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New cancer weapon: nuclear nanocapsules
By Dross at 2007-08-26 01:12

HOUSTON, Aug. 23, 2007 – Rice University chemists have found a way to package some of nature's most powerful radioactive particles inside DNA-sized tubes of pure carbon -- a method they hope to use to target tiny tumors and even lone leukemiaterm cells.

"There are no FDA-approved cancer therapies that employ alpha-particle radiation," said lead researcher Lon Wilson, professor of chemistry. "Approved therapies that use beta particles are not well-suited for treating cancer at the single-cell level because it takes thousands of beta particles to kill a lone cell. By contrast, cancer cells can be destroyed with just one direct hit from an alpha particle on a cell nucleus."

read more | 1495 reads

MGH researchers confirm that bone marrow restores fertility in female mice
By Dross at 2007-08-01 08:24

A new study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers confirms that female mice that receive bone marrow transplantation after fertility-destroying chemotherapyterm can go on to have successful pregnancies throughout their normal reproductive life. The report in the August 1 Journal of Clinical Oncology verifies that donor marrow can restore fertility in female mice through an as-yet unidentified mechanism. While donor-derived egg cells or oocytes were observed in the ovaries of marrow recipients, all pups born were from the recipients’ own eggs.

“Consistent with our past work, cells derived from the donor bone marrow are getting into the ovaries and developing into immature oocytes,” says Jonathan Tilly, PhD, director of the Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology ( at MGH, the study’s senior author. “Although these oocytes derived from marrow cells don’t appear competent, at least thus far, to make fertilizable eggs, marrow does contribute something that allows a resumption of fertility in female mice sterilized by chemotherapy.”

read more | 1797 reads

U-M team identifies gene that regulates blood-forming fetal stem cells
By Dross at 2007-07-27 23:44

In the rancorous public debate over federal research funding, stem cells are generally assigned to one of two categories: embryonic or adult. But that's a false dichotomy and an oversimplification. A new University of Michigan study adds to mounting evidence that stem cells in the developing fetus are distinct from both embryonic and adult stem cells.

In the last several years, stem cell researchers have realized that fetal stem cells comprise a separate class. They recognized, for example, that fetal blood-forming stem cells in umbilical cord blood behave differently than adult blood-forming stem cells after transplantation into patients.

read more | 1041 reads

Adult survivors of childhood leukemia exercise less, worsening high risk for obesity and illness
By Dross at 2007-07-23 22:49

PHILADELPHIA -- Overcoming pediatric cancer may only mark the beginning of a young survivor’s lifelong battle to stay healthy. While survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemiaterm (ALL) face an increased risk of developing serious health complications as a result of their cancer treatment, for a variety of reasons many avoid simple exercise and healthy lifestyle changes that could reverse the damage, according to a team of researchers based at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Adult survivors of childhood ALL are less physically active than the general U.S. population, the team reports in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Furthermore, adult survivors of ALL who received cranial radiotherapy (CRT), or “whole brain radiation,” as children reported the lowest activity among all adults, suggesting that the type of therapy administered to a child may impair his or her physical activity in the future.

read more | 1219 reads

Children and young people show elevated leukaemia rates near nuclear facilities
By Dross at 2007-07-18 23:25

Leukaemiaterm rates in children and young people are elevated near nuclear facilities, but no clear explanation exists to explain the rise, according to a research review published in the July issue of European Journal of Cancer Care.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina carried out a sophisticated meta-analysis of 17 research papers covering 136 nuclear sites in the UK, Canada, France, the USA, Germany, Japan and Spain.

They found that death rates for children up to the age of nine were elevated by between five and 24 per cent, depending on their proximity to nuclear facilities, and by two to 18 per cent in children and young people up to the age of 25.

read more | 962 reads

Tiny Tweezers and Yeast Help St. Jude Show How Cancer Drug TOPOTECAN Works
By Dross at 2007-07-16 22:26

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 9- The annoying bulges of an over-wound telephone cord that shorten its reach help to explain why drugs called camptothecins are so effective in killing cancer cells, according to investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Delft University of Technology.

Using both a type of nanotechnology called magnetic tweezers as well as yeast cells, investigators showed that a camptothecin drug called topotecan kills cancer cells by preventing an enzyme, called DNA topoisomerase I, from uncoiling double-stranded DNA in those cells. Instead, the DNA becomes locked in tight twists, called supercoils, which bulge out from the side of the over- wound DNA molecule -- much like the bulges in an over-wound telephone cord.

read more | 1 comment | 1564 reads

Gene's Activity Points To More Lethal Subtype Of AML
By Dross at 2007-07-10 18:21

A new study shows that the activity of a particular gene can identify people who have a more lethal form of acute myeloid leukemiaterm, singling out those patients who should receive more intense therapy. The gene, called ERG (for ETS-related gene), has also been linked to chronic leukemia and to breast and prostate cancer. The findings apply to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with leukemia cells that have normal-looking chromosomes, a feature that occurs in about half of AML patients


Among these patients, those with leukemia cells showing high ERG activity are almost six times more likely to relapse or die within five years than are patients with low ERG expression following standard therapy.

read more | 2103 reads

The European Myeloma Platform Reports New Survival data for REVLIMID Presented at the International Myeloma Workshop in Greece
By Dross at 2007-07-03 10:55

The European Myeloma Platform (EMP) says updated data for previously treated patients on REVLIMID (lenalidomide) plus the steroid dexamethasone shows median survival of 35 months, nearly three years. The data are pooled from two large randomized controlled Phase III trials that enrolled more than 700 patients from nearly 100 clinical sites worldwide. These updated results were presented at the 11th International Myeloma Workshop in Kos, Greece.

