Living Today: Issues of modern living

ALEX CUKAN, United Press International


Tobacco plants stretching their leaves toward the hot Kentucky sun look like any other ordinary tobacco plant but they are anything but. Deep inside their cells they are furiously cranking out microscopic fragments of human tumor.


The plants are destined not for a pack of Marlboros but for a laboratory where tiny tumor fragments will be recovered and processed into vaccines designed to treat the cancer lymphoma, The Washington Post reports.

It's a dry run at the moment, but by fall vaccines produced this way will be injected into patients, in one of the largest tests to date of whether vaccination can arrest the growth of human tumors.

The shots the patients get will not be of a single, standardized vaccine, but rather a customized product created specifically for each person's cancer. The Kentucky project, sponsored by the California company Large Scale Biology Corp., chose tobacco because it's the fastest vehicle for growing the necessary fragments of tumor.

The project is designed as a test of whether the long-heralded, much-delayed era of "personalized medicine" is finally at hand.


Bid4Assets Inc., an online auction marketplace that uses technology to maximize return, says it will auction a yacht forfeited to the U.S. Marshals Service. The online auction will be held July 23-25 on the Web site.


The 1998, Carver 400 cockpit motor yacht was forfeited to the Marshals Service in a criminal case. It is located in Oakdale, N.Y. Bidding starts at $133,000.

In June, Bid4Assets sold a 1999 Lamborghini Diablo MOMO for $200,600 for the U.S. Marshals.

"We are pleased to continue to work with the Marshals Service to sell yachts and other luxury items more quickly and efficiently online," says Bid4Assets President Rick Zitelman.


Harold DeHart, of Durham, N.C., has won a patent for a "dining table with integral dishwasher." It has a trapdoor in the table that opens into a dishwasher underneath, The New York Times reports.

DeHart is far from the first person to wish the dishes right there at the dinner table. In his patent, DeHart traces the legacy of his idea to a 1934 patent for a table with food trays mounted in the surface and a washing apparatus below.

There were a few other attempts, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, but DeHart maintains he has improved on all earlier patents. His dishwasher does not wet the table top as some of the others did, however, his approach requires electrical, water and waste utility lines routed to the dishwasher from the floor beneath the table.


During dinner, the access door in the table top is removed, and a tray connected to the inside of the dishwasher is raised until it is flush with the table surface. Dishes can be loaded onto this tray, which is later lowered into the dishwasher. Pots, pans or big serving bowls would be loaded into the dishwasher through larger doors under the table.


Meow Mix Co., whose mission is "keeping cats happy," says it plans to launch Meow TV, the first television programming targeted specifically at cats.

The idea was born out of recent research by cat lovers revealing that cats enjoy watching television, and The Meow Mix Co.'s desire to bridge the communication gap between cats and "their" people.

The program is scheduled to launch this fall and is kicking off with the Meow TV Tour, a quest for two human voices, one adult and one child.

"According to recent studies, 22 percent of pet owners watch TV shows they know their pets enjoy," says Richard Thompson, chief executive officer of Meow Mix.

The Meow TV half-hour special will feature the newly chosen voices along with visuals appealing to cats, such as birds, mice and bouncing balls, as well as fun and entertaining information about cats for people.


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