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December 7, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

New Approach To Melanoma Treatment

New Approach To Melanoma Treatment
While investigating a fungus known to cause an infection in people with AIDS, two grantees of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), unexpectedly discovered a potential strategy for treating metastatic melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. The therapy approach, which involves combining an antibody with radiation, has since been further developed and is expected to enter early-stage human clinical studies in 2007.

"This is an excellent example of how scientific research in one discipline may have payoffs in a completely unpredictable way," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This important AIDS-related research has led to the development of a promising therapeutic strategy for a terrible cancer that affects thousands of people each year."

Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, in New York City, and his research team began studying the biology of the skin pigment melanin to better understand why its synthesis plays a role in the process whereby certain yeast-like fungi, specifically Cryptococcus neoformans, cause disease in some people. C. neoformans can cause cryptococcosis, a potentially fatal fungal infection that can lead to inflammation of the brain and death in people with AIDS and other immunocompromised individuals.........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source


December 6, 2006, 8:51 PM CT

Evolutionary Risk of Cancer And Body Mass

Evolutionary Risk of Cancer And Body Mass
A key enzyme that cuts short our cellular lifespan in an effort to thwart cancer has now been associated with body mass.

Until now, researchers believed that our relatively long lifespans controlled the expression of telomerase-an enzyme that can lengthen the lives of cells, but can also increase the rate of cancer.

Vera Gorbunova, assistant professor of biology at the University of Rochester, conducted a first-of-its-kind study to discover why some animals express telomerase while others, like humans, don't. The findings are reported in today's issue of Aging Cell.

"Mice express telomerase in all their cells, which helps them heal dramatically fast," says Gorbunova. "Skin lesions heal much faster in mice, and after surgery a mouse's recovery time is far shorter than a human's. It would be nice to have that healing power, but the flip side of it is runaway cell reproduction-cancer".

Up until now, researchers assumed that mice could afford to express telomerase, and thereby benefit from its curative powers, because their natural risk of developing cancer is low-they simply die before there's much likelihood of one of their cells becoming malignant.

"Most people don't know that if you put mice in a cage so the cat can't eat them, 90 percent of them will die of cancer," says Gorbunova.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 5, 2006, 8:09 PM CT

Cause Of Cancer Drug Side Effect

Cause Of Cancer Drug Side Effect This figure shows where gefinitib first comes into contact with the transporter ABCG2
St. Jude Children's Research Hospita
A troublesome side effect caused by some cancer drugs appears to be caused by a broken "pump" in the liver that fails to push these medicines into a "drain," as per researchers at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. The finding offers clinicians a way to identify patients who are likely to develop diarrhea as a side effect from taking these drugs, the scientists said.

The discovery also has implications for people taking other drugs, since this pump controls the blood levels of a number of of the prescription drugs on the market. This study is the first to show that a specific gene mutation disables the pumpa protein called ABCG2preventing it from disposing of these drugs. The mutation, a type of alteration called a single nucleotide polymorphism, is designated 421C>A in reference to the specific change in one of the DNA building blocks of the gene.

ABCG2 pushes drugs out of cells and back into the blood, or in the case of the liver, the pump pushes drugs into a tube-like structure called the bile canaliculum, which eventually leads to the intestine, from which it is excreted, as per the researchers. ABCG2 also pumps drugs out of the cells lining the intestine, preventing drugs taken by mouth from flooding into the body. Once past the intestine, blood vessels pick up the drugs and bring them to the liver and other parts of the body.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 4, 2006, 9:57 PM CT

Implant Measures Tumor Growth

Implant Measures Tumor Growth nanoparticles tailored to detect a particular molecule
Image courtesy / Cima research group
A tiny implant now being developed at MIT could one day help doctors rapidly monitor the growth of tumors and the progress of chemotherapy in cancer patients.

