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Gizmorama - July 23, 2018

Good Morning,

Early melanoma detection can be as easy as a new blood test. And a new technique for personalized bone grafts for patients with disease of injury. Two amazing science/medical breakthroughs!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists develop blood test for early melanoma detection --*

Researchers in Australia have developed the first blood test for detection of melanoma in its early stages, which may allow for earlier treatment of the disease.

Scientists from Edith Cowan University in Joondalup said the new test could help doctors detect the skin cancer before it spreads through a person's body. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal journal Oncotarget.

The blood-based biomarker could "revolutionize the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of melanoma patients, by allowing the implementation of more regular, informative tests at increased sensitivity, with significantly reduced costs, while reducing radiation exposure," the researchers said in a press release.

In trial of 105 people with melanoma and 104 healthy people, the blood test detected early stage melanoma in 79 percent of cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that melanoma is the deadliest kind of skin cancer, with more than 90 percent of cases caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Melanoma often starts with changes to a mole or new growth on the skin, and is detected using a visual scan by a doctor, and biopsies are taken when areas of concern are found.

Usually curable by adequate surgery if detected early, melanoma with a depth of less than three quarters of a millimeter has a five-year survival rate of approximately 95 percent to 99 percent, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Surgery.

"Despite advances in diagnostic methods, screening large populations for melanoma remains inefficient due to the time required to screen each individual and due to a plethora of other limitations clinicians face in the current diagnosis of this cancer," the researchers wrote.

The researchers noted that past blood tests to detect melanoma have not been successful.

"As blood samples are easily accessible from patients, various types of blood-based biomarkers have already been proposed to be utilized in a blood test for melanoma, but none have yet demonstrated sufficient sensitivity to detect biological changes at the earliest stages of this malignancy," they wrote.

The new process involved identifying autoantibodies that a person's body produces in response to the cancer.

The researchers examined 1,627 different types of antibodies and found a combination of 10 that best indicated the presence of melanoma in confirmed patients.

Other types of skin cancers, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, aren't detected in the blood test.

The scientists plan to conduct another clinical trial over three years to validate the findings and improve the accuracy rate.

* Bioengineering technique created for personalized bone grafts *

Combining segments of bone engineered from stem cells, scientists have developed a new technique for personalized bone grafts for patients with disease of injury.

The method, which was described Wednesday in the journal Scientific Reports by scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, is called Segmental Additive Tissue Engineering.

The need for bone grafts includes fractures due to bone disease, weakening bones as people get older, genetic malformation and injuries from car accidents, domestic violence and military combat.

"We are hopeful that SATE will one day be able to improve the lives of the millions of people suffering from bone injury due to trauma, cancer, osteoporosis, osteonecrosis, and other devastating conditions," Dr. Susan L. Solomon, the CEO of NYSCF, said in a press release. "Our goal is to help these patients return to normal life, and by leveraging the power of regenerative medicine, SATE brings us one step closer to reaching that goal."

Bone problems are now treated with synthetic substitutes or bone grafts taken from a bone bank or another part of the patient's body, but the grafts often lead to immune rejection, don't form connective tissue or vasculature, and they can be outgrown by pediatric patients.

Previously, bone grafts from patient stem cells were difficult to bioengineer in the necessary size and shape, the researchers said.

"As the size of the defect that needs to be replaced gets larger, it becomes harder to reproducibly create a graft that can move from the lab to the clinic," said first author Dr. Martina Sladkova, an NYSCF researcher, . "We wanted to see if we could instead engineer smaller segments of bone individually and then combine them to create a graft that overcomes the current limitations in the size and shape of a bone that can be grown in the lab."

The researchers engineered a graft for a defect in the femur of a rabbit that affected about 30 percent of the bone's total volume. First, they scanned the femur to assess the size and shape of the defect and made a model of the graft. The model was then broken into smaller segments and customized scaffolds for each were created.

These scaffolds were fitted with human induced pluripotent stem cells into a bioreactor specially designed to accommodate bone grafts in different sizes.

After the cells integrated and grew within the scaffold, the segments were combined into one mechanically stable graft using biocompatible bone adhesives or other orthopedic devices.

"Bone defects obtained in disease or injury are a growing issue, and having effective treatment options in place for personalized relief, no matter the severity of a patient's condition, is of critical importance," said NYSCF's Dr. Giuseppe de Peppo.


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