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March 22, 2006, 11:26 PM CT

Emotional Benefits From Online Support Groups

Emotional Benefits From Online Support Groups
Women with breast cancer who participate in computer support groups can obtain emotional benefits when they openly express themselves in ways that help them make sense of their cancer experience, as per a new study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research (CECCR).

"Even though there are a number of women with breast cancer participating in online support groups, this is among the first research studies to demonstrate measurable benefits from participation in such groups," says Bret Shaw, lead author of the study, funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The analysis was conducted on message transcripts from 66 breast cancer patients participating in an online support group member that was integrated with the "Living with Breast Cancer" program, a computer-based health education and support system. The patients were recruited from Madison, Chicago and Indianapolis.

Text messages within the computer-mediated support groups were analyzed using a text analysis program, which measured the percentage of words that were suggestive of learning or understanding (e.g., aware, feels, know, realize, see, think and understand). A higher percentage of these insightful words were associated with improved emotional well-being and reduced negative mood in follow-up surveys.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 21, 2006, 10:03 PM CT

One Step Closer To Cancer Vaccine

One Step Closer To Cancer Vaccine
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have helped to identify a molecule that can be used as a vaccination agent against growing cancer tumours. Eventhough the results are so far based on animal experiments, they point to new methods of treating metastases.

The results are presented in the online edition of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Medicine, and represent the collaborative efforts of scientists at KI and Leiden University Medical Centre in Holland.

The study analysed an immunological cell, a T cell, which recognises other cells with defects common to metastasing ones. These defects (which are found in MHC class 1 molecules) allow the tumour cell to evade the "conventional" T cell-mediated immune defence.

The scientists have identified a short peptide molecule that the T cell in the study recognises. Using this peptide, the scientists can vaccinate and protect against the spread of tumours from different tissues, including melanoma, colon cancer, lymphoma, and fibrosarcoma.

"So far we've only conducted research on mice, so it's too early to get out hopes up too much," says research scientist Elisabeth Wolpert at the Microbiology and Tumour Biology Centre. "However, the study does point towards new possible ways of developing a therapy for advanced tumour diseases".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 21, 2006, 8:51 PM CT

Changes To In Utero And Cancer

Changes To In Utero And Cancer
Manipulating the in utero environment may alter the onset of cancers that appear later in the lives of mammals, as per a new University of Toronto study reported in the journal Carcinogenesis.

"We know that cancer-causing agents can travel across the placenta and harm the developing embryo or fetus," says Professor Peter Wells of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. "This study provides the first direct evidence that changing the uterus's molecular environment - in this case, by increasing the presence of antioxidants by adding vitamin E to the mice's diet - alters the carcinogenic process in adult life".

Wells and doctoral student Connie Chen worked with pregnant mice that had been genetically altered to lack one or both copies of the p53 gene, which results in a high incidence of cancers among their offspring. Previous to and throughout pregnancy, these mice were given either a normal diet or one supplemented with a high dose of vitamin E. The offspring were then observed for DNA damage and the onset of cancer. Two additional control groups, with both copies of the p53 gene intact, were also used in the experiment, one of which was given the vitamin E supplemented diet.

"Increased levels of vitamin E reduced in utero deaths among the offspring from 40 per cent in the control groups to five per cent in the test groups. In contrast, surprisingly, it also increased the onset of cancer in the offspring," Wells says. "Offspring that were exposed to vitamin E and lack one or both copies of the gene developed cancers nine per cent and 21 per cent faster than the equivalent control groups."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

March 9, 2006, 11:36 PM CT

Lights Seeking Early Cancer Signs

Lights Seeking Early Cancer Signs Image courtesy of Optics Express
A novel device that could use light to harmlessly and almost instantly probe for early signs of cancer has been developed by scientists at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. The device would allow physicians to search for cancer in epithelial cells that line body surfaces, including the skin, lungs and digestive and reproductive tracts, by simply inserting a fiber optic probe.

The team has reported the first clinically practical version of their "angle-resolved low coherence interferometry" (a/LCI) technology designed to diagnose incipient cancer in the esophagus. Adam Wax, professor of biomedical engineering at the Pratt School, and graduate student John Pyhtila, lead author of the study, reported tests of their device in the March 15, 2006, Optics Letters. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Preliminary results of a further study of the latest a/LCI device in human esophageal tissue look promising, Wax said. The next step will be to test the device in human trials.

In principle, the scientists said their technology could be adapted to detect pre-malignant cells on the surfaces of any organ, where the disease most often begins.

"The majority of all cancers - some 80 percent - start in the epithelium," Wax said. "Fiber-optic probes have the potential to test for early evidence of cancer in seconds, providing biopsy-type information without removing tissue. They could also serve as a guide to biopsy, directing physicians to suspicious sites to increase the likelihood that cancer will be detected." Biopsy surveillance in the esophagus removes tissue at random, he said.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 8, 2006, 9:25 PM CT

Ann Richards Diagnosed With Cancer

Ann Richards Diagnosed With Cancer
Ann Richards, former Gov of Texas has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer according to her own reports. She will undergo therapy at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Seventy two year old Ann Richards was diagnosed with esophageal cancer yesterday, said spokesman Bill Maddox. More tests are underway to determine the extent of the cancer.

Ms. Richards served as a Democratic Governor in Texas from 1991 to 1995 until, but lost re-election bid to George W. Bush. Since 2001, she has been an adviser at a public relations and lobbying firm.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink     

March 8, 2006, 9:08 PM CT

The Economics Of Chemotherapy

The Economics Of Chemotherapy
How much money is reimbursed may affect the choice of chemotherapy drugs of oncologist according to a new study. However payment methods did not have any affect whether doctors favor chemotherapy over other therapys.

