Researchers pinpoint a new enemy for tumor-suppressor P53

Source: Author: staff Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have identified a protein that marks the tumor suppressor p53 for destruction, providing a potential new avenue for restoring p53 in cancer cells. The new protein, called Trim24, feeds p53 to a protein-shredding complex known as the proteasome by attaching targeting molecules called ubiquitins to the tumor suppressor, the team reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Early Edition. "Targeting Trim24 may offer a therapeutic approach to restoring p53 and killing tumor cells," said senior author Michelle Barton, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The discovery is based on an unusual approach to studying p53, which normally forces potentially cancerous cells to kill themselves and is shut down or depleted in most human cancers. Studies of the p53 protein and gene tend to focus on cancer cell lines or tumors, where the dysfunction already is established, Barton said. "We wanted to purify p53 from normal cells to better understand the mechanisms that regulate it." The team developed a strain of mice with a biochemical tag attached to every p53 protein expressed. After first assuring that the tagged p53 behaved like normal p53, the team then used the tag, or hook, to extract the protein. "We could then identify proteins that were attached to p53, interacting with it, through mass spectrometry," Barton said. They found Trim24, a protein previously unassociated with p53 that is [...]

U.S. scientists say Lilly Erbitux cancer drug not worth price

Source: Bloomberg Author: Lisa Rapaport Eli Lilly & Co.’s tumor-fighter Erbitux doesn’t prolong lung cancer patients’ lives enough to justify its $80,000 cost, U.S. scientists said in commentary published today. Erbitux added to other cancer drugs extends survival about 1.2 months more than chemotherapy alone, making the price too high for a “marginal benefit,” commentary in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute said. Erbitux, which Lilly markets with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., generated $1.3 billion last year as treatment approved for other malignancies. The high price of some of the newest cancer medicines are coming under scrutiny as part of an effort by lawmakers and health officials to rein in overall medical costs. President Barack Obama has set aside $1.1 billion in the U.S. economic stimulus bill to study the comparative effectiveness of treatments for cancer and other diseases. “We must avoid the temptation to tell a patient that a new drug is available if there is little evidence that it will work better than established drugs that could be offered at a miniscule fraction of the cost,” wrote the commentators, Tito Fojo with the National Cancer Institute and Christine Grady at the National Institutes of Health. Lilly, of Indianapolis, and marketing partner Bristol- Myers, of New York, withdrew an application to extend the Erbitux’s use to lung tumors in February after the Food and Drug Administration questioned differences in American and European versions of the treatment. $10,000 a Month The authors projected that Erbitux costs $80,000 based on a typical course of treatment for lung [...]

2009-06-30T16:01:21-07:00June, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

Oral Cancer Foundation praised for its social media efforts

Source: The Oral Cancer Foundation Author: John Pohl Social Media Guru Cites Organizations Using Social Media for Public Good The Oral Cancer Foundation was recently praised by a leading Internet media website in an article discussing non-profit organizations that are effectively using Internet based social media for the public good.  Mashable, the world’s largest site focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and social media such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, touted the online efforts of several organizations in a recent story entitled, 5 Unique Social Good “Finds”.  Other organizations cited included The National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the ASPCA. Founded in July 2005, Mashable is the most prolific source for information and reviews of new websites and services, publishes breaking news on new web developments, and provides social media resources and guides. Mashable's audience includes early adopters and influencers, social media enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, large and small corporations, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, Web 2.0 aficionados, and technology journalists. “We are flattered that our social media efforts have generated the attention and kind words of such a leading edge organization,” said Brian Hill, Founder and Executive Director of the Oral Cancer Foundation.  “We dedicate a great deal of time and focus to social media, which we believe allows us to connect with younger members of our audience in a way that is richer, more meaningful, and more relevant than we can achieve using more traditional media. This is particularly important to us, as individuals impacted by oral cancers have been [...]

