News from the technology side
Caltech scientists develop ‘barcode chip’ for cheap, fast blood tests
This device promises to revolutionize diagnostic medical testing. In just 10 minutes, the chip can read froma drop of blood the presence and concentrations of proteins which are used as biomarkers pf certain diseases – including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Integrated Blood-Barcode Chip (IBBC) has been developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Traditional lab tests are time consuming, require large volumes of blood, and are costly. This chip definitely is a speedier and cheaper alternative. “We wanted to dramatically lower the cost of such measurements, by orders of magnitude,” according to lead researcher James Heath. “We measure many proteins for the cost of one. Furthermore, if you reduce the time it takes for the test, the test is cheaper, since time is money. With our barcode chip, we can go from pinprick to results in less than 10 minutes.” Good new for the health care industry, good news for the patients.
News from the funding agencies
UK charity’s £1.5 billion strategy includes plans for 20 new research centres.
A boost for cancer research in the UK! The country’s leading not-for-profit charity group Cancer Research UK has some big plans. It announced that it will fund more research on pancreatic, lung and oesophageal cancers and open several new research centers. The plans include spending £1.5 billion (US$2.3 billion) on cancer research over the next five years. In addition to pure basic research, it plans to step up work on radiotherapy and surgery.
The charity is also setting 20 new research centers to step up on early detection of cancer, an area considered to be weak in the UK.
News from the health care side
“Stem Cell Tourists” go abroad for unproven treatments
The latest trend in medical tourism is attracting people with uncurable diseases with promises of stem cell cures in other countries. Unfortunately, the so-called “stem cell tourists” usually end up disappointed, even worse, in danger. This trend is causing concerns and has led International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) to issue guidelines on the use of stem cell therapy. “U.S. experts fear that some foreign doctors are rashly treating patients without waiting for clinical trials to validate the safety of their procedures“, National geographic reports.
News from the clinical trials side
Fox Chase Cancer Center physician leads new international treatment study for ovarian cancer
This new, large scale study will “compare the overall effectiveness of the standard treatment (a combination of paclitaxel and carboplatin) for ovarian cancer with recently developed chemotherapy combinations incorporating newer drugs.” It is now open in the US and is planned to include participants in other countries including Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The drugs to be studies are topotecan, gemcitabine, and liposomal doxorubicin.
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