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April 13, 2008, 8:41 PM CT

Targeted therapy combination for liver cancer

Targeted therapy combination for liver cancer
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center reported today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that combining two targeted therapies overcomes therapy resistance in liver cancer cell lines. The team is currently designing a trial to test the combination in patients.

Liver cancer is resistant to a number of chemotherapies and to cell-death inducing agents. Last year, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved sorafenib (Nexavar) as a therapy for liver cancer after a clinical trial showed that the targeted agent prolonged survival in some patients.

Unfortunately not all patients respond to sorafenib and the drug does not cure the disease.

Therefore, Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Genetics, and Pharmacology, and co-Program Leader of Radiation Biology in the Abramson Cancer Center, and his colleagues have tested other targeted agents in combination with sorafenib.

They observed that treating liver cancer cells with sorafenib and an antibody or the natural ligand that stimulates programmed cell death via the TRAIL pathway, dramatically increases the rate of cell death.

Sorafenib by itself causes a little cell death, but not that much, Dr. El-Deiry said. Now you combine sorafenib and TRAIL, and all of the sudden you get massive cell death. It is a real synergistic interaction. It is very profound killing.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 10, 2008, 9:17 PM CT

Developing targeted chemotherapy

Developing targeted chemotherapy
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and his colleagues discovered that the Notch signaling pathway, which determines the development of a number of cell types, and is also implicated in some cancers, is not universally essential for the maintenance of stem cells. The findings appear this week in Cell Stem Cell, and indicate that inhibitors of Notch may not affect bone marrow stem cells.

Notch is one of a select set of proteins that influence the development of a wide variety of types of cells. Previous work has shown that increases in signals generated by Notch are important in certain human tumors, especially some kinds of childhood leukemia, making Notch an attractive target for new cancer therapies. However, it has also been suggested that Notch is needed to maintain the stem cells in the bone marrow from which normal blood cells are formed, raising the concern that Notch inhibitors might destroy the normal bone marrow. This potential risk raised important questions about treating leukemia patients with Notch inhibitors, notes senior author Warren Pear, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute.

Prior work from the Pear lab and others has shown that Notch signals are mandatory for the proper development of lymphocytes. More importantly in terms of human disease, work done together with co-author Jon Asters lab at Harvard over the last decade has shown that abnormal increases in Notch signaling cause T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias, which make up about 15-20 percent of childhood leukemias. Growth of these leukemias can be stopped in the laboratory by new kinds of Notch pathway inhibitors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 10, 2008, 9:10 PM CT

The good and bad side of anti-cancer compounds

The good and bad side of anti-cancer compounds
Compounds known as HDAC inhibitors exhibit cancer-killing activities in cultured cells. While they are currently being tested as anti-cancer agents in clinical trials, just how they execute their effects is unclear.

In a pair of recent papers, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers provide a potential mechanism by which HDAC inhibitors specifically damage cancer cells and offer clues about possible adverse effects of these compounds findings with important implications for their clinical use as cancer therapies.

Scott Hiebert, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Medicine, and his colleagues initially set out to study how chromosomal translocations which happen when chromosomes break and rejoin, creating new genes at the breakpoints cause acute leukemias.

He previously had observed that a chromosomal translocation common in acute myeloid leukemias led to the formation of a new protein, a mutant transcription factor, that actively turned genes off. Enzymes known as histone deacetylases (HDACs) helped the mutant protein turn genes off by stabilizing the tightly coiled structure of DNA in chromosomes, making it inaccessible to proteins that transcribe DNA.

We thought that if we could inhibit these HDACs, we could turn the genes back on and cure leukemia, Hiebert explained.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 3, 2008, 10:00 PM CT

Breast cancer risk lingered years after HRT

Breast cancer risk lingered years after HRT
A follow-up study of postmenopausal women who took the combination of estrogen and progestin for more than five years as part of the landmark Women's Health Initiative shows that the women continued to face an increased risk for breast cancer nearly three years after they quit taking the hormones.

