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January 5, 2009, 11:41 PM CT

Breast Cancer Gene Linked To Disease Spread

Breast Cancer Gene Linked To Disease Spread
Yibin Kang

Photo: Brian Wilson
A team of scientists at Princeton University and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey has identified a long-sought gene that is fatefully switched on in 30 to 40 percent of all patients with breast cancer, spreading the disease, resisting traditional chemotherapies and eventually leading to death.

The gene, called "Metadherin" or MTDH, is located in a small region of human chromosome 8 and may be crucial to cancer's spread or metastasis because it helps tumor cells stick tightly to blood vessels in distant organs. The gene also makes tumors more resistant to the powerful chemotherapeutic agents normally used to wipe out the deadly cells.

In identifying the genetic mechanism at play in the metastasis of breast cancer, the researchers may have answered one of the biggest mysteries in cancer research and paved the way for new drugs that could thwart the gene's diabolical actions.

"Inhibiting this gene in patients with breast cancer will simultaneously achieve two important goals -- reduce the chance of recurrence and, at the same time, decrease the risk of metastatic dissemination," said Yibin Kang, an assistant professor of molecular biology at Princeton, who led the research. "Clinically, these are the two major reasons why patients with breast cancer die from the disease".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 5, 2009, 11:36 PM CT

Hope for cancer straight from the heart

Hope for cancer straight from the heart
Digitalis-based drugs like digoxin have been used for centuries to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure and are still in use today. In the Dec. 16 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine now report that this same class of drugs may hold new promise as a therapy for cancer. This finding emerged through a search for existing drugs that might slow or stop cancer progression.

"This is really exciting, to find that a drug already deemed safe by the FDA also can inhibit a protein crucial for cancer cell survival," says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine.

Semenza and his team have long studied the hypoxia-inducible factor, or HIF-1, protein, which controls genes that help cells survive under low-oxygen conditions. HIF-1 turns on genes that grow new blood vessels to help oxygen-starved cells survive. Regions of low oxygen are common within the environment of fast-growing solid tumors.

"Oxygen-deprived cancer cells increase their HIF-1 levels to survive in these unfavorable conditions," says Semenza. "So turning down or blocking HIF-1 appears to be key to slowing or stopping these cells from growing."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 2, 2009, 9:46 AM CT

Family History of Prostate Cancer Has No Impact On The Treatment Outcomes

Family History of Prostate Cancer Has No Impact On The Treatment Outcomes
Prostate anatomy
In a first of its kind study, a first-degree family history of prostate cancer has no impact on the therapy outcomes of patients with prostate cancer treated with brachytherapy (also called seed implants), and patients with this type of family history have clinical and pathologic characteristics similar to men with no family history at all, as per a January 1 study in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

"This information is relevant for both physicians and patients with new diagnoses as they embark on complex therapy decisions," Christopher A. Peters, M.D., main author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Northeast Radiation Oncology Center in Dunmore, Pa. (chief resident at Mount Sinai School of Medicine at the time of the study), said. "Now patients with a family history of prostate cancer can be confident that they have the same outcomes as patients with sporadic disease, regardless of the therapy modality they chose".

As per the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men behind skin cancer. A number of patients diagnosed with prostate cancer have some type of family history of the disease and men with a family history do have an increased risk of developing the disease, but there is conflicting data on how family history impacts therapy outcomes.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 31, 2008, 7:21 AM CT

No cancer prevention potential for common vitamins

No cancer prevention potential for common vitamins
Women who took beta carotene or vitamin C or E or a combination of the supplements had a similar risk of cancer as women who did not take the supplements, as per data from a randomized controlled trial in the December 30 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Epidemiological studies have suggested that people whose diets are high in fruits and vegetables, and thus antioxidants, may have a lower risk of cancer. Results from randomized trials that address the issue, however, have been inconsistent and have rarely supported that observation.

In the current study, Jennifer Lin, Ph.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and his colleagues tested the impact of antioxidant supplements on cancer incidence in a randomized controlled trial. A total of 7,627 women who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease were randomly assigned to take vitamin C, vitamin E, or beta-carotene.

