Clinical Trial Finds Nanotube Sensor Can Monitor Cancer or Diabetes

Nanotube sensorNanotechnology in Medicine

Most everybody knows about a litmus test, strips of paper impregnated with dyes that turn red in the presence of acid and blue if there is a base (alkaline). It’s a kind of chemical sensor. There are many kinds of chemicals that can similarly act like a sensor, detecting the presence of other chemicals.

Some of them would work in the human body, detecting glucose (blood sugar) for example, but the problem has always been using them in a way that is effective to read but not harmful. In short, most biochemical sensors have a delivery problem.

Part of the nanotechnology revolution was the development of nanoparticles, small shapes mostly of carbon that are no more than 1/100,000th of the thickness of human hair, i.e. about 1 nanometer in size. Carbon nanotubes are the most common type of nanoparticle, and as the word “tube” indicates, these are incredibly tiny rods with hollow centers.

Using Nanotubes as a Biomarker

It occurred very early on to researchers that it might be possible to put something in the tubes – medicine, for example – and use the tubes to deliver the medicine to very small, very targeted locations in the body. Continue Reading







Clinical Trial Finds Links Between Inflammation Response and Autism

Autism clinical trial using whipwormsClinical Trial Research on Links Between Inflammation and Autism

Inflammations, such as a fever or the reddish hot area around an infection, are normal responses of the immune system. In fact, inflammation is such a common defense mechanism that some of its effects sort of slipped off the research radar.

Until recently (the last five years or less), this was the case for researching links between inflammation and autism (or more accurately, autism spectrum disorder). These days the inflammation-autism link is a busy area, including some research that may seem ‘far out’ until you look at the details. One such research track uses worms, whipworms (Trichuris suis ova) to be exact.

Using Whipworms to Research Autism

Obviously, question #1 is, “What do whipworms have to do with autism?!” Like so many things in science, the answer isn’t about surface appearances but about something the worms do in the human body. They suppress the immune system, specifically the inflammatory response. Continue Reading







Clinical Trial Shows Stelara Improves Psoriatic Arthritis

Clinical Trial Tests Stelara for Psoriatic Arthritis Relief

Clinical Trials for Stelara Two recent Phase III clinical trials, sponsored by Janssen Biotech, Inc. demonstrated that the drug Stelara (ustekinumab) is able to partially block joint damage and relieve symptoms caused by psoriatic arthritis for up to two years.

What is Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis?

As the name indicates, psoriatic arthritis, there is a link to psoriasis. About 15% of people who have psoriasis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the skin, will develop psoriatic arthritis. The condition can be very serious, leading to permanent damage of  joints such as knees and knuckles.

At best, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are debilitating and painful (like the rheumatoid arthritis, which is treated with methotrexate for RA). For mild cases, treatment has often consisted of taking NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen), but the trend is to use antirheumatic drugs at an earlier stage. Continue Reading







New Clinical Trials Searches for Evidence of Benefit from Animal Assisted Therapy

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

Animal assisted therapy for cancer patients.

Animal assisted therapy has shown benefits for cancer patients and those with mental health conditions.

How’s your ESA doing? It’s a good bet you didn’t know your family’s pet(s) could also be “Emotional Support Animals.”

Here’s another related acronym, “animal assisted therapy (AAT).” This is a growing field of research and practice in the use of animals for psychological therapy.

It’s not difficult to understand the underlying beliefs about how animals can have a healthy effect on the human psyche – just hold a warm, fuzzy and purring kitten for a while.

However, when it comes to psychology, medicine, and the benefits for people with mental illness, animal assisted therapy can be more fuzzy than warm.

The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy

While human beings have known for centuries that relationships with animals could be beneficial, there’s a really big step from the benefits of a pet and the use of an animal to treat a serious mental condition such as PTSD, depression or autism. Continue Reading







Successful Clinical Trial for Breast Cancer: Herceptin + Emtansine

 Herceptin + Emtansine One of the most promising approaches to treat breast cancer is to target the tumor cells directly, through the use of T-DM1. This targeted therapy has two related advantages – it focuses the treatment on the cancer itself, and it reduces the side effects caused by collateral damage from the treatment.

As a prime example of how this can work are the results of a recently completed Phase III trial of the drug T-DM1.  

It’s a combination of the targeted drug trastuzumab (the “T” in T-DM1), better known by the brand name Herceptin, and a very powerful chemotherapy drug called emtansine (the “DM1″ part). The drug is designed to work when Herceptin alone no longer can keep the cancer in check.

