Grind for October 15th, 2018
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin
New study on myopia offers a framework for future medication
Myopia or “nearsightedness” is a common eye condition that affects more than 40% of the US population.
Individuals with myopia can see things right in front of them, but have difficulty reading road signs and other far-away objects.
The prevalence of myopia is rising at “an alarming rate,” reports the World Health Organization, and the condition is expected to affect up to 50% of the world’s population by 2050.
Doctors have long known that myopia is a genetic condition exacerbated by the use of electronics. But what remained unclear (until now) was what the underlying molecular mechanisms were.
As discovered recently by Dr. Andrei Tkatchenko of Colombia University, the development of myopia involves multiple genes and cell-signaling pathways.
“Identification of these pathways provides a framework for the identification of new drug targets and for the development of more effective treatment options for myopia,” said Tkatchenko.
During the study, the team used a lens to alter the focal length of the eye in lab animals (in this case marmosets). This allowed them to observe the biological development of nearsightedness.
By comparing altered eyes to unaltered eyes, the team was able to pinpoint differences in gene expression. In the report, Tkatchenko noted that 29 of the altered genes were in the same chromosome regions that previous studies have linked to myopia in humans – meaning the results of the study could lead to the development of anti-myopia drugs.
Trump plans to meet with Chinese president amid ongoing trade war
The White House this week confirmed it would go ahead with plans for President Trump to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Buenos Aires next month.
The decision comes less than a month after China backed out of planned trade talks following Trump’s mid-September decision to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.
The meeting in Buenos Aires is being pushed by Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin, who has been pressuring the Administration to engage in trade negotiations with China to avoid market reaction to the tariffs.
Mnuchin is backed by business executives who are hoping the summit will proactively end Trump’s plans to raise the tax on the $200 billion in goods from 10% to 25%.
Worries over trade have already harmed the US stock market – which on Wednesday experienced its biggest selloff since February – as well as Chinese shares and the value of the yuan.
“The plan is to get Trump in a room with Xi, get a small win and declare an end to the whole thing,” said one official.
On the other side you have Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer and Trade Adviser Peter Navarro, who along with Trump want to keep up the pressure on Beijing until it agrees to make changes to its industrial policies.
Trump has already threatened to implement taxes on 100% of Chinese imports if no compromise can be reached.
The relationship between Washington and Beijing is also deteriorating in other ways.
“Military talks between the two nations have halted,” notes The Wall Street Journal, “and both sides have blamed each other for a recent close encounter between their warships in the South China Sea.”
Last month, Trump claimed Beijing was attempting to interfere in US midterm elections.
Last week, China was accused of trying to hack into top American tech companies by hiding microchips inside equipment used by those companies.
China of course denies all accusations.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… Jon Bon Jovi has a restaurant that has no prices; guests pay whatever they can or volunteer in exchange for their meal.