Monday, June 22, 2009

Metro rail crash in D.C - 6 Killed

Reporting from Washington - A rush-hour collision between 2 crowded trains on Washington's subway system killed at least 6 people this evening and injured dozens, trapping commuters in a stack of twisted rail cars that rescuers were still searching hours later.

Witnesses say a train near the Ft. Totten station on the Metro's busy Red Line was rear-ended by another train, which climbed atop the stopped cars ahead of it, leaving a 2-level snarl of debris. The operator of the approaching train, whose name was not immediately released, was among the dead, authorities said.

Rescue workers propped up ladders to help survivors escape from the upper train cars. Seats from the smashed cars spilled out onto the track.

D.C. Fire Chief Dennis L. Rubin said rescuers treated 70 people at the scene in the first 2 hours, including the six who died.

"This is the deadliest incident in the history of Metro," said Washington City Councilman Jim Graham. He described the wreckage with a single word: "Horror."

The accident occurred on a curved section of track after a long straightaway, during clear weather, on the subway system's most heavily used line. It was about 5 p.m. local time, among the system's busiest hours.

Jervis Bryant, a Prince George's County teacher, said he heard the collision from a house 2 1/2 blocks away and got to the scene within 5 minutes.

"We saw the folks banging on the windows trying to get out," he said, referring to the second train. Rescuers pried the door open, he said, and people streamed out. "They just bum-rushed it."

Officials don't expect to know what caused the crash for several days. Metro chief John B. Catoe said the first train was stopped on the tracks, waiting for another train to clear the station ahead, when the 2nd train plowed into it from behind.

The only other fatal accident in the Metro's 33-year history was a 1982 derailment that killed 3. A 3rd collision in 2004 caused minor injuries.

Metro trains are generally operated by a computer system; operators can override the controls on orders from dispatchers.

"Our safety officials are investigating and will continue to investigate until we determine why this happened and what must be done to ensure it never happens again," Catoe said.

One Metro transit train smashed into the rear of another at the height of the capital city's Monday evening rush hour, killing at least six people and injuring scores of others. (June 22)


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Texas 12 years - old girl shot, killed by sister at home

GALVESTON, TX, June 21 (UPI) -- Authorities in Galveston, TX, say they are investigating the apparently accidental shooting death of a 12-year-old girl by her older sister.

The younger girl died after being airlifted to a hospital Sunday with a bullet wound to her upper torso, police told the Houston Chronicle.

Police Lt. D.J. Alvarez told the newspaper the victim and her sister, 16, were playing with a gun while home alone when the weapon went off.

No charges were immediately filed. Alvarez said police, prosecutors and Child Protective Services were still looking into the incident.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Autopsies Suggest Air France Flight Broke up in Sky

Autopsies have revealed fractures in the legs, hips and arms of Air France Jet 447 victims, injuries that — along with the large pieces of wreckage pulled from the Atlantic Ocean — strongly suggest the plane broke up in the air, experts say.

With more than 400 pieces of debris recovered from the ocean's surface, the top French investigator expressed optimism about eventually discovering what brought down the plane. But he also called the search conditions — far from land in very deep water — "one of the worst situations ever known in an accident investigation."

French investigators are beginning to form "an image that is progressively less fuzzy," Paul-Louis Arslanian, who runs the French air accident investigation agency BEA, told a news conference Wednesday outside Paris.

"We are in a situation that is a bit more favorable than the 1st days," Arslanian said. "We can say there is a little less uncertainty, so there is a little more optimism. ... (but) it is premature for the time being to say what happened."

A spokesman for Brazilian medical examiners told The Associated Press on Wednesday that fractures were found in autopsies on an undisclosed number of the 50 bodies recovered so far. The official spoke on condition he not be named due to department rules.

"Typically, if you see intact bodies and multiple fractures — arm, leg, hip fractures — it is a good indicator of a midflight break up," said Frank Ciacco, a former forensic expert at the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "Especially if you are seeing large pieces of aircraft as well."

