A Cure For Cancer?

Posted on by 0 comment

This article is promising in how it describes a potential ‘cure’ for cancer.

That’s right: the disease of the 20th century could be around the corner and, according to the article, it may have been by accident.

Our immune system is our body’s natural defence against infection, but it also attacks cancerous cells.

The scientists were looking for “unconventional” and previously undiscovered ways the immune system naturally attacks tumours.

What they found was a T-cell inside people’s blood. This is an immune cell that can scan the body to assess whether there is a threat that needs to be eliminated.

The difference is this one could attack a wide range of cancers.

“There’s a chance here to treat every patient,” researcher Prof Andrew Sewell told the BBC.

He added: “Previously nobody believed this could be possible.

“It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment, a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population.”

T-cells have “receptors” on their surface that allow them to “see” at a chemical level.

The Cardiff team discovered a T-cell and its receptor that could find and kill a wide range of cancerous cells in the lab including lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer cells.

Crucially, it left normal tissues untouched.

In laboratory studies, immune cells equipped with the new receptor were shown to kill lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovarian, kidney and cervical cancer.

T-cell cancer therapies already exist and the development of cancer immunotherapy has been one of the most exciting advances in the field.

The most famous example is CAR-T – a living drug made by genetically engineering a patient’s T-cells to seek out and destroy cancer.

CAR-T can have dramatic results that transform some patients from being terminally ill to being in complete remission.

However, the approach is highly specific and works in only a limited number of cancers where there is a clear target to train the T-cells to spot.

And it has struggled to have any success in “solid cancers” – those that form tumours rather than blood cancers such as leukaemia.

The researchers say their T-cell receptor could lead to a “universal” cancer treatment.

The idea is that a blood sample would be taken from a cancer patient.

Their T-cells would be extracted and then genetically modified so they were reprogrammed to make the cancer-finding receptor.

Lucia Mori and Gennaro De Libero, from University of Basel in Switzerland, said the research had “great potential” but was at too early a stage to say it would work in all cancers.

“We are very excited about the immunological functions of this new T-cell population and the potential use of their TCRs in tumour cell therapy,” they said.

Daniel Davis, a professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, said: “At the moment, this is very basic research and not close to actual medicines for patients.

“There is no question that it’s a very exciting discovery, both for advancing our basic knowledge about the immune system and for the possibility of future new medicines.”

Infographic explaining how CAR-t works

Let’s hope the pharma companies and industry associated with ‘killing’ cancer doesn’t get in the way of what is clearly a VERY good thing.

Category: Uncategorized

Life and Climate Change

Posted on by 0 comment

I’m trying to stay away from politics and focus instead on how we can move ahead with ideas about business, public policy and planning that help move the needle when it comes to climate change.

In the past, I’ve blogged about public transportation, communication, the idea of creating economic ‘nodes’ outside of traditional downtown areas (mainly to alleviate congestion), the tar sands, house planning and more. And about a whole tonne of other issues beyond the idea of simple day-to-day politics.

I care about the future of this planet.

Three life-altering events hit me recently and all conspire to push me in a new direction:

  1. I moved
  2. Someone close to me had a stroke, survived and is now permanently unemployed so that person has dedicated their time to protesting climate issues at their local parliament
  3. I went to a presentation at an astronomy and realized that this planet – one of billions in such an inconcievably large universe – is literally one of a kind.

I shouldn’t say I moved, but me and my family moved. I was depressed in the last town we lived in and it seems odd, but I think it was the city in general that got me down. I tried very hard to integrate and make a presence, but I wasn’t accepted. That was the social level.

On an economic / planning level, their environmental outlook was dismal. It is and will always be a car town. Pedestrians, cyclists and those needing other forms of transportation will be left out of the picture. The town will likely be one of the first Canadian towns to go bankrupt when the time comes because their city planning doesn’t account for the massive upkeep with infrastructure that they’ll have to address within a few years. If tax bills don’t go through the roof, they’ll fall apart.

What’s of critical importance is that people won’t learn and adapt when they live in their own little bubble, determined to push forward while driving in reverse. It can’t be done. People have to exist in a realm where they rely on and socialize with other people in person on a day to day basis. I came to learn that car culture and media vices suck us into our own sense of malaise and boredom mixed with anxiety, depression, racism and frustration. I learned that we are too quick to lock ourselves into our homes or apartments without even seeing a single person on any given day.

I moved to a city that already has a solid plan in place and they actually do things. More so, I’ve made new friends within a short time and have felt acceptance with the things that I do. Car drivers aren’t hostile towards cyclists; pedestrians are treated well with plowed sidewalks and functional downtown businesses.

I don’t feel trapped any more and I’m not afraid. The town we now live in reflects that.

As we were going through the process of having to find a new hometown, someone close to me had a severe stroke while undergoing heart surgery. When he woke up, he was a fraction of the person he was and nearly 2 years later, still hasn’t recovered well. He’s physically fit, but so much of his mind is gone. Or, at least his ability to communicate what’s in there.

