Monthly Archives: May 2006

Cancer Survival Data From Multikine to be Presented in May 2006

  • 5/11/2006
  • Vienna, VA
  • press release
  • Yahoo Business News (

CEL-SCI Corporation announces that the results of a long-term survival study of cancer patients treated with CEL-SCI’s drug Multikine® will be presented at a scientific conference during May 2006. Specifically, the data relates to head & neck cancer patients treated with Multikine in a Phase II clinical trial concluded over 3.5 years ago.

Data from the follow-up study indicate that Multikine treatment resulted in a substantial increase in the survival of head & neck cancer patients. In addition, Multikine treatment also improved the local regional control of the patients’ tumors. Improved local regional control of the tumor is considered by many surgeons and oncologists to be an important measurement of the success of a head & neck cancer therapy. Both survival and local regional control of the tumor are stated endpoints in CEL-SCI’s planned Phase III clinical trial.

The Phase II study, which used the same Multikine treatment protocol as proposed for the Phase III trial, included advanced primary head & neck cancer patients who were scheduled for their first cancer treatment. The Multikine treatment was administered for three weeks prior to the standard treatment for head & neck cancer, surgery or surgery plus radiation/chemotherapy. Results from this study were published in a leading cancer publication, the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Timar et al, JCO, 23(15): May 2005).

Head & neck cancer is an aggressive cancer that affects about 500,000 people per annum worldwide. About 92% of those cases are outside of the U.S., and about two thirds of all cases present with advanced disease.

Multikine is a patented immunotherapeutic agent consisting of a mixture of naturally occurring cytokines, including interleukins, interferons, chemokines and colony-stimulating factors, currently being developed for treatment of cancer.

The Company’s lead product Multikine is cleared to enter global Phase III clinical trials in advanced primary head and neck cancer patients (by Canadian Regulators). CEL-SCI’s other products, which are currently in pre-clinical stage and are funded with U.S. government support, have shown protection against a number of diseases in animal tests and are being tested against diseases associated with bio-defense and avian flu.

CEL-SCI Corporation is developing new immune system based treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. The Company has operations in Vienna, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland.

May, 2006|Archive|

MIT Nanoparticles May Help Detect, Treat Tumors

  • 5/10/2006
  • Cambridge, MA
  • press release
  • Biocompare News (

A new technique devised by MIT engineers may one day help physicians detect cancerous tumors during early stages of growth.

The technique allows nanoparticles to group together inside cancerous tumors, creating masses with enough of a magnetic signal to be detectable by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

The work appears as the cover feature in the May issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition, one of the world’s leading chemistry journals.

The research, which is just moving into animal testing, involves injecting nanoparticles (billionths of a meter in size) made of iron oxide into the body, where they flow through the bloodstream and enter tumors.

Solid tumors must form new blood vessels to grow. But because this growth is so rapid in cancerous tumors, there are gaps in the endothelial cells that line the inside of the blood vessels. The nanoparticles can slip through these gaps to enter the tumors.

Once inside the tumor, the nanoparticles can be triggered to group together by a mechanism designed by the MIT engineers. Specifically, certain enzymes, or proteases, inside the tumors cause the nanoparticles to “self-assemble” or stick together. The resulting nanoparticle clumps are too big to get back out of the gaps. Further, the clumps have a stronger magnetic signal than do individual nanoparticles, allowing detection by MRI.

“We inject nanoparticles that will self-assemble when they are exposed to proteases inside of invasive tumors,” said Sangeeta N. Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology (HST) and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). “When they assemble they should get stuck inside the tumor and be more visible on an MRI. This might allow for noninvasive imaging of fast-growing cancer ‘hot spots’ in tumors.” Bhatia also is affiliated with the MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence.

The technique initially is being used to study breast tumors. Bhatia added that it eventually may be applied to many different types of cancers and to study the “triggers” that turn a benign mass in the body into a cancerous tumor. Nanoparticles also hold the promise of carrying medicines that could kill cancer cells, replacing radiation or chemotherapy treatments that cause negative side effects such as hair loss or nausea.

