s no place like Auschwitz

Is there some kind of nerdy supervillain website where you get a windmill full of corpses and embryonic stem cells?

Stop! She’s using her Menstrual Rage on your weak-willed mind to find out all our secrets!

It is with great pleasure that I present to Metro Man my collection of high-tech sex toys

Oh! I’m shaking in my extremely tight pants!

That is if Metro Man can withstand the full, concentrated power of my inner demons!

Your weakness is a gentle caress on the inner thigh? You’re kidding right?

What if tomorrow we could go ripping into a man’s chest and pulling out his still-beating heart, that always seems to lift your spirits!

Roxie, I’m having a party at my house, it’s gonna be like, off the hook, or whatever. You should come over. I got racially-biased SAT questions , Lance Armstrong’s missing testicle , A super soaker full of cat pee, It’s gonna be sick!

What are we supposed to do? Without you evil is the holy bible

I had so many evil plans in the works, interspecies marriage, teaching a robot to love, MechaHitler, battles we will now never have.

I kept thinking he was gonna do one of his last minute poorly-timed holocaust jokes .
Yeah, he was really good at those.

Heroes can be made…. That’s it! All you need are the right ingredients… a lifetime of sadness, the token minority , the entire internet, and a smidgen of some really fucked-up shit. Oh! With that, anyone can be a hero!

Oh no, not you Roxanne… I was just yelling at…. not Satan, I promise

Minion! Code: Ethnic cleansing

Oh yes, I’m doing horrible things to that man. I don’t want to get into it but Graphic violence, adult language and some sexual content, you know the drill.

Well, in sh…school… none of the other kids really liked me. I was always picking up girls at the abortion clinic.

Just a few alterations sir and I will be done with your most terrifying cape yet! I’m calling it The Violation of our most basic human rights

I may not know much, but I do know this. The bad guy doesn’t get the mere concept of Applebee’s

My sole purpose in life is getting married, having a few kids, buying some stuff, retiring to Florida and dying.

Code: I’ll just pack my Dalek porn and go!

Not the only exciting development of the night! Megamind’s concealing a boner! And I know why!

Roxanne? Say I wasn’t so normal. Let’s say I was a gender identity that can only be conveyed through slam poetry and had the complexion of a mime having a stroke as a random, nonspecific example…

You there! Yeah you. Bring out my manservant, Claude

And the hero strikes the first blow! But evil returns with a cooler full of organs

Guess what, Buster Brown? It’s made from Harry Potter Erotica you’re powerless against it!

I began to realize, despite all my powers, each and every citizen of Metro had something I didn’t. Crystal meth

I was finally free to get in touch with my true power, Leaving an awkward voicemail.

I have eyes that can see right through heteronormativity

I’m the bad guy. I don’t save the day. I don’t fly off into the sunset, and I don’t get all you can eat shrimp for $4.99.

I want to talk to the real Hal. I want to talk to the guy who loved not wearing pants, and Doin’ it in the butt, and praying the gay away and being not as scary as the Tighten Hal.

And my best friend Minion, I treated like my ex-wife

You’re living a fantasy. There is no Darth Vader, there is no skeletor, and there is no Nicolas Cage!

“Oh you’re a villain all right! Just not a super one!”
“Yeah? What’s the difference?”
“Crippling debt!”

We’ve had a lot of adventures together, you and I. I mean, most of them ended in throwing a virgin into a volcano, but we won today, didn’t we sir?

Ladies and gentlemen! Megamind, defender of licking things to claim them as your own

N6-methyladenine: A Newly Discovered Epigenetic Modification 

The majority of cellular functions are carried out by proteins encoded by specific genes present in cellular DNA. Genes are first transcribed to RNA which is then translated to proteins. The regulation of this process is important for maintaining correct cellular function. One of the ways that cells regulate gene expression is by epigenetic modifications to chromatin. The term “epigenetics” refers to reversible chemical modifications of DNA and histone proteins (DNA in the nucleus of eukaryotes is wrapped around histones) that affect the transcriptional status of genes. A number of histone modifications such as methylation and acetylation of lysine residues have already been discovered and characterized. Until recently; however, methylation of the 5 position of cytosine was the only known epigenetic DNA modification (A). Methylation of cytosine by DNA methyltransferases is associated with transcriptional silencing, while the removal of these methyl groups by TET enzymes is associated with transcriptional re-activation (B and C). In addition to controlling gene silencing, cytosine methylation also silences retrotransposons, a class of mobile genetic elements. If left unregulated, transposons can insert themselves into important regions of the genome and lead to mutagenesis.

