The Anonymous Widower

What Is The £150m Global Centre For Rail Excellence Scheme In South Wales?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Business Live.

This sub-title is a good summary.

The Welsh Government project aims to create a world first in testing trains and rail infrastructure at the same facility

It looks like it will be very comprehensive and is a classic example of the sort of things we should do to attract world class companies to the UK.

This paragraph talks about one of the site’s uses.

Rail infrastructure cannot be tested on a live railway because there isn’t a safe way of doing it. The internal track will have a wagon travelling around at 40mph putting new infrastructure through its paces with rigorous assessment. When owner of the UK rail network Network Rail, which is committed to using the facility, want to test equipment it has to use the Pueblo testing centre in Colorado, as do equivalent organisations in Europe.

It’s surely easier to go from anywhere in Western Europe to Wales than Colorado. Especially, if you want to take some equipmement that might weigh several tonnes.

Conclusion

The Welsh seem to have done their homework and also come up with an innovative use for a worked-out open cast coal mine.

 

March 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Long Covid And Coeliac Disease

I recently heard an interview with Adrian Chiles on Radio 5 about the so-called long covid

I am 73 and the more I read about Long Covid, the more I think I had something similar around 1958, when I had just started Minchenden Grammar School, where I missed most of the Spring Term. This was at the time of the 1957-8 flu pandemic., which killed between one and four million people worldwide.

This article on New Decoder is a personal memory of that pandemic, from an experienced journalist called Harvey Morris.

Last night, I was listening to another program about kids with long covid and they seemed to be describing how I felt all those years ago.

In 1997, at the age of fifty, I was diagnosed as a coeliac and have been gluten-free ever since. From friends and acquaintances, who are also coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet, it appears that none of us have had a serious dose of the covids, including one who works in an office with several cases of Covid-19.

This observation has been backed-up by peer-reviewed research at the University of Padua, who followed a group of coeliacs on a long-term gluten-free diet through the first wave of the pandemic. None caught the virus.

It should also be noted that Joe West at the University of Nottingham, has shown that coeliacs on a long-term gluten-free diet are 25 % less likely to get cancer, so do we have a strong immune system, that gives us this protection against against both cancer and the covids.

Coeliac disease has been called the many-headed hydra by many doctors, so could it be an alligator in the swamp of Covid-19?

Research needs to be done!

But could it be that in 1958, my less than perfect immune system, because I was not diagnosed as a coeliac and was not on a gluten-free diet, had difficulty overcoming the flu at the time?

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will Oxford Do For An Encore?

In the UK, I suspect nearly all of us have watched in admiration, as Oxford University have developed a Covid-19 vaccine for the world.

So what will be the University’s next big medical breakthrough.

Antibiotics

Today, this article on the BBC web site, which is entitled Oxford Research Tackles Threat Of Antibiotic Resistance, was published.

This was the introductory sub-heading.

Oxford University is opening a new research institute dedicated to tackling resistance to antibiotics.

To start the funding INEOS has chipped in a cool £100 million.

This paragraph summarises the project.

There will be 50 researchers working in the new Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance, addressing the “over-use and mis-use” of antibiotics, which the university warned could cause 10 million excess deaths per year by 2050.

To put that ten million excess deaths into perspective, the Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed 2.05 million worldwide.

It should be remembered that David Cameron warned of this problem back in 2014, as was reported in this article on the BBC, which was entitled Antibiotic Resistance: Cameron Warns Of Medical ‘Dark Ages‘.

This was the introductory paragraph.

The world could soon be “cast back into the dark ages of medicine” unless action is taken to tackle the growing threat of resistance to antibiotics, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Will the Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance, solve one of the most pressing problems facing the modern world?

Malaria Vaccine

Sometime, this week I either read in The Times or heard someone say on the BBC, that Oxford would soon be starting trials for a malaria vaccine developed by the same team, who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19.

This wasn’t the article in The Times, that I read, as it is dated the 5th of December 2020, but it does have a title of Malaria Vaccine Another Success Story For Jenner Institute Team Behind Covid Jab.

This is the first three paragraphs.

The Oxford team behind the coronavirus jab has taken a big step towards producing a cheap and effective vaccine for malaria.

The Jenner Institute said that it was due to enter the final stage of human trials with its vaccine, which it hopes could combat the almost half a million annual deaths, mainly in children.

“It’s going to be available in very large amounts — it works pretty well. And it’s going to be very low-priced,” Adrian Hill, director of the institute, said.

