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Source: Perez Hilton
Experts agree that, more than ever before, modern wars will be fought in the cyber zone, targeting an enemy’s communications technology to cause untold damage. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is suggesting that the same tactics should be employed in the battle against one of the body’s deadliest enemies — cancer.
In an article published in Trends in Microbiology, Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of TAU’s School of Physics and Astronomy and Prof. Herbert Levine of Rice University, long-time bacteria researchers, and Prof. Donald Coffey of Johns Hopkins University, a renowned cancer researcher, examine the shared traits of cancer cells and bacteria. Like bacteria, cancer cells rely on communication and “social networking” to become powerful entities within the body. Inspired by the social and survival tactics of bacteria, the team presents a new picture of cancer as a meta-community of smart communicating cells possessing special traits for cooperative behavior.
For many years, scientists ignored the complex social interactions of bacteria, now the number three killer in hospitals in the Western world. The researchers believe that medical professionals are similarly “underestimating the enemy” when it comes to cancer cells that exhibit many similar behaviors.
The parallels that can be drawn between the two types of cells are astounding. While healthy cells are highly disciplined, responding to chemical and physical cues telling them how to behave, bacteria and cancer cells override this control by using different chemical and genetic pathways. They proliferate quickly to make rapid genetic changes, avoiding the body’s immune system and developing drug resistance.
Using intricate communication, cancer cells can distribute tasks, share resources, differentiate, and make decisions. Before sending cells to colonize organs and tissues throughout the body (metastasis), “spying cells” explore the body and return the cancer’s origin. Only then do metastatic cells leave the primary tumor and navigate to new posts.
Also like bacteria, cancer cells change their own environment. They induce genetic changes and enslave surrounding normal cells, forcing them to do the disease’s bidding — providing physical support, protecting them from the immune system, and more. Cancer cells can also become dormant when they sense danger, such as chemotherapy chemicals, then reactivate at will.
Prof. Ben-Jacob suggests that studying the social behavior of cancer cells can inspire new research directions and pave the way for the development of novel therapeutic approaches — for example, a new class of drugs to target cell-to-cell communication or send misleading messages.
With the ability to become immune to chemotherapy and lay dormant until it determines the time is right to reawaken, cancer often relapses undetected until it’s too late to treat, says Prof. Levine. Breaking the communication code for awakening dormant cells could help researchers learn how to reactivate them on purpose — and be ready to kill them as soon as they “awaken.”
The team also suggests further research into cancer “cannibalism,” when cancer cells may consume their peers when they run out of resources. The idea is to send signals which trigger cancer cells to kill each other, which can be done with bacteria.
Other researchers have demonstrated that injected bacteria can “outsmart cancer.” Bacteria can be used to induce gap junctions between the cancer cells and immune cells, “teaching” the immune system to recognize and kill the tumor cells. We might be entering a new era of biological cyber-warfare, in which scientists can enlist bacterial intelligence to defeat cancer, Prof. Ben-Jacob concludes.
Ahmed Dabah is expected to become Kadima’s first Arab MK, replacing Avi Dichter who resigned from the Knesset Tuesday to become home front defense minister.
Dichter called Dabah, 57, Kadima’s strongest Arab activist, on Monday night, to notify him that he would become an MK soon. The two wished each other luck in their new jobs.
Dabah brought Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 1,121 votes from Deir-el-Assad – where he was mayor – in this year’s primary. Mofaz got more votes in the northern town than his and former party leader Tzipi Livni’s combined votes from Tel Aviv (1,112).
However, Dabah objects to being called a “vote contractor,” saying he is a public figure that the public trusts.
“I see my entrance to the Knesset as part of a national mission and a heavy responsibility,” Dabah said, adding that he has been in public service since he his 20s. Dabah described himself as serious, responsible and a successful businessman.
He also said he hopes to rebuild Kadima as a strong party, and expressed skepticism about the accuracy of polls predicting that the faction’s seats in the next Knesset will drop to a single digit, saying that the Kadima has over 100,000 members.
Dabah joined the Likud in 1992, and broke off from the party with former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Kadima insiders say he was placed high on Sharon’s never-published list for the 17th Knesset, but was pushed to the 51st spot by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Kadima’s list for the 18th Knesset had Dabah in the 36th spot. The faction has 28 seats in the Knesset, and Dabah is Kadima’s seventh replacement-MK since 2009.
