Egypt Independent: Science-Main news http://www.egyptindependent.com//enhome_channel/Environment/rss.xml en Vaccine helps leukemia patients fight http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2474742 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/06/11/1755/vaccine.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>A new vaccine helped leukemia patients fight their cancer and stay in remission for an average of almost five years, according to&nbsp;<a href="http://stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1298" target="_blank">new study.</a></p><div>Patients who had undergone chemotherapy to treat acute myeloid leukemia received vaccines personalized to their own form of the disease, to stimulate a potent immune attack against it and reduce the likelihood of their cancer returning.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For the trial, people over the age of 60 were particularly targeted, as only 15% to 20% of this age group remains leukemia-free for two years, on average, after receiving chemotherapy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>During the study, published in Science Translational Medicine on Wednesday, the vaccine was shown to more than double this average remission period for the majority of people involved in the trial.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;More than 70 percent of patients had gone 4&frac12; years without their leukemia coming back,&quot; said Dr. Jacalyn Rosenblatt, associate professor at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, who led the research. &quot;We need better therapies to cure this disease ... (and) were very excited by these preliminary results.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>The need for new therapies</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Acute myeloid leukemia causes a person&#39;s bone marrow to make abnormal versions of either their white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, which are responsible for blood clotting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As abnormal versions of these cells begin to grow, they dominate the bone marrow and blood, leaving less room for healthy white cells, red cells or platelets.</div><div>Although chemotherapy kills these abnormal cells, most patients eventually relapse, often with a resistant form of the cancer, according to the researchers. Even in patients under the age of 60, the five-year survival rate is just 34 percent.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But acute myeloid leukemia typically affects older people, according to the American Cancer Society, with the average age of a patient being 67 years, making new therapies essential as remission is short-lived in older patients. Additional treatments, such as bone marrow transplants, pose too many risks due to their potential side effects.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This form of leukemia has been estimated to affect almost 20,000 people in the United States in 2016.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Aiding remission with a vaccine</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rosenblatt&#39;s team developed a vaccine that could be personalized to patients and injected to stimulate a potent immune response against their cancer. The vaccine fuses a person&#39;s own leukemia cells with immune cells called dendrites that are known to stimulate a strong immune response, boosting the number of leukemia-specific T-cells in the body that fight and kill the tumor cells.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;(We created) this hybridoma that stimulates the immune system and (helps it) recognize the tumor,&quot; Rosenblatt said. &quot;It&#39;s specific to a patient but broad against (attacking) that person&#39;s tumor.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The vaccine was tested in 17 people ranging in age from 32 to 77 years, with a median age of 63. All of them had received chemotherapy and achieved remission.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The goal was to keep them that way.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After receiving the vaccine, all the participants remained cancer-free for at least a year, and 12 stayed in remission for an average of four years and nine months. But doctors are continuing to monitor them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>&#39;Back to normal&#39;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Retired neurosurgeon Ernest Levy, 76, was one of the 17 patients who benefited from the vaccine.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2010, he began feeling fatigued during a visit to the soccer World Cup in South Africa. On his return to the US, he sought immediate care and was soon diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He was told he had only a 10 percent chance of surviving just a short period of time. For the father of three and grandfather of six, it was something of a shock, but Levy kept his medical hat on and remained practical.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You get to this realization that this is it. ... My children flew out to see me, thinking it could be a few weeks&quot; he had left, he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He was told about a vaccine that was in its very early stages but could improve his chances of prolonged remission. &quot;I wasn&#39;t convinced that the vaccine was going to do much,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As a medical professional, Levy knew that chances were slim and admits saying yes, at first, as a form of repayment to help the people who had worked so hard to keep him alive. &quot;I wanted to help,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But after three doses of the trial vaccine in 2011, Levy&#39;s prognosis of living for just a few weeks became almost six years and counting.