January 01, 2010
NIH Podcast Episode #0100
Announcer: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, this is NIH Research Radio.
Balintfy: Welcome to the 100th episode of NIH Research Radio with news about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health—the nation's medical research agency. I'm your host Joe Balintfy, and coming up in this episode: how certain cells keep cancer drugs from working; which cancer rates are up and who do they affect; and a familiar voice for NIH Research Radio. But first, a new feature for this podcast: a news update, right now.
Research Radio News Update
Balintfy: Methamphetamine use among teens appears to have dropped significantly in recent years. This is according to the annual National Institute on Drug Abuse Monitoring the Future survey. However, the survey reports declines in marijuana use have stalled, and prescription drug abuse remains high. The Monitoring the Future survey is a series of classroom surveys of eighth, 10th, and 12th graders. The report says cigarette smoking was at the lowest point in the survey's history on all measures for those age groups.
Another national survey, this one tracking rates of common mental disorders among American youth, is showing only about half of children and teenagers who have certain mental disorders receive professional services. This survey funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health also provides a comprehensive look at the prevalence of six common mental disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and conduct disorder. The survey includes data from more than three-thousand children and adolescents ages 8 to 15. Results published in the journal Pediatrics, show 8.6 percent had ADHD, 3.7 percent had depression, and 2.1 percent had conduct disorder.
Also from the National Institute of Mental Health, scientists for the first time have selectively blocked a scary memory in humans by using a behavioral technique. This advance represents a safe, and easily way to prevent the return of a fearful memory. The new study, which was also funded the James S. McDonnell Foundation, appears online on in the journal Nature. Researchers hope these new findings may translate into improved treatments of anxiety disorders, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
And one more study, this one involving data from more than 20,000 individuals, has uncovered several DNA sequences linked to impaired pulmonary, or lung function. Researchers say the findings may ultimately lead to better understanding of how the lungs work, and diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Investigators at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute say this research provides insight into the mechanisms involved in reaching full lung capacity.
This news summary has been compiled from information at www.nih.gov/news. Stay tuned for more on a big annual report on cancer, and a feature on cancer stem cells. Right after this break.
(BREAK FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)
Breast Cancer Stem Cells May be Key to Multi-drug Resistance
Balintfy: Welcome back. Now for our feature stories. In this first one, we learn that when breast cancer stops responding to drugs, breast cancer stem cells might be the cause. A study that catalogues breast cancer stem cells is identifying the ways these cells wage their own fight against anti-cancer treatments. Kristine Crane has this report.
Crane: Multi-drug resistance occurs when cancer cells in tumors no longer respond to drugs.
Dr. Gottesman: The basis for that resistance is a residual group of cells within the tumor that have been called cancer stem cells.
Crane: Dr. Michael Gottesman is the director of the Clinical Research Center at the National Cancer Institute. He is the principal investigator of a study that examines breast cancer stem cells.
Dr. Gottesman: But our original idea was to look at those cells and ask whether they expressed some of the markers associated with drug resistance, and indeed they do. Crane: The study has examined hundreds of cancer cells and identified nearly four hundred causes of drug resistance.
Dr. Gottesman: Our general approach is to try to catalog all the ways in which cancer cells can become resistant to anti-cancer drugs, and then determine in clinical samples, either on a personal basis, that is for each tumor that comes to the attention of a pathologist, which genes are expressed and which are not expressed, and then develop cocktails of treatments that can circumvent that resistance; or find certain themes that are common for most cancers, and that can lead to new ways of treating cancer.
Crane: Dr. Gottesman says the key is catching cancer early enough so that the diseased cells don’t spread and develop mechanisms to resist the drugs.
Dr. Gottesman: One of the problems with most patients who come to the doctor is the cancer is quite large, or has spread, and there are many, many cells. And the more cells you have the more likely that one or more will develop a resistance mechanism. So if you can get tumors when they are relatively small or not metastasized, then you are more likely, I think, to be successful with chemotherapy.
Crane: Dr. Gottesman says the findings may lead to new drugs based on common mechanisms of resistance, or pave the pathway to personalized therapies. For more information go to www.cancer.gov. This is Kristine Crane at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Annual Report to the Nation Finds Continued Declines in Overall Cancer Rates
Description: Now, news about all cancers combined. Rates of new diagnoses and rates of death from cancer declined significantly for men and women and for most racial and ethnic populations in the United States. Findings from the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer are showing overall cancer rates continue to be higher for men than for women, but men experienced the greatest declines in new cases, and death rates.
Dr. Edwards: We’re seeing declines for breast cancer in women, prostate cancer for men, and we’re also seeing declines in colorectal cancer.
Balintfy: Dr. Brenda Edwards, Associate Director for the Surveillance Research Program, at National Cancer Institute explains the scope of the report
Dr. Edwards: The Report to the Nation on Cancer is an effort by many people in the United States to put together one report that summarizes our latest data on who gets cancer, what happens to them when they get it, who is dying of cancer, where the patterns are.
Balintfy: She points out that rates for one major cancer site, lung cancer, are decreasing in men, but plateauing for women.
Dr. Edwards: Sometimes our data of the latest year doesn’t show anything too dramatic, but it just confirms that this year we’re seeing continued declines in cancer mortality overall and for many of the major sites. It also points out to us that the new cases of cancer that are being diagnosed, we’re seeing declines there.
