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February 27, 2006, 0:04 AM CT

link between rheumatoid arthritis and cancer

link between rheumatoid arthritis and cancer
An inflammatory disease of the immune system, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased occurrence of lymphoma--or cancers of the lymphatic system, which plays an integral role in the body's ability to fight infection. While various studies have affirmed this link, none have been able to pinpoint the specific effects of disease activity on lymphoma risk, let alone distinguish them from the effects of disease treatment.

Are certain RA patients more vulnerable to developing lymphoma? Do certain RA therapies--from standard NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) to novel immunosuppressive agents like TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers--work to alleviate or aggravate lymphoma risk? On a quest for answers, researchers in Sweden conducted the largest investigation of the link between RA and lymphoma to date. Their findings, featured in the March 2006 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism (, indicate a substantially increased risk of lymphoma among patients with severe RA. Very high and prolonged inflammatory activity, not its treatment, is the major risk factor.

Drawing their sample from a national register of nearly 75,000 RA patients, the research team analyzed the medical records and case histories of 378 RA patients afflicted with malignant lymphoma between 1964 and 1995 and 378 individually matched, lymphoma-free controls. Using statistical analysis, the relative risks or odds ratios for lymphoma were assessed for three different levels of overall disease activity--low, medium, or high--based on disease duration and swollen and tender joint counts. Odds ratios for lymphoma were also compared to treatment in broad categories: any DMARD, any NSAID, aspirin, oral steroids, injected steroids, and cytotoxic drugs. No patient in the sample had received anti-TNF therapy. In addition, lymphoma specimens were reclassified and tested for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source

February 24, 2006, 0:07 AM CT

2-way Conversations Between Malignant, Normal Cells

2-way Conversations Between Malignant, Normal Cells
For more than seven decades, researchers have had tantalizing clues that cancer cells and neighboring non-malignant cells in the body communicate with one another. It now emerges that this dialog may explain the clinical observation that cancer cells grow to make secondary tumors (metastasize) in some organs of the body and not others. Findings published recently (Feb. 15) suggest that this may also have therapeutic implications.

With the aid of gene chip technology and other powerful new tools, scientists at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have shown clearly that there are two-way conversations taking place that are essential for metastatic cancer cells to form new tumors in distant organs. Further, they have been able to distinguish messages generated by the metastatic cells from those produced by the neighboring non-malignant cells.

"We now know that metastatic tumor cells do not act alone. They must find the right neighborhood, whose resident cells speak their language and are able to provide the support system necessary for the metastatic cells to survive and form secondary tumors," said David Tarin, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology and member of the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego. Tarin is the principal investigator of the study, published February 15 as an EarlyView article on the International Journal of Cancer web site at Wiley Interscience ( The DOI (digital object identifier) is 10.1002/ijc.21757.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 17, 2006, 7:29 AM CT

Defeat Tumor Cells By Inhibiting Healthy Cells

Defeat Tumor Cells By Inhibiting Healthy Cells
Defeating malignant tumors by attacking healthy cells seems like an unusual strategy, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown the strategy to be effective against leukemia/lymphoma in mice.

Led by Katherine N. Weilbaecher, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, the research group found that inhibiting normal bone-maintenance cells called osteoclasts not only prevented the mice's cancer from spreading to their bones, it also slowed the growth of tumors in the body's soft tissues.

"Tumor cells can mutate to overcome the therapys we use, but normal body cells won't," says Weilbaecher, an oncologist with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "And since cancer cells depend on the normal cells in our body for their survival, we can sometimes get at them by targeting more vulnerable host cells. In this case, by going after osteoclasts, we were able to affect tumor cells."

The mice used in the study were developed in the laboratory of Lee Ratner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, of molecular microbiology and of pathology and immunology. The Ratner group introduced a gene called Tax into the mice's genome. Having the Tax gene makes the mice very susceptible to T-cell leukemia/lymphoma, a blood cancer that also forms soft-tissue tumors and metastasizes to invade bones.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 17, 2006, 7:24 AM CT

Targeting The Telomere Protein

Targeting The Telomere Protein
Inactivating a protein called mammalian Rad9 could make cancer cells easier to kill with ionizing radiation, as per research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The scientists found that Rad9, previously considered a "watchman" that checks for DNA damage, is actually a "repairman" that fixes dangerous breaks in the DNA double helix. They found Rad9 is particularly active in telomeres, the protective ends of chromosomes.

