Cancer’s Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus

New York Times, By George Johnson, August 15

For the last decade cancer research has been guided by a common vision of how a single cell, outcompeting its neighbors, evolves into a malignant tumor.

Through a series of random mutations, genes that encourage cellular division are pushed into overdrive, while genes that normally send growth-restraining signals are taken offline.

With the accelerator floored and the brake lines cut, the cell and its progeny are free to rapidly multiply. More mutations accumulate, allowing the cancer cells to elude other safeguards and to invade neighboring tissue and metastasize.

These basic principles ”” laid out 11 years ago in a landmark paper, ”œThe Hallmarks of Cancer,” by Douglas Hanahan and Robert A. Weinberg, and revisited in a follow-up article this year ”” still serve as the reigning paradigm, a kind of Big Bang theory for the field.

But recent discoveries have been complicating the picture with tangles of new detail. Cancer appears to be even more willful and calculating than previously imagined.


Also, BBC: Cancer discovery offers hope of tackling spread of disease

Scientists have discovered how cancerous cells can “elbow” their way out of tumours, offering clues for new drugs to prevent cancers spreading.

They say they have identified a protein called JAK which helps cancerous cells generate the force needed to move.


Related, The Independent: Key find could prevent deadly prostate cancer

A blood test that can distinguish between the benign and dangerous forms of prostate cancer could soon be developed following a breakthrough in understanding the complex genetics behind the most common type of cancer in men.


And… Adding caffeine to sunscreen could guard against skin cancer

Previously: ‘Huge’ results raise hope for cancer breakthrough

22 comments to Cancer’s Secrets Come Into Sharper Focus

  • Caribdude

    I would like to know what you think about this Raja.

    Dr. Melamede, professor of Biology at University of Colorado.

    Studies have shown that human tumors grown in rats can be completely eradicated, with no damage to surrounding tissues, using direct injected TCH/Cannaboids.

    You could also watch Run from the cure.

    There is literally tons of information, most of it extremely positive, about the effects of cannaboids and THC upon serious illnesses, in particular cancers.

    Another product, a mineral, commonly known as MMS, is also reported to be very effective on viruses, parasites and cancers.

    No Miracle, Just Wonderful Chemistry

    Clorine Dioxide

    Again, there is lots of information about it online, most of it seemingly positive.

    I ask because my wife has cancer, in her breast, in her lungs and now also in her spine. She is leaving hospital because there is nothing more they can do for her, nothing she will let them do anyway.

    So I’m hoping she will try these.

    I for one trust Big Pharmacy as much as I trust Big Oil to inform me about climate change, or Big Tobacco to inform me about how smoking causes Cancer or not. My sister in law took the conventional route with her BC, surgery, chemo etc. Every Sunday she sits down with about 15 pill packets and fills up two pill boxes for the coming week. Big Pharma is laughing all the way to the bank, they don’t want to heal anyone really, the profits are in ‘treating us’.

    I have a lot of faith in what THC Hemp oil and cannaboids might be capable of. I’d be interested in others thoughts about it.

    Caribdude

  • Escher Sketch

    and my heart goes out to you. Here’s something I’m keeping a close eye on myself:

    http://www.dca.med.ualberta.ca/Home/Updates/2010-05-12_Update.cfm


    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Tina

    I am so sorry to hear what is happening and hope an alternative can be found to help your wife. Take care.

    I agree about BigPharm not wanting cures. Ex: there is more money in aids cocktails than finding a cure.

  • Raja

    Really sorry to hear your news.

    Unfortunately, I only know what I read in the papers – no direct experience here, thankfully.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Caribdude

    What I was thinking is that Agonists might watch and look into the links I’ve included and perhaps do a little more research on their own online. Then sharing their thoughts and opinions about it all.

    :)

  • graham

    Prayers and healing thoughts to you both.

    This is the only article I have come across recently:
    Protein JAK Makes Cancer Cells Contract, So They Can Squeeze Out Of A Tumor

    work committments limit my news browsing these days.

  • Raja

    BBC, By James Gallagher, August 18

    Modified ecstasy could one day have a role to play in fighting some blood cancers, according to scientists.

    Ecstasy is known to kill some cancer cells, but scientists have increased its effectiveness 100-fold, they said in Investigational New Drugs journal.

    Their early study showed all leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma cells could be killed in a test tube, but any treatment would be a decade away.

    A charity said the findings were a “significant step forward”.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Raja

    San Francisco Chronicle, By Victoria Colliver, August 20

    Thirteen years after federal regulators last approved a new drug to treat advanced melanoma, the Food & Drug Administration has given the green light to two revolutionary drugs in the past five months to treat the deadliest form of skin cancer.