He lost his business and is pretty much permanently unemployed. To occupy his time, he takes the bus to the local parliament and protests for action on climate change.

I was feeling pretty useless by that standard and decided it was time I joined in.

But only after seeing a presentation at an astronomy center that did one of those ‘A BILLION YEARS AGO …’ stories about our planet in context of the universe.

Holy fuck, was I in for a jolt.

I’m an atheist, but it’s so hard to concieve of how rare the Earth is. As far as we know, it’s the only one. Seeing all the billions of planets that exist and millions of stars they revolve around, we’ve yet to discover a single planet that’s similar to ours, let alone capable of sustaining life.

I won’t get all religious on you because I’m not, but the odds of that happening are mind-blowing. I can see how religious people can easily convince themselves that a god created this planet for their comfort and joy. They couldn’t be more wrong, but that’s for another day 🙂

I know my recent ‘discoveries’ make me seem like a simpleton, and I guess I am when there’s so much to learn about our universe. All the more reason for people to do this simple math when it comes to the plastics, gas, paper, oil, food and thousands of other products and how much it contributes to the now-quick demise of life on this planet.

It’s insane.

And yes, it’s overwhelming, but simple, little old me has decided that enough is enough.

We have to start to stop.

But we also have to share good ideas about how we can change so that change comes that much easier. If we close our minds on this and give up because we’re so basic compared to the complexity of this universe, we’re missing an opportunity to lay the foundation for something truly greater than our day-to-day selfishness.

This is a critical juncture in the fate of this incredibly rare situation and we need to take ownership of the situation before we allow it to destroy us.

Category: Uncategorized

Trump Campaign Adviser Guilty of Possession of Child Porn

Posted on by 0 comment

George Nader – described as an informal adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign who testified in the Mueller probe – pleaded guilty Monday to charges of child sex trafficking and possessing child pornography.

He told the court on Monday that he felt no pressure to enter the pleas and that he had not struck any side deals with prosecutors or anyone else before deciding to confess.

Nader was first charged in June 2019 with transporting and possessing pornographic images of children including some featuring toddler-age boys, baby goats and other farm animals. A month later in July, prosecutors added a sex-trafficking charge, saying Nader had arranged the transport to his Washington home of a 14-year-old boy from the Czech Republic in February 2000.

This article provides more detail on the background of Nader and his participation with the Trump campaign.

His crimes go back as early as 1991, but Trump had him around during the 2016 campaign.

How is Trump in charge when these are his associates?

Category: Uncategorized

Science and Business: Imperfect Partners

Posted on by 0 comment

For those of you that read this blog (thank you!) and those who just started (thank you!), you’ll know from previous entries that I don’t question science.

Science is an ever-expanding, quantifiable universe of facts.

Motives, however, clog and obfuscate the results of scientific research.

Profit motives make the situation even more grotesque, delivering monstrous results and companies become excellent saboteurs of their own objectives.

This recent article about clinical testing proves my suspicions about the blurring of lines between pure science and the companies and institutions that oversee the results that are derived from research.

And that ultimately drives public policy.

For 20 years, the U.S. government has urged companies, universities, and other institutions that conduct clinical trials to record their results in a federal database, so doctors and patients can see whether new treatments are safe and effective. Few trial sponsors have consistently done so, even after a 2007 law made posting mandatory for many trials registered in the database. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tried again, enacting a long-awaited “final rule” to clarify the law’s expectations and penalties for failing to disclose trial results. The rule took full effect 2 years ago, on 18 January 2018, giving trial sponsors ample time to comply. But a Science investigation shows that many still ignore the requirement, while federal officials do little or nothing to enforce the law.

Science examined more than 4700 trials whose results should have been posted on the NIH website ClinicalTrials.gov under the 2017 rule. Reporting rates by most large pharmaceutical companies and some universities have improved sharply, but performance by many other trial sponsors—including, ironically, NIH itself—was lackluster. Those sponsors, typically either the institution conducting a trial or its funder, must deposit results and other data within 1 year of completing a trial. But of 184 sponsor organizations with at least five trials due as of 25 September 2019, 30 companies, universities, or medical centers never met a single deadline. As of that date, those habitual violators had failed to report any results for 67% of their trials and averaged 268 days late for those and all trials that missed their deadlines. They included such eminent institutions as the Harvard University–affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Minnesota, and Baylor College of Medicine—all among the top 50 recipients of NIH grants in 2019.

Let that sink in for a second. Take a minute. Hell, take an hour if you want.

2 of out 3 scientific results were NOT reported, even though required to do so.

Three years later, TrialsTracker conservatively estimates that FDA could have collected more than $6 billion in ClinicalTrials.gov penalties so far. The agency has yet to demand a single dollar. And despite more than 2600 trials for which results are overdue or were filed late, NIH has yet to withhold a single grant as a result or post a single violation notice on ClinicalTrials.gov. No “wall of shame” exists.

