Researchers genetically engineer Salmonella to eat brain tumors

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Salmonella has earned its bad reputation. It is responsible for more than a million cases of food poisoning every year, of which nearly 400 people die. But a team of researchers from Duke University have recently engineered the bacteria to not attack the human gastrointestinal tract, but rather the most aggressive form of brain cancer known to man.

Glioblastoma is no joke. It’s extremely aggressive, with barely 10 percent of people diagnosed with it living another 5 years — the mean lifespan is just 15 months. What’s more, the cancer is protected from conventional drug and radiation-based therapies due to the blood brain barrier. Surgery is also an imperfect option because if even a single cancerous cell is left behind, it can spawn new tumors.

But that’s where the Salmonella typhimurium comes in. The Duke team made a few genetic adjustments to the bacteria’s DNA and transformed it into a guided-missile against Glioblastoma while rendering it harmless to the patient. Specifically, the team rendered the bacteria perpetually deficient in a crucial amino acid known as Purine. It just so happens that tumors are packed with Purine, which subsequently attracted the bacteria like flies to honey. Once injected directly into the brain, the Salmonella then burrows deep into the tumorous mass and begins to reproduce. The team also instructed the bacteria’s genetics to produce two compounds — Azurian and p53, both of which cause cells to self destruct — but only in low-oxygen environments such as the interior of a tumor where bacteria are rapidly multiplying. That way both the tumorous cells and bacteria alike eventually die off.

"A major challenge in treating gliomas is that the tumor is dispersed with no clear edge, making them difficult to completely surgically remove. So designing bacteria to actively move and seek out these distributed tumors, and express their anti-tumor proteins only in hypoxic, purine rich tumor regions is exciting," Ravi Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering and corresponding author of the paper, said in a statement. "And because their natural toxicity has been deactivated, they don’t cause an immunological response. At the doses we used in the experiments, they were naturally cleared once they’d killed the tumors, effectively destroying their own food source."

In rat trials, a full 20 percent of patients lasted 100 days, the rodent equivalent of 10 human years. The treatment basically doubled the survival rate and lifespan of those suffering from Glioblastoma. Of course, success in rodent-based trials don’t guarantee those same benefit will be conferred upon humans, but the results are nonetheless impressive. There’s no word yet on when this experimental therapy will make it out of the lab.

Via: Eureka Alert

Source: Duke University

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Akai’s standalone MPCs revealed – and they could replace your laptop

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Welcome to the post-PC drum machine age. After years of leaving fans of standalone MPCs in the cold, Akai have unveiled machines that promise the flexibility of computer software – minus the computer.

Specs and photos went live on the Sweetwater website this morning with complete specs, and now are also live on Akai’s site. (I’m unaware of whether or not today was the date Akai intended to lift embargo, as CDM was never under one.)s

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The MPC Live is probably the one you want, in a compact form factor and with a not-insane US$1,199 street price. And it’s no slouch:

mpclive-large

7″ touch screen
16 pads (hopefully these are these build on the quality of those on the previous MPC Renaissance flagship)
Weight: 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs)
Rechargeable battery (clever, that!)
16 GB of internal storage, plus external hard drive support
MPC 2.0 software has upgraded time warp and audio track recording (also putting it ahead of Maschine for DAW-like tasks)
Audio inputs: 2x 1/4″ plus 1 stereo RCA (and GND for connecting a turntable)
Audio outputs: 2x 1/4″ master, an additional 4×1/4″, plus the minijack headphone
MIDI I/O – 2 in, 2 out (that’s surprising on a small unit)
SD card
USB: 2x type A (for expanding storage, and tantalizingly for “controllers” – it seems there’s USB host support for MIDI), 1x type B (for computer connections)
2.5″ SATA drive connector

Even the mid-range MPC Live has a surprisingly generous complement of I/O.

Even the mid-range MPC Live has a surprisingly generous complement of I/O.

The Quick Start manual is also online.

Note that you can dynamically get hands-on control of parameters via what Akai call “Q-Link,” and you can sample live right on the hardware. Both the two USB-A ports and SD card slot let you add storage, so you’ll have no lack of absence to samples – plus 10 GB of content are included.