Recently, N6-methyladenine, a new epigenetic modification, was discovered in mammalian cells. N6-mA had previously been discovered in prokaryotes and simple eukaryotes and was shown to function as a transcriptional activator. By contrast, a recent report published in Nature, has shown that N6-mA functions as a transcriptional silencer in mammalian cells, specifically in mouse embryonic stem cells. N6-mA primarily acts to silence the LINE-1 family of retrotransposons during early embryogenesis, which prevents genomic instability. The authors identified N6-mA by using a modified single molecule DNA sequencing technique. DNA bound to a specific modified histone protein was immunoprecipitated using an antibody against a specific histone modification (H2A.X), sequenced, and analyzed by mass spectrometry (D). This identified and determined the position of N6-mA. The authors then generated knockouts of the enzyme Alkbh1, which they believed may function as a demethylase for N6-mA. When Alkbh1 was absent from cells, they found an increase in the levels of N6-mA, showing that Alkbh1 functions as an N6-mA demethylase in vivo. This is important because epigenetic modifications are reversible. Genes can be turned off by methylation and then turned back on by removing the methyl group, so determining the enzyme responsible for the removal of N6-mA supports its role as an epigenetic modification.

For more information see:


As always, I’m happy to answer any questions or go into more detail.

Vascular smooth muscle cells

Our hearts pump some 50 million gallons of blood in our lifetime, and our arteries take a beating because of it. Arteries have the critical task of withstanding the high blood pressure that comes with each heart stroke. To do this, arteries are lined with thick vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) that contract and relax to control blood pressure and secrete proteins to cushion against each and every heartbeat. In this image, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into VSMCs as shown by smooth muscle-specific markers in red and green. Creating VSMCs will be useful to study vascular abnormalities found in several diseases, including muscular dystrophy.

Image by Leslie Caron.


At 20, Divya Nag dropped out of college and is now revolutionizing the medical industry

In 2001, George W. Bush banned almost all human embryonic stem cell research. scientists were immediately forced to explore other avenues. But with their potential to take on the form of any cell in the body, stem cells had been (and still are) an enormously promising research avenue. So in 2011, Divya Nag started her own company focused on stem cells derived from skin cells. But she wasn’t done there.

Girls Can't Do Science...

First computer programmer? Ada Lovelace. A girl.

Scientist who discovered hydrogen is the most common element? Cecilia Payne. A girl.

Researcher who identified the HIV virus as the cause of AIDS? Francoise Barre-Sinoussi. A girl.

First biologist to isolate embryonic stem cells? Gail Martin. A girl.

Scientist who worked out what radioactivity is? Marie Cure. A girl.

Who worked out that atoms can, indeed be split? Lise Meitner. A girl.

Who am I missing?

Researchers make groundbreaking discovery, use skin cells to kill cancer

In a first for medical science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pharmacy researchers turn skin cells into cancer-hunting stem cells that destroy brain tumors known as glioblastoma – a discovery that can offer, for the first time in more than 30 years, a new and more effective treatment for the disease.

The technique, reported in Nature Communications, builds upon the newest version of the Nobel Prize-winning technology from 2007, which allowed researchers to turn skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers hailed the possibilities for use in regenerative medicine and drug screening. Now, researchers have found a new use: killing brain cancer.

“Patients desperately need a better standard of care,” said Shawn Hingtgen, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Care Center, who led the study.

The survival rate beyond two years for a patient with a glioblastoma is 30 percent because it is so difficult to treat. Even if a surgeon removes most of the tumor, it’s nearly impossible to get the invasive, cancerous tendrils that spread deeper into the brain and inevitably the remnants grow back. Most patients die within a year and a half of their diagnosis.

Hingtgen and his team want to improve those statistics by developing a new personalized treatment for glioblastoma that starts with a patient’s own skin cells, with the goal of getting rid of the cancerous tendrils, effectively killing the glioblastoma.

