Monday, February 6, 2023

The ocean, a source of treatment for some of the world's worst diseases

The ocean could hold the cure to the worst threats to public health. Researchers and experts are using some of the most unknown marine bioresources to make compounds to improve our health and they're doing so without damaging the sea.

From Euronews (link)

The ocean is the cradle of all life on our planet.
Humans have known about its health benefits for centuries.
Today, scientists are going one step further with what they know about its medicinal potential, they are looking in the ocean itself for cures for some of the world's most stubborn diseases.

Part of this search begins in the Algarve, famous for its stunning coastline.
It's in this region that Portuguese biotech company, Sea4Us, is working on a non-opioid analgesic, a safe and effective remedy for chronic pain.

Why pain relief?

Pedro Lima is a neurophysiologist, marine biologist and co-founder of Sea4Us.
He tells us that the need for non-opioid analgesics is enormous, "one out of five of us has suffered from some kind of chronic pain".
His dream is to find in the sea something that can help these people.

Sea4Us was co-founded in 2013 and works on EU-supported projects, collecting and studying simple marine organisms like sponges and other invertebrates.
Scientists from Sea4Us spend their time between laboratories and the depths of the sea, making regular dives for new samples.

Why might marine invertebrates contain the molecules for pain relief?

Many marine invertebrates are stuck in the rock under the sea and they can't move.
Lima tells us that this means they've developed a venom that has "compounds that block the neuroactive signal related to pain".
This is one area of research into simple marine organisms, but they can also be used for a wide variety of purposes, not just healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Blue biotechnology, biotechnology that uses aquatic organisms, is a fast-growing sector.
In Europe, this market is estimated to grow to around €10 billion by the end of the decade.
It's a whole world of unexplored potential, just waiting to be discovered.

Hidden in the depths

At a depth of around 20 meters, a variety of marine fauna covers the rocky cliffs.
Scientists look there for patterns that could indicate defensive venoms that sponges produce to protect themselves from their neighbours.
Lima describes the questions leading this search as "who eats what? What is avoided by whom? What's the next neighbour?".
The answers to these questions, the relationship between species, is what gives the team the clues as to what to choose.

Pedro Lima, Neurophysiologist, Marine Biologist and Co-founder of Sea4UsThe Algarve, Portugal

Inside dark underwater caves, the lack of light means that competition between fauna becomes more specific.
"Sponges don't need to compete against fast-growing species like algae.
They fight between each other and we are interested in that fight", Lima adds.

Protecting the ocean to protect ourselves

Diving at 20 metres or even to the bottom of the sea, you're not safe from plastic pollution.
Despite the fact that two areas in the Cape of Sao Vicente in the Algarve are protected, various waste can be found floating around.
On our dive there, we saw ropes that are evidence perhaps of illegal fishing.
Michał Babiarz is a R&D Scientist at Sea4Us.
He tells us that it's common to find octopus traps, fishing nets, plastic bags and metal cans in these areas.
However, he feels that "as long as we care about the ocean and try to avoid dumping plastics and other litter, we can receive something back from the ocean, from nature, to use for our health".

When scientists collect samples, they take the bare minimum to make sure they preserve populations.
Lima says "the impact is close to zero".
He tells us that the idea is "to be inspired by nature and then we can recreate it, upscale it to industrial scale, so we don't need to go back to the sea to count on the biomass.
The biomass is just inspiration".

The science behind it all

The collected samples are taken to Lisbon and studied by the Sea4Us physiology laboratory at NOVA University.
The process can take several months or even up to a few years of work.
Sponges and their symbiotic organisms produce hundreds of individual compounds.
Scientists test them for anti-pain bioactivity and gradually narrow their search.

Silvia LIno, marine biotechnologist at Sea4UsLisbon, Portugal

Silvia Lino, a marine biotechnologist at Sea4Us, describes the scientific process to us:
"It's the whole system, it has bacteria, it has a microbiome of its own.
So we just extract and test.
If it's OK, we keep on separating, and we separate as much as we can until we end up with one compound that's responsible for the activity".

So far Sea4Us say they have found two molecules that reduce pain activity in spinal ganglion neurons.
They plan to provide them to the pharmaceutical industry for the next stage: medicine development.

André Bastos, electrophysiologist and co-founder of Sea4Us, says results show that their compounds reduce the level of pain and that they mitigate the risk of developing addiction.
At Sea4Us they're optimistic that the compounds will pass clinical studies and reach the market.

Potential cures of well-known diseases

The ocean could hold cures for some of the worst threats to public health: viral outbreaks, antibiotic resistance, cancer.
Marine research and healthy oceans are some of the priorities of Horizon Europe, an EU programme that funds scientific projects in all the member states.

The CIIMAR Centre in Porto works on several of Horizon Europe's funded research projects and there they are researching a variety of marine life forms, big and small.

They collect cyanobacteria, "ancient organisms and they can grow basically everywhere", Teresa Martins a biochemist at CIIMAR tells us.
Not only can they grow anywhere, but they also contain molecules, chemicals "that might have really interesting applications in the future", she adds.