May, 2006|Archive|

Protein expression holds promise for head and neck cancer detection

  • 5/10/2006
  • Augusta, GA
  • Toni Baker
  • Medical College of Georgia (

The blood of patients with head and neck cancer appears to have unique patterns of protein expression that one day could serve as a screening test for the highly aggressive cancer that is often diagnosed too late, researchers say.

Studies comparing protein expression in 78 patients with head and neck cancer to 68 healthy controls revealed numerous differences in protein expression, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.

“We found scores and scores of proteins that were differentially expressed,” says Dr. Christine Gourin, MCG otolaryngologist specializing in head and neck cancer and the study’s lead author. “We found there are at least eight proteins whose expression significantly differs between controls and people with cancer.”

This protein fingerprint correctly classified study participants as cancer patients with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity – 82 percent and 76 percent, respectively, according to research published in the current issue of Archives of Otolaryngology.

“If these results hold up over time, they would suggest that this would be a good screening test for at-risk people,” Dr. Gourin says. “Right now there is no good, effective screening test for head and neck cancer short of physical examination. Unfortunately it takes the development of symptoms to warrant a visit to the doctor, such as a sore throat; ear, tongue or mouth pain; painful eating or swallowing; or a change in the voice. Sometimes the first sign is a lump in the neck which is already a sign of an advanced tumor that has spread to the lymph nodes.”

Belated diagnoses translate to fairly dismal survival rates: less than 50 percent five years following diagnosis of stage three or four tumors, Dr. Gourin says. The rare patient who is diagnosed early faces much better odds: voice box cancer caught in stage one has about a 95 percent five-year survival, for example.

The goal is to screen high-risk populations – those with a history of alcohol and/or tobacco use – as well as those with head- and neck-specific complaints who don’t have those risk factors, says Dr. Gourin. She notes that about 20 percent of head and neck cancer patients have no history of alcohol or tobacco use.

Advanced proteomics technology – which can be applied to many tumor types – enables protein expression to be plotted on graphs that illustrate peaks and valleys. “Sometimes the underexpression of a protein may be significant,” Dr. Gourin says.

The unique patterns surfacing may one day provide more than screening. Study findings indicate the protein fingerprint also is highly successful at classifying specific types of head and neck cancer, correctly classifying 83 percent of oral cavity tumors and 88 percent of laryngeal tumors, as examples, researchers say.

Also, in a small subset of 12 patients, protein expression helped researchers correctly classify how cancers responded to treatment, indicating its effectiveness in long-term follow-up, Dr. Gourin says. “We could easily use this to follow patients for life and detect any recurrence early as well as improve our ability to detect a second primary tumor, which occurs in about 8 percent of people,” she says.

Clinical availability of a screening test for head and neck cancer is still years away, says Dr. Bao-Ling Adam, MCG cancer researcher and study co-author. But the researchers are continuing to make progress, already collecting more patient data to ensure that the patterns they have identified in the blood are effective biomarkers for head and neck cancer. Dr. Gourin is considering opening the study to other medical centers to increase numbers possibly into the thousands.

They also want to know if protein expression patterns found in the blood are expressed by cancer cells themselves, says Dr. Adam, who has begun doing proteomics studies on the cancerous tissue of surgery patients to find out. “What we see in the blood could be from the cancer cells or from the body’s response to cancer,” she says.

If they are the same, the proteins also could yield novel therapeutic agents, Dr. Adam says.

This will help solidify the link between the protein patterns and cancer as well. “For screening you really have to use body fluids: blood, saliva, urine,” says Dr. Adam. “When the normal cell transforms to a cancer cell, we want to see the changes within the cells. When we find the protein differences between cancer cells and normal cells, we can use this information to detect head and neck cancer.”

Interestingly, to date they have not found any proteins expressed by cancer that are not expressed normally; the difference is a matter of degrees of expression, says Dr. Adam, who also is using proteomics to find a better biomarker than prostate specific antigen, or PSA, for prostate cancer.

May, 2006|Archive|

Officials alarmed by smokeless tobacco push

  • 5/9/2006
  • Baxter, AR
  • staff
  • The Baxter Bulletin (

As more and more states and localities move to ban smoking in public places, the major tobacco companies are responding by marketing new smokeless tobacco products.

