Better catalyst for solar-powered hydrogen production.


Hydrogen is a “green” fuel that burns cleanly and can generate electricity via fuel cells. One way to sustainably produce hydrogen is by splitting water molecules using the renewable power of sunlight, but scientists are still learning how to control and optimize this reaction with catalysts. At the National Synchrotron Light Source, a research group has determined key structural information about a potential catalyst, taking a step toward designing an ideal material for the job.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2013/designingabe.jpg

Due to the mechanical and electrical complexity of the water-splitting reaction, there are many requirements in order for a catalyst to perform optimally. Scientists must understand not only a candidate’s local but also its structure over longer ranges – particularly the nanoscale, which tends to be a good indicator of a material’s electronic behavior and therefore its overall .

Scientists are increasingly focusing on a particular group of catalysts: cobalt-based thin films. These films are created via electrodeposition from aqueous solutions of cobalt mixed with an electrolyte. In this study, researchers from Columbia University, Harvard University, and Brookhaven Lab used x-rays to better understand the intermediate-range nanoscale structure of one of these films. They also investigated the structural differences between films grown using two electrolytes: phosphate, a negative phosphorous-oxygen ion, and borate, negative a boron-oxygen ion. The resulting films are denoted CoPi and CoBi, respectively.

X-ray scattering data from the CoPi and CoBi samples, taken at NSLS beamline X7B, indicate that both are nanocrystalline. This means that they consist of nanoscale grains, each ranging from about 1.5 to 3 nanometers (nm) in size with an ordered molecular structure. Aside from this, there are clear and important differences.

The CoBi films consist of 3-4 nm cobalate (cobalt–oxygen) clusters that stack neatly up to three layers deep. The CoPi films consist of significantly smaller clusters that do not stack in an ordered way.

These structural differences seem to tie into the films’ catalytic activity. Electrochemical data show that, as film thickness increased, the CoBi films were more active than CoPi and ultimately displayed a “significantly superior” performance. These findings suggest that the increase in CoBi film thickness also increases the effective surface area available for catalysis, while at the same time preserving the charge-transport properties of the films.

“Our results show a concrete difference between CoBi and CoPi, thus allowing the first insight into a tangible structure-function correlation,” said Harvard chemist and professor Daniel Nocera.

E-Cigarette Smoking Could be Banned at L.A. Restaurants, Beaches


Thumbnail image for e_cigarette_Michael_Dorausch_Flickr_ok.JPG
Michael Dorausch/Flickr

Hold onto to your e-cigarettes while you can, people, because using them might soon be banned in the same places that prohibit lighting up regular smokes.

The L.A. City Council today will consider a new motion to be introduced by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell that would treat electronic devices the same way that cigarette smoking is regulated in town.

And means no puffing, electronic or otherwise, in or on:

-elevators
-supermarkets
offices
-restaurants
-city beaches, or
-within 25 feet of playground equipment, bleachers, backstops, sports courts and fields, and picnic areas.

Yep. O’Farrell’s spokesman, Tony Arranaga, confirmed to the Weekly the gist of today’s proposal.

According to a statement put out by the offices of O’Farrell and the City Attorney:

The motion directs the City Attorney’s office to draft an ordinance to regulate the usage of electronic smoking devices where smoking is prohibited by law.

But wait, there’s more:

The council today will also weigh Councilman Paul Koretz‘s motion to raise the age limit on e-cigarette purchases to those 18 or older. As it stands, electronic tobacco retailing has no age limit for customers.

There have also been efforts on the state level to treat the battery-operated “vapes” (for nicotine vaporizers or atomizers) the same as regular cigs.

Proponents of e-cigarettes have been enjoying loopholes in the law, often smoking at bars and restaurants without reprisal. They argue that the water vapor emitted by the devices is not smoke and that it is not harmful.

However, some critics say that scientific testing has yet to catch up with the devices. The jury is still out about whether they are the source of second-hand smoke danger.

