Category Archives: News

New Possible Cervical Cancer Treatments Focus on Cancer’s Energy Supply

New Possible Cervical Cancer Treatments Focus on Cancer's Energy Supply
New Possible Cervical Cancer Treatments Focus on Cancer’s Energy Supply

A new potential cervical cancer treatment is making waves. After decades of the same, largely unchanged treatment protocol, there may be a new hope on the horizon. A study conducted on mice by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has uncovered that cervical tumors that don’t respond to radiation are vulnerable to therapies that cut off cancer’s energy supply at the source.

Turning Cervical Cancer ‘Off’
The mice used in the study, implanted with human cervical cancer cells, provided some interesting data. When treated with a combination of radiation and 3 drugs designed to slow tumor metabolism, cancer’s ability to burn glucose and protect itself was shut down, thwarting cancer cell survival attempts.

The Sugar-Zapping Theory
Cancer cells take up glucose in larger amounts than normal tissues. Researchers in the study observed that tumors resisting treatment were those that took up a large deal of glucose prior to radiation therapy. On the hypothesis that sugar strengthens tumor resistance, they decided to delve closer into what would happen if that sugar uptake was inhibited.

Shocking Potential
With glucose eliminated as a food source, cancer cells must scavenge for sustenance. In typical treatment modalities, cancer will rally by hitting the cells’ metabolic pathways in two more ways simultaneously, making tumors vulnerable to their own self-created toxic stew.

Free radical toxicity escalates, eventually devastating the cancer cells. As healthy cells don’t rely on this fuel production pathway, no obvious negative side-effects were revealed. Future studies will explore this cancer treatment’s potential in HPV-induced cervical cancer.

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Targeting Proteins May Prevent Metastasis of Cancers

Targeting Proteins May Prevent Metastasis of Cancers
Targeting Proteins May Prevent Metastasis of Cancers

New research has uncovered the existence of a protein that helps tumors spread, enabling their capacity to grow blood vessels. Could targeting this protein in cancer treatment experimentation lead to a new potential cure?

Not So Fast!
Published in the journal Oncogene, the study involved laboratory experiments blocking the protein latent TGF-beta binding protein 3 (LTBP3), prevented tumors from effectively metastasizing. A collaborative effort between multiple researchers, the investigation began based on the observation that lower levels of the protein LTBP3 correlated to an improved survival outcome in those with certain types of cancer.

A Complex Dynamic
The LTBP3 protein binds to a substance called TGF-beta to metastasize. TGF-beta presents a double-edged sword, either aiding the spread of tumors – or putting a halt to metastasis. Our bodies rely on TGF-beta to function properly. In early stages, it suppresses cancer growth. However in advanced cancers, it transforms and promotes tumor growth. The cancer treatment trick? To control the harmful effects of TGF-beta without disturbing normal cell function.

A Confirmed Association
As researchers looked closer into the interplay of LTBP3 and TGF-beta using head and neck carcinoma and fibroscarcoma in mice and chicks, the scientists discovered LTBP3 helps tumors grow blood vessels, and primary tumors could not metastasize properly in its absence. This corroborated the previous research associating lower levels of the LTBP3 protein with better patient outcomes. Further research into this complex dynamic is highly anticipated.

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Specialized DNA Nanobots Close Cancer Tumor’s Blood Supply

Specialized DNA Nanobots Close Cancer Tumor's Blood Supply
Specialized DNA Nanobots Close Cancer Tumor’s Blood Supply

Robotics has made quite a splash in manufacturing and industrial applications, and now it’s on the brink of a breakthrough in a completely different arena. Future cancer treatment options may include an army of tiny tumor-fighting nanobots.

Biochemistry Meets Industrial Technology

The concept is in the preliminary stages, so real-life use is still far off on the horizon. Scientists are encouraged by the results of a study that was recently published in Nature Biotechnology.

Researchers conducted the test on a group of mice with human breast cancer tumors. Specially engineered DNA nanobots containing a payload of thrombin, an enzyme that causes blood to clot, were then injected intravenously into the affected mice.

Once inside, the nanobots delivered the thrombin directly to tumor-associated blood vessels, where they induced intravascular thrombosis. As a result, cancer cells were deprived of their blood supply and ultimately died off.

