News Briefs

Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2010
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Bitter Melon Kills Breast Cancer Cells

Researchers from Saint Louis University reported that extract from bitter melon, a vegetable common in India, China, and South America, killed breast cancer cells in the laboratory by modifying signal-transduction pathways and had no effect on normal cells. The next step is to test the extract in animals. Bitter melon extra, rich in vitamin C and flavanoids, is available at health food stores in the United States as a folk remedy for various ailments, including diabetes. Full study results will appear in the March issue of Cancer Research.

Blood Test Measures Treatment Response

In Science Translational Medicine, scientists from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center said they had used whole-genome sequencing of different cancers to develop individualized blood tests used to monitor treatment response. Instead of focusing on single-letter changes, they examined DNA for rearrangements of large chunks–alterations common in cancer cells. Increases in biomarker levels signal cancer recurrence, often before it can be detected with standard imaging. Victor Velculescu, MD, PhD, co-director of the cancer biology program that conducted the research, said, “Using this approach, we can develop biomarkers for potentially any patient.” The test is not yet commercially available.

New HIV Type Infects Cancer Cells

A group of researchers at the University of Florida made a surprising discovery: HIV-1 that infects cancer cells is genetically different from HIV-1 infection in noncancerous cells. Approximately 10% of HIV-positive patients develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and they do not respond well to therapy. The investigators said there was a significant relationship between how the HIV evolved and tumor growth. The HIV allowed them to track metastasis.

Fiber Nutrient Inhibits P13K-Akt Signaling

Previous studies have found that individuals who eat a high-fiber diet have a lower incidence of certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. Scientists at the University of Colorado Cancer Center may have figured out why. Whole grains and legumes contain inositol hexaphosphate (IP- 6), a nutrient that the researchers say disrupts the P13K-Akt pathway. This pathway is associated with development and progression of cancer in the prostate, breast, and colon. IP-6 inhibited signaling along this pathway in laboratory cells and in mice with human prostate cancer xenografts. The study was published in the December 15, 2009, issue of Cancer Research.

Home Test for Cancer? Might cancer someday be diagnosed at home? University of Missouri researchers are working on developing a sensor that could detect breast and prostate cancer cells in bodily fluids. The acoustic resonant sensor is smaller than a human hair and highly sensitive in liquid. It provides nearly instantaneous results and is noninvasive. Jae Kwon, who is conducting the sensor research, said, “The sensor has strong commercial potential to be manifested as simple home kits for easy, rapid, and accurate diagnosis of various diseases.”

New Target in Glioblastoma

Cleveland Clinic researchers identified high levels of A20 protein in stem cells for a glioblastoma subtype and found that decreasing the levels in cell cultures induced cell death. Doing so in animal models prolonged survival. The researchers reviewed datasets from human brain tumor specimens and associated A20 with poor patient survival, suggesting the protein may constitute a valid target in glioblastoma.

Good News/Bad News for Avastin

Roche recently announced the disappointing news that a trial of Avastin (bevacizumab) in stomach cancer missed its primary endpoint. Shortly after, Roche announced that Avastin had performed well in the phase III GOG 0218 trial of women with advanced ovarian cancer. Preliminary data of Avastin plus chemotherapy followed by maintenance therapy with Avastin increased progression-free survival compared with placebo. The company said detailed results would be presented at a future meeting.

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Medical Crossfire®: Key Questions for the Use of Immunotherapy Throughout the Disease Continuum for NSCLC in an Era of Rapid DevelopmentSep 29, 20181.5
Provider and Caregiver Connection™: Addressing Patient Concerns While Managing GlioblastomaSep 29, 20182.0
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