Francis Schlatter (1856-1896), Healer with Copper Rod
Francis Schlatter Credit: Unknown – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division; Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons
Francis Schlatter (1856-1896) was an Alsatian cobbler who, because of miraculous cures attributed to him, became known as the Healer. Schlatter was born in the village of Ebersheim, Bas-Rhin, near Selestat, in Alsace on April 29, 1856. In 1884 he emigrated to the United States, where he worked at his trade in various cities, arriving in Denver, Colorado, in 1892. There, a few months later, he experienced a vision at his cobbler’s bench in which he heard the voice of the Father commanding him to sell his business, give the money to the poor, and devote his life to healing the sick. He then undertook a two-year, 3,000-mile walking pilgrimage around the American West which took him across eastern Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and then to Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he was arrested and jailed for vagrancy. In early 1894 he escaped and headed west, walking across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and into southern California, where he began his first efforts at healing with the Indians of the San Jacinto Valley. After two months, he again took up his pilgrimage and traveled east across the Mohave Desert, living on nothing but flour and water.
In July 1895 he emerged as a Christ-like healer in the Rio Grande villages south of Albuquerque. There, while treating hundreds of sick, suffering, and disabled people who flocked to Albuquerque’s Old Town, he became famous. Crowds gathered about him daily, hoping to be cured of their diseases simply by clasping his hands. The following month he returned to Denver, but did not resume his healings until mid-September. During the next few weeks, his ministry drew tens of thousands of pilgrims to a small home in North Denver. Schlatter is said to have refused all rewards for his services. His manner of living was of the simplest, and he taught no new doctrine. He said only that he obeyed a power which he called Father, and from this power he received his healing virtue.
On the night of November 13, 1895, he suddenly disappeared, leaving behind him a note in which he said that his mission was ended. Then, in 1897 news came out of Mexico that the healer’s bones and possessions had been found on a mountainside in the Sierra Madre. At the same time, a New Mexico woman named Ada Morley published a book called The Life of the Harp in the Hand of the Harper which told of the healer’s three-month retreat on her ranch in Datil, New Mexico, after his disappearance from Denver. The book, which carried the title the healer gave it, also contained a first-person description of his two-year pilgrimage, which he believed held the same significance for mankind as Christ’s forty days in the wilderness. On departing the Morley ranch, Schlatter told Morley that God intended to establish New Jerusalem in the Datil Mountains, and the healer promised to return at that time. In the wake of the healer’s death, several men claiming to be Francis Schlatter made headlines around the country in 1909, 1916, and 1922.
In August Strindberg?s autobiographical novel Inferno, Francis Schlatter is mentioned as a doppelganger of another man Strindberg met in Paris in 1896, the year after Schlatter disappeared. He was afraid of Schlatter. The double turned out to be Paul Herrmann, a German-American painter.
The Healer’s Copper Rod
In 1906 Edgar Lee Hewett, who became a noted archaeologist and museum director, was conducting research near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, Mexico, when his Mexican guide pointed out an unmarked grave. Ten years before, the guide said, he had come across the body of a dead man following a blizzard. From the guide’s description, Hewett surmised that the dead man the guide had come across was Francis Schlatter, whom Hewett had met and whose healing sessions he observed in 1895. Hewett asked if any of the man’s possessions had survived. The guide led him to the home of the jefe of Casas Grandes, and there Hewett saw Schlatter’s Bible, saddle, and copper rod – which had become a mysterious hallmark of the healer from the time of his disappearance. Years later, in 1922, Hewett returned to Mexico and examined the copper rod again. By now, Edgar Lee Hewett had become the director of the School of American Research (now the School for Advanced Research) and the Museum of New Mexico Hewett showed interest in the rod and made a donation to the village of Casas Grandes to hire a teacher. Back in Santa Fe, a few weeks later, he received a heavy, burlap-wrapped package, and inside was Francis Schlatter’s copper rod. He placed the rod in the collections of the two institutions he directed, which shared space in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, N.M. Today the rod lies in the collections of the New Mexico History Museum in the Palace of the Governors. Almost immediately after reports came out of Mexico announcing the healer’s death, skepticism arose. Ada Morley, who had visited at length with Schlatter during his three-month stay at her ranch in New Mexico in early 1896, had her doubts. The men who found the skeleton declared to have been [Schlatter’s], she said, say it was resting as though it had never been disturbed. I know the coyotes would never have left it, if it had ever lain there bearing flesh. The New York Times expressed doubts as well. It does not appear that the human remains were actually identified as Schlatter’s, the newspaper stated on June 19, 1897, or that any identification was possible. However, the presence of the healer’s possessions at the scene, especially his copper rod, convinced most people otherwise. Over the next twenty-five years, several men arose claiming to be Francis Schlatter. One, a Presbyterian minister named Charles McLean, died in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1909, creating a controversy between skeptics and believers. Two others, August Schrader and Jacob Kunze, who formed a healing team that operated between 1908 and 1917, were arrested and jailed in 1916 for mail fraud. A final so-called imposter died in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 1922.