USB connectivity means this is a computer accessory when you want it to be. USB MIDI can be transmitted in both directions, and you can use the MPCs along with desktop MPC software – which means access to your plug-ins, and drag-and-drop support with DAWs for arranging.

We’ve already seen reasonably clever MPC software in the computer-tethered products. Now, the touchscreens on previous Akai products haven’t been the best ever, in my experience – though the bar is set high when you’re used to things like Apple’s superb iPad screens. But it absolutely beats menu diving – compare, for instance, the experience of using Pioneer’s new sample hardware. And perhaps they’ve upgraded the touchscreen component; that’ll be interesting to see.

The audio track thing to me is huge, as it vastly increases the range of what you can do with just the MPC. I suspect for a lot of producers, that’s enough to finish tracks (even if they move back to the computer for mixing and mastering).

It seems that basically what you’re getting is the MPC Touch with the software running internally on an embedded system – and some significant upgrade to I/O and better software. But given the MPC Touch was already pretty darn good, this could move the MPC Live into must-buy territory.

Sound on Sound go hands-on:

Of course, if you want something bigger and more powerful / own a car to carry it around or want to leave something in the studio, there’s the US$$2,199 MPC X.

It’s got everything the MPC Live has, with a bigger form factor, a bigger screen, more dedicated controls, and more I/O.

The big'n.

The big’n.

So you get:
10.1″ multi-touch screen
CV/gate for analog connectivity – 8 of them! (seems it’s output only)
Audio inputs 3/4 are both jack and RCA a
8 outputs instead of 6
4 MIDI outputs instead of 2

Another sign that this is power over portability – there’s no mention of battery power.

A big, articulated screen, extra hands-on control, and loads of I/O are what you get on the MPC X, in exchange for being a bit less mobile and paying over two grand.

A big, articulated screen, extra hands-on control, and loads of I/O are what you get on the MPC X, in exchange for being a bit less mobile and paying over two grand.

The leaked specs don’t yet have weight, but then, you’re not really buying this one for portability.

That’s all very cool, and it should be big in the American market where larger equipment is more desirable. But worldwide, the MPC Live is already powerful enough that it seems it’ll be the winner.

Software upgrade

Also leaked – the MPC 2.0 software sounds great. And if you don’t have the cash for this new gear, and already own an MPC product, you’ve got an upgrade path.

Free download for existing owners of the Touch and Studio Black
Paid upgrade for owners of the MPC Renaissance & MPC Studio Silver (pricing not confirmed)
User interface now standardized across computer and standalone environments
Audio tracks (128 in computer mode, 8 stereo tracks in standalone mode)
Improved time-stretching with the new warping algorithm allows any audio file to adapt to the BPM of your project in real-time (works in audio tracks and in loops assigned to drum or clip programs)
Real time pitch shifting
New ‘CLIP’ programs (similar to clips in Ableton Live) can contain up to 16 loops with maximum length of 8 measures
Drag and Drop audio tracks, clips, regions, phrases and MIDI directly into DAWs
Plug-in programs will only function when attached to a computer running MPC Software.
Existing chopping functionality works with audio tracks (e.g assigning regions of an audio track to individual pads)
The Browser now moved to the right of the screen
Fully editable and configurable mapping of external instruments to Q Links
MPC X displays the parameter name and corresponding values on the OLED screen above the Q-Link dial
Improved mixer with better routing & scalable channel strips

I really like the drag-and-drop capability. That’s huge with Maschine and Ableton Live, and it could be with this device, too.

Make clips on the go, or onstage, then dump them back into your DAW to do a more final arrangement? Sounds perfect to me.

And it makes clear where this is going when I say “post-PC.” It’s not that the PC goes away; it simply becomes a more powerful studio tool, while you focus on hardware live (or when you want to improvise away from the sometimes-uninspiring computer screen).

Standalone threat

Who should be a little nervous? All the competition, clearly.

That breaks down into I think two endangered categories:

1. Computers tethered to software when a standalone solution would be more effective.

2. Hardware that makes you menu dive with awkward combinations of buttons as if you’ve never seen a computer before.

That doesn’t apply to everything. Computers still have plenty to offer – endless software choice, which means unique sound possibilities, plug-ins, big displays, and powerful arrangement features.

