Researchers at The University of Western Australia are working on a quick, simple and less invasive blood-based test that can detect breast cancer progression or relapse much earlier than current methods such as mammogram, MRI or biopsy. "Our research examines cancer 'exosomes' which are parts of the cancer shed into the body fluids that can drive the spread and aggressiveness of cancer. These exosomes, or biomarkers of disease, can be detected during routine blood tests and as early studies show exosome levels increase with more aggressive cancers, our research will monitor exosome levels in patients' blood during treatment." described project lead Dr. Katie Meehan from the School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.
"We hope to show that when exosomes become undetectable in the blood, this indicates the cancer is gone or if exosomes remain in the blood, this may identify a cancer at risk of returning." Dr. Meehan said developing blood-based assessments would revolutionize patient care and avoid the need for painful and invasive procedures, which was particularly relevant for women with metastatic breast cancer.
Video: Watch to Dr. Katie Meehan describe this new blood test
A series of new studies led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) describe a potential vaccination strategy to jump-start the selection and evolution of broadly effective antibodies to prevent HIV infection.
The new studies, published September 8, 2016, in the journals Cell and Science, showed the immune system can be prompted to mimic and accelerate a rare natural process during which antibodies slowly evolve to become better at targeting the constantly mutating HIV virus. A vaccine needs to elicit those rare antibodies, called "broadly neutralizing antibodies" (bnAbs), which fight a wide variety of strains of HIV.
One strategy to accomplish this, which scientists at TSRI have dubbed the "reductionist" strategy, is to find which antibody mutations are most important for making them effective against HIV, then to "prime" the immune system to start making antibody precursors. From there, scientists hope to prompt one important mutation after another with a series of different "booster" shots, deliberately building up a bnAb.
It was found that the vaccine priming protein activated the appropriate antibody precursors in one-third to one-half of mice tested, suggesting this feat would also be possible in humans, where the targeted precursor cells are more plentiful. The researchers plan to test this strategy in an upcoming human clinical trial.
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - led interdisciplinary research team has developed the first-ever biological identification method that exploits the information encoded in proteins of human hair. "Nuclear DNA is the gold standard for human identification, but it is quite fragile," said team member Dr. Brad Hart, a chemist with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "When the DNA molecule degrades from light, heat exposure or other environmental conditions, it becomes useless for identification." In contrast, protein is chemically more stable than DNA, can persist for longer periods and can be found in different tissue types, including hair, shed skin cells, bones, and teeth.
The team investigated whether the protein found in human hair could offer another tool for identifying individuals in forensic or archaeology scenarios. The study examined hair samples for 66 European-Americans, five African Americans, five Kenyans and six skeletal remains from the 1750s and 1850s. They have found a total of 185 hair protein markers to date, which they estimate would be sufficient to provide a unique pattern for an individual that could distinguish that person among a population of one million. They believe that the number could go as high as 1,000.
Video: Hear all about this new forensic method