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November 30, 2009, 8:03 AM CT

Elastography reduces breast biopsies

Elastography reduces  breast biopsies
Elastography is an effective, convenient technique that, when added to breast ultrasound, helps distinguish malignant breast lesions from non-malignant results, as per a research study that's ongoing presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

When mammography yields suspicious findings, physicians often use ultrasound to obtain additional information. However, ultrasound has the potential to result in more biopsies because of its relatively low specificity, or inability to accurately distinguish malignant lesions from non-malignant ones. Approximately 80 percent of breast lesions biopsied turn out to be benign, as per the American Cancer Society.

"There's a lot of room to improve specificity with ultrasound, and elastography can help us do that," said the study's main author, Stamatia V. Destounis, M.D., a diagnostic radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, a large, community-based breast imaging center in Rochester, N.Y. "It's an easy way to eliminate needle biopsy for something that's probably benign".

Elastography improves ultrasound's specificity by utilizing conventional ultrasound imaging to measure the compressibility and mechanical properties of a lesion. Since malignant tumors tend to be stiffer than surrounding healthy tissue or cysts, a more compressible lesion on elastography is less likely to be cancerous.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 29, 2009, 11:11 PM CT

Workings of anti-cancer drug

Workings of anti-cancer drug
The copper sequestering drug tetrathiomolybdate (TM) has been shown in studies to be effective in the therapy of Wilson disease, a disease caused by an overload of copper, and certain metastatic cancers. That much is known. Very little, however, is known about how the drug works at the molecular level.

A newly released study led by Northwestern University scientists now has provided an invaluable clue: the three-dimensional structure of TM bound to copper-loaded metallochaperones. The drug sequesters the chaperone and its bound copper, preventing both from carrying out their normal functions in the cell. For patients with Wilson disease and certain cancers whose initial growth is helped by copper-dependent angiogenesis, this is very promising.

This knowledge opens the door to the development of new classes of pharmaceutical agents based on metal trafficking pathways, as well as the further development of more efficient TM-based drugs. The study will be published in Science Express Nov. 26.

"Essential metals are at the center of a number of emerging problems in health, medicine and the environment, and this work opens the door to new biological experiments," said Thomas V. O'Halloran, the study's senior author and the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. He and geneticist Valeria Culotta of Johns Hopkins University discovered the first copper chaperone function in 1997.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 19, 2009, 0:02 AM CT

Morphine may stimulate cancer growth

Morphine may stimulate cancer growth
Eventhough morphine has been the gold-standard therapy for postoperative and chronic cancer pain for two centuries, a growing body of evidence is showing that opiate-based painkillers can stimulate the growth and spread of cancer cells. Two new studies advance that argument and demonstrate how shielding lung cancer cells from opiates reduces cell proliferation, invasion and migration in both cell-culture and mouse models.

The reports--to be presented November 18, 2009, at "Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics," a joint meeting in Boston of the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer--highlight the mu opiate receptor, where morphine works, as a potential therapeutic target.

"If confirmed clinically, this could change how we do surgical anesthesia for our cancer patients," said Patrick A. Singleton, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and principal author of both studies. "It also suggests potential new applications for this novel class of drugs which should be explored".

The proposition that opiates influence cancer recurrence, prompted by several unrelated clinical and laboratory studies, has gradually gained support. It started with a 2002 palliative-care trial in which patients who received spinal rather than systemic pain relief survived longer. Soon after that, Singleton's colleague, anesthesiologist Jonathan Moss, noticed that several cancer patients receiving a selective opiate blocker in a compassionate-use protocol lived longer than expected. Two recent retrospective studies observed that breast and patients with prostate cancer who received regional rather than general anesthesia had fewer recurrences. In February, 2009, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation highlighted the issue.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2009, 11:18 PM CT

Catching circulating cancer cells

Catching circulating cancer cells
Fluorescence micrographs and SEM images show how more cancer cells were captured on the silicon nanopillar (SiNP) substrate compared to the flat substrate.

Credit: UCLA

Just as fly paper captures insects, an innovative new device with nano-sized features developed by scientists at UCLA is able to grab cancer cells in the blood that have broken off from a tumor.

These cells, known as circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, can provide critical information for examining and diagnosing cancer metastasis, determining patient prognosis, and monitoring the effectiveness of therapies.

