Immunotherapy & Growing Lungs | SciByte 121

Immunotherapy & Growing Lungs | SciByte 121

We take a look at cell-based cancer therapy, growing lungs, radiation free MRI’s, 3D crime scene scanners, spacecraft updates, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Cell-Based Cancer Therapy

  • The largest clinical study ever conducted to date of patients with advanced leukemia found that 88 percent achieved complete remissions after being treated with genetically modified versions of their own immune cells.
  • Adult B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL)
  • Is a type of blood cancer that develops in B cells, is difficult to treat because the majority of patients relapse.
  • Patients with relapsed B-ALL have few treatment options; only 30 percent respond to salvage chemotherapy.
  • Cell-Based Therapies
  • Cell-based, targeted immunotherapy is a new approach to treating cancer that harnesses the body\’s own immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells.
  • Unlike with a common virus such as the flu, our immune system does not recognize cancer cells as foreign and is therefore at a disadvantage in eradicating the disease.
  • Researchers have been exploring ways to reengineer the body\’s own T cells to recognize and attack cancer.
  • In 2003, they were the first to report that T cells engineered to recognize the protein CD19, which is found on B cells, could be used to treat B cell cancers in mice.
  • In March 2013, the same team of researchers first reported the results of five patients with advanced B-ALL who were treated with cell therapy. Remarkably, all five patients achieved complete remissions.
  • In the current study, 16 patients with relapsed B-ALL were given an infusion of their own genetically modified immune cells, called T cells.
  • The cells were \”reeducated\” to recognize and destroy cancer cells that contain the protein CD19.
  • One of the first patients to receive this treatment more than two years ago. He was able to successfully undergo a bone marrow transplant and has been cancer-free and back at work teaching theology since 2011
  • The Current Study : Bone Marrow Transplantation Following Treatment
  • Historically, only 5 percent of patients with relapsed B-ALL have been able to transition to bone marrow transplantation.
  • The study consisted of 16 patients, who were able to follow the treatment with the standard care and curative option, bone marrow transplantation
  • Seven [44%] were able to successfully undergo bone marrow transplantation
  • Three [19%] were ineligible due to failure to achieve a complete remission following treatment.
  • Three [19%] were ineligible due to preexisting medical conditions
  • Two [13%] declined the treatment
  • One [6%] is still being evaluated for a potential bone marrow transplant.
  • Who Is Right For The Treatment
  • The study also provides guidelines for managing side effects of cell therapy, which can include severe flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing
  • The researchers developed diagnostic criteria and a laboratory test that can identify which patients are at greater risk for developing this syndrome.
  • The Future
  • Additional studies to determine whether cell therapy can be applied to other types of cancer are already underway
  • Studies to test whether B-ALL patients would benefit from receiving targeted immunotherapy as frontline treatment are being planned.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Cell therapy shows remarkable ability to eradicate cancer in clinical study | MedicalXPress


Growing Human Lungs

  • A team of researchers has, for the first time, successfully grown a human lung in a lab
  • Organs That Have Been Done
  • Windpipes, for example, have been successfully grown and implanted into human patients, and just last spring
  • A team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston successfully implanted lab grown kidneys into rats
  • Current Study
  • Lungs from two deceased juveniles were obtained
  • The first lung was stripped of all of its cells leaving just a scaffolding of elastin and collagen
  • Healthy cells were then taken from the second lung and applied to the scaffolding
  • The lung-to-be was placed in a glass tank full of a nutrient-rich solution where it soaked for four weeks.
  • During that time, new cell growth filled in the scaffolding resulting in a new lung.
  • The team repeated the whole exercise with another set of lungs and found the same result.
  • The researchers don\’t know how well the newly grown lung might work if it were implanted into a person, if at all
  • The Future
  • They are confident that they are on the right track in growing lungs in a lab that will eventually be used to replace damaged lungs in actual patients
  • The don\’t however expect lab-grown lungs to be transplanted into humans for at least a dozen years
  • The team next plans to repeat the process with pig lungs and then to implant the results into a live pig to see how well they actually work
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Texas scientists successfully grow human lungs in their lab | KTNV Channel 13 Action News KTNV Channel 13 Action News
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Research team successfully grows human lung in lab | MedicalXPress


Radiation Free MRI

  • Researchers have discovered that MRI-based imaging techniques may be just as effective as other conventional scanning methods minus the radiation risks that come with cancer detection
  • PET-CT Scanning
  • Medical officials often must send radioactive traces through the body as part of PET-CT scans that expose a patient to the equivalent of 700 chest X-rays
  • For pediatric patients, this can be particularly risky, where radiation exposure could potentially lead to secondary forms of cancer later in life.
  • In fact it have been showed that exposure can almost triple the risk of cancer in children, compared to those over 30
  • The Study
  • The study-composed of 22 children with malignant lymphomas or sarcomas
  • The team worked to investigate the safety and effectiveness of an MRI-based approach that mimics the PET-CT scan\’s results, via an iron supplement
  • The study shows that an iron supplement can increase the visibility on traditional MRI scans with no adverse reactions from ferumoxytol supplements.
  • A larger group of patients will need to be tested in order to confirm the validity of the results
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Radiation-Free MRI Scans Now Viable to Assess Cancer in Children |

