The Trump administration says the coronavirus vaccine might not be affordable for all Americans

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday would not promise that a potential coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for all Americans.

„We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price, because we need the private sector to invest,“ Azar told members of Congress during a hearing concerning the coronavirus outbreak and the administration’s budget request. „Price controls won’t get us there.“

Democrats and other critics quickly condemned Azar.

„Secretary Azar is refusing to promise that a Coronavirus vaccine will be affordable to every American. Kick them out of office,“ Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, tweeted Wednesday evening.

The progressive group Center for American Progress tweeted, „This is a global health crisis, and everyone should have the right to medication that will help protect them from this virus.“

While government and private researchers around the world are working quickly to develop a vaccine for the virus, it is estimated any vaccine is still several months away. The best preventative measure is regular, thorough hand-washing.

On Monday, the president asked Congress for $2.5 billion in funding to fight the coronavirus – more than $1 billion of that funding will be designated for vaccine development. Democratic leadership criticized the president’s request as „anemic“ and inadequate.

As of Wednesday, the US has confirmed 60 cases of the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The virus causes a disease known as COVID-19, which has killed nearly 2,800 people and infected more than 81,000 others globally since December.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed cases in six states: Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and Wisconsin. Officials have recorded two cases of human-to-human transmission among family members.

Aria Bendix, Rosie Perper, and Lauren Frias contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.


Web Summit 2016: IoT, Learning, Chatbots, Biohacking & More — SitePoint

53,056 people from 166 countries descended on Lisbon for this year’s Web Summit. I’m not sure if this makes it the world’s largest startup event, but it’s damn big.

I have attended startup events around the world and have often found them obsessed with nothing but raising money. Whilst the topic was in abundance at Web Summit, it also had enough of something for everyone, with discussions on technology, design, ethics, futurism, and more. If you’re not interested in discussion, but would rather just network and party, you will also have a full schedule.

At times it can feel like we are reaching ‘peak startup,’ and with a number of the exhibitors I spoke to at Web Summit, it almost feels like we are close to or past that point. Half-baked ideas, startups that serve startups that serve startups, unclear explanations and a growing body of people who talk a lot but say absolutely nothing (booth training for startups — now there’s a startup idea).

Nestled amongst all the bluster are diamonds worthy of your attention and time, and in this article I intend to highlight as many as possible, alongside trends and topics to watch for or avoid.

New Navigation & Input

I have always had an interest in digital museum guides since attempting my own for my final university project. Modern portable devices and augmented reality have made new levels of interaction possible, and arm23 from Milan has an app platform that mixes location, audio, video and image recognition into one cool package.

I have been embracing a lot of new input mechanisms recently, loving my Lenovo Yogabook, and taking a good hard look at Windows tablets. Taking the concept further is Hypen from Mexico. They are creating a pen-shaped device that communicates the movements you make via Bluetooth. The company is still figuring out the use case, but the applications for creative pursuits are compelling.

Whilst motion tracking isn’t a new concept, Heptasense moves the processing to a cloud-based API, which enables developers to keep processing off a device, and updatable to meet new trends and opportunities.

And for fun, what about waving your hands in the air to make music? Well Kagura will help, or at least make you look cool trying.

Practical IoT Applications

The Internet of Things is rapidly growing, and with that growth it brings a lot of trite, pointless, or insecure use cases. One area embracing and using IoT to undertake actual, viable work is industry and commerce.

Watgrid uses sensors to monitor liquid properties for a variety of industries including fuel, wine and more.

One of the big issues with consumer IoT devices are all the competing device protocols, so I love discovering tools like Muzzley that aim to bridge the gaps between them all.

Alongside these companies creating their own specific IoT offerings were platforms for developers looking to create their own. Many offer similar features, and are in private betas, so assessing the differences and value can be hard. Suffice it to say that unless you are planning to offer something amazingly new to the IoT space, it’s already becoming crowded.

For something a little different, try the look app that lets you use other people’s cameras to watch events, locations, or whatever else you want to watch from your couch.


If you’re reading this post then you understand the benefits of learning. Teaching people to code has been big business the past couple of years, but running alongside these profit-making ventures has been a variety of more innovative projects. If you are interested in creating your own startup around education, then you need to start investigating how the educational component can be combined with other forms of technology. Simply delivering courses no longer cuts it.

“I am the Code” not only provides coding education to African girls, but is also creating its own Raspberry Pi-based computer that students learn to assemble in their first lesson.

Kubo is an example of a growing wave of ‘learning robots’ that help children learn how to code. The video below explains it better than I can, but I love these ideas and am working on a round up of options.

Whilst the majority of the startups at Web Summit were from the global north, there were a dozen or so from Latin America, and only a handful from Africa and India. I have often wondered why these large continents, full of interesting projects and people, are often so underrepresented. Is it purely cost, visa reasons, or something else?

In an interesting conversation I was told that in much of the developing World, a new global language is emerging in pictures, animated gifs and short videos. This explains some of the hunger for apps that support these formats, and I encourage you to investigate this trend in your projects and ideas.

Chat, Chat, Chat

Messaging clients, chatbots and services to create and supplement them were everywhere at Web Summit. Again, many were similar, but I found a few interesting ideas lurking in the chatter.

Unbabel are one of Lisbon’s success stories, and deservedly so, bringing translation to right where you need it: the chat window. Their platform plugs straight into Salesforce, Zendesk, and other tools via an API, providing machine and human translators to allow support staff and customers to speak in their own languages.

And if you want to get started creating your own bots? There are lots of options, but I especially liked as they integrate well with existing developer platforms, and have a visual drag and drop creator for non-programmers.

App and Away

There were plenty of apps to be seen at Web Summit, but also a growing acknowledgement that viable apps are a dying breed. Entrepreneurs and developers are looking for new cross-platform and web-based alternatives that allow for speedier development, but also better tracking and analytics. I wont repeat a long list of cross-platform options here (including new options I discovered), but suggest that you research the growing trend of delivering app-like experiences through web apps, especially from Android and Google.

