Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis Early - Are We There Yet?

Posted by Luke Doiron on Feb 9, 2016 8:00:00 AM

The earliest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis relied entirely on visual physical signs and symptoms. One prominent theory about RA's etiology suggests that RA is a genetic disease of ancient origin, one that has been with mankind since perhaps 400 BC, when Hippocrates lived. In fact, historical records of his writings suggest that this quote may be one of the first references to RA:

"In the arthritis which generally shows itself about the age of thirty-five there is frequently no great interval between the affection of the hands and feet; both these becoming similar in nature, slender, with little flesh…For the most part their arthritis passeth from the feet to the hands, next the elbows and knees, after these the hip joint. It is incredible how fast the mischief spreads."

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Finding New Diagnostic Techniques Using Matched Blood and Urine

Posted by Luke Doiron on Feb 4, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Researchers routinely need high-quality tissue specimens, as well as matched blood and urine samples to aid in the evaluation of new diagnostic techniques for detecting, quantifying and monitoring a wide range of disorders, including infectious viruses, immune diseases and cancer. Diagnostic tools that use urine specimens are of great interest, because obtaining a urine sample is easier, less invasive and less expensive compared to blood or serum. This is especially critical for developing countries that lack the financial resources and infrastructure for some of the more complex diagnostic tests that use blood or tissue specimens.

Here is a summary of some of the novel diagnostic techniques that advance human health efforts:

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How to Culture Cryopreserved Samples

Posted by Luke Doiron on Feb 2, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Cryopreservation is widely used for stabilizing and storing biological materials such as tissue specimens at very low (cryogenic) temperatures. Advancements in understanding the best methods for cryopreservation, thawing and culturing of biological specimens have enabled such samples to be stored for many years and still be viable specimens for studying a variety of cellular processes.

Determining the best method for culture of thawed cryopreserved samples is an important step in many research protocols. Depending on the research goal and tissue specimen, culture methods will vary to some degree. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), whole tumor tissue, and bone marrow are just a few examples of the cryopreserved samples that scientists use for culturing.

One important point repeatedly mentioned in the literature is that cryopreservation must be done correctly. Tissue samples should be frozen in 10% DMSO, never snap frozen, without temperature fluctuation during storage time. In particular, specimens should remain below the glass transition point to maximize long-term utility.

The following culture protocols have been used for cryopreserved samples.

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Melanoma: Immuno-Oncology vs Conventional Treatment

Posted by Quinton Stevens on Jan 31, 2016 1:30:00 PM

Melanoma is a disease that often manifests as a mole-like bump on the surface of one’s skin. If taken by appearance alone, it isn’t pretty but it certainly doesn’t seem capable of killing. However, unlike its benign appearance, Melanoma is a serious issue. Approximately every 57 minutes, another person’s life is ended due to the disease. An estimated 9,940 people died in 2015, and an approximate 73,870 were diagnosed.

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5 Research Applications for Normal Tissue Samples

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 28, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Scientists aiming to find the causes and cures for some of our most intractable diseases, such as cancer and immune disorders, need access to a complete range of high-quality, well-annotated specimens, from both disease and normal tissue samples. Why, you might ask, would a researcher need specimens from healthy individuals? There are in fact, lots of reasons why normal tissue specimens are invaluable research resources. In general, researchers studying oncology, immunology and hematology indications routinely need access to benign nodes and normal adjacent tissue from the same disease to use as controls. Here are five research applications employing normal tissue samples:

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Implications of Multiple Sclerosis on the Immune System

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 26, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated disease whereby the immune system attacks the body's central nervous system (CNS). Most experts studying MS believe that it is an autoimmune disease, though how exactly the immune system is triggered to attack the CNS and cause inflammation and demyelination of the nerve fibers is not known. There is some genetic predisposition, yet this is not the entire answer, as it's been found that even when one identical twin has MS, the other twin most often does not. This has led most scientists to suspect some sort of abnormal immune response to as yet unknown environmental triggers.

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New Research on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Researchers around the world continue to seek more targeted therapies and a more complete understanding of the basic underlying causes of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This chronic autoimmune disease affects millions of people globally, most of whom are women. SLE causes the production of autoantibodies against many organ systems, including the skin, kidneys, brain, and joints, causing inflammation and potentially life-threatening organ damage. Here are summaries of some of the promising new research on systemic lupus erythematosus:

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Tips for Using Biospecimens for Breast Cancer Research

Posted by Luke Doiron on Jan 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1.6 million people expected to get a diagnosis of cancer in 2015. The most common cancer for women, breast cancer, was diagnosed in over 230,000 women in 2013. The good news for breast cancer sufferers is that great strides have been made in understanding the molecular and genetic basis for this cancer, and in realizing that it is a heterogeneous disease that cannot be treated under a one-size-fits-all philosophy. Prevention and treatment questions can often only be answered by the analysis of hundreds, if not thousands, of well-characterized biospecimens from both normal and cancer patients. Adding to the demand for high-quality biospecimens is the increased interest in personalized medicine; this type of treatment requires many biospecimens to help point the way toward treating the unique and widely varying types of breast cancer.

There are a variety of considerations that need to be taken into account when using biospecimens in a breast cancer research program.

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