Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 9th, 2015

First cancer-killing virus approved by FDA:  Talimogene laherparepvec

A  modified live oncolytic herpes virus.

Significance so far is in the proof-of-concept that virus can kill cancer.

Apparently, the patients survive on average 4.4 months to their terminal illness. (So funny these accurate numbers: a few will die within a couple of days of being injected with the virus)

Most accepted cancer treatments in modern medicine come with a lot of collateral damage.

Cancer cells are simply more susceptible to radiation and chemotherapy than healthy cells because of their higher metabolism, but what if we could target cancer specifically?

This is finally becoming a reality with a new cancer-killing virus that has just been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The virus is called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC, brand name Imlygic), and it’s programmed to seek out and destroy advanced melanoma skin cancer.

 Patsy Z shared this link
Scientists have known for decades that it’s technically feasible to fight cancer with viruses.
After all, as part of the unregulated growth that is the hallmark of cancer, many of the antiviral defenses of these cells are switched off.
Creating a virus that could kill cancer cells while leaving normal ones alone has proven a problem — one that has been solved by biotech firm Amgen.
This specific treatment is only modestly effective, but it’s a big step in the treatment of disease as a whole.
Imlygic is a modified live oncolytic herpes virus.
The genetic code of the virus has been significantly altered so that it’s unable to kill normal human cells. However, it’s quite good at taking out cancerous melanoma in the skin and lymph nodes.
When the virus particles are injected into a melanoma lesion, they invade the cells, take over the cellular machinery, and eventually cause the cell to rupture.
The virus has also been tweaked to increase production of a protein called GM-CSF. The release of this protein increases immune response to help the body fight back.
However, it’s not clear how much of the cancer suppression is due to the virus alone and how much is happening with the aid of stimulated immune cells.

That all sounds great, but Imlygic isn’t going to instantly cure melanoma.

In a clinical study of 436 patients, Imlygic was able to extend survival by 4.4 months in those with advanced melanoma.

That’s not a dramatic improvement, but doctors believe that in combination with other treatments, the virus could have a more significant impact. This modest extension of life also comes with a hefty price tag of $65,000, at least at the moment.

The true significance of this treatment is as a proof-of-concept.

Biotechnology has reached the point that we can tailor a virus to do our dirty work for us, and the side effects are no worse than standard medications.

Other researchers are working with vaccinia (poxvirus), reovirus, and poliovirus particles as a way to eventually target other types of cancer.

Future versions of this technology might not come with the same caveats, but it’s probably still going to be pretty expensive

You’re Not Dumb. Anyone Can Learn Anything

(relative to how dumb you feel?)

This may surprise you, but Sal Khan used to skip classes at MIT. (Very normal behaviour if you never joined team sports or served in the military)

They were too long and boring, particularly lectures. “I found it much more valuable to learn the material at my own time and pace,” he says.

“I learned a lot more going into the computer lab or the science lab or the circuits lab, fiddling with things and playing and getting my hands dirty.” (That’s called training your experimental mind in education methods)

Patsy Z shared this link TEDxBarcelona

“Whoever you are, wherever you are. You only have to know one thing: you can learn anything.”

Sal Khan, perhaps the best-known teacher in the world today,|By Kim Lachance Shandrow

That same renegade spirit of independence and innovation, of learning on your own terms on your own time, is still the heart and soul of Khan Academy, the revolutionary, somewhat controversial online learning platform the 38-year-old math whiz engineer singlehandedly founded 10 years ago.

What began as a handful of tutoring videos the former hedge fund analyst uploaded to YouTube to help his cousins with their algebra homework has since mushroomed into a massive digital classroom for the world.

To date, the free, non-profit learning hub has delivered more than 580 million of Khan’s straightforward video lessons on demand, with students completing around four million companion exercises on any given day.

The Academy is in the midst of a growth spurt offline as well, with an excess of 1 million registered teachers around the globe incorporating the supplemental teaching tool into their classrooms.

We recently caught up with Khan, who discussed how his own education shaped his passion project, his belief that anyone can learn anything and what’s next for Khan Academy, online and off.

How did you develop a passion for education? Who inspired you?

Education has helped me a lot. My father’s side of the family was very active in education.

My parents separated when I was two and then my father passed away, so I never really knew that side of the family. But, when I got to know my father’s side branch, they’re intensely academic.

My mother’s side of the family, they’re more the artists. We have a lot of dancers and singers who don’t fit with certain stereotypes that they’re all engineers and they’re all super invested in math.

I went to a fairly normal, middle of the road public school in a suburb of New Orleans, but it gave me huge opportunities. I had a lot of friends there who were just smart as I am.

They seem to learn things just as fast, but they’re hitting walls in algebra class and chemistry class. That’s when I started questioning the notion of mastery-based learning. It wasn’t completely obvious to me then, but I just knew something was off.

You often say that anyone can learn anything. Why do you think that?
If you’re doing well in school you can have one of two things: You can say, “Oh, well, I have the DNA for doing it. Or you can say, “No, my brain was able to tackle it. I had the right mindset.” I saw those ideas in action early in high school.

Also, I tutored others as part of this math honors society I was in. I noticed that if you tutored people the right way, engaged with them the right way, they would improve. I saw C and D students all of the sudden do very, very well and become some of the best math students in the state.

Then I go to college at MIT and I saw a lot of people struggle there, too, mainly because they aren’t adequately prepared. It was the same thing. It was clear to me that it wasn’t intelligence at play, it was much more preparation. The people who did well were the people who saw the material for the third time, had a lot of rigor and didn’t have any gaps in their knowledge. The people who really struggled were the folks who weren’t familiar with the material and didn’t have a super solid grasp. It has nothing to do with some type of innate intelligence.

