Posts tagged ‘cancer research’
Gold has been used for jewelry, to fill teeth and to garnish desserts. Now, the precious metal may also prove to be an important tool for fighting cancer.
Already, doctors have many ways to kill cancer cells. The trick is not damaging the rest of the body in the process, says Jacob Berlin, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at City of Hope.
Thermal ablation – zapping tumors with intense heat – is one strategy that has shown considerable promise. But like other physical strategies, it requires probes or other means to access the cancer site. And in some cases, the tumor cannot be reached or may have spread, creating stray malignant cells. In other cases, there may be many tumors.
Now, working with researchers in the laboratory of Karen Aboody, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurosciences and the Division of Neurosurgery, Berlin and his colleagues believe they’ve found a method of delivering blasts of thermal ablation directly to tumor sites, using tiny gold rods embedded in neural stem cells.
Most cancer immunotherapies are designed to take a patient’s own T cells, a type of white blood cell, and genetically engineer them to target, and destroy, cancer cells. But T cells are only one part of the immune response, and eliciting an effective response from an immune system already weakened by cancer can be difficult – especially in leukemia, in which defective white blood cells are the problem.
City of Hope researchers may have found a way around this hurdle.
They’ve developed a gene therapy that both stimulates an immune response against cancer cells and uses short-interfering RNA to shut off the STAT3 gene, which is crucial in helping many cancers grow. Shutting down this gene enhances the immune system’s response against the cancer cells and discourages growth of the tumor.
Marcin Kortylewski, Ph.D., assistant professor in City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, recently led an investigation of the new gene therapy, known as CpG-STAT3 siRNA, in treating acute myeloid leukemia. Results from his study in mice were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
Continue reading “Immunotherapy enlists more than just T cells to treat leukemia” »
Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive type of cancer that readily metastasizes to other organs in the body. The disease can be tough to treat, because the cancer cells often develop resistance to the drugs commonly used against them.
Now City of Hope researchers may have found a way to overcome this drug resistance – by using an extract of the milk thistle plant. The plant has long been used as a natural supplement for various conditions, and the latest research opens the door on a powerful new use. Findings from the researchers’ laboratory study were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.
Susan Kane, Ph.D., a professor in City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Biology, and David Sadava, Ph.D., a visiting professor from the Claremont Colleges, compared effects of the extract silibinin on two specific cancer cell lines that have shown resistance to three common chemotherapeutics – etoposide, doxorubicin and vincristine.
Continue reading “Milk thistle extract could help defeat small cell lung cancer” »
Cancer patients treated with chemotherapy often experience side effects from the toxic compounds – the most common effects being nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Further, about 20 to 40 percent of patients who receive a category of chemotherapies known as neurotoxins can experience a painful condition known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.
This condition, caused by chemotherapy-induced nerve damage, can last months to years after chemotherapy treatment. Now, researchers from a national collaboration of hospitals and cancer centers have found that the antidepressant duloxetine – sold under the name Cymbalta – can ease such pain if given during the first five weeks of treatment. Their findings were published online Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Duloxetine is already approved for use in treating diabetes-induced peripheral neuropathy. Researchers hypothesized that the drug could have a similar effect on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The study authors reported: “Among patients with painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, the use of duloxetine compared with placebo for 5 weeks resulted in greater reduction in pain.”
That’s good news to Carin van Zyl, M.D., a palliative and pain specialist in City of Hope’s Department of Supportive Care, who commented on the study in an interview with MedPage Today.
Continue reading “Cymbalta can help manage pain from chemotherapy, study finds” »
Current news headlines seem to focus on the across-the-board federal budget cuts — known as sequestration — as the primary threat to U.S. biomedical research. But this is not the only straw that broke the camel’s back. A chronic decline of public funding has weakened the country’s scientific efforts for years.
On Monday, researchers are gathering to say, “Enough is enough.”
More than 170 organizations — from comprehensive cancer centers to research advocacy groups — and thousands of survivors, researchers, clinicians, business leaders and members of the general public aim to make their voices heard at the Rally for Medical Research on April 8 in Washington, D.C., with satellite events throughout the nation. Their goal: Convince U.S. policymakers to make medical research funding a national priority.
