Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2008

Breakthrough Cancer Surgery Saves Terminal Patient

A Florida woman with a golf ball-size tumor in her abdomen who risked a cutting-edge surgery to save her life is now on her way to a full recovery.

Brooke Zepp, 63, was told that her tumor was inoperable because it was buried so deep inside her abdomen and that she had only months to live.

After receiving a diagnosis of leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer in her abdomen, Zepp had tried radiation and chemotherapy but neither had worked.

Desperate for help, Zepp found a team of surgeons willing to perform an unprecedented operation. The tumor was buried underneath half a dozen major organs.

“I wanted to prove that there is hardly any such thing as inoperable cancer,” Zepp said.

It took seven surgeons more than 15 hours, in which they removed her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver and large and small intestines, while keeping Zepp alive. Once they cut out the tumor, which was wrapped around a major artery, they painstakenly put all the organs back in her body.

In other words, it was like taking the engine out of a car to repair it while the car is still running.

“This is definitely one of the most difficult surger[ies] that we’ve ever done,” said Dr. Tom Kato, who led the team of surgeons that operated on Zepp at the University of Miami Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Zepp’s organs were outside of her body for approximately 90 minutes, during which time they were kept refrigerated.

Zepp says she never believed her tumor was going to kill her.

“For anybody out there that is being told that they have cancer that can’t be operated on, keep looking, keep looking,” said Zepp. “I am an all or nothing kind of person. I want a real life. … I don’t want to live a half of a life and I feel free now.”

Doctors are releasing Zepp from the hospital in Miami today and believe she is now free of cancer.

Friday, Aug. 31, 2007

A cancer ‘cure’ from frogs

A new study has it that a synthetic molecule derived from the egg cells of frogs, could be of potential benefit in treating brain tumours, the BBC reported on Sunday.

Amphinase is a version of a molecule isolated from the egg cells of the Northern Leopard frog (Rana pipiens).
UK and US scientists found it recognises the sugary coating found on a tumour cell, and latches on to it before invading and killing it. The Journal of Molecular Biology paper suggests the molecule could potentially treat many cancers.

However, the researchers, from the University of Bath and the Alfacell Corporation, believe it shows the greatest potential in treating brain tumours, for which complex surgery and chemotherapy are the only current treatments. Researcher Professor Ravi Acharya said: “This is a very exciting molecule. It is rather like Mother Nature’s very own magic bullet for recognising and destroying cancer cells. It is highly specific at hunting and destroying tumour cells, is easily synthesised in the laboratory and offers great hope as a therapeutic treatment of the future.”

Amphinase is a version of a ribonuclease enzyme, which is found in all organisms and plays a role in mopping up genetic material called RNA.

In mammals the enzyme is kept in close check, so that it does not cause damage. But because Amphinase comes from an amphibian, and not a mammal, it is able to evade the usual defences of cancer cells, and attack them. It will have no effect on other cells because it is only capable of recognising and binding to the sugar coating of tumour cells.

However, it is still in the early stages of development, and a treatment is not likely for several years.
Amphinase is the second anti-tumour ribonuclease to be isolated by Alfacell Corporation from Rana pipiens egg cells.

The other, ranpirnase, is in late-stage clinical trials as a treatment for unresectable malignant mesothelioma, a rare and fatal form of lung cancer. It is also being assessed as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer and other solid tumours.

Emma Knight, science information manager at Cancer Research United Kingdom, said: “Cancer is such a complicated
disease that researchers need to explore all potential avenues. A similar drug to Amphinase is currently being tested against cancer in human clinical trials. But it’s far too early to comment on whether Amphinase could ever be helpful for people with cancer.”

Tuesday, Jul. 31, 2007

Drinking Coffee And Working Out May Help To Cure Skin Cancer

A team of researchers at Rutgers University, New Jersey have found a new cure to fighting skin cancer by the unique combination of exercise and caffeine.

The study, which has been conducted successfully on mice, suggests that the combination of coffee and exercise can increase destruction of precancerous cells that had been damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet-B radiation.

Scientists are now hoping that the new study would be successful on human beings but added that people should continue to use sunscreen.

The results, which appeared in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that exposing the mice to ultraviolet-B light causes some skin cells to become precancerous.

In a process called apoptosis, the cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct. However, not all the cells can do so thus they can become cancerous.

Though the scientists are still not very clear as to why the combination of caffeine and exercise can reduce cancer cell but they believe that mice drinking caffeine were more active, leading them to do more exercise.

Both caffeine and exercise helped eliminate damaged skin cells and the combination worked better together than individually.

However, researchers also added that there is a need for this concept of systemic caffeine to be addressed further.

Tuesday, Jul. 3, 2007

Breakthrough for toddler cancer treatment

Medical experts at Edinburgh University believe they may have made a breakthrough discovery in the quest to find a cure for a rare cancer which primarily affects children aged under three.

Wilms’ tumour affects the kidneys of toddlers and babies and previous research has led scientists to believe that the tumour starts growing at the foetal stage. The new developments by Edinburgh University’s researchers hope to be able to prevent the tumour forming.

Dr Jamie Davies explained that his team was looking at blocking a gene known as WT1 which is thought to trigger the disease.

“It may be possible to reactive this gene to stop the tumour developing further,” he said.

“Or maybe we could develop a drug that will perform the function of the gene, even when the gene has stopped working.”

The research was funded with a 140,000 grant from the Association for International Cancer Research, based in nearby St Andrews.

Dr Mark Matfield, the charity’s scientific consultant, told The Scotsman that he hoped the cash would “open up new avenues of research which may well lead on to new therapeutic developments”.

Tuesday, Jun. 5, 2007

Study: Liver Cancer Breakthrough Found

For the first time, doctors say they have found a pill that improves survival for people with liver cancer, a notoriously hard to treat disease diagnosed in more than half a million people globally each year.

The results in a multinational study of 602 patients with advanced liver cancer are impressive and likely will change the way patients are treated, cancer specialists including the study authors say.

