A wild berry native to North America may strengthen the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat pancreatic cancer, reveals research published online in the Journal of Clinical Pathology.
The study by researchers at King’s College Hospital and the Univ. of Southampton suggests that adding nutraceuticals to chemotherapy cycles may improve the effectiveness of conventional drugs, particularly in hard to treat cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.
Radiosurgery Tech Provides Better Treatment, Less Discomfort
A new stereotactic radiosurgery system provides the same or a higher level of accuracy in targeting cancer tumors – but offers greater comfort to patients and the ability to treat multiple tumors at once – when compared to other radiation therapy stereotactic systems, according to researchers at the Henry Ford Health System.
The study shows the Edge Radiosurgery Suite is able to target cancer tumors within one millimeter, providing sub-millimeter accuracy with extreme precision.
During cancer development, tumor cells decorate their surfaces with sugar compounds called glycans that are different from those found on normal, healthy cells. In PNAS, researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine report that sialic acids at the tips of these cancer cell glycans are capable of engaging with immune system cells and changing the latter’s response to the tumor – for good and bad.
“These cell surface glycans can promote or inhibit cancer progression, depending upon the stage of the disease,” said principal investigator Ajit Varki, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “Our findings underscore the complexity of cancer and the consequent challenges in conquering it. The immune system may be a double-edged sword in cancer, tumor-promoting or tumor-inhibiting, depending upon circumstances.”
For detecting cancer, manual breast exams seem low-tech compared to other methods such as MRI. But scientists are now developing an “electronic skin” that “feels” and images small lumps that fingers can miss. Knowing the size and shape of a lump could allow for earlier identification of breast cancer, which could save lives. They describe their device, which they’ve tested on a breast model made of silicone, in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Ravi Saraf and Chieu Van Nguyen at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln point out that early diagnosis of breast cancer, the most common type of cancer among women, can help save lives. But small masses of cancer cells are not always easy to catch. Current testing methods, including MRI and ultrasounds, are sensitive but expensive.
Cancerous brain tumors are notorious for growing back despite surgical attempts to remove them — and for leading to a dire prognosis for patients. But, scientists are developing a new way to try to root out malignant cells during surgery so fewer or none get left behind to form new tumors. The method, reported in the journal ACS Nano, could someday vastly improve the outlook for patients.
Moritz Kircher and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center point out that malignant brain tumors, particularly the kind known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are among the toughest to beat. Although relatively rare, GBM is highly aggressive, and its cells multiply rapidly.
Jell-O-like Substance Attracts, Kills Cancer Cells
Chasing cancer cells with chemotherapy drugs can save lives, but there’s no guarantee that the treatment will kill every run-away cancer cell in the body.
What if, instead of hunting those metastatic cells, a treatment could lure them out of hiding — every last one of them — and eliminate them in one swift blow? Yong Wang, associate professor of bioengineering at Penn State, has created such a therapy — a tissue-like biomaterial that attracts cancer cells, like bits of metal to a magnet, and entraps them.
Every Thursday, Laboratory Equipment features a Scientist of the Week, chosen from the science industry’s latest headlines. This week’s scientist is Thomas Bosch from Kiel Univ. He and a team found that cancer has existed for as long as multi-cellular life.
Scientists have known for decades that cancer can be caused by genetic mutations, but more recently they have discovered that chemical modifications of a gene can also contribute to cancer. These alterations, known as epigenetic modifications, control whether a gene is turned on or off.
Analyzing these modifications can provide important clues to the type of tumor a patient has, and how it will respond to different drugs. For example, patients with glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, respond well to a certain class of drugs known as alkylating agents if the DNA-repair gene MGMT is silenced by epigenetic modification.
A team of MIT chemical engineers has now developed a fast, reliable method to detect this type of modification, known as methylation, which could offer a new way to choose the best treatment for individual patients.
Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists say. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while sparing healthy ones, which reduces or eliminates side effects that the toxins would otherwise cause.
The report was part of the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). “We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” says Dipanjan Pan, from the Univ. of Illinois, who led the study. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”
Evidence Shows Sunscreen Use in Childhood Prevents Cancer
Research conducted at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research, has established unequivocally in a natural animal model that the incidence of malignant melanoma in adulthood can be dramatically reduced by the consistent use of sunscreen in infancy and childhood.
According to senior author John VandeBerg, the research was driven by the fact that, despite the increasing use of sunscreen in recent decades, the incidence of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer, continues to increase dramatically. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 75,000 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
Lung cancer causes more deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined — colon, breast and pancreatic. The reason for the striking mortality rate is simple: poor detection. Lung cancer attacks without leaving any fingerprints, quietly afflicting its victims and metastasizing uncontrollably — to the point of no return.
Now a new device developed by a team of Israeli, American and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test, embedded with a “NaNose” nanotech chip to literally “sniff out” cancer tumors, was developed by Prof. Nir Peled of Tel Aviv Univ.’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Hossam Haick of the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology and Prof. Fred Hirsch of the Univ. of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
No Link Found Between Soy, Endometrial Cancer Risk
Researchers have found no evidence of a protective association between soy food and endometrial cancer risk, says a new study published inWiley’s BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Soy foods are an almost exclusive dietary source of isoflavones, a plant-derived estrogen. Some studies have highlighted their potential cancer protective properties, however, research looking at the link to endometrial cancer has been inconsistent.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed and tested a vaccine that triggered the growth of immune cell nodules within pancreatic tumors, essentially reprogramming these intractable cancers and potentially making them vulnerable to immune-based therapies.
In their study described in today’s issue of Cancer Immunology Research, the Johns Hopkins team tested the vaccine in 39 people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC), the most common form of pancreatic cancer. The disease becomes resistant to standard chemotherapies and is particularly lethal, with fewer than 5 percent of patients surviving five years after their diagnosis.
Ban on Pavement Sealant Significantly Impacted Lake
In 2006, Austin, Texas, became the first city in the country to ban a commonly used pavement sealant over concerns that it was a major source of cancer-causing compounds in the environment. Eight years later, the city’s action seems to have made a big dent in the targeted compounds’ levels — researchers now report that the concentrations have dropped significantly. They published their study, which could have broad implications for other jurisdictions and public health, in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Peter Van Metre and Barbara Mahler from the U.S. Geological Survey point out that in 2005, researchers figured out that pavement sealants made from coal tar were contributing high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to the environment. This is a serious public concern because studies have shown that PAHs cause cancer in animals, and they likely impact human health as well.