EU Budget Approved After Deal Struck With Hungary And Poland

Spain is set to get €140 billion – of which €27bn has already been taken into account in the country’s spending for 2021. €72bn will be transferred directly as a grant rather than a loan and Pedro Sánchez’s government has planned to use it over the next three years.

The EU was finally able to convince Hungary and Poland to lift their veto on the 2021-2027 budget. They have filed an appeal with the European Court of Justice over the ‘legality’ of the terms of the budget. 

Poem Written In Ancient Basque 

An example of an historic manuscript in the Basque language, euskera, was penned at least 350 years later than the one discovered recently in the Guipúzcoa provincial archives. Said to be a love poem and probably dating to between the years 1503 and 1522, the document was discovered in Oñati, near San Sebastián.

Researcher Rosa Ayerbe found it and, with the help of archive personnel and regular user Iago Irioja, an expert in 16th-century Guipúzcoa, drew up a transcript. It is ‘very difficult read’.  

The verse’s author is not clear. Although it was found in the files of writer Miguel Ibáñez de Insausti, which contain notary documents from 1503 to 1522, it is thought to be more likely that it was penned by a writer apprenticed to him. The style of handwriting appears to be the same as that used in other papers penned between 1508 and 1521.

The manuscript will be on display at the Koldo Mitxelena Cultural Centre. 

A Third Of Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need Chemo 

A ground-breaking study that could change treatment for breast cancer for the first time in 30 years has included a major contribution by Spanish researchers. Working with scientists from the USA and South Korea, the team concluded that a third of patients in Spain who have been treated with chemotherapy, may not need it.

A total of 792 women, via 21 Spanish hospitals, made up nearly 20% of the 5,083 patients studied worldwide. 

Women who have gone through the menopause and whose breast cancer is HER2-negative with positive hormone receptors (RH+), with one to three lymph nodes affected and a recurrence score of 25 or less – on a scale of 0 to 100 – make up a third of breast cancer patients in Spain who have been treated with chemotherapy and hormone therapy, typically by taking Tamoxifen or similar for five to 10 years after surgery.

The RxPONDER project has found that the prognosis for this patient typology is just the same with hormone therapy only as it is with both.

It was found that where breast cancer patients had between one and three affected lymph nodes – a situation that arises in about 5,300 women annually in Spain – their prognosis was no worse without chemotherapy than for those who were given it.

Among the pre-menopausal patients, though, chemotherapy is still strongly advised to prevent a recurrence; post-five year survival rates, which is a cautious way of referring to a complete cure, rose by 5.2 percentage points where both types of treatment were given.

Patients who had not yet gone through the menopause were alive and cancer-free after five years in 94.2% of cases, compared with 89% of those who only had hormone treatment and no chemotherapy. Post-cancer five-year survival rate now averages over 90%.

This will mean a huge weight off the shoulders of thousands of women in Spain and beyond every year, since often, knowing they have to go through chemotherapy is every bit as devastating as a cancer diagnosis itself, given the unpleasant side-effects and, particularly, the knowledge that their hair would fall out.  

Successful Womb Transplant 

An operation led by Dr Antonio Alcaraz and Dr F Carmona means the donor recipient may be able to have children. The first-ever successful womb transplant from a live donor has been carried out in Spain and two months later, the recipient appears to be fertile.

Barcelona’s Hospital Clínic says the patient is one of around 5,000 women in the world with the congenital disorder known as Rokitansky’s Syndrome, meaning she was born without a womb or fallopian tubes.

She was one of 30 candidates for a uterine transplant at the Hospital Clínic and was the only one compatible. The womb was donated by her sister, who underwent a 12-hour operation for the organ to be extracted – much longer than a standard hysterectomy, since the uterus had to be in a perfect condition when it was removed. It took another four hours to implant it in the receptor – the work of a 20-strong team who included nurses, auxiliaries, gynaecologists and transplant surgeons.

The recipient was given the corresponding medication to induce menstruation, after which the treatment process can begin for implanting a pre-frozen embryo. 11 eggs were successfully fertilised and have become embryos. If she becomes pregnant through the implantation process, and carries the baby to term, she will be given the option of having a second child via the same method. Any viable embryos left over can be donated to other women, anonymously, as long as the eggs came from a woman aged under 35.

The patient will have to continue to take immune-suppressant drugs throughout her pregnancies, which were prescribed to her from the moment of the transplant operation to prevent her body rejecting the organ. Once she has had two children, if she decides not to have any more, the patient’s donor womb will be removed by laparoscopy if she wishes, meaning she will no longer have to take immune-suppressant medication.

To date, 70 womb transplants have been carried out worldwide, leading to around 20 babies having been born so far.