Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis To Start Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis To Start Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Trump this month. Lewis says he’ll stay in office while he undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer.

AP

Georgia Rep. John Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movement, has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The Democratic congressman will stay in office while he undergoes treatment, his office announced on Sunday.

“I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life. I have never faced a fight quite like the one I have now,” Lewis said in a statement.

The 79-year-old says the diagnosis was made during a routine medical visit this month.

He added, “While I am clear-eyed about the prognosis, doctors have told me that recent medical advances have made this type of cancer treatable in many cases, that treatment options are no longer as debilitating as they once were, and that I have a fighting chance.”

Lewis, the only remaining survivor of the “Big Six” leaders who spearheaded the 1960s push for civil rights, vowed to fight the disease with the same vigor as that which he fought for racial equality.

“I have decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it and keep fighting for the Beloved Community,” he said. “We still have many bridges to cross.”

Lewis says he will continue representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, a position he’s held since he was first elected in 1986, while he begins treatment “over the next several weeks.”

“I may miss a few votes during this period, but with God’s grace I will be back on the front lines soon,” Lewis continued in the statement.

Noted leaders tweeted their support to Lewis after the announcement, including former President Barack Obama, who nodded to the congressman’s fighting spirit.

“If there’s one thing I love about @RepJohnLewis, it’s his incomparable will to fight,” Obama wrote. “I know he’s got a lot more of that left in him. Praying for you, my friend.”

Jimmy Carter Surgery: ‘No Complications’ In Bid To Relieve Pressure On His Brain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Jimmy Carter Surgery: ‘No Complications’ In Bid To Relieve Pressure On His Brain

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Former President Jimmy Carter had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain Tuesday. He’s seen here earlier this month, teaching Sunday school at his church in Plains, Ga.

John Amis/AP

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

Former President Jimmy Carter underwent surgery Tuesday morning to relieve pressure on his brain that was caused by bleeding from two recent falls, the Carter Center says. The former leader is now recovering from the operation.

“There are no complications from the surgery,” the center says. It adds that Carter will stay in the hospital for observation “for as long as advisable” by his doctors.

Carter, 95, was admitted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Monday evening for the procedure. He was accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn.

Carter has had three bad falls this year. On Oct. 21, he suffered a “minor pelvic fracture” after a fall in his Plains, Ga., home. In early October, he was left with a pronounced black eye after another fall. And in May, he broke his hip as he prepared to go turkey hunting, resulting in hip replacement surgery.

The fact that doctors waited overnight before doing surgery on President Carter suggests that the bleeding in his brain was slow, and that it probably began after one of several falls he’s taken in the past few weeks.

The Carter Center says the former president sustained a subdural hematoma — the most common sort of brain bleeding after a fall.

In older patients, even a relatively minor blow to the head can rupture veins along the dura mater, a tough membrane that lies between the skull and brain. As the blood builds up and clots, it can put pressure on the brain and can cause symptoms ranging from headaches to memory problems to seizures and paralysis.

To relieve pressure on the brain, doctors often make a small hole in the skull, then insert a tube to remove the blood. While the hospital has not released details about Carter’s operation, that is likely the procedure he had this morning.

For large clots, surgeons are more likely to remove an entire section of the skull, giving them direct access to the injured area.

Despite his recent injuries, Carter has maintained a busy schedule, making public appearances and building houses with Habitat for Humanity as part of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. He also regularly teaches Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in southwest Georgia.

Carter is the longest-lived U.S. president, and he is also a cancer survivor, having been successfully treated for melanoma that had spread to his liver and his brain, which was diagnosed in 2015.

Former President Jimmy Carter hospitalized to relieve pressure in brain

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS)

 

Former President Jimmy Carter hospitalized to relieve pressure in brain

Former President Jimmy Carter was hospitalized Monday night for a procedure to relieve pressure on his brain caused by bleeding, The Carter Center said in a statement. The bleeding was caused by Mr. Carter’s recent falls, the statement explained.

“President Carter is resting comfortably and his wife, Rosalynn, is with him,” according to the statement. The procedure will take place Tuesday morning at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

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CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus said that the procedure is normally quick. “Basically, they’re just drilling a small hole in the brain and draining the fluid that is causing the pressure,” Agus told CBSN. “So the procedure itself — you could be in the operating room, say, an hour.”

