Menu

Blog

Page 10179

Jul 30, 2008

Preventing flu fatalities by stopping immune system overreaction

Posted by in categories: biological, defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat

Researchers from Imperial College in London, England, isolated the receptor in the lungs that triggers the immune overreaction to flu.

With the receptor identified, a therapy can be developed that will bind to the receptor, preventing the deadly immune response. Also, by targeting a receptor in humans rather than a particular strain of flu, therapies developed to exploit this discovery would work regardless of the rapid mutations that beguile flu vaccine producers every year.

The flu kills 250,000 to 500,000 people in an average year with epidemics reaching 1 to 2 million deaths (other than the spanish flu which was more severe

This discovery could lead to treatments which turn off the inflammation in the lungs caused by influenza and other infections, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Immunology. The virus is often cleared from the body by the time symptoms appear and yet symptoms can last for many days, because the immune system continues to fight the damaged lung. The immune system is essential for clearing the virus, but it can damage the body when it overreacts if it is not quickly contained.

Continue reading “Preventing flu fatalities by stopping immune system overreaction” »

Jul 15, 2008

Apophis Asteroid still a risk for 2036

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, defense, existential risks, space

On April 16, 2008, NASA News Release 08–103 reaffirmed that its estimation of a 1 in 45,000 chance of impact in 2036 remains valid.

The B612 Foundation is working towardcs the goal of of significantly altering the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015.

the B612 Foundation made estimates of Apophis path if a 2036 Earth impact were to occur.

The impact result is a narrow corridor called the ‘risk corrider’ which would be a few miles wide. Countries estimated to be in the direct path:

Continue reading “Apophis Asteroid still a risk for 2036” »

Jul 11, 2008

Metabolomics Could be Part of a BioShield

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical

What is metabolomics?

Genes are similar to the plans for a house; they show what it looks like, but not what people are getting up to inside. One way of getting a snapshot of their lives would be to rummage through their rubbish, and that is pretty much what metabolomics does. […]

Metabolomics studies metabolites, the by-products of the hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions that continuously go on in every cell of the human body. Because blood and urine are packed with these compounds, it should be possible to detect and analyse them. If, say, a tumour was growing somewhere then, long before any existing methods can detect it, the combination of metabolites from the dividing cancer cells will produce a new pattern, different from that seen in healthy tissue. Such metabolic changes could be picked up by computer programs, adapted from those credit-card companies use to detect crime by spotting sudden and unusual spending patterns amid millions of ordinary transactions.

This could be used for traditional medicine, both to prevent pathologies and to detect those that are already present so they can be treated. But another use would be as part of an early-detection system to defend against pandemics and biological attacks. As mentioned previously, network-theory can help us better use vaccines. But once you have a cure or antidote, you also need to identify people that are already infected but haven’t died yet, and the earlier you can do that after the infection, the more chances they have to live.

Continue reading “Metabolomics Could be Part of a BioShield” »

Jul 5, 2008

Using Vaccines more Effectively to Stop Pandemics

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, information science

If a pandemic strikes and hundreds of millions are at risk, we won’t have enough vaccines for everybody, at least not within the time window where vaccines would help. But a new strategy could help use the vaccines we have more effectively:

Researchers are now proposing a new strategy for targeting shots that could, at least in theory, stop a pandemic from spreading along the network of social interactions. Vaccinating selected people is essentially equivalent to cutting out nodes of the social network. As far as the pandemic is concerned, it’s as if those people no longer exist. The team’s idea is to single out people so that immunizing them breaks up the network into smaller parts of roughly equal sizes. Computer simulations show that this strategy could block a pandemic using 5 to 50 percent fewer doses than existing strategies, the researchers write in an upcoming Physical Review Letters.

vaccine-targeting.jpg

So you break up the general social network into sub-networks, and then you target the most important nodes of these sub-networks and so on until you run out of vaccines. The challenge will be to get good information about social networks, something not quite as easy as mapping computer networks, but there is progress on that front.

Continue reading “Using Vaccines more Effectively to Stop Pandemics” »

Jun 13, 2008

Aging 2008 — an Open Event for Regenerative Medicine

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

There is a strong overlap between those concerned about extinction risk prevention and healthy life extension. Accordingly, many supporters of the Lifeboat Foundation will be attending an open event on regenerative medicine taking place on the UCLA campus on the 27th of June. Here is the blurb:

On Friday, June 27th, leading scientists and thinkers in stem cell research and regenerative medicine will gather in Los Angeles at UCLA for Aging 2008 to explain how their work can combat human aging, and the sociological implications of developing rejuvenation therapies. Aging 2008 is free, with advance registration required.

