Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Radiation Oncology

Cancer treatments are advancing at an astounding pace, with newer therapies providing better outcomes, longer life, and greater chance for cure. Radiation therapy uses carefully targeted doses of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. The goal is to use high-dose X-rays to remove the cancer, keep it from spreading, or improve patients’ quality of life by relieving pain and other symptoms.

Radiation therapy plays an essential role in the treatment of many cancers and innovations in radiation treatments have similarly led to improved outcomes in both survival and quality of life.

In this series, UCSF radiation oncologists explore the latest advances in the science, technology, and treatment of cancer using modern radiation therapy.

Browse more programs in Innovations In Cancer Treatment: Radiation Therapy in the Modern Era.

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When the Drug is Alive

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most pressing global health issues of the 21st Century. In 2016, epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee was involved in a remarkable case where she and her colleagues revived a hundred year old forgotten cure – bacteriophage therapy – which saved her husband’s life from a deadly superbug infection.

Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson were vacationing in Egypt when Tom came down with a stomach bug. Steffanie dosed Tom with an antibiotic and expected the discomfort to pass. Instead, his condition turned critical.

Local doctors at an Egyptian clinic, an emergency medevac team and then a German hospital failed to cure him. By the time Tom reached the world-class medical center at UC San Diego, where both he and Steffanie worked, bloodwork revealed why modern medicine was failing: Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world.

Frantic, Strathdee combed through research old and new and came across phage theory: the idea that the right virus, aka “the perfect predator,” can kill even the most lethal bacteria. Phage treatment had fallen out of favor almost 100 years ago, after antibiotic use went mainstream. Now, with time running out, she appealed to phage researchers all over the world for help and together they achieved a major medical breakthrough.

Since that experience, UC San Diego faculty have used intravenous phage therapy to successfully treat superbug infections in over a dozen other compassionate use cases, including the first use of a genetically modified phage cocktail. In 2018, the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH) was launched at UC San Diego, the first dedicated phage therapy center in North America.

In this presentation, Strathdee shares the details of her family’s story and discusses ethical issues related to treating bacterial infections with viruses, where the drug is ‘alive.’

Watch When the Drug is Alive: Treating Superbug Infections with Bacteriophage Therapy.

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Fighting Cancer with Your Immune System

New findings on the relationship between the immune system and cancer is bringing a new era of treatment for patients and opening up interdisciplinary collaboration for researchers and clinicians.

In this engaging conversation, Ezra Cohen, MD, and Judy Varner, PhD, highlight emerging research and clinical strategies using precision immunotherapy and stem cell techniques. Dr. Cohen shares patient success stories from his work at the Moores Cancer Center while Dr. Varner takes a deep dive into novel therapeutic approaches that stimulate anti-tumor immunity.

Watch A Closer Look at…Precision Immunotherapy to learn more about the next generation of cancer immunotherapies.

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Social Inequities and Suffering Caused by COVID-19

While a Sars CoV-2 vaccine is here providing hope for the year ahead, the pain and devastation caused by the pandemic will persist as new infections currently continue to expand at an ever-increasing rate.

Amidst all this, UC San Diego has established itself as a recognized leader in proactively responding to this disaster. Hear from UC San Diego’s front-line health and medical experts as they discuss disparities in the clinical impact and outcomes of COVID-19, their first-hand experiences and lessons learned in dealing with the disease.

Also, as the economy continues to suffer from the pandemic, hear about scalable and practical solutions for returning to work in a safe environment.

Watch A Deep Look Into: Social Inequities and Suffering Caused by COVID-19 – Reports from the Front Lines.

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WHAT’S NEXT: COVID-19

The number of people infected by the coronavirus continues to grow every day as does the number of deaths. We have learned a great deal about the virus, treatments and ways to slow the spread since the outbreak began.

UCSF doctors and scientists have been on the front lines of treatment and research since the beginning. This series takes you inside their work to learn what we know now about the pandemic, what lies ahead, and the implications of lessons learned on future medical treatments.

Direct from those who live and breathe it every day, find out what’s next in the science and care of COVID-19.

Browse more programs in What’s Next: COVID-19, Science, and the Public Health.

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