November 2022 Digital Health Roundup
November is full of promise using science to help in the fight against cancer. Scientists have made genetically engineered bacteria robots to release cancer fighting chemicals using magnetic force. Engineers have developed artificial intelligence to help predict the recurrence of a deadly cancer, melanoma. Pancreatic cancer is another deadly cancer that is difficult to treat. Scientists have developed a radioactive implant to help doctors treat pancreatic cancer.
Scientists Use Magnets to Deliver Cancer-Killing ‘Micro-Robots’ Into the Body
Scientists have conceived of a new way to deliver cancer-killing compounds, called enterotoxins, to tumors using bionic bacteria that are steered by a magnetic field, according to a report by Invers published last week reports InterestingEngineering.com . The bacteria hung down a specific tumor and releases naturally produced anti-cancer chemicals to kill the cancer. The scientists use aquatic bacteria because of its magnetostatic quality, it has tiny iron crystals inside that can be guided by magnetic force.
They made genetically engineered bacteria robots whose nanoparticles make them release the chemicals that fight cancer on cue. It is a slimy feces shaped robot that consists of polyvinyl alcohol, borax, and particles of neodymium magnets to move the slime around. It uses biohybrid bacteria. Some cancers can’t be operated on due to the tumor’s location; this treatment offers hope for those types of tumors. These tiny robots have been tested on mice and shown to have three times more precision in the delivery of the biohybrid bacteria to kill the cancer. Find more information here.
AI Could Help Cancer Patients Avoid a Deadly Recurrence
AI could help doctors identify which skin cancer patients are at high-risk of a melanoma recurrence before their initial cancer is even treated- giving them a head start to recommend more aggressive treatments that can prevent a recurrence reports Freethink.com . Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and recurrence is often caught in late stages making it harder to treat. In the early stages of skin cancer, it is often just removed and not treated with drugs. The drugs used to treat melanoma are immune checkpoint inhibitors and often can have serious side effects.
If doctors know ahead of time that patients were at risk of recurrence, they could treat the cancer more aggressively with those drugs. A team from Massachusetts General Hospital is training and validating algorithms to predict recurrence of melanoma within five years for patients. They used electronic health records and data from over 1,700 early-stage melanomas to train the AI. They found the two best predictors of recurrence are tumor thickness and the rate of cancer cell division. The AI model was found to have a sensitivity of 76% so the team is trying to improve the algorithm to be more specific. The AI shows great promise for helping doctors fight skin cancers. Find more information here.
A Radioactive Tumor Implant is a Major Breakthrough for Treating Pancreatic Cancer
In what can be called a quantum leap in medical science, the most successful treatment for pancreatic cancer ever recorded in mouse models is here. Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed an approach that completely eliminates tumors in 80 percent of mice across various model types, as opposed to most trials that solely halt the growth of such tumors reports InterestingEngineering.com .
Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths. It is currently hard to treat due to its location and the effects on the surrounding tissue. Scientists have developed an implant that has radioactive iodine-131 that is surrounded by a gel like depot. They can put the implant into the tumor to emit radiation that penetrates the tumor without reaching surrounding tissue. In mice models, scientists use the implant in combination with giving a chemotherapy drug- Paclitaxel. These two together have given good results and are moving into other phases of clinical trials. Scientists believe that the constant radiation to the pancreas makes the drug interact with the cancer in a way that has a stronger effect on the tumor. Find more information here.
Dana Kaiser is a professional writer and a strong patient advocate, learning from experience during her 22-year career as a nurse.