Tag Archives: cancer research

Tel Aviv University Nanoprobes Light Up Stray Cancer Cells

New Cancer Research Is Improving Cancer Treatment
New Cancer Research Is Improving Cancer Treatment

While cancer treatment often includes surgery, even a few missed cells can lead to recurrence and metastasis. Recent development of a “smart probe” that pinpoints cancer cells may greatly improve the effectiveness of surgical options.

Challenges of Surgery as Cancer Treatment

Removal of solid tumors can still leave behind stray cells that evade detection by MRI or CT. In some cases, surgeons end up damaging otherwise healthy tissue in an effort to excise all diseased cells.

Extensive studies by an interdisciplinary team at Tel Aviv University culminated in development of a nanoprobe that literally shines a light on cancer cells. When injected into a patient a few hours before surgery begins, the probe can alert the surgeon to the presence of cancer cells that might have been missed.

“Shedding a Light” on Cancer Cells

The probe is activated by the presence of an enzyme known as cysteine cathepsins, which occurs in higher numbers in tumor cells than in healthy cells. When the probe identifies cancerous cells, it triggers a fluorescent signal in those areas, while healthy tissue remains dark.

In tests conducted on mice with melanoma and breast cancer, the survival rate of mice that underwent probe-assisted surgery was double that of the mice who received regular surgery. Now that the team has registered patents for the technology, the next step is to start clinical trials with hopes of commercially marketing the probe.

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Modified Polio Virus to be Tested In Brain Cancer Research Efforts

Issels the Premier Provider of Immuno Oncology
Issels the Premier Provider of Immuno Oncology

When it comes to your health, a virus is generally something to be avoided. In a surprising discovery, a virus that normally causes paralysis may hold promise as an immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

Can a Virus Actually Fight a Tumor?

Glioblastoma is the most common and most deadly form of brain cancer affecting adults. It gained a measure of public awareness after former Sen. Edward Kennedy and Beau Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, succumbed to the disease. One year ago Sen. John McCain, already a cancer survivor, was diagnosed with glioblastoma.

Poliovirus, which causes the paralyzing disease that shares its name, infects cells in the nervous system. Based on this feature, a team of Duke University scientists decided to test a genetically modified version on patients with treatment-resistant glioblastoma.

Poliovirus and the Immune System: A Two-Pronged Attack

The researchers neutralized the virus by replacing the specific gene that causes polio with one from rhinovirus, which generally causes head colds. Once infused directly into the tumors, the newly formed virus was able to infect and kill cancer cells as well as stimulate the immune system to attack the cells.

According to team member Dr. Darell Bigner, the group’s 21 percent survival rate after three years is more than five times that of a previously treated comparison group. The researchers are planning to conduct studies combining the modified poliovirus with other immunotherapy for cancer drugs in hopes of improving the results.

Treatment for Advanced and Therapy-Resistant Cancers

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New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer’s Progression

New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer's Progression
New Immunotherapy Drug Combination Fails to Stop Cancer’s Progression

Scientists have embraced immuno oncology research as an avenue for more effective cancer treatments. Unfortunately, the field took a temporary hit recently when Incyte pulled the plug on its latest immunotherapy drug trial.

Arming the Body’s Immune System

Incyte had high hopes for epacadostat, which works as an IDO inhibitor. IDO is an enzyme found in the body that prevents T cells in the immune system from attacking cancer cells.

In the trial, epacadostat was paired with Keytruda, a phenomenally successful immunotherapy drug from Merck. Keytruda is a checkpoint inhibitor that helps T cells recognize cancer cells, which often evade detection.

It was hoped that epacadostat would boost the effectiveness of Keytruda when taken alone. But not only did epacadostat fail to stop the progression of cancer, it had no positive effect on overall survival rates.

Is There Still Hope for Epacadostat?

While the original trial failed against melanoma, Incyte is hoping to conduct further tests with epacadostat in treating other forms of cancer. As explained by Dr. Jason Luke, an oncologist at the University of Chicago, the patient sample may have been too broad.

According to Dr. Luke, immunotherapy benefits patients with T cell-inflamed tumors. The key is to test epacadostat on patients who have a natural immune response, which can be determined via RNA-based sequencing.

