Stem Cells Help Shield Cancer Patients

A new approach to cancer treatment involves extracting a patient's bone marrow and then infecting it with a virus which carries a genetic immunity to certain chemotherapy drugs. 

What's the Latest Development?

Using a completely new approach to cancer treatment, British scientists have used stem cells to shield the body's bone marrow, which is especially vulnerable to chemotherapy, against the indiscriminate treatment. As a result of chemotherapy, a patient's bone marrow will produce fewer white and red blood cells, increasing the risk of infection while causing fatigue. In the medical trial, "bone marrow was taken from the patients and stem cells, which produce blood, were isolated. A virus was then used to infect the cells with a gene which protected the cells against a chemotherapy drug. The cells were then put back into the patient." 

What's the Big Idea?

Because of chemotherapy's harmful effects on healthy cells elsewhere in the body, the treatment is often scaled back, delayed or stopped all together, allowing the cancer to spread again. The new stem cell approach "is analogous to firing at both tumour cells and bone marrow cells, but giving the bone marrow cells protective shields while the tumour cells are unshielded," said Dr. Jennifer Adair, one of the study's lead researchers. The therapy needs to be tested on larger populations but scientists are hopeful that it will allow for the use of chemotherapy in more brain tumor patients. 

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less