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Category Archives: Stem Cell Videos

College Student and Retired Teacher to Thank Stem Cell Donors They’ve Never Met for Saving Their Lives During City of Hope’s 45th Bone Marrow…

Posted: October 16, 2021 at 2:18 am

DUARTE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As a 16-year-old high school sophomore, Julian Castaeda was focused on running track specifically, trying to run a mile in under five minutes. He was also planning to attend two camps that summer that would help him prepare for the rigors of college.

Despite being diagnosed with precursor B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 10 and receiving chemotherapy on and off for three and a half years, Castaeda had been in remission for two years. He had moved on from that difficult experience.

But in March 2017, Castaeda and his mother, Erica Palacios, again received devastating news the leukemia had returned. Castaeda received chemotherapy for a few months, but the cancer kept proliferating. Castaeda would need a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (more commonly referred to as a bone marrow transplant, or BMT) this time to put his cancer back into remission.

It was heartbreaking. I knew at that point that all my plans for sophomore year would be gone, Castaeda recalled.

But Castaeda was determined to get his life back. This was possible thanks to Johannes Eppler, 27, of Breisach, Germany, who joined the bone marrow registry via DKMS, an international nonprofit that is dedicated to the fight against blood cancers and blood disorders, including the recruitment of bone marrow donors. Castaeda received a bone marrow transplant on Aug. 2, 2017, putting the cancer into remission.

He has a big heart, Palacios said about Eppler. Hes an angel. He saved my son. I am thankful that people are willing to [donate].

Castaeda, who grew up in Bakersfield, California, and was treated by City of Hopes Joseph Rosenthal, M.D., M.H.C.M., the Barron Hilton Chair in Pediatrics, is now 20 years old and a junior at California State University Northridge. He also founded Bags of Love Foundation, a nonprofit that has delivered more than 200 care packages to young cancer patients in treatment and has provided $11,000 in scholarships to survivors.

On Friday, Oct. 15, Castaeda will meet his donor for the first time virtually during City of Hopes BMT Reunion. City of Hope, a pioneer and leader in BMT, has hosted a Celebration of Life for bone marrow, stem cell and cord blood transplant recipients, their families and donors for more than 40 years. The celebration honors children and adult cancer survivors, including those who have received autologous transplants, which use a patients own stem cells, and those who received an allogeneic procedure, which require a bone marrow or stem cell donation from a related or unrelated donor.

What began with a birthday cake and a single candle representing a patients first year free from cancer has grown into an annual extravaganza that draws thousands of cancer survivors, donors and families from around the world, as well as the doctors, nurses and staff who help them through the lifesaving therapy.

Each year, patient-donor meetings are the events emotional highlight. Many recipients, though overwhelmed with curiosity and the need to express their gratitude, can only dream of meeting the stranger who saved their lives. City of Hope is making that dream come true for Castaeda, as well as Dona Garrish, a Fullerton, California resident and retired school teacher. Her donor was Michael Fischer, 35, of Wlkau, Germany.

Garrish, 75, received her transplant on March 22, 2017, after it was delayed several times due to infections and other complications that prevented her from going through with the treatment. Garrish, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, felt a strong connection to Fischer from the first time a City of Hope employee told her a German male, whom she had never met, was a perfect match for her. She refers to him as her gift from God and her angel on Earth.

He unknowingly encouraged me to fight harder and not to become discouraged, as someday I wanted to meet him and thank him, she added. Garrish recalled watching two patients meeting their donors at the 2017 BMT Reunion. The reunions were held in front of City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, where Garrish was recovering from her transplant.

While tethered to her IV pole, Garrish looked down from the hospitals sixth floor and said, Thats what I want to do.

City of Hope nurses, doctors and staff were constantly there supporting me every step of the way, even when I couldnt take a single step, said Garrish, who was treated by City of Hopes Liana Nikolaenko, M.D. The timing was urgent, my battle was rough and long, but I live, breathe and enjoy life today because of City of Hope.

Other event highlights include videos of grateful patients wearing the signature BMT buttons that display the number of years since their transplants, comedy by City of Hope BMT patient Sean Kent and a dance/song performed by BMT nurses, known as the Marrowettes. There will be special guest appearances by a Los Angeles Dodger and Katharina Harf, executive chairwoman of DKMS U.S., to congratulate patients, their donors and the BMT program.

During our annual BMT reunion, we express our most heartfelt thanks to the many selfless individuals who each year donate their bone marrow or stem cells to save a persons life, said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., director of City of Hopes Hematologic Malignancies Research Institute and former chair of its Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. Whether the donor is a patients family member or a person she or he has never met, we are all extremely grateful that these donors took the time to donate and gave someone a second chance at life.

About City of Hopes BMT program

City of Hopes BMT program has performed more than 17,000 transplants, making it one of the largest and most successful programs in the nation. The institution has the largest BMT program in California, performing over 700 transplants annually, and is among the top three hospitals in the nation in terms of total transplants performed.

Over the years, City of Hope has also helped pioneer several BMT innovations. In addition to being one of the first institutions to perform BMTs in older adults, it was one of the first programs to show that BMTs could be safely performed for patients with HIV. City of Hope has had growing success with nonrelated matched donors and, most recently, half matched family donors.

City of Hopes BMT program is the only one in the nation that has had one-year survival above the expected rate for 15 consecutive years, based on analysis by the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research.

City of Hope was also one of the first programs to develop a treatment for prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV), a common and potentially deadly infection after transplant, which has nearly eliminated the threat of CMV for BMT patients. The institution successfully conducted clinical trials of a CMV vaccine developed at City of Hope. As a pioneer in the development of CAR T cells to treat cancer, City of Hope is also testing how this form of cancer immunotherapy can help patients have a more successful transplant.

In addition, Be The Match at City of Hope last year added more than 13,000 new volunteers willing to save a life when they match a patient who needs a bone marrow transplant. In total, nearly 300,000 potential donors have signed up via City of Hope, motivated by a patient at the cancer center. Be The Match encourages healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 40 to take the first step of registering by texting COHSAVES to 61474. To learn more about the donation process, visit Be The Match at City of Hopes website.

The public can register to view the event here.

About City of Hope

City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hopes translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin, monoclonal antibodies and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope is ranked among the nations Best Hospitals in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California and in Arizona. Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) became a part of City of Hope in 2016. AccessHope, a subsidiary launched in 2019, serves employers and their health care partners by providing access to NCI-designated cancer center expertise. For more information about City of Hope, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

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College Student and Retired Teacher to Thank Stem Cell Donors They've Never Met for Saving Their Lives During City of Hope's 45th Bone Marrow...

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3D Printing Applications in the Fight Against Breast Cancer – 3Dnatives

Posted: at 2:18 am

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by the end of 2020, 7.8 million women alive had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years, making it the worlds most prevalent cancer as well as one of the leading cause of cancers death in women worldwide. There are also men who suffer from the cancer, with the CDC finding that 1 in 100 breast cancer patients is male. Out of these women in particular, 40% require a mastectomy, the partial or total removal of a breast, for recovery. However, only about 20% of these women choose breast reconstruction (recreating the breasts after removal), even though it is often recommended to patients. In order to support the current, past and future breast cancer suffers, October was designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of that, we decided to take a look at the different ways that 3D printing can be used to help combat breast cancer, including through reconstruction. You can find our choices, in no particular order, below!

One creative way that 3D printing is being used is at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. When patients are told about their tumors, it can be hard to understand what they really resemble since mammogram images only offer a two-dimensional view. This in turn can make them confused about which treatment to choose. MD Anderson has found a solution to this with 3D printed replicas of breasts and the tumors inside. Using 3D printing, radiologists Elsa Arribas and Lumarie Santiago started to make 3D-printed personalized breast models to more accurately illustrate the tumors. This has helped both doctors and patients at the center to understand their treatment options, it can also be used as a 3D guide during surgery, resulting in more efficient operations with fewer complications.

Using 3D printing to better illustrate breast cancer tumors (photo credits: MD Anderson)

Hyperthemia is a cancer treatment in which body tissue is heated to a high temperature that will kill and damage cancer cells while leaving normal tissue intact. Microwave breast hyperthemia in particular is one potential cancer treatment in which breast temperature is raised using electromagnetic (EM) radiation. This particular treatment can be difficult as it is often done using bulky, rigid systems that are uncomfortable for the patient. However, Yusuku Makai, Sizian Li and Minyoung Suh have potentially found a way to improve it using 3D printing. In their study 3D-printed thermoplastic polyurethane for wearable breast hyperthermia, the researchers posit that instead of using the traditional systems, 3D printed wearable antennas would be superior. They ultimately found that the 3D printed antennas could be used and not only provided more comfort to their patients but allowed for adjusted levels of exposure, however there were still limitations that needed to be addressed.

The design of the antennas (photo credits: Yusuku Makai, Sizian Li and Minyoung Suh)

With many of the traditional breast reconstruction procedures relying on a limited supply of human cadavers or animal tissue, CollPlants innovative 3D bioprinting approach removes this supply constraint, allowing for wider reconstruction access for more patients. Earlier this year, CollPlant and 3D Systems entered a co-development agreement to co-produce a 3D bioprinted soft tissue matrix product that is able to promote cell infiltration and proliferation by using bioink formulations based on rhCollagen. This tissue regeneration minimizes the risk of adverse immune response. Due to its plant-based origin, the rhCollagen also offers superior safety while meeting the mechanical requirements for implant procedures.

