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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cancer Therapy Without Side Effects Nearing Trials

A promising new cancer treatment that may one day replace radiation and chemotherapy is edging closer to human trials.

Kanzius RF therapy attaches microscopic nanoparticles to cancer cells and then "cooks" tumors inside the body with harmless radio waves.

Based on technology developed by Pennsylvania inventor John Kanzius, a retired radio and TV engineer, the treatment has proven 100 percent effective at killing cancer cells while leaving neighboring healthy cells unharmed. It is currently being tested at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“I don’t want to give people false hope,” said Dr. Steve Curley, the professor leading the tests, “but this has the potential to treat a wide variety of cancers.”

Modern cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have proven remarkably effective at treating many cancers, especially in combination, but are plagued with toxic side effects. These treatments kill healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.

Kanzius RF therapy is noninvasive, and uses nontoxic radio waves combined with gold or carbon nanoparticles, which have a long history of medical use.

Since the mid-1980s, scientists have been trying to create new medical therapies to take advantage of their tiny size. Nanoparticles made of gold, carbon and other materials can move through the bloodstream and through cell walls, allowing for efficient drug delivery, or to act like a homing devices for research purposes.

However, questions about the safety of nanoparticles are largely unanswered. Nonetheless, the potential of nanoparticles to create novel treatments has become a central thrust of many fields of medicine, including oncology.

At M.D. Anderson, Curley's research team is working on coating microscopic gold nanoparticles with cancer-seeking molecules. The proteins act as a filter that ensures nanoparticles attach only to cancerous cells in the body.

“We’re looking into gold because it is FDA-approved and has a track record of being tolerated in humans,” said Dr. Christopher Gannon, assistant professor at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, who collaborated with M.D. Anderson.

When the gold nanoparticles are inside the malignancy, a blast from a radio-frequency generator causes them to heat and cook the cancer cells.

In trials with animal and human cells, the RF treatment destroyed 100 percent of malignant cells injected with nanoparticles, without harming surrounding healthy tissue.

A study in the November 2007 issue of the journal Cancer showed that tumor cells infused with nanoparticles and exposed to the electromagnetic field of the RF generator died within 48 hours of treatment, with no noted side effects.

A study in the Journal of Nanobiotechnology in January 2008 showed that destruction of human pancreatic cancer cells was 100 percent effective — again producing no noticeable side effects.

“We know it has the potential to work well,” said Gannon. "It’s just a matter of making the details work."

The problem is finding cancer-seeking molecules that are attracted to cancer cells but leave healthy cells alone.

Curley's team has identified a targeting molecule, c225 , which is FDA-approved. While c225 is present in many cancer cells, it also occurs in healthy cells.

“It will depend on the type of cancer and the targeting molecules attached to the nanoparticles,” Curley said.

The radio-frequency generator was invented by Kanzius, who underwent chemotherapy in 2003 and 2004 for leukemia. Kanzius declined to be interviewed for this story, citing an exclusive agreement with CBS News. 60 Minutes has scheduled a segment about Kanzius RF therapy for Sunday.

“His device helped inspire us to create the targeted nanoparticles to make it a fully functional clinical device,” said Gannon.

Kanzius is now working on a larger CT-scanner-sized device that will help scientists test larger subjects by this summer — and pave the way for human trials.

Curley, who described himself as the "ultimate skeptic," thinks the treatment is only a few years away.

"The best-case scenario is that we would be able to clinical trials within three years,” he said.

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The Cure

For a year I worried that I might die having had sexual intercourse with only one person. Like many college students, I thought intercourse was the greatest thing in life. And it just about killed me to hear of everyone’s rambunctious affairs while I was in the hospital.

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Bob Hambly

Submissions for Lives may be sent to lives@nytimes.com. The magazine cannot return or respond to unsolicited manuscripts.

When I was 21, in the mid-’90s, my immune system filled my blood with poison. It was trying to destroy my nervous system — a misperception that caused me a lot of trouble.

When a medical student came by my hospital room after his rounds were over, with a book or a mix tape he’d recorded, I thought about inviting him to sleep with me if they told me I would die there in the hospital. But I went back to college in spring still sick, with a tube still implanted in my chest. It looked like something I should pull out — a white dart, a poison arrow — but I couldn’t pull it out.

