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Easter Island Bacteria Holds Cure To Rare Disease

Easter Island Bacteria Holds Cure To Rare Disease

In the faraway verdant landscape of Easter Island, isolated in the Pacific Ocean, lives a rare type of bacteria that could be the key to curing a host of debilitating illnesses. Rapamycin, named for what the indigenous call the island it is found on — Rapa Nui — is used to produce an antibiotic named sirolimus, commonly used to treat organ rejection in transplant patients.

Now, researchers from an Italian medical team have proven that sirolimus can treat cavernous cerebral malformations and potentially several other conditions, reports Italian dailyLa Stampa.

Cavernous malformations are groups of small capillaries that are prone to leakage, and while the condition only affects 3 to 5 in 1,000 people in the world, and often does not cause symptoms, cerebral malformations can also lead to severe consequences — ranging from brain hemorrhages to epilepsy and loss of vision. Rapamycin acts on the disease by helping the body recover its capacity for autophagy, which is the process of degrading and destroying cellular components and waste to keep the body functioning normally.

CCM Italia, the medical network behind the project, published the study showing that sirolimus can stop the atrophy of autophagy and help the body recover its ability to eliminate unwanted material in its cells.

"This opens the path to potentially cheap and rapid therapeutic cures for the treatment of cavernous cerebral malformations," Saverio Marchi, a researcher at the University of Ferrara, and author of the study told La Stampa. "It's also being used in clinical trials for the treatment of complex vascular anomalies in children."

Easter Island is often identified with its mysterious Moai statues and its ancient culture, rather than any medicinal breakthrough. It seems the small Pacific island has given the world yet another hard-to-explain wonder, this time in the form of life-saving bacteria.

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Turkey: The Blind Spot Between Racial And Religious Discrimination

Before the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war, a social media campaign in Turkey aimed to take on anti-Arab and anti-refugee sentiment. But the campaign ultimately just swapped one type of discrimination for another.

photo of inside Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque

Muslims and tourists visiting Istanbul's Eminonu New Mosque.

Levent Gültekin


ISTANBUL — In late September, several pro-government journalists in Turkey promoted a social media campaign centered around a video against those in the country who are considered anti-Arab. The campaign was built around the idea of being “siblings in religion,” and the “union of the ummah,” or global Muslim community.

(In a very different context, such sentiments were repeated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Israel-Hamas war erupted.)

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While the goal is understandable, these themes are highly disconnected from reality.

First, let's look at the goal of the campaign. Our country has a serious problem of irregular migrants and refugees, and the administration isn’t paying adequate attention to this. On the contrary, they encourage the flow of refugees with policies such as selling citizenship.

Worries about irregular migrants and refugees naturally create tension in the society. The anger that targets not the government but the refugees has come to a point which both threatens the social peace and brought the issue to hostility towards the Arabs, even the tourists. The actual goal of this campaign by the pro-government journalists is obvious if you consider how an anti-tourist movement would hurt Turkey’s economy.

However, as mentioned above, while the goal is understandable, the themes of the “union of the ummah” and “siblings in religion” are problematic. The campaign offers the idea of being siblings in religion as an argument against the rising racism towards irregular migrants and refugees; a different form of racism or discrimination.

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