The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


Mouse Study Sheds Light On Why Some Cancer Vaccines Fail

Mar 4, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2013 2:31 pm

In the quest for better cancer medicines, vaccines that treat rather than prevent disease are getting lots of attention.

More than 90 clinical trials have tested therapeutic vaccines in cancer patients, but the results have been a mixed bag.

A recent study in mice suggests that changing a traditional ingredient in the vaccines could make a big difference.

A typical therapeutic vaccine against cancer contains a cancer-specific peptide, or protein fragment, that is injected under a patient's skin. The peptide serves as a red flag for the immune system. If all goes well, the patient's immune system recognizes the peptide as something to be attacked and boosts the population of cancer-fighting T-cells in the bloodstream.

For such vaccines to work against the cancers, though, these cells have to find their way to tumors. This migration might not be happening as expected in traditional human cancer vaccines, says Willem Overwijk, an author of the study in the latest Nature Medicine and an assistant professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Cancer vaccines typically include a substance called IFA, short for "incomplete Freund's adjuvant." Adjuvants are chemicals added to vaccines to stimulate an immune response.

"IFA is a mineral oil that is not biodegradable by the body," says Overwijk. This was thought to be helpful in cancer vaccines because the longer the vaccine sticks around in the body, the greater the immune response and the more T-cells that can be produced, Overwijk says.

But when mice were injected with an IFA vaccine against melanoma, the study reports that most of the T-cells in the bloodstream went to the site of the vaccine injection — not the tumor.

"The body doesn't know how to deal with the mineral oil [in IFA], and the body cannot get rid of that big blob of vaccine ... that sits under the skin. The T-cells go back and try to kill the oil, but they can't," he says.

When the oily IFA was replaced with water or saline — substances easily processed by mice and men — the T-cells migrated to the tumors and began to destroy them.

If these results hold up in humans, they could lead to a shift in the approach to making therapeutic cancer vaccines because most clinical trials now are testing vaccines that use peptides and IFA. "This finding applies to all of those — it's not limited to a certain cancer type," Overwijk says.

The results of this study confirm the findings of others in the field, and could be an important addition to cancer vaccine research, says Dr. Jeffery Weber, a tumor immunologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, who wasn't associated with the study.

"Though, one word of caution is that obviously the skin and the subcutaneous tissue of a mouse is a lot different than in a human, so it's a little hard to extrapolate. But within the reasonable limits I have some confidence," Weber told Shots.

Overwijk and collaborators at the University of Virginia expect to start a human clinical trial using saline or water-based cancer vaccines sometime this year. But, he says, these non-IFA vaccines have problems, too.

"While it is better than the IFA, we think water may actually be a little too ephemeral. Too short, and you don't get the activation of the immune system." Overwijk says. Another barrier is the difficulty in tracking human T-cells via biopsy — a process that wasn't necessary in mice, where the cells could be fluorescently labeled.

Though there are plenty of unresolved issue in cancer vaccine research, Overwijk says that these results could be important for improving future clinical trials. It's "an eye-opener," he says, a kind of "'Aha!' moment after years of using these same vaccines."

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