Globalism and Beyond

Wednesday started with a low feeling, as after the partying from the night before, the news from the US election woke attendees sober. I overheard discussions on how technology may have contributed to the growing feelings of alienation in the world and what can we do about it. My mood was saved after speaking to inspiring people from all around the world, causing me to wonder if the future of technology lies in other (underrepresented) locations such as Africa, India, or Latin America. And if you feel like you need to travel further, corporate sponsored space exploration is already upon us, and did you know that astronauts are 3D printing in space from mined asteroids?

Developers are Big Business

As developers become more influential in workplaces, services designed to help them achieve more continue to grow. As someone who assesses a lot of these services I would recommend undertaking extensive research to ascertain if your idea really is that new or original, as developers are a fickle bunch and are quick to turn away from half-baked ideas.

The Business of You

I’m going to use this category to mix together a collection of categories from data storage, security and privacy, on all sides of the discussion. I feel like many startups aren’t handling these topics in an innovative way, facing the issue with unoriginal solutions like private clouds, secure transmissions, influencer and analytics networks.

Yoti is a British company that has already gained adoption in several large governmental and business applications for its identity phone app, all in a country that has long been against identity cards.

After thinking the project had ended, I was also pleased to meet representatives of Liberland, a micro sovereign state between Croatia and Serbia that holds progressive, technological and decentralized values at its heart.

I expected to see more startups leveraging the Estonian ID card for authentication, but only found one, Smart ID, that helps you to embed the card as an authentication option in your web sites.

Local to SitePoint HQ in Melbourne was Cipherise from Forticode who provide a multi-factor security platform that can combine fingerprints, connected apps, QR codes, cipher puzzles and more to a security solution that you set to the levels you need.

And finally, if you want to prevent vulnerabilities in your carefully constructed project, Secr Secure have created a tool for scanning web apps for security vulnerabilities that you can plug into most continuous development processes.


Whilst governments figure out how to classify and regulate biohacking, implants, and other applications of tech for the human body, the movement continues, and there’s space in the market for aspiring entrepreneurs.

TSC by Earlogic is a simple idea that uses smart EQ algorithms to boost the frequencies that your hearing starts to lose as you age. This works in a similar way to traditional hearing aids, but TSC is a phone app, reducing the need for specialized hardware.

Helixworks blew my mind. They use generated DNA as a storage mechanism, already in use by a couple of major companies. It’s an efficient and long-lasting storage mechanism and simultaneously scary and exciting.

Flipping the concept on its head is orgamime, who built an emulated human intestinal system on a chip. Yes, really.

To 2017

What an event. The sheer scale and number of events surrounding Web Summit at times made it hard to understand how it even functions. 2016 has been an eventful and divisive year, with 2017 looking to contain much of the same. Technology now envelopes and surrounds our lives and carries a lot of potential to cause harm and good. Now more than ever we need to think about the potential of our ideas, and how others may use them in ways we never imagined.

Developer Relations, Technical Writing and Editing, (Board) Game Design, Education, Explanation and always more to come. English/Australian living in Berlin, Herzlich Willkommen!

This content was originally published here.

functional medicine

Local naturopath receives Functional Medicine certificate

Claudia Wenning has been living and working in Willits for more than 30 years. She first studied traditional Naturopathy in her home country of Germany and then earned a comparable degree in the United States after she realized this was her new home. She holds numerous certifications in different aspects of natural healing such as nutritional consulting, acupressure, herbalism, applied kinesiology and massage, and even earned a degree in psychotherapy in Germany. This year she completed a one-year course and received a certification as a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach.

“In the last decade more and more proponents came up to use the term Functional Medicine and made it what it is today… It is within the established medical realm now. They have discovered that it may not serve the patient well if we compartmentalize them…” said Wenning. “It became clear to some doctors and they said this is not working so they wanted to look at the patient holistically.” She said she watched the progress being made in the medical field and realized functional medicine is what she had been doing all along. And, therefore, Wenning said the certificate program included a lot of information with which she was already familiar and she felt a sense of affirmation in her current work.

Wenning said the training helped deepen and broaden her practice and she “feels like what I do here is not alternative anymore.” She said she considers functional medicine as the future of medicine because “if there was a group of MDs that were so dissatisfied that they created this whole new movement, they are not the only ones, they are the ones that spoke up… In a way it was like a silent revolution in medical care.”

One of the biggest benefits of functional medicine said Wenning is helping the patient heal themselves by being a part of the process. She said, “Medical care is very expensive. The MDs often have only 15 minutes to talk to you, if that, and then you get referred. Time is of the essence but it’s not really honored enough in the equation. So, what I’m thinking is the better you can take care of yourself and the more you can learn to read your symptoms, the more empowered you are and that’s a great feeling. You can do something and you don’t have to wait for somebody to fix you.”

In Wenning’s business, Quantum Level Consulting, she helps her clients get to their optimal health by analyzing diet, lifestyle, belief systems and more. “When you think you are not on top of your game and not experiencing optimal health, then someone like me comes in and looks at all the different pieces of the puzzle. I create timelines to get an idea of how we deal with the health history of the individual and then we come up with some modifications. It’s nothing drastic because drastic doesn’t work anyway.”

Wenning said she finds inspiration from the fathers of naturopathy including Hippocrates, who is credited with saying ‘May food be thy medicine.’ Her main goal in performing various health and wellness assessments is to find an opening “where it’s available to actually allow the body to heal itself.” She said, “I like to talk about it in terms of a journey and how we allow strength to flow more evenly and how we provide this space for our body to heal itself. All this has been done for millennia.”

She often recommends to her clients to utilize natural supplements to support healing when necessary but doesn’t require them for treatment or advocate long term use. “I believe in supplementing the body to strengthen where the weaknesses are and bring the body back into balance. One of my key words is ‘vital balance.’ Most likely you will not have to use them for the rest of your life.” Wenning said she uses a lot of herbal applications including teas and remedies made with herbs she grows herself, as well as topical products and tinctures.