Photo Credits: 3D Systems

A team of scientists from several medical institutions in China, joined forces to conduct a study on localized chemotherapy breast cancer treatment. Traditional chemotherapy is delivered in massive doses, resulting in toxic side effects including hair loss, anemia, and nausea. Using 3D printing technology, the team of researchers designed a prosthesis containing the drugs paclitaxel (PTX) and doxorubicin (DOX) in order to prevent the recurrence of malignant tumors and metastasis following breast cancer-related surgery. The drug release showed that the 3D-printed prosthesis containing PTX and DOX microspheres was capable of releasing the drugs continuously for over 3 weeks, wherein suppressing a cancer recurrence threshold, and with significantly reduced side-effects. While the study was conducted on mice, this study revealed promising results for future development of breast cancer treatments in humans.

Photo Credits: Drew Hays/Unsplash

Since its founding in 2017 in Lille, the startup Lattice Medical has raised 2.3 million. Funds that have enabled it to develop an innovative application for breast reconstruction. The company has developed a bioprosthesis called MATTISSE, to offer an alternative to silicone prostheses, which require surgery every 10 years. Made of an absorbable material, the MATTISSE bioprosthesis is perfectly adapted to the patients morphology thanks to 3D printing. And unlike silicone prostheses, since it is resorbable, only one operation is required. To design the bioprostheses, the young company is inspired by the properties of Calais lace and uses a 3D printed dome that serves as a guide for cell growth. And thats one of the main advantages of MATTISSE bioprostheses they allow for natural reconstruction because it regenerates the patients own fatty tissue. When it comes to the process used to produce the prostheses, Lattice Medical uses FDM technology.

Photo Credits: Lattice Medical

Founded in Lyon in January 2020, Healshape is a biomedical startup specialized in breast reconstruction and augmentation via bioprinting. Similar to Lattice Medical, it offers a fully customized bioprosthesis bioprinted from an ink that facilitates the regeneration of each womans tissue. The prosthesis is resorbable, designed from natural biomimetic materials. Once implanted, the doctor can inject the patients own cells by performing lipofilling. Thus, only one operation is necessary. These cells will then adopt the shape of the bioprosthesis and will be able to reconstruct breast tissue. After a few months of work, the prosthesis will be able to resorb itself, leaving only the patients own cells, which should then be able to recover their breast.

The New Zealand company myReflection relies on 3D scanning to develop custom-made breast prostheses. The principle is simple: each patient goes to one of the brands centers and one of the consultants will perform a scan of the breast using a portable 3D scanner. After working on the 3D model, the teams 3D print a prototype shell in PLA to check the shape, fit and size of the prosthesis. If the patient agrees, then manufacturing of the prosthesis can begin (it is not 3D printed). For the moment, myReflection only delivers in New Zealand; count 613 New Zealand dollars (about 370 euros) for the scanning and testing phase and 3 prostheses.

Photo Credits: myReflection

A research group at the University of Girona succeeded in using 3D printing to isolate the cells that cause breast cancer in women. Specifically, they made tiny 3D matrices, called scaffolds, that reproduced the tissues and fibers of the human body. With the help of BCN3D Cura software and the Barcelona manufacturers Sigma 3D printer, they tested various parameters to create the most optimal models for the research. They made 10 copies of each configuration in order to see which geometry best separated the stem cells, which are the ones that cause relapses. By successfully isolating the stem cells of this subtype of cancer, the researchers will be able to study them better to find the biomarkers responsible for the tumors and be able to target them with drugs.

Photo Credits: University of Girona

Together with the Leipzig-based company BellaSeno, Fraunhofer IPT is working on the development of an automated production system that will in future manufacture breast implants from autologous tissue with a polymer structure. In the project, the companies are combining their expertise in 3D printing as well as knowledge in the fields of mechanics, electronics, measurement technology and software. The new method is expected to give hope to many women because conventional implants often provoke a defensive reaction from the body and thus pose an additional health risk to patients. In the case of BellaSenos 3D-printed polycaprolactone implants, the implanted material is said to be completely degraded by the body within two years and the breast will once again consist of the bodys own cells. Thanks to the production facility, it should also be possible to manufacture the implants more efficiently and at a lower cost, which should enable more women to have surgery. However, it will be several years before the implants are approved. The two companies expect to have a first industrial prototype of the plant within the next few years.

Photo Credits: Fraunhofer

Thanks to 3D-printed breast templates, doctors can now better prepare for tumor removal surgery. Behind the project is a research team at Asan Medical Center led by Professor Ahn Sei-hyun, Associate Professor Ko Beom-seok and Assistant Professor Kim Nam-kug. With the help of the template, they say, patients breasts can be replicated using 3D printing and used by doctors for surgery. The whole thing works like this: first, the breast and tumor are modeled. Then, the shape of the tumor is projected vertically on the surface and the model of the breast is printed using a 3D printer. After the patient is placed under anesthesia on the day of surgery, breast template 3D breast guide is placed over the breast with the tumor, allowing the surgical site to be accurately marked. Associate Professor Ko Beom-seok explains the following, Breast cancer surgery using the 3D breast template ensures the exact surgical resection margin, preserving the breast as much as possible by reducing reoperation and recurrence rates and achieving an overall improved cosmetic result.

Photo Credits: Asan Medical Center

Supported by the European Commission and Eureka, a European R&D network, new breast implants will be developed over the next few years using 3D printing. The project is led by Korean biotech startup Plcoskin. Yonsei University and LipoCoat, a Dutch medical device manufacturer, are also expected to contribute their expertise to product development. The goal is to jointly develop a biodegradable PCL-based breast implant. Consequently, the implants will be 3D printed with PCL and previously coated with PCL collagen and lipid films using LipoCoats patented biocoating technology. This method is expected to reduce the infection rate of implants and result in less discomfort for patients after surgery. The project will be subsidized to the tune of $1.7 million over the next few years.

One major application of 3D printing is in the creation of implants for breast cancer patients

What do you think of the applications for 3D printing in the fight against breast cancer? Let us know in a comment below or on our Linkedin, FacebookandTwitter pages! Dont forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

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3D Printing Applications in the Fight Against Breast Cancer - 3Dnatives

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The Mystery of Smell – Harvard Magazine

Posted: at 2:18 am

In the early weeks of the pandemic, as scientists and physicians scrambled to find the edges of this new, dangerous diseasehow it spread from person to person, how it behaved inside the human body, and how they might be able to stop itone emerging symptom sent a jolt of recognition through Sandeep Robert Datta: the sudden disappearance of many patients ability to smell.

A professor of neurobiology, Datta studies olfaction: what happens between nose and brain as sensory neurons pick up a smell and the signal makes its way to the olfactory cortex, where the information is transformed into something we recognize as coffee, or roses, or dirty socks. But the news that smell loss could be a symptom of COVID-19 jolted him on another level tooas a graduate student in his early 20s, Datta had briefly lost his own sense of smell and taste. For him, it was a side effect of chemotherapy. It was pretty horrible, he recalls. Emotionally, he felt disoriented and disconnected, strangely set adrift. Physically, it became almost impossible to eat: I just found nothing palatable at all. What finally worked was fried egg and cheese sandwicheseven without taste or smell, the saltiness was perceptible, and the texture made them easier to swallow. For a while, this was the only thing he ate. I had a cholesterol of 300, he says, but it got me through. And after a couple of months, his smell and taste recovered. So, I have some sense, he says, of what its been like for people with this virus.

As a scientist, though, he also knew something else: there werent going to be many answers for those patients questions, at least not yet. Despite years of research in labs like his, much about olfaction remains, essentially, a mystery. So much is still just open science, says Datta, who last year led a study that uncovered how COVID-19 seems to disrupt the sense of smell. Right now, theres a lot of intense interest in smell, he says, from physicians and from the many millions of patients whove had their sense of smell affected. And it has really highlighted, collectively, how little we know about all aspects of our sense of smell.

Researchers do have a grasp of the rudiments: that specific odor molecules bind to matching receptor proteins in the noses sensory neurons like keys in a lock, and that when each lock is opened, an electrical signal travels to the brains olfactory bulb, which in turn relays the message to other parts of the brain, where it is processed furtherthe piriform cortex, which identifies smell; the thalamus, which acts as a relay station; the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in taste. But even this knowledge is somewhat recent. The landmark genetic study identifying hundreds of different olfactory sensors in the nasal neurons was published only in 1991. That breakthrough won the Nobel Prize for its authors, biologists Linda Buck and Richard Axel, and opened the door to a whole new universe of research. Still, 30 years later, much of the olfactory system remains unmapped.

One reason for the persistence of this mystery is sociological, Datta says: humans are visual creatures. Losing the sense of sight is a psychologically devastating change that substantially impairs peoples ability to navigate everyday existence. Fully one-third of the human brain is devoted to processing visual information. No surprise, then, he says, that from the beginning, modern neuroscience focused most intensely on deciphering sight (and, then, hearing). We have tended to think of olfaction as a kind of bonus sense, an aesthetic sense, Datta says, an accessory to these more essential sensory processes. That comes through in the paucity of language to describe it. Vision and hearing abound with adjectives, but humans vocabulary for what something smells like is fuzzy and fragmentary and highly variable. This is a huge hurdle for science: its extraordinarily difficult for people to convey their olfactory perceptions in a way that is comprehensible to researchers.

Scientists have no such command over the levers of smell. I mean, what is smell, precisely? Datta asks. If I take a sniff of my morning coffee, thats not actually a thing. Its 800 separate volatile chemicals.