I needed the big tube so my blood could be removed and cleaned and put back with the cells intact. I’d had it done with big needles, wide bores, in the crooks of my elbows, but my arm veins had long since blown. Then I had three catheters in my subclavian vein. The scar tissue from those still feels like hard cranberries buried under my collarbone.

The permanent line was a 20-inch tube that never clogged as long as blood thinner was shot into it every two days. From one direction it went into my right breast, under the collarbone and up, just under the skin, into my jugular, and then into my subclavian vein and toward my heart. On the outside it hung like two white drinking straws, six inches long, with one red clamp and one blue one, like a piece of jewelry.

I gave away my scoop-necked sweaters. I used big clear adhesive patches to cover the entry site when I showered. The catheter never got torn out in my sleep because I learned how to roll over slowly, even in deep sleep, while cradling the catheter in my left hand. Every month or so I went back to the hospital to have my plasma replaced or to have a bag of medicine infused.

My blood was removed and cleaned and put back more than 50 times. After that, my hematologist tried another treatment: massive gamma-globulin infusions. The second infusion kept me going for three months, and it was decided I wouldn’t have to have my plasma replaced again. My neurologist said I’d turned a corner, so after 11 1/2 months, my central line was pulled.

I believed, though, that I would stop secreting antibodies only after I had sexual intercourse. And though I looked worse than I ever had in my life, thanks to the steroids — I was fat and swollen, covered in acne, and had a gruesomely round face — I thought my legendarily promiscuous musician friend might still be interested.

So I called him and invited him to have a drink with me that night. We had our drink and walked back to our dorm and sat down in the courtyard, just talking. It was June, two days before commencement. He was graduating, and I was graduating, too, sort of, but the envelope I was getting wouldn’t have a diploma in it. I had another semester of course work to complete.

Only the seniors were left at school, and most of them were in the courtyard. I felt exposed. Finally, getting up from the bench we’d been sitting on, my friend said, “Your place?” And we went to my dorm room, which was a single suite I had all to myself, with my own bathroom, because my neurologist had written a note to the university.

We sat on my futon, drinking out of a plastic bottle of vodka. Eventually he said, “Do you have any other rooms in this place?” and walked me to the bedroom, and lay me on my bed, and had intercourse with me. Then he asked me about the scabs on my chest from where the line had just been pulled out and listened to the things I told him, and held me very tightly.

Two mornings later, when we were in the courtyard again, seated in rows for graduation, he was wearing a buttoned shirt and sweating, because his neck was covered with bite marks.

Years passed. He and I wrote almost every day. I lived in one city and he lived in another. He told me some of his secrets, and I told him some of mine. Our letters were intimate, but I didn’t get around to explaining to him that I recovered from my disease only because he had selflessly had intercourse with an ugly version of a girl he once had a crush on.

A little less than seven years after I was cured of my disease through the mystical power of intercourse, my friend died of a sudden illness. I never told him about my magical cure, his sweet medicine. And I wish I could have saved his life. I hope he knew somehow that he had saved mine.

Sarah Manguso is a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. This essay is adapted from her memoir, “The Two Kinds of Decay,” to be published in June.

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Slurp! Oyster-eating champ downs 35 dozen


Judi Bottoni / AP
Juliet Lee, left, holds her second place award, and first place winner Patrick Bertoletti wears his award after the Acme World Oyster Eating Championship in New Orleans on Saturday.

NEW ORLEANS - Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti looked down at the litter of empty oyster shells in front of him and savored the sweet taste of victory. For Crazy Legs Conti, the bitter taste of defeat could be washed away only by beer.

The Acme World Oyster Eating championship belt — leather, with a silver dish featuring an oyster on the half-shell — hung on Bertoletti's skinny hips. The 22-year-old Chicago resident took the title Saturday by slurping 35 dozen of the big bivalves in eight minutes.

"I could probably do a couple dozen more, especially if they were charbroiled," said Bertoletti, who holds the endurance oyster-eating record, having downed 53 1/2 dozen in 2007 before calling it quits. "Although they're great raw."

Conti, the defending champion, tied for third, sucking down 24 dozen.

"They're supposed to be an aphrodisiac," said Conti, whose real name is Crazy Legs. "But I think that's only true for about the first three dozen. When you get up higher than that, you don't want much activity for a while."

Juliet Lee, 43, of Germantown, Md., formerly a Ninjing University chemistry professor, methodically polished off 31 1/2 dozen for second place.