In the past week, the nation’s two largest tobacco manufacturers, Philip Morris and Reynolds American, each announced the test marketing of smokeless products aimed at smokers who want to quit. Unlike conventional spit tobacco, the new products, named Toboka and Camel Snus, are both designed to be spitless and will be marketed alongside PM’s Marlboro cigarette brand and Reynold’s Camel brand.

Public health advocates greeted the move by the two industry giants with skepticism.

“I think the companies are desperate to try to find a product that reduces (health) risk,” said Greg Connolly, a professor at Harvard University School of Public Health. Connolly said smokeless tobacco poses different health problems from cigarettes, chiefly oral cancer and gum disease. Growing use of such products is “potentially a disaster” for public health, he believes, because it may discourage smokers from quitting.

Taboka carries a surgeon general’s warning that “this product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”

“The warning is well deserved,” said Allen Hundley, program coordinator of Baxter County Tobacco Control Committee. “While it is true you won’t get lung cancer from smokeless tobacco, your risk of oral cancer goes up 11 times compared to someone who does not use it. Unfortunately, oral cancer is rarely caught in time. Half of all people who contract it are dead within five years, and those who do survive are often badly disfigured after a large part of their jaw is removed.”

Taboka comes in two flavors, a fact that alarms tobacco prevention specialists. According to a Harvard University study published in November 2005, “Flavored cigarettes can promote youth initiation and help young occasional smokers to become daily smokers.”

Internal tobacco industry documents show that the companies have long been aware that flavored tobacco products have their greatest appeal among young, new users.

“We’ve made real progress in Arkansas in tobacco prevention,” Hundley said, citing the state’s newly passed ban on indoor smoking in public places. “Now we have to redouble our efforts to educate people, both young and old, about this new threat to their health.”

May, 2006|Archive|

Association between fruit and vegetable consumption and oral cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies

  • 5/9/2006
  • Davis, CA
  • Maria Pavia et al.
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 83, No. 5, 1126-1134, May 2006

Oral cancer ranks as the seventh most common form of cancer worldwide. Recent reports have examined the effect of fruit and vegetable intake on the risk of oral cancer, but results are controversial.

A meta-analysis was performed to arrive at quantitative conclusions about the contribution of fruit and vegetable intakes to the occurrence of oral cancer.

A comprehensive, systematic bibliographic search of medical literature published up to September 2005 was conducted to identify relevant studies. Separate meta-analyses were conducted for fruit and vegetable consumption. The effect of portion or daily intake of fruit or vegetables on the risk of oral cancer was calculated. A multivariate meta-regression analysis was performed to explore heterogeneity. This multivariate meta-regression analysis examined the effect of quality score, the type of cancers included, citrus fruit and green vegetable consumption, and the time interval for dietary recall of the studies on the role of fruit or vegetable consumption in the risk of oral cancer. The presence of publication bias was assessed with a funnel plot for asymmetry.

Sixteen studies (15 case-control studies and 1 cohort study) met the inclusion criteria and were included in the meta-analysis. The combined adjusted odds ratio (OR) estimates showed that each portion of fruit consumed per day significantly reduced the risk of oral cancer by 49% (OR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.40, 0.65). For vegetable consumption, the meta-analysis showed a significant reduction in the overall risk of oral cancer of 50% (OR: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.38, 0.65). The multivariate meta-regression showed that the lower risk of oral cancer associated with fruit consumption was significantly influenced by the type of fruit consumed and by the time interval of dietary recall.

The consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of oral cancer.

Maria Pavia, Claudia Pileggi, Carmelo GA Nobile and Italo F Angelillo

Authors’ affiliations:
From the Department of Hygiene, Medical School, University of Catanzaro “Magna Græcia”, Catanzaro, Italy (MP, CP, and CGAN) and the Department of Public, Clinical and Preventive Medicine, Medical School, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy

May, 2006|Archive|

Wrapping Radiation Around Tumors

  • 5/9/2006
  • Chicago, IL
  • staff
  • WLS-TV (

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 19,000 brain or spinal cord cancers were diagnosed in 2005 in the United States. Radiation is often used to shrink these tumors. With standard radiotherapy, either the whole brain or parts of the brain are radiated. However, more than just the tumor receives that radiation, and healthy tissue is also harmed. Because of this, radiation doses in a single treatment session are kept low to avoid major damage.

