A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Oncology Treatment

T-cell-cancer

Cancer kills 9,000,000 (9 million) people each year and despite having searched for centuries, a cure has yet to be discovered by scientists. At the center of the immune system is the T cell, a type of leukocyte which respond against bacterial and viral infections alike in an effort to keep their host healthy and alive. T cells determine between threatening and non-threatening foreign and non-foreign bodies within a host by leveraging a molecule upon the surface of all cells referred to as the “T cell receptor”. Jim Allison was the first person to successfully isolate and purify the molecule which recognizes this lock and key model for infectious disease, auto-immune disease, and other innocuous substances within the body be they foreign or internally created. In 1987, French scientist Pierre Golstein and his team discovered a new protein upon the surface of T cells which he named “CTLA-4”. To study CTLA-4 in laboratory rats, Allison had to build and design a rat antibody, a Y shaped protein which would trigger a reaction by CTLA-4. Cancers are mutations and should in theory be visible to the immune system, which is why the scientific community has struggled with the paradox of why tumors go undetected by the immune system for decades. There is no discernible reason as to why the immune system can recognize and resist influenza or any other foreign or domestic body but not cancer. Allison theorized that tumors have evolved an ability to fool the immune system, engaging CTLA-4 which turns on the T cells response to halt its search and destroy measures. Allison hypothesized that if he inserted a Y shaped antibody to block the gap in between the tumor and T cells, the tumor would no longer have its ability to hide, a trait which has been evolved by tumor cells over hundreds of millions of years. This would allow the T cell to infiltrate, attack from within the tumor, shrink, and ultimately kill the growth. Allison spent the next decade trying to turn this revolutionary breakthrough discovery into a medication which could be provided to cancer patients. Allison found Alan Korman, a scientist creating medications for auto-immune disease which provided him with the expert he required to turn this idea into a reality. Korman was tasked with taking the CTLA-4 antibody which Allison and partner Max Krummell developed for laboratory rats, and turn it into a medication which could safely work within human beings with this medication subsequently being named “Ipilimumab” (pronounced “ipi-lim-ooh-mab”). Korman ended up collaborating with a friend from graduate school, Nils Lonberg to accomplish this task. Ipilimumab consists of an intramuscular injection into the leg and a 90 minute intravenous medication drip in comparison to chemotherapy and radiation therapy which take months of treatment to complete and have devastating effects upon overall health as both bad and good tissue are destroyed in an effort to eradicate all tumor cells. Allison’s work with laboratory rats demonstrated that with the help of this newly developed antibody, T cells gained the ability enter into tumors and expand their size in an effort to destroy them from the inside out. This means that the fact that tumors grow initially upon administration is a positive marker and indicative of the medication working as it demonstrates successful infiltration of the tumor cells themselves. Patients often report feeling better after a few treatment sessions, sometimes even a single session, despite computer tomography scans demonstrating that their tumors are growing larger, which under normal circumstances would make a patient feel worse. Some patients even noted increased improvement after having stopped the Ipilimumab treatment, with no further therapy required. On March 25, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released approval for Ipilimumab. Ipilimumab and its successors have treated nearly 1,000,000 (1 million) patients worldwide with many of these patients achieving permanent remission which is essentially the definition of having been cured of cancer. Although these medications do not work in every single case, they have definitively demonstrated to be a miracle medication for hundreds of thousands of people thus far. After completing this revolutionary discovery, Allison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2018 for his series of discoveries related to T cells and their ability to halt cancer in its progression in perpetuity

The 18th Century Gin Craze and it’s Association with Murder

19th-century-London-England-Gin-Craze

Gin was highly consumed in poorer areas of London, England as it was a cheaper alternative to beer. Gin was unregulated during the early 18th century, and was often badly distilled and filled with harmful compounds like oil of vitriol which is similar in construct to modern day turpintine, sulfuric acid, and methylated spirits. By 1750, gin consumption was at its peak, with the city of London consuming 11,000,000 (11 million) gallons per year. In the poorest areas of London, specifically upon the east end, it was not uncommon for everyone in public to be permanently drunk; an analogue to the modern day crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. All members of society consumed gin including men, women, and children, with many cases exhibiting severe addictive traits as was the case with Judith Darfour, who took her child into a heath, murdered them to sell their petticoat clothing and acquire more gin, then attended work later that day as if nothing had occurred. Gin related crime soared and Mothers Ruin which refers to “women who killed their family members to acquire funds for gin” was responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. When the death rate climbed higher than the birth rate, the British government was forced to intervene, outlawing small gin distilleries and ending the era referred to as the “Gin Craze”

