Newcastle research centre renamed in honour of muscular dystrophy expert

November 24, 2014 By: Walid Yassin Category: Genetic Medicine

A research centre has been renamed in honour of a North East expert in muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions.

The John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre, which is part of the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University, officially adopted its new name today .

Born in Rowlands Gill, Lord Walton qualified from Newcastle Medical School, and went on to become both a consultant neurologist and professor of neurology in Newcastle, and from 1971-1981 was Dean of Medicine at the University.

The -year-old has spent his career helping improve the lives of people with muscle-wasting conditions, as well as other neurological conditions, first through medicine and then through Parliamentary campaigning.

Lord Walton said: I am deeply touched and honoured that it was decided that the centre should be called after me. It is more than 60 years since I began work on muscular dystrophy here in Newcastle and it is thrilling to see the way in which a whole area of research and management of patients has matured and developed.

I have often said that I am a simple Geordie lad, born in Rowlands Gill, brought up in this area, my father a school teacher, my mother a school teacher, my grandfather a miner, and to have been able to be at the forefront of the developments of muscular dystrophy is very exciting.

Newcastle and its reputation in the whole field of muscular dystrophy research stands very high in the world and that is something which I personally, and all the team, have every right to be proud of.

The John Walton Muscular Dystrophy Research Centre is a collaboration between Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Pioneering research is carried out at the centre to develop treatments to help those with the debilitating condition.

Kate Bushby, professor of genetics at Newcastle University said: The renaming of the centre is very exciting. Lord Walton laid the foundation for the whole speciality of muscular dystrophy and he raised the profile of the condition; he started the research and he got the initial funding from the different charities and medical research council.

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Newcastle research centre renamed in honour of muscular dystrophy expert

Everything Wrong With Prostituting Atheism – Video

November 24, 2014 By: Walid Yassin Category: Atheism

Everything Wrong With Prostituting Atheism
all from Auntie Stardust Whirlwind Nadia, except the comedic relief parts ;p Image credit goes to Syelent Monkee …

By: Fruit of Atheism

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Everything Wrong With Prostituting Atheism – Video

Atheist Experience #474: Trends in Atheism – Video

November 24, 2014 By: BoicepSip Category: Atheism

Atheist Experience #474: Trends in Atheism
The Atheist Experience #474 for November 12, 2006, with Matt Dillahunty and Martin Wagner. Trends in Atheism. Martin and Matt talk about how atheism has changed in recent years. We welcome…

By: TheAtheistExperience

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Atheist Experience #474: Trends in Atheism – Video

Atheism is okay, but don’t cross the line! – Video

November 24, 2014 By: lokkol Category: Atheism

Atheism is okay, but don't cross the line!
Today, we take a look at something that needs our attention. You want to not believe in God? That's fine, but there's a difference between being an atheist and being a jerk.

By: Aaron SanSevero

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Atheism is okay, but don’t cross the line! – Video

Wild Bill For America vs. "Star Trek" Atheism (DP) – Video

November 24, 2014 By: painlord2k Category: Atheism

Wild Bill For America vs. “Star Trek” Atheism (DP)
More Drunken Peasants – SUPPORT MY CHANNEL! click here to subscribe – become a patron! – BUY MY STUFF!

By: The Amazing Atheist

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Wild Bill For America vs. "Star Trek" Atheism (DP) – Video

Matt Dillahunty’s Atheism XIV – Video

November 24, 2014 By: painlord2k Category: Atheism

Matt Dillahunty's Atheism XIV
After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel I must wash my hands. – Friedrich Nietzsche.

By: Anekantavad

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Matt Dillahunty’s Atheism XIV – Video

Reza Aslan Claims Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris Are 'New Atheists,' Don't Represent True Atheism

November 24, 2014 By: BoicepSip Category: Atheism

November 24, 2014|2:37 pm

Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

Reza Aslan, author of the controversial nonfiction work Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, said in a recent column that atheist public figures like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Bill Maher don’t accurately represent atheism.

Known as the “New Atheists,” Aslan argued in a Salon column published Friday that these public figures “do not speak for the majority of atheists.”

“On the contrary, polls show that only a small fraction of atheists in the U.S. share such extreme opposition to religious faith,” wrote Aslan.

“In fact, not only is the New Atheism not representative of atheism. It isn’t even mere atheism (and it certainly is not ‘new’). What Harris, Dawkins and their ilk are preaching is a polemic that has been around since the 18th century one properly termed, anti-theism,” he asserted.

Aslan also wrote that this New Atheism bears a strong parallel to the very religious fundamentalism he so vehemently opposes.

