Have genital herpes? Read this

Great to see Aussie innovation delivering some benefits to society as a whole. If you’ve got herpes, you don’t need me to tell you how awful it can be, let alone the infection risk to others. Even better, the company are touting that it may actually help current herpes sufferers. Here’s hoping!

University start-up research results offer hope for herpes sufferers

Coridon Pty Ltd, a University of Queensland (UQ) start-up company established to commercialise Professor Ian Frazer’s work in developing next generation DNA vaccines, has successfully completed pre-clinical efficacy testing of its prototype Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2) vaccine, with outstanding results. The company will now look to progress the program into clinical studies.

Collaborating with Professor David Koelle and his colleagues at the University of Washington in Seattle, Coridon tested a number of different formulations of Coridon’s prototype vaccine. These proved 100% effective at protecting animals against HSV-2 infection, confirming an earlier study with the University of Washington which also demonstrated 90-100% protection against infection. These results were presented at the 5th Vaccine and ISV Annual Global Congress in Seattle earlier this month.

Coridon has now secured additional funding from major investor Allied Heal thcare Group (ASX: AHZ) to begin manufacturing the vaccine and conduct pre-clinical safety studies before testing the vaccine in a Phase I clinical study.

“The results of our herpes vaccine mark the beginning of an exciting period,” said Professor Frazer.

“Over the next 12 months, we expect pivotal data showing that our HSV vaccine, which incorporates Coridon optimisation technology, produces similar immune responses in the clinic to those seen in the animal trials.”

Working at UQ Diamantina Institute, Coridon is developing DNA vaccines for the prevention and treatment for a range of infectious diseases and cancers in humans, utilising the company’s patented technology.

David Henderson, Managing Director of UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Limited, said Coridon’s recent results and support from investors such as Allied Healthcare Group demonstrated the valuable contribut ion Australian university-based research is having on concerted efforts to address a global health challenge and on Queensland’s reputation in the biotechnology industry.

“Coridon’s DNA vaccine technologies differ from conventional vaccines in that they offer both preventative and therapeutic value,” Mr Henderson said.

“With extremely common infections such as HSV-2, pre-clinical results like this offer hope to people suffering from the pain and fear of spreading the contagion, as well as to governments looking to ease the enormous economic burden – it’s costing larger countries like the US more than $1 billion a year to manage.

“Collaborating with other universities to find a preventative and therapeutic solution, and partnering with companies like Allied Healthcare, will help Professor Frazer and his research team translate their ideas into a vaccine much sooner,” Mr Henderson said.

Allied Healthcare Group’s Managing Director, Mr Lee Rodne, said: “These data provide fantastic validation to the Coridon platform which could be applied to a number of infectious diseases. We are excited about the path forward for the program as it moves toward clinical studies.”

Professor Frazer’s work at Coridon follows the success of his discovery with the late Dr Jian Zhou of a basis for a cervical cancer vaccine (Gardasil), which was also commercialised by UniQuest.

Unlimited Detail: simulation implications

I ran across a fascinating video via New World Notes, that shows an alternate way of rendering 3D environments. The seven-minute video provides a fascinating (albeit hyperbole-filled) overview of the atom-based approach, called Unlimited Detail.

The driving force behind the project is Queensland, Australia-based Bruce Dell, working for an outfit called Euclideon (whose website is unavailable strangely).

Before I go on any further, you should have a look at the video yourself:

One more external pointer: Popsci covers the issue well, but it’s worth reading the comments on that article to pick up on some of the scepticism around about Unlimited Detail.

Of course, whether Unlimited Detail is a near reality or a pipe dream is partly a moot point: it still raises some interesting points for me on how enhancing the current approach to graphical detail is pivotal to the success of 3D environments in a range of areas, including my pet topic of clinical simulation. Until there’s the ability to replicate complex behaviours or procedures in a graphically realistic way, true simulation will remain problematic in these environments.

Let’s take even a ‘simple’ procedural simulation like inserting an endotracheal tube (ETT). The need for graphical reality is critical if any attempt is to be made to translate the practice to the physical world environment – the state of the ‘patient’, their position on the bed, the anatomical correctness of their trachea, the flexibility of the tube and so on. That;s why I’m encouraged by developments like Unlimited Detail.

Of course the real test is whether it sees the light of day in environments accessible to the general public.