The Ebola Contagion Epidemic of 2014

Ebola-virusIn late December of 2013, children of Meliandou, Guinea in West Africa found hundreds of bats nesting in a hollowed out tree. The children had no way of knowing that bats are the suspected carriers of the ebola virus. The children lit a fire and the bats scattered from the tree, allowing the children to catch and consume these bats as a source of protein. It is suspected that this is what triggered the ebola epidemic of 2014. Villagers originally thought that the illness spreading was due to witchcraft but authorities quickly identified the outbreak as ebola in an attempt to quarantine and curb the spread of the infection. Illness rapidly spread across the forest region of Guinea as those who were ill came into contact with healthcare workers whilst seeking medical attention which lead to surrounding areas becoming impacted. For 3 months, the symptoms of ebola were mistaken for cholera and malaria, which is why the contagion was unable to be controlled and halted. The problem quickly spiraled out of control with thousands becoming ill and a total of 11,315 deaths across 6 countries including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mali, and the U.S., however the U.S. faired best with only 49 of the total deaths. The government of Guinea had no idea how to respond as all previous ebola outbreaks had occurred over 1600 kilometers away, however the relief group Doctors Without Borders had decades of experience and were able to be flown in in and effort to curb the spread of the pathogen. Within 48 hours of arrival, Doctors Without Borders had setup a field hospital in the village of Guéckédou, Guinea, the epicenter of the ebola outbreak. Past outbreaks have taught physicians that the best counter attack is to isolate the ill, monitor those who have had contact with the sick, and safely bury the dead. Due to the scale of the problem and the fact that it was not isolated to a single group or village, Doctors Without Borders did not have the resources to contain this potential global threat which is why the World Health Organization became involved, a group which is part of the United Nations and has access to the best and most expensive resources in the world, with a mandate to help governments coordinate responses to outbreaks. The main problem facing the World Health Organization is that the organization itself does not take precedent nor command of any medical situation as it is the country which is dealing with a contagion that must take this lead. Due to the fact that Guinea is a poor nation with few resources, grabbing hold of the ebola outbreak was exceedingly difficult as physicians did not have proper oversight by those in power with ebola experience, the governments of affected nations were some of the poorest in the world, and the World Health Organization was in the process of downsizing, causing the entire process to become more complicated and convoluted as decision making was scattered and often conflicted. This created the perfect storm for ebola to quickly spread across the African continent and into the western world. The government of Guinea accused Doctors Without Borders of sowing panic among the public which further elevated tensions between the 3 organizations involved. Guinea’s Ministry of Health demanded that only laboratory confirmed cases be counted towards the total ebola death count which tied the hands of physicians and their governing organizations as this act downplayed the importance and severity of just how severe the ebola outbreak truly was which lead to further contamination as the public did not treat the disease with the full gravitas of what it demanded. It is believed that this single political act is what allowed ebola to jump across borders, starting with the neighboring country of Sierra Leone as residents of both states are permitted to freely cross the borderline of either nation as often as they wish, a political policy which should have been suspended during a period of mass outbreak. Rumors of foreign physicians killing impoverished residents with syringes helped inflame already growing tensions between healthcare professionals and the general public which made working with infected or potentially infected individuals exceedingly difficult for healthcare practitioners. The corpse of an ebola victim is highly infectious but in West Africa, it is customary for friends and family to spend hours with a person after death, washing and preparing them for their burial (e.g. cutting nails and braiding hair etc.). The sudden cessation of the ability to perform this ritualistic act deeply embedded within West African culture fueled even more resent from the public which caused mass rioting and chaos to ensue, endangering the lives of those who were there to help, made worse by the lack of education, language barriers, and cultural barriers already present. It is theorized that this cultural convention played a major and definitive role in the spread of the ebola virus, as mourners often touch the body during the funerary procession. It is believed by the inhabitants of West Africa that if a body is not laid to rest properly, the ghost of that person will return to haunt the people of the village which is why this ritualistic process is so deeply embedded and revered in this region of the world. The government of Guinea had no method of contact tracing, that is to say, there was no method in place to monitor those who had come in contact with ebola victims which allowed for hundreds of cases to go undetected. The World Health Organization debated whether or not to declare an international health emergency which would have acted as a global distress signal, enacting the aid and preparation for a counter attack from many of the worlds most industrialized nations (e.g. the U.S., Canada, Japan etc.). Officials worried that declaring a global emergency would create panic which would only help exacerbate the issue as many countries, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, could potentially close their borders in an effort to ensure the ebola virus remained exclusively in Africa, the worlds most impoverished continent. To exacerbate the already fevered tensions between government officials, healthcare workers, and the public