Category Archives: News

Gold Nano Particles May Boost Lung Cancer Treatment

Gold Nano-particles Can be Introduced into the Bloodstream to Help Fight Cancer.
Gold Nano-particles Can be Introduced into the Bloodstream to Help Fight Cancer.

Gold may have a value that goes well beyond financial gain. Researchers have discovered that the shiny element can enhance the effectiveness of drugs used to treat lung cancer.

Cancer Treatment as Good as Gold

Testing was conducted at the University of Edinburgh, where Scientists took nanoparticles, which are microscopic particles of gold, and encased them in a chemical device. The object was then used on zebrafish to successfully accelerate their chemical reactions.

Dr. Asier Unciti-Broceta from Cancer Research U.K.’s Edinburgh center participated in the study. He explained that the team’s goal was to find a way to reduce side effects of current chemotherapy methods.

Lessening the Side Effects of Traditional Cancer Treatment

Side effects of cancer treatment are usually the result of drugs attacking healthy cells as well as diseased ones. According to Dr. Unciti-Broceta, their findings indicate that gold could possibly be used to safely release drugs inside tumors.

Immunotherapy for cancer is effective because it helps the immune system’s ability to target cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. Researchers are continuing tests with nanoparticles in the hopes of applying a similar method with humans.

Dr. Aine McCarthy, also of Cancer Research U.K., expressed optimism that incorporating gold in immunotherapy for cancer could improve the outlook for hard-to-treat cancers such as brain tumors.

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What’s Happening in Colorectal Cancer Research?

 

Cancer Research is Making Progress Every Day. Here is the Latest for Colorectal Cancer.
Cancer Research is Making Progress Every Day. Here is the Latest for Colorectal Cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States, but there are currently more than one million survivors in the country. The National Foundation for Cancer Research has some information you should know about this preventable disease.

Rates and Risks of Colorectal Cancer

• Overall risks of developing colorectal cancer are marginally higher for men. Approximately one in 21 is diagnosed with the disease, while the numbers for women are one in 23.

• Health factors that increase the risk of colorectal cancer include inflammatory bowel disorders, family history and genetics, and personal history of polyps or another form of cancer.

• Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, obesity and high-fat diets, heavy alcohol use and physical inactivity also contribute to colorectal cancer risk.

Regular screenings can help prevent colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Research in the News

Genomics and immunotherapy for cancer are the main focus points of today’s colorectal cancer research.

• Dr. Wei Zhang and his NFCR-funded team are continuing their promising studies into biomarkers and their use in improving colorectal cancer prognosis and predicting responses to treatment.

• NFCR has also supported the work of Dr. Yung-Chi Cheng, who is on the cusp of producing one of the first FDA-approved oral herbal immunotherapies for cancer. When applied in combination with chemotherapy, PH906 has been found to ease gastrointestinal side effects that accompany treatment for colon and rectal cancers.

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The First in 10 Years – FDA Approves New Liver Cancer Drug

FDA Approves New Drug! Could This Make Groundbreaking Progress?
FDA Approves New Drug! Could This Make Groundbreaking Progress?

In November 2007, the Food and Drug Administration gave its first-ever approval for a drug designed as liver cancer treatment. Nearly 10 years later, the FDA has given its approval to a second drug for liver cancer that also has applications for some forms of gastrointestinal cancer.

The Search for Effective Liver Cancer Treatment

Sorafenib, brand name Nexavar®, was the original drug approved for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common form of liver cancer. The drug acts as a kinase inhibitor to block enzymes responsible for cell division and reproduction.

According to Dr. Tim Greten of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, since 2007 there have been a number of phase III trials for possible liver cancer treatments. Until now, none of them have been successful.

A 10-Year Breakthrough

Regorafenib, brand name Stivarga®, is also a kinase inhibitor. During a phase III trial, 573 patients whose HCC had not responded to sorafenib were assigned to receive either regorafenib or a placebo.

The patients who received regorafenib experienced an overall three-month increase in survival over the placebo group. Percentage of patients whose tumors had at least partial shrinkage was 11 percent and four percent respectively.

Researchers are also studying the use of other immunotherapy agents against liver cancer. The current focus is on checkpoint inhibitors such as tremelimumab and nivolumab.

