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Kinder than Chemo Cancer Drug Cured This Young Man of Leukemia–Available in the US

in Health 275 views

Picture a very unhappy situation: you have leukemia; what are your options? Everyone knows about the side effects of chemo, and most people will have some idea about the Nobel Prize-winning CAR-T cell therapy—but there’s also a third option.

It seems startling to be so overlooked because it’s so straightforward. Blinatumomab cured the young fellow above of his B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The BBC reports that 20 medical centers in the UK are already using off-brand stocks of blinatumomab to treat this cancer, and the country has already approved the drug for adult use.

‘Blina’ as it’s referred to for short, is also an immunotherapy drug; it seeks out and kills cancer cells that typically disguise themselves from the body’s innate immune system. However, unlike chimeric antigen receptor T cells (CAR-T cell), blina is cheaper.

Blina is a kind of targeted therapy drug called a bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE). It’s administered via a pump and plastic bag through a tube inserted into the patient’s arm.

The bag is carried around in a slim backpack, and the supply lasts a few days. CAR-T cell therapy requires a patient’s cells to be taken out and modified to fight off whichever cancer is present—which takes time.

Like CAR-T, the healthy normal cells are not destroyed as in the case of chemotherapy, allowing the patient to continue leading a mostly normal life.

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Test That Can Spot 18 Early-Stage Cancer Signals Shows 84% Sensitivity in First Human Trial

in Health 56 views

An experimental cancer test already being studied in humans shows that by examining blood proteins instead of tumor DNA, it may be possible to detect up to 18 early-stage cancers with exceptional accuracy.

Cancer tests don’t often use the same methods of detection, and having one or two unified testing options would likely save thousands of lives.

A US biotech firm called Novelna recently presented their findings of a trial of 440 humans with a total of 18 different cancers. Blood plasma samples were taken from each patient, along with 44 healthy blood donors.

By analyzing trace proteins in the blood, the Novelna team were able to achieve a high “sensitivity,” or the detection rate of early-stage tumors, and a high “specificity” or the control for false-positives. Furthermore, the proteins controlled for in the test are sex-specific.

At stage I (the earliest cancer stage) and at the specificity of 99%, the panels were able to identify 93% of cancers among males and 84% of cancers among females.

“This finding is the foundation for a multi-cancer screening test for the early detection of 18 solid tumors that cover all major human organs of origin for such cancers at the earliest stage of their development with high accuracy,” the authors wrote in the journal BMJ Oncology. “These findings pave the way for a cost-effective, highly accurate, multi-cancer screening test that can be implemented on a population-wide scale.”

The team acknowledged the small trial size and admitted that larger trials would be needed to confirm the accuracy already established, but they also highlighted that almost all of the proteins for almost all of the cancers were present in the blood samples at very low levels, indicating the importance of such tests for catching tumors before they form.

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Watertown’s Great Pumpkin Derby to raise money for American Cancer Society

in Event 1,252 views

WATERTOWN — People will once again be decorating pumpkins, putting them on four wheels and pushing them down the hill Oct. 7 at The Great Pumpkin Derby to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

The derby will be held on Rand Drive, behind the YMCA on Coffeen Street. Registration begins at 10 a.m. The event starts at 11.

Cost is $10 per pumpkin, and all proceeds go to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

People must put their pumpkin on four wheels, and it must stay on its wheels the whole race, or they will be disqualified.

There are two divisions, one for kids up to 14 years old and adults. Those who come in first place will win a $100 Amazon gift card, second place receives a $75 Amazon gift card, and third place gets a $50 Amazon gift card. The top three each receive a trophy.

People can also decorate their pumpkins, with judges rating them before the race. First place winners in each division will receive prizes.

Teri Walters, who is on the committee for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, is coordinating the event.

She said events like this are so important because of how many people breast cancer has affected.

“In some way, breast cancer has touched a lot of people in this community and everywhere in the world,” she said.

Walters recently lost her mother to the disease.

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Vaccine that Could Cure and Even Prevent Brain Cancer Developed by Scientists

in Health 136 views

In Boston, a potentially-revolutionary treatment for deadly brain cancer is showing promising early signs in mice both for the eradication and prevention of tumors and individual cancer cells.

A vaccine in the true sense of the word, the method involves repurposing living cancer cells to destroy the tumors which spawned them.

Cancer cells have very particular characteristics, one of which potentially makes them even better cancer-killers than immune molecules. That characteristic is their ability to travel long distances through the body returning to the tumor they came from.

