cancer cell .
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
A simple blood test is being developed by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of
the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba that may provide
early detection of many types of cancer.
Prof. Joseph Kapelushnik of
BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and colleagues developed a device that uses
infrared light to illuminate cancer cells in less than a teaspoon of blood. The
experimental test detects minuscule changes in the blood of a person who has a
cancerous growth somewhere, even before the disease has spread. The mechanism
behind the test is that various molecules released into the bloodstream cause
the blood of someone with cancer to absorb infrared light a bit differently than
that of healthy people.
In the latest clinical trial with 200 patients
and a control group, the test identified specific cancers in 90 percent of the
patients and found other types of cancer, as well. The researchers are focused
on detection of common cancers, such as lung and ovarian cancer.
detection is vital in increasing the chances for cancer patients’ recovery and
preventing the need for long, difficult and costly treatments in more advanced
“This is still research in the early stages of clinical trials,”
says Kapelushnik, who is also head of the Soroka’s pediatric hemato-oncology,
pouring cold water on people who think it will be available
“But the purpose is to develop an efficient, cheap and simple
method to detect as many types of cancers as possible. We want to be able to
detect cancer while a patient is still feeling good, before it has a chance to
metastasize, meaning fewer treatments, less suffering and many more lives
More clinical trials will be conducted in the next 18
Babies allowed to feed themselves with finger
foods from the start of weaning are likely to eat more healthily and have normal
weight as they get older than infants who are spoon-fed purees, according to a
new study published in the British Medical Journal
). The findings led the
authors to suggest that the habits of the “baby-led” group who ate on their own
could help ward off obesity in later childhood.
They based their findings
on 155 children between the ages of 20 months and 6.5 years, whose parents
completed a detailed questionnaire about their children’s weaning style and food
preferences. Ninety-two of the children had been allowed to feed themselves with
finger foods, while 63 had been spoon-fed pureed foods throughout
Children in the baby-led group liked carbohydrates more than
those who had been spoon-fed. In fact, carbohydrates were the favorite foods of
children in the baby-led weaning group; children in the spoon-fed group liked
sweet foods the best. This was despite the fact that along with sweet foods,
children in the spoon-fed group had also been offered carbohydrates, fruits and
vegetables, proteins and whole meals, such as lasagne, more often than their
peers in the baby-led weaning group.
More children in the spoon-fed group
were overweight/obese than those in the baby led group, who tended to have
normal weight for their height, age and gender. These differences were not
explained by differences in birth-weight, parental weight, or socioeconomic
factors, all of which are likely to influence a child’s body mass
The authors suggest that carbohydrates presented whole, like
toast, may enhance a child’s awareness of textures, which are lost when food is
pureed. And they point to previous research which shows that presentation is a
key factor in food preferences.
The preference for carbohydrates among
those weaned on solids could simply be that they are easier to chew than other
solids, such as meat, say the authors, who point out that few children in the
baby-led group choked on their food.
“Our study suggests that baby-led
weaning has a positive impact on the liking for foods that form the building
blocks of healthy nutrition, such as carbohydrates,” conclude the authors. “This
has implications for combating the well documented rise of obesity in
contemporary societies.”Protective Parkinson gene
One out of every four
Jews of Ashkenazi origin bears a mutated gene that – for a change –
significantly reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Prof. Avi Or of Tel Aviv
Sourasky Medical Center has found that the lucky carriers of the gene – called
Park16 and found on chromosome 1 – are at much lower risk from the incurable
neurological disease than people who are not carriers.
In an article
published in the Archives of Neurology, the director of the hospital’s genetic
institute wrote that 2% of the Israeli population eventually develop
Harmful mutations that increase the risk of getting the
disease appear in a third of Parkinson’s patients and 8% of the healthy
Or and doctoral student Ziv Gan- Or surveyed 1,360
healthy volunteers, in coordination with neurology department head Prof. Nir
The study showed that in this region of chromosome 1, there are a
number of mutations that cut the risk of getting Parkinson’s 1.5 times – the
same result found by researchers in Japan, Europe and China.
Sourasky team found that one in every 70 Ashkenazim has a combination of
mutations that reduces the risk of the disease by a factor of 10. Or suggested
that other progressive neurological diseases might be similar, and that the
mutations could also give the bearers protection against them. This knowledge
could eventually lead to the development of new treatments and even help prevent
Parkinson’s and other diseases.