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October 11, 2010, 7:44 AM CT

Erlotinib improves survival as first-line therapy

Erlotinib improves survival as first-line therapy
For patients with advanced lung cancer whose tumors carry EGFR activating mutations, first-line therapy with erlotinib nearly tripled progression-free survival in comparison to a standard chemotherapy combination, show results from the first prospective Phase-III study to report findings in this setting.

The new results from the OPTIMAL trial were reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy.

"Erlotinib is very effective and well tolerated in advanced NSCLC patients who harbor EGFR activating mutations. It is 2 to 3 times more effective than doublet chemotherapy," said study leader Professor Caicun Zhou of Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Tongji University, China.

The OPTIMAL study included 165 patients whose lung cancer carried mutations activating the Epithelial Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR). Participants had not received systemic therapy for their cancer.

Of these patients, 83 were randomly assigned to receive erlotinib 150 mg/day, and 82 patients were assigned to receive a 'doublet' combination chemotherapy of gemcitabine and carboplatin. The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival.

In his presentation at the ESMO Congress, Prof Zhou reported that the median progression-free survival in the erlotinib arm was 13.1 months, in comparison to 4.6 months for the chemotherapy arm of the study. The objective response rate with erlotinib was 83%, in comparison to 36% for gemcitabine plus carboplatin. 31 patients in the erlotinib arm are still under study and progression free in comparison to only 1 in the chemotherapy arm.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:42 AM CT

Cancer-linked epigenetic effects of smoking

Cancer-linked epigenetic effects of smoking
For the first time, UK researchers have reported direct evidence that taking up smoking results in epigenetic changes linked to the development of cancer.

The results were reported at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Milan, Italy.

The link between smoking and cancer has been established for decades, explained Dr Yuk Ting Ma from the Cancer Research UK Institute of Cancer Studies, Birmingham, who presented the results. Smoking is the single biggest cause of cancer in the world, and years of research have confirmed that carcinogenic substances in tobacco smoke can damage DNA.

Researchers have also suspected that smoking causes so-called epigenetic changes, such as methylation, which alter gene expression without causing changes to the actual DNA sequence.

"Until now, however, there has been no direct evidence that smoking induces DNA methylation in humans," Dr Ma said. "Cross-sectional surveys restricted to patients with cancer have revealed that aberrant methylation of several tumor suppressor genes is linked to smoking. But such surveys cannot distinguish those epigenetic changes that are a consequence of the disease process from those which are directly attributable to smoking."

In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, the British team set out to clarify the link between smoking and methylation in a cohort of 2,011 healthy young women aged 15-19 who were originally recruited as part of a study of pre-malignant changes to cells of the cervix.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:41 AM CT

Investigational ovarian cancer drug shows promise

Investigational ovarian cancer drug shows promise
A drug being developed as a therapy for ovary cancer has shown single agent activity with durable disease control in some patients in a Phase-II clinical trial, an international research group has reported.

Dr Ursula Matulonis from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the USA reported the results of the single-agent trial of the drug, called MLN8237, in a poster at the 35th Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

MLN8237 selectively inhibits an enzyme known as Aurora A kinase, which is a member of a family of kinase enzymes involved in normal cell division. Scientists have observed that Aurora A kinase is over-expressed in some cancer cells, leading to growth of cancers.

"In epithelial ovary cancer, Aurora A kinase has been reported to be frequently upregulated or overexpressed, and linked to worse clinical outcome," Dr Matulonis said. "This is why an effective Aurora A Kinase inhibitor is a potential new treatment to be used alone or in combination with other standard agents such as paclitaxel".

In addition to ovary cancer, the Aurora A kinase gene is amplified or overexpressed, or both, in other cancers including colon, breast, pancreatic, and bladder cancers, as well as certain lymphomas, leukemias and myeloma.

Unlike other aurora kinase inhibitors currently being studied, MLN8237 selectively targets aurora A Kinase and can be administered orally, Dr Matulonis said.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:35 AM CT

Computer time and psychological problems

Computer time and psychological problems
Children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or television screen are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties, regardless of how physically active they are.

