Skin cancer treatments revealed at conference
Patients with advanced skin cancer could benefit from two new treatments that extend life, a cancer meeting in Chicago has heard.
Scientists say a pill called Vemurafenib appears to give patients a greater chance of surviving longer than chemotherapy.
It was tested on a group of 675 patients with advanced melanoma.
Another drug, taken intravenously, called Ipilimumab, is said to give patients extra years of life.
The results were presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
During a trial, 84% of patients who took Vemurafenib pills twice a day were still alive six months later. This compares with 64% of those on standard chemotherapy.
The drug works by acting on a faulty gene, BRAF, found in half of terminally ill patients whose cancer has spread to other organs.
The results were so impressive that the British experts running the trial stopped it early so they could switch all patients in the group over to Vemurafenib.
And trials showed the drug reduced the risk of the disease worsening by 74%, compared with chemotherapy.
Meanwhile, trial results from another study show that a one-course infusion treatment of Ipilimumab may extend the survival of patients with advanced melanoma.
Several patients have lived for years when they might otherwise have died in weeks or months, say investigators. At least one is still alive five years after receiving the treatment.
Research is now being conducted to find out whether Vemurafenib could be used for other cancers, including ovarian, thyroid and bowel cancer.
Both treatments are now being assessed by European licensing bodies and could become available to UK patients within months, subject to approval.
Although it is unclear if the NHS would be able to afford to use these relatively expensive drugs that cost tens of thousands of pounds.
Professor Richard Marais, whose work at the Institute of Cancer Research demonstrated the importance of BRAF in melanoma, said: "This is the biggest breakthrough in melanoma treatment in more than 30 years.
"The results demonstrate for the first time that a targeted therapy can work in melanoma and will change our approach to treating this disease. It is an enormous advance in the field."
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "For the first time, we have effective treatments becoming available for melanoma.
"Both show how the research we have been doing is feeding through into help for patients.
"It is a first step but a vitally important one, and it encourages us to redouble our efforts for people with this most dangerous type of skin cancer."
Malignant melanoma kills more than 2,000 people in the UK each year, and more than 11,000 people annually develop the disease.
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Posted 06 June 2011 - 09:59 AM
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Posted 06 June 2011 - 02:35 PM
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Posted 09 June 2011 - 05:03 PM
Posted 20 June 2011 - 10:30 AM
Researchers use human vaccine to cure prostate cancer in mice
June 19, 2011
University of Leeds researchers, funded by Cancer Research UK, have used a library of DNA to create a vaccine that could be used to treat cancer, according to a study published in Nature Medicine.
Before now, 'gene therapy' vaccines have often delivered just one gene to stimulate the immune system. It produces a protein, called an antigen, which activates the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
It has been difficult to develop successful cancer vaccines because each tumour has specific proteins and identifying the right antigens has been a huge challenge.
Scientists have also tried to boost the effectiveness of vaccines by using several genes to increase the chances of producing successful antigens. But a worry has always been that the immune system's response would be too strong for the body to handle.
But now researchers, working with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, US, have solved this problem in experiments involving mice.
The team used doses of a vaccine made from a virus which contained a 'library' of DNA, containing multiple fragments of genes and therefore many possible antigens. This approach did not send the immune system into overdrive, which had been a concern. Instead the range of DNA meant the vaccine was able to target the tumour through many routes.
Importantly, the DNA library was harvested from the same organ as the tumour. This meant that the immune system 'self-selected' the cancer antigens to respond to and did not react against other healthy parts of the body. Also, the process of self-selection was triggered when the vaccine was injected into the bloodstream, an approach to vaccination that is far more practical than injecting directly into tumours.
The researchers delivered a library of DNA taken from healthy prostate tissue in mice. When delivered in a virus, the vaccine successfully treated mice with prostate cancer.
University of Leeds' Professor Alan Melcher, co-author of the study, said: "This is the first time we've been able to use a whole library of DNA in a viral vaccine successfully.
"The biggest challenge in immunology is developing antigens that can target the tumour without causing harm elsewhere.
"By using DNA from the same part of the body as the tumour, inserted into a virus, we may be able to solve that problem."
The vaccine was made by putting the DNA library inside a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which stimulates an immune response that can then track down and kill tumour cells.
Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: "This is an interesting and significant study which could really broaden out the field of immunotherapy research.
"Although the vaccine didn't trigger the immune system to overreact and cause serious side effects in mice, it will need to be further developed and tested in humans before we can tell whether this technique could one day be used to treat cancer patients."
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Posted 20 June 2011 - 04:21 PM
"Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone."
Posted 11 August 2011 - 07:10 PM
A single shot could be one of the biggest advances in cancer research in decades, scientists say. But the research almost didn't happen
By Robert Bazell
Chief science and health correspondent, NBC News
8/10/2011 7:20:14 PM ET
Doctors have treated only three leukemia patients, but the sensational results from a single shot could be one of the most significant advances in cancer research in decades. And it almost never happened.
In the research published Wednesday, doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say the treatment made the most common type of leukemia completely disappear in two of the patients and reduced it by 70 percent in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone.
The results of the preliminary test “exceeded our wildest expectations,” says immunologist Dr. Carl June a member of the Abramson Cancer Center's research team.
Dr. Edgar Engleman, a cancer immunologist at Stanford University School of Medicine who was not involved in the research calls the results “remarkable ... great stuff.”
The Penn scientists targeted chroniclymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common type of the blood disease. It strikes some 15,000 people in the United States, mostly adults, and kills 4,300 every year. Chemotherapy and radiation can hold this form of leukemia at bay for years, but until now the only cure has been a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant requires a suitable match, works only about half the time, and often brings on severe, life-threatening side effects such as pain and infection.
In the Penn experiment, the researchers removed certain types of white blood cells that the body uses to fight disease from the patients. Using a modified, harmless version of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, they inserted a series of genes into the white blood cells. These were designed to make to cells target and kill the cancer cells. After growing a large batch of the genetically engineered white blood cells, the doctors injected them back into the patients.
In similar past experimental treatments for several types of cancer the re-injected white cells killed a few cancer cells and then died out. But the Penn researchers inserted a gene that made the white blood cells multiply by a thousand fold inside the body. The result, as researcher June put it, is that the white blood cells became “serial killers” relentlessly tracking down and killing the cancer cells in the blood, bone marrow and lymph tissue.
As the white cells killed the cancer cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal.
Doctors had told Bill Ludwig, one of the research volunteers, that he would die from his leukemia within weeks. Then he got the experimental treatment a year ago.
With tears welling up, he told NBC, "I'm more closer to the people I love and I appreciate them more... I'm getting emotional... the grass is greener and flowers smell wonderful."
The other two patients have chosen to remain anonymous but one who happens to be a scientist himself wrote, “I am still trying to grasp the enormity of what I am a part of -- and of what the results will mean to countless others with CLL or other forms of cancer. When I was a young scientist, like many I’m sure, I dreamed that I might make a discovery that would make a difference to mankind – I never imagined I would be part of the experiment.”
So why has this remarkable treatment been tried so far on only three patients?
Both the National Cancer Institute and several pharmaceutical companies declined to pay for the research. Neither applicants nor funders discuss the reasons an application is turned down. But good guesses are the general shortage of funds and the concept tried in this experiment was too novel and, thus, too risky for consideration.
The researchers did manage to get a grant from the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, a charity founded by Barbara and Edward Netter after their daughter-in-law died of cancer. The money was enough to finance the trials on the first three patients.
With results for the three patients published Wednesday simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine, money for further studies -- not just in this one type of leukemia, but in other cancers -- will likely pour in from both the government and drug companies.
It is important to emphasize that there still have been only three patients. Over the past century, many attempts to harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer have shown initial success and subsequent failure. So much research remains to be done to prove just how good this treatment is. But it should begin soon, with great vigor.
Read the New England Journal of Medicine report
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Posted 11 August 2011 - 08:02 PM
Posted 12 August 2011 - 03:14 AM
Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:28 PM
An engineered virus, injected into the blood, can selectively target cancer cells throughout the body in what researchers have labelled a medical first.
The virus attacked only tumours, leaving the healthy tissue alone, in a small trial on 23 patients, according to the journal Nature.
Researchers said the findings could one day "truly transform" therapies.
