Recently in The Science of Audio Books Category

The Sharks have a Secret

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Noticed a report in the Daily Mail about how an antibiotic found in sharks could be used as drug to treat human viruses and revolutionise medicine.

Anyone who's listened  to Rockford's Rock Opera audio book and apps will know that 'Creatures Secrets' are fundamental to our story; how losing creatures to extinction is ridding the world of potentially world changing discoveries. Perhaps now, at last, we'll begin to see sharks not a killers, but life savers?

More about sharks' secrets.

The compound, found in the liver of sharks, could be used as a new type of drug to treat a broad spectrum of diseases from dengue and yellow fever to hepatitis B, C and D.  
The antibiotic, squalamine, is already known to be safe for use in humans as an antiviral agent.  

Breakthrough: A compound found in sharks could protect humans from a range of diseases
Dr Michael Zasloff, from Georgetown University who led the study, said: 'To realise that squalamine potentially has broad antiviral properties is immensely exciting, especially since we already know so much from ongoing studies about its behaviour in people.'
 
They found that in both lab and animal experiments squalamine produced antiviral activity against the human pathogens found in the diseases such as some forms of hepatitis which cannot currently be treated. 

Along with offering medical advances this discovery may solve the mystery of how sharks with primitive immune systems can so effectively fight viruses that plague all living creatures. 
Dr Zasloff said: 'I believe squalamine is one of a family of related compounds that protects sharks and some other "primitive" ocean vertebrates, such as the sea lamprey, from viruses.
'Squalamine appears to protect against viruses that attack the liver and blood tissues, and other similar compounds that we know exist in the shark likely protect against respiratory viral infections, and so on.
'We may be able to harness the shark's novel immune system to turn all of these antiviral compounds into agents that protect humans against a wide variety of viruses.
'That would be revolutionary. While many antibacterial agents exist, doctors have few antiviral drugs to help their patients, and few of those are broadly active.'
Dr Zasloff discovered squalamine in 1993 and it has already been used in clinical trials to treat cancer and several eye disorders. 
'I was interested in sharks because of their seemingly primitive but effective immune system. No one could explain why the shark was so hardy,' he said.

Water interesting discovery: The study may solve the mystery of how sharks with primitive immune systems can so effectively fight viruses that plague all living creatures
When he started to 'play' with the compound he found that it inhibited the growth of rapidly growing blood vessels, such as those found in tumour growth and certain retinal diseases. 
Since 1995 it has been synthesised in the laboratory rather than taking any natural shark tissue. 
Dr Zasloff remained interested in how the natural cholesterol type molecule, which has a net positive electrical charge, acted as an immune agent in sharks.
When it enters cells, and it can only access certain cells including those in blood vessels, capillaries and the liver, squalamine 'kicks off' positively-charged proteins that are bound to the negatively charged surface of the cells inner membrane.
Some of these displaced proteins are used by viruses to replicate and without the protein a virus's life cycle is disrupted, the microbe is rendered inert and the cell containing it is destroyed. 
This means that squalamine seems to be designed to fight certain viral infections, Dr Zasloff claimed. 
He said: 'To me, the key to squalamine is that once in the body it times its action to match the life cycle of most viruses.
'Most viruses take hours to complete their life cycle, the same time period that squalamine renders tissues and organs viral resistant after administration. 
'In addition, it acts fast to stop viral replication, clearing the body of these predators within hours.
'Furthermore, because squalamine acts by making the host's tissues less receptive for infection, rather than by targeting a specific viral protein, the emergence of viral resistance would not be anticipated.'
In tissue culture studies squalamine was shown to inhibit the infection of human blood vessel cells by the dengue virus and human liver cells infected with hepatitis B and D, which can cause liver failure and cancer.
In animal studies, scientists from across the USA discovered that squalamine controlled infections of yellow fever, Eastern equine encephalitis virus, and murine cytomegalovirus, and in some cases cured the animals.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online.


Original Story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2039323/An-antibiotic-liver-sharks-revolutionise-human-medicine.html#ixzz1YVV2cXMa

Butterfly Ball, The Point: Inspirational Audiobooks

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I'm often being asked about what albums, radio shows and audiobooks were the inspiration for Rockford's Rock Opera.  There are free downloads of Douglas Adam's 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy', Nilssen's 'The Point' and Roger Glover's 'Butterfly Ball' available if you look to some of the web's more murky audio download sites, however, if you like Rockford's Rock Opera I recommend you buy these works from a reputable supplier, listen and enjoy...

