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CANCER BREAKTHROUGHS (September 1998)

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  • Janice and Ben Haines
    ======================== CANCER BREAKTHROUGHS ======================== Compiled by the NHL-low mailing list team. A mailing list for people with
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 1998
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      ========================
      "CANCER BREAKTHROUGHS"
      ========================

      Compiled by the NHL-low mailing list team. A mailing list for people
      with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, low grade. This post is to help
      keep track of recent more general 'Cancer Breakthroughs.'

      ======================
      Last updated: September 07, 1998
      ======================

      For past posts and how to join:
      http://www.findmail.com/listsaver/nhl-low/

      Regards,
      -Ben Haines (KIA)
      listowner, NHL-low
      ---------------------

      SECTIONS:

      A) GENERAL

      B) BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS

      * - denotes recently added/updated

      ===================
      A)GENERAL
      ===================

      NEW PILL EYED AS CURE F0R CANCER
      --------------------------------------------------------------
      - The long, frustrating race to find a cancer cure may all
      come down to a little miracle pill.
      - The anti-cancer pill - with a billion-dollar market
      potential - could hit drugstore shelves in less than five
      years.
      - The race for the cure - dubbed the "ras race" - went
      into high gear about 10 years ago, when researchers
      discovered that there might be a way to block the
      action of a mutated gene called a ras.

      CANCER DRUG IN GEL FOUND EFFECTIVE
      ------------------------------------------------------------------
      NEWPORT BEACH -- Scientists have wiped out
      hard-to-treat tumors by using a cancer drug trapped in
      a mixture as thick as honey.
      - The syrupy liquid kept the drug working in the tumor
      instead of leaking away.
      - So far, the strategy has worked mostly with tumors in
      the mouth and throat, but it might also work against
      cancers in the liver and recurrences of breast tumors,
      said researcher Harinder Garewal of the Arizona
      Cancer Center in Tuscon.
      - The idea is that when this mixture is injected into a
      tumor, the epinephrine restricts blood flow out of the
      tumor and the honelike gel -- which is made mostly of
      cow collagen -- holds onto the cisplatin. As the gel
      breaks down, the cisplatin slowly leaks out, remaining
      highly concentrated in the tumor.

      AMDL CANCER SCREENING TEST KIT DETERMINED USEFUL,
      RELIABLE IN DETECTING CANCER; CLINICAL TRIALS IN CHINA
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      TUSTIN, Calif., March 30 (1998)/PRNewswire/ -- Scientists
      who conducted a clinical trial in China utilizing AMDL, Inc.'s (OTC
      Bulletin Board: AMDD - news) proprietary
      DR-70(TM) immunoassay kit determined it is capable
      of detecting 13 different cancers ``with a high degree of
      specificity and sensitivity.''

      - ``The results also suggest that this assay may be useful
      for cancer screening in, for example, the annual physical
      check-up.'' The scientists report the results in the new
      edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Immunoassay.
      - The Chinese scientists report that ``the results of our
      study confirmed earlier observations that the
      DR-70(TM) immunoassay can indeed detect a
      number of cancers. These included cancers of the lung,
      breast, stomach, rectum, colon, liver, ovary, esophagus,
      uterus, thyroid, malignant lymphoma, pancreas and
      trophoblast.

      CHEMO DRUGS GENERAL
      -----------------------------------------
      - Drugs that counteract drug resistance after chemotherapy is used such
      as PSC 833
      - Drugs that allow for much more massive amounts of chemo to be used
      such as G3139

      ANTI-ANGIOGENESIS THERAPY and ENDOSTATIN
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      - Anti-angiogenesis therapy is based on the deceptively simple idea
      that tumors might be defeated - starved to death - if their blood
      supply can be blocked.
      - By starving tumours of blood, scientists
      may have found a way to defeat cancer's
      deadly ability to resist and evade the
      drugs launched against it.
      - ``It's a breakthrough,'' Dr. Bob Kerbel,
      director of cancer biology research at
      Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, said
      yesterday. ``Here, for the first time, may
      be a way of getting around drug
      resistance, which seemed an invincible and
      inevitable property of malignant
      tumours.''
      - Boston researchers have found that cancers
      in mice shrink and become dormant when
      treated with endostatin, a powerful new
      drug targeting the blood vessels used by
      tumours to keep themselves supplied with
      nutrients.
      MAY 1998 UPDATE: Due to all the recent attention on angiogenesis inhibitors
      please see "ANTI-ANGIOGENESIS DRUGS" posts in the findmail archives.

      MULTIPLE DRUG RESISTANCE
      -----------------------------------------------
      - "One of the major difficulties of treating diseases such
      as cancers and infections is the development of
      resistance to multiple drugs," stated Dr. Goldenberg.
      "For example, treatment of cancer with doxorubicin
      can induce the P-glycoprotein which pumps the drug
      from the cancer cells, preventing the drug from
      reaching levels that kill the cancer. Unfortunately, this
      protein is also able to pump many other drugs out of
      the cancer cells, such as drugs which have structures
      and mechanisms of action different from those of
      doxorubicin."
      -----------------------------------------------------------------

      TUMOR NECROSIS FACTOR (TNF)
      ----------------------------------------------------
      - The TNF inhibitor is thought to mask the tumor
      cells from the immune system. Once removed, the
      bodies own TNF (tumor necrosis factor) becomes effective
      in fighting the cancer.

      TELOMERESE/TELOMERASE
      ---------------------------------------------
      - Activation of telomerase seems to be a prerequisite
      for immortalization and is found in permanent cell lines
      and most malignant tumors.
      - The strongest telomerase expressionhas been shown in acute
      leukemias and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, especially high grade cases
      - Recently, telomerase activity has been observed in
      human bone marrow (BM) and peripheral blood
      (PB) samples.
      - It is particularly important in blood cells in bone marrow
      and the spleen and in the reproductive system, and could be a
      potential target for the next generation of cancer drugs.
      - Telomerase is found in 85 percent of cancer cells.
      Scientists believe it is one component that allows cancer
      cells to reproduce uncontrollably.

      GLUCOSE DEPRIVATION
      --------------------------------------
      - Johns Hopkins researchers have found evidence that
      some cancer cells are such incredible sugar junkies
      that they'll self-destruct when deprived of glucose,
      their biological sweet of choice.
      - Scientists have long suspected that the cancer cell's
      heavy reliance on glucose, its main source of strength
      and vitality, also could be one of its great
      weaknesses, and Dang's new results are among the
      most direct proofs yet of the idea.

      VARIAGENIC TARGETING
      ---------------------------------------
      - Variagenic Targeting(TM), an enabling technology for the discovery
      of novel anti-cancer therapeutics through pharmacogenomics. The patent
      encompasses a broad approach for selectively killing cancer cells by
      targeting drugs to normal variances in genes that are essential for cell
      viability and proliferation.

      "MAXAMINE THERAPY"
      -----------------------------------
      - Maxim's lead drug, "Maxamine," is designed to offer a safer
      treatment that extends life for seriously ill patients. In
      many patients with chronic infectious diseases and
      cancer, the capacity of the patient's immune system to
      detect and destroy diseased cells is compromised.
      - "Maxamine Therapy" combines the administration of
      "Maxamine," which protects critical immune cells,
      with the administration of certain agents, including
      interferons, which stimulate these immune cells. This
      method of action is based on a natural defense system
      and allows "Maxamine Therapy" to improve the
      immune system's ability to identify, disable and
      destroy malignant or infected cells.
      - "Maxamine Therapy" is based on research carried out by its
      founding scientists from the University of Goteborg,
      Sweden. Research has shown that free oxygen
      radicals have the potential to inhibit the stimulation or
      activation of Natural Killer-cells (NK-cells) and
      T-cells by cytokines such as interferons and
      interleukins.

