A new cancer-detecting method is currently being developed, in a study conducted by Veridex, Johnson & Johnson and Massachusetts General Hospital. The new blood test uses CTC (circulating tumor cell) technology to capture, count and identify tumor cells which circulate in a patient’s bloodstream. These cells are found at very low levels.
“This new technology has the potential to facilitate an easy-to-administer, non-invasive blood test that would allow us to count tumor cells, and to characterize the biology of the cells,” explained Robert McCormack of Veridex in a press release issued by Johnson & Johnson. “Harnessing the information contained in these cells in an in vitro clinical setting could enable tools to help select treatment and monitor how patients are responding.”
Today, patients must undergo painful biopsies in order to be diagnosed. The samples do not determine the correct treatment for the patient, and many experimental treatments are administered in order to identify which is the most effective. The process is often very slow and many patients do not survive the wait. If the new research is successful, the CTC technology will enable doctors to provide an immediate, more accurate diagnosis, as well as more personalized treatments for the patients.
Dr. Florian Ruths believes that when Mindfulness Meditation is practiced properly, in a clinical setting, it can benefit the practitioners in three ways.
First, “it teaches us to immerse ourselves deeper in the present rather than worry about things we can’t control in the future- will I have a job? Will I be ok in five years’ time?- or dwell on something in the past that we can’t handle either,” he says.
Second, he explains that it “teaches us something about the validity of thoughts and emotions. When we are in a difficult state we believe several things: it will never end, it says something about us being flawed, and we need to get out of it now. Mindfulness helps us see that emotions change and that if I have a though, it is not necessarily the reality, it is just a thought.”
Third, “mindfulness is an act of kindness, of compassion. It teaches us about directing the capacity for compassion that we all have at ourselves. That in itself is something new.”
The new cancer cell detection device, whose development was announced on Monday by Johnson & Johnson and its inventors from Massachusetts General Hospital , could change the way doctors test for and treat cancer.
Today mammograms, colonoscopies, etc are the only, ways that we have to screen for a variety of different cancers. The hope is that this new device, which can find one cancer cell among millions of healthy cells, will bring better screening procedure for these deadly diseases.
“There’s a lot of potential here, and that’s why there’s a lot of excitement,” said Dr. Mark Kris, lung cancer chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Sloan-Kettering is another one of the four cancer centers which will be studying the test this year.
Presently, many cancers are diagnosed through needle biopsies which often do not give a large enough sample to determine the biochemical pathways or the genes that control the tumor’s unimpeded growth. Alternatively, the sample may no longer be available when the patient gets to the specialist who will prescribe his treatment.
This new tool actually captures the cancer cell, which is then available for study. Doctors can easily follow a patient’s response to drug and/or radiation therapy by looking for even just one cell, in the blood. Dr. Haber of Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the developers of this test said, “If you could find out quickly, ‘this drug is working, stay on it,’ or ‘this drug is not working, try something else,’ that would be huge.”
Medical products giant Johnson & Johnson is planning to announce today that they, together with researchers in Boston, are planning on marketing a test so sensitive that it can detect the presence of just one cancer cell among a billion normal cells. Four large cancer research centers are planning on beginning studies to assess the usefulness and accuracy of the test and will be using it on an experimental basis this coming year.
According to many doctors, having a stray cancer cell lurking in your blood is an indication that the tumor that you already have, but which has gone un-diagnosed until now, has spread or is getting ready to spread. Doctors believe that having such a test on hand can dramatically alter the way care is delivered to patients. A large number of cancer types, including breast, prostate, colon and lung cancers can be detected with this new test .
Dr. Daniel Haber, the chief of the cancer center at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the inventors of the test explained its usefulness. “This is like a liquid biopsy which avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans.”
Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars are supporters of a form of meditation called “Mindfulness Meditation.” The technique is becoming more and more popular, and, as evidence of its effectiveness becomes more obvious, researchers and psychologists are starting to believe in it too. Actresses like Meg Ryan and Goldie Hawn acts as advocates for the meditation method. They explain that the technique uses ancient Buddhist principals to combat mental suffering, and encourages the practitioners to slow down, “inhabit the moment” and become more accepting of their feelings. Ryan says that “by simply refocusing our awareness, we reshape our experience.”
The meditation was first regarded with skepticism by most psychologists, but the practice has earned a lot of respect due to research which indicates its clinical effectiveness. Some experts are being cautious about overselling the benefits of the practice, however. Florian Ruths, who runs a mindfulness meditation program in London, explains that he thinks “we need to be cautious. At the moment the enthusiasm is much higher than the evidence. Those who practice mindfulness meditation know it makes a huge difference to people’s lives. But there is a danger of saying it works in psychology so why not use it for almost anything in life? And suddenly having a bit of pleasure, or seeing something beautiful, becomes an act of mindfulness. We need to be careful that we don’t create an impression that we’ve got something proven to be effective for almost everything when we haven’t actually done the scientific work.”