B.C. Transplant may accept hepatitis C positive donors now that there’s a curative drug treatment for recipients who contract it

B.C. Transplant says it is considering the previously unthinkable: allowing the transplantation of organs infected with hepatitis C into those who could die while waiting for kidneys, lungs or other organs.

“I am cautiously, optimistically, encouraged,” said Dr. David Landsberg, provincial medical director, transplant services. He was referring to the stunning announcement last week about a Toronto pilot study. Surgeons said that in 11 patients so far, they had used lungs from deceased donors with hepatitis C to transplant into patients who needed the organs to survive.

“It’s all because of the drugs,” Landsberg said, referring to direct antiviral pills that can reportedly cure the disease in about 12 weeks in more than 90 per cent of patients prescribed the $20,000 medication. (Repeat infections can occur, however, since there is no residual immunity even after treatment is completed.)

In the ongoing Toronto trial protocol, donor lungs are removed and then immersed in a special solution for about six hours, during which time doctors assess their condition. In a process called ex-vivo lung perfusion, developed at Toronto General Hospital, about 85 per cent of the blood carrying the virus is removed before the lungs are transplanted into recipients.

Within a month after the operation, recipients are tested for hepatitis C and if positive, they are started on drug treatment to prevent infection of the liver where the virus typically resides. Without treatment, those infected with hepatitis C are at risk of getting liver cancer or cirrhosis.

Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist and co-investigator of the Toronto trial, said the research there was initiated because of the rising number of organ donors who were observed to be hepatitis C positive. He said while there are obvious concerns about potentially infecting recipients, the results so far show that because of the new medical treatment, it is a …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

Utah congressional delegation welcomes Trump executive order

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation welcomed President Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to sign an executive order to keep immigrant families detained at the border from being separated.

“We all understand how important it is to enforce our immigration laws, but we also all agree that separating children from their parents is not the right course of action,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a prepared statement.

The title of the news release from Hatch’s office gives him credit for “successfully calling for family separation pause.” The executive order is an about-face for Trump, who has blamed Democrats for forcing the separations.

Hatch said he appreciated “the president’s willingness to listen to us on this issue.” Tuesday, Hatch and a dozen other GOP senators asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the separations while Congress works on the issue.

I applaud today’s #ExecutiveOrder. But this effort CANNOT stop there. I got these changes in the compromise bill that’s up for a vote tomorrow. #Congress must do its job. #utpol
My full statement: https://t.co/luuui7008B

— Rep. Mia Love (@RepMiaLove) June 20, 2018

In their letter to Sessions, the senators said the administration’s new zero tolerance policy for border offenses is the immediate cause of the border crisis that has been widely condemned, including by Utah Democrats at a news conference Wednesday.

“Although enforcing our immigration laws is an essential responsiblity of the federal government, it must be done in a way that is consistent with our values and ordinary human decency,” the letter stated.

Hatch is a co-sponsor of two bills in the Senate that mandate immigrant families must be kept together and provide resources to prioritize their cases, including additional immigration judges.

Utah Rep. Mia Love, who had called the policy “horrible” earlier this week, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

B.C. government widely criticized for four-year delay on fish farm tenures

VICTORIA — B.C.’s New Democrat government faced criticism Wednesday for deciding to let coastal fish farms operate for the next four years while companies consult with local First Nations.

Environmental groups said they support the NDP’s criticism of open-pen fish farms and a new requirement for Aboriginal consent, but the 2022 deadline is too far off and threatens to further endanger coastal salmon with the risk of disease.

Alexandra Morton, a longtime critic of open-pen fish farms, said she was disgusted the government refused to cancel outright 20 tenures in the Broughton Archipelago that were up for renewal on Wednesday.

“That’s what’s so disappointing about this government, they are chickens,” said Morton. “They are weak.”

Morton said the government had all the evidence it needed, including clear opposition from First Nations in the archipelago, to simply act. Instead, she said, it kicked the issue down the road until after the next scheduled provincial election in 2021 (or earlier depending on Premier John Horgan’s minority government).

“They are not going be here in four years,” said Morton. “Nobody is going to hear this little squeak from the NDP. Nobody is going to respect it.

“They literally used it as ransom for us to vote for them again. Four years, that’s eight generations of salmon coming and going that are going to be exposed to these viruses, to these sea lice which are still out of control and they did absolutely nothing to protect these fish.”

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, however, said B.C.’s new rules “clarify government’s expectations” of fish farms.

“We have thousands and thousand of jobs that depend on a healthy ecosystem including wild salmon,” she said. “As far as jobs related to the fish farm industry, we feel this four-year transition will allow us time and allow industry to look at how that situation …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

US stepping up Earth’s protection from asteroids, comets

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.

The National Science and Technology Council released a report Wednesday calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection. NASA is participating, along with federal emergency, military, White House and other officials.

For now, scientists know of no asteroids or comets heading our way. But one could sneak up on us, and that’s why the government wants a better plan.

NASA’s planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, said scientists have found 95 percent of all these near-Earth objects measuring one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) or bigger. But the hunt is still on for the remaining 5 percent and smaller rocks that could still inflict big damage.

Altogether, NASA has cataloged 18,310 objects of all sizes. Slightly more than 800 are 460 feet (140 meters) or bigger.

There’s no quick solution if a space rock is suddenly days, weeks or even months from striking, according to Johnson. But such short notice would give the world time, at least, to evacuate the area it might hit, he said.

Ground telescopes are good at picking up asteroids zooming into the inner solar system and approaching from the night side of Earth, Johnson said. What’s difficult to detect are rocks that have already zipped past the sun and are heading out of the solar system, approaching from the day side. That’s apparently what happened in 2013 when an asteroid about 66 feet (20 meters) in size suddenly appeared and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, damaging thousands of buildings and causing widespread injuries.

An asteroid double or even triple in size exploded over Tunguska, Russia, in 1908, leveling 770 square miles (2,000 square kilometers) of forest. According to the report released Wednesday, casualties could be in the …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News