In The News

CBC: What’s in your chicken sandwich?

March 2, 2017

If you're one of many Canadians who opt for chicken sandwiches at your favourite fast food restaurant, you may find the results of a CBC Marketplace investigation into what's in the meat a little hard to swallow. A DNA analysis of the poultry in several popular grilled chicken sandwiches and wraps found at least one fast food restaurant isn't serving up nearly as much of the key ingredient as people may think. In the case of two popular Subway sandwiches, the chicken was found to contain only about half chicken DNA. Will Mahood, a loyal customer who considered Subway chicken sandwiches a lunchtime staple, was alarmed by the findings. To Mahood, messages from fast food companies can make it sound like "you're taking it straight from a farm and it's just a fresh piece of meat." DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University's Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory tested the poultry in six popular chicken sandwiches. Read the full article here.

CBC: University of Windsor lab uses compound inspired by flower to kill cancer cells

February 24, 2017

A University of Windsor lab has successfully used a compound inspired by a flower to target and kill cancer. A team led by chemistry professor Siyaram Pandey has discovered a lab-synthesized drug compound based on extract from the common spider lily plant to kill 20 varieties of cancer cells. "This drug is very selective and targets the mitochondria of various cancer cells to induce apoptosis, which means the cancer cells commit suicide and the normal cells continue to thrive," explained Pandey. "We are talking about a drug that could be 10 times more effective that the very toxic chemotherapy drug Taxol." Originally, it took one kilogram of spider lily buds to make one milligram of the compound, but by teaming up with other Ontario universities a non-toxic, synthetic compound called pancratistatin was created. Read full article here.

YFile: Researchers develop math models to address antibiotic resistance in healthcare facilities

February 23, 2017

Scientists at York University and a national team of collaborators have developed new mathematical models that will help researchers, doctors and policymakers address the challenging public health issue of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. The research, co-led by postdoctoral fellows Josie Hughes and Xi Huo, was published in the journal PLOS ONE. Drug-resistant bacteria, commonly called superbugs, are a really big issue in healthcare facilities because they can spread easily and cause an outbreak,” says a co-author Jianhong Wu, Canada Research Chair and University Distinguished Research Professor at the Faculty of Science at York University. “As you might imagine, it’s hard to contain these infections when treatments are ineffective. And experts worry that it’s only a matter of time before we run out of effective options to treat most infections.” The team developed math models that focus on a strategy called “antimicrobial de-escalation,” which is widely used in hospitals but poorly understood in terms of its effects. Read the full article here.  

Globe and Mail: How a ‘fart pill’ could potentially do wonders for human health

February 8, 2017

There is no dog to blame here.

There is, however, a small black box on the wall of each room in this little research laboratory toward the rear of the Laurentian University campus. Each box has special sensors that can, if necessary, sound an alarm.

“Fart detectors,” Dr. Rui Wang calls them.

He is laughing but not joking. The sensors are not there to catch squeakers but to protect lives. Dr. Wang and his associates deal with H2S, hydrogen sulfide, a gas that is stinky but harmless in small doses and deadly in large releases. It is the No. 1 occupational hazard for those who work in oil and natural gas.

“Protection, not detection,” he says, warmly tapping on the little black box.

While mass quantities of the gas can be a danger to human life in the energy industry, Dr. Wang believes the gas, moderated in extremely small quantities, can be harnessed to do wonders for people’s health.

Read the full article here.

Ottawa Citizen: ‘Biggest breakthrough since antidepressants’ is turning lives around in Ottawa

January 27, 2017

John was suicidal, depressed and unresponsive to other treatment when he was accepted into a drug trial at the Royal Ottawa Hospital that he says saved his life. The Ottawa father of three, whose name is being withheld at his request, is one of a growing number of suicidal patients whose lives have been turned around through experimental treatment with a drug that has another life as a street drug known as Special K . Ketamine, a long-used anesthetic, is now being studied for its ability to rapidly stop suicidal thoughts in a high percentage of patients — including in John — when given intravenously. “I was suicidal. I was desperate,” the 50-year-old man said. After intravenous treatment with ketamine, he said, he started to feel better almost immediately. Although he has had some relapse of depression, it is more manageable, he said, because his suicidal thoughts are gone. “I am able to spend time with my kids, to at least feel like a normal human being. Before, I was one step away from getting into another world. Now those thoughts don’t bother me.” Dr. Pierre Blier, director of the mood disorders research unit at the Royal and a professor at the University of Ottawa, calls ketamine “the biggest breakthrough since the introduction of anti-depressants.” Read the full article here.

CBC: What’s in a name? Your shot at a job according to study

January 27, 2017

How your name sounds could mean the difference between getting a call back for a job interview and being ignored, according to a new study. Job seekers with Asian names — including Indian, Pakistani and Chinese names — are less likely to be called for interviews than people with anglo-sounding names, the study conducted by the University of Toronto and Ryerson University found. The study separated candidates into three different groups: Anglo-sounding names with Canadian qualifications Names used: Greg Johnson, Emily Brown Asian-sounding names with Canadian qualifications Names used: Lei Li, Xuiying Zhang, Samir Sharma, Tara Singh, Ali Saeed, Hina Chaudhry Asian-sounding names with foreign qualifications Despite having nearly identical education and experience, the second group — Asian-sounding names with Canadian qualifications — received twenty to forty per cent less callbacks than the first group. There was no significant difference in results among the Asian-sounding groups, which included names of Indian, Pakistani and Chinese origin. This is what study co-author, Rupa Banerjee, calls an employer's "implicit bias." Read full article here.