Science & Medicine News



Heart-Stopping Surgery
Surgeons using new 
techniques for heart surgerySurgeons are testing new techniques and devices for minimally invasive heart surgery that will allow a surgical team to work on a motionless heart. The system circumvents the need to break the breast bone and create a large, painful chest opening. The new procedure, which uses a technique known as port-access surgery, is unprecedented because it allows the surgical team to stop the heart while repairing it, said Dr. Bruce A. Reitz, head of the surgical team and chair of cardiothoracic surgery. Reitz predicted that the new procedure could eventually shorten recovery time and reduce pain after bypass surgery in about 30 percent of the approximately 300,000 coronary artery bypasses performed annually in the United States.

Tumor Growth
Stanford researchers and colleagues elsewhere have discovered a cellular mechanism that provides important insight into how cancer evolves and why some solid tumors are resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. Researchers have known for roughly a decade that the cellular protein p53 has something to do with controlling tumors. Now they have found that p53 works as an emergency brake on cancer development by killing cells that attempt to proliferate in oxygen-deficient regions of tumors. Cells with mutant forms of p53 have no such brake, and as a result they can survive low-oxygen conditions, said Amato Giaccia, assistant professor of radiation oncology at the medical school. The discovery of this mechanism could lead to the development of more effective cancer treatments, the researchers said. The research is described in the Jan. 4 Nature magazine.

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