Stereotactic radiosurgery devices are becoming more and more popular. This kind of radiotherapy allows higher doses of radiation to be delivered in a single treatment session. Because a high dose is used, it’s vital that the radiation is only directed at the tumor and not healthy tissue. There have been many advances in radiosurgery devices over the last decade and as a result, there are nearly 30,000 radiosurgical procedures performed each year across the world.

Getting Better:
A new system, called Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery, is taking radiosurgery to new heights. Using multi-directional radiation beams, Novalis wraps a three-dimensional volume of radiation dose around tumors. By conforming to the contours of the tumor, the radiation is delivered in high doses to the tumor and avoids healthy brain tissue. The radiation beams are continuously adjusted during the treatment to match the shape of the tumor from numerous angles. This ensures the tumor gets the full prescription dose of radiation, while healthy brain tissue is protected.

Why It’s a Step Above:
Novalis can treat tumors deep within the brain that couldn’t have been treated before as well as treat difficult tumors in the spine. Walter Curran, M.D., from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, says the system can also treat people who have already received what would be considered the standard radiation dose. Because this new technology is so precise, people can be treated with radiation a second time. The system not only treats brain and spinal tumors; it is also being used to treat liver, lung, head and neck, and prostate cancers. Dr. Curran says, “It’s tremendous to offer something like this to people particularly if the other options are limited or are not as desirable. Sparing the adjacent [healthy] tissues really gives us a chance to treat [patients] whom we previously wouldn’t have treated.”

Not Just a Cancer Treatment:
The Novalis radiosurgery system is offering hope to more than just cancer patients. Among the other disease it may help are Parkinson’s disease, trigeminal neuralgia, and intractable seizures. Not all centers that offer Novalis use the system to treat all of these conditions, but some do.

The treatment is generally covered by insurance and is being offered at 36 centers across the United States. To find a center near you, log onto and click on “Novalis Centers”.

May, 2006|Archive|

PET and CT Improve Head and Neck Cancer Targeting

  • 5/8/2006
  • New York, NY
  • David Douglas

F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in combination with computed tomography (CT) offers advantages when planning head and neck cancer radiotherapy, researchers report in the May issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics.

“This study,” lead investigator Dr. Dian Wang told Reuters Health, “has proved that the fusion between diagnostic PET and radiotherapy planning CT is feasible and enhances radiotherapy target definition when compared with CT-based radiotherapy planning.”

“This fusion technology is critical for advanced radiotherapy planning such as intensity modulated radiation treatment — IMRT — for treatment of head and neck cancer in terms of high dose conformality to tumor target and sparing of normal tissue structures from high-dose irradiation.”

Dr. Wang of The Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and colleagues came to this conclusion after a pilot study in which 28 patients with head and neck cancer were evaluated using both techniques. The images were fused and used to generate IMRT plans.

The combination approach led to CT-based staging changes in 16 (57%) of patients. Volume analysis showed that the gross target volumes in the fused images were significantly different from those generated from CT scans alone in 14 of 16 patients.

At a median follow-up of 17 months, 16 patients had no loco-regional recurrence.

“Even though it’s a small sample group,” Dr. Wang added in a statement, “this study shows that fusion of PET/CT with standard CT treatment planning images is not only feasible but can actually improve the precision of radiation treatment planning for head and neck IMRT by allowing more accurate tumor definition.”

“We’re hoping,” Dr. Wang concluded, “that this study will encourage our colleagues to consider the incorporation of PET/CT target definition into IMRT treatment planning for head and neck cancer patients.”

Int J Radiation Oncology Biol Phys 2006;65:143-151.

