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Molecule Triggers Self-Destruction of Pancreatic Cancer Cells, Scientists Discover

The PJ34 molecule has the ability to induce the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells.

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Pancreatic Cancer Cells

(TMU) — One of the biggest challenges modern medicine has had to face is finding successful cancer treatments. And recently, treatment advances across the spectrum of cancers have continued at a rapid pace.

Lung cancer experienced significant treatment breakthroughs in 2018, primarily in immunotherapy. Other immunotherapy trials brought new treatment options to patients with a range of solid tumor and blood cancers. And also in 2018, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by “inhibition of negative immune regulation.”

Despite these recent big steps in medicine, pancreatic cancer—and more specifically, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC)—remains a devastating diagnosis with complete surgical removal of the tumor the only chance for cure. A shocking 80-90% of patients have PDAC that is surgically incurable at the time of clinical presentation. It was estimated that 46,420 new cases and 39,590 deaths were attributable to pancreatic cancer in the United States in 2014, of which PDAC represents the vast majority.

The PJ34 molecule is a promising new treatment option against this type of cancer, as a study of a Tel Aviv University led by Prof. Malca Cohen-Armon recently found. This small molecule has the ability to induce the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells.

The researchers inserted xenografts—in this case, human pancreatic cancer cells— into mice whose immune systems were suppressed so they wouldn’t reject the foreign cells, and saw the cells multiply below the skin.

They then injected the molecule PJ34 into the bloodstream of the mice to see if it would affect the tumor. After 14 days there was a substantial reduction of 80% to 90% of the cancer cells. In one mouse, the tumor completely disappeared.

“This molecule causes an anomaly during the duplication of human cancer cells, provoking their rapid cell death,” said Tel Aviv University’s Cohen-Armon in a statement. “Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells.”

Cohen-Armon added that “no adverse effects were observed and there were no changes in the weight gain of the mice, nor in their behavior.”

“The effect of a daily treatment with PJ34 provided results with higher statistical significance than those obtained by the 3 times a week treatment with PJ34. However, both treatments caused a similar massive reduction of human proteins in the tumors, 30 days after the treatment with PJ34 has been terminated,” the study reads.

While further research needs to be done in order to calculate the appropriate doses that would have to be administered to human patients in the future, this study is encouraging news. Cohen-Armon added that the team hopes to start testing the effect of the molecule on larger animals, and eventually on humans, which could take around two years, depending on funding.

Hopefully, we can make use of these huge breakthroughs in cancer research really soon.

By Manuel García Aguilar  | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Animals

Fishermen Find $1.5 Million Worth Of ‘Vomit Gold’ In Whale Carcass, Lifting Them From Poverty

Elias Marat

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A group of fishermen from the war-ravaged nation of Yemen have seen their fortunes radically reversed after stumbling upon a rare treasure in the belly of a sperm whale carcass.

The 35 fishermen had been living in poverty before they discovered the floating whale carcass at sea, which turned out to contain an abundance of ambergris worth over $1.5 million, reports the BBC.

Ambergris is a waxy substance that resembles a rock and is often referred to as “whale vomit.” The substance, which is produced deep in the intestines of the marine mammal, is a byproduct of their eating cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish. The substance is sometimes found floating in the ocean or washed up on beaches after it is believed to have been vomited out by the whales.

Ambergris has been coveted by humans for a long time for its perceived medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. It has also been used in the manufacturing of expensive perfumes.

“If you find whale ambergris it’s a treasure,” one of the fishermen said in the BBC News video.

The fishermen’s curiosity was piqued when one of them notified them of the whale and said that it may contain the rare treasure in its bowls.

“As soon as we got close to it, there was this strong smell, and we had the feeling that this whale had something,” the fisherman said. “We decided to hook the whale in, take it to the shore and to cut into it to see what was inside its belly. And yes, it was ambergris. The smell wasn’t very nice but [it is worth] lots of money.”

“It’s like an unbelievable dream. Wonderful feelings I can’t describe,” he added.

Since 2014, the people of Yemen have been on the receiving end of devastating offensives by a Saudi Arabia-led military coalition in a campaign that has seen tens of thousands of people killed and Yemen pushed to the brink of famine. In October, the United Nations estimated that some 80 percent of the population – over 24 million people – required aid and protection.

However, the fishermen and their families can now lift themselves from poverty after selling the ambergris for $1.5 million and dividing the profits among themselves equally.

The men are now using their funds to assist the people who helped them as well as fellow needy villagers.

The men also have purchased homes, cars, and boats and plan to continue fishing.

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China’s “Artificial Sun” Sets World Record Running At 120 MILLION Degrees For 101 Seconds

Elias Marat

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Chinese researchers have achieved a new world record after scientists developing an “artificial sun” ran the device on Friday at a record-shattering temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for over 100 seconds.

The experiment was held at the Institute of Plasma Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China.

The exercise is a part of the China’s efforts to develop new clean energy sources through the development of next-generation nuclear fusion reactor technology.

Known as the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), the “Chinese artificial sun” managed to generate plasma temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds before scientists also realized a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for an additional 20 seconds.

The goal of EAST is to create Sun-like energy using deuterium, a hydrogen isotope that is plentiful in the ocean and can provide a steady flow of clean energy. According to estimates, one liter of seawater contains enough deuterium to produce energy equivalent to 300 liters of gasoline.

China hopes that it can replace fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas with the fusion energy in order to achieve carbon neutrality and a more ecological society.

“It’s a huge achievement in China’s physics and engineering fields. The experiment’s success lays the foundation for China to build its own nuclear fusion energy station,” ASIPP director Song Yuntao said, according to People’s Daily.

The EAST artificial sun is also part of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a joint effort by global scientists that includes the input of scientists from China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

Experts hope that if development proceeds at the current rate, successful nuclear fusion could be achieved within three decades.

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After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb

Kenny Stancil

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The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.

When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.

Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”

Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.

According to the Times:

In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.

John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.

Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.

The robotic dog came under increased scrutiny in February, after it was deployed in response to a home invasion at a Bronx apartment building, as Common Dreams reported at the time.

“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?” 

And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.

“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time. 

While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”

“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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