Mr. Carter, who is 95, has had a number of health scares in recent years. In 2015, he announced he had been diagnosed with cancer that had spread to his liver and brain. He stepped back from responsibility at The Carter Center, but he continued teaching Sunday school classes in his hometown of Plains, Georgia. It’s a tradition he started in his teens that has gained a wide following.

But just six months later, he was treated with a new immunotherapy drug and made a remarkable recovery, announcing an MRI showed no signs of cancer and he needed no more treatment.

In May 2019, he suffered another health setback when he fell and broke his hip. Mr. Carter suffered two more falls in October 2019, and was hospitalized for a fractured pelvis.

Carter’s first October fall left him with a black eye and 14 stitches — but he nevertheless attended the opening ceremony for a Habitat for Humanity build in Nashville along with Rosalynn, who is 92. Less than two weeks after his second fall, he said he planned to return to teaching Sunday school.

In the Sunday school service that followed, Mr. Carter told attendees he’s “at ease with death.”

After learning about his cancer in 2015, he said he “assumed, naturally, that I was going to die very quickly.”

“I, obviously, prayed about it. I didn’t ask God to let me live, but I just asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death. And I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death. It didn’t really matter to me whether I died or lived,” Mr. Carter said. “I have, since that time, been absolutely confident that my Christian faith includes complete confidence in life after death. So, I’m going to live again after I die — Don’t know what form I’ll take, or anything.”

This spring, Mr. Carter surpassed George H.W. Bush as the longest-lived U.S. president in history. The Carters recently became the longest married presidential couple, surpassing George and Barbara Bush, with more than 73 years of marriage.

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

German Scientists Engineer Low-Nicotine Tobacco

Friday, 20 September, 2019 – 10:30
A tobacco flower waves in a dew-covered field outside Rolesville, N.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Allen G.Breed)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
German researchers have engineered new low-nicotine tobacco. For this purpose, scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund applied the gene-editing technique on the Virginia tobacco plant and managed to reduce nicotine in it from 400 percent to one percent.

“While each gram of regular tobacco contains 16 milligrams of nicotine, the newly edited version contains only 0.04 percent,” said the study’s lead author Felix Stehle.

“No one in the world has ever managed to reduce nicotine to this level,” he added.

The researchers published their study in the Plant Biotechnology journal.

The tobacco plant is not used to make cigarettes only, but also as a living sample in main research fields.

The researchers explained they used gene cutting to alter the genetic characteristics of this plant. They omitted six genes that play a major role in nicotine production. Although the plant regrouped these genes, it did so in a wrong way, which stopped the production of nicotine. The researchers assured that this process can be used with almost all types of tobacco.

Nicotine is the substance that leads to smoking addiction, in addition to the 4800 substances found in cigarettes, of which 70 substances cause cancer, or suspected to develop cancer.

Valerie Harper, Emmy-winning ‘Rhoda’ star, dead at 80

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Valerie Harper, Emmy-winning ‘Rhoda’ star, dead at 80

(CNN)Valerie Harper, who achieved fame as Rhoda on the classic sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and continued as the character in a popular spin-off series, has died after a long battle with cancer, her daughter Cristina Cacciotti and family friend Deanna Buskey confirmed to CNN.

She was 80.
Buskey, a friend of the family for more than 20 years, said the family was not “providing details at this time.”
Buskey, who first met Harper and her husband while working with them on her theater production of “All Under Heaven,” helped launch a GoFundMe account for Harper’s care earlier this summer.
In July, Harper’s husband, Tony Cacciotti, posted a message on Facebook saying he would not follow the advice of his wife’s doctors and put her in hospice care, despite her worsening condition. He said he would “do my very best in making Val as comfortable as possible.”
Cristina Cacciotti said her mother died at 10:06 a.m. Friday.
Harper was cast as Mary Richards’ wisecracking best friend, Rhoda Morgenstern, and became so popular that she was spun off into her own show, “Rhoda,” midway through the flagship program’s run. She won four Emmys for the role.
The Rhoda character was originally conceived as an antagonist to Moore’s Mary, but was eventually fashioned into her outspoken friend. Harper recalled MTM executive Grant Tinker fighting to maintain those qualities in the face of early network concerns that Rhoda was too abrasive.
Harper returned to sitcoms in the mid-1980’s with a self-titled show, “Valerie,” which cast her as a mother raising her children. But she was fired after two seasons because of a contractual dispute with the studio and network, and wound up suing for wrongful termination, eventually receiving a settlement of $1.4 million.
Valerie Harper

