Tag Archives: cancer

A Pen Detects Cancer


A new device can detect whether or not a tumor is cancerous in just 10 seconds – and should be in operating rooms as soon as 2018.

The cancer ‘pen’, called the MasSpec Pen, was designed by researchers at the University of Texas Austin, and it will be able to bring immediate diagnoses to surgeons’ fingertips as they are operating on patients.

When using it, doctors will simply place the pen on a patient’s tissue and give it a few seconds to read that tissue’s molecular composition. Then, one of two words will appear on a computer screen in the OR: ‘Normal’ or ‘Cancer’.

Experts are hopeful that the device will help surgeons conduct procedures that are safer, quicker and more precise, since they could potentially remove all cancerous tissue from a patient in one go.

They say it could bring down the number of patients who relapse after having cancerous tissue removed and need more operations to fight the disease.

The MasSpec Pen is more than 96 percent accurate in distinguishing diseased from healthy tissue in real-time while a patient is on the operating table.

Researchers who developed it hope it will enable the removal of all traces of malignant masses, reducing the risk of cancerous cells getting left behind.

The current state-of-the-art method for diagnosing cancers during surgery is called frozen section analysis.

This process is slow and often inaccurate: samples take 30 minutes to prepare and they then have to be interpreted by a pathologist.

And speed is important because the longer a patient remains on the operating table, the greater their risk of getting an infection or reacting negatively to anesthesia.

For some types of cancers, frozen section analysis is extremely unreliable, yielding false results in as many as 20 percent of cases.

But even this method for diagnosing is modern, as most pathology labs require several days to evaluate if cancerous cells remain in a patient’s tissue after they have had a tumor removed during surgery.

The researchers at the University of Texas Austin who developed the MasSpec Pen included experts in the medicine, engineering and chemistry fields.

Their research was funded by their university, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.

They have filed US patent applications and they are working to secure worldwide patents.

The technology is expected to start being tested during cancer surgeries as soon as next year.

Casper Befriends Kids With Terminal Illnesses


Companion robots, long promised as a way to stave off loneliness among the elderly, are being tested among children at a hospital in Lisbon, Portugal.

Little Casper is a humanoid robot designed to work with hospitalized children, according to Euronews. The robot, created by the University of Lisbon and project Monarch, is able to detect and navigate the environment around it, talk and play games. As a social robot, Casper is specifically programmed to converse with humans in a friendly manner.

“We try to trigger a positive reaction from them,” project researcher Víctor González Pacheco told Euronews. “Doctors tell us that the happier these children are, the faster, the better they recover after treatment. So we want Casper to help children to have fun, to play with them. We want children to establish the kind of relationship with this robot that they could have with a pet, or even a friend.”

This hinges on the idea that people who remain positive when sick fair better than their more pessimistic counterparts. Studies show mixed evidence on this front, according to the American Cancer Society, and the prevailing belief is there isn’t substantive evidence that happiness is connected to survival. Still, there’s no harm in keeping spirits high, especially within a hospital setting.

Researchers hope to bring Casper to more hospitals in the next three years.


source: yahoo tech


Cancer Forever and Ever

MDC states, there is only money in treatment, the doctor loves the business.

Since Richard Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971, the National Cancer Institute has poured some $90 billion into research and treatments. Yet a cure remains elusive. Experts have plenty of targets for blame, including a flawed emphasis on treatment over prevention, and Big Pharma betting on blockbuster treatments that cost billions to develop.

But a new study raises a sobering possibility: Cancer simply may be here to stay. Researchers at Kiel University, the Catholic University of Croatia and other institutions discovered that hydra — tiny, coral-like polyps that emerged hundreds of millions of years ago — form tumors similar to those found in humans. Which suggests that our cells’ ability to develop cancer is “an intrinsic property” that has evolved at least since then — way, way, way before we rallied our forces to try to tackle it, said Thomas Bosch, an evolutionary biologist at Kiel University who led the study, published in Nature Communications in June.

To get ahead of cancer, he said, “you have to interfere with fundamental pathways. It’s a web of interactions,” he said. “It’s very difficult to do.” That’s why cancer “will probably never be completely eradicated.”