Pump provides liver disease relief


pump diagram
The rechargeable pump sits underneath the skin and can be switched off at night

Patients at the Royal Free Hospital in London are testing a device that provides relief from a common side-effect of liver disease.

The pump siphons off excess fluid that can build up in the abdomen after liver failure and diverts it to the bladder so it can be urinated out.

A liver transplant may be the only option for patients with cirrhosis.

Doctors say the pump could buy time and may even allow the liver to recover, avoiding the need for a transplant.

“Start Quote

It can improve quality of life for patients and keep them out of hospital for longer”

Prof Rajiv Jalan

So far eight patients at the Royal Free have had one fitted.

The Alphapump sits beneath the skin of the abdomen and is connected to two small tubes that do the siphoning.

Ascites

When patients have cirrhosis, the liver and kidneys stop working properly and fluid, known as ascites, can accumulate.

Litres of fluid can gather inside the abdominal cavity, making the patient appear pregnant as well as being painful.

Patients may have to make weekly or monthly trips to hospital to have the fluid drained.

Rajiv Jalan, professor of hepatology at University College London’s institute for liver and digestive health at the Royal Free, is the doctor running the trial.

He said: “With cirrhosis, patients can accumulate litres and litres of fluid. They might need to come to hospital fortnightly to have up to 20 litres drained from their tummy.

“The pump can avoid this by draining about 15 millilitres every 15 minutes. It means they’ll pass a little bit more urine but they can turn the pump off at night.

“It can improve quality of life for patients and keep them out of hospital for longer.”

Exercise ‘is good dementia therapy’


elderly exercise
More research is needed to figure out the best types of exercise to recommend to patients

People with dementia who exercise improve their thinking abilities and everyday life, a body of medical research concludes.

The Cochrane Collaboration carried out a systematic review of eight exercise trials involving more than 300 patients living at home or in care.

Exercise did little for patients’ moods, the research concluded.

But it did help them carry out daily activities such as rising from a chair, and boosted their cognitive skills.

“Start Quote

Though we can’t say that exercise will prevent dementia, evidence does suggest it can help reduce the risk of the condition as part of a healthy lifestyle”

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK

Whether these benefits improve quality of life is still unclear, but the study authors say the findings are reason for optimism.

Dementia affects some 800,000 people in the UK. And the number of people with the condition is steadily increasing because people are living longer.

It is estimated that by 2021, the number of people with dementia in the UK will have increased to around one million.

With no cure, ways to improve the lives of those living with the condition are vital.

Researcher Dorothy Forbes, of the University of Alberta, and colleagues who carried out the Cochrane review, said: “Clearly, further research is needed to be able to develop best practice guidelines to enable healthcare providers to advise people with dementia living at home or in institutions.

“We also need to understand what level and intensity of exercise is beneficial for someone with dementia.”

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “We do know that exercise is an important part of keeping healthy, and though we can’t say that exercise will prevent dementia, evidence does suggest it can help reduce the risk of the condition as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

What is ‘highway hypnosis’?


 

A road

A train driver says he was experiencing “highway hypnosis” just prior to the derailment in which four people were killed last week in New York. So what is it?

This is what you sometimes experience as a driver when you can’t recall the previous few seconds of your journey, says Paul Watters of the Automobile Association in the UK. It’s more likely on mundane or familiar trips when you don’t need to take in the road signs.

“It’s a strange feeling. You’re not necessarily inattentive but you’re in a slightly different state. I don’t think it means you’re going to have an accident but it means you’re not completely engaged in the task of driving, so we would advise members not to get distracted like this.”

It does not mean you’re falling asleep, says Jim Horne of the Sleep Research Centre in Loughborough University, who adds that it’s like reading a newspaper at breakfast but you’re not taking in the words because you’re listening to what’s going on in the kitchen.

