Washington | Nov 29, 2006
Another mysterious illness has struck another prominent Russian. Former prime minister Yegor Gaidar became ill Friday at a conference in Ireland, vomiting and then losing consciousness for three hours, according to his spokesman.
Gaidar’s daughter, Maria, said there was a serious threat her father could have died Friday, but that his condition was now improving. He was transferred from Dublin to a Moscow hospital on Sunday.
Doctors have not identified the cause of the illness and are considering the possibility that Gaidar, 50, might have been poisoned, his spokesman said. Gaidar became ill shortly after eating breakfast.
Gaidar fell ill at a university just outside Dublin where he was answering questions on his book, “The Death of the Empire: Lessons for Contemporary Russia.” He has been a critic of the policies of President Vladimir Putin, particularly increasing state control over important sectors of the economy.
Former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko died Thursday in London after being exposed to a radioactive substance. That death, which has set off wide speculation about who is responsible, remains under investigation by British police. Litvinenko in a final statement accused Putin of ordering his assassination, a charge the Kremlin dismissed as “absurd.”
The Raw Story | Nov 30, 2006
A Vietnamese court has sentenced a Ho Chi Minh City man to two years in prison for “abusing freedom and democratic rights” by distributing leaflets calling for the overthrow of the communist government, a judge said. Le Van Yen, 53, was arrested in April while trying to distribute 90 leaflets with anti-communist messages, according to Vu Phi Long, the presiding judge in the case.
“The leaflets insult the party and the state of Vietnam and called for an uprise to overthrow the ruling of the Communist Party,” Long said.
Yen was convicted under Article 258 of Vietnam’s penal code, which bans “abusing freedom and democratic rights to violate the interests of the state.” The crime is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Political opposition is suppressed in Vietnam, where anti-government activists are routinely jailed for writings criticizing the communist leadership or calling for multi-party elections.
Yen was a mechanic and was close to retirement when he started chatting on a pro-democracy forum in the voice-over-Internet website PalTalk in 2004.
According to the judge, a “foreign hostile organization” on PalTalk persuaded Yen to make a public anti-government statement.
“Other members of the forum had promised to give Yen 200 dollars for distributing the leaflets, and he was arrested soon after throwing the leaflets from the roof of his house,” said the judge.
EurekNet | Nov 29, 2006
Drugs used to treat cancer may damage normal, healthy brain cells more than the cancer cells they are meant to target. A study published today in the open access journal Journal of Biology shows that clinical doses of chemotherapeutic drugs used to treat many common cancers cause long-term damage to the brains of mice by killing neural stem cells and oligodendrocytes, which produce the myelin insulation needed for normal neuronal function, and by impairing neural stem cell division. These results might explain the adverse neurological side effects – including reduction in cognitive abilities – observed in some cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. The approach used in the current study could also provide a rapid screening method to analyse new therapies and identify cell populations at risk during cancer treatment.
The drugs are toxic to both the dividing neural stem cells and the non-dividing cells such as astrocytes and neurons, even at very low concentrations. Results show that exposure to low micromolar concentrations of cisplatin, carmustine or cytarabine causes a 60-90% reduction in the viability of oligodendrocyte precursor cells and neuron precursor cells, but has little effect on most of the cancer cell lines examined. The authors show that to kill 40-80% of cancer cells, doses that also kill 70-100% of neural cells are required.
Using live mice treated with each of the drugs, Dietrich et al. show that cells of the nervous system of the mice continue to die for at least six weeks after the end of treatment. The drugs kill both dividing stem cells and non-dividing precursor cells of the nervous system in live mice. They also cause long-lasting reductions in cell division and proliferation in the central nervous system of the mice.