Cancer results from DNA mutations that throw a wrench into the molecular circuits that regulate the cell cycle. Unregulated, cancer cells multiply uncontrollably. They also evade a process known as apoptosis, in which cells with genetic mistakes essentially commit suicide.

Bosch and his colleagues have investigated hydra stem cells and tissue regeneration for years. In an earlier study, they showed that these pulsating polyps carry genes that can cause cancer in humans. But, they wondered, did those genes also trigger tumor growth?

Sure enough, they discovered tumor-ridden polyps from two hydra species. Oddly, the tumors ravaged only female polyps. They bred them for five years, generating several clones of each.

To unravel the tumor-causing mechanisms, the researchers observed cell division in hydra with and without tumors. They saw that stem cells programmed to turn into female sex cells, or eggs, divided uncontrollably. They accumulated without being naturally culled through apoptosis — resembling ovarian cancer in women. They then sequenced the tumorous hydra’s DNA and discovered a gene that halts apoptosis, and the activity of which runs amok in tumor tissue. Turns out a similar gene hijacks apoptosis in humans and also spurs unbridled cell proliferation.

So we know that tumors can grow in hydra, but are hydra tumors invasive the way they are in humans? To find out, the researchers transplanted tumors into healthy polyps. The cells from tumors transplanted in the midsections of healthy polyps migrated all the way to both ends of their bodies.

All this means that cancer genes, and the mechanisms that allow tumor cells to evade death and invade healthy tissue, “have deep evolutionary roots,” the researchers wrote. “Any crucial cell in your body can at any point make a mistake,” and there’s no way to prevent it, Bosch said.

“You carry a time bomb in your body when you’re born,” he said. “It can explode early in life, or middle age or later.”

But, Bosch adds, “that doesn’t mean that, with a patient who develops cancer, there’s nothing you can do.”

While our cells probably always will have the ability to make mistakes that trigger cancer, Bosch believes “medical technology will allow us at early time points … at least in some cases, to successfully treat and clean a patient completely and forever of troublemaking cells.”

One strategy might be to unleash the immune system against these cells. Yervoy, a drug that does just that, eliminated melanoma in 20 percent of clinical trial patients for up to 12 years — and counting. An infusion of Yervoy and a similar drug, nivolumab, has kept some lung cancer patients disease-free for about six years so far. “Their cancer hasn’t come back yet. It might never come back,” said Ben Creelan, an oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center. “I think it’s the most exciting thing in decades.”

And of course, basic research on the evolution of cancer’s arsenal remains crucial.

“Knowing your enemy from its origins is the best way to fight it and win many battles,” Bosch said.

Our goal, then, if we can’t slay the beast, is to learn enough about it that we render it harmless.

Source: NPR


NYC Parks Playground Cancer

Public parks are supposed to be safe places for children to play, but several studies are now warning that a pesticide sprayed at some NYC playgrounds could pose a health threat for kids. DNAinfo reports that the Roundup brand of pesticide used by the Parks Department around city playgrounds has been linked by researchers to both breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (a cancer that effects the immune system).

The new concerns came to light as the result of a recent International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study that links Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, to lymphoma. A separate study out of the Chulabhorn Graduate Institute in Thailand published last year also linked glyphosate to breast cancer.

However, Roundup’s company spokeswoman Charla Lord responded to the findings claiing that 40 years of comprehensive toxicological studies prove that the product does not contain carcinogens. “[Glyphosate] does not cause cancer, mutagenic effects, nervous system effects, immune system effects, endocrine disruption, birth defects or reproductive problems,” Lord told DNAinfo.

Typically, the city sprays Roundup to kill areas of overgrown weeds where rats sometimes make nests. But as of late the city has been using much more of the weed killer, spraying public parks 1,365 times in 2013. The city declined to comment on how many times Roundup was sprayed this year, but it’s possible that the number was even higher than previous years considering that the Health Department has been removing other weed-killing chemicals due to their higher toxicities.