NBC kept the series — renaming it first “Valerie’s Family” and later “The Hogan Family” — with Sandy Duncan brought in to fill the void left by Harper’s character, who was killed off.
In a 2009 interview with the Television Academy’s Archive of American Television, Harper said had she been new to the business, the “difficult” label might have stuck to her. As it was, she said, “We went to court (and) they lost, big time. And you go on. … It didn’t harm my career.”
The actress did remain active — primarily in series guest work and made-for-TV movies — and played Rhoda again in a 2000 TV movie, “Mary and Rhoda,” which reunited the characters along with their grown daughters.
At the time, Harper recalled Moore telling her in regard to doing the movie — which was initially pitched as a sitcom revival — “Maybe we’ll fall on our faces, but let’s take a chance.”
Harper battled lung cancer and was subsequently diagnosed with another form of cancer, leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, in 2013. Her family recently started a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of her treatments.
Born in New York, Harper began her career as a dancer — performing at Radio City Music Hall in the 1950s — and later joined the comedy troupe Second City. She was also heard on the comedy album “When You’re in Love, the Whole World is Jewish,” a follow-up to the popular 1960s sketch piece “You Don’t Have to be Jewish.”
Off screen, Harper was active in politics and charitable endeavors, advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment and championing a charity known as L.I.F.E., which stood for Love Is Feeding Everyone.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated Again For Cancer

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Treated Again For Cancer

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks with NPR in July.

Shuran Huang/NPR

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court disclosed Friday.

The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg’s pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg’s bile duct, according to a statement issued by the court.

Doctors at Sloan Kettering said further tests showed no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. The treatment comes just months after Ginsburg was operated on for lung cancer last December. The 86-year-old justice has been treated for cancer in various forms over the past 20 years.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City,” a statement from the Supreme Court read. “The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor.

“As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed. The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

Shortly before her new round of treatment, Ginsburg sat for an interview with NPR, and her resilience was on full display.

“There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months,” Ginsburg said. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I,” she added with a smile, “am very much alive.”

During Ginsburg’s three weeks of treatment in New York, she kept up a busy schedule in New York, often going out in the evening to the movies, the opera and the theater.

At the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, where Fiddler on the Roof is playing, word spread during intermission that Ginsburg was there, and the audience stood for several minutes applauding the diminutive justice.

Also in the audience that night was Kate McKinnon, whose frequent portrayal of Ginsburg on NBC’s Saturday Night Live has become a marquee event on the show. Soon, the justice and her imitator were caught in photos clasping hands for the first time.

The justice also continued to work during her time in New York, according to court sources, and she has been spotted frequently window shopping, even going in to try on shoes and other items that have interested her.

Ginsburg has 11 public events planned for September and has not canceled any of them to date.

The Supreme Court is set to open a new term on the first Monday in October, and the justices routinely return to work in September.

President Trump has already named two conservative justices to the court, thus ensuring a five-justice conservative majority in most controversial cases.

Were Ginsburg to leave the court prior to the 2020 election or even the inauguration, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made clear the GOP would move immediately to fill the vacancy. That would ensure a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the court, all but guaranteeing a conservative grip on the court for decades to come.

Israel: Nano-vaccine against melanoma developed by Tel Aviv University researchers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Nano-vaccine against melanoma developed by Tel Aviv University researchers

New approach to deadly skin cancer has been effective in preventing and treating primary tumors in mice, study says

Illustrative image of a doctor using a dermatoscope for a skin examination for melanoma (AndreyPopov, iStock by Getty Images)

Illustrative image of a doctor using a dermatoscope for a skin examination for melanoma (AndreyPopov, iStock by Getty Images)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say they may have developed a new way to treat and prevent melanoma, through the use of a “nano-vaccine.”

