Posts tagged treatment

FDA approves the first drug for reducing the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection

Truvada, a brand name for the generic combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate has now been given the green light as the first pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV. The generic ingredients are themselves already used in HIV treatment in drugs such as Emtriva (emtricitabine), Viread (tenofovir) and Atripla (emtricitabine/ tenofovir/ efavirenz).

Truvada itself was previously approved to be used in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-infected adults and children 12 years or older.

For prevention purposes, the drug should be used along with other prevention methods, the FDA said in a press statement, such as safe sex practices, risk reduction counseling, and regular HIV testing.

With the results from the two double-blind randomized controlled trials showing good evidence for prophylaxis, this is another step in the right direction towards HIV infection control.

Jake Bouma meets with his oncologist on June 22, 2012, after four rounds of chemotherapy to treat his Hodgkin Lymphoma.

This clip is part of a documentary Nathan Matta is creating on his journey, “Let’s Do This: Facing Hodgkin Lymphoma.”

When I feel lost on my journey, when the challenges seem insurmountable, moments like these remind me again why I am here and why I have chosen medicine. More than that, it pushes me to continue onward.

Regenerated veins in 10 year old girl from implant of her own stem cells

Stem cells are amazing. The fact that we all carry some of these undifferentiated cells in various parts of our body opens the door for a new branch of medicine. The success of this operation shows that it is possible. Transplant rejection could eventually become a non-issue. Having said that, being on the cutting edge means that this sort of therapy is still very prohibitively expensive.

We have stem cell sprays for burn victims and now this. Leave your thoughts on the state of regenerative medicine below.

Original Pulsatile Insulin Therapy, circa 1970s.
We have come a long way since pulsatile insulin therapy was invented 40 years ago. I cannot imagine that to have been a very popular option of therapy for patients.

Original Pulsatile Insulin Therapy, circa 1970s.

We have come a long way since pulsatile insulin therapy was invented 40 years ago. I cannot imagine that to have been a very popular option of therapy for patients.

My tumor is situated in the pelvic girdle inside the bone and growing out into the pelvis, and I find it difficult to imagine what it really looks like. I feel that it is an uninvited guest in my body and when I started this cytotoxic treatment I thought: Now this is for you.
Cancer patient describing her experience with treatment.

The Enemy of My Enemy...

Penn State University has found a virus that is not harmful to humans but is capable of killing cancer cells. This has the potential to open up some new avenues towards cancer therapy. The mechanism is still unknown but the virus, named adeno-associated virus type 2, is still being researched and has a long way to go before any clinical application can be gained from it. And so the plot thickens…

Vancomycin Re-engineered

The thing about pharmaceuticals and in particular, antivirals and antibiotics, is that they are extremely costly to bring to market. Of all the potential candidate compounds that are created, only a select few make it to phase III and get approved. By the time they come to the market years since its discovery, the bacteria may have gained some resistance or develop resistance entirely, rendering years of research useless. Thus for the pharmaceutical industry from a market and business perspective, investing in the production of antivirals and antibiotics do not yield great returns and these companies have share holders to answer to.

Because of that, it is refreshing that someone decided to take initiative and work on the problem of Vancomycin-resistant bacteria. 

Brachytherapy delivery applicator.
Brachytherapy is an internal radiotherapy method in which the radiation source is placed within or next to the target area requiring treatment. Typically the source is a radiation seed that is guided into place via computer once a treatment plan is designed.
In order to facilitate the seed delivery, some preparation must be done first. This is where the applicator comes in. After some anaesthetic and freezing, the os of the cervix is determined and the applicator assembled. In three parts, the applicator is inserted into the vaginal canal and locked into place. This will eventually be used to determine the positioning inside as well as the planning and delivery of treatment.
The whole process takes between thirty minutes to an hour.

Brachytherapy delivery applicator.

Brachytherapy is an internal radiotherapy method in which the radiation source is placed within or next to the target area requiring treatment. Typically the source is a radiation seed that is guided into place via computer once a treatment plan is designed.

In order to facilitate the seed delivery, some preparation must be done first. This is where the applicator comes in. After some anaesthetic and freezing, the os of the cervix is determined and the applicator assembled. In three parts, the applicator is inserted into the vaginal canal and locked into place. This will eventually be used to determine the positioning inside as well as the planning and delivery of treatment.

The whole process takes between thirty minutes to an hour.

Radiation Therapy via the Varian RapidArc.

Last time, I wrote a piece about radiation therapy planning. For the head and neck therapies, they can be quite complicated and require a lot of fine tuning. Today, I had the opportunity to enter one of the rooms and see the machine that powers the technology.

Here the Varian RapidArc has three arms forming the “trilogy,” two of which are sensors that are aligning the plan with the patient’s CT, while a third houses the radiation source. As shown in the lower right hand side of the video, the dose is continuously modulated in order to eventually intensify or lessen the impact on various targets and tissues. In the upper right hand side, you can see how the aperture of the source changes in order to contour around different areas to best fit the shape of the tumour and avoid sensitive tissues. The final result over time, is the middle picture on the right, showing the accumulation of radiation in the patient. 

Functional regeneration of respiratory pathways after spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injuries can kill nerve cells. What has always been more detrimental is when connections between nerves are severed and information can no longer be relayed between the organs and the brain. In the spinal cord, axons tend not to regrow to bridge connections as they do in the periphery.

The researchers in this paper have identified molecules that inhibit axonal growth and others that promote it that accounts for the difference. By increasing the promoting molecules, using enzymes to break down the inhibiting molecules and using a graft of healthy peripheral nerve at the site of injury, some functional regeneration was possible. It is important to note that this is not a full spinal repair and the research is nowhere near that point but the current research is promising.