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Home » Dave’s DiegesesAugust 2005 » Dave’s Diegesis: Diseases That Cure

Dave’s Diegesis: Diseases That Cure

Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
William Shakespeare

On August 26th, the Red Sox, NESN, and WEEI will host the 4th annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. Last year the event raised $1.56M, exceeding its goal of $1M goal. This year the goal has doubled to $2M.

Originally associated with the Boston Braves, the Jimmy Fund was established in 1948 when a young cancer patient was visited by Braves players. The visit was broadcasted to a national audience, and donations poured in to purchase Jimmy a television so he could watch Braves games. When the Braves left in 1953, the Red Sox adopted the Jimmy Fund as the team’s official charity.

Cancer research has always been at the forefront of medical technology because of its very nature. Although there are many forms of cancer, the hallmark of the disease is aberrant and unrestrained cell division. Mutations in the genes, either hereditary or environmental, which control cell division and growth enable this abnormal behavior. Recent therapies that cause less side effects than chemotherapy and radiotherapy that have been making headlines include advances in monoclonal antibodies, adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), and nanotechnology.

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins cloned from cell lines designed specifically to seek out other proteins called antigens to attack. In cancer therapies, monoclonal antibodies can disrupt particular processes that encourage tumor proliferation and dissemination. Monoclonal antibodies have different mechanisms to affect malignancies; they can target tumor angiogenesis by inhibiting the formation of a vascular network that supplies blood to tumors, or they can impinge mitosis by interrupting the signaling pathways of malignant cells’ division, as well as any other means to breakdown the development of malignancies. Many monoclonal antibodies are available to patients now, such as trastuzumab for breast cancer and cetuximab for colorectal cancer.

Recent developments at Penn State University show a promising deployment of AAV2 as a cancer-killing agent. According to Craig Meyers, Ph.D., AAV2 has no known effects on humans, but recognizes cancer cells as abnormal and destroys them. AAV2 requires a helper virus, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) to activate its viral capacity. HPV is linked with cervical cancer, and when AAV2 and HPV they initiate apoptosis, or cell suicide, of cancer cells. Scientists are currently further researching the way AAV2 causes apoptosis. Another mode that AAV2 can be used is as a gene therapy vector, a modification which would enable it to carry corrective genes into the body to right the mutations that cause cancer cells to grow inexorably.

Nanotechnology has been harnessed as a weapon in the fight against cancer as well. At my alma mater, Stanford University, Hongjie Dai, Ph.D., has pioneered the use of carbon nanotubes and lasers to obliterate cancer cells. Carbon nanotubes absorb light waves that are near-infrared frequencies. These same light waves pass through body tissue without resistance because they are longer than visible light. The nanotubes react to lasers emitting this frequency of light by heating to 158˚F. Cells with nanotubes ensconced within them are destroyed by the heat, but any cells surrounded cells without nanotubes remain unharmed. Dai increased the targeting efficacy of the nanotubes by coating them with folate molecules, making them adhere to cancer cells with folate receptors. He foresees using other molecules to bind to other cancerous cells.

Every new method we find to combat cancer is a step forward. Each year approximately 1.4 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States alone, a figure which does not include the 900,000 cases of skin cancer diagnosed. Cancer causes roughly 560,000 deaths a every year. Please consider donating to the Jimmy Fund to help support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, or to a cancer charity of your choice.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site and other lone science geeks trying to make a difference in this no-good, two-bit world.


Loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud???? Damn canker.

Sonnet 35
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense--
Thy adverse party is thy advocate--
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate
That I an accessary needs must be
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Thought FPS might like the entire sonnet as it has a law motif.

Click here for an exploration of the convergent word origins of "canker" and "cancer."

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