Some Bacteria May Promote Cancer

(p. A15) A mysterious bacterium found in up to half of all colon tumors also travels with the cancer as it spreads, researchers reported on Thursday [Nov. 23, 2017].
Whether the bacterium, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, actually plays a role in causing or spurring the growth of cancer is not known. But the new study, published in the journal Science, also shows that an antibiotic that squelches this organism slows the growth of cancer cells in mice.
Scientists are increasingly suspicious that there may be a link: another type of bacteria has been discovered in pancreatic cancer cells. In both types of cancer, most tumors host bacteria; however, only a small proportion of the cells in any single tumor are infected.
“The whole idea of bacteria in tumors is fascinating and unexpected,” said Dr. Bert Vogelstein, a colon cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins.
The colon cancer story began in 2011, when Dr. Matthew Meyerson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Robert A. Holt of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia independently reported finding Fusobacteria, which normally inhabit the mouth, in human colon cancers.
That instigated a rush to confirm. Researchers around the world reported finding Fusobacteria in colon cancers, but their work only raised more questions. The new paper, by Dr. Meyerson and his colleagues, provides some answers.
. . .
Dr. Vogelstein suggests that instead of directly causing cancer, Fusobacteria might be altering patients’ immune response — and perhaps their response to treatments that use the immune system to destroy cancers.
Alternately, perhaps the bacteria are acting more directly by secreting chemicals that spur growth in nearby cancer cells, Dr. Relman said.
“It is not unreasonable to say Fusobacterium is promoting or contributing to colon cancer,” he said.
Are Fusobacteria guilty of causing cancer? If this were a criminal case, where the jury had to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, Dr. Meyerson said he would have to acquit.
But if it were a civil case, judged on the preponderance of the evidence, his vote would be different: Fusobacteria are guilty.

For the full story, see:
GINA KOLATA. “Study Suggests Bacteria Have Key Role in Cancer.” The New York Times (Sat., NOV. 25, 2017): A15.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 23, 2017, and has the title “Why Is This Bacterium Hiding in Human Tumors?”)

The Science article, discussed in the passages quoted above, is:
Bullman, Susan, Chandra S. Pedamallu, Ewa Sicinska, Thomas E. Clancy, Xiaoyang Zhang, Diana Cai, Donna Neuberg, Katherine Huang, Fatima Guevara, Timothy Nelson, Otari Chipashvili, Timothy Hagan, Mark Walker, Aruna Ramachandran, Begoña Diosdado, Garazi Serna, Nuria Mulet, Stefania Landolfi, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Roberta Fasani, Andrew J. Aguirre, Kimmie Ng, Elena Élez, Shuji Ogino, Josep Tabernero, Charles S. Fuchs, William C. Hahn, Paolo Nuciforo, and Matthew Meyerson. “Analysis of Fusobacterium Persistence and Antibiotic Response in Colorectal Cancer.” Science (posted online (ahead of publication) on Nov. 23, 2017).

FCC Spectrum Regulations Drive Innovators to Bankruptcy

(p. A17) In 2004 the FCC moved to relax L-Band rules, permitting deployment of a terrestrial mobile network. Satellite calls would continue, but few were being made, and sharing frequencies with cellular devices made eminent sense. By 2010, L-Band licensee LightSquared was ready to build a state-of-the-art 4G network, and the FCC announced that the 40 MHz bandwidth would become available. LightSquared quickly spent about $4 billion of its planned $14 billion infrastructure rollout. Americans would soon enjoy a fifth nationwide wireless choice.
But in 2012 the FCC yanked LightSquared’s licenses. Various interests, from commercial airlines to the Pentagon, complained that freeing up the L Band could cause interference with Global Positioning System devices, since they are tuned to adjacent frequencies. Yet cheap remedies–such as a gradual roll-out of new services while existing networks improved reception with better radio chips–were available. In reality, the costliest spectrum conflicts emanate from overprotecting old services at the expense of the new. With its licenses snatched away, LightSquared instantly plunged into bankruptcy.
. . .
. . . regulatory impediments continue to block progress. Years after the L-Band spectrum was slated for productive use in 4G, it lies fallow–now delaying upgrades to 5G.

For the full commentary, see:
Thomas W. Hazlett. “How Politics Stalls Wireless Innovation; The FCC unveiled its National Broadband Plan in 2010–but couldn’t stick to it.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Oct. 2, 2017): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 1, 2017.)

The commentary, quoted above, is related to the author’s book:
Hazlett, Thomas W. The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

Musk Fires Under-Performing Workers to Speed Output of Mass-Market Electric Sedans

(p. B4) DETROIT — The electric-car maker Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week after a series of performance reviews conducted during the biggest expansion in the company’s history.
Tesla said Friday [Oct. 13, 2017] that the dismissals were not out of the ordinary, even though they came as the automaker tries to increase the production of its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan.
The company has been criticized for the slow pace of its early production of the new model, which has generated hundreds of thousands of deposits from prospective buyers.
Tesla built about 25,000 vehicles in the three months that ended Sept. 30, but only 260 of those were Model 3s — considerably fewer than the 1,500 it had projected. The automaker has attributed the low production rate of the new car to unexpected bottlenecks in its manufacturing system.

For the full story, see:
BILL VLASIC. “Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers.” The New York Times (Sat., OCT. 14, 2017): B4.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 13, 2017, and has the title “Tesla Fires Hundreds as It Tries to Speed Production of an Electric Sedan.”)