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April 14, 2010, 11:01 PM CT

Personalized medicine for cancer patients

Personalized medicine for cancer patients
Published online today in Nature, a paper authored by over 200 members of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) describes the beginnings of a Brave New World, a new era of personalised medicine for cancer patients.

Formed in 2008, the consortium brings together leading cancer scientists from around the world, working together to catalogue the genetic changes of the 50 most common cancers - 500 genomes from each cancer type and make the results freely available on the internet.

"Given the tremendous potential for relatively low-cost genomic sequencing to reveal clinically useful information, we anticipate that in the not so distant future, partial or full cancer genomes will routinely be sequenced as part of the clinical assessment of cancer patients," say the authors in the paper.

Their statement is fairly low-key, given the staggering scale of progress over the last couple of decades. The first human genome project, which sequenced half a dozen people, cost 1.5 billion dollars and took 15 years. The same amount of data can now be processed in a week at a fraction of the cost.

"This is already revolutionising the way we do cancer research," said Professor Andrew Biankin, member of the Nature paper's writing team, researcher at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research, surgeon at Sydney's Bankstown Hospital and co-leader of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative, the Australian project arm of the ICGC.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 12, 2010, 10:40 PM CT

Radiation therapy for terminal cancer patients

Radiation therapy for terminal cancer patients
A new analysis has observed that a considerable proportion of patients with end-stage or terminal cancer do not benefit from palliative radiation treatment (radiotherapy) despite spending most of their remaining life undergoing therapys. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that greater efforts are needed to tailor appropriately palliative radiotherapy to patients with end-stage cancer.

Palliative radiotherapy for end-stage cancer patients is intended to control cancer-related pain and other symptoms and to help patients maintain a good quality of life when long-term cancer control is not possible. By reducing the number of cancer cells, palliative radiotherapy can ease pain, stop bleeding, and relieve pressure, even when the cancer cannot be controlled. However, for a number of patients, the therapys are not effective. In addition, if patients are close to death, they may wish to stop therapys if they would like to die at home.

To investigate the adequacy of palliative radiotherapy in end-stage cancer patients, Stephan Gripp, MD, of the University Hospital Duesseldorf in Gera number of and his colleagues reviewed the therapy of patients who were referred for palliative radiotherapy at their hospital from December 2003 to July 2004 and who died within 30 days. The researchers identified 33 such patients.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 2, 2010, 7:14 AM CT

Study could improve treatments for prostate cancer

Study could improve treatments for prostate cancer
Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) researchers have determined how two proteins mandatory for the initiation and development of prostate cancer interact at the molecular level, which could lead to improved therapys for the disease.

One of the proteins, androgen receptor, is already an important drug target for prostate cancer. The other, steroid receptor coactivator-3 (SRC3), was originally identified for its role in the development of breast cancer. SCR3 has also been characterized as a key factor in the development of prostate cancer, but, until now, the exact relationship between androgen receptor and SCR3 has been unclear.

Understanding the relationship between these two proteins, and targeting this interaction, could lead to new, more effective therapys for prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in men, with more than 192,000 new cases and more than 27,000 deaths published in the United States in 2009 (Source: National Cancer Institute).

"Anti-androgen therapies become less effective over time," said VARI Distinguished Scientific Investigator H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., whose laboratory published the findings recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, where it was named Paper of the Week by the journal. "To develop the next generation of prostate cancer therapys, we need to find ways to disrupt the interaction between androgen receptor and the molecules it depends on to work, such as SRC3".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 25, 2010, 7:56 PM CT

Breast cancer and anthracyclines

Breast cancer and anthracyclines
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way of detecting which patients with breast cancer are going to respond best to chemotherapy that includes anthracycline antibiotics*.

The research, presented at the seventh European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC7) in Barcelona today (Thursday), is important because, until now, there was conflicting evidence about the best way of predicting response to anthracyclines and it was unclear whether any of the known biomarkers, such as the genes HER2 and TOP2A, were accurate indicators of response to these drugs.