The pattern of fractures was first reported Wednesday by Brazil's O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, which cited unnamed investigators. The paper also reported that some victims were found with little or no clothing, and had no signs of burns.

"In an in-air break up like we are supposing here, the clothes are just torn away," said Jack Casey, an aviation safety consultant in Washington, D.C. and a former accident investigator.

Casey also said multiple fractures are consistent with a midair breakup of the plane, which was cruising at about 34,500 feet (10,500 meters) when it went down.

"Getting ejected into that kind of windstream is like hitting a brick wall — even if they stay in their seats, it's a crushing effect," Casey said.

When a jet crashes into water mostly intact — such as the Egypt Air plane that hit the Atlantic Ocean after taking off from New York in 1999 — debris and bodies are generally broken into small pieces, Ciacco said.

Lack of burn evidence would not necessarily rule out an explosion, said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

Searchers from Brazil, France, the United States and other countries are methodically scanning the surface and depths of the Atlantic for signs of the Airbus A330 that crashed May 31 after running into thunderstorms en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. All 228 people aboard were killed.

Brazilian Air Force Col. Henry Munhoz told reporters Wednesday that several more body parts, as well as pieces of the plane and luggage, were found in the search area by the French amphibian ship Mistral.

Still missing are the plane's flight data and voice recorders, thought to be deep under water.

French-chartered ships are trolling a search area with a radius of 50 miles (80 kilometers), pulling U.S. Navy underwater listening devices attached to 19,700 feet (6,000 meters) of cable. The black boxes send out an electronic tapping sound that can be heard up to 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) away.

U.S. Air Force Col. Willie Berges, commander of the American military forces supporting the search, said the black boxes emit beacons at a unique frequency, virtually guaranteeing that any signal detected would be from the pingers.

"The question becomes if the black box is with the pinger, because they can get separated," Berges said.

Without the black boxes to help explain what went wrong, the investigation has focused on a flurry of automated messages sent by the plane minutes before it lost contact; one suggests external speed sensors had iced over, destabilizing the plane's control systems.

Arslanian said most of the messages appear to be "linked to this loss of validity of speed information." He said when the speed information became "incoherent" it affected other systems on the plane.

The automated messages were not alarm calls and no distress call was picked up from the plane, he said.

Air France has replaced the sensors, called Pitot tubes, on all its A330 and A340 aircraft, under pressure from pilots who feared a link to the accident.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

26 killed by fresh fighting in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU - AT LEAST 26 people have been killed by fresh fighting in Mogadishu, half of them when a mortar shell hit a mosque as worshippers left after evening prayers.

Mogadishu's top police commander and 5 children were among 13 people killed earlier. The mosque carnage then made Wednesday one of the worst days in weeks of clashes between the Somali government and Islamist insurgents.

'It was the most terrible incident I have ever witnessed, 13 people have died,' witness Dadir Ali Jes said after the explosion at the mosque. Government security officer Adan Weheliye described it as a 'tragedy'.

The 5 children killed earlier were also killed by a single mortar shell. The death toll in Mogadishu has climbed well above the 250 mark in just over a month.

Colonel Ali Said Hassan, Mogadishu's police chief, was killed during the fierce fighting that broke out early in the day when government fighters attacked rebel strongholds in the capital's southern Hodan district. Col Hassan, one of Somalia's most respected police officers, was hit by sniper fire from the rooftop of a nearby building, witnesses said.

'The commander of Mogadishu police died in the line of duty,' said a senior police official, who asked not to be named. 'He was a brave officer who has expended tremendous effort to bring peace. He was killed by terrorists.'

The pre-dawn combat erupted when government forces attacked positions controlled by Islamist insurgents. Shelling continued into the evening as rebel-held areas of the capital were heavily pounded, an AFP reporter said.