In their work, Hingtgen and his team reprogram skin cells known as fibroblasts – which produce collagen and connective tissue — to become induced neural stem cells. Working with mice, Hingtgen’s team showed that these neural stem cells have an innate ability to move throughout the brain and home in on and kill any remaining cancer cells. The team also showed that these stem cells could be engineered to produce a tumor-killing protein, adding another blow to the cancer.

Depending on the type of tumor, the Hingtgen’s team increased survival time of the mice 160 to 220 percent. Next steps will focus on human stem cells and testing more effective anti-cancer drugs that can be loaded into the tumor-seeking neural stem cells.

“Our work represents the newest evolution of the stem-cell technology that won the Nobel Prize in 2012,” Hingtgen said. “We wanted to find out if these induced neural stem cells would home in on cancer cells and whether they could be used to deliver a therapeutic agent. This is the first time this direct reprogramming technology has been used to treat cancer.”

Hingtgen’s team is also currently improving the staying power of stem cells within the surgical cavity. They discovered that the stem cells needed a physical matrix to support and organize them, so they will hang around long enough to seek out the cancerous tendrils. “Without a structure like that, the stem cells wander off too quickly to do any good,” said Hingtgen, who reported this result in a separate journal called Biomaterials.

In that study, Hingtgen and his team added his stem cells to an FDA-approved fibrin sealant commonly used as surgical glue. The physical matrix it creates tripled the retention of stem cells in the surgical cavity, providing further support for the applicability and strength of the technique.

Mouse embryonic brain tissue containing neural stem cells

Currently in the United States, there are over 4,500 clinical trails in progress testing the therapeutic benefits of stem cells. Just as Olympic athletes train to specialize in one sport, so too do adult stem cells: They are cells that can specialize to become specific cell types depending on their tissue of origin. In the brain, neural stem cells give rise to neurons and helper cells in the central nervous system. Clinical trials are now underway to either activate the small number of neural stem cells present in our brains or to supply neural stem cells that were cultured in a dish to repair damage due to injury or disease.

Image by Dr. Andrew Woolley and Dr. Aaron Gilmour, University of New South Wales.

darkstar8909-deactivated2014121  asked:

For what reason do you wish for the destruction of traditional family values? (Referring to a post of yours reblogged by a blogger I follow) I'm not defending them, I'm just wondering.

This ask in reference to this post. I’ve talked about my disdain for the concept of “family values” before, but I’ll revisit it now.

“Family values”, as it is currently used in America, was first introduced through the Republican Party’s 1976 platform, but it really took off as a buzzword after 1980. Dan Quayle used it in his Vice Presidential nomination acceptance speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. In the speech, he said:

Like so many Americans, for me, family comes first. When family values are undermined, our country suffers. All too often, parents struggle to instill character in their sons and daughters—only to see their values belittled and their beliefs mocked by those who look down on America. Americans try to raise their children to understand right and wrong—only to be told that every so-called “lifestyle alternative” is morally equivalent. That is wrong.

The gap between us and our opponents is a cultural divide. It is not just a difference between [being] conservative and liberal; it is a difference between fighting for what is right and refusing to see what is wrong.

…on behalf of family values, we’ve taken on Hollywood and the media elite—and we will not back down.

As such, the term “family values” is an inherently political one, and is not one representing any sort of eternal social order. When I speak out in support of “destruction of traditional family values”, that doesn’t mean that I want to see families torn apart or for society to become deprived of any values; it means that I want to see the elimination of the enforcement of many of the societal values promoted by traditionalist right-wingers. 

What are these values? Let’s look at the 2012 Republican platform to get an idea to get an idea of the cultural and social positions and policies that are advocated for by the architects of “family values”. These include things such as:

  • Public display of the Ten Commandments
  • Support for school prayer
  • Government funding of faith-based charities
  • A federal investigation into attempts by same-sex marriage supporters to “to deny religious believers their civil rights” through “hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism”
  • A Constitutional amendment defining marriage (which they call “the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values”) as between one man and one woman
  • Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell military policy
  • A Constitutional Amendment overturning Roe v. Wade
  • Opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research
  • Opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide
  • Reverence of the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Banning online gambling
  • “Vigorously enforc[ing]” current laws against pornography and obscenity
  • Eliminating “family planning” programs in favor of abstinence-only sex-ed
  • Opposition to “school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for abortion and contraception”

I would also argue that their cultural views are a notable factor in their positions on immigration and their “tough approach to crime” (to use another buzz phrase), though in a slightly more subtle way.