Continue reading the main story

The answer

  • It’s when as a driver you ‘zone out’
  • It ends when you suddenly don’t remember what you’ve just done
  • Experts dispute how dangerous it is

Driving long distances can cause the brain to behave in the same way as it does under meditation, says Stuart Robertson, a hypnotherapist in Edinburgh who specialises in treating drivers. In his view, it’s a relaxed state but if a dog was to run into the road, the driver could react as quickly as normal – or quicker, he believes – because the sub-conscious is still highly engaged with the environment.

But others do believe highway hypnosis causes accidents. Drivers who “zone out” have slower reaction times, according to Joshua Maxwell, an ergonomics engineer at the Hyundai-Kia Technical Center in Michigan, which has just begun a study measuring brainwave activity and creating some kind of warning system.

It could explain why at some accidents there are no skid marks before a car went into the back of a lorry on the hard shoulder, says Peter Rogers, chief examiner at the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Technological advances like cruise control are part of the problem, he says.

“If you’re in Leeds and set off to go to Carlisle, you have a long journey without much driving input required for a lot of the time.”

Wayne C. Koff describes a scientific project that promises to accelerate the development of next-generation weapons in the fight against deadly infectious diseases.


Vaccines are one of the great success stories in the history of individual and public health. They have helped rid the planet of the scourge of smallpox, are poised to eliminate polio, and each year prevent millions of deaths, reducing the suffering and costs caused by infectious diseases.

But there are still many diseases for which vaccines do not yet exist. Moreover, strategies that have previously led to the successful development of vaccines are unlikely to work against more complex bacteria or viruses, such as HIV, which have evolved multiple mechanisms to evade the immune system.

The history of vaccinology is one in which biomedical and technological advances usher in the “next generation” of vaccines. In the 1950’s, a breakthrough that enabled viruses to grow in tissue cultures led to the development of both live attenuated vaccines and inactivated vaccines for measles, polio, and other diseases. In the 1980’s, recombinant DNA technology led to the development of vaccines against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.

Around the turn of the century, the first sequencing of the human genome led to “reverse vaccinology.” This approach, whereby computational analysis of a pathogen’s genome enables identification and screening of a great many more potential vaccine targets than was previously possible, was used in the successful development of a vaccine against meningitis B.

The past decade has already yielded major advances in structure-assisted vaccine discovery, synthetic biology, systems biology, and immune monitoring. However, successfully translating these advances into the development of next-generation vaccines continues to be impeded by gaps in our understanding of the human immune response that protects against specific bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

That is why I, along with eight fellow scientists, have proposed the establishment of a new human-immunology-based clinical-research initiative, the Human Vaccines Project. In February 2014, leading scientists and public-health specialists will gather in La Jolla, California, to craft a scientific plan to identify, prioritize, and, most important, solve the major problems currently hindering development of vaccines against diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Such a project would represent a paradigm shift in vaccine development. The current process is long (often spanning decades from concept to licensure), has a low probability of success (because of the limitations of animal models in predicting immune response and efficacy in humans), and is costly (often requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a single vaccine).

Consider this: In just the past few years, many candidate vaccines against HIV, dengue, herpes, tuberculosis, and staphylococcus aureus have failed, at a cost of more than $1 billion. Investing that amount over the next decade in a coordinated effort to address the major questions facing vaccine development would rapidly accelerate our search for effective solutions, implying a transformative impact on individual and public health.

HIV presents perhaps the greatest challenge, because the virus leverages its extensive genetic variability to hide from the immune system. Using recent advances, however, scientists have now identified highly conserved regions of this variable virus, determined their molecular structure, and begun designing next-generation vaccine candidates to elicit antibodies that target these regions to prevent HIV infection. But HIV vaccine development, like that for several other diseases, is still impeded by the limitations of what animal models can tell us about how to elicit the necessary immune responses in humans.