CIIMAR scientists collecting cyanobacteria on the rocksPorto, Portugal

Cyanobacteria are known for their potent toxicity, but for scientists, this can be the flip side of medicinal properties.
According to Pedro Leão, a researcher in cyanobacterial natural products at CIIMAR, "any disease could be cured as long as we find a molecule that can treat it".
That's why they look for cyanobacteria "because they produce such a wide variety of compounds that it is possible that we can find an interesting molecule to develop into a medicine".

The scientists at CIIMAR take samples from various countries, isolating and cultivating new species of cyanobacteria.
Their library of over 1000 strains is open to researchers from Europe and from around the world.
Studies show that some of the toxic compounds can precisely target cancer cells, which may pave the way for new therapies.
Experiments on fish larvae show encouraging results that could help in the fight against diabetes and obesity.

Ralph Urbatzka, a researcher in marine biotechnology at CIIMAR believes we are still "a long way from solving the problems of cancer and obesity, but we are on the first line of research to find the solution that can be developed to tackle these diseases".
The future looks promising.

Marine biotechnology could be a sea change humanity needs, but only if we find a way to use its healing potentials without damaging the ocean.
As Vítor Manuel Oliveira Vasconcelos director at CIIMAR says, "life started in the ocean and I believe that our life can be saved by the ocean as well".

Links :

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Iridium GO! exec powered by Certus 100 service

Introducing the Iridium GO! exec - a smart companion for your smart devices.
Powered by the Iridium Certus® 100 midband service, it enables Wi-Fi connectivity for select messaging, email, social media, weather, and light web browsing apps, as well as simultaneous access to two high quality voice lines for calls.
To learn more, visit:
Links :

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Peter Gabriel song : Mercy street

Let's take the boat out
Wait until darkness
Let's take the boat out
Wait until darkness comes

Riding the water
Riding the waves 
On the sea

Friday, February 3, 2023

UKHO delays phase out of Admiralty paper charts till at least 2030

UKHO said in response to feedback it will delay ending production of paper charts (UKHO)

From Maritime Executive

Six months after setting a 2026 target for the complete withdrawal from production of all paper navigation charts, the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) said today that in response to user feedback, it now plans to continue to provide a paper chart service until at least 2030.
While saying that still believes the future of navigation is digital, they said consultations with users and various organizations highlighted several important transnational and regulatory factors that need further consideration.

In July 2022, UKHO announced its intention to end the production of Admiralty paper charts, long considered one of the standards of the maritime world.
Like the sextant, mariners for hundreds of years
relied on paper charts for positioning and voyage planning.
One of the standards for reliability and accuracy was and remains the UK, but the office noted that most mariners had already made the switch to digital, especially after the SOLAS mandate for the transition to ECDIS took effect.

Timetable for withdrawal of Standard Nautical Charts and Thematic Charts to be extended beyond 2026 in response to user feedback.
The plan for the phase-out of charts they noted is subject to the development of digital solutions for those remaining users of Admiralty Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts, ensuring that they have viable, official alternatives, as well as meeting the required technical and regulatory steps.
The UKHO highlights that it made a commitment to consult closely and more widely with its UK and international stakeholders on the proposal to stop production and to listen to the feedback of the users and different organizations.
It became clear to the UKHO that more time is required to address the needs of those specific users who do not yet have viable alternatives to paper chart products.

“As we further develop digital navigation solutions, our long-term intention to withdraw from paper chart production remains unchanged and we will continue to withdraw elements of our chart portfolio over the coming period, on a case-by-case basis,” said Peter Sparkes, Chief Executive of UKHO.
“Having listened to the feedback we have received and in light of the consequential impact of the international technical and regulatory steps required to develop digital alternatives, we will be extending the overall timetable for this process.”

The UKHO is seeking to assure users that the elements of its paper chart portfolio necessary to support safe navigation will be maintained throughout the transitional period.
In addition, they said they will be working with international colleagues and partners, including through the IMO and the IHO, to move forward at an appropriate pace.

The UK efforts follow a similar plan by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which in March 2021 reported it had officially begun the effort to sunset paper charts as it transitions exclusively to electronic navigation charts.
NOAA expected to complete its phase-out by January 2025 but highlighted that users will still be able to create their paper and PDF charts from the latest NOAA ENC data.

Despite the decision to extend the timetable for withdrawal by at least four years, the UKHO reports rapidly declining demand for paper products saying the future is clearly digital.
They point to the advantages including the potential for near real-time updates with digital charts, which they said greatly improves the accuracy of navigation and ease of use.
These benefits they said will be further enhanced with the introduction of the next generation of navigation solutions.

Links :

Popeye, the sailor man, was based on a real person

From History Defined by Carl Seaver

Do you love Popeye the Sailor Man?
If so, you’re not alone; this iconic cartoon character has entertained people for generations.
But you may not know that Popeye was based on a real person.

This article will discuss Popeye’s history and his real-life inspirations.
We will also explore his popularity and how he has become a pop culture icon.

So, sit back and enjoy learning about the fascinating story of Popeye the Sailor Man.

Who Created Popeye?

