Posted on 29 April 2010.
Historic tornado research project planned
BOULDER, Colo., April 29 (UPI) — More than 100 scientists will soon spend six weeks on the road across the U.S. Great Plains in what’s called the most ambitious tornado study in history.
The effort — called Vortex2 — is designed to surround tornadoes with an unprecedented fleet of mobile radars and sensitive instruments to examine in detail how tornadoes form, their patterns of damage and how to improve severe weather forecasting.
The May 1-June 15 international project involves scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Environment Canada, Pennsylvania State University, Texas Tech University, Lyndon State College, Purdue University, North Carolina State University and the universities of Oklahoma, Colorado, Massachusetts and Nebraska.
The researchers said the project covers the most active part of the U.S. tornado season on the Great Plains, where violent twisters are more common than on any other place on Earth.
“Tornadoes rank among the most destructive weather events on Earth, and it’s imperative that we learn more about how they develop and why some are so powerful and long-lived,” said David Dowell, an NCAR scientist who is one of the project’s principal investigators.
The first Vortex project was conducted in 1994 and 1995 and its findings are credited with improving National Weather Service tornado warnings.
The $11.9 million program is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
FDA OKs advanced prostate cancer therapy
WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced approval Thursday of a new therapy for certain men suffering advanced prostate cancer.
The FDA said the drug, Provenge (sipuleucel-T), allows patients to use their own immune system to fight the disease. The drug is indicated for the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body and is resistant to standard hormone treatment.
“The availability of Provenge provides a new treatment option for men with advanced prostate cancer, who currently have limited effective therapies available,” said Dr. Karen Midthun, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Provenge is an autologous cellular immunotherapy, designed to stimulate a patient’s own immune system to respond against the cancer. Each dose of Provenge is manufactured by obtaining a patient’s immune cells from the blood, the FDA said. The immune cells are then exposed to a protein that is found in most prostate cancers, linked to an immune stimulating substance. After that process, the patient’s own cells are returned to the patient to treat the prostate cancer.
Provenge, administered intravenously in a three-dose schedule given at about two-week intervals, is manufactured by the Dendreon Corp. in Seattle.
NASA develops new sensor technology
HAMPTON, Va., April 29 (UPI) — NASA scientists say they have developed a wireless sensor technology that can give operators of cars, planes, boats and trains more accurate fuel readings.
NASA senior scientist Stan Woodard at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and ATK Corp. electronics technician Bryant Taylor said their magnetic fluid-level measuring system eliminates the need for any electrical component or circuit to be in contact with combustible fuel or fuel vapors. The system is already in use by commercial and recreational boaters.
“This fundamental technology could be used to design an unlimited number of sensors for a variety of measurements,” Woodard said. “Just think about anything that you would want to measure. Don’t be surprised when you see this technology commercially available in your home or cars.”
Originally developed by NASA to retrofit aging aircraft with safety equipment, researchers said the technology is a spinoff for designing and using sensors without the shortcomings of many commonly used liquid storage measurement systems.
NASA said it has approved a partially exclusive license for wireless sensor technologies with Caplan Taylor Enterprises LLC of Newport News, Va, doing business as Tidewater Sensors.
More information is available at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/business/tg-detail-wirelessfluidsensor.html.
Discovery on how breast cancer may spread
SAN FRANCISCO, April 29 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they have discovered how to predict if the most common form of breast cancer may later spread.
Lead author Karla Kerlikowske of the University of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, says the most common form of breast cancer –ductal carcinoma in situ — rarely leads to death, but approximately 11 out of 100 women treated by lumpectomy develop invasive cancer within eight years of the initial diagnosis.
In this group of women, 1 percent to 2 percent of women die of breast cancer within 10 years of diagnosis, Kerlikowske says.
“Women will have much more information, so they can better know their risk of developing invasive cancer,” Kerlikowske says in a statement. “It will lead to a more personalized approach to treatment. As many as 44 percent of patients with ductal carcinoma in situ may not require any further treatment, and can rely instead on surveillance.”
The discovery allows physicians to pinpoint the group of patients with the lowest risk and the group at highest risk of developing invasive cancer, the researchers said.
The findings are published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
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