And not all standalone software should emulate computer software. Sometimes what makes hardware appealing is integrated sound capabilities and more limited controls.

I also don’t think the computer is going to become extinct onstage – it’s just going to make way for dedicated hardware solutions in certain use cases. And that trend is already well underway.

It’s hard not to feel Native Instruments have missed a major opportunity here. I can’t imagine anyone buying the flagship Maschine Studio when it lacks so much connectivity, let alone the need for tethering to a computer, especially with a standalone MPC Live hitting this price point. And ironically, while NI have through their history pioneered the use of native software, they could have taken that same native software and made it run standalone. They certainly could have shipped a Maschine that looked like this – and I would have been one of the first to buy it. But even as a devoted Maschine fan, I’m going to wonder about whether I really want to play live with a laptop when I could ditch it for an MPC with similar capabilities. (They’re safer at the low end – four hundred bucks for Maschine Jam gives you some insanely powerful software with tricks the MPC lacks, and hardware.) The same is true of the Traktor line – there really is some truth to the resistance to DJs showing up with computers.

(Of course, that said, it’s a shame the new MPCs don’t support Ableton Link – at least not that I can see.)

Pioneer have their own market niche because their Toraiz sampler has sync capabilities with the CDJ. But since DJ/producers often differentiate between live acts and DJ sets, I expect a lot will choose to do a live set with an MPC and just use CDJs when DJing. That’s already the case with the Elektron machines you see so often in live sets.

Elektron probably have the least concern. Their user base is pretty loyal, and the Analog line sounds absolutely terrific. But even some would-be Elektron customers may decide a sample-based workflow and more DAW-style flexibility is desirable – without all the menu diving.

Even Ableton ought to have a look at this and wonder if the Push is going to stay as desirable as a performance solution.

Roland also missed a chance to get an entry here, though I suspect they would need added software capabilities.

Don’t get me wrong – there are still advantages to computer software. When it comes to more complex arrangements, I’m all about a big screen. And past leaks suggest the new Akai hardware won’t support plug-ins. So these machines for many producers will be about live performance. Then again, there’s nothing stopping you from using the MPCs with a computer for those contexts. The category this will clearly damage is the computer-plus-machine area — meaning things like Push and Maschine look less desirable.

I’ll definitely be keen to test this. It’s still down to software – despite the embedded context, that’s what you’re testing. And I’m curious to see how you would integrate this with studio workflows on the computer.

But long before NAMM, it seems we have the big NAMM story for producers.

Just remember – drum machines have no soul. 😉

The post Akai’s standalone MPCs revealed – and they could replace your laptop appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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How the iPhone revolutionized our love lives

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LONDON — It’s been 10 whole years since the first iPhone was revealed to the public. On Jan. 7, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the never-before-seen phone, describing it as “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.”

He wasn’t wrong. Love it or hate it, the iPhone has not only revolutionised the the way we date online. It’s also transformed the way we feel about online dating. 

Hark back to 2007, and the dating landscape looked very different to how it looks now. Online dating was website-based, with sites like Match.com and eHarmony among the most popular. With the rise of the mobile web in the mid-2000s, mobile dating was in its nascent stages, but daters had to access dating sites via web browsers on internet-enabled phones. And, back then, the word “swipe” meant nothing to someone looking for love.

Fast forward 10 years, and the scene could not look more different. The launch of Grindr in 2009 and Tinder in 2012 brought location-based dating mainstream, paving the way for future apps like Happn and Temptr, which match users with people they’ve walked past IRL. 

“When mobile dating apps started rolling out, some sites such as Grindr and Tinder only released mobile versions of their dating services and started only with iOS, later adding in Android,” mobile dating expert Julie Spira told Mashable

No iPhone, no swipe

Image: Getty Images/Canopy

Swiping is now entirely synonymous with mobile dating; and — according to Tinder’s co-founder Jonathan Badeen — it’s all because of the iPhone.

Badeen, Tinder’s Chief Strategy Officer, said in a statement emailed to Mashable that the iPhone “ushered in an era where we could truly touch our apps and interfaces,” with its release heralding “the defining moment in which personal tech went mainstream.”

