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Officials Halt ‘Robot Brothel,’ How a New Interstate Could Affect Houston Traffic, ‘Brain-eating Amoeba’ Closes Surf Resort, And More

What we’re following this morning at Houston Public Media

Monday, October 1, 2018

Houston scientist wins Nobel

Dr. James P. Allison in his laboratory

The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday to two researchers from the United States and Japan for advances in discovering how the body’s immune system can fight off the scourge of cancer.

The $1 million prize will be shared by James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Tasuku Honjo, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Kyoto University.

Allison is the first MD Anderson scientist to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, according to MD Anderson. 

Allison and Honjo’s parallel work concerned proteins that act as brakes on the body’s immune system and it constitutes “a landmark in our fight against cancer,” said a statement from the Nobel Assembly of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, which selects winners of the annual prestigious award.

Allison studied a known protein and developed the concept into a new treatment approach, whereas Honjo discovered a new protein that also operated as a brake on immune cells.


Houston officials halt ‘robot brothel’ 

Houston city officials have ordered a halt, at least temporarily, to a Canadian company’s plan to open a so-called “robot brothel” in the city.

The Houston Chronicle reports building inspectors ordered the halt after determining KinkySDollS lacked the permits required for demolition and construction.

The company has received pushback from community groups and local officials.

KinkySdollS announced last month on Facebook that it plans on opening a “love dolls brothel” in Houston. It would be the company’s second location and the first in the U.S.

On social media, KinkySdollS says its human-like dolls are available for sale or rent and can speak. Mayor Sylvester Turner says he’s not trying to be the “moral police,” but that it’s not the kind of business he wants in the city.


Mental health advocates tackle depression, sexual violence in communities still struggling after Harvey

Serving a mostly low-income, Latino congregation, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church aims to provide mental health services the community wouldn’t normally have access to.

A new Spanish-language counseling program aims to help low-income communities in Houston deal with Harvey-related trauma. 

St. Paul’s Episcopal church is piloting the grant-funded program with a new bilingual licensed professional counselor and by working with the Hope Clinic.  

More than a year after the storm, St. Paul’s Reverend Ed Gómez said he sees people in under-resourced parts of Southeast Houston continuing to suffer.


How a cross-country interstate route could affect Houston traffic

Proposed I-14 would run from Augusta, Georgia to west Texas, passing through Huntsville north of Houston.

In central Texas, a portion of U.S. 190 near Killeen has been designated as Interstate 14. But the Youth Infrastructure Coalition would like to see a complete I-14 corridor from eastern Georgia to west Texas. Under their proposal, I-14 would create an alternate east-west highway that would be located midway between I-10 and I-20.

The coalition’s founder is Frank Lumpkin, a student at the University of Georgia. He said he and other students started the group to inspire young people to get involved in infrastructure projects that can benefit the area.


Texas surf resort closes while ‘brain-eating amoeba’ tests ongoing

A landlocked surf resort in Central Texas closed on Friday after a man who visited died from what is commonly known to as a “brain-eating amoeba.”

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is testing BSR Cable Park’s Surf Resort for Naegleria fowleri, a rare but highly deadly ameba colloquially known as a “brain-eating amoeba.”

BSR Cable Park owner Stuart E. Parsons Jr. said it will continue to comply with requests related to the investigation of Fabrizio Stabile’s death. The 29-year-old man died in New Jersey earlier this month after falling ill with Naegleria fowleri. Parsons said Stabile had been in the park’s wave pool. Officials are investigating the source.