In most of her protocols, Wenning recommends treatments involving water. “I use the incredible healing properties of water in various ways and recommend applications… When we put herbs and water together, the water is a delivery system of the phytonutrients, and it works very well… We can create very unique, custom-tailored formulas, and the water is the delivery medium. And, that goes for teas, for bath, for inhalation, for poultices and for topical applications.”

Wenning believes the act of becoming aware of yourself and your body begins with children and teaching them how to communicate what’s going on inside. “I really would love for people to allow themselves to empower themselves. It’s an understanding… this is my body and nobody else is in this body. I have by design the most intimate contact with this (body) than anybody else. A doctor may have years and decades of experience, nevertheless, I’m the one who’s in here. And this is free. You just need some awareness and some tools and use them. The best things are free. ”

With freedom in mind, Quantum Level Consulting hosts free educational classes every second Tuesday of the month. The classes are open to the public as a way to offer people additional tools to improve overall health and wellness. For more information, visit or stop by the studio inside the Little Lake Grange on School Street in Willits.

This content was originally published here.


Where fat goes when you lose weight – CNN

The correct answer is that fat is converted to carbon dioxide and water. You exhale the carbon dioxide and the water mixes into your circulation until it’s lost as urine or sweat.
If you lose 10 pounds of fat, precisely 8.4 pounds comes out through your lungs and the remaining 1.6 pounds turns into water. In other words, nearly all the weight we lose is exhaled.
This surprises just about everyone, but actually, almost everything we eat comes back out via the lungs. Every carbohydrate you digest and nearly all the fats are converted to carbon dioxide and water. The same goes for alcohol.
Protein shares the same fate, except for the small part that turns into urea and other solids, which you excrete as urine.
The only thing in food that makes it to your colon undigested and intact is dietary fibre (think corn). Everything else you swallow is absorbed into your bloodstream and organs and, after that, it’s not going anywhere until you’ve vaporised it.

Kilograms in versus kilograms out

We all learn that “energy in equals energy out” in high school. But energy is a notoriously confusing concept, even among health professionals and scientists who study obesity.
The reason we gain or lose weight is much less mysterious if we keep track of all the kilograms, too, not just those enigmatic kilojoules or calories.
According to the latest government figures, Americans consume 3.55 kg (125 ounces) of food and beverages every day. Of that, 430 grams (about 15 ounces) is solid macronutrients, 17 grams (0.6 ounces) is fibre and the remaining 3.11 kg (110 ounces) is water.
What’s not reported is that we inhale more than 660 grams (23 ounces) worth of oxygen, too, and this figure is equally important for your waistline.
If you put 3.55 kg (125 ounces) of food and water into your body, plus 660 grams of oxygen (23 ounces), then 4.2 kg (148 ounces) of stuff needs to come back out, or you’ll gain weight. If you’re hoping to shed some weight, more than 4.1kg will have to go.
The 430 grams (15.2 ounces) of carbohydrates, fats, protein and alcohol most Americans eat every day will produce exactly 770 grams (27.1 ounces) of carbon dioxide plus 290 grams (10.2 ounces) of water (about one cup) and about 31 grams (1.1 ounces) of urea and other solids excreted as urine.
An average 75kg (165 pound) person’s resting metabolic rate (the rate at which the body uses energy when the person isn’t moving) produces about 590 grams (21 ounces) of carbon dioxide per day. No pill or potion you can buy will increase that figure, despite the bold claims you might have heard.
The good news is that you exhale 200 grams (7 ounces) of carbon dioxide while you’re fast asleep every night, so you’ve already breathed out a quarter of your daily target before you even step out of bed.

Eat less, exhale more

So if fat turns into carbon dioxide, could simply breathing more make you lose weight? Unfortunately not. Huffing and puffing more than you need to is called hyperventilation and will only make you dizzy, or possibly faint. The only way you can consciously increase the amount of carbon dioxide your body is producing is by moving your muscles.
But here’s some more good news. Simply standing up and getting dressed more than doubles your metabolic rate. In other words, if you simply tried on all your outfits for 24 hours, you’d exhale more than 1,200 grams (42 ounces) of carbon dioxide.
More realistically, going for a walk triples your metabolic rate, and so will cooking, vacuuming and sweeping.
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Metabolising 100 ounces of fat consumes 290 ounces of oxygen and produces 280 ounces of carbon dioxide plus 110 ounces of water. The food you eat can’t change these figures.
Therefore, to lose 100 ounces of fat, you have to exhale 280 ounces of carbon dioxide on top of what you’ll produce by vaporising all your food, no matter what you eat.
Any diet that supplies less “fuel” than you burn will do the trick, but with so many misconceptions about how weight loss works, few of us know why.

This content was originally published here.


New Implant For Type 1 Diabetes Could Eliminate The Need For Insulin Injections

For the more than 1 million Americans who live with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin injections are literally a matter of life and death. And while there is no cure, a Cornell-led research team has developed a device that could revolutionize management of the disease.

In Type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing pancreatic cell clusters (islets) are destroyed by the body’s immune system. The research group, led by assistant professor Minglin Ma from the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has devised an ingenious method for implanting hundreds of thousands of islet cells into a patient. They are protected by a thin hydrogel coating and, more importantly, the coated cells are attached to a polymer thread and can be removed or replaced easily when they have outlived their usefulness.

The findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Doctoral students Alan Chiu, left, and Duo An hold a sample of TRAFFIC (Thread-Reinforced Alginate Fiber for Islets enCapsulation). In the background, left to right, are Minglin Ma, Dan Luo, Meredith Silberstein and Dr. James Flanders.