    […]

    Zelboraf, approved Wednesday, attacks a genetic mutation found in about half of melanoma patients, inhibiting the disease’s ability to spread. The drug, which comes in a pill, was developed by Berkeley’s Plexxicon and is being marketed by South San Francisco’s Genentech and Daiichi Sankyo.

    […]

    In March, the FDA approved another late-stage melanoma treatment, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Yervoy, which acts to trigger the body’s anticancer immune response.

    “For people with metastatic melanoma, their life expectancies have been measured in months,” said Genentech spokeswoman Krysta Pellegrino. “In the past year, you have two new medicines that are completely new types of medicine.”


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Anonymous

    I think the MMS/Chlorine Dioxide product is pure snake oil. A wide-spectrum antibiotic that can “disinfect” healthy cells while not harming them? Literally incredible.

    I watched the Melamede presentation – that sounds more promising, but who knows. One would think that the medical community would have seized on these findings and be using them to treat patients or at least for further research for something that they could make money on. The anti-pot lobby is strong, but it’s not that strong.

    I’ve started to watch Run from the Cure, and they’re talking about using it for anxiety/depression, skin cancer, allergies, diabetes, infections, asthma, insomnia, prostate problems, fluid on the lungs, migraines, fluctuating weight and more. It’s quite the panacea! Strange to think that one substance could be that powerful.

    (Though admittedly, I now have a hankering for some hemp oil).


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Anonymous

    And they were talking about cannabinoids’ medical uses. The segment was called: Assessing the Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana. The transcript is not available at this writing.

    They also referenced the Montana PBS documentary: “Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannibis“:

    Montana Lawmakers are currently grappling with the state’s controversial Medical Marijuana law. While some are arguing for tighter restrictions, others are pushing for a full repeal of the voter-passed initiative. Montana PBS’s new documentary “Clearing the Smoke: The Science of Cannabis” addresses an important area missing in the rhetoric and controversy: the science behind Medical Marijuana.

    The hour-long documentary reveals how the plant’s chemical compounds act on the brain and the body to potentially treat a myriad of difficult conditions and diseases. Personal stories of relief from pain, nausea and epileptic seizures frame a scientific discussion of both the therapeutic potential and the very real side effects of cannabis as a medicine. The documentary details the government restrictions and financial difficulties of doing research on the plant, but it also highlights the legitimate work being done by scientists across the nation, including one South Carolina researcher who is uncovering its potential to treat auto-immune diseases and certain types of cancer. Interviews include Dr. Igor Grant, Director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Dr. Eric Voth, longtime medical marijuana critic and Drug Policy Advisor to Presidents Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton and Bush Junior.

    Guardian review here. The review references this 1971 book: Marijuana Reconsidered.

    Also, previously: UC Studies Show Marijuana Has Therapeutic Value, Reports to California Legislature


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Raja

    BBC, September 8

    It may be possible to extend the usefulness of cancer drugs by preventing drug resistance in tumours, say researchers.

    A study, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed a chemical reaction went into overdrive as resistance developed.

    Scientists said drugs were already on the market which interfered with the process.

    Cancer Research UK said the field offered “tremendous optimism”.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Raja

    The Independent, By Steve Connor, September 12

    A substance found in a native British flower has been turned into a powerful “smart bomb” drug that can work against a range of cancers.

    The drug, based on colchicine found in the autumn crocus, cuts off the blood supply to solid tumours, curbing their growth and stopping cancer cells from spreading to other parts of the body.

    Tests on laboratory mice have shown that the drug is highly effective at attacking tumours from a range of human diseases such as sarcomas and cancers of the breast, colon, lung and prostate. The drug is also designed to target solid tumours directly, leaving healthy tissue unaffected, according to Professor Laurance Patterson, director of Bradford University’s Institute for Cancer Therapeutics.

    “What we’ve designed is, effectively, a ‘smart bomb’ that can be targeted directly at any solid tumour to kill it without appearing to harm healthy tissue,” Professor Patterson said.


    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • quiet Bill

    Another medicine that is really an herb.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colchicine

    Named after Colchicum (autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale)

  • Raja

    Medical News Today, March 28

    A single antibody caused tumors from seven different human cancers transplanted into mice to shrink or disappear, according to a new study led by Stanford University School of Medicine in the US. The researchers hope to repeat this dramatic finding with tests in humans within the next two years.