      INCREASING THE EFFICACY OF CHEMOTHERAPY
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Researchers say antisense DNA may increase the
      efficacy of chemotherapy drugs, and help shrink or
      eliminate tumors in mice that are derived from human
      melanoma cells. Researchers used the single strand of
      genetic material that can bind to and effectively "cancel
      out" production of certain targeted proteins (antisense
      DNA) by directing it at a molecule that helps cancer
      cells avoid apoptosis and found that the treatment
      increased the efficacy of the chemotherapy drug
      dacarbazine by causing tumors to disappear completely
      in three out of six animals. Apoptosis is the cell-suicide
      program that normally keeps cells from growing out of
      control and many chemotherapy drugs work by
      inducing this process. Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria
      worked in collaboration with San Diego-based Genta
      Inc. and the University Hospital in Leiden, The
      Netherlands. Researchers say the therapy may work
      for other types of cancers including breast, lung, gastric,
      colorectal and prostate. Reported in the journal Nature Medicine
      (1998;4:232-234)

      BOOSTING DRUGS' ABILITY TO FIGHT CANCER
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      - Researchers report a discovery that may
      make cancer cells less resistant to a variety of
      anti-cancer drugs.
      - ...the research is a big step toward eliminating multi-drug
      resistance a major stumbling block in the war against cancer.
      - Lead study author Dr. Leonard Rome says: ``We now
      fully understand a basic strategy that cells use to become
      reistant to drugs. This could lead to the development of new and more
      effective cancer treatments.''

      MECHANISM BY WHICH CANCER CELLS INVADE BONE
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Researchers say they have determined how cancer cells
      invade bone. Researchers at the University of Michigan
      in Ann Arbor say some cancer cells invasion of bone
      begins when they attach to the lining of blood vessels
      that supply bone marrow and that "...there is a specific
      receptor-ligand interaction that mediates the docking
      of prostate tumor cells to bone marrow endothelial cells.
      " The researchers studied the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels
      supplying bone marrow, watching how normal cells and cancer
      cells tried to bind to them and found that prostate
      cancer cells have a propensity to establish themselves in bone and a
      preferential adhesion to bone marrow endothelial cells.
      The scientists claim to have found several molecules
      and antibodies that hinder cancer cells from adhering to
      bone in lab cultures but have not determined if the
      compounds would work in humans. Reported in the
      Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1998;90:84-5,
      118-23)

      ANTI-CANCER EFFECTS OF SOY COMPOUND
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      A recent report suggests a mechanism by which soy-based foods may
      protect against cancer. Researchers at the University of Southern
      California in Los Angeles say genistein, a compound in soy, has been
      shown in laboratory tests to suppress the production of stress proteins in
      cells, which are known to help cancer cells survive attacks by the
      immune system. Authors note that, while the results of the study are
      promising, more study is needed to determine what the effects of
      genistein may have on the incidence rate of cancer in the human body. The
      report is in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1998;90:381-388).

      USING THE 'COMMON COLD' (ADENOVIRUS) TO FIGHT CANCER
      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      - A novel form of cancer treatment, based on recent discoveries about the
      inner working of tumor cells, has shown impressive results with a small
      group of patients with advanced head and neck cancers.
      - The agent of treatment is a genetically altered adenovirus, one of the
      viruses that cause the common cold.
      - Of the other 8 patients, one had a 40 percent shrinkage of the tumor, and
      seven had reductions of between 50 percent and 95 percent.
      - With the chemotherapy agents alone, 35 percent of head and neck cancer
      patients have a significant response, meaning their tumors shrink by half
      or more, compared with the 90 percent response rate seen so far in the
      new study.

      COLD VIRUS + HERPES GENE
      ------------------------------------
      At Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, researchers inserted a herpes
      gene into a cold virus, then injected the virus into men's cancerous
      prostate glands. The virus infects the cancer cells and carries in the
      herpes gene. This allowed the tumor to be killed with a standard herpes
      drug. While this can be done safely, it's too soon to know if it will wipe out
      the cancer completely

      ASPIRIN and COLON CANCER
      ---------------------------------------------
      WASHINGTON, May 29 (Reuters) - Aspirin may ``starve'' out colon cancer
      in much the same way as highly publicized experimental drugs cut off the
      blood supply to tumors in mice, researchers said on Friday.
      - ``There have been several clinical studies now, about 25, that show
      about a 50 percent reduction in risk for colon cancer in patients that take
      aspirin,'' DuBois said in a telephone interview.