Other police sources said 3 other members of the force had been killed in the fighting. Witnesses said 9 civilians, 5 of them children, had died from mortar fire in a nearby neighbourhood.

An AFP reporter saw the bodies of the children - aged between 9 and 14 years - lying in pools of blood under a balcony where they had sought shelter from the shelling.

'The 5 children were trying to hide when a mortar shell landed at the same place they were hiding, unfortunately they all died on the spot,' said Habibo Adan, a resident very close to the area.

An ambulance driver said at least 50 people had also been wounded in the renewed violence. 'They include children and women and some of them have serious injuries,' said the driver, Sheikh Mohammed Ali.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adobe second-quarter profit, sales drop

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE-Q28.17-0.65-2.26%) , the company whose software powers Flash animation and PDF documents, posted a sharp drop in its fiscal 2nd-quarter profit and sales Tuesday amid weaker demand in the economic downturn.

But the quarter's revenue inched past Wall Street's expectations, and adjusted earnings met those estimates as well as the company's own guidance.

For the 3 months ended May 29, Adobe earned $126.1-million (U.S.), or 24 cents per share, a 41 per cent decrease from $214.9-million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the San Jose, Calif.-based company earned 35 cents per share, matching analysts' forecasts.

Revenue dropped 21 per cent to $704.7-million. That's slightly above the $694.8-million that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted.

Adobe's chief executive officer Shantanu Narayen said in a statement the company was “pleased with the solid profit margin and earnings results” the company delivered amid the global recession.

For the current quarter, Adobe forecast a profit of 20 cents to 27 cents per share. Excluding items, it's expecting 30 cents to 37 cents per share, which compares with analysts' estimates of 33 cents per share.

Adobe expects revenue of $665-million to $715-million, bracketing analysts' estimates of $676-million.

The company, which said in December it is cutting 600 jobs, or 8 per cent of its work force, reported a 13 per cent decline in operating expenses for the quarter, to $471.3-million.

Chief financial officer Mark Garrett said Adobe is continuing to invest in the areas of its business that will drive growth once the economy recovers. These include its core Acrobat and Creative Suite products, which bring in the bulk of Adobe's revenue, as well as products like LiveCycle, which is aimed at large businesses.

Acrobat is the set of software that creates and reads the ubiquitous PDF electronic documents. Creative Suite is a software package aimed at professional designers and Web developers. It includes Photoshop, Flash and Web design software Dreamweaver, among other applications.

Earlier this week, Adobe introduced an enhanced subscription service for its previously free Web site, a step toward offering its software as services rather than just packaged products. The Acrobat subscription services target professionals and small businesses who want to work together online.

Adobe's shares slid 77 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $27.40 in after-hours trading. Before the results were announced, the stock closed down 65 cents, or 2.3 per cent, at $28.17.


Monday, June 15, 2009

NASA launch two spacecraft to the Moon

NASA will launch 2 spacecraft to the Moon on Wednesday. One of them, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), will carry the Russian-made Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND). After making the 4-day trip, it will orbit the Earth's satellite at low altitude for about a year, making analyses to determine the presence of water. Then it'll enter into a higher, more stable orbit, where it'll remain for several more years.

The craft will be equipped with a total of six instruments and will also measure the solar and cosmic radiation that humans working on the Moon in the future will be exposed to. It'll be launched by the same rocket as LCROSS, or the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Spacecraft, from Cape Canaveral. LCROSS will fire a probe into the Moon at a point near its pole that never receives sunlight and analyze the resulting plume of debris. Then LCROSS itself will crash into the Moon, producing debris for analysis by LRO.

LEND works on the same principle as HEND (High Energy Neutron Detector), the Russian instrument that found ice on Mars. Neutrons are released at different rates from ice and dry surfaces, and those rates are measured by the instrument. LEND is a joint project of 6 Russian institutes, NASA and three American universities. It was delivered to NASA by the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Space Research.

