Newsletter 218


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Newsletter 218

  1. 1. SOUTH AMERICA ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH NEWSLETTER218 t h issue, February 4, 2013 WORLD CANCER DAY: 4 February 2013 In this issue: World Cancer Day 2013 (4 February 2013) will focus on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: Health: World Cancer Day. Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, under the tagline “Cancer - Did you Peru: ASTMH Conference in Lima. know?”. Health: New Way to Kill Lymphoma Without Chemotherapy. Environment: Nations Agree First Global Treaty to Ban Mercury Emissions. Climate Change: Unprecedented Glacier Melting in the Andes. Science: Wood on the Seafloor, an Oasis for Deep-Sea Life. Health: Diet Soda Linked to Depression in NIH Study. Science: DNA is the Hard Drive of the Future Next events: February 1, 2013 REO S&T School Contest Launching February 4, 2013 World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general World Cancer Day knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. From a global February 13, 2013 level, we will be focusing our messaging on the four myths above. ASTMH Conference, Lima,Peru March 22, 2013 Learn the truth and supporting evidence, by clicking on the myths below. World Water Day March 23, 2013 Myth 1: Cancer is just a health issue Earth Hour April17-19, 2013 Myth 2: Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries IFT Energy, Santiago, Chile April 22, 2013 Earth Day Myth 3: Cancer is a death sentence June 5, 2013 World Environment Day Myth 4: Cancer is my fate July 10-12, 2013 Eolica, Buenos Aires, Read more at: The information contained herein was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so. For questions or comments, please contact us at * Free translation prepared by REO staff.
  2. 2. P E R U : A S T MH C o n f e r e n c e i n Li m a * By Roxana LescanoThe Third Annual Conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene(ASTMH), organized in Peru by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No.6 (NAMRU-6),the Peruvian National Institute of Health, the Tropical Medicine Institute of the Univer-sidad Cayetano Heredia, the Peruvian Society of Tropical Diseases, and the Fogarty Cen-ter, will take place on February 13, at the Chamber of Commerce of Lima.This multi-institutional effort is a forum for Peruvian scientists to share presentationsthat they gave at the Annual ASTMH Conference, held last November in the UnitedStates.From the ASTMH, Dr. Alan J. Magill, ASTMH President and Director of the Malaria CALLAO, Peru (Jan. 17, 2012) Lt. Kimberly Edgel, left, andGlobal Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will address Christian Baldeviano examine a positive malaria blood smear at U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) 6.“Analytical Framework to Eradicate Malaria”. NAMRU-6 is studying the interplay between malaria and the human immune system to identify new malaria vaccineAn exhibition of 82 posters on tropical diseases will be displayed during the conference targets. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)and their authors will be available for questions and networking. This is a marked in-crease over 37 posters presented by Peruvian scientists one year ago.In the United States, this event gathers almost 3,000 professionals from all over the world and one third of them come from tropi-cal countries. Last year, Peru and Brazil were the countries with the highest number of presentations.The funds collected in this event will be used to finance travel expenses of two Peruvian scientists to the 2013 Annual ASTMH Con-ference, thus promoting research and development in Peru.Visit and click Like to spread the voice.HEALTH: New Way to Kill Lymphoma Without ChemotherapyNorthwestern Medicine® researchers discovered this with a new nanoparticle that acts like a secret double agent. It appears to thecancerous lymphoma cell like a preferred meal -- natural HDL. But when the particle engages the cell, it actually plugs it up andblocks cholesterol from entering. Deprived of an essential nutrient, the cell eventually dies.A new study by C. Shad Thaxton, M.D., and Leo I. Gordon, M.D. shows that synthetic HDL nanoparticles killed B-cell lymphoma, themost common form of the disease, in cultured human cells, and inhibited human B-cell lymphoma tumor growth in mice. The pa-per will be published Jan. 21 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."This has the potential to eventually become a nontoxic treatment for B-cell lymphoma which does not involve chemotherapy,"said Gordon, a co-corresponding author with Thaxton on the paper. "Its an exciting preliminary finding."Gordon is a professor of medicine in hematology/oncology and Thaxton is an assistant professor ofurology, both at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.Gordon also is co-director of the hematologic malignancy program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehen-sive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.Thaxton is also a member of the Lurie Cancer Center.Read full article at: B-cell Lymphoma. Photo by Yale Rosen (flickr
  3. 3. ENVIRONMENT: Nations Agree First Global Treaty to Ban Mercury Emissions By Yojana Sharma A legally binding global treaty to curb mercury in the environment, agreed after a week of gruelling nego- tiations in Geneva, will also include a funding facility to assist developing countries in phasing out the toxic heavy metal in industrial processes and in artisanal gold mining in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after the Japanese port where people suffered serious health effects from mercury pollution in the 1950s, was agreed by more than 140 countries after week- long talks in Geneva leading up to all-night negotiations on Saturday (19 January). It was a "herculean task", says Fernando Lugris, the Uruguayan diplomat who chaired the latest set ofPhoto by Patrick Hoesley (flickr user). negotiations, which have taken four years in total. The treaty includes a phased-in ban on the use of mer-Under Creative Commons License. cury in many industrial processes and in products such as thermometers, batteries and lamps. It will intro-duce a ban on primary mercury mining and mercury emissions from new power plants to take place within 15 years of the treatycoming into effect, as well as measures to reduce mercury releases from existing plants.It also includes controls on the export and import of the heavy metal and measures to ensure the safe storage of waste mercury.But no target dates were agreed for phasing out the use of mercury in subsistence, or artisanal, and small-scale gold mining. Thisis "by far the major contributor" to mercury emissions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a UN EnvironmentProgramme (UNEP) report entitled Mercury: Time to Act, which was published this month.Instead, countries must draw up national action plans to reduce mercury use in the sector within three