Monday, February 5, 2007

Hope For a Miracle Cure

Many of us know people who have had, or who are presently struggling with, cancer. There appears now to be hope that a simple, inexpensive chemical compound might hold the key to a cure. Here are a couple of excerpts from a story that's appearing in almost every major news outlet:

It sounds almost too good to be true: a cheap and simple drug that kills almost all cancers by switching off their "immortality". The drug, dichloroacetate (DCA), has already been used for years to treat rare metabolic disorders and so is known to be relatively safe.

It also has no patent, meaning it could be manufactured for a fraction of the cost of newly developed drugs.

Evangelos Michelakis of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and his colleagues tested DCA on human cells cultured outside the body and found that it killed lung, breast and brain cancer cells, but not healthy cells. Tumours in rats deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were fed DCA-laced water for several weeks.

DCA attacks a unique feature of cancer cells: the fact that they make their energy throughout the main body of the cell, rather than in distinct organelles called mitochondria. This process, called glycolysis, is inefficient and uses up vast amounts of sugar.

Until now it had been assumed that cancer cells used glycolysis because their mitochondria were irreparably damaged. However, Michelakis's experiments prove this is not the case, because DCA reawakened the mitochondria in cancer cells. The cells then withered and died.

Read the rest of the details here.


How to Beat Iran

Dick Morris explains how to defeat Iran without firing a shot:

Deterrence won't work. You cannot deter a suicide bomber by threatening to kill him. The nihilistic and apocalyptic worldview echoed in Tehran does not make retaliation a serious deterrent.

Instead, Bush should continue and accelerate his efforts to destroy Iran's economy by cutting off investments to companies that invest there. Frank Gaffney's campaign says that 87 state-administered pension funds in the United States have invested $188 billion in one of 500 publicly traded companies that "partner with terrorist-sponsoring states."

These 500 companies among them "have $73 billion invested in Iran, Syria, Libya, and North Korea." (This 2004 data includes investments in Saddam's Iraq).

Among these companies are: Alcatal SA, BNP Paribas, Hyundai, Linden Petroleum, Oil and Natural Gas Corp, Siemens AG, Statoil ASA, Stolt Nielsen, Technip Coflexip, and Total SA. UBS, which was once on the list, has divested itself of all such investments.

The economic weakness of Iran makes disinvestment its Achilles' heel. With its non-oil and gas economy falling apart and its oil exports dropping while domestic demand is rising, Tehran already totters atop a mountain of popular discontent, as evidenced by the trouncing the establishment took in the local elections a few weeks ago.

So President Bush should mobilize the American people to disinvest in Iran and other terrorist states. He should ratchet up his efforts to persuade states and unions to adopt terror-free investment policies and urge Wall Street mutual funds to do likewise. No public action is required, but massive private action, catalyzed by Bush, can have a huge effect.

Two decades ago the left was demanding that American universities and corporations disinvest from South Africa because they practiced apartheid. Iran is a threat to the entire world. We're waiting for the left to rouse themselves from their slumbering indifference and campaign as vigorously for the economic punishment of this enemy of the United States as they once did against an ally.


Philosophers in Love

Jennifer Hart Weed has a fine essay on being in love with philosophy at Comment. She stresses that when we love philosophy it loves us in return:

In a lengthy discussion of God's love in the Summa theologiae, Aquinas argues that love is recognizing the good in someone else and desiring that good. More specifically, when you love a person you desire the good for that person. If this is correct, then to love philosophy would be to desire the goodness that is in it. This goodness could include moral goodness, such as ethics, as well as intellectual goodness, such as wisdom and truth. A lover of philosophy is someone who desires goodness and is passionately committed to knowing the good and to doing the good. Understood in this way, then, we can ask whether any human being has ever loved philosophy and what has philosophy offered in return? If we love philosophy, will she love us back?

She loves you back by showing you the truth about yourself and the people around you. She loves you back by helping you to develop your God-given ability to reason and to think. The pursuit of philosophy is intrinsically valuable because of the transformative nature of philosophy as a way of life. As philosophy pointed out to Boethius, human beings alone are rational animals. If human beings do not exercise and develop their rational capacities, they sink below their God-given potentials and purposes to the level of the brute animals (Consolation Book IV, chapter 3). In loving philosophy, we are loved in return because she makes us better human beings, and she points us to the ultimate good, God, whom we should love with all our being.

Read the whole thing, especially the titles of the four works she recommends at the end. Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy is short and filled with wonderful insights. She also lists her four favorite philosophers among whom is Eleanore Stump. Dr. Stump, coincidentally for those of you living in the Lancaster Co. area of Pennsylvania, will be speaking at F&M College on February 9th at 4:30 in Spahr auditorium. Her theme is "Love By All Accounts."