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Positive news for bus travellers

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THERE IS GOOD news for travellers as two well-known bus companies have recently introduced a new service from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

Megabus announced last week that they have partnered with Aberystwyth-based company Mid Wales Travel to create a new bus service, the M39, which will take passengers from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

The partnership will allow the M39 service to be a Mid Wales Travel vehicle, with Megabus branding inside, and will operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Travellers will benefit from the timetable, which will offer day and weekend trips to Birmingham and surrounding areas, with stops along the way including Welshpool, Telford, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.

From Birmingham, the service will include stops such as London and Liverpool, allowing more links for the student community and local residents.

If that was not enough motivation to use the new service, travellers will benefit from its low fares, which start at £1 with a booking fee of 50p.

Of the new service, Mel Evans, who owns Mid Wales Travel, said: “We are pleased to be continuing our partnership with Megabus.com with our new M39 service from Aberystwyth to Birmingham.

We hope local residents will find this a low cost, convenient travel option to Birmingham and the other stops we’re offering on the route.”

The partnership between Megabus and Mid Wales Travel has already been successful over the last 12 months as both companies have worked together to form the M7 service, which currently operates from Aberystwyth to London via Cardiff.

The Herald took to the streets this week to find out what Aberystwyth residents thought about the upcoming bus service.

One resident said: “I think this is a really good idea, especially with today’s economy and high travel prices. I was amazed to hear the low prices and, though I felt sceptical about it, I have a feeling that it will be very successful. I wish both Mid Wales Travel and Megabus the best of luck with it!”

Another person told The Herald: “I will be very curious to see how this works. I hope it does, but I have a feeling that it is all positive words and figures until both companies deliver an evidently good service. When Traws Cymru introduced the free weekend bus travel a few months ago, I thought that was a good idea.

“The more I learnt and heard people’s experiences with it, the more I feel any travel idea that the council or travel companies put forward is great but what they deliver is more important. As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding.

“I used to travel regularly on the Megabus but now, I travel more frequently on Mid Wales Travel services. I think the quality of travel is very good for both companies, so I certainly hope the plans work out for them and their customers.”

A student studying at the local university added: “I really think this is a fantastic scheme for everyone, especially for students such as myself. With students surviving on very little money from loans these days, due to the high university fees and the way the economy is in today’s society, I think many students will benefit from it.

“I’m from London and so it’s great to think that the service will not only be low in price, but I will also have the option of the other stops along the way.

“On some weekends, when I want a break from University work, I like to travel to Aberaeron and even Carmarthen on the Traws Cymru services because of the free travel scheme.

“Initially, I didn’t think it would work that well as I expected huge numbers of people every weekend crowding the bus, but considering it is a very well used scheme I know that Megabus and Mid Wales will do well with the M39.

“My thoughts are, if the Traws Cymru services are doing well from the free weekend travel scheme, then I know the M39 will do exceptionally well because of the high demand for that service.

“It is so important to cater to the target audiences, and in the case of Megabus and MidWales travel, I would think students and residents of the designated stops would be the answer.

“From my experience of being an Aberystwyth student, there is nothing worse than living in quite a remote place but yet having limited ways of travelling home, with the only options you do have being very expensive.

“My friends always say the same thing and with train fares continuously going up, buses are the alternative option for non-drivers. So I know they will be pleased with this news!

“All in all, I believe that students and keen travellers will enjoy the benefits from the M39 service, and I look forward to seeing how successful it will turn out to be.”

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Police trying to track stolen tanker

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating the theft of a fuel tanker containing approximately 8,500 litres of diesel (4,000 litres of red diesel and 4,500 litres of white diesel).

The vehicle was taken from Tan Y Foel Quarry, Cefn Coch, Welshpool, between 5.30pm on Wednesday, May 23 and 6am on Thursday, May 24.

The police are asking people to see if the tanker is now in this area.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908, quoting Ref: DPP/0006/24/05/2018/01/C.

