Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Again with the Blue-Sky

Again with the Blue-Sky

We reported in our October 17th Report about the possible defence against the "super bug" type illnesses found in the mold of a tree. Oct 17 Blog Entry

Today, Science Daily reports on the discovery another un-likely place to find a medicine: The American Oyster. Recently, The National Sea Grant College Progam announced the discovery of an antimicrobial peptide, "American oyster defensin".

American oyster defensin is an antimicrobal that resists bacterial pathogens, such as Vibrio Vulnificus, that can cause a food-borne illness in humans.

These, and myriad other discoveries and breakthroughs, prove the point of The United Federation Foundation: With no new research, with inadequate funding, there can be no new breakthroughs.

Please help us, The U.F.F., to help humanity, and therefore help our World.

Again with the Blue-Sky

We reported in our October 17th Report about the possible defence against the "super bug" type illnesses found in the mold of a tree. Oct 17 Blog Entry

Today, Science Daily reports on the discovery another un-likely place to find a medicine: The American Oyster. Recently, The National Sea Grant College Progam announced the discovery of an antimicrobial peptide, "American oyster defensin".

American oyster defensin is an antimicrobal that resists bacterial pathogens, such as Vibrio Vulnificus, that can cause a food-borne illness in humans.

These, and myriad other discoveries and breakthroughs, prove the point of The United Federation Foundation: With no new research, with inadequate funding, there can be no new breakthroughs.

Please help us, The U.F.F., to help humanity, and therefore help our World.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another great reason for large computer array studies.

One of the projects that The United Federation Foundation endorses and assists is the Climate Predictor, found here: . Using and amalgam of 12 climate studies from 165 different locations, United States Geological Survey has been getting a clearer picture of global water availability in the coming years.

A report on their findings can be found here: Link

Another research project that The U.F.F. is conscidering for endorsement has recently announced that it has just completed 200,000 year's worth of calculations in less than 1 year's time!

This is a brilliant example of why we should both donate and encourage the donation of spare computer time. Our computers wont miss the time, it costs us very little, and so much good can be achieved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The time is NOW

At this moment, right now, we stand both in the center of infinity, and in the middle
of eternity. There's nothing mystical about, nor is there magic in, that statement.
Forever is always, and infinity is everything and everywhere.
Having said that, here we are: holding fast in our place as the future rushes at us.
The future, and the changes it brings will buffet us as long as we exist. Change is
the only constant that we can be assured of.

Consider these two facts: The store of human knowledge doubles every five years;
Children born today could live to see the 22nd century.

The students of the 70's and 80's could find an abacus in their classrooms. The
students of the 80's and 90's would use calculators. The students of the 90's and the
new millenium have laptops.

If we nourish innovation and cut red tape, these children, these citizens of the new
century could cure a dred disease, pioneer new industry, even touch a new horizon
we have yet to imagine. These children could create a world fuled by a new prosperity, with new opportunities, and breakthrough discoveries.

All we have to do is care enough to see the potential, and prepare ourselves and our
progeny. The future will not wait. It IS coming. The only question is: Have we
matured enough to outgrow our past and allow humanity to be all of the wonderfull
things the word "human" suggests?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Yet another discovery illustrates the importance of the protien research (among other projects) the United Federation Foundation advocates.

Source: Queen's University

KINGSTON, Ont. -- Queen’s researchers may have opened the door to more effective treatment of a deadly strain of the E. coli bacteria with the discovery of a previously unknown protein.

A team led by biochemistry researcher Zongchao Jia and graduate student Michael Suits has identified a protein that allows the bacterial strain known as E. coli 0157:H7 to obtain the iron it needs for survival in the body.

Iron is a catalyst for bacterial growth, so when a human body detects bacterial invasion, it naturally produces proteins that bind tightly to and restrict iron to limit bacterial growth. In response, bacteria have evolved other methods to acquire iron including detecting and using human heme within proteins such as hemoglobin that transports oxygen from our lungs.

The newly discovered protein breaks down heme, releasing the iron atom stored there for use by the deadly bacteria.

