The scientist Bert Vogelstein played an important role in understanding how cancer occurs. He is now working on developing what he calls a liquid biopsy. It is based on the fact that nearly every type of cancer sheds DNA into the bloodstream. By analyzing a sample of a person’s blood, a liquid biopsy would indicate whether a person has a cancer in his or her body. The hope would be that by detecting the cancer at an early stage, effective treatment could be started in time to result in a cure.
An article on the concept of a liquid biopsy explains that “making such screening a routine practice in medicine will be challenging. One difficulty is that while the test may detect the presence of cancer DNA in the body, physicians might not know where the tumor is, how dangerous it is, or even whether it is worth treating.”
You can read the entire article in MIT Technology Review here.
Robbin Williams’ tragic suicide has resulted in a proliferation of articles on depression and mental health in general. Last month’s Atlantic contained a fascinating article on the link between creativity and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. The author Nancy C. Andreasen is a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and a PhD in literature who has spent many years studying the brains and minds of creative people. Her study found that “80 percent of (the creative people she studied) had had some kind of mood disturbance at some time in their lives, compared with just 30 percent of the control group” she used. You can read the entire article here.