To keep children safe, the Parks Department also puts up warning signs 24 hours before and after an area has been sprayed but experts say that the city should cordon off the areas that have been sprayed for up to 72 hours. Others also question how safe pesticide sprays are as they can run off to other areas after a rainstorm. While the jury is still out on how dangerous glyphosate is, children are at the greatest risk because they put their hands and other objects into their mouths, which could lead to direct exposure to these harmful chemicals. Readers should keep their kids safe by washing their hands after visiting city parks.

Read more: Inhabitat New York City 20140818-231102-83462563.jpg

THC kills Cancer


From Compultense University in Madrid, Spain, Dr. Christina Sanchez has been studying the anti-tumor effects of THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, for over a decade. She delivers sound information that explains exactly how THC kills cancer cells entirely – without adverse effects to healthy cells.

Her research is an addition to other’s work, such as British scientist, Wai Liu, an oncologist at the University of London’s St. George’s medical school. Liu’s research also reveals how THC has ‘potent anti-cancer activity,’ and can significantly ‘target and switch off’ pathways that allow cancers to grow.

Liu points out that pharmaceutical companies spend billions on drugs that do the very same thing, while the cannabis plant does it naturally. In the following video, Dr. Sanchez explains exactly how THC does the dirty work of eliminating cancer cells by activating the body’s own cannabinoid receptors, creating endocannabinoids. What’s more, is cannabis can do this without any psychoactive effects.

“There’s quite a lot of cancers that should respond quite nicely to these cannabis agents,” Liu said. “If you talk about a drug company that spent billions of pounds trying to develop these new drugs that target these pathways, cannabis does exactly the same thing – or certain elements of cannabis compounds do exactly the same thing – so you have something that is naturally produced which impacts the same pathways that these fantastic drugs that cost billions also work on.”

This comes at an important time when states are legalizing medical marijuana and the federal government is receiving pressure to de-list cannabis as an illegal drug – an archaic and erroneous definition of a plant which the Feds say ‘has no medicinal value’, even though they hold numerous patents on the plant. The feds are still fighting marijuana, despite having numerous patents on the plant.

Patent No. 6,630,507, for example, is for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Could this be why they are dragging their feet on declassifying this valuable plant?

In fact, three scientists from the Department of Health and Human Services said in the abstract — or summary — of their findings submitted with the patent application:

“The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroproectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke or trauma, or the treatment of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”

Surely they knew it could treat cancer too.

In Hindu texts cannabis was known as ‘sacred grass.’ It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Cannabis can replace toxic medications, and drastically reduce pain. Dr. Sanchez’s studies just add to the age-old wisdom surrounding the medicinal use of this phenomenal plant.

Dog to the Rescue


It’s been said that dogs are able to read our body language. They know when we’re ready to take them for a walk or when we’re getting ready to feed them.

In January, BBC Earth uploaded a video which takes us behind the scenes of the loving relationship between Maureen Burns and her dog, Max.

When her then-9-year-old collie cross, who was normally so full of life, began acting strangely, Burns was worried that he was dying.

“The odd signs were when he would come up and touch my breast with his nose, and back off so desperately unhappy with such a sad look in his eyes,” Burns said in the video.

Burns had a lump in her breast, but her last mammogram had been clear so she didn’t think anything of it. That is, until she linked the lump to Max’s behavior, and decided to get a scan and a mammogram, both of which came back negative again. Eventually, after undergoing a surgical biopsy, cancer was detected in Burns’ breast.

According to the BBC, many dogs can smell the chemicals given off by cancerous tumors.

In 2003, the InSitu Foundation performed a study and found the canines can sniff out lung and breast cancer by smelling a patient’s breath, the New York Daily News reported.

According to the InSitu Foundation, dogs accuracy levels for the early detection of lung and breast cancer has been found to be 88 percent specific and 99 percent sensitive.

When Burns left the hospital after having the lump removed, she says immediately noticed a change in Max’s behavior.

“He put his nose across my breast to check where the operation had been and was wagging his tail and his eyes were happy,” Burns said in the video. “I love Max and I owe him so much.”

