cancer cells

5 mind-blowing facts about Henrietta Lacks, the black woman whose cells were stolen for science.

They can be grown indefinitely or frozen for decades. Her cell line, called HeLa, was the first immortal cell line to grow in a lab.

They were used to test the polio vaccine. And they were the first cells to be cloned. They helped develop drugs to treat leukemia and Parkinson’s disease and so much more.

Her cells were sent to space to see what would happen to human tissue in zero gravity.

That’s because they were taken from her without her consent. She died of cervical cancer at 31 years old in 1951. Before her death, cancer cells were taken from her tumor.

A book by Rebecca Skloot “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is now being turned into a movie. Oprah plays Henrietta’s daughter Deborah.

Is Henrietta Lacks finally getting the recognition she deserves?

Science in Space!

What science is headed to the International Space Station with Orbital ATK’s cargo resupply launch? From investigations that study magnetic cell culturing to crystal growth, let’s take a look…

Orbital ATK is targeted to launch its Cygnus spacecraft into orbit on April 18, delivering tons of cargo, supplies and experiments to the crew onboard.

Efficacy and Metabolism of Azonafide Antibody-Drug Conjugates in Microgravity Investigation

In microgravity, cancer cells grow in 3-D. Structures that closely resemble their form in the human body, which allows us to better test the efficacy of a drug. This experiment tests new antibody drug conjugates.

These conjugates combine an immune-activating drug with antibodies and target only cancer cells, which could potentially increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and potentially reduce the associated side-effects. Results from this investigation could help inform drug design for cancer patients, as well as more insight into how microgravity effects a drug’s performance.

Genes in Space

The Genes in Space-2 experiment aims to understand how the regulation of telomeres (protective caps on the tips of chromosomes) can change during spaceflight. Julian Rubinfien, 16-year-old DNA scientist and now space researcher, is sending his experiment to space as part of this investigation. 

3-D Cell Culturing in Space

Cells cultured in space spontaneously grow in 3-D, as opposed to cells cultured on Earth which grow in 2-D, resulting in characteristics more representative of how cells grow and function in living organisms. The Magnetic 3-D Cell Culture for Biological Research in Microgravity investigation will test magnetized cells and tools that may make it easier to handle cells and cell cultures.

This could help investigators improve the ability to reproduce similar investigations on Earth.

SUBSA

The Solidification Using a Baffle in Sealed Ampoules (SUBSA) investigation was originally operated successfully aboard the space station in 2002. 

Although it has been updated with modernized software, data acquisition, high definition video and communications interfaces, its objective remains the same: advance our understanding of the processes involved in semiconductor crystal growth. 

Space Debris

Out-of-function satellites, spent rocket stages and other debris frequently reenter Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it breaks up and disintegrates before hitting the ground. However, some larger objects can survive. The Thermal Protection Material Flight Test and Reentry Data Collection (RED-Data2) investigation will study a new type of recording device that rides alongside of a spacecraft reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. Along the way, it will record data about the extreme conditions it encounters, something scientists have been unable to test on a large scale thus afar.

Understanding what happens to a spacecraft as it reenters the atmosphere could lead to increased accuracy of spacecraft breakup predictions, an improved design of future spacecraft and the development of materials that can resist the extreme heat and pressure of returning to Earth. 

IceCube CubeSat

IceCube, a small satellite known as a CubeSat, will measure cloud ice using an 883-Gigahertz radiometer. Used to predict weather and climate models, IceCube will collect the first global map of cloud-induced radiances. 

The key objective for this investigation is to raise the technology readiness level, a NASA assessment that measures a technology’s maturity level.

Advanced Plant Habitat

Joining the space station’s growing list of facilities is the Advanced Plant Habitat, a fully enclosed, environmentally controlled plant habitat used to conduct plant bioscience research. This habitat integrates proven microgravity plant growth processes with newly-developed technologies to increase overall efficiency and reliability. 

The ability to cultivate plants for food and oxygen generation aboard the space station is a key step in the planning of longer-duration, deep space missions where frequent resupply missions may not be a possibility.

Watch Launch!

Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance (ULA) are targeting Tuesday, April 18 for launch of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is currently slated for 11 a.m. EST.

Watch live HERE.

You can also watch the launch live in 360! This will be the world’s first live 360-degree stream of a rocket launch. Watch the 360 stream HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

A groundbreaking gene therapy treatment which boosts a patient’s own immune cells has been shown to clear disease from one third of terminal patients.

US pharmaceutical company Kite Pharma released results from the first six months of its trial of the new treatment, called CAR-T cell therapy.


Some 36 per cent of the 101 patients on the trial were still in complete remission at six months, and eight in 10 saw their cancer shrink by at least half during the study.

“The numbers are fantastic,” said Dr Fred Locke, a blood cancer expert at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa who co-led the study.

“These are heavily treated patients who have no other options.”

The treatment, which has been dubbed ‘a living drug’ by doctors, works by filtering a patient’s blood to remove key immune system cells called T-cells, which are then genetically engineered in the lab to recognise cancer cells.

Cancer cells are very good a evading the immune system, but the new therapy essentially cuts the brakes, allowing immune cells to do their job properly.

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK’s head cancer information nurse, said: “These results are promising and suggest that one day CAR-T cells could become a treatment option for some patients with certain types of lymphoma.

“But, we need to know more about the side effects of the treatment and long term benefits.”

Patients in the study had one of three types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer which affects 13,600 patients in Britain, and had failed all other treatments. Most patients with such an advanced condition only live for six months but half of the trial group are still alive nine months since the trial began, and a third may be cured.

Dimas Padilla, 43, of Orlando, who was warned his case was worsening after chemotherapy stopped working, is now in complete remission after undergoing the therapy last August.

After learning his cancer was probably terminal he said: "I was thinking how am I going to tell this to my mother, my wife, my children,” he said.

After CAR-T therapy he saw his tumours “shrink like ice cubes” and is now in complete remission.

“They were able to save my life,” Mr Padilla added.

However there are still concerns that the treatment has significant side effects, and can even kill some patients, as it puts the immune system into a state of over-drive. During the trial two people died from the therapy, rather than their cancer.

Of the study participants, 13 per cent developed a dangerous condition where the immune system overreacts in fighting the cancer, and roughly a third of patients developed anaemia or other blood-count-related problems.

Nearly one third also reported neurological problems such as sleepiness, confusion, tremor or difficulty speaking, but these typically lasted just a few days.

The scans show how cancer has disappeared after just three months, and the remission has continued
The scans show how cancer has disappeared after just three months, and the remission has continued
Full results will be presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference in April and the company plans to seek approval from European regulators later this year.

“It’s a safe treatment, certainly a lot safer than having progressive lymphoma,"said the cancer institute’s Dr Steven Rosenberg,

Other companies, such as Juno Therapeutics, have had to halt trials into CAR-T treatments following patient deaths.

11 Electrifying Facts about Jellyfish

Some are longer than a blue whale. Others are barely larger than a grain of sand. One species unleashes one of the most deadly venoms on Earth. Another holds a secret that’s behind some of the greatest breakthroughs in biology. In every way, jellyfish are fascinating creatures and today we’re celebrating them with 11 wild facts!

1. Jellyfish have inhabited the ocean for at least half a billion years, and they’re still flourishing even as the sea changes around them.

2. Jellyfish are soft-bodied sea creatures that aren’t really fish. They’re part of a diverse team of gelatinous zooplankton, zooplankton being animals that drift in the ocean.

3. A noted feature of jellyfish is a translucent bell made of a soft delicate material called mesoglea. Sandwiched between two layers of skin, the mesoglea is more than 95% water held together by protein fibers. The jellyfish can contract and relax their bells to propel themselves. They don’t have a brain or a spinal cord, but a neural net around the bell’s inner margin forms a rudimentary nervous system that can sense the ocean’s currents and the touch of other animals.

4. Jellyfish don’t have typical digestive systems, either. These gelatinous carnivores consume plankton and other small sea creatures through a hole in the underside of their bells.

5. The nutrients that jellyfish consume are absorbed by an inner layer of cells with waste excreted back through their mouths.