    Senior author Dr Irving Weissman, professor of pathology at Stanford, and colleagues, write about their success in treating bladder, brain, breast, colon, liver, ovarian, and prostate cancer tumors in this week’s online ahead of print issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    They say the antibody blocks a protein known as CD47, that sends “don’t eat me” signals that cancer cells use to stop macrophages and other cells of the immune system from gobbling them up.

    Anti-CD47 is the first antibody treatment to work against a variety of human solid tumors. The investigators said they are now eager to get started with phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials in humans within the next two years.

  • Raja

    BBC News , By Helen Briggs, March 28

    The first volume of a “book of cancer knowledge” has been published, which scientists say will speed up the search for new cancer drugs.

    The “encyclopaedia” details how hundreds of different cancer cells respond to anti-cancer agents.

    UK, US and European researchers say the data, published in Nature, is a step towards tailoring cancer medicine to a patient’s genetic profile.

    […]

    He told the BBC: “It’s bringing together two very large and very powerful data sets and asking which cell line is the most sensitive and what is behind that sensitivity.

    “This is the largest study of its kind linking drug response with genetic markers. You need these very large studies to identify small subsets of cells that are sensitive to drugs.”

  • Raja

    BBC, By Michelle Roberts, May 8

    One in six cancers – two million a year globally – are caused by largely treatable or preventable infections, new estimates suggest.

    The Lancet Infectious Diseases review, which looked at incidence rates for 27 cancers in 184 countries, found four main infections are responsible.

    These four – human papillomaviruses, Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis B and C viruses – account for 1.9m cases of cervical, gut and liver cancers.

    Most cases are in the developing world.

  • Raja

    Using the maths of evolution to predict the spread of rogue cells could be a huge step in treating the disease, reports Roger Highfield.

    The Telegraph, July 2

    According to a new paper, we could be on the verge of a revolution in treating the most intractable forms of cancer – not via the discovery of a new drug or therapy, but by applying the theories of Charles Darwin.

    The work is based on the most recent thinking about cancer: that it is a result of a breakdown of cooperation between cells in the body. This breakdown occurs when one of the body’s 200 cell types develops mutations – changes in their DNA – that put the cell’s own interests above the greater good of the body. As our immune system fights the renegade cells, new mutations occur, with the cancer evolving to outwit our defences. And because the cancer cells are distorted versions of our normal cells, they are hard to target and destroy without causing damaging side effects.

    Now, however, experts believe that they can use the mathematics of evolution to predict the spread of the disease – and thereby treat it far more effectively. The idea, published in the journal Nature, is the brainchild of two major figures. One, Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is the most cited scientist in the world, and an expert in the mutations that cancer cells undergo. The other, Martin Nowak of Harvard University in Massachusetts, has a distinguished record in putting biology on a mathematical basis (as outlined in our co-written book, SuperCooperators).

    […]

    The experience of Aids, however, shows that all is not lost. “The good news is that there is a limited number of pathways that go awry in cancer, so it should be possible to develop a small number of agents that can be used in a large number of patients,” says Prof Vogelstein. Ultimately, Prof Nowak estimates that hundreds of drugs might be needed to “cure” every cancer – but as few as two or three, targeting different pathways, could be enough to control it in a given patient. “I think we will see a revolution in the treatment of cancer,” he says. “One hundred years ago, many people died of bacterial infections. Now, we have treatment for such infections – those people don’t have to die. I believe we are approaching a similar point with cancer.”

  • Raja

    Cancer death rates set for a ‘dramatic fall’

    BBC, By James Gallagher, September 24

    Death rates from cancer are “set to fall dramatically” by 2030, according to Cancer Research UK.

    It says fewer people smoking as well as improvements in diagnosis and treatment will lead to a 17% drop in death rate.

    About 170 UK deaths per 100,000 of population were from cancer in 2010, and this figure is predicted to fall to 142 out of every 100,000.

    Some of the biggest killers – lung, breast, bowel, and prostate cancer – are part of the trend.

    The biggest fall is projected to be in ovarian cancer, with death rates dropping by 43%.

    Prof Peter Sasieni, from Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Our latest estimations show that for many cancers, adjusting for age, death rates are set to fall dramatically in the coming decades.”

    As more people live to an elderly age, the total number of people who actually develop and die from cancer will increase – but these deaths will make up a smaller proportion of the total number of deaths, so the death rate will fall.

  • Raja

    Doctors eradicate girl’s cancer by reprogramming HIV

    Raw Story, By Stephen C. Webster, December 10

    A reprogrammed version of the virus that causes AIDS was used by doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to wipe out a little girl’s terminal leukemia.