Metastasis the most common cause of cancer-related death in patients with solid tumors is caused by marauding tumor cells that leave the primary tumor site and ride in the bloodstream to set up colonies in other parts of the body.

The current gold standard for examining the disease status of tumors is an analysis of metastatic solid biopsy samples, but in the early stages of metastasis, it is often difficult to identify a biopsy site. By capturing CTCs, doctors can essentially perform a "liquid" biopsy, allowing for early detection and diagnosis, as well as improved therapy monitoring.

To date, several methods have been developed to track these cells, but the UCLA team's novel "fly paper" approach appears to be faster and cheaper than others and it appears to capture far more CTCs.

As per a research findings published this month in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the UCLA team developed a 1-by-2-centimeter silicon chip that is covered with densely packed nanopillars and looks like a shag carpet. To test cell-capture performance, scientists incubated the nanopillar chip in a culture medium with breast cancer cells. As a control, they performed a parallel experiment with a cell-capture method that uses a chip with a flat surface. Both structures were coated with anti-EpCAM, an antibody protein that can help recognize and capture tumor cells.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 8:53 AM CT

A powerful combination punch against breast cancer

A powerful combination punch against breast cancer
These are Drs. Kapil Bhalla (right) and Rekha Rao, assistant research scientist and first-author on the autophagy study presented this week.

Credit: Medical College of Georgia
A powerful new breast cancer therapy could result from packaging one of the newer drugs that inhibits cancer's hallmark wild growth with another that blocks a primordial survival technique in which the cancer cell eats part of itself, scientists say.

While they are powerful killers of some breast cancer cells, new drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors, or HDAC inhibitors, also increase self-digestion, or autophagy, in surviving, mega-stressed cells, Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center scientists reported during the Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics International Conference this week in Boston. The conference is sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

"To meet the energy demands of growth and survival, cancer cells start eating up their own organelles, so that surviving cells become dependent on this autophagy," says Dr. Kapil Bhalla, director of the MCG Cancer Center.

"By also using autophagy inhibitors, we pull the rug out from under them. The only way out is death," he says.

Scientists showed the potent HDAC inhibitor panobinostat's impact on autophagy in human breast cancer cells in culture as well as those growing in the mammary fat pads of mice. When they added the anti-malaria drug chloroquine, which inhibits autophagy, breast cancer kill rates increased dramatically.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 16, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

Protein Might Prevent Cancer

Protein Might Prevent Cancer
Jonas Frisen
Photo: Camilla Svensk
One difficulty with fighting cancer cells is that they are similar in a number of respects to the body's stem cells. By focusing on the differences, scientists at Karolinska Institutet have found a new way of tackling colon cancer. The study is presented in the prestigious journal Cell.

Molecular signal pathways that stimulate the division of stem cells are generally the same as those active in tumour growth. This limits the possibility of treating cancer as the drugs that kill cancer cells also often adversely affect the body's healthy cells, especially stem cells. A newly released study from Karolinska Institutet, conducted in collaboration with an international team of researchers led by Professor Jonas Frisen, is now focusing on an exception that can make it possible to treat a form of colon cancer.

The results concern a group of signal proteins called EphB receptors. These proteins stimulate the division of stem cells in the intestine and can contribute to the formation of adenoma (polyps), which are known to carry a risk of cancer. Paradoxically, these same proteins also prevent the adenoma from growing unchecked and becoming malignant.

The new results show that EphB controls two separate signal pathways, one of which stimulates cell division and the other that curbs the cells' ability to become malignant. Using this knowledge, the researchers have identified a drug substance called imatinib, which can inhibit the first signal pathway without affecting the other, protective, pathway.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 8:12 AM CT

Discovery in worms may lead to better cancer treatment

Discovery in worms may lead to better cancer treatment
Research on this microscopic worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) may offer a drug target for cancer treatment.

Credit: Ian Chin-Sang and Tony Papanicolaou
Scientists at Queen's University have found a link between two genes involved in cancer formation in humans, by examining the genes in worms. The groundbreaking discovery provides a foundation for how tumor-forming genes interact, and may offer a drug target for cancer therapy.

"When cancer hijacks a healthy system, it can create tumors by causing cells to divide when they shouldn't," says Ian Chin-Sang, a developmental biologist at Queen's and lead researcher on the study. "Certain genes control the normal movement and growth of cells, and by studying how these genes interact, we can understand what is abnormal when cancer is present".