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Reprogrammed virus offers hope as cancer treatment

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A CANCER treatment that can completely destroy cancer cells without affecting healthy cells could soon be a possibility, thanks to research led by Cardiff University.

The team of researchers has successfully ‘trained’ a respiratory virus to recognise ovarian cancer and completely destroy it without infecting other cells. The reprogrammed virus could also be used to treat other cancers such as breast, pancreatic, lung and oral.

Dr Alan Parker from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine said: “Reprogrammed viruses are already being used in gene therapy procedures to treat a range of diseases, demonstrating they can be trained from being life-threatening into potentially lifesaving agents.

“In cancer treatment, up until now, reprogrammed viruses have not been able to selectively recognise only the cancer cells and would also infect healthy cells, resulting in unwanted side effects.

“We’ve taken a common, well-studied virus and completely redesigned it so that it can no longer attach to non-cancerous cells but instead seeks out a specific marker protein called αvβ6 integrin, which is unique to certain cancer cells, allowing it to invade them.

“In this case we introduced the reprogrammed virus to ovarian cancer which it successfully identified and destroyed.

“This is an exciting advance, offering real potential for patients with a variety of cancers.”

Once the virus enters the cancer cell it uses the cell’s machinery to replicate, producing many thousands of copies of itself, prior to bursting the cell and thereby destroying it in the process. The newly released viral copies can then bind and infect neighbouring cancer cells and repeat the same cycle, eventually removing the tumour mass altogether.

The virus also activates the body’s natural immune system, helping it to recognise and destroy the malignant cells.

The reprogrammed virus is from a group of respiratory viruses called adenoviruses. The advantage of using these viruses is that they are relatively easy to manipulate and have already been safely used in cancer treatment.

The technique used to reprogramme the virus to identify the protein common to ovarian, breast, pancreatic, lung and oral cancers could also be used to manipulate it so that it would recognise proteins common to other groups of cancers.

Additional refinement to the viral DNA could also allow the virus to produce anticancer drugs, such as antibodies, during the process of infecting cancer cells. This effectively turns the cancer into a factory producing drugs that will cause its own destruction.

The research was carried out in a laboratory, using mice with ovarian cancer, and has not yet reached clinical trials. The next step is to test the technique with other cancers, with a view to starting clinical trials in five years’ time.

Dr Catherine Pickworth from Cancer Research UK said: “It’s encouraging to see that this virus, which has been modified to recognise markers on cancer cells, has the ability to infect and kill ovarian cancer cells in the lab. Viruses are nature’s nanotechnology and harnessing their ability to hijack cells is an area of growing interest in cancer research.

“The next step will be more research to see if this could be a safe and effective strategy to use in people.”

The team includes researchers from Cardiff University; the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA; Glasgow University; the South West Wales Cancer Institute; and Velindre Cancer Centre.

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK, Tenovus Cancer Care and Cancer Research Wales.

The paper ‘Ad5NULL-A20 – a tropism-modified, αvβ6 integrin-selective oncolytic adenovirus for epithelial ovarian cancer therapies’ is published in Clinical Cancer Research.

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Money raised by Canolfan Padarn in the Race for Life

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STAFF and service users from Canolfan Padarn took part in this year’s Race for Life which took place on Sunday, May 13.

Service users Debbie, Lowri and Donna had been training for months as part of the centre’s healthy lifestyle group and were joined by staff members Lina, Ellie-May, Heather, Jenny, Dawn and Anwen, along with Heather’s daughter Cala, and Anwen’s daughter Jena.

Canolfan Padarn Support Worker Ellie-May Watkins said: “The crowd gave the crew great support and we’re grateful to everyone who cheered us on. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Queens Road Bowling Club for use of their facilities on the day. Previously, Canolfan Padarn raised £330 for Cancer research, we hope that we will match or exceed that in sponsorship this year.”

Canolfan Padarn is a community resource base for adults with learning disabilities in Aberystwyth, offering social, leisure and work opportunities in the local area.

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