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Friday, May 15, 2015

A Warning on the Unknown Dangers of Gene-Therapy Treatments

It is certainly discouraging to log into my AdSense account as I have just done, and see that I never even earned a cent yesterday in income from the advertisements.

But I don't wish to get into that.

It seems to me that I was in bed last night well ahead of midnight, and maybe even ahead of 11:30 p.m.  And once I got to sleep, I fared quite well until about 4:00 a.m.

I have mentioned often enough before how my youngest step-son Pote keeps irritatingly late hours.  Well, the damned fool chose that point to go to the bathroom for his noisy shower. 

My poor younger brother Mark's clock-radio was probably set for something like 4:20 a.m. ─ he still works for a living, and rises quite early.

The 17-year-old slopping around in the bathroom must surely have been audible to him if it was to me ─ our bedroom doors face one another, and mine is no nearer to the bathroom door than is his.

Because I was as awake as I was, I felt I should vacate my bladder and also take a good long drink of cold water, but that meant going downstairs to the bathroom in the area my two step-sons use as their den and living area.

But I had no option ─ the young fool would easily be in the bathroom upstairs for 45 minutes.

So I put on some trousers and downstairs I went, trying to disengage from the anger that was beginning to percolate within me.

Sleep thereafter was extremely difficult ─ and much to blame were clogged nasal passages making my breathing problematic.

I remember once being in physical distress from my hampered breathing, and I actually had to subdue some rising panic.

I don't know precisely what it is that brings on this state nearly each night, but I presently suspect that there is likely some allergic response to the hefty amounts of peanut butter that often comprises part of my supper in the evening.

One would think that when I checked the time later that morning and saw that it was about 8:25 a.m. and decided to get up for the day, I should have felt reasonably rested in view of having been abed for nigh on nine hours, but that was not the case.

When I went downstairs to make my day's first big mug of instant coffee/cocoa powder blend, I was distinctly surprised to see that Pote was not home ─ he must somehow have gone to school with no sleep.

His older brother Tho, though, was in bed ─ he hadn't gone to work.  He never did get up until during the noon-hour.

Did he call in sick?

Or did he learn that there was a shortage of work and he was not required?

I have no idea.

It will be a rich day for me whenever one or both of those two boys move out of here ─ if ever that happens.

As part of a school vocational programme, Pote had recently put in ─ I think ─ 100 hours working for a Nike store off in Burnaby's Metrotown.  Whatever the required total were, he managed to fulfill the requirement in 20 calendar days.

Last evening, I asked him about the fallout of his work experience with Nike, for the idea behind these school placements is not just for the work experience ─ it is also to tempt employers to want to retain the student as a genuine employee.

Pote said that he hadn't gotten a full denial where concerns Nike at Metrotown, but he said that he did hear that one of the two assistant managers was going to have charge of a Nike outlet over in Guildford here in Surrey, and he had heard that this particular manager was interested in having him as part of the new staff. 

I most definitely want him to get a placement ─ I don't need him here in the house all Summer, sitting up the whole night through and sleeping all day long.

Anyway, either this coming week ─ or the one thereafter ─ will find him on a second stint of work experience.  This time, he is to be putting in the hours at a Starbucks that is (I think he said) located over near the King George Skytrain Station

That's probably only about a five-block walk from where we live, so it will truly be a great location for him.

It's dreadful being at the mercy of transit in one's working life.  If I had lived that near to work, I would not have retired when I did.  I just couldn't take the many hours lost to traveling to and from work each week.

And my workload was such that ─ had I lived near ─ I would have gone there throughout the weekend to try and manage things more than I was able.

I used to do that religiously before my wife Jack came to Canada and joined me here in May 2006.  And I did continue the practice to a large extent even after she came.

But eventually, it just became too hard for me to get up early in the morning on the weekend to begin the long transit haul to the building I worked in, off in Burnaby.  It was soul-crushing.

At times, I found myself in tears.

I had to retire ─ the job and the commute were killing me.  But at least the job paid, even if I was working the weekends for free ─ yes, it was unauthorized time. That magnified the agony of leaving my wife in our bed on a Saturday and Sunday morning to spend the day at the job ─ it was done without any additional recompense.

All I got from it was the desperate hope of some workload relief.

I'm getting sidetracked, though ─ I do not want to discuss my past hellish working life.

I just want to say that ─ despite all of the things I say here concerning my two step-sons ─ I want them to get gainful employment and succeed.

But it is because of their habits that drive me nearly mad that I see it as essential that we do not much longer share the same living quarters.  We need separate residences.  Then they can be as slovenly as they wish, and keep whatever hours they wish.   