years of the treaty cominginto force. The treaty did not ban use of mercury as a preservative in vaccines, which many in the public health community fearedwould make vaccines more expensive and harder to deliver safely.If the treaty is fully implemented most global mercury use could be eliminated by 2020, according to the delegates. Around 50countries must ratify the treaty for it to come into being — a process that could take another three years. "Overall the messagefrom the negotiations is that mercury use will go down, and [industries] will need to find something else [to replace it]. It is an im-portant signal to the market," Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Brussels-based co-coordinator of global campaign group the Zero MercuryWorking Group, tells SciDev.Net, adding that alternatives now exist for most mercury-containing products.Noelle Selin, assistant professor of engineering systems and atmospheric chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology,United States, says: "Because mercury lasts so long in the environment, any avoided emissions have long-term benefits".Read full article at: info about this topic: CHANGE: Unprecedented Glacier Melting in the AndesThe international team of scientists -- uniting researchers from Europe, South America and the US -- shows in the new paper that,since the 1970s, glaciers in tropical Andes have been melting at a rate unprecedented in the past 300 years. Globally, glaciers havebeen retreating at a moderate pace as the planet warmed after the peak of the Little Ice Age, a cold period lasting from the 16th tothe mid-19th century. Over the past few decades, however, the rate of melting has increased steeply in the tropical Andes. Glaciersin the mountain range have shrunk by an average of 30-50% since the 1970s, according to Antoine Rabatel,researcher at the Laboratory for Glaciology and Environmental Geophysics in Grenoble, France, and leadauthor of the study.Glaciers are retreating everywhere in the tropical Andes, but the melting is more pronounced for small gla-ciers at low altitudes, the authors report. Glaciers at altitudes below 5,400 metres have lost about 1.35 me-tres in ice thickness (an average of 1.2 metres of water equivalent [see note]) per year since the late 1970s,twice the rate of the larger, high-altitude glaciers."Because the maximum thickness of these small, low-altitude glaciers rarely exceeds 40 metres, with such anannual loss they will probably completely disappear within the coming decades," says Rabatel.Read more at: Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Photo by Dallas Krentzel (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.
  4. 4. SCIENCE: Wood On the Seafloor: An Oasis for Deep-Sea LifeTrees do not grow in the deep sea, nevertheless sunken pieces of wood can develop into oases for deep-sea life -- at least temporarily until the wood is fully degraded. A team of Max Planck researchers fromGermany now showed how sunken wood can develop into attractive habitats for a variety of microorgan-isms and invertebrates. By using underwater robot technology, they confirmed their hypothesis that ani-mals from hot and cold seeps would be attracted to the wood due to the activity of bacteria, which pro-duce hydrogen sulfide during wood degradation. Photo by cobalt123 (flickr user). UnderMany of the animals thriving at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps require special forms of energy such as Creative Commons License.methane and hydrogen sulfide emerging from the ocean floor. They carry bacterial symbionts in theirbody, which convert the energy from these compounds into food. The vents and seeps are often separated by hundreds of kilome-ters of deep-sea desert, with no connection between them.For a long time it was an unsolved mystery how animals can disperse between those rare oases of energy in the deep sea. One hy-pothesis was that sunken whale carcasses, large dead algae, and also sunken woods could serve as food source and temporaryhabitat for deep-sea animals, but only if bacteria were able to produce methane and sulfur compounds from it.To tackle this question, the team deposited wood logs on the Eastern Mediterranean seafloor at depths of 1700 meters and re-turned after one year to study the fauna, bacteria, and chemical microgradients. "We were surprised how many animals had popu-lated the wood already after one year. The main colonizers were wood-boring bivalves of the genus Xylophaga, also named"shipworms" after their shallow-water counterparts. The wood-boring Xylophaga essentially constitute the vanguard and preparethe habitat for other followers," Bienhold said. „But they also need assistance from bacteria, namely to make use of the cellulosefrom the wood, which is difficult to digest."Reat more about this topic at: Diet Soda Linked to Depression in NIH Study By Jason Koebler Millions of people reach for an afternoon diet soda as a pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the day. But new research suggests sodas and other sugary drinks — especially artificially sweetened ones — could be related to depression. According to the research, which will be officially released at the American Academy of Neurologys annual meeting in mid-March, people who drink four cans or more of soda daily are about 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who dont drink soda. Coffee drinkers are about 10 percentPhoto by micala (flickr user). Under less likely to develop depression than people who dont drink coffee.Creative Commons License. The National Institutes of Health study included more than 250,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71and studied their drink consumption during 1995 and 1996. A decade later, researchers asked whether participants had been diag-nosed with depression since the year 2000.According to researchers, "the risk appeared to be greater for people who drank diet [rather] than regular soda."Read more at: SCIENCE: DNA is the Hard Drive of the Future*If you are concerned about losing your files due to constant technological upgrades, scientists havefound a solution: keep them inside a DNA molecule.Researchers of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in England demonstrated that it is possibleto store texts, images and sounds within the “molecule of life”. To prove it, they coded a scientificpaper, a photograph, some Shakespeare sonnets and extracts from Martin Luther King’s “I have adream”, into DNA language. Later on, this information was read with 100% accuracy. Image by Keith Ramsey (flickr user). Under Creative Commons License.In a recent Nature magazine article, scientists affirmed that it is possible to store large amounts ofdata in DNA for thousands and thousands of years. Although, they agree that costs involved to syn-thesize this molecule in a lab make this procedure very expensive for the moment, they believe it willbecome more accessible and the ideal method to archive documents over the long term.Read more at: