Nanotechnology vs. cancer: How tiny particles sniff out the deadly disease

We may be able to detect cancer soon by simply peeing on a stick.

  • Cancer is an aberrant function of a normal cell, where the regulators of that cell's dividing are broken and the cell starts to divide without regulation. Left to its own devices, that dividing without regulation will overcome the entire body.
  • Until we have a cure, early detection is the holy grail. MIT professor Sangeeta Bhatia is currently devising a simple urine test that works just like a pregnancy test to detect cancer the moment it starts.
  • How does it work? Nanoparticles are injected into the body that force specific peptides, previously invisible signs of cancer, to be easily detected in urine. In the future, this test may be part of your yearly physical check up.
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New hope for cancer patients: Studies identity whether you will respond to chemotherapy or not

Two new studies might have identified whether or not patients will respond to chemotherapy.

Mitchell Xayapraseuth receives chemotherapy at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska in April 2012. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News/MCT via Getty Images)
  • Using radiomics, two new studies identified whether patients would respond to chemotherapy or not.
  • This breakthrough occurred by investigating tissue around the tumor, instead of only looking at the tumor itself.
  • This could lead to the cessation of much suffering for patients that will not respond to chemo.
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Surprising Science

Dietary supplements don't reduce mortality rates, Tufts researchers say

Vitamins do work — when eaten in whole foods, not pills.

Vitamins supplements on display in a drugstore or pharmacy. Reduced price makes them even more attractive. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
  • A new study at Tufts University discovered that a variety of supplements do not extend life and can even be dangerous.
  • High doses of vitamin D and calcium were linked to higher rates of cancer and all-cause mortality.
  • Benefits of the vitamins and nutrients were discovered in eating whole foods, not taken in pill or powder form.
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Surprising Science

New cancer ‘vaccine’ helps immune system find, kill disease

"We inject one tumor and we see all of the other tumors just melt away."

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  • In a recent clinical trial, three of 11 patients saw significant regression or complete remission of lymphoma.
  • The approach is an immunotherapy, a relatively young field in cancer research that involves directing the immune system to kill cancer cells on its own.
  • The researchers suggested their approach might improve the efficacy of existing immunotherapies.
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Surprising Science

How Tasmanian devils are evolving to fight back against extinction

Devil facial tumor disease, or DFTD, has cut the Tasmanian devil population by 90 percent. Now, some devils have evolved to resist the virulent cancer.

GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images
  • Devil facial tumor disease, or DFTD, is a transmissible cancer that Tasmanian devils spread through bites.
  • The cancer is highly infectious and lethal, and the Tasmanian devil population has dropped by 90 percent since it was first discovered.
  • In the short time that we've known about the disease, however, the devils seem to be evolving new defenses that are helping some of them fight back and survive.
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Surprising Science