Thanks 911 Responders


As the nation marked the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the federal government is still working to ensure that the people who came into close contact with Ground Zero are receiving the health treatment they need. So far, about 1,140 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers that resulted from the toxins at the site of the World Trade Center collapse, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Fortunately, those people are now eligible for care through the CDC’s World Trade Center Health Program, which provides free care for 9/11 first responders and survivors who lived near the site of the attack. That wasn’t always the case. The $4.3 billion compensation fund didn’t start covering cancer until last September. Administrators said the link between Ground Zero debris and cancer wasn’t strong enough to necessitate coverage, but several studies on the issue ended up changing their minds.

The most recent research into the issue found that 9/11 first responders have a 15 percent higher rate of cancer than the general population. Health experts expect that number to continue to rise, since some types of cancer can take decades to develop.

Congress approved the health fund as part of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — named after a New York City police officer who died from a respiratory diseases that resulted from the toxic chemicals at Ground Zero — in 2010. The first responders began getting their payments at the beginning of this year. Senate Republicans nearly derailed the bill before its passage, however, saying it was too expensive. They convinced Democrats to scale back the fund from $7.4 billion in payments over eight years to $4.8 billion over the same time period.

Thanks to the automatic budget cuts that resulted from the sequester, the compensation is getting trimmed even further. The Zadroga fund faces $38 million in cuts this year, and could end up losing up to $300 million over the current planned life of the program. A coalition of New York senators and House members have submitted joint legislation to exempt the 9/11 fund from the sequester cuts, but it’s currently pending in budget committees.

Cancer treatment typically represents one of the biggest drains on Americans’ bank accounts. Americans who battle cancer are nearly twice as likely to go bankrupt, even if they have some type of health insurance.

MDC says, this is a perfect example of how the government has failed the honorable American citizen.

Dogs Detect Ovarian Cancer


Call it the furriest cancer diagnostic. University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, Penn Medicine and Monell Chemical Senses Center are collaborating to train dogs to detect ovarian cancer using e-sensors.

Penn’s department of physics and astronomy are also collaborating on the project, funded by an $80,000 grant from the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation for ovarian cancer.

Research has shown that trained detection dogs and electronic devices can detect minute quantities of odorants that signal the presence of ovarian cancer, even before the cancer can be detected by current methods, according to a statement from Penn.

Tissue and blood samples collected by Penn Medicine will be used by the working dog center for training and analysis. The initial study will assess the ability of dogs and other sensors to detect the total odorant signatures that distinguish disease from healthy samples.

Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center and associate professor of Critical Care at Penn Veterinary school said: “By utilizing the acute sense of smell in detection dogs in conjunction with chemical and nanotechnology methods, we hope to develop a new system of screening for ovarian cancer using analysis of odorants to facilitate early detection and help decrease future cancer deaths.”

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women. If caught early the survival rate is 90 percent but it usually is not diagnosed until it has progressed to later stages when it becomes more difficult to treat.

Although dogs are currently only detecting samples, the idea is that future studies will determine the most suitable tissue for evaluation and will measure odor differences among various tumor grades, according to the statement.

In addition to the ovarian cancer research at Penn, dogs are being trained to detect breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Source: medcitynews


Dogs Sniff out Lung Cancer


MDC shares the talent of a service dog towards humans.

DOGS are surprisingly adept at sniffing out lung cancer, results from a pilot project in Austria published on Wednesday suggested, potentially offering hope for earlier, life-saving diagnosis.

“Dogs have no problem identifying tumour patients,” said Peter Errhalt, head of the pulmonology department at Krems hospital in northern Austria, one of the authors of the study.

The test saw dogs achieve a 70-per cent success rate identifying cancer from 120 breath samples, a result so “encouraging” that a two-year study 10 times larger will now take place, Errhalt said.

The results echo anecdotal evidence of odd canine behaviour when around cancer sufferers and are backed up by the results of similar small studies, including one by German scientists in 2011.

The ultimate aim is not however to have canines stationed in hospitals, but for scientists to identify what scents the dogs are detecting, explained Michael Mueller from the Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna, who collaborated on the pilot project.

This in turn could help scientists reproduce in the long term a kind of “electronic nose” – minus the wagging tail – that could help diagnose lung cancer in the early stages, thereby dramatically improving survival rates, Mueller said.