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New drugs stop cancer growth

Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco have announced that they have discovered a new drug that successfully blocks the main source of cancer growth. It has been proven as effective on mice, and now final tests are being done to start clinical trials on human patients.

The new drug is unlike any other drug that’s currently in clinical trials — it short-circuits the normal ability of cells to sense the need to grow and divide. Normally, in response to growth signals, a multi-protein unit in cells called mTOR integrates information about the cell’s nutritional and energy needs, and prompts the cell to manufacture key proteins for cell growth. But cancer exploits this signal for its own growth.

“We were trying to synthesize compounds that could help us learn more about how cancer exploits normal growth controls,” said Kevan Shokat, one of the researchers. “Once we made it, though, we found it was even better than we thought it would be at blocking mTor signaling. It does everything that rapamycin does and more.”

The new drug is successful because there are two mTOR signal pathways, and it blocks both. On the other hand, a drug that’s currently being used is Rapamycin, which only blocks one, and so allows the growth-signaling system to still function.
“I hope the new drug can be used to treat a range of cancers,” said Shokat. “We will work with clinicians to test it against a number of types of cancer – breast, lung and others. We want to first find the cancer that is most sensitive to it.”

The details are published in PLoS Biology.

Source: ucsf.edu

New treatment method for prostate cancer patients

Researchers at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne have created a new treatment method for prostate cancer patients. The research crew, led by Pei Xiang Xing, have created a monoclonal antibody to a unique tumor marker for the treatment of prostate cancer. The monoclonal antibody is directed at cancer-producing cells carrying the specific molecule known as PIM-1, which is responsible for cell survival, proliferation and differentiation.

Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death in men all over the world. Over 2,000 men die every year from this deadly disease, so that’s why this research is of huge importance. Prostate cancer can be compared to breast cancer in women.
“This is an exciting step in the development of new treatments for patients with prostate cancer with very promising laboratory-test results,” said Brendan Crabb, director of the Burner Institute.

Clinical trials are expected to take place in the near future.

The details are published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Source: burnet.edu.au

“Nanomedicine can cure cancer”

A genetic researcher Dr. Rao Papineni from India, in cooperation with American scientists, has developed a technique to treat cancer cells by using nanomedicine (medical nanotechnology). Nanomedicine has been known as a tool to design new ways of treating cancer, thus not affecting the healthy cells.
“We have developed image-guided targeted cancer-cell killers. The unique aspect is that we can deliver large loads of drugs to the cancerous region without actually affecting the healthy cells,” said Dr. Papineni.

The new method will be presented during the BioAsia 2009 convention. Dr. Papineni said that the technique is currently in the U.S. patent procedure. “We are hoping that people back home here [India] will notice such developments during the BioAsia 2009. I have already presented a paper on the same subject in Nanobio-2009 held recently in Kochi,” he said.

The team of scientists plan to use this invention to treat prostate cancer first, but all other types of cancer will follow.

Source: siasat.com

Pancreatic tumor prevented by killing key protein

Scientists from Stanford University have successfully performed an experiment on mice and have identified a key protein critical for the growth of pancreatic cancer. By killing (stopping, inhibiting) the protein, the tumor growth slowed or completely stopped.
“This research clearly shows that inhibiting the protein inhibits the tumor’s ability to grow,” said Amato Giaccia, PhD, one of the researchers. “Ultimately, we’d like to be able to specifically knock out the expression of this protein in pancreatic tumors in humans.”

Pancreatic cancer takes more than 31,000 lives anually in the US alone. It is a deadly disease, and the current therapy solutions aren’t really effective. “Right now, we have very little to offer these patients,” said Giaccia.

The protein in question is called connective tissue growth factor, or CTGF (known also as CCN2). The protein is involved in the abnormal growth of connective tissue in response to injury or disease. It was also thought to be involved in pancreatic tumor progression, although the exact role it played was unknown.
The researchers from Stanford proved that CCN2 grew robustly when injected under the skin of mice. In fact, in the developing tumor these cells soon out-competed others that expressed lower levels of the protein. Conversely, pancreatic cancer cells in which CCN2 expression was suppressed were either less likely or unable to form tumors when injected into mice. Scientists also saw similar effects when the cancer cells were injected directly into the animals’ pancreases. Cancer cells expressing high levels of CCN2 formed tumors that grew more rapidly and metastasized more aggressively than did those expressing lower levels, and the mice died sooner than others injected with cancer cells expressing less CCN2.
“We saw a pronounced effect of CCN2 inhibition in these experiments in mice,” said Giaccia. “Our hope is that one day a combination of standard therapy and antibody treatment will have an effect on tumor progression in human patients.”

The details are published in the journal Cancer Research.

Source: med.stanford.edu