July - September 2012 Edition: Naples Health

Looking Ahead

What’s new and promising

Using light to kill cancer cells S hining a light on cancer” may soon take on a more signifi- cant meaning. National Cancer Institute (NCI) scientists have had success shrinking tumors in mice by targeting the cells with near infrared light.

acuity in teens and adults by having them play video games. The subjects, who ranged in age from 15-61, had their good eyes patched while playing action video games for a total of 40 hours, two hours at a time over the course of a month. In a sec-

ond experiment, participants played non-action games for the same amount of time. Both groups showed a 30 percent increase in visual acuity—an improvement equivalent to 120 hours of patching therapy in child- hood. While it’s too soon for peo- ple to attempt such treatment on their own, the results were impressive enough that the researchers received a three- year grant to compare video game therapy with the use of patches alone in a random- ized clinical trial.

For more than a decade, scientists have known that monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb) can be used to deliver destructive payloads to cancer cells without harming surrounding cells. But the technique has required several treatments, amounts that led to adverse side effects.

Searching for another alternative, NCI researchers attached photosensitive dyes to the mAbs. The dyes respond to specific, harmless wavelengths of light. A dye called IR700 was coupled to mAbs that target some lung, pancreatic and colon cancer cells and injected into mice that had those cancers. After a single exposure to near infrared light, the mice’s tumors showed dramatic reduction. The treatment appeared to have no signs of toxicity and no damage to surrounding cells. Although further testing is necessary, the researchers are hopeful the mAb-IR700 approach may eventually replace some surgical, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Video gaming to treat “lazy eye” A mblyopia, or “lazy eye,” is the most frequent cause of permanent visual impairment in children, affecting two to three of every

A non-invasive test for diabetes I f current trends continue, one in three American children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes. Some 26 million Americans have already been diagnosed with the disease, and it’s estimated that another seven million have it but don’t yet know. A new device may make it easier and less uncomfortable to identify those who may be at risk. The VeraLight Scout DS screening system uses fluorescence spectroscopy to detect biomarkers in the skin that indicate

diabetes. In tests, the light-based system identified 60 percent more people with the abnormal biomarkers than traditional blood tests—and did so more quickly and without needles. A patient simply puts his/her arm on the device and within moments the results come in. The VeraLight was launched as part of a pilot program in Canada in September 2011. Although currently restricted to investiga- tional use in the U.S., approval from the FDA could come by 2013.

100 youngsters. It’s typi- cally treated with patching the good eye to force the brain to use the weaker eye. But scientists long thought that the window of opportunity for such brain retraining closed after the age of about eight. Researchers at the University of California Berkeley, however, were able to improve visual

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Naples Health | JULY-SEPTEMBER 2012

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