Two recent advances could accelerate vaccine development and reduce its costs dramatically. In synthetic biology, the rapid engineering of nucleic acid-based vaccines means more candidates move more quickly from concept to trial. In systems biology, high-throughput technologies have increased the number of genetic and immunologic parameters assessed in trials. This approach has helped predict the efficacy of potential new-generation vaccines against yellow fever and influenza within days of immunization, compared with the usual timeframe of months or years.

Vaccines already prevent the deaths of 2-3 million people every year, preempt human suffering, lighten the burden placed on health-care systems, and enable more rapid economic and social development. Models show that adding even a partly effective AIDS vaccine to the current range of prevention and treatment procedures could dramatically lower the rate of HIV infection.

As the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu, one of the world’s great campaigners against HIV/AIDS, wrote recently: “We must make the most of scientific advances over the last half-century, which have made vaccines for other preventable diseases the most powerful and cost-effective health-care investment that currently exists.”

That is the idea behind the Human Vaccines Project – a concept that would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. Today, technological advances in vaccine discovery and immune monitoring allow us realistically to explore this potentially game-changing approach to disease prevention. February’s gathering in California may take us a giant step closer to a world without deadly and debilitating infectious diseases.

Emil von Behring: The Founder of Serum Therapy.


Upbringing and Education

Emil Behring (1854-1917) was born on March 15, 1854 in Hansdorf, West Prussia, as the first child of the couple August and Auguste Behring. His father was a village school teacher, who during his first marriage had had four children and after the birth of Emil had another eight children.

A talented pupil, Emil Behring was above all assisted by the village minister, who made it possible for him to attend the Gymnasium (High School) in the village Hohenstein. His orientation as a theology student appeared to have changed after a friend who was a military doctor arranged for him to start his medical studies at the University of Berlin. He obtained a scholarship and from 1874 through 1878 he studied at the Academy for Military Doctors at the Royal Medical-Surgical Friedrich-Wilhelm-Institute, where he also earned his medical degree. In the following years he had to perform as a military doctor and also worked as a troop doctor in various garrisons. After having been assigned as captain of the medical corps to the Pharmacological Institute at the University of Bonn, he was given a position at the Hygiene Institute of Berlin in 1888 as an assistant to Robert Koch (1843-1910), one of the pioneers of bacteriology. During this time, Behring’s first authoritative publication on diphtheria and tetanus serum therapy appeared.

Behring
Emil von Behring in a military uniform.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

The Behring Family

During his early years as a military doctor, Behring’s income was not sufficient for him to think about starting a family. Only in 1896, when he had a regular salary, did he marry the 20 year old Else Spinola. They went on a three-month honeymoon to the island of Capri. Else, born August 30, 1876 in Berlin, was the daughter of Werner Spinola, Administrative Director of Charité, the university medical clinic in Berlin.

In 1898, after having become professor at the University in Marburg (then part of Prussia), Behring moved with his family into a house in Wilhelm-Roser-Strasse in Marburg, where his six sons were born. Behring was a family man, though rather patriarchal, which at that time was quite normal. In the circle of his family he felt content, although his scientific work presumably did not leave him much time for his wife and children.

wedding photo
Wedding picture of Emil and Else von Behring.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

On March 31, 1917, Behring died and was entombed in a mausoleum at the Marburg Elsenhöhe. After Behring’s death, Else von Behring served as chairwoman of the Women’s National Organisation in Marburg, Germany. She died in 1936 of a heart attack at the age of only 59.

Family and Friends

On the list of his sons’ godfathers, it appears obvious who stood closest to Emil von Behring besides his family. His first son, Fritz, had the bacteriologist Friedrich Loeffler (1852-1915) and Behring’s friend and co-worker, Erich Wernicke as godfathers. The godfather of his third son, Hans, was the Prussian Under-Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs, Friedrich Althoff. His fifth son, Emil, had as a godfather the Russian researcher Elias Metschnikoff (1845-1916), founder of the theory of phagocytosis, with whom Behring had continuous scientific exchange of ideas. Emil’s second godfather was the pupil of Louis Pasteur, Émile Roux (1853-1933), who like Behring Sr. dealt with the fight against diphtheria. In 1913, the godfather of his sixth son, Otto, was the physician Ludolph Brauer (1865-1951), who had taught together with Behring at the Marburg Medical Faculty as a professor of internal medicine.

