Certain breakthroughs always seem just out of scientists’ reach.
Warp drive. Scalable fusion reactors.
And, of course, a male birth control pill.
This week, yet another team of researchers raised the hopes of reproductively responsible men everywhere claiming they’d developed a safe and effective once-a-day male birth control pill.
However, guys shouldn’t toss their condoms just yet. While this drug seems promising, it’s still a long way from the local pharmacy.
Stephanie Page, a professor of medicine at the University of Washington, presented her team’s research into the male birth control pill, called dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in Chicago.
Once a day, for 28 days, each of the 100 men between age 18 and 50 ingested either a placebo or DMAU in one of three doses. On the first and last days of the study, each man gave blood samples so the researchers could determine his hormone and cholesterol levels.
According to the study, the men who took the highest dose, 400 mg, showed a “marked suppression” of testosterone levels, as well as the levels of two hormones needed to produce sperm. The researchers claim these hormone responses are “consistent with effective contraception.” That is, it would probably work as birth control.
Every subject in the trial passed all safety tests, and very few reported any symptoms traditionally linked to too much or too little testosterone, Page said in a press release. They had problems with sexual function and no mood changes, either, she noted during the presentation.
However, each man taking DMAU did gain weight and had lower levels of HDL cholesterol (that’s the “good” kind).
This isn’t the first experimental male contraceptive to have these side effects. Typically, drugs like these have two major problems: the oral testosterone they contain damages the liver, and the drugs leave the body too quickly — men would need to take the pills at least twice a day for them to be effective.
DMAU actually addresses those issues. To the first point: the dimethandrolone in DMAU is a testosterone modified to eliminate liver toxicity. And the second: the long-chain fatty acid undecanoate ensures the drug stays in the user’s system for a full 24 hours.
So, that’s the good news. The bad news is this was a super small study. 100 men, reduced to 83 by the end of the brief 28 days of the study, is hardly grounds for an FDA approval. Still, Page claims the team is currently conducting longer-term DMAU studies.
Even more reason to take the findings with a grain of salt: the team’s research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Until other members of the scientific community have a chance to pick apart the study and verify its methods and conclusions, DMAU will remain just another in the long list of potential male birth control pills.
The post Scientists Claim They’ve Developed a Male Birth Control Pill — Again appeared first on Futurism.
In a promotional interview published on the iOS App Store, the one of the creators of MoviePass — a subscription service that lets people see a 2D movie every day — suggested that the Apple iPhone and mobile apps in general were instrumental in getting it off the ground.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News
Long live Steve Jobs and his immortal legacy! No words can truly describe the success story and incredible achievements of the charismatic former Apple CEO. On Steve Jobs’ 63rd birth anniversary, we would like to take a glimpse of some of the most inspirational quotes of the inventor and the visionary leader—who had once brought Apple from the brink of virtual death!
One of my favorite Steve Jobs’ quote is “All I ask is that today, you do the best work of your entire life.” It compels you to put your best foot forward to have the desired result.
Most Famous Quotes of Steve Jobs
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”
I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”
That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.”
“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
We’re just enthusiastic about what we do.”
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
“What is Apple, after all? Apple is about people who think ‘outside the box,’ people who want to use computers to help them change the world, to help them create things that make a difference, and not just to get a job done.”
“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.”
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
“I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.”
“Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $ 100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.”
“My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts.”
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
“Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
“I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address
Among a number of memorable Steve Jobs’ speeches, the one that has touched my heart the most is Stanford Commencement Address. It’s such a wonderful speech that offers a great insight into the life of the iconic leader.
Which is your favorite quote from the legend? Do let us know that in the comments.
While contraceptives available today certainly have limitations, there are far more options available to women than there are to men. Now, a possible solution to this shortage of male birth control options has emerged from a rather unexpected source: a heart-stopping poison daubed on arrows as far back as the 3rd century BC by hunters and warriors in Eastern Africa.
Let that sink in a minute while we take a tour of what’s currently on the market.
Birth control methods can be separated into two broad categories: hormonal and non-hormonal. Methods like the pill tinker with hormones to prevent pregnancy. While these methods usually work pretty well, they can cause a host of side effects: everything from weight gain to an increased risk of developing blood clots. Yes, your birth control can kill you.
On the other hand, non-hormonal options, such as condoms or the diaphragm, don’t come with those scary side effects. They are, however, not always convenient, or available, and how well they work largely depends on whether or not they’re being used consistently — and correctly.
The options for women may not be overwhelmingly great, but they have more of them. There are currently just two contraceptive options for men: condoms or a vasectomy. That could be soon to change, though, because there are a few hormonal options in development — one of which has reached clinical trials.
It’s not the one with the poison arrows, however.
