DURHAM, N.C. — Most doctors are spending a good deal of time counseling their patients about diet and weight loss, but for the most part, it isn’t making any difference, according to a new study appearing in the American Journal of Preventive Medi…
Children who receive laboratory-expanded sheets of their own skin to cover severe burns are saved from certain death, but their new skin can have the cellular age of an 80 year old, according to a study at Duke University Medical Center. The process of growing small patches of human skin into larger sheets, called tissue engineering, makes cells divide so many times that the skin becomes prematurely aged at a cellular level.
Breast cancer tumors that stop responding to the drug tamoxifen actually change their cellular characteristics and become responsive to other types of drugs, including Herceptin, according to oncologists at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center. “In the process of becoming resistant to tamoxifen, the tumors alter their qualities and become receptive to Herceptin and other drugs that target the HER-2 receptor,” said Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., assistant professor of oncology at Duke.
Oncologists are testing a new technique called gene expression profiling that subtypes each breast cancer tumor by its genetic defects so that doctors can tailor their treatment to inhibit that particular tumor. The researchers believe the technique could spare millions of women from needlessly receiving toxic chemotherapy, and they are leading a national clinical trial to study gene profiling. “Currently, we have no predictive model to determine who will respond to hormonal therapies and who won’t, so we prescribe chemotherapy as a backup measure to ensure the cancer’s demise,” said Matthew Ellis, M.D., Ph.D., director of the breast cancer program at Duke. “This one-treatment-fits-all approach leads to a huge amount of over treatment, with up to 50 percent of women unnecessarily receiving chemotherapy.”