Personal cancer vaccines show therapeutic potential in preliminary trials


It currently takes about three months to create an individual’s vaccine (image courtesy of

Safety tests conducted on three people in the US have shown that the immune system can be trained to fight skin cancer. UV light can transform normal skin cells into deadly melanoma by damaging DNA and creating a mess of random mutations that vary in every patient. This changes proteins that stick out of the cell surface, which can be analyzed be computer algorithms to determine which would be the best targets for vaccines. The personalized vaccines were given to three patients with advanced tumours in 2013; one was in remission and remained cancer free, the second has stable tumours, and the third patient’s tumours temporarily shrunk before returning to the original size. However, they are now stable. More clinical trials are needed to prove the immune boost actually makes a difference in controlling the tumour. Should the research be successful, it can be extended to other forms of cancer such as breast and lung cancers.

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Second black box retrieved from Germanwings crash site indicates co – pilot Lubitz deliberately accelerated descent


The plane crashed into a mountain near Seyne – les – Alpes on 24 March (image courtesy of Getty images)

Data from a second `black box` flight recorder has confirmed suspicions that the co – pilot of the plane Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane deliberately, killing all 150 people on board. He had deliberately modified the automatic pilot system several times to increase the speed of descent. On Thursday 2 April, German prosecutors said that Lubitz had researched suicide methods and airplane cockpit security the week before the crash. It was also confirmed 31 March that the co – pilot had suffered an episode of `severe depression` six years ago before finishing flight training, information Germanwings had been unaware of. 150 separate DNA profiles and 40 mobile phones have also been retrieved from the crash site.

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Slaves forced to run a marathon shoeless to break a world record. 

Migrant workers were forced to run a marathon in Qatar's scorthing heat. (Image courtesy of The 18.)

Migrant workers were forced to run a marathon in Qatar’s scorching heat. (Image courtesy of The 18.)

Last Friday in Doha, Qatar, a sports club allegedly forced migrant workers to run a government-sponsored “megamarathon” with the little clothing they had. When some workers attempted to turn back, they were yelled at to cross the finish line. Despite the effort of the Qatari sports club, they did not reach the requirement of 50 000 people needed to break the Guinness world record. The demonstration was also a campaign against doubters of Qatar’s situation as the host city of the 2022 FIFA Cup.

This exploitation of migrant workers is an example of the disparity of their situation in Qatar. The laws of Qatar legally bind migrant workers to their employees and if a worker chooses to leave their job, they are unable to leave the country or be employed. Some of these migrant workers are working now to build the facilities for the 2022 World Cup and already there has over 150 Nepali migrant workers dead.  The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that by the completion of the facilities, 4 000 workers will have died in work conditions related deaths.

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A bloody Good Friday Ritual attracts tourists in the Philippines.

A Philopino remembers Christ's suffering through voluntary crucification. This practice is frowed on by most western Catholic Church leaders. (Image courtesy of US News.)

A Filipino remembers Christ’s suffering through voluntary crucifixion. This practice is frowned on by most western Catholic Church leaders. (Image courtesy of US News.)

It has been tradition for some in the city of San Fernando, Philippines, to perform voluntary crucifixions and self-flagellation. Last year, the festivities had attracted 60 000 visitors despite strong discouragement by the Catholic Church. 40-year-old native, Yeb Sano, said “Now that it’s become a tourist attraction, it’s losing a lot of its sacredness.” Tam, a tourist from Hong Kong, reasoned “Popularity results in a lot of publicity and publicity results in people wanting to take advantage of it, you can’t help it.” The rituals performed included a reenactment the 14 Station of the Cross along with props, sound effects, and costumes.

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Pope Francis denounces the martyrdom of Christians at Vatican’s Good Friday service.

Tens of thousands of worshippers came to Rome to observe the Via Crusis (Way of the Cross) ceremony in Rome.  (Image courtesy of BBC.)

Tens of thousands of worshipers came to Rome to observe the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) ceremony in Rome. (Image courtesy of BBC.)

Last Friday, after the reflections on the suffering of Christ, Pope Francis expressed his discontent with the killings of Christians in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere. The Pope said “We see, even today, our brothers persecuted, beheaded and crucified, for their faith in you, in front of our eyes or often with our complicit silence,” as he prayed. Another prayer had rallied for the “fundamental right of religious freedom”. Before the processions, Pope Francis denounced the attack against Christian students at a Kenyan university. Even earlier in the year, he addressed the murder of 21 Christians by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Libya and expressed his grief in Christian families having to leave their communities in the Middle East.

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