That potential option is the brainchild of a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota. The team has been researching a non-hormonal alternative that would work by making it more difficult for sperm to move or swim. After all, sperm can’t fertilize an egg unless they can get to it.
How are they obstructing the sperm’s mission, you ask? A toxic substance found in African plants known as ouabain. Believe it or not, many mammals actually produce the substance naturally (albeit in very low qualities) and scientists think it plays a role in regulating blood pressure. In fact, doctors sometimes give the substance in very small doses to patients who have heart arrhythmias.
Ouabain works well as a poison because it interferes with protein subunits in the heart that transport ions. Your heart beats because of electrical impulses — and if you recall your high school chemistry class, it’s those electrically-charged ions that tell your heart when to contract. Messing with those ions, then, is a cardiac disaster in the making.
What does this heart-stopping poison have to do with sperm, then? The researchers also found that ouabain can interrupt the work of another subunit — transporter subunit α4 — which is only found in one place: mature sperm cells.
The challenge for the team over the last ten years of their research was to find a way to use a derivative of ouabain that would only hone in on those sperm cells, sparing the heart in the process. The other consideration was permanency: what the team figured out was that since ouabain only effects mature sperm cells when its used to inhibit their movement, the effect shouldn’t last forever. In fact, it should be completely reversible because any new sperm cells that are produced once treatment has been stopped should develop normally.
So far, they’ve tested their idea in the lab using rats and found that the derivative they created did make it harder for sperm to move and didn’t have a toxic effect on the heart. The hope now is that this research will lay the necessary groundwork for developing the ouabain derivative into a safe and effective form of male birth control. And, since it doesn’t affect hormones, it may be an option free from the unpleasant side effects often experienced with many current options.
The team will now be moving into the next phase of research: proving that using a 2,000-year-old poison to make it harder for sperm to swim upstream is actually effective at preventing pregnancy. While using an ancient poison to slow-mo the little swimmers is cool, if it turns out they can still lumber their way to an egg and fertilize it, then touting it as a birth control method might be a tad premature.
The post The Future of Male Birth Control: A 2,000 Year Old Poison? appeared first on Futurism.
Not Out of Nowhere
The life expectancy at birth for Americans has dropped for the second consecutive year, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average lifespan as of 2016 is 78.6 years, down 0.1 years from 2015. This marks the first time it has decreased for two years in a row since 1962 and 1963 when influenza had a pronounced effect on the population.
“It’s not coming out of nowhere because we saw one year of a decline, but it was a bit of a surprise – we sort of expected things to rebound, or at least stay flat,” said Bob Anderson, Chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics. “We knew that drug overdose mortality was going up because we’ve been monitoring it, but we didn’t think it would be quite enough to cause a second year of decline in life expectancy.”
The drop is being attributed to the opioid epidemic, which is causing a significant number of deaths as a result of overdose among young and middle-aged people — which, in turn, is having an impact on the average lifespan of the country as a whole.
“The numbers are dramatic, in terms of the amount of drugs sloshing around in the American system,” said David Herzberg, an associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo who has written extensively about the opioid epidemic, told Futurism. “It’s not surprising that they’re leading to so many public health problems because we’re not being aggressive enough in responding to it.”
The Opioid Epidemic
While both illegal opioids and prescription drugs play a part in the epidemic, we’re now seeing a large proportion of deaths from overdose come as a result of the former. This is thought to be a consequence of restricting the availability of legal drugs, which is causing people who are already addicted to turning to an illicit alternative.
“There are at least two stories here,” said Herzberg. “One is the story of the expansion of the number of people with addiction – that’s not automatically the same story as the number of people who are dying because people with addiction don’t have to die. Addiction is a condition that nobody wants, but it doesn’t have to be fatal.”
While efforts to use technology to treat opioid addiction have been promising, studies have shown that removing access to the drugs can be very dangerous.
“There’s overwhelming scientific and medical evidence that the only way to keep people with addiction alive that is effective is to provide them with their drug of addiction in a steady, predictable way that keeps them in contact with the healthcare system,” Herzberg explained. “It reduces deaths enormously.”
The dilemma, then, is how to provide access to opioids without risking them falling into the wrong hands. Herzberg cites locked containers in place of traditional pill bottles, and the provision of spaces for drugs to be taken as simple, effective methods of doing so.
“The main, central policy as dictated by the Trump administration and such, that policy will not reduce the number of deaths – and may, in fact, make it worse – because there’s not a will to do the kind of medication-assisted treatment, and other harm reduction policies that would save people,” said Herzberg. “On the other hand, as a historian, I can tell you there’s never been a more organized, more intelligent and informed and effective grassroots political movement to try to push for sensible drug policies.”
Anderson acknowledges that certain demographic groups are represented in the data more than others, but is eager to stress that this is an issue affecting the U.S. at large. “I don’t like to focus in on one particular group because it is a problem across the board,” he said. “Just because it’s not as big of a problem in the other groups, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t focus on this as a national problem.”
