Tests could determine source of ‘mystery tumors‘
New tests may hold the key to identifying and treating unidentified cancerous tumors.
Tumors of unknown origin account for at least 30,000 new cancer cases each year, making them more numerous than brain, liver or stomach cancers. These mystery tumors are extremely dangerous, as cancer is treated based on the originating location of the tumor regardless of where it has spread.
Four new tests on the market are able to determine which genes are active or inactive in a sample of the tumor by analyzing its genetic fingerprint and comparing it to known tumor types. The test costs approximately $3,000. The Food and Drug Administration has only approved one version of the test so far, but laboratories can offer the others even without FDA approval.
Critics of the test maintain that studies that put the tests‘ accuracy at 80 to 90 percent are misleading because those numbers only occur when testing known tumors. Accuracy in testing mystery tumors is closer to 64 percent, they say.
No special spot in the brain for religious feelings
Scientists at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have concluded that there is no specific region or network in the brain for religious thoughts or feelings.
When researchers questioned subjects about their religious beliefs while monitoring the blood flow of the brain, they found that neural activity occurred in areas already known to have other nonreligious functions. Examples include the theory of mind networks that predict other people’s intentions.
Critics doubt that biological functions, like those measured in this study, can capture all of what religion truly is. One scientist’s research has found that certain areas of the brain enlarge after prolonged meditation.
Obama to uphold Bush decision to de-list gray wolves
President Barack Obama’s interior secretary Ken Salazar announced on Friday that the administration agrees with former President Bush’s last-minute removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list.
The wolves, which have a population of approximately 5,600 nationwide, are no longer classified as endangered in the Northern Rockies and the western Great Lakes. The predator will remain on the list in Wyoming, as the state’s wolf recovery plan has been insufficient, Salazar said.
Environmental groups previously sued successfully to get the gray wolf put back on the list after the Bush administration initially removed it. They will most likely sue again to retain federal protection for the species.
ALYSOUN BONDE compiles SCIENCE SCENE. She can be reached at email@example.com. XXX