The new study also shows that while some of the other health risks and benefits diminished after the women had stopped taking the estrogen-progestin combination, the overall health risk was 12 percent higher at the end of eight years (with women on the pills for an average of 5.6 years and then off for 2.4 years) compared with those who took placebos. This was largely due to the high risks of breast cancer, strokes and serious blood clots during the original trial while the women took the hormones.

The Stanford University School of Medicine researcher who is the senior author of the follow-up study said the results indicate that the potential harms from estrogen-progestin treatment still outweigh the benefits, and that women should continue to be cautious in deciding whether to take the hormones to relieve menopausal symptoms.

"Menopausal women really need to think through whether using estrogen-progestin is the right thing to do, especially if continued for more than a few years," said Marcia Stefanick, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, noting that the breast-cancer risks apply only to women who take the combination treatment, and not those who take estrogen alone. A different portion of the WHI study showed that estrogen-only treatment doesn't increase the risk of breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 3, 2008, 9:51 PM CT

Colon Cancer's Potential for Metastasis

Colon Cancer's Potential for Metastasis
Some colon cancers are destined to spread to the liver and other parts of the body, whereas others are successfully treated by surgical removal of the tumor. Now, Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have observed that the ability of a colon tumor to metastasize arises early in its development.

Those colon cancers that spread carry the ability to metastasize from the time they become malignant, the scientists found. They don't need to acquire any new genetic mutations to become metastatic. The research also suggests that once a colon carcinoma develops, if it is going to spread outside the colon, it will do so in less than two years.

"The ability to metastasize is hard-wired into this group of tumors in the colon," said Sanford Markowitz, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Case Western Reserve University. "It isn't something that happens after a cancer cell wanders off and leaves the colon."

Markowitz and colleagues published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on March 3, 2008.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States, causing about 60,000 deaths annually. But there are a number of more cases of colon cancer that are cured by surgical removal of the tumor. Markowitz and his team wanted to understand the genetic differences between the two types.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source

April 2, 2008, 9:58 PM CT

Nano-sized technology has super-sized effect on tumors

Nano-sized technology has super-sized effect on tumors
A tumor treated with fumagillin nanoparticles (left) is smaller than an untreated tumor. Nanoparticles containing an image-enhancing metal (yellow) show that the treated tumor has much less blood vessel growth than the untreated tumor.

Credit: Washington University School of Medicine
Anyone facing chemotherapy would welcome an advance promising to dramatically reduce their dose of these often harsh drugs. Using nanotechnology, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have taken a step closer to that goal.

The scientists focused a powerful drug directly on tumors in rabbits using drug-coated nanoparticles. They observed that a drug dose 1,000 times lower than used previously for this purpose markedly slowed tumor growth.

"A number of chemotherapeutic drugs have unwanted side effects, and we've shown that our nanoparticle technology has the potential to increase drug effectiveness and decrease drug dose to alleviate harmful side effects," says lead author Patrick M. Winter, Ph.D., research assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering.

The nanoparticles are extremely tiny beads of an inert, oily compound that can be coated with a wide variety of active substances. In an article published online in The FASEB Journal, the scientists describe a significant reduction of tumor growth in rabbits that were treated with nanoparticles coated with a fungal toxin called fumagillin. Human clinical trials have shown that fumagillin can be an effective cancer therapy in combination with other anticancer drugs.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 1, 2008, 9:02 PM CT

Novel biomarkers for cancer

Novel biomarkers for cancer
Biotechnology companies are focusing on the development of novel biomarkers to overcome the limitations of current diagnostic tests for cancer, reports Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN). To effectively move cancer treatment forward, a much stronger and targeted emphasis on diagnosis will be required, as per an article in the April 1 issue of GEN (

"Therapeutic protocols can involve hundreds of thousands of dollars per cancer patient," notes John Sterling, Editor-in-Chief of GEN (www.genengnews). "Coming up with effective and validated biomarkers that detect cancer while still in its early stages seems like an extremely worthwhile effort on which to spend R&D funds now to cut down on costs of therapy in the future".

A team led by Edouard Nice, Ph.D., at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, is one example of a group hard at work trying to develop early detection tools for malignancies. Dr. Nice and colleagues are using multidimensional high-performance liquid chromatography to trace enrich low-level components such as growth factors in tumor material previous to analysis by mass spectrometry.