The new approach to fighting the most aggressive type of skin cancer has so far been effective in mice in preventing the development of melanoma and in treating primary tumors and metastases that result from melanoma, the researchers said in a study.

“Our research opens the door to a completely new approach — the vaccine approach — for effective treatment of melanoma, even in the most advanced stages of the disease,” said a statement by Prof. Satchi-Fainaro, chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and head of the Laboratory for Cancer Research and Nano-medicine at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, who led the study.

The focus of the research, published on Monday in Nature Nanotechnology, is a nano-particle that serves as the basis for the new vaccine.

A nano-vaccine developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University enhances the sensitivity of melanoma to immunotherapy to destroy cancer cells. Illustration by Maayan Harel.

Melanoma develops in the skin cells that produce melanin or skin pigment. The cancer accounts for only about 1% of skin tumors, but is behind a large majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. Some 7,230 people in the US are expected to die of melanoma in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society.

“The war against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular, has advanced over the years through a variety of treatment modalities, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy; but the vaccine approach, which has proven so effective against various viral diseases, has not materialized yet against cancer,” said Satchi-Fainaro. “In our study, we have shown that it is possible to produce an effective nano-vaccine against melanoma and to sensitize the immune system to immunotherapies.”

The researchers used tiny particles, about 170 nano-meters in size, made up of  biodegradable polymers. Within each particle, they “packed” two peptides — short chains of amino acids, which are found in melanoma cells. They then injected the nano-particles (or “nano-vaccines”) into mice that had melanoma.

“The nano-particles acted just like known vaccines for viral-borne diseases,” Satchi-Fainaro said. “They stimulated the immune system of the mice, and the immune cells learned to identify and attack cells containing the two peptides — that is, the melanoma cells. This meant that, from now on, the immune system of the immunized mice will attack melanoma cells if and when they appear in the body.”

Tel Aviv University researchers have developed nano-vaccine to fight melanoma in mice. Left to right: Prof. Helena Florindo, Dr João Conniot, Prof. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Dr Anna Scomparin. (Galia Tiram).

The researchers then examined the effectiveness of the vaccine under three conditions.

In the first scenario, the vaccine was injected into healthy mice, followed by an injection of melanoma cells. “The result was that the mice did not get sick, meaning that the vaccine prevented the disease,” Satchi-Fainaro said. This means the vaccine proved to have a preventative effect, she explained.

Second, the nano-particle vaccine was used to treat a primary melanoma tumors in mice, together with immunotherapy treatments that are already approved for use or still under development. The combination of the vaccine with the treatment “significantly delayed the progression of the disease and greatly extended the lives of all treated mice,” the statement said.

In the last scenario, the researchers tested their approach on tissues taken from human patients in which the melanoma cancer cells had spread to the brain. They found that in the human brain, where there is metastases, the two same peptides exist. This suggested that just as these two peptides can trigger an immune reaction in mice when used as a nano-vaccine, they are likely to trigger a similar reaction in the brain, indicating that the vaccine could be used to treat brain metastases in humans as well, Satchi-Fainaro said in a phone interview.

A nano-vaccine developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University activates the immune system to attack melanoma (Illustration by Galia Tiram).

The next step for the researchers, she  said in the phone interview, is to “show that we can control the growth” of the metastasized cells in order to “prolong overall survival.”

The researchers believe that their “nano-vaccine” approach could be expanded beyond melanoma.

“We believe that our platform may also be suitable for other types of cancer and that our work is a solid foundation for the development of other cancer nano-vaccines,” Satchi-Fainero said.

The researchers are now setting up a company to take the development of their nano-vaccine further. It may take at least five to 10 years before a product could reach the market, if all the clinical trials go well, she said in the interview.

The team of researchers included Prof. Helena Florindo of the University of Lisbon, while on sabbatical at the TAU, and Dr. Anna Scomparin and postdoctoral fellow Dr. João Conniot, both of the TAU.

The project was funded by EuroNanoMed-II, the Israeli Health Ministry, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator and Advanced Awards, the Saban Family Foundation – Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) Team Science Award, and the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

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What do the Zodiac signs really mean?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRIVIA GENIUS)

 

General

What do the Zodiac signs really mean?

