Tag Archives: Cancer News

Protein Biomarker Found for Liver Cancer That May Allow for Early Treatment

Protein Biomarker Found for Liver Cancer That May Allow for Early Treatment
Protein Biomarker Found for Liver Cancer That May Allow for Early Treatment

While some cancer rates have dropped, cases of liver cancer have actually tripled since the 1980s, with only 20 percent of patients surviving more than five years after diagnosis. Scientists are hoping to fight this trend with the discovery of a new protein biomarker that can lead to earlier cancer immunotherapy.

Dire Prognosis for Liver Cancer

The grim mortality rate for liver cancer is largely due to the fact that it’s usually diagnosed in late stages, by which point the liver has already sustained too much damage. A study recently published in the journal Nature describes findings that may enable earlier diagnosis.

Using Tumor Suppressors for More Accurate Diagnosis

Anti-cancer proteins known as tumor suppressors have the ability to check the rapid cell growth. Problems arise when the tumor suppressors in cancer cells fail to do their job.

A team at the University of Basel in Switzerland went in search of more effective tumor suppressors by testing a mouse model of liver cancer. The researchers examined more than 4,000 individual proteins in the diseased tissue and compared them to those in healthy tissue.

One protein called histidine phosphatase (LHPP) was found in healthy tissue but not in the tumor cells. Similar results were found when the team focused on LHPP in humans with liver cancer. Scientists are hopeful that LHPP can serve as a biomarker, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Cancer Immunotherapy for Late-Stage and Therapy-Resistant Tumors

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Chemicals that Attract Immune Cells May Speed Immunotherapy Response

Chemicals that Attract Immune Cells May Speed Immunotherapy Response
Chemicals that Attract Immune Cells May Speed Immunotherapy Response

It’s said that opposites attract, and scientists are hoping to use that principle to develop more effective immuno oncology treatments. Certain chemicals that are present in tumors might be used to attract cancer-fighting immune cells.

Triggering an Immune Response to Cancer Cells

In a study recently published in Cell, researchers at the Francis Krick Institute found that immune cells known as Natural Killer (NK) cells build up in tumors. These NK cells emit certain chemicals that attract special dendritic cells (cDC1), which are white blood cells that generate an immune response against tumors.

While analyzing data from more than 2,500 patients with skin, breast, lung and neck cancers, the team discovered a correlation between NK cell and cDC1 genes and cancer survival. Similar results occurred with an independent group of breast cancer patients.

Solving a Potential Roadblock

The study also revealed that prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which is produced by some cancer cells, can suppress NK cell activity, thereby limiting the cDC1 response. One solution may be to use aspirin to block PGE2 and its negative effects.

Professor Karen Vousden of Cancer Research UK acknowledged the benefits of the study in revealing more information about the interaction between cancer and the immune system. Vousden also pointed out the importance of such work for improved immuno oncology treatments.

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New Three-Part Molecule May Decrease Growth of Certain Types of Cancer Tumors

Three-Part Molecule May Decrease Growth of Certain Types of Cancer Tumors
Three-Part Molecule May Decrease Growth of Certain Types of Cancer Tumors

If one is good and two is better, is three the answer? Scientists are hoping that a new three-part molecule could be an answer regarding effective immuno oncology for breast cancer patients.

Stemming the Growth of Breast Cancer Cells

Approximately 20 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases involve over-expression of HER2, which is a growth factor that leads to aggressive multiplication of cancer cells. This acceleration often makes these types of cancer resistant to therapy, resulting in poor prognoses.

Dr. Hongyan Liu, a bioengineer at the Georgia Cancer Center, led a team that developed a chimera, or three-part molecule, to suppress the growth factors. The chimera targets HER2, HER3 and EGFR because one member of the HER “family” can compensate when another one is blocked.

Exploring the Abilities of the Three-Part Molecule

The new molecule is non-toxic, easy to manufacture and relatively cost-effective, making scientists optimistic about its value for immuno oncology. Dr. Liu and her team are currently conducting studies to determine if the chimera can treat cancer that is resistant to Herceptin, a drug that inhibits HER2.

Breast cancer is not the only form that grows due to over-expression of HER receptors. Dr. Liu is hopeful that the chimera will have future applications for lung, head and neck cancers as well.

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New Research: Computer Modeling and New Drugs to Deactivate Metastasized Breast Cancer in the Brain

Computer Modeling and New Drugs to Deactivate Metastasized Breast Cancer in the Brain
Computer Modeling and New Drugs to Deactivate Metastasized Breast Cancer in the Brain

Bringing a new immuno oncology drug to market is an expensive and time-consuming proposition. A team of researchers is trying to expedite the process, using computer modeling to find a drug that treats metastasized breast cancer.

