Posts Tagged ‘Biopsy’

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UPC teams conduct research in biomedical engineering to improve people’s health

UPC teams conduct research in biomedical engineering to improve people’s health

Systems to improve patient rehabilitation, methods that help detect diseases, and smart biomaterials for optimising treatments—scientific advances in the field of biomedical engineering are unstoppable. A number of leading UPC teams are carrying out research aimed at harnessing technology to improve people’s health.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. Optimising treatment and rehabilitation of the people it affects and improving their quality of life is the goal of Joan Cabestany and Andreu Català, researchers at the Technical Research Centre for Dependency Care and Autonomous Living (CETpD) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC).

The two engineers are heading up a European project known as REMPARK (Personal Health Device for the Remote and Autonomous Management of Parkinson’s Disease), which has a budget of €4.73 million. The objective is to develop a pioneering wearable monitoring system that can be used to identify and quantify, in real time and with high reliability, the motor status of Parkinson’s patients during their everyday lives. The system will act automatically—though always under medical supervision—in response to the situations that are most incapacitating for patients, intervening in the least invasive and most effective way possible. Other participants in this ambitious project coordinated by the UPC include the Teknon Medical Centre, Telefónica R&D, the European Parkinson’s Disease Association, and a number of research centres and companies based in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium.

The system being developed consists of two elements: a bracelet equipped with a sensor for measuring tremor in patients and a smart device the size of a mobile phone, which is worn at the waist on a belt made of biocompatible material. The device is equipped with a set of sensors and has the capacity to process and wirelessly transmit all the information collected and processed.

When a gait-freezing episode occurs, the REMPARK system will act to synchronise the patient’s movements. This will be achieved by means of auditory, visual or haptic (touch-related) cueing devices, a pump for regulated subcutaneous drug delivery, and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system. “The device will make it possible to quantify the effects of a drug in a particular patient and adjust the dose accordingly,” says Joan Cabestany, stressing that REMPARK is “a personalised system that adapts to each person’s needs.”

For the first time in Europe, REMPARK will be tested on a hundred patients in their homes. “We want to use the technology to give Parkinson’s patients back their confidence, which is gradually eroded by the disease,” says Andreu Català. The project “will reduce the number of hospitalisations and improve patient treatment and rehabilitation,” adds the researcher, who works at the Vilanova i la Geltrú Campus.

Stress-free cells

The REMPARK project is set to run until 2015, but others are yielding results that are about to hit the market. This was clear at the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology exhibition, which was held in Boston (Massachusetts, United States) last June.

The UPC presented a number of patents at the event, including an automatic method for introducing substances such as drugs and DNA into cells (transfection). The method, known as in vitro electroporation, is more efficient and economical than existing approaches.

The technique, which is applied manually, is commonly used in gene therapy, cell-based therapies, and tumour treatment by electrochemotherapy. Cells are detached from the bottom of the plates where they are grown and put into suspension, i.e. into a mixture. They are then placed in a special cuvette with aluminium electrodes on its sides. The cuvette is loaded into a device (an electroporator) that creates a high-intensity electric field across the cells, causing the pores in the cell membrane to open. Substances can then be introduced through these pores.

The new system simplifies and automates this process. A microelectrode assembly is introduced directly into the culture plate and placed at a distance of 10 ìm (10 millionths of a metre) from the cells. A 20 V electric field is then applied (in the conventional process a 500 V field is used). The lower voltage reduces the cost of the devices used to carry out these biotechnological processes and subjects the cells to less stress. The low cost of the microelectrodes also makes it possible to produce single-use electroporators. This patent was developed by researcher Ramon Bragós and doctoral student Tomàs Garcia, who are attached to the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB), in collaboration with a team at the University of Barcelona (UB).

The UPC is also contributing to major advances in the development of medical devices and diagnostic imaging. The UPC’s Institute of Industrial and Control Engineering (IOC) and the Pulmonology Research Group of Bellvitge Hospital’s Institute for Biomedical Research have developed a virtual bronchoscopy system that improves the diagnosis of lung cancer. The technology provides doctors with information that enables them to decide with more confidence whether an actual bronchoscopy is necessary or not. This helps minimise risk and discomfort for patients.

The system is based on images provided by a virtual bronchoscopy using 2D computed tomography images. The novel feature of the system is that it takes into account the geometry and kinematic constraints of the bronchoscope.

The device is designed so that a pulmonologist can virtually navigate through a patient’s airways and simulate the movements that will later be executed when a flexible bronchoscope is used to perform the examination. It is a useful tool that facilitates “very realistic planning of the most feasible path from the trachea to peripheral pulmonary lesions,” says Jan Rosell, the researcher who carried out the project together with Paolo Cabras and Alexander Pérez, who also work with the IOC. “Doctors can also use the device to determine whether the end of the bronchoscope will reach a lesion, or, if not, how close it can be manoeuvred and what technique will need to be used to obtain a biopsy sample,” Rosell adds.