One of those events will be at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology. As a national leader in biomedical research, few institutions can predict the impact on research, and patients, better than City of Hope.
Sequestration, which took effect March 1, slashed funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by more than 5 percent — about $1.5 billion. It was a heavy blow, but only the most recent one. The NIH budget has been stagnant for nearly a decade, resulting in an estimated $5.5 billion — about 30 percent — loss since 2003 because funding has not kept pace with the rate of biomedical inflation, which is around 3 percent each year.
As funding dwindles, researchers fear the country’s ability to cope with an aging population and a growing burden of chronic diseases — including cancer and diabetes — will follow. NIH funding is a key factor in finding treatment breakthroughs for patients with these diseases. Continue reading “Rally for Medical Research: Scientists protest from D.C. to Duarte” »
Cancer cells are broken mutations of normal, healthy cells. They do not operate for a limited time, but grow uncontrollably for as long as the body can sustain them. Researchers had identified the amino acid glutamine as a prime nutrient that enabled cancer cells to thrive and grow, but until recently did not understand how tumors continued to grow when glutamine levels were low.
Mei Kong, Ph.D., assistant professor in City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Biology, led a research team that discovered how cancer cells adapt to low glutamine levels, establishing a new mechanism of getting replacement nutrients. The study and description of this newly found signaling pathway were published online March 13 in the journal Molecular Cell.
Understanding the actual method of tumor adaptation to low glutamine levels identifies new cancer weaknesses that researchers can target to develop better treatments.
The authors wrote in the published study: “Thus, studying how tumor cells survive glutamine deprivation is critical for understanding tumor development and developing new cancer therapeutics to starve cancer cells by targeting both glutamine metabolism and the subsequent survival pathway when glutamine levels are low.”
All Americans will feel the blow of the sequestration’s cuts in the federal budget, but cancer clinicians, researchers and patients face a double whammy. The cuts will impact not just current efforts to treat and prevent cancer, but future efforts as well.
Trimming 5 percent from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s $5 billion budget might not sound like much, but the expected $250 million loss could cut grants for new research by 40 percent. That’s because much of the current funding is already committed to ongoing, multi-year studies, according to NCI’s director Harold Varmus, M.D.
And the greater competition for the remaining funds may lead to a brain drain of talent as promising researchers look for more lucrative and less stressful lines of work. Such an impact will be long-term.
“That sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Some brilliant young scientists will just say there are easier ways to make a living than cancer research,” said Linda Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research at City of Hope, in a Daily Beast article. Continue reading “Sequestration’s impact on cancer could last for generations” »
Being on a blood-thinning medication is not unusual. In the U.S., more than 2 million people take the drugs. But although blood-thinners are well-known for their ability to prevent dangerous blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke, new research suggests they may also be useful against prostate cancer.
In a study involving 247 men with metastatic prostate cancer, researchers found that men who took blood-thinning medication in conjunction with chemotherapy survived for an average of almost 21 months, compared to a survival of approximately 17 months for those men who didn’t.The findings, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Genitourinary Cancers Symposium on Feb. 14 to 16, were especially surprising to the researchers, who thought that the underlying conditions indicating blood-thinner use (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) might have reduced survival time instead.
Although there are other studies linking blood thinners — including aspirin — to improved survival, researchers say prostate cancer patients shouldn’t start taking them just yet. Continue reading “Blood thinners might prolong life for prostate cancer patients” »
Prior studies by City of Hope researchers established that race plays a major role in gastric cancer. Asian-Americans have the highest incidence rate of the cancer, but also have a better survival rate. African-American patients have worse outcomes, and Caucasian patients fall in between.
However, further research by Joseph Kim, M.D., a surgical oncologist at City of Hope who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers, has revealed that over time, the racial and ethnic disparities in outcomes for gastric cancer patients even out. The study findings were recently presented at the 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
“We have a whole lot of evidence that shows gastric cancer survivorship is dependent on race or ethnicity,” said Kim. “In our current study, though, we found that if a patient survives beyond a certain time, that disparity disappears.”
Continue reading “Stomach cancer survival: Racial gaps ultimately vanish, study finds” »