One of the tragic realities of cancer is that the drugs used to treat it are highly toxic and their effectiveness varies unpredictably from patient to patient. However, a new “tumor-in-a-dish” technology is poised to change this reality by rapidly assessing how effective specific anti-cancer cocktails will be on an individual’s cancer before chemotherapy begins.
A team of biomedical engineers at Vanderbilt University headed by Assistant Professor Melissa Skala has developed the technique, which uses fluorescence imaging to monitor the response of three-dimensional chunks of tumors removed from patients and exposed to different anti-cancer drugs.
In 1933, Thomas H. Morgan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries concerning the role played by the chromosome in heredity. Much of his research involved breading Drosophila melanogaster, in which he demonstrated sex linkage of the gene for white eyes in the fly. While Morgan ultimately received a Nobel Prize for his work, the real stars of his experiments, the fruit flies, had to be satisfied with much less recognition. In response, several of his subjects composed a song expressing their dissatisfaction with the way they have been treated. Here is their song:
Soda consumption may shorten your life. Sensationalist title? It certainly is. However, while there have been many studies demonstrating that a sugar-rich diet is harmful to your health, a unique study out of UCSF has actually measured a correlation between sugary soda consumption and shortened telomere length. When considered in conjunction with findings from other lab that have shown short telomeres to be associated with the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer, the story becomes much more worrisome.
According to the study’s principal investigator, Elissa Epel
This is the first demonstration that soda is associated with telomere shortness.This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level. Telomere shortening starts long before disease onset. Further, although we only studied adults here, it is possible that soda consumption is associated with telomere shortening in children, as well.
Based on the way telomere length shortens on average with chronological age, the UCSF researchers calculated that daily consumption of a 20-ounce soda was associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. This effect on telomere length is comparable to the effect of smoking, or to the effect of regular exercise in the opposite, anti-aging direction.
The full paper can be found in the American Journal of Public Health.