“This discovery opens the door for studying the function of heme iron in this strain of E. coli, and may lead to an understanding of how to therapeutically isolate the protein to keep the bacteria from thriving,” says Dr. Jia.

E. coli 0157:H7 is responsible for the fatal illnesses in the Walkerton tragedy, the illness known as “Hamburger Disease” and the recent evacuation of over a thousand residents from the Kasechewan First Nation reserve. It is most commonly transmitted through undercooked meat, unpasturized milk and infected water sources.

Researchers believe that isolating one of the proteins E. coli 0157:H7 needs for survival will not be enough, however, since the bacteria will migrate to surrounding proteins as iron sources.

Ongoing research is required to examine the functions of several different proteins to find an effective treatment for E. coli 0157:H7, similar to the cocktail used to treat other severe bacterial infections.

We ask you to please consider joining the United Federation Foundation team at Berkley's BOINC Research Project. Protien Predictor link and or Rosetta @ Home .

Monday, November 07, 2005

THIS is why we ask our Membership to participate in projects like The Protien Predictor and Rosetta at Home. Even if we do not do the actual hands-on research, the power of multi-computer arrays can provide tremendous computing power at minimum cost to reseachers.

The Human Genome Project was completed in a fraction of the time first predicted.

Just a bit of computer time donated by a large group of concerned people can, and often does, produce remarkable results. Imagine how much sooner we could have read the following release from The Howard Huges Medical Institute, and other medical researchers, if we could get a few more people assisting these scientists in their efforts.

Technique Offers New View of Dynamic Biological Landscape

Howard Huges Medical Institute

A new technique for analyzing the network of genetic interactions promises to change how researchers study the dynamic biological landscape of the cell. The technology, which is called epistatic mini array profiles (E-MAP), has already been used to assign new functions to known genes, to uncover the roles of previously uncharacterized proteins, and to define how biochemical pathways and proteins interact with one another.

E-MAP will enable new understanding of how genes and proteins function in the cell, said Jonathan S. Weissman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and leader of the team that developed the technique. For example, E-MAPs of human gene interactions could enable researchers to optimize drug treatments to patients' genetic backgrounds. It might also be possible to use E-MAP to develop effective combinations of antiviral drugs that target proteins produced by interacting genes. Such a strategy would help to prevent these genes from acting together to compensate for an attack on just one protein, said Weissman.

The researchers, led by Weissman, Maya Schuldiner, a post-doctoral fellow working in his lab, and Nevan Krogan at the University of Toronto, described initial studies of E-MAP in yeast in the November 4, 2005, issue of the journal Cell. Weissman and his colleagues at UCSF collaborated on the studies with researchers at the University of Toronto.

Previous techniques for analyzing epistatic interactions — how the activity of one gene affects that of another — involved altering single genes and analyzing their impact on growth in combination with all other genes in the yeast genome. "The one-to-one method has been an extremely powerful way of studying biological systems,” said Weissman. “But we wanted to approach such analyses in a systematic way and to use the new generation of high-throughput technology to quantitatively explore large numbers of epistatic genetic interactions at once."

The E-MAP technique consists of selectively "dialing down" the activity of a multitude of gene pairs and comparing the effects of those changes to those that result when each gene is dialed down individually. Many genes' activity could be reduced by eliminating them entirely, but for the subset of genes that are essential for yeast growth — whose complete deletion would kill the cell — the researchers invented a high throughput technique to manipulate the half-life of their messenger RNA (mRNA). Since mRNA is a genetic intermediate during the conversion of a gene to protein, reducing its lifespan by mutating the mRNA message lowers the amount of protein the cell can produce. The group called this approach “decreased abundance by mRNA perturbation” (DAmP).

"The DAmP technique gave us a way of lowering the abundance of a target gene's messenger RNA while maintaining its natural regulation," said Weissman. "Most of the mRNAs in yeast have half-lives of ten minutes or so, but our alterations destabilized them to have only a half-life of a couple of minutes. Consequently, they produce five- to ten-fold less protein," he said.