Transplantation of stem cell-derived, insulin-producing islet cells is an alternative to insulin therapy, but that requires long-term immunosuppressive drug administration. One well-researched approach to avoid the immune system’s response is to coat and protect the cells in tiny hydrogel capsules, hundreds of microns in diameter. However, these capsules cannot be taken out of the body easily, since they’re not connected to each other, and there are hundreds of thousands of them.

And the ability to remove the transplant is key because of the potential of tumors forming when stem cell-derived, insulin-producing cells – the most promising cell source for type 1 diabetes cell therapies – are used.

“When they fail or die, they need to come out,” Ma said. “You don’t want to put something in the body that you can’t take out. With our method, that’s not a problem.”

Taking inspiration from the way water beads on a spider’s web, Ma and his team first attempted to connect the islet cell-containing capsules through a string but realized that it would be better to put the hydrogel layer uniformly around a string instead.

That string: an ionized calcium-releasing, nanoporous polymer thread. The device starts with two sterile nylon sutures twisted in a helix, then folded over to facilitate the subsequent nanoporous structure coatings. Placed onto that thread is a thin layer of islet cell-containing alginate hydrogel, which adheres to the helical, nanoporous thread, similar to dew drops sticking to the spider silk. Alginate is a seaweed extract commonly used in encapsulated cell transplantation.

This thread – which the group has dubbed TRAFFIC (Thread-Reinforced Alginate Fiber For Islets enCapsulation) – was inspired by a spider’s web but, according to Ma, is even better because the hydrogel covers the thread uniformly.

“You don’t have any gaps between capsules,” he said. “With a spider’s silk, you still have gaps between the water beads. In our case, gaps would be bad in terms of scar tissue and the like.”

And since the thread is twisted and porous, the hydrogel won’t slip off as it would on a single, smooth piece of material. Fan and Silberstein were instrumental in modeling different options for the thread configuration.

This therapy would involve minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to implant approximately six feet of hydrogel-coated thread into the patient’s peritoneal cavity.

“We only need two quarter-inch-long incisions,” Flanders said. “We inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide, which gives us room to work, and then put in two ports – one for a scope that’s hooked to a camera, so we can see what we’re doing, and the other for a grasping device, which is how we introduce the implant.”

TRAFFIC’s large surface area promotes better mass transfer, Ma said, and diffusion is good because all the islet cells are near the surface. Current life span estimates for the thread are between six and 24 months, although more testing is necessary.

In mice, blood glucose levels were returned to normal two days after implantation of a one-inch length of TRAFFIC, and remained normal for at least three months when the experiment ended. Retrievability was tested in multiple dogs, with 10-inch samples being successfully implanted and removed laparoscopically.

Flanders, who performed surgical implantation in canines, said among the different dogs and devices tested there was either no or only minimal adhesion of the device to surrounding tissue upon removal.

This collaboration has produced a potentially game-changing medical device, he said.

“When Minglin first told me about this, I thought it was brilliant,” Flanders said. “There have been other devices sort of like this, but this one seems to have so much promise. It’s minimally reactive, it protects the islet cells, it allows them to sense glucose, they don’t attach to anything, and it can be easily removed. To me, it sounded like a win-win.”

The post New Implant For Type 1 Diabetes Could Eliminate The Need For Insulin Injections appeared first on Daily Accord.

This content was originally published here.


Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson Test Positive for Coronavirus – Variety

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have announced that they have tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus), the first celebrities to go public with a diagnosis.

Hanks and Wilson, both 63, revealed the news with a statement on Wednesday. The married couple was in Australia for production of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie, in which Hanks is playing Presley’s iconic manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Read the statement below:

“Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.

Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?

We’ll keep the world posted and updated.

Take care of yourselves!”

Hanks and Wilson were the only known individuals on the film to contract the disease, insiders said. The film is currently in pre-production stages, meaning cameras have yet to roll, and is still making preparations to shoot. Testing measures for filmmakers and crew are presently unknown.

Warner Bros., the distributor behind the film, issued a statement shortly after Hanks and Wilson went public.

“We have been made aware that a company member from our Elvis feature film, which is currently in pre-production in The Gold Coast, Australia, has tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus),” the statement reads. “We are working closely with the appropriate Australian health agencies to identify and contact anyone who may have come in direct contact with the individual. The health and safety of our company members is always our top priority, and we are taking precautions to protect everyone who works on our productions around the world. The individual who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently receiving treatment.”

The news broke just as President Donald Trump announced a 30-day suspension on travel from Europe to the United States due to the spread of coronavirus. Earlier on Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

There have been more than 115,000 cases of coronavirus confirmed worldwide, and the disease has killed more than 4,200 people.

Deadline Hollywood first broke the news.

A post shared by Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) on

This content was originally published here.


Regulating genetic biohacking | Science



Just as the popularization of computers in the late 1970s and early 1980s gave rise to computer hacking, the recent accessibility and affordability of relatively easy (and widely hyped) genome-editing technologies and resources has spurred interest in genetic “biohacking”—molecular genetics experiments performed outside institutional laboratories by individuals who may have little formal scientific training. Regulation of the work of professional scientists and traditional scientific institutions is robust, although it still faces scrutiny in the wake of He Jiankui’s genome-editing experiments on Chinese twins ([ 1 ][2]). However, regulation of genetic biohacking has received far less attention, even though, like traditional scientific research, it is likely to produce a range of innovations while posing a number of risks to public health. Here, we explore these risks and the consequences of understanding that some instances of regulatory failure for biohacking are inevitable. And, where they are not, we suggest that agencies, policy-makers, and private parties have the opportunity to improve oversight of genetic biohacking using the tools they currently possess.

Experiments to modify genetic expression that once required specialized training and substantial investments in equipment and reagents can now be conducted for a few hundred dollars and with a basic instruction manual. Genomic sequencing can be done using portable pocket devices, some of which cost less than a plane ticket. The rise of direct-to-consumer genetic testing has also resulted in individual access to raw genetic data, fueling a variety of health, wellness, ancestry, and relative identification services that offer to interpret those data.