Patients got either two tablets daily of a drug called sorafenib or dummy pills in the study, which started in March 2005. Some patients are still alive, although on average, sorafenib patients survived 10.7 months versus almost 8 months for those on dummy pills.

That type of survival advantage “has never happened” with liver cancer “and is a major breakthrough in the management of the disease,” said Dr. Josep Llovet, the lead author.

“That may not sound like a lot of time,” but for liver cancer, “this is actually a quite impressive gain,” said Dr. Nancy Davidson of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. “It is the first effective systemic treatment for liver cancer, which is such a huge problem internationally.”

Sorafenib attacks cancer with a targeted double-barreled approach. It zeros in on malignant cells themselves and cuts off the blood supply feeding the tumor. It is believed to work on tumors within the liver and those that have spread elsewhere.

In the study, tumors didn’t shrink or disappear but in many cases they also didn’t grow.

“You are not curing the disease but you are delaying the progression of the disease significantly and strikingly,” said Llovet, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain.

The study was halted early, in February, because of the good results, and patients on dummy pills were switched to sorafenib.

“This is a very good step forward in this disease,” said Dr. Emily Chan of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Results were prepared for release Monday in Chicago at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting.

The drug, sold under the brand name Nexavar, is approved in the United States and dozens of other countries to treat advanced kidney cancer. It is marketed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp. and Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., which funded the liver cancer study. They hope to receive approval for liver cancer use from U.S. and foreign regulators.

Llovet has done consulting for the sponsors.

Liver cancer is diagnosed in about 19,000 Americans annually but is much more common elsewhere and is the fifth most common cancer globally. Risk factors include chronic liver infections and some forms of hepatitis. The disease is common in China and countries without widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine, which is routinely given to U.S. infants.

Liver cancer doesn’t respond well to conventional chemotherapy and is often diagnosed too late for surgery to be an option. Many patients die within a year of diagnosis.

Robert Throckmorton, a 73-year-old attorney in Orange County, Calif., said his doctor told him “You better get your affairs in order” after he was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer last August.

But then the doctor offered sorafenib off-label, and Throckmorton readily agreed. He did not take part in the study.

After nine months on the drug, Throckmorton said his cancer shows no sign of progression and he has no significant side effects. He said he walks three miles six days a week to stay active and feels fine.

Instead of thinking about wills and funerals, Throckmorton is looking forward to get-togethers with his eight children and 18 grandchildren, and even a possible church trip to Uruguay with his wife.

“I have good energy,” Throckmorton said. “We are optimistic.”

Wednesday, May. 23, 2007

Possible cancer breakthrough – invented in Florida garage

A Florida retiree battling cancer himself has discovered a possible method of killing cancerous cells with radio waves.
If it works, it could be the “Holy Grail” of cancer treatments.

His is the great American story. A broadcast engineer, who shrewdly evolves into the owner of several TV and radio stations, sells them for a bundle and retires early to picturesque Sanibel Island.

But Easter 2002, began an unexpected chapter in the story of John Kanzius, a year and-a-half after he retired. He was diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia.

Soon after receiving this news, Kanzius began his punishing chemotherapy and was heartbroken at its effects on fellow patients, especially children.

“There was one scene I could not forget and that was the young children came in with smiles and a week later see those smiles disappear and so forth and literally would watch them waste away,” recalls Kanzius.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the need for a gentler treatment for those sick children proved a powerful motivator for Kanzius, a tinkerer, inventor and grandfather.

“We really haven’t developed a better way other than going into people’s veins and putting systemic drugs into them and hoping we kill the cancer before we kill the person,” Kanzius says.

Kanzius wrestled with the idea of a better way and in the middle of the night in October 2003 inspiration struck: kill cancerous cells with radio waves.

“I had all the equipment that one could use for sending and picking up radio signals.”

He was a ham radio operator.

Kanzius continues, “And all I needed in my house was antennas. And the best thing that worked as antennas at 3 o’clock in the morning was my wife’s pie pans.”

Startled out of bed by clattering in the kitchen, wife Marianne found her husband cutting up her pie pans.

“I got up and immediately thought he’d lost it,” says Marianne Kanzius.

His idea might have sounded crazy but he wasn’t. Here are the basics of his idea.

Radio waves for the most part are harmless but they will heat certain metals. Gold is one of those metals and was also previously FDA-approved for use in humans.

A lab provided Kanzius with what is essentially gold, broken down into the tiniest possible size. They’re called nanoparticles.

These nanoparticles are injected into a cancer patient and are attracted to the abnormalities of the cancerous cells, attaching themselves to those bad cells. What’s more, the nanoparticles ignore healthy cells.

The patient is then exposed to radio waves and only the bad cells heat up and die. The healthy cells, which have no metal on them, are not warmed up at all and are unaffected.

Early, crude experiments done on hot dogs in his garage seemed to work. In 2004, Kanzius showed the results to a prominent cancer researcher.

“He said, ‘You know this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read in my life,'” proudly recalls Kanzius.

Today Kanzius has several universities working on his research and a manufacturer now builds clinical-sized versions of the machine he first built with radio parts and his wife’s pie pans.

This 62-year-old Florida retiree with no medical background whatsoever has grabbed the attention of the medical community.

“We could be getting close to grabbing the Holy Grail,” says physician Dr. Dan Pulsipher.

Kanzius spends 70 hours of his retirement every week working on a cure, still motivated by those children he saw in chemotherapy.

“My best term scenario would be to watch a patient get treated and have a doctor tell them they’re cured. To me, that would be all the thanks I would need.”

Human trials are expected to begin in a couple of years.

Wednesday, May. 16, 2007

Cancer survival rates set to increase sharply

More than two thirds of newly-diagnosed cancer patients will live for at least five years by 2020, according to new goals set by leading cancer charity Cancer Research UK.