By conducting a meta-analysis of four large breast cancer trials including nearly 3,000 patients, the scientists have discovered that an abnormality on chromosome 17, called CEP17, is linked to a worse outcome for patients, but also that its presence is a highly significant indicator that the tumour will respond to anthracyclines.

After adjusting for additional factors relating to the tumour and its therapy, the scientists observed that if patients with CEP17 were treated with anthracyclines, they were approximately two-thirds more likely to survive and to survive without a recurrence of cancer than those who did not receive anthracyclines (recurrence free survival was 67% and overall survival was 63%).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 24, 2010, 12:15 AM CT

Does screening reduce breast cancer deaths?

Does screening reduce breast cancer deaths?
A study from Denmark published on bmj.com today finds no effect of the Danish screening programme on breast cancer deaths.

Similar results have been seen in other countries, including the UK, leading the authors to question whether screening has delivered the promised effect on breast cancer mortality.

A 2005 study suggested that screening had reduced breast cancer deaths by 25% in Copenhagen. But Karsten Jrgensen and Peter Gtzsche from the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen, together with Per-Henrik Zahl from Folkehelseinstituttet in Oslo, identified important problems in this study and decided to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of the data.

They compared annual changes in breast cancer deaths in two Danish regions offering publicly organised screening programmes (Copenhagen and Funen county) with non-screened regions across the rest of Denmark.

Their analysis covered 10 years after screening could have had an effect on breast cancer mortality. For comparison, they also looked at the 10-year period before screening was introduced.

Data for each area were divided into three age bands. Women aged 55-74 years, who could benefit from screening, and women aged 35-55 years and 75-84 years, who were largely unaffected by screening.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 22, 2010, 7:45 PM CT

Gene linked to lung cancer in never-smokers

Gene linked to lung cancer in never-smokers
A five-center collaborative study that scanned the genomes of thousands of "never smokers" diagnosed with lung cancer as well as healthy never smokers has found a gene they say could be responsible for a significant number of those cancers.

In the March 22 on line issue of Lancet Oncology, the scientists reported that about 30 percent of patients who never smoked and who developed lung cancer had the same uncommon variant, or allele, residing in a gene known as GPC5. The research was co-led by researchers at the Mayo Clinic campus in Minnesota, Harvard University, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Scientists found in laboratory studies that this allele leads to greatly reduced GPC5 expression, in comparison to normal lung tissue. The finding suggests that the gene has an important tumor suppressor-like function and that insufficient function can promote lung cancer development.

"This is the first gene that has been observed that is specifically linked to lung cancer in people who have never smoked," says the study's lead investigator, Ping Yang, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic genetic epidemiologist.

"What's more, our findings suggest GPC5 appears to be a critical gene in lung cancer development and genetic variations of this gene may significantly contribute to increased risk of lung cancer," she says. "This is very exciting".........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 17, 2010, 7:49 PM CT

New chemotherapy combination for endometrial cancer

New chemotherapy combination for endometrial cancer
Jubilee Brown, M.D., is an associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology.

Credit: M. D. Anderson
Scientists from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report that in a small study of women with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer, gemcitabine and cisplatin, when used in combination, produced a response rate in fifty percent of patients.

Jubilee Brown, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Gynecologic Oncology, presented the findings at today's plenary session of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' 41st Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer.

While early-stage endometrial cancer typically responds well to standard therapies, low survival rates for advanced or recurrent disease result from limited and ineffective chemotherapy and hormonal therapy options. The American Cancer Society estimates that 15 percent, or three out of every 20 of women with stage IV endometrial cancer, will survive more than five years.