At Wayne State University School of Medicine, a research program run by Michael Tainsky, Ph.D., harnesses antibodies in patients' serum for the detection of cancer-specific epitopes using peptides selected for IgG binding from phage-display cDNA libraries.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

April 1, 2008, 8:48 PM CT

Hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer

Hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer
Millions of post-menopausal women use hormone replacement treatment (HRT) as a method to reduce symptoms linked to menopause. In a recent University of Missouri study, scientists observed that one of the hormones used in HRT, a synthetic progestin, could be a major factor in promoting breast cancer. At the same time, the scientists have compelling evidence that using an antibody that prevents new blood vessel formation in tumors, or a small molecular drug, known as PRIMA, with similar properties as the antibody may be effective in treating or preventing the negative effects of progestin.

As per a research findings reported in the journal, Cancer Research, MU scientist Salman Hyder and his research team observed that exposing tumor cells to progestin caused an increase in a growth factor that is involved in the formation of new blood vessels in tumors. Increasing the blood supply allows the tumors to expand as the availability of nourishment increases. However, when they used an antibody that inhibits the growth factor, the tumor shrank. Hyders team found similar results using PRIMA, which re-activated a protein known as p53. When p53 was activated within tumor cells, the number of breast cancer cells reduced significantly.

As women age, a number of develop tiny lesions in their breasts, said Hyder, professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. The majority of the time, these lesions never expand. We think this might be due to a specific protein, p53, that, under normal circumstances, prevents tumor cells from living. We found in our study that when the protein is active, it reduces the number of breast cancer cells in the body by inhibiting the growth factor that supplies blood vessels to the tumor. However, when the cells of these lesions are exposed to progestin in a body that does not have an active p53 protein, we observed that the cells might start expanding and turn into tumors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 27, 2008, 9:36 PM CT

Too many women still dying from breast cancer

Too many women still dying from breast cancer
Thousands of women die from breast cancer each year because current therapys are not always effective and in some cases fail to stem the disease, warns Breast Cancer Campaign today.

In a comprehensive review of breast cancer research published recently, 56 of the UKs most influential breast cancer experts have identified the key research gaps and priorities for the greatest potential impact on patients.

Breast cancer therapy has improved over the past few decades and led to increased survival rates and better quality of life, the report highlights. However over 44,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and around 12,500 will die.

Unfortunately, not enough is known about why therapys dont work for some patients or why breast cancer can return, sometimes a number of years later, says Breast Cancer Campaign.

The new study, one of the largest ever carried out in the UK and published by the open access journal Breast Cancer Research, is a unique insight into the current state of breast cancer research and its future challenges.

Gaps in key areas of breast cancer research have been identified in the report, says the charity: prevention, detection, spread or recurrence of the disease, therapy, pathology, physiology, genetics and psychosocial aspects of breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

March 26, 2008, 10:07 PM CT

FDG-PET Has Major Impact on Cancer Patient Care

FDG-PET Has Major Impact on Cancer Patient Care
CT PET scannner
As per a research studyof data from the National Oncologic PET Registry (NOPR) published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) on March 24th, clinicians changed the intended care of more than one in three cancer patients as the results of FDG-PET scan findings.

There were over 1500 participating facilities that contributed FDG-PET scan data from the nearly 23,000 patients involved in the study. Analysis of registry data published in the JCO article observed that FDG-PET is linked to a 36.5% change in the therapy or no-treatment decision.

SNM, the world's largest molecular imaging and nuclear medicine society, has been a great supporter of the NOPR since it's inception nearly two years ago and is excited to see this promising data released.

The NOPR was launched in May 2006 in response to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) novel "Coverage with Evidence" policy to collect data through a clinical registry to inform the center's FDG-PET coverage determination decisions for currently non-covered cancer indications. Sponsored by the Academy of Molecular Imaging (AMI) and managed by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the ACR Imaging Network (ACRIN), the NOPR is designed to collect questionnaire data from referring physicians on intended patient management before and after a FDG-PET scan.........

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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