Such a thing as a professional eater?
A dozen professional eaters who compete in Major League Eaters events year-round squared off at the French Quarter Festival on Saturday.

Major League Eating describes itself as a sports franchise that oversees all professional competitive eating events and competitive eating television specials. It puts on the annual Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest, as well as other events, such as the World Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championship and the National Sweet Corn Eating Championship.

Rules for the oyster tournament forced contestants to use forks, not lift the shells to their mouth, and to finish all the oysters from a tray before starting a new one.

Officials in striped shirts stood beside each contestant and flipped a counter as each dozen was consumed.

Many of the competitors wore gloves to handle the shells; all carried several bottles of water, cold drinks or beer to help them keep their mouths and throats lubricated. Lee carried a thermos of hot water but said she didn't feel the need for it.

"Oysters are pretty liquid," said Lee, who weighs 105 pounds despite being on the pro-eating tour for the past year. "I didn't need it."

'Reversal of fortune'
Tim "Gravy" Brown — ranked 13th in the world — was disqualified when he had what professional eaters call a "reversal of fortune." He vomited after 14 dozen.

Scott "Scozzy Bone" Zukowski, 20, a Tulane University student from New York's Long Island was in his first professional event. He ate 20 dozen.

"I feel good about that; my goal was 15 dozen," Zukowski said. "I had only eaten one raw oyster in my life before this and I thought I'd vomit after it. I hate them."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship


Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
Dr. Pedro Servano and his wife, Salvacion, legal residents facing deportation, and two of their children, Phoebe and Steven

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — Dr. Pedro Servano always believed that his journey from his native Philippines to the life of a community doctor in Pennsylvania would lead to American citizenship.

But the doctor, who has tended to patients here in the Susquehanna Valley for more than a decade, is instead battling a deportation order along with his wife.

The Servanos are among a growing group of legal immigrants who reach for the prize and permanence of citizenship, only to run afoul of highly technical immigration statutes that carry the severe penalty of expulsion from the country. For the Servanos, the problem has been a legal hitch involving their marital status when they came from the Philippines some 25 years ago.

Largely overlooked in the charged debate over illegal immigration, many of these are long-term legal immigrants in the United States who were confident of success when they applied for naturalization, and would have continued to live here legally had they not sought to become citizens.

As applications for naturalization have surged, overburdened federal examiners, under pressure to make quick decisions and also weed out any security risks, prefer to err on the side of rejection, immigration lawyers and independent researchers said. In 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.

In the last 12 years, denial rates have been consistently higher than at any time since the 1920s.

Though precise figures are not available, an increasing number of these denials involve immigrants who believed they were in good legal standing, according to lawyers and researchers. Under the law, a number of grounds for naturalization denial can lead to an order of deportation, and appeals are more limited than in criminal cases.

“It’s no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants,” said Brad Darnell, an electrical engineer from Canada living in California who applied for citizenship but is also now fighting deportation. “The legal method is so intolerant and confusing.”

A legal immigrant since 1991, Mr. Darnell is married to an American and has two American-born sons. But after he presented his naturalization application last year, Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen — or even to continue living in the United States.

Since 1996, when an immigration law overhaul first brought intensified scrutiny of citizenship applications, at least 85,000 naturalizations have been turned down each year.

The record year was 2000, when 399,670 applications were denied, one-third of those presented, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization. More recent denial rates remain high, but have fallen from the peak because more immigrants have prepared with civics classes and immigrant advocates before applying to become citizens, researchers said.

In three recent cases in Florida, aspiring citizens thought their green cards entitled them to vote or register to vote before they were sworn in as Americans. When the immigrants reported their elections activities on their applications, not only were their naturalizations rejected, but they were also ordered to leave the country, according to their lawyer, Jeffrey Brauwerman.

In a current Florida case, a British-born businessman saw his naturalization derailed and was detained for deportation because he forgot to update his home address with the immigration agency, Mr. Brauwerman said. He was charged with ignoring a notice in which immigration examiners mistakenly accused him of a felony he had never committed.

In a case that drew Congressional attention this year in Illinois, Marin Turcinovic, an immigrant from Croatia, was twice denied citizenship because he did not show up at the immigration office to be fingerprinted. As his lawyer explained to no avail, Mr. Turcinovic was a quadriplegic, dependent on a ventilator and unable to leave his home.

