NEWS worthy Clips

FDA approves first once-a-day pill for AIDS virus

The U.S. government recently approved the first once-a-day pill that combines three drugs widely used for people infected with the AIDS virus. The drug, dubbed Atripla, was developed by Gilead Sciences and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Health experts have long sought a once-a-day pill that would combine all the multiple anti-viral medicines a person infected with HIV often takes. Although drug companies have gradually reduced the number of pills patients have had to take each day, Atripla’s approval should make life easier and safer for those afflicted with the disease.

A 2003 study published in the International Journal of STD & AIDS found that 64 percent of those with HIV reported having forgotten to take their medications at least once. And the more doses they had to take each day, the more likely they were to forget. Failing to take a pill can encourage the growth of drug-resistant strains of the virus, rendering the medicine ineffective and eventually increasing the risk that the drug-resistant viruses may spread.

The new combination pill contains three drugs, which many people with HIV already take separately. However, the price for the combination pill may not be any lower than the price of the drugs purchased separately. The retail price is determined by pharmacies.

In the United States, AIDS has killed more than a half million people and infected nearly 1.2 million others. Although not every-one who has HIV will be able to take Atripla, the drug is expected to be a major revenue producer for its makers. Investment bank CIBC World Makets has predicted its sales could total $576 million next year and $1.6 billion by 2010.

China opens rail link to Tibet

In a project that may dramatically alter the face of isolated Tibet, China has completed a staggeringly difficult railway across high-altitude terrain to the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. On the two-day trip, passengers remain in sealed carriages as the train climbs to the Tibetan plateau and passes delicate tundra inhabited by antelope, yaks and wild donkeys.

Three 900 passenger trains run every day in what China calls a journey to and from “the roof of the world.” As trains traverse a peak elevation of 16,640 feet above sea level, oxygen flows into the sealed carriages to keep passengers from keeling over with altitude sickness. The trains are also equipped with coated double-paned windows to reduce high-altitude radiation, special lightning rods, wireless telecommunications networks and systems to compress garbage and contain sewage.

Chinese authorities have touted their efforts in protecting the environment during the $4 billion project. They’ve also said that the rail link would be a huge boon to the economy of Tibet, which now has a single highway that’s passable year-round to the outside world. Train tickets cost about $50.

“The railway facilitates the movement of people, goods and information,” said Zhu Zhensheng, head of the Tibet railway division of the Ministry of Railways.

For decades, travel to Tibet has been costly or bone-jarringly wearying. Round-trip air tickets from Beijing sell for about $600. Trips by land can take more than a week over rutted roads hit by dust and snowstorms.

“I came to Beijing four years ago and haven’t gone home once,” said Zheng Xingqiang, 24, a graduate student from Tiber. “The air ticket is too expensive, but I can afford a railway ticket.”

Japanese gadget records, replicates odor

People stopping to smell the roses can now take that floral fragrance home with them thanks to a new gadget in Japan that records and replicates the world’s odors.

The new device, developed by scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, analyzed smells through 15 sensors, record the odor’s recipe in digital format and then reproduces the scent by mixing 96 chemicals and vaporizing the result.

Creator Takamichi Nakamoto says the technology will have applications in food and fragrance industries where companies want to replicate odors. But it could also be a boon for the digital world, allowing smells to be recorded in one place — by sensors in a mobile phone, for instance — and transmitted to appreciative noses halfway around the world. It could also aid online shoppers by letting people check out perfumes or flowers before they buy.

Nakamoto says his machine, in the works since 1999, is the most advanced of its kind in the world, through a similar project is also underway at Japan’s Keio University. So far, the machine is far too big to be portable.

The breakthrough follow on the heels of a Japanese Smell-o-vision project that synchronized smells to movie scenes. That odorous project was undertaken by NTT Communications and emitted smells from under sears in two movie theaters to accompany parts of the film The New World, a Hollywood adventure film.

Nakamoto’s smell recorder has successfully recreated a range of fruit smells, including oranges, apples, bananas and lemons, but can be reprogrammed to produce almost any odor — from old fish to gasoline, he said.

“The sensitivity of the human nose is very good,” Nakamoto said. “But some extent we can replicate the performance.”

  • render : to cause someone or something to be in a particular state
    使成為;使變得;使處於某種狀態
  • alter : to change something, usually slightly, or to cause the characteristics of something to change (通常指輕微地)改動,修改;改變,(使)變化
  • boon : something that is very helpful and improves the quality of life
    提高生活素質的東西;有用之物
  • replicate : to make or do something again in exactly the same way 使複現;重複;複製
  • on the heels of : to happen very soon after something …之後緊接著發生,緊隨…而來
  • synchronize : to (cause to) happen at the same time (使)同步(使)同時發生
  • extent : the degree or limit of something
  • STD 性病
  • strain 病毒株
  • tundra 凍原
  • keel over 倒下

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