In other words, while they may avoid using language that makes it explicit, opting instead for dog-whistle terms like “family values”, they are calling for a culture of exclusion and a culture where people’s lives are dictated by archaic social norms that are now largely arbitrary (despite their claims that said norms are or should be nearly universal). They are calling for state enforcement of conservative Christian values, a culture that restricts civil liberties, civil rights, and effective political policy in favor of an enforcement of their deontological values.

I oppose this agenda, full stop. I oppose it both ideologically and in terms of policy. I want to see a liberal and inclusive society, a legally secular society without institutionalized patriarchy, cisheteronormativity, white supremacy, and all other similar barriers to full societal participation. I have no use for romanticization of the cultural norms of the past; I want to start the process of creating a culture that allows for the full development of human potential and for every individual to respectfully and peacefully present and express themselves as they wish.

Ghoulology 101 cont.

(@tsukinopen I hope you don’t mind me moving this to a new thread to reply, that last one was way too long to start with but I really wanted to keep going with your line of thought :D)

This is a follow on from my ghoul biology post about RC cells here.

@tsukinopen​ added onto it :

Here’s another explanation: What if humans need RC cells to function? Humans who produce extremely low quality RC cells end up overproducing to compensate. Compare it to overproducing oil because one’s skin is dry.

Yesss, I love that, that’s also a really interesting thought that RC cells actually do have a function in humans. It gives a meaning behind the different range of RC levels humans have!

In the other post I linked in the original here, they talked about RC levels in humans before a kakuhou transplant and speculated that high RC levels causes the person to become a ‘floppy’ half ghoul, particularly in the case of Amon. We know that Amon’s strength and fighting prowess was considered above and beyond that of the normal investigator. There’s also Takeomi, who snapped a ghouls neck with his bare hands, demonstrating that he was among the minority of the human population who could match a ghoul’s strength which is around 4-7 times that of a human. If both of them have abnormally high RC levels, this could be a precedence for RC cells having a function in a human body. Perhaps human RC cells do have some role in building muscle mass, increasing metabolism and the efficiency of respiration, etc. (all things that confer increased strength and stamina) and ghoul RC cells have regenerative power activated on top of that?

(I need to do a quick bio lesson here to help explain and give it context, I promise it’ll get to the point eventually but it might get complicated along the way sorry! :P)

In my original post, I theorised that RC cells are a mutated form of human blood stem cells. Stem cells have different degrees of ‘stemness’, on a scale from ‘can regenerate one specific type of cell’ to ‘can turn into any type of cell’. For instance, the stem cells that regrow your constantly shedding skin are programmed to only turn into a skin cell so you don’t accidentally end up growing something in the wrong place, like liver tissue on your arm. They are more specialised for a specific purpose. Then there are embryonic stem cells in a growing foetus, which are said to be ‘true’ stem cells. These grow from only a tiny bundle of cells in the fertilised egg into an entire baby, turning into every type of tissue to do so (like RC cells when regenerating tissue).

I also mentioned about how RC cells are like cancer cells in ROS (and I was kinda hinting that all RC cells are like cancer cells to set it up for a future ghoul biology post but I’ll talk about it here a little bit too :P). Well cancer cells can turn on genes usually only used by stem cells to give them those regenerative properties (my favourite is the sonic hedgehog gene and yes, that’s its actual scientific name, biologists are strange creatures). So in skin cancer for example, the abnormal skin cell will turn on those genes, become more like a stem cell and be able to keep multiplying itself to grow into a tumour. Maybe something similar happens with RC cells when ingested by a ghoul?

In a human, the RC cell could still have a function but are slightly more differentiated, or specialised for one job. More like a Red Blood Cell that delivers oxygen for energy. This could be the basis for why some humans may have super strength if they have a high RC count. When a ghoul ingests these RC cells, they could maintain their ability to strengthen the ghoul’s body, like in humans, but could be de-differentiated by the kakuhou to give more stem cell-like properties to confer the quality to restore tissue.

