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Patients seek a bigger role in medical research

October 26, 2018

The ultimate value of medical research? Making sick patients well and keeping healthy patients healthy. It goes without saying. Then why do patients sometimes feel like an afterthought? Lung cancer survivor and activist Bonnie J. Addario describes the problem from her perspective in Forbes: “Today there exists a holy trinity for cancer research: pharmaceutical companies, […]

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Gangrene bacteria could be a cancer fighter

October 17, 2018

The mere thought of gangrene may make you shudder, but as one journalist put it, the enemy of my enemy can be your friend. In a small preliminary study, scientists have seen promising responses after injecting cancer patients with the bacteria that causes “gas gangrene,” a deadly form of the tissue-killing disease. According to U.S. News […]

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Laptop. Contact, and stethoscope sitting at

TB blood cultures from around the world help combat deadliest infectious disease

October 11, 2018

October Specimen Spotlight Tuberculosis killed 1.6 million people last year and 10 million people fell ill with the condition. Incidence of the world’s deadliest infectious disease varies widely by geography. There were fewer than 10 new cases per 100,000 in most high-income countries in 2017 – yet more than 500 per 100,000 in the hardest hit countries, including […]

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Up close picture of doctor with stethoscope

Nobel Prize spotlights the promise of cancer immunotherapy

October 4, 2018

The Nobel Prize in medicine this week went to two researchers credited with opening up an exciting avenue of cancer treatment – immunotherapy – where the body’s natural disease-fighting agents can be unleashed to fight cancer cells. In simple terms, the prizewinning researchers discovered ways to take the foot off “brakes” in the immune system. […]

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Microbiota biospecimens for gut health research

Plot thickens in story of gut’s connection to health

September 27, 2018

When it comes to the mysteries of human biology, the gut is a universe all its own. Our microbiota (often called microbiomes) are host to trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes – good, bad and yet to be determined. As unique as fingerprints, our microbiota can yield insights about our overall health. Three new microbiota studies […]

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Like a ‘weather forecast,’ liquid biopsy predicts cancer drug resistance and tumor return

September 20, 2018

The blood reveals volumes about a person’s health, including organ function, health risks, the presence of certain diseases, and even what time it is according to your biological clock. Liquid biopsies are emerging diagnostic tools intended to leverage the power of the blood by detecting cancer without surgery or long needles. A blood sample provides […]

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Biospecimen procurement

Fresh blood samples from clinic to out-of-state lab. Every day, in a two-hour window.

September 14, 2018

September Specimen Spotlight There are two ways for research organizations to procure human biospecimens, broadly speaking: Order them from existing inventories. Have them collected explicitly for the task at hand. We offer both. Although our iSpecimen Marketplace is optimized for procurement from existing inventories around the world, we often arrange prospective custom collection of new biospecimens […]

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Researchers see potential in rapid gene sequencing, direct treatment during brain surgery

September 6, 2018

The passing of U.S. Sen. John McCain underscores brain cancer’s formidable medical challenges, one of which is the blood-brain barrier: Many medicines that enter the bloodstream can’t reach the brain. Brain surgery, however, provides direct access to a tumor site, and craniotomy could someday become an occasion for drug-based treatment, according to a news release from […]

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iSpecimen strives to protect genomic human specimen data

Patient privacy for specimen donors is paramount

August 23, 2018

We don’t handle DNA profiles, and protected health information is stripped from specimen records up front Although DNA analysis of large populations holds enormous promise for the future of medicine, privacy concerns are growing. Headlines in recent weeks have recounted both the sharing of DNA data collected by 23andMe with a pharma company and the opening of […]

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New risk-scoring method for deadly diseases crunches millions of potential gene variants

August 16, 2018

“I think I carry the gene for ___.” This colloquial explanation for myriad traits and behaviors belies the fact that many conditions are believed to arise not from single genetic variations but combinations of thousands or millions. That’s the crux of “polygenic risk scoring,” the subject of new research that accounts for the genetic complexity […]

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