Oct. 3rd, 2013

tanarill: (Science!)
So Dr. P, whose student I am, had to run off to Chicago for a Sudden Family Emergency. I am no expert, but when a person is running a 109F fever, that's emergency levels of not-good and it is reasonable for relatives to suddenly fly off. As a result, I am teaching Dr. P's class tomorrow. I hope that, after TAing this class twice, I am reasonably good at it.

Okay, so I am trying to order an oligonucleotide from Integrated DNA Technologies. This is routine, and there are some labs who do this on a daily basis. So I go to make the order, annnnd . . . the website goes down halfway through. I mean, as in, I cannot open the website home page from Google. I even tried on another computer. Then I called to let them know, and it took me more than a couple of minutes to get the tech person to understand that it was a complete 'website not available' on my end. But they were very helpful once they did understand the problem.

Now for some good news: I won an award! The award I won was for asking the good questions in Seminar, which apparently people think I do. :U To me it always feels like the logical extension of whatever the persons were talking about. I guess people like them, though. Kudos to me!

Today's Seminar was about a guy who is working on targeted drug delivery. This is a big field right now, because it is kind of the holy grail of cancer research to be able to say to a poison, "You see those cells? Go kill them. Ignore all other cells" instead of the carpet-bombing and hoping-to-hit-the-cancer that we do now. But chemicals are stupid, so you end up having to say things like, "You see those cells with the receptor for folates? We're going to stick a folate on your butt, that's your guidance system, go hit cells with folate receptors." Which is good, in the sense that very few cells that aren't cancer express folate receptors*.

In patients whose cancers display folate censors, this is useful not only for getting drugs into cancer cells, but even for just figuring out where the tumors are. You just replace the drug part of the molecule with a fluorescent dye or even a radiolabelled tag (if you want to see it by MRI) and then you can say, 'this person's ovarian cancer has metastasized here, here, and here,' before operating to cut out aaaaaaaall the tumors. Then you follow that up by hitting them with the drug-armed version. It extends life expectancy by fourteen months, which for ovarian cancer is quite good. Of course, you have to have folate-receptor type cancer, but we're working on hitting other types of receptors too.

End result: less poison and less cancer.


*Except fetuses. Fortunately, fetuses don't share blood supplies with mom, so there's no way for the drug to even get to the fetus.

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