With an average of 9.4 years of follow-up time, there was no statistically significant benefit from antioxidant use compared with placebo in terms of disease risk or mortality due to cancer. Overall, 624 women developed cancer and 176 died from cancer during the follow-up time. Compared with placebo, the relative risk of a new cancer diagnosis was 1.11 for women who took vitamin C, 0.93 for women who took vitamin E, and 1.00 for women who took beta carotene. None of these relative risks was statistically significantly different from 1.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 31, 2008, 7:18 AM CT

Components of grape-seed may control leukemia

Components of grape-seed may control leukemia
An extract from grape seeds forces laboratory leukemia cells to commit cell suicide, as per scientists from the University of Kentucky. They observed that within 24 hours, 76 percent of leukemia cells had died after being exposed to the extract.

The investigators, who report their findings in the January 1, 2009, issue of Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, also teased apart the cell signaling pathway linked to use of grape seed extract that led to cell death, or apoptosis. They observed that the extract activates JNK, a protein that regulates the apoptotic pathway.

While grape seed extract has shown activity in many laboratory cancer cell lines, including skin, breast, colon, lung, stomach and prostate cancers, no one had tested the extract in hematological cancers nor had the precise mechanism for activity been revealed.

"These results could have implications for the incorporation of agents such as grape seed extract into prevention or therapy of hematological malignancies and possibly other cancers," said the study's main author, Xianglin Shi, Ph.D., professor in the Graduate Center for Toxicology at the University of Kentucky.

"What everyone seeks is an agent that has an effect on cancer cells but leaves normal cells alone, and this shows that grape seed extract fits into this category," he said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 31, 2008, 7:14 AM CT

Taking one gene at a time in lung cancer

Taking one gene at a time in lung cancer
While examining patterns of DNA modification in lung cancer, a team of international scientists has discovered what they say is a surprising new mechanism. They say that "silencing" of a single gene in lung cancer led to a general impairment in genome-wide changes in cells, contributing to cancer development and progression.

In the January 1, 2009, issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, they also report finding a strong link between modification of the key gene, MTHFR, and tobacco use by patients with lung cancer even if the patient had smoked for a short period of time.

The findings reinforce tobacco's link to lung cancer development, but show that deactivating one specific gene through a process known as hypermethylation causes systemic dysfunction, or hypomethylation, in a number of genes, said the study's senior investigator, Zdenko Herceg, Ph.D., head of the Epigenetics Group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

"We observed that tobacco-mediated hypermethylation of MTHFR, and consequent partial or complete silencing of the gene, may trigger global hypomethylation and deregulation of DNA synthesis, both of which may contribute to cancer development," he said.

This methylation process, which involves chemically modifying normal DNA in order to change its activity, is seen as an increasingly important factor contributing to so-called "epigenetic inheritance" in cancer development, Herceg said. An epigenetic event is when non-genetic factors cause a gene to change its expression, and this is different from cancer caused by mutated genes that produce errant protein.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 31, 2008, 7:11 AM CT

Reason for failure of hormonal therapy of prostate cancer

Reason for failure of hormonal therapy of prostate cancer
The hormone deprivation treatment that patients with prostate cancer often take gives them only a temporary fix, with tumors commonly regaining their hold within a couple of years. Now, scientists at Johns Hopkins have discovered critical differences in the hormone receptors on prostate cancer cells in patients who no longer respond to this treatment. The findings, published in the Jan. 1 issue of Cancer Research, could lead to a way to track disease progression, as well as new targets to fight prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer cells rely on androgens, male hormones that include testosterone, to survive and grow, explains Jun Luo, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins' James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. Since 1941, doctors have taken advantage of this dependency to battle prostate cancer by depriving patients of androgens, either by castration or chemical methods. For most patients, this hormone deprivation treatment causes tumors to shrink, sometimes dramatically. However, it's never a curetumors eventually regrow into a stronger form, becoming resistant to this and other forms of therapy.

Seeking the reason why this treatment eventually fails, Luo and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the University of Washington and Puget Sound VA Medical Center looked to a key player: the androgen receptors on prostate cancer cells.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 30, 2008, 11:05 PM CT

Nanoparticles aimed at cancer go with a glitter

Nanoparticles aimed at cancer goes with a glitter
The top image shows a mixture of gold nanoparticles. Right: After the nanoparticles are hit with 1100 nanometer wavelength infrared light, the nanobones melt and release their payload. Nanocapsules remain intact. Image / Andy Wijaya

Using tiny gold particles and infrared light, MIT scientists have developed a drug-delivery system that allows multiple drugs to be released in a controlled fashion.