In developing E-MAP, the researchers faced a significant hurdle: Even yeast's relatively modest 6,000 genes would generate nearly 20 million possible gene pairs that would need to be tested. To narrow the number of possible interactions, they adopted a strategy called neighborhood clustering, which restricts analysis to genes that have related functions and that also cluster in one place in the cell. In the Cell paper, they applied the E-MAP technique to a "mini array" of 442 yeast genes that define a biological pathway called the early secretory pathway. This compartmentalized, interconnected pathway synthesizes and regulates lipids and secreted proteins in yeast.

Weissman and his colleagues also needed a way to quantify the epistatic effects of interacting mutant genes on the cells' viability. Since yeast form round colonies when grown in culture dishes, they could measure the mutant cells' colony size in an automated fashion and use that to calculate their growth rates. To determine epistatic effects, they compared the growth rate for each cell containing mutations in two genes with the growth rate of mutant cells carrying mutations in only one of those genes.

"The analysis of these epistatic interactions gave us a unique and coherent perspective on the function and structure of this network in yeast," Weissman explained. "And it also proved a great way to find new gene functions or to figure out how known genes were functioning and the processes they were likely to be involved in. But on top of that, we could identify groups of genes that were acting in a coherent way, to produce protein complexes. And then on a more global level, we could see how the different processes were interacting with each other.

"By contrast, in classical genetics, you begin with a process you're interested in — for example secretion — and look for all the genes that affect secretion. It's a productive approach, but it's very process oriented,” he said. “You might find a given gene that's involved in secretion, but it doesn't tell you about the many other processes it could be involved in.

With the E-MAP approach, however, the researchers start with the gene and ask about all the processes that it affects. “It gives you a less hypothesis-biased, more objective way of looking at the structure of biological systems," Weissman said.

In future studies, Weissman and his colleagues plan to develop better quantitative measures of the effects of epistatic interactions and to extend their technique to other organisms, ultimately to humans.

In addition to offering important basic insights into the roles of proteins and genes, E-MAPs will also contribute to understanding evolutionary processes. “In evolutionary theory, the structure of epistatic gene interactions is critical,” he said. “To understand how different variations, or alleles, of a gene affect an organism's evolution, you have to understand for each gene how it's affected by the genetic background in which it operates.”

Moving beyond the theoretical, E-MAPs might also have a role in clinical applications. "In the field of pharmacogenomics, clinicians seek to tailor drug therapies to an individual's genetic makeup,” said Weissman. “They are essentially asking the very questions about epistatic interactions that E-MAPs can answer. They want to know whether if they inhibit a protein — in this case with a drug instead of knocking down the mRNA — how other genes interact with that inhibition.”

Knowing the interactions a target gene participates in could also enable clinicians to predict the variability of effects of a drug among different people. Understanding such interactions could also give pharmaceutical researchers clues to the magnitude of possible side effects of drugs under development.

The development of combination drug therapies, such as for cancer or viruses, could also benefit from the E-MAP approach. “In such cases, clinicians want to know — if drugs that inhibit each of two proteins slow down a cancer or virus — whether the two proteins interact epistatically, such that inhibiting both produces a much greater effect than the sum of the two,” he said.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A New Breakthrough for cancer patients

Bionomics today announced that it has been granted a patent in New Zealand for a series of compounds that have shown promise as potential new treatments for cancer.Bionomics is currently developing the compounds as "vascular targeting agents" for the treatment of solid tumours. Vascular targeting agents act by starving tumors of the blood flow they require to grow.

Dr. Bernard Flynn, a co-inventor of the compounds and now VP of Chemistry of Bionomics, stated that, "This patent covers a range of structures that have demonstrated significant efficacy as anticancer agents. These compounds have resulted from application of our MultiCore chemistry platform to vascular targeting, a highly promising new area of anticancer drug discovery. This is a field of intense interest within the industry and our compounds offer the competitive advantages of exceptional potency and superior drug-likeness."

The granted patent was originally licensed to Iliad Chemicals Pty Ltd by the Australian National University and the U.S. Government. Iliad was acquired by Bionomics on 1 July 2005.

