Weekend Wonderings: Ides of March Edition

Written March 16th, 2014 by Ken

J Caesar

Welcome to the mid-March Weekend Wonderings. We’re finishing up some Conference basketball, before beginning some March Madness. Not that they didn’t have some madness of their own going on in Rome in 44 B.C. Grab a goblet of your favorite libation and let’s proceed.

Caesar:  Who is it in the press that calls on me? 
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music 
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March. 

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15-19

The James/Wexner
DoubleHelixFirst up:  A potential new gene mutation that might drive lung cancer development and growth has been identified by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James).

A multi-institutional team lead by OSUCCC-James researchers reports the findings in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The study describes a patient with advanced lung cancer who was treated with the targeted drug sorafenib while on a clinical trial. Within two months, she demonstrated a near complete response, and she remained progression-free and asymptomatic for five years while continuing to take sorafenib by mouth.

Per Dr David Carbone:

“Our study suggests that we can discover important new gene mutations that drive cancer development and progression by analyzing genes in cancer cells from patients who fare far better or far worse than others in a particular clinical trial.”

Carbone adds that using genome sequencing to identifying genetic mutations in a patient’s cancer cells can help better match patients with drugs that are most likely to eradicate their cancer.

“Knowing which mutations are present in lung tumors can help us tailor a patient’s treatment to the unique genetic features present in his or her cancer cells. That knowledge can also help us develop new drugs that target previously unrecognized gene mutations in lung and other cancers.  This is a great example of new scientific discoveries being made from clinical observations in patients, which can then be brought back to the clinic to help future patients.”

So, now we’re getting to a point where genome sequencing is providing clues on what to use, and just as importantly, what not to use in patient treatments.


Two weeks ago I was riffing on my wonderment of new technology, particularly wireless communications. I’m still in wonder. Well, the Old Chronometer turned over one more year this past week, and I was wondering about technology development and life. Obviously, in the story (above) of genomics technology, these new horizons can have profound life-or-death implications.

But, on a different level, technological development can be equally astounding. I remember having several chats with one of my grandfathers quite a few years back. We were discussing having just landed a man on the moon and the first response he had was to shake his head in disbelief. I thought it was an extremely impressive big deal, so I asked him why the head-shaking. His reply, in effect was, “Son, when I was born, man couldn’t fly”.

So, when you think about it, the moon-landing was something special. Here was a generation who, in their lifetime, saw the birth of aviation (sorry North Carolina, the Wright Brothers are Ohioans!), it’s development and coming of age, and finally punctuated by a manned moon landing. That’s quite a bit going on in one’s lifetime. I expect there will be a day when I shake my head, too.

Sunday’s Song

Obviously, the ‘Ides of March’ with Vehicle. Yes, they do sound like ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’.

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