Ze’ev Boim and Gideon Ezra passed away and were replaced by Doron Avital and Akram Hasson. Haim Ramon left the Knesset, bringing in Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich, as did Tzachi Hanegbi, whose place was taken by Nino Abesadze.
Eli Aflalo resigned from the Knesset and was replaced by Avi Duan, and Yuval Zellner was sworn in as an MK after former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni decided to take a break from politics.
Dabah’s swearing-in as an MK will make him the record-breaking 17th non-Jew in the current Knesset. MK Shakib Shanan (Independence) first broke the record in February, and Hasson brought the number to 16 in May.
Dabah has nine children, and owns a chain of supermarkets and a slaughterhouse. Formerly, he was not only the mayor of Deir-el- Assad, but also head of the Shagur Local Council.
Aleh, the New Zealand-born daughter of dual Israeli and Kiwi citizens Shuki Shukrun and Daniella Aleh, clinched gold last week in the women’s 470 sailing event with her partner Olivia “Polly” Powrie. Her parents were on hand to witness the triumph.
The new Olympic champion — whose father lives in Moshav Yinon near Kiryat Malachi and whose mother served in the Israeli army — said she was amazed and slightly bemused at the media fanfare in Israel.
“It feels great to know that there is even more people behind me and, given my parents’ background, part of my medal belongs to Israel,” she said.
Aleh’s half-sister Shefa is celebrating her bat mitzvah in two weeks. Aleh, the 2007 world champion, was scheduled to go straight to Israel, but as one of five Kiwi gold medalists she is traveling back for parades in Auckland on Wednesday and the earthquake-ravaged city of Christchurch on Friday.
“I am still hoping to make it back to Israel in time for my sister’s bat mitzvah,” she said.
In New Zealand, it was after midnight Aug. 10 as many in the small Jewish community, which numbers around 7,000, celebrated a slice of their own history: Aleh is believed to be the first Kiwi Jew to win an Olympic medal.
“I was not aware of this,” Aleh said. “I guess it’s a good bonus.”
Shemi Tzur, Israel’s ambassador to New Zealand, said that “This is both an outstanding personal achievement and a great accomplishment for New Zealand. My colleagues at the embassy in Wellington and I followed the competition enthusiastically and we all share your joy and pride.”
Starting October, some users of Tel Aviv’s famous bus No. 5 bus route will be part of a futuristic experience. One of the buses to be integrated into the line for the coming year will be an electric one made by the Chinese company BYD – the first electric bus in Israel.
The passengers aren’t the only ones who’ll enjoy the experience. It will bring joy particularly to residents living along the city’s central traffic arteries, who for at least one minute a day will enjoy the passage of a silent, non-polluting bus through their neighborhood.
It’s hard to argue with the fact that buses reduce air pollution compared to private cars, for example. If a bus seats some 50 passengers, it keeps at least 25 cars off the road, significantly reducing emissions, noise pollution and traffic jams.
Still, even though the amount of pollution per bus passenger is at least four times smaller than the amount of pollution per person traveling by car, buses are among the most polluting vehicles on the roads. Motorcyclists maneuver around buses so as not to get stuck behind their exhaust pipes; drivers close their windows when idling near buses; and the residents of many neighborhoods try to the prevent soot-spreading behemoths from entering their streets, despite the importance of making buses accessible to weaker population segments.
Given the growing need around the world for public transportation solutions for crowded cities and the difficulties nations encounter – financially and engineering-wise – with installing expensive light-rail systems, bus manufacturers have started to develop new technologies to replace the standard diesel engines.
In the next few years we should know if the electric buses are a PR stunt or the start of a revolution in public transportation in Israel.
Buses make frequent stops at bus stops and red lights, and must accelerate fast. This makes buses an excellent fit for hybrid propulsion, where the batteries are charged every time they slow down and the electric motors assist with acceleration.
“The hybrid solution is gathering momentum among the various alternatives, and at present there are several hundred hybrid buses in commercial use around the world,” says Itzik Licht, manager of the bus department at Mayer’s Cars and Trucks, a Volvo importer.
