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Blog - The Amazing Japanese Culture

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

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A nuclear expert has told the BBC that he believes the current water leaks at Fukushima are much worse than the authorities have stated.

Mycle Schneider is an independent consultant who has previously advised the French and German governments.

He says water is leaking out all over the site and there are no accurate figures for radiation levels.

Meanwhile the chairman of Japan’s nuclear authority said that he feared there would be further leaks.

The ongoing problems at the Fukushima plant increased in recent days when the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.
Moment of crisis

The Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale that measures the severity of atomic accidents.

This was an acknowledgement that the power station was in its greatest crisis since the reactors melted down after the tsunami in 2011.

But some nuclear experts are concerned that the problem is a good deal worse than either Tepco or the Japanese government are willing to admit.

They are worried about the enormous quantities of water, used to cool the reactor cores, which are now being stored on site.

Some 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the water. But these are believed to be at around 85% of their capacity and every day an extra 400 tonnes of water are being added.

“The quantities of water they are dealing with are absolutely gigantic,” said Mycle Schneider, who has consulted widely for a variety of organisations and countries on nuclear issues.

“What is the worse is the water leakage everywhere else – not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place. Nobody can measure that.

“It is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse,” said Mr Schneider, who is lead author for the World Nuclear Industry status reports.

At news conference, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulation authority Shunichi Tanaka appeared to give credence to Mr Schneider’s concerns, saying that he feared there would be further leaks.

“We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more. We are in a situation where there is no time to waste,” he told reporters.

The lack of clarity about the water situation and the continued attempts by Tepco to deny that water was leaking into the sea has irritated many researchers.

Dr Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has examined the waters around Fukushima.

“It is not over yet by a long shot, Chernobyl was in many ways a one week fire-explosive event, nothing with the potential of this right on the ocean.”

“We’ve been saying since 2011 that the reactor site is still leaking whether that’s the buildings and the ground water or these new tank releases. There’s no way to really contain all of this radioactive water on site.”

“Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop a ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can you keep putting on site?”

Several scientists also raised concerns about the vulnerability of the huge amount of stored water on site to another earthquake.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 (Bernama) — There is a new hope for cancer patients in Malaysia.

A vaccine widely known for treating late-stage cancer — almost all types of cancer, except leukemia — is now available in the country.

The Human Initiated Therapeutic Vaccine (HITV), which was only available in Japan previously, is able to completely destroy microscopic and tiny nests of cancer cells, thus preventing any future recurrences.

Discovered in 2005 by Dr Kenichiro Hasumi, a Japanese physician and researcher, HITV is an autologus (patient derived) active cell-based immunotherapy for metastatic or late-stage cancer patients.

It is based on immunology that harnesses human immune system’s innate and adaptive ability to combat diseases.

Dr Hasumi, founder and chairman of Hasumi International Research Foundation in the United States, has dedicated more than 40 years of his life to find a cure to cancer.

Speaking at a media conference Monday, Dr Hasumi said the therapy was highly effective for patients suffering from late-stage cancer, when used in combination with radiotherapy.

“The use of tomotherapy (a type of radiation therapy) is important in this protocol. It can target the tumors precisely in one sweep, while reducing the radiation exposure to the surrounding tissues,” he said.

The treatment includes harvesting immune cells from the patient, culturing them in the laboratory to become immature dentritic cells, and then re-introducing them into the patient’s body, through injection into the tumor.

HITV course takes about three weeks, with 10 days of actual treatment. Patients will have to be examined with PET-CT scan after the treatment periodically, to monitor the tumors for regression.

While the treatment was only available in Japan, nine Malaysians suffering late stage of various types of cancer have decided to give it a try. Five of them have shown complete response.

They include Goh Sai Wah, 58, a non-smoker who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer with extensive spread to the spine and bone in May, last year.

She underwent the HITV therapy in Japan on Oct 30, last year and in her follow-up check, six weeks later, almost all cancer cells had disappeared.

Now, 365 days later, and counting, she is very much alive and well.

Dr Hasumi said, since late stage cancer was a very difficult stage to cure, he hoped that in future, there would be innovations to cure cancer in the early stages.

HITV therapy costs about RM200,000, if patients decide to have it in Japan. In Malaysia, it will cost about RM150,000.

The therapy is now available at the Mahameru International Medical Centre but medical practitioners are trying their very best to introduce HITV to all hospitals in the Klang Valley, in an effort to give late-stage cancer patients a new hope in life.

Source: Click

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania transformed the white blood cells of patients suffering from late-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia into “serial killer” cells capable of annihilating cancer cells within the body.

While only three patients were enrolled in the study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, the results were startling, as two of the patients experienced full recovery and are still in remission more than a year later.

The two patients achieved 100 percent remission – no cancer cells remaining – for up to a year, while the third patient achieved a 70 percent reduction in cancer cells, a strong anti-tumor response, researchers noted.

The third patient improved but still had cancer.

“We put a key onto the surface of the T-cells that fits into a lock that only the cancer cells have,” said Dr. Michael Kalos, director of translational and correlative studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and an investigator on the study.

The results provide “a tumor-attack road map for the treatment of other cancers,” including those of the lung and ovaries as well as “myeloma” and “melanoma”, researchers added.

Kalos said past efforts to use the technique, known as “adoptive T-cell transfer,” failed either because the T-cell response was too weak or proved too toxic for normal tissue.

“[The serial killers] can kill one tumor cell and then go and kill another, and we found in all three of our patients that the T-cells killed at least a thousand tumor cells, and that’s the first time that has ever been shown anywhere near that kind of efficiency,” said Dr. Carl June, the lead author of the study, in a video released with the research.

Scientists for the first time used gene therapy to successfully destroy cancer tumors in patients with advanced disease – a goal that has taken 20 years to achieve.

“We knew [the therapy] could be very potent,” Dr. David Porter, director of the blood and marrow transplantation program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and a coauthor of both studies, told The Los Angeles Times.

Although in 2006, Rosenberg published the first study in which T-cell receptors were used for gene therapy, combined with chemotherapy, in 17 people who had advanced melanoma.

The research group plans to treat four more patients with Leukemia before moving into a larger Phase II trial of the study. This type of Leukemia affects the blood and bone marrow and is the most common form of the cancer.

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