29 Aug 2015

Man with almost-perfect poop donates it to help patients with C-diff infection

It’s the middle of the day for Eric, a 24-year-old research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and nature is calling.
Eric leaves his job and hops a train. Then a bus. Then he walks some more. He passes countless toilets, and he needs to use them, but he doesn’t.
Eventually, Eric arrives at a nondescript men’s room 30 minutes away from MIT. A partition separates two toilets. There’s a square-tiled floor like in any public restroom. It’s unremarkable in every way, with one exception: A pit stop here can save lives.
Eric hangs a plastic collection bucket down inside the toilet bowl and does his business. When he’s finished, he puts a lid on the container, bags it up and walks his stool a few doors down the hall to OpenBiome, a small laboratory northwest of Boston that has developed a way to turn poop from extremely healthy people into medicine for really sick patients.
A lab technician weighs Eric’s “sample.” Over the past 2½ months, Eric has generated 10.6 pounds of poop over 29 visits, enough feces to produce 133 treatments for patients suffering from Clostridium difficile, an infection that kills 15,000 Americans a year and sickens half a million.
To donate, Eric had to pass a 109-point clinical assessment. There is a laundry list of factors that would disqualify a donor: obesity, illicit drug use, antibiotic use, travel to regions with high risk of contracting diseases, even recent tattoos. His stools and blood also had to clear a battery of laboratory screenings to make sure he didn’t have any infections.
After all that screening, only 3% of prospective donors are healthy enough to give. “I had no idea,” he says about his poop. “It turns out that it’s fairly close to perfect.”
And that, unlike most people’s poop, makes Eric’s worth money. OpenBiome pays its 22 active donors $40 per sample. They’re encouraged to donate often, every day if they can. Eric has earned about $1,000.
“It takes us a lot of time and effort to find these donors,” says OpenBiome’s research director, Mark Smith. “When we do find them, we want to keep them as engaged as possible and really want to compensate them for their time.”
Why is Eric’s poop so valuable?
A hundred trillion bacteria live inside your gut, some good, some bad. When patients take antibiotics for infections, sometimes they fail to work; good bacteria gets killed off while bad bacteria — C. difficile — grows unchecked.
The life-saving bacteria from the guts of people like Eric can help. When their healthy microbes are placed inside the intestines of a sick person they can chase out harmful C. difficile bacteria. It’s called a fecal transplant. The treatments are administered bottom-up, through a colonoscopy, or top-down, through a tube in the nose.
OpenBiome’s poop donors have created about 5,000 treatments, and the organization says the results have been stunning. Stinky human waste is an astonishingly simple cure: 90% of the patients get better.
“They’ll actually have this really transformational experience where they’ll be going to the bathroom 20 times a day and then have normal bowel movements sort of immediately or the next day,” Smith says.
The organization’s fecal transplants cost $385 to purchase and are providing a treatment to more than 350 hospitals in 47 states.
At OpenBiome’s lab, technician Christina Kim, working under a fume hood that sucks up odors, pulls the lid off Eric’s collection bucket and demonstrates how she turns poop into the life-saving treatment.
“It’s nice that this room is actually closed off because this is where the smelly part happens,” she says.
She examines the consistency of today’s offering. A nearby chart has descriptions and illustrations for seven types of stools. It was developed by a hospital in Bristol, England, as a visual guide.
Not all poop is acceptable.
Types one or two, defined by the Bristol Stool Chart as “like nuts” or “lumpy,” are too dry to process into a treatment.
If a donor’s stool is “mushy” or “watery” — that’s a type six or seven — then it can’t be used because it could be a sign the donor has a gastrointestinal infection.
The perfect poop is type three, which is “like a sausage but with cracks on its surface;” type four, which is “like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft;” or type five, “soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”
“It’s actually an established medical chart,” Kim says with a chuckle. “It’s very important.”
Maybe it was the hot sauce he used on his quinoa and cheddar cheese casserole last night, or the banana and peanut butter he ate with a bowl of bran flakes and almond milk for breakfast, but Eric’s stool is type five, just barely acceptable for processing.
Kim scoops the feces into a clear plastic bag and adds a saline solution. For two minutes the bag sloshes around inside a machine called the “jumbo mix.” The fiber in Eric’s stool is filtered out, and what’s left behind is a liquid teaming with helpful bacteria.
With a pipette, Kim transfers the watery remnants of Eric’s poop into 250 ml plastic bottles. On average, one stool donation fills four, but today Eric’s impressive half-pound sample fills seven. One bottle equals one treatment.
The 133 treatments Eric has provided won’t be distributed until he’s passed a secondary healthy screening. For now, they sit frozen in quarantine inside a giant freezer.
Most donors head on their way after handing over their sample, but during today’s visit Eric asks if he can see the treatments he helped create.
Cool air blasts his face as Kim opens the freezer. His jaw drops at the sight of his icy brown bottles, which look like frozen chocolate milkshakes. The bacteria inside them is still alive, cryogenically preserved at -112°F.
“That’s fantastic! Holy cow!” Eric says, beaming. “It’s unreal. I never thought I would be staring at my poop frozen in a freezer destined to help people across the country. It’s really cool.”
But did he do it for the money? The ridiculously easy money?
“Not at all,” he says. “It’s a nice perk, of course.”
If you’re inspired to donate like Eric, you have to live in the Boston area. And you may have to wait. Some 6,000 people have already signed up. OpenBiome usually invites about 50 people for interviews every week.
“It’s easier to get into MIT and Harvard than it is to get enrolled as one of our donors,” Smith says. “A lot of our donors are pretty excited to take something they do every day otherwise and save people’s lives with it.”