The Development of the Diphtheria-Therapeutic-Serum

Behring, who in the early 1890s became an assistant at the Institute for Infectious Diseases, headed by Robert Koch, started his studies with experiments on the development of a therapeutic serum. In 1890, together with his university friend Erich Wernicke, he had managed to develop the first effective therapeutic serum against diphtheria. At the same time, together with Shibasaburo Kitasato he developed an effective therapeutic serum against tetanus.

Behring and colleagues
Behring together with his colleagues Wernicke (left) and Frosch (center) in Robert Koch’s laboratory in Berlin.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

The researchers immunized rats, guinea pigs and rabbits with attenuated forms of the infectious agents causing diphtheria and alternatively, tetanus. The sera produced by these animals were injected into non-immunized animals that were previously infected with the fully virulent bacteria. The ill animals could be cured through the administration of the serum. With the blood serum therapy, Behring and Kitasato firstly used the passive immunization method in the fight against infectious diseases. The particularly poisonous substances from bacteria – or toxins – could be rendered harmless by the serum of animals immunized with attenuated forms of the infectious agent through antidotes or antitoxins.

Kitasato
Shibasaburo Kitasato.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

The Introduction of Serum Therapy

The first successful therapeutic serum treatment of a child suffering from diphtheria occurred in 1891. Until then more than 50,000 children in Germany died yearly of diphtheria. During the first few years, there was no successful breakthrough for this form of therapy, as the antitoxins were not sufficiently concentrated. Not until the development of enrichment by the bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich (1854-1915) along with a precise quantification and standardization protocol, was an exact determination of quality of the antitoxins presented and successfully developed. Behring subsequently decided to draw up a contract with Ehrlich as the foundation of their future collaboration. They organized a laboratory under a railroad circle (Stadtbahnbogen) in Berlin, where they could then obtain the serum in large amounts by using large animals – first sheep and later horses.

In 1892, Behring and the Hoechst chemical and pharmaceutical company at Frankfurt/Main, started working together, as they recognized the therapeutic potential of the diphtheria antitoxin. From 1894, the production and marketing of the therapeutic serum began at Hoechst. Besides many positive reactions, there was also noticeable criticism. Resistance, however, was soon put aside, due to the success of the therapy.

The Marburg Years

Behring was given the opportunity to start a university career through one of the leading officers (Ministerialrat) of the Prussian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, Friedrich Althoff (1839-1908), who wanted to improve the control of epidemics in Prussia by supporting bacteriological research. After a short period as professor at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Behring was recruited by Althoff to take over the vacant chair in hygiene at Philipps Marburg University on April 1, 1895. His appointment as full professor followed shortly thereafter against the will of the faculty, who besides all of Behring’s outstanding discoveries, wanted a university lecturer who would broadly represent the field. However, Althoff rejected all counterproposals and Behring took over as Director of the Institute of Hygiene at Marburg. His position included giving lectures for hygiene and concurrently held a teaching contract in the history of medicine. In 1896, the Marburg Institute of Hygiene moved to a building on a road nearby Pilgrimstein Road, previously the Surgery Clinic. Behring divided the Institute into two departments, a Research Department for Experimental Therapy and a Teaching Department for Hygiene and Bacteriology. He remained Director of the Institute until his retirement as professor in May 1916.

Scientific Contacts

Behring belonged to a scientific discussion group called “The Marburg Circle” (das Marburger Kränzchen), whose other members were the zoologist Eugen Korschelt (1858-1946), the surgeon Paul Friedrich (1864-1916), the botanist Arthur Meyer (1850-1922), the physiologist Friedrich Schenk (1862-1916), the pathologist Carl August Beneke (1861-1945) and the pharmacologist August Gürber (1864-1937). They often met at Behring’s home where they had rounds of vivid and prolific scientific discussions.