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New Blood Test May Identify Early Cases of Pancreatic Cancer

Tests Have Found Blood Can Help Identify Signs of Pancreatic Cancer.
Tests Have Found Blood Can Help Identify Signs of Pancreatic Cancer.

While pancreatic cancer is relatively rare in the United States, it’s one of the more deadly forms of the disease. According to a recently published study, a new blood test may be able to detect pancreatic cancer during its earliest and most treatable stages.

Solving the Puzzle of Early Detection

Experts predict that pancreatic cancer will become the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2020. The main problem is late detection, with five-year survival rates coming in at less than 10 percent.

Scientists working on methods of early detection ran into a catch-22. Studies to identify potential markers relied on tumor samples from patients who were already in advanced stages of pancreatic cancer.

A Biomarker Breakthrough

The recent study was conducted by a joint University of Pennsylvania/Mayo Clinic team. Senior investigator Dr. Ken Zaret explained that reprogrammed cells were transplanted into mice, where they developed into invasive pancreatic tumors.

Samples from the lesions and tumors were then taken from the mice and used to identify proteins they secreted. Elevated levels of one protein, called THB52, was found to accurately distinguish between the affected and healthy controls, as well as between pancreatic cancer and other forms.

Dr. Zaret and his team are continuing their research with larger samples and more cross-validation. Researchers are hopeful that their work will lead to a viable test for people at high risk for pancreatic cancer.

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High Fat Diets Are Linked to Colon Cancer

High Fat Diets Are Linked to Colon Cancer
High Fat Diets Are Linked to Colon Cancer

Doctors regularly warn patients that obesity is linked to an increased risk of cancer. A study by researchers at MIT has shed some light on how high-fat diets can trigger colon cancer.

The Role of Stem Cells in Colon Cancer

Colon cancer arises from mutations that tend to accumulate among intestinal stem cells, which last a lifetime. Omer Yilmaz, an assistant professor of biology at MIT, led a team that set out to discover the process behind these cellular changes.

For nine months to a year, Yilmaz and his team fed healthy mice a diet composed of 60 percent fat. In addition to gaining up to 50 percent more body mass, these mice developed more intestinal tumors than those on a healthy diet.

Effects of High-Fat Diet on Intestinal Cells

Researchers observed significant changes in the intestinal stem cells of the mice:

  • The mice eating a high-fat diet had a higher number of intestinal stem cells. In addition, they were able to operate free of input from niche cells that normally regulate stem cell activity.
  • Progenitor cells, which are differentiated “daughters” of stem cells, began to take on characteristics of stem cells, including longer life span and ability to generate mini-intestines outside the body.

Yilmaz is hopeful that, with further investigation, this information will lead to identifying new methods of cancer treatment for obesity-related tumors.

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Zika Virus and Brain Cancer – New Research is Underway

Could There be a Connection Between Zika and Brain Cancer?
Could There be a Connection Between Zika and Brain Cancer?

The Zika virus is back in the news, but this time the stories are positive. Researchers in the UK are planning a groundbreaking test to determine whether the Zika virus can destroy brain tumor cells.

Thinking Outside the Box

Cancer Research UK uses its Pioneer Awards to encourage innovation that could lead to game-changing new methods in the fight against cancer. Dr. Harry Bulstrode of the University of Cambridge is the most recent recipient.

The target of Dr. Bulstrode’s test is glioblastoma, the most aggressive and commonly occurring form of brain cancer. Laboratory research will be conducted on tumor cells in mice.

Why the Zika Virus?

Immunotherapy for cancer and other current treatments have two major drawbacks:

• The treatments are unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.

• Low doses must be administered to avoid harming healthy tissue.

The Zika virus has neither of these restrictions. It can cross the blood-brain barrier and target cancer cells rather than healthy ones.

While Zika virus infection in pregnant women causes severe disabilities in babies by attacking stem cells in developing brains, it generally causes only mild flu-like symptoms in adults who have fully developed brains.

The crucial difference is that glioblastoma cells have a similar makeup to cells in developing brains. Dr. Bulstrode is hopeful that the Zika virus can be used to attack the tumor cells and spare healthy tissue.

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