Balintfy: Dr. Edwards says declines in cancer mortality, or reducing the rates at which people are dying of cancer is the bottom line. By looking at the details of the report, she sees mortality rates going down and explains its significance.
Dr. Edwards: It means that we are hopefully reducing risk. We’re finding effective ways to, perhaps for those that have screening, to find it early and then to move into the treatments that work. For others we may be looking at improved treatment for which we don’t have some early detection or we may not actually understand all the risk factors.
Balintfy: Other highlights from the report show that in men, incidence rates have also declined for cancers of the oral cavity, stomach, brain and rectum, but continue to rise for kidney, liver, and esophageal cancer, as well as for leukemia and melanoma. In women, incidence rates decreased for breast, uterine, ovarian, and cervical cancers, but increased for thyroid, pancreatic, and bladder cancers, as well as for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, melanoma and leukemia. Among racial and ethnic groups, cancer death rates were highest in black men and women, and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander men and women. Dr. Edwards emphasizes that the report has lots of information.
Dr. Edwards: It shows us that cancer is a complicated disease, and it also, I think, provides a lot of information related to all the efforts that are going to actually improve or reduce the cancer burden in the U.S., and I think it also characterizes a lot of the work that’s going on in the research community, in the clinical community, and in those that are working to try to educate and inform individuals about what they can do to reduce their own risk or have access to care.
Balintfy: The report is authored by researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. It is published online in the journal Cancer. For more information on the report and cancer research, visit www.cancer.gov.
Now you may have noticed some new theme music, the news brief at the beginning of this podcast. We’ll take a look back with the creator of this podcast after this break. Stay tuned.
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The History of NIH Research Radio
Balintfy: So this episode of NIH Research Radio marks our 100th anniversary. What better time than now, to take a look back, a return to our roots, which means talking with our good friend, Bill Schmalfeldt, who started this podcast thing for NIH 100 episodes ago. So how did it start Bill?
Schmalfeldt: Well, I’m pressed to remember the exact date of all of this. I believe it was in early 2006. And I was riding on the Metro, and I noticed that, you know, everybody had these iPod earbuds hanging from their heads. And I had been talking about podcasting with Calvin, Calvin Jackson, my boss at the time, your boss now, long may he live, and I approached him with the idea of doing a podcast for NIH. And he thought it was a good idea, so he sent me to a class on how to put together a podcast, RSS feeds, all that other technical nonsense that our listeners don’t really need to know about, and you’re up to 100 episodes now of NIH Research Radio, and I couldn’t be more proud.
Balintfy: Thanks Bill. And you know we’re sticking pretty close to that format you created, it works well, just now getting around to some updates. But how did you decide on the format?
Schmalfeldt: What I wanted to do was make it sound as much like a NPR-style radio program as possible. We had already been doing these small vignettes, and you continue to do them, I notice, about research events across the NIH world, and I just thought it was a good idea to string three or four of those together with some self-recorded public service announcements to act as segues between them, and it turned the whole thing into a feature-length program, anywhere from 15 minutes to a half an hour.
Balintfy: Being the podcast pioneer that your are, Bill, are you still podcasting?
Schmalfeldt: Well, we’ve carried on podcasting. I mean, when I left NIH to go to another federal agency, I eventually came back because NIH is just such a great place to work. And now I’m working for the Clinical Center, where we do a series of podcasts. We’ve got Clinical Center Radio, we podcast the Clinical Center Grand Rounds, the BTRIS podcasts. We do a weekly podcast for the Clinical Center’s recreation therapy program. And podcasting has really caught on as a way to reach a whole new audience that we might not have been reaching before. As folks evolve into Web 2.0, and eventually Web 3.0 and all of that, they’re looking for new and better sources of information. And we’ve also managed to tie in our podcasting with our Twitter efforts, with our Facebook efforts, with our MySpace efforts, and it’s not the old “send out a press release” day anymore. We’re really reaching people that we haven’t been able to reach with more traditional methods.
Balintfy: Good stuff Bill. One last question: do you have a favorite episode or story that you covered?
Schmalfeldt: I would say that it was the podcast I did about my own participation in a clinical trial. I had deep brain stimulation for my Parkinson’s disease as part of a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. And I did a couple podcasts about the events leading up to it, in which I interviewed the doctors, the neurosurgeon, the neurologists, the other people involved, about the concept of the clinical trial. Then I did a podcast where I discussed in length the actual surgical procedure, and then with you later we did the video podcast with Dr. Pancrazio over at NINDS about NIH’s efforts in brain mapping that led to the development of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s. So, I feel like, in my case, I’ve been more than just a narrator; I’ve been a participant.
Balintfy: All the best to you Bill. That past podcast is episode 35 where Bill shares some of his first-hand experience with deep brain stimulation. For now, that’s it for this episode and our new and improved format for NIH Research Radio, which by the way has a new naming convention for our mp3 files. If you have questions about the podcast or any of these stories, or have a topic you’d like to hear about, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again that’s email@example.com. Please join me again on Friday, January 15th when our next edition will be available for download. I'm your host, Joe Balintfy. Thanks for listening and Happy New Year.
Announcer: NIH Research Radio is a presentation of the NIH Radio News Service, part of the News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.