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The Lead

Why the BRCA gene resists cancer treatment

July 6, 2015 8:48 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. researchers have discovered why a key molecular assistant is crucial to the function of the BRCA2 gene, which in some mutant forms can lead to ovarian and breast cancer in as many as six in 10 women. The findings suggest how biochemists might be able to decrease drug resistance to existing therapies that target this form of cancer, the authors report in Molecular Cell.

Does radiation from X-rays and CT scans really cause cancer?

July 1, 2015 12:00 am | by Loyola University Health System | News | Comments

In recent years, there has been widespread media coverage of studies purporting to show that...

Scientists develop potential new class of cancer drugs in lab

June 29, 2015 8:48 am | by Saint Louis University | News | Comments

In research published in Cancer Cell, Thomas Burris, chair of pharmacology and physiology at...

Developing a better way to screen chemicals for cancer-causing effects

June 26, 2015 7:29 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The vast majority of the thousands of chemicals in our homes and workplaces have not been tested...

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Pinpointing the Onset of Metastasis

June 24, 2015 1:43 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Within the oncology community, a debate is raging about two controversial topics. The first is overdiagnosis. According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, some leading cancer experts say that zealous screening is finding ever-smaller abnormalities that are being labeled cancer or precancer with little or no justification.

Eavesdropping on the body

June 24, 2015 11:00 am | by Tyler Irving, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Biomedical engineers at the Univ. of Toronto have invented a new device that more quickly and accurately “listens in” on the chemical messages that tell our cells how to multiply. The tool improves our understanding of how cancerous growth begins, and could identify new targets for cancer medications.

New tech could find tiny RNA cancer beacons in blood

June 23, 2015 11:40 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Cancerous tumors cast off tiny telltale genetic molecules known as microRNAs and Univ. of Michigan researchers have come up with an efficient way to detect them in blood. The researchers say their approach could open the door to a single, inexpensive blood test to simultaneously screen for multiple types of cancer, eventually perhaps more than 100 different kinds.

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Liquid Gold

June 18, 2015 12:30 pm | by George Karlin-Neumann, the Digital Biology Center at Bio-Rad Laboratories | Articles | Comments

Blood is the great aggregator of the body’s physiology. Many tumors slough off fragments of DNA into the bloodstream, which can be detected with a minimally invasive blood draw using advanced DNA tests—also known as a liquid biopsy. One of the challenges preventing liquid biopsy from becoming a clinical reality has been reliably finding the cancerous DNA in the vast sea of healthy DNA.

To give cancer a deadly fever, NIST explores better nanoparticle design

June 18, 2015 10:15 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Heat may be the key to killing certain types of cancer, and new research from a team including NIST scientists has yielded unexpected results that should help optimize the design of magnetic nanoparticles that can be used to deliver heat directly to cancerous tumors.

New tool on horizon for surgeons treating cancer patients

June 18, 2015 9:30 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Surgeons could know while their patients are still on the operating table if a tissue is cancerous, according to researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, a team led by ORNL's Vilmos Kertesz describes an automated droplet-based surface sampling probe that accomplishes in about 10 min what now routinely takes 20 to 30 min.

In this simulation, the purple balls represent radioactive iodine-125 atoms on a gold surface, and the green balls are atoms that have undergone nuclear decay into tellurim-125. Image: Courtesy of Sykes and Michaelides Labs

Witness to chemical alchemy: elements transform at atomic scale

June 16, 2015 9:24 am | by Taylor McNeil, Tufts University | News | Comments

In a research first, scientists have witnessed atoms of one chemical element morph into another—a feat of alchemy that could lead to safer, more effective cancer treatments. The researchers worked with iodine-125—a radioactive form of the element iodine that is routinely used in cancer therapies. Using a scanning tunneling microscope, they observed individual atoms of iodine-125 decay, each losing a proton and becoming tellurium-125.

Nanoparticles target, kill cancer stem cells that drive tumor growth

June 11, 2015 4:29 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Many cancer patients survive treatment only to have a recurrence within a few years. Recurrences and tumor spreading are likely due to cancer stem cells that can be tough to kill with conventional cancer drugs. But now researchers have designed nanoparticles that specifically target these hardy cells to deliver a drug. The nanoparticle treatment, reported in ACS Nano, worked far better than the drug alone in mice.

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Catalyst removes cancer-causing benzene in gasoline

June 8, 2015 8:02 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Univ. scientists are experimenting with ways to eliminate a cancer-causing agent from gasoline by neutralizing the benzene compound found in gasoline. They developed a catalyst that effectively removed benzene from the other aromatic compounds in gasoline, making it cleaner and more efficient.

Microendoscope could eliminate unneeded biopsies

June 2, 2015 7:59 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

In a clinical study of patients in the U.S. and China, researchers found that a low-cost, portable, battery-powered microendoscope developed by Rice Univ. bioengineers could eventually eliminate the need for costly biopsies for many patients undergoing standard endoscopic screening for esophageal cancer.

