Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for August, 2011

Viruses Can Kill Cancer?

From Technology Review.

Biomedicine Engineered Viruses Selectively Kill Cancer Cells: The experimental therapy could ultimately serve as a seek-and-destroy treatment for metastatic cancer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 By Alla Katsnelson.

A single injection of a virus that has been genetically engineered to kill cancer cells can reliably infect tumors and leave healthy tissue unharmed, according to an early stage trial of 23 patients with metastatic cancers. The findings help lay the groundwork for a new type of cancer medicine using cancer-killing viruses.

Researchers injected different doses of the virus into patients with different types of metastatic cancers. After eight to 10 days, they biopsied tumor tissue from each patient and found that the virus was replicating itself in the tumors of seven of the eight patients who had received the highest dose, with no serious side effects. Several weeks after the injection, tumors in about half of the patients seemed to stop growing, and shrunk in one patient. The study is published today in the journal Nature.

While the study is not the first to test a cancer-killing viral therapy, it is the first to thoroughly document the behavior of the virus in patients’ biopsy tissue. The results confirm that viruses can be used to selectively target these cells.

One reason tumors can grow unchecked is that they suppress the immune system. However, this also makes tumor cells more susceptible to viruses, which replicate inside the infected cell until it bursts. Physicians have known for more than a century that viral infection slows tumor growth, and in recent years they’ve used molecular biology techniques to reëngineer more effective cancer-killing viruses.

Most such viruses now in trials are injected directly into the tumor. But what researchers really need is a therapy that could be injected into the bloodstream and seek out metastasized cancer cells throughout the body, says David Kirn, chief executive officer at Jennerex, the San Francisco-based biotech company that funded the study.

Read entire story at TECHNOLOGY REVIEW.

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Help Horn of Africa

Don’t wait. Please act now!

From The Hunger Site

They’re calling it “The Children’s Famine.” More than 12 million people are at risk of starvation in the Horn of Africa, including at least 1.25 million children who are “in urgent need of life saving interventions,” according to OCHA. Hundreds of thousands of additional children are severely malnourished.

This humanitarian crisis is caused by an unprecedented drought in the region, where families traditionally rely on livestock and farming for food. Food prices have spiked, crops and livestock are failing, and rivers are at their lowest levels in recent memory.

Displaced families desperate for food and water are spilling across borders and overwhelming refugee camps. “In many of the poorest communities,” reports UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, “people are either too poor or too weak to be able to try to walk for help.”

Mercy Corps has worked in the region for years, and is on the ground actively providing help in the places where it is most needed. Tens of thousands in Ethiopia have received emergency food and clean water distributions. In Somalia, cash-for-work programs are helping drought-affected families fill vital needs including food, water, and other essentials. Mercy Corps hopes not only to help people survive in the face of the current crisis, but to make these communities strong enough to thrive once it has passed.

You can help. Every penny of your donation provides emergency aid that is desperately needed in the Horn of Africa during this time of crisis.

Report from the Field

Mercy Corps
August 2011

Mercy Corps is actively engaged in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. They report that their drought response in the region includes:

SOMALIA
· Our work in Somalia will help more than 260,000 drought-affected people fill vital needs like water, food, and other essentials.
· We work directly with communities to ensure that aid gets to the people who need it. We run programs in Puntland, Somaliland, and the Central region.
· Emergency operations build on our work to provide education to Somali children, improve governance, and build more peaceful communities.

KENYA
· Our team in northeastern Kenya has started programs in over twenty villages in bone-dry Wajir County.
· We are helping 120,000 people gain life-saving access to water. Where there is no water, we’re trucking in hundreds of thousands of liters. Where there are water systems, we’re bringing in emergency fuel to keep water pumps running.
· We have found there is food on the market in northeastern Kenya, but people don’t have money to buy it. Vouchers, a likely next phase of work, provide food and boost local markets.

ETHIOPIA
· We plan to mount an emergency response in the Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia, where there is an urgent need for food and water, especially for women, children, and the elderly.
· We also plan to provide cash for work, and initiate destocking, where Mercy Corps buys cattle to provide herders with much-needed income and the community with meat.
· We’ve been helping more than 625,000 Ethiopians gain access to food, water, income, nutrition and health education, and better farming resources and information.

Report from the Field
Joy Portella, Mercy Corps Communications Director
July 2011

The central element of this story is water; everyone is obsessed with finding it. I saw this in the eyes of the herder who’d been walking with his family — including his 10-year-old daughter — for 17 days to find water. I met a young woman with a baby who’d trudged eight hours to collect dirty water at a borehole, and was steeling herself for the grueling return trip. I witnessed a man climb a tree and ever so gently hold down a lone green branch so that his parched, starving camel could gain some strength.

…too often [our] great generosity is triggered by a sudden event that garners significant news coverage: the Haiti earthquake or Japan tsunami. When disasters happen slowly — like a drought and famine — they’re less visible and get less of a response, but that doesn’t make them any less severe.

…the people who are living the drought are simply busy struggling to survive. In the Horn of Africa, that struggle has become increasingly severe. The call for aid has rarely been as urgent.