During the second half of the twentieth century, a renewed interest in Schlatter brought with it speculation about the claim of the healer who had died in St. Louis. Most recently, The Vanishing Messiah: The Life and Resurrections of Francis Schlatter (2016), argues that the healer conspired to stage his death in the mountains of Mexico and returned to the United States to continue healing in the eastern and southern parts of the country until his death in St. Louis in 1922. The Vanishing Messiah claim rests in part on the discovery of a largely forgotten autobiography in the Library of Congress entitled Modern Miracles of Healing: A True Account of the Life, Works and Wanderings of Francis Schlatter, the Healer, attributed to Francis Schlatter, The Alsacian, and published in 1903.
No Effects of Short-Term vs. Long-Term Blood Storage on Mortality after Transfusion
Randomized, controlled trials have suggested that the transfusion of blood after prolonged storage does not increase the risk of adverse outcomes among patients, although most of these trials were restricted to high-risk populations and were not powered to detect small but clinically important differences in mortality. As a result, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2016; 375:1937-1945) was performed to determine whether the duration of blood storage would have an effect on mortality after transfusion in a general population of hospitalized patients.
In this pragmatic, randomized, controlled trial conducted at six hospitals in four countries, patients who required a red-cell transfusion were randomly assigned to receive blood that had been stored for the shortest duration (short-term storage group) or the longest duration (long-term storage group) in a 1:2 ratio. Only patients with type A or O blood were included in the primary analysis, since pilot data suggested that the goal of achieving a difference in the mean duration of blood storage of at least 10 days would not be possible with other blood types. Written informed consent was waived because all the patients received treatment consistent with the current standard of care. The primary outcome was in-hospital mortality, which was estimated by means of a logistic-regression model after adjustment for study center and patient blood type.
From April 2012 through October 2015, a total of 31,497 patients underwent randomization. Of these patients, 6761 who did not meet all the enrollment criteria were excluded after randomization. The primary analysis included 20,858 patients with type A or O blood. Of these patients, 6,936 were assigned to the short-term storage group and 13,922 to the long-term storage group. The mean storage duration was 13.0 days in the short-term storage group and 23.6 days in the long-term storage group. There were 634 deaths (9.1%) in the short-term storage group and 1213 (8.7%) in the long-term storage group (odds ratio, 1.05 P=0.34). When the analysis was expanded to include the 24,736 patients with any blood type, the results were similar, with rates of death of 9.1% and 8.8%, respectively (odds ratio, 1.04, P=0.38). Additional results were consistent in three prespecified high-risk subgroups (patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery, those admitted to intensive care, and those with cancer).
According to the authors, among patients in a general hospital population, there was no significant difference in the rate of death among those who underwent transfusion with the freshest available blood and those who underwent transfusion according to the standard practice of transfusing the oldest available blood.
