Young Women Don’t Recognize Cervical Cancer Symptoms
New research led by King’s College London suggests that many women under 30 with cervical cancer are diagnosed more than three months after first having symptoms. In many cases, this was because they did not recognize the symptoms as serious. The study is published today in the British Journal of General Practice.
Approximately one in 134 women will get cervical cancer at some point in their lives. It is most common in women in their thirties. Cervical cancer is nearly always caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection is very common, especially in young women, but for most, the infection resolves completely on its own and does not lead to cervical cancer. In England, the NHS offers screening to prevent cervical cancer to women aged 25-64.
Years before they show any other signs of disease, pancreatic cancer patients have very high levels of certain amino acids in their bloodstream, according to a new study from MIT, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute.
This find, which suggests that muscle tissue is broken down in the disease’s earliest stages, could offer new insights into developing early diagnostics for pancreatic cancer, which kills about 40,000 Americans every year and is usually not caught until it is too late to treat.
In a new study, the team from Lund Univ., working with colleagues in France and Italy, have studied pigment in the skin and its building blocks. Pigment in both skin and hair comprises of two different types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin makes us develop a suntan and gives color to brown and black hair, whereas those with red hair and pale skin instead have high levels of pheomelanin.
“We found that eumelanin converts harmful UV radiation into heat with almost 100 percent efficiency. The chemical reaction is incredibly quick, taking less than a thousandth of a billionth of a second,” said Villy Sundström, professor of chemistry at Lund Univ.
Cancer, while always dangerous, truly becomes life-threatening when the cancerous cells begin to spread to different areas throughout the body. Now, researchers at the Univ. of Missouri have discovered that a molecule used as a communication system by bacteria can be manipulated to prevent cancer cells from spreading. Senthil Kumar, an assistant research professor and assistant director of the Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, says this communication system can be used to “tell” cancer cells how to act, or even to die on command.
“During an infection, bacteria release molecules which allow them to ‘talk’ to each other,” says Kumar, the lead author of the study. “Depending on the type of molecule released, the signal will tell other bacteria to multiply, escape the immune system or even stop spreading. We found that if we introduce the ‘stop spreading’ bacteria molecule to cancer cells, those cells will not only stop spreading; they will begin to die as well.”
Today in Lab History: September 19, 1915- Elizabeth Stern Shankman
Elizabeth Stern Shankman was a Canadian-born American, born Sept. 19, 1915, who was one of the first pathologists to work on the progression of a cell from normality to cancerous. Her breakthrough studies of cervical cancers changed the disease from fatal to one of the most easily diagnosed and treatable. Her studies showed that a normal cell advanced through 250 distinct stages before becoming cancerous and thus is the most easily diagnosed of all cancers.
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.