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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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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Western Sanctions Are Quietly Undermining Russia's Fighting Power

Despite what the Kremlin claims, Western sanctions against Russia are working. Perhaps most important is the embargo on electronic component exports, which prevents the Russian army from rebuilding tanks and missiles severely depleted in the war.

Russian tanks roll down Moscow's Red Square during a Victory Day military parade

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARIS Europe is shooting itself in the foot.

That was the narrative that spread among both the public and economists: the European Union sanctions against Russia were bound to backfire, without ever really taking a toll on Moscow — power shortages this winter in the West, while Russia "bathes in cash" thanks to soaring energy prices and a rising ruble. All the while, the received wisdom told us, Moscow will be able to skirt any EU export embargoes via the black market or thanks to its Chinese ally.

The ever masochistic European Union was blindly following the U.S, rather than truly defending our interests by advocating a rapid diplomatic solution, a formula that ultimately means "just let Putin take Ukraine".

The only problem is that this narrative is that it's a myth. It is a line of rhetoric based on a lack of understanding of the real objectives and functioning of sanctions.

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