The PEACH project, a study of over a 1,000 children aged between ten and 11, measured the time children spent in front of a screen as well as their psychological well being. In addition, an activity monitor recorded both children's sedentary time and moderate physical activity. The results showed that more than two hours per day of both television viewing and recreational computer use were correlation to higher psychological difficulty scores, regardless of how much time the children spent on physical activity.

The authors of the report, reported in the November edition of the American journal Pediatrics, conclude that limiting children's screen time appears to be important for ensuring children's future health and wellbeing.

As per the activity monitor, the children in the study who spent more time sedentary had better psychological scores overall. Those children who did more moderate physical activity fared better in certain psychological areas, including emotional and peer problems, but fared worse in some areas correlation to behaviour, including hyperactivity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:33 AM CT

Racial disparities in breast cancer care

Racial disparities in breast cancer care
Racial disparities in the receipt of breast cancer care persist despite accounting for patients' insurance and social and economic status. That is the conclusion of a study published early online in Cancer, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society. The findings suggest that greater efforts are needed to better understand disparities in breast cancer care and to ensure that all affected women receive equal and effective therapys.

Studies have demonstrated that black and Hispanic women are less likely to receive recommended breast cancer therapys than white women, but few studies have examined whether these differences in the receipt of breast cancer care are affected by patients' socioeconomic status and health insurance. Rachel Freedman, MD, MPH, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston led a team that examined recommended breast cancer care (including localized treatment, hormone receptor testing, hormonal treatment, and chemotherapy) received by a large national sample of women with breast cancer. The scientists assessed whether insurance and socioeconomic factors were linked to any observed racial/ethnic differences in care.

The study included information from 662,117 white, black, and Hispanic women who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer from 1998 to 2005 at National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) hospitals. (The NCDB is a registry that collects patient demographics, tumor characteristics, first course of therapy, and outcomes for cancer patients treated at U.S. hospitals.) Most women were white (86 percent), 10 percent were black, and 4 percent were Hispanic. Most had private insurance (51 percent) or Medicare (41 percent).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 11, 2010, 7:30 AM CT

Study-abroad increase alcohol intake

Study-abroad increase alcohol intake
For most American students, spending a semester or two studying in a foreign country means the opportunity to improve foreign language skills and become immersed in a different culture. For others, studying abroad is more like a prolonged spring break: it can be months with fewer academic responsibilities, plentiful bars and alcohol, and parents far away.

New results from University of Washington scientists point to why some students drink more alcohol while abroad and suggest ways to intervene.

"We hear stories in the media and elsewhere about students going abroad, drinking too much and getting into trouble. But no one has ever measured this risky drinking behavior and there are no published studies of prevention strategies before they go abroad," said Eric Pedersen, a UW graduate student in psychology.

Like heavy drinking on campus, consequences of drinking while studying abroad can be mild, such as missed classes due to hangovers, or more severe, such as fights, injuries and regrettable sexual experiences. But heavy drinking while in a different country can present additional problems, including disrupted travel plans, promoting negative stereotypes of American students and even legal issues with a foreign government.

In the current issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Pedersen and co-authors report that students doubled how much they drank while they were away, upping their consumption from about four alcoholic drinks per week while at home to about eight drinks per week while they were abroad.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 8, 2010, 8:07 AM CT

Cheek Swab May Detect Lung Cancer

Cheek Swab May Detect Lung Cancer
Nano-scale disturbances in cheek cells indicate the presence of lung cancer.
Early detection is critical for improving cancer survival rates. Yet, one of the deadliest cancers in the United States, lung cancer, is notoriously difficult to detect in its early stages.

Now, scientists have developed a method to detect lung cancer by merely shining diffuse light on cells swabbed from patients' cheeks.

In a new clinical study, the analysis technique--called partial wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy--was able to differentiate individuals with lung cancer from those without, even if the non-malignant patients had been lifetime smokers or suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The findings-released by a team of engineers and physicians from NorthShore University Health System, Northwestern University and New York University-appear in print in the Oct. 15, 2010, issue of the journal Cancer Research.

