Archive for March, 2011

Radiation Therapy Outweigh Risks of a Second Cancer.

March 31, 2011

In a long-term study of more than 600,000 cancer survivors, an estimated 8 percent of second cancers were attributable to radiation treatment for the original cancer, according to the study.

The results suggest that other factors, such as lifestyle risks and genetics, cause the majority of second cancers, the researchers say.

The researchers looked at outcomes for 15 different types of cancer for which radiation treatment is routine, including cancers of the rectum, larynx, lung, breast, cervix, testicles, prostate, eye and orbit, brain and thyroid.

More than half of the second cancers developed in breast and prostate cancer survivors. Four percent of second cancers were in the eye, and 24 percent were cancer of the testicles, the researchers found. Read more…


New drug doubles chance of beating skin cancer

March 30, 2011

A drug that doubles patients’ chances of surviving malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, has been given the go-ahead.

Ipilimumab, prolongs lives by an average of four months in patients whose cancer has spread to other organs. Some are alive four years after having the treatment.

The drug was approved for routine use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after research showed almost half of patients with advanced melanoma taking it were alive after one year, compared with 25 per cent of those having chemotherapy alone. After two years, 24 per cent of those receiving ipilimumab were alive compared with 14 per cent of those going without.

Patients’ lives were extended by an average of ten months, compared with six months for patients not on the drug – although some were tracked for more than four years, according to results in the New England Journal of Medicine. Read more…


Porous nanotube ‘forests’ catch cancer cells

March 29, 2011

Researchers have designed a microfluidic device that uses porous “forests” of carbon nanotubes to detect individual cancer cells or viruses such as HIV in a blood sample.

By making the posts out of porous carbon nanotubes, which are cylinders of carbon atoms, and attaching various antibodies to them, sample fluid can flow through and around the “trees,” increasing the chances of detection.

The antibodies will bond to targets chemically, but the device also works mechanically by trapping particles depending on the distance between the trees. The forest has 10 billion to 100 billion carbon nanotubes per square centimeter, and is 99 percent air.

The device is about the size of a dime and the detection method is described in a study that appears online in the journal Small.

Normally, circulating tumor cells are very difficult to detect, and the device may be useful in discovering when cancer has metastasized to other parts of the body. The researchers are working to tailor the device to HIV detection. Read more…

New colon cancer marker identified

March 28, 2011

Scientists  have identified an enzyme that could be used to diagnose colon cancer earlier. It is possible that this enzyme also could be a key to stopping the cancer. This enzyme biomarker could help physicians identify more colon cancers and do so at earlier stages when the cancer is more successfully treated.

The team studied colon cancers from 40 patients and found a form of this enzyme known as ALDH1B1 present in every colon cancer cell in 39 out of the 40 cases. The enzyme, which is normally found only in stem cells, was detected at extraordinarily high levels.

It appears that ALDH1B1 aids the development or growth of these cancer cells because it would not be present in every cell at such high levels if it were simply a byproduct of the cancer. Read more…

Dangers of morbid obesity

March 25, 2011

A 16-year-old boy, weighing 160 kg, cannot go to school as he struggles to move around; a middle-aged woman on an airplane requires a seat-belt extension… Dr Kenneth D’cruz, Head of Department, Surgical Gastroenterology, Oncology and Minimal Access Surgery at Bangalore’s Narayana Hrudayalaya Multi-speciality Hospital, sees many patients like these every month, with the rising incidence of morbid obesity in India.

Despite the many challenges and mental trauma faced by those with morbid obesity, Dr D’cruz chooses to focus on the success stories. “I once treated a 65-year-old woman from Orissa who became breathless when she walked just 4-5 steps,” he says and recalls her husband’s uncontrolled happiness when, ten days after surgery, she walked from the entrance of the hospital to the out-patient department. Read more…


Cayman Isles target Americans for medical tourism

March 24, 2011

A renowned Indian heart surgeon has struck a deal to build a 2,000-bed healthcare city in the Cayman Islands to target American patients and insurers searching for deeply discounted medical care.