After the "Syrian father selling pens in Beirut while holding his sleeping daughter" image went viral, a campaign was started yesterday to help him, it raised $15,000 within first hour and over $47000 so far (5 Pics)

 Thousands of dollars were raised in just three hours after a picture of a refugee seemingly trying to sell pens on a street in Beirut with his daughter slumped over one shoulder was widely shared.

The image, showing a man holding eight biros, were posted on Twitter by Gissur Simonarson, who describes himself as an activist.

After being inundated with requests to help the man, Simonarson announced he was going to try and find him. He launched a Twitter account named #BuyPens and was contacted within 30 minutes by someone who saw the man every day around his house.

Twenty-four hours later, the man and his daughter were identified as Abdul, a single father with two children, and his daughter Reem, who is four.
 They are believed to be Palestinian Syrians from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.

 Simonarson decided to start a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise money for Abdul and his family.

Within half an hour, he provided an update: “We have reached my goal of $5,000 in the first 30 min. This was never meant as a cap, just something to start with. “Let’s make sure that Abdul and Reem can really start a great new life.”
 Within three hours, he had raised $15,260 (£9,897), three times the original goal.
At the time of writing, 1,287 people had donated $40,554 (£26,303) in 14 hours, 812 per cent of the original target.
Gissur Simonarson told The Independent: "I'm now in touch with Unicef special protection unit to help get him to a safe location, and make sure he will not be taken advantage of.
"I'm also considering setting up some kind of fund that would give him payouts monthly, so he doesn't end up with a bag of money, and not know what to do with it."

Dayton Police Officer Pulls Over Black Man for Making Eye Contact

 John Felton says he had it just arrived in Dayton with his brother for a birthday party and was driving down Salem Avenue.

"My brother had his seat belt on and everything and I was like, 'This cop is following me, I don't know why he's following me I'm going to make sure I don't do anything to make him pull me over.'" Felton told ABC 22/FOX 45 Reporter Natasha Williams.

Felton says he was eventually stopped and initially told by the officer he had committed a minor traffic violation. Felton decided to videotape the incident.

"Your turn signal, your turn signal was on but you didn't turn it on 100 feet prior," the Dayton officer is heard saying on the video Felton recorded on his cellphone.

Felton says, "Didn't I say he was going to do this? I watched you behind me the whole time, that's why I got my video camera on, too."

Felton, a college graduate who now lives and works in Michigan began questioning the officer further about the traffic stop.

"I am doing nothing, because I have Michigan plates, other than that why are you trailing me," Felton asked the officer. 

