Tumor Cells’ Tiny Defense Weapons Could Help Doctors Better Predict How Patients Will Respond To Therapies
The weapons against the body's immune system could be used as biomarkers to figure out if the patient will respond to a very expensive type of therapy. In other public health news: psychologists at military prisons, cancer-killing drugs, surgery centers, eye worms and more.
Tumor Cells Can Unleash Tiny Weapons To Ward Off Immune System Attacks
Scientists have discovered that cancer cells can release tiny weapons called exosomes that target immune cells before they have a chance to reach a tumor. The findings, published Wednesday in Nature, point to the exosomes as a potential biomarker to predict which patients might respond to anti-PD-1 therapies. The cancer treatments target PD-1, a checkpoint protein on immune T cells. Tumor cells that express another protein, PD-L1, can bind to the PD-1 on T cells to inhibit the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells. The University of Pennsylvania researchers are hoping that measuring exosome levels might offer insight into whether an anti-PD-1 therapy would work for a particular patient. (Thielking, 8/9)
The New York Times:
Psychologists’ Group Maintains Ban On Work At Military Detention Facilities
After an escalating debate about the role of psychologists in military prisons, the American Psychological Association voted on Wednesday to reject a proposed change in policy that would have allowed members to treat detainees held at sites that do not comply with international human rights laws. The proposed change would have reversed a 2015 determination by the association that prohibited such work, effectively blocking military psychologists from sites like the military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, maintained by the United States. (Carey, 8/9)
Cancer-Killing Drug BXQ-350 Gets Its First Human Trials
Properly mixed, the medicine came out as a dark brown liquid. A nurse brought the intravenous bag to the side of a recliner, where a man with brain cancer sat. The nurse hung the plump bag on a stand and prepared the treatment for delivery. The moment had arrived for BXQ-350 to meet its first human patient. For the man, and for the medicine, the stakes could not have been higher. (Saker, 8/9)
Kaiser Health News/USA Today:
Lax Oversight Leaves Surgery Center Regulators And Patients In The Dark
The first man died in April 2014. Another died later that month. Then on July 18 of that year, a woman was rushed to a hospital where she was told she was lucky to be alive. They all went to the same Little Rock, Ark., surgery center for a colonoscopy, among the safest procedures a patient can have. And each stopped breathing soon afterward, court records say, sustaining the same type of brain damage seen in a drowning victim. (Jewett and Alesia, 8/9)
Can Kelvin Droegemeier Bring Science Back To The White House?
For the past 19 months, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has operated with a skeleton crew. For over a year, the top-ranking adviser has not even been a scientist, but rather a 30-something political science major who most recently worked for Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel. Desperate former employees even set up a secret shadow network to provide advice to lawmakers. Gone are the days when science was high on the agenda, when a staff of more than a hundred helped coordinate the federal government’s response to the Ebola outbreak, launched the Precision Medicine Initiative to personalize health treatments, and spearheaded a $100 million BRAIN Initiative that boosted research into conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. (Swetlitz, 8/10)
The New York Times:
Can You Screen For Early Pancreatic Cancer?
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, claiming some 44,330 lives a year, but there is currently no standard screening test that can detect this cancer early and “has actually been proven to save lives,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society. Individuals with a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, such as having a parent, sibling or child who developed the cancer before turning 50 or two such close relatives who developed it at any age, are at increased risk of developing the disease themselves. (Rabin, 8/10)
The Washington Post:
Loa Loa: His Health Had Been Failing For Years. Then He Saw Something Crawling In His Eye.
The painting was not an image of anything in particular, just an abstract confluence of psychedelic colors and wormlike patterns inside a perfectly round circle. Ben Taylor didn’t like it much, and he said he didn’t know why he painted it. But the wormlike patterns represent years of spiraling into unknown illness that had driven the 47-year-old painter and musician to depression, sometimes even thoughts of suicide. Taylor gave up on the painting and in 2014 shelved the unfinished work he had simply called “Untitled.” (Phillips, 8/9)