Statin Use and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Statins have antiinflammatory/immunomodulatory effects that may be useful in preventing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but previous observational studies about the risk of RA with statin use yielded conflicting results. As a result, a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology (27 October 2016) was performed to determine whether high-intensity statin treatment is associated with reduced risk of RA.
The study used data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink. For the analysis, the authors performed a nested case-control analysis in a population-based cohort of patients who began receiving statins between 1997 and 2009 and were followed up until a first diagnosis of RA, death, end of registration with the physician’s practice, or end of January 2011. For each case of RA, age-, gender-, and calendar year-matched controls were randomly selected from risk sets. The hazard ratio (HR) of incident RA was estimated in the highest quintile of duration-weighted average statin intensity compared to the lowest, using conditional logistic regression. Models were adjusted for smoking status, total cholesterol level, obesity, history of cardiovascular disease, coexistent autoimmune disease, hypothyroidism, and persistence with treatment.
The research cohort included 528,654 new users of statins, with 1,357 new cases of RA occurring during a mean follow-up of 3.3 years, for an incidence rate of 7.9 per 10,000 person-years. Cases were more likely to be smokers, to have other autoimmune diseases, and to have had lower total cholesterol levels at baseline. Research showed that the incidence of RA was lower in the highest statin intensity quintile (adjusted HR 0.77 [95% confidence interval 0.63-0.95]) in comparison to the lowest quintile.
The authors concluded that in this large population-based study, high-intensity statin treatment was associated with a reduced risk of RA in comparison to low-intensity statin treatment.
FDA Research Helps to Speed Development of Zika Virus Vaccines and Therapeutics
The recent spread of the Zika virus and its association with increased rates of neurological disorders and complex congenital syndromes, such as microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre Syndrome in adults, has created an urgent need for animal models to examine the virus’ pathology. Better understanding the impact and long-term effects of the Zika virus infection in mice may be useful in efforts to find ways to combat it in a human population. A new mouse model developed by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may help in exploring the potential activity of Zika virus vaccines and therapeutics. Published in PLoS Pathogens (17 November 2017), is the description of a neonatal mouse model that provides a platform for potentially improving and expediting studies to understand the causes and effects (pathology) of the Zika virus.
The FDA’s scientists found that neonatal mice of the C57BL/6 mouse strain are susceptible to the Zika virus and develop neurological symptoms 12 days post infection. These mice eventually recover from disease and thus the model provides an opportunity to study the virus’ long-term effects as well as an additional means for early exploration of experimental Zika virus vaccines and therapeutics. This advancement is just one of many research projects the FDA has undertaken as part of the agency’s comprehensive effort to fight the Zika virus. For example, the FDA has invested in initiatives to understand the effectiveness of technologies that reduce pathogens (such as viruses or other microorganisms that can cause disease) in blood, evaluate the impact of red blood cell storage on virus infection, expand the agency’s database of virus-infected samples essential to the development of diagnostic devices, and explore how long the Zika virus persists in body tissues, among other projects.
In addition to advancing research initiatives, the FDA is also working rapidly in a variety of areas to respond to the emerging Zika virus outbreak. The agency’s activities are focused on protecting the safety of our nation’s supply of blood and human cells, tissues and cellular and tissue-based products, encouraging development of diagnostic tests to help clinicians detect and diagnose Zika virus infection, and evaluating the safety and efficacy of any investigational vaccines and therapeutics that are currently in various stages of early development.
Pumpkin/Date Cake with Amaretto & Orange Zest Topping
This new holiday cake recipe overflows with luscious flavors, not the least of which is the Amaretto liqueur. It’s so-o addictive, we could not stop picking at it after we had dessert, because each crumb is replete with yum! ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Delicious with or without whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Here we’re having dessert with a dollop of cool whip. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Ingredients for Cake Layer
3/4 cup butter or canola oil
1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 and 2/4 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, grind your own or use store bought
1/3 cup fresh ginger, grated then chopped very fine
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tablespoons molasses
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
Date Filling Ingredients
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup, golden syrup or organic corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dates (press into the cup)
2 cups pecan halves or pieces (press into the cup)
1 and 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a round 9 spring-form cake pan
3. Grate the ginger
Grate the fresh ginger. Use the small or medium holes. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
4. In a large mixing bowl, on low speed, beat together the butter (or canola oil) and brown sugar until well blended.
Beating together the butter with the brown sugar. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
5. Slowly, while beating, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, ginger, and nuts. Mix well; the batter will be a little crumbly looking.