In addition to pursuing advances in diagnostic imaging, molecular biology and telemedicine, UPC researchers are also doing innovative work in another area of interest: metabolomics, the scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites. It is in this field that another CREB team has patented an innovative software tool. The advanced program, based on a new algorithm, helps medical professionals make more accurate, automated predictions in disease diagnosis and drug screening.

Developed by Àlex Perera and Francesc Fernández in collaboration with researchers with the University of Barcelona’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science, the tool improves detection of biomarkers, the biological markers used to detect diseases.

Another advantage of the software is that it reduces prediction error in metabolomic analysis and testing (used to examine the small organic molecules in biological systems). Metabolomic analyses are based on biological samples of urine or blood, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, and mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Making predictions in this area is complex because it requires analysis of extensive data obtained from individual samples, but it is of vital importance in evaluating the effectiveness of new drugs, for example.

New test for tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that accounts for the most morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite this, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the disease and many scientific challenges remain to be tackled. Daniel López Codina and Clara Prats of the UPC’s Discrete Modelling and Simulation of Biological Systems group have carried out research in this field in collaboration with a team at the Experimental Tuberculosis Unit of the Germans Trias i Pujol Health Sciences Research Institute Foundation.

The two teams have patented a new method that offers a fast, easy and reliable way to determine the virulence (ability to produce disease) of Koch’s bacillus. The technique allows specialists to make more accurate diagnoses.

López Codina’s team observed the tuberculosis bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in an in vitro culture and looked at the way it grows by forming clumps. Given the difficulty of applying conventional microbiological methods with this type of culture, the researchers used an alternative approach: microscopy and analysis with image processing techniques. “This is the first time we’ve been able to use a culture to observe two different strains of the bacterial parasite and the existence of a correlation between the characteristic clumping pattern and the virulence of the disease,” said the researcher.

The results have created a new business opportunity for companies involved in biomedical imaging and diagnostic testing.

Projects like these highlight the huge potential of engineering and medicine to continue delivering solutions that improve people’s quality of life.

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121123/UPC-teams-conduct-research-in-biomedical-engineering-to-improve-peoples-health.aspx

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UPC teams conduct research in biomedical engineering to improve people’s health

UPC teams conduct research in biomedical engineering to improve people’s health

Systems to improve patient rehabilitation, methods that help detect diseases, and smart biomaterials for optimising treatments—scientific advances in the field of biomedical engineering are unstoppable. A number of leading UPC teams are carrying out research aimed at harnessing technology to improve people’s health.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. Optimising treatment and rehabilitation of the people it affects and improving their quality of life is the goal of Joan Cabestany and Andreu Català, researchers at the Technical Research Centre for Dependency Care and Autonomous Living (CETpD) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC).

The two engineers are heading up a European project known as REMPARK (Personal Health Device for the Remote and Autonomous Management of Parkinson’s Disease), which has a budget of €4.73 million. The objective is to develop a pioneering wearable monitoring system that can be used to identify and quantify, in real time and with high reliability, the motor status of Parkinson’s patients during their everyday lives. The system will act automatically—though always under medical supervision—in response to the situations that are most incapacitating for patients, intervening in the least invasive and most effective way possible. Other participants in this ambitious project coordinated by the UPC include the Teknon Medical Centre, Telefónica R&D, the European Parkinson’s Disease Association, and a number of research centres and companies based in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium.

The system being developed consists of two elements: a bracelet equipped with a sensor for measuring tremor in patients and a smart device the size of a mobile phone, which is worn at the waist on a belt made of biocompatible material. The device is equipped with a set of sensors and has the capacity to process and wirelessly transmit all the information collected and processed.

When a gait-freezing episode occurs, the REMPARK system will act to synchronise the patient’s movements. This will be achieved by means of auditory, visual or haptic (touch-related) cueing devices, a pump for regulated subcutaneous drug delivery, and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system. “The device will make it possible to quantify the effects of a drug in a particular patient and adjust the dose accordingly,” says Joan Cabestany, stressing that REMPARK is “a personalised system that adapts to each person’s needs.”

For the first time in Europe, REMPARK will be tested on a hundred patients in their homes. “We want to use the technology to give Parkinson’s patients back their confidence, which is gradually eroded by the disease,” says Andreu Català. The project “will reduce the number of hospitalisations and improve patient treatment and rehabilitation,” adds the researcher, who works at the Vilanova i la Geltrú Campus.

Stress-free cells

The REMPARK project is set to run until 2015, but others are yielding results that are about to hit the market. This was clear at the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest biotechnology exhibition, which was held in Boston (Massachusetts, United States) last June.

The UPC presented a number of patents at the event, including an automatic method for introducing substances such as drugs and DNA into cells (transfection). The method, known as in vitro electroporation, is more efficient and economical than existing approaches.