Such a system could one day be used to provide more control when battling diseases usually treated with more than one drug, as per the researchers.

"With a lot of diseases, particularly cancer and AIDS, you get a synergistic effect with more than one drug," said Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, assistant professor of biological and mechanical engineering and senior author of a paper on the work that recently appeared in the journal ACS Nano.

Delivery devices already exist that can release two drugs, but the timing of the release must be built into the device -- it cannot be controlled from outside the body. The new system is controlled externally and theoretically could deliver up to three or four drugs.

The new technique takes advantage of the fact that when gold nanoparticles are exposed to infrared light, they melt and release drug payloads attached to their surfaces.

Nanoparticles of different shapes respond to different infrared wavelengths, so "just by controlling the infrared wavelength, we can choose the release time" for each drug, said Andy Wijaya, graduate student in chemical engineering and main author of the paper.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 30, 2008, 11:01 PM CT

Are chemotherapy errors common?

Are chemotherapy errors common?
Seven percent of adults and 19 percent of children taking chemotherapy drugs in outpatient clinics or at home were given the wrong dose or experienced other mistakes involving their medications, as per a newly released study led by Kathleen E. Walsh, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and reported in the January 1, 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology

"As cancer care continues to shift from the hospital to the outpatient setting, the complexity of care is increasing, as is the potential for medicine errors, especially in the outpatient and home settings," said Dr. Walsh, who is also a Robert Wood Johnson Clinician Faculty Scholar.

An analysis of data on nearly 1,300 patient visits at three adult oncology outpatient clinics and 117 visits at one pediatric facility between September 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006 showed that errors in medicine were more common than previously reported by oncology patients.

Of the 90 medicine errors involving adults, 55 had the potential to harm the patient and 11 did cause harm. The errors included administration of incorrect medicine doses due to confusion.

over conflicting orders one written at the time of diagnosis and the other on the day of administration. Patients were also harmed by over-hydration previous to administration of medication, resulting in pulmonary edema and recurrent complaints of abdominal pain and constipation. More than 50 percent of errors involving adults were in clinic administration, 28 percent in ordering of medications, and 7 percent in use of the drugs in patients' homes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 30, 2008, 7:15 AM CT

Food additive may increase speed spread of lung cancer

Food additive may increase speed spread of lung cancer
New research in an animal model suggests that a diet high in inorganic phosphates, which are found in a variety of processed foods including meats, cheeses, beverages, and bakery products, might speed growth of lung cancer tumors and may even contribute to the development of those tumors in individuals predisposed to the disease.

The study also suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates may play an important role in lung cancer therapy. The research, using a mouse model, was conducted by Myung-Haing Cho, D.V.M., Ph.D., and colleagues at Seoul National University, appears in the first issue for January of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

"Our study indicates that increased intake of inorganic phosphates strongly stimulates lung cancer development in mice, and suggests that dietary regulation of inorganic phosphates appears to be critical for lung cancer therapy as well as prevention," said Dr. Cho.

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the world and is also the most frequently diagnosed solid tumor. Nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) constitutes over 75 percent of lung cancers and has an average overall 35-year survival rate of 14 percent. Earlier studies have indicated that approximately 90 percent of NSCLC cases were linked to activation of certain signaling pathways in lung tissue. This study revealed that high levels of inorganic phosphates can stimulate those same pathways.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source



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Cancer
Cancer is a very common disease, approximately one out of every two American men and one out of every three American women will have some type of cancer at some point during the course of their life. Cancer is more common in the elderly and 77 percent of cancers occur in people above age 55 or older. Cancer is also common in children. Cancer incidence is said to have two peaks once during early childhood and then during late years in life. No age period is completely exempted from development of cancers. Some cancers occur predominantly in the elderly, other types occur in children, Cancer occurs in all ethnic races, however the cancer rates and rates of specific cancer types may vary from group to group. Late stages of cancer may be incurable in most cases, but with the advancement of medicine, more and more cancers are becoming curable.

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