Thursday, 4 October 2018

Nobel Prize winners discovered revolutionary way to attack cancer cells

The Nobel Prize for Medicine has been given to two scientists who found a revolutionary new way of treating cancer.

American James P Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo found that the body's own immune system could be turned on cancers, marking a major breakthrough in our fight against the disease.

Professor Allison studied a protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realised the potential of releasing the brake and unleashing immune cells to attack tumours, and developed this concept into a new approach for treating patients.

Professor Honjo "discovered a protein on immune cells and revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer," the Nobel committee wrote in their citation.


Nobel Prize for Physics 2018 discovered precise laser pulses for surgeries

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 was awarded "for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics" with one half to Arthur Ashkin "for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems", the other half jointly to Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland "for their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses" .

Dr Ashkin developed a laser technique described as optical tweezers, which is used to study biological systems.

Drs Mourou and Strickland paved the way for the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created. They developed a technique called Chirped Pulse Amplification (CPA). It has found uses in laser therapy targeting cancer and in the millions of corrective laser eye surgeries which are performed each year where precised laser pulses are required for the surgeries.


Fake honey? Almost 1 in 5 Australian honey samples adulterated, 50% of Asian honey adulterated

Honey is the world’s third-most adulterated food, with nearly one in five samples of Australian honey affected, a study has found.

According to a study published in the Scientific Reports journal on Tuesday (Oct 2), the addition of cane sugar or corn syrup as well as the mislabelling of geographic origin are common fraudulent practices in honey markets.

Adulteration of honey occurs when substances such as corn syrup or sugar cane are added to increase product volume. Researchers were able to differentiate these compounds by looking at their respective carbon isotopes.

More than half the samples sourced from Asia, mainly China, were adulterated. A further examination of 38 Australian honey samples obtained from supermarkets also showed that 18%, or almost one in five, had been adulterated.

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'Toxic effects' found when gut bacteria exposed to artificial sweeteners

Image for illustration only

Artificial sweeteners commonly used in food and drinks could be toxic to human gut bacteria, according to research carried out by researchers from Singapore and Israel.

Researchers from institutions including Nanyang Technological University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev looked at the effects of six artificial sweeteners approved by the US Food and Drug Authority as well as 10 sports supplements containing these sweeteners on modified bacteria serving as a model for human gut bacteria. Their findings were published on Sep 25 in research journal Molecules.

Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes and are commonly used as food additives, including in products like Diet Coke and other soft drinks.

The researchers used the following six sweeteners - aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, advantame, neotame and acesulfame potassium-k.