The implant contains nanoparticles that can be designed to test for different substances, including metabolites such as glucose and oxygen that are linked to tumor growth. It can also track the effects of cancer drugs: Once inside a patient, the implant could reveal how much of a certain cancer drug has reached the tumor, helping doctors determine whether a therapy is working in a particular patient.

"You really want to have some sort of rapid measure of whether it's working or not, or whether you should go on to the next (drug)," said Michael Cima, the Sumitomo Electric Industries Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the leader of the research team.

Such nanoparticles have been used before, but for the first time, the MIT scientists have encased the nanoparticles in a silicone delivery device, allowing them to remain in patients' bodies for an extended period of time. The device can be implanted directly into a tumor, allowing scientists to get a more direct look at what is happening in the tumor over time.

With blood testing, which is now usually used to track chemotherapy progress, it's hard to tell if cancer drugs are reaching their intended targets, says Grace Kim, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and one of the scientists working on the implant. That's because the system of blood vessels surrounding tumors is complicated, and you can't trust that drugs present in the blood have also reached the tumor, as per Kim.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


December 3, 2006, 8:28 PM CT

Better Tumor Vaccines

Better Tumor Vaccines
A "super" form of the enzyme Akt1 could provide the key to boosting the effect of tumor vaccines by extending the lives of dendritic cells, the immune-system master switches that promote the response of T-cells, which attack tumors, said scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears in the "advance online publication" section of the current issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

"By keeping the dendritic cells alive longer, you extend the window of activation, promoting the desirable immune response, which in the case of cancer, is the expansion of T-cells," said Dr. David Spencer, associate professor of immunology at BCM. "The longer your dendritic cells are alive and active, the more likely you are to expand the appropriate T-helper repertoire and ultimately the desirable cytotoxic (cell killing) T-lymphocytes".

"The dendritic cells are the master switch in the immune system. They decide whether there will be a robust immune response or a tempered immune response to pathogens or cancer," he said.

Using a variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques, Spencer and colleagues observed that Akt1 "was in fact essential for dendritic cell survival," he said. Then they sought to develop a more potent form of Akt1 that would enable the dendritic cells to live longer, boosting immune response.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 30, 2006, 4:38 AM CT

Metabolic Syndrome May Be Treatable With Malaria Drug

Metabolic Syndrome May Be Treatable With Malaria Drug
Studies of a rare genetic condition that increases cancer risk have unveiled a potential therapy for metabolic syndrome, a common disorder that afflicts as a number of as one in every four American adults and puts them at sharply increased risk of type 2 diabetes and clogged arteries.

Researchers know relatively little about metabolic syndrome, which is associated with a range of symptoms that include obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, low levels of good cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. The number of adults and children with the condition is rising sharply in industrial countries, and diagnoses are also increasing in developing countries like India and China as they adopt Western standards of living.

In findings reported in the recent issue of Cell Metabolism, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. report that a small dose of the malaria drug chloroquine eased a number of symptoms of metabolic syndrome in mice, reducing blood pressure, decreasing hardening and narrowing of the arteries and improving blood sugar tolerance.

"We just received funding for a clinical trial, and we're very excited to see if the processes activated by chloroquine can effectively treat one of the most common health problems of modern industrialized society," says senior author Clay F. Semenkovich, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology at Washington University. "We already know that chloroquine is safe and well-tolerated, and our mouse results suggest we may only need very low and perhaps infrequent doses to achieve similar effects in humans."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


November 30, 2006, 4:17 AM CT

Vegetables May Help Protect Against Prostate Cancer

Vegetables May Help Protect Against Prostate Cancer
Our parents may have been on to something when they told us to eat our vegetables, finish eating every pea and bean on our plates.

In two separate studies it was observed that nutrients in certain foods might reduce the risk for prostate cancer, as per Jackilen Shannon, Ph.D., M.P.H., a member of the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Shannon will present these findings Tuesday, Nov. 14 between 6 and 8 p.m. in Boston, Mass., at the Fifth Annual International Conference of the American Association of Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention.