By using a similar technique to CRISPR called CRISP-CAS9, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston were able to change proteins within the living cancer cells to prime tumors and other cells for destruction. The priming got the immune system involved, which then resulted in the mice in immunological memory just like vaccines for viruses.

In experiments, it worked on mice carrying cells derived from humans, mimicking what will happen in patients, which had the deadliest form of brain cancer called glioblastoma.

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Watertown’s Walker Center for Cancer Care adds technology to provide faster access to radiation treatment

in Technology 187 views

Dec. 30—WATERTOWN — Samaritan Health’s Walker Center for Cancer Care announced Thursday that it has added technology that will hasten access to cancer treatment.

The center said in a statement that it has opened a second linear accelerator for its radiation oncology services which will ensure that radiation therapy for patients with high acuity lesions, such as those causing pain, or pressing on critical body structures, or blocking airways or blood flow, among other issues requiring urgent care, can start within a matter of days rather than weeks.

“The opening of a second linear accelerator (LINAC) will increase patient access to radiation oncology treatments in our region,” Dr. Justin D. Budnik, radiation oncologist at the center, said in the statement. “The need for a second LINAC has been driven by unprecedented growth in the practice here at the Walker Center for Cancer Care and will ensure that all patients who are in need of radiotherapy will have timely access to treatment, whatever their diagnosis is.”

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Scientists Turn Brazilian Tree Bark Into Promising Treatment for Leukaemia

in Enviroment/Health 319 views

Compounds from a Brazilian tree bark can now be used to treat acute myeloid leukaemia after a new technique that delivers it straight into the cancer cell.

The disease has a survival rate of around 20% after five years, and there is a high occurrence of relapse.

Caused by an abnormal increase in the number a type of immature blood cells, it is an aggressive cancer and the most common form of acute leukaemia in adults.

Scientists identified a compound from the bark of the lapacho tree called β-lapachone which controls the increase in the number of cells involved with cancer, however it was toxic to other cells as well.

“It’s important to find new therapeutic strategies for acute myeloid leukemia,” Professor Gonçalo Bernardes, a reader in Chemical Biology and a Royal Society University Research Fellow and a Fellow of Trinity Hall College, Cambridge said. “There are a lot of natural compounds with medicinal value that can’t be used as therapies at the moment due to toxicity and negative effects in healthy cells.

“In our work, we used these natural compounds and modified them in a way that controls their negative effects and allows us to take advantage of their therapeutic value.”

The team modified the compound to shield the body from its negative effects until it is delivered to the heart of the cancer cell.

“The compound that we explored in this study, called β-lapachone, is a promising drug to treat leukaemia, but its reactive properties could have undesirable effects,” Prof Bernardes who is also group leader at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular (iMM) and co-leader of the study added.

“In this work, we combined two strategies to minimise the negative effects of the compound.

“On one side, we added a chemical group to this compound that protects from its reactive properties. It acts like a mask that covers the toxicity of the drug.

“This mask is released in a more acidic environment, that corresponds to the interior of cells.

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Light Therapy is Harnessed to Target and Kill Cancer Cells in World First

in Health 617 views

An innovative light-activated therapy could help detect and treat an aggressive brain cancer type, a new study shows.The ‘photoimmunotherapy’ combines a special fluorescent dye with a cancer-targeting compound, which together boosts the body’s immune response.

In studies in mice, the combination was shown to improve the visibility of cancer cells during surgery and, when activated by near-infrared light, to trigger an anti-tumor effect.

The treatment, studied by an international team of researchers from the The Institute of Cancer Research and the Medical University of Silesia could ultimately help surgeons to remove brain cancers like glioblastoma more effectively, and boost the body’s response to cancer cells that remain after surgery.

Lighting-up brain cancer

Glioblastoma multiforme, also known as GBM, is one of the most common and aggressive types of brain cancer. New ways to improve surgery could help patients live for longer.

Surgeons often use a technique called Fluorescence Guided Surgery to treat diseases like glioblastoma and other brain cancers, which uses dyes to help identify the tumor mass to be removed during surgery.

But due to these tumors growing in sensitive areas of the brain like the motor cortex, which is involved in the planning and control of voluntary movements, glioblastoma surgery can leave behind residual tumor cells that can be very hard to treat—and which mean the disease can come back more aggressively later.

The new research builds on Fluorescence Guided Surgery using a novel technique called photoimmunotherapy (PIT).