Nearly 1,000 people with advanced breast cancer were involved in the three-year trial. All of them were diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer distinguished by elevated levels of a specific protein, the human epidermal growth factor – 2 (HER-2). This protein promotes the growth of cancer cells and is found in about 20 percent of invasive breast cancers.

The drug T-DM1 (Herceptin + Emtansine) relies on the effect of trastuzumab, an antibody (immune system protein) that binds to the HER-2 protein and interferes with its ability to spur cancer cell growth. Trastuzumab is commonly prescribed as an added treatment with chemotherapy. Continue Reading







ePill: Edible Sensors That Talk to Phones

Edible Sensors That Talk to Phones Monitoring of your medicine intake will soon be easier if the FDA approves the new ePill, or edible sensor, from Proteus Digital Health.

The title of this article is not misleading or even exaggerated. Described technically, this is about an ingestible sensor that transmits information from a stomach to a phone app. That’s right, you eat the sensors, which are about the size of a grain of sand, and they communicate to a device worn on the belly, which communicates to a telephone.

The manufacturer of these Edible Sensors, Proteus Digital Health, Inc. sought and received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for their new technology. Here’s how it works:

The tiny sensor devices are typically embedded in a pill. Once the pill reaches the stomach, the covering dissolves and releases the sensors. The acid found in the stomach powers the Edible Sensors when it converts chemically to energy.

This is very much like the ‘potato battery’ you might have seen in a science class, where a couple of needles stuck in a wet potato can power a light bulb. In this case, the Edible Sensors are coated with a layer of magnesium and a layer of copper, which when exposed to the liquid in the stomach, produce electricity. Continue Reading







New Clinical Trial Study Develops a Better, Faster TB Treatment

Better, Faster TB TreatmentResults of a recent TB clinical study suggests a faster, more effective drug treatment for tuberculosis is very close to realization.

A Phase II clinical trial study, published in the UK journal The Lancet, and conducted in South Africa, demonstrated an effective new combination of drugs that killed more than 99 percent of the patient’s tuberculosis bacteria within two weeks. The speed and effectiveness suggest the new regimen could improve upon existing TB treatments for not only general TB, but also drug resistant and TB/HIV co-infected patients.

Historically tuberculosis (often shortened to TB for tubercle bacillus) was a major killer that, while never eradicated, by the 1950’s seemed to be less of a health threat. Modern antibiotic TB treatments and health practices generally reduced the incidence of tuberculosis to the status of a minor disease.

That changed during the 1980s, as strains of TB appeared that were resistant to traditional antibiotics. By the 1990s, the World Health Organization again labeled TB a global health emergency.   Continue Reading







Interview with the Women of Teal Blog: Fighting Ovarian Cancer

Fighting Ovarian CancerThe American Cancer Society estimates that 22,280 women in the US will be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, and 15,500 of those cases will be fatal. To raise awareness of ovarian cancer, we interviewed Dee, author of the blog Women of Teal. She is an ovarian cancer survivor, fighter, and advocate. She kindly shared her story and clinical trial experiences with JCT.

I am a wife and mother. After working as an engineer, college program coordinator, and computer teacher I did not think the focus of my life would change yet again. But in 2005, after being diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer I became a cancer survivor and research advocate.

I attended the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Survivor Summits, became a member of my state’s Cancer Control Plan workgroup and joined a number of ovarian cancer advocacy organizations, serving on the Board of the Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation for three years. In 2007, I began writing my blog, Women of Teal, in order to share what I have learned on this journey with others and to raise awareness of the disease, its treatments and the need for more research.

1. Would you please share with our readers how you were first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and at what stage it was at?

I visited my gynecologist for my annual exam and mentioned to her an odd pain I was having on my left side. I thought I might have just pulled a muscle. She thought we should investigate further and sent me for a transvaginal ultrasound.

The day after I had the ultrasound I was in the ER in terrible pain. The ER physician contacted the radiologist and my gynecologist, and I was scheduled the next day for an MRI. Continue Reading







Stress Illness: Its More Common Than You Think

Stress IllnessStress illness, otherwise known as Psychophysiologic Disorder or PPD, may not be a household word, but the conditions that result from it are all too common. We feature a leading expert in the field of PPD, Dr. David D. Clarke, in our JCT interview series. He was kind enough to shed some light on what PPD is and how it affects an estimated five to ten million people in the United States.

Dr. Clarke is the President of the Psychophysiologic Disorders Association (PPDA) in the U.S., and his biography and stellar qualifications follow the interview.

Dr. Clarke, could you please define the term “Stress Illness?”

The term “stress illness” describes an illness that is not linked to any disease of an organ or structure in the body, but one that diagnostic tests can’t explain. Often, people have physical symptoms that cause them discomfort or pain, but tests run by their doctor don’t show a cause for the symptoms.