Sparing Healthy Cells

While scientists welcome any advancement in cancer treatment, one particular aspect of DNA nanobots is especially promising. During testing on the mice, the nanobots focused exclusively on cancer cells. There was no damage to healthy cells, unlike results often found in traditional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.

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Liquid Biopsy Test for Cancer Has Problematic Accuracy Results

Liquid Biopsy Test for Cancer Has Problematic Accuracy Results
Liquid Biopsy Test for Cancer Has Problematic Accuracy Results

Early detection improves the chances of successful cancer treatment, so recent news of a “liquid biopsy” has encouraged the medical community. Unfortunately, the test is showing unacceptable levels of accuracy, leaving the procedure a long way from any real-world applications.

Controlled vs. Real World Conditions

CancerSEEK uses a blood sample for a battery of tests to measure tumor biomarkers and identify cancer-associated DNA mutations. During clinical studies, researchers obtained some promising results.

By the team’s own admission, the conditions were optimized to facilitate detection of cancer. Even so, most of the cancers detected were late-stage while the goal of screening was to find cancer in the early stages.

Accuracy problems in less-controlled environments became more clear in a 2017 study involving 40 prostate cancer patients who underwent liquid biopsies to fine-tune their therapy programs. Each sample was sent to two different labs with similar technology, but the results differed for more than half of the patients.

Are Liquid Biopsies the Answer?

Researchers are also questioning the full value of a positive result. While the test may detect the presence of cancer, it gives no clues as to the location of the tumor, unlike traditional screenings such as mammograms and CT scans.

Scientists will no doubt continue to study the science behind liquid biopsies, as detection of circulating tumor DNA can have other applications. The question remains whether liquid biopsies have a viable future as useful cancer screening.

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Research Studies Now Under Way to Starve Cancer Tumors

Research Studies Now Under Way to Starve Cancer Tumors
Research Studies Now Under Way to Starve Cancer Tumors

According to a popular old wives’ tale, you should starve a cold and feed a fever. Scientists working on immunotherapy for cancer are taking that advice a step further as they develop a new treatment that “starves” tumors to death.

Cutting Off Cancer’s Fuel Source

Glutamine is an amino acid found throughout the body, with the largest concentrations in blood and bone. While glutamine plays a major role in cellular synthesis of proteins, it also provides fuel for the rapid cell division of many types of cancer.

A research team at Vanderbilt University in Nashville began exploring the idea of blocking glutamine from cancer cells as a possible form of treatment. They focused on ASCT2, a protein that transports glutamine to cancer cells as well as other parts of the body.

The scientists created an ASCT2 inhibitor called V-9302. In testing on both mice and cancer cells developed in vitro, V-9302 was able to stop tumor growth by increasing oxidative stress on cancer cells, leaving them to eventually die off.

Using PET Imaging to Trace Tumors

As the team noted in their report, the next step is to find a way to determine how effective the inhibitors are in restricting glutamine access. The researchers suggested using positron emission tomagraphy (PET) scans to spot increases in glutamine metabolic rates.

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Common Acid Reflux Drug May Increase Stomach Cancer Risks

Common Acid Reflux Drug Make Increase Stomach Cancer Risks
Common Acid Reflux Drug Make Increase Stomach Cancer Risks

Acid reflux is a relatively common condition that affects a number of people worldwide. Evidence from recent studies suggests that one of the more widely-used acid reflux treatments may increase the risk of stomach cancer.

H. Pylori and Stomach Cancer

Around the globe, stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer causing the third highest number of cancer-related deaths. H. pylori, a bacterium found in two-thirds of the world’s population, is a major cause of ulcers and a significant risk for stomach cancer.

A 2016 review revealed an association between long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI), a frequently prescribed treatment for acid reflux, and increased risk of cancer. Scientists remained uncertain because the review failed to distinguish between H. pylori and H. pylori-negative participants.

Can Acid Reflux Treatment Increase Stomach Cancer Risk?

In 2017, researchers at the University of Hong Kong set out to find some clarity on the issue. The team separated the study group into PPI users and those using another acid reflux drug known as H2 blockers.

Nearly 64,000 participants began with a seven-day course of triple therapy, which involves use of a PPI with two antibiotics to eradicate H. pylori. Results showed that, even in the absence of H. pylori, PPI usage more than doubled risk of stomach cancer while usage of H2 blockers demonstrated no increased risk.

Immunotherapy for Cancer: A Non-Toxic, Integrative Program

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