3D Crime Scanner

  • Police in Queensland Australia have reported that they now have and are using a hand held and can be used to laser scan a crime scene in just a matter of minutes for creation of a 3D image
  • Current Scanning Tech
  • LIDAR is a remote sensing technology that works by sending out a laser beam and then reading what is bounced back.
  • Geologists use a similar scanner to map the insides of caves, and planet scientists have been using it to map the surface of the Earth from satellites.
  • A similar device was also used recently to map the interior of the leaning tower of Pisa to gain a better understanding of its structure or to help in repair should it start to topple.
  • Zebedee is based on that technology that has been put to a variety of uses over the past several years
  • Zebedee scanner
  • Zebedee extends LIDARs capabilities (which are 2D) by affixing it to the top of a spring
  • Bouncing (and spinning) the laser around atop the spring, the beam strikes objects in every direction. A computer then connects all the 2D readings together to create a 3D image
  • Police Use
  • Police in New Mexico have recently begun using a scanner they call the Faro 3D scanner system, it\’s based on the same basic technology
  • The police have been using the device to faithfully recreate an entire crime scene in as little as 20 minutes
  • The data captured can be looked at later by investigators or even people sitting in a jury box to get a better sense of what occurred at a crime scene.
  • The Zebedee has thus far been most useful for crime scenes that are difficult to access
  • Also where there are bad weather or at automobile accident scenes, which of course completely disappear once the cars are towed away
  • The next step, is to put a Zebedee on a drone of some sort to allow for recreating scenes from above or from longer distances.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Mobile Mapping Indoors and Outdoors with Zebedee | AutonomousSystemsLab AutonomousSystemsLab
  • YouTube | Next Media: Australian police adopt 3D mapping scanner to fight crime | The Malay Mail Online The Malay Mail Online
  • YouTube | Accident Reconstruction with the FARO Focus3D | FAROTechnologies FAROTechnologies
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Australian police get hand-held 3D crime scene laser scanner |


Opportunity Rover | Solving the Story of the ‘Mystery Rock’

  • ‘Pinnacle Island’ had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in a set of before/after pictures taken by Opportunity’s cameras on Jan, 8, 2014 (Sol 3540) in the exact same spot had been vacant of debris in photos taken barely 4 days earlier.
  • Pinnacle Island measures only about 1.5 inches wide (4 centimeters) with a noticeable white rim and red center
  • Last Time on SciByte …
  • SciByte 116 | Migraines & John Dobson | January 21, 2014
  • Solving the Riddle of ‘Pinnacle Island’ (A.K.A. the ‘Jelly Doughnut’)
  • The Martian riddle was finally resolved when Opportunity roved a tiny stretch and took some look back photographs to document the ‘mysterious scene’ for further scrutiny
  • New pictures showed another fragment of the rock – dubbed ‘Stuart Island’ – eerily similar in appearance to the ‘Pinnacle Island’ doughnut.
  • “Once we moved Opportunity a short distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” said Opportunity Deputy Principal Investigator
  • It turns out that the six wheeled Opportunity unknowingly ‘created’ the mystery herself when she drove over a larger rock, crushing it with the force from the wheels and her 400 pound (185 kg) mass.
  • Fragments were sent hurtling across the summit of the north facing Solander Point, one piece unwittingly rolled downhill.
  • Orbital View
  • The highly detailed image was freshly taken on Feb. 14 (Valentine’s Day 2014) by the telescopic High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
  • The orbital image shows not only rover Opportunity at her location today, but some of the wheel tracks created as she climbed from the plains below up to near the peak of Solander Poin
  • The scene is narrowly focused on a spot barely one-quarter mile (400 meters) wide.
  • The purpose was to “check the remote possibility that a fresh impact by an object from space might have thrown this rock to its new location
  • No fresh crater impacting site was found in the new image
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Opportunity rover Spied atop Martian Mountain Ridge from Orbit – Views from Above and Below |


  • Driving in Reverse
  • As a means to help combat the wear and tear on the wheels engineers have started driving the rover in reverse
  • The reverse drive validated feasibility of a technique developed with testing on Earth to lessen damage to Curiosity\’s wheels when driving over terrain studded with sharp rocks.
  • On Tuesday, Feb. 18, the rover covered 329 feet (100.3 meters), the mission\’s first long trek that used reverse driving and its farthest one-day advance of any kind in more than three months.
  • Next Destination
  • The rover team used images taken from orbit to reassess possible routes, after detecting in late 2013 that holes in the vehicle\’s aluminum wheels were accumulating faster than anticipated.
  • The mission\’s destinations remain the same: a science waypoint first and then the long-term goal of investigating the lower slopes of Mount Sharp, where water-related minerals have been detected from orbit.
  • The science waypoint, which may be where Curiosity next uses its sample-collecting drill, is an intersection of different rock layers about two-thirds of a mile (about 1.1 kilometers) ahead on the planned route
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Curiosity Rover Report JPLnews
  • Image Galleries at JPL and Curiosity Mulimedia
  • Social Media
  • Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mars Science Laboratory: Curiosity Adds Reverse Driving for Wheel Protection |


Looking back

  • March 1, 1966 : 48 years ago : Soviet spacecraft reaches Venus surface : The mission of the Soviet Union\’s unmanned spacecraft Venera 3 (Venus 3) was a partial success when it reached Venus and automatically released a small landing capsule intended to explore the planet\’s atmosphere during a parachute descent. However, contact had been lost since 16 Feb 1966. Although no data was returned before the capsule impacted, it became the first man-made object to touch the surface of another planet. The Soviet Union issued a commemorative stamp to mark the achievement. Venera 3 was launched on 16 Nov 1965. The landing capsule (0.9-m diam., about 300-kg) had been designed to collect data on pressure, temperature, and composition of the Venusian atmosphere. Failure is believed due to overheating of internal components and the solar panels
  • Venera 3 | Wikipedia

Looking up this week

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