at large, an event transpired which threw much of the West African population into a panic. In Kenema, Sierra Leone, a woman purporting herself as a nurse, began shouting in the center of the cities most populated marketplace, “there is no ebola! I say to everyone it’s not real. Ebola is not real. It’s cannibalism”. The crowd started to cry for others to come over, to hear the supposed confessions of a nurse stating that physicians are killing innocent people for the consumption of their bodies as meat. The tide quickly changed and the crowd began turning upon the healthcare staff present, throwing stones, giving chase, and threatening their lives, forcing the evacuation of virtually all physicians, nurses, and other interdisciplinary healthcare personnel. This woman was not a nurse, rather she was a person afflicted with mental illness, but her impact greatly exacerbated an already uneasy hoard of people, so much in fact that law enforcement were forced to attend and disperse tear gas to control the ire of the group. By this point, the ebola outbreak had claimed more than 800 people across 3 countries. Physicians urged the World Health Organization to declare an international emergency however organization officials refused to do so because it was believed that this act would only add fuel to an already raging and seemingly out of control inferno of illness and chaotic unrest. It was at this point that the ebola outbreak rose to a new level when an infected Liberian traveled to Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, and the U.S., forcing the World Health Organization to declare an international emergency, by holding a press conference given by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the organization itself. A high ranking team was assembled and deployed to Geneva, Switzerland in response, devising and enacting a plan to employ thousands of western medical professionals in an attempt to curb an infectious outbreak which was growing by this point at an exponential rate. The outbreak was so beyond the reach of control by this time that it had spread across a broad geographical area, unlike anything ever witnessed in modern memory. The main caveat to the curated plan was that the World Health Organization did not have a standing force of physicians, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other various healthcare practitioners, ready and willing to help serve in the fight to combat such a prevalent contagion, nor did they have the budget to build one. The only option available was to appeal to the worlds wealthiest nations, persuading and to an extent pleading with trained and qualified healthcare workers who were willing and able to travel abroad and join the collective effort. This endeavor would take time as acquiring a team en mass is an extraordinarily ambitious goal to accomplish. Rioting continued to occur with some hospitals being overrun by disillusioned citizens who were angry, frightened, and frustrated enough to allow every patient under quarantine to run back into the village, allowing for the proliferation of the disease to spread even further. Governments attempted to respond by sending in military squadrons to guard sanctioned quarantined buildings in an effort to help contain an outbreak which for all intents and purposes was completely out of control and continuing to spiral into calamity. Citizens were killed both by soldiers with firearms as well as infection as those who were infected were in the streets, amongst the general populous. Doctors Without Borders began constructing ELWA 3 (pronounced “ell-wah-three”), the largest Ebola treatment center ever built, but despite their best efforts, the facility was not large enough to contain the sheer volume of people who needed medical aide. It was at this point that Doctors Without Borders made an urgent plea directed solely towards the U.S to provide thousands of soldiers immediately in order to help isolate and treat patients. Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Center of Disease Control, traveled to the ELWA 3 clinic in Monrovia, Liberia to see first hand, just how bad the epidemic was. Frieden recounted his experience by stating that he witnessed a “level of devastation that I have never seen” and that he was “seeing a country essentially in free fall and knowing, knowing with certainty that no matter what we did, it was going to get a lot worse before it got better”. Frieden called then President Barack Obama stating that the outbreak was expanding at an exponential pace, doubling every 3 weeks, resulting in a tripling of results with every month of delay instituted. Obama responded by implementing emergency U.S. aide, sending thousands of soldiers and medics, 10 months after the outbreak had initially begun, in an attempt to quell and eradicate the spread of this viral disease. Other industrialized nations soon followed suit and the United Nations created a new emergency mission for the World Health Organization and other related agencies to coordinate the response. Work began on the ground with the building of new treatment centers and training to teach those deployed how to properly bury affected victims. Despite these monumentous efforts, the ebola virus was still ahead of the response and threatened to spread beyond African borders. Shortly after this humanitarian response, cases in Monrovia began to sharply decline, but experts believed that the downward trajectory would bounce back in an even more dramatic resurgence as people were now staying home due to the events which had recently transpired across the African continent, allowing them to infect more people than if they had been under isolation. Fortunately, the drop in reported cases remained steadfast in its declination as Liberians stopped trying to nurse their sick and started burying the dead in an appropriate and safe manner. Liberians began to understand that the ebola virus was so drastically deadly that previous cultural customs had to be shelved for the time being so that the disease could be expunged and life could return to normal for those who had survived. Thousands more continued to die across West Africa, but the changed behavior of West Africans and the massive international response gradually turned the tide of the war