The day has been primarily overcast. I may take a break from this post just to go and sit outside for awhile under the clouds, if it is not too cool.  I need some refreshing.

My wife Jack had said ─ when she was here late Wednesday evening ─ that she would be by today.

I thought that she meant in the afternoon, but it is now 3:13 p.m. as I type this, and she has not yet shown from Vancouver.  So maybe it will be this evening?  Or even tomorrow?

...And I got my time out in the backyard ─ I managed comfortably over a half-hour seated in a lawn- or deck-chair, and facing where I felt the Sun likely was.

Just as I readied to come back into the house...the Sun actually started revealing tiself, and I could see blue stretches of Sky in the distance.

Oh, well.

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So Boston Marathon-bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death, eh?  That would have been my vote if I had been on the jury.

But this story affected me far more:  Widow Says Southwest Didn’t Let Her Call Suicidal Husband.

According to the article, at least a couple of different flight attendants refused her plea to respond to the 'good-bye forever' text from her husband ─ or maybe even to alert the police to go and check on him.

And she could only sob throughout the flight, fearing the worst that was to come true.

Good job, Southwest Airlines!

And a couple of marine stories caught my attention while I was surfing Yahoo.

Imagine catching an eel while trawling over near the British Isles ─ one 20 feet long!

Apparently conger eels are quite predatory, and eels half that size have been known to attack people.


The second marine story relates to something newly-learned about an oval-shaped fish called the opah ─ which can weigh up to 200 pounds (90 kilograms), and are apparently found in deep-waters of oceans all around the World.

It has been found that they are the only known warm-blooded fish:  A deepwater fish joins mammals, birds in the warm-blooded club.

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Our governments certainly do love the pharmaceutical corporations so busily engaged in making great wealth while they debilitate and kill us with their dangerous and deadly medications.

But these companies are now entering the realm of gene-therapy treatments despite the technology being inadequately understood ─ again, to the public's great risk.

Apparently it's not enough that GMO foods are essentially unavoidable, with all of their hazards.

Check out this report from yesterday by the Health Sciences Institute (HSI):

A shot in the dark
Jolee Mohr was just 36 years old, raising a family and working full time.

And you can bet she never imagined a knee arthritis treatment would kill her.

It wasn't some risky surgery or powerful painkiller that ended Jolee's life.

She was a victim of another gene therapy treatment gone horribly wrong.

We've been told that drugs to alter or repair our genes will keep us young and conquer everything from hair loss to cancer. And gene therapy isn't some science fiction or medicine of the future -- it's being offered experimentally in hospitals and clinics across America right now.

But with dozens of new medications in the pipeline... and billions of dollars at stake... there's a side to gene therapy that drug companies are working hard to sweep under the rug.

And stories of cancer, organ failure, internal bleeding, and sudden death that they hoped you'd never hear.

GlaxoSmithKline is the first major drug company to bet big on gene therapy -- and the entire industry is watching.

GSK is asking European regulators to approve a gene therapy shot to treat ADA-SCID, a rare immune system disorder often called "Bubble Boy" disease.

And while GSK floats this trial balloon to see if it can get a gene therapy medicine approved, dozens of drug companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb are waiting in the wings. They're ready to flood America and Europe with applications for gene therapy drugs to treat everything from hemophilia to cancer.

This gene therapy gold rush is what GSK likes to call a "new era in medicine."

After all, that's how Big Pharma prefers to talk about gene therapy -- like it has a future, but no past.

But when you look at gene therapy's ugly history, you realize that it's not the next great chapter in medical care.

It's more like a sequel to Frankenstein.

Gene therapy uses viruses -- often called vectors -- to deliver corrected genes to our cells. Scientists can't guarantee that the genes will ever arrive at the right destination or function correctly -- and when they don't, the consequences can be disastrous.

Researchers had previously tested gene therapy in children suffering from that same ADA-SCID immune disorder. Five of the kids developed leukemia after the inserted genes accidentally attached themselves to a gene that regulates cell division.

Even when the alien genes injected into your body don't harm you, the virus -- or vector -- that delivers them can. That's what happened to 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger, who had a metabolic disorder called OTC that was well-maintained with drugs and a careful diet.

He was even described as "not being sick" before his death. But soon after his shot, Jesse's organs basically shut down. It was what his doctors called at the time an "immune-system revolt."

And then there's the case of Jolee Mohr. She signed up for a clinical trial to see if gene therapy could help her chronic knee pain.