The technique, which is applied manually, is commonly used in gene therapy, cell-based therapies, and tumour treatment by electrochemotherapy. Cells are detached from the bottom of the plates where they are grown and put into suspension, i.e. into a mixture. They are then placed in a special cuvette with aluminium electrodes on its sides. The cuvette is loaded into a device (an electroporator) that creates a high-intensity electric field across the cells, causing the pores in the cell membrane to open. Substances can then be introduced through these pores.

The new system simplifies and automates this process. A microelectrode assembly is introduced directly into the culture plate and placed at a distance of 10 ìm (10 millionths of a metre) from the cells. A 20 V electric field is then applied (in the conventional process a 500 V field is used). The lower voltage reduces the cost of the devices used to carry out these biotechnological processes and subjects the cells to less stress. The low cost of the microelectrodes also makes it possible to produce single-use electroporators. This patent was developed by researcher Ramon Bragós and doctoral student Tomàs Garcia, who are attached to the Biomedical Engineering Research Centre (CREB), in collaboration with a team at the University of Barcelona (UB).

The UPC is also contributing to major advances in the development of medical devices and diagnostic imaging. The UPC’s Institute of Industrial and Control Engineering (IOC) and the Pulmonology Research Group of Bellvitge Hospital’s Institute for Biomedical Research have developed a virtual bronchoscopy system that improves the diagnosis of lung cancer. The technology provides doctors with information that enables them to decide with more confidence whether an actual bronchoscopy is necessary or not. This helps minimise risk and discomfort for patients.

The system is based on images provided by a virtual bronchoscopy using 2D computed tomography images. The novel feature of the system is that it takes into account the geometry and kinematic constraints of the bronchoscope.

The device is designed so that a pulmonologist can virtually navigate through a patient’s airways and simulate the movements that will later be executed when a flexible bronchoscope is used to perform the examination. It is a useful tool that facilitates “very realistic planning of the most feasible path from the trachea to peripheral pulmonary lesions,” says Jan Rosell, the researcher who carried out the project together with Paolo Cabras and Alexander Pérez, who also work with the IOC. “Doctors can also use the device to determine whether the end of the bronchoscope will reach a lesion, or, if not, how close it can be manoeuvred and what technique will need to be used to obtain a biopsy sample,” Rosell adds.

In addition to pursuing advances in diagnostic imaging, molecular biology and telemedicine, UPC researchers are also doing innovative work in another area of interest: metabolomics, the scientific study of chemical processes involving metabolites. It is in this field that another CREB team has patented an innovative software tool. The advanced program, based on a new algorithm, helps medical professionals make more accurate, automated predictions in disease diagnosis and drug screening.

Developed by Àlex Perera and Francesc Fernández in collaboration with researchers with the University of Barcelona’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science, the tool improves detection of biomarkers, the biological markers used to detect diseases.

Another advantage of the software is that it reduces prediction error in metabolomic analysis and testing (used to examine the small organic molecules in biological systems). Metabolomic analyses are based on biological samples of urine or blood, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, and mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Making predictions in this area is complex because it requires analysis of extensive data obtained from individual samples, but it is of vital importance in evaluating the effectiveness of new drugs, for example.

New test for tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is one of the diseases that accounts for the most morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite this, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the disease and many scientific challenges remain to be tackled. Daniel López Codina and Clara Prats of the UPC’s Discrete Modelling and Simulation of Biological Systems group have carried out research in this field in collaboration with a team at the Experimental Tuberculosis Unit of the Germans Trias i Pujol Health Sciences Research Institute Foundation.

The two teams have patented a new method that offers a fast, easy and reliable way to determine the virulence (ability to produce disease) of Koch’s bacillus. The technique allows specialists to make more accurate diagnoses.

López Codina’s team observed the tuberculosis bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in an in vitro culture and looked at the way it grows by forming clumps. Given the difficulty of applying conventional microbiological methods with this type of culture, the researchers used an alternative approach: microscopy and analysis with image processing techniques. “This is the first time we’ve been able to use a culture to observe two different strains of the bacterial parasite and the existence of a correlation between the characteristic clumping pattern and the virulence of the disease,” said the researcher.

The results have created a new business opportunity for companies involved in biomedical imaging and diagnostic testing.

Projects like these highlight the huge potential of engineering and medicine to continue delivering solutions that improve people’s quality of life.

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121123/UPC-teams-conduct-research-in-biomedical-engineering-to-improve-peoples-health.aspx

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Guided Therapeutics files amended PMA with FDA for LuViva Advanced Cervical Scan

Guided Therapeutics files amended PMA with FDA for LuViva Advanced Cervical Scan

Guided Therapeutics, Inc., (OTCBB: GTHP) (OTCQB: GTHP), today announced that it has submitted its premarket approval (PMA) Amendment for the LuViva® Advanced Cervical Scan, a non-invasive device used to detect cervical disease that leads to cancer, instantly and at the point of care.