      CHOLESTEROL and CANCER
      --------------------------------------------
      - CONCLUSIONS: The cholesterol, its fractions and the apolipoproteins
      determinations might be considered as a biochemical marker while
      diagnostic is being made, since they are known to play an important role
      in the tumoral cell metabolism.
      -The possibility that hypercholesterolemia (HC) drugs can induce
      a reduction of tumor-cell growth makes them potentially useful as an
      adjuvant to chemotherapy and ultimately increases the probabilities in
      the prevention and treatment of cancer.

      NEW METHOD OF DETECTING DAMAGED DNA WINS 'WOWS!'
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      - An extraordinarily sensitive tool for detecting damaged DNA is being
      hailed as a breakthrough in the understanding of how the body responds
      to genetic injury.
      - As reported in the May 15(1998) issue of Science magazine, the
      University of Alberta scientists' ultra-sensitive technique is 10,000 to
      100,000 times more powerful than current methods of measuring DNA
      damage.

      FROM CHAOS, A DEADLY NEW ORDER: SEATTLE SCIENTISTS FIND
      EVIDENCE THAT DNA IS RESHAPED ON THE PATH TO CANCER
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Cells become cancerous after their DNA plunges into chaos, according to a
      study published in the June 23rd (1998) issue of the Proceedings of the
      National Academy of Sciences. Before the cancer metastasizes to distant
      sites, the DNA mutates into new, stable forms. This unprecedented picture
      of carcinogenesis stems from research done by Dr. Donald Malins and
      colleagues at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute in Seattle.
      Malins' group has used infrared spectroscopy to study DNA from the
      normal and cancerous human breast, prostate and ovary, plus DNA from
      the livers of bottomfish living in polluted and clean sediments.

      EXCESS THIAMINE MAY HELP TUMOR GROWTH RESEARCH SHOWS
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Vitamin B1, which is usually given in excess to many
      cancer patients, should be carefully regulated in people undergoing cancer
      therapy, new research shows.

      -The findings reveal a long overlooked link between vitamin B1 -- also
      known as thiamine -- and tumor-cell growth. The results suggest that too
      much thiamine may actually help tumors grow. They also suggest that
      rational use of dietary thiamine may help slow tumor growth.

      NEW ANTI-CANCER GENE THERAPY
      ---------------------------------------------------------
      Researchers have reported promising results of trials of a new form of
      anti-cancer gene therapy, which uses a protein from the herpes simplex
      virus to deliver anti-tumor therapy to cancer cells. Researchers at
      Britain's Marie Curie Research Institute say the herpes virus protein VP22
      has been shown effective, in laboratory trials, in carrying the anti-cancer
      gene p53 into cancer cells, prompting apoptosis (cell death). Authors
      suggest that the findings may have clinical implications in both cell
      biology and medicine. The findings are in the journal Nature Biotechnology
      (1998;16:418-420).

      IDENTIFICATION OF POSSIBLE ANTI-CANCER GENE
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Researchers have reported the identification of a gene that may play
      a role in cancer suppression.
      - researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say the
      gene, dubbed p40, resembles the p53 gene, which is known to
      play a role in cancer suppression.
      - the report notes that p40 has been found to bind to some of the same
      sites as p53, leading researchers to suggest that the gene may trigger
      anti-cancer processes similar to those triggered by p53.
      - the findings are in the journal Nature Medicine (1998;4:839-843).