Just before adding the eggs, the mixture will start to look crumbly. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
6. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
7. Stir in the Amaretto, molasses and pumpkin, beating together slowly, so all ingredients are combined well.
After adding the eggs, one at a time, with beaters on, add the pumpkin, molasses and Amaretto. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
8. Pour the batter into the greased spring-form cake pan.
With an electric mixer, this recipe is easy. Here, the mixture has been scraped out of the mixing bowl, with a spatula, and poured into the greased spring-form pan. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned on the edges and the middle springs back when touched.
Into the oven. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
10. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before taking it out of the pan(s). Let it cool a bit, then glaze if desired.
Just taken out of the oven. It has risen, but as it cools, it will fall back, making room for the date layer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
11. While the pumpkin cake is baking, make the date filling
12. Chop the dates
Chop the dates. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
13. Grate the orange zest
14. In a medium saucepan, whisk together melted butter, eggs, molasses, golden syrup, cardamom, allspice, clove, nutmeg, salt, orange zest, Amaretto, vanilla extract. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in dates.
Melt the butter © Joyce Hays
To the melted butter add all the other ingredients for the date layer of the pumpkin cake. Stir well ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Finally, add the chopped dates and stir well. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
15. Pour the date layer, over the prebaked pumpkin cake, then sprinkle pecans over the soft date mixture. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until filling is no longer jiggly and seems set.
With a spatula, scrape every last bit of the date mixture, out of the frying pan and over the top of the now, cooled pumpkin cake. Then press the pecan halves into the soft date layer. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
With date layer and pecans added, cake goes into oven for the second time. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
16 While cake is baking again, make the glaze: Whisk together all the ingredients, in a small bowl or measuring cup, adding extra liquid until the glaze is smooth and the consistency of molasses.
Mix together the sugar and the Amaretto together, needed for the glaze topping. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
17. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen cake, then remove the side of the spring-form bake pan.
18. Last, with a spoon, drizzle the sugar/Amaretto topping all over the top of the pumpkin-date cake and let it set. Don’t put cake back into the oven. Let the cake sit with the topping for about 30 minutes, before serving.
After cake has been removed from oven the second time, let it cool for 15 minutes, before you add the glaze. Then with a teaspoon, drizzle the glaze all over the top of the pumpkin-date cake. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Finally, sprinkle the orange zest over the top of the cake and let it sit for another 15 minutes, before you serve it. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
19. Serve with vanilla ice cream, cool whip, whipped cream or without anything added.
We ate versions of this pumpkin/date cake all week, while I tried out different ingredients. We had it without pumpkin and the glaze; with a peanut butter topping; with a shortbread crust. Each time we sampled this recipe, for dessert, we gave the rest of cake away. It wasn’t ready to share with our special readers until this past Friday, when I added the Amaretto to the recipe. Hope you enjoy it, we loved doing it and especially the final version. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
Trying out a new Italian red. Very good, similar to a cross between a cabernet and a merlot. ©Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.
From Our Table to Yours !
November 17, 2016
CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences
Scientists have established comprehensive maps of the human epigenome, shedding light on how the body regulates which genes are active in which cells. Over the last five years, a worldwide consortium of scientists has established epigenetic maps of 2,100 cell types.
Scientists have established comprehensive maps of the human epigenome, shedding light on how the body regulates which genes are active in which cells. Over the last five years, a worldwide consortium of scientists has established epigenetic maps of 2,100 cell types. Within this coordinated effort, the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine contributed detailed DNA methylation maps of the developing blood, opening up new perspectives for the understanding and treatment of leukemia and immune diseases.
