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November 21, 2008, 8:19 PM CT

Better cancer diagnosis, drugs

Better cancer diagnosis, drugs
A Florida State University College of Medicine research team led by Yanchang Wang has discovered an important new layer of regulation in the cell division cycle, which could lead to a greater understanding of the way cancer begins.

Wang, an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the College of Medicine, said the findings will lead to an improved ability to diagnose cancer and could lead to the design of new drugs that kill cancer cells by inhibiting cell reproduction. His paper on the discovery has been reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

"The correct timing of chromosome segregation during cell division is necessary to ensure normal, healthy growth," Wang said. "Now we have discovered a previously undetected layer of regulation in how the chromosomes separate, which helps to ensure the correct timing and decreases the potential for the formation of malignant growth".

The cell division cycle is a collection of tightly regulated events that lead to cell duplication. The most important events are the doubling of the hereditary information encoded within a set of chromosomes, and the division of that duplicated information into two daughter cells that are genetically identical to each other and the mother cell.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 6:15 PM CT

Causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors

Causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors
Osteoporosis is a growing concern among breast cancer survivors and their doctors, because certain cancer drugs can cause bone loss.

But a new study has observed that cancer drugs aren't the only culprits. Among 64 patients with breast cancer referred to a bone health clinic, 78 percent had at least one other cause of bone loss, including vitamin D deficiency, excessive calcium excretion in urine and an overactive parathyroid gland.

"Doctors evaluating patients with breast cancer for possible bone loss should look further than cancer drugs," said Dr. Pauline Camacho, lead author of the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology Camacho is an associate professor in the department of medicine, division of endocrinology and metabolism, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

A co-author of the study, Dr. Kathy Albain, said breast cancer survivors "are just like the normal population as they age in that bone loss can be due to a number of treatable causes." Albain is a professor in the Department of Medicine, division of hematology/oncology at Stritch.

Prior studies have observed that chemotherapy drugs can cause bone loss. Studies also have observed that a class of breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors can decrease bone mineral density and increase the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women. Aromatase inhibitors decrease the body's production of estrogen. While estrogen feeds cancer, it also protects against osteoporosis. Aromatase inhibitors include letrozole (trade name, Femara), anastrazole (Arimidex) and exemestane (Aromasin).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 17, 2008, 10:22 PM CT

Why only some former smokers develop lung cancer

Why only some former smokers develop lung cancer
Canadian scientists are trying to answer why some smokers develop lung cancer while others remain disease free, despite similar changes in lifestyle.

Results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die from lung cancer than any other cancer type. In fact, as per 2004 data, more people died from lung cancer than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer, even after quitting for long periods of time. "More than 50 percent of newly diagnosed patients with lung cancer are former smokers," said Emily A. Vucic, a graduate student at the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, B.C. "Understanding why some former smokers develop lung cancer is clearly important to the development of early detection, prevention and therapy strategies".

The scientists studied how DNA methylation contributes to lung cancer development in former smokers. Methylation is an important event regulating gene expression during normal development. As we age and in cancer, proper patterns of DNA methylation become deregulated throwing off the tight control of gene activity that normally exists.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 17, 2008, 10:16 PM CT

Psychological interventions associated with breast cancer survival

Psychological interventions associated with breast cancer survival
A new study finds that patients with breast cancer who participate in intervention sessions focusing on improving mood, coping effectively, and altering health behaviors live longer than patients who do not receive such psychological support. Reported in the December 15, 2008 issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that reducing the stress that can accompany cancer diagnosis and therapy can have a significant impact on patients' survival.

Cancer patients undergo a significant amount of stress before, during, and after therapy. A number of scientists have theorized that providing mental health services in addition to cancer care may improve patients' health and even prolong their survival. But studies linking psychotherapy to improved survival have had inconsistent results. To test the hypothesis, Dr. Barbara L. Andersen and his colleagues at The Ohio State University conducted a randomized clinical trial with newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer that tested whether receiving a psychological intervention could reduce the negative effects of stress and ultimately change the course of a patient's disease. Prior papers have shown that the intervention significantly improved psychological, behavioral, and health outcomes and enhanced immunity.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 8:20 PM CT

Tiny backpacks for cells

Tiny backpacks for cells
MIT researchers have developed a technique to attach tiny polymer "backpacks" to cells.
MIT engineers have outfitted cells with tiny "backpacks" that could allow them to deliver chemotherapy agents, diagnose tumors or become building blocks for tissue engineering.

Michael Rubner, director of MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering and senior author of a paper on the work that appeared online in Nano Letters on Nov. 5, said he believes this is the first time anyone has attached such a synthetic patch to a cell.

The polymer backpacks allow scientists to use cells to ferry tiny cargoes and manipulate their movements using magnetic fields. Since each patch covers only a small portion of the cell surface, it does not interfere with the cell's normal functions or prevent it from interacting with the external environment.

"The goal is to perturb the cell as little as possible," said Robert Cohen, the St. Laurent Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and an author of the paper.

The scientists worked with B and T cells, two types of immune cells that can home to various tissues in the body, including tumors, infection sites, and lymphoid tissues -- a trait that could be exploited to achieve targeted drug or vaccine delivery.