Mr. Turcinovic died in April 2004 without becoming a citizen, creating an immigration crisis for his French widow, Corina, who had taken care of him. In January Representative Daniel Lipinski, Democrat of Illinois, presented a bill that halted her deportation.

Immigration officials say denials have increased in the last decade because naturalization applications are increasing. They note that approvals are rising as well. In 1996 naturalizations soared for the first time to more than one million, and they remained above 450,000 each year through 2007.

“Whenever we see a period when large numbers decide to apply, there tend to be larger numbers of people who are not ready or might not meet the requirements,” said Chris Rhatigan, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Officials said the majority of denials went to applicants who failed a required civics and English language test or fell short of residency requirements. Those immigrants generally can try again.

But as the case of the Servano family illustrates, some denials come as a shock to both the applicants and the communities they call home.

Dr. Servano’s mother, five siblings and eight of his wife’s siblings became naturalized citizens, including one brother and two brothers-in-law who made careers in the Navy. His four children are Americans by virtue of being born here. He has been a legal immigrant in the United States for 25 years.

Following an outcry from neighbors, patients and local officials, Department of Homeland Security officials in December temporarily suspended the Servanos’ deportation. The Servanos and their supporters, including Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, are using the unusual reprieve to pursue new legal efforts to resolve the couple’s case.

For the federal government and for many Americans, naturalizations — the legal process by which legal immigrants become citizens — are a measure of immigrants’ willingness to join the society and embrace its civic values.

To become a citizen, a legal permanent resident must have lived in the United States more or less continuously for five years, or three years for the spouse of a citizen. The immigrant must demonstrate good moral character and allegiance to the Constitution, and pass a test of English ability and civics. Since 2002, citizenship applicants also undergo an extensive background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Applicants fail the moral character standard if they have been convicted of certain sex, drug or gambling charges or are “habitual drunkards.” They also can fail if they give “false testimony,” a term immigration lawyers say is subject to broad interpretation.

Dr. Servano and his wife, Salvacion, lived for years in the United States with no inkling they might have violated the law. They met in the Philippines when she was a nurse and he was a young traveling doctor. Her strict father insisted she marry, they said, but his family wanted him to wait.

In the early 1980s, their mothers came separately to the United States as legal immigrants and petitioned for residence visas, known as green cards, for Pedro and Salvacion under the category of unmarried children. But between the time the visas were requested and when they were issued in 1985, Pedro and Salvacion, hoping to escape conflicting parental demands, secretly married in the Philippines.

Unaware that their marriage could have violated the terms of their green cards, the Servanos settled in the United States. He completed a second medical residency here and began to practice in blue-collar towns where he made house calls and was known for attention to everyday ills. He and Salvacion married in New Jersey in 1987. They renewed their green cards punctually.

“My goal is to be fully functional and integrated into the society,” Dr. Servano said. They presented their 1991 naturalization applications without seeking a lawyer.

Immigration inspectors reviewing their applications discovered a record of their Philippine marriage. Accused of lying, they were ordered deported. In years of immigration court appeals, the Servanos had no opportunity to present broader evidence of their character, their lawyers said.

People in Selinsgrove and nearby Sunbury, Susquehanna Valley towns where Dr. Servano practices, were surprised to hear in October that the couple had received a final order with a November date for their deportation. Aside from his medical work, he and his wife had bought two blighted buildings on the square in Sunbury, refurbishing them with apartments and offices. Mrs. Servano opened a store, selling lottery tickets, homemade Filipino bread and DVDs in Tagalog, a Philippine language.

In November, more than 100 residents gathered in the Sunbury square for a candlelight vigil on behalf of the Servanos. Thousands of Filipinos in the United States have signed petitions supporting them.

“The fact that they want to displace and get rid of people we here feel are exceptionally good citizens quite frankly just doesn’t make any sense,” said Mayor Jesse C. Woodring of Sunbury.

The Servanos, huddled on the couch in their home in a Selinsgrove development, seemed numb at the prospect of returning to the Philippines.

“I live here, so I like America now,” Mrs. Servano said. “For 25 years we’ve been here; we didn’t even visit the Philippines. So it’s really hard.”

Their son, Peter, 16, an American, expressed his siblings’ anguish about being forced to separate either from their parents or from the only home they know.

“I want to stay here because all my friends are here, and I’ve grown up here, so it would be hard to leave,” Peter said. “But it would be hard not to go.”