The Atlas V rocket carrying the lunar craft is competing with the Endeavor space shuttle for launch time. The shuttle is currently grounded by a leak. It must take off by Saturday to deliver a part of the Japanese Kibo lab into orbit, or else wait for several months for the right conditions to occur again. Therefore, the Atlas V launch may be delayed, if repairs to the Endeavor are completed quickly.

The US has announced plans to send more men to the Moon by 2020. China has set the same year as a target for it to place astronauts on the Moon as well. Water on the Moon would make human habitation there logistically much easier.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Israeli airstrikes on Gaza tunnels injure 4 Palestinians

Gaza - Israeli aircraft bombed tunnels running under the Gaza Strip-Egyptian border early Sunday morning, wounding 4 Palestinians, Palestinian security officials and the Israeli military said. The security officials said the aircraft bombed 5 tunnels used for smuggling goods and weapons into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. An Israeli military spokesman said two tunnels were hit.

Palestinian medical officials said the 4 local workers sustained light injuries.

The Israeli military spokesman said the strike came in response to a missile fired from the Gaza Strip Saturday at southern Israel.

Palestinian militants meanwhile detonated Sunday morning an explosive device near an Israeli army jeep patrolling along the security fence which the Strip from Israel.

The Israeli army forces responded by opening fire towards fields in the east of al-Bureej refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, forcing farmers to flee from the area.

No Palestinian group claimed responsibility for firing the rocket.

Palestinian rocket attacks have largely decreased after Israel ended a military offensive in the salient on January 18 as Hamas maintained a level of self- restraint.

On Monday, 5 Palestinian militants were killed in a botched attack on a border crossing between Israel and the salient.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Air France Flight 447 Victim Search to End Next Week

Brazilian officials say they will suspend the search for victims of Air France flight 447 late next week. Meanwhile, a French nuclear submarine continues to look for the plane's black boxes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Car Bomb Rips Through Market in Southern Iraq, Kills 30

Witnesses and Iraqi officials say a car bomb has torn through a marketplace in southern Iraq, killing at least 19 people and possibly many more.

Officials have given conflicting accounts of the death toll from Wednesday's blast in Bathaa, near the southern city of Nasiriya. Several local officials say 19 people were killed, while other sources earlier put the death toll around 33.

Scores of people were wounded when the blast ripped through the town's commercial center. Witnesses said women and children were among the dead.

A group of angry residents blamed lax security for the attack, and protested as local officials visited the site. Security forces fired warning shots in the air to keep the crowd at bay.

Confusion over casualty figures is common in the chaotic aftermath of bombings in Iraq.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but several Iraqi officials blamed al-Qaida.

The mainly Shi'ite town is about 300 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. The region was the site of fierce internal fighting between Shi'ite militia factions before a cease-fire took hold.

Bombings are regular occurrences in Iraq, but overall violence has sharply declined in recent months.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brazil jet crash - 41 body recovered from the ocean

The Blackhawk helicopter skimmed over the sea before flying between green hills and coming to rest amid the ­puddles on the tarmac at Fernando de Noronha. On this island 400 miles off Brazil, eight days after the worst disaster in Air France's ­history, a ­solemn ­procession of the dead of flight 447 began.

For a moment helicopter and ground crew dressed in army fatigues and ­surgical masks stood, their heads bowed. Then the first small green bag was lifted onto a ­waiting stretcher and fastened into place. Over the next 30 minutes, eight ­body bags were passed hand to hand from the helicopter and transported to two waiting refrigeration units, pulled by lorry onto the runway.

The exercise was carried out in silence only punctuated by the snapping ­cameras of photographers. No families were present to receive the bodies.

But outside, local people in T-shirts and flip-flops ­gathered on the roadside.

The island paradise of Fernando de Noronha could not be a more ­incongruous setting for the sight of body bags being unloaded into the sunshine. The island is in mourning for those who perished so close to its shores.

