How one company is using artificial intelligence to develop a cure for cancer

Close up of pancreatic cancer cell

Close up of pancreatic cancer cell

Boston-based Berg has spent the last six years perfecting an artificial intelligence platform that may soon crack the cancer code.

Could we be just two or three years away from curing some forms of cancer? Niven Narain, the president of Berg, a small Boston-based biotech firm, says that may very well be the case.

With funding from billionaire real-estate tycoon Carl Berg as well as from Mitch Gray, Narain, a clinical scientist by training, and his small army of scientists, technicians, and programmers, have spent the last six years perfecting and testing an artificial intelligence platform that he believes could soon crack the cancer code, in addition to discovering valuable information about a variety of other terrible diseases, including Parkinson’s.

Thanks to partnerships formed with universities, hospitals, and even the U.S. Department of Defense, Berg and its supercomputers have been able to analyze thousands of patient records and tissue samples to find possible new drug targets and biomarkers.

All this data crunching has led to the development of Berg’s first drug, BPM 31510, which is in clinical trials. The drug acts by essentially reprogramming the metabolism of cancer cells, re-teaching them to undergo apoptosis, or cell death. In doing so, the cancer cells die off naturally, without the need for harmful and expensive chemotherapy.

So far, Berg has concentrated most of its resources on prostate cancer, given the large amount of data available on the disease. But thanks to recently announced partnerships, the firm is now building a new model targeting pancreatic cancer, which is one of the deadliest forms of cancers with a survivorship rate of only 7%.

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Breast implants could get a lift to make them safer

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Scientists have discovered a way to enhance the surface of silicone breast implants to make them less likely to be rejected by the body. The research team, from the University of Manchester in the UK, says that one in five people with breast implants grow scar tissue that calls for more surgery due to pain and deformity. “Some of the surfaces seen on implants today were designed originally in the 60s and 70s and therefore there is an unmet need for delivering the next generation of biomimetic breast implant surfaces,” says lead author Dr. Ardeshir Bayat, of M-U’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair.

This condition is called capsular contracture and it occurs when the body rejects a foreign object.

Springboarding on previous research suggesting that scar tissue is less likely to result from implants with textured surfaces, the research team created a surface similar to what the body is used to, such as the basal layer of the skin.

This provides a better environment for cells to grow on, according to the study.

“Importantly, the micro environment created by the features of a breast implant is critical for breast tissue cells to adhere to that surface and grow on,” says Dr. Ardeshir Bayat.

He compared the surface of conventional implants to the face of a smooth cliff, noting that the cells need a terrain of their own dimension to properly interact with.

What’s more, the enhanced surface could help reduce chances of inflammation, which can result in scarring.

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Happy Ending for 10-Month-Old’s Brave Cancer Battle

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Raakhee Mirchandani cradles her daughter, Satya, at one of her many doctors appointments after she was diagnosed with cancer. (Photo: Raakhee Mirchandani)

By Raakhee Mirchandani; This story originally appeared in the New York Daily News.

Instead of planning her first birthday party, I thought about her funeral. And I began to imagine a life without her. Satya, the cherub-cheeked little lady we had brought into the world 10 months ago, had just been diagnosed with cancer.

It was Stage 1, she was well under 18-months-old and otherwise healthy. As if “otherwise healthy” mattered, the facts were that an MRI showed a tumor sitting between her kidney and aorta, dangerously close to her heart. Our hearts.

Satya’s name came to me in a dream. When I woke up there was only one word on my lips (Satya is Sanskrit for truth). I knew her middle name would be Devi (Sanskrit for goddess) after my grandmother. Our daughter would be Satya Devi Singh, translated it means Truth Goddess Lion. Good luck keeping this kid down, I thought, as I traced the letters over and over on my pregnant belly.

 

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The Future of Cancer: Closer to a Cure

Sloan Kettering CEO Craig Thompson on the revolution under way in cancer prevention and treatment
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Decades into the declared modern war on cancer, scientists and clinicians are excited by what we are learning. Yet patients and families are too often frustrated by the lack of progress in prevention and treatment.

To understand this seeming paradox, we have to consider what has been learned about the biology of cancer and how we are putting this knowledge to use.

Viewed in this light, there is tremendous hope for the future, both in decreasing an individual’s lifetime risk of getting cancer and in increasing the success of treating those cancers that do arise.

Most people don’t acquire a significantly higher risk of cancer from the genes that they inherit from their parents. Instead, cancer arises as a result of copying errors (mutations) in the inherited genes, as our bodies make new cells to maintain our various organs. A recent widely quoted publication suggested that these errors are an inevitable consequence of trying to copy three billion bits of information as a cell divides.

 

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Social Media and its Impacts on Health and Well-Being

In the year 1971, man delivered his first ever e-mail. Four decades later, social media has taken the world by storm.

The advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has completely changed the online scene, allowing us to exchange insights, feelings, experiences, and other media like never before. With each passing year, social media has an increasingly significant influence on several aspects of modern life, far beyond just online communication.