Michael Gilhooly, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles deportations, said the Servanos’ removal had been suspended based on new information from Mr. Specter about their humanitarian role. Other immigration officials said the Servanos could recover their legal status by applying for new green cards as parents of citizen children.

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New hope for Alzheimer's sufferers after new treatment 'restores memory in minutes'

alzheimer's

New therapy could hold out hope for Britain's 400,000 Alzheimer's sufferers

Doctors are calling for a clinical trial of an experimental drug treatment that it is claimed can reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease "in minutes".

U.S. researchers say the treatment allowed an 82-year- old sufferer to recognise his wife for the first time in years.

In the UK, specialists believe the claims should be properly tested as only a few patients have been treated so far.

The treatment involves injecting a drug called Enbrel - which is normally used to treat arthritis - into the spine at the neck.

Patients are then tilted to encourage blood flow into the brain where the drug is designed to block a chemical responsible for inflammation. At least one Alzheimer's patient had his symptoms reversed "in minutes" while others have shown some continuing improvement in problems such as forgetfulness and confusion after weekly injections.

They needed less help from carers during treatment, which appears to reach a plateau at three months.

Around 50 people are being treated by the Institute of Neurological Research, a private clinic in California, with some having had injections for three years.

In one case, the clinic has video evidence of Marvin Miller, 82, which showed he was unable to answer basic questions by a nurse, or identify-everyday objects like a bracelet and a pencil.

Shortly afterwards he is injected with the drug and it is claimed that five minutes later he could greet his shocked wife, who said he had not recognised her for years.

The experiment follows the discovery that levels of TNF (tumour necrosis factor) can be up to 25 times higher in the fluid surrounding the brain in sufferers of Alzheimer's disease.

Enbrel, a biologic treatment licensed for rheumatoid arthritis, binds to excess TNF in the body and makes it inactivate.

When used by arthritis sufferers, the drug is self-administered by injection and researchers had to develop a way of injecting the drug into the spine in order to get an effect in brain cells.

Enbrel is not approved for treating Alzheimer's in the U.S. or in the UK and is regarded at this stage as a highly experimental therapy.

Professor Edward Tobinick, of the University of California Los Angeles and director of the Institute for Neurological Research, is leading the research.

He said the latest report was an in-depth account of one patient's response to treatment.

He said: "It makes practical changes that are significant and perceptible, making a difference to his ability to do activities of daily living such as getting around, accomplishing things and conversing."

He added: "Some patients have been able to start driving again. They don't come back to normal but the change is good enough for patients to want to continue treatment, and some have been doing so for three years.

"We are working with several universities and larger trials are getting under way."

Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "On the surface these results are exciting but we need to treat the study with caution.

"There are large gaps in the research, which only involved a small pilot group and we cannot draw any conclusions until a controlled trial is carried out."

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "It is too early to speak of a miracle cure and we need to do more research into this."

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The Obese Feel More Discrimination

As obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S., so might our acceptance of those who are overweight. But a new study from Yale University suggests the converse trend: rather than feeling tolerance in our society, the overweight and obese say they feel more heavily discriminated against now than they did a decade ago.

Led by Tatiana Andreyeva, a postdoctoral research associate at Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, a team of researchers questioned 1,100 subjects, aged 35 to 74, twice over a 10-year span (once between 1995 and 1996, and again between 2004 and 2006). The respondents answered 11 questions about whether they had been discriminated against in the context of common life experiences — including applying to college or for a scholarship, renting or buying a home in a neighborhood they desired, applying for a bank loan or dealing with police. Participants answered nine additional questions about everyday experiences, such as how they were treated in restaurants, and whether they had encountered name-calling, harassment or threats. The subjects were asked to indicate the reasons they felt they had been discriminated against (facing police harassment, for example, or being denied bank loans), whether it was because of age, gender, race, height or weight, physical disability, sexual orientation or religion. Between the two survey periods, the rate of discrimination due to height or weight increased from 7% of respondents to 12% of respondents. (The scientists determined separately that the people who reported discrimination due to height or weight were also more likely than other participants to be overweight or obese.)

