As the world waits for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, we delve into how vaccines actually work. What are the different types of vaccine? How do they trigger and train the immune system, and what is the role of herd immunity?
Melanoma may account for a small percentage of skin cancers, yet it causes an estimated 75 to 80 percent of skin cancer deaths. Caught early, it has a 99 percent five-year survival rate, but if it slips patients’ and clinicians’ notice, digs deeper into the skin and spreads beyond the lymph nodes, that rate can drop to 25 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute. The ACS predicts there will be 6,850 deaths in the United States from melanoma this year.
Although more skin pigment provides more protection, melanin itself has a sun protection factor, or SPF, of less than 5, says Fisher, suggesting that it functions physiologically as more than mere sunblock. He and others have clarified how different types of melanin raise or lower melanoma risk, and they’ve shown that any minimal benefit provided by tanning, such as the production of vitamin D, doesn’t outweigh the DNA damage caused by UV exposure.
Skin cancers are far and away the most common cancers in the United States. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas make up the vast majority, with somewhere between 1 million and 5.4 million new instances diagnosed each year. However, because these two malignancies don’t have to be reported to cancer registries, precise numbers aren’t known: The cancer officially ranked as the most common in this country is breast cancer, with 270,000 new cases each year. Melanoma is ranked fifth, with about 100,000 new diagnoses expected in 2020, reports the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Nature reviews: Engineering yeast to produce medicines, immunity to Covid-19, and the mechanism of anaesthetic action.
In this episode:
00:44 Making medicine with yeast
The tropane alkaloids are an important class of medicine, but they are produced agriculturally leaving them vulnerable to extreme weather and world events. Now, researchers have engineered yeast to produce these important molecules. Research Article: Srinivasan and Smolke
We discuss the complex story of immunity to COVID-19, and how this may affect vaccine development. News Feature: What the immune response to the coronavirus says about the prospects for a vaccine
16:33 Research Highlights
The neurological reason for overindulgence, and the bacteria that harness copper electrodes. Research Highlight: The brain circuit that encourages eating for pleasure; Research Highlight: Microbes with mettle build their own electrical ‘wires’
19:07 The molecular mechanisms of general anaesthetics
Despite over a century of use, there’s a lot we don’t know about how anaesthetics function. This week, researchers have identified how some of them they bind to a specific neuronal receptor. Research Article: Kim et al.
26:34 Briefing Chat
Whilst the Nature Briefing is on its summer holidays, we take a look at some other science from around the web. This time we discuss Elon Musk’s latest showcase of a brain-chip, and the physics behind how boats can float upside down on levitating liquid. New Scientist: Elon Musk demonstrated a Neuralink brain implant in a live pig; Business Insider: Elon Musk’s AI brain chip company Neuralink is doing its first live tech demo on Friday. Here’s what we know so far about the wild science behind it.; Research Article: Apffel et al.; Video: The weird physics of upside down buoyancy
Overall, the algorithm correctly identified the presence of diabetes in up to 81 percent of patients in two separate datasets. When the algorithm was tested in an additional dataset of patients enrolled from in-person clinics, it correctly identified 82 percent of patients with diabetes.
In the Nature Medicine study, UCSF researchers obtained nearly 3 million PPG recordings from 53,870 patients in the Health eHeart Study who used the Azumio Instant Heart Rate app on the iPhone and reported having been diagnosed with diabetes by a health care provider. This data was used to both develop and validate a deep-learning algorithm to detect the presence of diabetes using smartphone-measured PPG signals.
Among the patients that the algorithm predicted did not have diabetes, 92 to 97 percent indeed did not have the disease across the validation datasets. When this PPG-derived prediction was combined with other easily obtainable patient information, such as age, gender, body mass index and race/ethnicity, predictive performance improved further.
NEJM (Aug 13, 2020) – Population-level mortality from NSCLC in the United States fell sharply from 2013 to 2016, and survival after diagnosis improved substantially. Our analysis suggests that a reduction in incidence along with treatment advances — particularly approvals for and use of targeted therapies — is likely to explain the reduction in mortality observed during this period.
“The survival benefit for patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with targeted therapies has been demonstrated in clinical trials, but this study highlights the impact of these treatments at the population level,” said Nadia Howlader, Ph.D., of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, who led the study. “We can now see the impact of advances in lung cancer treatment on survival.”
UC Davis Health scientists Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi spent 15 years developing the world’s first total-body PET scanner, called EXPLORER. This imaging machine scans a patient’s entire body at one time, delivering breathtaking image quality that improves patient diagnoses and disease research.
UC Davis Cultivating Health blog: https://health.ucdavis.edu/cultivatin…