Yale University oncologist Dr. Roy Herbst says the setback will not affect the enthusiasm for immunotherapy. He emphasizes that these cancer treatments are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

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July is Bone Cancer Awareness Month – What to Know

Picture of a bone cross section
Bone Cancer or Sarcoma is in the focus in July

What are the types of bone cancer? Can it be treated with immunotherapy for cancer programs? July is Bone Cancer Awareness Month, making it a good time to share some facts about the disease from the National Cancer Institute.

Basics of Bone Cancer

As the name implies, bone cancer is a malignant tumor that forms in bone tissue. The majority of bone tumors are benign, which means they’re non-fatal and don’t spread.

On the other hand, bone cancer CAN spread to other parts of the body. Regardless of the location of the metastasis, or spread, the disease is still referred to as bone cancer based on its original site.

Types of Bone Cancer

– Osteosarcoma, usually found in the knee or upper arm, develops in hard bone tissue.

– Chondrosarcoma forms in cartilage, which is the tough but resilient tissue that cushions joints.

– The Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors, or ESFTs, are thought to arise from primitive nerve tissue in bone or soft tissues.

Bone Cancer Symptoms

Chronic pain or swelling in or near a bone are the most common symptoms of bone cancer, but they could also be indicative of other conditions, so it’s important to be tested.

Treatments for Bone Cancer

Traditional treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy are often used with bone cancer patients. The NCI and other organizations also sponsor frequent clinical trials to investigate immunotherapy for cancer treatments.

Help for Patients with Stage IV Bone Cancer

Visit our website for testimonials from patients with metastasized bone cancer and other forms who have achieved long-term remission with immunotherapy for cancer at Issels®.

Cancer Gets Fuel From Fat Cells – How to Starve Tumors

It's Time to Cross Out Cancer!
It’s Time to Cross Out Cancer!

Cancer research is now going beyond the genetic aspect to explore how the disease interacts with the body’s systems. Recent studies of the relationship between cancer and fat cells may have implications concerning immunotherapy for cancer.

Feeding the Growth of Cancer Cells

While the precise causes are not yet known, obesity has been identified as a risk factor for prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. As a result, research into the link between cancer and fat cells has focused on this form of the disease.

Previous tests involved mice who were fed a high-fat diet. In contrast, researchers at Sanford Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego conducted a study using mice who lacked a protein called p62, causing them to become obese on a normal diet.

According to co-author Dr. Jorge Moscat, this control was necessary to get a clear understanding of the communication pathways between cancer and fat cells. The team discovered that p62 suppresses another protein known as mTORC1, which in turn inhibits energy use by fat cells.

Can Cancer Cells Be “Starved” to Death?

With metabolism halted in fat cells, nutrients are then available to fuel development of tumor cells. Lack of p62 also triggers production of proteins found at high levels in particularly aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

As explained by Dr. Moscat, these findings can help identify specific substances to be targeted by immunotherapy for cancer treatments with the goal of “starving” cancer cells.

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The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer

The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer
The Importance of Gut Bacteria in the Spread of Pancreatic Cancer

Gut bacteria, or microbiome, include organisms that manufacture vitamins and promote healthy digestion and other functions. A study recently published in Cancer Discovery found that pathogenic gut bacteria can have a negative impact on pancreatic cancer treatment.

When Gut Bacteria Fights the Immune System

A research team at NYU School of Medicine conducted tests on both mice and humans with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA), a particularly aggressive form of pancreatic cancer. The scientists discovered that pathogenic, or “bad,” gut bacteria migrated to the pancreas, increasing bacterial presence by a thousand times.

Problems arise when this unbalanced mix of bacteria triggers a shutdown of immune cells, allowing cancer cells to multiply unchecked. Checkpoint inhibitors are a type of immunotherapy cancer treatment that reactivates immune cells, but they’re ineffective against the overwhelming amount of bacteria in the pancreas.

Using Antibiotics to Supplement Immunotherapy

When the researchers treated the mice with antibiotics, the amount of bacteria decreased enough to “flip the switch” on immune cells, thereby slowing cancer growth. In addition, checkpoint inhibitors were approximately three times more effective when used in conjunction with antibiotics.

Checkpoint inhibitors had previously failed to treat pancreatic cancer in clinical trials, so scientists are encouraged by these results. The team is now recruiting PDA patients to test the antibiotic-checkpoint inhibitor combo.

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