The study is one of the first to track patterns of discrimination based on weight. It's worth noting, however, that the survey relied on people's own perception of discrimination — the authors did not require the subjects to document bias in any way. In addition, the authors found that rates of discrimination by age and gender also increased in the same time period, suggesting that several forms of bias — or perhaps sensitivity to perceived bias — is on the rise overall, not just against the overweight. Nevertheless, the study did track the same population over time, and Andreyeva says that an increase even in people's perceived sense of maltreatment is an important measure of our society's attitudes. In this report, weight ranked third behind age and race as the most common form of prejudice. "If a person perceives he is being discriminated against," Andreyeva says, "it might have significant consequences for his or her health and mental health. Even the perception of discrimination can be important because it is self-perpetuating." And if rates of weight discrimination are indeed on the rise, say the authors, then it's up to society to mandate legal protections for those who are overweight, just as laws protect people from discrimination by race, gender, disability and age.

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Mother needing transplant is refused dead daughter's kidney, despite girl's deathbed plea

With her mother desperately in need of a transplant, Laura Ashworth told family and friends she wanted to donate one of her kidneys.

So when the 21-year-old died after an asthma attack, it seemed that the tragedy would at least give Rachel Leake a chance of a healthy new life.

But because Laura had not begun the formal process of becoming a "living donor," the authorities refused to let her mother receive her organs. Instead they went to strangers at the top of the waiting list.

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Rachel Leake says her daughter Laura 'would be devastated that she was not able to help me'

"All I wanted to do was carry out her wishes," said 39-year-old Mrs Leake.

"She would have been so upset that she was not able to help her mum. Even the transplant coordinator was crying her eyes out. She really tried to get her bosses to change their minds but they would not budge."

Although the Human Tissue Authority has the power to allow "directed" donor requests of this kind, a blanket ban is in force while an ethical review of such transplants is carried out.

Despite an appeal to health ministers by the family's MP, Gerry Sutcliffe, Laura's kidneys went to a man in Sheffield and a man in London, while her liver was given to a 15-year-old girl.

Mrs Leake urgently needs another kidney and as a diabetic she could also have benefited from receiving her daughter's pancreas.

She had a kidney transplant five years ago, but the donated organ failed last year and she needs dialysis in hospital three times a week to stay alive.

She said: "I am angry, really angry. I am not finding comfort in the fact that she helped three people. I just want Laura."

A single mother working for a vehicle management company, Laura lived her mother, grandfather and two-year-old daughter Macie in a £400,000 farmhouse at Bierley, near Bradford.

She had always been asthmatic and used an inhaler. On March 31 she suffered a coughing fit and collapsed on the kitchen floor. Her mother called an ambulance, but by the time paramedics arrived her brain had been starved of oxygen.

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She was admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary intensive care unit and put on a ventilator. She carried a donor card and transplant co-ordinators became involved when it became clear that she would not pull through.

Mrs Leake, a divorcee, said her 50-year-old sister Carole Spence was being formally registered as her living donor but the family hoped Laura's organs could have been used instead.

"My sister has had all the tests and we hope to go ahead with that but I wanted to save her all that."

The decision on whether Mrs Leake could have her daughter's kidney went all the way up to Adrian McNeil, chief executive of the Human Tissue Authority, but he refused it as a matter of 'policy'.

It is not known whether Laura's kidney would have definitely been suitable for a transplant operation.

Mr McNeil said all requests for "directed" organ donations were being turned down while a detailed ethical review was taking place.

He said the review, which is expected to make a decision some time this year, was ordered after several such donor requests in recent months.

Although the authority has the power to allow specific requests from donors, Mr McNeil said he personally refused permission for Mrs Leake to receive her daughter's kidney.

"The ethical issue is important as there is a waiting list for kidneys.

"There are people for whom getting a kidney is a matter of life and death. If we go down the path of saying you can direct who gets your kidney after death, what if that person is in not as urgent a need as someone on the top of the waiting list?"

The case comes three months after Gordon Brown unveiled controversial plans to let doctors remove organs from dead patients without prior consent.

Under the scheme, everyone in the UK will be presumed to be a willing organ donor unless he or she signs up to an "opt-out register" - or unless relatives object.

Mrs Leake, who expects to receive her sister's kidney in June or July, said: "The thing that hurts most is how Laura would feel. She would be devastated that she was not able to help me."

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The Top Ten Wines Under $10

You’ve started ironing your own shirts. You make do with coffee room joe instead of shelling out for the venti frappuccino. You do Netflix instead of a trip to the multiplex. Now it is time to recession-proof your wine rack .