There are chemical growth factors in the body which can switch on genes to make a cell more like an embryonic stem cell. This is a normal thing that happens during something like wound healing when you get a cut and skin cells need to quickly regrow to close the gash. Perhaps the chemical factor/hormone I said in the original post that kakuhous could secrete to activate RC cells is a growth factor that invokes stem cell properties?

Thanks for that addition, I love this stuff, so interesting the different ways in which ghoul biology could mirror human biology :D

A scientist in Sweden has started trying to edit the DNA in healthy human embryos, NPR has learned.

The step by the developmental biologist Fredrik Lanner makes him the first researcher known to attempt to modify the genes of healthy human embryos. That has long been considered taboo because of safety and ethical concerns.

Lanner is attempting to edit genes in human embryos to learn more about how the genes regulate early embryonic development. He hopes the work could lead to new ways to treat infertility and prevent miscarriages. He also hopes to help scientists learn more about embryonic stem cells so they can someday use them to treat many diseases.

The fear is that Lanner’s work could open the door to others attempting to use genetically modified embryos to make babies.

Making changes to the DNA in human embryos could accidentally introduce an error into the human gene pool, inadvertently creating a new disease that would be passed down for generations, critics say.

Breaking Taboo, Swedish Scientist Seeks To Edit DNA Of Healthy Human Embryos

Image: Alicia Watkins for NPR

Clinical Trial Offers Hope to Restore Limb Function in Man with Complete Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Physicians at Rush University Medical Center became the first in Illinois to inject AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells), an experimental treatment, into the damaged cervical spine of a recently paralyzed man as part of a multicenter clinical trial.

Dr. Richard G. Fessler, professor of neurological surgery at Rush University Medical Center, is principal investigator for the Phase 1/2a, multicenter clinical trial involving AST-OPC1 at Rush, one of six centers in the country currently studying this new approach.

Fessler injected an experimental dose of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells directly into the paralyzed man’s cervical spinal cord in mid-August. These injected cells were derived from human embryonic stem cells. They work by supporting the proper functioning of nerve cells, potentially helping to restore the conductivity of signals from the brain to the upper extremities (hands, arms, fingers) in a recently damaged spinal cord.

Interim research results from the trial were announced at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), which was held in Vienna, Austria, on September 14-16, 2016.

“Until now, there have been no new treatment options for the 17,000 new spinal cord injuries that happen each year,” says Fessler. “We may be on the verge of making a major breakthrough after decades of attempts.”

The next phase of the clinical research trial will involve a dose of 20 million oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, which is the highest dose being studied in this study involving patients who have recently suffered a complete cervical spinal cord injury.

“These injuries can be devastating, causing both emotional and physical distress, but there is now hope. In the 20 years of my research, we have now reached a new era where we hope to demonstrate through research that a dose of very specially made human cells delivered directly to the injured site can have an impact on motor or sensory function,” says Fessler. “Generating even modest improvements in motor or sensory function can possibly result in significant improvements in quality of life.”

Early research results from the trial were announced at the 55th Annual Scientific Meeting of the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), which is being held in Vienna, Austria, on September 14-16, 2016.

“Our preliminary results show that we may in fact be getting some regeneration. Some of those who have lost use of their hands are starting to get function back. That’s the first time in history that’s ever been done,” says Fessler. “Just as a journey of a thousand miles is done one step at a time, repairing spinal cord injuries is being done one step at a time. And, now, we can say that we’ve taken that first step.”

The clinical trial is designed to assess safety and effectiveness of escalating doses of the special cells (AST-OPC1) in individuals with a complete cervical spinal cord injury. Thus far, three individuals have been enrolled in the study at Rush.
The trial has involved the testing of three escalating doses of AST-OPC1 in patients with subacute, C5-C7, neurologically-complete cervical spinal cord injury. These individuals have essentially lost all sensation and movement below their injury site with severe paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. AST-OPC1 is administered 14 to 30 days post-injury. Patients will be followed by neurological exams and imaging methods to assess the safety and activity of the product.

“In the future, this treatment may potentially be used for peripheral nerve injury or other conditions which affect the spinal cord, such as MS,” says Fessler.

