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August 2, 2009, 11:01 PM CT

metformin reduces risk of pancreatic cancer

metformin reduces risk of pancreatic cancer
Taking the most commonly-prescribed anti-diabetic drug, metformin, reduces an individual's risk of developing pancreas cancer by 62 percent, as per research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, reported in the Aug. 1 issue of Gastroenterology

"This is the first epidemiological study of metformin in the cancer population, and it offers an exciting direction for future chemoprevention research for a disease greatly in need of both therapy and prevention strategies," said Donghui Li, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology.

An oral medication, metformin is the most usually prescribed drug for type 2 diabetes. As per Li, more than 35 million prescriptions for the drug are filled annually, and it's most often given to type 2 diabetic patients who are obese and/or have insulin resistance.

"Metformin works by increasing the cellular sensitivity to insulin and decreasing its level circulating in diabetics. Insulin also seems to have a growth-promoting effect in cancer," said Li, the study's senior author. "Metformin activates the AMP kinase, which is a cellular engery sensor. Recent publications have described that AMP kinase also plays an important role in the development of cancer by controlling cell division and growth."........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source

July 29, 2009, 11:15 PM CT

Chemo directly to ovarian cancer cells

Chemo directly to ovarian cancer cells
Anil K. Sood, M.D. is a professor and in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology at M. D. Anderson.
With a novel therapeutic delivery system, a research team led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has successfully targeted a protein that is over-expressed in ovary cancer cells. Using the EphA2 protein as a molecular homing mechanism, chemotherapy was delivered in a highly selective manner in preclinical models of ovary cancer, the scientists report in the July 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

EphA2 is attractive for such molecularly targeted treatment because it has increased expression in ovarian and other cancers, including breast, colon, prostate and non-small cell lung cancers and in aggressive melanomas, and its expression has been linked to a poor prognosis.

"One of our goals has been to develop more specific ways to deliver chemotherapeutic drugs," said senior author Anil K. Sood, M.D., professor and in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology at M. D. Anderson. "Over the last several years we have shown that EphA2 is a target that is present quite frequently in ovarian and other cancers, but is either present in low levels or is virtually absent from most normal adult tissues. EphA2's preferential presence on tumor cells makes it an attractive therapeutic target".

The scientists used a carrier system to deliver chemotherapy directly to ovary cancer cells. The immunoconjugate contains an anti-EphA2 monoclonal antibody associated with the chemotherapy drug monomethyl auristatin phenylalanine (MMAF) through the non-cleavable linker maleimidocaproyl. Research has shown that auristatins induce cell cycle arrest at the G - M border, disrupt microtubules and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

July 29, 2009, 11:10 PM CT

Is that a good prognosis brain cancer?

Is that a good prognosis brain cancer?
This brain scan shows the wavy borders of a dying tumor in white at right. Dying cells leak fluid, causing swelling and water movement linked to a good response to Avastin therapy.
UCLA scientists have uncovered a new way to scan brain tumors and predict which ones will be shrunk by the drug Avastin -- before the patient ever starts therapy. By linking high water movement in tumors to positive drug response, the UCLA team predicted with 70 percent accuracy which patients' tumors were the least likely to grow six months after treatment.

Bronnie McNabb, 57, considers himself lucky. When his aggressive brain cancer returned after chemotherapy and radiation, his UCLA doctor prescribed the off-label use of Avastin, a drug shown to quell cancers in the breast, colon and lung.

One month later, McNabb's tumors had shrunk by 95 percent. Subsequent brain scans show no trace of his cancer at all. The former marathon runner, ordained minister and father of two says he hasn't felt this good since his diagnosis last winter.

In welcome news for patients like McNabb, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Avastin last month for the therapy of brain cancer. The powerful drug shrinks tumors by choking off their blood supply. Half of patients don't respond to the treatment, though, exposing them to unnecessary side effects and medicine costing up to $10,000 per month.

Now UCLA researchers have uncovered a new way to image tumors and forecast which patients, like McNabb, are most likely to benefit from Avastin before starting a single dose of therapy. The findings appear in this month's issue of the journal Radiology........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 28, 2009, 11:39 PM CT

Pesticides linked to childhood cancer

Pesticides linked to childhood cancer
Washington, DC A newly released study by scientists at the Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center finds a higher level of common household pesticides in the urine of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer that develops most usually between three and seven years of age. The findings are published in the recent issue of the journal Therapeutic Drug Monitoring

Scientists caution that these findings should not be seen as cause-and-effect, only that the study suggests an association between pesticide exposure and development of childhood ALL.