... just as I did...

A bit of detail: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is, of course, a classic sci-fi audiobook produced by the BBC based on Dougles Adam's scripts. The Butterfly Ball was written by ex Deep Purple bass player, Roger Glover, and is wonderful selection of story songs inspired by the pictures of artist Alan Aldrich (who also did many pictures of the Beatles songs). The Point! by Harry Nilssen is less well known but is a wonderful hippy story, narrated by the author about a boy called Oblio and his dog, Arrow.

I also have to mention Jeff Wayne's 'War of the Worlds' which I listened to constantly for about a year. There have been lots of other albums of course, including Sgt Pepper and Ogden's Nutgone Flake by the Small Faces, plus The Jungle Book that I've spent many a happy hour with. And I suppose they've all inspired our own aventure in sound, Rockford's Rock Opera. Take a listen - free - and see what you think!

Audiobooks from the BBC

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The BBC recently announced that over 1,000,000 audiobooks had now been downloaded from its website.

The top five most downloaded audiobook titles were Blackadder Goes Forth, The Mighty Boosh, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (great book which we've used a lot in the creation of Rockford's Rock Opera), The Adventure of English: The Biography of English by Melvyn Bragg and The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (not great!).

A BBC spokesperson said, and I quote:

"Sales of audio downloads in the USA are already big news but as with many trends that start in the States we are starting to notice the trend moving over here - as evidenced by our surpassing a million download sales for the first time. We currently sell approximately three and a half times more downloads to US customers but following such a strong year in 08/09 we expect this gap to close in 09/10."

So it's all good news for the lovers of audiobooks... and Rockford's Rock Opera! 

Audiobooks for Tinnitus Sufferers

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This is how I use audiobooks to 'cure' Tinnitus.

As a musician of many years standing, I suffer from Tinnitus - for anyone who doesn't know what that is - it's a permanent ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is caused (mostly) by exposure to loud sound (in my case, far too much loud recording through headphones). If you've ever gone to a loud gig you'll have experienced it yourself, normally when you get home and go to bed and you find your ears are buzzing with abuse. Well, that's just what Tinnitus sounds like but, unlike the the ringing you'll experience after a gig, Tinnitus never goes away. It's with you, always. Morning, noon and night.

It many sound horrible and I suppose it is (Tinnitus is caused by the death of tiny hairs in your inner ear) but, Tinnitus is something, with the right techniques, you can learn to live with.

Firstly, it's terribly important to say that the degree to which Tinnitus affects the sufferer is largely dependent on their state of mind. I certainly don't mean by this that's it's all in the mind. It's not. It's in your head. BUT, depending on how stressed you are does directly effect the extent to which you are aware of, and bothered by, your Tinnitus.

In other words, when I'm relaxed and unstressed I hardly notice it. When I'm tired or fed up it's REALLY LOUD. So, Lesson One. Don't get stressed!!! Easy to say I know!

Next, certain foods certainly make it worse. High protein foods are worse. For me, Cheese guarantees I'll notice my Tinnitus getting louder!

And finally, and most importantly, for this blog. The time when Tinnitus is most noticeable and, perhaps, most irritating is at night. Of course, it's quiet and you're trying to get to sleep so you notice it more. As a result you can't sleep. As a result, you get more stressed. As result the ringing seems louder... and a sleepless vicious cycle is created.

Many Tinnutus help groups suggest listening to music (or even white noise) to reduce the impact of the ringing. For myself, I love audiobooks - just the right mix of sound, brain stimulation and comfort. I often listen to the same audio stories time after time so they become old friends.

I really would recommend Tinnitus sufferers try listening to audio books - A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is my favourite plus, of course, the brilliant Rockford's Rock Opera audio book! :)

And, before you say, 'that's all very well, but what happens if your lucky enough to have a partner', what will they do?! Well, in my case, I do, and she finds the soothing influence of a great audio story before sleep is just what she needs to wipe away the stress of the day and to launch her into restful sleep. Try it.

So. If you have Tinnitus. Fear not: 

1. Less Stress
2. Less Cheese
3. More audio books (especially Rockford's Rock Opera)

And you'll be OK.

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