After just two injections, Jolee died from internal bleeding and kidney failure. Her husband says it's clear the gene therapy industry is just "trying to make millions of dollars on people before they can truly understand what's going on."

The media and Big Pharma like to trumpet every successful use of gene therapy -- but they're a lot less talkative when things go badly, as in Jolee's case.

You may remember a couple years back when stories popped up all over the world about an experiment at the University of Pennsylvania that claimed to use gene therapy to "cure" blindness. When patients began losing their sight again after a year, there was barely a whimper out of the press -- or the drug companies.

And that's the real risk of gene therapy -- that its hype machine is offering false hope and even putting people directly in harm's way.

Dr. James M. Wilson still talks glowingly about the "simplicity of the concept."

"You just put the gene in," he said.

He was the head of the Penn Institute for Human Gene Therapy where Jesse Gelsinger got his gene therapy injection.

The one that killed him.
Hey, what are a number of lost lives when it comes to great profit?

A worth of very little by comparison, it seems.

On a related note, theSparc.net offered this brief introduction to a published study that is admittedly beyond my educational level:
Gene editing techniques are taking off and being widely used in a number of applications, from genetically modified (GM) food organisms, to human embryos with the intention of correcting disease-–causing mutations. Though the CRISPR/Cas9 system is a relatively new and incompletely understood technique, it is being sold as a safe to regulators of GM crops. However, many studies including this latest by (Liang et al., (2015) highlight the various unintended effects of this technology, including off-target editing of the host genome.
If you clicked that link, you would have been able to locate the full study:  CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes (doi: 10.1007/s13238-015-0153-5).

You can also find the study published here, should you care. 

But whether from our GM foods...or from some concocted gene-therapy treatment (i.e., a drug)...we do not want our genome 'edited' by some kind of 'off-target' interaction.

We've no business introducing this sort of threat to people.

Here is something else from theSparc.net in the same vein:
GM crops are being increasingly developed to employ the epigenetic process of RNA interference that goes on to mediate the expression of the host genome. This comes with many risks of off-target effects for the host as well as the consumer of these crops. One such effect is the saturation of the host RNA interference machinery, which then disrupts its essential role in controlling gene expression in the host. This is exemplified by a study of GM pigs who showed early lethality through saturation of their RNA interference machinery (Dai et al., 2014).
That sounds ominous indeed, as does the study title:  Early lethality of shRNA-transgenic pigs due to saturation of microRNA pathways (doi: 10.1631/jzus.B).

The study is also found here.

According to Wikipedia's definitions of 'lethality,' the term can be used to describe how capable something is of causing death.

So...'early lethality' is damnably ominous to me ─ even if it's in pigs.  I sure don't need it going on in me because of GM tampering of food or anything else!

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I close with this entry from my journal of 41 years ago when I had rented a cheap housekeeping room in a rooming house in New Westminster for the month of May.
WEDNESDAY, May 15, 1974

Yesterday in search of my cheque, I learned no one came in for swamper duty at S.A.N.E.  Art had already been called to come in, and I became the second substitute.  Again no cheque.  Esther said Georgina asked her to learn why I did not phone, since I have her number.  Anyway, Art & I lunched at Swedana; we did all the work sans Esther, who had to attend a meeting.  

After work, we drank a 26-oz bottle of wine; going home, Art invited me over.  We bought a 40-oz bottle.  Another later succeeded.  I even babysat while Art & Angelina visited some relatives from the east; while doing so, I called Cathy, intending to phone Georgina after.  But Cathy was in a rapping mood, and I became very personal explaining what a turn-on she is.  Very personal.  I never did call Georgina due to the late hour.  I have what is supposed to be her lighter.

I literally staggered home.  Today I am still drunk.

I got my cheque.  Georgina was around S.A.N.E., but I avoided her entirely.

I met Cathy getting off work; she took me to Woodward's, and I bought the weights.  Gilles found me there.

I had my first poor work-out.

For the past two days my heart has been irregular in beat.
S.A.N.E. (Self Aid Never Ends) was a charitable organization in New Westminster that I worked for that is now known as Fraserside Community Services Society.  I was scheduled just for a day per week, Friday being that day.

However, this particular week, I had gone there on both Monday and Tuesday to seek my monthly payment...but ended up having to do emergency work instead.  My usual role was that of a truck swamper on S.A.N.E.'s blue pick-up.

Apparently on Tuesday (May 14) I was partnered with Art Smith, a Nova Scotian in his early 40s whom I was becoming very chummy with.  Normally, Esther St. Jean would have driven, but it seems that she had some manner of meeting to attend somewhere.