One of the great mysteries in biology is how the many different cell types that make up our bodies are derived from a single cell and from one DNA sequence, or genome. We have learned a lot from studying the human genome, but have only partially unveiled the processes underlying cell determination. The identity of each cell type is largely defined by an instructive layer of molecular annotations on top of the genome — the epigenome — which acts as a blueprint unique to each cell type and developmental stage.
Unlike the genome the epigenome changes as cells develop and in response to changes in the environment. Defects in the factors that read, write, and erase the epigenetic blueprint are involved in many diseases. The comprehensive analysis of the epigenomes of healthy and abnormal cells will facilitate new ways to diagnose and treat various diseases, and ultimately lead to improved health outcomes.
A collection of 41 coordinated papers now published by scientists from across the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) sheds light on these processes, taking global research in the field of epigenomics a major step forward. These papers represent the most recent work of IHEC member projects from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. Three of these papers have been coordinated by Christoph Bock at CeMM.
The latest study from Christoph Bock’s team, published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, charts the epigenetic landscape of DNA methylation in human blood. Led by CeMM scientists Matthias Farlik and Florian Halbritter together with Fabian Müller from Max Plank Institute for Informatics, this study highlights the dynamic nature of the epigenome in the development of human blood.
Our body produces billions of blood cells every day, which develop from a few thousand stem cells at the top of a complex hierarchy of blood cells. Using the latest sequencing and epigenome mapping technology, Bock’s team now unraveled a blueprint of blood development that is encoded in the DNA methylation patterns of blood stem cells and their differentiating progeny.
This success was made possible by close international cooperation of European scientists: Blood donations of British volunteers were sorted by cell type by the team of Mattia Frontini at the University of Cambridge. These samples were shipped to Austria, where CeMM scientists performed the epigenome mapping. All data were then processed in Germany at the Max Plank Institute for Informatics and jointly analyzed by scientists at CeMM and at the Max Plank Institute for Informatics.
The result of the combined effort of Bock’s team and many other members of IHEC is a detailed map of the human epigenome, similar to a three-dimensional mountain landscape: The stem cells reside on the mountain top, with valleys of cellular differentiation descending in many directions. As the cells differentiate, they pick one of several epigenetically defined routes and follow it downhill, eventually arriving at one specific valley, corresponding to a specialized cell type. Cells cannot easily escape these valleys, which provides robustness and protection against diseases such cancer.
Two other studies by Christoph Bock’s team were published earlier this year and showcase how researchers are seeking to utilize epigenetic information for medicine. For instance, certain routes of differentiation are jammed in leukemia, such that cells can no longer reach their destination and take wrong turns instead. Surveillance of those cells by epigenetic tests can contribute to a more precise diagnosis of leukemia — clinical tests of this approach are ongoing.
“The epigenetic map of the human blood helps us understand how leukemia develops and which cells drive the disease,” says Christoph Bock. This is relevant to cancer diagnostics and personalized medicine, and it provides a compass for future efforts aiming to reprogram the epigenome of individual cells, for example by erasing critical epigenetic alterations from leukemia cells.
Materials provided by CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
- Matthias Farlik, Florian Halbritter, Fabian Müller, Fizzah A. Choudry, Peter Ebert, Johanna Klughammer, Samantha Farrow, Antonella Santoro, Valerio Ciaurro, Anthony Mathur, Rakesh Uppal, Hendrik G. Stunnenberg, Willem H. Ouwehand, Elisa Laurenti, Thomas Lengauer, Mattia Frontini, Christoph Bock. DNA Methylation Dynamics of Human Hematopoietic Stem Cell Differentiation. Cell Stem Cell, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2016.10.019
Source: CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. “Beyond the DNA: Comprehensive map of the human epigenome completed.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117150743.htm>.
November 16, 2016
American Geophysical Union
Scientists have discovered a new large valley on Mercury that may be the first evidence of buckling of the planet’s outer silicate shell in response to global contraction. The researchers discovered the valley using a new high-resolution topographic map of part of Mercury’s southern hemisphere created by stereo images from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft.