Ten-year survival for all types of cancer combined has already reached levels of 46.2% of patients, new statistics from the charity reveal.

The charity has launched 10 ambitious new goals for future cancer care to be achieved by 2020.

Latest figures calculated by Professor Michel Coleman and his team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine show that while survival varies widely between different types of cancer, on average a patient with cancer now has a 46.2% chance of being alive 10 years after diagnosis. This compares with 23.6% 30 years ago.

The sharpest rise in overall survival between 1971 and 2001 has happened over the last 10 years, when 10-year survival for all cancers combined rose by nearly 11%. Overall five-year survival rose from 39.7% to 49.6% during the same period.

Professor Coleman said: “We don’t generally use an overall survival figure for cancer, partly because it is not a helpful number to individual cancer patients anxious to know their own chances. But since the new goals relate to cancer as a whole, we feel it is important to define a simple baseline for watching progress.

“Behind the overall figures lie both disappointments and success stories. Pancreatic cancer and lung cancer both remain low on the scale and have seen little improvement.”

In contract, survival rates for breast cancer have improved significantly and almost two thirds of all women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are now likely to survive for at least 20 years.

Cancer Research UK’s new goals are wide-ranging and include reducing cancer incidence, ensuring patients get access to information they need and reducing current inequalities in incidence and survival between the most and least affluent.

The goals are aimed to inspire the whole cancer community to work in partnership to drive down smoking rates, raise awareness of how people can reduce their risk of developing cancer and improve early detection of the disease.

Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “Our goals are as broad as they are ambitious. They recognise the importance of furthering our fundamental biological understanding of cancer while at the same time taking that knowledge out of the lab and turning it into new treatments.”

Friday, Apr. 20, 2007

Cure for cancer one step closer

The cure for cancer is one step closer this week with the first collections of cancer tissue taking place at the new Wesley Research Institute Tissue Bank.

The Tissue Bank is the first of its kind in Queensland to provide a widely available and diversified collection of ethically consented and clinically annotated tissue, helping to unravel the cause, progression and potential treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Professor Julie Campbell AO, Director of The Wesley Research Institute, said the current absence of large, high quality cancer tissue and blood collections with clinical data is a major barrier to improving care of cancer patients.

“Queensland research has taken an enormous step forward this week. There is every possibility that findings made achievable by the Tissue Bank will lead to the next big breakthrough in the fight against cancer,” she said.

“By providing researchers who are part of an ethically and scientifically approved research project with tissue, matching blood samples and full clinical data, valuable funds will be saved, which can then be applied to further their research.

“There is compelling evidence that new methods for screening, diagnosis and evaluation of cancer can make a significant impact on cancer care in the immediate future,” Professor Campbell said.

Dr John Lumley, a surgeon from The Wesley Hospital, said that these specimens would be donated by consenting patients during the course of their normal treatment.

“I encourage patients and surgeons to support the important work of the Tissue Bank because everybody can play a part in the cure. Every cell contains a clue that can make a difference to tomorrow’s cancer patients,” he said.

Queensland is well placed as a source of cancer tissue due to its diverse population, large number of aged retirees, and high-rate of some cancers, particularly melanoma. The Wesley Hospital alone had almost 2000 cancer related surgeries in 2004.

The Queensland Government contributed $1.42 million towards the construction of the Tissue Bank through the Smart State Research Facility Fund.

The investment has built and equipped, as part of the Institute’s infrastructure, a dedicated laboratory with highprecision equipment for preparation and study of tissue samples.

This equipment includes an Aperio Scan Scope which takes high resolution images of tissue samples that can then be shared with researchers around the world, and two vapour phase nitrogen storage vessels (-196ºC) and two -80ºC freezers which have the capacity to house in excess of 164,000 tissue and blood samples.

The small sections of tissue collected from patients will be stored in cryogenic vials which will help preserve the tissue’s proteins and genetic material almost indefinitely.

The Wesley Research Institute is a leading medical research facility with a commitment to patient care, ethical conduct and quality research that aims to improve quality of life through better diagnosis and treatment.

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2007

Snake venom may hold cure for cancer

Snake venom toxin (SVT) ‘Vipera lebetina turanica’ may be effective in inhibiting the growth of androgen independent prostate cancer (AICAP), according to a report published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

The molecular focus of the report, prepared by Dr Dong Ju Son and his colleagues, was on nuclear factor NF- ?B, an anti-apoptotic transcriptional factor that is constitutively activated in AICAP cell lines.

During the research, the scientists treated AICAP cells lines PC-3 with SVT for 24 hours, and then assessed their growth. They found that it reduced the constitutive activation of NF- ?B, which resulted in an increased apoptotic action.

These novel findings indicate that SVT has the potential to inhibit the growth of AICAP through the induction of cell death, say the researchers.

Monday, Apr. 9, 2007

Scientist expects world reaction to breakthrough in cancer research

Using a patented laboratory device, Chinese scientists have for the first time grown cancer tumors outside the body which they say will lead to a new generation of cancer treatments.

Liu Hua, visiting professor with Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai, says scientists have for years been able to grow cancer cells in lab but have never been able to reproduce a living cancer tumor.

Liu called the breakthrough a milestone in cancer research that will lead to the development of a new generation of cancer treatments using biological medicines that have virtually no side effects. Someday it may help scientists develop actual cancer vaccines.

Liu has been asked to deliver a paper to the American Association of Cancer Researchers in Los Angles in mid-April.

“I expect the paper will generate a lot of positive and interesting reaction,” said Liu.

The doctor of internal medicine says he has shown tumor he has grown to scientists in Beijing and Shanghai.

“They are very excited about it. Some have worked 30 or 40 years and have never seen a tumor outside the body. They agree its a milestone in cancer research.” Liu says drug companies and researchers often find the treatments they develop using a simple culture of cancer cells, don’t work well on the tumor itself, which are awkward to test on patients or lab animals that have been cancer induced.

Now they will be able to work with a complete, three dimensional tumor and examine how it reacts, metastasize or grows when treated in different ways.

