The Tonight Show

Johnny Carson Says Goodnight.

Last night in 1992, possibly the funniest and wittiest person on television, said goodnight to his audience for the last time. Johnny Carson’s final guests were Robin Williams and Bette Midler, who sang to him “You made me watch (love) you.”

Watch the whole final show here.

Watch just the farewell here.

Johnny Carson

“If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.”

“I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself.”

A very intelligent and entertaining fellow who became the model for all those compere hosts who followed. (Do yourself a favour, and have an youtube fest of the Johnny Carson Show.)

line16


 

Metformin

Not Just For Diabetes.

In the last three years, researchers have shown that diabetic patients with head and neck cancer, may have better outcomes than non-diabetic patients when they are taking the drug metformin for their diabetes. In order to examine this relationship further and understand how metformin changes the biology of cancer cells, researchers at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University tested tumour cells before and after metformin treatment in non-diabetic cancer patients. The pilot clinical trial results were published in the journal The Laryngoscope.

“This study is the first step in showing how metformin acts on head-and-neck tumours, and we are excited that it could eventually offer patients a method of improving their outcomes with few side effects,” says senior author Ubaldo Martinez-Outschoorn, M.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University and researcher at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Dr. Martinez-Outschoorn and colleagues showed that metformin not only changes the pathways that cancer cells rely on to make fuel for growth, but also alters the cancer microenvironment, the cells that surround and support the tumour. “Because tumours need a lot of energy to grow quickly, throwing a wrench in their energy-production pathway makes this kind of cancer more susceptible to standard therapies,” says first author Joseph Curry, M.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Jefferson.

The researchers treated 39 patients with metformin and examined their tumour samples before and after metformin treatment. Patients received doses of metformin that were about half of what is given to diabetic patients for a short time-span.

The study looked at molecular markers of cell death, or apoptosis, and changes in metabolic pathways that might make the cancer more susceptible to standard therapy. The patients treated with metformin had a significant increase in tumour cell apoptosis. The cells surrounding the cancer, the so called cancer-supporting fibroblasts, also showed signs of deterioration, indicating that the cells were less capable of helping neighboring cancer cells grow and metastasize to other parts of the body.

Metformin is well-tolerated and has a long track record of being a safe medication, that is much less toxic that traditional cancer treatments. In this study, few patients had side effects from metformin and those that were reported were considered low grade such as gastrointestinal upset. No patients experienced high grade adverse events.

“This study demonstrates that metformin has effects on head-and-neck cancers, at safe doses, that are at or lower than what is given to diabetic patients and that it changes head-and-neck tumour biology in a way that likely makes the cancer easier to kill,” says co-author Madalina Tuluc, M.D., Ph.D., an Associate Professor and Director of Surgical Pathology in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology at Jefferson. “Metformin disrupts the cancer’s most efficient method of generating fuel for its growth and shuts off the cancer’s support system.” In addition, other work suggests that metformin could have immunotherapeutic effects on tumours as well.

“The next step would be to test these doses of metformin in phase II clinical trials with a greater number of patients,” says Dr. Martinez-Outschoorn.

line16


 

Future Cameras

A team of physicists at the Australian National University (ANU) believe they are on the verge of making a reality of smartphone cameras so tiny they are near invisible, yet able to produce images in incredible detail and in three dimensions. .

The scientists have been able to create high-quality holographic images using a material they invented made from millions of tiny silicon pillars, each one 500 times thinner than a human hair.

Lead researcher on the project Sergey Kruk, said each pillar captured all the detail of light directed at it and could then reproduce it in 3D.

“If you compare that to conventional pictures or computer monitors, those produce only a portion of the information of light, basically just the intensity of light and in two dimensions only,” Dr Kruk said.

Dr Kruk said their invention was a major improvement on traditional camera and holographic technology.

“Conventional optical components like lenses and prisms, are bulky and heavyweight,” Dr Kruk said.

“But with our new material we can create components with the same functionality but that would be essentially flat and lightweight.”

