Tag Archives: cancer

Helping patients cope with cancer

Pairing psychology with cancer treatment has a profound impact on the wellbeing of patients, Associate Professor Maria Kangas and her team at the Centre for Emotional Health have found.

CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey
CBT helps give patients the skills to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Credit: Chris Stacey

In a recent clinical trial, head and neck cancer patients were offered weekly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions concurrent to their radiation therapy appointments.

After just seven sessions, patients reported a significant decline in cancer-related anxiety and/or depression. And after a year, 67 per cent were no longer experiencing any anxiety or depression and were doing better than the control group who had received regular counselling, but not CBT.

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Smartphone testing for Zika virus

Prototypes of a portable test for Zika virus and a range of other diseases, using just a microchip plugged into a smartphone, may be available by the end of 2016.

Patients will soon be able to test themselves for diseases like Zika virus or breast cancer from the comfort of their own home. Credit: Siro Perez, Molecular Warehouse Ltd.
Patients will soon be able to test themselves for diseases like Zika virus or breast cancer from the comfort of their own home.
Credit: Siro Perez, Molecular Warehouse Ltd.

Zika – a rapidly-spreading, mosquito-borne disease – doesn’t always show symptoms and currently has no treatment or vaccine.

The new test could be performed from the comfort of the patient’s own home according to Professor Kirill Alexandrov from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at The University of Queensland.

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Building an emotionally healthy community

A unique national centre is working to build an emotionally healthy community through science and practice.

From four-year-olds with anxiety, to 90-years-olds with depression, the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University takes a ‘lifespan approach’ to mental health.

They’ve spent the past 20 years studying, developing, testing and rolling out mental health programs – which are now available in eight languages and 15 countries including Denmark, the UK and Norway.

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Filtering the blood to keep cancer in check

A new diagnostic system used to detect cancer cells in small blood samples could next be turned towards filtering a patient’s entire system to remove those dangerous cells – like a dialysis machine for cancer – says an Australian researcher who helped develop the system.

The technique was developed for cancer diagnosis, and is capable of detecting (and removing) a tiny handful of cancer-spreading cells from amongst the billions of healthy cells in a small blood sample.

The revolutionary system, which works to diagnose cancer at a tenth of the cost of competing technologies, is now in clinical trials in the US, UK, Singapore and Australia, and is in the process of being commercialised by Clearbridge BioMedics PteLtd in Singapore.

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Which prostate cancers can be left alone?

Only 10 per cent of prostate cancers are lethal, but which ones? Australian researchers have tracked the mutations that drive the cancer to spread through the body, and eventually become lethal.

Bioinformaticians can use Circos plots to visualise how cancer genomes differ from healthy ones. Credit: Peter Casamento
Bioinformaticians can use Circos plots to visualise how cancer genomes differ from healthy ones. Credit: Peter Casamento

The research shows they can be detected in the original tumour and even in blood samples. Testing the DNA of prostate cancer cells may help clinicians in the future identify which cancers need to be urgently removed and which ones might simply be monitored.

“Some advanced cancer cells evolve the ability to break away from their original location, travel through the bloodstream and create secondary tumours in another part of the body,” explains Clare Sloggett, Bioinformatician and Research Fellow at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI). “Cells in this state of metastasis are the most deadly.”

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Predicting change, brains, trains and mental health

State Awards

“Trait-based ecology” enables Macquarie University’s Mark Westoby to explain patterns of species occurrence and abundance and to understand the impacts of climate change and changing patterns of land use. He received the $55,000 NSW Scientist of the Year.

Nanocapsules for drugs delivery: Frank Caruso is making miniature capsules that could better deliver drugs for cancer, AIDS and cardiovascular diseases. He won one of the 2014 Victoria Prizes for Science & Innovation worth $50,000.

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Australian Academy of Science Early-career Awards

Julie Arblaster’s climate research is helping to explain the climate of the Australian region, particularly the ozone hole, El Niño, the monsoon, and Australian rainfall variability.

David Warton is driving data analysis in ecology, making it a more predictive science. His tools are influencing statistics across science and industry.

Christian Turney has pioneered new ways of combining climate models with records of past climate change spanning from hundreds to thousands of years.

Maria Seton has redefined the way we reconstruct the movement of continental plates and contributed to studies on the effect ocean basin changes have had on global long-term sea level and ocean chemistry. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science Early-career Awards

Australian Academy of Science medals

Harry Messel has been a powerful force in science education—from the Physics Foundation to textbooks and his establishment of International Science Schools. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

Simon McKeon is a prominent business leader and philanthropist who has made extensive contributions to Australian science and innovation including chairing the CSIRO Board and the agenda-setting McKeon report into medical research in Australia. He was awarded the Academy Medal.

The life and death of cells: Jerry Adams has advanced understanding of cancer development, particularly of genes activated by chromosome translocation in lymphomas. By clarifying how the Bcl-2 protein family controls the life and death of cells, he and his colleagues at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research have galvanised the development of a promising new class of anti-cancer drugs. Jerry was awarded the 2014 Macfarlane Burnet Medal. Continue reading Australian Academy of Science medals

Chocolate and iron for speedy drug delivery

Natural phenols, such as those found in chocolate, and minerals such as iron are being used to develop fast, economical drug-delivery capsules.

Frank Caruso is creating nano-packages for drug delivery. Credit: Richard Timbury, Casamento Photography
Frank Caruso is creating nano-packages for drug delivery. Credit: Richard Timbury, Casamento Photography

Frank Caruso and his team at The University of Melbourne are making nano-sized capsules that will encase vaccines and protect them from being broken down when entering the body. They believe that this delivery system will be biologically friendly and overcome a major challenge for medical materials: their compatibility with living systems.

One of the challenges of treating diseases such as cancer and HIV is delivering treatment with minimal damage to healthy areas.

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