Social networking sites are used by 1 in 4 people worldwide. This may seem harmless, but some researchers suggest that social media may have negative effects on our health and well-being. But because the social media phenomenon is relatively new, there are not many research studies that have examined the effects of social media on one’s health and well-being.  Because of this, it’s particularly concerning in the context of the younger generation, as this group tends to spend the most time online and are therefore at a greater risk of experiencing the potentially negative effects of social media.

Recent studies indicate heavy social media usage rates among teenagers and young adults, suggesting that a large part of these groups’ social and emotional development is now taking place online, a phenomenon that may continue well into adulthood.

According to a 2012 study on Medical News Today, researchers suggest that frequent use of social networking sites may “feed anxiety and increase a person’s feeling of inadequacy.” A more recent study that was led by social psychiatrist Ethan Cross of the University of Michigan even found that social media “may even make us feel miserable.”

There are many conflicting views on the effects of frequent social media use. Some studies suggest positive effects, while others suggest negative effects. Most studies, however, suggest some type of effect on a person’s mental health.

But are these claims exaggerated, or is there really a cause for concern?

 

Social media may contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases

Technically, it’s not social media but the amount of time you spend sitting in front of your computer that could lead to various health problems like diabetes and heart disease. But since social media is the most popular pastime on the Web, you’ve got good cause to be concerned.

Studies suggest that just a couple of hours a day sitting in front of thePC could increase the risk of a person developing Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) by 20%, and the risk of getting heart disease by 15%.

On a daily average, how many hours do you spend on social media? Now is the time to look back and reflect on the possible consequences.

 

Social media addiction

While it’s highly unlikely for anyone to resort to selling their body to fund their social networking habits anytime soon, there’s evidence that social media can be highly addictive. It can have a significant effect on your brain chemistry.

Simple things like responding to a notification or commenting can prompt dopamine release. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for driving reward-driven learning. It controls our brain’s reward and pleasure center. But too much dopamine, along with vast amounts of time spent on social networking sites, could mean big trouble.

 

Social media can make people anti-social

Well, isn’t it ironic? But studies have revealed that about 24% of social media users have missed important moments in life because they spent too much time and were too busy on social networking sites.

But this isn’t without positive effects. Many social media platforms allow us to keep in touch with friends and family who live far away. It even gives us the opportunity to re-connect with long, lost friends. It even helps shy and lonely people forge new bonds.

But hey, nothing’s better than meeting each other face-to-face!

 

Social media can make you fat

Have you been gaining weight? A recent study shows that, while social media can have positive effects on one’s self-esteem, it can potentially lead to impulsive unhealthy snacking. The same effects were observed in terms of mental health and spending.

 

Social media can lead to paranoia

With the advancement of technology, companies are now able to target their marketing to a whole new level, thanks to geo-location, and heavy data and social media usage. But for some people, this ever-growing, pinpoint accuracy can lead to paranoia.

You will also leave digital footprints with social media, as it makes your activities on the Web increasingly indelible. This is good news for businesses and companies, though, as more and more employers resort to social networking sites to do background checks on their staff.

 

Is It Time to Step Away?

What could be the signs that your use of social media is getting out of hand? Experts suggest you should take a breather if you experience the following:

  • You feel a need to spend more and more time online.
  • You constantly think about or plan to use social media.
  • You feel anxious, moody, or restless whenever you can’t use it.
  • You try and fail to control you social media habits.
  • You neglect other aspects of your life in favor of social media.

 

Does this sound a lot like you? It’s time to think about why you use social media in the first place. If you feel like you’re beginning to lack real-life contact, it’s time to be proactive. Take control of your social life instead of allowing social media to control you. Go out, meet friends, hit the gym, be more productive!

Whatever your views on social media and technology in general, the fact remains that it’s here to stay and will only become more powerful and ever-present as time goes on.

If you feel your relationship with social media is getting out of control (for now at least), you can always opt to deactivate your account or disconnect from the Internet altogether. It’s a decision only you can make.

Trial of radioactive implants offers improved prostate cancer survival

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A prostate cancer treatment using permanently implanted radioactive “seeds” doubles rates of five-year tumour-free survival compared with conventional high-dose radiotherapy, a study has found.

Low-dose-rate prostate brachytherapy (LDR-PB) involves the insertion of tiny radioactive implants into the prostate gland.

A trial comparing the treatment with dose-escalated external beam radiotherapy found that it was much more successful at banishing cancer.

Men who underwent LDR-PB were twice as likely to be cancer-free five years later.

Scientists studied 398 men with cancer that had not spread outside the prostate gland who were judged to be at high risk of treatment failure based on standard test results.

Lead researcher Professor James Morris, from Vancouver Cancer Centre in Canada, said: “At five years follow-up, we saw a large advantage in progression-free survival in the LDR-PB group.

 

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Watch: Big Ang reflects on ‘live or die’ cancer scare at brunch

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made her first public appearance Sunday since her life-saving operation on a cancerous throat tumor.

The occasion was a charity bingo brunch at Dock’s Clam Bar in Tottenville, which sought to raise money for Save the Children Foundation’s rescue efforts in Nepal after the country’s devastating earthquake.