Even in these tough economic times, there are still plenty of great bottles for $10 or less. MainStreet asked three experts to recommend some top-notch vinos for these belt-tightening times. Here are their top ten cheapies:

The only question is,


1. Cape Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($6). This South African white is crisp and refreshing, perfect to “drink on a patio,” says wine connoisseur Andrea Clurfeld, food critic at New Jersey's Asbury Park Press. She says its citrus and mineral undertones make it suited for shellfish.

2. Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja Borsao Red 2005 ($7). Clurfeld, calls this Spanish combination of Grenache and Tempranillo grapes “the single best cheap red wine in the world.” Fruity, but with depth, she says it goes with a wide range of foods and is “good on the tongue.” “I would put this against anything out there,” she says.

3. Real Companhia Velha Porca de Murca 2005 ($7). This red blend from Portugal consistently sells out at Bottle Shoppe, Cesar Ruiz’s Brooklyn, N.Y. store. “It has a dry cherry taste," says Ruiz. "It goes great with spicy food and even pizza.”

4. Adega Condes de Albarel Albarino Salneval 2006 ($9). A warm day? A late lunch? Try this light Spanish white. Mouzouras calls Salneval “perfect for summer.” “It’s clean and crisp with a citrus flavor and nice acidity,” he says.

5. Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2006 ($9). Even with the euro, this French wine from the Gamay grape remains affordable. Best served slightly chilled, this Beaujolais works well with hors d’oeuvres. “It’s a nice to serve before dinner. It’s fruity and light, but it has a dry finish,” says Ruiz.

6. Monarchia Pinot Gris 2006 ($9). This Hungarian wine sounds like a punch line, until you try a glass of the full-bodied, dry white. Expect a vibrant finish. “It’s clean and full on the mouth,” says Costas Mouzouras, buyer at Manhattan’s Gotham Wines. He suggests a Caprese salad as the perfect accompaniment.

7. Conde de Jauregui Rioja Crianza 2004 ($10). This strong Spanish red has “a good fruit front”, says Ruiz. He says customers love its “long finish on the palate” and “vanilla notes.” It is ideal served with beef.

8. Gascon Don Miguel Malbec 2006 ($10). Few countries can feel our economic pain better than Argentina, so it makes sense to turn to their wine, especially Malbec, which tastes much richer than the price tag. Mouzouras likes Gascon for its “really rich, velvety and plumy taste.”

9. Miolo Reserva Pinot Noir 2006 ($10). Bring this Brazilian pinot noir to a party and you’ll feel like Indiana Jones – introducing the masses to an off-the-beaten-path treasure. “This wine took everybody by surprise. It’s really unbelievable,” says Mouzouras. It’s even tastier considering that decent American pinots rarely come in below $15. “And this is way better than decent.”

10. Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2006 ($10). Australia’s oldest family-owned vineyard produces plenty of acclaimed $100 bottles, but its bargain-basement “Y Series” line, which includes merlot, shiraz, rielsing, chardonnay, and rose, merits attention too. Clurfeld says the best deal is the “gently fruity” Viognier which pairs well with mildly spicy Asian food. “This allows you to become familiar with a great grape without spending a fortune,” she says.

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Washing produce doesn't remove bacteria: report

Vegetables; foodWashing fruits and vegetables with water is not enough to remove common bacteria that can cause severe illness, a new report says.

The researchers injected food-borne bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella into vegetables and then tried various common ways to clean them, including water and a sodium hypochlorite treatment.

Both the water and the chemical solution did not significantly reduce the bacteria levels. Only irradiation killed 99.9 per cent of harmful bacteria. Irradiation is an electron beam that alters a cell's genetic material, thereby killing harmful parasites, germs and insects.

The research, conducted by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said that bacteria can sometimes be hard to wash away.

"When bacteria are protected -- whether they're inside a leaf or inside a biofilm -- they're not going to be as easy to kill," Brendan A. Niemira, the study director and a microbiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, said in a statement.

"This is the first study to look at the use of irradiation on bacteria that reside inside the inner spaces of a leaf or buried within a biofilm."

However, irradiation is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and there is some concern that it compromises nutritional values.

But advocates say that using irradiation on fresh fruits and vegetables could help reduce incidence rates of food-borne illnesses. Salmonella and E. coli can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Fruits and vegetables can become contaminated because they are usually grown outdoors, where they can be exposed to germs from animals, soil, manure and irrigation water.

