Category Archives: Global

Tea May Could Fight Lung Cancer

By Swansea University

Nanoparticles derived from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells, destroying up to 80% of them, new research by a joint Swansea University and Indian team has shown.

The team made the discovery while they were testing out a new method of producing a type of nanoparticle called quantum dots. These are tiny particles which measure less than 10 nanometres. A human hair is 40,000 nanometres thick.

Although nanoparticles are already used in healthcare, quantum dots have only recently attracted researchers’ attention. Already they are showing promise for use in different applications, from computers and solar cells to tumour imaging and treating cancer.

Quantum dots can be made chemically, but this is complicated and expensive and has toxic side effects. The Swansea-led research team were therefore exploring a non-toxic plant-based alternative method of producing the dots, using tea leaf extract.

Tea leaves contain a wide variety of compounds, including polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. The researchers mixed tea leaf extract with cadmium sulphate (CdSO4) and sodium sulphide (Na2S) and allowed the solution to incubate, a process which causes quantum dots to form. They then applied the dots to lung cancer cells.

They found:

• Tea leaves are a simpler, cheaper and less toxic method of producing quantum dots, compared with using chemicals, confirming the results of other research in the field.

• Quantum dots produced from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells. They penetrated into the nanopores of the cancer cells and destroyed up to 80% of them. This was a brand new finding, and came as a surprise to the team.

The research, published in Applied Nano Materials, is a collaborative venture between Swansea University experts and colleagues from two Indian universities.

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Michael Bloomberg Writes Check To Cover U.S. Obligation To París Climate Agreement

By: Harry Cockbern of The Independent

Billionaire former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has said he will write a $4.5m cheque to cover the US’s financial commitment to the Paris Climate agreement for 2018.

Donald Trump pulled the US out of the climate pact last year, saying it was a “terrible deal” which would “undermine” the economy and put the US at a “permanent disadvantage”.

The move made the US the only country in the world opposed to the climate change agreement which aims to cut carbon emissions in an effort to restrict global temperature rises to less than 2C by the end of this century.

In an interview with CBS, Mr Bloomberg said he hopes that by next year Mr Trump will have changed his mind.

Mr Bloomberg will continue to provide money for the pact if the United States does not rejoin the agreement, according to a news release from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charity he founded.

“Our foundation will uphold our promise to cover any cuts to UN climate funding by the federal government,” Mr Bloomberg said in the statement.

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Research Shows Positive Brain Developments From Patients on LSD

By: Eric Dolan of PsyPost

New brain published in the journal Scientific Reports sheds new light on how LSD produces its psychedelic effects. The drug resulted in the “emergence of new type of order in the brain,” the researchers found.

The study used a new mathematical method to analyze brain activity, known as connectome-harmonic decomposition, to examine how LSD caused alterations in consciousness. A connectome is a distinctive pattern of neural connections — like a wiring diagram of the brain.

“I am generally interested in novel therapeutic tools that can help with the healing of psychiatric disorders, especially healing from trauma. I feel that as Western societies we generally tend to label and marginalise mental illness instead of seeing it as a rather normal reaction to extreme and abnormal circumstances,” said Selen Atasoy, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Brain and Cognition at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and lead author of the study.

“This, in my opinion, makes the recovery of a patient from trauma even more difficult, as this perspective of the society may further deepen the ‘dissociation’ – the withdrawal of the person, who experienced the traumatic event, from that painful experience.”

“As Dr. Gabor Mate nicely explains, trauma is not caused by the extremely painful experience itself but rather by our dissociation from that part of ourself that had to bear that experience. When I came across the studies about psychedelics, it was very remarkable to me to see how patients under the effect of psychedelics were able to reclaim and integrate their most traumatic experiences and how that led to a powerful healing process,” Atasoy told PsyPost.

“It is probably due to this effect of psychedelics that a very strong, natural psychedelic – ayahuasca – is considered a very powerful plant medicine in various indigenous cultures and has been used in shamanic healing ceremonies for centuries. On the other hand, neuroscience today has another very powerful tool; the imaging technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) allow us to visualise the brain activity of a person.”

“My research focuses on understanding the changes in brain activity caused by psychedelics using these functional neuroimaging datasets,” Atasoy said. “In the future, my hope is that we can gain some insights into the neural mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of psychedelics and also of other therapeutic tools.”

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New Cancer Vaccine Has 100% Cure Rate In Mice

By: Stanford Medical Center

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.

The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”

One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.

Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship in the School of Medicine, is the senior author of the study, which was published Jan. 31 in Science Translational Medicine. Instructor of medicine Idit Sagiv-Barfi, PhD, is the lead author.

