Pacifica overcomes mistakes to defeat Cypress

There were mistakes on both sides of the ball, but the Pacifica Mariners were able to recover from their mistakes a little better and eventually put away Cypress, 35-10, in an Empire League football game on Thursday at Bolsa Grande High. It was the league opener for both teams.The Mariners (5-1, 1-0) were once again led by quarterback Nick Garcia, who threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Garcia also rushed for 81 yards. Matt Moslenko had 146 receiving yards, with two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder that capped the Mariner’s scoring and gave them a 35-7 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter.“We’re happy with the win, but we definitely have some things to clean up,” Pacifica coach Vinnie Lopez said. Of concern for Lopez, was what he felt was a sloppy start to the game, particularly after his team looked so sharp in their win over Westminster the week before. The Mariners had jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but helped the Centurions (2-4, 0-1) gain some momentum just before the half.Cypress was able to drive for a touchdown with just 2 seconds left in the half, aided by two 15-yard penalties on Pacifica. The drive ended with quarterback Alex Ashcroft connecting with Benny Morales for a 15-yard touchdown that cut the Mariner lead to 21-7 at halftime. But the Centurions were unable to capitalize on the momentum, as they received the second half kickoff but went three-and-out with punt. Pacifica took control as a long pass completion from Garcia to Moslenko set the mariners up at the Cypress 1 yard line.Trent Hunter finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 28-7. Isaiah Parra had 48 rushing yards for the Centurions and Ashcraft added 30 more yards, but the Cypress offense could not find a consistent rhythm. Cypress coach Rick Feldman said that the Centurions are too young and inexperienced to overcome the key mistakes they are making.“We just can’t come out slow and make the mistakes that we made,” Feldman said. One specific mistake was on the opening kickoff, Feldman noted. The Centurions made a good kick that Pacifica was unable to field cleanly. However, Pacifcasenior receiver Mathew Estrada was able to pick the ball up off the ground, and find a gap in the coverage to return in 81 yards for a touchdown, that gave the Mariners a quick 7-0 lead.Pacifica will try to improve to 2-0 in league play with a game against Kennedy on Friday at Western High. Cypress will also try to sharpen its play, with a road game at Tustin on Thursday. “I think our effort is there, our guys play hard,” Feldman said.

Mr. Schnitzel back on top after impressive showing at Los Alamitos

It was a night of crazy eights during the 19th running of the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, as four of the 10 trial winners on the night won from starting post number eight on Saturday at Los Alamitos Race Course. The winning wiener in the championship race also started from post number eight; as Luis and Lois Hernandez’s Mr Schnitzel of Newbury Park overcame a bump from a fellow rival on his rear-end to win the title of Fastest Wiener in The West in front of a total crowd of over 11,000.Mr Schnitzel became a two-time winner of the event after adding this title to his first triumph back in 2012. Lois Hernandez was surprised at her dark-chocolate colored doxie’s performance on Saturday, as he came into this race in not the best of physical shapes.“My husband and I were on vacation and only came back into town last Thursday,” she said. “Mr Schnitzel stayed home with his human grandma while we were away and all she did was feed him cookies. He was a pound heavier when we got back and had not been training. We scrambled to get him some training and he did the rest.”Mr Schnitzel broke on top in the 50-yard dash for dachshunds, but then was nearly knocked off strides by one of his rivals. Mr Schnitzel took a look back at his foe, snarled at him, and then hit a higher gear on the way to an easy win. The victory earned the fast wiener dog a $1,000 first place prize, a doghouse in the shape of a Wienerschnitzel Restaurant, a crystal trophy naming him the Fastest Wiener In the West and a commemorative racing blanket.Melissa Tuchalski’s Havoc of Paramount finished in second place and earned $500. Havoc was one of four trial winners to start from post number eight. In fact, four consecutive winners came from that post position.Josh Snook’s Finn of Lawdale was a fast closing third. The rest of the finalists were Tamara Elenes’ Elle of Cypress, Kelly Garcia’s Sunny of Anaheim, Bobby and Sherry Monje’s Ellie of Ventura, Monica Gyokeserova’s Molly of Redondo Beach, Trina Taylor’s Mia of Buena Park, Dianne Richardson’s Hildegarde of Mission Viejo, and D. & S. Knitz’s Katniss of Mission Viejo. In addition to Mr Schnitzel and Havoc, the others to also win from post number eight were Molly, Ellie and Mia.The racing action also included the Big vs. Little match race pitting Jose Marquez’s large-sized wiener dog Kobe of Redlands and Laura Scully’s pint-sized pup Tootsie of Long Beach. Tootsie flew out of the gate in this event and had a huge lead on the slower breaking Kobe early on, but then Kobe woke up and unleashed a big finish. However, Tootsie’s early heroic proved to be too much for Kobe as the little one took the match race by two lengths.The Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals benefits the Seal Beach Animal Care Center, a non-kill shelter dedicated to caring and finding homes for lost and abandoned pets. For more info on the SBACC please visit www.sbacc.org.Plans are already underway for the 20th running of the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals at Los Alamitos Race Course. For information, e-mail larace@losalamitos.com

