Thursday, 26 February 2015

At last, this is a breath of fresh air...

Emma Thompson and her actor husband Greg Wise have said that they will refuse to pay ‘a penny more tax’ until those involved in the HSBC scandal are imprisoned.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Wise said that the pair will go to prison if necessary.

 “I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” said Wise.
“I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound f**king socialist and I believe we are all in it together.
“But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil b**tards go to prison.
“Em’s on board. She agrees. We’re going to get a load of us together. A movement.
“They can’t send everyone to prison. But we’ll go to prison if necessary. I mean it. It’s going to be like 1848 all over again.”
Emma Thompson and her actor husband Greg Wise have said that they will refuse to pay ‘a penny more tax’ until those involved in the HSBC scandal are imprisoned.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Wise said that the pair will go to prison if necessary.

“I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,” said Wise.
“I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound f**king socialist and I believe we are all in it together.
“But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I’m not paying a penny more until those evil b**tards go to prison.
“Em’s on board. She agrees. We’re going to get a load of us together. A movement.
“They can’t send everyone to prison. But we’ll go to prison if necessary. I mean it. It’s going to be like 1848 all over again.”
Last week it was revealed through leaked documents that the bank had helped some of its clients move money out of the UK in order to avoid paying tax.
Since then, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has come under fire for its lack of action in investigating the scandal.
Wise went on to express his disappointment in the Labour Party and the coalition.
“I’m in absolute despair at all of them,” he added.
“I liked Tony before he made his mistakes. I cannot forgive him and the party, and the country. I was one of the 2 million out there, marching. Made f**k-all difference. There is no such thing as democracy.
“Whether it’s someone being hassled in the street to HSBC getting away with this. I’m the least violent man you’ve ever met, but I will plough into fights in the street to stop someone being set upon. Days afterwards I’m a mess because I hate violence. But I cannot see injustice.
“Yes, I’ve got my basic north London leftwing woolly ideas about what’s going on. [Companies like] HSBC haven’t even been slapped on the wrist [because of this] beautiful grey area between avoidance and evasion. It’s iniquitous. We need to do something – come on!”

Depression Is NOT a Mental Illness

Posted: Updated: 

It's physical
This is a short article that I wish to get out there because it constantly irritates me about the many misconceptions regarding depression, what it is and who gets it. I want to begin by asking a simple question.
What is the difference between depression and food poisoning?
I'll tell you.
With food poisoning you can phone in sick to work and your boss will allow you to have a day or two off with no questions asked. Have you ever tried to phone in sick with depression? I bet most of you haven't, mainly because you just KNOW that your boss won't believe you, let alone be ok with it.
So you make up a 'real' illness - you know, one that everyone can relate to
How about when your friend asks you how you are feeling today? With food poisoning you can straight out tell them what is wrong and you will get sympathy in return. Tell them you are feeling down and all you'll probably get is a 'well cheer up, it can't be that bad'.
It's at this point you fantasise about punching them in the face.
The media, bless 'em, do their best to paint any form of mental illness in a positive light. Explaining that depression, anxiety, addiction and anything related to those three are now legitimate diseases that deserve the same respect and attention as anything physical.
Well thanks but the last I heard, the brain was a part of the body, and a damn important one at that.
As long as we treat an illness of the brain as something different from the rest of the body then it will never receive the same amount of attention.
Unless you have experienced it, you can never truly understand
How many of you have a tail? You know, like a monkey. If you haven't (which I hope is everyone), can you imagine what it is like to grip a branch or maybe just swing it back and forth? It's impossible isn't it?
We've never had one so that's not surprising.
Depression is similar to that. If it's something that you have never experienced then you can try as hard as you want, but you will never truly know what it feels like.
Are you having a bad day? Nope that's not depression.
Are you bummed out because that girl/guy you like has just rejected your advances? Nope that's not depression.
Have you spent all week in a foul mood because your favourite team has lost a cup final? Nope that's not depression either.
It isn't a change in mood related to a trivial life event. If your whole world is slowly being turned upside down because of what is happening inside your mind then you may well be depressed. If these thoughts have been present for several weeks or months then yes, you may be depressed.
There is a big difference between feeling down and having depression and this brings me to my next point.
You cannot just 'snap out of it' or 'pull yourself together'
I like analogies so steady your hats because here comes another one.
Depression is like trying to run through water and being told to get over it is akin to suddenly being able to move like you can on dry land. It's impossible. You can grit your teeth and attempt to get some momentum going but ultimately the density will prevent you from moving quickly.
When depression has its grip on you, life becomes water. The air around you becomes water, crushing you with its weight and even the simplest tasks become difficult. You feel sluggish, both mentally and physically and nothing can snap you out of it.
You have essentially become trapped inside your own prison and true access to your brain lies behind that locked door. Sometimes, briefly, you are allowed outside to stretch your legs but you know this is temporary. Eventually you will have to return to your cell and wait patiently for a time when you are given another opportunity to function like a normal member of society.