In astrology, the 12 Zodiac signs are a loose guide to personality traits, which are a reflection of the behavior, attitude, passion, strengths, and weaknesses of people under each classification. They can be used for self-improvement, growth, entertainment, and fun!

Individuals are associated with a symbol—or a sign—depending on the date and month on which they were born. The 12 signs are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.

These signs fall into elemental classifications of water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces); air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius); fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius); and earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn). These four elements have perceived underpinnings in their interaction with the 12 Zodiac signs.

Aries

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

People who fall under this horoscope are those born between March 20 and April 20, and the representative symbol is the ram. This Zodiac sign represents people who are bold, courageous, ambitious, inquisitive, independent, natural leaders, and individuals who have a deep respect for justice. The negative characteristics of this group include aggression, selfishness, inconsistency, bad temperament, and pushy characteristics.

Taurus

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

Taureans are born between April 20 and May 20, under the bull. The characteristics are dedication, trustworthiness, and dependency compared to the negative traits like resistance to change and stubbornness. The bull signifies persistence and high energy, which propagates an endurance that extends beyond high patience levels.

Gemini

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

This zodiac class depicts twins as the symbol and consists of people born between May 21 and June 20. These individuals are agile, open to change, intelligent, have excellent communication skills, are insightful, and possess a readiness to make conversation. Within this category, their behaviors are inconsistent, they like to over-stress or amplify situations and information, and they are deceptive, scheming, dramatic, and extremely talkative.

Cancer

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

Birthdays of people under Cancer run from June 21 to July 20, and the symbol is the crab. The traits of members include compassion, healing, cultivating, reassuring, understanding, and incredibly loving. However, the same people display clingy behavior, passive aggression, moodiness, and indirect expressions, which hinder effective interaction.

Leo

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

The representation sign is the lion, and the birth dates run from July 21 to August 20. Their association with the sun means that Leos introduce warmth to an interaction or bring a relationship to life. Hence, this group values relationships, and their charisma can charm many people into becoming their friends. Leos are also fearless, protective, fun, exhibit leadership, and are very generous, which parallels their inclination to dictatorship, stubbornness, and controlling and bragging behavior.

Virgo

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

The virgin is the zodiac symbol that describes people born between August 21 and September 20. People in this category come off as organized, investigative, rational, meek, modest, and responsible. They have an excellent memory and research skills, which makes it possible to be rational and analytical. This makes them an excellent addition to a discussion group. However, they can prove to be annoying due to their obsessive behavior, desire to make everything perfect, criticalness, and an extreme keenness to detail.

Libra

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

Represented by the scales, Libras have their birthdays between September 20 and October 20. Members of this group have dignity, are easygoing, subtle, and charming despite their indecisive traits and hypocritical and gullible attitudes.

Scorpio

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

Depicted by the scorpion, this zodiac sign describes people born between October 21 and November 20. Beyond the passionate, sensitive, expressive, and sacrificial characteristics, this group also displays envious, distrustful, malicious, and possessive behavior.

Sagittarius

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

The centaur (or an archer) is the representative symbol for Sagittarius, for people born between November 21 and December 21. This is a hopeful group due to their open-mindedness, and are bubbly, lucky, possess high moral standards, and are versatile. Negative aspects include sluggishness and being fidgety, irresponsible, and greedy.

Capricorn

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

The symbol for Capricorn is the goat. This group is talented and values stability, strategy, tolerance, meticulousness, and responsibility irrespective of their negativity, rigidity, ruthlessness, and melancholic and cynical traits. Capricorns are born between December 21 and January 20.

Aquarius

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

The Aquarius sign is also known as the Water Bearer, based on the symbol, and is comprised of individuals born between January 21 and February 20. The group reflects inherent characteristics such as intellectual or smart, generous, friendly, creative, and humane. The negative traits associated with this sign are irresponsible, emotionally distant, absent-minded, and impersonal.

Pisces

Credit: BlackJack3D / iStockPhoto

This Zodiac sign is the fish and signifies the temperament and attitudes of people born between February 21 and March 20. Pisces is romantic, thoughtful, sensitive, inventive, and empathetic, which complements the problematic elements of being unrealistic, docile, self-pitying, and needy.