UCLA Royce Hall
Friday June 27th | Doors open 4pm
405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

This special public event is being organized by the Methuselah Foundation. Dr. Aubrey de Grey, chairman and chief science officer of the Methuselah Foundation, said, “Our organization has raised over $10 million to crack open the logjams in longevity science. With the two-armed strategy of direct investments into key research projects, and a competitive prize to spur on competing scientists’ race to break rejuvenation and longevity records in lab mice, the Foundation is actively accelerating the drive toward a future free of age-related degeneration.” The Methuselah Foundation has been covered by “60 Minutes,” Popular Science, the Wall Street Journal, and other top-flight media outlets.

Continue reading “Aging 2008 -- an Open Event for Regenerative Medicine” »

Jun 11, 2008

Synbioethics/synthethics: Synthetic biology cause concern

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The report, “Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges”, highlights concerns about ownership, misuse, unintended consequences, and accidental release of synthetic organisms into the environment.

Andrew Balmer and Professor Paul Martin, the report’s authors, suggest a threat from “garage biology”, with people experimenting at home. They also emphasise that there is no policy on the impact of synthetic biology on international bioweapons conventions.

Read the entire report here (PDF).

May 29, 2008

Time for a Bigger Machine!

Posted by in category: lifeboat

Supercomputer

We are currently hosting lifeboat.com on free web space provided by rubyredlabs.com. Due to the growth in our traffic plus more general activity on this server, it would be best if we had our own server.

Note that we have additional space from KurzweilAI.net on a shared server (shared with many domains) but the shared server is always rather loaded since it has so many domains on it so we don’t host our main pages on it. (We use the shared server for backups, file transfers, and less important domains.)

Our current solution is to stay with the same provider as rubyredlabs.com but to move to our own machine. (This should simplify the transition.) The current provider is theplanet.com. We plan on getting: Intel Xeon 3210 Quad Core Kentsfield Processor, 250GB HDD, 4GB RAM, 2500GB bandwidth, 10 IPs, 100mbps uplink — $199 monthly / $25 setup.

Continue reading “Time for a Bigger Machine!” »

May 29, 2008

The Heirs of Prometheus

Posted by in categories: human trajectories, space

Crossposted from the blog of Starship Reckless

Note: Like anyone who’s breathing, I have been tracking the Phoenix Lander. So I thought this might be a good moment to share a personal memory of one of its ancestors. That one did not survive to fulfill its mission, but the dream stayed alive. What I said then is even more true today, almost a decade later. The Greek version of this article was published in the largest Greek daily, Eleftherotypia (Free Press).

Prometheus

Prometheus Stealing Fire by André Durand (cropped)

Continue reading “The Heirs of Prometheus” »

May 28, 2008

Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Mars, Stars And Life From Afar?)

Posted by in category: space

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 56th Carnival of Space!

My name is Darnell Clayton (of Colony Worlds) and welcome to the Lifeboat Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving civilization upon our fragile world (as well as expanding it off world if all else fails).

Feel free to explore around the site, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Now without further ado, here is the Carnival of the Space Geeks!

NASA Phoenix Mars Lander

Continue reading “Carnival Of The Space Geeks (Mars, Stars And Life From Afar?)” »

May 8, 2008

XP Service Pack 3: An Existential Threat?

Posted by in category: rants

Bill Gates: Existential Threat?

Wow! I installed the XP Service Pack 3 yesterday after it was provided by the Windows Update feature and my computer crashed. I tried a few variations and did some investigations and couldn’t make it work. At least I was able to use a system restore point to keep the system alive. I should point out that I wasted hours on this as I had a variety of problems including the installation process just freezing up. (My computer is 100% solid, it passes a multi-hour memory test, etc.)

My investigations showed *many* people having serious problems with this service pack which is ridiculous since it shouldn’t be a big upgrade for people with fully updated XP Service Pack 2 setups as I had.

This plus the Vista disaster makes it rather likely that I will switch to a Macintosh for my next system. I have been using Microsoft operating systems on my PC since 1986 so this is a major thing to say. (Hey, my first computer was an Apple II+, so perhaps I am coming full circle…)

Continue reading “XP Service Pack 3: An Existential Threat?” »