Then there is the problem of smell itself. Scientists have a robust understanding about the dynamic components of a visual object or a soundattributes like shape, color, light intensity, pitch, volume, frequency, directionand they can vary these elements with precision during laboratory experiments to stimulate the brain and study how, for instance, a brighter color or a louder sound is processed. But scientists have no such command over the levers of smell. I mean, what is smell, precisely? Datta asks. If I take a sniff of my morning coffee, thats not actually a thing. Or at least, not one single thing: Its 800 separate volatile chemicals that are coming off into the headspace above the cup, all of which exist at different concentrations, which my nose detects and my brain synthesizes into a unitary percept of coffee.

Its not clear, Datta says, how these chemicals interact with each other, or with the nose; its also not clear which chemicals mean the most to the olfactory system, and which it ignores, or under what circumstances it registers any given chemical as pleasant or unpleasant. Sulfur, the rotten-egg smell so noxious to humans it is added to odorless natural gas as a safety warning for gas leaks, is also an essential component of garlic, onions, and certain perfumes; the purified compound MMB, which is what makes cat urine smell intolerable, is also sold, at low concentrations, as a food additive to enhance flavor. We dont know the axes that odor chemistry is organized along, or how they matter to the brain, Datta says. Changing as little as one odor molecule can dramatically alter olfactory perception in ways that we, as scientists, simply do not understand right now.

And yet, olfactory research holds a tantalizing promise: by unraveling the intricacies of smell, neuroscientists might be able to crack open deeper mysteries of how the brain itself works. Thats partly because smell is thought to be the earliest evolved sense in mammals. The olfactory bulb sits near the bottom of the brain, layers below the more recently developed folds of the neocortex. Its neural circuits are ancient, andunlike vision and hearing, whose signals must trace a longer pathintimately connected to other primordial brain centers: the hippocampus, where memories are stored, and the amygdala, responsible for processing many aspects of the emotional world, including fear and threats. (The amygdala is thought to play a major role in anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.)

Odors have the power to trigger intense memories and emotions, and can profoundly influence mental healthas many COVID patients attest, people who suddenly lose the ability to smell often struggle with depression and emotional wellbeing. Loss of smell is linked to increased mortality risk and considered an early warning signal for neural illnesses like Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease, and schizophrenia. Children with autism have a heightened sensitivity to smell and a different sniff response from neurotypical children. This kind of intimacy between sense of smell and these parts of the brain that are fundamental to our human experience is super intriguing, Datta says. The simplicity of the circuits, and the directness of their connections to places like the hippocampus or the amygdala, offer a potential window into how our brains might sense information and transform it into a memory or an emotion, and then ultimately a behavior.

That same curiosity is also what attracted Venkatesh Murthy, Erikson life sciences professor of molecular and cellular biology and Finnegan Family Director of the Harvard Center for Brain Science. For Murthy, too, olfaction seemed a useful way in to larger questions about the brain. The reasoning was partly practical. In neuroscience, one common research subject is mice, whose neural circuitry approximates humans in important ways; and for mice, smell is dominant, the most profound sense they have for navigating the world. (In mice, it is smell that takes up one-third of the brain.) Researchers can train rodents to respond to specific odors remarkably easily. We think of animal training as difficult, Murthy says. For people who train dogs or horses, for instance, its very laborious. You cannot just tell them the rules, because they cant understand you, and so you have to reinforce the right behavior for each command over and over. But communicating through smell is remarkably smooth. Essentially, scientists can tell mice the rules. Its such an intuitive sense for them, he says, that we are able to train animals to do very complicatedor at least, what we think are very complicatedtasks. And they are able to do them beautifully.

Some of those tasks explore the connection between olfaction and memory: how animals use smells to store memories, and how that process might alter neural activity for those smells. (Murthy has found that it takes mice only a few minutes to make the connection between an odor and a specific corresponding reward, that a whiff of vanilla, for instance, means a sip of water, or a chocolate chip.)

Other experiments, which Murthy calls the olfactory cocktail party, use mice to help decipher the brains strategies for sorting through the cacophony of messages arriving from the tens of thousands of neurons in the nose. Lets say youre in a room where somebody is brewing a fresh pot of coffee and they also put on some really nice perfume, Murthy says. And lets say there are also flowering plants in the background, and food on the stove. How does a person recognize any one smell, when its embedded in so much clutter and chaos? Especially given that each odor is not a single chemical, but numerous ones? This is a long-term question, Murthy says, but mice offer clues: in a mixture of up to 16 smells, they are consistently able to identify whether a particular smellsay, bananais present. One hypothesis is that animals somehow train their sense of smell; after all, sommeliers and coffee tasters manage a similar feat. Or the explanation could be more purely biologicalin mice, the synapses of the olfactory cortex appear more plastic than in the visual cortex, Murthy says. So maybe the brain does have this ability to rewire connections and make associations.

Recently, Murthy has been investigating a new mystery: how animals follow scent trails. Its a deeper question than it seems. You might think, how hard can that be? Murthy says. But actually, its not so easy. I mean, close your eyes and imagine that you smell something. What do you do next? Wheres the next part of the trail? Its completely unobvious. To approach this problem Murthy uses an inkjet printer to print rose-scented trailssometimes straight, sometimes curvedonto long strips of paper, which he fastens on to a contraption that acts as a treadmill for mice. Four separate video cameras capture every move as they sniff their way down the page, and AI software converts the videos into data. The next step, Murthy says, is to use electrodes to start understanding which parts of the brain are involved.

In the meantime, hes taken a potentially elucidating sidestep: running the treadmill experiment with carpenter ants and pheromone trails. Its yielded some intriguing results, he says. On his laptop, he pulls up a brief clip of one of the ants, up close and in black and white. It proceeds slowly, losing its way, correcting the mistake, turning around, proceeding again. Ants do not have nosestheir sensory neurons are located in their antennae, and in the video, the antennae sweep from across the trail, sometimes opening wide like windshield wipers, sometimes bending and stretching like an extra pair of legs. We were shocked to find they were so active with their antennae, Murthy says. Ants are too small to measure their neural activity, so we can only watch this behavior, we cant look inside yet, he says. Turnng back to the video, he watches the mystery unfold in front of him, while the ant on the screen keeps moving slowly forward, smelling its way back to the trail, not knowing exactly where its headed.

In his own lab, Datta is trying to answer a similar question: how smells help the brain build models of the world. Those models allow animals (and humans) to make predictions about their surroundings and then decisions about what to dowhether to turn to the right or the left, whether to run, or eat, or fight, or mate. One study Datta has been working on probes a phenomenon called adaptation. You know how, when you first step into someones kitchen, you smell all the smells of the cooking food? he asks. But then, over time, it dissipates and you stop noticing all the smells. Thats adaptation, the olfactory systems way of allowing the brain to focus on whats new or important, rather than whats simply there. So, if somethings burning, youll smell it, as opposed to having your senses overwhelmed. Datta wanted to learn how that process works, specifically in the olfactory neurons in the nose. Traditionally, people have thought this process occurs in the brain, but weve been asking whether it actually happens before information even gets to the brain. As part of the study, he sequenced cells in mices olfactory epithelium (the thin tissue of neurons and surrounding cells lining the upper nasal cavity) to determine what RNA each cell expressed.

That was the project Datta was working on when the pandemic struck and everything abruptly shut down. Marooned from his lab and reading the proliferating accounts of COVID patients losing their sense of smell, he realized that the sequencing data hed amassedand similar stockpiles in the hands of other smell researchers he knew around the globemight point to an explanation. We were lucky that we had all this stuff on our hard drives, he says. A few months later, in July 2020, Datta and 24 coauthors published their findings. Early analyses had shown that the virus attaches to its host using the ACE-2 receptor protein. But that protein is not expressed by the olfactory neurons; instead, its expressed by cells surrounding the neuronsstem cells, which allow damaged neurons to regrow, and sustentacular cells, which provide physical and metabolic support. The researchers theorized it was those surrounding cells the virus was infecting.

This idea might also explain why some patients recovered their smell quickly, and some patients not at all. If the infected cells were so damaged that the neuron also died, it would take months for the neuron to regrow. And in some cases, perhaps the viral destruction in the epithelium, especially to the stem cells, was so complete that the neurons would never be able to regrow, and sense of smell would never return.

Before COVID, Datta says, It was hard to get many peoplesome scientists includedto pay attention to smell as a legitimate wedge that one might use to understand the brain. And I think thats really changed now. For researchers like him and Murthy, the fresh urgency directed at their field is an unfamiliar feeling, but a galvanizing one. Im excited to begin to think more about the underlying problem of smell itself, Datta says. Murthy foresees a renaissance in olfaction research. Lately hes been contemplating how breathing and smelling might intertwine neurologically.

Much of the new primacy felt by researchers like Datta and Murthy has to do with the increasingly acute, COVID-driven need for therapies. Right now, we have no clinically validated treatments for the loss of smell as a result of a virus or trauma, Datta says. Some studies suggest modest efficacy in the practice of smell training, in which patients try to recover their sense by regularly breathing in specific odors, But for the most part, Datta says, I dont have a drug that I can give you that will fix your broken olfactory system. We dont even know for sure what level those interventions should be made at. If you lose your sense of smell because your nose has been damaged by the coronavirus, is it enough if I simply fix your nose? Do I also have to fix the brain? We just dont know.

Eric Holbrook began hearing about the COVID-related smell loss a few weeks before it started showing up in his clinic. Director of the rhinology division at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, Holbrook had seen bad colds and other viruses occasionally knock out patients olfactory systems for long periods, but hed never seen the sheer number of smell-loss patients that COVID-19 produced: whole families, friend circles, half the floor of a single dorm. And those with long-term loss skewed youngerrather than in their 30s or 40s, COVID patients were often college-aged, or not much beyond, Holbrook recalls. I saw one kid who was nine.