"This study is important because it provides the proof of concept that a minimally intrusive, risk-stratification technique may allow us to tailor screening for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in Americans," said doctor and researcher Hemant Roy of NorthShore University HealthSystems and the University of Chicago, the main author on the paper. "This represents a major step forward in translating biomedical optics breakthroughs for personalized screening for lung cancer".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


October 8, 2010, 8:03 AM CT

Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress

Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress
Linda Carpenter
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior
Seemingly healthy adults, if they were abused or neglected during childhood, may suffer physiological consequences decades later. In research published online last week by the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a team led by psychiatry experts at Brown University and Butler Hospital observed that healthy adults who reported being mistreated as kids appear to have an elevated inflammatory response to stress in comparison to adults who had happier childhoods.

Main author Linda Carpenter, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, said that previous research has revealed preliminary associations between inflammatory markers, (such as cytokines or proteins released in the bloodstream such as interleuken-6) and depression and anxiety disorders, so this new finding could ultimately improve doctors' understanding of how stressors in childhood shape the risk people face for developing those conditions during the later part of life.

"Animal models have given us some signals about how the functioning of an organism's stress response system can run amok for the rest its life as a result of some of the earliest environment exposures - adverse ones in particular," said Carpenter, who also treats patients as chief of the mood disorders practice at Butler. "This is one of many studies we've been doing with generally healthy adults, looking at the effects of adverse early environment and how it might create a biological abnormality that could predispose somebody to future depression or another medical disorders".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 8, 2010, 7:53 AM CT

US invested $139 billion in health research in 2009

US invested $139 billion in health research in 2009
U.S. invested $139 billion last year in health research from all public and private sources, as per Research!America's latest annual estimate. That amount represents only 5.6% of the $2.47 trillion overall U.S. health spending in 2009or 5.6 of every health dollarwhich varies no more than 0.2% from 2005 levels.

The estimate is available here: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/healthdollar09.pdf.

The 2009 investment grew by only 0.1% over 2008. This small increase can be attributed largely to the federal stimulus funding for research provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Federal research investment was nearly $46.8 billion in 2009, up from $38.6 billion in 2008.

"America's economic destiny lies in innovation, but other countries are stepping up, investing more and thus challenging our lead," said former Congressman John Edward Porter, Research!America's chair. "We need to invest in our federal research agencies for the long term. Our economic competitiveness and our future standard of living depend on it."

The effects of the economic recession can be seen throughout the other sectors that fund health research and developmentindustry, universities, state and local governments, philanthropic foundations, voluntary health associations, and independent research instituteswhere such investment remained essentially flat or declined in 2009. Industry was the largest source of health research funding in 2009 at $74.3 billion, down slightly from the previous year's $74.8 billion. All other sources combined invested $17.8 billion, compared with $17.1 billion in 2008.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 6, 2010, 7:49 AM CT

Air pollution alters immune function

Air pollution alters immune function
Berkeley Exposure to dirty air is associated with decreased function of a gene that appears to increase the severity of asthma in children, as per a joint study by scientists at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

While air pollution is known to be a source of immediate inflammation, this newly released study provides one of the first pieces of direct evidence that explains how some ambient air pollutants could have long-term effects.

The findings, reported in the October 2010 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, come from a study of 181 children with and without asthma in the California cities of Fresno and Palo Alto.

The scientists observed that air pollution exposure suppressed the immune system's regulatory T cells (Treg), and that the decreased level of Treg function was associated with greater severity of asthma symptoms and lower lung capacity. Treg cells are responsible for putting the brakes on the immune system so that it doesn't react to non-pathogenic substances in the body that are linked to allergy and asthma. When Treg function is low, the cells fail to block the inflammatory responses that are the hallmark of asthma symptoms.

The findings have potential implications for altered birth outcomes linked to polluted air, much the same as those noted for the effects of cigarette smoke.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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