The British Caribbean territory agreed to the deal with Dr. Devi Shetty, a low-cost healthcare pioneer renowned as Mother Teresa’s heart surgeon. The Caymans fulfilled its part of the bargain last week by passing legislation that caps medical negligence claims at $600,000.

The tiny, affluent territory west of Jamaica has 55,000 residents and is under pressure from Britain to diversify its economy and move away from its tax haven image. Read more…


Arthritis drug could block melanoma skin cancer

March 24, 2011

Scientists discovered that ­leflunomide, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, helps block melanoma when used with a drug called PLX4720.Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer.

As leflunomide is already licensed and PLX4720 is being trialled, the drug could be available in five years. Read more…


Ultra-sensitive sensor to detect cancer signs.

March 23, 2011

Engineers have developed an ultra- sensitive sensor that could help detect a wide range of substances, from tell-tale signs of cancer to hidden explosives.The sensor, which is the most sensitive of its kind to date, relies on a completely new architecture and fabrication technique developed by the researchers.

The technology is a major advance in a decades-long search to identify materials using Raman scattering, a phenomena discovered in the 1920s by Indian physicist C Raman, where light reflecting off an object carries a signature of its molecular composition and structure.

Researchers have been trying for decades to tease out these light frequencies, but it was hard to see them even with the most sophisticated laboratory equipment.

Raman scattering has enormous potential in biological and chemical sensing, and could have many applications in industry, medicine, the military and other fields. But current Raman sensors are so weak that their use has been very limited outside of research. We’ve developed a way to significantly enhance the signal over the entire sensor and that could change the landscape of how Raman scattering can be used.

Engineers developed a completely new surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) architecture – a chip studded with uniform rows of tiny pillars made of metals and insulators.

The chip uses arrays of metal pillars, which have small cavities at their bases and tops and a bunch of plasmonic nanodots on their sides. he cavities serve as antennae, trapping light from the laser so it passes by the nanodots multiple times, generating the Raman signal more than once.

The team has named their new sensor as ‘disk-coupled dots-on-pillar antenna-array’ or D2PA, which is a billion times more sensitive than was previously possible.

This is a very powerful method to identify molecules. The combination of a sensor that enhances signals far beyond what was previously possible, that’s uniform in its sensitivity and that’s easy to mass produce could change the landscape of sensor technology and what’s possible with sensing. Refer…


New Method for Detecting Colorectal Cancer

March 22, 2011

Quincy (Mass.) Medical Center has been tapped to conduct a new clinical trial that would assess the efficacy of a GI device aimed at detecting more abnormalities during colonoscopy, according to a Boston Globe news report.

The Third Eye device enables GI physicians to view a 360-degree image of patients’ colons, which reduces the risk of missing colorectal polyps. The device, which is FDA approved, is contained within a traditional colonoscopy but allows physicians to view up to 25 percent more colon abnormalities than a routine colonoscopy, according to the news report. Read more…

Cancer drug found hiding in sunflower seed protein

March 21, 2011

Scientists have found sunflower proteins and their processing machinery are hijacked to make rogue protein rings in a discovery that could open the door to cheaper, plant-based drug manufacturing.

The study, published overnight in the international journal Nature Chemical Biology, showed that the machinery used to process and mature otherwise dull seed storage proteins is commandeered by a protein ring, SFTI, for its own use.While this work is of interest to researchers by providing an understanding of how new proteins can evolve and how proteins are matured, it has wider applications for drug production. SFTI can be used in its natural form to block breast cancer enzymes, and in a modified form to block enzymes associated with other types of cancer.

These proteins have not been broadly adopted by drug designers despite their potential to fight cancer because of the expense of producing them using traditional, synthetic manufacturing methods. Read more…