For this therapy to work, the cord has to be in continuity and not severed, according to Fessler. The study seeks male and female patients ages 18 to 65 who recently experienced a complete cervical spinal cord injury at the neck that resulted in tetraplegia, the partial or total paralysis of arms, legs and torso. Patients must be able to start screening within 25 days of their injury, and participate in an elective surgical procedure to inject AST-OPC1 14 to 30 days following injury. Participants also must be able to provide consent and commit to a long-term follow-up study.

The study is funded by Asterias Biotherapeutics, which developed the AST-OPC1 (oligodendrocyte progenitor cells) treatment used in the study, and also in part by a $14.3 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

AST-OPC1 cells are made from embryonic stem cells by carefully converting them into oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), which are cells found in the brain and spinal cord that support the healthy functioning of nerve cells. In previous laboratory studies, AST-OPC1 was shown to produce neurotrophic factors, stimulate vascularization and induce remyelination of denuded axons. All are critical factors in the survival, regrowth and conduction of nerve impulses through axons at the injury site, according to Edward D. Wirth III, MD, PhD, chief medical director of Asterias and lead investigator of the study, dubbed “SCiStar.”

anonymous asked:

Okay so explain to me developmental biology? Since I clearly don't know what I'm talking about.

well, first you thought that cells aren’t living simply because there’s no brain nor heart. It’ll be interesting to see your face when you find out that a plethora of organisms on earth don’t have brains nor hearts and yet are living. For example, every plant that has ever existed and will ever exist. Clearly a brain and a heart are not determinants of life. However, biology has conducted a check list for what constitutes as living. 

1)Living things are made of cells.

2)Living things obtain and use energy.

3)Living things grow and develop.

4)Living things reproduce.

5)Living things respond to their environment.

6)Living things adapt to their environment

So, let’s go over what you said

>an embryo has no heart or brain. how is it considered a “living” being. 

well, anon, an embryo has no heart and no brain, but as we can see above, that is not a condition for living things. An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote that is usually before the 8th week of prenatal development (scientists may argue that it’s between the 3rd and 8th weeks and prior to the third, it’s the blastocyst). How does this mean it’s living though, you ask? Well, first off, it’s multi-cellular, meaning it’s made of cells, so condition 1 is met. Does it obtain energy and use energy though? considering that an embryo/blastocyst is made of cells (remember multicellular?) and are eukaryotes that use mitochondria, which generates and Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) for the cell to use, i’m almost certain these cells are obtaining and using energy. But what about the organism itself? yes, studies of other embryos (pig in this case) show the embryo uses glucose through the process of glycolysis. Human’s are probably extremely similar. Do they grow and develop? of course. The embryo itself is growing rapidly in the beginning stages of prenatal life. Does it reproduce? oh ho, you got me anon, this organism cannot reproduce, but mind you, no organism can reproduce in the early stages of development. Children cannot reproduce until puberty. This certainly does not mean that a child up to age 9-14 are not living. Mind you the embryo is the extreme early stages of human development and not an organism of a different species in it’s own right. Through human development, two haploid gametes come together to form a zygote. This zygote is of the human species and thus human. It is not a bacterium or some other eukaryotic cell, with some magic dust becomes a human. So, the embryo may not be able to reproduce, but fully developed, it can (fully developed is an adult human). But can the embryo respond and adapt to the environment? well, just as reproduction is more geared toward fully developed organisms, these two more so relate to organisms over time. The first is really responding to stimuli can be defined in many ways because of how organisms can respond. Single celled organisms can respond to an environment through homeostasis among other ways. An embryonic organism can respond in these ways. This is also similar to adapting. 

So, yes, an embryo is living. 

>if so, every time you have taken an antibiotic, you killed off cells of your own body. So what’s the difference in killing one of those cells and killing a germ cell or a stem cell?

Well, umm. you’re wrong because antibiotics either kill or inhibit bacterial growth and they don’t kill our own cells. Dr. Harry Mobley, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, explains why. But in any case, let’s say there’s a medicine of some sort that actually does kill your own cells (as opposed to inhibiting reproduction). So what’s the difference between using this drug (or whatever) to kill my own cells vs a bacterium vs a stem cell. 

