Community News (Vol. 13 Issue 43)

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Penn. State researcher reports virus kills breast cancer cells

Penn State College of Medicine researchers, led by Dr. Samina Alam,  say they have found a virus that kills human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, a development that could lead to new treatments of the disease.

Researchers used a naturally occurring version of the adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) on three different breast cancer types, representing various stages of the disease. In the culture dishes in the laboratory, the virus destroys all the cancer cells within seven days.

Craig Meyers, professor of microbiology and immunology at the medical college in Hershey and one of the researchers on the project, said breast cancer is problematic to treat because of its multiple stages. “Currently, treatment of breast cancer is dependent on multiple factors such as hormone-dependency, invasiveness and metastases, drug resistance and potential toxicities. Our study shows that AAV2, as a single entity, targets all different grades of breast cancer,” Meyers said in a news release.

The study, published Aug. 9 in the online journal Molecular Cancer, was led by Samina Alam of Penn State College of Medicine.

Additional research needs to be completed to determine how the virus is killing the cancer cells and whether therapeutic applications should involve the virus itself or a drug that mimics what it does.

Dupage County’s new rules expected to hurt mosque

DUPAGE COUNTY, IL–A new set of zoning laws, expected to be voted on shortly by the Dupage County Board has sparked concerns from activists.

The changes would allow houses of worship into all zoning districts by right, unlike before. However, they would have to follow new requirements for larger lot sizes, access to major arterial roads, use of public water and sewer lines and they would be limited as to how much of the land could be covered by building.

Amy Lawless of DuPage United told WBEZ news that the changes will “prevent many, many congregations from even considering to build,” said Lawless, “because it will be so costly in order to meet all of these restrictions.”

Lawless says the new rules would particularly hurt DuPage County’s fast-growing Muslim population, which has lately submitted more applications for new worship spaces than any other faith group.

Northwestern students raise funds for Africa famine

EVANSTON,IL–The Muslim-cultural Students Association, in association with the African Students Association and other groups of Northwestern University, is raising funds for the victims of famine in the horn of Africa.

The campaign, called NU Sounds the Horn for East Africa, kicked off  fundraising last week with a  booth in the Norris University Center. The ASA plans to begin selling t-shirts and reaching out to other groups on campus for donations later next week.

The campus-wide effort is in response to a cycle of severe droughts that have led to food shortages in regions of Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, affecting an estimated 12 million people, according to the American Red Cross.

Hate crime charges in VA assault

WASHINGTON D.C.– CAIR has called on the Office of the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County Maryland to bring hate crime charges against a Prince Frederick man scheduled to go to trial on Monday, October 17, for allegedly assaulting a Virginia Muslim limousine driver.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says the alleged assault took place on March 11 of this year when the Muslim limo driver of Moroccan origin reported that he picked up two passengers in Washington, D.C., shortly after midnight and was asked to take them to National Harbor.

After learning that the driver’s name is Mohammed, one of the passengers asked whether he was Muslim. When the driver said he is Muslim, that admission allegedly prompted both passengers to use religious and ethnic slurs and make threats to the life of the driver.

When the limo arrived at the destination, one of the passengers allegedly punched the driver in the head, knocking him to the ground and fracturing his wrist. Both passengers were subsequently arrested and charged.

“The State of Maryland should pursue this incident for what it is — a hate crime,” said CAIR Staff Attorney Gadeir Abbas, who is representing the alleged victim. “There have been too many American Muslims who have borne the brunt of growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our nation. These crimes will stop only when those responsible for enforcing the law make it clear that perpetrators of hate crimes against American Muslims will be held to account.”

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Journey of a Lifetime

November 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent

2009-11-24T065219Z_497529973_GM1E5BO15BZ01_RTRMADP_3_HAJJ The journey to attend the Hajj pilgrimage is an essential pillar of Islam that all Muslims of means must perform at least once in a lifetime. Pilgrims from all over the world began to pour into the holy city of Makkah weeks ago with an estimated 2.5 million Muslims expected to perform the Hajj rituals this year.

The Hajj season has, for years, presented a host of difficulties for Muslims performing the sacred journey, which reveals the fleeting nature of the material world we live in. However, this year has revealed even more trials that pilgrims will have to cope with. The primary concern is, of course, the H1N1 virus. Before the pilgrimage has even commenced, 20 pilgrims have been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus while 4 people had died. Many of the pilgrims have been inoculated against the deadly H1N1 virus, however many have not. And recent scenes coming out of Makkah via satellite television show that only a handful of the masses are donning the infamous white surgical masks as a means of prevention. More than 20,000 medical personnel have been dispatched throughout the city and in the city of Medina to cope with H1N1 virus as well as other maladies that pilgrims may become afflicted with. Pilgrims arriving at the airport are being screened for H1N1 symptoms before they enter the Kingdom and the government has ordered a veritable army of doctors to be on duty around the clock.

This Hajj season also sees renewed tensions erupting between the Saudi Arabian government and the Iranian government over the way the latter perceives its pilgrims have been discriminated against during past pilgrimages. The war of words between both governments exploded recently when Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei said, “Such acts are against the unity of Muslims and contribute to the goals and wishes of the US and foreign intelligence services. The Saudi government should fulfill its duty in confronting these acts.” To which the Saudi Arabian government retorted, “The kingdom does not permit any party to disrupt the security of the pilgrims or to attempt to divide the ranks of Muslims.” It is a very really concern this hajj season that sectarian violence could break out during Islam’s most holy occasion. More than 100,000 security personnel have been dispatched to maintain order and keep the pilgrims safe.