"You made direct eye contact with me and held onto it when I was passing you," the officer responded.

Felton: What! I didn't even see you." 

Officer: "I am not going to argue with you, sir. I'll just scan your license and give you a citation for the violation and you could take it to court."

Felton said he was surprised the officer admitted the reason he was pulled over, but he says he knew from the beginning what it was all about.

"I got a nice car. I don't know if he seen I was a black male. I feel like I was targeted, the Michigan car and it was about 11 o'clock at night," Felton said.

Felton said the incident points out the real issues that exist even in the 21st century. 

"I am not your stereotypical black male that a lot of people have in mind. For me it's awareness that this stuff still happens in 2015," he said. 

We reach out to Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl but he did not get back with us. Dayton police did comment on their Twitter page, saying they were reviewing the videotape of the incident. And Felton tells me that a sergeant from the Dayton Police Department contacted him by email Thursday, August 27, to get his side of the story.

How To Make A DIY Reclaimed Wood Picture Hanger (10 Pics)

The best way to get started is to find a wood pile that's not going to be used. You'll need about 8-10 pieces of 3/4"x4" fence slats or siding boards to ensure you have enough wood for this project.
You don't necessarily want wood that has been destroyed, so make sure it has been eaten by termites, been burnt, etc. Once you have your pieces, decide how wide and long you'd like your picture hanger. You can either cut the edges using a handsaw or try breaking them if you want a more rustic edge.
Lay out the pieces of wood so you get a rough idea of what it's going to look like. Then realize that you are going to have a whole lot of sanding to do.
An electric sander will definitely make this part of the project go faster. Sand down each piece of wood so it's smooth. This will help lessen any splinters you may get.
Now it's time to assemble the boards. Line up three pieces of wood, one on each edge then one in the middle. You'll then nail the longer boards to these three boards to create your picture hanger.
Find your favorite color stain and stain all of the boards.
Once the stain has dried, hammer in a nail on each side and then tie twine around the nail heads, creating a nice rope line for your pictures. Use mini clothes pins that are spaced out perfectly. These will be used to hold your pictures.
Once finished, you can attach it to the wall. It turned out great!
From here you can add your favorite pictures, to include pictures of you, your friends, your family, or just your favorite things in general.
Here is another variation of the reclaimed wood picture hanger. You can hang each piece of wood individually on a wall, then add the twine, and mini clothes pins.

A Dog Found Lying In The Streets Is Rescued (14 Pics)

Earlier today, when I got home from running errands, I found two dogs running the streets in my neighborhood. A beautiful brindle french bulldog and a black Pekingese.  Because I can't ignore dogs running lose for fear of them getting hit by a car, and simply to help the owners find their pets, I lured the dogs to my house with nothing more than attention.  Luckily, I soon found the owners who were out scouring the streets looking for the runaway dogs.  I always try to help loose dogs because I hope someone would do the same for my dogs if they ever got out without my knowledge.  As someone with a very high regard for animals, I can't imagine anyone who can see an animal in need and turn a blind eye.  That is why I am so partial to stories about hurt, injured, and abandoned dogs who are taken in by people who donate their time, money, and energy to rescuing these animals who don't have loving owners to care for them. This is a story of a dog who was named Bethany. She was found on the streets and rescued by Hope For Paws and Bill Foundation who paid for her treatment.  The transformation of this poor animal is the reason people get addicted to helping dogs. Here is Bethany's Story:

After receiving a call about an injured dog living on the streets, a rescue team from Bill Foundation went out to find her. 
Bethany had severe skin injections and her paws were swollen and painful. 
Most dogs who have lived on the streets are weary of people, but Bethany seemed friendly. She must have had a family at some point in time earlier in her life. We will never know how she ended up in this condition, living on her own.
Here she was, safely in the car and headed towards the beginning of a new life! You couldn't even tell what type of dog she was because she was missing so much fur due to parasites. 
After diagnosing her with severe Demodex mange as well as bacterial infections, Bethany was given a medicated bath as the first steps toward recovery. 
Those poor swollen paws! They make me hurt just looking at them! However, Bethany is handling her bath like a champ! What a sweetheart!
After her bath, she was fitted with an Elizabethan collar to prevent her from chewing and licking her wounds which would slow healing, as well as preventing her from removing the IV Catheter which was rehydrating her after spending so much time on the streets!
Only 3 days after her rescue and the swelling is already going down and the hair is starting to come back in!