Because of this new role, Rad9 has gained the researchers' interest as a potential target for cancer treatment -- knocking out Rad9 would enhance the power of radiation therapys by making it easier for radiation to inflict fatal damage to a tumor's genetic material. Their study appears in the recent issue of the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is now available online.

"Our study suggests that if we could inactivate Rad9 in tumor cells, we would be able to kill them with a very low dose of radiation and gain a therapeutic advantage," says senior author Tej K. Pandita, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and on the faculty of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The study revealed that Rad9 proteins interact with chromosomes' telomeres, which are special structures at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from fusion or degradation. Specifically, Rad9 proteins were shown to interact with proteins called telomere binding proteins. When the researchers inactivated Rad9 in human cells, they saw damage to chromosomes and end-to-end fusion at telomeres. DNA damage and chromosomal fusion can disrupt the cell cycle and cause cell death. Because radiation therapys increase these incidents, loss of Rad9 in cancer cells could enhance the killing effect of radiation.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

February 11, 2006, 2:50 PM CT

DNA Breaks Associated With Leukemia

Dna Breaks Associated With Leukemia
When otherwise normal DNA adopts an unusual shape called Z-DNA, it can lead to the kind of genetic instability associated with cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, as per a research studyby scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, issued in advance of the Feb. 21 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates for the first time that the oddly shaped DNA can cause DNA breaks in mammalian cells. Interestingly, these sequences prone to forming Z-DNA are often found in genetic "hot spots," areas of DNA known to be prone to the genetic rearrangements associated with cancer. About 90 percent of patients with Burkitt's lymphoma, for example, have DNA breaks that map to regions with the potential to form these odd DNA structures.

"Our study shows that DNA itself can act as a mutagen, resulting in genetic instability," says Karen Vasquez, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of carcinogenesis at.

M. D. Anderson's Science Park Research Division, Smithville, Texas. "The discovery opens up a new field of inquiry into the role of DNA shape in genomic instability and cancer".

Imagine untwisting the DNA ladder and then winding it up the other way. The result is a twisted mess with segments jutting out left and right, and the all important base pairs that hold the DNA code zigzagging in a jagged zipper shape. Researchers call this left-hand twist Z-DNA. This is a far cry from the graceful right-hand twisted helix that has become an iconic symbol of biology. It just doesn't look right, and it doesn't act right either, as per Vasquez. This awkward shape puts strain on the DNA, and as Vasquez and her colleagues show, can cause the DNA molecule to break completely apart.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

February 10, 2006, 7:16 PM CT

veggies may protect you from cancer

veggies may protect you from cancer
Need another reason to eat your vegetables? New research shows that some of them contain chemicals that appear to enhance DNA repair in cells, which could lead to protection against cancer development, say Georgetown University Medical Center researchers.

As per a research findings reported in the British Journal of Cancer (published by the research journal Nature) the scientists show that in laboratory tests, a compound called indole-3-carinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and a chemical called genistein, found in soy beans, can increase the levels of BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that repair damaged DNA.

Eventhough the health benefits of eating your vegetables-particularly cruciferous ones, such as broccoli-aren't especially new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person's risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have observed, says the study's senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," Rosen says. "Our findings suggest a clear molecular process that would explain the correlation between diet and cancer prevention."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink    Source

February 9, 2006, 10:01 PM CT

New Drug Combination For Neuroendocrine Tumors

New Drug combination For neuroendocrine tumors Matthew Kulke, MD
A combination of an oral chemotherapy agent and a drug to prevent blood vessel growth has shown encouraging results in advanced neuroendocrine tumors, rare cancers of hormone-making cells that commonly resist chemotherapy, scientists say.

In a clinical trial published in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other Harvard-affiliated hospitals found that the drug combination shrank neuroendocrine tumors in 25 percent of the study participants and was biochemically active against tumors in 40 percent of the participants. While the therapy produced side effects in a number of patients, they were generally more tolerable than those associated with conventional chemotherapy, the scientists noted.

