Charlottesville Breaking News

Beautiful kill: UVA doc takes aim at deadliest cancer

Glioma is the most common and deadly kind of brain cancer. Each year, 10,000 Americans are diagnosed, and only half survive beyond a year. Only a quarter after two years. But research at the University of Virginia has led to the discovery of a toxic molecule which targets the disease and might also be used to target other cancers.  

"The potential of this research is extremely high" said Dr. Benjamin "B.J." Purow at a recent fundraiser for his research.

Since 1997, the owners of Hamilton's at First & Main restaurant have held a fundraising dinner for the UVA Cancer Center, and the seven-course affair on March 6 raised $10,000 for Purow's research. The restaurant that night was a veritable brain trust, filled to capacity with doctors, researchers, grad students, cancer survivors, those who had lost loved ones to the disease, and those simply willing to pony up for a good cause. 

"Cancer is immensely complex," said Purow, a physician in UVA's Neuro-Oncology Center, "and we have had to lift up the hood and look at the circuitry of cells." 

Purow's research focuses on toxic microRNAs, a newly discovered molecule in cells that has the potential to target cancerous cells without damaging the normal ones. Purow earned a $375,000 grant in 2008 for his glioma work. 

He explained that current...

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Water wasters: Worrell decries waste, centralization


The latest UN-designated World Water Day, according to a panel of environmental experts gathered at McGuffey Arts Center last week, was not a particularly happy one. Among many startling things learned at the March 22 forum sponsored by a new locally-based non-profit were that 900 million people around the world don't have access to fresh water, that every 17 seconds a child dies of a water-borne illness, and that ever bigger centralized systems for water, food, and waste are depleting our resources.


"We are still building centralized infrastructure as the Romans did," said former Daily Progress owner turned water management visionary Tom Worrell, "just under a new regime. Our goal is toward decentralization of our waste/water systems."

As our local water debate heats up again with the recent filing of a lawsuit to block construction of an approved but controversial dam project at the Ragged Mountain Natural Area, the panel of experts gathered at McGuffey criticized gluttonous world water use and emphasized the need for more conservation and innovation.

"We've got to stop living in denial," said Worrell, who, also with several panelists,...

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Early spring: What's wrong with this picture?

A typical April in Central Virginia: Tulips are abloom. So are redbuds, cherries, and dogwoods. Grass is a vivid green after the winter's brown, and trees are a paler, spring green as they start to get their leaves. The thing is, that's been happening the past week, and it's still March.

"It's pretty extraordinary," says Peter Hatch, Monticello's director of gardens and grounds. "It's three weeks ahead of schedule, which is unprecedented on my watch. Things are blooming like Scotch broom, tree peonies... things that normally bloom in April."

This area is big on April celebrations of spring. By the time the Dogwood Festival holds its parade April 28, those dogwood blossoms will be long gone. Historic Garden Week runs April 21-28, but the flora that normally blooms in April aren't waiting.

"[W]ith this crazy weather, we’re wondering whether there will be any flowers left by the end of April!," says Holly Maillet, who's working on Albemarle's April 21-22 Keswick-centered Garden Week tour.

The ...

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Draining feeling? Lawsuit challenges dam-pipeline plan

Back in 2010, before changing his position, Charlottesville City Councilor Satyendra Huja predicted that wars would be fought over water, but he may not have realized that the battle would reach his desk. Last Friday, the dredger-turned-dammer and now-Mayor Huja found that he was on the receiving end of a lawsuit slamming his turnabout vote as illegal, wasteful, and "absurd."

The lawsuit filed March...

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Eating out's in: City meals tax revenue rebounds

With the recent announcement that Charlottesville and Albemarle County are expecting double-digit increases in meals tax revenue for 2013, it looks like our flair for gastronomy is an indicator of economic recovery.

"The tax has been doing much better as the economy has improved," says Charlottesville Commissioner of Revenue Lee Richards, "and we have picked up some new accounts that have really helped." (He just picked up a biggie on March 19 when Cook-Out opened.)

What a difference a few years can make. Back in July 2009, Richard said it was the "worst I've seen it in 35 years," with meal tax revenue falling and restaurant owners struggling to pay their bills.

Richards says the recovery began in 2011 when revenue hit a five-year high of $6.8 million. For 2012, Richards estimates that revenue will be a whopping $7.3 million. For 2013, revenue is expected to be $7.7 million, however, $229,000 of that would be due to a proposed tax due date change from the last day of the month to the 20th of each month.

Richards's tax information came just a few days after Southern Living magazine released the resu...

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