There is an important gene in humans called PTEN that acts as a tumor suppressor. When the PTEN gene function is lost, it can lead to cancers. For example, 70-80 per cent of all prostate cancers have lost PTEN function. Another gene family, called Eph receptors, often shows high levels in cancers, but a correlation between PTEN and Eph Receptors in cancer formation has never been shown. The Queen's study shows the remarkable relationship between these genes in worms.

When the research team increased Eph receptor levels in worms, the PTEN levels diminished and the worms died prematurely. When they decreased the Eph receptor level in the worm, the PTEN levels went up and the worm lived longer than normal. The team believes the same principals are applicable to humans.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:34 AM CT

New imaging techniques pave way for cancer drugs

New imaging techniques pave way for cancer drugs
A recently devised method of imaging the chemical communication and warfare between microorganisms could lead to new antibiotics, antifungal, antiviral and anti-cancer drugs, said a Texas AgriLife Research scientist.

"Translating metabolic exchange with imaging mass spectrometry," was published Nov. 8 in Nature Chemical Biology, a prominent scientific journal. The article describes a technique developed by a collaborative team that includes Dr. Paul Straight, AgriLife Research scientist in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Dr. Pieter Dorrestein, Yu-Liang Yang and Yuquan Xu, all at the University of California, San Diego.

"Microorganisms encode in their genomes the capacity to produce a number of small molecules that are potential new antibiotics," Straight said. "Because we do not understand the circumstances under which those molecules are produced in the environment, we see only a small fraction of them in the laboratory".

An example is the antibiotic erythromycin, which is often prescribed for people who are allergic to penicillin, Straight said.

"We know that Saccharopolyspora erythraea, the bacteria from which erythromycin is derived, encodes the capacity to produce numerous other small molecules that might be potentially valuable drugs," he said. "Conventional microbial culture and drug discovery techniques uncovered erythromycin. Other potentially useful metabolites may require some unconventional methods for identification".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 9, 2009, 8:22 AM CT

Prostate biopsy is not always necessary

Prostate biopsy is not always necessary
Scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that some elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men appears to be caused by a hormone normally occurring in the body, and are not necessarily a predictor of the need for a prostate biopsy.

Elevated levels of PSA have traditionally been seen as a potential sign of prostate cancer, leading to the widespread use of PSA testing. However, the scientists observed that parathyroid hormone, a substance the body produces to regulate calcium in the blood, can elevate prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in healthy men who do not have prostate cancer. These "non-cancer" elevations in PSA could cause a number of men to be biopsied unnecessarily, which often leads to unnecessary therapy.

"PSA picks up any prostate activity, not just cancer," said lead investigator Gary G. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of cancer biology and epidemiology and prevention at the School of Medicine. "Inflammation and other factors can elevate PSA levels. If the levels are elevated, the man is commonly sent for a biopsy. The problem is that, as men age, they often develop microscopic cancers in the prostate that are clinically insignificant. If it weren't for the biopsy, these clinically insignificant cancers, which would never develop into fatal prostate cancer, would never be seen".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 9, 2009, 8:21 AM CT

Predictive value of lung cancer response on PET scan

Predictive value of lung cancer response on PET scan
A rapid decline in metabolic activity on a PET scan after radiation treatment for non-small cell lung cancer is correlated with good local tumor control, as per a research studypresented by scientists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at the 51st ASTRO Annual Meeting.

In addition, the scientists also observed that the higher the metabolic activity and tumor size on a PET scan before therapy, the more likely a patient is to die from lung cancer.

"PET scanning is an emerging tool of molecular imaging in lung cancer, in contrast to Computerized axial tomography scans and MRI scans which are anatomic imaging," said Maria Werner-Wasik, associate professor of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and the study's main author. "It has become an important tool in the assessment of lung cancer staging and assessment of therapy response".

Dr. Werner-Wasik and his colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of 50 lung cancer patients who received PET imaging before and after radiation treatment. They analyzed the prognostic factors for tumor local failure. They measured the metabolic activity using the maximum Standardized Uptake Value (mSUV). They also measured the tumor size, or the Metabolic Tumor Volume.

The risk of local failure decreased for each unit decline in mSUV by the first post-therapy scan. When in comparison to the pre-therapy PET scan, the mSUV of the primary tumor declined by 72 percent in the by the first post-therapy scan, 76 percent by the second scan.........

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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