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I wouldn&#39;t like to go through it again. The treatment (chemotherapy) was quite horrific ... but you get over that and get back to normal, whatever that is,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Today, Levy is not showing any signs of relapse and says he feels as fit as he did before his diagnosis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I&#39;m going to be around and as active as I can be, and hopefully, it will be for a long time,&quot; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>A therapy for older patients</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Although chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia is effective in the short term, researchers have been developing therapies to maintain remission for longer periods.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The main treatment enabling this to date is allogenic stem cell transplantation -- a bone marrow transplant -- in which the blood or bone marrow of a closely matched donor is used to source stem cells that are transplanted into the cancer patient, enabling them to generate immune cells that kill the cancerous cells. If effective, this can cure the cancer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But stem cell transplants are not always possible, for example, due to donor availability. They may not be effective due a patient&#39;s age, side effects such as the new immune cells attacking other parts of the body, or the presence of other diseases. The team believes personalized vaccines could be a viable option for those unable to receive stem cell transplants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The goal is to &quot;manipulate someone&#39;s own immune system to reap the benefits (of bone marrow transplantation) without the side effects,&quot; Rosenblatt said. &quot;If we can produce a vaccine with the same potency ... that would be a major improvement for these patients.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The trial was small, however, and the team stresses in its paper that larger randomized trials are needed to confirm the results.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For now, the findings show great promise to others in this field.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;To see these kinds of responses in this type of patient population is very exciting. ... Other approaches to treat AML are either nonspecific (chemo) or have high mortality; this approach has the potential, underline potential, of eliminating those issues,&quot; said Dr. Susanna Greer, director of clinical research and immunology for the American</div><div>Cancer Society. But Greer further stresses the need for more results.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Followup studies with larger trials to evaluate booster vaccination will provide critical evaluation of differences between patients who relapse and those who remain in remission, but overall, this could be real game changer for AML patients.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dr. Jeff Davies, consultant hemato-oncologist at the Barts Cancer Institute in the UK, agrees that more evidence is needed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;A large comparative study is needed to prove whether the immunity they present is actually preventing the relapse,&quot; he said, adding that feasibility could also be a limitation.&quot;It&#39;s a bespoke approach ... making it expensive and labor-intensive.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But Davies too is excited by the findings overall. &quot;AML hasn&#39;t been impacted by all the new developments in immunotherapy ... but here, they were able to demonstrate a way to stimulate a person&#39;s immune system in a personalized way, which has previously been difficult to do.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Rosenblatt&#39;s team plans to start a larger trial within the next few months, including more than 100 people with this form of leukemia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You never know in an initial small study,&quot; she said. &quot;We hope to see this replicated in our larger study ... and if so, the goal would be to make this available.&quot;</div> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 11:10:00 +0000 CNN 2474742 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/06/11/1755/vaccine.jpg Egypt recovers 7 artifacts from the US, Switzerland and UAE http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2474713 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2016/12/07/505446/15349690_1261743567204624_222225215974141332_n.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p dir="LTR">Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany announced on Tuesday that&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 1em;">Egypt succeeded in recovering 7 important artifacts from the US, Switzerland and UAE in the course of a week since the beginning of December.</span></p><p dir="LTR">The Antiquities Ministry, working in close collaboration with both the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, recovered the artifacts which had been stolen and illegally smuggled out of Egypt, Enany said in a statement.