The lack of proven, reliable treatments for smell loss can drive patients to desperation, Holbrook says. It puts physicians in the position of wanting to try everything. And that can be dangerous.

About 85 percent of COVID patients with mild infections seem to suffer loss of taste and smellfor many, it is the earliest symptom, or the only one. And although most regain their ability to smell within three or so weeks, for as many as 35 percent, the loss lasts longer. Those conversations with patients can be hard, Holbrook says. There is usually not much he can do. Smell training sometimes works: a months-long regimen of inhaling smells twice a day in an effort to reactivate the neurons. But the lack of proven, reliable treatments can drive patients to desperation, Holbrook says. You wouldnt believe the number of people who ask me about so-called therapiesmedicines, devices, surgeries abroadthat have no proof, or even very much scientific rationale. It puts physicians in the position of wanting to try everything. And that can be dangerous. It can also lead to false hope.

Like Datta and Murthy, Holbrook is surrounded by unknowns. Although he has some ideas, he is not sure what to make of the numerous reports from COVID patients who say they are incapable of detecting only certain odorsbathroom smells especially. And although he knows its usually a good sign when patients progress from an absent sense of smell to a distorted onein which coffee might smell like sewage, or food like cigaretteshe cannot yet explain exactly why. Doctors have long recognized it in trauma patients as an indication that the olfactory system is working to heal itself, and the neurons perhaps mis-wiring as they grow back, but the mechanism remains murky.

Olfactory sensory neurons are a rare part of the human nervous system capable of regeneration. Thats what first gripped Holbrook, as a medical student sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture on neuroanatomy. After neurons die, they can come back. That was completely fascinating to me, he says. It still is. For the past several years, he has been collaborating on possible therapies for smell loss. One, led by researchers at Tufts University, involves stimulating the systems stem cells. In a lot of cases, after damage has occurred, he says, those stem cells are sitting there, very quiet. And it looks like there are ways we can tell them to start dividing and making neurons again.

Another project, which Holbrook sometimes calls a cochlear implant for the nose, would use electrodes to stimulate the nerves in the olfactory bulb. Its still a distant dream, but in 2018, he and several collaborators conducted a small experimenta proof of concept placing electrodes inside the nasal cavities of five patients with intact senses of smell, very close to the olfactory bulb. After the researchers administered an electric current, three patients described experiencing sensations of antiseptic, sour, and fruity aromas. One said it was onion-like, but not an onion, Holbrook says. The results were encouraging enough to warrant more research. Neurosurgeon Mark Richardson, who founded the Brain Modulation Lab at MGH, is pushing that effort forward.

In the paper Holbrook and his colleagues published after their 2018 experiment, they estimated that five percent of the population suffers from total smell loss. After COVID-19, that number seems almost certain to rise. The implications of this virus are huge, Holbrook says. Some of his patients who lost their sense of smell early in the pandemic still have not regained it. Theres a big, significant number of people who are going to be potentially without smell for the rest of their lives, he says. There is so much work that still needs to be done.

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Blood donation clinic will honour life of Jocelyn McGlynn – Chatham Daily News

Posted: August 5, 2021 at 2:29 am

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A blood donation clinic is being held Aug. 10 in Chatham to honour the life and memory of the late Jocelyn McGlynn, whose courageous battle with leukemia inspired many to register to become stem cell donors.

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A blood donation clinic is being held Aug. 10 in Chatham to honour the life and memory of the late Jocelyn McGlynn, whose courageous battle with leukemia inspired many to register to become stem cell donors.

McGlynn, who was a medical science student at Western University in London with dreams of becoming a doctor, became an advocate for stem cell and blood donations while she battled leukemia, which took her life on Aug. 15, 2020, at age 23.

McGlynn was first diagnoses in the fall of 2018 when she went to see doctors for what appeared to be a cold she could not shake. This was the beginning of a tough medical battle that included multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and two bone marrow transplants.

Joc was selfless and strong, caring and courageous, wonderful and wise, said McGlynns mother, Jacqueline McGlynn, about her daughter becoming a vocal champion for those fighting similar medical battles.

She loved to live and did not want others to suffer as she did.

During her own fight, Jocelyn McGlynn continued to encourage stem cell and blood donations, which included taking part in Walk the Night for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada and creating awareness videos for Blood Sweat Spin and Canadian Blood Services.

McGlynn used her creative talents to envision and bring to reality her Lets All Go Get Swabbed music video. She wrote the lyrics, played every note, directed, edited and starred in the video while recovering from chemotherapy.

People can help continue McGlynns efforts by scheduling an appointment for the upcoming blood donor clinic being held Tuesday at the Chatham YMCA from noon to 7 p.m. Donations can be booked online at, through the GiveBlood App or by calling 1-888 2 DONATE (236-6283).

A single donation of blood is equal to one unit of blood, and a leukemia patient can require up to eight units of blood per week, stated the release.

As McGlynn wrote: Everybody join the team, theres a cure in your bloodstream.

Maureen Macfarlane, event co-ordinator with Canadian Blood Services, said there is an increased need for blood donations as hospital procedures, which were previously on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, are being scheduled.

Another blood donor clinic is also being held in Chatham on Aug. 31 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Retro Suites Hotel.

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The 5G NR mmWave X factor (Analyst Angle) – RCR Wireless News

Posted: January 27, 2021 at 12:50 am

Signals Research Group (SRG) has been actively involved in tracking the advancement of 5G NR since its inception in September 2015 at a 3GPP workshop, held in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, no one knew for certain what 5G NR would look like, what compelling technical features would comprise it, how it would perform and evolve, not to mention when it would be commercially deployed originally, the target date for commercial services was 2020 to support the Summer Olympics in Japan. In fact, it wasnt until six months after the first 5G workshop that 3GPP coined the term NR (New Radio), and without the 5G prefix since it was felt that only ITU could apply the 5G moniker to the burgeoning standard. I secretly wanted 5G PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick), but my suggestion fell on deaf ears.

Ironically, when 3GPP held its first 5G workshop, it wasnt even certain that it would include millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies in the first set of specifications (Release 15). I use the term ironic since Verizon was the first operator in the world, along with SK Telecom, to launch commercial 5G NR services and it did so with its 28 GHz spectrum (a.k.a. mmWave).

We recently published a whitepaper on behalf of Qualcomm Technologies which looks at recent advancements in 5G NR operating in mmWave spectrum. Some of the findings stem from testing that we did for our Signals Ahead research publication while other findings stem from testing that Emil Olbrich and I did on behalf of this engagement. I encourage you to download and read the entire paper or view the video that I posted to LinkedIn ( However, as a quick appetizer, here are a few tidbits from the study, which you can download here (

Massive capacity and faster downlink speeds. The 5G NR network and smartphones can now support up to 800 MHz of aggregate channel bandwidth (8100 MHz) double what was supported with the initial launches. The doubling of the channel bandwidth equates to a near doubling in user data speeds and/or total capacity the latter is useful in high traffic areas where mmWave sites are typically located. Additionally, concurrent use of 5G NR and LTE leads to even higher data speeds, with higher data speeds in the future when networks assign multiple LTE radio channels to the smartphones alongside their 5G NR brethren.

Figure 1 Throughput for Three Smartphones Operating in Parallel

Source: Signals Research Group

The adjacent figure shows results from one test involving three smartphones downloading in parallel from the same 5G NR mmWave cell site. Two smartphones supported 800 MHz (8CC) and one smartphone only supported 400 MHz (4CC). The figure shows the obvious benefits associated with a smartphone supporting a wider aggregate channel bandwidth as well as the increase in total throughput for the sector. The advantage is most evident starting at 160 seconds when one of the smartphones (UE #3) reverted to a single 100 MHz channel, compared with the other two smartphones which supported 4CC (UE #1) and 8CC (UE #2), respectively.

Faster uplink data speeds. Like the downlink, 5G NR mmWave now supports wider channel bandwidth in the uplink direction specifically 2100 MHz radio channels versus a single 100 MHz channel that it previously supported. This feature, along with concurrent contributions from LTE (PDCP split bearer combining) results in uplink data speeds that can easily exceed 100 Mbps. For the FWA use case, this means the uplink data speeds are arguably faster than possible with virtually all fixed broadband service plans.

New Use Cases and applications. Besides the typical eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) use case, 5G NR mmWave is enabling new use cases and applications.

Fixed Wireless Access. With new high-power CPEs that also have better receive sensitivity than traditional 5G NR smartphones it is possible to achieve Gigabit-per-second data speeds at locations where you would never expect the closest 5G NR mmWave radio would be able to provide coverage. It is impossible to extrapolate a typical 5G NR experience with a smartphone to what we observed in our tests, meaning you must see it to believe it. In addition to data connections at distances up to 5.1 km, we tested at multiple spots where the distant 5G NR radio was clearly blocked by buildings, trees, and other ground clutter, even when the CPE was facing off-angle from the serving cell site. There is a powerful story for the technical merits of 5G NR mmWave FWA that operators are just beginning to tap into.

Figure 2 Cell Site in Wisconsin Supporting 3G, 4G and 5G NR mmWave

4K Video. We tested 4K multi-screen capabilities whereby we streamed four 4K videos to a single device. It worked great on 5G NR mmWave but was disappointing, at best, on LTE with frequent buffering and poorer video quality (MOS).

Enterprise. 5G NR mmWave is also being deployed in enterprises, and based on our test results, provides coverage in unanticipated areas, including in closed conference rooms and stairwells, not to mention behind the radios and down hallways with non-line-of-site conditions to the serving 5G NR radio.

