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U. launches study of HPV vaccine to treat anal cancer

The University’s Oncology Research Group has begun a clinical trial for a vaccine aimed to combat anal cancer.

The vaccine, developed by biotechnology company Advaxis, targets the Human Papilloma Virus and is being tested to treat a variety of HPV-associated diseases, including anal cancer, according to an Advaxis press release.

At least 80 percent of anal cancer cases are associated with HPV, according to the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation’s website. The vaccine causes immune cells to attack cancer cells with an HPV target, according to the release.

The University’s research group will test the vaccine on 25 anal cancer patients to evaluate its safety, side effects and effectiveness after six months. During the study, the vaccine will be used in conjunction with radiation and chemotherapy, according to the release.


Farming practice associated with economic developments

Double cropping — the practice of reusing crop land within a single year — has been associated with economic growth for rural citizens of the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, according to a new study by University researchers.

The findings, published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, resulted from a collaboration between the University’s sociology and geological sciences departments.

Professor of Geological Sciences John Mustard and his students examined satellite images of Mato Grosso from 2000 to 2001 and from 2010 to 2011, examining changes in greenness over each of the year-long periods, according to a University press release. Two green peaks in a year indicated that a particular region had been double-cropped.

Associate Professor of Sociology Leah VanWey and her students then compared these findings with measures of economic growth, according to the release. While single cropping was not associated with increased economic gains, double cropping was associated with higher Gross Domestic Product, higher median incomes, better education and improvements in public sanitation.

The authors said in the study they have not established a causal relationship between double cropping and economic growth. VanWey’s team is currently working to identify what makes double cropping effective, according to the release.


Moon study raises questions about crater formation

New research from the University’s department of geological sciences suggests mineral structure may be preserved in the formation of lunar craters. The findings, published last month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, challenge the current understanding of the process of impact cratering.

During the formation of a crater, the force of the impact may result in a pool of melted rock. Geologists long assumed this process would mix together all the different types of minerals in the area, according to a University press release. By the time the rock resolidified, previously distinct mineral types would be melded together.

Using imaging data from the spectrometer M3 — which circled the moon in 2008 and 2009 — the researchers analyzed how light of different wavelengths reflected off the surface of the Copernicus crater. Analysis of light absorption revealed the presence of two distinct types of rock, one of which bore resemblance to the pre-crater minerology, according to the release.

“The takeaway here is that impact melt deposits aren’t bland,” said lead author Deepak Dhingra GS in the release. “The implication is that we don’t understand the impact cratering process quite as well as we thought.”


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