The amendment is in response to a “not approvable” letter received by the company in January and includes additional data analysis requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We are pleased to move the FDA review process forward with the filing of the amended PMA for LuViva,” said Mark L. Faupel, Ph.D., President and CEO of Guided Therapeutics. “We have worked with the agency over the last several months to provide responses to the key questions in the PMA amendment and are hopeful this filing will ultimately lead to approval for the product. We believe that once approved, LuViva will have a very positive impact on the U.S. healthcare system by improving the standard of care for the early detection of cervical disease, providing women and doctors with the first test with instant results and detecting cervical disease at an earlier stage, when it can be better treated.”

LuViva has been under FDA PMA review since September 23, 2010. The company received a “not approvable” letter for the product on January 20, 2012. In July, 2012 the company met with the agency and agreed to file a PMA amendment to address the agency’s questions stemming from the “not approvable” letter. With the PMA amendment now formally submitted, the FDA has 180 days during which it can respond.

LuViva currently has marketing approval from Health Canada and received its first CE Mark, an ISO 60601 Edition 2 Notification, in July. The company is in the process of testing the LuViva system for compliance with the Edition 3 CE Mark requirements, which the company expects to achieve near the end of this year. Guided Therapeutics was awarded ISO 13485 certification in January, 2011.

source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121113/Guided-Therapeutics-files-amended-PMA-with-FDA-for-LuViva-Advanced-Cervical-Scan.aspx

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New 3-D digital mammography could improve accuracy of breast cancer screening

New 3-D digital mammography could improve accuracy of breast cancer screening

A new three-dimensional (3-D) digital mammography technique has the potential to significantly improve the accuracy of breast cancer screening, according to a study published in Radiology.

Two-dimensional (2-D) x-ray mammography, the current primary screening method for early detection of breast cancer in women, is a valuable tool but has some limitations. Surrounding normal tissue can mask lesions, and 2-D views do not provide direct information about the volumetric appearance-meaning the three-dimensional physical shape-of a detected lesion.

A novel technique called stereoscopic digital mammography (SDM) addresses these limitations by mimicking the way that human eyes work together to form a 3-D image. The technique uses digital mammography equipment that’s been modified to allow the X-ray tube to move separately from the cassette. The resulting images are viewed on two monitors mounted one above the other.

“Our eyes see the world from two slightly different perspectives,” said Carl J. D’Orsi, M.D., from the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine and the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University, both in Atlanta. “In this technique, the X-ray tube functions as the eyeball, with two different images providing slightly different views of the internal structure of the breast.”

By using a unique workstation and polarizing lenses, SDM has the ability to identify lesions at different depths within the breast volume, potentially reducing both false positive findings and recalls while enabling more accurate diagnosis.

Dr. D’Orsi and colleagues recently compared SDM to 2-D digital mammography in 779 patients at elevated risk of developing breast cancer because of personal or family history. Patients received both exams in a single visit, and two experienced radiologists independently interpreted the final total of 1,298 exams. Imaging findings were correlated with results of one-year follow up or biopsy.

SDM significantly improved the accuracy of cancer detection. The specificity of 91.2 percent was better than the 87.8 percent rate for 2-D digital mammography; and the accuracy of 90.9 percent, compared with 87.4 percent for 2-D digital mammography, was also a statistically significant improvement.

“We found that the stereoscopic technique could significantly decrease the need for calling women back for additional exams,” Dr. D’Orsi said.

Dr. D’Orsi and colleagues are expanding their research to study

SDM with a lower radiation dose in the general screening population. The radiation dose used in the study was approximately double the standard dose for mammography.

“In this study, we used a high-risk population to get an adequate number of cancers, and we acquired each of the images comprising the stereo pairs with a full standard X-ray dose,” he said. “Now that we know the technique is worthwhile, we’re repeating the study in the general population with a dose comparable to routine screening mammography.”

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121114/New-3-D-digital-mammography-could-improve-accuracy-of-breast-cancer-screening.aspx

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ImageSense for Digital Colposcopy FDA Approved

ImageSense for Digital Colposcopy FDA Approved

ImageSense for Digital Colposcopy FDA Approved

U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) CLEARS NOVEL IMAGESENSE(TM) TECHNOLOGY FOR USE WITH COLPOSCOPY

Precedent setting technology in Colposcopy, the current Gold Standard for detecting Cervical Cancer

San, Diego, CA., January 5, 2011 – STI Medical Systems, an industry leader in medical imaging systems and machine vision software, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given clearance to the Company’s precedent-setting ImageSense™ technology for use in colposcopy. This new proprietary technology represents an entirely new way of presenting digital imagery in the doctor’s office, and is first-in-class for colposcopy. This represents an advance in colposcope system technology as colposcopes used in evaluating cervical neoplasia have remained largely unchanged for over 50 years.

