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Advances in brain cancer treatment
Of the approximately 12,000 people who are diagnosed with GBM annually in the U.S., half will die within a year, and the rest within 3 years. Currently, the only therapys that stretch survival limits are exceptionally invasive surgeries to remove the tumor and radiation therapy with the maximum tolerated dose - all of which leads to a painfully low quality of life. Because of this, scientists are racing to find better therapies to stop or slow GBM.
In the Jan. 1, 2006 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, Gelsomina "Pupa" De Stasio, professor of physics at UW-Madison, and his colleagues report on research into using a new radiotherapy technique for fighting GBM with the element gadolinium. The approach might lead to less invasive therapys that offer greater promise of alleviating the disease.
"It's the most lethal cancer there is. The only good thing about it is that, if left untreated, death is relatively quick and pain-free, since this tumor does not form painful metastases in other parts of the body," says De Stasio.
The treatment, called Gadolinium Synchrotron Stereotactic Radiotherapy (GdSSR), requires a gadolinium compound to find tumor cells and penetrate them, down into their nuclei, while sparing the normal brain. Then, the patient's head is irradiated with x-rays. For these x-ray photons the whole brain is transparent, while gadolinium is opaque. Then, where gadolinium is localized-in the nuclei of the cancer cells only-what's known as "the photoelectric effect" takes place.
"Exactly 100 years after Einstein first explained this effect, we have found a way to make it useful in medicine," De Stasio says. "In this effect, atoms absorb photons and emit electrons. The emitted electrons are very destructive for DNA, but have a very short range of action. Therefore, to induce DNA damage that the cancer cells cannot repair, and consequently cell death, gadolinium atoms must be localized in the nuclei of cancer cells".........
January 3, 2006
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatments Mobilize Stem Cells
Stem cells exist in the bone marrow of human beings and animals and are capable of changing their nature to become part of a number of different organs and tissues. In response to injury, these cells move from the bone marrow to the injured sites, where they differentiate into cells that assist in the healing process. The movement, or mobilization, of stem cells can be triggered by a variety of stimuli - including pharmaceutical agents and hyperbaric oxygen therapys. Where as drugs are associated with a host of side effects, hyperbaric oxygen therapys carry a significantly lower risk of such effects.
"This is the safest way clinically to increase stem cell circulation, far safer than any of the pharmaceutical options," said Stephen Thom, MD, PhD, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead author of the study. "This study provides information on the fundamental mechanisms for hyperbaric oxygen and offers a new theoretical therapeutic option for mobilizing stem cells".
"We reproduced the observations from humans in animals in order to identify the mechanism for the hyperbaric oxygen effect," added Thom. "We found that hyperbaric oxygen mobilizes stem/progenitor cells because it increases synthesis of a molecule called nitric oxide in the bone marrow. This synthesis is thought to trigger enzymes that mediate stem/progenitor cell release".........
January 3, 2006
New Class Of Anti-cancer Drugs Based On Platinum
Platinum like this used in the coin has been used for the production of various chemotherapy drugs.Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center have created a new platinum-based, anti-cancer agent able to overcome acquired drug resistance by first modifying the way it is absorbed into cancer cells and then attacking the DNA of those cancer cells.
The findings may help scientists design a new generation of anti-cancer drugs that selectively target cancer cells, reduce resistance and side effects and expand the range of tumors that can be treated by platinum.
In the Dec. 26 issue of the journal Inorganic Chemistry scientists reported on the design of a new trinuclear platinum compound and demonstrated that its cellular absorption is significantly greater than that of neutral cisplatin, as well as other multi-nuclear platinum compounds. The enhanced uptake into cancer cells takes advantage of weak molecular interactions on the cells' surface. These results underscore the importance of the new compound's "non-covalent" interactions, previous to the attack on DNA. Non-covalent interactions minimize potential side reactions and produce changes in the structure of proteins and DNA, which is different from currently used drugs. This research was selected as the cover article for the print version of the journal, Issue 26.
Scientists compared the cytotoxicity and cellular concentrations of three anti-cancer drugs including the phase II clinical drug, BBR 3464, cisplatin and the new trinuclear platinum compound. In a laboratory model, human ovary cancer cells were exposed to each drug.
"In platinum antitumor chemistry our objective is to design and develop complexes acting by new mechanisms of action," said Nicholas Farrell, Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Chemistry at VCU, and lead author of the study. "Resistance to current drugs is due to poor cellular absorption and an increased ability of the cell to process or repair the damage caused by the chemotherapeutic agent".........