Cypress topples Kennedy

Cypress High’s football team(3-1) ran away with a 21-17 victory after regaining the lead late in the game to give Kennedy High its second league defeat of the season on Thursday, Oct. 30.The Centurions were down 10-0 at halftime but they rallied back to score successive touchdowns to pull ahead of the Fighting Irish in the fourth quarter.A spirited Kennedy squad willed on by its supporters came back on the next drive to inch itself three points clear of Cypress, but the Irish couldn’t contain the Centurions to only two touchdowns.Quintin Pounds, who earlier in the week announced he has committed to play football for the University of Washington, headed the offensive effort from the run game. Pounds ran in the first and final touchdown to seal the Centurions third victory, all of which have seen them score more than three touchdowns.Pounds’ touchdown in the third quarter ignited life into the Cypress squad, and was followed by a touchdown pass by Cypress’ Nick Buras to a wide open Benny Morales in the endzone to start off the fourth quarter.However, Kennedy’s impressive run game posed a threat to Cypress all throughout the match, and was headed by their standout running back TJ Williams. It was a tough night for Williams, who didn’t get into the endzone once on the night.It was the Irish’s Joey Ortega that scored a touchdown from about three yards out to give his side their final points of the evening.The reason for Kennedy’s frustrations in the rushing department was due to how well Cypress’ linebackers played. Cypress’ Logan Burt played outstanding and was pivotal for the abundance of three and outs that the Centurions achieved. Burt was chosen this year to wear the honorary number 44 jersey, which is given to the captain of the football team every year at Cypress.Kennedy managed to get itself in the lead after trailing but they couldn’t stop the Centurions offense.Cypress pushed Kennedy back up against its own two yard line. With less than a minute left on the clock, pounds pushed his way into the endzone to edge his side clear for the victory.Cypress moves on this week to face Western High on November 6, in a match up that the Centurions need to win in order to secure their second place standing in the Empire league. Western still has yet to win a game in the Empire league, which is the perfect opponent for Cypress to finish of the season with. With Cypress’ top athletes showing that they can comeback from trailing a great feature to start gelling with towards the end of the season. Look for Cypress to come out and get a win Thursday night.Kennedy faces Tustin High this week on Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. at the Tillers’ stadium. Currently both squads are tied and Saturday’s game will decide who walks away with the third place finish. Looks for a fairly even match that could come down to field goal in the end.