      SHARK LIVER-DERIVED SUBSTANCE SHOWS ANTI-CANCER PROPERTIES
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      A new report suggests that a substance derived from shark livers may
      prove to be an effective anti-cancer treatment.
      - researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the substance, known as
      squalamine, appears to act by inhibiting angiogenesis (blood vessel
      growth) in and around tumors.
      - researchers tested squalamine in rats with small tumors and found that,
      after 25 days, tumors in those animals treated with the
      sqalamine were significantly smaller and weighed less than tumors in
      untreated rats.
      - authors note that the results seen in tests of squalamine were similar to
      those seen in rats treated with standard anti-cancer drugs.
      - the report is in the journal Cancer Research (July 1, 1998).

      MedBriefs (INC inc.) 7/1/98

      *CANCER SONICS REVEALS NEW TECHNOLOGY
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------
      TEL AVIV, Israel, June 23 (1998) /PRNewswire/ -- The principle behind the
      phenomenon of an opera singer shattering a glass with a piercing
      high-pitched note could be the basis for a new cancer treatment being
      developed by researchers in Israel.
      The researchers propose to use ultrasound waves at very high frequencies
      to shatter cancer cells without damaging surrounding healthy cells. The idea
      of using ultrasound energy to break down structures is already used to treat
      kidney stones.

      *CLONING MIGHT CURE CANCER, GROW ORGANS
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The technology used to make three
      generations of cloned mice might lead to a cure for cancer, make
      possible organ farms for transplants and offer new ways to make
      valuable drugs, scientists say.
      Some of the world's top experts on cloning, including the
      researchers who cloned more than 50 mice using a new technique,
      gathered Wednesday to explain the possibilities the technology
      offers.

      *NEW GENE FOUND THAT MIGHT PREVENT CANCER (ARF)
      --- Release at 5 p.m. EDT (August 7, 1998)
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----------------
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cells have a genetic circuit breaker
      that helps stop cancer -- one that might be copied by drug companies
      making cancer drugs, researchers said Thursday.
      When the gene, known as ``arf,'' goes wrong, the circuit breaker
      stops working and cells can start multiplying out of control and become a
      tumor, Charles Sherr and colleagues at St. Jude's Children's Research
      Hospital in Memphis reported.

      *LINK BETWEEN CANCER AND DNA DAMAGE FOUND BY CANADIANS
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------------------------------
      CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Some cancers could be caused by
      a cell's inability to produce a tumor-suppressing protein after
      the cell's DNA has been damaged, according to research released
      by Canadian scientists Wednesday.
      Scientists have known for some time that normal cells
      activate a tumor-suppressing protein called p53 when their DNA
      has been damaged.
      However, inexplicably, some damaged DNA cells fail to
      activate the p53 protein, which can potentially lead to
      uncontrolled cell growth and, then, cancer.
      Scientists were missing the link between the cell damage and
      when the p53 springs into action. That link turns out to be a
      protein called DNA-PK.
      <snip>
      The importance of the discovery is really twofold, as it
      shows that both p53 and DNA-PK must work properly to protect
      cells whose DNA has been damaged. If one of the two is
      defective, the damaged cell may become cancerous.
      In animals, a defect in DNA-PK has been associated with
      lymphomas.

      ====================================
      B) BONE MARROW TRANSPLANTS
      ====================================

      NEW TECHNIQUE INCREASES SUCCESS OF BONE MARROW
      TRANSPLANTS
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
      -... there are some major obstacles -- it's very difficult to find a
      well-matched donor, and, even when one is found, the transplant
      more often than not doesn't work.
      - But at a meeting this week (FEB 1998) of the American Association for
      the Advancement of Science, Dr. Suzanne Ilstad of the Allegheny
      University of the Health Sciences in Philadelphia unveiled a new
      advance in bone marrow transplantation that may solve both of those
      problems.
      - Ilstad has come up with a new technique for performing transplants.
      It has been tried in 25 patients -- and all of them had a successful
      transplant. That compares with a 30 percent success rate using the
      traditional transplant technique.
      - "We have been able to identify a way to engineer a bone marrow
      transplant to take out all the bad cells that cause graft-versus-host
      disease," said Ilstad.