Figure 3 Achieving 2.2 Gbps in an Enclosed Conference Room

Source: Signals Research Group

Good robustness. In our outdoor testing with a smartphone, we identified numerous locations where multiple 5G NR radios (up to 4 radios) provided usable signals to the same location. These signals included 180 reflections off glass windows more than one block away, straight-away signals at distances over two city blocks, and signals from 5G NR radios on perpendicular streets with near/non-line-of-site conditions.

5G NR mmWave is unlike anything the wireless industry has experienced in the past. The potential performance gains arent evolutionary, theyre revolutionary. Along with these performance gains and the new use cases they enable, 5G NR mmWave introduces a new paradigm in how networks are deployed and where broadband wireless coverage exists. This new paradigm requires a new way of thinking when it comes to mmWave frequencies versus the traditional cellular frequencies of yesteryear. mmWave will never achieve coverage parity with legacy networks, but thankfully it was never envisioned in this way. Instead, 5G NR mmWave is carving out its own market opportunities with massive capacity to satisfy high traffic areas and demanding use cases, as well as improved coverage and robustness to extend these capabilities above and beyond expectations.

You can learn more about SRG and download the full whitepaper from our website (

Going back to Verizons first foray with millimeter wave in 2018 with the 5GTF set of specifications, SRG has been conducting performance benchmark studies of all things 5G NR on a global basis. Thanks to logistical support from our test and measurement partners, including Accuver Americas, Keysight, PCTEL, Rohde & Schwarz, Sanjole, and Spirent Communications, weve peeled back the proverbial onion on 5G NR to understand how it performs and how its performance has evolved over the last 18+ months. We look forward to continuing these endeavors in the coming year as operators deploy new 5G NR features and functionality.

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Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyers fight extradition in protest of turning him ‘over to the mob’ – Fox News

Posted: October 10, 2020 at 11:55 am

EXCLUSIVE DETAILS Kyle Rittenhouse was back in court on Friday morning as his attorneys continued their efforts to keep the 17-year-old in his home state of Illinois instead of being extradited to Wisconsin to face trial on homicide charges.

Rittenhouse wore a face mask as he appeared on a video stream for a brief court hearingin Lake County, Ill., on Friday morning, one day after court papers argued that moving him to Kenosha, Wis. would effectively turn him over to the mob.

Judge Paul Novak scheduled an Oct. 30 hearing on the extradition request, though prosecutors told Novak they were prepared to move faster.

The law is pretty clear cut on this, Lake County Assistant States Attorney Stephen Scheller said. This case has been dragging on now, were already into October. ... We want a hearing as soon as possible.

In this screen grab from live stream video, Kyle Rittenhouse appears via video during a hearing at the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Waukegan, Ill., on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. (Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court via AP)

But John Pierce, Rittenhouses criminal attorney, said there was no reason to rush" and questioned Wisconsin prosecutors' motivation for pursuing the charges.

"This is a very unique, extraordinary situation, Pierce said. There is a massive amount of video evidence that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not a legitimate criminal prosecution, it is a political prosecution.

Rittenhouse remains in an Illinois jail cell.

On Thursday, lawyers for Rittenhouse filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his safety is in jeopardy and the case does not meet the legal requirements necessary to move someone from a juvenile center to an adult facility. The Antioch teenager is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during late-August civil unrest in Kenosha. Attorneys have continuously argued he was acting in self-defense.


Pierce told Fox News before the hearing that he was extremely concerned for Rittenhouses safety in light of threats that have been made to him, to his family, to his lawyers.

Adding to that concern is the fact that a former vice president of the United States and a sitting United States senator who are running for president in what is arguably the most heated presidential election, perhaps in American history ... has now chosen to use him as a political pawn to suggest falsely that he is a white supremacist, Pierce added. And to suggest falsely that he is one of the people that is responsible for the arson, looting and insurrection in Kenosha and Portland.

Pierce was referring to a video shared last month byDemocratic presidential nomineeJoe Bidenthat appears to suggestthe teenager is a White supremacist.

Speaking exclusively to Fox News,Rittenhouses mother, Wendy Rittenhouse fumed as she recalled how she stumbled upon the video herself.

"I am angry. My son is not a white supremacist. He is not a racist. He is not in no militia," she said. "Former Vice President Biden, how dare [he] use my son for a political ad for his campaign."


Rittenhouseturned himself in to Antioch, Ill., police and was later charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, all of which had charges reflecting use of a dangerous weapon, the criminal complaint states.

Rittenhousetold Fox News that, despite reports that she had driven her son into Kenosha the night of the shooting, Kyle had actually worked as a lifeguard in Wisconsin the day before and then stayed with a friend overnight.

The next day, he and his friend cleaned up graffiti in the morning before making their way into the area that had been stricken by violence and riots over thetwo previous nights. There, they encountered a business owner who was desperate to ensure his business was safe, Pierce said, joined by Wendy.

A former or current employee, who happens to be friends of Kyle and his friend, desperately wanted to help protecting what was left, Pierce said, later adding:And of course, he had a firearm with him because otherwise he would have been killed.

Wendy Rittenhouse, 45,and Pierce insisted the gun belonged to a friend and was not Kyles. They said it was never kept at their Antioch home and Kyle only ever used the gun in Wisconsin, Pierce added.

I did not drive Kyle. I did not give Kyle that gun and people want to assume that, she said, They're wrong. I did not drive my son to Kenosha that night.

The charges against Rittenhouse stem from a series of alleged shootings on the night of Aug. 25, when Rittenhouse was in Kenosha with a friend and told the Daily Callers Richie McGinniss he was there that night to protect a business that he was seen standing near, and also to help people.

If theres somebody hurt, Im running into harms way," he toldMcGinniss."Thats why I have my rifle because I need to protect, obviously, but I also have my med kit.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and 26-year-old Anthony Huber died as a result of the shooting. Gaige Grosskreutz, who was allegedly holding a handgun at the time, was wounded but survived.

The criminal complaint pertaining to Rittenhouses arrest, which was shared online, details how several cell phone videos show Rittenhouse running southwest across the eastern portion of the Car Source parking lot holding a long gun. Rosenbaum, who was not armed, is seen on video trailing behind him and then throwing an object later identified as a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, the complaint states.

The defendant and Rosenbaum continue to move across the parking lot and approach the front of a black car parked in the lot, a second video shows, according to the complaint. A loud bang is heard on the video, then a male shouts, F--- you!, then Rosenbaum appears to continue to approach the defendant and gets in near proximity to the defendant when 4 more loud banks are heard. Rosenbaum then falls to the ground.

Rittenhouse then approached Rosenbaum before turning and running away, telling someone on the phone, I just killed somebody, the complaint states. Third and fourth videos show Rittenhouse running after he allegedly shot Rosenbaum, as people running after him can be heard yelling, Hey, he shot him! and Beat him up! and Get him!, the complaint states.


Then a male in a light-colored top runs towards and the defendant and appears to swing at the defendant with his right arm, the complaint states. This swing makes contact with the defendant, knocking his hat off. The defendant continues to run.

But when Rittenhouse trips and falls, a man jumps at and over him, at which point Rittenhouse allegedly fires two shots, but does not appear to strike the man, police said.

The complaint alleges that Huber, who is holding a skateboard, then approaches Rittenhouse who is still on the ground, on his back.

When Huber gets to Rittenhouse, it appears that he is reaching for the defendants gun with his left hand as the skateboard makes contact with the defendants left shoulder, the complaint states, adding that it appears Huber is trying to take the gun, which is pointed at his body.

Rittenhouse then fires one round which can be heard on the video, the complaint states. Huber staggers away, taking several steps, then collapses to the ground.

The teen then allegedly sat up and pointed his gun at Grosskreutz, who had put his hands in the air when he said Huber had been shot. But when Grosskreutz advanced toward Rittenhouse holding what appeared to be a handgun, Rittenhouse fired a single shot, striking him in the right arm.

Rittenhouses attorneys said the teen tried multiple times to surrender to Kenosha authorities before ultimately opting to return home.

Wendy Rittenhouse told Fox News she had no idea her son would be attending the protest and found out when she texted him late Tuesday.

He got back ... to me and said, 'I'm okay and doing medics.' I'm like, 'What?' she recalled. She said she woke up shortly thereafter with the feeling that something was wrong. She soon got word that something had happened in Kenosha, though details were unclear, she said.


I had to find my son, and his sister was calling everybody, she said. I'm like, we have to go somewhere to find him.

Wendy, a single mom who also hastwo daughters one younger and one older than Kyle left her apartment and drove into Kenosha to try to find Kyle or his friend, looking for his friends car which she said she would have recognized.But she stayed in the Green Bay area and Highway 50, away from the riot scene, she said.

When I got back home, he was already there, she said. All I did was hug him, tell him I love him. He was crying. He was pale.

Rittenhouse went to turn himself in to Antioch Police within 20 to 30 minutes later, she said.

Wendy said she gave her son permission to learn how to use the gun with his friend in Illinois

Kyle Rittenhouse and his mother, Wendy (Photo courtesy Pierce Bainbridge)

In the weeks since the Aug. 25 shooting, Wendy Rittenhouse said she has tried to watch the full footage of the attack.

I get to the point where the first guy was chasing him to the gas station And I see this mob chasing my son. The guy hitting my son in the head with a skateboard, she said, often sounding as if shes holding back tears. Looking at my son's face ... I just cry, I was sick to my stomach. This mob was chasing my son to try to kill him.

