Tag Archive for: PanCAN

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.

A Song for Raising Hope and Awareness for Pancreatic Cancer

The Voice Finalist Erin Willett Teams Up with Songwriters Elizabeth Russo and Tova Litvin To Write an Anthem of Hope and Raise One Million Dollars for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) Sets Goal to Double Survival by 2020

 Songwriters Elizabeth Russo, Erin Willett and Tova Litvin, whose lives have all been touched by pancreatic cancer in their families, have joined forces to write an original song “Hope’s Alive” and raise one million dollars this year for pancreatic cancer research.  “Hope’s Alive” is produced by Russo’s good friend Dan Whittemore. The songwriters have teamed up with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) to raise awareness, as early detection is the best way to improve outcomes for the disease.  The current five-year survival rate is 9%, but PanCAN’s goal is to double that by 2020.  100% of proceeds from sales of “Hope’s Alive” will go to PanCAN to fund cancer research.

Russo, who spearheaded the project, learned her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 and is currently fighting the disease.  Russo recruited Willett (who was a finalist on the Voice and most recently transformed herself on the Biggest Loser) to co-write and sing “Hope’s Alive”.  The project was poignant for Willett, whose father sadly passed from pancreatic cancer in 2011.  “It’s all about putting my energy into something positive,” Willett said.  “I can’t control the fact that my father isn’t here, but I can control my activism and my actions via the story I tell.”  Willett, who has been advocating for pancreatic cancer research since her father passed, connected the songwriting team with PanCAN.  Russo also recruited Litvin, whose mother is a five-year survivor, and together the three women combined their efforts with PanCAN to combat the disease. 

To give “Hope’s Alive” an anthem quality, Russo knew she wanted to include a choir as part of the song.  With the help of PanCAN, Russo assembled a choir of pancreatic cancer survivors and caregivers.  The choir members are also the faces of the song’s accompanying music video.  “There are things everyone can do,” Russo said.  “Don’t feel helpless or hopeless.  We are all here, we are all going to stick together, and we are going to make a difference with this disease”. 

Watch Hope’s Alive


To learn about risk factors and early detection of pancreatic cancer, please visit www.pancan.org.

For inquiries, please contact Elizabeth Russo at Elizabeth@annearful.com

Hope’s Alive is now available for download on iTunes and all other platforms.