“Compared with conventional breeding systems we can continuously observe the behavior of a tumor. It is difficult to observe metastasis in a patient,” Liu said.

Liu says working with an actual cancer tumor will make it possible to design patient-specific treatment regimens that are far less toxic than conventional treatments such a chemotherapy.

Thursday, Mar. 29, 2007

Leukaemia Treatment Breakthrough

Scientists have identified the cells responsible for relapses of leukaemia, the most common childhood cancer.

More than 20 per cent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) will experience a relapse of their disease following treatment. Of these, most will never be cured.

Now, researchers from the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia have isolated the type of leukaemia cell responsible for relapse in patients diagnosed with ALL, the most common cancer in children.

“We have previously shown that these relapses were due to small numbers of cells which survived the treatment administered to the patient,” said investigator Professor Murray Norris. “However, it has been unclear whether these cells developed resistance to chemotherapy during the course of treatment or if they were already present in the child at the time their cancer was diagnosed.”

The findings of this study demonstrate that relapse in ALL patients can result from a minor resistant group of cells, present from the time of diagnosis. Undetected at diagnosis because of their very small numbers, this population of leukaemia cells remained in the patient’s body throughout the disease and continued to thrive even after the major population of sensitive leukaemia cells were destroyed and the patient appeared to have gone into remission.

“We have shown, for the first time, that children with a greater number of these cells at diagnosis are more likely to experience relapse much sooner after treatment,” said Norris. “Without new strategies to identify and attack these cells early in treatment, relapse appears inevitable for these patients.”

In the UK, almost 7,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia each year, and it’s the cause of more than 4,250 deaths, according to Cancer Research UK. About a third of all childhood cancers are leukaemias – and 80 per cent of those are ALL. Cancer accounts for around 20 per cent of all deaths in children aged 1 to 14 years.

Norris said that the study means that researchers can now develop treatments which specifically target the cells and are more effective than current options.

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2006

Herbal drugs for cancer cure being developed

A SENIOR professor at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil Dr Maria L V Oliva, who is working on herbal medicines to cure cancer, said soon such medicines would be available for human use. [The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual]

Oliva, who was here to attend the four-day International Conference on “Post-harvest technology and value addition in cereals, pulses and oilseeds” at the Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology (CSA) told newsmen that she had identified three plants which could provide alternative to chemical-based medicines for treating cancer in humans. The three plants are— Bowania, Bowania Vigretta and Black Ear.

She said the medicinal properties of each plant suited to treat cancer on different parts of the body. While Bowania extract could treat breast cancer, Bowania Vegretta was found useful in treating abdominal cancers. The Black-Ear plant’s extract could cure any kind of cancer, she added.

She said she was working on the Bowania plant and had injected its extract to rats suffering from cancer. “I have received very encouraging results during the tests. Now, I will try the extract on rabbits. But after a considerably long chain of experiments done on various animals, experiments will be done upon human beings,” She said. To a question, she said: “It is difficult to find out rats suffering from cancer. We just produce cancer in the rats by administering the cancer developing vaccine in them. Later we try our experiments upon them.”

She said during her experiments she found that chemotherapy of the rats did not produce effective results while the extract of the plant completely cured them.

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006

Breakthrough in skin cancer

A revolutionary new “sticking plaster” skin cancer treatment which is less painful and can be used by patients in their homes has been developed by Scottish researchers.

It is also believed that the technology could be used for anti-ageing treatments.

The incidence of skin cancer is growing rapidly and will affect 10% of Scots – around 500,000 of the current population – in their lifetime.

Existing treatment can involve surgical removal of the lesion, causing scarring and the risk of infection.

The alternative is to treat the lesions with light combined with a suitable pharmaceutical cream, a procedure called photodynamic therapy (PDT).

However, current PDT involves large, cumbersome and intense light sources and the patient must sit or lie still under them for several hours in a hospital cubicle.

The new treatment is likened to having a sticking plaster connected to an iPod.

The breakthrough is the brainchild of St Andrews University physicist Professor Ifor Samuel and dermatology consultant Professor James Ferguson, head of the photobiology unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

The pair teamed up four years ago to combine their expertise in photo-physics and photodynamic therapy and create a new way of treating skin cancer. The result is a “light bandage” which is powered by a pocket-sized battery and is so portable patients can go about their daily business while under treatment.

“By adapting the latest technology to an existing treatment method, we have developed a compact light source for treating common skin cancers,” said Professor Samuel. “It can be worn by the patient in a similar way to a sticking plaster, while the battery is carried like an iPod.”

The light is generated by an organic light-emitting diode and is a spin-off from Professor Samuel’s work on advanced displays. “It’s very exciting to have developed a new technology that helps treat skin cancer patients,” he said.

Professor Ferguson added: “This device will have a major impact on the treatment of skin cancers. Initial pilot trials have already shown its effectiveness and we find patients requesting this treatment over conventional methods.”

Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006

Sprouts and cabbage may cure breast cancer

A new research by British scientists has shown that Brussels sprouts and cabbage help fight breast cancer.

They claim to have discovered a chemical in green vegetables which when used in conjunction with common chemotherapy drugs, can kill breast cancer cells.

Several previous studies had indicated a link between eating such vegetables and prevention against cancer, but the present research is the first to examine how vegetables can play a role in treating the disease.

For their research, scientists at the University of Leicester studied the effects of the naturally-occurring compound indole-3-carbinol (I3C) on tumor cells in the laboratory.

This compound is found in cruciferous vegetables (belonging to the mustard family), including broccoli, cauliflower, kale and watercress, with high concentrations in Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

The cancer cells were fed around 300mg to 400mg of this compound in a day, which is almost the same amount found in a trolley-full of cabbages.

The researchers found that when the compound was used in conjunction with common chemotherapy drugs, the tumor cells were killed off.

