Monday, June 17, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 21

My Health

This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. 

Today is Day 182 living with cancer; tomorrow is chemo session no 9. Last week’s scheduled session was cancelled since my platelet count was very low at 73 X 10 E9/L.

There is so much going on in the way of cancer research. It seems that a new finding is happening weekly, if not daily. It is very exciting stuff. Here are a few recent developments that caught my attention:

Grapefruit Juice: An article in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that nanoparticles derived from the juice of a grapefruit might one day deliver cancer therapies to humans that are less toxic than current chemo drugs derived from synthetic materials. The research is in its early stages.

New Screening Process: An innovative approach for cancer screening, which uses Google-like technology to give doctors a better more precise picture of the colon, has been developed at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. The purpose of such a medical device is to prevent the incidences of colorectal cancer. An article, by Sheryl Ubelacker, in The National Post explains some of the benefits of the technology:

Miniature Chip: An article, by Paul Gabrielsen, in Science says that two biomedical engineers—Mehmet Toner and Emre Ozkumur—both working at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, have designed and developed a miniature silicon chip, the article says, "the size of a microscope slide etched with microchannels each no wider than a hair." It promises to detect what are called circulating tumor cells (CTCs), that is, cancer cells that have entered the bloodstream.

Personal Genomics: An article, by Heidi Ledford, in Nature News says that medical oncologists might have more success with cancer therapies if they start relying on personal genomics; the thinking goes against prevailing ideas that one drug regime fits the needs of all cancer patients, or even of particular cancers such as colon or breast cancer. General clinical trials often don't tell the complete story, because they are general, statistical approach to predict viability.

Gene Identification: An article in BioMed Central, an open-access journal, says that researchers in Taiwan have identified eight genes that can accurately predict if cancer patients will survive chemotherapy, or in other words continue on to a relapse-free life.

Gene Variations & Breast Cancer: An article in National Institutes of Health (NIH says that “in women at high risk for breast cancer, a long-term drug treatment can cut the risk of developing the disease in half. Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health have now identified two gene variants that may predict which women are most likely to benefit from this therapy — and which should avoid it.

“The work represents a major step toward truly individualized breast cancer prevention in women at high risk for the disease based on their age, family history of breast cancer, and personal medical history.” The two genes have been identified as ZNF423 and the other near a gene called CTSO. They act by affecting the activity of BRCA1, a known breast cancer risk gene.

BACH2 Gene & Autoimmune Diseases. Another article in the National Institutes of Health says that the BACH2 gene is important in regulating the immune system, and thus can be a clue to treat many autoimmune diseases that affect humans; it might also have an effect on cancer.

This is a small sampling of what's going on around the world; there is a lot more going in cancer research; all of it is exciting and promising. There will soon come a time when cancer will be beaten, that is, it will be a disease among many not causing fear in the lives of patients. That day can’t come too soon, and with so much research devoted to cancer screening and therapy that day will likely come within five to ten years.