Friday, August 16, 2013

Ottawa Doctors make a Breakthrough in Fighting Leukemia

Doctors David Conrad and John Bell have developed a tiny nano-particle that causes human blood cancer cells to kill themselves.

This is very interesting, and though like any "breakthrough" it is early days and there is much more testing and research trials to be done. However, at this point, it sounds very promising. Please watch and listen to the short clip on the link below. Dr. David Conrad is being interviewed by CTV.

This is a video link published Aug. 13, 2013 at this CTV News web site:

Dr. David Conrad: ".. We've developed a 'particle-based therapeutic', and we can introduce it intravenously to mice that have leukemia. We've observed that not only is the leukemia eradicated but it sets up an immune response so that relapse does not occur... we set up an 'immune memory' with this treatment."

Wow, this sounds revolutionary - a treatment to kill the cancer, and then even prevent a relapse. Let's hope that this study's finding will be repeated in more trials, so that there will one day be human trials, and similar successful results. Researchers are keeping the hope alive with this study, and the "serial T-Cell" treatment from two years ago in Pennsylvania, and New York labs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dell computers are 2nd Hand Junk - at least it seems that way

You buy a brand new Dell Inspiron M5030 in the summer of 2011. It completely blacks out, no start up, no file access - fried by Dec. 2011. You call tech support in India or Pakistan, and run a few tests, and they arrange to send it to Ontario to examine and fix it. You get it back, and it is still behaving quirky, but generally working.
Then it crashes after a few more weeks in early 2012. Same process, ring the guys in India, send by courier back to fix-it guys, get it back, and guess what.. it crashes two more times in 2012. So four times in 2012. It is sent away again in Dec. of 2012, and you are guaranteed that the problem will be fixed.. as most often is the case, the motherboard needed replacement, at least twice the hard drive was damaged too, and could not be retrieved. It should be called the Dell UnInspiron.

So, this brings up to today. Since 8 months after it returned, it was "working", still odd things happening with hibernate/sleep, and some files missing. In the last few weeks the awful random grey screens began to appear, and this evening the depressing, stressful, reminder of past computer traumas, the 7 beep flatliner sound that is usually associated with the premature death of a new mother board. Yes, 5, five times this same computer has crashed since purchased two summers ago.

That's beginning with new, and then after Dell "repaired" it again and again. So either this computer was a lemon from the start, or the parts or the people repairing it are rusty. It never behaved like a new computer. It consistently behaves like a car that is getting old, but a newer part here, another there, will keep it going for a few more months.

But, sadly it's a computer that is unfortunately relied upon to store files, communicate, search the net, edit photos, do work, save other peoples' work, and conduct other business. Time after time, it has caused major inconvenience, some file loss, huge stress, frustration, and anger at Dell for not completely replacing this piece of "second hand" junk, or refunding the money paid for it, as was suggested.

Here it goes again, just about to call Dell for the 5th time about the same problem. Come on Dell, just do the right thing this time. Incidentally, a new Dell purchase will never ever take place from this computer chair.

For readers, be careful what you are buying. Take a good look around, there are plenty of other good brands out there. As I type this blog from a borrowed pc, I write it as a protest to Dell, and a reminder that this story, and hopefully others will be shared here, as a warning to other consumers, and to companies like Dell. Companies are doing/fooling consumers in every way they can legally do so, to cut costs, and with it, services and quality. More voices and stories can help change the way quality and customer service is going. Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment or story.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Taming the wild lupines

They're almost everywhere, and could grow anywhere it seems. Roadsides are a common home to the colorful lupine. But there are gardeners who proudly plant and love them. Here are a few wild lupines from around town.

Lupines + photography = Color depth of field
The sky's the limit
Lupine army, at attention

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Promising T-cell Therapy for Leukemia and other cancers - Event May 30

There is an exciting buzz about a new "serial killer" T-cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and CLL. T cells, which are part of your immune system, are taken out of patients' blood; are genetically modified with a virus; put back into the patient with leukemia; and the "killer" T-cells hunt for cancer cells, and kill them. Two years ago, researchers at the University of Penn. reported that a small study showed astounding results. Patients who had no other alternative were given this treatment, and went into remission. Other medical centres have been testing similar methods since, and the results are showing promising results.

While this new therapy is in its infancy stage, it could potentially treat leukemia, and make transplants unnecessary, and also treat other forms of cancer.

On May 30, 2013, the Newfoundland & Labrador Thrombosis, Blood and Immune Disorders Research and Education Project will host an event with keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Curran, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York city. Dr. Curran is one of the researchers in this new treatment. This presentation is open to the public, and should be very interesting for anyone in the community and among health care workers. See details below, and see links to web sites which describe the T-cell therapy which Dr. Curran is involved in.