Day 5 and her paws are no longer red and swollen and she is starting to look a lot more comfortable! 

Day 6 and her personality is coming through! She is looking and acting like the beautiful dog she is!
Day 36 and you would never know a little over a month ago she was living on the streets and so weak she could hardly stand!
What I love about dogs is that they are so loving and forgiving, even after going through hell.  Her story hasn't kept her from finding happiness with her foster family!
She is happy and healthy and has made lots of doggy friends in her foster home!
This lucky dog is looking for a forever home! A home that will love and spoil her as she deserves!

28 Aug 2015

Michigan Woman Sexually Assaulted In Home, Threatened With Eviction By Building

A Michigan woman was sexually assaulted in her own apartment by a maintenance worker hired by the apartment complex.
Cynthia Clarke, a 54 year old Sterling Heights resident, said a 28-year-old maintenance worker arrived at her Ashgrove apartment on July 23 to install mouse traps. Clarke had called maintenance to set up the traps, and the maintenance worker was hired through a temp agency, according to WJBK
After the traps were installed, the worker proceeded with an inappropriate comment towards Clarke. 
"He started, 'You're very sexy to me' and I was just like, what?" Clarke said. 
Clarke alleges the man began fondling himself, then her. He later became forceful. 
"He pushed me onto my bed. When I pushed myself back up, he came over my shoulder. He had his pants halfway down," she said. 
After notifying police, Clarke went to her building manager, who quickly denounced her story. 
"The apartment complex told me to shut up, don't say nothing to nobody," Clarke said. 
Elon Property Management released a statement following the incident. 
"An extremely disturbing and outrageous incident was brought to our attention last week involving an Ashgrove resident…We can confirm that in no way was an Elon employee involved in this incident. Elon is committed to the safety of all of our residents and has a zero tolerance for any sexual misconduct," the statement read. 
Police say an arrest has been made involving the incident. 
A national report found that one-fourth of female victims of rape/sexual assault were victimized by strangers.

Woman Awarded $912 Per Month In Disability For Her Reactions To Electronic Gadgets

A woman won a court case in July in Toulouse, France, that will allow her to receive $912 in disability payments every month because of her physical reactions to electromagnetic radiation from gadgets, including cell phones, Wi-Fi routers and TVs.
Marine Richard will get her disability payments for three years.
Richard claims that her victory was a "breakthrough" for folks who suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which is not a legitimate medical disorder in France or in most nations, reports The Local.
So far, there have not been any scientific studies that prove electromagnetic radiation, which is emitted at very small levels from consumer electronic devices, causes physical problems.
The World Health Organization recognizes EHS as a condition, but not any of the alleged causes of EHS, notes the BBC.
Richard lives in a barn tucked away in the mountains, does not have electricity and drinks well water.
The court ruled that Richard's symptoms prevented her from being employed, but did not state that EHS was a real illness.
Sources: The LocalBBC News 

Scientists replicated 100 recent psychology experiments. More than half of them failed.

Replication is one of the foundational ideas behind science. It's when researchers take older studies and reproduce them to see if the findings hold up. 

Testing, validating, retesting: It's all part of the slow and grinding process to arrive at some semblance of scientific truth.  

Yet it seems that way too often, when we hear about researchers trying to replicate studies, they simply flop or flounder. Some have even called this a "crisis of irreproducibility."

Consider the newest evidence: a landmark study published today in the journal Science. More than 270 researchers from around the world came together to replicate 100 recent findings from top psychology journals. By one measure, only 36 percent showed results that were consistent with the original findings. In other words, many more than half of the replications failed.

