August 31, 2006 For more than 20 years, a team of scientists at the National Cancer Institute has been trying to cure cancer by using a patient's own immune system. In the latest twist, they use gene therapy to enhance the immune system's ability to recognize tumors.
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August 21, 2006 Ten years ago, researchers announced they were closing in on a vaccine for malaria, one of the deadliest diseases plaguing the developing world. But like many scientific breakthroughs making news when they're first announced, progress toward a vaccine has run into complications.
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August 21, 2006 One hallmark of aggressive cancer tumors is that they have an unusual number of chromosomes. If doctors knew which tumors had unexpected numbers of chromosomes, they'd know which tumors to treat aggressively. Now researchers have found an easy way to estimate the number of chromosomes.
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August 16, 2006 The human brain definitely differs from the brains of our primate relatives. But how did we get such big brains? A paper in the journal Nature says part of the answer may lie in a snippet of DNA buried deep in the human genome.
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August 10, 2006 What happens to the body when it's exposed to excessive heat? Sweating, of course. But there are other changes, as well. A complex series of systems work to keep the human body from overheating when the temperature soars.
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August 4, 2006 In the early days of kidney transplants, it was important to find a donor that was a nearly exact tissue match to the recipient. But now, with the improvement of anti-rejection drugs, tissue matching is no longer as crucial, and some suggest it should be abandoned as a criterion for allocating kidneys.
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August 1, 2006 To paraphrase a former president, you won't have Joe Palca to kick around any more. As of Wednesday I'm officially known as the former host of Mixed Signals. But don't fear. I leave you in the capable hands of someone with a clear eye, a cool head and a very unusual last name. David assures me his father was a Folkenflik too.
August 1, 2006 There's a video floating around on the Internet that some Web slingers are claiming is a recruitment video for Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. I won't say it's the worst video I've ever seen, but it's pretty bad. Watching it might make you want to buy a used car, but not attend an institute of higher education. But was it really made as a recruitment tool? "We would never create something like that to attract students," says Dr. Lorin Baumhover Chief of Staff for the Office of the Chancellor at Appalachian State. "It's horrible." Baumhover maintains the video was created as a kind of joke, to be shared with alumni and friends of the university. He says about a year ago, someone posted it on the Web, and they've been getting queries ever since. "I wish someone could put a stake through it," says Baumhover. It's a lesson for the Internet age. Don't create anything you aren't prepared to share with the entire world. (via Boing Boing)
August 1, 2006 I checked with Bud Aiello, director of engineering technology at NPR, about Greg's Roadrunner. That's the piece of equipment I mentioned earlier that allows broadcast studio quality audio to be sent down an ISDN line. Bud says the Roadrunner should arrive in Miami tomorrow morning. I'm guessing Miami's Cuban community will still be in the news by then.
August 1, 2006 Morning Edition reports that Texas is deploying National Guard troops along its border with Mexico to prevent illegal entry to this country. People have jeopardized their health to make it to America, either by trying to cross burning deserts or miles of ocean in boats that aren't seaworthy. But there are also health threats once they arrive. According to research by Ilana Redstone Akresh, a visiting professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, new immigrants frequently alter their diets in their new homes. They eat more junk food and tend to put on weight. According a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Health Department has begun nutrition counseling sessions for recent arrivals to America. At least immigrants who settle in Texas won't be alone if they gain weight. According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37.2% of Texans are overweight, and 25.8% are obese.
August 1, 2006 The National Desk's Greg Allen recently pulled up stakes in Kansas City and took over NPR's Miami bureau. "Bureau" in this case refers to a room in Greg's home where he'll have DSL for Internet access, an ISDN line to feed studio quality audio and telephone lines to make the calls a reporter has to make. Trouble is, the phone company hasn't been able to install the telephone or DSL, and although the ISDN line is working, Greg had to send the piece of equipment you need to use the ISDN line for audio back to NPR headquarters for repairs. And wouldn't you know, with all his infrastructure in disarray, Fidel Castro enters the hospital, the biggest story of the year in Miami. Greg says he's making do with his cell phone and a laptop. He even expects to have a piece on All Things Considered tonight. But it's not been easy. "It's like working in a hurricane zone," Greg says, "I'm working out of my car." One major difference. For high-speed Internet access, he heads to Starbucks. It's hard to get a latte in a hurricane.
August 1, 2006 Fidel Castro's decision to turn control of Cuba to his younger brother Raul rises to the top of the news agenda. The transfer of power is supposedly temporary while the older brother recovers from abdominal surgery. The fact that Castro has weathered other medical problems without relinquishing power has led to speculation that the 79-year-old leader may be gravely ill. Elsewhere in the world, fighting continues in the Middle East, bombs continues to go off in Iraq. Nationally, the heat wave smothering large swaths of the country is straining power grids. President Bush' nominee to head the FDA, Andrew von Eschenbach, testifies at a Senate confirmation hearing, and Democratic legislators have called on President Bush to start withdrawing troops from Iraq by the end of the year. In sports, we may hear something definitive about whether tests show Tour de France winner was using banned substances during the race.
August 1, 2006 There was an amusing item this morning on Morning Edition about an Ohio waitress who lost her wallet, and then had a customer show her own missing driver's license when she asked the customer for ID. "The odds of this waitress recovering her own license defy calculation," police Capt. Guy Turner is quoted as saying in an Associated Press wire story. But do they? Not really. The waitress lost her wallet in a bar in Lakewood Ohio, population 57,000. She worked in a bar eight miles away in Westlake, Ohio, population 32,000. I bet you could calculate the odds that someone in Lakewood would bump into someone from Westlake in a bar. The real issue here is that people are always surprised when unlikely events happen. But really they shouldn't be. People flock to buy tickets to the Mega Millions Lottery, even though the odds of winning may seem to defy calculation. But in fact the odds are 1 in 176 million.
July 31, 2006 Couldn't let this one slip by. The artistic director of the Neuköllner Opera House in Berlin is encouraging audience members to smoke marijuana during the performance. According to Deutche Welle, the singers will be doing that onstage. It's all an attempt to add to the psychedelic atmosphere associated with The Oriental Princess, an opera by Camille Saint- Saens. The artistic director is counting on artistic license to protect the audience from being busted. And it seems that possession of 10 grams of marijuana for "personal use" is an offense usually overlooked by authorities in Berlin. I'm guessing it's the fire marshals who'll put the kibosh on the event.
July 31, 2006 It's an odd experience working with people you've never met. You hear their voice on the radio, and like most listeners, you feel a bit like you know them. But you don't. I've never met most of the people who are based overseas for NPR. When they're based in the hinterland -- or even in the "Republic of California" -- most of the people on the National Desk come through NPR's Washington headquarters at least once a year, so I catch a glimpse of them. Not so with the Foreign Desk. So when a strange face appeared at this morning's editorial meeting, I hadn't a clue who she was or why she was there. Turns out Rachel Martin has moved to Washington to take over the religion beat. For the past year, Rachel's been based in Berlin. Before that, she was stringing for NPR in Afghanistan. As one of only three European correspondents, Rachel has had a busy year. Four days after she arrived in Germany, she was sent off the London to cover the second round of Underground bombings. European news took a back seat during the Katrina catastrophe last fall, but then the German elections and the evolving U.S.-German relationship pushed Rachel back into the limelight. So now I can put a face with a name.
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