Science and Medicine News


Edward E. Manche Nearsighted No More   Trials of a new outpatient laser surgery to correct nearsightedness combined with astigmatism are under way on campus. If approved by the FDA, the procedure is expected to benefit many of the 10 million to 20 million people nationally who have compound myopic astigmatism, said Dr. Edward E. Manche (left), the ophthalmologist who heads the program. “For most patients, a few painless minutes with the laser procedure provide the potential for permanent correction of their [vision problem], enabling the majority of patients to see well without dependence on glasses or contact lenses,” said Manche, acting assistant professor of ophthalmology and newly appointed director of refractive surgery. The computer-controlled laser system for treating simple myopia and compound myopic astigmatism gives physicians greater precision and more versatility than the traditional vision correction surgery, radial keratotomy, which has been available for more than 15 years.

New Cancer Drug   An experimental cancer drug developed at Stanford is being tested to determine whether it might eliminate the need for debilitating surgery while improving treatment for head and neck cancer. The new drug, tirapazamine, attacks cancer cells that radiation and chemotherapy often miss, said Dr. Harlan A. Pinto, assistant professor of medicine (oncology). These tough-to-kill cancer cells usually resist chemotherapy because they lie farthest from the blood vessels that deliver the tumor-destroying drugs. They also resist radiation because they are low in oxygen, Pinto said. Although the current round of testing focuses on head and neck cancer, tirapazamine also offers promise for treating other soft-tissue tumors, including tumors of the breast, brain, cervix and colorectal region. The final word on whether the drug will be effective in combination with radiation should be available within two years.

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