</p><p dir="LTR">He explained that on December 1, the Egyptian embassy in the United States received four Late Period artifacts; then, on December 2, the Egyptian Embassy in Switzerland received parts of a missing ancient Egyptian stelae; and on December 6, Egypt&#39;s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Wael Gad received two stolen Islamic lamps<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">These objects will arrive in Egypt upon the completion of the shipping and packaging procedures, the statement said<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">Enany expressed his full appreciation for all the efforts exerted on the local and foreign levels to protect and preserve Egypt&#39;s cultural and archaeological heritage<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">Shaaban Abdel Gawad, General Supervisor of the Antiquities Repatriation Department, said that the pieces recovered today from the UAE consist of two Islamic Lamps. O<span style="font-size: 1em;">ne of these lamps, belonging to Sultan Barquq, had recently been recovered from London</span><span dir="RTL" style="font-size: 1em;">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">The first recovered lamp from UAE belongs to Prince Selehdar; the second belongs to Sultan Hassan and was previously on display at the Museum of Islamic Art<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">From Switzerland, Egypt received three parts of an ancient Egyptian stelae that was reported missing back in 1995<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">The limestone stelae belongs to a man called Sheshe-nefertom. It was originally discovered by an Italian archaeological mission, from Rome University, inside Shashanq tomb number TT27 at Al-Assassif necropolis on Luxor&rsquo;s west bank<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">Abdel-Gawad pointed out that the objects recovered from the United States are dated to the Late Pharaonic Period and include of a shrivelled mummified hand; a painted child sarcophagus; a gilded mummy mask; and the anthropoid lid of a wooden sarcophagus decorated with different ancient Egyptian religious scenes; as well as a painted linen mummy shroud<span dir="RTL">.</span></p><p dir="LTR">&nbsp;</p><p dir="LTR">&nbsp;</p> Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:10:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2474713 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2016/12/07/505446/15349690_1261743567204624_222225215974141332_n.jpg Surprising monkey study could lead to 'functional' HIV cure http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2474587 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2015/04/27/43/afp-instant-self-test-hiv-kit-on-sale-in-britain.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn&#39;t get too excited about the results of animal studies, and he doesn&#39;t make house calls.</p><p>But when a drug already taken by thousands of people for intestinal conditions appeared to control the monkey version of HIV, it got the attention of the director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.</p><p>Fauci hopped on a plane to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to personally tell Japan&#39;s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co&#39;s US representatives that their drug may offer a dramatic advance in the fight against AIDS.</p><p>Takeda&rsquo;s drug suppressed the virus to undetectable levels in eight monkeys, some for two years. The finding raises hope for a so-called &quot;functional cure&quot; &ndash; a treatment that puts the disease in a sustained remission.</p><p>&quot;The data was so dramatic,&quot; said Fauci, who has made AIDS research his life&rsquo;s work. The drug is one of several promising ideas heading into early-stage human trials, all seeking to help patients control the virus that causes AIDS for extended periods without daily antiretroviral therapy (ART).</p><p>The studies build on research propelled by the case of Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called &quot;Berlin patient,&quot; whose HIV was eradicated through an elaborate stem cell transplant in 2007.</p><p>&quot;There has been this explosion of discovery,&quot; said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. &quot;There are completely new ideas that were impossible to conceive even a few years ago.&quot;</p><p><strong>Limits of current drugs </strong></p><p>HIV once meant certain death. But, for more than half of the 36.7 million HIV patients around the world, ART transformed it into a chronic disease.</p><p>Taken daily, ART suppresses the virus. But keeping up a daily medication regimen is difficult. The drugs are expensive and toxic, causing nausea, fatigue and nerve problems in the short-term, and insulin resistance and other problems over time.</p><p>Only about a third of U.S. patients take ART consistently enough to push the virus down to undetectable levels.</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re going to need other approaches,&quot; said Dr. Nelson Michael, director of the US Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute.</p><p>Much work has focused on the discovery of rare antibodies made by HIV patients that can neutralize several different forms of the virus.</p><p>One trial involving an antibody called PGT121 licensed by Gilead Sciences Inc reduced the virus to undetectable levels in 16 of 18 monkeys; the effect lasted for four months in three of them.</p><p>At Walter Reed, Michael is taking a different tack, testing whether a vaccine - being developed to prevent HIV infection - can fight off the virus in infected individuals.</p><p>Last month, Michael and researchers at Harvard&#39;s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center published the results of a monkey test of Johnson &amp; Johnson&#39;s HIV vaccine candidate called Ad26/MVA and Gilead&#39;s experimental drug GS-986.