Milestone Study Probes Cancer Origin

Scientists are reporting a significant milestone for cancer research after charting 21 major mutations behind the vast majority of tumors. The disruptive changes to the genetic code, reported in Nature, accounted for 97% of the 30 most common cancers.

Finding out what causes the mutations could lead to new treatment. Some, such as smoking are known, but more than half are still a mystery.

A tumor starts when one of the building blocks of bodies goes wrong. Over the course of a lifetime cells pick up an array of mutations which can eventually transform them into deadly tumors which grow uncontrollably.

The international team of researchers was looking for the causes of those mutations as part of the largest-ever analysis of cancer genomes.

Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place – that’s a major insight to have.”

The well-known ones such as UV damage and smoking mutate the DNA, increasing the odds of cancer.

But each also leaves behind a unique hallmark – a piece of “genetic graffiti” – that shows if smoking or UV radiation has mutated the DNA.

Researchers, led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK, hunted for more examples of “graffiti” in 7,042 samples taken from the 30 most common cancers.

The found that 21 separate “graffiti signatures” could account for 97% of the mutations which led to cancer.

Prof Sir Mike Stratton, the director of the Sanger Institute, said: “I’m very excited. Hidden within the cancer genome are these patterns, these signatures, which tell us what is actually causing cancer in the first place – that’s a major insight to have.

“It is quite a significant achievement for cancer research, this is quite profound. It’s taking us into areas of unknown that we didn’t know existed before.

Other signatures were related to ageing and the body’s immune system. Cells respond to viral infection by activating a class of enzymes which mutate the viruses until they can no longer function.

“We believe that when it does that, there is collateral damage – it mutates its own genome as well and now becomes much more likely to become a cancer cell as it has a huge number of mutations – it’s a double-edged sword,” said Prof Stratton.

It is hoped that if some of them can be pinned down to things in the environment then new ways of preventing cancer could be developed.

It may also spur further research. One of the unknown causes of mutation happens only in neuroblastoma, a cancer of nerve cells which normally affects children, so something unique is happening there.


Indian Submarine Blasts: Divers Struggle To Search Vessel

Navy divers standing on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine prepare to dive into the waters of the Arabian Sea, during a rescue operation in Mumbai August 14, 2013.Indian divers are struggling to search a submarine which sank after it exploded in a Mumbai dockyard with 18 sailors feared dead inside.

Rescuers are yet to reach any of the crew who were on board when two huge explosions led to a devastating fire early on Wednesday.

Officials say they have been hampered by poor visibility, restricted space and equipment displaced by the blasts.The divers are also working to bring the vessel back to surface. India’s navy chief has warned the country to “prepare for the worst”.

It is not clear what caused the blasts on the diesel and electricity-powered INS Sindhurakshak. An inquiry is under way and sabotage has not been ruled out, although officials say that looks unlikely at this stage.

Officials say divers aboard the submarine are working around the clock in difficult conditions.

The vessel is filled with sea-water and the heat of the explosion also melted parts of the internal hull, deforming the submarine hatches and preventing access to compartments. Heavy duty pumps are being used to pump out water in order to help refloat the vessel.

As India marked Independence Day, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sorrow: “We are deeply pained that we lost the submarine INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives,” he said.

The prime minister said it was all the more painful considering the navy’s recent successes in launching a home-built submarine and acquiring a nuclear submarine.



German Economy Grows Faster Than Expected In Second Quarter

German flags flying outside the ReichstagThe German economy grew strongly in the second quarter raising hopes that the eurozone has come out of recession. Figures just released have shown German gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.7% in the quarter, slightly ahead of forecasts.

New figures from France showed its economy grew 0.5%, also stronger than expected, in the second quarter. More figures will be released later on Wednesday and are expected to show it back in growth for the first time in six quarters.

German GDP enjoyed its largest expansion in more than a year, driven largely by domestic private and public consumption.

Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING, said the figures marked an impressive comeback for Germany, which saw its economy stagnate at the start of the year.

“The biggest domestic challenge remains weak investment,” he said.

“Despite very favourable financing conditions and [the] strong international positions of many German companies, domestic investment has been sluggish for a longer while.”Andreas Scheurle from Dekabank said the eurozone been hauled out of recession and Germany had done the lion’s share of that.

“It was made possible by our generous consumers who have again spent more money but the state has also dug deeper into its pockets,” he said.

“But this rhythm can’t be maintained – growth will become more modest and in second half of the year we should see plus 0.3-0.4%.”

The French national statistics agency, Insee, said France’s GDP growth in the second quarter had been driven by a rebound in exports, domestic household demand and public spending.

The April-to-June growth was the strongest quarterly growth since early 2011 when the eurozone was plunged into its sovereign debt crisis.