Only 3,000 people live here, proud of the island's glorious white sand beaches and clear seas. Many are ­distraught that their home has been turned into what amounts to a makeshift morgue born of a terrible tragedy.

"I wanted to come here to pay my respects," said Rosanna Silva, who runs a tourist restaurant on the island. "The island has never seen anything like this before. It is such a peaceful place. To think all those people died so close.

"We just want the bodies to be given back to their families and this nightmare to be over."

By the time the second helicopter, a Super Puma, returned to the island hours later, heavy rain had returned. It blew in sheets across the runway, buffeting the helicopter as it attempted to land. This time there was no ceremonial atmosphere as stretcher bearers slipped and struggled in the wind whipped up by the rotors to unload eight more body bags.

Inside the refrigeration units, police unzipped the bags one by one and started the grisly process of trying to identify the remains.

The team of investigators who arrived with the refrigeration units on Monday are hoping to identify them using ­dental records and fingerprints. This, they hope, may end the anguish for at least a few of the families of the 228 people who lost loved ones last week.

Police in Rio de Janeiro have been ­visiting families to collect genetic material hair, blood, cheek swabs to help identify the corpses.

The authorities want to transport the bodies to the Brazilian mainland as soon as possible, and by afternoon officials were already preparing a C-130 ­aircraft for this purpose. There they were due to met by a delegation of ­family ­officials. The dead come from 33 ­countries and Interpol said an international effort would be required in the identification process.

Ronald Noble, the organisation's secretary general, said: "Since the victims from this tragedy came from all parts of the globe, international collaboration will be essential." Even as the identification ­process got under way the investigation into the cause of flight 447's crash appeared to be focusing on the possibility that ­external speed sensors called pitot tubes may have given false readings to the plane's computers during a storm.

Unions representing Air France pilots reported that the airline had decided to replace sensors on all of its Airbus A330 and A340 jets.

Pilots had previously reported several incidents in which the sensors had iced up leading to loss of airspeed information. AF447 had not had its sensors replaced.

"What we know is that other planes that have experienced incorrect airspeed indications have had the same pitots. And planes with the new pitot tubes have never had such problems," said Air France pilot Eric Derivry, a spokesman for the SNPL pilots union.

Meanwhile the French nuclear ­submarine Émeraude is due to arrive later this week to aid the search for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders.

The urgency of the search has been underlined by the 30-day time limit within which the acoustic beacons on the black boxes can operate. The US navy is also providing devices capable of picking up the beacons to a depth of almost four miles.

As that search continues in the Atlantic, Recife – one of Brazil's most violent cities with one of the highest murder rates in the world – is working to clear its already overcrowded morgue in preparation for the arrival of the bodies from Fernando de Noronha.

Seventeen more were pulled from the sea yesterday, bringing the number recovered to 41.

Many of the families of the victims have been waiting for news in Rio. Others who initially flew to Brazil in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy have returned home.

"People are trying to carry on in as ­normal a way as they possibly can," said Marteen van Sluijs, the brother of one of the missing Air France passengers, outside the central Rio hotel where some family members are now staying.

For Isa Furtado, whose daughter was also on the flight, the daily discoveries are too much to bear.

"I just want them to leave my daughter where she is," she said. "This rescue is so painful".


Monday, June 8, 2009

Survey: Most firms unaware of Web domain changes

LONDON (Reuters) - Two thirds of businesses are unaware they will be able to use their own name in place of domain extensions such as .com, .org, or .net when Internet domains are liberalized next year, according to a survey.

The change would let the likes of Nike or Microsoft control their own domain and better exploit their brands, and also counter cyber-squatters who use variations of brands on the 280 or so existing domain extensions.

"If you have '.nike', for example, you can create real and specific branded Websites, like '' or ''," Joe White, chief operating officer of domain registrar, told Reuters in an interview.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees domain names, is expected to start taking applications for new top-level domains early next year, said Future Laboratory, which conducted the research.

