February 2023 Digital Health Roundup
This month highlights the important contributions that technology has brought to the fight on cancer. Thanks to technology, doctors are armed with new therapies to treat cancer and are assisted by AI in detecting cancer. Histotripsy is a non-invasive, sound wave-based treatment being tested to add to the arsenal of tools to fight cancer. Hyperthermic nanoparticles are being fine-tuned to treat more types of cancerous tumors more effectively. It is an encouraging and exciting time in the field of cancer technology.
From Vaccines to AI: New Weapons in the Fight Against Cancer
Cancer accounted for nearly 10 million deaths-almost one in six of the global total – in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. Recent scientific and medical advances have added several new weapons to our arsenal, including personalized gene therapy, artificial intelligence screening, simple blood tests- and potentially soon vaccines, reports MedicalXpress. Immunotherapy drugs use the body’s own immune system to kill cancer. This therapy has less severe side effects than chemotherapy but currently it is only used on a few types of cancer. CAR-T therapy modifies the patient’s own T cells from their blood or T cells from a healthy donor. In a lab the T cells are modified to target cancer and then injected back into the patient. CAR-T therapy has been effective in treating leukemia. Artificial Intelligence has been found to detect brain and breast cancers more accurately than humans. AI can also identify which patients benefit from shorter courses of cancer treatments; which allows patients to have fewer side effects. Liquid biopsy tests can now detect cancer from a simple blood test. Using mRNA vaccines, the vaccine can be personalized and used to treat cancer. Click to read the full story.
Histotripsy- A New Sound-Based Cancer Treatment Stimulates Immunity
Histotripsy is a technique that uses sound waves to rip tumors apart, without even breaking the skin. The non-invasive waves work in two ways; to break down a shield that protects the tumor cells, and then stimulate an immune response, reports LabRoots. Histotripsy has been shown to kill tumors in rats, even when only a large part of the mass is broken up. It has been shown to prevent recurrence and metastasis in the animals that have been treated with it. The process exposes antigens on the tumor surface, which in turn causes an immune response allowing the body to attack the tumors. Chemotherapy and radiation can then destroy the exposed antigens. This treatment worked in a small human study to remove liver tumors. Further human studies will be done on a larger scale soon. Click to read the full story.
Hyperthermic Nanoparticles for Cancer Treatment
Hyperthermia (excess heat) refers to the use of high temperatures to treat cancer. When used to treat tumors locally, high temperatures can destroy cancer cells and even the blood vessels that supply vital nutrients to these cells, reports LabRoots. Scientists use nanoparticle technology to deliver hyperthermia, but it has its limitations. These nanoparticles are most effective in tumors that are easy to reach by injection. If it is given intravenously in an infusion, there are not enough nanoparticles remaining to effectively treat the tumor. A new approach has been developed with nanoparticles that have higher heat, 122 degrees Fahrenheit, making it more effective. They have also used magnetic fields to help heat the nanoparticles. Scientists have created nanoparticles with special cores and shells that heat up more efficiently. They hope to develop some that can be given IV and reach the tumor at the desired temperature. Click to read the full story.
Dana Kaiser is a professional writer and a strong patient advocate, learning from experience during her 22-year career as a nurse.