Solving a medical mysteryA DISCOVERY by researchers at the...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

December 28, 1998

Solving a medical mystery

A DISCOVERY by researchers at the University of Maryland's Greenebaum Cancer Center helps explain why some breast cancer patients have better success with chemotherapy treatment than others. The researchers identified a protein in some patients that "pumps out" the chemotherapy before the anti-cancer drug can reach and destroy the nucleus of the breast cancer cells.

Now that the problem has been identified, researchers hope compounds can be added to chemotherapy drugs in the future that will inhibit the interference of these proteins -- allowing chemotherapy to work more effectively. Because drug resistance is a big problem for many cancer patients, researchers are hoping this discovery will have important implications not just for breast cancer patients, but for patients with leukemia, colon cancer and myeloma.

Lower mileage

DEFLATION is rampant in the oil business, and most consumers welcome the falling gasoline prices. But buying gasoline for less than $1 a gallon is not all good news. When people fill out their expense accounts next year, they won't be reimbursed at the current rate of 32.5 cents a mile.

For the first time in history, the Internal Revenue Service, which annually sets the mileage reimbursement for business use of a car, will be lowering this rate. The 1999 rate will be 31 cents mile, reflecting the lower costs of operating a car. It will pay -- literally -- to have those expense accounts filed before the end of this year.

Leakin's savior

SHE WAS a single-minded activist who could be a pain. But thanks to Mary Louise Wolf, West Baltimore's 68-acre Leakin Park escaped becoming an expressway route and remains a rare wilderness oasis.

Miss Wolf, who died at 75 earlier this month, also founded the Baltimore Herb Festival, a delightful spring-time event that draws thousands of gardening enthusiasts to Leakin Park, which once was part of the estate of railroad baron Thomas Winans.

Always brimming with ideas, Miss Wolf spearheaded a drive that restored a Gothic-style, gingerbread family chapel that never was finished after Mr. Winans' wife died in childbirth. The Friends of Leakin Park plan to dedicate a chapel garden in honor of Miss Wolf.

Freedom grows

FREEDOM is at an all-time high around the globe, according to the annual survey conducted by Freedom House.

As 1998 draws to a close, citizens of 88 of the world's 191 nations -- or nearly 40 percent of the global population -- live in societies in which there is basic respect for human rights and civil liberties.

The survey found that more than 61 percent of the world's countries, containing 55 percent of its population, are electoral democracies.

New this year to the organization's list of "free" countries are India; the Dominican Republic; Nicaragua; Papua New Guinea; Ecuador; Slovakia, and Thailand. At seven, that's the second-largest, one-year increase in the number of free countries in the 26 years of the survey of freedom.

Economic turmoil in parts of the world did not lead to widespread reversals in democracy and human rights, the survey found. In fact, the turmoil helped bring about greater freedom in some countries.

Still, a third of the world's population lives in countries judged to be at the other end of the spectrum. In those 50 countries, human rights abuses remain widespread.

"Worst of the worst," says Freedom House, are Cuba; North Korea; Vietnam; Afghanistan; Equatorial Guinea; Burma; Iraq; Libya; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan, Syria, and Turkmenistan.

Pub Date: 12/28/98

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