6. One species of jellyfish glows green when it’s agitated, mostly thanks to a biofluorescent compound called green fluorescent protein, or GFP. Scientists isolated the gene for GFP and figured out how to insert it into the DNA of other cells. There, it acts like a biochemical beacon, marking genetic modifications, or revealing the path of critical molecules. Scientists have used the glow of GFP to watch cancer cells proliferate, track the development of Alzheimer’s, and illuminate countless other biological processes. Developing the tools and techniques from GFP has netted three scientists a Nobel Prize in 2008, and another three in 2014.

7. The jellyfish’s sting, which helps it capture prey and defend itself, is its most infamous calling card. In the jelly’s epidermis, cells called nematocysts lie coiled like poisonous harpoons. When they’re triggered by contact, they shoot with an explosive force. It exerts over 550 times the pressure of Mike Tyson’s strongest punch to inject venom into the victim. 

8. The venom of one box jellyfish can kill a human in under five minutes, making it one of the most potent venoms of any animal in the world.

9. Jellyfish who may be the most successful organisms on Earth. There are more than 1,000 species of jellyfish, and many others that are often mistaken for them.

10. Ancient fossils prove that jellyfish have inhabited the seas for at least 500 million years, and maybe go back over 700 million. That’s longer than any other multi-organ animal. And as other marine animals are struggling to survive in warmer and more acidic oceans, the jellyfish are thriving, and perhaps getting even more numerous.

11. Some jellyfish can lay as many as 45,000 eggs in a single night. And there’s some jellyfish whose survival strategy almost sounds like science fiction. When the immortal jellyfish is sick, aging, or under stress, its struggling cells can change their identity. The tiny bell and tentacles deteriorate and turn into an immature polyp that spawns brand new clones of the parent.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Jellyfish predate dinosaurs. How have they survived so long? - David Gruber

Animation by Silvia Prietov

Mom still has cancer cells growing. I’m still struggling looking for work and she still has to continue medication then start chemo next week. I’m seeing a therapist again soon and money’s not a resource we have anymore. I can do commission work again if anybody wants me to draw them stuff. For the past months it’s been the only thing feeding me and keeping me from having to leave this place. Any help is very much appreciated. My inbox is open for correspondence anytime.

Henrietta Lacks

Though she died of cervical cancer in 1951, her cells were discovered to have unique properties. These immortal “HeLa” cells were instrumental in developing the polio vaccine as well as other key scientific landmarks including cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization. Yet, her story has raised controversial questions about the ethics surrounding privacy & patient consent. Who was this unrecognized woman?

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glassslippers-and-tinywhiskers  asked:

Could you discuss delayed desexing and the alternatives like an ovary sparing procedure? It seems clear that in breeds like the GSD it benefits their health, but do we know much in regard to smaller breeds? (I know this topic can be controversial so if you'd prefer not to delve into it, or already have I understand) Also I've been loving the breed posts, thank you for taking the time to write them up!

I don’t at all mind discussing the topic when everyone remains civil about it. It’s very interesting and an aspect of veterinary medicine that’s bound to change as we gather more information. I’m happy to discuss it as long as all participants refrain from making personal insults.

It’s a long discussion folks. I’d grab a cuppa tea if that’s your thing. Also, unfortunately I can’t hide it under a ‘read more’ because it’s an answer to an ask, and Tumblr will eat the hidden part if I do. I will try to make it look pretty if you’re not interested.

Traditionally in dogs we have performed desexing (spey) by performing an ovariohysterrectomy, removing both ovaries and the uterus. Some alternatives have been suggested including tubal ligation, hysterectomy (removing only the uterus), ovariectomy (removing only the ovaries) or doing nothing. This is good. Science as a process should periodically review data, question the knowledge base and make recommendations based on new research. Otherwise it’s just dogma.

I don’t think you can claim that it is ‘clear’ that leaving the ovaries benefits the health of breeds like the GSD. The practice is still controversial at best, with some veterinarians outright labeling it at malpractice. There is some breed variability in terms of what relative benefits and risks might be expected, but I really wouldn’t call it ‘clear’.