Acetowhitening is one indicator currently used by doctors to identify areas of the cervix possibly containing disease. ImageSense is a tool for displaying areas of acetowhitening by producing a digital output depicting the color differences of the cervix before and after the application of acetic acid during a typical colposcopic exam. By digitizing and memorializing an otherwise transient effect and enabling on-demand viewing of the acetowhite process, ImageSense displays information to the doctor in ways previously not possible.

ImageSense technology is currently in use on the Company’s UltraSightHD™ digital colposcopy system. The combined product offers a fully integrated clinical workflow solution for colposcopy that also incorporates DICOM-compatible imagery and a seamless Electronic Medical Records (EMR) interface via its onboard touch-screen user interface. ImageSense technology provides the UltraSightHD product with a unique competitive advantage over all other colposcopes in the market.

ImageSense is a tool for displaying areas of acetowhitening, one indicator currently used by doctors to identify areas of the cervix possibly containing disease, by producing a digital output depicting the color differences of the cervix before and after the application of acetic acid during a typical colposcopic exam. By digitizing and memorializing an otherwise transient effect and enabling on-demand viewing of the acetowhite process, ImageSense displays information to the doctor in ways previously not possible.

STI Medical Systems, from San Diego, CA., has received FDA clearance for its ImageSense technology for colposcopy. It is an image-subtraction technique for use with the UltraSight digital colposcopy system. Acetic acid is often applied to the cervix during colposcopy after which areas that turn white are considered for biopsy. This technology enhances the visibility of the white areas.

From the press release:

Acetowhitening is one indicator currently used by doctors to identify areas of the cervix possibly containing disease. ImageSense is a tool for displaying areas of acetowhitening by producing a digital output depicting the color differences of the cervix before and after the application of acetic acid during a typical colposcopic exam. By digitizing and memorializing an otherwise transient effect and enabling on-demand viewing of the acetowhite process, ImageSense displays information to the doctor in ways previously not possible.

ImageSense technology is currently in use on the Company’s UltraSightHD™ digital colposcopy system. The combined product offers a fully integrated clinical workflow solution for colposcopy that also incorporates DICOM-compatible imagery and a seamless Electronic Medical Records (EMR) interface via its onboard touch-screen user interface. ImageSense technology provides the UltraSightHD product with a unique competitive advantage over all other colposcopes in the market.

source : http://www.ultrasighthd.com/?page_id=62

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New tool can particularly sort tumor-causing cancer cells

New tool can particularly sort tumor-causing cancer cells

A new tool developed by scientists at The Methodist Hospital separates tumor-causing cancer cells from more benign cells by subjecting the cells to a microscopic game of Plinko — except only the squishiest cells make it through.

As reported in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (early edition online), the more flexible, tumor-causing cells navigated a gamut of tiny barriers, whereas the more rigid, more benign cells had trouble squeezing through 7 micrometer holes. Methodist scientists worked with University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers to test the device with different kinds of cancer cells.

The work supports the hypothesis that cell squishiness indicates tumor potential. Most normal cells contain a developed cytoskeleton — a network of tiny but strong rod-shaped proteins that give cells their shape and structure. In their feverish drive to divide, cancer cells may be diverting resources away from developing a cytoskeleton in favor of division, hence the squishiness.

“We have created many pathways for cells to cross barriers,” said Methodist nanomedical faculty Lidong Qin, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. “The throughput of a MS-Chip is at the level of one million cells. When a stiff cell blocks one particular barrier, many other bypasses will allow flexible cells to flow through.”

Cancer stem cells are known to be squishier than other cancer cells. The team of scientists showed that flexible cells separated by the MS-Chip exhibited gene expression patterns consistent with cancer stem cells.

“Many papers indicate the presence of cancer stem cells means a worse prognosis for patients,” said cancer scientist Jenny Chang, M.D., co-principal investigator and director of Methodist’s Cancer Center. “Yet they are not typically quantified by doctors.”

Subsequent analysis of separated cells by the Methodist and MD Anderson team showed the flexible cells were less likely to express cell cytoskeleton genes and more likely to express the motility genes that could contribute to metastasis.

By testing for the presence of metastatic cells, doctors may be able to tell whether cancer treatment was successful, or an as-yet untreated cancer’s likelihood of metastasizing to another part of the body.

A growing awareness of cancer stem cells’ role in cancer metastasis and recurrence and has been frustrated by the absence of technology that makes this knowledge useful to doctors and their patients. Up to now, there has been no way of quickly and reliably separating and identifying the more dangerous tumor-causing cells from a biopsy.

The new device, which was developed at Methodist, successfully enriched tumor-causing cells from a mixture of cancer cells. It is called the Mechanical Separation Chip, or MS-Chip. Cells separated by the device can be easily collected and studied. The current standard for cell separation, flow cytometry, is relatively slow and relies on cell surface biomarkers.

