Light therapy may help treat advanced lung cancer

Surgeons in Philadelphia say they are finding success by combining light-based cancer therapy with surgery to treat patients with advanced lung cancer that has spread within the chest. While the number of patients treated to date is small, many patients are living three to four times longer than did those patients who did not receive the therapy. In photodynamic therapy (PDT), a nontoxic photosensitizing agent, photofrin, is injected into the bloodstream and absorbed by cells all over the body. These compounds tend to concentrate more in cancer cells than in normal cells. When the compound is exposed to a certain wavelength of light, it absorbs the light energy and produces a form of oxygen that kills the cells. The damage occurs only where the light is shined. In the study, each patient is given chemotherapy until the cancer stops responding, meaning the disease begins to grow again. If the cancer has not spread beyond the chest, the patient then receives photofrin 24 hours prior to surgery to remove the tumor. During surgery, he or she receives an appropriate dose of light therapy. Of the 16 patients evaluated to date, at least one-half have lived more than 23 months, which is between three and four times the usual time.

Radioactive microspheres help knock out liver tumors

For once, clogged arteries are a good thing.Physicians treating deadly liver tumors are finding success by injecting patients with radioactive microspheres that get trapped in the web of small blood vessels feeding a tumor and zap the cancerous cells. “The liver doesn’t tolerate external beam radiation in sufficient doses to affect tumor without damaging the remaining good liver,” said one physician researcher working on the treatment. “These spheres emit radiation for a short distance, less than a centimeter. If you can cluster radiation right around the tumor, the radiation exposure at the tumor site compared to normal liver is favorable.”

Schizophrenia Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Attack

As is people with schizophrenia didn’t have enough to worry about a new study finds that schizophrenic patients who take antipsychotic drugs are more likely to have experienced cardiac arrest or ventricular arrhythmia than non-schizophrenic patients. While previous research has linked several of these drugs to irregular electrocardiogram results, the researchers used billing data to uncover a link between the drugs and cardiac arrest.

Ultracold Gas Shows Strange Behavior

Researchers have created an ultracold gas that has the startling property of bursting outward in a preferred direction when released. According to the scientists, studying the properties of the “lopsided” gas could yield fundamental insights into how matter holds itself together at the subatomic level. Also, the research team leader said their data suggests the possibility that the gas is exhibiting a never-before-seen kind of superfluidity — a property in which matter at extremely low-temperatures behaves in unusual ways

‘Sharp’ elders use left brain to compensate for aging right

Elderly adults who perform as well as younger adults on certain cognitive tests appear to enlist the otherwise underused left half of the prefrontal cortex of their brain in order to maintain performance, neuroscientists have found. In contrast, elderly people who are not “high performers” on the tests resemble younger adults in showing a preferred usage of the right side of the prefrontal cortex.

Genetic Variant Protects People Against Malaria

An international team of scientists has discovered a novel genetic trait that protects its carriers against the deadliest forms of malaria, while people without the trait are more likely to succumb to its fatal consequences. This trait — a mutation or “polymorphism” in the NOS2 gene — controls the production of nitric oxide, a small chemical that can kill parasites and prevent malaria disease.

Emperor Penguin Colony Struggling With Iceberg Blockade

The movements of two gigantic Antarctic icebergs appear to have dramatically reduced the number of Emperor penguins living and breeding in a colony at Cape Crozier, according to two researchers who visited the site last month. The colony is one of the first ever visited by human beings early in the 20th century. “It’s certain that the number of breeding birds is way down” from previous years, said Gerald Kooyman, a National Science Foundation-funded researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

Magnetic processes in space can accelerate electrons to near light speed

A chance observation of high-energy electrons emanating from a tiny region of space where the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields intertwine provides the first solid evidence that a process called magnetic reconnection accelerates electrons to near the speed of light in the Earth’s magnetosphere and perhaps throughout the universe where magnetic fields entangle.

Go ahead, laugh. It’s good for you.

Go ahead, laugh. In fact, look forward to the upcoming positive event. It does the body good. Even looking forward to a happy, funny event increases endorphins and other relaxation-inducing hormones as well as decreases other detrimental stress hormones, a new study has found.