Originally posted by wolfyoubemyvalentine

Before I talk about various cancer risks, let’s talk about relative risks of non-cancerous conditions.

With an ovariohysterectomy (traditional spey)that is properly performed, there is zero risk of pyometra. Stump pyo can occur if remnants of the uterus or ovaries are left behind. Cruciate tears are affected by multiple factors, but desexed dogs seem more prone to them than entire dogs. Weight gain and obesity is more common in desexed dogs.

The relative risk of pyometra in non-desexed dogs is about 25%. Risks typically increase with age.

With an ovary sparing spey (hysterectomy), only the uterus is removed. Pregnancy is prevented. Pyometra can still occur if any uterine or cervix tissue remains (a stump pyo). With the apparent influence of oestrogen, these dogs may be less at risk of cruciate disease and are less at risk of obesity.

With an ovariectomy, only the ovaries are removed. This renders the dog infertile and removes the influence of oestrogen. The uterus will atrophy and shrink down without stimulation from female hormones, rendering the risk of pyometra basically zero. It may still increase the risk of obesity and cruciate disease like the traditional spey.

Considering that pyometra is often lethal, while cruciate disease is painful but treatable, personally I would err on the side of preventing pyometra. Also keep in mind that obesity in dogs can be moderated with owner control of the diet, and obesity will predispose to cruciate injury. I would recommend removing at least the ovaries.

Male dogs have less surgical options. Vasectomy can be considered, but these dogs are basically entire but infertile.

An entire male dog is more at risk of perineal hernia, benign prostatic hyperplasia, perianal adenoma and inter-male aggression. A castrated male dog is relatively more at risk of, again, obesity, cruciate ligament disease, and possibly diabetes.

With the information above, and I haven’t brought cancers into the equation yet, you might wonder of preventing obesity in desexed dogs might reduce the incidence of cruciate disease and subsequently other conditions that we know are more common in obese dogs, namely cruciate ligament disease and diabetes. You might conclude that there is little benefit to leaving a dog entire if you’re able to control its weight.

I think that’s a reasonable assumption so far, though it’s clear to me that the benefits of traditional desexing are more pronounced in females.

Originally posted by heartsnmagic

Now lets talk about cancers.

There are multiple types of cancer. Some are more devastating than others. Some are more common than others. In terms of highly malignant cancers that show up relatively commonly in dogs, the ones we talk most about, and of most interest in this topic, are mammary cancer, haemangiosarcoma (HSARC), Mast Cell Tumor (MCT) and osteosarcoma (OSC).

  • Mammary cancer is extremely common in entire female dogs. In European countries where prophylactic desexing is not routinely performed mammary tumours make up 50-70% of all cancers seen. They are relatively rare in countries with a high desexing rate but extremely predictable in dogs desexed late in life or not at all. Speying earlier appears more protective compared to being left entire: speying before the first heat reduces risk to 0.05%, before second heat to 8%, and before 3rd heat to 26%. after the third heat there is negligible reduction in risk of mammary cancer compared to intact dogs.
  • Osteosarcoma may be three times (3x) more common in desexed large breed dogs.
  • Mast Cell Tumors maybe up to three times (3x) more common in desexed dogs of certain breeds. Lymphoma may be up to 10% more common in desexed dogs of certain breeds.
  • Haemangiosarcoma may be more common in neutered dogs of some breeds, but less common in neutered dogs of other breeds.

There isn’t much consensus across ALL dog breeds in ALL situations. There are numerous retrospective studies, and more coming out all the time (Science!) but more data needs to be analysed.

What is fairly clear is that there is a dramatic reduction in otherwise common mammary cancers by early desexing of females. There is probably some benefit in reducing other cancer risks to later desexng, or not desexing, dogs also.

So do you? Or don’t you?

There’s certainly more incentive to desex female dogs, as even pyometra on its own is a sneaky, life threatening condition. I recommend desexing most female dogs in their senior years if they haven’t already been done for this reason alone.

Assuming you do chose to desex, and I’m talking about procedures that involve at least removal of the gonads, it becomes a matter of when. If you don’t remove the ovaries then you have no benefits from desexing other than infertility. There’s no significant benefit in leaving the ovaries compared to leaving the dog entire.