Swiping has been a central part of mobile dating since Tinder launched in 2012. But, according to Badeen — who invented the swipe and coded Tinder’s original iPhone app — one of the most integral parts of online dating today might never have been invented if it weren’t for the iPhone.

The iPhone is “the defining moment in which personal tech went mainstream.”

“Tinder and the swipe were born out of a desire to connect users in a very personal way — and there would be nothing to swipe right if it weren’t for the iPhone,” says Badeen.

Now, in 2017, it’s impossible to think of mobile dating without the swipe; with most apps incorporating the feature in some way.

Bringing personal tech mainstream has not just made dating easier and more fun, it’s also significantly changed attitudes towards online dating. Jack Knowles, founder of dating app Temptr, says that prior to the iPhone’s launch, online dating was considered shameful, particularly because it was not yet mainstream. 

“Back in 2007, internet dating was becoming more established. But anyone looking for love would be using using a computer, probably in the office, and numbers were low with a stigma attached,” Knowles told Mashable

Thanks to iPhone, we’re no longer ashamed by online dating

Image: AMBAR DEL MORAL / MASHABLE

Spira believes we have the iPhone to thank for reducing the shame associated with online dating. “I credit the iPhone for helping to remove the stigma of online dating and helping singles fill their date cards more quickly and date on the fly,” Spira told Mashable

Research suggests that online dating has now lost much of its stigma. Back in 2005, the majority of Americans viewed online dating as a “subpar” method of meeting people and very few had had any exposure to the realm of online dating, according to Pew Research Center. Since then, attitudes have grown significantly more positive. As of 2015, 59 percent of Americans believe that online dating is a good way to meet people, with cultural acceptance of the practice on the rise.

Among millennials, mobile dating is becoming increasingly the norm. 2016 statistics revealed that 1 in 3 18-to-24-year-olds report having used online dating; triple the number of young adults using online dating two years previous.

In 2017, the words “we met online” are no longer whispered.

The inception of the iPhone has brought about dramatic and positive change in the dating world. The swipe function has seen online dating shift from a clandestine, stigmatised act conducted in the privacy of one’s own bedroom. Now, dating apps are pored over in bars and played on Apple TV screens with friends. And, for an increasing number of millennials, online dating is an extension of everyday life. In 2017, the words “We met online” are no longer whispered, they’re said aloud and without fuss.

Mobile dating is now a realm of its own; one that — like all forms of dating — has its own idiosyncrasies, like ghosting and swipe-cheating

All things considered, we have a lot to thank the iPhone for. But, the iPhone has brought with it a new generation of avoidance techniques and breakup methods that we’d sooner do without. 

BONUS: 20 British sex terms to you can totally use in America

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The Most Important Google Search Rank Factors [Infographic]

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Ranking among the top Google search results is increasingly driven by dynamic factors, such as content relevance and user intent, rather than static factors, such as the number of keywords and links on a webpage, according to recent research from Searchmetrics.

The annual Searchmetrics ranking factors report was based on an analysis conducted in 2016 of Google search results for 10,000 keywords. The researchers examined which webpages were presented in the top 10 mobile and desktop results for each keyword and then determined which factors correlated to high rankings.

The presence of a few technical requirements, such as H1 tags and HTTPS encryption, help pages rank well across almost all keywords, the analysis found.

However, many of the other factors that influence high search rank, such as time spent on site and click-through rate (CTR), are dependent on individual searchers and pieces of content.

The fact that top search results for keywords are now driven less and less by universal factors led Searchmetrics to conclude that marketers should increasingly focus on topic-specific SEO/content tactics rather than broad approaches.



As the researchers put it in the report: “Except for important technical standards, there are no longer any specific factors or benchmark values that are universally valid for all online marketers and SEOs. Instead, there are different ranking factors for every single industry, or even every single search query. And these now change continuously.”

About the research: The annual Searchmetrics ranking factors report was based on an analysis conducted in 2016 of Google search results for 10,000 keywords. The researchers examined which webpages were presented in the top 10 mobile and desktop results for each keyword and then determined which factors correlated to high rankings.











Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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