January 1, 2006
French Court Allows Asbestos Warship Transfer
Asbestos was commonly used in ship buildingThe asbestos warship will soon start to its destination in India. A judge at the Paris administrative court ruled that the four groups had raised "no serious doubts" about the legality of the aircraft-carrier Clemenceau's transfer for decontamination in a shipyard in India.
A French court paved the way for a decommissioned warship insulated with asbestos to be sent for scrapping in India, after rejecting petitions by campaigners trying to block its transfer.
French authorities were waiting for the legal green light to tow the ship, currently docked at the French naval base of Toulon, to Alang in northwestern India, home to the world's biggest ship-breaking yard.
"In theory, the Clemenceau can leave," said Joel Alquezar, who represented the French state in court.
Environmentalist group Greenpeace and three anti-asbestos groups have tried for months to block the operation, on the grounds that Indian shipyard workers are not properly protected from the hazards of working with asbestos, which can cause a form of lung cancer.
The groups reject the state's assessment of the amount of asbestos still left inside the Clemenceau, which they estimate at around 100 tonnes.
Lawyers for the campaigners insisted the fight was not over, and said they were considering an appeal to the State Council, France's highest court -- eventhough such an appeal would not prevent the ship's departure.
Marine authorities in Toulon said on Thursday the Clemenceau was ready to leave as soon as it was authorised to do so.
December 30, 2005
Melanoma Risk Only Partially Associated With ultraviolet B
The report in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute also indicates that only nonmelanoma skin cancers (i.e. basal and squamous cell carcinoma) are strongly associated with exposure to UVB radiation.
That does not mean, however, that sunbathing poses a minimal risk of developing melanoma. Scientists say that ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, the rays in sunlight that reach the deeper layers of skin and are associated with signs of aging, can damage the DNA in melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells that give rise to melanoma.
"Eventhough we have refined the common wisdom that excess sun exposure is always associated with increased risk of skin cancer, the take-home message for the public is still the same - limit sun exposure and use a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays," says the study's lead investigator, Qingyi Wei, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology.
The study is a painstaking analysis of the ability of UVB radiation to damage a cell's chromosomes. Chromosomal injury is one way cells can become malignant; damage to the genes that make up the chromosome is another, and Wei and his clooeagues already have shown in prior studies that melanoma patients often have a reduced capacity to repair the DNA damage that results from UV exposure.
In the novel study, scientists looked at how often chromosomes break in cells from skin cancer patients compared with cells from a control group.........
December 30, 2005
Patients With Breast Implants Frequently Develop Complications
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women in North American, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and some parts of South America, according to background information in the article. Women with breast cancer and their physicians may face several choices in the course of therapy, including whether to remove the breast (mastectomy) or undergo breast-conserving therapies, when and whether to reconstruct the breast following mastectomy and what materials to use in doing so. Surgeons performing postmastectomy reconstruction can form the new breast from flaps of skin and other tissue from the woman's body (autologous tissue) or insert an implant, and sometimes use both techniques at once. A number of women choose implants alone because the procedure is simpler and requires less operation time than those using autologous tissue, and it can preserve the color of the skin of the breast and possibly some of its sensitivity.
Trine F. Henrikson, M.D., of the Danish Registry for Plastic Surgery of the Breast (DPB), Copenhagen, Denmark, and his colleagues analyzed data from 574 women in the registry who underwent postmastectomy breast reconstruction between June 1, 1999, and July 24, 2003. The patients' surgeons reported the dates and details of each implantation and filled out follow-up forms when the women returned for subsequent visits. The women, ages 21 to 78 years with a mean (average) age of 51 years, were monitored through Sept. 15, 2003.
Following their first implantation, 31 percent of the women developed at least one adverse event, 16 percent developed two complications and 8 percent experienced three or more during the course of the study. The most common complications were infection, blood clotting, seroma (collection of serum in the tissues) and skin perforation. Forty-nine percent of these complications occurred within three months and 67 percent within six months.........
December 28, 2005
Annual Mammogram Is All That Needed
The report suggests that more intensive lab tests like liver scans and molecular tumor markers do not improve the chances of detecting a recurrence of cancer or increase survival rates among former breast cancer patients.
The finding is at odds with the usual therapy for breast cancer patients, according to Dr. Roldano Fossati of the Mario Negri Institute in Italy and his colleagues.
