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home : columnists : dr john roberts March 25, 2017


Treatment of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma illustrates the direction of cancer care
One of my patients asked me recently what lymphoma is. I must admit my knowledge of the subject is fairly limited; it's a medical condition I've tended to avoid because of its complex and changing nature. It can, however, be a very interesting disease and a type of cancer that is illustrative of where cancer treatment in general is heading in the years to come.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Osteomyelitis uncommon, less frequent
A reader has asked that I write about osteomyelitis. This is a condition where the bone and/or bone marrow become infected, usually with bacteria. These bacteria cause a pyogenic reaction - the body produces pus that contains infection-fighting white blood cells. The bacteria that cause the infection vary based on the age of the patient and the location of the infection.
Monday, March 6, 2017
Stem cells have potential to become specialized
Last week I hope I answered the first part of our reader's question about how DNA can be used to treat inherited conditions. This week I want to focus on stem cells - what they are, where they come from, how they might be used to treat disease and finally the social and ethical challenges surrounding their use.

Stem cells are cells that have the potential to change into other more specialized cells in the body. This process is known as "differentiation." By definition, stem cells have to exhibit two properties: (1) they must be able to divide multiple times and remain unchanged, and (2) they have to have "potency," the ability to differentiate into other cell types.

Monday, February 27, 2017
Messrs. Mendel, Watson & Crick
I received two queries from readers asking me to address how "DNA and stem cells" might be used to treat inherited medical conditions. That's a tall order for the space allotted, so I'll tackle DNA this week and stem cells next week.

Modern genetics started with Gregor Mendel's work on the inheritance of various traits in pea plants in the mid-1800s. A century later, James Watson & Francis Crick (with a lot of help from Rosalind Franklin) determined the structure of DNA in 1953. There is no doubt that the expansive scientific knowledge borne from the discovery of the structure of DNA will continue to revolutionize medical science.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
The good and bad of radiologic imaging
Last week I had a young patient ask me what the difference is between an MRI and a CAT scan. Not long after that I noticed an error in a newspaper article that mixed up the two technologies.

Radiologic imaging of the human body has revolutionized the diagnostic accuracy of physicians. However, it has also had the negative effect of reducing our reliance on a good medical history and physical examination.

Monday, February 13, 2017



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