Can One Drug Fight Two Types of Cancer?

Triple negative breast cancer is the most difficult form to treat. Once the cancer metastasizes to the brain, survival time is generally shorter. Scientists at Houston Methodist analyzed thousands of current drugs in search of one that could prevent metastasis.

The team’s efforts paid off when they hit on edelfosine, a drug which is FDA-approved for investigational leukemia treatment. Edelfosine has also been the subject of clinical research for primary brain tumors.

In a study to test the discovery, mice were injected with triple negative breast cancer stem cells obtained from patients. The cancer cells metastasized to the brain, but treatment with edelfosine prevented the cells from further growth.

A “Game-Changer” in Immuno Oncology

Dr. Stephen T. Wong, one of the study’s authors, referred to the concept of repurposing drug compounds to prevent metastatic brain cancer as a “game-changer.” In past research, Wong and his co-workers have discovered other drugs that are being repurposed in clinical trials.

The study’s co-author, Dr. Hong Zhao, said they hope to move edelfosine to a phase II clinical study within the next few years. In addition, scientists want to investigate use of the compound on other forms of cancer.

Issels®: Successful Treatment of Therapy-Resistant Cancer

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“Superblood” Engineered to Carry Cancer Fighting Proteins

"Superblood" Engineered to Carry Cancer Fighting Proteins
“Superblood” Engineered to Carry Cancer Fighting Proteins

Super powers are usually the stuff of comic books and movies, but a biotech startup may be turning fiction into reality with the development of “superblood” as a revolutionary new cancer treatment.

“Supercharging” Red Blood Cells

Rubius Therapeutics is working on a program called Red-Cell Therapeutics (RCT), which involves red blood cells that are genetically engineered to fight cancer. Once introduced into a patient’s system, these proteins can replace missing enzymes and help the immune system attack and destroy cancer cells.

RCT has two major advantages that make it a promising breakthrough in cancer treatment:

– The nuclei have been removed from these cells so they can’t be recognized by the immune system, leaving them free from interference so they can do their job.

– Red blood cells travel throughout the entire body, so RCT is able to easily reach any affected organs or tissues.

Thanks to these two features, RCT has the potential to treat patients without the need for an individually developed solution.

What’s Next?

Initially, Rubius Therapeutics generated $120 million from investors. The company recently raised an additional $100 million for a total of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in less than one year. According to Rubius president Torben Straight Nissen, this funding will help accelerate RCT development for quicker delivery to the end users.

Issels®: The Leader in Immunotherapy Cancer Treatments

Much like RCT, cancer treatment at Issels® is designed to boost the immune system’s ability to attack and kill cancer cells. Contact us to learn more about cancer vaccines and other programs we have used to help patients achieve long-term remission.

No More Biopsies – MRI Recommended for Prostate Cancer Screening

No More Biopsies - MRI Recommended for Prostate Cancer Screening
No More Biopsies – MRI Recommended for Prostate Cancer Screening

The collaborative efforts of a multi-institutional study published by JAMA Oncology is changing prostate cancer treatment protocols. Potential prostate cancer patients may no longer need to line up for biopsies. Instead, MRI-based prediction models are offering a new risk assessment option.

Bye-Bye Biopsy
In the study, researchers from the National Cancer Institute, University of Chicago, and University of Alabama at Birmingham found evidence that the inclusion of an MRI for prostate cancer patients can be used as a biomarker to decrease unnecessary biopsies. It was also determined that the MRIs helped maintain a high rate of diagnoses for clinically significant prostate cancers.

Hello MRI
Based on the data collected, the research points to MRI-based models as further offering the benefit of lower false-positive rates than the baseline model. This means 18% fewer men would be subject to unnecessary biopsies subsequent to false-positive diagnosis.

Next Destination: Improved Cancer Treatment
Co-Author of the study, UAB Department of Urology Assistant Professor and UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Associate Scientist Soroush Rais-Bahrami, M.D., points to the data’s far-reaching implications. The imaging biomarker is expected to optimize patient selection, as well as allow for the more accurate determination of risk factors and stratification.

What’s more, it will provide physicians with the opportunity to potentially reduce prostate cancer morbidity by enabling a more timely and accurate diagnosis, and thus a faster, more individualized treatment response for prostate cancer treatment patients.

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