This looks to me, exactly what the world needs.

I’ve also found this page on the Oxford University web site, which is entitled Designer Malaria Vaccines.

This is the first two paragraphs on the page.

Malaria is one of the deadliest human diseases, killing a child in Africa every two minutes. A vaccine is urgently needed, but this is has proved extremely challenging because the malaria parasite is a master of disguise, able to change its surface coat to escape detection by the human body. However, structural biology is raising hopes for a vaccine against this killer parasite.

In order to replicate and develop, the malaria parasite must get inside human red blood cells – something that depends upon a malaria protein called RH5. Unlike the other variable malaria surface proteins, RH5 does not vary, making it more easily recognised and destroyed.

There is also this YouTube video.

From the video it looks like Oxford have used the Diamond Light Source to help develop the vaccine, just as the facility has been used to investigate Covid-19, as I wrote about in The Diamond Light Source And COVID-19.

I have added a new page called The Diamond Light Source And Malaria, which points to information on the Diamond Light web site.

There is also this Saturday Interview in The Times with Professor Adrian Hill, who is the Director of the Jenner Institute, at the University of Oxford.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Adrian Hill knew that this would be a big year. As head of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, this was the year, if all went well, he would announce a final large-scale trial into a vaccine to prevent a disease that was ravaging swathes of the planet. And this week, he did just that. Just not for the disease you’re thinking of.

A century after scientific research on the topic began, 30 years after he started working on it and eight years after this version was tried he has, he believes, an effective malaria vaccine. Now he is ready to try it at scale.

The interview is a must-read.

This paragraph from the article compares Covid-19 and malaria.

In the past 20 years, conventional public health investment has averted an estimated 1.5 billion malaria cases. Still, in an ordinary year it is one of the world’s biggest killers of children. “Malaria is a public health emergency. A lot more people will die in Africa this year from malaria than will die from Covid,” he says. “I don’t mean twice as many — probably ten times.”

The numbers show why a vaccine for malaria is so important.

Conclusion

Oxford University appears to have tremendous ambition, to see both these projects through to a successful conclusion.

I believe that their success with the Covid-19 vaccine will have major effects.

  • People like Jim Ratcliffe and Bill and Melinda Gates, drug companies and charities like Wellcome Trust, will be prepared to fund more research.
  • World-class researchers from all over the world will be drawn to work on Oxford’s projects.
  • If Oxford or another group needs another powerful research tool, like the Diamond Light Source, the government will look favourably at the project.

People love to support winners! Just look at how kids follow the football team, at the top of the Premier League, when they first get interested in the game.

If the AstraZeneca vaccine is a success in the poorer countries of this world, that can’t afford the more expensive commercial vaccines, that this could change the world in bigger ways, than anybody imagines.

It could be extremely good not just for AstraZeneca, Oxford University and the UK, but the whole world. And not just in 2021, but in the future as well!

 

 

 

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Natural’ Nasal Spray Could Stop Virus Before It Enters The Body

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

A Canadian nasal spray that has been shown to stop the coronavirus from spreading through the body will begin its first UK clinical trial tomorrow.

The SaNOtize nitric oxide spray is designed to prevent the virus from passing through the nose to the respiratory system. The trial will be run by Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey.

I shall be watching SaNOtize‘s development with interest, as something that could be similar got my life on track!

I am 73 and I was a very sickly child, despite the persistence of the GP, who delivered me, who was the superbly-named Dr. Egerton White, to try and sort out my problems.

I was always, having terms off school with respiratory problems, probably caused by the London smogs of the 1950s. We lived in Southgate and they had as bad smogs as anyone.

In the end, with the connivance of a pharmacist called Halliday, they formulated a nasal spray, that worked. I can still smell it!

My health improved with the Clean Air Act and during University in the seaside city of Liverpool.

Later, I worked for ICI on chemical plants and there was an unfounded story, that the pensions were good, as working on ammonia plants and the like kept you clear of all the viruses going around. But on retirement in all that clear air, you got everything that was going and died soon after leaving work. Hence the pension scheme had more money than it needed.

My health also improved, when at fifty I was diagnosed as a coeliac and went gluten-free.

Now after returning to London after the death of my wife and son to cancer, and suffering a serious stroke, my head is all choked up by the pollution. The Covid-19 lockdown makes it difficult to take the cure, which is a couple of days by the sea. Biarritz, Gdansk and Liverpool work a treat.

