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Genetic function discovered that could offer new avenue to cancer therapies

February 4, 2014 9:13 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered a genetic function that helps one of the most important “tumor suppressor” genes to do its job and prevent cancer. Finding ways to maintain or increase the effectiveness of this gene—called Grp1-associated scaffold protein, or Grasp—could offer an important new avenue for human cancer therapies, scientists said.

Report: Childhood cancer cases up, but deaths down

January 31, 2014 11:08 am | by Mike Stobbe - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new report says childhood cancer cases continue to increase, but death rates have fallen by half. The American Cancer Society report—released Friday—is being called one of the most comprehensive looks at the types of cancer that most commonly affect children and adolescents.

Weapon fights drug-resistant tumors

January 31, 2014 9:16 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cancer drugs that recruit antibodies from the body’s own immune system to help kill tumors have shown much promise in treating several types of cancer. However, after initial success, the tumors often return. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology reveals a way to combat these recurrent tumors with a drug that makes them more vulnerable to the antibody treatment.

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Doctors: Too few cancer patients enroll in studies

January 28, 2014 5:08 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

One of every 10 clinical trials for adults with cancer ends prematurely because researchers can't get enough people to test new treatments, scientists report. The surprisingly high rate reveals not just the scope and cost of wasted opportunities that deprive patients of potential advances, but also the extent of barriers such as money, logistics and even the mistaken fear that people won't get the best care if they join these experiments.

Researchers discover potential drug targets for early onset glaucoma

January 24, 2014 8:18 am | by Brett Israel, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Using a novel high-throughput screening process, scientists have, for the first time, identified molecules with the potential to block the accumulation of a toxic eye protein that can lead to early onset of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and cause vision loss and blindness. Elevated eye pressure is the main risk factor for optic nerve damage.

Unwanted side effect becomes advantage in photoacoustic imaging

January 15, 2014 9:55 am | News | Comments

Biomedical engineer Lihong Wang and researchers in his laboratory work with lasers used in photoacoustic imaging for early cancer detection and a close look at biological tissue. But sometimes there are limitations to what they can do; and as engineers, they work to find a way around those limitations. The team found a novel way to use an otherwise unwanted side effect of the lasers they use—the photo bleaching effect—to their advantage.

Researchers develop artificial bone marrow

January 10, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

A new porous structure under development in German possesses essential properties of natural bone marrow and can be used for the reproduction of stem cells in the laboratory. The specific reproduction of these hematopoietic cells outside the body might facilitate new therapies for leukemia in a few years.

Simple test can indicate cervical cancer

January 9, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Louisville have confirmed that using the heat profile from a person’s blood, called a plasma thermogram, can serve as an indicator for the presence or absence of cervical cancer, including the stage of cancer. To generate a plasma thermogram, a blood plasma sample is melted, producing a unique signature indicating a person’s health status.

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Chemical imaging brings cancer tissue analysis into the digital age

January 8, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A new method for analyzing biological samples' chemical makeup is set to transform the way medical scientists examine diseased tissue. When tests are carried out on a patient’s tissue today, such as to look for cancer, the test has to be interpreted by a histology specialist, and can take weeks to obtain a full result. Mass spectrometry imaging uses technologies that reveal how chemical components are distributed in a tissue sample.

Costs for complications from cancer surgical care extremely high

January 6, 2014 11:14 am | News | Comments

Although complications from surgical care for cancer patients may seem infrequent, the costs associated with such outcomes are extremely high, according to researchers from Rice Univ.’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Univ. of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Technique targets specific areas of cancer cells with different drugs

January 6, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique for creating nanoparticles that carry two different cancer-killing drugs into the body and deliver those drugs to separate parts of the cancer cell where they will be most effective. The technique was developed by researchers at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Novel noninvasive therapy prevents breast cancer formation in mice

January 2, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

A novel breast cancer therapy partially reverses the cancerous state in cultured breast tumor cells and prevents cancer development in mice, and it could one day provide a new way to treat early stages of the disease without resorting to surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, a multi-institutional team led by researchers from the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. reported.

Role of sugar uptake in breast cancer revealed

December 18, 2013 3:56 pm | News | Comments

Metabolism was lost in the shadows of cancer research for decades but has recently been reclaiming some of the spotlight. Now, Mina Bissell, distinguished scientist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Life Sciences Div. and a leading authority on breast cancer, has shown that aerobic glycolysis is not the consequence of the cancerous activity of malignant cells but is itself a cancerous event.

