April 2023 Digital Health Roundup
This month scientists are expanding existing technology to help with the fight against cancer. Nanopore sequencing technology on tRNA has been improved to help make a cost-effective test for cancer diagnosis. A technology company is building upon the CRISPR technology to choose more precise cancer treatments for patients. A new AI can predict a patient developing lung cancer within 1-6 years and is now in clinical trials.
Proof-of-Concept Nanopore Sequencing Technology Detects Transfer RNA Biomarkers for Cancer Diagnosis, Prognosis
Measuring transfer RNA biomarkers and blood samples may offer a simple, cost effective, precise alternative to invasive cancer diagnostic and prognostic methods, according to a study published on Thursday in Nature Biotechnology, reports Lab Pulse. Cells are always modifying transfer RNA molecules to become more stable and function better. If tRNA modifies incorrectly, it makes proteins that are faulty which develop into cancer. Specific tRNA modifications exist only in very specific cancers, this serves as a cancer biomarker. The tRNA molecules can also vary based on the state of the cancer. Getting tRNA from a patient’s blood sample can help diagnose cancer as well as determine the patient’s prognosis. Nanopore sequencing can isolate tRNA in one step, making this process more cost effective and timely. This technology monitors changes to an electrical current as the tRNA passes through a protein nanopore, this signal then gives researchers the specific tRNA sequence. Click to read the full story.
Start Up Function Oncology Aims to Make CRISPR Part of Next Revolution in Cancer
CRISPR technology is used to understand gene function. It is used to edit the disease-causing mutation of a gene to make more precise therapy choices for the patient. This genetic mutation is not found in most cancer patients, so until now this technology has helped a limited number of patients. Instead of making predictions about cancer targets, the function oncology technology takes measurements, Sampath said. Do it enough times, and a personalized picture starts to form showing which genes a cancer depends on, reports MedCity News. Using CRISPR, the company technology can inhibit a gene function and then see how it affects the tumor. Based on those results the patient can be prescribed a medication that can inhibit that gene. Scientists can match the patient tumor sample to the appropriate cancer drug. Once the biopsy of a patient tumor is taken, it is sent out to process. The processing time is about two weeks. After these two weeks, the patient and physician can have more precise treatment choices. Click to read the full story .
Promising New AI Can Detect Early Signs of Lung Cancer that Doctors Can’t See
Researchers in Boston are on the verge of what they say is a major advancement in lung cancer screening: Artificial intelligence that can detect early signs of the disease years before doctors would find it on a CT scan, reports NBC News. The AI is named Sybil and was developed at MIT in Cambridge. This artificial intelligence is currently in clinical trials. It can accurately predict cancer development in one to six years for the patient. It is the only AI to predict future cancer risk and can catch what the naked eye misses. Lung cancer is the third most common cause of cancer, and the treatment is much better for the patient when the cancer is caught early. Doctors use a CT scan to detect the cancer and Sybil looks for abnormal growth as well as other patterns that scientists are still learning about. This new AI helps radiologists with more precise readings. Researchers are working on getting more data that is racially diverse to help more people. 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.