Monday, September 30, 2013

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells: An Experimental New Approach

“New Approach to Treating Human Brain Cancer Could Lead to Improved Outcomes” – that’s the headline of a press release from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham).

According to the release, “The method targets cancer stem cells—the cells that are critical for maintaining tumor growth—and halts their ability to proliferate by inhibiting enzymes that are essential for tumor progression. The process destroys the ability of the cancer cells to grow and divide, paving the way for a new type of treatment for patients with this disease.”

The press release says that “The research team, led by Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., professor in Sanford-Burnham’s NCI-Designated Cancer Center and director of the Tumor Initiation and Maintenance Program, discovered that the medulloblastoma cancer cells responsible for tumor growth and progression (called cancer stem cells or tumor-propagating cells—TPCs) divide more quickly than normal cells. Correspondingly, they have higher levels of certain enzymes that regulate the cell cycle (Aurora and Polo-like kinases). 

By using small-molecule inhibitors to stop the action of these enzymes, the researchers were able to block the growth of tumor cells from mice as well as humans. The research findings are described in an online paper published September 25 by Cancer Research.”

While I am no scientist, this sounds like the research team either read Clifton Leaf’s insightful book, The Truth in Small Doses, or just plain indulged in some smart problem solving.

Image credit: <a href=''>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nap Power

I really like a good nap, preferably on my porch, in the shade on a warm afternoon.

A nifty article by Beth Belle Cooper in Fast Company makes me feel even better about napping. She reports that “Studies of napping have shown improvement in cognitive function, creative thinking, and memory performance."

She also writes that “Naps can even have a physical benefit. In one study of 23,681 Greek men over six years, the participants who napped three times a week had a 37% lower risk of dying from heart disease.”

Since I’m part Greek, I plan to take this to heart.

I also like her four tips on how to nap better, which you can find at:

Image credit: <a href=''>myvector / 123RF Stock Photo</a> 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shameless Self-promotion of Kindle Edition

This is a bit of a fib, because I do feel some shame. Nonetheless the Kindle edition of Chief Complaint, Brain Tumor has just been released by Sunstone Press:

Here’s the highly promotional copy from my website:
“At 57 years old, John Kerastas thought he was the poster child for fifty-year old healthiness: he competed in triathlons, rode in 100 mile biking events and ate a healthy diet chock full of organic vegetables. Then he discovered that he had a brain tumor the size of his wife's fist.

His memoir chronicles the first year he spent addressing tumor-related health issues: preparing for his first operation, discovering a dangerous skull infection, having the infected portion of his skull surgically removed, learning about his substantial vision and cognitive losses, undergoing rehab and radiation treatments, and learning to live with his "new normal." According to Kerastas, the phrase "new normal" is the medical community's code words for "You're alive, so quit bitchin’."

As his health changed, so did his sense of humor. He writes that his humor started out superficially light-hearted prior to the first operation; transmogrified into gallows humor after several subsequent operations; and leveled out as somewhat wry-ish after radiation and rehab. This is a surprisingly upbeat and inspiring book for anybody interested in memoirs about people dealing with personal crises, for patients trudging through rehab, for caretakers helping victims of serious illnesses, or for anybody looking for an unexpected chuckle from an unlikely subject. “