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“The combination of living in so many places with different people and attending so many different schools did not dislocate Nasser, it broadened his horizons—he got to know Egypt well. This meant becoming aware of the class divisions which racked it. Gamal travelled from one place to another by train, and he must have seen how inhumanely crowded the third-class compartments were and noted the conditions of the poor fellahin, or peasants who travelled in and even on top of them. Most fellahin travelled with all their earthly belongings gathered in one bundle which they carried on their backs, and most suffered from obvious eye and tooth disease. (

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Diabetes mellitus develops spontaneously in middle aged obese rhesus monkeys, thus making them a good model for examining the effects of co-morbid factors on the development of end organ damage. Investigators from Johns Hopkins University have reported the structure and function in the eyes of one monkey who developed type 2 diabetes. The eyes showed intraretinal haemorrhages and large areas of retinal capillary non-perfusion. ICG angiography revealed a large area of non-perfused or poorly perfused choriocapillaris in one eye. Both basal laminar deposits and hard drusen were present on areas of Bruch’s membrane adjacent to non-viable choriocapillaris. Blood flow by the nasal posterior ciliary arteries to this section of choroid was not detectable by colour duplex Doppler ultrasound, indicating contribution of extraocular vascular disease to ischaemia in this eye. (

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Guidelines were originally published in 2002 for selection of patients for treatment with photodynamic therapy with verteporfin. Since 2002 additional information relevant to clinical care has been published. Revision to the 2002 guidelines on patient selection criteria include the following: (1) in cases due to age related macular degeneration, lesion composition of predominantly classic choroidal neovascularisation, or occult with no classic choroidal neovascularisation with presumed recent disease progression or relatively small minimally classic lesions, (2) classic choroidal neovascularisation location subfoveal or so close to the foveal centre that conventional laser photocoagulation treatment almost certainly would extend under the centre, (3) aetiology of classic choroidal neovascularisation from age related macular degeneration, pathological myopia, or other causes in which the outcome without treatment is likely to be worse than with treatment; and (4) vision at a level where further loss would be recognised as detrimental to quality of life of the patient. (

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Although only 5% of those exposed to mycobacteria go on to develop acute tuberculosis, many have latent infections that have escaped antibiotic treatment and may recrudesce with stress or ageing. Investigators have recently tested a combined vaccine-chemotherapy regimen for its ability to prevent reactivation of disease in mice. Investigators made a DNA vaccine in a pGX10 vector containing two genes they had tested previously. In mice this vaccine coupled with isoniazid and pyrazinamide prevented reactivation of disease. (

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The National Cancer Institute is hoping to launch a $1.5 million effort to identify all major mutations in most human cancers. The 10 year project would gather tumour samples from thousands of patients. The goal to identify all mutations occurring at 5% frequency in the 50 most common types of cancer, would require 250 samples per type or 15 000 samples. The project would be jointly managed by MCI and the National Human Genome Research Institute. (

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The perception of surface albedo (lightness) is one of the most basic aspects of visual awareness. It is well known that apparent lightness of a target depends on the context in which it is embedded. Recent research suggests that the visual system explicitly separates surface reflectance from the prevailing illumination and atmospheric conditions in which it is embedded. Recent experiments suggest that mechanisms involved in decomposing images into layered representations can have a decisive role in the perception of surface lightness. (

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Elevated blood pressure is recognised as one of the risk factors for stroke. However, in a large prospective study of adults aged 45–73, 12% of strokes occurred in people with normal blood pressure. Multivaried analysis revealed that the other risk factors were older age, smoking, established heart disease, and increased body mass index. A new risk factor however emerged from this study: a history of gastric ulcer. More surprising was the finding that there was no relation between stroke and diabetes. (

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It is well recognised that a significant proportion of patients who undergo coronary artery bypass have postoperative depression. The severity of this has now been highlighted by a study which suggests that the single most useful predictor of health status following coronary bypass is the presence or absence of depression. This was more important as a predictor than the age of the patient, history of previous heart attack or heart failure, diabetes, or left ventricular function. (

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The risk of environmental tobacco smoke continues to be controversial. However, in a large study performed at Imperial College in London of more than 300 000 people who had never smoked or who have stopped smoking for at least 10 years, frequent exposure to environmental tobacco smoke during childhood was associated with lung cancer in adulthood. This study confirms that environmental tobacco smoke is a risk factor for lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, particularly in ex-smokers. (

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Neuroscientists gathered at the University of Wisconsin in September to honour Ray Guillery and his work on the thalamus. The meeting focused on three research topics—presentations on the organisation and dynamic nature of the thalamocortical pathways, the role of the thalamus in communication between cortical areas, and the relation between sensory and motor pathways of the brain, including cognitive aspects of the thalamocortical processing. The conclusion of the meeting was that the communication between thalamus and cortex is so rich that one should no longer consider the operations of either structure separately from the other. (

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