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Detecting Circulating Tumor Cells With Gold Nanoparticles

Our modern armamentarium for treating cancer is impressive, but sometimes despite our best treatments, tumor cells continue to lurk in the bloodstream, seeding metastases throughout the body. Researchers at Emory have developed a way to monitor for these circulating tumor cells using gold nanoparticles.

This technique has been used before, but difficulty was encountered because white blood cells are close to the same size as some tumor cells, so they would both be tagged, necessitating a laborious multi-antibody staining process.

“The key technological advance here is our finding that polymer-coated gold nanoparticles that are conjugated with low molecular weight peptides such as EGF are much less sticky than particles conjugated to whole antibodies,” says Shuming Nie, Ph.D., a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. “This effect has led to a major improvement in discriminating tumor cells from non-tumor cells in the blood.”

Once these tumor cells are tagged with the gold nanoparticles, laser illumination reveals which cells are tumors in the bloodstream. This technique was tested on 19 patients with head and neck cancer, and showed excellent correlation with previous techniques. If this method can be validated in larger studies, it shows promise as a faster, more economical method to detect circulating tumor cells.

Full story: Nanoparticles May Enhance Circulating Tumor Cell Detection …

Abstract in Cancer Research : Quantification of circulating tumor cells in peripheral blood using EGFR-targeting gold nanoparticles

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

The Link Between Oral Sex And Head And Neck Cancer

USA Today published a pretty accurate article regarding the rise of certain head and neck cancers with the increased popularity of oral sex and number of sexual partners.

The factor that creates this link is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is associated with tonsil and tongue cancer. Alcohol and tobacco use is more highly linked with such oral cancers, but HPV does appear to be an independent risk factor.

A 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that younger people with head and neck cancers who tested positive for oral HPV infection were more likely to have had multiple vaginal and oral sex partners in their lifetime. Having six or more oral sex partners over a lifetime was associated with a 3.4 times higher risk for oropharyngeal cancer — cancers of the base of the tongue, back of the throat, or tonsils. Having 26 or more vaginal-sex partners tripled the risk. The association continued to increase as the number of partners in either category increased.

Of greater concern is that “French” kissing may also potentially be a mode of transmission.

The good news (if you’re a young non-smoker diagnosed with HPV-positive tumors) is that about 85 percent of non-smoking people with HPV-positive tumors survive. That number drops to 45 or 50 percent in people who smoke and are HPV-negative. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Treatment For Throat Cancer: Inspiration For Michael Douglas

There’s news that Hollywood star Michael Douglas, 65, is undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Reporters say his doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery. But, believe me — when someone is diagnosed with any kind of head and neck cancer, as this is, it’s not an easy go.

My first encounter with it was with my friend Bob Moore, a former sales rep for a major pharmaceutical company. He was a positive, yet realistic guy. The disease and the toxic treatment a few years ago eventually took its toll and he passed on.

My dear friend Mike Piller, famous as writer and co-executive producer of the Star Trek television series, had a similar diagnosis. He did his research and traveled to the best centers. Surgery and radiation took away part of his jaw and his ability to taste and swallow. Of course his speech was affected. He was a trooper, but he never recovered.

In both cases the doctors did what they could to cut out or zap the cancerous tissue tucked away around a lot of critical structures. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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