Links on T-cell Immunotherapy

NY Times Article

ABC News Story§ion=1206835&playlist=1363742

Washington Post Article

Adoptive T cell Therapy for Cancer- How your Immune System Can Cure Cancer

Keynote Speakers:
Dr. Kevin J. Curran, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center NY< NY
Dr. Paul Moorehead, Faculty of Medicine at MUN
Holly King and Charlie Cheeseman, patient and family advocates

Date: Thurs., May 30, 2013 Time: 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm Location: GEO Centre, St. John's

Description: This is an exciting and promising leukemia/cancer therapy news event. Topics include leukemia, childhood leukemia and a promising new immunotherapy that is exciting the medical community the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. We will hear from Dr. Kevin Curran, a pediatric oncologist who is a member of a large research team, and working at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Clinic, New York. Dr. Curran is the principal investigator for a study using this treatment for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) . This treatment has so far been used successfully with patients with ALL and CLL. Clinical trials are opening for other types of cancer and other conditions currently managed by stem cell or bone marrow transplantation. The hope is that this treatment will be more effective and less toxic than stem cell or bone marrow transplantation.

6.30 Refreshments
7.00 Introduction Dr. MF Scully and Dr. M. Larijani, Faculty of Medicine at MUN
7.10 A patient and family perspective
Holly King and Charlie Cheeseman, NLTBI Volunteers
7.30 Acute Leukemia in Children, Dr. Paul Moorehead, Faculty of Medicine at MUN
7.50 Question and Answer period
8.00 Adoptive T cell therapy for cancer -How Your Immune System Can Cure Cancer
Kevin J. Curran MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center NY, NY
8.40 Questions and Answer period
8.50 Panel Discussion
9.00 Refreshments

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The tall ship Kruzenshtern in St. John's

Each year the east coast port city of St. John's welcomes vessels of all types and sizes. Cruise ships have become a common sight in St. John's harbour particularly in the fall of the year. At other times, there are high tech rowing boats moored at dock, designed to tackle the seas between Newfoundland and England. You will commonly see whale watching tourist boats, freighters, tankers, and sailboats and special ones like the Kruzenshtern. The Kruzenshtern is 375 ft in length, and is 169 ft high. It was built in 1926 in Germany, and was first called the Padua. She was surrendered to the USSR in 1946 as war reparation, and was given a new name, after a Baltic explorer in the Russian service.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leaks in the Premier's Office

CH has found the source of the leaks in the Premier's Office, as described by Premier Kathy Dunderdale. CBC reported that the cost of renovations for the top job office increased just a wee bit, from $20 million to $50 million - one might think that there are all sorts of things leaking from our government.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Armstrong took us for a ride

Remember when Bill Clinton told his country that he did not have relations "with that woman..", and then admitted it? Well, he did prime time comedians a huge favour, by giving them lots of material to get laughs. Expect to see a marathon of Lance jokes on your favorite show.

Though not a president, Lance Armstrong was the king of cycling for almost a decade, and he also beats Clinton for longest time for hiding the truth. This fall from race is a huge story for plenty of reasons. By choice, Armstrong was a serial liar, and it's incredible how he not only fooled the world, his family, sponsors, cancer patients, donors, and big business employers, but how long he did it, and, what an amazing acting job!

Not a man of much apparent outward emotion, he vehemently denied on many occasions, ever doping to win bike races. When questioned by USADA (the US Anti-Doping Agency) in 2005, while videotaped, he denied all doping allegations. Take a look at his acting skills as guest on the biggest prime time U.S. shows. As a matter of fact, it was only in the last several days, with Oprah Winfrey, that he has finally admitted that, well, he took us all for a ride.

So, since 1998 around when there first was talk about illegal performance enhancing drugs while riding in the Tour de France, he began his acting career outside the cycling. It is remarkable how convincing and stubborn Armstrong was, how many friends he lost, how he seemed to ignore the feelings of those close to him, and put money, power, and unfortunately, an ironic false pride first.

It is rare for a world stage figure to lie for so long, earn so much wealth, respect, and sustained popularity, and maintain that poker face. There are so many things wrong with what Lance did, and it is hard not to wonder, what's going on in his head. In his interview admitting drug use, he said he was sorry, and maybe he is all cried out, but there was little sign of sadness from him. He's got million$ of reasons to be sad. Anyone who wins a Tour de France, or any major sport, is bound to make huge money from acting as the trustworthy face for the company's product or service. He denied that opportunity from potential clean racers, at least 7 times. His "heroics" shamefully leaves doubt, disappointment and distain from those who believed that anything was possible.

It is sad really to see a person so publicly humiliate himself, be so greedy and at the expense of others, and obstruct their opportunities. Perhaps though, Lance's seemingly cold reactions and psychopathic-like demeanor will work in his favour to salvage his own respect, and true sense of worth. He's 41 and could live to be an old man. As a cancer survivor, it is hoped that he can, for that reason alone.

So, there could be many years to work on repairing the damage he has done. At least admitting his guilt, and flaws is a start. Once he has apologized to everyone he has hurt and disappointed, there remains his organization Livestrong, a fundraising foundation for cancer survivors. While he was asked to step down from his chairman position, there are endless opportunities and needs in the world for him to do good deeds. Not everyone has to forgive and forget him, but helping other groups, charities and ultimately people, is never unwanted.

Armstrong may very well lose a huge chunk of his $100 million + fortune, and still have lots of pocket money, but his racing days are pretty much over. His need to win remains, but the prestige from winning races is unreachable now. However, remember President Clinton again? He's more respected now than ever, gets standing ovations and has been an international ambassador for peace and humanity. Lance Armstrong may have serious flaws, but it's never too late to turn that around and be honest, to help others more, and regain respect. By doing that, he can't lose.