Bruce Nash

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Posts by Bruce Nash


Finding Cancer: Can you hear the light?

Finding cancers early allows for more effective treatment with the least side effects, so finding better ways to detect cancers is an important part of the fight. A new technique may help us “hear” where cancers are, allowing doctors to diagnose cancers more precisely than is currently possible. The technique, which is called photoacoustic tomography, takes pictures of sound waves that come from tissues when laser light is shined on the tissue. This is possible because different parts of the body absorb different amounts of light. When light is absorbed, it raises the temperature of the tissue, and the temperature More >

Doctor and Patient

Cancer Overtreatment. When the solution is worse than the problem.

We often focus on cancers that are lethal, and especially those that can’t be treated, and for obvious reasons. This week, the National Institutes of Health addressed a different concern- that sometimes a cancer that isn’t life threatening is best left alone. In this case, it is prostate cancer, which affects about 30 to 40 percent of men over 50. About 240,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer a year, and over 30,000 die of the disease – so it is far from being rare or harmless for many. However, over half of prostate cancers are localized and many will More >

Adapted from Xie, et al.

Designer Biology in the Fight against Cancer

As many of you know and I have discussed before, cancer therapies have to target cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal cells. This is very difficult, in part because cancer cells are, although altered, still human cells. Synthetic biology is a new field that engineers biological systems for different applications. One interesting area where synthetic biology is now being applied is to cancer therapies. One advantage is that it may be possible to engineer sensors that can differentiate normal cells from tumor cells.

Early approaches have used engineering to create bacteria that specifically invade tumor cells. In one approach, bacteria More >

A Prize and a Passing

As some of you may have noticed, I have blogged about pancreatic cancer in the past because it is such a nasty type of cancer. Now, pancreatic cancer is in the news because, sadly, Ralph M. Steinman, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his ground-breaking work on the immune system, died before he could receive the Award. Dr. Steinman primarily worked on immune cells, but his work also touched on cancer. The immune system monitors the body for both foreign invaders, like bacterial infections, and rogue cells that might become cancerous. The immune system is More >