Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nerve Drugs Might Prevent Migraines


Headache of Headaches: Migraines affect 730 million individuals worldwide, where an episode can last between four and 72 hours. Scientists now say that the source of these headaches is found in the trigeminal nerve system, the human brain’s primary pain pathway; people who reported migraines had elevated levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a neurotransmitter. Such is the science supporting new drug therapies.

Although there are drugs to treat migraines (i,e, triptans) and reduce the symptoms after they start, there have been no drugs to prevent these debilitating and painful headaches. that is, until now, says an article (“New Nerve Drugs May Finally Prevent Migraine Headaches;” November 17, 2015,  by David Noonan in Scientific American. ”Now a new chapter in the long and often curious history of migraine is being written. Neurologists believe they have identified a hypersensitive nerve system that triggers the pain and are in the final stages of testing medicines that soothe its overly active cells. These are the first ever drugs specifically designed to prevent the crippling headaches before they start, and they could be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration next year. If they deliver on the promise they have shown in studies conducted so far, which have involved around 1,300 patients, millions of headaches may never happen.”
Image Credit: Julia Yellow

Friday, November 27, 2015

Injectable Biogel Delivers Anti-Cancer Agents To Tumors

Cancer Research

Smart Treatment: Paddock writes: “The aim of the smart biogel is to act as a cellular reservoir of immune cells that can be injected into tumors to eliminate the cancer.”
Photo Credit & Source: Medical News Today

An article, by Catharine Paddock, in Medical News Today says that researchers at the e University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) in Montreal, Quebec, have developed an injectable biogel that allows targeting of anti-cancer agents directly to the tumors.

In “‘Smart biogel’ that kills cancer tumors in development” (November 20, 2015), Paddock writes:
The researchers say the strength of their new biogel is that it is compatible with anti-cancer immune cells. It allows these cells or anti-cancer drugs to be injected directly into the cancer tumor instead of into the bloodstream. Coauthor Réjean Lapointe, an associate professor of medicine, says: “We hope that this targeted approach will improve current immunotherapies.”
Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment method that enlists the immune system, or parts of it, to fight disease. One form of immunotherapy—called adoptive cell therapy - uses anti-cancer immune cells to treat cancer patients. The aim of adoptive cell therapy is to boost the presence of T lymphocytes, or T cells, in the body. These cells can kill cancer cells, but there are generally not enough of them to eradicate the cancer.
Thus, in adoptive cell therapy, extra T cells are grown in the lab from samples extracted from the patient and then re-injected back into their body to boost their own reserves. However, while the therapy has shown some promising results, it does not always produce enough T cells to kill the cancer completely. Also, it has to be administered with high doses of the hormone interleukin-2, which can be toxic.
Such is the current thinking and approach of cancer research and its therapies, most notably immunotherapy, which focuses on aiding the human body's T-cells to attack cancer. Chemotherapies are still being used as a way to treat cancer; immunotherapy will have to be proven as least as good as this long-standing traditional method before it becomes the method of choice. When this happens, it will be a breakthrough. Chemotherapy, although effective, results in a list of side effects, many unpleasant.

The article, “Chitosan thermogels for local expansion and delivery of tumor-specific T lymphocytes towards enhanced cancer immunotherapies,” is published in Biomaterials: Volume 75, January 2016, Pages 237–249.

For more, go to [MedNewsToday

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Having Fun At Coney Island, New York

American Amusements

The Hug: Closed Eyes and Smile: Taken at Coney Island by Harvey Stein (1982)
Photo Credit: Harvey Stein, 2011
Source: Brooklyn Museum

I have never been to Coney Island, and have never had a “Coney Island hot dog“ or ridden the historic “Cyclone,” a wooden roller coaster. I did however ride the “Cyclone” at Montreal’s Belmont Park in the 1960s and early ’70s, the sound of the cars rolling on wooden tracks a distant but accessible memory. Back to Coney Island: I seem to know the place visually, chiefly as a setting or a place mentioned in novels, films, and plays, including The Great Gatsby, Sophie’s Choice, and Brighton Beach Memoirs.

The Brooklyn Museum has an exhibition that started on November 20, 2015, which runs until March 13, 2016. It writes: “For 150 years, Coney Island has lured artists as a microcosm and icon of American culture. Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008 is the first major exhibition to explore the kaleidoscopic visual record they created, documenting the historic destination’s beginnings as a watering hole for the wealthy, its transformation into a popular beach resort and amusement mecca, its decades of urban decline culminating in the closing of Astroland, and its recent revival as a vibrant and growing community.”

For more, go to [BrooklynMuseum]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

London Philharmonic Orchestra: Górecki Symphony No. 3

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Gilbert Levine conducting, performs the second movement of the Górecki Symphony No. 3, opus 36,  “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” (in PolishSymfonia pieśni żałosnych)a symphony in three movements The soprano is Zofia Kilanowicz.

The symphony was composed by Henryk Górecki  [1933–2010] in 1976; it was first performed at the Royan International Festival, in France, with Stefania Woytowicz as soprano and Ernest Bour as conductor, on April 4, 1977. The music and the performance is both sublime and transcendent.

In an article (“‘Auschwitz’ and Górecki: reflections on evil and hope;” November 19, 2005) in News Weekly, an Australian publicationPatrick J. Byrne writes:
Górecki (pronounced "Gor-etski") wrote the music to expiate his nightmares after visiting a death camp as a young schoolboy, soon after the war. The shingle on the camp pathways was the crushed bone of the murdered inmates. He said he felt he was walking on dead people.
The symphony was written in 1976, but not released until 1992. It sold two million copies in two years, something unprecedented for classical music.
It left commentators asking how it was that, in this secular world of religious indifference and instant material gratification, there was still a deep hunger for spiritual answers to fundamental human issues, such as the nature of good and evil.
The second movement is based on a message from 1944 found scrawled on the wall of a Nazi prison camp (Gestapo headquarters) in Zadopane, Poland, near the Tatra Mountains, not far from where the composer grew up. The message was by an 18 year old girl, Helena Wanda Blazusiakówna, to the Queen of Heaven.

The lyics are as follows:
Mamo, nie płacz, nie.
Niebios Przeczysta Królowo,
Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie.
Zdrować Mario, Łaskiś Pełna.
[English translation]
No, Mother, do not weep,
Most chaste Queen of Heaven
Help me always.
Hail Mary.
I could not find any information on what happened to this young woman, if she had survived her imprisonment. If she did, it would be an answer to prayer.