From her knowledge, Wendy said her son had never previously served as a medic at demonstrations. She said she had given Rittenhouse permission to learn how to use the gun at his friend's home in Illinois and added:"If he didn't have that gun, he would've been dead."

She and Pierce vehemently rejected any notion that Rittenhouse was a member of a white supremacy or militia group.

Wendy has since taken a leave of absence from her job at a local nursing home. She and her daughters have relocatedto an undisclosed location, she said, explaining that she no longer felt safe at home.

We cant even go back home. We don't even have a home because the fear of them breaking in my house, killing my daughters, killing me, and if Kyle was there, to kill him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nick Cordero’s Wife Says His COVID-19 Recovery Is ‘Going in the Right Direction’ –

Posted: June 10, 2020 at 8:49 am

Nick Cordero's wife, Amanda Kloots, shared a hopeful update on her husband's condition as he continues to recover from his battle with COVID-19 and related complications.

In a series of videos posted to her Instagram stories on Sunday, Amanda said, "S0 I think this weekend was a good weekend, it was uneventful. Which, uneventful in the ICU is a good weekend. I think he had a weekend of rest, a weekend of growing, strength in his body and recovering a little bit."

"Not too many changes were made, which is also a good sign, but one really good sign is his white blood count number is way down," she continued. "So it has been as high as 65,000; we are now at 30,000. A frame of reference: a normal healthy person is around 15-20,000, even lower sometimes. So 30,000 is a great sign that things are moving in the right direction."

The Tony Award-nominated Broadway actor has been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for more than two months after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Amanda's optimistic update comes almost a month after her husband woke up from a medically-induced coma and almost two months after he had his right leg amputated due to blood-clotting complications from the virus.

Nick, who is also known for his recurring roles on Blue Bloods and Law & Order: SVU, has started stem cell treatment to help his recovery, Amanda shared in another recent Instagram story.

"This could be really great ... Even if it just bridges us to the next level in healing for him," she said on Friday.

Amanda ended her weekend Instagram stories on a positive note, saying, "I don't know why I just have a really good feeling about this week, so I'm just gonna keep praying for our miracles and keep praying for that healing and God is with us ... Love you!"

We are also praying for Nick's full recovery and wishing him and his family all the best during this difficult time.

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Ocular Technologies, a startup developing telemedical solutions to improve access to eye care, wins the 2020 MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition -…

Posted: May 29, 2020 at 9:52 am

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ --Ocular Technologies, a startup that has developed a device-enabled telemedicine platform powered by machine learning to improve accessibility to eye care,beat out seven finalists to win the Robert P. Goldberg $100,000 grand prize at theMIT $100K EntrepreneurshipLaunch Finale held virtually for the first time in the Competition's 31-year history.

New this year was a $50K Launch Runner-Up Prize awarded to AgZen, whose field-tested spray and formulation technology allows reductionofpesticide usage by 50%.

The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition remains an economic barometer for sectors of innovation that are receiving funding by venture capitalists. To date, the MIT $100K has facilitated the birth of more than 160 companies, which have gone on to raise $1.3 billion in venture capital and build $16 billion in market capitalization. More than 30 MIT $100K startups have been acquired by major companies, such as Oracle, Cisco, 3M, and Merck. Over 4,600 people are currently employed by MIT $100K companies. Recent IPOs include Akamai (AKAM) and Hubspot (HUBS).

According to the CDC and private payers, patients present with nearly 100 million eye conditions each year across the United States with only 19,000 ophthalmologists to address them. One recent studyfinds that the average wait time in the U.S. for the first available ophthalmologist appointment averages 24 days. This results in eight million patients who cannot access same-day care with an eye doctor and instead resort to visiting emergency rooms or urgent care centers. Unfortunately, both facilities often lack the tools and expertise to properly address eye conditions. Several other studies show that over 40% of eye diagnoses made at these facilities are inaccurate and can lead to improper treatment. That's three million people who risk vision loss and worsened pain.

In response, Ocular Technologies is developing a device-enabled telemedicine platform powered by machine learning algorithms to transform patient accessibility to high quality eye care by capturing high magnification videos of anterior segment exams that enable ophthalmologists to make a diagnosis remotely.

Team members are:

Brett Sternfield, co-founder,MIT Sloan MBA2020. Sternfield earned a BS and MS from the University of Rochester in Biomedical and Optical Engineering. His father's vision issues inspired him to build solutions for eye care aimed at improving vision.

Zona Liu, co-founder,MIT Sloan MBA 2020. Prior to MIT Sloan, she spent five years withGoldman Sachs' strategic investment team and wasthedirector of business development at SOSV, one of the most activeearly stage VCs.

Grayson W. Armstrong, MD, MPH, co-founder. Dr. Armstrong currently serves as the Chief Resident in Ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye & Ear / Harvard Medical School and on the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the United States. Starting in July, he will be undertaking a one-year fellowship in tele-ophthalmology at Harvard.

A panel of judges chose Ocular Technologies based on value creation, value capture, and technological differentiation.

New this year was a $50K Runner-Up Prize awarded to the startup AgZen. Studies by Oxford Universityfound that on average less than 2% of sprayed pesticide reaches its intended target. This inefficiency forces over-spraying, which results in the pollution of soil, water sources and the atmosphere, leading to two hundred thousand deaths every year according to the United Nations. AgZen's field-tested spray and formulation technology allows reduction of pesticide usage by 50%. Pesticides have a market size of $60 billion globally, and $15 billion in the U.S. Based on AgZen's business model, the total addressable market is $9 billion.

The six remaining finalists include:

GC Therapeutics (GCTx)is developing the next generation of cell therapies, a market on track to be worth $55 billion by 2024. GCTx uses synthetic biology to program patient-derived stem cells into any differentiated cell-type with best-in-class efficiency (10x), speed (100x) and scalability. Leveraging this breakthrough process, their team can program additional cellular features and go beyond simply replacing damaged cells, thereby introducing their new concept of 'SuperCell Therapy' to allow the tailoring of cells to specific clinical indications.

Harmony DesalThe dominant technology in desalination today is reverse osmosis (RO.) While RO is trusted and proven, it is also energy intensive. Harmony Desal's technologybatch reverse osmosisis the most energy-efficient RO configuration. In batch RO, a time-varying pressure tracks the osmotic pressure to increase water recovery while consuming less energy. More than $30 billion dollars is estimated to be invested in seawater desalination over the next five years. Batch RO has been proven at the bench-scale (TRL: 4.5) and is ready to move from the lab and into the market.

Hikma HealthHealthcare delivery for displaced populations is fragmented, uncoordinated, and under-resourced. Hikma Health, launched with the support of the MIT Media Lab Refugee Learning Accelerator, createscustom health data management systems for partner organizations around the globe that provide free healthcare to millions of refugees to improve their patient outcomes. Hikma Health's end-to-end integrated platform is specifically designed to fit the needs of under-resourced settings, includingmultilingual functionality and online-offline syncing. Leveraging cutting edge technologies, they create personalized predictive models, and empower physicians and care providers with the data they need to improve outcomes for their patients with chronic conditions.

Le Qarahas bioengineered a new vegan, eco-friendly bioleather by changing its texture, thickness and flexibility, allowing them to replicate any type of leather or create new ones. Le Qara bioleather has the same breathability because, like animal leather, it comes from alive microorganisms.It is not only biodegradablethe residues from the process can be used as a liquid compost, making it a process that generates no waste. La Qara's aim is to disrupt the leather industry.

Spatio Metricsis a B2B software company that creates rich spatial datasets to capture qualitative design characteristics. Their first product analyzes hospital floor plans to reveal how facility design choices can improve quality of care, operational efficiency, and wellbeing. Their visualizations and machine learning insights support hospitals and their architects during the design process to save time, money, and most importantly, lives.

ThiozenHydrogen produced by fossil fuel reformingwhich comprises 96% of total productioncontributes to 2,3% of global warming emissions. Thiozen has invented a patented process to generate hydrogen that is 20% less expensive and 75% less carbon intense than current methods used in oil and gas. As an illustration, their process would save the average US refinery $9.6 million each year while avoiding 60,000 tons of CO2 emissions, roughly 20% of a refinery's annual carbon footprint.

This year's keynote speaker was Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe, who was interviewed in a Fireside Chat format.

"Even more than the big checks for our winners, the greatest value the $100K creates for competitors is a platform to share their ideas with the world," says Christian Mirabile, MIT Sloan MBA 2021, one of the $100K Competition organizers. "A lot of their early growth comes from live interaction building connections with mentors, potential investors, and future users. We were unsure we would be able to replicate that buzzing atmosphere through a virtual event. But once we heard from our competitors, how they were working harder than ever on their startups, we knew we had to do our part and give them the best platform possible to launch their ventures."

To watch the MIT $100K EntrepreneurshipLaunch Finale, please

Since its debut as the MIT $10K Entrepreneurship Competition in 1989, it has grown to include three independent contests Pitch, Accelerate, and Launch from September through May. Each contest focuses on developing specific founding skills. For each semi-finalist contender, the MIT $100K brings together a network of resources that includes mentorship from venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and attorneys; media exposure; prototyping funds; business plan feedback; and discounted services. Altogether, almost $1M in non-dilutive prize money and other financial resources are awarded to help these new ventures accelerate.

For further information, contact:

Paul Denning


Patricia Favreau

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Michael Hiltzik: Don’t be taken in by stem cell firms offering unsubstantiated therapies for COVID-19 – Rome News-Tribune

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 7:41 pm

If you think this can help you, Austin Wolff said earnestly into the camera, its worth a shot .It can only help.