The results of this study may actually be too generous

"The results are more or less consistent with what we've seen in other fields," said Ivan Oransky, one of the founders of the blog Retraction Watch, which tracks scientific retractions. Still, he applauded the effort: "Because the authors worked with the original researchers and repeated the experiments, the paper is an example of the gold standard of replication."
But Stanford's John Ioannidis, who famously penned a paper arguing that most published research findings are wrong, explained that exactly because it's the gold standard, the results might be a little too generous; in reality, the replication failure rate might be even higher.
"I say this because the 100 assessed studies were all published in the best journals, so one would expect the quality of the research and the false rates to be higher if studies from all journals were assessed," he said.
The 100 studies replicated ended up excluding some 50 others for which the replication was thought to be too difficult. "Among those that did get attempted, difficult, challenging replication was a strong predictor of replication failure, so the failure rates might have been even higher in the 50 or so papers that no one dared to replicate," Ioannidis said.
Again, the scientists worked closely with the researchers of the original papers, to get their data and talk over the details of their methods. This is why this effort is considered top quality— they tried really hard to understand the original research and duplicate it — but that collaboration may have also biased the results, increasing the chances of a successful replication. 

"In a few cases [the original authors] affected the choice of which exact experiment among many should be attempted to replicate," said Ioannidis.

Just listen to how difficult it was to repeat just one experiment

Even with all this buy-in and support, running a replication is an extremely difficult task, explained one of the people on the team, University of Virginia PhD candidate David Reinhard. In fact, after talking to Reinhard, I've come to the view the chance of reproducing a study and arriving at the same result — especially in a field like psychology, where local culture and context are so important — as next to nil.
Reinhard had been hearing a lot about the problem of irreproducibility in science recently and wanted to get firsthand experience with replication. He had no idea what he was in for — and his journey tells a lot about how arduous science can be.
To begin with, the original study he wanted to replicate failed during the pretesting stage. That's the first little-appreciated step of any replication (or study, for that matter) when researchers run preliminary tests to make sure their experiment is viable.
The study he finally settled on was originally run in Germany. It looked at how "global versus local processing influenced the way participants used priming information in their judgment of others." 

In English, that means the researchers were studying how people use concepts they are currently thinking about (in this case, aggression) to make judgments about other people's ambiguous behavior when they were in one of two mindsets: a big-picture (global) mindset versus a more detail-oriented (local) mindset. The original study had found that they were more suggestible when thinking big.
"Fortunately for me, the authors of the study were helpful in terms of getting the materials and communication," Reinhard said. He spent hours on the phone with them — talking over the data, getting information about details that were missing or unclear in the methods section of the paper (where researchers spell out how an experiment was conducted). He also had to translate some of the data from German to English, which took more time and resources.
This cooperation was essential, he said, and it's not necessarily always present. Even still, he added, "There were a lot of difficulties that arose."
Reinhard had to figure out how to translate the social context, bringing a study that ran in Germany to students at the University of Virginia. For example, the original research used maps from Germany. "We decided to use maps of one of the states in the US, so it would be less weird for people in Virginia," he said.
Another factor: Americans' perceptions of aggressive behavior are different from Germans', and the study hinged on participants scoring their perceptions of aggression. The German researchers who ran the original study based it on some previous research that was done in America, but they changed the ratings scale because the Germans' threshold for aggressive behavior was much higher. 

Now Reinhard had to change them back — just one of a number of variables that had to be manipulated.
In the end, he couldn't reproduce their findings, and he doesn't know why his experiment failed. "When you change the materials, a lot of things can become part of the equation," he said. Maybe the cultural context mattered, or using different stimuli (like the new maps) made a difference.

Or it could just be that the original finding was wrong.
"I still think replication is an extremely important part of science, and I think that’s one of the really great things about this project," Reinhard said. But he's also come to a more nuanced view of replication, that sometimes the replications themselves can be wrong, too, for any number of reasons.
"The replication is just another sort of data point that there is when it comes to the effect but it’s not the definitive answer," he added. "We need a better understanding of what a replication does and doesn’t say."