Scientists have discovered a new large valley on Mercury that may be the first evidence of buckling of the planet’s outer silicate shell in response to global contraction. The researchers discovered the valley using a new high-resolution topographic map of part of Mercury’s southern hemisphere created by stereo images from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. The findings were reported in a new study published inGeophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.
The most likely explanation for Mercury’s Great Valley is buckling of the planet’s lithosphere — its crust and upper mantle — in response to global contraction, according to the study’s authors. Earth’s lithosphere is broken up into many tectonic plates, but Mercury’s lithosphere consists of just one plate. Cooling of Mercury’s interior caused the planet’s single plate to contract and bend. Where contractional forces are greatest, crustal rocks are thrust upward while an emerging valley floor sags downward.
“There are examples of lithospheric buckling on Earth involving both oceanic and continental plates, but this may be the first evidence of lithospheric buckling on Mercury,” said Thomas R. Watters, senior scientist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and lead author of the new study.
The valley is about 400 kilometers (250 miles) wide with its floor as much as 3 kilometers (2 miles) below the surrounding terrain. The valley is more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) long and extends into the Rembrandt basin, one of the largest and youngest impact basins on Mercury.
The valley is bound by two large fault scarps — steps on the planet’s surface where one side of a fault has moved vertically with respect to the other. Mercury’s contraction caused the fault scarps bounding the Great Valley to become so large they essentially became cliffs. The elevation of the valley floor is far below the terrain surrounding the mountainous faults scarps, which suggests the valley floor was lowered by the same mechanism that formed the scarps themselves, according to the study authors.
“Unlike Earth’s Great Rift Valley in East Africa, Mercury’s Great Valley is not caused by the pulling apart of lithospheric plates due to plate tectonics; it is the result of the global contraction of a shrinking one-plate planet,” Watters said. “Even though you might expect lithospheric buckling on a one-plate planet that is contracting, it is still a surprise when you find that it’s formed a great valley that includes the largest fault scarp and one of the largest impact basins on Mercury.”
- Thomas R. Watters, Laurent G. J. Montési, Jürgen Oberst, and Frank Preusker. Fault-Bound Valley Associated with the Rembrandt Basin on Mercury. Geophysical Research Letters, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/2016GL070205
Source: American Geophysical Union. “Great valley found on Mercury.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 November 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161116104013.htm>.
November 14, 2016
University of California San Diego Health Sciences
By sampling the molecules on cell phones, researchers were able to construct lifestyle sketches for each phone’s owner, including diet, preferred hygiene products, health status and locations visited. This proof-of-concept study could have a number of applications, including criminal profiling, airport screening, medication adherence monitoring, clinical trial participant stratification and environmental exposure studies.
We leave behind trace chemicals, molecules and microbes on every object we touch. By sampling the molecules on cell phones, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences were able to construct lifestyle sketches for each phone’s owner, including diet, preferred hygiene products, health status and locations visited. This proof-of-concept study, published November 14 by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could have a number of applications, including criminal profiling, airport screening, medication adherence monitoring, clinical trial participant stratification and environmental exposure studies.
“You can imagine a scenario where a crime scene investigator comes across a personal object — like a phone, pen or key — without fingerprints or DNA, or with prints or DNA not found in the database. They would have nothing to go on to determine who that belongs to,” said senior author Pieter Dorrestein, PhD, professor in UC San Diego School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “So we thought — what if we take advantage of left-behind skin chemistry to tell us what kind of lifestyle this person has?”
In a 2015 study, Dorrestein’s team constructed 3D models to illustrate the molecules and microbes found at hundreds of locations on the bodies of two healthy adult volunteers. Despite a three-day moratorium on personal hygiene products before the samples were collected, the researchers were surprised to find that the most abundant molecular features in the skin swabs still came from hygiene and beauty products, such as sunscreen.