As these technologies go mainstream, some individuals have begun conducting genetic experiments outside of traditional scientific labs, such as those associated with universities, research institutions, and regulated corporate entities. Some of these experiments have involved humans, although thus far they appear to be limited to self-experimentation with one’s own body—an activity that has an ancient pedigree in traditional medical research.

The motivations of these genetic biohackers, some of whom lack any formal training in biology, are diverse and often complex. Some appear to be motivated by normative beliefs in a “right to do science.” Others place a high value on bodily autonomy or creative expression—a right to experiment on themselves or use genome editing for expressive purposes. Some view biohacking as a means of self-care, where, for example, they experiment with alternatives to (sometimes expensive) regulated drugs. Still others harbor views that traditional scientific institutions are poor regulators of themselves or are slow and needlessly cumbersome. And some, frankly, are moved by anti-government sentiments.

Reflecting these diverse motives, recent reports of genetic biohacking include a broad array of experiments: genetic modification of bacteria, yeast, plants, nonhuman mammals—and also humans, in the form of genetic self-experimentation. This includes, for example, self-injecting homemade genetic material in attempts to change the expression of muscle growth factors to improve strength or to treat diseases such as HIV or herpes ([ 2 ][3]). Where self-experimentation is undertaken by groups that coordinate their efforts, these activities can begin to look like decentralized clinical trials. Some biohackers might also attempt to experiment on others. Although there are no documented instances of this to date, biohackers have reported (and expressed concerns about) being approached by individuals asking for help treating their own or their family members’ health conditions. Genetic biohacking of this sort—experimentation on oneself and others—poses public health risks. These include interventions with poor safety or efficacy, a lack of true informed consent, and the introduction and uptake of unsafe and unproven “therapies” into commerce. The democratization of genetic biohacking exacerbates these public health risks because many experiments make use of easy-to-obtain materials and equipment purchased from companies that cater to the do-it-yourself (DIY) market or freely provided by other biohackers.

There are other emerging areas of DIY science, such as neurohacking and self-manufacture of traditional pharmaceutical products, that do not focus on molecular genetics but that similarly raise public health concerns. Genetic biohacking, however, is especially easy, affordable, and a particularly popular and promising form of DIY science that poses unclear but potentially serious or far-reaching risks. These include, for example, sick individuals foregoing known, effective treatments in the hope of cheaper and unproven DIY genetic interventions or, at an extreme, harmful germline modifications. As has been the case for “alternative” cancer treatments and autologous stem cell transplants, hype and access to biological reagents have the potential to pose substantial public health concerns. Genetic biohacking communities, therefore, should be an important focus for regulating DIY science.

As biohacking has become more prevalent and public, scholars, ethicists, and regulators have voiced concerns that government oversight may be absent or inadequate to address the risks that these activities may pose. Indeed, biohackers sometimes work in private, whereas traditional research is conducted in teams overseen by institutions. Biohackers generally do not obtain ethical review of their work, in contrast to traditional biological research. Furthermore, biohackers are often self-funded and are thus not typically accountable to private or agency funders, unlike their traditional, professional counterparts.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, however, genetic biohacking does not occur in a legal or ethical “wild west” ([ 1 ][2]). In the United States, there are a number of laws and regulations that appear to be relevant. We focus on the U.S. regulatory landscape because the United States is a popular site for genetic biohacking and the home of the earliest community laboratories. Unlike some European countries, the United States does not ban genome editing conducted outside of licensed laboratories, although it is not unlikely that such a ban would be proposed if it is discovered (as it was with He) that some genetic biohackers have crossed generally observed lines of ethics or safety. Our objective is to help U.S. regulators better prepare for that day. Although our recommendations may not precisely translate to other countries because each jurisdiction has a unique regulatory system and philosophy, they may nonetheless be broadly informative of potential regulatory responses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, has extensive power to regulate the public health impacts of genetic biohacking, with jurisdiction that reaches farther than many biohackers realize. In many circumstances, the things used by genetic biohackers—such as raw biological materials, traditional drug products, and DIY CRISPR kits—are, by statute, FDA-regulatable drugs. Other articles, such as human gene therapy products, also come within FDA’s purview over biologics ([ 3 ][4]). Moreover—and contrary to popular belief—money need not always change hands for an item to fall within FDA’s jurisdiction, a wrinkle important for biohackers who freely provide or exchange materials ([ 4 ][5]). This view of FDA’s authority was bolstered in November 2017 when, in response to concerns about individuals using DIY CRISPR kits for self-experimentation, the agency stated that “any use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in humans [is] gene therapy” and therefore subject to regulation ([ 5 ][6]).

FDA has yet to vigorously enforce its power in this area. To date, it has not taken public enforcement action against any biohackers conducting genome editing. But this is consistent with FDA’s flexibility to exercise “enforcement discretion” in deciding which violations merit formal action given limited enforcement resources. Genetic biohacking may also make it practically difficult for FDA to identify violations that do occur, especially when committed by individual experimenters or small-scale biohacking communities.

Even so, this does not mean that new or more powerful regulations are warranted. Where FDA has chosen not to formally wield its enforcement power, the agency still has a role in community engagement—education, warning, and standard-setting for activities that pose public health risks and that otherwise fall within its purview. An important function of the agency is to encourage communication and disclosure for traditional, commercial research ([ 6 ][7]). Through its longstanding role in assessing drugs and biological products, FDA is the government regulatory agency equipped with the expertise to assess the safety and effectiveness of genetic biohacking. FDA involvement, therefore, may help to realize the promise of genetic biohacking through guiding biohacking efforts toward interventions that live up to the communities’ hopes.