May, 2006|Archive|

Cancer survivors deal with fears of recurrence

  • 5/7/2006
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Lauri Smith Anderson

Like a demanding houseguest who brought too much luggage and overstayed his welcome, cancer is gladly bid farewell by those patients fortunate enough to hear the word “remission.”

Finally able to call themselves survivors, they eagerly anticipate returning to a normal life. Joy and celebration follow months of recuperation from surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The cancer is gone, eradicated, sent packing his bags of doom and destruction.

But, is it really? Has the door really been bolted?

Doubt and fear, held at bay, begin to creep in as the patient thinks about the other “R” word, “recurrence.” There is always a possibility cancer will come back and that it will be even worse the second-time around.

Cancer inevitably leaves permanent marks on everyone it touches. Some are physical — a body scarred and weakened by the long struggle. Others are mental. When a patient comes to grips with his or her own mortality, life is never the same.

Five years and three months after he was declared in remission from pancreatic cancer, John Wrenn saw his cancer return. “I was considered cured,” he said, though he admitted to having doubts. “I always figured that once you got cancer you had a ‘friend for life’ and that one form or another would appear again.” (After five years of being cancer free, most patients are considered cured.)

Even before the second diagnosis, Wrenn said he was fairly certain his cancer had returned. “I was fatalistic about it.” The recommendation to undergo chemotherapy again was a no brainer, he said. “No treatment, you die. Treatment, you die but not so soon.

“With the new drugs, this could even become a chronic illness rather than a fatal one. But who knows? I think the prognosis is an educated guess. I think it depends as much on attitude, luck and genes, as hard medical evidence.”

More than a year out from finishing treatment for throat cancer, Mike Dunne has had two “false positive” scares after undergoing PET scans.

“I don’t think you can go through the experience of cancer and not worry that it is all gone or it won’t come back. I don’t really dwell on it…but I do get nervous about it when testing comes up,” he said.

The first false positive confirmed “my hidden (and usually suppressed) belief that treatment would work for everyone but me. I am hoping, as years go by, I’ll be more confident that it is not going to come back. I try to feed the faith and starve the fear, which, while small, can yell pretty loudly sometimes.”

My father, who has beaten two different cancers, said he first faced his own mortality during World War II. “There were times that I was terribly afraid and I prayed to God to give me the strength, courage and faith that I needed to get through those bad times and be able to do what was required of me.”

After being declared in remission from esophageal cancer several years ago, Dad said he subsequently hated to shave for fear of finding pathological lymph nodes in his neck. He also dreaded going back for routine blood tests and scans.

“Over time, I’ve come to accept it better with the same attitude that I developed in the war. There’s probably not a day that passes that I don’t think about cancer, but I think it’s unrealistic and unhealthy not to face that.”

Personally, I have yet to hear the word “remission” in my own battle against cancer. But, I have thought about what life beyond might be like, and I am heartened by the courage shown by my friends and family.

I doubt whether my life will ever be the same as it was B.C. (before cancer), but I count my blessings for every precious day I live. I pray for the morning I can awaken, smile and know that cancer has moved out of my life.

May, 2006|Archive|

The link between Natick Labs, cancer and green tea

  • 5/7/2006
  • Milford, MA
  • Jon Brodkin
  • Milford Daily News (

When Natick Labs chemist Ferdinando Bruno began researching potential uses for a component found in green tea, his goal was simple: build an efficient and light plastic battery to power equipment used on the battlefield.

Bruno never dreamed he would instead find a new cancer treatment that may heal patients without the painful side effects associated with most forms of chemotherapy.

His discovery, which is being pursued at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell with collaboration from U.S. Army scientists from Natick Labs, is showing promise in treating colorectal cancer and cancer of the breast, head, and neck.

The treatment, researchers say, is an example of “green chemistry” because it produces none of the toxic waste associated with other chemotherapy drugs.

“It’s very surprising that the drug works on these four diverse cancer types,” said Susan Braunhut, a cancer biologist at UMass-Lowell.

The chemotherapy drug is a long way from the market, as researchers have not yet begun testing it on animals. Tests on human cell lines have shown remarkable effectiveness killing cancer cells while appearing to do no harm to healthy cells, Braunhut said.