Speaking at the National Cancer Research Institute Conference in Birmingham, Professor Margaret Manson, of the Department of Biochemistry and the Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine said that the trials were in the early stages but hoped the findings will eventually benefit cancer patients.

“Obviously, in humans you would want to reverse the cancer, but if you could even halt it so it does not progress further, that would be beneficial,” Dailymail quoted her as saying.

“Usually what kills patients is metastatic cancer, where it spreads around the body. Although we need to carry out further studies on tumors removed from patients, the potential benefits are clear,” she added.

Professor Manson said that I3C has the potential to alter the molecules in three of the cell types, making them more vulnerable to anti-cancer drugs, and combining it with chemotherapy drugs enhanced its effectiveness.

The findings of the study funded by the Medical Research Council have been published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006

Acid found in moss can cure cancer

Researchers claim that a compound derived from tiny lichens (moss) could be used in chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells.

Laboratory tests of the compound – usnic acid – have shown that the substance is an effective anti-cancer agent, and that it lacks the toxic side-effects of traditional chemotherapy drugs.

Dr Virginia Appleyard, from Dundee University, said that unlike current drugs, usnic acid does not provoke DNA damage that can later result in the development of a secondary tumour.

“The interesting thing about this research is that many of the current drugs in chemotherapy provoke DNA damage. This can result in a secondary tumour developing later in life, especially for young patients. But the usnic acid did not produce this same effect,” the Scotsman quoted her, as saying.

Usnic acid is already being used in anti-inflammatory and anti-viral drugs, but boffins are now hopeful that it can be used for cancer therapies as well.

The compund was tested on breast and lung cancer cells, and the study team said it could prove effective against many different types of cancer. Of late, researchers have been trying to find natural sources to derive compounds which may fight the cancer.

Dr Appleyard said cancer researchers were now moving on to animal trials of the compound, which if successful, would pave the path for the development of clinical trials.

Thursday, Sep. 28, 2006

Doctors hail lung cancer breakthrough

An experimental drug that extends the lives of lung cancer patients by a third has impressed doctors, who say that it is one of the first signs of progress against the disease.

Lung cancer is among the most lethal of all cancers and claims more lives each year than any other. Only five per cent of patients survive more than five years.

Efforts to find an effective treatment have failed and unlike other cancers, such as breast cancer, the death rate has not changed for more than a decade. A trial of the as yet unnamed drug, known as AS1404, in 70 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), the commonest kind, found they lived for 14 months on average compared with 8.8 months for those given chemotherapy alone.

Although the extra five months gained is small in absolute terms, it is a significant improvement, suggesting a genuine benefit from the drug. More than 26,000 people in Britain die from NSCLC each year.

The drug, discovered by researchers in New Zealand and developed by the UK biotechnology company, Antisoma, with backing from Cancer Research UK, is one of a new class of compounds called vascular disrupting agents. These work by destroying blood vessels that supply solid tumours on which the tumours depend to survive and grow.

The success of the phase II study lays the ground for a larger phase III trial, the outcome of which will determine whether the drug is licensed as safe and effective. AS1404 has already been shown to be effective in phase II trials of prostate and ovarian cancer.

Mark McKeage of the University of Auckland, one of the researchers, said: “It is great to see this large survival benefit with AS1404 in lung cancer patients. This makes me feel very optimistic as we progress into phase III testing.”

Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Our drug development team played an integral role in the early development of the drug and we’re delighted with this news. We look forward to seeing how the drug performs in a much larger number of patients.”

The charity has set up a company to raise the number of undeveloped new treatments by putting them into clinical trials. Since 1982, more than 100 agents have been put into trials.

“Over the next five years we plan to double our activity and speed up the drug development process, getting even more new drugs into clinical trials,” Professor Markham said.

Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2006

Scientists hail biggest breast cancer breakthrough in years

AUSTRALIAN scientists have helped unearth the biggest breast cancer breakthrough in years – the first discovery of common genes linked to the disease.
An unpublished large-scale international study has made robust findings connecting two genes with a 10 per cent increased risk of breast cancer.

The breakthrough is being heralded as the biggest in the field of breast cancer genetics since the discovery of two high risk genes – BRAC1 and BRAC2 – in the 1990s.

Queensland Institute of Medical Research scientist Dr Georgia Chenevix-Trench will not divulge details of the genes until the details are published in a British journal later this year, but said the news was “extremely significant”.

“We’ve all been looking for a decade for common genes that contribute to breast cancer, and while there’s been a thousand claims in the literature, frankly none of them are really convincing,” Dr Chenevix-Trench told AAP.

“Finally people can now really believe there are common variants for this common disease – we’ve absolutely confirmed it.”

Researchers studied nine genes believed to have links to the disease and tested the claims on 40,000 women from Australia, Europe and the US, half who had breast cancer.

Results showed that two were clearly linked to increased risk.

The chance of women with these common genes developing the cancer was only 10 per cent compared with 60 per cent for the far rarer BRCA genes.

“So they’re not dramatic in their individual risk but because variants in these genes are quite common in the population, it could account for quite a lot of breast cancer,” Dr Chenevix-Trench said.

Once scientists have discovered a dozen more of these common genes associated with the disease, women carrying several of them could be at significant risk and tested accordingly.

Speaking ahead of her presentation to the International Congress of Human Genetics in Brisbane, the researcher said scientists had found the two major BRCA genes with relative ease.

But there had been a “decade of darkness” while they struggled to draw definitive results about more common genes with smaller risks.

“The literature has so many weak studies and there’s a history of people reporting findings that nobody can then validate,” said the scientist, who admitted her own past work was guilty of this.

“People have then said the literature is full of false leads, there’s nothing actually happening out there, and I think this will finally prove that wrong.”

Dr Chenevix-Trench, who is co-founder of the Kathleen Cunningham Foundation Consortium for research into Familial Breast cancer (kConFab), said she was impressed scientists had put aside egos for the greater cause of solid research.