Hybrid buses made by Volvo were already tested in Israel in 2011: the company’s model 7700 city bus, equipped with a relatively small five-liter diesel engine supplying 210 horsepower and a momentum of 81.5 kilogram-meters per second, and an electrical engine producing 160 horsepower and the same momentum, capable of moving the bus on its own at speeds lower than 20 kilometers per hour.
The bus companies Metropoline and Kavim used the buses imported by Mayer’s for three months last year. According to Licht, while a regular low-floor city bus burns one liter of fuel per every 1.6 kilometers (newer, more economical models can go 2 kilometers on a liter of fuel ), the hybrid buses averaged 2.7 kilometers for every liter of diesel.
Nonetheless, Licht notes, the cost of hybrid buses is significantly higher than regular diesel buses, making their integration into the fleets of public transportation companies conditional on government assistance. “The cost of a regular bus is 210,000 euros, whereas the cost of a hybrid bus is 330,000-340,000 euros. The difference in fuel efficiency doesn’t justify the cost of buying the bus, because the bus won’t return the additional investment, and this is why there’s pressure on the government to provide grants,” he explains.
According to Licht, without grants or other incentives that would be promised to companies operating hybrid buses, bus companies currently have no reason to buy them.
The first time there is going to be regular use of hybrid buses is in Haifa’s Metronit bus rapid transport project, where the successful bus company bidder committed itself to buying six hybrid buses at the outset, as part of the conditions of the tender.
Some feel that the solution to the high cost of buses with a dual propulsion system is ditching the diesel engine altogether. “Public transportation, where you can incorporate large batteries and the schedule of use is pre-planned, actually has features that are more compatible with electric propulsion than private vehicles,” claims Doron Vadai, CEO of Clal Motors, which represents the Chinese BYD company in Israel.
According to Vadai, buses – unlike cars – only have to travel a set, limited route, usually some 200 km. a day, less than the range declared by the electric bus manufacturer, which is 250 km.
The cost of the electric buses is almost twice that of diesel engine buses, but based on assessments the fuel savings can return the investment within five to six years. “While you can’t know if taxes on electricity for vehicles will go up, even today the excise tax on public transportation is low, so it doesn’t seem that bus companies would be charged tax on electricity in the future either,” Vadai estimates.
During the Olympic Games held four years ago in Beijing, the Chinese used a system for rapid bus battery replacements to extend the bus range even more without having to wait for the first battery to recharge overnight. Such a system would allow a bus to reach its end terminal, replace the battery quickly, and drive the route in the other direction.
The switchable system, similar to the one proposed by Better Place, seems particularly suitable to buses. But according to Vadai, such systems are very expensive and would never recoup the investment in Israel where city buses travel no more than 200 km. a day at an average speed of 15 kph.
BYD buses are not yet being sold to customers outside of China, but the model to arrive in Israel for the one-year pilot has been made to European standards. Its key challenge in Israel will actually be dealing with the heat and the power needed for the massive use of the air conditioning system.
The limited range of the electric bus points to a different idea for coping with the range of the electric battery: If buses move along predetermined routes, they could be supplied with energy from an external electrical source. Therefore, instead of paying for an expensive battery, one could spread a network of cables to feed the buses with electricity from outside. Trolley-type buses are powered by cable infrastructures; some can detach from the cables and travel independently for several kilometers.
The train manufacturers Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom also offer systems for wireless charging, by means of electrical induction via metal strips embedded in the road. Mickey Raviv, vice president of Bombardier Systems Israel, says that the supply infrastructure doesn’t necessarily limit vehicle flexibility. “It’s possible to set up the infrastructure throughout the city in such a way that buses will recharge while pulling into bus stops or while slowing down at particularly busy intersections. We’re planning the system in such a way that the buses will be minimally 75 percent charged at all times, so that the infrastructure would only have to provide the rest and also allow electric supply for long distances,” he says.
As for the cost, Raviv admits that it’s very similar to the cost of setting up a network of light rail cables. In other words, it doesn’t make financial sense to install a system only for buses, and the installation is much more complex than a simple hook-up of an electric bus to an electrical outlet. As for radiation, he guarantees that the copper panels alongside the magnetic cables protect passengers and pedestrians from hazardous exposure.