Active Protective Vaccination against Diphtheria

vials
Old vials (1897 and 1906) with hand-written labels.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

The therapeutic serum developed by Behring prevented diphtheria for only a short period of time. In 1901, Behring, therefore, for the first time, used a diphtheria innoculation of bacteria with reduced virulence. With this active immunization he hoped to help the body also produce antitoxins. As a supporter of the humoral theory of immune response, Behring believed in the long-term protective action of these antitoxins found in serum. It is well-established knowledge today that active vaccination stimulates the antitoxin (antibody) producing cells to full function.

The development of an active vaccine took a few years. In 1913, Behring went public with his diphtheria protective agent, T.A. (Toxin-Antitoxin). It contained a mixture of diphtheria toxin and therapeutic serum antitoxin. The toxin was meant to cause a light general response of the body, but not to harm the person who is vaccinated. In addition, it was designed to provide long-term protection. The new drug was tested at various clinics and was proven to be non-harmful and effective.

Tetanus Therapeutic Serum during World War I

In 1891, tetanus serum was introduced considerably more quickly in clinical practices than the diphtheria serum. The Agricultural Ministry supported research efforts to develop a therapeutic agent against tetanus to protect agriculturally valuable animals. The large amounts of serum required were obtained through the immunization of horses. However, there was no substantial clinical testing on humans; this led the Military Administration to accept it only on a small scale at the beginning of World War I.

During the first months of the war, this restraint led to massive losses of human lives. Also, after the distribution of the tetanus antitoxins in the military hospitals, many futile attempts at therapy were noted. At the end of 1914, as a result of Behring’s constructive assistance, the injection of serum was established as preventing disease. Starting in April 1915, the mistakes in dosage and the shortage of supplies were overcome and the numbers of sick fell dramatically. Behring was declared “Saviour of the German Soldiers” and was awarded the the Prussian Iron Cross medal.

engraving
Historical engraving showing how the medicinal serum was obtained from immunized horses.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

An Attempt to Develop a Therapeutic Method against Tuberculosis

After Robert Koch had failed with his tuberculosis therapy in 1893, Behring began to search for an effective therapeutic agent against this disease. However, very soon, he had to admit that combating tuberculosis using a healing serum was not feasible. Therefore, he concentrated on working on a preventive vaccination, which, however, required precise knowledge of the mechanism of infection. In Behring’s view, the tubercle bacillus was transmitted to children through the milk of a mother or a cow infected with tuberculosis. He then started treating milk with formaldehyde, so as to eliminate this source of infection. This procedure was not accepted due to the bad smell of the milk. Moreover, the transmission of tubercle bacilli through the respiratory tract was proven to be more likely than through the digestive system, as had been claimed by Behring.

From 1903, Behring worked on active immunization through attenuated tuberculosis infectious agents, which he then tried on cows, however, with only moderate success. His aim was to obtain a protective and therapeutic agent for humans. A number of agents (tuberculase, tulase, tulaseactin, tulon) failed to make a breakthrough. At the beginning of World War I, Behring halted his efforts to combat tuberculosis and dedicated himself entirely to the further development of tetanus serum.

Behring’s Relationship to Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich was Behring’s colleague at Robert Koch’s institute. Here, he was able to work out a reliable and reproducible standardization method for diphtheria serum. However, in later years, tension developed between the two researchers. Differences with Ehrlich’s pupil, Hans Aronson, resulted in bad feelings, which increased when Ehrlich’s Royal Institute of Experimental Therapy was founded at Frankfurt/Main. The previous friendship between the two researchers never fully succumbed, through the mediation of Friedrich Althoff. However, it was subsequently demonstrated that the only photograph showing Behring and Ehrlich together, which appeared on the cover of a Berlin newspaper on the occasion of their 60th birthday in 1914, was a photomontage made up of two separate photographs.

report
Report of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung (Berlin Illustrated Newspaper) about Emil von Behring and Paul Erlich and their work on the occasion of their 60th birthday.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

Behring’s Health

Behring lived entirely for his idea of revolutionizing medicine through serum therapy. This idea hung above him and motivated him, in his own words, “like a demon.” His enormous concentration on his work often drove him to physical illnesses, as well as to deep depressions, which forced him to take time off work for a sanatorium stay from 1907 through 1910.