But the move is not on the radar of a majority of companies, the survey for found.

"Companies are generally completely unaware of this change coming down the line," said White. "This change has not yet permeated into the mainstream for businesses or consumers."

"However, those businesses which are aware actually see the prospect as being quite exciting," he said.

The price of $185,000 will initially limit applications to the largest corporations and organizations, said Tom Savigar, Strategy and Insight Director at The Future Laboratory.

ICANN is expecting 300-500 applications when it opens its doors in the first quarter of next year, he said.

"You'll see the big global corporations getting there early to own more of their online space," he said.

"(Owning their domain) could secure a higher level of credibility and recognition."

Smaller businesses will be able to use more specific extensions to match their business sector or geography such as ".london" or ".paris," he said.

The Future Laboratory surveyed 100 e-commerce managers; 50 from high-street companies and 50 from small and medium businesses online.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brazil Finds 3 More Bodies Near Jet Crash Site in ocean

Three more bodies were found Sunday in the ocean near the spot where an Air France jet is believed to have crashed a week ago, bringing the total number of recovered bodies to five, Brazil's military said.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Acer announces Android netbooks

The Android netbooks recently announced by Acer will actually ship as dual-boot systems with both Android and Windows, according Acer chairman JT Wang.

Wang pointed out that the dual-OS strategy is much safer for Acer since consumer acceptance of the Android platform is unclear for the time being.

Acer will cooperate with telecom providers to sell the netbooks and expects shipments to reach an average scale in 2-3 years, Wang noted.

Wang also noted that Acer will not rule out the possibility of launching Android-only models if there is enough demand from telecom providers.

The new details will come as a blow to GNU/Linux enthusiasts who took Acer's announcement earlier in the week as signs of a resurgence in support for open source software in the consumer space. The dual-OS compromise is unlikely to win support from die-hard alternative operating system supporters who will continue to cry foul of what they see as a "Windows tax" on their purchases.

For mainstream consumers, the addition of Android will have a limited effect as it will not translate to cheaper products as some market watchers anticipated. In fact, the second operating system increases the complexity of the netbook and my lead to increased support costs which Acer will need to account for in the purchase price. On the other hand, Acer will be able to promote Android as a value-added feature, similar to Asustek Computer's Express Gate, to account for any price premium.

In other news, Wang has estimated that Acer's notebook shipments in the second half of 2009 will grow 30-40% compared to the first.

source :

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pfizer announces first Cancer drug for dogs approved

NEW YORK - PFIZER Inc's efforts to develop new cancer drugs have yielded a breakthrough - for dogs.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first cancer treatment specifically designed to treat dogs, Pfizer and the agency announced on Wednesday.

The drug Palladia was approved to treat canine mast cell tumours, a potentially serious type of cancer that accounts for about 20 per cent of canine skin tumours, and one that can spread to other parts of the body, including lymph nodes, if not treated.

All cancer drugs now used in veterinary medicine originally were developed for use in humans and are not specifically approved for use in animals, the FDA said.

"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA's Centre for Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. 'Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs,' she said.

Pfizer said it would begin selling Palladia in early 2010, but will make the oral drug available to certain veterinary oncology specialists prior to that.

Palladia works by killing tumour cells and by cutting off the blood supply to the tumour. The pill must be taken every other day and the dog will likely have to be on the therapy for several months or longer, depending on tumour response, Pfizer said.

Pfizer declined to divulge the cost of the treatment or to forecast what annual Palladia sales might be. The world's biggest drugmaker said it will likely announce the price of the drug sometime this summer.

Treatment with new cancer drugs for humans tends to cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient, and the majority of pet owners do not have health insurance for their dogs.