Cancer specialists said using viruses showed "real promise".
Using viruses to attack cancers is not a new concept, but they have needed to be injected directly into tumours in order to evade the immune system.
Smallpox to cancer.
Scientists modified the vaccinia virus, which is more famous for being used to develop a smallpox vaccine.
The virus, named JX-594, is dependent upon a chemical pathway, common in some cancers, in order to replicate.
It was injected at different doses into the blood of 23 patients with cancers which had spread to multiple organs in the body.
I believe that some day, viruses and other biological therapies could truly transform our approach for treating cancer”
End Quote Prof John Bell University of Ottawa
In the eight patients receiving the highest dose, seven had the virus replicating in their tumours, but not in healthy tissue.
Prof John Bell, lead researcher and from the University of Ottawa, said: "We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion in humans.
"Intravenous delivery is crucial for cancer treatment because it allows us to target tumours throughout the body as opposed to just those that we can directly inject."
Infection prevented further tumour growth in six patients for a time. However, the virus did not cure cancer. Patients were given only one dose of the virus as the trial was designed to test the safety of the virus.
It is thought that the virus could be used to deliver treatments directly to cancerous cells in high concentrations.
Prof Bell acknowledges that the research is still in the very early stages, but he said: "I believe that some day, viruses and other biological therapies could truly transform our approach for treating cancer."
Cancer Research UK's Prof Nick Lemoine, also director of Barts Cancer Institute, said: "Viruses that multiply in just tumour cells - avoiding healthy cells - are showing real promise as a new biological approach to target hard-to-treat cancers.
"This new study is important because it shows that a virus previously used safely to vaccinate against smallpox in millions of people can now be modified to reach cancers through the bloodstream - even after cancer has spread widely through the patient's body.
"It is particularly encouraging that responses were seen even in tumours like mesothelioma, a cancer which can be particularly hard to treat."
H. G. Wells
Posted 05 September 2011 - 08:08 AM
By Caroline Parkinson Health editor, BBC News website
A bacterium found in soil is a showing promise as a way of delivering cancer drugs into tumours.
Spores of the Clostridium sporogenes bacterium can grow within tumours because there is no oxygen.
UK and Dutch scientists have been able to genetically engineer an enzyme into the bacteria to activate a cancer drug.
Experts said it would be some time before the potential benefits of the work - presented to the Society of Microbiology - were known.
The work is being presented to the society's autumn conference at the University of York.
The spores grow only within soild tumours, such as breast, brain and prostate tumours and not in other tissue in the body, where oxygen is present.
Healthy tissue 'unscathed'
Researchers have been investigating the possibilities of clostridium "vectors" to deliver cancer drugs for decades.
End Quote Professor Nigel Minton University of Nottingham
The scientists from the University of Nottingham and Maastricht University were able to genetically engineer an improved version of an enzyme into C.sporogenes.
In animal tests, a drug was also injected into the bloodstream which becomes active only when it is triggered by this enzyme.
It then destroys only the cells in its vicinity - the tumour cells.
Professor Nigel Minton, who led the research, said: "Clostridia are an ancient group of bacteria that evolved on the planet before it had an oxygen-rich atmosphere and so they thrive in low oxygen conditions.
"When Clostridia spores are injected into a cancer patient, they will only grow in oxygen-depleted environments, ie the centre of solid tumours.
"This is a totally natural phenomenon, which requires no fundamental alterations and is exquisitely specific.
"We can exploit this specificity to kill tumour cells but leave healthy tissue unscathed."
The team are now planning to work with other researchers on patient trials, due to start in 2013.
Nell Barrie, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "Finding ways to target treatments to cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed is a key aim of researchers around the world.
"But it's a difficult problem to solve, especially because every cancer is different. This particular approach hasn't yet been tested in patients so it will be some time before researchers know whether it will offer real benefits."
H. G. Wells
Posted 12 September 2011 - 07:44 PM
From the island nation known for the quality of its cigars comes some pretty big news today: Xinhua reports that Cuban medical authorities have released the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer. CimaVax-EGF is the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology, and it could make a life or death difference for those facing late-stage lung cancers, researchers there say.