The current hajj season also marks the unveiling of a newly built bridge that will help diversify the traffic at one of the most important areas of the Hajj – the Jamarat or ritual ‘Stoning of the Devil’. This area is the most highly congested and where stampedes have occurred in the past killing pilgrims. The most horrific stampede occurred in 2006 when 364 pilgrims were crushed to death and scores more were maimed or injured. The 5-storey walkway is over 3,000 feet long and over 260 feet wide. It was built at a cost of over $1 billion and the Saudi government hopes that it will facilitate pilgrims as a safe passageway while simultaneously assisting them in fulfilling a Hajj rite.

And as if the dark cloud looming over this year’s hajj could not get any bigger, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of a coup by extremists who seized the Grand Mosque in a stunning act of aggression that sent shockwaves reverberating around the world. Saudi Arabian and French security personnel eventually stormed the mosque in a bloody battle that cost hundreds of lives.

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Back to School?

August 27, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

School Bus - Cartoon 7 The photo spreads in local sales circulars in Kuwait bear all the familiar ‘back to school’ images of kids wearing cute outfits complete with backpacks swung over an arm. The ‘back to school’ sales placards cover the storefronts over most businesses that are competing for each sale as the global downturn continues to dig in. However, despite the familiar images, there is nothing ordinary about this school year that is set to start in only a few days.

The H1N1 virus, known as the ‘swine flu’, has cast a dark shadow over the Holy Month of Ramadan and impending school year that is set to start on the first of September in all Gulf countries. More than 1,100 people in Kuwait alone have already been diagnosed with the H1N1 virus, and while almost all of the patients have recovered, three people have died as a result of the H1N1 virus. The Kuwaiti government has been vigilant in providing public service announcements, via various media, since the spring when the first few cases were reported in Mexico and later America. The H1N1 virus ahs spread to all regions of the Middle East as each country can only count as the rapidity of infection rises.

In Kuwait, in particular, many parents have been sounding the alarm as the summer holidays have slowly begun to fade away. Concerned ministries, primarily the Ministries of Health and Education, met this past week to discuss the possible closing of schools to avoid the spread of the H1N1 virus. The results were less than fruitful. The joint decision as of press time is to only postpone the start of Kindergarten classes in both public and private schools for 10 days. Regular classes are set to resume as usual on September 1st.

The Kuwaiti government has also this week developed a swine flu plan, which is supposed to be put into effect by school administrators in the tiny Gulf state. Desks will be positioned 1 meter apart and congregating, in the cafeteria or at the playground, will be forbidden. Health Minister Helal Al-Sayer further announced that, in the event that a single student comes down with the H1N1 virus, the entire class will be closed indefinitely. He also said that if any school reports more than 5% of the student population are infected with the H1N1 virus then the entire school will be closed.  Individual students, who are suspected of having the H1N1 virus by teachers while in class, will be quarantined until health officials can properly diagnose their affliction. Al-Sayer further announced that 120 schools would be outfitted with special clinics specifically for the treatment of students suffering from the H1N1 virus.  The remaining schools in the country have no such facilities and it remains to be seen if health officials will monitor each school individually.

Kuwait is not the only Middle Eastern country to take ‘back to school’ swine flu precautions. Several private schools in Dubai have also postponed the start of the school year by several days. However, no Gulf country has taken as drastic measures as Oman. The country has cancelled the school term for both private and public schools until mid-December when the H1N1 vaccine, expected to be available in September, will have immunized pupils from the deadly virus. So far 5 people have died in Oman from the H1N1 virus.

When asked about the current decision the Kuwaiti government has made to continue with the start of the school year as normal, a Pakistani housewife and resident of Kuwait who wishes to remain anonymous said, “ What’s the point in closing a class after a student gets sick? The whole class will already be infected. I can only pray that the Minster will change the decision before school starts.”

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Swine Flu Explained, for kids

August 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

ibn tufail 8-17-09

Novel Influenza A (H1N1) virus (also referred to as “pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus” or “swine flu”) is a type of influenza (flu) virus that causes respiratory disease that can spread between people. Most people infected with this virus in the United States have had mild disease, but some have had more severe illness. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. Since the WHO declaration of a pandemic, the new H1N1 virus has continued to spread, with the number of countries reporting cases of novel H1N1 nearly doubling. The Southern Hemisphere’s regular influenza season has begun and countries there are reporting that the new H1N1 virus is spreading and causing illness along with regular seasonal influenza viruses. In the United States, significant novel H1N1 illness has continued into the summer, with localized and in some cases intense outbreaks occurring.

Symptoms: The symptoms of novel influenza A (H1N1) virus in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. If you are sick or think you have novel influenza A (H1N1) virus infection, please contact your healthcare provider.

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

* Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the disease.

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Dr. Kamran Khan leads team which predicts H1N1 spread

July 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

kamran khan TORONTO, Canada–A system developed by Canadian researchers to rapidly evaluate the world’s air traffic patterns accurately predicted how the H1N1 virus would spread around the world. The team is led by Dr. Kamran Khan.

Infectious disease physicians at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital say that by evaluating air traffic patterns around the world, they were able to predict how the virus would spread globally.

Dr. Kamran Khan and colleagues analyzed flight itineraries of more than 2.3 million passengers who left Mexico on commercial flights in March and April. The team found that countries that received more travellers from Mexico were more likely to import cases of the H1N1 flu virus.

As well, the cities that received the largest number of travellers from Mexico were more likely to have imported H1N1 flu cases. The researchers found that welcoming 1,400 travellers from Mexico put a country at high risk of imported cases of the virus.

Dr. Khan has an MD from University of Toronto and an MPH from Columbia University. His research focuses on global migration and infectious diseases with a particular emphasis on the health of recent immigrant and refugee populations to industrialized nations such as Canada and the United States.

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