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Cancer is different in the developing world

In the United States the median age at which colon cancer strikes is 69 for men and 73 for women. In Chad the average life expectancy at birth is about 50. Children who survive childbirth — and then malnutrition and diarrhea — are likely to die of pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, malaria, AIDS or even traffic accidents long before their cells accumulate the mutations that cause colon cancer. In fact, cancers…

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Cellular ‘Cheaters’ Give Rise to Cancer

Maybe it was in “some warm little pond,” Charles Darwin speculated in 1871, that life on Earth began. A few simple chemicals sloshed together and formed complex molecules. These, over great stretches of time, joined in various combinations, eventually giving rise to the first living cell: a self-sustaining bag of chemistry capable of dividing and spawning copies of itself. While scientists still debate the specifics, most subscribe to some version…

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Cancer patients using “mouse avatars” to customize treatments

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same — with the hope of curing their own disease. They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person’s specific cancer. The mice may help patients…

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Enlisting a Computer to Battle Cancers, One by One

Watson. Photo by clockready When Robert B. Darnell was a graduate student in the early 1980s, he spent a year sequencing a tiny fragment of DNA. Now Dr. Darnell is an oncologist and the president of the New York Genome Center, where the DNA-sequencing machines can decode his grad-school fragment in less than a ten-thousandth of a second. As an oncologist, Dr. Darnell is firmly convinced that this technological advance…

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Barriers to commercialization

The barriers to commercializing research from academic institutions are well-documented. In a recent study by Nathan Vanderford, Todd Weiss, and Heidi Weiss—appearing in PLOS One—the barriers to commercializing cancer research in the UK were examined in more detail. The first research question in this study was the following: What are the general barriers inhibiting cancer research commercialization at UK? To address this question, respondents were asked to score how important…

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Scientists Seek to Rein In Diagnoses of Cancer

Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press A group of experts advising the nation’s premier cancer research institution has recommended changing the definition of cancer and eliminating the word from some common diagnoses as part of sweeping changes in the nation’s approach to cancer detection and treatment. The recommendations, from a working group of the National Cancer Institute, were published on Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. They say, for instance,…

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Studying Tumors Differently, in Hopes of Outsmarting Them

Source: National Cancer Institute Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University, says he is haunted by three pictures. The first shows a man’s upper body studded with large melanomas. The second shows what happened when the man took a drug called vemurafenib. Vemurafenib belongs to a relatively new class of drugs, called targeted cancer therapy. Unlike earlier chemotherapy drugs, they attack specific molecules found only in cancer cells.…

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‘Master protocol’ aims to revamp cancer trials

In the push to match medical therapies to the genetic underpinnings of disease, lung-cancer treatments have been at the frontier. But the 1.6 million people diagnosed with this cancer every year will take scant comfort in knowing that of the past 20 late-stage trials of drugs to treat it, only two yielded positive results. And in only one of those 20 were patients chosen systematically by screening for biomarkers such…

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