Acknowledgements and Honors

In 1903, Emil von Behring was given the title of “Wirklicher Geheimer Rat mit dem Prädikat Excellenz” by the German emperor Wilhelm II. The diploma says: “This is in order that Behring should remain in unbroken loyalty to Myself and the Royal Family and to fulfill his official responsibility with continuous eagerness, whereby he who has the right connected to his present character, will receive the highest protection by Myself”. A splendid uniform was provided along with the title.

In 1901, when the Nobel Prizes were awarded for the first time, Behring received the Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

diploma
A detail (right) and the diploma for the first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to Behring in 1901.
Photo: Courtesy of Aventis Behring

Behring Jubilee in 1940

On December 4, 1940, the Philipps University Marburg celebrated the 50th anniversary of the original publication of Emil von Behring’s decisive discovery of serum therapy. Top leaders of the National Socialist Party, the rectors of numerous German universities, representatives of the Behringwerke and many scientists and friends of Emil von Behring from abroad were also present. The celebration, which continued over a few days, began with lectures and addresses by officials, both of the state and party. Finally, a foundation certificate for a new Institute for Experimental Therapy was handed over. The professors then moved from the university auditorium (Aula), to unveal a new Behring Memorial close to the St. Elisabeth Church. The celebration was followed by a two-day scientific meeting, presenting the state of the art of immunology and the fight against infectious diseases.

The Background of the Celebration

In the view of the National Socialists, Else von Behring was regarded as a “half-Jew”, as her mother came from a Jewish family. With the help of a number of friends she was able to get her sons accepted by Hitler as “Aryans” and not stigmatized as “half-breeds”. After the death of Else von Behring in 1936, no obstacles were left for the Nazi party to use Emil von Behring as a glorified representative of national socialist “Germanic” science. During the ceremony there were, however, some signs of tension. Although one of Behring’s sons participated in the ceremony, he was not greeted by any of the official speakers. Only the Danish researcher, Thorvald Madsen from Copenhagen, who had previously been chairman of the Health Organisation of the League of Nations, dared to mention Behring’s friendly connection with researchers from enemy countries, such as those at the Institut Pasteur in Paris. Courageously, he also recalled the great bacteriologist Paul Ehrlich, despised by the Nazis due to his Jewish origin, who had played a significant role in Behring’s successes.

PressTV – UK food poverty turns into ‘health emergency’.


Food poverty in Britain has currently reached the levels of a “public health emergency,” a group of doctors and academics warn.

“This (food poverty) has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognized until it is too late to take preventive action,” health experts said in a letter to the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Experts also raised concerns over the increase in the use of food banks and the number of malnourished cases, linking the problem to the rising cost of living and the UK government’s changes to the country’s welfare system.

They cited that the government statistics show the number of malnutrition-related admissions to hospitals across England has more than doubled since 2008-09.

Moreover, public health professionals draw attention to a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which found a decrease in the amount of calories consumed by British families.

Chris Mould, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest organizer of food banks, urged the government to set up an inquiry into food poverty.

“These alarming developments point towards serious trouble for the nation in the years ahead unless urgent action is taken now,” Mould said.

Earlier in November, a survey showed that more than a quarter of adults in Britain have experienced food poverty during the last 12 months.

According to the poll, conducted by the Trussell Trust, store giant Tesco and food redistribution charity FareShare, some 27 percent of British adults said they found it harder to feed their family than a year ago.