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Profile: Judah Folkman: Related Science News

Mon, 11 Jan 2010
Grant Money Could Speed Stem Cell Cures

Dr. Karen Aboody estimates that she has cured several hundred mice of a cancer of the central nervous system called neuroblastoma.

First she injected them with specialized neural stem cells that naturally zero in on the tumors and surround them. Then she administered an anti-cancer agent that the cells converted into a highly toxic drug. In her tests, 90% of the animals were rid of their tumors while healthy brain tissue remained undamaged.

To hear Aboody tell it, that was the easy part. "People are curing mice right and left," said the City of Hope neuroscientist. The real challenge is convincing the Food and Drug Administration to let her try this on people with brain tumors.

Thu, 9 Jul 2009
A drug's unintended use restores the gift of hearing

It was the honeyed drawl of her professor that first pierced the silence enveloping Edith Garrett for an entire year, since the day she had lost her hearing. But she dismissed it, thinking she was just having a good day. That was until she was woken from her nap later that November afternoon by a racket from a neighbor's apartment.

"I said, 'What is that?' My roommates looked at me, and they said: 'It's the dog barking downstairs. It's been there since August when we moved in,' '' Garrett recalled.

Today, Garrett's hearing is near-perfect in one ear, her rare neurological ailment treated by a drug called Avastin. But the wonder here isn't simply that her hearing has been restored. The real wonder is how.

Garrett's recovery, highlighted yesterday by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, represents a powerful tale of scientific discovery that illustrates how millions of dollars in spending and years of research into a drug - in this instance, Avastin, approved to treat late-stage colon, breast, and lung cancers - can yield a treatment for seemingly unrelated diseases.

Mon, 20 Jul 2009
Better Vision, With a Telescope Inside the Eye

A tiny glass telescope, the size of a pea, has been successfully implanted in the eyes of people with severely damaged retinas, helping them to read, watch television and better see familiar faces.

The new device is for people with an irreversible, advanced form of macular degeneration in which a blind spot develops in the central vision of both eyes.

In a brief, outpatient procedure, a corneal specialist implants the mini-telescope in one eye in place of its natural lens. The telescope magnifies images on the retina, extending them so they fall on healthy cells outside the damaged macula, said Allen W. Hill, chief executive of VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies in Saratoga, Calif., the implant's maker.

Mon, 6 Jul 2009
Hope for Blindness Cure with Laser Breakthrough

Millions of people could have their eyesight saved thanks to ground-breaking laser treatment that has the potential to eradicate the most common cause of blindness.

One of Britain's leading eye experts has developed a technique to reverse the disabling effects of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which leaves many older people unable to read, drive or live independently, and eventually robs them of sight in one or both eyes.

Professor John Marshall has developed a way of "cleaning" eyes which, due to the ageing process, have accumulated tiny particles of debris which start to cloud their sight. His pioneering technique uses a painless "short pulse" laser to solve the otherwise intractable problem of how to help the eye's waste disposal system do its job after it has been weakened by age.

Sun, 6 Jul 2008
Costly Cancer Drug Offers Hope, But Also a Dilemma
Looked at one way, Avastin, made by Genentech, is a wonder drug. Approved for patients with advanced lung, colon or breast cancer, it cuts off tumors' blood supply, an idea that has tantalized science for decades. And despite its price, which can reach $100,000 a year, Avastin has become one of the most popular cancer drugs in the world, with sales last year of about $3.5 billion, $2.3 billion of that in the United States.

But there is another side to Avastin. Studies show the drug prolongs life by only a few months, if that. And some newer studies suggest the drug might be less effective against cancer than the Food and Drug Administration had understood when the agency approved its uses...

Avastin also has serious, if infrequent, side effects, some of which can be lethal. And because it is almost always used with standard chemotherapy—it did not work as well when researchers tried it alone—patients on Avastin do not escape chemotherapy's side effects...

Every weekday, Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, selects a set of significant and interesting science-related news articles from the mainstream media. The news stories featured here are selected from Sigma Xi's daily Science in the News e-mail.

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