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Handheld Device Painlessly Identifies Skin Cancer

in Health 569 views

Skin biopsies are no fun: doctors carve away small lumps of tissue for laboratory testing, leaving patients with painful wounds that can take weeks to heal. That’s a price worth paying if it enables early cancer treatment. However, in recent years, aggressive diagnostic efforts have seen the number of biopsies grow around four times faster than the number of cancers detected, with about 30 benign lesions now biopsied for every case of skin cancer that’s found.

Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are now developing a low-cost handheld device that could cut the rate of unnecessary biopsies in half and give dermatologists and other frontline physicians easy access to laboratory-grade cancer diagnostics. “We aren’t trying to get rid of biopsies,” said Negar Tavassolian, director of the Bio-Electromagnetics Laboratory at Stevens. “But we do want to give doctors additional tools and help them to make better decisions.”

The team’s device uses milimeter-wave imaging—the same technology used in airport security scanners—to scan a patient’s skin. (In earlier work, Tavassolian and her team had to work with already biopsied skin for the device to detect if it was cancerous.)

Healthy tissue reflects milimeter-wave rays differently than cancerous tissue, so it’s theoretically possible to spot cancers by monitoring contrasts in the rays reflected back from the skin. To bring that approach into clinical practice, the researchers used algorithms to fuse signals captured by multiple different antennas into a single ultrahigh-bandwidth image, reducing noise and quickly capturing high-resolution images of even the tiniest mole or blemish.

Spearheaded by Amir Mirbeik Ph.D. ’18, the team used a tabletop version of their technology to examine 71 patients during real-world clinical visits, and found their methods could accurately distinguish benign and malignant lesions in just a few seconds. Using their device, Tavassolian and Mirbeik could identify cancerous tissue with 97% sensitivity and 98% specificity—a rate competitive with even the best hospital-grade diagnostic tools.

“There are other advanced imaging technologies that can detect skin cancers, but they’re big, expensive machines that aren’t available in the clinic,” said Tavassolian. “We’re creating a low-cost device that’s as small and as easy to use as a cellphone, so we can bring advanced diagnostics within reach for everyone.”

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Screening For Breast Cancer Might Soon Use Simple Blood Test Following Milk Discovery

in Health/People 484 views

Breast cancer screening could be done via a blood test in the future, following a major breakthrough.

Scientists say a simple blood test for women of all ages could one day be possible—making mammograms history—because a new set of protein biomarkers was identified by using human breast milk.

Study lead author Danielle Whitham, a doctoral candidate at Clarkson University in the state of New York, said, “Although mammograms are a useful tool for catching breast cancer early, they aren’t typically recommended for low-risk women under 40.”

“Because the biomarkers we found in breast milk are also detectable in blood serum, screening could potentially be done in women of any age using blood or breast milk.”

The newly identified biomarkers are for a specific type of cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma—one of the most common types of breast cancers.

However, the researchers say that their approach could be used to identify biomarkers for other types of breast cancer, too.

“If our future studies are successful, it could change how women are monitored for breast cancer and aid in earlier diagnosis,” adds Whitham.

“This could even lead to a higher survival rate in women.”

For the study, breast milk samples were obtained from three women diagnosed with breast cancer and three women without cancer.

The researchers compared the relative levels of certain proteins between the two groups to identify differences in the women with cancer.

Their analysis revealed 23 proteins that were dysregulated. All the proteins that showed differences were previously shown to play a role in cancer or tumor development.

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Magnesium May Prime the Immune System to Fight Cancer and Infections

in Food/Health 1,706 views

A simple mineral we all learned about in high school PE class could be the active ingredient in a new method of cancer treatment and prevention. In this way, magnesium has gone from being something to help us play sports longer to something that lets us play life longer.

That’s because magnesium acts like a bridge between killer T cells, a critical immune system weapon, and cancerous cells by binding to a protein on the T cell’s exterior called LFA-1, which allows them to then hone in on cancer cells which in turn have many ways to disguise themselves ordinarily.

Cell-surface binding and receptor proteins are areas of key interactions in studying physiological effects, and the COVID-19 pandemic taught many people how important these interactions, sometimes called docking, can be to our health.

The research came from a recent paper published in Cell, which found that killer T cells were only able to eliminate cancerous or infected cells in rats if their LFA-1 proteins had bound with free available magnesium.

In light of their discoveries, the research team from Switzerland looked at past studies of cancer immunotherapies and found that low-magnesium concentrations were strongly linked to a more rapid progression of disease. In addition, they found that influenza and other viruses spread faster in mice that were fed a magnesium deficient diet.

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