There is no choice in the matter. All we can do is take advantage of our good days and try to minimise the effect our bad days have on us.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Chinese New Year…The Year of the Goat

Photo by: eNCA.
The skies above Chinatown in downtown Johannesburg were transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour and light as thousands of enthusiastic Chinese nationals celebrated the dawn of their New Year – the Year of the Goat – on Saturday night.
Revellers watched as the skies burst into a symphony of colours, sights and sounds in an hour-long computer-synchronised fireworks display by Starburst Pyrotechnics, the company behind the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening and closing ceremony fireworks displays.
The area around Commissioner Street in Ferreiratown – the first-ever Chinatown in Johannesburg – has been hosting this “social and cultural extravaganza” every year for more than 60 years. The annual show is organised jointly by the Chinese Association in Gauteng (TCA) and the First Chinatown Association.
With this spectacular display, the area proved once again to be the perfect place to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Johannesburg and for the revellers to be entertained and to interact and pray for a prosperous year lying ahead. “The Chinese tradition of setting off fireworks right after midnight on [their] New Year’s Eve is to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the evil spirits. It is believed the person who sets off the first set of fireworks of the New Year will be blessed with good luck,” said TCA secretary Paulette Leong.
The celebrations, which ran from mid-afternoon, included fantastical dancing lion and dragon displays, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese singing and dancing, marching bands and drum majorettes. An abundance of stalls of traditional Chinese food, toys and gifts lined Commissioner Street and added to the festive atmosphere.

Read more:

Saturday, 21 February 2015

What is GPR158?

Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) scientists have found a promising new therapeutic target for prostate cancer. The findings offer evidence that a newly discovered member of a family of cell surface proteins called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) promotes prostate cancer cell growth. The protein, GPR158, was found while the researchers were looking for new drug targets for glaucoma.


Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, after skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS projects more than 27,000 deaths from prostate cancer in 2015 and is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer. One man in seven will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
"When a prostate cancer tumor is in its early stages, it depends on hormones called androgens to grow," said Nitin Patel, Ph.D., research scientist at the Institute for Genetic Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and corresponding author on the research. "Eventually it progresses to a more lethal form, called castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), and is resistant to drugs that block androgen receptors. We found that GPR158, unlike other members of the GPCR family, is stimulated by androgens, which in turn stimulates androgen receptor expression, leading to tumor growth."
The team also discovered that GPR158 is associated with neuroendocrine transdifferentiation (NED) of epithelial prostate tumor cells, which plays a critical role in development of resistance to contemporary androgen receptor-target therapies. The scientists found that prostate cancer patients with elevated GPR158 expression experienced recurrence of prostate cancer. The GPR158 protein is a likely target for new prostate cancer drugs.
The researchers used a conditional Pten knockout mouse model of prostate cancer in collaboration with Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers Mitchell Gross, Chun-Peng Liao and Pradip Roy-Burman.
The team is now exploring the molecular pathways involved in the functional role of GPR158 in NED in the development of CRPC and exploring GPR158-targeted antibody therapeutics.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

This morning, the power went off...

Unusual? No! In England we call it a, ‘power cut’, here in South Africa they call it, ‘load shedding’. If the power hadn’t failed I wouldn’t be writing this blog, as there are so many things to do right now. It’s only when you have no power, you realise just how many of those tasks involve the Internet! Load shedding happens 3 or 4 times a week in Johannesburg, with all but the wealthy areas on a revolving rota. The outage can last from 2, more commonly 4 and sometimes 8 hours. There’s a timetable published every month so you can, ‘plan ahead’, but what a joke, it doesn’t come close. The traffic lights (robots) are all down, causing gridlock, people flood out of shopping malls trying to find one with the power on, and security systems fail, providing a window of, ‘crime opportunity’. I wonder how some businesses get by, but many have back-up generators that kick in immediately. Why does this all happen? Like everything in South Africa run by the government, the money is creamed off before it reaches anywhere, be it schools, hospitals or power stations. 

