April 3, 2018

Health Roundup - Cancer Edition

Cancer vaccine that cured 97% of mice with blood tumors, has no painful side effects and eliminates the need for chemotherapy, may be available in just one year

A cancer vaccine that cured 97 percent of blood tumors in mice will be tested on humans with low-grade lymphoma later this year.  Patients receiving the vaccine, which contains two drugs proven for their safety, will not require any chemotherapy, with the jab's side effects expected to be just fever and injection-site soreness.  If approved, researchers do not expect the treatment to be available for another year or two.  Rather than creating lasting immunity, the jab works by activating the immune system to attack tumors.  This is expected to be effective in low-grade lymphoma, which affects certain white blood cells and generally responds to treatment, due to it often being detected by the immune system, unlike other forms of the disease, such as bowel cancer.

More Chemotherapy-free ‘cancer vaccine’ moves from mice to human trials at Stanford

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial. The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body's immune system to attack tumors.

"Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer," Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. "People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be."

DNA Robots Target Cancer

Researchers use DNA origami to generate tiny mechanical devices that deliver a drug that cuts off the blood supply to tumors in mice. DNA nanorobots that travel the bloodstream, find tumors, and dispense a protein that causes blood clotting trigger the death of cancer cells in mice, according to a study published in Nature Biotechnology.

Jelly made of alcohol could help kill off cancer:

An implant injected into the middle of a tumor where it releases ethanol to destroy tumor cells.  Ethanol destroys tumor cells by poisoning vital proteins they need to replicate.  Doctors have long known ‘drowning’ cancer cells in pure alcohol can be an effective way of killing them. The problem is the alcohol also destroys healthy surrounding tissue, and it takes relatively large amounts of alcohol to completely eradicate tumor cells, exposing normal cells to its toxic effects. As a result, its use has been confined to cancers where the tumor is contained within a fibrous capsule that prevents the alcohol leaking out, such as small liver tumors.

The revolutionary implant, developed at Duke University, in North Carolina, has so far only been tested on animals, but could mean alcohol could be used more widely to wipe out most tumors.  The firm, jelly-like substance, which, once it comes into contact with the moist conditions inside the body, gradually starts to dissolve over the space of a week or so, releasing its alcoholic cargo. The key is that it dissolves slowly, so small amounts of alcohol are released into the area of the tumor — rather than ‘flooding’ the area and neighboring healthy cells with injected alcohol.

Doctors say 'superblood' may work against deadly malignancies

New therapy seen as possible treatment for pancreatic cancer and triple-negative breast cancer, among others.  “Superblood” — red blood cells that have been chemically modified to deliver cancer-killing drugs like L-asparaginase, an enzyme that blocks the nutrients cancer cells use to grow and multiply.

Hijacked sperm delivered chemotherapy to cervical cancer tumors in exciting new study

German researchers used sperm to deliver chemotherapy directly to tumor cells.  They filled the microorganisms with chemo, and strapped a magnetic harness to them in order to steer them to tumor cells.  Chemo treats cancer well, but it also kills healthy cells. Sperm are a promising vehicle for transporting chemo - and perhaps other drugs - directly to diseases of the female reproductive system

Electric device slows growth of deadly brain tumors

"With TTFields therapy combined with radiation and temozolomide chemotherapy, up to 43 percent of glioblastoma patients will survive longer than two years," neurologist Dr. Roger Stupp said.

Why Is This Bacterium Hiding in Human Tumors?

A mysterious bacterium found in up to half of all colon tumors also travels with the cancer as it spreads, researchers reported on Thursday.Whether the bacterium, called Fusobacterium nucleatum, actually plays a role in causing or spurring the growth of cancer is not known. But the new study, published in the journal Science, also shows that an antibiotic that squelches this organism slows the growth of cancer cells in mice.

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