The Lede, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018
By David Royse
Welcome to tomorrow, today.
If the news coming out of Stanford University is an indication, it’s going to be a good day. And things are looking up.
CANCER VACCINE: Amazing Bodywide Effects
Research can often be falsely hopeful. But when longtime, well-respected university researchers use words like “amazing” and “startling” about a medical study ….
The go-to scenario we all talk about in terms of the great breakthrough for mankind is finding the cure for cancer, right? You might hear, “Every kid needs a good education – each one might be the person who comes up with a cure for cancer.” Or “One day, doctors are going to cure cancer.” It’s the Holy Grail of medical research.
Well, check this out: Researchers at Stanford injected an immune-stimulating substance into tumors in mice and found the technique “can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases.”
Let me repeat part of that sentence: “can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals.”
I mean, Wow.
Stanford reported yesterday that the approach worked for different types of cancer, with one of the lead researchers, a cancer immunotherapy pioneer named Ronald Levy, unable to mask even his own surprise.
“We saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal,” Levy said.
Or as the study’s abstract says, “Immunoenhancing agents are injected locally into one site of tumor, thereby triggering a T cell immune response locally that then attacks cancer throughout the body.”
WORKED STARTLINGLY WELL
From Stanford’s release on the study:
“The approach worked startlingly well in laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies. Injecting one tumor site with the two agents caused the regression not just of the treated tumor, but also of the second, untreated tumor. In this way, 87 of 90 mice were cured of the cancer. Although the cancer recurred in three of the mice, the tumors again regressed after a second treatment. The researchers saw similar results in mice bearing breast, colon and melanoma tumors.”
More of Levy’s optimism:
“I don’t think there’s a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system,” Levy said in the Stanford release.
The heart skips a beat just reading that, doesn’t it?
Lymphoma patients are being recruited to test the technique in a clinical trial.
Purging Past Pot Records in San Francisco
An interesting story out of California on a subject many have been asking about, which is: if marijuana is going to be legal now in some places, what about all those people who got busted for possession in the past?
California thought of that when it legalized possession and use of marijuana for non-medical purposes, which started at the beginning of this year. People with certain pot convictions on their record can go through a court process and get them reduced or voided and expunged.
But yesterday, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said his city will go a little further. His office will proactively review cases going back to 1975, looking to clear convictions without the person having to initiate the process.
THE NEW OPIUM WAR
Dispatches from America’s Battle Against Opioid Addiction
Each week in this space, I want to cover “The New Opium War,” bringing you updates from what may be the nation’s biggest current man-made public health problem.
Of interest today: How one fed up city is trying to blame the pharmaceutical industry for the epidemic.
The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that the city is suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, “adding the weight of the Maryland jurisdiction hardest hit by the overdose crisis to the legal campaign to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable.”
More from the Sun:
“More than 3,000 people have died of opioid overdoses in Baltimore since 2007 — 523 of them between January and September of last year. The crisis, which has worsened as more drug users are exposed to the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, shows no sign of easing….
“Earlier rounds of personal-injury lawsuits have found little success. Drug companies have been able to argue that individual patients didn’t use the pills properly, or laid responsibility to the doctors who wrote the prescriptions and the regulators who signed off on the drugs.”
WEST VIRGINIA, TOO
While big city Baltimore deals with this problem, America’s small towns are also hard hit, perhaps even more so – and there are lawsuits being filed there, too.
Yesterday, the Washington Post took a look at a tiny town in West Virginia where more than 20 million prescription painkillers have been shipped in the last decade – about 6,500 per person. Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of some West Virginia counties seeking billions in compensation for devastation wrought on small towns by drug overdoses.
OTHER HEALTH AND MEDICAL NEWS
Good Ideas: A Breast Milk Bank in England.
Some hospitals in England can’t get enough human milk for premature babies in neonatal units, and have to ration supplies.
LEARNING: NEWS FROM THE SCHOOLS
TOP STORY IN SCHOOLS TODAY:
I could have put this story in a section on the growing cannabis industry, which we regularly cover at LedeTree. Or in the investment ideas section (The Next Big Thing?) section down at the bottom. But ultimately, this is a story about a once-flora-non-grata becoming so mainstream that the stodgy incubator of so many of the world’s business people, Cambridge, is rolling out a case study on it.
“This case examines questions raised about financial reporting in one of the world’s fastest growing industries, cannabis, aiming to guide students through the reporting process for an industry that is being legalised by an increasing number of jurisdictions. The case focuses, ultimately, on what key decisions go into deciding the fair value of a cannabis crop and how this is reflected on the financial statements.”
“The traditional classroom, with its worksheets and physical textbooks, isn’t what’s going to prepare students to go to Mars or cure cancer in the long run.” (See? There’s that curing cancer cliche that I mentioned up above.) Interesting: In a few years, all K-12 students and K-12 teachers will have been born in different centuries.
Other Education Stories:
And one goofy thing from campus
MIT CAN CERTIFY YOU AS A PIRATE
For several years now, students in P.E. classes at MIT who complete classes in archery, fencing, pistol or rifle shooting and sailing qualify for certification that they are, indeed, a pirate.
Wait ’til the anti-Liberal Arts people find out about this. Here come more funding cuts.
Facebook reported earnings yesterday. News was generally good for the social media giant, despite its beleaguered year of being blamed for Donald Trump. The report, from LedeTree
THE NEXT BIG THING?
Your investment possibility research assignments for today, should you choose to accept them:
Self-healing smart-coatings: “The smart coating market is a booming industry and is only expected to grow in upcoming years.”
GM’s Marketplace app will order you a doughnut while you drive: “Marketplace lets you order food, make restaurant and hotel reservations and find gas stations from behind the wheel. Two million drivers already have cars equipped with Marketplace. GM expects that to double this year.”
Robots that pick fruits or vegetables: “In more and more agricultural settings, automation systems are superseding strenuous manual labor.” This one has all kinds of ramifications for the immigration debate, too.
SUPER BOWL STORY
Are you going to the Super Bowl this weekend? Has anyone told you that temperatures are going to be below zero in Minneapolis over the weekend? Bold North, baby! (The game’s inside, but you still got to get there). BTW, Vince Lombardi is laughing somewhere at all you weakling people going to an indoor football game. But Vince Lombardi is probably laughing at everyone for all kinds of various weaknesses.
BONUS SUPER BOWL STORY
BEST OF TED
If You Have 15 Minutes: What Would Happen if Kids Designed Our Cities?
That’s all for today. Have a good February.
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