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January 3, 2008, 9:05 PM CT

Novel anticancer strategy moves from laboratory to clinic

Novel anticancer strategy moves from laboratory to clinic
Scientists at Emory University have developed a novel anti-tumor compound that represents a distinct strategy: targeting one of the most important "intercept points" for cancer cells.

The results of research on the compound in mice appear in the Jan. 1 issue of Cancer Research. The article is highlighted on the cover.

The compound was used for the first time in human patients with solid tumors in 2007.

The idea behind the intercept point strategy is to shut down the transmission of a large number of growth signals in cancer cells at once, says senior author Donald L. Durden, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine and the Emory Winship Cancer Institute.

Dr. Durden, scientific director of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, compares a cancer cell to a building with too a number of of the lights left on.

"Doctors have been trying to treat cancer by turning out the lights in one room at a time, instead of going after the transformer box," he says.

Dr. Durden and colleagues targeted a class of enzymes called PI-3 kinases, which represent an intercept point and occupy valuable real estate in almost every cell in the body.

"Nature made these enzymes central in controlling growth, differentiation and survival," he says. But you can't hit only one of them; they're redundant."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 2, 2008, 10:25 PM CT

Putting Cancer On The Firing Line

Putting Cancer On The Firing Line
Dr. Yukai He wants to put cancer in the bull's eye.

"Cancer really comes from us," the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center immunologist says of the scary reality that cancer cells are our own cells gone awry. That means our immune system doesn't always see cancer as a horrific invader.

"Tumors and T cells, the cellular arm of the immune system and the main player in anti-tumor immunity, cohabitate for a number of years before the tumor grows," says Dr. He, who recently was named one of the first Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigators, a new initiative to support outstanding young investigators.

The tumor is smart, he says, changing just enough to stay out of the line of fire.

He and collaborators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the University of Chicago and now MCG are putting together a package they believe will place it dead center.

The scientists are packaging an antigen gene that will alert the immune system in a novel viral vector delivery system while quashing the body's misguided efforts to protect a tumor.

The therapy could one day follow tumor surgery and chemotherapy in patients when recurrence is likely, says Dr. He, who came to MCG in August from the University of Pittsburgh. It also could work for persistent viral infections such as HIV and human papillomavirus, parasitic diseases such as malaria and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 28, 2007, 8:11 AM CT

Taxol with avastin for metastatic breast cancer

Taxol with avastin for metastatic breast cancer
The positive results of the first nationwide clinical study showing the benefits of an antiangiogenic agent in breast cancer treatment are published in the Dec. 27 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM).

The study with Avastin showed the biggest improvement in metastatic breast cancer ever reported in a chemotherapy-based clinical trial. It nearly doubled the time between initiation of chemotherapy for metastatic disease and progression of the breast cancer tumors.

The study was coordinated by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and Kathy Miller, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Sheila D. Ward Scholar at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the lead author.

Dr. Miller said she found the results exciting because this was the first study to show that an antiangiogenic agent can delay progression of advanced breast cancer. The study looked at Taxol (paclitaxel), which is one of the standard agents for metastatic disease, with and without the addition of Avastin (bevacizumab).

This study not only achieved the longest progression-free survival in advanced disease but the treatment achieved that improvement without adding to the day-to-day therapy burden and with only minor increases in toxicity, said Dr. Miller.

The study enrolled 722 women with metastatic disease from the United States, Canada, Peru and South Africa. Patients were randomized to one of two arms of the phase III study Taxol alone or Taxol with Avastin. The patients, who joined the study from December 2001 through May 2004, represented a balance of age, disease-free interval, estrogen-positive receptors and sites of disease.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 28, 2007, 8:09 AM CT

Treating of ignored non-cancer health issues

Treating of ignored non-cancer health issues
Receiving therapy for non-cancer health issues while being treated by specialists for cancer improves cancer survival rates as per a research studyreported in the December 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study, by scientists from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and the Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center, is the first to look at the effect of primary care on health outcomes in cancer patients.

