Teen Raises Money For Cancer With Coffee Sleeves

It seems our future world leaders are getting younger by the year. If our children are capable of sacrificing their greatest possessions to donate to a cause, we need not underestimate them. An Ohio teen is proving a little goes a long way by sewing coffee cozys to raise funds for breast cancer patients.

“I don’t like to sit on the sidelines and watch something happen — I want to be in there, in the action, helping to fight,” says [13-year-old] Jordan [Phillips].

Phillips initially launched “Cozys for the Cure” intending to help shoulder her mother’s surgery bills. Now, more than 200,000 of the coffee sleeves are being sold at more than a thousand Walmarts across the US. Part of the sales will go towards financing free mammograms. And so far, the fundraising initiative has raised $18,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“She would do the math, it was roughly $100 to pay for one mammogram. If one in eight women are diagnosed and I paid $800 for eight mammograms, that’s one in eight. I saved one woman’s life… she’d say, ‘Mom, I saved 11 women’s lives!’ And that was very real to her,” says Nicole [Phillips].

Now available at Walmart, the cozys are evidence that making a difference is literally at the tips of our fingers. If an eighth-grader can promise change, so can we.

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Fish Eyes Are Being Used To Cure Blindness

Treatments for the seeing-impaired are not always easy to come by. That’s why we make do with technology like talking cameras that allow the blind to “see.” However, a new study shows that mimicking fish eyes could potentially cure blindness.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle reported that they have hacked the cells of a mouse retina to act like those of a fish—not only growing new neurons, but also wiring those neurons up to other neurons that send signals to the brain.

While surgery can treat cataracts, retina damage is incurable — but not for zebrafish. Their eyes regenerate indefinitely, assisted by a cell called Müller glia. The cell acts as a “stand in” for lost neurons. Humans also carry the cell but due to differences in DNA, cannot access this reprogrammable characteristic.

[UW Researchers found] Trichostatin-A (TSA), a hormonal treatment for breast cancer, that also happens to open up the regeneration DNA sequence. In an injured retina, these Müller glia cells treated with TSA transformed into two types of neurons, bipolar and amacrine cells, that are part of the retina’s internal wiring.

Scientists have yet to produce photoreceptor neurons, but with the way things are going, creating them is very possible.

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Gene Altering Cells Can Save Leukemia Patients

For most patients battling cancer, chemotherapy is very much a love-hate relationship. We often hear it kills the bad cells but, unfortunately, also the good ones. Thanks to a successful trial, leukemia patients may see more luck with this gene-altering treatment.

A Food and Drug Administration panel opened a new era in medicine on Wednesday, unanimously recommending that the agency approve the first-ever treatment that genetically alters a patient’s own cells to fight cancer, transforming them into what scientists call “a living drug” that powerfully bolsters the immune system to shut down the disease.

Each patient receives a unique treatment. T-cells (or white blood cells) are “reprogrammed” and can destroy up to 100,000 cancer cells. One dose of the treatment has led to full recovery, as taken from the case of experimental patient Emily Whitehead. Of 63 patients who also received the treatment, 52 went into remission.

The next step… will be to determine “what we can combine it with and is there a way to use it in the future to treat patients with less disease, so that the immune system is in better shape and really able to fight.”

Patients who did not survive despite the treatment at least saw their lives prolonged. The treatment is now receiving FDA approval.

For cancer patients, the future is definitely seeing some sun. If it isn’t perfect, at least it’s brighter.

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