“In seeking to replace religion with secularism and faith with science, the New Atheists have, perhaps inadvertently, launched a movement with far too many similarities to the ones they so radically oppose,” continued Aslan.

“Like religious fundamentalism, New Atheism is primarily a reactionary phenomenon, one that responds to religion with the same venomous ire with which religious fundamentalists respond to atheism.”

Aslan’s recent opinion piece for Salon came as part of the ongoing debate in mass media over recent statements by individuals like Maher over how representative terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, are of Islam in general.

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Reza Aslan Claims Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris Are 'New Atheists,' Don't Represent True Atheism

The Origins of Aggressive Atheism

November 24, 2014 By: heissegiohoft Category: Atheism

Non-believers are often marginalized in the U.S., which has led to a lot of resentment among their ranks. But don’t be deceived: For most Americans, lack of religion usually comes with a shrug, not a shout.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God.

American faith has gone through many awakenings. Depending on how you count, there have been three or four distinctive surges of Protestant religiosity in the United States, marked by tent revivals, missionary work, widespread conversions, and, often, intense rhetoric about the consequences of sin. These “Great Awakenings” have been memorialized through texts like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” a sermon delivered by the preacher Jonathan Edwards in 1741, who warned of the “fire of wrath” in hell.

So it’s provocative to title your book Atheist Awakening. Oxford University Press’s newest release on non-belief, by researchers Richard Cimino and Christopher Smith, claims to be the “first sociological exploration of organized secularism in America,” tracing the evolution of the atheist community over the past several decades. The “awakening” part is “not so much a growth in numbers as an awakening to claiming atheism for themselves, and becoming more public about it,” said Cimino.

By numbers alone, American atheists really aren’t that big of a group. According to a 2012 Pew report, atheists make up only about 2.4 percent of the population. Even agnostics, whom you could maybe call atheistic-ish, only account for an estimated 3.3 percent of Americans. Although both groups have grown somewhat since 2007, the bigger change has been among those who identify as “nothing in particular”roughly 13.9 percent of the population, which is an increase of 2.3 percentage points over five years.

When you read headlines about the rise of the so-called “nones,” or people who don’t consider themselves part of a religion, that’s what they’re mostly referring to: the shruggers. They might be intensely spiritual or perfectly apathetic about faith, but for some reason or another, they don’t self-identify as definitively atheistic.

Shun the Atheist Boyfriend

Among those who do identify as atheists, though, the tone taken toward organized religion, especially recently, has been more shout-y than shrug-y. At the 2012 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., for example, “a band fired up the crowd with a rousing song that lampooned the belief in ‘Jesus coming again,’ mixing it with sexual innuendo,” Cimino and Smith write. Attendees sported T-Shirts and signs with slogans like “I prefer facts” and “religion is like a penis” (involving a rather extended metaphor). There was a life-sized Jesus puppet.

This wasn’t just some small enclave meeting for some drinks and Judeo-Christian trash talk; there were between 8,000 and 20,000 people there (a puzzlingly wide range of estimates, but still: in the thousands). Richard Dawkins, one of the keynote speakers, encouraged attendees to “ridicule” people’s faith. Not all atheists take this tone toward faith, but it’s a somewhat common posture, especially among some of atheism’s most vocal advocates, including Dawkins and people like PZ Myers and Bill Maher.

“It’s definitely one of their strategies,” said Cimino. “There is this strong attempt to be kind of irreverent.” This is a quality particular to “new atheism,” he said, a term for Dawkins-style arguments against faith, which rely heavily on science and invocations of rationalism. “There’s a sense that once you make fun of it, you can kind of demystify religion,” he added.

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The Origins of Aggressive Atheism

British fear of Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin

November 24, 2014 By: stoommica Category: Atheism

Saudi Arabia’s aim of ‘instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation’ [is] in principle not very different from Michael Goves idea of instilling “British values”.’ Photograph: Paul Rogers/AFP/Getty Images

Extremism in whatever form it takes has no place in our society, especially not in our schools, the London diocesan board for schools said last week, referring to a Church of England school where sixth-formers had set up an Islamic society without approval from teachers or governors. Making use of the schools virtual learning centre, the Islamic society had reportedly made a YouTube video and held meetings addressed by radical preachers.

In Saudi Arabia there are similar concerns about extremist ideas taking hold in the minds of the young. Newspaper articles agonise about this much as they do in Britain, though in Saudi Arabia the ideology they fear is atheism.