How are you taking Khan Academy out from behind the Internet and into the real world?
We piloted a program called LearnStorm in the Bay Area [of California] last year and we’re expanding it to three to five other areas this Spring. We hope it will function nationwide by 2017. It goes beyond the core skill work we do on Khan Academy, tying it into monthly challenges that are intended to be done in a physical environment, in your math class with your teacher.

LearnStorm came from the idea of we can create these great experiences online that are aligned with standards that are really good for students and they correlate with success metrics, but you need the the students to engage with them. We on our own can create a lot of neat game mechanics and all sorts of things on the site, but nothing beats having physical people who are part of your life, especially your teachers, your school and your peers, involved in your learning.

More recently, we worked with Disney Pixar to bridge the disconnect between what students learn about math and science at school and tackling creative challenges in the real world with an initiative called Pixar in a Box. Our relationship with Pixar makes it very clear that math, science, creativity and storytelling aren’t separate things. They can all happen together.

Why the recent pivot to a growing list of local, offline projects when you originally set out to be a digital classroom for the world?
This isn’t the first time we’ve branched out offline. From day one, I immediately reached out to teachers to see if they’d want to use Khan Academy and to get their feedback on our features. In 2010, we started with the Los Altos school district here in Northern California. Plus, there’s a whole teacher resources section on Khan Academy, so we’ve always had this dimension.

What’s different now isn’t us working with a handful of classrooms in a very high-touch way. It’s us being able to work with many more teachers and, frankly, they’re able to do a lot of the heavy lifting around mindset, meta cognition, getting students into it, and we provide the tools.

When we say that our vision statement is a free, world-class education for anyone anywhere, it doesn’t mean that it’s just going to all happen through our software, through our content. As an organization, we view it as part of our mission to up how we interface with all of the other incredible stakeholders in this ecosystem, especially teachers and schools, to figure out how we educate students together, not just all from one site.

What will the classroom of the future look like and how will Khan Academy play a role?
You won’t need lectures in class any more. Those can happen on students’ own time. Using exercises, students can progress at their own pace, like how the Khan academy software works. Instead, in-class time can be spent having peer-to-peer socratic dialogues, case-based discussions, programming and project based learning.

Why can’t teachers co-teach and mentor each other? Why separate students by perceived ability or age? Can’t you benefit from older students mentoring younger students? When classrooms are not one pace, when it’s all not lectured-based, it opens up all sorts of possibilities.

What’s the next big tech innovation in education, even bigger than the Internet?
Virtual reality, though my gut says it’s going to be about 10 years before we see major potential here. It’s very early right now. I can imagine that in about a decade, when you come to Khan Academy, you’ll literally feel like you’re in a virtual place of learning and in a community. You’ll see people walking around in a virtual world. Who knows? I don’t know if that’s in 10 or 20 years, but I think that’s going to happen.

Aside from virtual reality integration, what else is on the horizon for Khan Academy?
We’re going to be available in all of the world’s major languages on all of the major platforms, whether it’s a cheap smartphone or an Oculus Rift. The more the better. We’re working on translating all of our resources into more than 36 languages, with thousands of volunteers helping us subtitle videos.

Are any new subjects in the works? Topics outside of the traditional academic realm, like, say, yoga and meditation perhaps?
No, nothing like that at the moment, although I do love yoga. We already have a lot of material in physics and chemistry and biology, but we want to really nail those core academic subjects. Expect to see a lot from us in history and civics over the next year, along with interesting things around grammar, writing and programming.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who hope to be as astronomically successful as you
(Laughs) Well, I cringe at the term “astronomically successful,” because it sure doesn’t feel like I am. As for advice, though, I think every entrepreneur should know what they’re getting into, that there are moments of extreme stress and pain that aren’t so obvious sometimes when you read about startups in the press. Still, all entrepreneurs go through it. You need to be prepared for it and know that it’s normal when you’re in the midst of it.

The transcript that follows has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Kazuo Inamori, built several $billion enterprises: Business tips

Kazuo Inamori, the Japanese entrepreneur who founded two multi-billion dollar companies and rescued another, is known for his management philosophy. Here are five of his ideas.

tomredmondjapan.  November 5, 2015  

1. Question your motive

Inamori is a Buddhist, and zen — the Japanese word for “good” — is at the heart of his thinking. Zen means being universally virtuous in anybody’s eyes, he writes in his book “A Passion for Success.”

Serving one’s own interests in business is never enough: the motive has to be good for others as well.

Japan Airlines Rises On Trading Debut After $8.4 Billion IPO
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

2. Adhere to perfection

An engineer by training, Inamori describes himself as a perfectionist.

Being 99%  successful isn’t enough for someone designing a bridge to withstand an earthquake, and the same should apply when planning products, he says. Demanding perfection of yourself every day is difficult, he writes in “A Passion for Success”, but once you get used to it, “you can easily live that way.”

This results in what he calls “sharp” products, or work that is refined and precise. (Product that tends to the health and safety usage for the client?)

3. Conceive optimistically, plan pessimistically

When developing a new product, starting off with a dream is important to success, Inamori says on his website. Once the planning stage begins, you must “become a pessimist” in order to recognize every possible difficulty. Then it’s back to optimism for the execution.

4. Attitude x effort x ability

This is Inamori’s formula for calculating the results of someone’s life or work. It’s an insight into why he values character and personality when picking leaders, rather than just choosing the people with the most ability. In his view, effort and aptitude won’t be enough if you don’t have the right attitude.

5. Set goals beyond your abilities

Inamori is a believer in positive thinking: he says your life ultimately becomes what you think it will be. In business, this translates into believing you will learn to do things you can’t currently manage.

Choose a goal you can’t achieve today, set a deadline by which you will do so, and then work harder than anyone else, he says




November 2015

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