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Stranger Than SciFi: 4 High-Tech Cancer Studies You Should Know About

Last updated:

November 09, 2011

It's an exciting time in the field of cancer research: Four new studies were published this week that outline possible new cancer treatments. Here's the roundup.

  1. On Monday, the BBC reported that light might help fight cancer, but not necessarily in the way you might think. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland say they were able to find an antibody that adheres to protein cells and attach a chemical called IR700, which is activated by infrared light, to the antibody. They gave the combination to mice with squamous cell carcinoma, shone infrared light on them, and were able to reduce the tumor without hurting nearby cells. The study was published in Nature Medicine.

  2. On Tuesday, the Guardian reported that a new genetic test called SNaPshot would let doctors take advantage of genetic information when determining the best course of treatment for cancer patients. SNaPshot was first used for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, since treatment is often strongly correlated to specific genetic mutations, and will be used for other types of cancers as well. The study was published in the Annals of Oncology.

  3. Today, the Chicago Tribune reported that another genetic study had offered promising results for non-small-cell lung cancer patients. This study, published in Cancer Discovery, found that epigenetic therapy, or treatment aimed at turning on or off the expression of particular genes, increased the life expectancy for cancer patients, with one patient marking four years of survival after treatment.

  4. Finally, a particle physicist at Stanford's Linear Accelerator Center may have figured out a way to use a physics simulation tool to map the body for proton therapy. According to Discovery News, a simulation program called Geant4 could track the particles used in proton therapy, which is similar to x-ray radiation but with fewer side effects.