Here's how to make replication science easier

After reading the study and talking to Reinhard, I had a much better sense of how replication works. But I also felt pretty sorry about the state of replication science.
It seemed a little too random, unsystematic, and patchwork — not at all the panacea many have made it out to be.
I asked Brian Nosek, the University of Virginia psychologist who led the Science effort, what he learned in the process. He came to a conclusion very similar to Reinhard's:
My main observation here is that reproducibility is hard. That's for many reasons. Scientists are working on hard problems. They're investigating things where we don't know the answer. So the fact that things go wrong in the research process, meaning we don't get to the right answer right away, is no surprise. That should be expected.
To make it easier, he suggested some fixes. For one thing, he said, scientists need to get better at sharing the details — and all the assumptions they may have made — in the methods sections of their papers. 

"It would be great to have stronger norms about being more detailed with the methods," he said. He also suggested added supplements at the end of 
papers that get into the procedural nitty-gritty, to help anyone wanting to repeat an experiment. 

"If I can rapidly get up to speed, I have a much better chance of approximating the results," he said. 
(Nosek has detailed other potential fixes in these guidelines for publishing scientific studies, which I wrote about here — all part of his work at the Center for Open Science.)
Ioannidis agreed and added that more transparency and better data sharing are also key. "It is better to do this in an organized fashion with buy-in from all leading investigators in a scientific discipline rather than have to try to find the investigator in each case and ask him or her in detective-work fashion about details, data, and methods that are otherwise unavailable," he said. "Investigators move, quit science, die, lose their data, have their hard drives with all their files destroyed, and so forth."
What both Ioannidis and Nosek are saying is that we need to have a better infrastructure for replication in place. 

For now, science is 
slowly lurching along in this this direction. And that's good news, because trying to do a replication — even with all the infrastructure of a world-famous experiment behind you, as Reinhard had — is challenging. Trying to do it alone is probably impossible.

California Man Facing 366 Years In Prison After Being Convicted In Child Sex Case

A California man is now facing nearly four centuries in prison after being convicted Monday on 29 counts of sexually abusing a child and possessing child pornography.
It took a jury less than 90 minutes to convict 32-year-old Luis Gilbert Sanchez, The Los Angeles Times reported.
He now faces 366 years and 8 months in prison when he goes to sentencing later this year, according to a news release from the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office cited by KTLA News.
Sanchez was found guilty of 20 counts of oral copulation with a child 10 years of age or younger, KTLA reported. He was also found guilty of one count of sodomy of a child under 10, one count of sex with a child under 10, five counts of lewd acts with a minor, and one count each of possessing matter depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct and exhibiting harmful matter to a minor. 
Deputy District Attorney Kathy DiDonato told The Times that the case was one of the worst she has ever prosecuted. 
“You can’t articulate [what] was seen in this case,” she said. “It’s the most bizarre sexual conduct I’ve ever seen.”
Authorities believe the abuse of the girl began in 2007 when she was just 5 years old and lasted for two years. DiDonato said Sanchez documented his abuse with photographs and video recordings.
Some news sources report the girl was 6 when the abuse began. 
DiDonato said Sanchez abused the girl when her mother was out of the home. Sanchez’s relationship to the girl has not been disclosed in order to protect the girl’s identity, according to KTLA. 
The abuse was discovered in February 2009 when the mother came home early one day and found Sanchez and her daughter acting strangely, The San Bernardino Sun reported. The girl reportedly told her mom that Sanchez had been molesting her for years.
The mother took the girl and her sibling to the children’s grandparents’ home and called police. 
Sanchez fled and was arrested days later, in March. His booking photo shows him with bruises and cuts on his face. Police said he resisted arrest and was pepper sprayed and punched during the arrest, according to The Times. 
His victim testified at his trial last week. 
“She was just one day shy of her 14th birthday when she testified,” DiDonato told The Sun. “She is just a really, really bright girl who doesn’t let this define who she is. She is very resilient.”
Sentencing for Sanchez is scheduled for Sept. 22. 

27 Aug 2015

Meet The Man Who Ordered 500 Packets Of Sauce From McDonald's (6 pics)

They tried to charge him 10 cents for extra dipping sauce and he just wasn't having it. He dropped a fifty dollar bill down on the counter and refused to leave until he was given 500 packets of sauce.