The journal of Oncology has recently launched its App for the Cancer Management Handbook. The Cancer Management Handbook has been for years an essential resource for physicians, with up-to-date information about treatments and the latest updates in the oncology field. Now, this journal goes a step forward offering an application for tablets, interactive and very easy-to-use.

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Anyone that has worked with ultrasound imaging knows how difficult it is to recognise structures with the naked eye. Training and experience play a very important role in interpreting those images, and, most importantly, in recognising anomalities.
A recent study by researchers from California has shown that detailed instruction in obtaining 3DUS images of fetal profiles improved the image quality obtained by phisicians. Teaching physicians in a standardized way may help improve the use of 3DUS in clinical practice for a broader spectrum of pathologies: for instance, in image guidance for radiotherapy & brachytherapy in gyneacology, breast, prostate and other cancer types.

Researchers from the Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY USA have developed an algorithm that makes use of the elasticity properties of tissues to characterize malignant tumors. They use an ultrasound device and they process the radiofrequency data to reconstruct the linear and non-linear elasticity properties of tissue, by calculating the displacement within the tissue and mapping the spatial distribution with the material properties that would give that displacement. In order to measure the non-elasticity properties, the tissue needs to be deformed up to 20%, which limits the areas of application of this technology. Currently, they are investigating atherosclerosis disease and skin cancer, besides breast.
For more information, please refer to the published article

Autofluorescence imaging is becoming more and more important in the assessment of the severity of a variety of diseases. Recently, researchers from Vojvodina, Clinic for Pulmonary Oncology, Serbia, have shown the benefits of autofluorescence imaging videobronchoscopy (AFI). AFI is one of the new systems of autofluorescence bronchoscopy designed for thorough examination of bronchial mucosa. Indications for AFI go from evaluation of early-stage lung cancer and detection of precancerous lesions, to evaluation of tumor extension or follow-up after surgical resection. This technique provides clear differentiation between normal and pathologically altered mucosa. However, AFI has a low specificity in the detection of premalignant lesions, early-stage lung cancer. According to the researchers, this disadvantage could be overcome by addition of backscattered light analysis, ultraviolet spectra, fluorescence-reflectance or dual digital systems. In addition, quantitative image analysis is also required to reduce intra and inter-observer variability in the assessment of the disease. For more information, Expert Rev Med Devices. 2011 Mar;8(2):167-72.

Nanotechnology and cancer

January 26, 2011

In the last few years, nanotechnology has gained in popularity. Particularly, in cancer research, where it holds great promise for the development of targeted, localized delivery of anticancer drugs, in which only cancer cells are affected. Nowadays, anticancer drugs are distributed through the whole body, damaging healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.

Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have carried out a study where they demonstrate that mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs), tiny particles with thousands of pores, can store and deliver chemotherapeutic drugs in vivo and effectively suppress tumors in mice.

The study also showed that MSNs circulate in the bloodstream for extended periods of time and accumulate almost exclusively in tumors after administration and that the nanoparticles are excreted from the body after they have delivered their chemotherapeutic drugs.According to the researchers, the tumor accumulation could be further improved by attaching a targeting moiety to MSNs.

There is still a long way to go before this technology can be used in humans, with safety tests and many more studies to follow in different animal models, but so far, the results are very positive.

At the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, a team of researchers is working on what can be the future in the battle against cancer. Radioactive reporter genes are embedded in lymphocytes, which have been genetically modified to recognize antigens on the surface of melanoma cells. The researchers were able to pack together the cancer specific T-cell receptor and the radioactively labeled reporter genes in a single vector and inject it into the intact immune systems of mice. By using PET imaging, the lymphocytes can be tracked.
By imaging the genetically engineered T cells as they seek out and attack the cancer, the processes of the immune system unfold. In the case of mice, within two to three days after being injected into the bloodstreams of the mice, the cells had found and begun to fight the melanoma. This could take much longer in humans, though.
Monitoring the immune response by PET imaging, could show whether the treatment is working or not, and why not. It also could show how the lymphocytes might be engineered to better fight the tumors.
It is expected that clinical trials in humans could start in one or two years.
For more details, please refer to the article published July 12, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Kinetic phases of distribution and tumor targeting by T cell receptor engineered lymphocytes inducing robust antitumor responses. by Koya RC, Mok S, Comin-Anduix B, Chodon T, Radu CG, Nishimura MI, Witte ON, Ribas A.