      ELIMINATATION OF CANCER CELLS IN THE MARROW
      -------------------------------------------
      - The invention is the subject of patent claims which have been
      allowed. Marrow may be removed from patients undergoing
      radiation or chemotherapy and transplanted back into the patient.
      - The invention discloses the use of shiga- like toxin 1 (SLT-1), a
      bacterial toxin, as an agent to selectively kill cancer cells in the
      patient's bone marrow without harming the essential marrow cells
      which allow regeneration of marrow's capacity for forming blood
      cells.
      - Elimination of cancer cells in the marrow is expected to result in
      improved clinical outcomes for these patients.

      APHERISIS
      -----------------
      - In the phase I trials, the prototype apheresis machines were only
      able to get the TNF Inhibitor level to within normal range in about
      50% of the patients.
      - Dr. Lent's technique is based instead on passing the blood through
      .3 micron filters which remove the TNF inhibitor cells but leave
      the antibodies and killer cells. The TNF inhibitor is thought to
      mask the tumor cells from the immune system. Once removed, the
      bodies own TNF (tumor necrosis factor) becomes effective in
      fighting the cancer.

      CORD BLOOD
      ---------------------
      - Stem cells produce blood cells that fight infection, carry
      oxygen and promote healing. The blood in
      the umbilical cord connecting a newborn baby with its
      mother has been proven to be a rich source of stem cells.

      NEW ADVANCES: CellPro CEPRATE
      -------------------------------------------------------
      - CEPRATE(R) B-Cell Depletion System.
      CellPro technology will be used to first
      deplete B cells from the apheresis product of patients with
      relapsed non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, then the B-cell depleted
      product will be further processed using CellPro's
      CEPRATE(R) SC System to enrich and concentrate the stem cells.
      The CEPRATE(R) SC System is also being used to
      deplete T cells from stem cell products used to repopulate
      the marrow of patients receiving marrow-killing chemotherapy to treat
      certain autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid
      arthritis and lupus.
      - The CEPRATE(R) SC System is being used in numerous additional
      clinical trials, including applications in allogeneic matched- and
      mismatched-donor trials to treat leukemias
      and various gene therapy trials.

      THERMOGENESIS CORP: METHOD of CONCENTRATION and
      CRYOPRESERVATION of STEM CELL
      ----------------------------------------------------------------
      -These life-saving cells are used to reconstitute the hematopoietic and
      immune system of patients who have undergone high-dose chemotherapy
      and radiation to combat such diseases as leukemias, lymphomas, diverse
      inherited anemias, and hypoproliferative stem cell disorders.
      - The proprietary stem cell processing technology has been incorporated
      into sterile disposable bag sets which allow blood bank personnel to
      accomplish the routine, aseptic processing of stem cells while retaining
      greater than 90% cell viability at time of transplantation.
      - The cryoprotected stem cell donations are contained in a unique freezing
      bag which is intended to be frozen and archived in THERMOGENESIS'
      proprietary BioArchive(TM) System

      NEW REVOLUTIONARY TRANSPLANT LESS TOXIC TO THE IMMUNE
      SYSTEM
      --------------------------------
      -A Canadian scientist who has been treating patients suffering
      from blood-based cancers with a revolutionary new therapy
      involving bone marrow says she is very excited by the results so far.
      -The treatment is ``radically different,'' said Dr. Megan Sykes, formerly of
      Toronto but now an associate professor at Harvard University in Boston,
      after making a presentation at a conference on transplant medicine.
      -.. preliminary clinical trial results among 15 patients at Massachusetts
      General Hospital with non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, all of whom had
      experienced relapses of their disease despite many bouts of
      chemotherapy and radiation, have been ``extremely encouraging'' to date,
      she said.
      -The theory behind the treatment of the 15 patients is based on a scientific
      concept called ``mixed chimerism.'' As applied to bone marrow
      transplants, ``mixed chimerism'' means that two types of
      human marrow are induced to co-exist within the recipient, a state ``that
      can quite reliably be achieved without any of the traditional toxic
      treatments that are required for a conventional bone marrow transplant,''
      Sykes said.
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