"In our study, we compared urine samples from children with ALL and their mothers with healthy children and their moms. We found elevated levels of common household pesticides more often in the mother-child pairs affected by cancer," says the study's lead investigator, Offie Soldin, PhD, an epidemiologist at Lombardi. Soldin cautions, "We shouldn't assume that pesticides caused these cancers, but our findings certainly support the need for more robust research in this area".

The study was conducted between January 2005 and January 2008 with volunteer participants from Lombardi and Children's National Medical Center who live in the Washington metropolitan area. It included 41 pairs of children with ALL and their mothers (cases), and 41 pairs of healthy children and their mothers (controls). For comparison purposes, the case pairs were matched with control pairs by age, sex and county of residence. Prior studies in agricultural areas of the country have suggested a relationship between pesticides and childhood cancers, but scientists say this is the first study conducted in a large, metropolitan area.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 28, 2009, 11:35 PM CT

Cancer vaccines for metastatic melanoma

Cancer vaccines for metastatic melanoma
Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian today announced promising data from a clinical study showing patient-specific cancer vaccines derived from patients' own cancer cells and immune cells were well tolerated and resulted in impressive long-term survival rates in patients with metastatic melanoma whose disease had been minimized by other therapies.

The study entitled "Phase II Trial of Dendritic Cells Loaded with Antigens from Self-Renewing, Proliferating Autologous Tumor Cells as Patient-Specific Anti-Tumor Vaccines in Patients with Metastatic Melanoma," was reported in the June 2009 issue of Cancer Biotherapy and Radiopharmaceuticals and was sponsored by Hoag Hospital Foundation.

"There is continued interest in developing new therapies for melanoma patients with recurrent or distant metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis because there are no systemic therapies that can be relied upon to cure them," said Robert O. Dillman, M.D., F.A.C.P., executive medical and scientific director at the Hoag Cancer Center and lead investigator for the study. "Patients with metastatic melanoma are at high risk for additional metastases and death."

During the study, 54 patients with regionally recurrent or distant metastatic melanoma were injected with a vaccine that included each patient's own immune cells (dendritic cells) and 500 micrograms of granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), an immune stimulator, three times a week and then monthly for five months for a total of up to eight injections. The patient's dendritic cells were obtained from their peripheral blood and mixed with a cell culture of the patient's own melanoma cells that had been self-renewing and proliferating in the laboratory. The patient-specific vaccine is designed to stimulate the patient's immune system to react against tumor stem cells or early progenitor cells that can create new depots of cancer throughout the body.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 28, 2009, 11:33 PM CT

New Drug for Children with High-Risk Leukemia

New Drug for Children with High-Risk Leukemia
Each year, approximately 4,500 children in America are diagnosed with leukemia, as per the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A potentially deadly cancer of the blood, it is the most common cancer in children.

"Modern medicine can cure eight out of 10 cases of childhood leukemia, so parents can still be hopeful when they hear a diagnosis," says Dr. Shai Izraeli of Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine and Sheba Medical Center. "Our research gives hope and life to the 20% who might not make it as well as those who may experience a relapse".

The first scientists to discover a mutation of the JAK2 protein in patients with Down syndrome, the Tel Aviv University team suspected that this protein might also be associated with other disorders and diseases - and they were right. Based on the successful results of this research a drug that is already in clinical trials for a blood disease common in adults appears to be relevant for acute childhood leukemia. If initial trials go well, the drug could fast-track through approvals and could be available for treating children with leukemia in only a few years.

The recent findings are based on Dr. Izraeli's original discovery of the JAK2 in Down syndrome, published recently in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 27, 2009, 11:04 PM CT

Smoking increases risk of metastatic pancreatic cancer

Smoking increases risk of metastatic pancreatic cancer
Smoking has once again been implicated in the development of advanced cancer. Exposure to nicotine by way of cigarette smoking may increase the likelihood that pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma will become metastatic, as per scientists from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. Their study was reported in the August edition of the journal Surgery

The culprit behind the increased metastasis potential may be an isoform (variant type) of a protein called osteopontin, as per Hwyda Arafat, M.D. Ph.D., an associate professor of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and a member of the Jefferson Pancreatic, Biliary & Related Cancers Center.

