Nothing says Independence Day quite like the Law and Order SVU marathon. With my long weekend vacation plans derailed by an acute infection (where do I keep catching these things, anyway?), I ditched the sandy shores of Cape Cod for my living room couch and settled in for the one-two punch of the nebulizer and Benson and Stabler cracking meaty cases.
However, my revised weekend plans also gave me a lot of time to feed my habit as a news junkie, and I came across some stories I had to share.
I recently wrote about the promise of research in terms of better treatments and improved outcomes, so I was particularly excited to read these new developments. This Boston Globe article discusses cutting-edge nanotechnology that allows scientists to detect cancer cells in patients’ blood, which could mean more targeted treatment and less side effects.
According to the article, “The technology, invented at Massachusetts General Hospital, uses a microchip scanner no bigger than a business card to analyze a patient's blood, hunting for stray cells shed by tumors. The device is so powerful that it can detect a single cancer cell among 1 billion healthy blood cells.”
Another Globe article—this one’s hot off the presses, in today’s edition—reports that scientists have linked 32 genes to Crohn’s disease, a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the GI system. While genome research is often used to help determine the risk of developing certain diseases, this type of information is a powerful use of research with huge implications for patients. As the article posits, figuring out what goes wrong in certain diseases will help experts design more effective treatments:
“I would say Crohn's disease has proved the paradigm," said Dr. Francis S. Collins, outgoing director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "Namely, that by studying the genetic factors involved in a complicated disease, you can shine bright light on its causes that you never could have achieved any other way.”
In preparation for a ReachMD radio interview I’m doing, I’ve been thinking a lot about the doctor-patient relationship. I’ve had some truly amazing doctors and nurse practitioners—compassionate, insightful, dedicated, and creative people. I’ve also had the opposite, of course, and those are the relationships I’ve abandoned. As such, I found this New York Times piece fascinating—in this case, it’s the doctor who ends the relationship because he cannot work with the pediatric patient’s difficult (and noncompliant) mother. Check it out and see if you agree.
Speaking of the New York Times, I’ve enjoyed past entries about writing and illness in Tara-Parker Pope’s “Well” column. If you’re interested in the power of expressive writing, here’s another good read from her column, this time about poetry and cancer.