“All of these chemical traces on our bodies can transfer to objects,” Dorrestein said. “So we realized we could probably come up with a profile of a person’s lifestyle based on chemistries we can detect on objects they frequently use.”
Thirty-nine healthy adult volunteers participated in Dorrestein’s latest study. The team swabbed four spots on each person’s cell phone — an object we tend to spend a lot of time touching — and eight spots on each person’s right hand, for a total of nearly 500 samples. Then they used a technique called mass spectrometry to detect molecules from the samples. They identified as many molecules as possible by comparing them to reference structures in the GNPS database, a crowdsourced mass spectrometry knowledge repository and annotation website developed by Dorrestein and co-author Nuno Bandeira, PhD, associate professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at UC San Diego.
With this information, the researchers developed a personalized lifestyle “read-out” from each phone. Some of the medications they detected on phones included anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal skin creams, hair loss treatments, anti-depressants and eye drops. Food molecules included citrus, caffeine, herbs and spices. Sunscreen ingredients and DEET mosquito repellant were detected on phones even months after they had last been used by the phone owners, suggesting these objects can provide long-term composite lifestyle sketches.
“By analyzing the molecules they’ve left behind on their phones, we could tell if a person is likely female, uses high-end cosmetics, dyes her hair, drinks coffee, prefers beer over wine, likes spicy food, is being treated for depression, wears sunscreen and bug spray — and therefore likely spends a lot of time outdoors — all kinds of things,” said first author Amina Bouslimani, PhD, an assistant project scientist in Dorrestein’s lab. “This is the kind of information that could help an investigator narrow down the search for an object’s owner.”
There are limitations, Dorrestein said. First of all, these molecular read-outs provide a general profile of person’s lifestyle, but they are not meant to be a one-to-one match, like a fingerprint. To develop more precise profiles and for this method to be more useful, he said more molecules are needed in the reference database, particularly for the most common foods people eat, clothing materials, carpets, wall paints and anything else people come into contact with. He’d like to see a trace molecule database on the scale of the fingerprint database, but it’s a large-scale effort that no single lab will be able to do alone.
Moving forward, Dorrestein and Bouslimani have already begun extending their study with an additional 80 people and samples from other personal objects, such as wallets and keys. They also hope to soon begin gathering another layer of information from each sample — identities of the many bacteria and other microbes that cover our skin and objects. In a 2010 study, their collaborator and co-author, Rob Knight, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering and director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego, contributed to a study in which his team found they could usually match a computer keyboard to its owner just based on the unique populations of microbes the person left on it. At that time, they could make the match with a fair amount of accuracy, though not yet precisely enough for use in an investigation.
Beyond forensics, Dorrestein and Bouslimani imagine trace molecular read-outs could also be used in medical and environmental studies. For example, perhaps one day physicians could assess how well a patient is sticking with a medication regimen by monitoring metabolites on his or her skin. Similarly, patients participating in a clinical trial could be divided into subgroups based on how they metabolize the medication under investigation, as revealed by skin metabolites — then the medication could be given only to those patients who can metabolize it appropriately. Skin molecule read-outs might also provide useful information about a person’s exposure to environmental pollutants and chemical hazards, such as in a high-risk workplace or a community living near a potential pollution source.
Materials provided by University of California San Diego Health Sciences. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
- Pieter C. Dorrestein et al. Lifestyle chemistries from phones for individual profiling. PNAS, November 2016 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1610019113
Source: University of California San Diego Health Sciences. “What molecules you leave on your phone reveal about your lifestyle.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161114152820.htm>.
November 10, 2016
From stationary to flying qubits at speeds never reached before…. This feat brings us a little closer to the era when information is transmitted via quantum principles.
From stationary to flying qubits at speeds never reached before…. This feat, achieved by a team from Polytechnique Montréal and France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), brings us a little closer to the era when information is transmitted via quantum principles.
A paper titled “High-Fidelity and Ultrafast Initialization of a Hole-Spin Bound to a Te Isoelectronic Centre in ZnSe” was recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The creation of a qubit in zinc selenide, a well-known semi-conductor material, made it possible to produce an interface between quantum physics that governs the behaviour of matter on a nanometre scale and the transfer of information at the speed of light, thereby paving the way to producing quantum communications networks.