Receiving care from a primary care doctor (a general internist or family practice doctor) during cancer therapy from an oncologist appears to improve cancer survival rates, likely due to the comprehensiveness of care that is received in primary care, as per study authors Caroline Carney Doebbeling, M.D., M.Sc. and Laura Jones, Ph.D. The scientists focused on lung cancer because of the low one-year lung cancer survival rate in these patients.

We cannot afford to ignore the chronic medical conditions that most cancer patients have because treating these conditions may bring increased longevity as well as improved quality of life. Patients with lung cancer are often faced with a number of additional health issues, such as high blood pressure, emphysema and other respiratory conditions, all of which can and should be treated, said Dr. Carney Doebbeling, associate professor of medicine and of psychiatry at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute research scientist.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

Protection against chemotherapy cardiotoxicity

Protection against chemotherapy cardiotoxicity
Scientists at the University of Grenoble, in France, have discovered that erythropoietin administration prevents acute cardiotoxic effects induced by doxorubicin and trastuzumab exposures. The research article describing this work entitled Erythropoietin pretreatment protects against acute chemotherapy toxicity in isolated rat hearts will be featured in the January 2008 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Eventhough rare, cardiotoxicity is a serious complication of cancer therapy. Indeed, the use of chemotherapeutic agents such as anthracycline or trastuzumab in oncology is limited by their cardiac toxicity. Therefore, it is of interest to identify new protective agents preventing these adverse effects.

The increasing use of doxorubicin and trastuzumab in adjuvant breast cancer treatment and the growing population of long-term pediatric cancer survivors mean that, more than ever, cardiotoxicity will continue to remain an important issue for oncology. Cardiomyopathy induced by chronic chemotherapy may result, at least in part, from acute cardiotoxic effects accompanying each drug exposure. said Professor Mireille Mousseau, head of the Department of Oncology.

The research team, led by Christophe Ribuot, a professor of pharmacology, explored the beneficial cardioprotective effect afforded by recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) against various stresses, through experimental and clinical investigations.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 18, 2007, 8:44 PM CT

Colon cancer screenings may not pay off

Colon cancer screenings may not pay off
Even though current guidelines advocate colorectal cancer screenings for those with severe illnesses, they may bring little benefit and may actually pose harm, as per a recent study by Yale School of Medicine scientists reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The study offers a new approach for assessing who is likely to benefit from a screening so that screening recommendations can be tailored more effectively to individual patients.

First author R. Scott Braithwaite, M.D., and colleagues developed a new method of evaluating medical screening tests like colonoscopy, called the payoff time, which is the minimum amount of time it takes for the benefits from a test to exceed its harms (i.e., its complications and side effects). The method can also be applied to patients of any age and illness.

To estimate the payoff time for using colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer, the team focused on two patient groups that included 50-year-old men with HIV, and 60-year-old women with congestive heart failure.

Braithwaite said the payoff time for colorectal cancer screening was as long as five years for 50-year-old men and as long as 2.9 years for 60-year-old women. Because patients with severe congestive heart failure have a life expectancy of less than 2.9 years, they were more likely to be harmed than benefited by colorectal cancer screening, say the researchers, whereas patients with HIV have a life expectancy of greater than five years, so they were likely to benefit from colorectal cancer screening.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 13, 2007, 9:53 PM CT

Why vaccines directed against cancer don't work

Why vaccines directed against cancer don't work
Scientists from the University of Missouri and Imperial College London have found evidence suggesting why vaccines directed against the virus that causes AIDS and a number of cancers do not work. This research is being reported in the Dec. 14 edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry.

In research spanning more than a decade, Gary Clark, associate professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Womens Health in the MU School of Medicine, and Anne Dell, an investigator at Imperial College London, observed that HIV, aggressive cancer cells, H. pylori, and parasitic worms known as schistosomes carry the same carbohydrate sequences as a number of proteins produced in human sperm.