What you wear can make a massive difference to how others see you. I learnt that at an early age, when even the success of a job interview could hang on whether you were wearing a suit and tie.
Beverley and I found out the same applies with the car you're driving.

In our first year here we drove a Bakkie Drifter, not a new vehicle but very impressive armoury and well respected in the rough and tumble of Jo’burg traffic. In our last few months we had to sell the Bakkie and use the money to live on. The reason? We can’t, by law, take money out of the country.

We then went to, ‘Rent a Wreck’ located downtown in an area only for the brave during the day, and the stupid at night. ‘Rent a wreck’ UK style gives you a roadworthy car, not so here! Remember when you went to the circus last, and the clowns came driving into the ring in a rickety car, cheering and tooting their horn? The radiator was hissing steam, then the engine exploded and all the doors flew off? That’s our car now!

We stop at the lights, nobody asks us for money, and they stare at the car as if they want to toss coins in. When we drive onto the golfing estate, security follows us, expecting the worse. The police don’t stop us anymore either; they assume we are, ‘lean pickings’. When we fill up with petrol, they don’t offer to check the tyres, they can see we have four! 

Parking attendants, who used to be glad of a R5 tip, now avoid us; they know from experience we’ll probably need a push. We always park on a hill, remember those days? On the bright side, nobody would think of steeling our car, and even if we crashed, you wouldn’t know! Nobody cuts us up in the traffic either, people in cars like that are usually armed! No power steering, no central locking but we do have air-con, when the windows are down. With over 800,000 km on the clock, this babe rocks! 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Latest from the UK Prostate Cancer Charity

Monday, 16 February 2015

Personalised cancer medicines showcased in BBC investigation

Personalised cancer medicines showcased in BBC investigation

Panorama looked at cutting-edge science and the new generation of oncology drugs
BBC Panorama cancer image
A new generation of cancer treatments from pharma firms including Novartis, Astellas and Bristol-Myers Squibb was highlighted by the BBC last night.
Panorama, which is the state-run station's flagship investigative journalism show, has traditionally given pharma a rough time, but 'Can you cure my cancer?' took a different approach.
The programme focussed predominately on the cutting-edge science coming from pharma, the NHS and academia to try and stop the disease - which now affects one in two people.
While early-stage cancers can usually be cured by radiotherapy and surgery, later stage forms of the disease that have spread to a number of organs is extremely difficult to tackle, with prognoses typically poor.
In the past decade new medicines have attempted to sharpen the 'blunt tool' of chemotherapy which, while killing cancerous cells, also kills healthy cells, causing severe side effects.
A new branch of cancer medicine, known as personalised treatment, is now at the forefront of treating metastasised forms of the disease with drugs typically offering fewer side effects and greater efficacy.
In the Panorama investigation, the editorial team spent two years filming at the Royal Marsden Hospital and its Institute of Cancer Research arm in London, and followed a number of patients using new medicines.
Targeted treatment
They included Sophie Armitage, a 10-year-old girl with a very rare form of lung cancer, who had failed on chemotherapy regimens and could not benefit from surgery.
Doctors at the Royal Marsden used Novartis' Zykadia (ceritinib/LDK378) to treat her cancer. This drug, a personalised treatment, targets the ALK genetic mutation that is responsible for Sophie's disease.
It has been approved in the USA for ALK positive non-small cell lung cancer, but is still awaiting approval for this indication in Europe, meaning the doctors have been using it off-label for Sophie's trial.
She is now responding to the treatment where she had not been to other interventions, and doctors have a positive outlook on her prognosis.
BBC Panorama cancer research 
Growing the arsenal
There was also a focus in the trials on combination therapies, as the future of helping patients with highly metastasised forms of their cancer is likely to involve using a number of treatments at the same time.
Astellas and Medivation's advanced prostate cancer drug Xtandi (enzalutamide) was highlighted being used with Bayer's Xofigo (Radium Ra 223 Dichloride) for an elderly patient with late-stage prostate cancer who has had years added to his life.
And the Royal Marsden also combined Bristol-Myers Squibb's two new advanced immunotherapy melanoma drugs Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab) - the latter approved in the USA in December and apart of the UK's new early access to medicines programme.
Royal Marsden patient Vicky Brown's melanoma was found only after it had spread to her breast and lungs and until recently, the life expectancy for patients with such advanced disease was around six months.
But BMS's treatments, which 'teach' the body to kill cancer cells (but not healthy cells), has for the first time in 40 years increased overall survival rates for melanoma.