The study, done by scientists from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, covered only physicians in the United States. This study can be seen in current issue of the academic journal Health Affairs.

The study has observed that once the decision to use chemotherapy is made, the current payment system appears to prompt some physicians to use more expensive drugs, the study found. The research found that providers who were more generously reimbursed prescribed more costly chemotherapy regimens to metastatic breast, colorectal and lung cancer patients.

Oncology practice is unique in the sense that the doctor can dispense his or her own drugs in the clinic. A number of times profit derived from the chemotherapy drugs may be a factor in the choice of specific chemotherapy drugs. These oncologists are paid for the cost of the chemotherapy drugs given intravenously in their offices, even though they frequently purchase the drugs at lower prices than the amounts they are paid in insurance reimbursements.

Critics of the drug reimbursement policy say that a potential conflict of interest among oncologists advising patients on therapy, while cancer doctors argue that profit is needed to pay the high cost of running their practices. Unlike other office practices an oncology requires more office space, chemotherapy chairs and skilled chemotherapy nurses. They also argue that revenue allows patients to be treated in their offices, rather than in the hospital, which is more expensive and less convenient to patients.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink     

March 7, 2006, 8:19 PM CT

Liquid crystals and embryonic stem cells

Liquid crystals and embryonic stem cells
Liquid crystals, the same phase-shifting materials used to display information on cell phones, monitors and other electronic equipment, can also be used to report in real time on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Differentiation is the process by which embryonic stem cells gradually turn into function-specific types of adult cells or so-called "cell lineages," including skin, heart or brain cells.

The main challenge facing stem cell research is that of guiding differentiation along these well-defined, controlled lineages. Stem cells grown in the laboratory tend to differentiate in an uncontrolled manner, resulting in a mixture of cells of little medical use.

Now, UW-Madison scientists at the NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) have shown that by straining mechanically the cells as they grow, it is possible to reduce significantly and almost eliminate the uncontrolled differentiation of stem cells.

In an article in the recent issue of Advanced Functional Materials, the team reports on a liquid crystal-based cell culture system that promises new ways of achieving real-time control over interactions between synthetic materials and human embryonic stem cells, including the possibility of straining embryonic stem cells as they grow.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source

March 7, 2006, 0:18 AM CT

Making Cancer Drugs To Hit Harder

Making Cancer Drugs To Hit Harder
Researchers have devised a blueprint for boosting anti-cancer drugs' effectiveness and lowering their toxicity by attaching the equivalent of a lead sinker onto the drugs. This extra weight makes the drugs penetrate and accumulate inside tumors more effectively.

Chemotherapy drugs often fall short of achieving their full impact because the drugs diffuse in and out of the tumor too rapidly, said the researchers from Duke University Medical Center and Duke's Pratt School of Engineering.

The researchers increased the size of the drug by adding a "macromolecular weight" that increases its concentration and staying power inside the tumor. The heavier molecules are more selectively absorbed by tumors because tumor blood vessels are more permeable or "leakier" than normal blood vessels. Thus, larger molecules can pass through the tumor vessels more easily.

Drugs with a greater molecular weight also reduce chemotherapy's toxicity to healthy tissue because the large molecules cannot easily permeate normal blood vessels. As a result, normal tissue receives less of the drug than does the tumor.

Results of the study, funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, are reported in the March 1, 2006, issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 27, 2006, 9:23 PM CT

Reprogramming Malignant Melanoma Cells

Reprogramming Malignant Melanoma Cells
Researchers at Northwestern University and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have reprogrammed cancerous melanoma cells to become normal melanocytes, or pigment cells, a development that may hold promise in treating of one of the deadliest forms of cancer.

A report describing the group's research was reported in the Feb. 27 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that will appear in the March 7 issue of the journal.

The experiments were conducted as a collaboration involving the laboratories of Mary J. C. Hendrix, president and scientific director of the Children's Memorial Research Center, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Paul M. Kulesa, director of Imaging at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo.

Hendrix is professor of pediatrics at the Feinberg School and a member of the executive committees of The Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The study demonstrated the ability of cancerous melanoma cells to respond to embryonic environmental cues in a chick model -- in a manner similar to neural crest cells, the cell type from which melanocytes originate -- inducing cancerous cells express genes associated with a normal melanocyte.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 27, 2006, 0:10 AM CT

How Gold Works In Arthritis

How Gold Works In Arthritis Gold coins
Gold compounds have been used for the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases for more than 75 years, but until now, how the metals work has been a mystery. Harvard Medical School scientists report in the Feb. 27 issue of Nature Chemical Biology that special forms of gold, platinum, and other classes of medicinal metals work by stripping bacteria and virus particles from the grasp of a key immune system protein.

"We were searching for a new drug to treat autoimmune diseases," says Brian DeDecker, PhD, HMS post-doctoral student in the Department of Cell Biology and a co-author of study. At the time of this work, DeDecker was in the Harvard Medical School Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology, which uses powerful chemical tools to illuminate complex biological processes and provide new leads for drug development. "But instead we discovered a biochemical mechanism that may help explain how an old drug works".

DeDecker and co-author Stephen De Wall, PhD, undertook a large-scale search for new drugs that would suppress the function of an important component of the immune system, MHC class II proteins, which are associated with autoimmune diseases. MHC class II proteins normally hold pieces of invading bacteria and virus on the surface of specialized antigen presentation cells. Presentation of these pieces alerts other specialized recognition cells of the immune system called lymphocytes, which starts the normal immune response. Commonly this response is limited to harmful bacteria and viruses, but sometimes this process goes awry and the immune system turns towards the body itself causing autoimmune diseases such as Juvenile diabetes, Lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Archives of cancer news blog

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