Popeye was created by Elzie Crisler Segar, born in Chester, Illinois, in 1894.
Segar was a newspaper cartoonist who first introduced Popeye in his comic strip, “Thimble Theatre,” in 1929.

The character of Popeye was inspired by a real-life sailor named Frank “Rocky” Fiegel.
Fiegel was a rough-and-tumble man whom E.C. knew from his hometown.
Fiegel worked in a local saloon.
Segar based the character of Popeye on Fiegel because he wanted his comic strip to be realistic.

In all honesty, Popeye wasn’t supposed to be the main character, but he quickly became popular with readers.
A “people pleaser” and a daydreamer at heart, E.C. pursued his lifelong dream of being a famous cartoonist and took a leap of faith.
It’s likely he didn’t realize just how popular the sailor would become, yet he took the chance anyway.

Frank “Rocky” Fiegel

Segar’s comic strip was originally about a cast of characters, including Olive Oyl, Ham Gravy, and Castor Oyl.
The Thimble Theatre was featured in the New York Journal on December 19, 1919, and despite the rumors, it wasn’t an instant hit.

Like many publications, it built a steady following. E.C. took inspiration from his hometown, studied those people’s characteristics, and made them come to life in his comic strip.
But it was Popeye who stole the show and captured people’s hearts.

When E.C. met Frank, he was a retired sailor contracted by the Wiebusch’s Tavern in Chester, Illinois. His job was to clean the place and maintain order amongst the patrons.

He was always getting into fights, so he had a deformed eye, leading to people calling him “Popeye.” He’d won so many fights that he became a local legend.

And because he constantly smoked his pipe, he would speak out of one side of his mouth.
Frank was born in 1868 and migrated from Poland, with his family, to America when he was young.
So, Popeye’s appearance didn’t come from E.C.’s imagination either.

Frank often smoked like a chimney and wore striped sailor’s t-shirts and his trademark cap daily. He also had a strong chin and thick, muscular arms.

When he was with children, he held the pipe with the corner of his mouth and told them about foolish things he did when younger – often boasting of his physical strength and loudly claiming that spinach was what made him invincible.

Like all the other children, E.C. grew up listening to Frank’s stories, turning them into elaborate adventures in his mind. E.C. said that Frank was known for fighting, but he was also known for playing with children and telling stories.

Ultimately, Frank’s gentler traits are what inspired E.C. to create his character in Thimble Theatre.

A Brief History of Popeye

Popeye first appeared in the comics on January 17, 1929, and spoke his famous first line, “‘Ja think I’m a cowboy!?”

On August 27, Olive Oyl mistakenly kisses Popeye on the cheek, instantly winning over the sailor’s heart and beginning their on-page love affair.

The character was an instant success and has appeared in comics, cartoons, movies, and TV shows ever since.

Over the years, Popeye and his adventures have undergone some changes, starting in 1933 when Bluto enters the picture as Popeye’s nemesis and Olive’s love interest.

On July 14, 1933, a Betty Boop cartoon titled Popeye the Sailor was produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

William Costello initially voiced Popeye, but later, Jack Mercer took over. During his animated appearance, he also earned his own theme song.
The show also coined one of Popeye’s most famous lines, “I’m strong to da finish ’cause I eats my spinach.”

Later that month, on July 24, Popeye finds Swee’Pea the “infink” on his doorstep and decides to adopt him.

Throughout the rest of 1933 and 1942, Popeye got a cartoon series produced by Fleischer Studios and distributed by Paramount Pictures.
He became one of the most popular cartoons from the 1930s to the 1960s.

He even had short 15-minute episodes on the radio. Then, in 1942, Popeye received his first color adaptation from Famous Studios. From then on, Popeye would influence young generations worldwide.

The character would achieve TV syndications and magazines and be featured in art. In 1980, a live-action film was released with Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl.

Popeye would also be commemorated on an official stamp from the U.S. Postal Service in its “American Comic Classics” collection around 1995. Later, in 1998, Hanna-Barbera ran a new series starring the sailor.

How Did Popeye Become So Popular?

Generations of children have watched Popeye the Sailor Man cartoons and read the comics, but how did this lovable character become so popular in the first place?

Frank had the tough guy persona and often tackled terrific feats and succeeded – just like Popeye does in the cartoons.

In addition, Frank’s stories about his younger years and physical strength inspired E.C. to create Popeye as a tough guy who consistently beats the odds – primarily because he eats spinach.

Of course, there are other reasons for Popeye’s popularity.
For one, he’s relatable.
Many people see a bit of themselves in Popeye – whether it’s his determination, sense of humor, or love for Olive Oyl.

In addition, Popeye is always ready for a fight, and people admire that about him.
He’s also unafraid to stand up for himself and those he loves, which is another quality many people want to have.

Ultimately, it’s Frank’s gentler traits that have inspired Popeye the most.
He may be tough on the outside, but he’s a big softie on the inside.
He loves children and always has time for a good story.

These qualities have made Popeye the lovable character we all know and love today.
But no matter how the story has changed, one thing has remained the same: Popeye is still the little guy who always manages to come out on top, which is something we can all root for.