Don’t wait. Act now! The Hunger Site

Turkey & Religious Minorities

This is a very important and courageous development.

Turkish Government to Return Seized Property to Religious Minorities
By SEBNEM ARSU. Published: August 28, 2011. New York Times.

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government said it would return hundreds of properties that were confiscated from religious minorities by the state or other parties over the years since 1936, and would pay compensation for properties that were seized and later sold.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the announcement on Sunday to representatives of more than 150 Christian and Jewish trusts gathered at a dinner he hosted in Istanbul to break the day’s Ramadan fast. The government decree to return the properties, bypassing nationalist opposition in Parliament, was issued late Saturday.

The European Union, which Turkey has applied to join, has pressed the country to ease or eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against non-Muslim religious groups, including restrictions on land ownership. Many of the properties, including schools, hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries, were seized after 1936 when trusts were called to list their assets, and in 1974 a separate ruling banned the groups from purchasing any new real estate.

Disputes over the groups’ properties have tied up Turkish and European courts for decades, and the European Court for Human Rights has ordered Turkey to pay compensation in several cases related to religious minority rights in recent years.

“Like everyone else, we also do know about the injustices that different religious groups have been subjected to because of their differences,” Mr. Erdogan said at the dinner, according to the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency. “Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over.”

Read complete article at NEW YORK TIMES

Greatest Game on Earth

The English Premier League (EPL) started again last weekend and I must admit that it always hooks me. The MLS (Major League Soccer) is good (with my favorite team being the Seattle Sounders) and the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), but I always watch the EPL more than any other.

My favorite club team in the world is Barcelona, but most of their games are not televised in this area. National teams to which I’m drawn are the US (both the men and women), Ghana, Ireland, Mexico, Japan (men and women), Spain and Turkey.

Most fans claim that you have to have only 1 favorite team and stick with them through thick and thin to be considered a real fan. I beg to differ. I’m an avid fan of many. In the EPL, my favorite teams are Liverpool, Everton, Wigan and the Wolves. Two of those teams are from the same town and huge rivals (Liverpool and Everton). I enjoy watching Manchester United play, but always want them to lose.

If you’re a futbol fan, there is always a league, country and/or tournament to watch throughout the year, but right now, it is the EPL that will get most of my attention.

Donate Daily

Did you know you can donate to eight different organizations daily and not have to personally pay a cent?

The site is called Click to Give and includes the following sites (below). Every time you click, different companies donate 5 cents. It may not sound like much, but it adds up if you do all of them every day – about $145.00 per year. In seven years, that’s over a thousand dollars.


The Hunger Site

The Breast Cancer Site

The Animal Rescue Site

The Veteran’s Site

The Autism Site

The Child Health Site

The Literacy Site

The Rainforest Site

All in one place at Click To Give.

Syrian Attacks

AP Newsire – 8/25/11

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. demanded Thursday that Bashar Assad’s government in Syria stop brutalizing peaceful opponents and in particular criticized its “targeted, brutal attack” on the country’s most popular cartoonist.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland had especially harsh words for the Assad regime regarding cartoonist Ali Ferzat, who is also a longtime human rights advocate, in a statement issued after the department had closed for the day.

“The regime’s thugs focused their attention on Ferzat’s hands, beating them furiously and breaking one of them — a clear message that he should stop drawing,” the statement said.

The statement came a week after President Barack Obama demanded explicitly that Assad resign because he had lost legitimacy as a ruler. That demand was in conjunction with similar moves by major U.S. allies such as Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.

In her statement, Nuland said: “Many other moderate activists who oppose violence have been jailed for speaking out against the regime, including Walid al-Buni, Nawaf Basheer, Georges Sabra, Mohammed Ghaliyoun and Abdullah al-Khalil. Some have been held incommunicado for months.

“While making empty promises about dialogue with the Syrian people, the Assad regime continues to carry out brutal attacks against peaceful Syrians trying to exercise their universal right to free expression,” Nuland continued. “We demand that the Assad regime immediately stop its campaign of terror through torture, illegal imprisonment and murder.”

Mixed Emotions

It’s the middle of the week and there have already been so many things happening inside and out. Mixed emotions are coming and going like a change in weather every minute.

Some friends of ours have been trying to adopt a brother and sister, who have been with them for 2 years now, and social services has made it a nightmare experience. The children are feeling safe, loved and thriving and our friends are wonderful parents. Instead of supporting them in the adoption process, a couple of people in social services have fought them all along the way. It’s no wonder there are so many children in foster homes. Social Services, instead of being supportive, is confrontational and always changing.

Then, there is the slaughter in Syria, the revolution in Libya and starvation in Somalia and Eastern Africa, which is all pulling me one way and then the other.

In the midst of all these turmoils was a wonderful time with our daughter, grandson and son-in-love camping and canoeing in the San Juan Islands off Puget Sound. Beautiful places, great company and time to relax.

When I pay attention to my mind, heart and body, there are always a zillion things going on, though I am only aware of one or two at a time. So, I guess the external circumstances, situations and events are similar, only on a national and international scale.

Now, how I choose to respond (or not) to all of these emotions and events is up to me, right? Or, at least the part of me that is aware of itself. Here I go

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