‘Amazing, bodywide effects’

Levy is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy, in which researchers try to harness the immune system to combat cancer. Research in his laboratory led to the development of rituximab, one of the first monoclonal antibodies approved for use as an anticancer treatment in humans.

Some immunotherapy approaches rely on stimulating the immune system throughout the body. Others target naturally occurring checkpoints that limit the anti-cancer activity of immune cells. Still others, like the CAR T-cell therapy recently approved to treat some types of leukemia and lymphomas, require a patient’s immune cells to be removed from the body and genetically engineered to attack the tumor cells. Many of these approaches have been successful, but they each have downsides — from difficult-to-handle side effects to high-cost and lengthy preparation or treatment times.

“All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice,” Levy said. “Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal.”

Cancers often exist in a strange kind of limbo with regard to the immune system. Immune cells like T cells recognize the abnormal proteins often present on cancer cells and infiltrate to attack the tumor. However, as the tumor grows, it often devises ways to suppress the activity of the T cells.

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Trump’s Racism Strikes Again Calling Africa A Sh*t hole

By: Cara Ana

Africans were shocked on Friday to find President Donald Trump had finally taken an interest in their continent. But it wasn’t what people had hoped for.

Using vulgar language, Trump on Thursday questioned why the U.S. would accept more immigrants from Haiti and “shithole countries” in Africa rather than places like Norway in rejecting a bipartisan immigration deal. On Friday he denied using that language.

The African Union continental body told The Associated Press it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s comments.

“Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo said.

Some African governments found themselves in an awkward position. As top recipients of U.S. aid, some hesitated to jeopardize it by criticizing Trump, especially as his administration has sought to slash foreign assistance.

“Unless it was specifically said about South Sudan, we have nothing to say,” South Sudan government spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told the AP.

But Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist,” saying the U.S. ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the country was regarded so poorly after years of cordial relations. Senegal’s President Macky Sall said he was shocked and that “Africa and the black race merit the respect and consideration of all.”

Both nations have been praised by the U.S. government as stable democracies in the region.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress called Trump’s comments “extremely offensive,” while opposition leader Mmusi Maimane said “the hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent.” Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable” and hoped that heads of state will reply at an African Union summit later this month.

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Bill Gates Claims Cancer Will Be A Thing Of The Past

By: Chris Weller of Business Insider

Bill Gates is betting big that certain cancer therapies, if manufactured correctly, could help “control all infectious disease.”

Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, made the announcement during his keynote address at the recent JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

“This would be a huge victory for humanity – and potentially a significant market for the life sciences,” Gates said, referring to the prospect of broadly effective immunotherapies.

Since stepping down from his post as Microsoft CEO in 2006, he and his wife Melinda have dedicated their lives to reducing poverty around the world. Infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis remain the top enemies.

The Gates Foundation has spent billions of dollars in grant money to this end, funding companies that research and manufacture disease therapies. In his recent keynote remarks, Gates mentioned a handful of deserving companies that could pave the way for controlling infectious disease.

One of the Gateses’ investments is the company Immunocore, which developed technology that stimulates patients’ immune system. The technology relies on the body’s own immune cells (known as T-cells), essentially reprogramming them, and using them to fight the cancer in a way that is personalized to the patient.

“Initially, Immunocore’s ‘T-cell receptor’ technology targeted cancers, but it could also be applied against infectious diseases,” Gates said.

The Gates Foundation has also taken an interest in gene therapies using a component of the human body known as messenger RNA, or mRNA. Modifying these molecules and injecting them back into the body can produce a stronger immune response. In his address, Gates pointed out that such vaccines would be cheaper, easier, and faster to make than traditional vaccines.

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Terrorist Attempt In New York

By: The BBC

“Terrorists won’t win,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after a blast at the Port Authority terminal in Manhattan during the morning rush hour on Monday.

The suspect, Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant, was injured by a “low-tech explosive device” strapped to his body, officials say.

Three other people suffered minor wounds when it blew up in an underpass.

A photo circulating on social media shows a man, said to be Akayed Ullah, lying on the ground with his clothes ripped and lacerations on his upper body.

Mayor De Blasio said he was believed to have acted alone.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said: “This is New York. The reality is that we are a target by many who would like to make a statement against democracy, against freedom.

“We have the Statue of Liberty in our harbour and that makes us an international target.”

The explosion occurred at about 07:30 (12:30 GMT). Andre Rodriguez, 62, told the New York Times: “I was going through the turnstile. It sounded like an explosion, and everybody started running.”

Another eyewitness, Alicja Wlodkowski, told Reuters news agency that she had seen a group of about 60 people running. “A woman fell. And nobody even went to stop and help her because the panic was so scary,” she said.