Local skater wins gold at national championship

Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos is the home of skating champion, Karolina Calhoun, 13, who recently took gold in the national competition for the Juvenile Girls Division at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha, Nebraska on Jan. 26. The 7th grader had won 10 out of 12 championships this last year including competitions in Burbank, LaJolla, and Arizona as well the country’s sectional competition in Provo, Utah.“It’s really exciting because you are competing against the top skaters nationally,” Calhoun said of her first national competition this year. “Winning this year is kind of my motivation to go back next year.”Next year’s national competition is in Boston, Massachusetts. At this year’s competition, Calhoun won gold skating to Franz Shubert’s “Ave Maria.”To get to the 2013 championships, Calhoun, who has been a figure skater since age 6, trained all year long before and after school, and her family sacrificed a lot financially to help her achieve her goals. “It’s almost unbelievable to see how all her hard work paid off,” said Neila Calhoun, the skater’s mother.Her daughter gets up at 5:30 a.m. during weekdays to be at practice by 6 a.m., waking up at 6 a.m. on weekends, and practicing 7 days a week for 2 ½ hours daily. She does all this while making all A’s and one B+ in her classes.“I learned to be disciplined from my mother,” Calhoun said.Calhoun’s mother said her daughter doesn’t complain about all the hard work and sacrifice. Her daughter has had to miss many sleepovers with friends outside of skating because she needs to get up so early and practice every day.“Oak Middle School has been very supportive, allowing her to get to class later in the mornings so she can practice,” said Calhoun’s mother, who makes her home in Long Beach with husband, John, and son, Jack. This is the skater’s first year at Oak Middle School, and she had to be released from Long Beach Unified School District in order to attend school in Los Alamitos. She is also allowed for her skating to be her physical education credit at the school as well.“I’m inspired by Michelle Kwan, and hope to go to the Olympics,” said Calhoun, who also wants to go to college.Her favorite subject is mathematics. It would seem that with all her discipline, hard work and sacrifice that Calhoun is definitely on her way toward Olympic gold.Karolina credited her coach, who had an important role in her winning streak this season. Her main coach is Anna Baram, but she also trains with Sashi Kuchiki (jumping coach), Mary Becktell (spinning coach), and Galina Barinova (ballet).

Local teams win Cypress Recreation basketball titles

The city of Cypress Recreation and Community Services held the annual Summer Youth Basketball League Championships on Thursday, July 26 at Lexington Junior High School.For the C Division, ages 7-9, the Kings were declared the champions for the season. The team was coached by Karissa and Troy DegenerPlayers for the Kings included Kylie Degener, Tanner Degener, Tyler Degener, Jason Ho, Eugene Kim, Caleb Kwon, Tyler Matthews, Luke Jacob Ortiz, Aarnav Verma and Eric Wen.Luis Aguilar and Jose Hernandez coached the B Division Regime, which captured the championship for ages 10-11. Players for the Regime included Nevyn Aguilar, Aaron Brok, Steven Hernandez, Alex Le, Joshua Liu, Paul Lo, Justin Nam, Josiah Nelson, Brian Sample and Timothy Suk.In the A Division, ages 12-13, the Heat won the title. The team was coached by Frank Aparicio and Fidel Lopez. Players for the Heat included Miles Aparicio, Anthony Cardoza, Bradley Hilbert, Aaron Jaojoco, Kyle Kawakami, Anthony Lopez, Raymond Lopez, Ryan Pham, Brandon To and Brian Yoon.The sportsmanship team winners for the season included the C Division Kings, B Division T-Wolves and A Division Legit.Though the season has now ended, Winter Youth Basketball registration will begin Oct. 8 for residents and Oct. 15 for non-residents.

New imaging method can detect, monitor and guide treatment for, prostate cancer

“The findings show that individually tailored imaging agents can provide a unique way of looking at disease progression in real time and in a noninvasive manner,” says Daniel Thorek, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology and radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the paper’s first author.

“Perhaps someday we can put a personalized antibody such as the one we created in our study on a therapeutic agent and conduct cancer treatment using imaging with very high specificity.”

A summary of the findings was published in Science Translational Medicine on Nov. 30.

Thorek says the success is especially important given the challenges of working with small-animal models. “We managed to very accurately and precisely monitor the mouse prostate, and that leads us to hope that a similar approach can be used to guide treatment in people,” he adds.

Current clinical practice detects prostate cancer by tracking the androgen receptor pathway — a marker for the cancer — by testing blood for prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Presence of elevated PSA indicates that the androgen receptor pathway is active and may indicate prostate cancer is present.

PSA concentration in the blood, however, is affected by numerous factors, such as age and type of tumor, making it difficult to determine true androgen receptor pathway activation.

Furthermore, attempts to target PSA with an antibody is complicated by the “washing out” of the antibody-PSA complex, a process in which the complex is formed but does not remain near the disease site, thus making it difficult to definitively identify and measure disease sites.

Cell-tracking agents get a boost

The agent combines ultrashort carbon nanotubes and bismuth clusters that show up on X-rays taken with computed tomography (CT) scanners. The stable compound performs more than eight times better than the first-generation material introduced in 2013, according to the researchers.