Ang, the star of the Staten Island-based docu-soap“Mob Wives,” was her old self at the event, greeting fans and calling out bingo numbers with her characteristic sass.

She wore a turtleneck sweater covering a scar that stretched from one side of her neck to the middle of it — where doctors removed the grapefruit-sized tumor from her throat.

 

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Could this new therapy kill cancer? Canadian doc thinks so

BALTIMORE - AUGUST 15:  Dr. Julie Brahmer (R) and Katie Thornton review PET scans of a patient being treated at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins August 15, 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. Since its inception in 1973, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been dedicated to better understanding human cancers and finding more effective treatments.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE – AUGUST 15: Dr. Julie Brahmer (R) and Katie Thornton review PET scans of a patient being treated at the Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins August 15, 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland. Since its inception in 1973, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been dedicated to better understanding human cancers and finding more effective treatments. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

TORONTO – A Canadian doctor is combining two trial cancer therapies in to a new treatment that he says will deliver a “one-two punch” to the illness.

“It’s not a matter of if it’ll go into the clinic, it’s a matter of when and that to me is the basis of my excitement,” Dr. Robert  Korneluk, one of the most senior scientists at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, told Global News.

Korneluk says the treatment first rips the guts out of cancer cells, knocking the disease to its knees before it’s wiped out by a second therapy.

Both of these burgeoning cancer therapies are in clinical trials now. As standalone options, they aren’t as potent, but Korneluk and his collaborators hope to test the two treatments in tandem.

And both parts of the combination therapy have Canadian fingerprints all over them.

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Making a Profit from Offering Ineffective Therapies to Cancer Patients

It sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory: a secretive businessman founds a for-profit medical center to treat cancer.  His hospitals offer conventional treatments but also sell highly questionable, unscientific treatments to vulnerable patients. These treatments help to increase profits.  The businessman uses the profits from his cancer hospitals to support his favorite right-wing causes.  Patients have no idea that the fees they pay for treatment help support these causes.

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It may sound unbelievable, but it’s true.  Most of this story was described in a lengthy exposé just published in the WashingtonPost on Christmas day.  The Post revealed that Richard Stephenson, the founder of a large for-profit cancer center, is also one of the primary funding sources for Freedom Works, a right-wing Tea Party organization that played a major role in the 2012 elections.  As the Post story described him:

[Stephenson is] “a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.”

Among other examples, the Post describes how

“more than $12 million in donations was funneled through two Tennessee corporations to the FreedomWorks super PAC after negotiations with Stephenson over a preelection gift of the same size….  The origin of the money has not previously been reported.”

 

 

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Learn how you can reduce your weight

Everybody has an advice to offer when you ask them ‘how can I reduce my weight?’ However, the advice they have to offer may not be the best for you and maybe you have tried to follow their advice which did not work out. This usually ends in disappointment when you follow the advice offered and you fail to lose weight.

You don’t have to torture yourself in order to reduce weight but what you need is natural ways and eat diet that will assist you in cutting off the extra weight. This report is going to look at several ways in which you can lose weight easily.

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It does not mean going hungry to lose weight

In order to lose weight you are required to eat fewer calories. There are types of food that will give you few calories and you will not stay hungry.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grain and lentils are among the type of food that will help you in losing weight. You can’t overeat when you are taking vegetables and high-fibers food. In every diet that you are taking ensure that you have the following items: leafy salad, apples, oatmeal, rice, lentils, and popcorn. You will be full and at the same time cut on weight loss.

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Drink a lot

Doctors recommend that every day you should drink about 8 glasses of water.  Remember to drink a lot of water when you are in the process of losing weight. Water will keep your body hydrated. Soft drinks are full of carbohydrates and sugar which is not good for your weight. Other drinks that you should consider in order to lose weight are: vegetable juice, skim milk, black coffee and unsweetened tea.

Herbs that will assist in losing weight

People tend to blame heavy weight to different factors such as cravings, sluggish metabolism among others.  Herbs formula will assist in weight loss no matter what you think your reasons are. Not all herbs will assist you to lose weight but the following herbs will assist when combined with low-fat diet. Calcarea carbonica is recommended to those people who are flabby and have chills. If you have craving for sweets then you should consider taking Pulsatilla. When you think you have a problem of eating too much then consider taking Staphysagria which will be of great help to you.  Taking these and other herbs will assist you so much in losing weight.

 

 

Chopsticks for weight loss

I know you are wondering what does chopstick has to do with weight loss. When you are stomach is full a signal is sent to your brain to indicate that you are satisfied. This is when you have the feeling that you are full and keep the plate away. When you eat too fast the signal will reach the brain when you have already taken more than you are supposed to. If you don’t have the mechanism to slow down while eating then it is recommended for you to use chopsticks. You have to be very careful while eating using chopsticks. While you are using the chopsticks you will pay attention to what you are eating and hence also enjoy the food. From now on it is better to try using chopsticks and you will see improvements on your weight.