We must fight the phenomenon of atheism with initiatives that will nip it in the bud before it takes roots in the hearts of our young men and women, an article in al-Watan newspaper began. It went on to call for a national strategy to protect our religion, with participation by all sections of society. It is easier to treat cancer in its initial stage before it seeps deep into the body cells, the article added.

The treatment chosen by the Saudi government was to amend its anti-terrorism law to classify calling for atheist thought in any form or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion as a terrorist act.

British fears about Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin. Ideas that were once alien or unknown can now leap across national borders and take root in unexpected places. Globalisation is making national cultures less monolithic and more diverse and, thanks mainly to the internet and the ease of international travel, it is likely to happen on an ever-increasing scale.

Trying to prevent that is as futile as trying to stop wind or rain. Far better to recognise that its happening and adjust to it. Nor is it necessarily bad. Globalisation has the potential to enrich millions of lives by exposing people to ideas that they would never previously have encountered. It is good to see young Saudis broadening their horizons and finding out about alternatives to Wahhabism, even if they dont accept them.

Similarly, its natural for British school students to want to know about jihadism, and its better if they explore it in a spirit of inquiry (which is the essence of education) rather than indoctrination. Jihadism is a fact of modern life and theres no point in pretending it doesnt exist. If it cant be discussed openly and in an environment where its examined critically, such as a classroom, kids will look elsewhere to satisfy their curiosity very likely in a closeted environment where preposterous ideas pass unchallenged.

We could also learn a thing or two from the Saudis mistakes in handling ideas that we consider obnoxious. One is not to suppress them. The other is not to ignore them.

The aim of education, according to Saudi Arabias basic law, is instilling the Islamic faith in the younger generation, which in principle is not very different from Michael Goves idea of instilling British values in English schools.

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British fear of Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin

New Stem Cell Treatment Found To Cure 'Bubble Baby' Disease

November 24, 2014 By: painlord2k Category: Stem Cell Therapy

Chuck Bednar for Your Universe Online

A new stem cell gene therapy developed by researchers at UCLA is set to begin clinical trials early next year after the technique reportedly cured 18 children who were born without working immune systems due to a condition known as ADA-deficient Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) or Bubble Baby disease.

The treatment was developed by Dr. Donald Kohn, a member of the UCLA Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, and his colleagues, and according to the university, it is able to identify and correct faulty genes by using the DNA of the youngsters born with this life-threatening condition.

Left untreated, ADA-deficient SCID is often fatal within the first year of a childs life, reports Peter M. Bracke for UCLA. However, after more than three decades of research, Dr. Kohns team managed to develop a gene therapy that can safely restore the immune systems of children with the disease by using their own cells and with no noticeable side effects.

All of the children with SCID that I have treated in these stem cell clinical trials would have died in a year or less without this gene therapy, instead they are all thriving with fully functioning immune systems, Dr. Kohn, who is also a professor of pediatrics and of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, said in a recent statement.

Children born with SCID have to be isolated in a controlled environment for their own safety, because without an immune system, they are extremely vulnerable to illnesses and infections that could be deadly. While there are other treatments for ADA-deficient SCID, Dr. Kohn noted that they are not always optimal or feasible for many children. The new technique, however, provides them with a cure, and the chance to live a full healthy life.

SCID is an inherited immunodeficiency that is typically diagnosed about six months after birth, the researchers said, and children with the condition are so vulnerable to infectious diseases that even the common cold could prove fatal to them. This particular form of the condition causes cells to not create ADA, an enzyme essential for the production of the white blood cells which are a vital component of a healthy, normally-functioning immune system.

Approximately 15 percent of all SCID patients are ADA-deficient, according to the university, and these youngsters are typically treated by being injected twice per week with the required enzyme. This is a process that must continue throughout a patients entire life, and even then it doesnt always work to bring their immune systems to optimal levels. Alternately, they could undergo bone marrow transplants from matched siblings, but those matches are rare and the transplanted cells themselves are often rejected by the childs body.

Dr. Kohn and his colleagues tested two therapy regimens on 18 ADA-deficient SCID over the course of two multi-year clinical trials starting in 2009. During the trials, the blood stem cells of the patients were removed from their bone marrow and genetically modified in order to correct the defect. All 18 of the patients were cured.

The technique used a virus delivery system first developed in Dr. Kohns laboratory in the 1990s a technique which inserts the corrected gene that produces the ADA into the blood forming stem cells in the bone marrow. The genetically corrected blood-forming stem cells will then produce the T-cells required to combat infections.

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New Stem Cell Treatment Found To Cure 'Bubble Baby' Disease

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