Significant progress in Bionomics anticancer program

In announcing the grant of the patent, Bionomics also reported that rapid progress in the vascular targeting agent program has resulted in the identification of six lead candidate compounds. Further testing will enable the selection of a nominated clinical candidate.

Bionomics anticipates that this further work will be completed in the first quarter of 2006. "Following the acquisition of Iliad, we have rolled out a comprehensive integration program to bring together Bionomics' Angene platform in cancer biology with the MultiCore chemistry technology. This effort has already borne fruit in the identification of several promising anticancer leads," stated Dr. Deborah Rathjen, CEO and Managing Director of Bionomics.

At the completion of the acquisition of Iliad Chemicals Pty Ltd earlier this year, a plan for further evaluating in excess of 90 active compounds was implemented. The execution of this plan has enabled Bionomics to select potent vascular targeting compounds with desirable drug-like properties to move forward, prior to commencement of manufacture of drug compound and formal toxicology which will support clinical development of the preferred anticancer vascular targeting compound. Each of the compounds currently under evaluation is proprietary to the Company with both composition of matter and use patent claims under examination.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

One Giant Leap For Mankind (backwards)

Reuters reported today(Reuters) how the debate over the teaching of the "Intellegent Design" that has some scientists warning that this trend threatens achedemics and science.

"Among the most significant forces is the rising tide of anti-science sentiment that seems to have its nucleus in Washington but which extends throughout the nation," said Philip Pizzo, Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Hunter Rawlings, acting President of Cornell University , speaking about the challenge to science represented by "intelligent design" which holds that the theory of evolution accepted by the vast majority of scientists is fatally flawed, said, "When ideological division replaces informed exchange, dogma is the result and education suffers." Rawlings also said that the dispute was widening political, social, religious and philosophical rifts in U.S. society.

Also, Entrepreneur wrote in its November 2005 issue,(Entrepreneur Article) that only 6% of American undergraduate degrees were in natural sciences or engineering. Furthermore, only 29% of the papers presented in the top physics journals were by American scientists.

American teens ranked 24th of 29 in basic math skills.

The United States is losing its innovative edge. We are regressing technologically by leaps and bounds.

It is to our shame if we allow this to continue. We put men on the Moon and brought them back alive with technology that pales by today's standards, using computers that can not compete with today's video games.

This must be remedied.

We should all work together to fund and support education and the sciences. Let us halt this great backward leap.

Science Daily anounced today that an international consortium compleated a map of human genetic variation.

In a paper in the Oct. 27 issue of the journal Nature, more than 200 researchers from Canada, China, Japan, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States describe the initial results from their public-private effort to chart the patterns of genetic variation that are common in the world's population. The results provide overwhelming evidence that variation in the human genome is organized into local neighborhoods, called haplotypes, that usually are inherited as intact blocks of information.

What this landmark achievment means is, an acceleration in finding the genetic causes for heart disease, cancer, asthma, and a host of other common diseases.

Please find the complete article here: International Consortium Completes Map Of Human Genetic Variation

It is achievments such as this that prove the need for the adequate funding for research, adequate funding for education, and just as important, support of those doing blue-sky research.

Imagine the potential breakthroughs that could be made.

Please join us, The United Federation Foundation, in our quest: aiding humanity in its evolutionary obligation of self-betterment.

A new way of thinking

We must do better. As a species we must do better. If we hope to mature as a

people we must explore the new ways of thinking that will bring us to a brighter

future. I've heard it said that we do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we

hold it in stewardship for our children.

Wise words.

I know a couple men who carried on a years-long debate about the vehicles the

drove. The debates could escalate into arguements given enough room. Years later

it is amusing to see them drive by..... in vehicles their "rival" advocated. Each

rethinking their choices based on points made by the other.

Funny how we can become addicted to an old way of thinking. Sad how greatly we

limit ourselves with this same old pattern repeated only too often.

Author Whitley Streiber wrote a wonderfull article about this addiction to our old

lables and outdated irrational addiction to old ways of thinking. I invite you to

read his article: Unknown Country article

Yet another bit of science fiction evolves into science fact.