Wolff was speaking on a YouTube video produced for the Novus Center, a Studio City business run by his mother, Stephanie, selling stem cell-related products said to treat chronic pain, sexual performance issues and the effects of aging.

In recent weeks, Novus has begun directing its pitch at potential customers fearful about the effects of the novel coronavirus, implying that its stem cell exosome vapor the supplies for which can be shipped overnight to customers homes can improve lung strength, the immune system and ward off viruses and disease. (Exosomes are a form of cellular secretion.)

These are opportunistic businesses, and COVID-19 for them is an opportunity.

Novus videos bristle with formal disclaimers. Its not going to cure anything, Austin Wolff says on one video. You should only do this if you want to try it.

But the videos seem aimed at viewers desperate for any possible defense against a pandemic whose implacable spread seem to grow more frightening with every passing day.

Novus charges $10,000 for the shipment of vials containing the exosomes and nebulizing equipment. Stephanie Wolff says the business, which has been open for four years, has served about a dozen customers worried about COVID-19 in the last month or two.

Promoters of untested and unlicensed stem cell treatments have jumped into the coronavirus market with both feet, says Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota who has been tracking the spread of clinics pitching these treatments to consumers for years.

The direct-to-consumer clinics have pivoted their marketing message to treating or preventing COVID-19, Turner told me. Thats not really shocking, in a way; these are opportunistic businesses, and COVID-19 for them is an opportunity.

In a paper scheduled to be published shortly in the prestigious journal Cell Stem Cell, Turner examines how these businesses are preying on public fears and anxieties about the pandemic.

Typically, their claims fall short of actually promising cures or even specific treatments; that holds at bay the Food and Drug Administration, which has sought to shut down clinics offering unproven therapies for conditions such as Alzheimers, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and erectile dysfunction.

Some use the language of immune booster or preventive intervention, Turner says. Theyre not trying to treat somebody whos in an ICU bed. Its more the worried well theyre going after people who are anxious, fearful of the pandemic, and susceptible to claims that a stem cell procedure will reduce their chance of becoming infected.

These treatments can come with a healthy price tag, ranging hundreds to thousands of dollars. But they run up against one indisputable fact: There are no approved stem cell treatments for COVID-19.

Those are the words of Martin F. Pera, a leading stem cell researcher who is editor-in-chief of Stem Cell Reports, the open-access journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. The society issued a stern warning March 6 against claims that stem cells can be used to treat people infected with COVID-19.

As for the products sold by Novus, the FDA warned consumers in December that there are currently no FDA-approved exosome products. The agency stated that certain clinics across the country offering such products to patients deceive patients with unsubstantiated claims about the potential for these products to prevent, treat or cure various diseases or conditions.

Weve reported for years on the proliferation of clinics selling purported therapies based on stem cell injections costing as much as $15,000 each.

These treatments arent supported by scientific research, typically arent covered by insurance, and have been targets of an FDA crackdown. (Turner did groundbreaking work with UC Davis biologist Paul Knoepfler in 2016, sounding the alarm about the spread of these clinics.)

In early April, the FDA sent letters to two stem cell firms, Dynamic Stem Cell Therapy of Henderson, Nev., and Kimera Labs of Miramar, Fla., that it said had been marketing their products for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 and warning them that any such products would have to meet regulatory standards for drugs. But the agency didnt explicitly threaten them with legal consequences. Kimera is the supplier of exosomes to Novus.

Frightened laypersons arent the only targets of claims for cellular treatments for COVID-19. So are decision-makers and government regulators.

The FDA came under fire in March when it issued an emergency use authorization to allow the prescribing of two antimalarial drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, for COVID-19 patients. The action came after President Trump had been relentlessly promoting the drugs as potential game changers in the battle against COVID-19.

Less than a month later, the FDA issued a warning against using the drugs against COVID-19 because of reports of serious heart problems in COVID-19 patients who had taken them, as well as the absence of evidence that they were safe and effective for treating the disease.

It wouldnt be surprising to see more companies and clinics showing up in the media and on cable television hawking unsubstantiated stem cell treatments for COVID-19. On May 4, the San Diego stem cell firm Giostar issued a news release asserting that it had received approval for a COVID-19 clinical trial using stem cells to treat COVID-19 patients, under the approval of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded access for compassionate use program.

Is this plausible? Weve reported before that Giostar had made untrue claims about its scientific connections: Several legitimate stem cell scientists the firm listed as members of its scientific advisory board said they had no connection with Giostar and had repeatedly asked that their names be removed from its website. The company has also acknowledged that it had exaggerated the professional credentials of its co-founder and chairman, Anand Srivastava.

Giostars claim in its news release that it would conduct the clinical trial under the FDAs expanded access for compassionate use program is curious. That program, which allows doctors to prescribe unapproved drugs as a last resort for people suffering from life-threatening diseases with no established cure, covers patients for whom enrollment in a clinical trial is not possible.

In other words, there doesnt seem to be such a thing as a clinical trial conducted subject to the expanded access program.

Giostar didnt respond to our request for comment. The FDA would say only that it generally cannot disclose information about an unapproved application, which certainly suggests that Giostar hasnt won the approval it claims.

In the frenzied search for COVID-19 treatments, it may be difficult to distinguish promising efforts from those just grasping at the main chance.

What we have right now is a COVID-19 gold rush, Turner says. Businesses are seeing this as a terrific opportunity to get their applications for investigative new drug trials approved by the FDA a process that can take years and generally requires the submission of extensive evidence from lab and animal studies.

The direct-to-consumer pitches by clinics reviewed in Turners paper typically fuse pseudoscience, which is what theyre offering, with more credible forms of science. He found numerous references in these pitches to research from China, often of doubtful scientific significance.

A Pennsylvania clinic offering stem cell treatment to support lung health during COVID-19, for example, cited a report from a Beijing hospital where seven patients were injected with stem cells all saw significant improvement in COVID-19 related pneumonia, according to the clinics press news . It quoted its CEO stating, This goes to support the wide range of healing and restoration that can be provided by (stem cell) therapy.

However, as Turner observes, the report didnt specify the severity of the subjects pneumonia, the source of the stem cells, or results from a control group. At best you can say that no one seemed to be harmed, but its hard to draw any firm conclusions about efficacy.

The Novus Center hangs its pitch on what Stephanie Wolff describes as a study thats ongoing in China right now using exosomes to help with viral load, to help with inflammation of the lung, to help with pneumonia, to help with infection.

The reference, however, is to a clinical trial in Wuhan that had not even begun to recruit test subjects at the time of its latest public report, which is dated Feb. 25. The researchers didnt expect their trial to be completed until July 31.

As weve written before, the proliferation of stem cell clinics selling untested and unlicensed therapies has been a public health crisis for years. The COVID-19 pandemic will only deepen the crisis as clinics add the coronavirus to their menu of treatment claims.

Despite its crackdown campaign, the FDA has never taken strong enough action against this corner of the healthcare industry. It should act without delay to shut down opportunistic initiatives, or more innocent Americans will find their health, and their pocketbooks, at ever greater risk.

2020 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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The Shows Delayed, but Theyre Still Keeping Company – The New York Times

Posted: at 7:41 pm

The revival of Company was in previews and 10 days from opening when Broadway shut down. And opening night was meant to be especially special, timed to the 90th birthday of the musicals composer Stephen Sondheim. Soon after, the shows director, Marianne Elliott, returned to her husband and producing partner, Nick Sidi, and their daughter in London, while one of its stars, Patti LuPone, headed to the Connecticut home she shares with her husband, Matthew Johnston, and their son.

Prompted by The New York Times, they agreed to share their email exchanges during those first weeks, a conversation that touched on plans for the show and for Elliott & Harper, its production company (optimistic); their respective nations leaders (pessimistic); a former colleagues health (worrisome); and how family, friends and members of the current cast, including Katrina Lenk, were keeping in touch (Zoom parties). An edited selection of their emails follows, with Elliott kicking things off the day after the canceled opening night.

My dear friend,

Its amazing, isnt it, how ones life is now recalibrated. All things I took for granted are now long-lost treasures.

Ive been clearing everything in this house, ready for God knows what, but its easier than sitting at a desk and doing concentrated work. I like a pair of yellow rubber gloves, and I love to throw things into the rubbish heap. So theres truly satisfaction of sorts here. And it channels my energies. But it also means Ive been going through old drawers of long-kept items or piles of faded photos even from my 20s and looking at how young and happy we looked.

I had to throw out Eves school uniform the other day. As she had her last day of school on Friday. Shes been there since she was four! I found myself burying my head and sobbing into an old skirt of hers. That uniform that always went missing, nobody liked, was thrown into heaps every day as she entered the house, that never seemed very durable, was usually hitched way too high up her legs, and was far too expensive for its own good. And yet there I was, crying over it as though it was born from my very own limbs.

Yesterday was tough, wasnt it? Im truly not sentimental about shows, and certainly not about opening nights because they are usually so pressurized about other things. But I really, really, and, yes, really missed ours yesterday. It felt like a huge hole. And all that publicity for Sondheims birthday was wonderful on one level, but kind of bleak on another, because Elliott & Harper had been working so hard to make sure we could be open on that very day, with Steve with us all celebrating!

However, the sun is shining here in England. So Im feeling hopeful.

Nick and [co-producer] Chris are working like buzzing bees, trying to decipher what is to happen to our work force, our employees, our future shows, most of which are probably going by the wayside. Though we are fighting tooth and nail to keep our staff. The government is offering help, but its vague how much and when. Its hard not to catastrophize when you hear some of the stories out there. Some being very gloomy about the future of theater at all.