The Swedana smorgasbord was fabulous, but never endured for some reason.  It was located in a shopping plaza at the intersection of McBride Boulevard & Eighth Avenue in New Westminster. 

Georgina Junglas!  What a Friday after-hours was had by me with her at S.A.N.E.!

Quite often after work on Fridays, S.A.N.E. employees would get together for a few drinks after we had locked up for the day.

Georgina and I had something simmering for one another, but I was too backward to venture myself.

On that Friday just past, she had sat upon my knee while the group was having some drinks; and then she took me by the hand and led me off to the 'Blue Room' where we had the furniture and other things arrayed and in storage.

She pulled me down onto a couch, and proceeded to furiously French-kiss me.

I had only ever had sex with one young lady four or five years earlier ─ and maybe only two or three times.  However, I had been so uptight that I never allowed myself to climax.

Thus, even though I was not technically a virgin, I had not yet enjoyed sexual release with a woman.

So on that level, I was frankly rather terrified of Georgina.

I resisted her groping while probably nearly swooning from her passionate kissing, and then she took offence, claiming that I was not interested in her.

Of course I awkwardly protested otherwise.  And then she got sick.

At that point, two or three of the others burst in upon us ─ Georgina's 'boyfriend' had shown up to pick her up.

So thankfully, she and I had broken up our 'activity' together when we did, and had not gotten into some sexual entanglement that would have been impossible to excuse.

As it was, the 'boyfriend' quickly appeared after the two or three S.A.N.E. employees had run interference, but of course all of the focus was on poor ailing Georgina, and no attention was drawn to me...or 'us.'

Our fellow S.A.N.E. employees had been encouraging both of us for some weeks to get it on with the other ─ 'we' were a popular topic with them.

So from what Esther asked of me on Tuesday (May 14), Georgina was evidently still keen on me ─ why had I not phoned her?

I don't really remember that, however.  Reading about it rather intrigues me, for I have thought of Georgina often over the years since we knew one another.

She has always been one of those "What if?" scenarios I occasionally visit in reflection and wonder about.

I thought that she was about as beautifiul and exciting as it was possible for a woman to be.

It sounds like after Art and I had finished working that special day on Tuesday (May 14), we drank a 26-ounce bottle of wine ─ I am confident that it was his favourite brand, medium dry Villa Sherry.

Sherry is a fortified wine.

And then after going home with art, we went through two 40-ounce bottles ─ it's no wonder I staggered home later.

His other favourite drink was Alberta Vodka.

It's unfortunate that I never found the time to phone Georgina that evening ─ my call to my younger brother Mark's girlfriend Catherine Jeanette Gunther usurped all of my available time while Art and his wife Angelina were away.

I called her "Cathy," but she preferred to be addressed as Jeanette.  I was quite in love with the dear creature, and we could talk on the phone for hours sometimes.  Evidently I had consumed enough alcohol that I was venturing into that territory while we talked.

Anyway, I made it home that Tuesday evening, and went back to S.A.N.E. on Wednesday (May 15) and finally acquired my paycheque.  But ─ no doubt because I was into my hangover, and with my nerves frayed ─ I kept clear of Georgina who was apparently working that day.

Just about everyone who worked at S.A.N.E. did so part-time.

Jeanette had told me that whenever it was that I got my cheque, and if I still determined to buy the set of weights I was keen on, she would drive them home for me ─ I never drove.

She worked at Scott Paper in New Westminster.  If she had the day shift, then she would have been off work at 3:00 p.m.

While I was at Eaton's (it no longer exists in New Westminster) to buy the weight set, I must have encountered Gilles, a likeable young French-Canadian chap who also had part-time duties at S.A.N.E.   

As promised, Jeanette was with me, and drove me and my weights home (333 Pine Street, as I seem to recall).  The room was sparse, so I can believe that I only had a poor work-out.  Besides, I had no work-out bench.

The irregular heartbeat I mentioned was likely fluttering.  I still get it on occasion ─ usually when I am physically stressed in a bad way, or under emotional duress.

I'm 65 years old, so it can't have been all that serious.

Before I go, I want to post two photos from my mother Irene Dorosh's collection.

They seem to be part of a group that my mother had from some wedding she and her husband Alex attended, possibly in either Las Vegas or Reno ─ maybe sometime during the decade of the 1990s.

I don't know who this couple is, but they look rather intently focused upon one another:


This is another group of strangers (to me), except for my mother's husband Alex in the centre and garbed in a decorative short-sleeved shirt:


And with that, I think I have said enough here for the day!
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