This week in health news: Is a male birth control pill on the way?
T cells seem to be fighting cancer
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: 59 adults and kids
Results: Almost half the adults and children with leukemia who were treated with gene therapy made from their own T-cells kicked the disease, Penn and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia announced on Saturday.
Significance: Using the body’s own immune system to fight back against wayward cells could mean a breakthrough in the fight against cancer.
Less risky male birth control pill may be in the works
Location of study: U.K./Australia
Study subjects: Mice
Results: Modifying sperm via the deletion of receptors might be the first step in producing a new male birth control pill, according to a study reported by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. Here, the sperm never enters ejaculation fluid — it just stays in the vans deferns. Many male contraceptives tested in the past produce long-term side effects. This modification produced 100 percent infertility without adverse effects on sexual behavior or function.
Significance: Scientists say it could take another 10 years before we come up with one out of the two drugs needed for this male birth control to work (dang!).
Accurate diagnosis of severity of ovarian cancer via gene markers may lead to treatment that is more accurate
Location of study: U.S.
Study subjects: 800 ovarian cancer patients
Results: Ten specific genes may identify the aggressiveness of a patient’s disease, help predict survival outcomes and result in novel therapeutic strategies tailored to patients with the most adverse survival outcomes, according to researchers in the Women’s Cancer Program at Cedars-Sinai’s Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. The study, which was published in Clinical Cancer Research, found that if a patient’s tumor has elevated levels of these genes, doctors will be able to predict chemo-resistance and possibly pinpoint treatments that are more effective.
Significance: “The ultimate goal is to use the 10-gene biomarker panel to develop a diagnostic kit that will identify patients with the most adverse outcome and provide targeted therapeutic strategies,” says lead researcher Dong-Joo (Ellen) Cheon, PhD. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic cancer; one reason is that it’s often diagnosed in later, more aggressive stages.