Israeli researchers find ‘potential hope’ for some pancreatic cancer patients

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israeli researchers find ‘potential hope’ for some pancreatic cancer patients

New drug stalls progression of disease for patients who have the BRCA genetic mutations, study by Sheba Medical Center with AstraZeneca and Merck shows

An illustrative image of a cancer patient and perfusion drip. (CIPhotos, iStock by Getty Images)

An illustrative image of a cancer patient and perfusion drip. (CIPhotos, iStock by Getty Images)

Researchers at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer said Sunday that a targeted cancer therapy drug they developed together with pharma giants AstraZeneca and Merck & Co. Inc. offers “potential hope” for patients with a specific kind of pancreatic cancer, as it delays the progression of the disease.

Dr. Talia Golan, the head of the Sheba Medical Center Pancreatic Cancer Center, has been conducting research and clinical trials with AstraZeneca and MSD, as Merck is called outside the US, to evaluate the safety and test the efficacy of a new drug treatment regimen based on Lynparza, or olaprib, tablets.

The tablets are a pharmacological inhibitor of the enzyme poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, or PARP. PARP inhibitors are a group of drugs that inhibit the enzyme. They were developed for a number of indications, but most importantly for the treatment of cancer, as several forms of cancer are more dependent for their development on the enzyme than regular cells are. This makes PARP an attractive target for cancer therapy.

Those who received the medication in the study on average went 7.4 months before their disease began to worsen, known as “progression free survival” rates, compared to 3.8 months in the group that took the placebo, the researchers said.

The study, called POLO, was held with 154 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who carried the BRC -1 and BRCA-2 genetic mutations. Patients with these mutations “make up a small subgroup of those with metastatic pancreatic cancer,” the researchers said in their study. Golan said in an interview that this subgroup accounts for six to seven percent of the metastatic pancreatic cancer patients.

The results of the Phase III randomized, double-blind study with a placebo control group will be published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine, the partners said.

“The POLO trial using the medicine Lynparza offers potential hope for those who suffer from metastatic pancreatic cancer and have a BRCA mutation,” Golan said in the statement. “This treatment also exemplifies the advent of ‘precision medicine’ based on a specific genetic biomarker, BRCA 1 & 2.”

In the study, patients were randomly assigned to get the tablets, at a dose of 300 milligram twice daily, or a placebo.

However, though the drug was seen to slow the disease’s progression, an interim analysis showed “no difference” in overall survival between those who took the drug and the placebo group — a median of 18.9 months versus 18.1 months, the study said.

Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 458,918 new cases in 2018 alone. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, and accounts for 7% of all cancer deaths, according to Cancer.Net. The five-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is 9%. The cancer is often difficult to diagnose, as there are no specific cost-effective ways to screen for the illness, meaning that it is often found at later stages, when it has spread. For the 52% of people who are diagnosed after the cancer has spread, the 5-year survival rate is 3%, Cancer.Net says.

“When we saw the results were positive it was an exceptional, phenomenal moment,” said Golan in an interview. “For the field it is a huge thing.”

She added that this is the first Phase 3 biomarker study that is positive in pancreatic cancer and the drug “provides tremendous hope for patients” with the advanced stage of the cancer.  “This drug has shown efficacy and a tremendous really phenomenal response in this patient population,” she said.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA and play an important role in maintaining the genetic stability of cells. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly, and cells become unstable. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer. A significant number of Ashkenazi Jews (those of European origin) around the world are carriers of the BRCA 1 & 2 genes.

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Mother of Nechama Rivlin’s lung donor: ‘Another part of you has gone’

Sari Halabli, mother of 19-year-old Yair who died in March drowning accident, eulogizes president‘s ‘modest’ wife, says she will ‘rest in peace, together with my enchanting son’

Nechama Rivlin (R), wife of President Reuven Rivlin, on June 16, 2016. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Yair Yehezkel Halabli (L), who donated his lung to Rivlin. (Twitter)

Nechama Rivlin (R), wife of President Reuven Rivlin, on June 16, 2016. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90) Yair Yehezkel Halabli (L), who donated his lung to Rivlin. (Twitter)

The mother of the young man whose lung was transplanted into Nechama Rivlin said Tuesday she grieves the passing of President Reuven Rivlin’s wife.