The drug duo consisted of temozolomide, a pill similar in activity to an older, intravenous chemotherapy agent, and thalidomide, a medicine associated with birth defects when taken by pregnant women in the 1950s and '60s, but which has since been shown to be a deterrent of blood vessel growth.

"Neuroendocrine tumors are among the most vascular, or blood vessel-filled, tumors that exist, so it made sense to test chemotherapy in combination with an angiogenesis inhibitor like thalidomide, which blocks blood vessel growth," says the study's lead author, Matthew Kulke, MD, of Dana-Farber. "And because temozolomide is taken in pill form, rather than intravenously, it's more convenient for patients."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink    Source

February 9, 2006, 8:40 PM CT

Sunitinib Useful In Gleevec Resistance

Sunitinib Useful In Gleevec Resistance George Demetri, MD
At this week's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2006 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will report on a Phase III clinical trial in which the targeted drug sunitinib (originally called SU11248 and now known as Sutent-) was given to control gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) in patients whose tumors had become resistant to the frontline drug imatinib (Gleevec-).

In addition to confirming the safety and efficacy of sunitinib, the findings illustrate that therapies targeting several signaling pathways inside cancer cells may be an effective therapy approach that may also be applicable to other difficult-to-treat cancers, including kidney cancer.

"Sunitinib is the first molecularly-targeted treatment proven to work against a cancer after another targeted treatment has failed," said the study's principal investigator, George Demetri, MD, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at Dana-Farber. "These findings are highly significant because they show sunitinib can control tumors and improve survival rates of patients with this condition. Eventhough GIST is relatively uncommon, our understanding of it at the molecular level - down to specific mutations in DNA - has made this disease a proving ground for new therapies that could be useful for treating other cancers."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

February 8, 2006, 10:55 PM CT

Broccoli And Cauliflower For Cancer Protection

Broccoli And Cauliflower For Cancer Protection
Naturally occurring chemicals found in certain vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, can enhance DNA repair in cells, perhaps helping to stop them becoming malignant, as per a report reported in the British Journal of Cancer* today (Tuesday).

The researchers, based at Georgetown University in Washington DC, have shown that a compound called I3C** found in these vegetables, and a chemical called genistein found in soy beans, both increase the levels of vital DNA repair proteins in cancer cells. Eventhough population studies have suggested a link between eating such vegetables and protection against cancer before, this study now puts forward a molecular mechanism on how they might work.

The repair proteins, regulated by genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2, are important for preventing damaged genetic information being passed on to the next generation of cells. If people have a faulty BRCA gene they are at a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer, including breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Since decreased amounts of the BRCA proteins are seen in cancer cells, higher levels might prevent cancer developing. The ability of I3C and genistein to boost the amount of BRCA proteins could explain their protective effects.

Professor Eliot M. Rosen, senior author of the report, said: "Studies that monitor people┬┐s diets and their health have found links between certain types of food and cancer risk. However, before we can say a food protects against cancer, we have to understand how it does this at a molecular level".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

February 8, 2006, 10:50 PM CT

Uterus cancer survival improves but incidence increases

Uterus cancer survival improves but incidence increases
FIVE-YEAR survival rates for womb cancer* have risen to 77 per cent, an improvement of 16 per cent in the last 30 years.

But its incidence among women aged 60-79 has risen by 30 per cent in less than a decade - as per a report published recently by Cancer Research UK**. The increasing numbers of women being diagnosed shows a need for greater awareness of the disease, its symptoms and the risk factors.

Cancer of the womb affects around 6,000 women in the UK each year - twice as a number of as cervical cancer - and accounts for four per cent of all female cancers. It is the fifth most common cancer in women and is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive system, after ovary cancer.

Eventhough survival is improving and around three-quarters of women diagnosed with womb cancer are successfully treated, the disease still causes around 1,500 deaths a year. Five-year survival rates are as low as 25 per cent for women who present with advanced disease, and therefore early detection is crucial.

Over 90 per cent of womb cancers occur in women over the age of 50 and 75 per cent in women who have been through the menopause. In the 60-79 age group, incidence of womb cancer has climbed from 48 cases per 100,000 in 1993 to 63 in 2001. Awareness of the disease is low and consequently women may not be aware that vaginal bleeding after the menopause is a symptom of womb cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink

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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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