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Conference talks stem cells

first_imgNotre Dame students and faculty traveled to Vatican City to participate in the Second International Vatican Adult Stem Cell Conference, a three-day event for a select group of medical experts, ethicists, students and financial analysts which ran from April 11-13. The conference,  titled “Regenerative Medicine: A Fundamental Shift in Science and Culture,” was intended to promote awareness of adult stem cell research and its potential and implications for the future of medicine. Juniors Rebecca Marton and Kristin Springer and senior Margaret Kennedy attended the event with professor of biological sciences David Hyde and program of liberal studies professor emeritus Phillip Sloan. Marton and Springer, both biology majors, work with Hyde in the Center for Zebrafish Research, while Kennedy, a double major in philosophy and accounting, works Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture. “The conference was not only scientific, but at least for one of the days it addressed the ethical issues of stem cell research,” Marton said. Marton explained that one of the conference’s chief goals was to discuss and raise awareness of the distinction between embryonic and adult stem cell research. While embryonic stem cells are taken from human embryos, adult stem cells can be extracted from the very patients needing therapy, meaning the ethical issues regarding destruction of embryos are not a concern. “I think it’s actually a problem today where people confuse the two,” Marton said. “They sort of set themselves against all stem cell research where really they probably don’t have anything against adult stem cell research and just don’t realize the difference. Springer said the difference in the sources of the cells is critical since adult stem cell therapy utilizes a patient’s own cells. “This gap between science and faith was totally bridged,” Springer said. “You’re not destroying life by any means, you’re using a more organic, natural way to heal a patient … and the Church supports it 100 percent.” Springer said she wishes the general public could understand the widespread potential for adult stem cells in regenerative medicine. “Regenerative medicine and adult stem cell therapies – they’re not only going to benefit those in the science field … but I think they’re going to benefit all of us,” Springer said. Springer and Kennedy both referenced multiple sclerosis patient Roxane Beygi, who spoke at the conference about her diagnosis and treatment with adult stem cell therapy. Beygi was told “she had no chance of recovery,” according to Kennedy. “Basically, she went from completely debilitated – couldn’t walk, had a hard time feeding herself, clothing herself, couldn’t speak, and was really struggling – and then underwent stem cell therapy,” Springer said. “Apart from minor speech things, she was like you and me.” Although adult stem cell research does not bear the same ethical concerns as embryonic stem cell research, Kennedy said certain medical and ethical issues still need to be considered. “It has the potential to heal so many people, but at the same time, when is it too much?” Kennedy said. “At what point do we draw the line? If the average human lifespan keeps increasing, it can’t increase exponentially.” Marton said the Notre Dame students were among 26 student ambassadors invited to attend the conference. Springer said most of the students attend other Catholic universities including Georgetown, Villanova and Loyola. “I felt very prepared by my education here to understand the talks and the meaning of what was being presented,” Marton said. Marton, Springer and Kennedy said learning about the potential benefits of adult stem cell research made them hope to continue researching novel therapies or, in Kennedy’s case, to remain familiar with the biotech industry. “This is actually a reality today,” Kennedy said. “This isn’t some thing that’s conceived of in the future, it really is at the cusp of fundamentally changing medicine today.” Contact Lesley Stevenson at [email protected]last_img read more

How Bees Do It.

first_imgThe world’s first manufacturers of sweets and plastic are still hard at work, contributing more than $144 million each year to U.S. food production. If you see them in your yard, don’t kill them. Colonies move in swarms Killer bees not in Georgia The flying swarm can cluster on a tree branch or other object while scout bees search for a nest site. “A hanging swarm may take on any shape, depending on the surface where the bees are clustered,” Delaplane said. “Most hanging swarms are round or oval, about the size of a basketball and dark brown.” Swarms in your yard? Honeybee swarms may move in If honey bees swarm in your yard, you have several options: Don’t disturb them. If the swarm poses a real risk to people or animals, find a local beekeeper who will remove it. Not all beekeepers collect swarms, and some may charge a fee for the service. Your county Extension Service agent can refer you to local beekeepers who collect swarms. Swarms search new sites If the swarm is safely away from animals and people, wait for it to fly away on its own.center_img “Each year honey bee colonies reproduce by a process called swarming,” said Keith Delaplane, an Extension Service entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “During midwinter, the queen begins laying eggs and the colony’s population grows,” Delaplane said. “By spring, the nest is congested with many new bees. The colony raises a new queen, and the old queen flies away, accompanied by more than half the bees.” If Africanized bees, commonly known as killer bees, are known to be in your area, report the swarm to your county Extension Service agent or the state Department of Agriculture. Fortunately, Africanized bees aren’t known to be anywhere near Georgia. For more information on bee swarms, contact your county Extension Service agent. Or see the bee-related publications on the Web at BEES ARE GOOD — REALLY! Many homeowners see bee swarms or hives as a threat, but Marco Fonseca, an Extension Service agent in Cherokee County loves to get calls about bees. “The callers see (bee) swarms as a problem. But I see them as great, because I know we’re increasing the wild bee population.” More bees means more effective pollination in gardens and crop fields. Clustered swarms of honey bees are relatively gentle and usually won’t sting. Still, treat them with caution. In about 24 hours, they will move on to their new home. Unfortunately for some people, the bees’ new home may be inside your walls. “Wall voids are attractive to honey bee swarms looking for a home,” Delaplane said. “This is especially true if the cavity has had bees in it before.” To prevent bees from nesting in walls, caulk potential entry sites, including known holes, gaps in siding and openings around plumbing or electric wires. If you need ventilation around the openings, cover them with window screening. “Africanized honey bees are probably the biggest anticlimax of the decade,” Delaplane said. “They first entered the country in 1990 in Texas. To everyone’s surprise, they began moving west. “They’re now found in southern New Mexico, Arizona and California,” he said. “But they haven’t even moved as far east as Houston. We can start relaxing a little bit.” M. Fonseca, UGA CAESlast_img read more