Although FDA has begun to show interest in genetic biohacking—as evidenced by its November 2017 statement and the participation of officials in a 2018 “bio-citizen” workshop hosted not by the agency but by the Woodrow Wilson Center ([ 5 ][6], [ 7 ][8])—the agency has seemingly not yet taken the reins through a proactive effort to deeply engage with or understand biohacking communities. Given some biohackers’ continued confusion about FDA’s authority over their work, the agency might begin by clarifying the boundaries of its jurisdiction, in lay terms and in sufficient detail to cover diverse biohacking activities, while seeking feedback from biohacking communities on how FDA could best exercise its authority in this space. This would provide biohacking communities more certainty about where they stand and potentially encourage new and innovative biohacking activities that might have been deterred by uncertainty about FDA enforcement. At the same time, these activities will help the agency to avoid repeating the mistakes it made with the stem cell industry, where the rapid expansion of clinics offering unproven interventions to patients is attributed to years of uncertainty around the scope of FDA jurisdiction and limited agency engagement. The agency also could draft guidances about typical genetic biohacking experiments and identify staff as points of contact for those engaged in genetic biohacking who would like to communicate with the agency. FDA’s lack of current engagement is a shame, but not one that merits revamping of the agency’s powers.

A similar approach has thus far proved successful for other federal authorities in different contexts. The risks posed by biohacking in the context of “bioterrorism,” for example, have been the subject of study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Biological Countermeasures Unit ([ 8 ][9]). To police the threat of biohacking-mediated bioterrorism, and in contrast to FDA’s work, the FBI has developed strong relationships with community labs, where some genetic experimentation is occurring.

Efforts at community engagement should focus on the potential public health harms posed by genetic biohacking, such as adverse effects from the administration of homemade gene therapies, contamination of the environment from poorly kept genetic reagents (such as viral vectors), and the forgoing of traditional treatments in favor of DIY experimental ones. Specific risks (and potential benefits) of genetic bio-hacking involving humans will depend on the context of their use. Thus, assessment should include, for example, ascertaining whether a homemade genetic intervention is intended as a therapy for a disease with no known treatment, a disease for which there are known effective treatments, or for some other purpose, such as an enhancement or aesthetic use.

Genetic biohacking is also potentially subject to U.S. laws that are enforced by private rather than government actors. These may fill some of the gaps in public regulators’ ambit ([ 9 ][10]). Patent owners, for example, can impose ethical restrictions on licensees, such as the Broad Institute’s licenses for its CRISPR patents to Bayer (formerly Monsanto), with conditions that Bayer avoid research activities that are potentially harmful to public health, including tobacco research and germline editing ([ 10 ][11]). Such license restrictions can—and should—be used to police commercial manufacturers of genome-editing kits and reagents popular in biohacking communities, just as they have previously been used to prevent activities that pose national security, environmental, or public health risks ([ 11 ][12]). Even without a license in place, patent owners can enforce restrictions through threats of patent infringement litigation against any recalcitrant biohackers or manufacturers of biohacking products. A similar model was proposed as an attempt to restrict the use of “gene drive technology”—inheritable versions of CRISPR designed to drive a specific allele through generations of a population ([ 12 ][13]). Beyond patents, people injured by genetic biohacking materials could potentially bring tort law claims against biohackers and component suppliers to seek compensation for their injuries. A person injured while using a DIY CRISPR kit, for example, would likely be able to sue the seller of the kit—a potentially strong deterrent to marketers of unsafe biohacking materials.

Apart from these legal mechanisms, some biohacking communities have adopted their own ethics restrictions, which, even if not intended to do so, might indirectly avoid harms to public health caused by genetic biohacking. The International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition, for example, requires its participants to comport with a strict program of bioethics ([ 13 ][14]). The International Gene Synthesis Consortium—a group of commercial suppliers of genetic materials—developed protocols for screening orders and verifying customers in an effort to prevent dangerous uses. For example, protocols may instruct suppliers to decline orders for delivery to home addresses or post office boxes ([ 9 ][10]). Although this is an important effort, some biohackers have nonetheless devised ways to pass such screening by, for instance, registering businesses for the purpose of obtaining institutional addresses.

Another example of self-governance is community labs’ adoption of safety policies, which often include standards detailed in the cornerstone of biosafety practices in the United States, the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories guidance document. These policies include restrictions on experimentation in humans, one of the riskiest forms of genetic biohacking with the largest potential negative consequence to public health. A grant-funded effort spearheaded by North Carolina State University is currently under way to understand and improve on community labs’ safety policies with guidance from biosafety officers established in three labs. Analogously, a code of ethics adopted in 2011 by an organization of DIY biologists, DIYbio. org, remains an important touchstone for experiments ([ 14 ][15]).

Given that many biohackers who conduct work at home are also members of community labs ([ 15 ][16]), their safety policies have the potential to go a long way in promoting safety in genetic biohacking. Outside the norms of community labs and traditional scientific institutions, many who engage in biohacking activities nonetheless rely on each other for materials and information, providing a positive downstream effect to community labs’ ability to police the conduct of biohacking communities. These collaborations might also encourage transparency between biohackers affiliated with community labs and those outside the community lab niche.

Like government regulation, private governance of this sort is important and laudable but not a perfect or comprehensive solution. Private actors may not be inclined to regulate conduct that poses few risks to them, even if safety risks to others are numerous, obvious, and serious. In other cases, the social stigma of violating community norms may simply be an ineffective deterrent. Additionally, community labs’ private governance efforts only weakly reach genetic biohacking communities focused on human experimentation or in locations where community labs are absent.

The existence of public and private governance mechanisms to mitigate the public health risks and encourage the innovative potential of biohacking—even if currently infrequently used—means that regulators can better implement these mechanisms rather than rely on new ones to be grafted into law. For example, calls for bans on biohacking, such as those from a consumer advocacy organization in Australia, go too far. The tools for public and private regulators to manage biohacking’s public health risks are largely already available. But they must be used better.

