Interglobal Reporting New Ultra-Fast Cameras Helping in the Fight Against Cancer
Researchers have been trialling the use of high-speed cameras to see single cancer cells in the blood before they can take up residence in the body.
The process of metastasis, or the spreading of a disease from one organ to another, is responsible for around 90% of cancer deaths worldwide. Cancerous tumours, sometimes too small to be felt or found, form inside the body, leading to some cancerous cells breaking away from the tumour and circulating in the bloodstream. These circulating tumour cells can help cancer spread, but they can also be what helps doctors identify cancer.
The magazine Scientific American, citing a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that one millilitre of blood from a cancer patient can contain around 5 billion red blood cells, 10 million white blood cells, but only 10 tumour cells. Detecting the tumour cells can be tricky, as they are in such low quantity and surrounded by various other cells. However, if they could be detected, the cancer could be caught and treated before metastasis fully kicks in, potentially saving lives.
To catch the tumour cells in action, researchers have developed a technology called STEAM (serial time-encoded amplified microscopy). A hi-tech camera uses short laser pulses to image blood samples, with a shutter speed of rough 27 picoseconds. The images are then processed by software that, by analysing shape, size, and texture, can identify tumour cells in the blood.
If proven to be successful, this simple blood test could prove to be a hugely effective method to detect cancer, which could make screening for a wide range of cancers easier and faster. Clinical testing is now under way, with tests being performed on lung, stomach, breast, prostate, and intestinal cancers. Researchers hope to add ovarian and pancreatic cancers in the near future too.
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Research indicates sitting too long €increases health risks'
Office workers beware - new research has suggested that sitting at your desk all day can double the risk of diabetes, heart disease and death.
The findings of a recent British study have revealed the effect of extended periods of sitting, with experts now suggesting that office staff should consider standing at meetings or moving their work station to the nearest filing cabinet. When analysing the results of 18 studies, with a total of 794,577 participants, scientists noticed a marked difference in health outcomes between those with the most and least sedentary lifestyles.
Published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, the findings of the study showed that, compared with the least sedentary, those who spent the most time sitting down had a 112% greater risk of diabetes. Similarly, the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or strokes increased by 147% in the most sedentary, and death linked to heart disease by 90%.
Professor Stuart Biddle, from the University of Loughborough, led the study. He comments: €Currently, society forces us into too much sitting, sitting at school, sitting at office desks, sitting in cars and so on. There are many ways we can reduce our sitting time, such as breaking up long periods at the computer at work by placing our laptop on a filing cabinet. We can have standing meetings, we can walk during the lunch break, and we can look to reduce TV viewing in the evenings by seeking out less sedentary behaviours.€
€As a rule of thumb, if you can break up sitting time by at least five minutes every half hour, we think that will benefit you. What we're seeing is these negative effects that are independent of the physical activity we do, and that's really crucial. So you can go for a 30-minute run every day but if you're sitting around for the rest of the day you're not doing yourself any favours.€