Purdue Univ. researchers have identified an important enzyme pathway that helps prevent new cells from receiving too many or too few chromosomes, a condition that has been directly linked to cancer and other diseases.
Mark Hall, associate professor of biochemistry, found that near the end of cell division, the enzyme Cdc14 activates Yen1, an enzyme that ensures any breaks in DNA are fully repaired before the parent cell distributes copies of the genome to daughter cells. This process helps safeguard against some of the most devastating genome errors, including the loss of chromosomes or chromosome segments.
Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body.
Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no reliable, noninvasive way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at MIT could change that: a research team led by professor Michael Cima has invented an injectable device that reveals oxygen levels over several weeks and can be read with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Using this kind of sensor, doctors may be able to better determine radiation doses and to monitor whether treatments are having the desired effect, according to the researchers, who describe the device in PNAS this week.
With a new, commercially available camera system using Cornell-developed nanoparticles that make cancer cells glow, the way is lit for surgeons to diagnose and remove tumors.
With researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), Uli Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and inventor of the fluorescent “C dots” (Cornell Dots), has integrated his lab’s nanoparticle technology with an optical camera made by Quest Medical Imaging. In real time, the camera gives surgeons a clear view of cancer in the body.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning women that a surgical procedure to remove noncancerous growths from the uterus could inadvertently spread cancer to other parts of the body.
The agency is discouraging doctors from performing the procedure, which uses an electronically powered device to grind and shred uterine tissue so it can be removed through a small incision in the abdomen. Known as laparoscopic power morcellation, the technique is widely used to treat painful fibroids, either by removing the growths themselves or the entire uterus.
Microscope Will Help Early Detection of Cancer, Diseases
An engineering researcher at the Univ. of Arkansas has developed an inexpensive, endoscopic microscope capable of producing high-resolution, sub-cellular images of tissue in real time. The fiber-optic device, which is portable, re-usable and easily packaged with conventional endoscopes, will help clinicians detect and diagnose early-stage disease, primarily cancer.
An endoscopic microscope is a tool or technique that obtains histological images from inside the human body in real-time. Some clinicians consider it an optical biopsy. The system, developed by Timothy Muldoon, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, also serves as an intraoperative monitoring device by providing a “preview of biopsy” – that is, helping clinicians target ideal locations on lesions prior to and during surgical biopsies – and by capturing high-resolution images of tumor margins in real time. The latter will help surgeons know whether they have totally removed a tumor.
Delivering chemotherapy drugs in nanoparticle form could help reduce side effects by targeting the drugs directly to the tumors. In recent years, scientists have developed nanoparticles that deliver one or two chemotherapy drugs, but it has been difficult to design particles that can carry any more than that in a precise ratio.
Now, MIT chemists have devised a new way to build such nanoparticles, making it much easier to include three or more different drugs. In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the researchers showed that they could load their particles with three drugs commonly used to treat ovarian cancer.
Cooperation in Cell Subpopulation Spur Tumor Growth
Subpopulations of breast cancer cells sometimes cooperate to aid tumor growth, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers, who believe that understanding the relationship between cancer subpopulations could lead to new targets for cancer treatment.
Cancers contain genetically different subpopulations of cells, called subclones. Researchers have long known that these mutant subclones aggressively compete with one another to become the dominant tumor cell population. However, in some cases it seems that no single subclone can achieve dominance on its own.
Researchers at the Univ. of Montreal and the INRS-Institut-Armand-Frappier have shown that men circumcised after the age of 35 are 45 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than uncircumcised men. This is one of the findings that resulted from a study undertaken by Andrea Spence and her research directors Marie-Élise Parent and Marie-Claude Rousseau. The researchers interviewed 2,114 men living on the Island of Montreal. Half of them had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009, while the others participated in the study as the control group. The questions covered their lifestyle and medical history, if they were circumcised, and if so, the age at which the operation had been performed.
Obama Honors Memory of Girl with Cancer Research Bill
A 10-year-old girl who died of brain cancer is leaving a legacy for other sick children in a new law signed by President Barack Obama.
Obama signed the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act. It directs $126 million in federal money to be spent over the next decade to research pediatric cancer and other childhood disorders. Her parents and brother watched Obama sign the bill.
Chemotherapeutic drugs excel at fighting cancer, but they’re not so efficient at getting where they need to go. They often interact with blood, bone marrow and other healthy bodily systems. This dilutes the drugs and causes unwanted side effects.
Now, researchers are developing a better delivery method by encapsulating the drugs in nanoballoons, tiny modified liposomes that — upon being struck by a red laser — pop open and deliver concentrated doses of medicine.
Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumor cells to self-destruct sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to research from Lund Univ.
“The clever thing about the technique is that we can target selected cells without harming surrounding tissue. There are many ways to kill cells, but this method is contained and remote-controlled,” says Prof. Erik Renström.
A derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potato and carrots, helps turn pre-cancer cells back to normal healthy breast cells, according to research published this month in the International Journal of Oncology. The research could help explain why some clinical studies have been unable to see a benefit of vitamin A on cancer: the vitamin doesn’t appear to change the course of full-blown cancer, only pre-cancerous cells, and only works at a very narrow dose.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have discovered that a substance called Vacquinol-1 makes cells from glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor, literally explode. When mice were given the substance, which can be given in tablet form, tumor growth was reversed and survival was prolonged. The findings are published in the journal Cell.
The established treatments that are available for glioblastoma include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. But even if this treatment is given the average survival is just 15 months. It is therefore critical to find better treatments for malignant brain tumors.
Researchers at the Univ. of North Carolina School of Medicine have devised a new biochemical technique that will allow them and other scientists to delve much deeper than ever before into the specific cellular circuitry that keeps us healthy or causes disease.
The method – developed in the lab of Klaus Hahn and described in the journal Nature Chemical Biology – helps researchers study how specific proteins called kinases interact to trigger a specific cellular behavior, such as how a cell moves. These kinase interactions are extraordinarily complex, and their interactions remain largely unknown. But researchers do know that kinases are crucial operators in disease.