In the "Folate Nutrition, Alcohol Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk" study, Shannon looked at the folate and alcohol consumption among two groups of veterans: 137 men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and 238 men who had a normal prostate specific antigen (PSA) level and thus were considered to be at low risk for prostate disease. Folate is found in foods such as dark, green leafy vegetables; liver; kidney; dried beans and mushrooms. Folate is mandatory for the production of red blood cells but also plays an important role in inhibiting a certain type of DNA damage known as methylation. DNA damage is believed to be important in the development of cancer.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 29, 2006, 9:33 PM CT

preserve fertility after cancer

preserve fertility after cancer
The Center for Reproductive Research at Northwestern University is launching a new, experimental research program for young women who may be at risk to lose their ovarian function and fertility following therapy for cancer.

The program, in which a woman's ovary is removed and frozen for possible future use, is being led by Teresa Woodruff, Ph.D., associate director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and executive director of the Institute for Women's Health Research at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. The long-term goal of the program is to be able to extract and mature eggs from cryopreserved (frozen) ovarian tissues to initiate pregnancies once cancer therapy has been completed.

"This breakthrough may permit not only the potential preservation of fertility options for women and girls with cancer, but also can be applied to normal in vitro fertilization patients. This procedure, when developed, could radically change the way infertility is viewed, reduce and eliminate embryo storage and provide better options for women who do not respond to hormonal treatment, " said Woodruff.

In recognition of the Cancer Center's commitment to providing fertility options to women and men with cancer, it has been recognized as a Fertile Hope Center of Excellence, the fifth medical center in the country to receive this designation. Fertile Hope is a non-profit organization that assists cancer patients faced with infertility.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 5:11 AM CT

Aging Gene Protects Against Prostate Cancer

Aging Gene Protects Against Prostate Cancer
Cancer researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have shown that a gene that is involved in regulating aging also blocks prostate cancer cell growth. The researchers, led by Kimmel Cancer Center director Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., hope the newly found connection will aid in better understanding the development of prostate cancer and lead to new drugs against the disease.

SIRT1 is a member of a family of enzymes called sirtuins that have far-reaching influence in all organisms, including roles in metabolism, gene expression and aging.

"We know that sirtuins play a role in aging, and that the risk for prostate cancer increases with aging, but no one has ever linked the two until now," says Dr. Pestell, who is also professor and chair of cancer biology at Jefferson Medical College.

"We've shown that by making a prostate cancer with cells overexpressing a mutation for the androgen receptor, which is resistant to current forms of treatment, we can almost completely block the growth of these cells with SIRT1," he says. Dr. Pestell and his team report their findings in November in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology.

As per Dr. Pestell, prostate cancer cells can express a mutation that makes patients resistant to current forms of therapy such as hormonal treatment. Such treatment focuses on inactivating the androgen receptor by giving agents that shut off testosterone production.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


November 28, 2006, 4:58 AM CT

Big Bias In Who Gets Screened For Breast Cancer

Big Bias In Who Gets Screened For Breast Cancer
Certain women may miss out on routine tests that screen for early signs of breast cancer.

Elderly women, women with publicly funded health insurance and women who don't go to an obstetrician and gynecologist for routine exams are all less likely than others to get a clinical breast exam and a recommendation for a mammogram.

"A physician's recommendation is why a number of women undergo screening in the first place," said Rajesh Balkrishnan, the Merrell Dow professor of pharmacy at Ohio State University. "Foregoing these exams can increase a woman's risk of developing an advanced stage of breast cancer. There are several reasons why a doctor may not give a patient a clinical breast exam or recommend a mammogram".

Balkrishnan led a study that uncovered some of these possible reasons. The findings currently appear online at the website of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The scientists gathered data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), a database run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NAMCS contains information on a nationally representative sample of practicing physicians and patient visits throughout the United States. The scientists restricted their data set to doctor office visits by women 40 and older from 1996 through 2004.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         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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