Saturday September 21, 2019

Know the Low Cost Blood Cancer Detection Tool

For the study, the team used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer

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doctors, blood cancer
Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans', making them highly sensitive to odours we can not perceive. Pixabay

Your canine friend can use its highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 per cent accuracy, a finding that can lead to new low-cost and non-invasive screening approaches for the disease, finds a study.

Dogs have smell receptors 10,000 times more accurate than humans’, making them highly sensitive to odours we can not perceive.

“Although there is no cure for cancer, early detection offers the best hope,” said lead researcher Heather Junqueira, at BioScentDx, a US-based healthcare company. “A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated,” he said.

cancer
The team plans to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Pixabay

For the study, the team used a form of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer.

Although one beagle — aptly named Snuggles — was unmotivated to perform, the other three correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7 per cent times and normal samples 97.5 per cent times.

“This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools,” said Junqueira.

dogs, blood cancer, cancer detection tool
“This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools,” said Junqueira. Pixabay

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“One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic  compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds,” he said.

The results will be presented at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting in Florida. The team plans to use canine scent detection to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  (IANS)

Next Story

Medicare Uses Breakthrough Gene Therapy to Cover Some Blood Cancers

Medicare covers more than 60 million seniors and people with disabilities

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blood cancer
FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2019, file photo, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma speaks during a news conference in Washington. VOA

Expanding access to a promising but costly treatment, Medicare said Wednesday that it would cover for some blood cancers a breakthrough gene therapy that revs up a patient’s own immune cells to destroy malignancies.

Officials said Medicare would cover CAR-T cell therapies for certain types of lymphoma and leukemia, uses that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The cost can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient, not counting hospitalization and other expenses. Medicare Administrator Seema Verma said the decision would provide consistent and predictable access nationwide, opening up treatment options for some patients “who had nowhere else to turn.”

Turbocharge, reprogram cells 

CAR-T uses gene therapy techniques to turbocharge the patient’s own immune system cells, reprogramming them to harbor a “receptor” that zeroes in on cancer, and then to grow hundreds of millions of copies. The revved-up immune cells are returned to the patient’s bloodstream and can continue to fight cancer for months or years.

blood cancers
Medicare covers more than 60 million seniors and people with disabilities. Pixabay

Although side effects can be severe, studies have shown the treatment to be highly effective against certain types of cancers. Researchers are working to add more types to that list. Medicare has been weighing the decision for months. The program often sets the tone for private insurance as well.

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Special program

In its announcement, Medicare said it would cover CAR-T when the treatment is provided in institutions that are enrolled with the FDA in a special program to promote safety. It will also cover the treatment for other uses, if they are recommended by agency-approved medical research literature.

CAR-T uses a different strategy than other gene-therapy techniques. Instead of trying to fix disease-causing genes, it focuses on the patient’s immune system, specifically the T cells that battle foreign substances in the body. The problem with cancer is that malignant cells can often evade detection by the patient’s T cells. CAR-T helps the body’s own T cells do a better job of spotting tumors. Medicare covers more than 60 million seniors and people with disabilities. (VOA)