"Here in Kos we are seeing what is truly a paradigm shift in treatment for multiple myeloma patients," said Greetje Goossens, EMP member and leader of the Belgium myeloma support group. "The experts here are saying that nearly three years of median over all survival for REVLIMID patients is the longest they have seen in myeloma to-date from large clinical trials."

read more | 2176 reads

HHMI News: Discovery in Fish May Aid Human Blood Cell Transplants
By Dross at 2007-06-21 01:23

The discovery that zebrafish produce natural chemicals that enhance production of blood-forming stem cells may translate rapidly into new treatments to increase the success of bone marrow or cord blood transplants in humans.

The research team, which was led by Leonard Zon, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, published its findings in the June 21, 2007, issue of the journal Nature. Trista North, a postdoctoral fellow in Zon's laboratory, was lead author.

“Using drugs that enhance PGE2 to amplify the number of stem cells in a cord [blood] sample could enable use of only one cord in such patients.”
Leonard I. Zon

read more | 1596 reads

Pre-cancerous blood diseases can be products of their environment
By Dross at 2007-06-15 00:13

When blood-forming stem cells misbehave, causing pre-cancerous conditions that can sometimes even progress to leukemiaterm, the problem might not always lie with them. Rather, two studies in the June 15 issue of the journal Cell, published by Cell Press, reveal that a bad environment might be to blame.

Both reports show that defects in the bone marrow—where blood cells are made—can spawn such pre-cancerous blood disorders in mice. Previously, such myeloproliferative syndromes were thought to be rooted in the blood cells themselves.

“We show that the bone marrow microenvironment can make the blood cells become abnormal, like a type of pre-leukemic disease,” said Louise Purton, who is affiliated with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Australia, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Such pre-cancerous conditions are often difficult to treat in humans, she added, mainly because not much is known about what causes the blood cells to act out.

read more | 3476 reads

Bone marrow microenvironment can contribute to blood cell disorder
By Dross at 2007-06-15 00:02

Disorders of blood cells may begin in the biological environment where the cells develop, not just with the cells themselves, according to a study from researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center (Peter Mac) in Melbourne, Australia. In the June 15 issue of Cell, the investigators describe finding that genetic alterations in the bone marrow of mice can cause a type of myeloproliferative syndrome, an overproduction of certain blood cells that also occurs in human patients.

“Previously all myeloproliferative syndromes have been considered to be intrinsic to the blood cells themselves,” says Louise Purton, PhD, of the MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine, formerly of Peter Mac, who led the study. “This discovery may help us find better therapies for these disorders, which can be quite difficult to treat, and also for some leukemias.”

read more | 1 comment | 3802 reads

Research shows cord blood comparable to matched bone marrow
By Dross at 2007-06-10 02:55

University of Minnesota researchers report that umbilical cord blood transplants may offer blood cancer patients better outcomes than bone marrow transplants, according to an analysis of outcome data performed at the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR), Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

This is the first study that directly compares matched bone marrow, which is currently considered the preferred graft, with matched and mismatched umbilical cord blood. There is considerable controversy in the medical community about which source of blood stem cells (cord blood or marrow) should be considered the “gold standard” for treatment of childhood leukemiaterm.

read more | 6958 reads

Inherited genes linked to toxicity of leukemia therapy
By Dross at 2007-05-12 02:45

Investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered inherited variations in certain genes that make children with acute lymphoblastic leukemiaterm (ALL) susceptible to the toxic side effectsterm caused by chemotherapyterm medications. The researchers showed that these variations, called polymorphisms, occur in specific genes known to influence pharmacodynamics (how drugs work in the body and how much drug is needed to have its intended effect).

The findings, made during a study of 240 children, are important because these side effects in ALL can be life-threatening and interrupt delivery of treatment, increasing the risk of relapse. The new insights gained in this study could help individualize ALL chemotherapy according to a patient's inherited tendencies to develop toxic reactions to specific drugs.

read more | 1407 reads

Antioxidant found in many foods and red wine is potent and selective killer of leukemia cells
By Dross at 2007-04-24 00:13

PITTSBURGH, April 23 -- A naturally occurring compound found in many fruits and vegetables as well as red wine, selectively kills leukemiaterm cells in culture while showing no discernible toxicity against healthy cells, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. These findings, which were published online March 20 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry and will be in press on May 4, offer hope for a more selective, less toxic therapy for leukemia.

“Current treatments for leukemia, such as chemotherapyterm and radiation, often damage healthy cells and tissues and can produce unwanted side effectsterm for many years afterward. So, there is an intensive search for more targeted therapies for leukemia worldwide,” said corresponding author Xiao-Ming Yin, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

read more | 3 comments | 1159 reads

Translocation Kidney Cancer after Chemotherapy in Childhood
By Dross at 2007-04-22 22:28

This article out of Johns Hopkins reviewed the risk of renal cell carcinomaterm occurring as a secondary malignancy after chemotherapyterm in childhood. It is known that children who survive cancer are at the risk of developing another malignancy 20 times more likely than the general population. This study described the clinical, pathologic, cytogenetic, and molecular data on six translocation renal cell carcinomas that arose in five patients who had received chemotherapy.

At the time of diagnosis, the children were between the ages of 6-22 years. Histologically, the tumor showed typical features that are described for translocation renal cell carcinomas. At the molecular level, three of the tumors contained the ASPL-TFE3 fusion; two contained Alpha-TFEB and one contained PRCC-TFE3. The time span between chemotherapy and the diagnosis of these renal cell carcinomas ranged from 4-13 years. The indications varied and including acute promyelocytic leukemiaterm, acute myeloid leukemia, bilateral Wilms' tumor, systemic lupus erythematosus, and a conditioning regimen of bone marrow transplantation secondary to Hurler's syndrome. This latter patient also received radiation.

read more | 3776 reads

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