Okay, my own cells are not humans. I do not have ~ 100,000 billion little humans that make up a big human. My skin cells, bone cells, T-cells, etc are simply just that. If they die, it’s not killing a human. The combination of everything is the result of a multicellular human organism (me). The killing of a few cells does not kill a human. It’s only the killing of a human that denotes ethical problems. Bacterium, on the other hand, are prokaryotic single celled organisms. These cells are, in their own right, full and separate organisms (as opposed to the different cells of a multicellular eukaryote). E. Coli, for example, is an entire organism that is one cell. Killing one cell of E. Coli is actually killing a full organism. Why isn’t that ethically wrong? It’s not a human. What about stem cells? These cells are unspecialized cells within a mulitcellular organism. They are not organisms of themselves being they are part of a larger organism. An embryo is not a stem cell. In order to obtain embryonic stem cells, you have to destroy the embryo. As we went over, the embryo is a living organism and also a human. Destroying a human to further science isn’t exactly ethical. 

30 Under 30: The Young Scientists And Entrepreneurs Discovering Our Future - Divya Nag, 22

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Cofounder of Stem Cell Theranostics and StartX MedDivya Nag is attacking one of medicine’s biggest problems: the fact that most types of human cells—like those in the heart or liver—die when you keep them in a petri dish. This makes testing new drugs a risky, costly and time-consuming business: 90% of medicines that start clinical trials turn out to be too unsafe or ineffective to market. But a new technology, the induced pluripotent stem cell, may help. Nag’s company, Stem Cell Theranostics, was created from technology funded by a $20 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine and is closing a venture round. It turns cells—usually from a piece of skin—into embryonic-like stem cells, then uses them to create heart cells. These cells can live in petri dishes and be used to test new drugs. Someday they might even replace heart tissue that dies during a heart attack. Three large pharmaceutical companies are customers, though revenues are small. Nag, who was already publishing in prestigious scientific journals when she was an undergraduate, dropped out of Stanford to pursue her dream. No regrets: “Our technology was so promising and I was so passionate about it that nothing else made sense to me,” she says. “It was very clear this was what I wanted to do.”

Omg she’s only 22, watch the interview, she dropped out of Stanford to pursue her dreams. Is it inappropriate for me to say I love her trousers?

The Structure Monster: Setup, Payoff, and Orphan Black Season 3

Hey Clone Club! 

Season 3 is over and, from its ashes, I have resurrected the fireside we all grew up around. 

If you’re new to Orphan Black Fireside Chats, this is how they go. If you’re new to me, happyjacq, long posts about narrative structure are kind of my thing and I’ve been frighteningly reliable in the past. Okay. Moving on. 

I’ve been pretty quiet lately because I’ve been struggling with Season 3 as a whole and I think I’ve finally figured out why: it’s a structure issue. 

Now, there were many things about this season I enjoyed, don’t get me wrong. 

(For a quick list to prove I’m not lying, those things included: Helena’s entire arc in the military, the Castor/Leda sibling reveal, Boss!Delphine, Cosima as Alison, everything about Krystal, and Maria Doyle Kennedy’s singing intercut with a guy getting the pulp beat out of him. That was awesome).

But, as a whole, as a season, it was extremely structurally frustrating.

This is not to say that shows that are structurally frustrating can’t be enjoyable. Heroes was extremely structurally frustrating. I still enjoyed it to the very end. The latest Orange is the New Black season had a structure that just begged to be analyzed (and, indeed, I did). Warehouse 13 Season 4 had an impressively tight structure; that doesn’t mean I liked it or thought it was particularly good.

Enjoyment is subjective. Structure is not.

So, I’d like to take some time to explain why Orphan Black Season 3 was lacking in the structure department, and maybe we’ll all come out of this chat with some new perspectives about story structure and what makes a structure tight and smart and satisfying. 

*pulls up well-loved and moth-eaten old couch in front of warm fire and offers you some babka cake*

Let’s chat. 

Keep reading

‘Provocative’ Research Turns Skin Cells Into Sperm (NPR)

Scientists reported Thursday they had figured out a way to make primitive human sperm out of skin cells, an advance that could someday help infertile men have children.

“I probably get 200 emails a year from people who are infertile, and very often the heading on the emails is: Can you help me?” says of Montana State University, who led the research when she was at Stanford University.

In a published in the journal Cell Reports, Pera and her colleagues describe what they did. They took skin cells from infertile men and manipulated them in the laboratory to become induced pluripotent stem cells, which are very similar to human embryonic stem cells. That means they have the ability to become virtually any cell in the body.