“Our microfluidics cell separation via MS-Chip provides a high throughput method that can particularly sort cells to different levels of stiffness, which opens a new avenue to study stiffness related cellular and molecular biology,” Qin said. “Downstream molecular analysis, including genomic and proteomic profiling of the cell subtypes, provides an approach to identifying new biomarkers relevant to cancer stem cells and cancer metastasis.”

Right now, each MS-Chip costs about $10 to produce.

“If massively produced, MS-Chip cost could be at the level of one dollar per chip,” Qin said. “Running a mechanical cell separation will be even less expensive than flow cytometry cell sorting.”

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121103/New-tool-can-particularly-sort-tumor-causing-cancer-cells.aspx

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First study to measure minute changes in breast tumor connective tissue fibers

First study to measure minute changes in breast tumor connective tissue fibers

Using advanced microscopes equipped with tissue-penetrating laser light, cancer imaging experts at Johns Hopkins have developed a promising, new way to accurately analyze the distinctive patterns of ultra-thin collagen fibers in breast tumor tissue samples and to help tell if the cancer has spread.

The Johns Hopkins researchers say their crisscrossing optical images, made by shining a laser back and forth across a biopsied tissue sample a few millionths of a meter thick, can potentially be used with other tests to more accurately determine the need for lymph node biopsy and removal in women at risk of metastatic breast cancer.

In what is believed to be the first study to measure minute changes in tumor connective tissue fibers, researchers found that eight women whose cancers had spread beyond the breast through the body’s lymphatic system had about 10 percent more densely packed and radially spread-out collagenous structural proteins than six women whose cancers had not yet spread. Collagen fibers in the non-metastasized tumors, also obtained during breast biopsy, were more diffuse and arranged in a transverse or horizontal pattern. All 14 women in the study had aggressive, malignant breast cancer.

In the new report, to be published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics online Nov. 1, researchers say that if these “proof of principle” findings hold up in testing now under way in hundreds more women with or without metastatic breast cancer, then their new optical imaging tool could simplify testing for spreading disease and help people avoid unnecessary lymph node surgery.

“Our new diagnostic technique has the potential to help reassure thousands of breast cancer patients that their cancers have not spread to other organs, and could help them avoid the risks and pain currently involved in direct inspections of lymph nodes for the presence of cancerous cells,” says study senior investigator Kristine Glunde, Ph.D.

Women with denser tumor fiber patterns would likely stand a greater chance of needing lymph node biopsy and removal and inspection of such tissue for malignant cells, says Glunde, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Glunde says complications from lymph node biopsy and more invasive dissection include risk of infection, pain, severe swelling and leakage of lymph fluid around the armpit, as well as stiffening in the arm, which can be permanent. An estimated 230,000 Americans were diagnosed in 2011 with invasive breast cancer, while another 57,000 were found to have noninvasive, or in-situ breast cancer.

Cancer imaging experts have known for more than a decade that the fibrous connective tissue located between cancer cells changes and bunches together as tumors grow and disease spreads, says study co-investigator Zaver Bhujwalla, Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins and its Kimmel Cancer Center.

“Until now, however, we had no proof in principle that such minute and progressive changes outside cancer cells, in the tumor micro-environment or extracellular matrix, could be measured and potentially used to better guide our staging and treatment decisions,” says Bhujwalla, who also serves as director of the Johns Hopkins In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC), where the latest imaging study was performed.

It was also at ICMIC in 2010, supported with funds from the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), that Glunde, Bhujwalla and fellow study co-investigator Meiyappan Solaiyappan, B.S., developed the specialized computer software used to analyze the microscopic spaces between tumor collagen fibers and calculate their density.

The tissue fiber images were obtained using an optical imaging technique called second harmonic generation microscopy, in which a long-wavelength laser light is deflected off the collagen fibers for a few seconds, allowing for several planes and fields of view to be captured. The longer infrared wavelength, at 880 micrometers, was chosen because it can penetrate the tissue beyond the colorful light waves visible to the human eye, but does not damage and heat up the cancer cells, as a slightly longer infrared wavelength would. Glunde says the many fields of view were randomly taken throughout the tissue sample, providing a “realistic representation of each breast cancer sample.” Breast biopsy samples came from tissue research collections in Maryland.

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121103/First-study-to-measure-minute-changes-in-breast-tumor-connective-tissue-fibers.aspx

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Physicists to bring to market new drug-discovery tool using genetic sequencing

Physicists to bring to market new drug-discovery tool using genetic sequencing

Today physicists at Wake Forest University and NanoMedica, their biotechnology company partner, received a $700,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to bring to market a new drug-discovery tool using next-generation genetic sequencing.

The technology, Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead, would be the first bead-based drug-discovery tool to use the latest genetic sequencing technologies, making drug and diagnostics discovery significantly more efficient.

Pharmaceutical companies would use the technology as a sort of Google search for new drugs – sending the scientists a protein marker of the disease for which they want to find a treatment, and letting Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead test millions of possibilities all at once.