The project began around 2000 when Bruno tried to use catechin, a component of green tea, to replace certain parts of disposable batteries.

When used individually, the catechins, or building blocks, are vulnerable and easily degrade, Braunhut said. Bruno, however, joined them together in a novel way, using enzymes, to make them more stable and active.

After the catechins failed to work as a battery component, Bruno took a different tack because a friend told him catechin was known as an anti-cancer agent that lacked efficiency.

Bruno used his novel way of joining catechins together to study its efficiency in killing cancer cells, and got some “OK” results, he said.

The project lapsed until around 2004 when another scientist made a suggestion that unleashed the potential of the treatment. Jayant Kumar, director of UMass-Lowell’s Center for Advanced Materials, suggested adding ethanol, an alcohol, to make the compound more effective. They came up with a 10 percent solution, similar to the alcoholic content of wine.

“Being Italian and a lover of wine, I said, ’Sure, no problem,’” Bruno said. “I did and it worked.”

The ethanol solution, along with a plant-derived enzyme, was the “critical Lego, if you will,” because ethanol has low toxicity and allows the compound to keep its shape intact in the bloodstream, Braunhut said.

Researchers have been intensively studying the potential treatment for a year, and have found it to be effective in “incredibly low doses,” she said. Braunhut said researchers want to begin animal studies in September, and continue those tests for a year or more.

The scientists have filed an application for a patent, and are being funded by the Department of Defense and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Researchers are not yet sure if the drug is capable of killing cancer cells with 100 percent efficiency. But the potential to treat cancer without producing hazardous waste has Braunhut excited.

“What makes this work so exciting is this drug appears to be able to kill a very wide variety of cancer cells,” she said. “I think it has some very important contributions. It will shift the paradigm of drug production by using green chemistry approaches.”

May, 2006|Archive|

Viable Bacteria Present within Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Tissue

  • 5/7/2006
  • Samuel J. Hooper et al.
  • Journal of Clinical Microbiology, May 2006, p. 1719-1725, Vol. 44, No. 5

Despite increasing interest in the possible relationships between bacteria and the different stages of cancer development, the association of bacteria with cancer of the oral cavity has yet to be adequately examined. With that in mind, the primary objective of this study was to identify any bacterial species within oral squamous cell carcinoma tissue using a standard microbiological culture approach.

At the time of surgery, a 1-cm3 portion of tissue was harvested from deep within the tumor mass using a fresh blade for each cut. Whenever possible, “superficial” portions from the mucosa overlying the tumor and nontumorous control specimens from at least 5 cm away from the primary tumor site were also obtained.

Surface contamination was eliminated by immersion in Betadine and washing with phosphate-buffered saline. Each specimen was aseptically macerated and cultured on nonselective media under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Isolates were identified by 16S rRNA gene sequencing.

Twenty deep-tissue specimens, 19 with corresponding superficial tissues and 12 with control tissues, were successfully processed. A diversity of bacterial taxa were isolated and identified, including several putatively novel species. Most isolates were found to be saccharolytic and acid-tolerant species. Notably, some species were isolated only from either the tumorous or nontumorous tissue type, indicating a degree of restriction.

Successful surface decontamination of the specimens indicates that the bacteria detected were from within the tissue. A diversity of bacterial groups have been isolated from within oral squamous cell carcinoma tissue. The significance of these bacteria within the tumor warrants further study.

Samuel J. Hooper,1 St John Crean,2 Michael A. O. Lewis,1 David A. Spratt,3 William G. Wade,4 and Melanie J. Wilson1

Authors’ affiliations:
Department of Oral Surgery, Medicine & Pathology, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4XY, United Kingdom,1 North Glamorgan NHS Trust, Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 9DT, United Kingdom,2 Division of Microbial Diseases, Eastman Dental Institute, UCL, 256 Gray’s Inn Rd., London WC1X 8LD, United Kingdom,3 King’s College London Dental Institute at Guy’s, King’s College and St. Thomas’ Hospitals, Infection Research Group, London SE1 9RT, United Kingdom4

May, 2006|Archive|