Diagnosing cancer with help from bacteria

May 28, 2015 11:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of California at San Diego have devised a new way to detect cancer that has spread to the liver, by enlisting help from probiotics, beneficial bacteria similar to those found in yogurt. Many types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic, tend to metastasize to the liver. The earlier doctors can find these tumors, the more likely that they can successfully treat them.

Device captures rare circulating tumor cell clusters

May 21, 2015 7:41 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

The latest version of a microfluidic device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells is the first designed specifically to capture clusters of two or more cells, rather than single cells. The new device, called the Cluster-Chip, was developed by the same Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team that created previous microchip-based devices.

Study: Vitamin B3 may help prevent certain skin cancers

May 13, 2015 6:05 pm | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

For the first time, a large study suggests that a vitamin might modestly lower the risk of the most common types of skin cancer in people with a history of these relatively harmless yet troublesome growths. In a study in Australia, people who took a specific type of vitamin B3 for a year had a 23% lower rate of new skin cancers compared to others who took dummy pills.

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Improved way to assess cancer risk of pollutants

May 11, 2015 9:16 am | by Gail Wells, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists at Oregon State Univ. have developed a faster, more accurate method to assess cancer risk from certain common environmental pollutants. Researchers found that they could analyze the immediate genetic responses of the skin cells of exposed mice and apply statistical approaches to determine whether or not those cells would eventually become cancerous.

Combination treatment strategy to “checkmate” giloblastoma

May 11, 2015 8:09 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Therapies that specifically target mutations in a person’s cancer have been much-heralded in recent years, yet cancer cells often find a way around them. To address this, researchers identified a promising combinatorial approach to treating glioblastomas, the most common form of primary brain cancer.

New blood tests, liquid biopsies, may transform cancer care

May 11, 2015 4:04 am | by Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

A new type of blood test is starting to transform cancer treatment, sparing some patients the surgical and needle biopsies long needed to guide their care. The tests, called liquid biopsies, capture cancer cells or DNA that tumors shed into the blood, instead of taking tissue from the tumor itself. A lot is still unknown about the value of these tests, but many doctors think they are a big advance.

Naked mole-rats’ anti-cancer gene

May 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | News | Comments

Naked mole-rats are unusual in many ways as a result of adaptations to living underground, with extreme longevity and a lack of the normal signs of ageing. Their resistance to cancer has been linked to the production of a substance called high molecular mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA), and mutations in the HAS2 gene that produces it.

Brain tumors may be new victims of Ebola-like virus

April 16, 2015 11:55 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Brain tumors are notoriously difficult for most drugs to reach, but Yale Univ. researchers have found a promising but unlikely new ally against brain cancers, portions of a deadly virus similar to Ebola. A virus containing proteins found in the Lassa virus not only passed through the formidable blood-brain barrier but destroyed brain tumors in mice, according to research released in the Journal of Virology.

Inhibitor for abnormal protein points way to more selective cancer drugs

April 16, 2015 8:20 am | by Dave Zobel, Caltech | News | Comments

Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.

Recruiting the entire immune system to attack cancer

April 14, 2015 11:30 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The human immune system is poised to spring into action at the first sign of a foreign invader, but it often fails to eliminate tumors that arise from the body’s own cells. Cancer biologists hope to harness that untapped power using an approach known as cancer immunotherapy. Orchestrating a successful immune attack against tumors has proven difficult so far, until now.

Researchers find protein that may signal more aggressive prostate cancers

April 14, 2015 8:13 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan researchers have discovered a biomarker that may be a potentially important breakthrough in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer. Biomarkers in the body are analogous to the warning lights in cars that signal something might need repairing. In our bodies, they indicate if something's wrong or if we're about to get sick or if we're predisposed to certain illnesses.

Gold by special delivery intensifies cancer-killing radiation

April 14, 2015 7:47 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells. The approach involves gold nanoparticles tethered to acid-seeking compounds called pHLIPs. The pHLIPs (pH low-insertion peptides) home in on high acidity of malignant cells, delivering their nanoparticle passengers straight to the cells’ doorsteps.

A digital field guide to cancer cells

April 9, 2015 10:10 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists are mapping the habits of cancer cells, turn by microscopic turn. Using advanced technology and an approach that merges engineering and medicine, a Yale Univ.-led team has compiled some of the most sophisticated data yet on the elaborate signaling networks directing highly invasive cancer cells. Think of it as a digital field guide for a deadly scourge.

Biologists identify brain tumor weakness

April 9, 2015 7:31 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists have discovered a vulnerability of brain cancer cells that could be exploited to develop more-effective drugs against brain tumors. The study found that a subset of glioblastoma tumor cells is dependent on a particular enzyme that breaks down the amino acid glycine. Without this enzyme, toxic metabolic byproducts build up inside the tumor cells, and they die.

Cancer genes turned off in deadly brain cancer

April 6, 2015 10:55 am | by Marla Paul, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Northwestern Medicine scientists have identified a small RNA molecule called miR-182 that can suppress cancer-causing genes in mice with glioblastoma mulitforme (GBM), a deadly and incurable type of brain tumor. While standard chemotherapy drugs damage DNA to stop cancer cells from reproducing, the new method stops the source that creates those cancer cells: genes that are overexpressing certain proteins.

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