Sari Halabli, the mother of 19-year-old Yair Halabli, who died in March after drowning in a diving accident in Eilat, said Rivlin’s death at the age of 73 meant another part of her son had died.

Rivlin was “a modest woman, just like Yair,” Halabli told the Ynet news site.

“Rest in peace, together with my enchanting son,” she said in a message to Rivlin, before addressing her late son: “Another part of you has gone, and of my heart.”

Memorial candles are lit next to a picture of Nechama Rivlin, the late wife of President Reuven Rivlin, outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Halabli’s family donated several of his organs after his death. Rivlin received his lung on March 11 after a long time on a waiting list as she suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. She died earlier Tuesday from complications linked to the transplant.

Her funeral will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem. Prior to the ceremony, her coffin will be placed at the Jerusalem Theater, where the public can go to pay its respects.

On Thursday and Friday, the president and his family will receive condolence visits at his official residence in Jerusalem as part of the traditional Shiva mourning period.

“I’m happy Nechama is no longer suffering. She really deserves the love she is getting now and the recognition of her service and work,” Channel 12 news quoted Rivlin telling friends following his wife’s death.

Rivlin died on the eve of her 74th birthday at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, where she was being treated after relapsing following the lung transplant.

President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama Rivlin. (GPO)

Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, Rivlin was eulogized by Israeli politiciansfrom across the political spectrum. She was also mourned by foreign diplomats stationed in Israel, as well as US President Donald Trump’s envoy for Middle East peace.

Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank Walter Steinmeier all called Rivlin’s office to express their condolences, according to Channel 12, which reported the president only spoke by phone with a few close friends of his and his late wife’s.

Nechama Rivlin was born in 1945 in Moshav Herut in the Sharon region. She married Reuven Rivlin in 1971, and worked for many years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, until her retirement in 2007, at which point her lung condition was discovered.

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How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

How the humble cabbage can stop cancers

CabbageImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

Scientists say they have discovered why some vegetables – including cabbage, broccoli and kale – can reduce the risk of bowel cancers.

That cruciferous veg is good for the gut has never been in doubt but a detailed explanation has been elusive.

The team at the Francis Crick Institute found anti-cancer chemicals were produced as the vegetables were digested.

Cancer Research UK said there were plenty of reasons to eat more veg.

The work focused on how vegetables alter the lining of the intestines, by studying mice and miniature bowels growing in the lab.

Like the skin, the surface of the bowels is constantly being regenerated in a process that takes four to five days.

But this constant renewal needs to be tightly controlled, otherwise it could lead to cancer or gut inflammation.

And the work, published in the journal Immunity, showed chemicals in cruciferous vegetables were vital.

From kitchen to cancer prevention?

The researchers investigated a chemical called indole-3-carbinol, which is produced by chewing such vegetables.

“Make sure they’re not overcooked, no soggy broccoli,” said researcher Dr Gitta Stockinger.

The chemical is modified by stomach acid as it continues its journey through the digestive system.

In the lower bowel, it can change the behaviour of stem cells, which regenerate the bowel lining, and of immune cells that control inflammation.

The study showed diets high in indole-3-carbinol protected the mice from cancer, even those whose genes put them at very high risk of the disease.

Without the protective diet, the gut cells divided uncontrollably.

Dr Stockinger added: “Even when the mice started developing tumours and we switched them to the appropriate diet, it halted tumour progression.”

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Signs of bowel cancer include persistent:

  • blood in the stools
  • changes in bowel habits, such as going to the toilet more often
  • tummy pain, bloating or discomfort
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Dr Stockinger said the findings were a “cause for optimism”.

She has reduced the amount of meat she eats and now consumes a lot more vegetables.

She told the BBC: “A lot of dietary advice we’re getting changes periodically – it is very confusing and not clear cut what the causes and consequences are.

“Just telling me it’s good for me without a reason will not make me eat it.

“With this study, we have the molecular mechanisms about how this system works.”

Prof Tim Key, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This study in mice suggests that it’s not just the fibre contained in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage that help reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but also molecules found in these vegetables too.

“Further studies will help find out whether the molecules in these vegetables have the same effect in people, but in the meantime there are already plenty of good reasons to eat more vegetables.”

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