Day: February 14, 2005

Altered HIV Attacks Mice Tumors

“Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have tweaked HIV to create a gene therapy that attacks cancer tumors in mice.

…The UCLA AIDS Institute scientists genetically altered HIV and folded it into an envelope made of another virus called sindbis, which typically infects insects and birds. That turned the altered HIV into a missile that hunted down metastasized melanoma cells in the lungs of living mice.

…The researchers programmed the altered virus package to attack a protein on the cancer cell surface called p-glycoprotein, which causes problems in cancer patients by shuttling cancer drugs away from the cell. In other words, p-glycoprotein causes resistance to cancer medication. Scientists could customize the system to target any protein on the surface of a cell, Chen said. He and his colleagues have seen success with about a dozen different molecules, including brain and other blood cells, he said.

More incremental work, with the goal of increasing the precision of the treatment and reducing the chance of side effects, is necessary before this type of gene therapy can be tested in humans, Chen said. In a premature human trial in 1999, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died during a gene therapy clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania, which led to an FDA investigation and closure of the Penn gene therapy program. ” (Wired)

Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself

“Suppose you are the party responsible for invading a country under totally false pretenses. Suppose you had totally unrealistic expectations about the consequences of your gratuitous aggression.

What do you do when, instead of being greeted with flowers, you find your army is tied down by insurgents and you have no face-saving way to get out of the morass? If you are the moronic Bush administration, you blame someone else.” — Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review (Counterpunch ).

Older people get the big picture

“Psychologists from McMaster University have discovered that the aging process improves certain abilities — the ability to grasp the ‘big picture’. The study, published in the journal Neuron dispels the myth that older people perform slower and worse than younger people.

‘Going into the study, we knew that ageing changes the way people see the world,’ says Allison Sekuler, one senior author of the study. ‘But these results are an unusual twist on the standard ‘ageing makes you worse’ story, and they provide clear insight into what is changing in the ageing brain.'”

A Princeton Philosopher’s Unprintable Essay Title

“Harry G. Frankfurt, 76, is a moral philosopher of international reputation and a professor emeritus at Princeton. He is also the author of a book recently published by the Princeton University Press that is the first in the publishing house’s distinguished history to carry a title most newspapers, including this one, would find unfit to print. The work is called On Bull – – – – .’

The opening paragraph of the 67-page essay is a model of reason and composition, repeatedly disrupted by that single obscenity:

‘One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much [bull]. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize [bull] and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.'” (New York Times )