Its our major Achilles heel, Clark said. Reproduction is mandatory for the survival of our species. Therefore we are hard-wired to protect our sperm and eggs as well as our unborn babies from any type of immune response. Unfortunately, our results suggest that a number of pathogens and tumor cells also have integrated themselves into this protective system, thus enabling them to resist the human immune response.

During the initial stages of life, the body goes through a process where it self-identifies, determining which cells and proteins belong in the body, so it can detect those that do not. After this time, anything foreign is deemed as dangerous, unless the immune system is specifically told to ignore those cells and proteins. This situation arises primarily during reproduction.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 11, 2007, 8:25 PM CT

First-line therapy for multiple myeloma

First-line therapy for multiple myeloma
A new combination of bortezomib (Velcade) and two other drugs is showing a very high response rate in patients newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a team headed by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The three-pronged regimen of Velcade, lenalidomide (Revlimid) and dexamethasone referred to as Rev/Vel/Dex has achieved an overall response rate of 98 percent in 42 patients reviewed thus far in a Phase 1-2 trial, said Paul Richardson, MD, of Dana-Farber and the studys principal investigator. He added that 52 percent of the patients had high quality responses (very good partial response or better), with 30 percent achieving complete response to date.

These may be some of the best response rates weve seen to date with up-front therapies, and eventhough these are preliminary results, they are extremely promising, Richardson said. The patients were previously untreated when they received the Rev/Vel/Dex combination.

Velcade is a smart drug known as a proteasome inhibitor that blocks the myeloma cells waste disposal system, creating an accumulation of toxic compounds that poison the cell. Revlimid is a chemical relative of thalidomide that affects several pathways in cancer cells, including immune mechanisms and blood vessel growth to tumors. Dexamethasone is a steroid hormone that counters inflammation and is used to treat hematologic malignancies such as myeloma. Studies leading to the trial of the three drugs in combination were carried out at Dana-Farber.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 9, 2007, 5:13 PM CT

Dasatinib, Nilotinib as frontline therapy for CML

Dasatinib, Nilotinib as frontline therapy for CML
Two drugs approved for use as second line treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia are showing promising results as frontline treatment for newly diagnosed patients in two clinical trials, research teams led by researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report at the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

All patients in both trials have a complete cytogenetic response - absence of the aberrant chromosome that causes the disease - after one year on either drug. Approximately 90 percent reach complete cytogenetic response as early as 6 months.

"These are early results but certainly encouraging so far in both cases," says lead author Jorge Cortes, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Leukemia. Patients in both trials are in the chronic, or initial phase, of CML and had not received previous treatment for their disease.

The two medications are dasatinib, the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug known as Sprycel(r), and nilotinib, the Novartis drug known as Tasigna(r). Both have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in CML patients whose disease becomes resistant to the frontline treatment imatinib, also a Novartis drug known as Gleevec(r), or who become intolerant to the drug.

Cortes and his colleagues compared the two medications at 3, 6 and 12 months with historical data from patients who took either 400 mg or 800 mg daily of Gleevec.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 9, 2007, 5:06 PM CT

Oblimersen combination improves survival of CLL

Oblimersen combination improves survival of CLL
Relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients who had a complete response to combination treatment that included the drug oblimersen survived significantly longer than patients treated with chemotherapy alone, a team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Patients who achieved a complete response with oblimersen have survived so well that a median survival time canstill not be calculated, but it is estimated to exceed 49 months. Those who achieved complete response with chemotherapy alone had a median survival time of 35 months.

"In a relapsed population, that's excellent survival," says lead author Susan O'Brien, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Leukemia. "Survival is linked to achieving complete response".

The Phase III clinical trial compared a regimen of fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (F/C) with F/C plus oblimersen. Known commercially as Genasense(r), oblimersen blocks the Bcl-2 protein, which plays a critical role in progression of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), including development of resistance to therapy.

By stifling Bcl-2, scientists believe CLL becomes more vulnerable to chemotherapy such as the F/C combination.........

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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