It remains to be seen whether the response to this situation will be administered impartially across the communities where it’s needed. Herzberg maintains that while it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen next, history paints a troubling picture.
“I would have to guess based on what’s happened in the past that some good, sensible public health policies would be implemented – particularly in white communities and communities with money,” he said. “But we also see just in this last report that the fastest growing areas of overdose deaths are actually among racial minorities and the poor. If things held true to the way they’ve happened historically, good drug policies for white people with money would not end up being extended to racial minorities, so ten years from now you would be seeing a public health problem that was still really bad, but wasn’t necessarily in the headlines all the time.”
The effect that opioid addiction is having on the average American lifespan should serve as a wake-up call. This isn’t a problem that’s easily fixed, but given the scale of overdose deaths delineated by this study, it’s clear that something needs to be done.
The post US Life Expectancy at Birth Drops for Second Consecutive Year appeared first on Futurism.
Note: No actual spoilers in this post
We have all been waiting and it’s finally here: Star Wars’ “The Last Jedi”.
I promise to only use the new Star Wars movie theme (plus a few Epic events and moments from the Star Wars trilogy) to express my excitement and correlate a story from the DevOps Galaxy. As a huge Star Wars fan, it seems only natural that I am highly influenced by this brilliant trilogy but in many ways, the force awakens and the last Jedi feel like an easy comparison to where our industry is heading at the end of 2017.
Recap: There is a disruptive force AKA digital that is forcing Dev & QA teams to move at the speed of light, reduce release cycles and shift teams left, forming the DevOps galaxy and the birth of the Dev/Test Jedi.
Similar to the way Jedi’s look for the balance between light and darkness. This article is based on ideals of helping DevOps teams find the balance of their testing activities and fulfil their Destiny as Jedi dev/test masters while keeping them away from their old tendencies that we would now be considered as the dark side….
Jedi tips to follow (small hint – I will also try to prove that it is really not the time for the Jedi to end… or in other words – there should be a happy ending).
Use the Force (Wisely…)
I recently met with a customer who is a Director of QA, that was describing the revelation of automation and CI exactly in the same words Rey was describing the feel of the Force in the movie: “Felt something… it awakened, but now I need to know how to wield it”.
To that Director of QA, the power of automation was clear, but now he needed to prove it to his senior management (in order to actually implement the process and be able to use it for his testing purposes). So his natural question, just like Rey is asking Luke Skywalker in the new movie “I need someone to show me my place in all of this”.
Dev/Test Jedi Pro Tip: You should pick one significant testing scenario (let’s take “Sanity” activity as an example) and prove that you can cross the entire galaxy to provide value with automation. The success metrics here would usually be time (which is also power according to Master Yoda as we all know):
You’ll be able to prove that the Sanity testing cycle can be shorter in x hours / days with the move to automation.
You’ll be able to prove the feedback loop cycle is faster and that issues are identified earlier in the process.
These success evidences should prove a clear value proposition when it comes to test automation and CI: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
“I am a Jedi. I’m one with the Force, and the Force will guide me”
According to all Analyst agencies, the strongest trend (or ‘Force’ if you like) expected in 2018 is the transformation of data into actionable insights. In other words, when big data is becoming a challenge you really need a guidance throughout your DevOps journey.
I define this force as VISIBILITY. Accordingly, It would make sense to assume that analysis (as part of test automation) shouldn’t take light years…. Fast feedback should be relying on a solid foundation of smart reporting and analytics capabilities that will assist you in identifying risk quickly and effectively.
As part of my journey in the galaxy to drive more smart data into the testing universe, I meet with many organizations that are trying to move from the dark side. A survey conducted by Perfecto revealed that 40% of organizations spend between 4-8 working hours to analyze regression test suites post execution. If this suite is running multiple times a day, the analysis process is not scalable.
Many enterprises are struggling today with managing processes of manual analysis and maintenance of reports/dashboards (like manually typing of data into an excel sheet or HTML page… cell after cell… test after test).
Dev/Test Jedi Pro Tip: Adding more man power to boost manual report/dashboard generation is old news. Adopt a Reporting Test Driven Development approach (add all contextual data like tags, steps, BDD and more) and tie it to a centralized tool to gain unified quality view.
Never tell me the Odds! (Really?!)
With DevOps aspirations in mind, and unlike Han Solo states, you should always think about the odds: your odds to release a stable version. Your odds to release on time. Your odds to find root issues quickly enough before they spill over to the next phase of your pipeline.
I would say that the DevOps play is all about odds!
