Verde: the market of the future

Written by: Emilio Pagan

Verde is a market of the future. With its innovative no-plastic policy, they are hoping to create a consciousness about the amount of plastic that goes to waste daily.

We were inspired to create Verde by watching our trash cans pile up with plastic containers every four days from milk, laundry, orange juice, etc,” co-owner Pamela Barrera said.

The whole concept of the market is to have bulk refills where customers can bring in their own containers to fill up with all the healthy products they offer. Here you can find natural and organic soaps, raw honey, dried fruit, spices, and numerous superfruits.

Even though they have been open for only three months, Verde has built an ideology. Its philosophy is to help the environment while educating the community to do the same.

“We believe that if we can create some conscious little by little we will make a change and try to save the world one bottle at a time” Pamela claimed.

Leukemia Awareness Month

Written By: Gina Crespo

Even though the month of September is dedicated to both Leukemia and Childhood Cancer Awareness, most people still have little knowledge about how cancers affect a person’s body or what goes into the research of cancers.

Leukemia is one of the deadliest cancers and the most common form in children. In leukemia, the bone marrow, where blood cells are formed in the body, is negatively affected.

“Patients with leukemia can often have over 100,000 cells/microliter of blood. The normal concentration is between 5,000-10,000 cells/microliter. In fact, there can be so many leukemic white blood cells in the blood that when it is drawn up into a test tube, instead of looking red, it actually looks white!” Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Director of Phase 1 Pediatric Clinical Research Program at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Dr. Matteo Trucco said.

These white blood cells do not work properly and their presence can “crowd out” the normal blood cells.

As a result, patients with leukemia have a higher risk of infection, an increased risk of bleeding and bruising, and are anemic, meaning they have a low level of red blood cells. According to Dr. Trucco, patients are also in danger of losing a significant amount weight or even going into organ failure due to the lack of normal blood cells.

Researchers everyday attempt to find cures but the process is both lengthy and expensive. However, this extensive research process must start with the basics: the study of how blood cells develop and divide.

According to Trucco, researchers must study the normal cell division first because, “You can’t understand how something breaks and how to fix it if you don’t know how it works normally.”

After scientists have a good grasp on how cells divide, they begin studying how mutations that cause cancers occur. Then they attempt to find a way to target the mutation. Once they find out how, they can develop drugs and run lab experiments to test the treatment.

The clinical trial process is carried out in 3 phases.

“Phase 1 is testing the safety of the treatment and the dose. If the treatment is considered safe, and we have a dose, then a Phase 2 study is conducted specifically to test whether the treatment seems to actually work at treating or controlling the cancer. For these studies we set criteria for what we would consider the treatment to be “active,” for example does it eliminate the leukemia in  50% of patients in 2 months. If the treatment is deemed “active” against the specific cancer, then a Phase 3 study is developed where we test whether adding the new treatment to the standard treatment actually improves things. If the Phase 3 study is a success and shows that the new treatment improves the cure rate for the cancer, then approval of the treatment from the Food and Drug Administration of the government is sought. Each of these steps, from lab to clinic can take several years, and a lot of money,” Trucco said.

Several researchers all around the world are currently working on the development of better treatments for leukemia. For example, researchers, such as Dr. Julio Barredo, at the University of Miami are currently studying Acute Lymphoid Leukemia (ALL), the most common leukemia in children, in hopes of developing better treatments. However, due to the cost and length of the research process, the treatment may be a long way from being approved by the FDA or even being tested in clinical trials.

Cancer awareness clubs, like the one we now have in our school, organizations, and even the Awareness month events aim to aid these researchers in their journey to find better treatment methods.

Thoughts of science…Red Tide plaguing Florida shores

The Red Tide continues to sweep over the West Coast of Florida, notably the beaches of Sarasota, leading to detrimental effects not only for marine species but for humans as well.

Red Tides occur when man-made pesticides and chemicals are washed into the ocean, creating toxic algal blooms which may make shellfish inedible, kill marine wildlife, and cause respiratory problems in humans. Climate change has also played a role in the phenomenon as scientists have concluded that this form of algae thrives in warmer waters. The global warming aspect has not been recognized as a likely culprit for the spread of the tide because the Red Tide occurs yearly. Warm waters have made this most recent outbreak of the tide the most lethal yet, killing over 2000 tons of marine animals along the Florida coast since it started in November 2017. Tourism has taken a hit and businesses have shut down due to the consequences of the toxicity accumulating in these beaches.

“The algal blooms on both coasts are always an issue during rainy reasons where a lot of nutrients wash into the ocean and provide the necessary nutrients for life. The effects on us people is awful; earaches, respiratory issues, etc. I would say to avoid the beach at all costs during any large scale boom,” Gina Sese said.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, during his first year of office, cut out 700 million dollars from the five water management districts in Florida. The South Florida Water Management District, whose mission includes to restore the Everglades, has taken the biggest hit out of this action. Involved with many bills that oppose raising the water quality, Scott only has recently started to take action. Other candidates in office have started to discuss Florida’s pressing issue, causing the rapid approval of many projects. This year, Scott has responded by declaring a state of emergency and has set aside 1.5 million dollars to fund cleanups and further rehabilitation efforts.

Despite these plans for future ocean conservation, the extent of the tide has been largely due to the amount of pollution in our oceans along with blatant disregard from the public for how deeply it is affecting us, especially on our own neighboring beaches.
As of today, there has been a wave of support towards conserving our oceans, with the elimination of plastic straws from companies such as Starbucks and increasing availability of reusable straws.

Regardless, the majority of the population fails to realize how much climate change is altering the state of our land and waters and that the length of this Red Tide has not been anything short of unnatural. As a community, we need to take action and gather all our resources, or else the failure to acknowledge human beings’ role in this continual decimation of Florida’s beaches is only going to aid this Red Tide in making headway to other parts of the state, and possibly, America’s remaining untouched beaches.

Free Tuition for Medical School

Written By: Sofia Marin

On August 18th, New York University announced it would begin providing free tuition to incoming and current students regardless of their financial situation. Student loans and ongoing debts are the primary reasons why students defer from applying to medical school; in 2017 alone, the average debt of an NYU graduate was $184,000.

Although the cost of the students’ classes is covered, room and board fees are not, which average to around $27,000. The possibility of an almost debt-free future will lure more applicants to the university and create greater competition between top medical schools. Hopefully, other schools will be encouraged to follow in NYU’s steps.