“The primary application will be to track them in stem-cell therapies to see if the cells are attracted to the site of disease — for example, cancer — and in what concentration,” said Rice chemist Lon Wilson of the compound the researchers call Bi4C@US-tubes.

“Magnetic resonance imaging is currently used for that purpose and it works quite well, but X-ray technology in the clinic is much more available,” he said. “It’s faster and cheaper, and it could facilitate preclinical studies to track stem cells in vivo.”

The process developed by Wilson’s team and colleagues at CHI St. Luke’s Health-Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine is detailed this month in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Bismuth is used in cosmetics, pigments and pharmaceuticals, notably as the active ingredient in pink bismuth (aka Pepto-Bismol), an antacid. For this application, bismuth nanoclusters developed by the lab of Rice chemist Kenton Whitmire, a co-author of the paper, are combined with carbon nanotubes chemically treated to shorten them to between 20 and 80 nanometers and add defects to their side walls. The nanoclusters, which make up about 20 percent of the compound, appear to strongly attach to the nanotubes via these defects.

When introduced into stem cells, the treated nanotubes become easy to spot, Wilson said. “It’s very interesting to see a cell culture that is opaque to X-rays. They’re not as dark as bone (which X-rays cannot penetrate), but they’re really dark when they’re loaded with these agents.”

The compound was tested in a CT scanner at St. Luke’s Baylor Hospital, which compared the abilities of empty nanotubes, the previous generation of Bi@US-tubes and the new compound. Hounsfield units are used to measure X-ray attenuation of contrast agents. The tests found about 188 Hounsfield units for plain ultrashort nanotubes, 227 for older Bi@US-tubes and 2,178 for the latest compound. Most soft tissues fall between 30 and 100 Hounsfield units, so cells labeled with the new compound were expected to stand out.

Further testing showed the clusters hold tight to their nanotubes. The researchers detected no release of bismuth from the nanotubes tested at body temperature over 48 hours.

Wilson said it will be up to the federal Food and Drug Administration to approve the new compound for use in humans. “But we’re in a position to start preclinical studies now that we’ve determined how well we can load cells and the fact that cells are not seemingly harmed by the technology and short bursts of X-rays,” he said.

New nuclear magnetic resonance technique offers ‘molecular window’ into living organisms

“In a way we’ve developed this molecular window that can look inside a living system and extract a full metabolic profile,” says Professor Andre Simpson, who led research into developing the new technique that uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology.

“Getting a sense of which molecules are in a tissue sample is important if you want to know if it’s cancerous, or if you want to know if certain environmental contaminants are harming cells inside the body.”

Until now traditional NMR techniques haven’t been able provide high-resolution profiles of living organisms because of magnetic distortions from the sample itself. The analogy Simpson gives is that it’s like being in a helicopter over a stadium while trying to talk to people at a concert down below. It’s incredibly difficult to communicate because of the noise distortion, but if you give both a walkie-talkie, it makes communication much easier.

Simpson and his team were able to overcome the magnetic distortion problem by creating tiny communication channels based on something called long-range dipole interactions between molecules. In other words, whereas before only a snapshot of an object can be given this new technique can offer a complete chemical make-up of molecules within the object.

NMR technology is able to generate a powerful magnetic field, so powerful that atomic nuclei can be made to absorb and reemit the energy in distinct patterns, revealing a unique molecular signature. Simpson’s work focuses on environmental NMR but he says there’s great medical potential for this new technique since it can also be used in medical imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Researchers achieve meter-scale optical coherence tomography for first time

“Our study demonstrates world-record results in cubic meter volume imaging, with at least an order of magnitude larger depth range and volume compared to previous demonstrations of three-dimensional OCT,” said James G. Fujimoto of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts. “These results provide a proof-of-principle demonstration for using OCT in this new regime.”

OCT, first invented by Fujimoto’s group and collaborators in the 1990s, is now the standard of care in ophthalmology and is increasingly used in cardiology and gastroenterology. Although OCT provides useful 3-D images with micron-scale resolution, it has been limited to imaging depths of just millimeters to a few centimeters.

In The Optical Society’s journal for high impact research, Optica, the researchers report high speed, 3-D OCT imaging with 15-micron resolution over a 1.5-meter area. They demonstrated the new OCT approach by imaging a mannequin, a bicycle and models of a human brain and skull. They also conducted measurements of objects ranging in scale from meters to microns.