In clinical trials, some 60 per cent of dogs treated with Palladia, known chemically as toceranib, had their tumours disappear, shrink or stop growing, Pfizer said. -- REUTERS


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Novel Therapies To Treat Breast & Lymph Cancer Developed

Research unveiled at a major cancer conference says, new therapies have developed following groundbreaking clinical trials appear to effectively target breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The first therapy targeting the capacity of cancer cells to repair themselves shows promise in treating breast cancer, according to results of two small clinical trials.

The new agent, especially adept at targeting cancers that are most difficult to cure, neutralizes an enzyme called PARP (poly-ADP-ribose-polymerase) and prevents it from playing its usual role in repairing the DNA of damaged cells.

Like healthy cells, cancerous cells employ PARP to regenerate themselves after they have been damaged by chemo-therapy treatments.

The studies examined whether breast cancers are more susceptible to chemotherapy when the PARP enzymes have been neutralized.

The first clinical trial was conducted with 116 women suffering from so-called triple negative breast cancer.

These involve fast-spreading tumors that account for 15 percent of the 170,000 annual cases worldwide of breast cancer.

Some of the cases were treated with chemotherapy and a PARP inhibitor called BSI-201 made by the firm BiPar Sciences, a US affiliate of the French-owned laboratory Sanofi-Aventis.

The rest of the group was treated only with chemotherapy.

After six months, about 62 percent of the patients treated with BSI-201 combined with chemotherapy showed a comparative clinical improvement of 21 percent over the control group, said Joyce O'Shaughnessy, of the Baylor-Charles Sammons cancer center in Dallas, Texas.

She presented the results of the study at a conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this weekend in Orlando, Florida.

The women treated with BSI-201 survived 9.2 months on average, including 6.9 months in which the cancer did not spread, compared to an average survival of 6.9 months and 3.3 months in which the cancer was in check for those who were treated solely with chemotherapy.

The second clinical study involved 54 women suffering from advanced breast cancer linked to the gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2. They were treated with the PARP blocker Olaparib made by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical AstraZenica. There was no control group.

The test showed that 40 percent of the patients who took the drug experienced a reduction in their tumors, said Andrew Tutt, a cancer specialist at Kings College in London.

In another study presented here researchers examined a vaccine on patients over eight years that targeted follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a particularly aggressive form of lymphatic cancer.

The study found that patients who received the BiovaxID vaccine experienced on average disease-free survival of approximately 44 months, compared to about 30 months for patients who received a control vaccine, an increase of 47 percent.

The BiovaxID vaccine is patient-specific, in that each dose must be individually manufactured from tissue obtained from a patient's own cancerous tumor.

"With this vaccine, we've now moved into an era where we can safely use a patient's immune system to effectively fight follicular lymphoma and enhance the response to conventional chemotherapy" said lead study author Stephen Schuster.

"Because this vaccine uniquely recruits the patient's immune system to seek and destroy only tumor B-cells, this approach may be applicable to the treatment of other B-cell lymphomas," Schuster added.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Seas turning acidic

If current rates of carbon emissions continue until 2050, 'the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years'

BONN (Germany) - CLIMATE change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years, national science academies said on Monday.

Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new UN treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The academies said rising amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted mainly by human use of fossil fuels, were being absorbed by the oceans and making it harder for creatures to build protective body parts.

The shift disrupts ocean chemistry and attacks the 'building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures', it said.

On some projections, levels of acidification in 80 per cent of Arctic seas would be corrosive to clams that are vital to the food web by 2060, it said.

And 'coral reefs may be dissolving globally', it said, if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were to rise to 550 parts per million (ppm) from a current 387 ppm. Corals are home to many species of fish.

The warning was issued by the Inter-Academy Panel, representing science academies of countries from Albania to Zimbabwe and including those of Australia, Britain, France, Japan and the United States.

Martin Rees, president of the Royal Society, the British science academy, said there may be an 'underwater catastrophe'.

The academies' statement said that, if current rates of carbon emissions continue until 2050, computer models indicate that 'the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years'.

It also urged actions to reduce other pressures on the oceans, such as pollution and over-fishing.


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