The study was presented Thursday at an American Chemical Society meeting in New Orleans.

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CCTV and fingerprinting could NOW be used in exam halls as schools launch crackdown on cribsheet cheats

Schools are considering introducing CCTV cameras and fingerprint checks to trap exam cheats.

Students scribbling vital facts on their shirtcuffs or hiding cribsheets in pencil cases would be easily identified under the crackdown planned by the Examination Officers Association.

It also hopes to cut the number of claims from pupils that they were given the wrong instructions by invigilators.

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Security check: Fingerprinting scanners could be used to stop exam cheats

The association is negotiating with Classwatch, a firm which already provides cameras at 65 schools in England, to carry out the surveillance.

Andrew Harland, the chief executive of the officers' association, which represents 2,500 invigilators, said the CCTV surveillance would be carried out in a pilot project.

'In these situations, it is often the word of the invigilator against the word of the student or parent,' Mr Harland said.

'CCTV in the exam room would protect the student and protect the staff.'

The association said gymnasiums - where most exams are held - are often the last part of schools to be fitted with closed-circuit TV cameras.

The association also plans a trial of fingerprint scanners to identify pupils in the exam hall, stopping substitute candidates sitting tests on behalf of others.

Cases of exam cheating are rarely brought to public attention although one at York University ended up in court last year.

Jerome Drean, 34, a City banker, pleaded guilty to sitting economics exams on behalf of a 23-year-old friend Elnar Askerov. Both men received nine month suspended jail sentences.

The systems advertised by Classwatch are billed as 'a new concept in classroom management.'

According to promotional literature: 'The system is not intended to be an intrusive influence in the classroom, but rather to act as an "impartial witness".

'It can provide legal evidence and allow you to see both sides of the story if a dispute arises.'

Classwatch also claims its systems prevent 'rowdiness and truancy'.

Managing director Angus Drever said: 'Schools would be able to review recordings after the event to pick up on any inappropriate behaviour.

'Invigilators would have an extra check on what was going on, in addition to walking past students' desks.'

The move was welcomed by John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

He told the Times Educational Supplement: 'If a pupil knows CCTV cameras are around, it's like slowing down for a speed camera. It acts as a deterrent.'

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Would you lie to get your child into a school?

Do parents' morals become more 'flexible' where good schools are concerned? Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

Parents will do almost anything to get their child into the school they want. But a report in today's Guardian shows that local authorities will go to equally extreme lengths to make sure they don't flout the rules on admissions.

Poole borough council happily employed a spot of parental spying in its quest to outsmart parents prepared to bend the admissions rules.

It trailed a family over the course of nearly three weeks to make sure they weren't trying to swindle the system by falsely claiming they lived in a particular catchment area. And it has admitted to six other occasions of putting people under surveillance.

Councils are allowed to carry out surveillance only if they suspect serious crimes, including terrorism. Unlawful though it surely is, would you see lying to get your child into the school you want as a "serious crime"?

Aren't there more important things to be spying on? I know Poole is better known for the cost of the houses on its exclusive Sandbanks peninsula than its terrorist activity, but surely the money could be better spent?

How far would you go to get your child into a particular school?

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Fashion Freaks

As young boys, we all watched our share of Fashion Television as the only source of occasional daytime pornography - the see-through and altogether “popping out”fits were those rare gems that made it all worth it. Fortunately, there was some entertainment between stray boob runway walk jiggle - the freaks!

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1KrazyKorean’s girlfriend?

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Hexadecimal from Reboot, on the weekend.

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That’s one crusty princess.

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How crazy is THIS? Ok whatever she’s just hot, sue me.

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“The corsage had better match my dress, dipsh*t.”

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The key to branding, they say, is subtlety.

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It’s like a cheerleader for the Donny Darko bunny.

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I like this piece. The cage stemming from the crown shows that even royalty suffers limitation, with the puzzle pieces reminding us of the difficulties we all face fitting in with our respective peers. Indeed, life is beautiful, but mysterious, too.

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Phap.

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Condumb Trashion.

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1KrazyKorean’s girlfriend’s… evil… twin?

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Started as a lowly, ugly little caterpillar, but then transformed into a beaauuuutiful butterfly!

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Step One: Rob bank
Step Two: Hide cash in trash bag
Step Three: Hide self in trash bag suit
Step Four: Escape during trash pickup
Step Five: Salvage dignity

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