As with other issues pertaining to public health, this also means that the future of regulating biohacking lies not only in more stringent policing, but in better education of its participants and a realistic understanding that violations will be inevitable. Education would help private actors to understand the risks posed by certain forms of biohacking and to appreciate FDA’s role in both consumer protection and fostering of innovation ([ 6 ][7]). Likewise, public regulators such as FDA would benefit from engaging with stakeholders to better understand genetic biohacking activities, its participants’ perspectives, and biohacking communities’ potential for self-governance—much as it already does with the pharmaceutical industry. Even with limited enforcement resources, agencies such as FDA have an opportunity to advance public health by working with biohacking communities as their practices and norms are being developed—and before potentially problematic norms of risk, secrecy, and mavericks become widespread.

No government or private policy will ever achieve perfect compliance, even in traditional scientific settings—as He’s experiments painfully demonstrate. There will always be “rogue actors” who may maintain connections with their institutional communities even after being “caught” ([ 1 ][2]). Striving for perfect compliance comes with substantial burdens, including throttling the development of new technologies, expending scarce enforcement resources, and facing political backlash. Appreciating this should allow policy-makers and regulators—both public and private—to understand that different genetic biohacking activities will pose different risks and should merit different approaches, and to tailor existing regulatory mechanisms to mitigate genetic biohacking’s risks while amplifying its potential.

1. [↵][17]1. R. A. Charo

, N. Engl. J. Med. 380, 976 (2019).


2. [↵][19]1. E. Baumgaertner

, New York Times 15 May 2018; [][20].

3. [↵][21]42 U.S.C. § 262(i).
4. [↵][22]21 U.S.C. § 331.
5. [↵][23]FDA, “Information About Self-Administration of Gene Therapy,” [][24].
6. [↵][25]1. R. S. Eisenberg

, Mich. Telecommun. Technol. Law Rev. 13, 345 (2007).


7. [↵][27]1. T. Kuiken,
2. E. Pauwels,
3. S. W. Denton

, “The Rise of the New Bio-Citizen: Ethics, Legitimacy, and Responsible Governance in Citizen-Driven Biomedical Research and Innovation” (Woodrow Wilson Center, July 2018); [][28].

8. [↵][29]1. H. Wolinsky

, EMBO Rep. 17, 793 (2016).


9. [↵][31]1. S. M. Maurer

, Self-Governance in Science (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2017).

10. [↵][32]1. C. J. Guerrini,
2. M. A. Curnutte,
3. J. S. Sherkow,
4. C. T. Scott

, Nat. Biotechnol. 35, 22 (2017).


11. [↵][36]1. S. O’Connor

, Berkeley Technol. Law J. 21, 1017 (2006).


12. [↵][38]1. A. Regalado

, MIT Tech. Rev. (20 October 2016); [][39].

13. [↵][40]1. C. Vilanova,
2. M. Porcar

, Nat. Biotechnol. 32, 420 (2014).


14. [↵][41]DIYbio, “Draft DIYbio Code of Ethics from North American Congress” (2011); .

15. [↵][42]1. D. Grushkin,
2. T. Kuiken,
3. P. Millet

, Seven Myths and Realities About Do-It-Yourself Biology (Woodrow Wilson Center, 2013);

Acknowledgments: We thank I. Canfield for research assistance. C.J.G.’s involvement in development of this manuscript was funded in part by National Human Genome Research Institute grant K01-HG009355.

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functional medicine

How technology, genomics, biometrics, support integrative and functional medicine

Health is personal, said Jeffrey Bland, PhD, FACN, FACB, CNS, president of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute, at the 2019 Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City.

“Lasting health comes from the interaction of our genes with our lifestyle and environment,” said Bland. “Personalizing this connection is the future.”

The digital revolution is changing the way we live. We’re becoming wired as a global community, said Bland.

Healthcare has evolved from what experts call “imprecision medicine,” where conditions are treated with generalized pharmaceuticals and patient protocols. Today, practitioners are starting to understand that care must be tailored to the individual, and technology plays a huge role in that.

The value proposition for technology in healthcare is often whether they artifacts of a replaceable society or are these devices and techniques and tools that are a part of this transition from where we have been to where we’re going, said Bland. He thinks it’s the latter.

“We’re evolving to a new planetary culture,” said Bland. “It is my belief that the singular most significant global transformation is the transition from being part of the group, to being an individual in the group.”

The role of the practitioner, therefore, is also evolving, with a new focus to empower and accelerate the power of the individual to do the best they can, said Bland.

The digital tools we now have access to are opening opportunities to evaluate and assess the body’s functions in ways we never had access to before. Wearable devices, for example, track way more than steps and calories. some have capabilities to measure EKG patterns, and are evolving to measuring continuous blood sugar measurements, blood pressure, and body composition, Bland said.

We can track how our body changes over the course of our daily routine, and how different activities—eating, interacting with others, exercising, or being in different environments—influence our physiological function, said Bland.

“We’re making our way to what’s called the quantified human revolution,” Bland said. “We’re starting to see ourselves as uniquely different in the way we respond to the events that we experience in our lives.”

Coupled with ever-evolving technology in genetics, genomics, and biomarkers, we are not only able to care for patients in the present but understand who they might become through our genetic potential, said Bland. The view that genes are not our destiny is still new, Bland said, and offer opportunities to really change how we are going to live, and to personalize our diet, our lifestyle, and our environmental exposures.

All these technological changes are creating a new way of thinking and development in integrative and functional medicine, Bland said. The wellness and health industry take us way from being a disease-centric country, he said, to being a country that is equally interested in keeping patients healthy as they are in treating disease.

Functional medicine is not about the diagnostic concept as much as it is about looking at antecedents, triggers, mediators, signs, and symptoms. That is the basis of the functional medicine model, he said. Health must be determined by measuring functional status, including physical, physiological, cognitive, and psychological function.

“Prevention is a non-quantifiable term,” said Bland. “You don’t know if you’ve prevented something unless you get it. We have a disease-care system to manage disease. We need a healthcare system to measure our health. No more of this prevention nonsense.”

