Jasmine Zhou and her team at the University of California, Los Angeles have developed a computer program that uses genetic data to detect tumour DNA and specify where in the body it is coming from. The program, called CancerLocator, works by measuring the amount of tumour DNA circulating in the blood and compares it to a database of genetic information from hundreds of people to identify where the tumour is located. Published in the journal Genome Biology, the study focused on three cancer types (breast, liver and lung) and was able to detect early stage cancers in 80% of cases. Zhou said the next step was to collect solid tissue samples to improve the accuracy of the blood tests, which could then be trialled in a clinical setting.
Lara Bennett of Worldwide Cancer Research, said while blood testing methods were still being researched, she believed they "will have an important part in the future of diagnosing cancer". "The fact it's non-invasive is a huge thing," adding that it could save lives if it succeeds in spotting cancers early. "We are very excited by it, but it's not ready to go, due to limited blood samples, and they've only done it in three cancer types."
Using video microscopy in the living mouse lung, University of California San Francisco scientists have revealed that lungs play a previously unrecognized role in blood production. Published in Nature, the researchers found that the lungs produced more than half of the platelets—blood components required for the clotting that stanches bleeding—in the mouse circulation. In another surprise finding, the scientists also identified a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells capable of restoring blood production when the stem cells of the bone marrow, previously thought to be the principal site of blood production, are depleted.
The findings were made possible by a recent refinement of a technique known as two-photon intravital. This imaging approach allowed the researchers to visualize an engineered strain of platelets that emitted bright green fluorescence. The team observed the surprisingly large population of platelet-producing cells called megakaryocytes (MK) in the lung vasculature
Video: A dynamic release of platelets in the lung vasculature
Video: MKs with intact nuclei circulating in the lung vasculature
Video: A number of MKs releasing platelets in the lung
Although male infertility is as common as female infertility, it often goes undiagnosed because of socioeconomic factors such as stigma, high cost of testing, and availability of laboratory facilities. A new smartphone device has shown early promise as a convenient way for men to check the health of their sperm in the privacy of their home. The infertility test analyzes semen using a disposable rubberized microchip that's designed to enclose and handle samples. The microchip is slid into an attachment that can be plugged into a smartphone. The semen sample is kept within the microchip, with the smartphone app able to scan and video the sample for analysis. Approximately five seconds later test results are produced, indicating whether or not the sample meets World Health Organization standards in terms of healthy sperm concentrations and sperm motility.
Results published in Science Translational Medicine indicate the test has a 98% accuracy rate. The work suggests that the integration of microfluidics, optical sensing accessories, and advances in consumer electronics, particularly smartphone capabilities, can make remote semen quality testing accessible to people in both developed and developing countries who have access to smartphones.