Dev/Test Jedi Pro Tip: Focus your Continuous Integration management efforts to estimate whether you are heading in the right direction or not. Trending history visibility when running in CI is the way to achieve that goal. Make sure to also clean any flakiness noise (e.g. don’t execute tests that you know are going to fail/tests with known bugs) in order to maintain a reliable picture (the “Always Green approach).
As Obi-Wan-Kenobi stated: “In My Experience there is no such thing as luck”. We at Perfecto understand that and believe that it is all about establishing a DevOps process that is built on trust:
- Add only stable test scenarios to your CI. Take out noise (unstable tests) in order to make sure the data is useful for all (Mature DevOps brings cross-team collaboration and you to make sure you establish a trustworthy testing process.)
- Build the right visibility to collect the large amount of testing data and have an effective triaging process throughout your pipeline. One dashboard that shows all your data.
- As DevOps involves high frequency releases, make sure to have the right traceability of build stability and build the right visibility to support quick release decisions without the hassle of collecting the data again and again (have it ready for you to back up any open question).
Master Yoda made it very clear: “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things”. Like a Jedi, the new Dev/Test Jedi should not take unnecessary risks (as their duty is to eliminate risk and achieve stability). Keep things basic and establishing a routine is an important step in order to maintain an effective DevOps process that allows you to identify anomalies quickly and effectively.
May the Force Be With You.
At some point, most science fiction readers come across the “Big Three” authors from its so-called Golden Age: Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke. Over the course of his lifetime, Clarke witnessed the birth of the space age, and helped push science fiction from a nascent literary movement into a modern vision for humanity’s future with grounded, realistic stories that drew on science and technology—themes that are more relevant than ever today, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.
When Clarke began writing science fiction in the late 1930s, the genre was on the cusp of a major transformation. Up to that point, science fiction stories appeared in cheap pulp magazines, and were often sensational tales featuring…
A Remarkable Transplant
In a first for the United States, a woman with a transplanted uterus has given birth. The baby was born at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and remains safe and healthy after the event. This is the first success for Baylor’s ongoing uterus transplant clinical trial, which works with patients with absolute uterine factor infertility — meaning their uterus either doesn’t exist or doesn’t work at all.
“We’ve been preparing for this moment for a very long time,” Liza Johannesson, an ob-gyn and uterus transplant surgeon at Baylor, stated in an interview with Time. “I think everyone had tears in their eyes when the baby came out. I did for sure.”
This unique type of transplant is different and much more difficult than most, according to Giuliano Testa, the leader of the uterus transplant clinical trial and surgical chief of abdominal transplant for Baylor Annette C. and Harold C. Simmons Transplant Institute. “We do transplants all day long,” Testa said to Time. “This is not the same thing. I totally underestimated what this type of transplant does for these women. What I’ve learned emotionally, I do not have the words to describe.”
The uterus transplanted was donated by Taylor Siler, 36, a registered nurse in the Dallas area. She previously had children successfully and wanted to pass the gift of life on. “I just think that if we can give more people that option, that’s an awesome thing,” Syler told Time.
It takes about five hours to remove the uterus from the donor, then another five to transplant it. The clinical study uses uteruses from both living and deceased donors. So far, the hospital has completed eight out its goal of 10 transplants. And, while three have so far failed, Baylor confirmed to Time that there is another woman currently pregnant with a transplanted uterus.
The Future of Fertility
This medical feat has had a long road to success. Last year, at the Cleveland Clinic, a promising uterus transplant went awry, and the organ had to be removed. This failure was devastating, but it perhaps aided further research and fueled this year’s exciting success.
The majority of the patients participating in this study have a condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome and have lived their entire lives thinking that it was simply impossible for them to carry a child. But this type of procedure could improve the lives of patients with a multitude of conditions. It opens the door for helping those who have had hysterectomies, couples struggling with infertility, and those born without uteruses like those with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome and transgender patients.
As we see advancements in womb transplant, we are also witnessing growth in the field of external wombs. Whether they are used in cases of infertility or truly represent the future of reproduction, external development of a fetus has so far proven successful in lambs. As our understanding of human reproduction continues to expand, artificial wombs could potentially become a more viable option for humans.
Currently, the uterus transplant procedure is very expensive — up to $ 500,000. The procedure is also seen by insurance companies as elective and, therefore, is not covered. The success of the procedure and the emerging field is still new, though. It’s certainly not out of the question to think that in the coming decades, procedures like this will be more commonplace — and therefore, hopefully, more affordable.
We still need to do a lot more research and experimentation before this type of procedure becomes more widely available — let alone routine. But this latest success proves that it’s not just possible, but life-changing for the patients who experience it.
The post A Woman Has Given Birth After a Uterus Transplant for the First Time in the U.S. appeared first on Futurism.
A woman who received a uterus transplant has given birth to a baby — a first in the US, Time reports. She is part of an ongoing uterine transplant clinical trial taking place at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and she, like the other wome…
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