As someone who follows cancer developments closely for various reasons, I must admit that I am amazed by the sheer volume of promising research being done. Last month for example, I tracked 21 promising developments by researchers over the 30 day period. It seems that every day that goes by, science is learning something new, or has devised a way to combat the illness in some new, often radical fashion. Therein lies the rub. Many of these discoveries, while promising, are years away from any sort of clinical trial, let alone potential cure for the malady. Sadly, it is far too late for some people…
Let me share some of my discoveries for today:
Researchers Develop Method to Deliver Drugs Inside Cells
Researchers working at Queen Mary, University of London have made a breakthrough with a process called "Micro Shuttle" drug delivery. The new process could one day mean an end to traditional methods of delivering drugs and allow doctors to deliver medications directly inside the cells of the body.
The technique is described as a way to shrink wrap medications to be buried under the skin or inside the body. These shrink wrap micro shuttles can be loaded with doses of specific medications and then opened remotely.
The capsules are about two micrometers in size, making them roughly the size of bacterium. They are constructed by wrapping strands of a metabolism-resistant material around spherical particles. These spherical particles are then dissolved in acid leaving behind an empty container.
To get medications into the empty container the capsules are heated in a solution that contains the desired medication. The heating process causes the capsules to shrink and traps some of the medication solution in the process.
The capsules make their way inside live cells using a technique called electroportation that administers a tiny shock to make the cell walls permeable for the tiny capsules. The researchers say that the cells are not harmed by the process.
This is very promising for those who have to endure the hell that is chemotherapy. I am certain that such a method will be used in the near future, but it may substitute nanobots as the means for the medicine as there is promising research being done in that area as well.
Social Isolation Worsens Cancer
The researchers then turned their attention to how the chronic social environment affected the biology of cancer growth. In other words, they sought to discover the precise molecular consequences of the stressful environment.
To do this, they studied gene expression in the mouse mammary tissue over time. Conzen and her colleagues found altered expression levels of metabolic pathway genes (which are expected to favor increased tumor growth) in the isolated mice. This was the case even before tumor size differences were measurable.
These altered gene expression patterns suggest potential molecular biomarkers and/or targets for preventive intervention in human breast cancer.
These findings do suggest novel targets for chemoprevention, according to Caryn Lerman, PhD, Scientific Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Deputy Editor of Cancer Prevention Research. "Future studies should evaluate whether these molecular processes can be reversed by chemopreventive agents."
The findings also support previous epidemiologic studies suggesting that social isolation increases the mortality of chronic diseases, as well as clinical studies revealing that social support improves the outcomes of cancer patients.
Cancer is an interesting ailment because as it worsens, it debilitates the patient both mentally and physically to the point that they don’t have the desire or ability to associate with other people. In effect, it becomes just the person and cancer. This study shows that this phenomenon is detrimental to recovery. This isn’t limited to cancer however, as this affects many, if not all, diseases. People are social creatures, and being around others helps us to heal. I apologize for my lack of cognizance, as I currently lack much energy myself. Perhaps a nap is in order…