For a small dog, OSC is incredibly rare. HSARC is rare. MCT can happen to anything. We weight up those relatively low risks compared to the very high risk of mammary cancer and pyometra, and I would advise speying before the first heat. With males timing is not as critical unless behavioural factors are involved.

For a larger dog, I personally think it’s worth delaying desexing to between the first and second heat. I would get too nervous about mammary cancers to wait beyond the second heat but there may be some benefit in preventing osteosarcoma by delaying surgery until more skeletal maturity, and same for cruciate injuries.

(I have a theory that osteosarcoma occurs in its predilection sites due to increased bio-mechanical forces in these areas, so waiting for skeletal maturity before removing the gonads might be helpful.)

On the other hand, screening for hip dysplasia and desexing if the dog definitely has it so you can perform a JPS also has benefits, because you’re addressing pathology the dog definitely has right now.

There are so many unknowns in these hypothetical scenarios. This makes it a challenge to make recommendations when clients just want the ‘right’ answer.

The best plan for the individual dog may depend on breed or breed mix (genetic testing would be ideal, but an added cost) or any known predispositions within the family or bloodlines.

So, this explanation is getting rather long, but there’s so much interesting information on this topic and it’s growing all the time.

Originally posted by mensweardog

TL:DR there is probably a benefit to delayed desexing in dogs prone to OSC, cruciate injury and HSARC. Some of the other risks may be mitigated by weight control. There is minimal if any benefit, and definitely some risk, in delaying desexing for small breeds.

But this field may change as more information is gathered. It will be worth watching over the next decade.

NB: shelters and rescues will always desex as young as possible, because their primary aim is population control. They are justified in doing this and their cases shouldn’t be considered in these scenarios.

(Majority of these statistics come from ‘The spay/neuter controversy’ presented at the OVMA by John Berg, DVM, DACVS and ‘ Long-term health effects of neutering dogs: comparison of Labrador Retrievers with Golden Retrievers‘ by Hart, Hart, et al)

Dr Ferox’s writing time is brought to you by her supporters on Patreon. You can support the blog from as little as $1 a month.

Biomedical Artist Audra Geras created this image titled “ Process of Ubiquitination Leading to Protein Degradation by 26S Human Proteasomes” to show how proteins that your cell doesn’t need anymore get broken down into smaller pieces that can be upcycled into new proteins.

Errors in this process have been linked to cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and heart disease. 

How White Blood Cells Become Serial Killers

To develop vaccines against microbial infections and immunotherapy against cancer, researchers are looking for ways to enhance white blood cells called CD8+ T lymphocytes. Specifically, they want to bump up how well they work and how long they live.

Naïve T lymphocytes patrol the front lines of the human body’s defense against infection, circulating in blood and tissues, searching for invasive microbes and other foreign antigens. They’re called “naïve” because they have not yet encountered an invader. When they do, these T lymphocytes activate and divide, giving rise to at least two types of specialized cells: 1) effector lymphocytes or “serial killers” responsible for immediate killing of infected host cells; and 2) memory lymphocytes that provide long-term protection from similar infections. Researchers have been trying for a very long time to understand how activated naïve T cells give rise to effector and memory cells during an infection.

Taking advantage of technological advances in single-cell gene expression profiling and computational modeling that trace the destiny of individual cells, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers, led by John T. Chang, MD, associate professor in the Department of Medicine, and Gene W. Yeo, PhD, professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Institute for Genomic Medicine, constructed a roadmap with detailed instructions that tell CD8+ T lymphocytes how to become serial killers or long-lived memory cells.

The findings are published in the February 20 online issue of Nature Immunology.

According to Chang, the primary purpose of vaccines is to produce strong and durable immune protection, which depends heavily on memory lymphocytes.  

“Our work suggests that early instructions that T lymphocytes receive during a microbial infection seem to be critical to whether or not they give rise to long-lived memory cells,” Chang said. “Strategies that exploit this process could potentially enhance durable immunity and help us to design more effective, longer-lasting vaccines against microbial pathogens and develop better approaches to boost the anti-cancer activity of white blood cells.