“Next-gen is much faster and cheaper, and no one is using it for drug discovery as far as we know,” said Martin Guthold, associate professor of physics and co-inventor of Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead. “It miniaturizes and massively parallelizes sequencing on beads in little wells, so we can do millions of sequencing actions in unison to find potential drug candidates to treat a specific disease.”

The NIH awarded the funding through its Small Business Innovation Research program, so Wake Forest will share the funds with NanoMedica, a Winston-Salem company that has licensed the patent for Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead.

The technology uses a roughly one-inch-square chip, similar to a computer chip. A football-shaped area in the middle of the chip is filled with millions of wells. Each well contains a bead, to which the researchers attach a potential drug molecule.

“Each chip contains millions of potential drug candidates,” Guthold said. “We know the position and identity of each, because we can associate a potential drug molecule with the sequence in each well.”

To find a disease-drug match, a pharmaceutical company would supply the target – for instance, a protein called Src kinase associated with many cancers. The researchers would combine the fluorescently labeled protein with a neutral solution and flow it over the chip.

If a well glows fluorescently, indicating that the protein target bound to the bead in the well, it contains a drug candidate that is potentially useful in treating the disease. The pharmaceutical company then can begin testing the drug in the lab.

Though the Wake Forest-NanoMedica research team has focused on drug discovery, Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead also could be used for more accurate, speedy medical diagnoses.

“If you want to see if a biopsy is cancerous, you could use diagnostic molecules that were discovered with this technology. If a biopsy sample binds to certain diagnostic molecules, then it’s cancerous,” Guthold said.

The research team includes Keith Bonin, Jed Macosko and Jason Gagliano of the Wake Forest physics department.

Wake Forest and NanoMedica also have received a two-year, $160,000 Collaborative Funding Grant from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to refine Next-Gen Lab-on-Bead for commercial use.

“We have made a major commitment to purchasing expensive equipment that’s beyond the realm of most startups, and that’s a risk we took because we are confident that applying next-gen sequencing to drug discovery is really novel,” said Roger Cubicciotti, NanoMedica president/CEO.

According to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, next-generation genetic sequencing is expected to boom in the next five years as researchers explore drug-discovery and diagnostic applications. That will make it one of the fastest-growing markets in the biomedical industry, the report says.

source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121103/Physicists-to-bring-to-market-new-drug-discovery-tool-using-genetic-sequencing.aspx

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Mass spectrometry can help visualize how drugs work inside living cells to kill infectious microbes

Mass spectrometry can help visualize how drugs work inside living cells to kill infectious microbes

Weill Cornell Medical College researchers report that mass spectrometry, a tool currently used to detect and measure proteins and lipids, can also now allow biologists to “see” for the first time exactly how drugs work inside living cells to kill infectious microbes. As a result, scientists may be able to improve existing antibiotics and design new, smarter ones to fight deadly infections, such as tuberculosis. The new study was published in today’s early online edition of Science.

“The development of antibiotics has been stalled for several decades and many infectious microbes have become drug-resistant,” says the study’s senior investigator, Dr. Kyu Y. Rhee, an infectious disease expert who is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “We must restock the antibiotic pipeline and our study findings provide a powerful new approach for doing just that.”

The need to develop new antibiotics is perhaps nowhere more pressing than for the treatment of tuberculosis, TB, which is the single leading bacterial cause of death worldwide, and with the emergence of now total drug resistance, an unchecked global public health emergency.

“Current TB treatments are long and complex, lasting a minimum of six months, and often resulting in treatment failures and the paradoxical emergence of multi-drug resistance,” says Dr. Rhee, who is also an associate attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “We are still using the antibiotics that were first developed for TB about 50 years ago.”

Most TB drugs — as well as antibiotics for other infections — were developed through a combination of empirical approaches, Dr. Rhee explains. “However, it had been impossible to know what the drug was doing inside the bacteria.”

That situation has now changed. Dr. Rhee and his colleagues, who include investigators from the National Institutes of Health, applied modern technologies that stem from use of mass spectrometry to directly visualize what happens when these drugs infiltrate TB cells. They can “watch,” at a basic biochemical level, what happens to both the antibiotic agent and infecting bacteria over time after the drug is administered.

Mass spectrometry, simply stated, is a tool that weighs individual molecules as a way to identify them. It was first used in physics, but has expanded to many disciplines to help scientists identify molecules and determine the quantity of each kind in gases, liquids, as well as solids. Advances in mass spectrometry have made it possible for biologists to leverage the tool in the last few years, and, with this study, evaluate the intracellular fates and actions of small drug molecules.

This study is the first to show mass spectrometry can also be adapted to understand the action of antibiotics on living, intact bacterial cells.

In the study, Dr. Rhee’s research team exposed TB to para-aminosalicylic acid (PAS), which was developed more than 50 years ago, and is still part of the multi-drug regimen used to treat resistant TB. It is the second oldest TB drug on the market.