    According to The New York Times, 6-year-old Emma Whitehead didn’t have much longer to live when the radical and untested therapy was pitched to her parents. But after two relapses, they’d exhausted all other options.

    So, using modified HIV that disables transmission of the virus, doctors loaded in up with custom T-cells that reprogrammed her immune system to fight off her leukemia.


    In Girl’s Last Hope, Altered Immune Cells Beat Leukemia

    New York Times, By Denise Grady, December 9

    Philadelphia, PA – Emma Whitehead has been bounding around the house lately, practicing somersaults and rugby-style tumbles that make her parents wince.

    It is hard to believe, but last spring Emma, then 6, was near death from leukemia. She had relapsed twice after chemotherapy, and doctors had run out of options.

    Desperate to save her, her parents sought an experimental treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, one that had never before been tried in a child, or in anyone with the type of leukemia Emma had. The experiment, in April, used a disabled form of the virus that causes AIDS to reprogram Emma’s immune system genetically to kill cancer cells.

    The treatment very nearly killed her. But she emerged from it cancer-free, and about seven months later is still in complete remission. She is the first child and one of the first humans ever in whom new techniques have achieved a long-sought goal — giving a patient’s own immune system the lasting ability to fight cancer.

    Emma had been ill with acute lymphoblastic leukemia since 2010, when she was 5, said her parents, Kari and Tom. She is their only child.

    She is among just a dozen patients with advanced leukemia to have received the experimental treatment, which was developed at the University of Pennsylvania. Similar approaches are also being tried at other centers, including the National Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

  • Raja

    Trojan-horse therapy ‘completely eliminates’ cancer in mice

    BBC, By James Gallagher, December 20

    An experimental “Trojan-horse” cancer therapy has completely eliminated prostate cancer in experiments on mice, according to UK researchers.

    The team hid cancer killing viruses inside the immune system in order to sneak them into a tumour.

    Once inside, a study in the journal Cancer Research showed, tens of thousands of viruses were released to kill the cancerous cells.

    Experts labelled the study “exciting,” but human tests are still needed.

    Using viruses to destroy rapidly growing tumours is an emerging field in cancer therapy, however one of the challenges is getting the viruses deep inside the tumour where they can do the damage.

    “The problem is penetration,” Prof Claire Lewis from the University of Sheffield told the BBC.

  • Raja

    Drugs Aim to Make Several Types of Cancer Self-Destruct

    New York Times, by Gina Kolata, December 22

    For the first time ever, three pharmaceutical companies are poised to test whether new drugs can work against a wide range of cancers independently of where they originated — breast, prostate, liver, lung. The drugs go after an aberration involving a cancer gene fundamental to tumor growth. Many scientists see this as the beginning of a new genetic age in cancer research.

    Great uncertainties remain, but such drugs could mean new treatments for rare, neglected cancers, as well as common ones. Merck, Roche and Sanofi are racing to develop their own versions of a drug they hope will restore a mechanism that normally makes badly damaged cells self-destruct and could potentially be used against half of all cancers.

    No pharmaceutical company has ever conducted a major clinical trial of a drug in patients who have many different kinds of cancer, researchers and federal regulators say. “This is a taste of the future in cancer drug development,” said Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society. “I expect the organ from which the cancer came from will be less important in the future and the molecular target more important,” he added.

    And this has major implications for cancer philanthropy, experts say. Advocacy groups should shift from fund-raising for particular cancers to pushing for research aimed at many kinds of cancer at once, Dr. Brawley said. John Walter, the chief executive officer of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, concurred, saying that by pooling forces “our strength can be leveraged.”


    Also, New York Times: Is the Cure for Cancer Inside You?, December 21

  • Raja

    Immune system ‘booster’ may hit cancer

    BBC, By James Gallagher, January 3

    Vast numbers of cells that can attack cancer and HIV have been grown in the lab, and could potentially be used to fight disease.

    The cells naturally occur in small numbers, but it is hoped injecting huge quantities back into a patient could turbo-charge the immune system.

    The Japanese research is published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

    […]

    The groups have proved only that they can make these cells, not that they can be safely put back into patients or that if would make a difference to their disease if they did.

    Dr Hiroshi Kawamoto, who worked on the cancer immune cells at Riken, said: “The next step will be to test whether these T-cells can selectively kill tumour cells, but not other cells in the body.

    “If they do, these cells might be directly injected into patients for therapy. This could be realized in the not-so-distant future.”

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