New hand-held device uses lasers, sound waves for deeper melanoma imaging

Handheld probe
A photograph of the handheld probe. The motor, translation stage, ultrasonic transducer, and optical fibers are all incorporated in this handheld probe for easy operation.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, causing more than 75 percent of skin-cancer deaths. The thicker the melanoma tumor, the more likely it will spread and the deadlier it becomes. Now, a team of researchers has developed a new hand-held device that uses lasers and sound waves that may change the way doctors treat and diagnose melanoma. The tool is ready for commercialization and clinical trials.

A new hand-held device that uses lasers and sound waves may change the way doctors treat and diagnose melanoma, according to a team of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis. The instrument, described in a paper published today in The Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optics Letters, is the first that can be used directly on a patient and accurately measure how deep a melanoma tumor extends into the skin, providing valuable information for treatment, diagnosis or prognosis.

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer type in the United States, and incidence rates are rising faster than those of any other cancer. It’s also the deadliest form of skin cancer, causing more than 75 percent of skin-cancer deaths.

The thicker the melanoma tumor, the more likely it will spread and the deadlier it becomes, says dermatologist Lynn Cornelius, one of the study’s coauthors. Being able to measure the depth of the tumor in vivo enables doctors to determine prognoses more accurately — potentially at the time of initial evaluation — and plan treatments and surgeries accordingly.

The problem is that current methods can’t directly measure a patient’s tumor very well. Because skin scatters light, high-resolution optical techniques don’t reach deep enough. “None are really sufficient to provide the two to four millimeter penetration that’s at least required for melanoma diagnosis, prognosis or surgical planning,” says engineer Lihong Wang, another coauthor on the Optics Letters paper. Continue reading

Nanoparticles that stagger delivery of two drugs knock out aggressive tumors in mice

May 08, 2014 by Anne Trafton
Nanoparticles that stagger delivery of two drugs knock out aggressive tumors in mice
The nanoparticle contains the cancer drug doxorubicin (green spheres) in its core. Erlotinib is embedded in the red outer shell. Attached to the surface are chains of polyethylene glycol (PEG), in yellow. Credit: Stephen Morton

MIT researchers have devised a novel cancer treatment that destroys tumor cells by first disarming their defenses, then hitting them with a lethal dose of DNA damage.

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The Legacy of HeLa

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by Lisa Winter

Henrietta Lacks was integral to the formulation of the polio vaccine, cloning, mapping genes, biomedical ethics, the field of virology, and many other facets of modern medicine. But, she never looked down a microscope. She never invented anything. She never authored a scientific paper. She was not a scientist of any kind. Why is she featured on this website? In 1951, before she lost her fight with cervical cancer, samples were taken from her body, and that cell line is still alive today.

Traditionally, human cells had been difficult to culture. They died after a few short days, prohibiting long term experiments. However, when Dr. George Gey of Johns Hopkins University collected cells from Henrietta Lacks (and abbreviated the tube as HeLa), a lineage of cancer cells was discovered that had incredible resilience. The cells grew so quickly and readily, they were able to be distributed to scientists around the world for experimentation free of charge — without Henrietta’s knowledge or consent. At the time, bioethical standards were starting to come together. While informed consent may have been recommended, it was not required. The samples which had an abnormal longevity were eventually sent to laboratories around the world without the knowledge or consent of Henrietta or her family.

Why are these cells considered “immortal”? When DNA replicates, the telomeres at the end of chromosomes shorten with every round. After about 50 divisions, typical human cells reach what is known as the Hayflick Limit, where the telomeres have become too short to divide, and the cell undergoes apoptosis. Cancer cells do not respond in the same way. This, combined with the natural strength of Henrietta’s cells, has resulted in a cell lineage that has remained hardy throughout the years.

As of today, Henrietta’s cells have lived outside her body for over 60 years; twice as long as they lived inside her body. There are now other long lasting human cell lineages studied by scientists, but HeLa cells were the first, and continue to be the most popular.

As genomic sequencing has become more commonplace, questions about the Lacks family’s privacy have come to the forefront. Earlier this year, papers published HeLa’s genome without first getting authorization from the family. After months of negotiations, it was announced last month that research dealing with the sequence can continue. The only caveat is that the work has to promote the greater good for humanity and researchers must do whatever they can to ensure the Lacks’ privacy.

Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/legacy-hela#gl6OFxK6UtRuvut2.99

Sensors to prevent pain for amputees

Amputee

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a new type of pressure sensor which they say could prevent damaging sores for many thousands of patients.

The technology has been funded by the Medical Research Council in a scheme to help scientists work with UK companies. It is being tried out initially with amputees, who often suffer problems caused by rubbing against their artificial limbs.

 Read more or watch the video.

Source and Photo Credit: BBC News

Human lungs successfully grown in a lab for the first time

lungs

Scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston have succeeded in growing human lungs in the laboratory, using components from the lungs of deceased children.

Stem cell specialists have been working on growing lung tissue for some years, but the lung is a complex organ, which presents more problems than regenerating other organ tissue, such as human skin. Read more.

Photo credit: UTMB

Belgium’s parliament votes through child euthanasia

Injection_Syringe_01Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and also have parental consent.

Read more.

 

Finding a way to do 3D surgery on the brain

3d glasses

Not only can 3D glasses be used in cinemas or other entertaining fields – they are also being used while carrying out critical surgeries. Surgeons carry out operations on the brain using 3D technology. Watch the short clip or read through the article.

Here’s another interesting article talking about the topic of endoscopic neurosurgery and endonasal surgery, also showing a 3D endoscope.

Gene therapy ‘could be used to treat blindness’

 

Surgeons in Oxford have used gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind

blind reading

Surgeons in Oxford have used gene therapy technique to improve the vision of six patients who would otherwise have gone blind.

 The operation involved inserting a gene into the eye, a treatment that revived light-detecting cells. The doctors involved believe that the treatment could in time be used to treat common forms of blindness. Read more