The Legality of Murder Against Transgender Individuals in the U.S. Using the Gay Trans Panic Defense

Gay-Trans-Panic-Defense

In 47 U.S. states, the Gay Trans Panic Defense is a law which states that it is possible for a defendant to be sentenced to a lighter prison term after having killed a gay or transgender person simply by claiming the victim flirted with or hit on them, therefore triggering a legally justifiable beating and/or murder

The Social Conventions of Hyenas

hyena

Hyenas have a fairly complicated social structure in that they make kills as a team, consume their prey in groups, and then regurgitate that food when back at their base camp, not only for the pups who are waiting for them but also for those who stay back to act as care takers for the youngest members of the pack. Hyenas appear to truly understand the all for one and one for all mentality that only a few primates comprehend and exercise

The Sale of Meat In New York City, United States of America During the 19th Century

19th-century-butcher

Butchers in the 19th century often turned rotting meat into sausage so that the meat it was made up of was unidentifiable and palatable. Butchers added the chemical compound Borax which is sodium borate to cover up the scent of the meat because the boracic acid would kill any bacteria present upon the meat. It was later discovered that Borax is ideal for keeping wounds clean, killing cockroaches, and cleaning floors, which provides a clear frame of reference in terms of its potential safety hazards when consumed. The meat would still smell and taste bad and would cause those who consumed it to become sick but despite this, butchers would add red clothing dye made from coal tar which sometimes had arsenic in it to freshen up the grey and brown color of the meat so that it was more visually presentable to consumers. Finally, stale bread or cookies were added to bind everything together before the meat was sold

Firearm and Biological Warfare During the Medieval Period 

Medieval-warfare

Crossbows during the Medieval Age were primarily made out of yew wood as it contains both sapwood which is ideal for tension and heartwood which is ideal for compression. Crossbows were reviled by knights as it made them vulnerable to common fighters who up until that point would never have a chance to face off because of the code of chivalry and military warfare. Crossbow bolts were often dipped in animal dung to create a biological weapon which would infect the target enemy as a backup plan in case the blow did not kill or disable them immediately

Nazi German V2 Rocket Production During World War II 

Nazi-German-V2-rocket

The V2 rocket was one of the most expensive pieces of weaponry utilized during World War II. The V2 rocket was manufactured under slave labor conditions and although it was successful in its ability to kill 5000 people during its various attacks, 10,000 – 20,000 people died during its production as miscalculations and errors often occurred during the various manufacturing and testing processes. The V2 rocket was primarily built by Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and French prisoners of war. Overworking, underfeeding, and not providing sanitation caused many deaths to these slave laborers which hindered the ability to produce the unrealistic quota demands Adolf Hitler had requested of the German military. For each V2 rocket which was produced, 6 slave laborers died. Wernher von Braun performed many calculations for the German military in terms of the amount of concentration camp slave laborers required to meet demand quotas as well as how many people were expected to die during each production run. Prisoners were often hung publicly within the labor camps as punishment for resistance or sabotage of the project

Ultraviolet Radiation Sterilization

ultraviolet-radiation-sterilization

Ultraviolet radiation disrupts the chemical bonds which hold bacteria and viruses together. Ultraviolet radiation is able to kill the cell and ensures whatever material is exposed afterwards becomes sterile. The longer an organism is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the less likely it is to have any microbes alive upon it. Hospitals and various industries utilize this method of sterilization to ensure their equipment and environment is as free of microorganisms as possible