The French economy has been flat for the past two years, shrinking 0.2% in each of the previous two quarters.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said Wednesday’s figure “amplifies the encouraging signs of recovery”.


Twenty Hurt At LG Event As Promotional Stunt Goes Wrong

Twenty people were injured, with seven sent to hospital, when a promotional stunt in Seoul for LG’s G2 smartphone went wrong, the company has said.

LG has cancelled a series of events promoting the handset as a result of the incident in Seoul on Friday.

People arrived with BB guns and knives on sticks for a race to grab smartphone vouchers hanging from helium balloons. LG has taken responsibility for the situation and said it would cover related medical costs.

“LG Electronics deeply regrets that a number of Korean participants were injured during an outdoor promotional event in Seoul, Korea,” a statement from the firm said.

“We can confirm that seven participants were hospitalised and, although none of the injuries were serious, LG takes full responsibility for the unfortunate situation and has offered to cover all related medical expenses.

“LG is investigating the incident to ensure that such an occurrence can be avoided in the future.”

The company added that other planned events had been called off because of safety concerns. LG released 100 helium balloons, each with a free smartphone voucher, at the so-called G in the Cloud event, which took place in an outdoor park in the South Korean capital city.

The phones, which sell for KRW 950,000 in South Korea ($851; £550), would be given to people in possession of the voucher, the company said.

Customers arrived with BB guns to shoot down the balloons and surged forward when they were released.

One regional TV channel has dubbed the scrum “World War G” – a comparison to the film World War Z in which zombies scramble over each other to climb over a wall.

The handset was released in New York last week, after weeks of build-up on social media. It is expected to be available globally with more than 130 carriers within several weeks.


Nine Killed In Pakistan Second Attack

At least nine people were killed when gunmen opened fire outside a mosque in the second attack in Quetta in south-west Pakistan in as many days.

About 20 others were wounded in the attack, which came as worshippers left the Sunni Muslim mosque after sunrise prayers for the Eid al-Fitr festival. Bullets hit the car of Ali Madad Jatak, a former Pakistan People’s Party provincial minister, but he was unhurt.

On Thursday dozens of people died in a suicide bomb blast in Quetta. In the latest attack, four unidentified men opened fire on the former minister as prayers came to a close.

“They fled after killing innocent people,” Mr Jatak, former Balochistan minister said. “I was the target. They could have fired at me. They killed innocent worshippers belonging to different communities. This is against humanity. It is brutality on the level of animals.”

Mr Jatak held a ministerial role in the Balochistan provincial government, as a representative of the PPP, which headed the last national coalition government. Four people died at the scene while the others succumbed to their injuries in hospital, a senior local police official, Bashir Ahmad Brohi told the AFP news agency.

“When people came outside on the stairs, the terrorists were already present there,” Mohammad Adnan, a witness, told the Associated Press news agency. “They started shooting and targeting many people. Two children were among the martyrs and around 20 people were injured.”

No group has said it carried out the shooting, which took place near Quetta’s eastern bypass.Quetta has seen a recent surge in sectarian violence, mostly targeting the Shia Muslim minority.

Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, which is plagued not just by the Taliban’s insurgency, but also by sectarian in-fighting between Sunnis and Shias and a rebellion by Baloch separatists.

On Tuesday militants from the separatist Baloch Liberation Army shot dead 13 bus passengers 70 kilometres (44 miles) south-east of Quetta.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power in June after promising to negotiate with militant groups.

Officials said they were preparing a comprehensive security strategy, bringing together delegates from all political parties, in an effort to combat violent extremism.

However the strategy has not yet been released, and no all-party meeting has yet been scheduled.



University Don Confirms Division In UNIZIK’s ASUU

The Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNIZIK chapter , Professor Ike Odimegwu on Friday confirmed that there’s division in the school’s union due to the ongoing ASUU strike.

He explained on Channels Television’s  breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily,  that there hasn’t been a committee like ASUU in the university since 2001 due to an internal agreement that was entered into.

He however revealed that the union was resurrected last year in the university.

He said Profesor Nwabueze, a member of the progressives who has never been a member of the committee contested for a position but thank God he lost.

“Prof Nwabueze has never registered to be part of our committee but he contested for the post of Vice chairman last year, and he lost”.

Reacting to the allegation that ASUU dragged the university to court, concerning this issue he said “the senate that runs the university is not properly constituted, non-administrative staff have now being allowed membership of the senate. The senate is the highest policy making body in a university, so they had to take the situation to court and a massive turnout of over 200 members agreed that proper measure has to be taken”.

Professor Odimegwu added that prior to the other group saying the students should finish exams before leaving the school premises, the union had met with the SUG leaders and leaders of all departments to explain the reason why examinations cannot continue and the result they hope to achieve with the strike.

Watch complete interview for more.