October 11, 2005
University researchers are develo
U niversity researchers are hopin
in the fight against cancer by
seek out and destroy cancer cel
As the second-leading cause of deati
will claim more than 550,000 lives this
million new cases of cancer will be d
States, according to the National Cance
With the ever-increasing number of
nation, doctors are searching for new
One such scientist is Raoul Kopelm
and chemistry professor at the Univers
a novel solution to combat this deadly
plastic pellets known as PEBBLEs. PEB
probes encapsulated by biologically loc
tiny polymer globules that directly ta
Recent clinical trials on rats have sh
ment using PEBBLEs can extend the ra
with no adverse side effects. The reas
is that the pellets only seek out and att
in the body and then use the body's ov
Kopelman makes the micro-pellets
reverse micelle formation. This invc
oxygen in the
blood to become
so reactive that
it can destroy
light, it turns Intl
highly reactive singlet oxygen. The oxygen is so reactive thati*
kills adjacent cancer cells.
After the micro-pellets are injected into the body, an MRL,
also known as Magnetic Resonance Imaging, locates the PEB-
BLEs to then excite the oxygen. Once located, researchers then
would cut a surgical hole in the patient and insert an optical
fiber into the body to provide the light needed for the photo-
Compared to traditional therapies, Kopelman said PEB-
BLEs does not seem to produce any adverse side effects in
part because of the pellets themselves are harmless and when
activated only affect cancer cells.
Yong Eun Koo Lee, a research associate in the chemistry
department who is working with Kopelman to develop the
micro-pellets, said PEBBLEs may be more effective than more
traditional cancer treatments.
Oftentimes protein in the body will interfere with cancer
treatments, Lee said. But PEBBLEs encases its payload within
the micro-pellets, protecting it from proteins that can poten-
tially disrupt the treatment process.
Kopelman and his colleagues have received funding from
different government agencies, including the National Cancer
Institute, which provided $11.5 million toward the research
and development of this technique.
But as of yet, Kopelman said he and his team do not know
how safe PEBBLEs is for humans, because all the clinical tests
have been on rats. He added that it will take several years
before the Food and Drug Administration will approve PEB-
BLEs for medical use.
Stanford wins $2 mi
U Unmanned vehicle beats
out four other robots on
132-mile course in Nevada
PRIMM, Nev. (AP) - A driverless Volkswagen
won a $2 million race across the rugged Nevada
desert Sunday, beating four other robot-guided
vehicles that completed in a Pentagon-sponsored
contest aimed at making warfare safer for humans.
The race displayed major technological leaps
since last year's inaugural race, when none of the
self-driving vehicles crossed the finish line.
Stanley the VW Touareg, designed by Stan-
ford University, zipped through the 132-mile
Mojave Desert course in six hours and 53 min-
utes Saturday, using only its computer brain and
sensors to navieite rough and twisting desert
Coming in fourth was a Ford Escape Hybrid
named Kat-5, designed by students in Metairie,
La., who lost about a week of practice and some
lost their homes when Hurricane Katrina blew
into the Gulf Coast.
The Humvee, which finished in seven hours and
four minutes, traveled farther than any other vehi-
cle last year despite completing only 7 1/2 miles
of the course.
A fifth vehicle, a 16-ton truck named TerraMax,
was the last to finish the course Sunday, though
not within the contest's 10-hour deadline. Its oper-
ators paused it Saturday night so it wouldn't have
to race in darkness.
It's unclear how the Pentagon plans to harness
the technology used in the race for military appli-
cations. But Thrun said he wanted to design auto-
mated systems to make next-generation cars safer
for everyone, not just the military.
"If it was only for the military. I wouldn't be
of the Southwest desert, including on last year's
course. Teams also went back to the drawing
board to improve their vehicles' artificial intel-
ligence and sensing systems, which navigate the
rough landscape without crashing.
The vehicles were tricked out with the latest
sensors, lasers, cameras and radar that feed data
to onboard computers, which helped them distin-
guish dangerous -boulders from tumbleweeds and
decide whether chasms were too deep to cross.
The robotic vehicles had to navigate .a course
designed to mimic driving conditions in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The course consisted of winding dirt
trails and dry lake beds filled with overhanging.
brush. Parts of the route forced the robots to zip
through three tunnels designed to knock out their
Only the five robots that completed the course
managed to maneuver a steep 1.3-mile mountain
pass known as "Beer Bottle Pass" five miles from
'y. Y...... +.....4, t fit.