Nearby subway stations were evacuated, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal temporarily shut.

It is the biggest and busiest bus terminal in the world, serving more than 65 million people a year.

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Elon Musk Takes His Companies To New Heights

By: Arjun Kharpal

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has raised another $100 million as part of its latest funding round, according to new regulatory documents.

In August, the space exploration company sold $349.9 million worth of shares, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing showed. That amount has now risen to $449.9 million, a new filing showed on Monday, adding an extra $100 million onto the current fundraising effort.

The latest injection of cash values SpaceX at $21.5 billion, according to Equidate, a platform that facilitates the trading of shares in private technology firms. SpaceX was not immediately available for comment on the valuation when contacted by CNBC.

SpaceX’s SEC filing did not disclose the investors.

Musk’s space company has been ramping up its rocket launches. SpaceX has developed rockets that are able to take off, deliver a payload into space, then land back on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic. The company says this helps reduce the cost of space missions as well as increasing the number that are able to take place.

Earlier this year, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told Reuters in an interview that the company was aiming to launch missions every two-to-three weeks.

As well as regular launches for large customers, Musk has bigger ambitions. In May, SpaceX laid out plans to put 4,425 satellites into space to provide high-speed internet. Musk plans to start this in 2019.

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How Nestlé Makes its Billions

By: Caroline Winter of Bloomberg 

Inside, workers wear hairnets, hard hats, goggles, gloves, and earplugs. Ten production lines snake through the space, funneling local spring water into 8-ounce to 2.5-gallon containers; most of the lines run 24/7, each pumping out 500 to 1,200 bottles per minute. About 60 percent of the supply comes from Mecosta’s springs and arrives at the factory via a 12-mile pipeline. The rest is trucked in from neighboring Osceola County, about 40 miles north. “Daily, we’re looking at 3.5 million bottles potentially,” says Dave Sommer, the plant’s 41-year-old manager, shouting above the din.

Silos holding 125 tons of plastic resin pellets provide the raw material for the bottles. They’re molded into shape at temperatures reaching 400F before being filled, capped, inspected, labeled, and laser-printed with the location, day, and minute they were produced—a process that takes less than 25 seconds. Next, the bottles are bundled, shrink-wrapped onto pallets, and picked up by a fleet of 25 forklifts that ferry them to the plant’s warehouse or loading docks. As many as 175 trucks arrive every day to transport the water to retail locations in the Midwest. “We want more people to drink water, keep hydrated,” Sommer says. “It would be nice if it were my water, but we just want them to drink water.”

Nestlé SA started bottling in 1843 when company founder Henri Nestlé purchased a business on Switzerland’s Monneresse Canal. “Ever the curious scientist, [he] analyzed and experimented with the enrichment of water with a variety of minerals, always with a singular goal: to provide healthy, accessible, and delicious refreshment,” reads Nestlé’s website. Today there are thousands of bottled water companies worldwide—there’s even Trump Ice—but Nestlé is the biggest globally in terms of sales, followed by Coca-Cola, Danone, and PepsiCo, according to Euromonitor International. Nestlé Waters, the Paris-based subsidiary, owns almost 50 brands, including Perrier, S.Pellegrino, and Poland Spring.

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In this Turkish Town No One Goes Hungry

By: Zeyneb Varol of The Middle East Eye 

Under the glaring sun of a Saturday afternoon in August, a restaurant in a small eastern Turkish town welcomes its “most valuable customers”.

It is only one of the many establishments across the town where those in need are invited to eat free of charge. This well-preserved tradition has been carried down from generation to generation for decades.

Karakocan, a 70-minute drive north of the centre of Elazıg province, has attracted attention in recent years for its tradition of offering free food to those in need. For locals, the custom is a way of fulfilling their responsibility to assist the less fortunate.

Mehmet Ozturk, 55, the owner and manager of one of Karakocan’s busiest restaurants, Merkez, for nearly 35 years, says he always keeps at least three tables reserved for those in need, even during rush hour when his eatery is cramped. According to Ozturk, “the poor never fail to come”. 

On any given day, Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people, according to official statistics.

Galip is one of the familiar faces at the restaurant who has eaten there every day for the last 10 years. “He was here for breakfast and he will probably come for dinner as well,” a young waiter says.

Suffering from mental illness, Galip doesn’t share much.

“The Merkez is my favourite place in town, because the food is great,” he says.

The restaurants offer Galip and others their pick from a variety of choices listed on their menus including kebabs, chicken, soup, rice and salads.

Ozturk says: “The tradition has always been here, even 70 years ago. For us it was a natural thing to do, something we learned from our elders.”

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