Monthly Archives: August 2016

Cell-Free Circulating Tumor DNA Can Help Doctors Screen for Cancer

Cell-Free Circulating Tumor DNA pic

Cell-Free Circulating Tumor DNA
Image: nature.com

Accomplished researcher Madhu Kumar has contributed to recent developments in cancer screening and diagnostics. Madhu Kumar’s work centers on cancer therapy and the applications of DNA in cancer identification.

Researchers have been in pursuit of a reliable cancer biomarker for many years. The variable and mutative nature of cancer made this difficult until a few years ago. Now, scientists are using DNA from tumors to help identify the presence of cancer faster.

As tumor cells naturally die off, they release bits of their DNA into the patient’s bloodstream. These pieces are known as cell-free circulating tumor DNA, or ctDNA. These particles make it easier to find cancer even when a biopsy is not practical.

Scientists first looked at 187 patients who had 17 different varieties of cancer. In addition to finding ctDNA mutations in some patients’ blood, researchers discovered that there is a correlation between cancer stage and ctDNA concentration. This suggests that ctDNA testing can help screen for cancer at any stage, and could help physicians monitor tumors throughout treatment.

Advertisements

Uses of Genetic Testing

Genetic Testing pic

Genetic Testing
Image: WebMD.com

Dr. Madhu Kumar, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a scientific advisor and consultant based in New York. One of Dr. Madhu Kumar’s areas of professional focus is molecular diagnostics, the tenants of which provide the foundation for disease risk management and genetic testing.

Our genes contain the basic building blocks of our biological functions and are passed from mother and father onto the child. Genetic testing, completed by certified professionals, assesses these genes to give patients a better understanding of their genetic background. This knowledge can come in handy in a variety of ways, from helping to diagnose diseases to singling out genetic shifts that might pass to children.

But perhaps the prime benefit of genetic testing is its ability to allow individuals to take preventive measures to monitor, screen, and make changes to their lifestyles depending on the test’s outcome. Individuals who have a clear idea of their genetic background can be prepared for potential health risks later in life.

Reanalysis of Scientific Evidence Leads to Exonerations

New England Innocence Project pic

New England Innocence Project
Image: newenglandinnocence.org

Madhu Kumar, most recently a scientific advisor with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, is an experienced biologist who has assisted the law firm with patent applications within the fields of pharmaceuticals, life sciences, and computers. In addition, Madhu Kumar has volunteered his time as a consultant for the New England Innocence Project.

Wrongful convictions can be devastating to the innocent party as well as to their families. In addition, when a person is convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, justice is averted and the public is at risk, as the guilty party is still free to commit additional crimes. The New England Innocence Project (NEIP) is a pro bono legal organization that exists to help people who have claims of innocence in New England. In addition to the small legal staff at NEIP, interns from area law schools and professionals that volunteer their scientific and technical expertise work diligently to help reverse wrongful convictions. To date, the efforts of the organization have led to 39 exonerations.

Eyewitness misidentification is one of the leading causes of wrongful convictions. Though eyewitness testimony is extremely convincing, it is not always reliable. In fact, eyewitness testimony was a major factor in over 75 percent of the first 255 post-conviction DNA based exonerations.

Invalidated forensic science is also a major factor in wrongful convictions. Hair, fiber, and bite-mark analysis are all examples of invalidated forensic science. This type of evidence has played a role in over 50 percent of the convictions that were later reversed due to DNA evidence.

The staff at the New England Innocence Project, as well as professional volunteers and interns, are all committed to continuing their efforts to prove the innocence of those who are wrongly convicted. The re-examination of scientific evidence, in addition to DNA technologies, has made exoneration possible for many who have been wrongly accused.