Disability Rights Conference in Second Life

Another great event from Virtual Ability Island in Second Life on the way in coming days:

July 16, 2011 – IDRAC2011

International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference- July 23/24, 2011

Virtual World Conference about Real World Rights

Virtual Ability, Inc. announces the International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC2011) to be held Saturday and Sunday, July 23/24, in Second Life®.

In 2006, the United Nations held a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The text of the Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly, and now has over 100 signatory states, including the US and the European Union.

Legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is becoming common around the world. However, the June 9 World Health Organization study, the World Report on Disability, found significant barriers to equal access for persons with disabilities still exist.

This international conference will begin to explore legal protections around the world for persons with disabilities. Featured panels of persons from around the world will discuss local legislation that supports the rights of persons with disabilities. Panelists come from Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

Featured presenters include Scott Gill, Simon Walsh, Sister Abeyante, and Roberta Walker Kilkenny.

Gill is Executive Director of Access 2 independence, a Center for Independent Living in Iowa, US; he will talk about the independence movement. Walsh is head of his own consulting firm in the UK; he will compare the US ADA legislation with the UK’s DDA. Abeyante is a Salvatorian Sister; she will discuss advocacy for disability (civil and human) rights. Kilkenny is a college instructor; she will present about the significance of the UN Convention.

Presentations by the National Service Inclusion Project and the Job Accommodation Network will highlight disability services available in the US. Other sessions will feature peer support, comedy, and dance, both as part of the affirmation celebration.

Presentations will take place in Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island within Second Life®: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23. The full schedule of confirmed presenters is posted inworld, and at http://virtualability.org/IDRAC2011.aspx.

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., stated: “It is a great pleasure to host so many wonderful speakers. Our audience will gain information about the extent of the issues facing people with disabilities, and the potentials for solutions to barriers.”

About Virtual Ability, Inc.

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Denver, Colorado, dedicated to enabling people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in on-line virtual worlds like Second Life®.

For more information on Virtual Ability, Inc., including the benefits of virtual reality for people with disabilities, please see www.VirtualAbility.org.

For further information, contact:

Alice Krueger, President
Virtual Ability Inc.
Office: 303/400-3306
akrueger@VirtualAbility.org

Virtual Worlds and Metaverse Platforms: New Communication and Identity Paradigms

Just a quick note that the book chapter on virtual worlds, health and simulation I wrote during late 2010 is now available for ordering as part of the book Virtual Worlds and Metaverse Platforms: New Communication and Identity Paradigms

Each chapter has an abstract available for viewing and a PDF sample of the first couple of pages (here’s my PDF sample). There’s an interesting range of topics on offer and I’m looking forward to having a read of them all. As my first academic publication I’m just a little stoked ;)

It’s also interesting to note I’m the only author that’s not directly aligned with a University – is it really that rare for someone to contribute to an academic publication that’s not directly aligned with a tertiary institution?

Of course, with the rapidity of change in the field, books like this can date rapidly but having a read-through my own chapter I think it holds up relatively well so far – that may be a different story in six months!

If you do end up reading the chapter in full, I’d dearly love your feedback on it – I have no doubt I’ve missed stuff given the breadth of things underway.

Between Worlds: a Second Life machinima

This post originally appeared over at our sister site, Metaverse Health

There’s not a lot to add to the great description provided by the creators:

“Between Worlds: A Journey of Hope” is a machinima produced by Panacea Luminos of NY HealthScape (USA) filmed and edited by Aliceinthenet (UK) and written by Skylar Smythe (Canada).  The inspirational piece is a story of cancer survival and accessing health information, supports and friendship in the virtual world of Second Life.   We invite you to visit: http://tinyurl.com/3esr334 to view the film and encourage your feedback and comments.

There’s four parts, which you can see below:

Virtual International Day of the Midwife

This post appeared earlier in the week over at Metaverse Health.

A collaboration between Griffith University (Australia), Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand) and the University of Canberra (Australia), the Virtual International Day of the Midwife is in its third year (2009 and 2010 proceedings links).

For more information or to express interest in presenting, check out the VIDM Wiki.

The call for expressions of interest is as follows:

*Call for Expressions of Interest*
The organising committee are now calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI)
to present at the VIDM eVent. While the EOI must be in English we welcome
presentations in other languages. We also welcome EOI from non-midwives and
midwifery students. Presenters need not be experienced in using electronic
media – members of the organising committee will be able to give support.
Please provide a short paragraph (no more than 150 words) describing your
presentation and the form it will take (for example a PowerPoint
presentation, live or email discussion, video, photographic slide show,
story-telling session). Please also include your status (eg midwife,
non-midwife, midwifery student), country of origin and language of
presentation. Your presentations or resources should;

– Have a clear aim or purpose
– Focus on maternity care or midwifery
– Be of interest to an international audience
– Be appropriate to the chosen media

If you would like to give a live presentation, please indicate what time and
time zone you are available in your EOI.