Classical physics vs. quantum physics
In today’s computers, classical physics rules. Billions of electrons work together to make up an information bit: 0, electrons are absent and 1, electrons are present. In quantum physics, single electrons are instead preferred since they express an amazing attribute: the electron can take the value of 0, 1 or any superposition of these two states. This is the qubit, the quantum equivalent of the classical bit. Qubits provide stunning possibilities for researchers.
An electron revolves around itself, somewhat like a spinning top. That’s the spin. By applying a magnetic field, this spin points up, down, or simultaneously points both up and down to form a qubit. Better still, instead of using an electron, we can use the absence of an electron; this is what physicists call a “hole.” Like its electron cousin, the hole has a spin from which a qubit can be formed. Qubits are intrinsically fragile quantum creature, they therefore need a special environment.
Zinc selenide, tellurium impurities: a world first
Zinc selenide, or ZnSe, is a crystal in which atoms are precisely organized. It is also a semi-conductor into which it is easy to intentionally introduce tellurium impurities, a close relative of selenium in the periodic table, on which holes are trapped, rather like air bubbles in a glass.
This environment protects the hole’s spin — our qubit — and helps maintaining its quantum information accurately for longer periods; it’s the coherence time, the time that physicists the world over are trying to extend by all possible means. The choice of zinc selenide is purposeful, since it may provide the quietest environment of all semiconductor materials.
Polytechnique Montréal and CNRS of France, a team effort
Philippe St-Jean, a doctoral student on Professor Sébastien Francoeur’s team, uses photons generated by a laser to initialize the hole and record quantum information on it. To read it, he excites the hole again with a laser and then collects the emitted photons. The result is a quantum transfer of information between the stationary qubit, encoded in the spin of the hole held captive in the crystal, and the flying qubit — the photon, which of course travels at the speed of light.
This new technique shows that it is possible to create a qubit faster than with all the methods that have been used until now. Indeed, a mere hundred or so picoseconds, or less than a billionth of a second, are sufficient to go from a flying qubit to a static qubit, and vice-versa.
Although this accomplishment bodes well, there remains a lot of work to do before a quantum network can be used to conduct unconditionally secure banking transactions or build a quantum computer able to perform the most complex calculations. That is the daunting task which Sébastien Francoeur’s research team will continue to tackle.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) funded the research of Mr. Francoeur and his team.
- P. St-Jean, G. Éthier-Majcher, R. André, S. Francoeur. High-Fidelity and Ultrafast Initialization of a Hole Spin Bound to a Te Isoelectronic Center in ZnSe. Physical Review Letters, 2016; 117 (16) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.117.167401
Source: Polytechnique Montréal. “Breakthrough in the quantum transfer of information between matter and light.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 November 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161110212720.htm>.
UN Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Its Impact on Children’s Health
Target Health Inc. is honored that Jules Mitchel, PhD has been invited to speak at a UN Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Its Impact on Children’s Health. His topic will be The view from FDA and Biotech World. Other presenters will include World Health Organization (WHO) staff, pharmaceutical industry experts and representatives of civil society organizations specializing in climate policy issues. The discussion will consider the issue of climate change and its impact on children’s health and will be followed by an interactive Q&A session with the audience. This is a free event.
Date: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Time: 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: UN Church Center
777 United Nations Plaza, 2nd Floor Conference Room
44th Street between First and Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017.
Please RSVP before November 15
Aaron Etra, email@example.com
Jules Mitchel, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Target Health contact Warren Pearlson (212-681-2100 ext. 165). For additional information about software tools for paperless clinical trials, please also feel free to contact Dr. Jules T. Mitchel or Ms. Joyce Hays. The Target Health software tools are designed to partner with both CROs and Sponsors. Please visit the Target Health Website.
Joyce Hays, Founder and Editor in Chief of On Target
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