“Public-facing websites run by the government should be accurate. That’s not asking much,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), who advocated for the 2007 law, wrote in an email after reviewing a summary of the Science findings. “It’s a question of basic management and agency competence. The government has a duty to police its work product, especially because the public trusts .gov websites will be accurate and reliable.”

To physician Ben Goldacre, who directs the Oxford program behind TrialsTracker, “The lack of urgency is really troubling.”

When tests, data runs and analysis fail to deliver results – IN A BIG WAY – we as the public need to be very concerned about what this means, especially when the vast majority of these tests relate to products and prescriptions that are delivered every single day in our over-medicated community.

Please understand again when I say I don’t doubt the science.

I doubt the organizations that hide the truths that the science reveals simply so that they can make a buck.

Category: Uncategorized

Public Policy, Local Farming and Climate Change

Posted on by 0 comment

This is a third ‘New Years’ series on public expenditures at regulations, especially at the local / municipal level.

For the other two, see my thoughts on:

This piece looks at the impact of municipal regulations concerning private land use with residential properties.

In short, we need to develop a national plan that encourages municipalities to enact legislation on a local level that will allow homeowners to convert their lawns to productive gardens and micro-crops.

Background

The lawn. The sprawling, radiating bright green lawn.

Image result for the perfect lawnMany people obsess about it and over the last century, it’s become a symbol of success and pride for many suburban dwellers.

They trim, cut, manicure and coddle their lawns like it’s their first-born, needy and wanting nutrition and endless attention. Weeds and pests are removed – manually, chemically, rapidly.

Entire industries – seed, sod, machines, landscaping businesses – exist because of the LAWN.

Spare me.

There are few things that are more wasteful and decadent than a well-nurtured lawn.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one that feels this way.

Sustainable Foodscaping

Like other articles (see above), change (especially with ‘traditional’ mindset) is needed as opposed to radical removal or withdrawal from a system.

I don’t want to put well-meaning landscapers out of business. I would love to see them manicure and help harvest the bounty that all of this real estate is capable of producing.

Sustainable Foodscaping is the active conversion of existing suburban lawns into productive food lands.

It makes sense. To build these houses and yards, we encouraged the willful destruction of some of the most productive soils that humanity has ever seen. We allow the outright clearcutting of forests, removal of ecosystems and habitats all so that we can play and wander in our perfectly trimmed three inch greenery.

Sustainable Foodscaping simply encourages homeowners to make better use of their property.

Foodscaping isn’t the answer to all of our problems, but it’s a way of changing our culture from one that’s all about consumption and convenience to one that’s patient and more aware of our surroundings. Foodscaping is food and gardening education from start to finish.

In order to make Sustainable Foodscaping a better reality, municipalities need to follow national directives that permit homeowners and landowners to modify the use of their property from inert, resource sucking football fields into productive and valuable food production not only for the homeowners, but also for markets, charities and regional suppliers.

Image result for sustainable foodscaping

If we don’t and the various ‘rebels’ do what they want to improve this planet, I’m sure we’ll have endless stories about cranky neighbours calling each other out and complaining to local authorities, with local authorities responding with heavy-handed penalties, fines and other embarrassing scenarios.

As mentioned, new markets should be encouraged rather than shut down and individuals should have the means and knowledge with how to save, store and preserve their output so that they can enjoy their efforts during the colder seasons of the year.

This is very possible and the impact will be profound:

  1. Reductions in the carbon footprint of consumers that produce their own food instead of seeking out the latest imported products
  2. Sharing resources and even tools that will make it easier for homeowners
  3. Creation of habitats for bees, birds, butterflies and other creatures
  4. Massive cost reduction with food budgets for individuals
  5. A shift from a meat-based protein diet to a healthier, greener plant-based diet

With all this said, we’re going to do our best this year to implement a new lawn regime that is ideal for our environment, not our neighbour’s eyes.

Resources

Sustainable “Foodscaping” in Geneva, Switzerland where communities have worked together, neighbours consult and plan what each will grow so they can share and trade food. Imagine if we all did Foodscaping?

What is Foodscaping? https://www.thedailymeal.com/foodscaping-fancy-word-gardeni…

Russian Family Gardens Produce 40% of Russian Food https://healthimpactnews.com/…/russian-family-gardens-prod…/

How to grow a 3 sisters garden (Traditional Native American approach): http://flusterbuster.com/2013/03/gardens-3-sisters.html

An In-Depth Companion Planting Guide (which seeds to plant together, also information on which plants will keep away certain animals and insects). https://www.motherearthnews.com/…/companion-planting-guide-…

Natural farming methods (a beginner’s guide): https://monterayfarm.com/…/natural-farming-methods-a-begin…/

List of companion plants: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants

Natural farming (Japanese ecological farming approach):https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_farming

Indigenous Three Sisters “Companion” Gardening Method https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qi5IrIOAOnQ

Related: The Biggest Little Farm (2019) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daB6ync3Ytg

Category: Uncategorized