“Here we’ve got 20 groups of researchers around the world that decided they didn’t need to compete and try to get the glory for themselves, albeit with a weak finding that’s not really believable,” she said.

“Instead they’re contributing to the common good for really robust findings that truly further our understanding.”

Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006

Britain’s cancer initiatives leap forward with a miracle drug

A miracle drug is beginning to light up the lives of thousands of cancer patients, with hope for treating two severe cancers of the kidney and the gut. Initial examinations of the drug have left a clue of its future use in breast, lung and pancreatic cancers.

This drug called Sutent, nicknamed as the “smart” drug works by nipping an important enzyme that causes the cells to proliferate rapidly, as is the case in some cancers. Further Sutent ensures that tumors run dry of nutrients, thus curbing its growth and development. This is perhaps the first drug of its kind that comprises a dual action.

Paul Nathan, a consultant oncologist at Mount Vernon Cancer Center in Northwood, Northwest London, said: “We have a couple of hundred new kidney cancer patients each year. I’d expect to treat about 50 each year with Sutent. This drug and others like it, we think, are a very major advance in the treatment of this disease.”

Judith Robinson, from the charity GIST Support UK, said: “Sutent is the first drug shown to be effective in patients with advanced GIST where the current standard of care has failed. For patients it can offer precious extra months of life.”

Presently the license for Sutent entails its use in treating kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST). This drug is not easy on the pocket, costing about £2,400 per patient on a monthly basis. There is concern that the high cost of this drug might cause NHS to be careful in its use.

Wednesday, Jul. 12, 2006

Hope for lung cancer patients

A BREAKTHROUGH in lung cancer research could make chemotherapy more effective.

Scientists say it may be possible to reverse drug-resistance in tumours.

Most lung cancer deaths are due to tumours becoming drug-resistant – but Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered exactly how one strain of the disease, smallcell lung cancer, becomes resistant to treatment.

The research raises the hope of producing drugs to fight the resistance and make chemotherapy work better.

Lung cancer is the most common form of the disease in the world today and accounts for more deaths in the UK than any other type.

About one in five lung cancer deaths are due to small-cell lung cancers.

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Most small-cell cancer patients can only be treated with chemotherapy because by the time it is diagnosed it is too late for surgery. Cancer Research professor John Toy said: “This research increases our understanding of how some lung-cancer cells survive chemotherapy.

“If this kind of resistance could be overcome, it would be a major step forward in the treatment of lung cancer.”

Tuesday, Jul. 11, 2006

Researchers make brain tumour breakthrough

Attacking brain tumours through genetics is saving lives and revolutionizing cancer treatment, say Calgary researchers spearheading the effort. [American Cancer Society’s Informed Decisions : The Complete Book of Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery]

A decade of research by University of Calgary scientists employing 300 test subjects continent-wide has bolstered the use of DNA and molecular tripwires in diagnosing tumours, said Dr. Greg Cairncross.

“Looking down a microscope is no longer sufficient to tell who’s doing well in the future … the way we diagnosed cancer for the past 50 years has changed,” said Cairncross.

What once appeared as the same variant of brain tumour are now sorted out by applying genetics — a practice leading to quicker diagnosis and more effective treatment, he said.

“You wouldn’t want to take treatment the doctor knows ahead of time wouldn’t work,” said Cairncross, adding European researchers have come to similar conclusions.

“It’s genetic changes that drive tumour growth.”

The lifespan of patients benefitting from the genetic composition approach have proven to be two to three times longer than others with tumours that once seemed identical, say U of C scientists.

The discoveries promise to have far wider applications than merely brain tumours, said Dr. Chris Brown, director of the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute.

“It clearly shows the impact of this kind of approach to many diseases,” he said.

“It’s exactly the model that we’re after.”

About 2,000 Canadians are being treated for brain cancer, but genetic diagnosis is also showing promise with lung, breast and colon cancers among others, said Cairncross.

The breakthroughs have prompted the creation of Molecular Diagnostics Program at Calgary’s Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Friday, Jul. 7, 2006

Baby in womb cured herself of cancer

A MIRACLE girl has stunned doctors by fighting and winning a battle against cancer while still in her mother’s womb.

And healthy Kiah Thomas, of Swansea, will celebrate her fifth birthday next week, something experts thought would never happen.

Medical experts at Llanelli’s Prince Philip Hospital feared the worst after finding signs of a tumour during scans on Kiah’s mother Denise Ashford.

Denise, now 26, a care worker, was taken to child health experts in Cardiff for further tests.

At the time, Denise was 14 weeks pregnant with Kiah.

She was given the agonising news that her unborn baby had neuroblastoma, a potentially deadly cancer of the nervous system that accounts for 13% of all child cancer deaths and usually begins as a tumour attached the kidneys and adrenal glands.

Denise and her partner Peter Thomas, 37, were asked if they wanted to consider an abortion given the seriousness of their unborn baby’s condition.

But they refused the option, hoping for a “miracle”.

Over the next few weeks the couple went back and forth to various Welsh hospitals for scans to check the tumour’s growth.

Incredibly, on the fourth scan, Denise and Peter were given the news that the tumour appeared to have reduced in size.

Ms Ashford said, “The doctors told us that sometimes in very small children this type of tumour can shrink over time. But then over the next four weeks, we were given some even more unbelievable news – the tumour had disappeared altogether.” [Make Your Own Miracle: Surviving Cancer]

Kiah was eventually born weighing 6lbs 1oz and was given a clean bill of health after a battery of tests.

Neuroblastoma expert Dr David Latchman said a small number of children with the condition appeared to have “spontaneous remission” where cancer cells revert to normal cells.

But Dr Antonya Cooper, who chairs the Neuroblastoma Society, said it was extremely rare for it to be diagnosed, and to disappear, in the womb.

Around 70 children a year are diagnosed with neuroblastoma which attached itself to the nervous tissue in immature nervous systems.