Trump Got It Wrong!

Trump was advocating injecting bleach to cure the Covids.

  • Note that bleach is a strong alkali
  • This spray is based on nitric oxide, which when mixed with water forms nitrous acid.
  • Wikipedia says not to mix-up the weak nitrous acid with nitric acid.

So Trumkopf couldn’t tell his alkali from his acid, which surely is a recipe for disaster.

Nitric Oxide

This is part of the introduction in the Wikipedia entry for nitric oxide.

An important intermediate in industrial chemistry, nitric oxide forms in combustion systems and can be generated by lightning in thunderstorms. In mammals, including humans, nitric oxide is a signaling molecule in many physiological and pathological processes. It was proclaimed the “Molecule of the Year” in 1992. The 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for discovering nitric oxide’s role as a cardiovascular signalling molecule.

I remember a fascinating BBC Horizon program about nitric oxide’s role as a signalling molecule.

  • It started with research done by a veterinary professor at Glasgow University, who believed that after experimenting with penises from dead bulls, concluded that nitrous oxide had something to do with it.
  • But his ideas were so out-of-kilter with established thought, that his research was sidelined at conferences in journals.
  • Reasons like it was a poison and such a simple molecule were given.
  • Then in London, someone who knew of his research, had a patient dying of toxic shock syndrome.
  • He suggested injecting the lady, with large amounts of nitrous oxide, in the hope they could save her life.
  • Her partner agreed.

And as it worked, there was a very happy ending.

 

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January 10, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

An Encore From The Team That Developed The Covid-19 Vaccine

This article on the Guardian is entitled Team Behind Oxford Covid Jab Start Final Stage Of Malaria Vaccine Trials.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Oxford team that has produced a successful coronavirus vaccine is about to enter the final stage of human trials in its quest for an inoculation against malaria.

The Jenner Institute director, Prof Adrian Hill, said the malaria vaccine would be tested on 4,800 children in Africa next year after early trials yielded promising results.

This is obviously good news for those, who live in areas affected by malaria, where in Africa a child under five dies every two minutes.

But surely, if the Jenner Institute can crack malaria, they should have the expertise to modify the current Cobid-19 vaccine to handle any new variants.

Conclusion

In my view, this is doubly good news!

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 3 Comments

Cup Of Tea Brightens The Day And The Mind

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Newcastle University.

This is the introductory paragraph.

If you’re enjoying a cup of tea and mince pie this festive season, you may be refreshing more than your palate, as research shows a good brew improves the attention span in those over 85-years-old.

I find this research interesting, mainly because I drink tea in large quantities, at a rate of at least six mugs a day.

But then my family seems to have an unusual drink problem.

  • I drink decaffinated builders tea and usually in a day, I’ll also drink two bottles of 0.5 % alcohol beer from Adnams and other soft drinks too!
  • My father was the same except that he would have a pint of Adnams a couple of times a week.
  • But his father drunk so much, he became an alcoholic and died at forty, well before I was born.
  • I also tend to have a mug of tea before I go to bed.
  • I’ve always preferred tea to coffee.
  • My fifty-year-old son is teetotal, but seems to drink a lot of tea and soft drinks.

As both my father and myself share a skin problem, which is probably related to coelic disease. I think, I sweat a lot of water through my skin, so I need to keep topping it up.

Conclusion

After reading the report from Newcastle University, I think I’ll keep drinking the tea.

 

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Food, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On COVID-19 On Merseyside

Merseyside is in trouble with the covids.

These are the number of lab confirmed cases per 100,000 population for local authorities in the area, as of the 1st October 2020.

  • Halton – 1108.1
  • Knowsley – 1388
  • Liverpool – 1244.5
  • Sefton – 1037.6
  • St. Helens – 1230.4
  • Wirral – 1185.5

My London Borough of Hackney, which is demographically, a bit like poorer parts of Liverpool, has a rate of 524.3.

But the gold standard to my mind is Cambridge, which has a rate of only 380.6.

Oxford, which is a very similar city to Cambridge has a much higher rate of 799.5,

Why Is Cambridge Doing So Well?

I was diagnosed as a coeliac at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, twenty-three years ago.

According to my consultant in the City at the time, Cambridge has a VERY high level of diagnosed coeliacs.

He told me, that he had more coeliac  patients, than any other gastroenterologist in the UK.

So why is the number of coeliacs so high in Cambridge?

