It often seems like the world is going to hell. But clearly there is good news too, like what might be happening with the chemical weapons in Syria.
Here’s another piece of good news: medical researchers are getting closer to understanding the mutations that result in people getting cancer. As the article below says, we already know that smoking causes mutations leading to lung cancer and ultraviolet light causes mutations that cause skin cancer. Now scientists are beginning to figure out which mutations lead to other kinds of cancer:
Out of the 30 cancer types, 25 had signatures [or patterns] arising from age-related mutational processes. Another signature, caused by defects in repairing DNA due to mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and 2, was found in breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
One of the interesting findings mentioned in the article is that a certain family of enzymes is linked to more than half of the cancer types studied:
These enzymes, known as APOBECs, can be activated in response to viral infections. It may be that the resulting signatures [that cause cancer] are collateral damage on the human genome caused by the enzymes’ actions to protect cells from viruses.
When I was growing up, my mother wouldn’t say the word “cancer”. It was like “Voldemort”, a word that must not be spoken. As our knowledge grows, “cancer” should eventually become as rare as the world “polio” is today.
In completely unrelated and less important news, the Japanese are now accepting the fact that a foreigner will break the single season home record of their great national hero, Sadaharu Oh. During his career in Japanese baseball, Oh hit 863 home runs, 149 more than Babe Ruth hit in America. As the New York Times explains:
A few foreign players in Japan’s top league have threatened to surpass Oh’s hallowed mark of home runs in a single season, 55. And each time, opposing pitchers refused to throw pitches anywhere near the strike zone in a blatant effort to protect Oh’s record.
Yesterday, Wladimir Balentien, a native of Curacao, playing for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, tied Oh’s record of 55 home runs in a season. He has 21 games left and opposing pitchers are throwing pitches he can hit.
So the people of Japan have taken another step toward welcoming the participation of foreigners in Japanese society. Good news is breaking out all over.