Most victims are under the age of four.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said, “It is one of those things you think cannot happen, but does. It gives hopes to parents of children with this condition and research into children who have survived could eventually help treatment of this condition.”

Monday, Jul. 3, 2006

Cancer Cure May Lie In Thistle Drug

A study by scientists at University of Colorado, Denver, looks forward to a drug derived from milk thistle which may help treat cancers in future. In their investigation the drug called Silibinin, was found to destroy lung cancer in mice.

Study’s lead investigator Dr. Rana P. Singh told Reuters Health, “We have been studying milk thistle components, silymarin and silibinin, to examine their efficacy and mechanisms against different…cancers for over a decade.”

In their study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Singh’s team induced mice with lung cancer by injecting a chemical called urethane. The animals were then fed on diets containing different doses of silibinin.

“We obtained pure silibinin from Sigma Chemical Co., and silibinin diets were commercially prepared at room temperature and air dried. We did not use milk thistle dietary supplements which are available for human consumption,” Singh said.

Researchers found that mice that were fed silibinin had fewer large lung tumors than untreated mice. Further analysis showed that silibinin seemed to reduce the number of blood vessels that provide nutrients to the tumors, allowing them to grow.

Singh added that further laboratory studies of silibinin for lung cancer are now being done. “We expect soon after that clinical trials with silibinin in lung cancer patients will be planned.”

Human trials of silibinin are already underway for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Major cancer breakthrough

A CAMBRIDGE company has made an important breakthrough in cancer treatment.

Two years ago Delta G, formed by William Bains, received £130,000 of funding to work on the ideas of Dr Aubrey de Grey, a Cambridge researcher. Dr de Grey’s work concentrates on the metabolism of cells and what goes wrong as they age.

Cancer cells use the energy they get from metabolism abnormally – a difference that many scientists have tried to fathom. Now, Delta G has discovered exactly what is wrong with cancer cells, allowing researchers to target them more effectively.

Delta G has filed its first patent, and hopes this is the start of a new approach to cancer treatment.

Prof Bains said: “This approach is likely to be particularly suitable for late-stage lung, colon and breast cancers, which kill more than 800,000 people a year in the West. A drug that offers a new approach to treatment would be of tremendous value.”

NESTA (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) chief executive, Jonathan Kestenbaum, said:

“Delta G is set to make a major impact in the field of cell research.”

The company has also been working on a new treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which is suffered by one in 400 people. Currently, the only effective treatment is a combination of graded exercise and therapy which can take years.

Delta G aims to refine its ideas in the lab and then sell them on to the major drugs companies to develop into medicines.

Cervical Cancer Breakthrough

19-year old Tahni Korte says she’s read about and heard about the new h-p-v vaccine.
At face value she says, it sounds like a good idea.
” Because I think it is very common and it does cause cervical cancer and I don’t think anyone wants it, and if you can prevent it now do it.”
At 19-Tahni is within the recommended age to get the new h-p-v vaccine.
But there are millions of women like her who don’t know much about it.
What they need to know.
50-percent of adult Americans carry the h-p-v virus which is spread through sexual contact. Certain strains of this virus cause cervical cancer which kills about 35-hundred women every year. Local OBGYN Dr. Michael Enrico says the vaccine protects women against those problematic h-p-v strains like 16 and 18.
” It works at basically 100-percent efficacy rate at protecting the people who receive it from cervical cancer from 16 and 18 (strains). There are a million cases of veneral warts diagnosed every year, and this is going to protect people against that.”
The vaccine is being recommended as routine for girls 11 and 12. The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for the vaccine for girls and women nine to-26 years of age.
The vaccine is given in a series of three shots.
The cost about three hundred-60-dollars which is not being picked up by insurance at this time.
But with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommending the vaccine that may change.

Tuesday, Jun. 6, 2006

Breakthrough drug cuts breast cancer risk

TRIALS of a drug hailed as offering a major breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer have shown it can cut the risk of the disease spreading and reduce the chances of it recurring in the future.

The findings show that Aromasin can reduce the risk of post-menopausal women dying by 17 per cent when compared with standard therapy.

Aromasin is one of a family of medicines called aromatase inhibitors aimed at women with breast cancer who have been through the menopause.

The drug works by preventing production of the female hormone oestrogen, which fuels breast cancer in about two-thirds of postmenopausal cases. Another aromatase inhibitor, Femara, is already available in Scotland.

Overall, the improvement could result in around 1,000 fewer deaths per year.

British-led researchers looked at 2,352 postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer who switched to Aromasin after two to three years of tamoxifen treatment with the “gold standard” hormone-blocking drug tamoxifen. Women given Aromasin had a lower risk of dying than those restricted to tamoxifen, the researchers found.

Professor Timothy Cooke, a breast cancer specialist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said the results were “encouraging”.

Wednesday, May. 17, 2006

Cancer Breakthrough

The latest breakthrough at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is striking, even at a place with a national reputation for medical advances. And behind all the hoopla, there’s hope for those struggling with cancer. Researchers should push all the harder to bring their important work to fruition.

Blood cells taken from cancer-resistant mice have cured cancer in ordinary mice, officials at the center in Winston-Salem announced last week. It’s a concept so revolutionary that the researchers said they had trouble getting their study published. Much of the medical community is not prepared for the idea that some cells can be innately immune to disease, Dr. Zheng Cui, a co-author of the study, told the Journal’s M. Paul Jackson.

“This is not within the realm of normal dogma,” Cui said. “People had problems believing it.”

The study, published last week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will enhance Winston-Salem’s reputation in the medical field.

Years of research at the center laid the groundwork for the breakthrough. Researchers accidentally discovered in 1999 a mouse that was resistant to cancer. They bred similar, cancer-resistant mice that have been able to resist tumors when cancer cells are shot into them.

What’s new is that white blood cells from the resistant mice have been introduced into ordinary mice, giving them a sort of “super cell” that can eliminate even aggressive cancer. These super cells whipped cancer in various parts of mice bodies – and didn’t attack normal cells.