Read more -- http://www.popsci.co...-cancer-vaccine
Posted 24 September 2011 - 08:33 AM
A trial of a new cancer drug, which accurately targets tumours, has been so successful it has been stopped early.
The death rate was 30% lower in the group taking radium-223. Those patients survived for 14 months on average compared to 11 months in the dummy group.
The trial was abandoned as "it would have been unethical not to offer the active treatment to those taking placebo", said Dr Parker.
Read more -- http://www.bbc.co.uk...health-15039216
Posted 24 September 2011 - 07:15 PM
Scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine said this week they have discovered a virus that is capable of killing all types of breast cancer "within seven days" of first introduction in a laboratory setting.
The virus, known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), is naturally occurring and carried by up to 80 percent of humans, but it does not cause any disease.
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Posted 16 October 2011 - 06:05 PM
Posted 16 October 2011 - 06:05 PM
October 13, 2011
Not long after birth, human babies transition from producing blood containing oxygen-rich fetal hemoglobin to blood bearing the adult hemoglobin protein. For children with sickle cell disease, the transition from the fetal to adult form of hemoglobin – the oxygen-carrying protein in blood -- marks the onset of anemia and painful symptoms of the disorder.
Now, new research led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Stuart H. Orkin of Children's Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Harvard Medical School shows that silencing a protein known as BCL11A can reactivate fetal hemoglobin production in adult mice and effectively reverses sickle cell disease. The new finding, reported October 13, 2011, in Science Express, reveals that BCL11A is one of the primary factors involved in turning off fetal hemoglobin production.
Read more -- http://medicalxpress...ell-anemia.html
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Posted 16 October 2011 - 06:52 PM
Here is one of those methods I am taking about:
Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:07 PM
They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Posted 17 October 2011 - 09:09 AM
Posted 17 October 2011 - 09:31 AM
"Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep, and you weep alone."
Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:59 PM
European court ruling 'threatens stem cell work'
By Helen Briggs Health editor, BBC News website
Europe's highest court has ruled that stem cells from human embryos cannot be patented, in a case that could have major implications for medicine.
Scientists say the Court of Justice decision may impede European research into the use of stem cell therapies, or drive research abroad.
The ruling follows a challenge by Greenpeace over a patent for nerve cells from embryonic stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells have the ability to turn into any tissue in the body.
They offer the hope of one day being able to treat diseases such as Parkinson's, stroke, heart disease and diabetes, if technical hurdles can be overcome.
The ruling concerned a method invented by a German professor, Oliver Bruestle, for converting human embryonic stem cells into nerve cells.
The court's decision had been seen as critical for research into the use of stem cells as treatments for a range of diseases.
The European Court of Justice said in a statement: "The use of human embryos for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable.
"But their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable."
It added: "A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst [early embryo] stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented."
Prof Pete Coffey of the Institute of Ophthalmology in London, who is researching the use of stem cell treatments for blindness, said the decision was "devastating".
He told the BBC: "This could really halt the progress of stem cell therapies for as yet untreatable diseases."
Prof Coffey is among several leading UK scientists who wrote a letter expressing "profound concern" over an earlier recommendation by the advocate-general of the court.
Scientists were concerned that the ruling would threaten the future of medical research, saying companies in Europe would be less likely to invest in research to develop therapies using embryonic stem cells.
But Greenpeace in Germany, which triggered the case, argued it was unethical to issue a patent based on cells from a human embryo, which was then destroyed.
The court ruled in the group's favour.
Commenting on the decision, Prof Austin Smith of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research, University of Cambridge, said: "This unfortunate decision by the court leaves scientists in a ridiculous position.
"We are funded to do research for the public good, yet prevented from taking our discoveries to the marketplace where they could be developed into new medicines.
"One consequence is that the benefits of our research will be reaped in America and Asia."
Prof Bruestle, of Bonn University, who was initially awarded the patent, said: "With this unfortunate decision, the fruits of years of translational research by European scientists will be wiped away and left to the non-European countries.
"European researchers may conduct basic research, which is then implemented elsewhere in medical procedures, which will eventually be reimported to Europe. How do I explain this to my students?"
Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Skin Cells, Brain Cells, Antibiotics, WHO, biotechnology, genetic engineering, bioprinting, cancer, evolution, transhumanism
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