But the one thing we all agree on, and that we all KNOW, is that by hook or by crook Company is coming back! We need it, we love it, the theater community needs it, and New York needs its story. Theater has always been and will always be vital. We humans are creatures that survive as a togetherness. And we need stories to make sense of things.

I look forward to that moment with all of my being. And I look forward to being in a room with you again Patti, to be sharing a G & T and to be screaming with laughter over some silly thing or other.

It seems far away now, but its only round the corner really!

Until then

Keep bleaching!

Love you so much


That was quite a missive. You put down the rubber gloves and wrote a monologue!

Its so wacky and disjointed and at the same time kind of wonderful to be home with our loved ones and really grasping time. Whoever has the time to really understand time in the fullness of the word? My problem is structure. I want to be very disciplined, but I cant figure out how to structure the time. Im cleaning house like you, but I do that a lot. Im the Delete Queen. I actually threw out the elusive, desperately needed mask only a month ago. I have no idea why I had a box of them, but I looked at them and tossed them in the bin. Well done, Patti! Now I go to the market looking like a madwoman with scarves wrapped around my nose and mouth with fogged-up glasses.

I wonder if well come back. The uncertainty is the killer. I went through the polio scare, but there was a plan in place! I can still see the vaccination administered in my arm in the gymnasium of the elementary school. We had to suck on pink sugar cubes or Im making the whole thing up.

I think about you every day. Stay safe, healthy, warm, and know you are LOVED by so many of us.


Hi P,

Gosh, it was good to see your face last night. And everyones. Poignant too, because you all felt so near via Zoom, and yet, you werent!

What a bunch of gorgeous people, our cast of Company. And how bonded we all seem. Now more than ever. Everyone cheery and happy to be connected again. It was three weeks to the day of our last performance, did you know that? Feels more like three years, doesnt it?

But the quirks that everyone displayed in just their little close-ups: Jen [Simard] and her gratefulness, Etai [Benson] with his dry humor, Matt [Doyle] recovering from Covid but actually looking more like George Michael every day, Chris [Sieber] dressed up in his beautiful blazer for our cocktail party, Chris [Fitzgerald] with his sons Trump impressions. Amazing.

And then there was you, dancing at the jukebox. Oh, and then mooning at us all! Brilliant. Not a dry eye in the house! You were always the very soul of the party and Zoom, Im so happy to learn, has lessened none of that!

By the way, have you got Judy Garlands Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries on that old jukebox? I was listening to it this morning (regarding another project I might do when and if I ever get out of this house!), and I thought Id love to hear you sing it! Go on give me a rendition. Your Twitter feed would go mad!!

I heard, two days ago, of a good friend of mine in dire straits in a New Jersey hospital. Hes been there a few weeks. Still on a ventilator. That made my head spin, and I took myself to bed and started visualizing him well and happy and going for dinner and a good big drink, of course, with me in some packed restaurant in the future.

I feel pretty lucky, though. Were safe and together here in the house. My sister had it pretty bad (and did get the test), but shes bounced right back. But I feel sorry for Eve, my teenager, the most. I think shes picking up more than she shows actually. But she mostly doesnt watch the news. Who can blame her?

However, shes getting Nick and I doing Tic Tok (Im too old to know the right blinking spelling) challenges to our neighbors across the road. Ill learn to body-pop yet!!

Im trying to run most days, while were still allowed. And I do a Pilates session and arm exercises (with lots of serious swearing I turn the air blue!) most days too. I tell you, I shall come out of this looking young and beautiful and with incredibly sculpted arms. And watch me wear that opening night dress! Come on!

Keep safe my lovely friend,

And Ill see you on the other side!

Meantime, heres a photo of you and Katrina in our show. Glorious!

PS: How is that Katrina STILL looks beautiful on Zoom and with no [expletive] make up!!?! Ugh.


The Zoom cocktail party left me drunk on my ass. Matt said I was shout-singing Blue Moon in bed. I think its just the release. Our collective energy shot through those funny little boxes.

We are all doing our best to be positive, mentally and emotionally. I think, I hope, we find a way to blow back all the negative energy in the world. This reset is good. Its forcing us to slow down, reflect, look out and see, really see, whats in front of us. Im continually fascinated with the birds, squirrels and chipmunks at our bird feeder. The birds are singing and nesting, the squirrels are demanding more peanuts. Theyre so bold as to come to the door, raise up on their hind legs, peer in the glass imploring Farmer Matt to FEED ME!

I feel for Eve. For all the youth in the world. What have we left them?

Im trying to remember 16 years old, in my high school on Long Island. There were those of us in the music department in joyous harmony with our teachers, our various choruses, our instruments, our summer band retreat with a high school from another county (a different set of boys in my case ). We were the outcasts, the oddballs, the bohemians.

Ill bet that division still exists. Its prevalent in our society as adults. The arts are superfluous. I am always made to feel like a third-class citizen in this country. They are NOT superfluous. They are an inherent human right. Games and storytelling have been our lifes force for as long as theyve been writing on walls. Eve will have a story to tell, a story shell tell her children who I hope will have a more peaceful Mother Earth.

We must get rid of the current politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. We are stuck with a clown and his clown car of clowns. And while Im raging, there has to be term limits for Supreme and federal court judges, the generals in the war room and Broadway musicals.

Sending you dear friend BIG LOVE.

Your pal, Patti

Hi P!

That article you sent from the NY Times was amazing: Come Back, New York, All Is Forgiven. Thank you. It sums up just exactly what I feel about that splendid city. It made me grieve for that beautiful volcano of craziness and brilliance. Well now, what to report in this weird cave of an existence over here?

Boris Johnson seems to be out of hospital. But dont ask me whos running the country. Our press conferences sort of lack a leader and a driver. They are dry, boring, staid affairs. And the same things get repeated and repeated: Not enough tests! Not enough protective equipment for our health workers! It kind of drives you mad after a while.

My friend who has been on a ventilator for nearly four weeks now is part of a very new drug trial, Pluristem. Hes just gone on it, and hes making the news! The new drug is a sort of stem-cell therapy. It comes from placentas! Can you believe it?

Hes doing well! Its literally Day Two on the drug, but he had a few hours yesterday off the ventilator and breathing himself! Im praying. Every time I go jogging, I fill my lungs as I run, as though I was teaching him how to breathe again. I dunno. Anything. Im trying anything. Ridiculous, but what can you do?

We still watch movies most nights, which is highly educational for all of us! And we look forward to it each day. Although we realized the other night that the dog had pissed on the sofa. It slowly started to seep into Nicks trousers during Whats Eating Gilbert Grape. In the morning I took the cushions outside to properly clean and realized that clearly the dog had been using the sofa as a toilet for some time. It was full of stains! I wonder, if there had been no quarantine, we would have EVER discovered this?

So maybe this is a metaphor for unearthing what was always beneath the surface? Well all emerge from this cleansed and illuminated. Ha! Or Im just looking for meaning and stories in every little thing? Directing and analyzing the text as ever!

Dearest Marianne,

I just reread your email. You are eternal sunshine. Im a black cloud. Its harder and harder to maintain equilibrium.

Im loving Madame Bovary, but I find my mind scanning, not absorbing, Lydia Daviss beautiful translation (a quarantine gift from my dear friend Jeffrey Lane. When you return you must come to Salon de Jeff. Hes a monster cook, and his dinner parties are Bacchanalian events.)

I cant watch any more videos, because its just too late at night, even though its only 8 p.m. The daytime seems to slip through my fingers, and Ive done next to nothing. I dont mean for this to sound like a bitch fest. I think Im verbalizing my anxiety. Im sorry.

The one great treasure for me is being somewhere to really experience the blossoming of spring. The birds are in full cacophony, occasionally full harmony. The squirrels are demanding and trusting. The bear woke up and destroyed our bird feeder. Its all glorious nature. Virus? What virus?

Its Sunday. What will I do? I think I shall drive to Farmer Randy, get the best eggs in the Western Hemisphere and attempt a souffl. I had a moral dilemma. Randy is a BIG TIME Trump supporter. There were signs all over his barn. What to do? Boycott his eggs? I just couldnt. Theyre too damn delicious.

Its time for me to get out of bed. I wake up early, very early. Ill attempt to change my attitude today and make something of myself. But what will it end up being? A restless, unfocused energy? Or maybe a pensive, dreamy organism? Or maybe a housewife dusting?

Dear pal o mine, I wish you sanity, safety, health and peace.

Your loving friend,


Hi Patti,

I have to tell you that my friend, the one that was on the ventilator for FIVE weeks, has made an amazing recovery. You may know him, Eddie Pierce? He codesigned my set of Angels in America on Broadway. Such an amazing guy and so talented. Younger than me and no complicated health circumstances that I know of. Anyway, hed been through so much in hospital, was sedated most of the time, caught other infections while in hospital, and they even thought at one time that hed had a stroke! It was not looking good, P.

Well, he came home yesterday! His wife sent a video of him leaving the hospital. With all the staff, standing in awe, clapping as he left the front entrance, and his children running to hug him. Then there was another video of his friends welcoming him arriving at the house. It was incredible. They had gathered in their cars, in a nearby parking lot, and then PROCESSED together down his street, honking their horns. They couldnt get out, obviously, so they held out huge, homemade, colored signs to be read as they passed. Some had painted their cars, some had got dressed up in fancy dress, some stood on their car doors. It was like watching a carnival.

Hell need a bit of physio, but otherwise hes totally on the mend. Seems like a miracle. Things that you cant believe can ever come about can indeed occur. Keep the faith.

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