cancer

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. B-cells, immune cells that play a crucial role in adaptive immunity, differentiate into plasma cells that secrete the antibodies we need to fight infections and other foreign invaders. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of these plasma cells.

A common treatment for multiple myeloma is itself an antibody called daratumumab. (Pro tip: A drug name that contains the suffix -mab indicates the drug is an antibody.) The antibody targets a cell membrane protein called CD38, which is highly expressed on malignant plasma cells. This triggers an immune response against the malignant cells, resulting in their death.

B-cells and plasma cells also play a role in allergies....

Let's call progress against cancer a mixed bag. Until 20 years ago, chemotherapy drugs — poisons that kill or stop the division of cells— have been the mainstay of cancer treatment. These cytotoxic drugs, many of which are more than 50 years old, work on the principal that cancer cells divide more rapidly (1). So that anything that poisoned all cells would disproportionately affect cancer cells. It works-- sort of. 

Some commonly used cytotoxic chemotherapy drugs and the year they were discovered or approved. Progress?

Two of the many flaws in the use of cytotoxic drugs are...

HPV—Human Papillomavirus— is a frequently overshadowed sexually transmitted infection when the topic of STDs hits the spotlight. This is unfortunate as HPV impacts an estimated 79 million Americans currently infected. (1) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports “every year approximately 17,600 women and 9,300 men are affected by cancers caused by HPV.” (2)

Due to the existence of many strains of HPV, the result of infection can lead to health issues like genital warts or an array of oropharyngeal (aka oral and throat) and anogenital (aka anus, vulva, cervical, vagina, penis) cancers. Many infected are unaware of their status and naturally clear the virus on...

Anyone who searches long enough can find that pretty much everything has been linked to cancer. Bacon. Cell phones. Wi-fi. Looking at Ana Dolaskie. At some point the insanity has to stop. Unfortunately, we have yet to reach that point.

Variations of the headline "Nutella may cause cancer" are going viral. As usual, there is almost no support for such hysteria. According to Reuters:

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said in May that palm oil generated more of a potentially carcinogenic contaminant...

Who among us hasn’t been tormented by the itch after a mosquito bite? This is due to the histamine release at the offending site. In some, it is a bit more exaggerated and an oral antihistamine or topical cream with the passage of time does the trick to provide optimal relief.

Now imagine that intensity and urge to scratch diffusely spread over your entire body in a constant and unrelenting fashion. Night and day. Where a more significant underlying cause won’t be benefitted and cured by time or a Benadryl, for instance.

That is called chronic “generalized pruritus” and its etiologies can range from the readily fixable to the necessitation of a liver transplant in those where treatment for the symptom might be refractory. In the extreme, sleep is impaired and even...

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) adversely impacts over 30 million men in the United States to some extent.  Medical efforts to combat this considerable personal strain and relationship stressor are replete with various shortcomings.  

Depending upon the cause, treatment options can be limited.  Traditionally as a last resort when a man is ineligible or has failed less invasive alternatives, surgical insertion of a penile implant is considered.  

The common types that exist fall under the inflatable (IPP) or malleable (MPP) penile prosthetic umbrellas.  Innovation in this field has been relatively stagnant the last 40 years which is why a team of researchers —whose concept was recently patent-approved...

Cancer deaths are falling in the United States, and that's great to see. On the other hand, fatalities caused by heart disease are on the rise and there's a significant increase in deaths attributed to Alzheimer's disease. 

These are some of the top developments from 2015 included in the latest national report on life expectancy, recently released by National Center for Health Statistics, a department of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

But the most significant and sobering news generated from the analysis shows that for the first time in 22 years, life expectancy for the average American has dropped. Last year it was 78.8 years, down from 78.9 years in 2014. Broken down by gender, men could expect to live 76.3 years (down from 76.5), while for women "life...

The famous singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, as per his manager Robert B. Kory’s statement, “died during his sleep following a fall in the middle of the night on November 7th.  The death was sudden, unexpected, and peaceful.” 

Ironically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released their estimates of preventable deaths from the five leading causes.  With preventable cancer, stroke and heart disease deaths down, it is unintentional injuries that surged 23% —mainly due to drug poisoning and falls.  

Entertainment Weekly reported “According to recent interviews with the New Yorker, Cohen battled cancer and came to...

The concept of viruses causing cancer is not new. In fact, it has been more than 100 years since Francis Peyton Rous, working at Rockefeller University, uncovered the first pathogen-caused cancer. Rous discovered that a virus, now called the Rous sarcoma virus caused tumors in chickens. He proved the causation by extracting material from the tumors, and then using to it infect other chicken, which subsequently developed the same tumors. He earned the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1965 for this work. 

Since then, multiple pathogens, almost all of which are viruses, have been shown to cause a variety of cancers. Here are some:

  • Hepatitis B**- liver
  • Hepatitis C- liver
  • Human papilloma virus**- cervix, anus, penis, mouth, throat
  • HIV (indirectly)...

In the 1970s, an assay was developed by Dr. Bruce Ames that revolutionized the ability to test if a compound causes cancer or not.

Since then, the Ames test has been used on everything from food dyes to pesticides. The power of the Ames test is not only that it is incredibly efficacious, but also that it is inexpensive and relatively easy to do. 

The test is based on a brilliant observation made by Dr. Ames. He realized that there is a strong linkage between the ability to cause mutations in DNA and the ability to cause cancer. To simplify what is an incredibly complicated process, the more mutations that something creates (or, the more mutagenic it is) the more...