June 14, 2010
Google News (AFP)
SYDNEY — A potential cancer drug developed from an Australian rainforest plant is set to progress to human trials after fighting off inoperable tumours in pets, the company behind it said Monday.
Queensland firm QBiotics Ltd said its drug EBC-46, derived from the seeds of a tropical rainforest shrub, was ready to be tested on humans after successfully treating solid tumours in more than 100 dogs, cats and horses.
“We’ve treated over 150 animals … with a variety of tumours and we’re prepared to move into human studies,” chief executive Victoria Gordon told AFP.
Dr Gordon said the results so far indicated the drug could work to counter a range of malignant growths, such as skin cancers, head and neck cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
She said the drug works like a detonator inside tumours, prompting inactive beneficial white cells to begin to fight and destroy the cancer.
The company has spent six years developing the drug since the previously unknown molecule in the native Australian plant blushwood was discovered, and hopes to raise enough funds to begin human trials in 2011.
Gordon said the compound proves the value of retaining Australia’s tropical rainforests.
“The world’s rainforests are an amazing biological resource which we need to conserve and cherish,” she said in a statement.
“Not only may they hold the secret to many new drugs, they are the home of more than half of all other species with which we share the planet.”
The Cancer Council Australia sounded a note of caution on the development, saying the company had not yet published its research.
“We have yet to see the results of this research published in a scientific journal, where they would be subject to independent scientific scrutiny, which is useful in determining the rigour of the research,” chief executive Ian Olver said in a statement.
December 22, 2009
By Mike Adams
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Minnesota at Morris have found that increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have led to the rapid growth of certain tree species. The quaking aspen, a popular North America deciduous tree, has seen a 50 percent acceleration in growth over the past 50 years due to increased CO2 levels.
Trees are necessary climate regulators since they process carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Humans process oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, working harmoniously with natural plant life to maintain proper atmospheric composition. Since natural forests represent about 30 percent of the earth’s surface, they are highly effective at segregating greenhouse gases.
The quaking aspen is a vibrant, dominant tree found in both Canada and the United States. It is considered to be a “foundation species”, meaning that it helps dictate the dynamics of the plant and animal communities that surround it. Roughly 42 million acres in Canada and 6.5 million acres in Wisconsin and Minnesota are composed of aspen trees.
Elevated levels of CO2 will naturally lead to increased plant growth since CO2 is a precursor to plant food. Tree-ring analyses verified that aspen trees have been growing at an increasingly accelerated pace over the years because of this phenomenon.
Because accelerated growth was not seen in other tree species like oak and pine, scientists admit they will have to further investigate the issue. Similarly, drier regions where the trees were found did not experience the same rapid growth rates as those found in the wetter regions.
Comments by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
An interesting side effect of increased carbon emissions by human activity is that plants will grow more quickly. CO2 is to plants as oxygen is to humans, so the more CO2 is in the atmosphere, the more quickly many plants can grow.
Of course, plants produce oxygen as the “waste” product of their respiration, and that’s a poison to other plants, so there’s a natural balancing effect that keeps oxygen and CO2 levels in balance over the long haul.
This is why greenhouse gases are called “greenhouse gases”, by the way — because they turn the planet into a really effective greenhouse where plants grow like crazy. Of course, the clear-cutting of rainforest in the Amazon (and elsewhere) kills any chance of those regions taking part in that accelerated plant growth. Even in a high-CO2 environment, human beings can destroy plant life with bulldozers.
It’s interesting that plants and humans breathe the same air but extract very different chemical elements from it: Humans need oxygen while plants need carbon dioxide. For both species to survive, the air needs to contain both chemicals in balance. Currently, the oxygen content of the air is roughly around 20% (and falling).
December 15, 2009
There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.
The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.
Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.
In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”
However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.
“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”
Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.
The embarrassing error cast another shadow over the conference after the controversy over the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which appeared to suggest that scientists had manipulated data to strengthen their argument that human activities were causing global warming.
Mr Gore is not the only titan of the world stage finding Copenhagen to be a tricky deal.
World leaders — with Gordon Brown arriving tonight in the vanguard — are facing the humiliating prospect of having little of substance to sign on Friday, when they are supposed to be clinching an historic deal.
Meanwhile, five hours of negotiating time were lost yesterday when developing countries walked out in protest over the lack of progress on their demand for legally binding emissions targets from rich nations. The move underlined the distrust between rich and poor countries over the proposed legal framework for the deal.
Last night key elements of the proposed deal were unravelling. British officials said they were no longer confident that it would contain specific commitments from individual countries on payments to a global fund to help poor nations to adapt to climate change while the draft text on protecting rainforests has also been weakened.
Even the long-term target of ending net deforestation by 2030 has been placed in square brackets, meaning that the date could be deferred. An international monitoring system to identify illegal logging is now described in the text as optional, where before it was compulsory. Negotiators are also unable to agree on a date for a global peak in greenhouse emissions.
Perhaps Mr Gore had felt the need to gild the lily to buttress resolve. But his speech was roundly criticised by members of the climate science community. “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”
Others said that, even if quoted correctly, Dr Maslowski’s six-year projection for near-ice-free conditions is at the extreme end of the scale. Most climate scientists agree that a 20 to 30-year timescale is more likely for the near-disappearance of sea ice.
“Maslowski’s work is very well respected, but he’s a bit out on a limb,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, a specialist in ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Maslowki, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.
He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.”
Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at the Massachusets Institute of Technology who does not believe that global warming is largely caused by man, said: “He’s just extrapolated from 2007, when there was a big retreat, and got zero.”