The Phase II study of 20 patients observed that the combination of gemcitabine and cisplatin, two drugs currently used to treat other types of cancer, limited the disease's progression, increasing progression-free survival while maintaining tolerable toxicity levels. It is believed that when administered together, gemcitabine helps overcome cell resistance to cisplatin, throwing tumor cells a potent one-two punch.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 15, 2010, 8:04 PM CT

How cancer and obesity are linked

How cancer and obesity are linked
The link between obesity and disease has been well documented. There's evidence now that obesity and cancer have a strong link, as they've shown in the United States at least 90,000 cancer deaths a year can be attributed to obesity. University of Alberta researcher Richard Lamb is on his way to understanding the correlation and it's a good example of how the scientific process works.

Lamb is studying a cell pathway in the human body that regulates cell growth. In their most recent work, Lamb and his research group have observed that this pathway can be affected by sources not within the cell, specifically amino acid nutrients. Amino acids are the building blocks of tissues and muscle in the human body.

What makes this interesting is that these amino acids are found to be elevated in obese people. That means this signalling pathway, called mTOR, could be hyper-activated by these heightened amino acid nutrients and this could affect how human cells respond to stress and disease among many other things. Lamb and his team will now investigate if cancer cells are aided by this potential hyper-activity of the pathway.

Lamb's work is reported in the prestigious journal Molecular Cell, and as is normal scientific process, this will elicit calls from scientists around the world who could have other ideas on why this pathway is relevant to disease.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 12, 2010, 7:22 AM CT

Preventing gastric cancer with antibiotics

Preventing gastric cancer with antibiotics
H Pylori
Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium found in about 50% of humans worldwide, can cause stomach ulcers and, in extreme cases, gastric cancer. In an article for F1000 Medicine Reports, Seiji Shiota and Yoshio Yamaoka discuss the possible eradication of H. pylori infections.

Infection by the H. pylori bacterium can approach 100% in developing countries. Most infected people do not have symptoms, but a number of develop problems including stomach ulcers. H. pylori causes more than 90% of all duodenal ulcers and can also contribute to the development of gastric cancer, which is one of the world's biggest medical problems.

Shiota and Yamaoka, from Oita University, Japan, and Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, respectively, report on a large multicenter trial in Japan. Patients with early gastric cancer were randomly treated with H. pylori antibiotics after surgical resection and were followed up for three years. Patients who received antibiotic therapy had a significantly lower risk of developing gastric cancer, confirming the importance of careful management of H. pylori

However, certain populations (e.g. India and Thailand) have a high prevalence of H. pylori infection but a low occurence rate of gastric cancer. It is thought that certain strains of H. pylori (particularly east-Asian cytotoxin-associated gene [cagA]-positive strains) might carry an increased risk of developing gastric cancer, but currently identified cagA genotypes in the Asia-Pacific are not linked to cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 10, 2010, 8:19 AM CT

Papaya extract against cancer

Papaya extract against cancer
The humble papaya is gaining credibility in Western medicine for anticancer powers that folk cultures have recognized for generations.

University of Florida researcher Nam Dang, M.D., Ph.D., and his colleagues in Japan have documented papaya's dramatic anticancer effect against a broad range of lab-grown tumors, including cancers of the cervix, breast, liver, lung and pancreas. The scientists used an extract made from dried papaya leaves, and the anticancer effects were stronger when cells received larger doses of the tea.

In a paper reported in the Feb. 17 issue of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Dang and colleagues also documented for the first time that papaya leaf extract boosts the production of key signaling molecules called Th1-type cytokines. This regulation of the immune system, in addition to papaya's direct antitumor effect on various cancers, suggests possible therapeutic strategies that use the immune system to fight cancers.

The papaya extract did not have any toxic effects on normal cells, avoiding a common and devastating consequence of a number of cancer treatment regimens. The success of the papaya extract in acting on cancer without toxicity is consistent with reports from indigenous populations in Australia and his native Vietnam, said Dang, a professor of medicine and medical director of the UF Shands Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office.........

Posted by: Janet      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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