Fossati says "intensive follow-up is quite common in clinical practice and represents a significant workload for radiotherapy, surgical and oncologic departments".
The review appears in the recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.
The new analysis is an update of a 20-year-old Cochrane report on the topic. The current review includes four randomized controlled trial studies of 3,055 patients that compare different types of breast cancer follow-up care.
After analyzing data from two of the studies, the scientists found no significant difference in terms of survival, detection of new cancers or quality of life between a group of women who got regular physical exams and annual mammograms and a group who underwent a more extensive battery of laboratory tests that included liver scans, molecular tumor markers, chest x-rays and blood and liver function tests.
Another study included in the review found that follow-up care by hospital-based specialists was not significantly different from that offered by general practitioners in terms of improvements in the patient's quality of life or speed in detecting new cancers. However, patients were more likely to be satisfied with care by their general practitioner.........
December 28, 2005
How Clinical Trial Participants Perform?
The finding was published against a backdrop of debate about drug trials for popular pain-relievers and about whether trial results can be safely applied to an entire population. "These results challenge the assertion that the results of RCTs (randomized controlled trials) are not applicable to usual clinical practice," report the authors, who say this review is the most comprehensive of its kind conducted to date.
A randomized clinical trial is considered the "gold standard" of medical research because it is the best way to make sure that the only difference between the groups that are compared is the therapy they receive. Patients are assigned to each group randomly in order to increase the probability that differences between the groups can be attributed only to the therapy under study.
Critics, however, say the rigorous standards for inclusion in trials and the nature of those who conduct and participate in them mean that when a new drug or therapy is applied to a general population, the results might be different.
A recent article in the prestigious journal The Lancet suggested that clinical trials cannot be expected to be relevant to all patients with the same conditions for many reasons, such as selecting trial participants who are in better overall health, excluding people who have conditions in addition to the one being studied and the reality that in a general population patients will not always act according to doctors' instructions.
In the new study, scientists led by Gunn Elisabeth Vist of the Norwegian Health Services Research Centre, systematically identified and reviewed 55 studies involving a total of more than 31,000 patients who were treated in randomized clinical trials and more than 20,000 patients who were treated outside of them.........
December 28, 2005
Car Parts Still Use Asbestos
But there is no risk of the carcinogenic material entering the air and harming humans, because the asbestos was kneaded into resin or sealed for use in gaskets, packing and resin materials in the motor vehicles, which also included buses, fire engines and tractors, it said.
The companies are Toyota Motor Corp., Suzuki Motor Corp., Isuzu Motors Ltd., Nissan Motor Co., Nissan Diesel Motor Ltd., Hino Motors Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. and Yamaha Motor Co.
Suzuki Motor made 1.01 million vehicles with parts containing asbestos, the largest among the nine, while Toyota had 27,000 vehicles.
None of the nine companies plans to recall the parts, the association said.
Support package nod
The government endorsed a financial support package Tuesday for people made ill by asbestos and family members of people who have died from such diseases.
Under the terms of the package, 3 million yen would be paid as condolence money and funeral fees to those who have lost relatives to asbestos-linked diseases who were not covered by existing industrial accident insurance schemes.
Patients would receive medical expenses as well as 100,000 yen in monthly recuperation money, government officials said.........
December 27, 2005
Phase III Clinical Trial on Pleural Mesothelioma
A rare but devastating disease, it is estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 new mesothelioma cases will be diagnosed each year in the United States. Mesothelioma is cancer of the cells found in the mesothelium, which is the protective lining covering most of the internal organs of the body. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma, and it is identified by the presence of malignant cells located in the tissue outside of the lungs and inside of the ribs.
Vorinostat is an experimental drug that is believed to work against cancer cells. When cells become malignant, chemical reactions inside the cancer cell allow those cells to multiply out of control. Vorinostat may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking some of the enzymes needed for cell growth.
The principal investigator on the Vorinostat clinical trial at Winship is Dong M. Shin, MD, Professor of Hematology/Oncology and Otolaryngology; Director of Clinical and Translational Cancer Prevention Programs; and Co-Director of the Lung and Aerodigestive Tract Malignancies Program at Emory Winship Cancer Institute. Dr. Shin joined Winship in 2003 after more than 15 years as a faculty member at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
"This is a very important study for this terrible disease," said Dr. Shin. "As a second line treatment, there are currently no options other than this clinical trial."........
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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.
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