Pictured: a graphical representation of T cells attacking a cancer cell.

An image I took recently of a breast cancer cell stained for microtubules (red) and a protein known as EB1 (green), which associates only with one end of the microtubules in comet-like structures. The microtubules form a dynamic network of tracks throughout the cell, allowing for transport of cellular contents. EB1 is important in the behaviour of this network. 

My PhD is mainly focused on the gut epithelium, but this is a side project. 

Scientists new way to fight cancer: Blowing it up

Researchers from Rice University in Texas have found that they could use nanoparticles sort of like Trojan horses to get inside a growing tumor and make it explode from the inside. It’s essentially surface mining inside the body. But according to Dmitri Lapotko, head of laser science at medical nanotechnology group Masimo Corporation, it’s not without problems.

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Goya was my dog.

She was a 10 year old corgi/golden retriever mix that I brought with me from Spain. I know a lot of people have their special pets and their “heart animals”; and she was mine. Truly, she was my heart, and my life. We were inseparable. To this day I can’t talk about her without getting emotional, and miss her with every bit of my still broken heart.

Goya rapidly developed a cancerous growth (mast cell tumor) on her right side that we had scheduled surgery to remove. She had gone through a previous surgical procedure to remove two burst cysts and came from that healthy and fine - she was eating and playing that very night! So I figured that even at her age she was strong enough to go through one last surgery.

I began to take pictures of her to make a chronicle of her weeks before surgery, in order to keep spirits up and invite people to meet her a little better. She has a tag all of her own that is still difficult for me to visit.

Goya went into shock after surgery. The mast cells had begun to degranulate. We took her to the ER, but she didn’t make it. I lost a very big piece of my heart that night.

Seeing Goya in-game is a way for me to have a bit of her around that I can visit and interact with, and can’t thank the people that made it happen enough because it may have been such a small thing but for me it means what Goya was to me - the world.

A powerful, relatively new cancer drug called Maytansine is derived from evergreen. The drug is shown to inhibit mitosis of cancer cells when associated with tumor-targeting antibodies.

Fluorescence microscopy image of abnormal mitotic spindles in four breast cancer cells that were treated with antibody-linked maytansine. The chromosomes (blue) are not able to arrange in normal symmetrical functional spindles because the dynamics of the microtubules (green) are inhibited by the drug. The drug-treated cells cannot divide and ultimately die.

Photo Credit: Emin Oroudjev, UC Santa Barbara

Scientists discovered the protein that lets cancer spread — maybe now we can edit it out

According to a new study from the University of Bergen and the Rockefeller University, that aggressive tendency may be traced to the protein PITPNC1, a protein that usually handles how your cells signal each other and how you process lipids like vitamins and fats. Here’s how knowing which protein is responsible for spread and growth of cancer will help.

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3

Ice Cold (Suicide Squad x Reader)

“Imagine being recruited by Amanda and having your backstory being told”

Requested by Anon: Haiii!You know the scene where Amanda is telling everyones back stories?Can you write an imagine with a back story for the reader that has freezing/frost powers?

A/N: I’m not that great at backstories so I hope you guys like this!

Warnings: Violence, Extreme frost bite, blood, just bad stuff.


“The worst of the worst…”

The older woman leaned back into her seat, the two males that sat at the table with her eyed her with skepticism.

“There’s rumours, Amanda. That…some of them have abilities…”

Her confidence never wavered as she started to cut into the steak in front of her. “The rumours are true.” Her lips tipped into a smirk as she continued. “You know what the problem with a meta human is?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “The human part. We got lucky with Superman, he shared our values. The next Superman might not.”

“You’re playing with fire, Amanda.”

“I’m fighting fire with fire,” she corrected.

“Are you trying to pitch us that task x project of yours again?” The man complained.

“Yes,” she confirmed. “And this time, you’re going to listen…” With a quick motion, she pulled a handful of folders out of a case and threw them down into the table. The man picked up the first folder and opened it. Cold blue eyes stared up at him through the mugshot photo attached to the file.

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