*Support for speakers*
Please note: We will be using the web-conferencing platform Elluminate. All
live sessions will be facilitated by an experienced online facilitator so
you will be supported at every stage.

*When and where to submit your EOI*
Please submit your EOI by 11th March 2011 by;

– Email to Sarah Stewart:
sarahstewart07(at)gmail.com
– Or add it to the VIDM wiki

– Or add to the VIDM Facebook page

Microsoft Kinect on WoW: evolutionary steps

This post comes from Metaverse Health, our sister site devoted to everything related to health and virtual worlds.

Here’s a great video showing the use of the Kinect to play World of Warcraft using a software framework called FAAST. After the initial demo there’s some useful discussion by the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies on its potential applications.

Those applications are something discussed here regularly: rehabilitation and physical activity. Imagine the impact of the technology shown in the video for someone who plays a dozen or more hours of an MMO each week? Let alone someone with a chronic disease or multiple lifestyle risk factors.

Anyway, have a look for yourself:

For my interest in clinical simulation, these developments are of particular interest. Truly effective simulation is likely when health practitioners are physically able to replicate tasks. With my crystal ball in hand, I can’t see that being any more than five years away.

AIDS Quilt in Second Life

This story originally appeared on our sister site, Metaverse Health.

I’ve gone on ad nauseam about the benefits of virtual environments in regard to communal support around health issues. In the physical world, one of the most powerful support campaigns of the past 25 years is the AIDS quilt. Thanks to a joint initiative between Startled Cat and Jokaydia, that sucess story has moved into the virtual worlds of Second Life and Jokaydia’s OpenSim grid.

The premise is simple but powerful: ask those who have lost loved-ones to HIV/AIDS to commemorate those lost in a 3D version of a quilt. Like most of these things, you need to see it for yourself to get the power of it, but once you do it becomes obvious. I had a wander around the handful of quilt rooms already created and was impressed to saythe least – the overall build in Second Life is stupendous and easy to get around / navigate.

The launch of the 3D AIDS quilt occurred today and the call is now out for people to contribute.

For more information, go to either the website or check it out for yourself in Second Life.

Meth apartment in Second Life

This story appeared originally on our sister-site Metaverse Health.

UCLA have undertaken a fascinating study within Second Life, using it as an immersive environment to replicate scenarios around methamphetamine use and the triggers those scenarios provide in relation to cravings and potential for relapse.

Read the full details here, plus there’s a short introduction video here. The preliminary outcomes of the study showed that the simulation is proving more effective for cue exposure than traditional methods such as videos and use of drug paraphernalia such as needles, syringes and preparation implements. There’s planned future research on looking at what treatments work best to reduce cravings, using the simulation as the benchmark measurement.

Aside from the obvious benefits this approach is going to bring for improved treatment interventions, some other key points need to be made:

Simulation is more than hospitals: There tends to be a focus on the use of virtual worlds to simulate hospital and paramedical environments. Those aspects are very important, but being able to replicate community environments where problematic behaviours occur, is an equally rich vein to mine as a health professional.

Virtual can be better than real: One of the preliminary outcomes mentioned was that the simulation demonstrated better cue exposure than just interacting with drug paraphernalia. This seems a little counterintuitive, but with illicit drug use in particular, the environment surrounding the use is a pivotal component, so replicating such an environment, if done authentically, is going to beat a counselling room with syringes and spoons every time. There is an enormous number of health issues where the same applies, meaning that not only can costs of interventions be lowered in some circumstances, but efficacy can also be improved.

Smartphones as germ farms

This news really doesn’t surprise me: a study has shown that touch-screen devices such as phones and music players are havens for germs. Just like mobile phones have been for years. Apparently some data shows that mobile phones have 18 times more bacteria than a ‘flush handle’ in a men’s toilet. Which again probably isn’t that surprising as I believe there’s a worldwide epidemic of Angry Birds being played on the porcelain battlefield.

One important point though: don’t react to the news by using anti-bacterial sprays. A decent wipe down with a damp cloth will probably do a good job and not breed antibiotic resistance. And perhaps take a newspaper to the toilet next time.

via [The Sacramento Bee]

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