June 22, 2015

When you hear “robot,” what do you think of? Star Wars or Star Trek? Giant arms welding car parts together? Rosie cleaning house on The Jetsons?

How about swimming robots that can navigate your bloodstream to find and kill cancer cells?

Probably not, right?

But an international team of researchers is working on ways to get nanorobots – robots about as long as a fiber of silk is wide – to deliver a knockout punch directly to disease-causing cells.

One of the first problems scientists have to overcome is getting through what would be a fluid as thick as molasses to such a tiny device.

Student records emotional decision to commit to becoming a donor
May 19, 2015

Note: Jon Hudson, Community Engagement Lead for GenCure, recently spoke to a class at the University of the Incarnate Word about joining the national marrow registry. His presentation led one student to record his range of emotions in a brief essay:

Before Jon Hudson from GenCure's Marrow Donor Program made his presentation to our class, I hadn’t given much thought to being a bone marrow donor. The few times it actually did cross my mind, the thought left me less than enthusiastic. I didn’t fancy the idea of undergoing a procedure that at the time I thought would be painful. After all, they’re removing marrow from your bones, so how could that not hurt? The thought of bone marrow donation also led me to wonder about my own mortality. So when Mr. Hudson came to the class, I had the notion that there would be absolutely no way on this good green planet I would ever consider signing up to donate.

May 8, 2015

Dr. Beata Kwiatkowska’s watched intently as technicians with QualTex Laboratories moved in silence behind thick windows.

She looked away, at the gleaming, sun-lit atrium.

“I’m very impressed with this entire facility,” said the Polish-born doctor, who now practices in Las Vegas, Nev. “I have been involved with blood banks since 1993 in different places.

“Your blood bank is a great example for all modern blood banks should be. It has everything, a big diversity of services.”

Wednesday’s tour of BioBridge Global for international delegates to the annual meeting of the American Society for Apheresis was wrapping up, but none of the 18 healthcare professionals looked quite ready to get on the bus and head to downtown San Antonio.

September 2, 2014

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and it aims to shine a light on pediatric cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for American children under 15. Childhood cancers make up less than one percent of all cancers diagnosed each year. About 10,450 children in the United States under age 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014, a rate that's been rising slightly for the past few decades.

The types of cancers children develop are different from the types in adults. Childhood cancers often are the result of DNA changes in cells that take place early in life, sometimes even before birth. Because of major treatment advances in recent decades, more than 80 percent of children with cancer now may survive five years or more.

August 6, 2014

The experience of having a loved one touched by a deadly illness is difficult, to say the least. But what must it be like to have two loved ones die at the hands of blood cancer? Three? Four? Most of us couldn’t imagine.

Nurse Donna Nicholson, cord blood coordinator at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital, endured that reality.

 “In 1990, I had a close cousin diagnosed with leukemia at age 4. It was the first major illness in a child that had hit our large and close family,” said Donna, who’s been a nurse for 34 years.

Then another family member was diagnosed. And another. And another. All four were diagnosed and passed away between 1992 and 2000.

“Two cousins, who were brothers, were diagnosed in their mid-teens; neither made it beyond 22," Donna said. "Then another cousin was diagnosed with leukemia at 27. She died the same year she was diagnosed. She didn’t get a (marrow) match in time.”