</p><p>On its own, the vaccine had a modest effect. But it was even more effective when it was given with GS-986, a so-called TLR-7 agonist that &ldquo;kicks the immune system up to a higher gear,&rdquo; Michael said. All nine monkeys that got both treatments showed significantly reduced viral loads. In three, the combination therapy has kept the virus at bay for at least six months.</p><p>Human trials could begin within months, said Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&amp;J&#39;s chief scientific officer. &quot;If the cure is there, the industry will find a way to get there very quickly,&quot; Stoffels said.</p><p><strong>&quot;It was like: &#39;Wow!&#39; &quot; </strong></p><p>Fauci&rsquo;s visit was a first for Takeda, a company focused on treatments for cancer, gastroenterology and the central nervous system, said Dr. Michael Shetzline, who heads clinical science for Takeda in Cambridge.</p><p>&ldquo;The excitement was just clear,&rdquo; Shetzline said. &quot;It was like: &#39;Wow!&#39; &quot; Takeda does not study HIV. But its researchers understood the basic science surrounding its drug Entyvio, an antibody engineered to attack a specific protein.</p><p>The drug, known generically as vedolizumab, is approved in more than 50 countries for ulcerative colitis and Crohn&rsquo;s disease, which occur when the immune system attacks the intestines.</p><p>&quot;Entyvio is a cell trafficking molecule that affects immune responses,&quot; Shetzline said. &quot;In this instance, the GI tract is what is harboring this HIV cell population that needs to be cleared - at least that is what the monkey study implies.&quot;</p><p>Takeda is providing the drug and supporting the study. Shetzline cautioned that it&#39;s only a pilot.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;d love to see this benefit patients,&rdquo; he said. If it pans out, cost could be an issue. Entyvio is priced as a biologic, similar to other IBD treatments, which range from US$2,000 to US$5,000 a month, according to Consumer Reports.</p><p>Entyvio&#39;s HIV trial began in August and seeks to enroll 15 to 25 people with stable disease. They will remain on daily ART drugs while taking nine infusions of Entyvio over a period of several months. Then, ART will be stopped, they will get two more infusions, and doctors will watch to see if the virus rebounds &ndash; or remains suppressed.</p><p>Manni Baez, 30, of Columbus, Ohio, travels to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, about once a month for the study. &ldquo;For me, the end game is providing the folks at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the resources they need to get them closer to finding a cure or a vaccine for this plague,&quot; Baez said.</p><p>Fauci said he doesn&rsquo;t expect meaningful results until late 2017 or early 2018. But even partial success would be huge, he said. &quot;If we discontinue therapy in the 15, and four of them don&#39;t rebound,&rdquo; he said, then &ldquo;that is the best anybody has ever seen.&rdquo;</p><p>Fauci said he doesn&rsquo;t get emotional about the data he collects, and, in any event, it&rsquo;s early days for this research. &ldquo;I try to be as objective as I possibly can,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I will get really excited if we get our first seven people in human (trial), and I stop ART - and they don&#39;t rebound.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 01 Dec 2016 15:12:00 +0000 Reuters 2474587 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/27/43/afp-instant-self-test-hiv-kit-on-sale-in-britain.jpg Mallawy Museum receives 3,500 visitors in 2 months http://www.egyptindependent.com//node/2474572 <img src="http://www.egyptindependent.com///sites/default/files/imagecache/media_thumbnail/photo/2016/11/30/16030/img_0434.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Mallawy Museum in Minya has received 3,500 visitors over the past two months since re-opening in September, according to the director general of the museum Ahmed al-Laithy.</p><p>The museum has seen a significant increase in the number of visitors since it was&nbsp;re-opened, compared to previous rates before being robbed and destroyed in 2014, Al Borsa news website quoted al-Laithy as saying.</p><p>The director general of the museum added in a statement to Borsa, 3,000 out of 3,500 visitors were local students and the rest were foreign and local visitors. Previous rates stood at 50 visitors per month.</p><p>Tours organized by travel agencies to visit archaeological sites nearby -- such as Bani Hassan, Tal El-Amarna and Tuna El-Gabal -- have started to visit the museum as well, after it was reopened.</p><p>The museum organized crafts workshops and educational activities for students, which attracted a larger number of visitors from Minya schools, he said.</p><p>The one-storey Mallawy Museum was robbed in August 2014 and its doors and walls were destroyed. The remains of artifacts after the robbery were transferred to the Ministry of Antiquities storerooms.</p><p>The ministry said it had retrieved 930 robbed artifacts out of 1,089 stolen pieces.</p><p>The&nbsp;presentation of artifacts in the museum has been updated from the previous display methods, as the new one is intended to be more informative.</p><p>The cost of the museum&#39;s development stood at LE11 million, LE4 million of which were provided by the Antiquities Ministry.</p><p>To cover the cost of the museum&#39;s restoration, the Minya governorate provided LE3 million and the Italian government LE4 million.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/ei/img_0433.jpg" style="width: 674px; height: 485px;" /></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2016 09:59:00 +0000 Egypt Independent 2474572 at http://www.egyptindependent.com sites/default/files/photo/2016/11/30/16030/img_0434.jpg