The super strong transparent aluminum Montgomery Scott of Star Trek fame "leaked" to the metallurgists is now a reality.

October 17,2005. The Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs at WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) has announced a new testing phase for the substance aluminum oxynitride.

Aluminum oxynitride is a glass like material which may very well replace traditional laminated armored glass. Both light weight and resistant to scratching, aluminum oxynitride has withstood both Russia's.30 caliber M-44 sniper rifle and the Browning .50 caliber Sniper Rifle with armor piercing bullets. The winsow samples also foiled .30 caliber anti-aircraft fire. Testing with .50 caliber machine gun fire and explosives are forthcoming.

Please find the Air Force release here:Air Force Link

Military uses aside, one can only wonder at the myriad uses for transparent aluminium. Space craft, submarines, medicine, architecture, and a host of other applications. We could very well discover new areas of science that may not have occured to us. Having a new transparent ultra light super strong material could lead to new ways of thinking, or seed lines of research that would not otherwise have been possible. Consider this: if one is going to concieve of and construct a "nanoscopic camera" it's going to need an awful light lens and housing.
A New defense against the Superbugs?

It may be the most important breakthrough since the discovery of pennicilin. The October 13th issue on Nature reports the discovery of a new class of antibiotic that is proving to be highly effective against the bacteria Streptococcus Pneumoniae, and Streptococcus Pyogenes, including strains that are now resistant to antibiotics. These are the bacteria responsible for such diseases as meningitis, community-acquired pneumonia, strep throat, life-threatening sepsis, and flesh necrotic skin infections.

The team who made the discovery was a collaberation between
researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Denmark-based biotech company Novozymes.

Please find the complete Science Daily article here:

Nasa will host a press conference Oct 19 to present recent Hubble Images. These images show the Earth's moon bathed in ultraviolet light.
Full article:
Recent images from Hubble's ACS (Advanced Camera for Surveys) suggest that the Moon may hold rich deposits of iron oxides and titanium. These substances could be used fuel, oxygen and other material necessities of space exploration.

Also today, Nasa's Chandra X-ray Observatory announced a new stellar nursery in the the least likely of places: Spawned by super-massive black holes.

"Massive black holes are usually known for violence and destruction," said Sergei Nayakshin of the University of Leicester, United Kingdom. "So it's remarkable this black hole helped create new stars, not just destroy them." Nasa release:

With discoveries such as these happening more often, it begs the question: Why haven't we gone back to the moon yet? Why have we not made it to Mars ? By today's standards the computers and equipment were rudimentary, our knowledge quite limited, yet: We made it. We left the Earth and walked on the Moon. Why have we been content to wait these 30 plus years, and are just now getting around to discussing the moon again and considering a manned Mission to Mars?

We must give serious though to this laurel-resting. Probes and telescopic images are not exploration. They mearly point us to the future.

More and more we kept finding fact in what was once thought to be know more than myth. Troy was thought to be nothing but a fairy tale until a few years ago when we found the ruins of the city. The hanging gardens of Babylon were nothing more then myth until a satellite took photos of it. And today the AP reported that found in a remote Indonesian cave they have found still more evidence that a being similar to the hobbit did at least once roam the earth.

And recently it is speculated that the land of Homers Odyssey has been found.

Just imagine what tomorrow will bring.

The sky is not the limit

If you stop and consider for a moment, while the sky may be a limit, it is not the limit. This is why we of the United Federation Foundation are staunch supporters of “Blue Sky Research”.

In a near infinite universe, nearly anything is not only possible, it is probable. By supporting Blue Sky Research, Humanity stands to learn remarkable things. The potential for ground breaking discoveries in science, medicine, space exploration, ecology, alternative energy, and many other fields is staggering.

Cancer treatments are being found in tree bark and under the sea. We owe Teflon and pace-makers to the space program. Mitochondrial DNA can be used to trace our maternal bloodlines. The temperature differential between various depths of sea water can be harnessed to generate power. In ancient Iraq, they had the means to electroplate metal. Stem cells have been used to repair damaged spinal cords in laboratory animals.