The drug was thought to work by inhibiting an enzyme used by bacteria to synthesize folates, an essential class of nutrients that humans acquire by eating, but bacteria must make on their own. “Many thus believed that the drug interfered with folate synthesis in the TB bacterium by functioning as an occlusive plug that blocked this pathway,” says Dr. Rhee.

However, researchers actually found, while it is true PAS prevents the utilization of the natural precursors used to synthesize folates, once inside TB, PAS itself also turns toxic. “PAS is an agent that uses the TB cell’s machinery to turn it into a poison. Thus, it doesn’t simply kill the cell by stopping its food supply, it also morphs into a lethal drug,” Dr. Rhee says.

The researchers also tested a different drug, sulfonamide (sulfa), which is an 80-year-old class of antibacterial agents known to defeat many infections, but not TB successfully.

“Scientists thought sulfa didn’t penetrate TB cells, but we witnessed, using mass spectrometry, that it did, in fact, enter the bacteria. But that once inside, TB bacteria were able to degrade the drug,” Dr. Rhee says. This finding suggests to researchers that it might be possible to modify the sulfa molecule so that it can withstand degradation by TB bacteria.

“Both of these findings were completely unexpected,” says Dr. Rhee. “The study findings show us that sometimes there is a profound disconnect between what we think a drug is doing and how it actually works inside cells.”

“The power of mass spectrometry is now evident, and we can’t wait to use it to test all of the current cocktail of drugs used to treat TB to find ways to improve them,” Dr. Rhee says. “Best of all will be the use of this tool to design and test the much-needed next generation of effective anti-TB agents.”

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121103/Mass-spectrometry-can-help-visualize-how-drugs-work-inside-living-cells-to-kill-infectious-microbes.aspx

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NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia participates in Symplicity system trial for hypertension

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia participates in Symplicity system trial for hypertension

Patients with hypertension whose blood pressure cannot be brought down to safe levels despite taking three or more medications may have some relief coming their way. An innovative, first-of-its-kind clinical trial for a device representing a dramatic shift in treatment approaches for the toughest-to-treat patients is currently being conducted at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Clinical trials of the Symplicity renal denervation system from Medtronic are underway at both NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, which is the leading clinical-trial site in metropolitan New York. If successful, this investigational procedure — which deviates from traditional pharmaceutical therapies in favor of a minimally invasive procedure that aims to down-regulate overactive nerves in the body that can cause rising blood pressure — could turn the tide for the many Americans affected by treatment-resistant hypertension.

“Hypertension is a serious health problem, and those with drug-resistant hypertension are at the greatest risk of developing organ damage, including heart attack, stroke and death,” says Dr. Ajay J. Kirtane, an interventional cardiologist and chief academic officer of the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Kirtane is leading the study at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia. “In earlier studies, the Symplicity renal denervation system reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 33 millimeters, a remarkable amount for patients with such severe hypertension. If the results are duplicated in this pivotal clinical trial, we may have discovered an effective treatment that will help millions of Americans.”

“The Symplicity renal denervation system may someday be an attractive alternative for patients in the U.S. who have uncontrolled hypertension despite treatment with many medications,” says Dr. Samuel J. Mann, a leading hypertension specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, who is leading the study at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.

Researchers think that hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which connects the brain, heart, blood vessels and kidneys — each of which plays an important role in blood pressure — contributes to resistant hypertension. The Simplicity renal denervation system seeks to reduce the drive of the sympathetic nervous system by preventing it from sending out erroneous signals to the brain to increase blood pressure.

In the Symplicity system, a catheter is introduced through a very small incision in the groin and is threaded up into the renal arteries that supply blood to the kidneys. Once in place, the catheter sends out radio waves at a preset frequency generated by a proprietary generator, which target the sympathetic nerves without damaging the surrounding blood vessels. The catheter is removed once the radiofrequency waves have been delivered at multiple locations along the artery.

Affecting about 76.4 million people over the age of 20 nationwide, hypertension is a common cardiovascular disorder in which blood-pressure levels are abnormally elevated — systolic blood pressure of 140 or greater or diastolic blood pressure of 90 or greater –over a sustained period of time. Hypertension is considered to be treatment-resistant when a patient’s blood pressure remains high despite treatment with three or more antihypertensive medications.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Symplicity HTN-3 study protocol in July 2011. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is currently enrolling patients for the study, which altogether will randomize 530 patients to receive either renal denervation combined with antihypertensive medications or treatment with antihypertensive medications alone. To qualify, patients must meet certain criteria, including having systolic blood pressure of at least 160 mmHg in the physicians’s office despite treatment with adequate doses of at least three antihypertensive medications.

To enroll in the study at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, call the Department of Surgery at (212) 342-1820. To enroll in the study at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, call the Department of Medicine at (212) 746-6112.

Source : http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121026/NewYork-PresbyterianColumbia-participates-in-Symplicity-system-trial-for-hypertension.aspx

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