The functional medicine model, Bland said, must be etiology-focused; the abnormal must be compared to the individual itself; and must be centered on networks; interconnected organ systems; and determination of underlying dysfunctions leading to symptoms.

Part of this new continuum that we’re being exposed to is program adherence, Bland said. This takes us back to technology—tools practitioners can use not only to understand a patient’s health but help them manage and monitor it. They can be behavior modification tools to reinforce what patients need to do to stay healthy.

What might this new functional medicine model look like? Bland suggests polygenic analysis of SNPs and family of methylation related genes; tissue-specific genomic methylation profile; genomic stability assessment; telomere length; metagenome analysis; inflammation biomarkers; oxidative stress biomarkers; and urinary polyphenol analysis. The future is personal and takes advantage of the tools and technology available to make the best recommendations for patients that they can adhere to.

While this revolution is still underway, the opportunities for practitioners and personalized interventions are endless.

“It truly is a remarkable and epic time,” said Bland.

This content was originally published here.


Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study

As an added bonus we’ve included horrifying gifs and clips to help you, our beloved reader, lose weight…

Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study giphy 25

Ever since my gran showed me The Exorcist as an impressionable young lad of eight-years-old (thanks, gran) I’ve loved horror movies.

Whether it be the gruesome delights of The Thing, the spine-tingling thrills of Poltergeist, all the way to the frankly naff Amityville Horror I think horror is splendid! And as such have long considered watching scary films oddly therapeutic.

And you know what? It only turns out I’m bloody right.

According to a survey done by researchers at the University of Westminster, watching a frightening film has a number of advantageous effects, including; burning calories and boosting people’s moods.

Interestingly though, how beneficial horror will be for you depends on two things, namely how scary you find the film you’re watching and how much you actually want to be scared.

Researchers got ten people to watch ten scary films and monitored their heart rate, oxygen intake and output of carbon dioxide.

Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study giphy 20Universal Pictures

They found that exposing the test subjects to scary stimuli caused them to release adrenaline, which the author of the study, Richard Mackenzie, claims triggers the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response.

When this response is triggered the body starts burning fat stores for energy, while also releasing blood sugar. It also forces your body to up your metabolism causing you to burn sugar without the need for oxygen.

There are more benefits than just weight loss though. A separate study conducted at Coventry University in 2003 and published in the journal Stress revealed that watching horror also causes the body to release more white blood cells.

Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study giphy 21Compass International

This is again linked to the body’s fight or flight response and allows people to fight infections and temporarily boosts immune function.

Furthermore, a good scare can improve a person’s mood, as counter-intuitive as that seems, or at least that’s the claim of Margee Kerr, a sociologist and fear researcher and author of Scream: Chilling Adventures In the Science of Fear.

She told :

The research my colleagues and I have done shows a high-arousal negative stimuli improves mood significantly.

Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study giphy 22

Kerr explains that after being frightened they tend to feel less anxious, less frustrated and happier.

Now before you sit your infirm relatives in front of the box for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre marathon we should explain there’s a pretty major caveat to this whole thing, the person being scared only gets the benefits if they’ve chosen to be frightened.

Watching Horror Films Helps You Lose Weight, Reveals Study giphy 19Warner Bros.

That means you have to be a horror fan in the first place to reap the benefits, and that exposure to frightening films left some people with residual anxiety over the horrors they saw as children.

Not me though, I’m sure that watching The Exorcist as a child hasn’t affected me in the slightest. Now if you’ll excuse me Mr Howdy and I have an important meeting with the king of the demons of the wind, Pazuzu!

This content was originally published here.


Penny Marshall Died From Diabetes Complications

Penny Marshall’s cause of death was complications from diabetes, according to her publicist.

“Yes she did (die) … peacefully at her Hollywood Hills home,” Marshall’s publicist Michelle Bega told the . “She passed away from complications from diabetes.”

The Laverne & Shirley actress died Monday at her California home. She was 75.

Her family also confirmed the news in a statement: “Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” the statement to TMZ read. “Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”

“Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story,” her family’s statement to the Daily News read, referring to the monogrammed wardrobe of Marshall’s blue-collar protagonist Laverne De Fazio.

Marshall had reportedly been battling health issues on and off since 2009, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to her brain.

As Laverne De Fazio, Marshall played a beer bottle capper on Laverne & Shirley alongside her quirky co-star Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney. The monster hit show, a spinoff of Happy Days, ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983.

Following her success with Laverne & Shirley, Marshall reportedly felt pigeonholed in the role and stepped behind the camera in an unorthodox career move — but a great one, nonetheless. She directed Tom Hanks in Big in 1988, becoming the first woman in history to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. She did it again with A League of Their Own in 1992, which starred Hanks, Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna. She’s also well known for directing 1990’s Awakenings, for which Robert De Niro earned an Oscar nomination and which also starred the late Robin Williams.

The beloved comedic actress was married to actor Rob Reiner for 10 years, starting in 1971, until the pair divorced after a decade of marriage. She told in 2012 that in an odd twist of fate, she and Reiner grew up across the street from each other.

“When Rob Reiner and I were children, we lived across the street from each other. We never met because the Grand Concourse was a busy street, and we were too young to cross it,” she said.

“He went to PS 8, I went to 80. He moved when he was 7. His father, Carl, was one of the stars on Your Show of Shows, and he was the most famous person in the neighborhood. He was also known for giving out the best Halloween candy,” she said.

Marshall came from a show business family herself, with her father Tony Marshall a director and producer. Her mother, Marjorie, was a tap dance teacher. Two of Marshall’s siblings also went on to succeed in Hollywood: brother Garry Marshall, who helped her land her breakout role on Happy Days, as well as sister Ronny Harlin, a casting director and producer.

Marshall is survived by Ronny, her daughter, Tracy, and three grandkids — Spencer, Bella and Viva. Her family said plans for a “celebration of her life” will be announced at a later date.

This content was originally published here.