He said he believed the possibilities could be endless.

“Starting from further shrinking down the sizes of cameras in consumer smart phones and all the way up to space technologies by reducing the size and weight of complex optical systems for satellites,” Dr Kruk said.

The team’s achievements have been published in the science journal Optica and was partly done in collaboration with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United Sates and Nanjing University in China.

line16


 

Sweet Surprise

A new study is the first of its kind to compare the effects of two types of sugar on metabolic and vascular function. The paper is published in the American Journal of Physiology — Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

Female rats were given a liquid solution of either glucose (a form of sugar found naturally in the body after carbohydrates are broken down) or fructose (sugar found in fruit and fruit juices) in addition to their normal diet of solid food. The rats received the sweetened solutions for eight weeks, roughly equivalent to a person eating large amounts of sugar for six years. The sugar-fed rats were compared with a control group that received plain drinking water in addition to their food supply.

Researchers found that although both sugar-fed groups consumed more calories than the control group, the total calorie intake of the glucose-fed rats was higher than the rats that were given fructose. Another surprising observation was that “despite this difference, only the fructose group exhibited a significant increase in final body weight,” wrote the research team.

In addition to higher weight gain, the fructose group showed more markers of vascular disease and liver damage than the glucose group. These included high triglycerides, increased liver weight, decreased fat burning in the liver (a factor that can contribute to fatty liver) and impaired relaxation of the aorta, which can affect blood pressure.

These findings suggest that an increase in the amount of calories consumed due to sweeteners is not the only factor involved in long-term health risks. The type of sugar may also play a role in increasing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

line16


 

First Taste

An international team of scientists led by the University of Bristol, has uncovered the earliest direct evidence of humans processing plants for food found anywhere in the world.

Researchers at the Organic Geochemistry Unit in the University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry, working with colleagues at Sapienza, University of Rome and the Universities of Modena and Milan, studied unglazed pottery dating from more than 10,000 years ago, from two sites in the Libyan Sahara.

The invention of cooking has long been recognised as a critical step in human development.

Ancient cooking would have initially involved the use of fires or pits and the invention of ceramic cooking vessels led to an expansion of food preparation techniques.

Cooking would have allowed the consumption of previously unpalatable or even toxic foodstuffs and would also have increased the availability of new energy sources.

Remarkably until now, evidence of cooking plants in early prehistoric cooking vessels has been lacking.

The researchers detected lipid residues of foodstuffs preserved within the fabric of unglazed cooking pots.

Significantly, over half of the vessels studied were found to have been used for processing plants based on the identification of diagnostic plant oil and wax compounds.

Detailed investigations of the molecular and stable isotope compositions showed a broad range of plants were processed, including grains, the leafy parts of terrestrial plants, and most unusually, aquatic plants.

The interpretations of the chemical signatures obtained from the pottery are supported by abundant plant remains preserved in remarkable condition due to the arid desert environment at the sites.

The plant chemical signatures from the pottery show that the processing of plants was practiced for over 4,000 years, indicating the importance of plants to the ancient people of the prehistoric Sahara.

Dr Julie Dunne, a post-doctoral research associate at Bristol’s School of Chemistry and lead author of the paper, said: “Until now, the importance of plants in prehistoric diets has been under-recognised but this work clearly demonstrates the importance of plants as a reliable dietary resource.

“These findings also emphasise the sophistication of these early hunter-gatherers in their utilisation of a broad range of plant types, and the ability to boil them for long periods of time in newly invented ceramic vessels would have significantly increased the range of plants prehistoric people could eat.”

Co-author Professor Richard Evershed, also from Bristol’s School of Chemistry, added: “The finding of extensive plant wax and oil residues in early prehistoric pottery provides us with an entirely different picture of the way early pottery was used in the Sahara compared to other regions in the ancient world.

“Our new evidence fits beautifully with the theories proposing very different patterns of plant and animal domestication in Africa and Europe/Eurasia.”

The research was funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and is published in Nature Plants.

line16