If you think about it, even such simple things as wine, escargot, and the truffle are products of a simple form of blue sky research. It does after all take a bit of dedication to drink that sour frothy liquid in a flagon or eat something a pig just dug out of the ground.

Had it not been for that dedication, that will to find out the why and the how of the universe, the world would be a poorer place. Had it not been for that dedication, there would be that much more suffering to be found on our world. We should all consider dedicating ourselves to making sure the study and research is being funded and utilized to the betterment of all.

The United Federation Foundation invites you to join us on this quest for a better, brighter tomorrow. After all: The sky is not the limit anymore.

The UK government's short-term and results-driven attitude to science funding is jeopardizing blue-sky research. So says Professor Mark Walport, director of Britain's biggest biomedical research charity, the Welcome Trust.

Professor Walport told The Times (London) this week that by ring-fencing funding for areas of science that are likely to bring quick economic or practical benefits, the government is undermining forward-looking inquiry. He argues that blue-sky research often leads to breakthroughs that are far more significant than targeted programs of research.

Professor Walport raises some serious issues. Many great scientific breakthroughs have been achieved not through pursuing immediate goals, but through open-ended inquiry, where the scientists have no idea where their work will lead.

As American science writer Ronald Bailey points out, 'when the optical laser was invented in 1960, it was dismissed as "an invention looking for a job". No one could imagine of what possible use this interesting phenomenon might be. Of course, now it is integral to the operation of hundreds of everyday products: it runs our printers, runs our optical telephone networks, performs laser surgery to correct myopia, removes tattoos, plays our CDs, opens clogged arteries, helps level our crop fields, etc. It's ubiquitous' (1).

As science writer and TV producer Simon Singh has argued on spiked, 'I think non-scientists often feel that science is about finding answers to problems, but this misses out half of the scientific method, as suggested by the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss: "The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; he is one who asks the right questions"'.

We could miss out on unforeseen future benefits

The danger with ring-fencing funding is not only that we could miss out on unforeseen future benefits. There is also, as Professor Walport warns, 'a serious danger that we will spend money on projects that are less good'. Instead scientists should be forced to play by the same rules as each other, he says, as 'it is absolutely key that funding is used to support the best scientists with the best ideas', rather than on the basis of what area of science they are pursuing.

Professor Walport has announced that the Welcome Trust is prepared to put its money where its mouth is, with plans to invest over £2billion during the next five years to support biomedical research (2). He said 'we will build on the progress made so far, continuing our commitment to invest in excellence by funding the best scientists to conduct outstanding research'.

The Trust's commitment to blue-sky research is welcome. If only more people, particularly in the scientific establishment, would consistently put the case for the advancement of knowledge for knowledge's sake, a real challenge to the government's defensive short-term outlook could be mounted.

"For that one fraction of a second you were open to options you never

considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and

studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existance!" ... John de

Lancie speaking as "Q".

It is for moments like this that Mankind was born to strive for.

All is as it was and as it shall evermore be. And then, a new door is

discovered. A door leading to a new way of thinking.

Consider the following: A naked mathematician running through the

street, an 18th century alchemist sitting under a tree, and an achedemic "failure"

watching a man fall from the roof of a neighbor's house.

Three trivial examples of three people doing three seemingly unrelated

things. Do you know who these three men were? Do you know what they did? Do

you know the debt we owe them?

Archemedes was the naked guy running the streets when he conceived his

principals of specific gravity when lowering himself into a bath. Sir Issac Newton

was sitting under the tree when his laws of motion were conceived. Albert Einstein

watched a man fall and conceived his theory of relativity.

For that "one fraction of a second" They SAW what was possible. They

changed the way we think. They opened up new possibilities.

Would you not do the same if presented the opportunities?

We all have this potential within us. If not for the actual discoveries, can

we not find it within ourselves to give of ourselves to nuture this potential in


We of the United Federation Foundation have this belief.

Will you join us in this quest to nurture humanities potential? Will you be

the one to aid in discovering the next pariadigm of humanities evololution?