Most of these patients are actually suffering from symptoms and illness caused by stress, which can be unrecognized or not readily apparent, hence the term “stress illness”, otherwise known as PPD.

How does it differ from the regular stress we experience every day?

Everyone experiences stress, but there are two main differences between regular stress and stress illness. The first is the degree and high level of stress which is producing physical symptoms such as stomach upset, headaches, and body pain on a regular basis. The second is that the person is not aware of the magnitude of the stress they are coping with because they have been living with it consistently. Continue Reading







Clinical Trial Shows Drug Ready for New Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

Type 2 Diabetes TreatmentA new drug, Trajenta, has been proven to work for type 2 diabetes treatment after a lengthy but successful clinical trial process.

An extended clinical trial of the drug linagliptin (Trajenta), conducted for a group of over 2,000 patients from 32 countries with type 2 diabetes, confirmed the drug as safe and effective for lowering and maintaining blood sugar levels for up to 102 weeks.

Fundamentally, all forms of diabetes are a condition where a person has high blood sugar, which means there’s too much sugar (glucose) in the blood for the body to process normally. The effects of this condition begin with the three classic symptoms of hyperglycemia, frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger.

If untreated, diabetes can produce many serious long-term complications including cardiovascular disease (heart disease), kidney disease (renal failure), damage to the eyes (retinopathy), damage to the nerves (neuropathy) and in severe incidents, diabetic coma.

With modern type 2 diabetes treatment, diabetes is rarely fatal in its own right, but it is a major contributor to many other illnesses, many of which are fatal.

The key component in diabetes is insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and its job is to regulate the blood sugar level of the body. In a way it acts like a stimulant to the liver, muscle and fat tissue to take glucose (blood sugar) from the blood and either metabolize (use) it or store it as fat. Lack or failure of insulin to do this job is the cause of diabetes.

Of the three major types of diabetes, type 2 is by far the most common – and becoming more common in the every part of the world where poor diet and health habits are the norm. Unlike type 1 diabetes, where there is little or no production of insulin, doctors characterize type 2 diabetes by sometimes-low insulin production and almost always a reduced sensitivity to insulin.

That is, various organs, notably the liver and muscles, no longer respond to insulin normally. They fail to either metabolize or store the glucose, which results in an increased glucose level in the blood.

Continue Reading







New Research Shows How UV Light Causes Skin Cancer

How does UV light causes cancer?Incredibly, 90% of skin cancers are linked to UV light from the sun, but discovering how UV light causes cancer is the key to new treatments.

All cancers are bad, but melanomas, loosely known as skin cancers, are among the worst. In fact, only three percent of skin cancers are melanoma, but they account for more than 75% of skin cancer deaths.  If caught early, melanoma is usually highly treatable. Caught late, after it metastasizes, it is usually fatal.

Doctors have known for decades there is a link between exposure to the sun, specifically ultraviolet (UV) light, and melanoma. You may have heard about not getting too much sun, using sun-blocker to protect your skin and avoid spending much time in a tanning booth.

The big question for research and a potential step for better melanoma treatment or even a cure was how does UV light cause the cancer?  

The key to the approach taken by researchers at the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard (USA) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, builds upon the knowledge that melanoma tumors are full of cells with genetic damage caused by UV exposure, mostly caused by sunlight.

As with many cancers, genetic mutations often link to the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. The question with melanoma is which mutations drive this cancer? Continue Reading







Low-Glycemic Index Diet: All Calories Are Not Equal in Dieting

Low-Glycemic Index Diet While comparing and researching diets, researchers concluded the best diet for most people is the Low-Glycemic Index Diet. Why? Because as a unit of measurement, all calories are equal. As a specific type of food – as far as the human body is concerned – calories are NOT equal. That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (June 27, 2012) conducted by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital (USA).

In the ongoing search (it’s tempting to say, desperate search) for truly effective weight loss diets, the new study puts figures to something that many nutritionists and doctors have said for some time: cutting down on carbohydrates and glucose (sugars, also a carbohydrate) is preferable to cutting down on fats.

The study goes further by saying that a low glycemic index (blood sugar level) diet has similar benefits to low-carb diets but without the risk of stress and inflammation that very low-carbohydrate intake may cause.

In very simple terms, the study is recommending that people eat less sugary foods as the primary way to lose weight on a permanent basis. The study is also saying that eating the same number of calories in fat as in carbohydrates will cause the body to burn 300 fewer calories. To the body, not all calories are the same. Continue Reading