"The idea is that we use cells as vectors to carry materials to tumors, infection sites or other tissue sites," said Darrell Irvine, an author of the paper and associate professor of materials science and engineering and biological engineering.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 13, 2008, 10:29 PM CT

How eating red meat can spur cancer progression

How eating red meat can spur cancer progression
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led by Ajit Varki, M.D., have shown a new mechanism for how human consumption of red meat and milk products could contribute to the increased risk of malignant tumors. Their findings, which suggest that inflammation resulting from a molecule introduced through consumption of these foods could promote tumor growth, are published online this week in advance of print publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine distinguished professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, and co-director of the UCSD Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and his colleagues studied a non-human cellular molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). Neu5Gc is a type of glycan, or sugar molecule, that humans don't naturally produce, but that can be incorporated into human tissues as a result of eating red meat. The body then develops anti-Neu5Gc antibodies an immune response that could potentially lead to chronic inflammation, as first suggested in a 2003 PNAS paper by Varki.

"We've shown that tumor tissues contain much more Neu5Gc than is commonly found in normal human tissues," said Varki. "We therefore surmised that Neu5Gc must somehow benefit tumors".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2008, 9:00 PM CT

The miseries of allergies just may help prevent some cancers

The miseries of allergies just may help prevent some cancers
Sherman
There may be a silver -- and healthy -- lining to the miserable cloud of allergy symptoms: Sneezing, coughing, tearing and itching just may help prevent cancer -- especially colon, skin, bladder, mouth, throat, uterus and cervix, lung and gastrointestinal tract cancer, as per a new Cornell study.

These cancers, interestingly, involve organs that "interface directly with the external environment," said Paul Sherman, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, who led the study. He and his colleagues analyzed 646 studies on allergies and cancers published over the past 50 years, putting together "the most comprehensive database yet available" on allergies and cancers.

The study revealed "a strong relationship" between allergies and cancer in environmentally exposed tissues, Sherman said. This relationship seldom exists, he noted, between allergies and cancers of tissues that are not directly exposed to the environment, such as cancers of the breast and prostate, as well as myelocytic leukemia and myeloma.

Moreover, the study observed that allergies associated with tissues that are exposed to environmental factors -- eczema, hives, hay fever, and animal and food allergies -- were most strongly linked to lower rates of cancers in exposed tissues.

The study, co-authored with Erica Holland '05 (now a medical student at the University of Massachusetts) and Janet Shellman Sherman, a Cornell research scientist and lecturer in neurobiology and behavior, is reported in the recent issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology (83:4).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 6, 2008, 7:45 PM CT

Achilles' heel in pancreatic cancer

Achilles' heel in pancreatic cancer
UC Davis Cancer Center scientists have discovered a metabolic deficiency in pancreas cancer cells that can be used to slow the progress of the deadliest of all cancers.

Reported in the recent issue of the International Journal of Cancer, study results indicate that pancreas cancer cells cannot produce the amino acid arginine, which plays an essential role in cell division, immune function and hormone regulation. By depleting arginine levels in cell cultures and animal models, the team was able to significantly reduce pancreas cancer-cell proliferation.

"There have been few significant advances in 15 years of testing available chemotherapy to treat pancreas cancer," said Richard Bold, chief of surgical oncology at UC Davis and senior author of the study. "The lack of progress is especially frustrating because most patients are diagnosed after the disease has spread to other organs, eliminating surgery as an option. We have to turn back to basic science to come up with new therapys".

Bold explained that average survival time for those diagnosed with pancreas cancer is just four-and-a-half months, eventhough chemotherapy can extend that prognosis up to six months.

"There is a dire need to find new options for these patients. While our findings do not suggest a cure for pancreas cancer, they do promise a possible way to extend the life expectancies of those diagnosed with it," Bold said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 6, 2008, 6:20 PM CT

Study finds racial disparities increasing for cancers

Study finds racial disparities increasing for cancers
A new American Cancer Society study finds that recent progress in closing the gap in overall cancer mortality between African Americans and whites may be due primarily to smoking-related cancers, and that cancer mortality differences correlation to screening and therapy may still be increasing. The study, appearing in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, is the first to analyze racial and ethnic differences between the two broad categories of disease.

Despite decreases in overall cancer death rates across all racial and ethnic groups since the early part of 1990s, racial disparities in cancer mortality persist. African Americans have the highest risk of all major ethnic groups in the United States of being diagnosed with and dying of cancer. The scientists examined how black-white disparities have in cancer mortality have changed over time for all sites combined, for smoking-related cancers, and for sites affected, or potentially affected by screening and therapy (breast, prostate, colon/rectum).

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed the black-white disparity in overall cancer death rates narrowed from the early part of 1990s through 2004, particularly in men. But analysis showed that reduction was driven predominantly by more rapid decreases in mortality from tobacco-related cancers in black men than white men. In contrast, racial disparities in mortality from cancers potentially affected by screening and therapy increased over most of the time intervals since 1975.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 6, 2008, 6:17 PM CT

Age is not a key factor in cancer survival

Age is not a key factor in cancer survival
Age is not an independent factor in cancer survival rates and should not influence decisions about how to treat older patients, as per a research studyin the recent issue of IJCP, the Independent Journal of Clinical Practice

A team of hospital and University-based scientists from Barcelona, Spain, carried out a detailed study of more than 200 patients diagnosed with cancer.

"We observed that there were many factors that influence survival rates including physical quality of life and how far the cancer had spread but age was not one of them" says lead researcher Dr Eva Domingo from Hospital Vall d'Hebron.

"Despite this fact, and the challenges that clinicians face from an ageing population, there has been little research into how to treat older cancer patients, who often have complex medical needs because of other health issues.

"They have been systematically excluded from clinical trials for cancer therapys. Eventhough 60 per cent of cancers occur in patients over 65, their participation in clinical trials does not exceed 25 per cent.

"This has made it difficult to predict how older patients will tolerate and respond to .

the latest cancer therapys and has provided an obstacle to making evidence-based clinical decisions".........

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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