Nicotine promotes the expression osteopontin, and high levels of osteopontin have been reported in pancreatic ductal carcinoma (PDA). Dr. Arafat and her research team analyzed PDA samples and confirmed that the isoform, called OPNc, was also expressed on invasive PDA lesions. Prior studies have shown that OPNc is expressed in several invasive cancers, and supports metastatic behavior.

The scientists correlated OPNc expression with the patients' smoking history. OPNc expression was found on 87 percent of the invasive PDA lesions analyzed, of which 73 percent were from smokers. The OPNc expression also correlated with higher expression levels of osteopontin. Precancerous lesions expressed no OPNc.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source

July 20, 2009, 11:40 PM CT

Gene that leads to breast cancer's aggressive behavior

Gene that leads to breast cancer's aggressive behavior
Aggressive forms of cancer are often driven by the abnormal over-expression of cancer-promoting genes, also known as oncogenes.

Studies at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), a research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore, have identified a gene, known as RCP (or RAB11FIP1), that is frequently amplified and over-expressed in breast cancer and functionally contributes to aggressive breast cancer behaviour.

The research findings appear in the July 20th online issue of Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI).

The GIS team, led by Lance Miller, Ph.D., and Bing Lim, Ph.D., initially discovered that RCP expression was positively correlated with cancer recurrence in a population of patients with breast cancer. This suggested that RCP appears to be mandatory by some tumours for growth and metastatic spread to other organs.

When the scientists over-expressed RCP in non-malignant breast cells, they observed that RCP promotes migration, or cellular movement, which is a precursor to the ability of tumours to invade neighbouring tissues.

However, breast cancer cells in which RCP is over-expressed take on a more aggressive behaviour, including faster proliferation, enhanced migration/invasion and anchorage-independent growth.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 20, 2009, 10:58 PM CT

Heavy alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer

Heavy alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer
Consumption of 50 g or more of alcohol per day or four or more drinks per day for at least five days per week was linked to an elevated risk for prostate cancer. Furthermore, drinking 50 g or more of alcohol per day rendered therapy with finasteride ineffective.

Scientists analyzed data from 2,129 participants with cancer and 8,791 participants without disease from the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. They examined the relationships between risk for low- and high-grade prostate cancer and total alcohol consumption, types of alcoholic beverages and consumption pattern. Scientists also analyzed the effect of alcohol consumption on the effectiveness of finasteride based on the arms that patients were randomly assigned to in the original trial.

Consumption of 50 g or more of alcohol per day increased risk for high-grade prostate cancer yielding an RR of 2.01 (95% CI, 1.33-3.05). Consumption of four or more drinks per day for at least five days per week also increased this risk with an RR of 2.17 (95% CI, 1.42-3.30).

Compared with no alcohol intake, heavy drinking for at least five days per week was linked to risk for high-grade cancer (RR=2.17; 95% CI, 1.42-3.30).

Patients in the finasteride group who consumed <50 g of alcohol per day had a 29% lower risk for low- and high-grade cancer, but patients in this group who consumed >50 g of alcohol per day had a 17% increased risk (P=.03).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

July 16, 2009, 11:50 PM CT

Understanding of DNA repair mechanism could lead to better cancer drugs

Understanding of DNA repair mechanism could lead to better cancer drugs
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shed new light on a process that fixes breaks in the genetic material of the body's cells. Their findings could lead to ways of enhancing chemotherapy drugs that destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA.

Using yeast cells, the researchers studied protein molecules that have an important role in homologous recombination, which is one way that cells repair breaks in the DNA double helix. The process in yeast is similar to that in humans and other organisms.

Earlier research had established that a protein molecule named Srs2 regulates homologous recombination by counteracting the work of another protein, Rad51. Reporting in the July 10 issue of the journal Molecular Cell, the research team reveals the mechanism of how Srs2 removes Rad51 from DNA and thereby prevents it from making repairs to broken strands.

"Our findings may make it possible to uncover ways to augment the effect of DNA-damaging agents that are used for cancer chemotherapy," says senior author Tom Ellenberger, D.V.M, Ph.D., the Raymond H. Wittcoff Professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. "A number of chemotherapeutic agents work by causing DNA damage in cancer cells, leading to their death, and tumors can become resistant to chemotherapy by using DNA repair mechanisms to keep the cells alive. Drugs that inhibit the DNA repair process could help increase the efficiency of chemotherapeutic agents".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

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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. Archives of cancer-blog

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