Now, the goal will be to find “super cells” in humans. “The next step is to understand the exact way in which it works, and perhaps eventually design such a therapy for humans,” Dr. Mark Willingham, a co-author of the study, said.

That’s going to be a major challenge, but it’s sure needed. There have certainly been advances in fighting cancer in recent years. But, as Cui said, “People right now are really desperate for something new in cancer treatment.

“We have been in a fight with cancer for almost 200 years. We still give them chemotherapy; we still have a lot of side effects.”

You’d think America would have beaten cancer by now, especially if you or someone you love has the illness and is wrestling with all its pain and mystery. The fight is a long way from over, but the Wake Forest breakthrough is the best news in a long time.

It’s hoped that the cancer-battling “super cells” can eventually be found in humans – and put to work. The world has waited long enough.

Friday, May. 12, 2006

Nanotubes for cancer cure

Scientists have found ways to cork the world’s tiniest test tubes, which they want to fill with drugs and inject into patients for the treatment of cancer.

The diameter of the tiniest tubes, scientists have made, are about 80 nanometres or 80-billionth of a metre. Even though they are tiny, each tube can hold about five million drug molecules.

They will seek diseased or cancerous cells, uncork and spill their therapeutic contents in the right place.

“Because they are open at one end it would be like trying to ship wine in a bottle without a cork,” explained scientist Charles Martin, University of Florida. To make chemotherapy hit only the cancerous cells, scientists have spent years experimenting with drug-carrying nanotubes.

Wednesday, Apr. 19, 2006

Breast Cancer Breakthrough

There’s promising news for women at high risk of getting breast cancer. The osteoporosis drug, Raloxifene also known as Evista proved to be just as effective in preventing breast cancer as Tamoxifen, but with fewer side effects.

A study called *STAR* involved 20,000 women, including many from Western New York. Pat Dean, 66, participated. “If we can help my daughter, my granddaughter and any other women in the world, it’s worth it” said Dean.

The serious side effects of tamoxifen included uterine cancer and blood clots. “The concern regarding those side effects have really prevented many women from pursuing tamoxifen” according to Dr. Stephen Edge, Roswell Park Chief of Breast Surgery.

Doctors say by taking either drug does not eliminate a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer. The study demonstrates that the drugs can reduce the chance of getting breast cancer by one half, bit it’s not 100%.

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2006

Lots of coffee may protect some women from breast cancer

Six or more cups of coffee a day may dramatically cut the risk of breast cancer by as much as 70 percent among women with one of the gene mutations linked to an very high risk of the disease, a new study shows.

The reduced risk, however, only applied to caffeinated coffee and women who carry a mutation in either the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes. The study was published in the Jan. 1, 2006 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

The research team led by Dr. André Nkondjock of the University of Montreal, and senior author Dr. Steven A. Narod of the University of Ohio found that, among women with either of the two breast cancer genes, the risk of actually developing breast cancer decreased in proportion to the volume of coffee consumed over time. The more the women drank, the lower the risk of breast cancer.

“These results suggest that among women with BRCA gene mutations, coffee consumption is unlikely to be harmful,” the researchers wrote. “And that high levels of consumption may in fact be related to reduced breast cancer risk.”

In the study the researchers administered questionnaires to 1,690 women, half of whom had at least one of the so called breast cancer genes and had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and half who had one of the gene mutations but did not have cancer. The women were asked to estimate their average daily coffee consumption, along with a number of other dietary and lifestyle issues.

After adjusting for other factors, such as number of births, smoking, age, and oral contraceptives use, they found that those who drank four to five cups of coffee a day saw their risk fall by 25 percent, while the majority who drank one to three cups had a relative risk reduction of 10 percent compared with women who drank no coffee.

The greatest risk reduction, by far, was among the 5 percent of the women who drank six or more cups a day, with an average risk reduction of 69 percent.

The result poses an awkward dilemma for doctors with BRCA patients at risk for breast cancer. It is known that caffeine helps the body break down estrogen, the female hormone that can stimulate breast cancer. Coffee is also an important source of phytoestrogens, which may have protective effect against cancer. At the same time, caffeine can rob the bones of important minerals and hasten osteoporosis.

Despite the new data, the researchers won’t be recommending enormous quantities of coffee for women with the BRCA genes until larger studies can confirm this finding.

Friday, Jan. 6, 2006

Soda-Cancer Link Revealed as Myth

Despite what many may have heard, drinking soda does not increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer. In fact it might protect against it, a new study finds.

Cases of cancer affecting the esophagus, the muscular tube linking the mouth and stomach, in the United States have more than tripled since the 1970s. And in the past 50 years, Americans have increased their annual consumption of carbonated soft drinks nearly five-fold, from 10.8 gallons in 1946 to a whopping 42.2 gallons in 2000.

The two trends are strongly correlated and in 2004, Indian researchers suggested they might be linked. But as any scientist will tell you, apparent correlations do not necessarily mean connections.

The idea of a link between drinking too much soda and developing cancer is rooted on biological logic, however. Carbonated soft drinks are known to cause gastric distension that might affect the lower part of the esophagus. They have also been associated with nighttime heartburn, a known risk factor for a type of esophageal cancer known as esophageal carcinoma.

The new study is the first to actually test the hypothesis.

Susan Mayne, a cancer epidemiologist at the Yale University School of medicine, and colleagues studied 1,095 cancer patients and compared them to 687 healthy control subjects. They conducted full dietary interviews and compiled data on how much regular and diet soda each subject drank.

The researchers found that soda drinkers were actually less likely to develop esophageal carcinoma. Furthermore, when the researchers separated subjects who drank mostly regular soda versus diet soda, they found that the latter group had a 53 percent lower risk of developing the cancer.

The researchers warned against chugging diet soda as a ward against cancer, however, since it carries its own health risks, such as damaging tooth enamel.

The study was detailed in the Jan. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. [Journal Of The National Cancer Institute]

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