Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Project Violet

Dr. Jim Olson

Before we get to that, have you heard of Tumor Paint?  I certainly didn't and I fancy myself someone who pays attention to things that are new, innovative, out of the box thinking.

How do you feel about scorpions?  I'm okay with Scorpio's especially since that 's where I fall on the astrological calendar but scorpions?  No so much.

Hold on.  Not so fast.....  Jim Olson is a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children's Hospital.  He's also a professor at the University of Washington.  In other words, he has some serious street cred.

While I have no idea how he feels about us Scorpio's, I know he is a fan of the scorpion.  Specifically, the venom of this critter (creature, bug, killer?)..... Yes, I did just do a wiki detour.  Aside from the fact that it's in the spider crowd,  my Jeopardy reply.... "What do scorpions have in common with this blog whose author is a Scorpio?"

The category?  Continents.

The answer: Antarctica.  The only continent where scorpions are not found and the only continent from which this blog has not been read.  YET.

Jim Olson is also a brain cancer researcher at Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle.  (In case those prior credentials weren't enough, Hutch is one of those awesome cancer research centers.)  To simplify what I am certain must be a very complex process, tumor paint is comprised of a molecule that is attached to the venom of the scorpion.  The combination acts like a flashlight on cancer cells in the brain.  They light up.  This allows the surgeon to see exactly what areas need to be removed without touching healthy tissue.  It's the brain.  The preference would be to keep as much as possible.  DUH.

This work is still in animal trials with human trials in the works.  Read his profile.  He's also working on drug resistance, something of tremendous interest to me considering my mom's metastasis (also simplifying) is a result of a drug resistance.

Jim's latest effort has spawned Project Violet.  Violet was a little girl.  With a deadly brain cancer.  Project Violet is "Citizen Science" which is to say, you choose exactly where your donation is used.  In fact, you get to name the drug.  The whole process is very intriguing.  In addition to the scorpion, they are researching proteins from petunias, potatoes, spiders and horseshoe crabs.  The first batch of diseases they are targeting?  Of course, cancer.  And also (among others) brain and mental health disorders.  All three are high ticket items in my life.

The ingenuity, the project design, the promise in the research.... all very fascinating.  Even if you don't want to click to see how the Tumor Paint documentary found its way into the Sundance Film Festival and if you are not in a position to adopt a drug of your own, please listen to the TEDxSeattle talk delivered by Dr. Jim Olson.

The Washington Research Foundation will donate up to $50,000 to the project.  Each view of Jim's TED talk triggers a $10.00 donation.  Please help spread the word.  Share the You Tube video.  The goal is to get 20,000 views during the month of August.  There are only ten days left in the month.

Go. Watch. Share. NOW!

"It's A Beautiful Day To Save Lives" overheard from an operating room at Seattle Grace Hospital. Derek McDreamy Shepherd.  Grey's Anatomy, anyone? Hey, if it fits..... 

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  1. This is so cool! I will point the video out to a few people. Fascinating, informative and innovative.
    AL in the Midwest

  2. It's great to hear about innovative research like this that's underway. Thanks for the info!


  3. Going to watch right now. All these findings are so fascinating, science keeps blowing my mind! (And I invite it to blow-up/destroy my cancer, too) ~Catherine

    1. Yes, I'm with you, Catherine. Working on it... pushing for the science to move a bit faster. I'm impatient and each day I get just a bit more impatient.


  4. Thanks. Everything that can be done to raise awareness on chemo fog and chemo brain is important.

  5. Thanks. Everything that can be done to raise awareness on chemo fog and chemo brain is important.


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