Multiple scales over long ranges

In addition to the advantages of high speeds and fine resolution, OCT enables imaging, profiling and distance measurement at multiple depths simultaneously while rejecting stray light.

“Long-range OCT is a new range of operation that requires extremely high performance light sources, integrated optical receivers and signal processing,” Fujimoto said. Range in OCT refers to the depth range over which measurements can be simultaneously taken. It is possible to position the center of the OCT range very close to or far away from the imaging instrument.

The new technique could be particularly useful for industrial and manufacturing settings, where it could potentially be used to monitor processes, take technical measurements and nondestructively evaluate materials. Macro-scale OCT could also enhance medical imaging, for example, by providing three-dimensional measurements in laparoscopy or mapping structures such as the upper airway.

Telecom advances bring OCT improvements

The light source that enables meter-range OCT is a tunable vertical cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) developed by Thorlabs Inc. and Praevium Research. It uses a MEMS device to rapidly change, or sweep, the laser’s wavelength over time to perform what is called swept-source OCT.

“Research by our group at MIT and our collaborators at Praevium Research and Thorlabs indicated that the coherence length of the VCSEL source was orders of magnitude longer than other swept laser technologies suitable for OCT, which suggested the possibility of long-range OCT imaging,” said Ben Potsaid of MIT and Thorlabs Inc., coauthor of the paper.

Although the MIT researchers have experimented with the VCSEL light source for several years, light detection and data acquisition remained a challenge. These hurdles were overcome by advanced optical components designed for telecommunications applications.

In the new work, the researchers used a new silicon photonics coherent optical receiver developed by Acacia Communications that replaced several bulky OCT components with integrated optics on a tiny, low-cost, single-chip photonic integrated circuit (PIC). Importantly, the PIC receiver supports the very high electrical frequencies and wide range of optical wavelengths required for swept-source OCT while also enabling what is known as quadrature detection, which doubles the OCT imaging range for a given data acquisition speed.

“The development of OCT in the early 1990s greatly benefited from components and methods used in fiber optical communications,” said Fujimoto. “And still, 25 years later, advances in the optical communications industry continue to greatly benefit OCT.”

In the paper, the researchers showed that meter-range OCT can obtain a strong signal from surfaces of varying geometry and materials. Their tests also indicated the technique’s performance has not reached the fundamental limits for the VCSEL laser source or PIC receiver.

OCT-on-a-chip

The researchers are working to develop and utilize even more low-cost, high-speed components with the goal of speeding up the data acquisition and processing steps. This could eventually allow real-time OCT imaging using customized integrated circuit chips.

“As PIC technology continues to advance, one can realistically expect full OCT systems on a single chip within the next five years, dramatically lowering the size and cost,” said Chris Doerr of Acacia Communications, coauthor of the paper. “This would allow more people all over the world to benefit from OCT and open up new applications.”

Nanoparticle research tested in locusts focuses on new drug-delivery method

A team of engineers from Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new nanoparticle generation-delivery method that could someday vastly improve drug delivery to the brain, making it as simple as a sniff.

“This would be a nanoparticle nasal spray, and the delivery system could allow a therapeutic dose of medicine to reach the brain within 30 minutes to one hour,” said Ramesh Raliya, research scientist at the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

“The blood-brain barrier protects the brain from foreign substances in the blood that may injure the brain,” Raliya said. “But when we need to deliver something there, getting through that barrier is difficult and invasive. Our non-invasive technique can deliver drugs via nanoparticles, so there’s less risk and better response times.”

The novel approach is based on aerosol science and engineering principles that allow the generation of monodisperse nanoparticles, which can deposit on upper regions of the nasal cavity via diffusion. Working with Assistant Vice Chancellor Pratim Biswas, chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor, Raliya developed an aerosol consisting of gold nanoparticles of controlled size, shape and surface charge. The nanoparticles were tagged with fluorescent markers, allowing the researchers to track their movement.

Next, Raliya and biomedical engineering postdoctoral fellow Debajit Saha exposed locusts’ antennae to the aerosol, and observed the nanoparticles travel from the antennas up through the olfactory nerves. Due to their tiny size, the nanoparticles passed through the brain-blood barrier, reaching the brain and suffusing it in a matter of minutes.