I feel it is because Cambridge had a Whack-a-Coeliac policy in the 1990s, where they attempted to diagnose as many coeliacs as they could find.

I was certainly diagnosed at that time and judging by the speed they did the initial diagnosis, I suspect, they were using one of the first genetic tests. They were also doing endoscopies without anaesthetic to increase throughput!

Coeliacs, Cancer And The Covids

Diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system, which helps protect them from cancer, as has been shown by Joe West at Nottingham University.

I should also add, that none of my coeliac acquaintances have had a severe dose of the covids.

So does our stronger immune systems give us protection from the covids?

This could explain, why an area like Cambridge has a lower level of the covids than Oxford.

Why Is Merseyside In Trouble?

The Irish, because of historic famine, have higher levels of coeliac disease.

Comedians from the City have joked about Liverpool being the capital of Ireland for decades.

Could it be that there is a high percentage of undiagnosed coeliacs on Merseyside?

If this is true, could these undiagnosed coeliacs, with poorer immune systems, be easy pickings for the covids?

Conclusion

These actions should be taken.

  • Merseyside needs a Whack-a-Coeliac policy, if it doesn’t have one! It would certainly, improve cancer rates!
  • Every in-patient with the covids, should be given a quick blood test for coeliac disease.
  • Other research needs to be done to find out the any link between coeliac disease and the covids!

Not for nothing is coeliac disease regularly called the Many-Headed Hydra by some doctors and researchers.

 

 

 

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Chief Scientific Advisor And Chief Medical Officer Briefing On Coronavirus (COVID-19): 21 September 2020

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the Government web site.

The page gives full transcript of what was said.

This is a paragraph.

When people have an infection, the vast majority of people get an antibody response, and we know that some of those antibodies are so-called neutralising antibodies. They do indeed protect against the virus. We also know that they fade over time, and there are cases of people becoming re-infected. So this is not an absolute protection, and it will potentially decrease over time. What we see is that something under eight per cent of the population have been infected as we measure the antibodies, so about eight per cent, so 3 million or so people, may have been infected and have antibodies. It means that the vast majority of us are not protected in any way and are susceptible to this disease. There may be other forms of protection that increase that number a little bit, other parts of the immune system, but it does mean the vast majority of the population remain susceptible, and therefore you’d expect spread throughout them. The number of people with antibodies is a little higher in the cities, and it may be as high as 17 per cent or so in London. That may confer a little slowing of spread but not much more than that. At that point I’ll pass over to Chris to take you through some of the other features of the epidemic. Chris.

Note that I have indicated some of Professor Vallance’s words in colour.

What does he mean?

Could he be alluding to some people having a better immune system than others and are less likely to get COVID-19?

  • I am a coeliac on a gluten-free diet.
  • Research by Joe West at Nottingham University has shown that coeliacs like me, are 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer. Could this be because of our condition or our diet, coeliacs like me, have a very strong immune system?
  • I have various coeliac contacts, including several who read this blog and so far, I haven’t heard of one, who has suffered a bad dose of the covids.

Research should be done to see if there is a beneficial link between coeliac disease and COVID-19!

Conclusion

Patrick Vallance was certainly alluding to something!

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Lightweight Green Supercapacitors Could Quickly Charge Devices

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Texas A & M Today.

 

This is the sub-title.

Texas A&M researchers have designed a new energy storage device that can store a charge up to 900 times greater than state-of-the-art supercapacitors.

It appears what they have developed is plant-based.

They appear to use lignin and potassium permanganate to create the electrodes for a supercapacitor.

It looks to be interesting research.

September 8, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

Sweden’s HYBRIT Starts Operations At Pilot Plant For Fossil-Free Steel

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Reuters UK.

These are the first paragraph.

Swedish green steel venture HYBRIT, owned by SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall [VATN.UL] and miner LKAB, on Monday started test operations at its pilot plant for fossil-free steel in Lulea, Sweden.

The HYBRIT web site outlines the process on its home page.

In 2016, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joined forces to create HYBRIT – an initiative that endeavors to revolutionize steel-making. HYBRIT aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with hydrogen. The result will be the world’s first fossil-free steel-making technology, with virtually no carbon footprint.

During 2018, work started on the construction of a pilot plant for fossil-free steel production in Luleå, Sweden. The goal is to have a solution for fossil-free steel by 2035. If successful, HYBRIT means that together we can reduce Sweden’s CO2 emissions by 10% and Finland’s by 7%.

This could be a very significant development.

August 31, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , | Leave a comment