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New drug, study method show breast cancer promise

December 13, 2013 12:22 pm | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A novel and faster way to test cancer drugs has yielded its first big result: An experimental medicine that shows promise against a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. The method involves studying drugs in small groups of people to quickly separate winners from duds. Bringing a new cancer drug to market usually takes more than a decade and tests in thousands of patients, and costs more than $1 billion.

Team identifies mechanism of cancer spread

December 13, 2013 9:59 am | News | Comments

Cancer involves a breakdown of normal cell behavior. Cell reproduction and movement go haywire, causing tumors to grow and spread through the body. A new finding by Univ. of Pennsylvania scientists has identified key steps that trigger this disintegration of cellular regulation. Their discovery—that a protein called Exo70 has a split personality—points to new possibilities for diagnosing cancer metastasis.

Sensor tracks zinc in cells

December 10, 2013 7:21 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Zinc is found in every tissue in the body. The vast majority of the metal ion is tightly bound to proteins, helping them to perform biological reactions. Tiny amounts of zinc, however, are only loosely bound, and may be critical for proper function in some organs. Yet the exact roles the ion plays in biological systems are unknown. A new optical sensor tracks zinc within cells and should help researchers learn more about its functions.

Study says many lung cancer tumors prove harmless

December 9, 2013 4:34 pm | by LINDSEY TANNER - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Harmless lung cancer? A provocative study found that nearly one in five lung tumors detected on CT scans are probably so slow-growing that they would never cause problems. The analysis suggests the world's No. 1 cause of cancer deaths isn't as lethal as doctors once thought. In the study, these were not false-positives—suspicious results that turn out upon further testing not to be cancer.

Gene therapy scores big wins against blood cancers

December 7, 2013 11:02 am | by MARILYNN MARCHIONE - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

In one of the biggest advances against leukemia and other blood cancers in many years, doctors are reporting unprecedented success by using gene therapy to transform patients' blood cells into soldiers that seek and destroy cancer. A few patients with one type of leukemia were given this one-time, experimental therapy several years ago and some remain cancer-free today.

New technique improves accuracy, ease of cancer diagnosis

November 22, 2013 8:31 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy. The technique, which uses a deformability cytometer to analyze individual cells, could reduce the need for more cumbersome diagnostic procedures and the associated costs, while improving accuracy over current methods.

Biologists identify new cancer weakness

November 14, 2013 3:37 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

About half of all cancer patients have a mutation in a gene called p53, which allows tumors to survive and continue growing even after chemotherapy severely damages their DNA. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology biologists has found that tumor cells with mutated p53 can be made much more vulnerable to chemotherapy by blocking another gene called MK2.

New statistical tools being developed for mining cancer data

November 13, 2013 9:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice Univ., Baylor College of Medicine and the Univ. of Texas at Austin are working together to create new statistical tools that can find clues about cancer that are hidden like needles in enormous haystacks of raw data.

Researchers manipulate virus to create possible new cancer treatment

November 11, 2013 3:01 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have successfully eliminated the native infection preferences of a Sindbis virus engineered to target and kill cancer cells, a milestone in the manipulation of this promising viral vector. The achievement also demonstrates the ability to use methods of manipulation previously only applied to proteins.

‘Tumor-on-a-chip’ technology offers new direction

November 7, 2013 10:59 am | News | Comments

A two-year collaboration between the Chan and the Rocheleau labs at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering has led to the development of a new microfluidics screening platform that can accurately predict the way nanoparticles will behave in a living body.

Resistance is futile

November 1, 2013 7:40 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug given to more than half of all cancer patients. The drug kills cells very effectively by damaging nuclear DNA, but if tumors become resistant to cisplatin they often grow back. A new study offers a possible way to overcome that resistance. The researchers found that when cisplatin was delivered to cellular structures called mitochondria, DNA in this organelle was damaged, leading to cancer cell death.

Physicists decode decision circuit of cancer metastasis

October 24, 2013 10:19 am | News | Comments

Cancer researchers from Rice Univ. have deciphered the operating principles of a genetic switch that cancer cells use to decide when to metastasize and invade other parts of the body. The study found that the on-off switch’s dynamics also allows a third choice that lies somewhere between “on” and “off.” The extra setting both explains previously confusing experimental results and opens the door to new avenues of cancer treatment.

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