2009-06-30T16:00:34-07:00June, 2009|OCF In The News|

Blueberries: cancer-fighting flowers in disguise

Source: Author: Julie LeBlanc                                                         I can’t say I’ve been one for gardening. Or just liking plants, in general, for that matter. I’m the person that killed two rose bushes within two weeks while living in the school dormitories last year. It’s things like this that make you contemplate becoming a super-villain. Even I was amazed to find out that blueberries are not, in fact, berries at all. They’re not even fruit. claims they are “epigynous fruits” which, aside from having a name that could tongue-tie Mr. Ed, means that they are actually flowers. Tiny, blue, delicious flowers that go fabulously with vanilla ice cream. Instead of parts like the stamen and petals falling off when the bud is ready to ripen, these organs stay attached and actually form alongside the plant ovary to create these little “false fruits.” Other veggies in this genre of plants include cucumbers, melons, bananas and figs. Sneaky little buggers. “The health properties of blueberries” or “Why you need another reason to eat these for dessert”: Containing only about 40 calories in ½ a cup, blueberries have ascended to the superfood pantheon which includes, among other things, açai berries, red wine and plums. Like their cancer-fighting counterparts, blueberries contain high levels of anthocyanins and antioxidants, two phytonutrients which amp up the body’s immune system and to detoxify harmful chemicals. Some species even contain reservatrol, another phytonutrient that aids in fighting cancer and Alzheimer’s.  Red grapes and red wines are well-known for containing high [...]

Cancer researchers “play it safe” due to grant system

Source: NYTimes Author: Gina Kolata Among the recent research grants awarded by the National Cancer Institute is one for a study asking whether people who are especially responsive to good-tasting food have the most difficulty staying on adiet. Another study will assess a Web-based program that encourages families to choose more healthful foods. Many other grants involve biological research unlikely to break new ground. For example, one project asks whether a laboratory discovery involving colon cancer also applies to breast cancer. But even if it does apply, there is no treatment yet that exploits it. The cancer institute has spent $105 billion since PresidentRichard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. TheAmerican Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946. Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began. One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer. “These grants are not silly, but they are only likely to produce incremental progress,” said Dr. Robert C. Young, chancellor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and chairman of the Board of Scientific Advisors, an independent group that makes recommendations to the cancer institute. The [...]

2009-06-30T04:29:16-07:00June, 2009|Oral Cancer News|

New cancer treatment shows promise in testing

Source: Author: Nicholas Wade A new method of attacking cancer cells, developed by researchers in Australia, has proved surprisingly effective in animal tests. The method is intended to sidestep two major drawbacks of standard chemotherapy: the treatment’s lack of specificity and the fact that cancer cells often develop resistance. In one striking use of the method, reported online Sunday in Nature Biotechnology, mice were implanted with a human uterine tumor that was highly aggressive and resistant to many drugs. All of the treated animals were free of tumor cells after 70 days of treatment; the untreated mice were dead after a month. The lead researchers, Jennifer A. MacDiarmid and Himanshu Brahmbhatt, say their company, EnGeneIC of suburban Sydney, has achieved a similar outcome in dogs with advanced brain cancer. “We have been treating more than 20 dogs and have spectacular results,” Dr. Brahmbhatt said. “Pretty much every dog has responded and some are in remission.” These experiments have not yet been published. Cancer experts who were not involved with the research say that the new method is of great interest, but that many treatments that work well in laboratory mice turn out to be ineffective in patients. Bert Vogelstein, a leading cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins University, called the method “a creative and promising line of research,” but noted the general odds against success. “Unfortunately our track record shows that far less than 1 percent of our promising approaches actually make the grade in patients,” he said. The EnGeneIC [...]

Oral health suffers in down economy

Source: Author: Katie Anderson As layoffs and furlough days continue to eat away at pocket books, local dentists say they’ve noticed a decrease in the area’s appetite for oral health care. Dental health care experts are concerned. “I think a lot of preventative care has become affected by people’s economic situations,” said Randall Lawson, a doctor of dental surgery and owner of College Avenue Dental in Jacksonville. “I have two hygienists that do preventive care, cleanings, et cetera, and they have seemed to become less busy as of late.” He said although the summer time is busier due to children being out of school, his office has seen more cancellations than usual. William Weller, a doctor of dental surgery with an office on West Lafayette Avenue, has seen a similar trend at his practice. “Whenever we have a downturn or anything like this there are several things that happen,” Dr. Weller said. “Probably the most significant is people looking for ways to cut corners — looking to delay or postpone their six-month checkups. It’s kind of unfortunate because yes, they’ll save 100 bucks on a checkup but they’ll pay later.” Dr. Weller said the people he and his fellow dentists treat in the area, for the most part, “are really honest people.” “If they don’t have the money they don’t want to come in and incur a debt,” he explained. “Which is laudable to some degree, but something that we worry about.” They worry for many reasons. One, most [...]

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s research efforts highlighted at annual cancer conference

Source: Author: Dagny Stuart A new drug which targets a genetic mutation found in more than 50 percent of melanoma cases, 10 percent to 15 percent of colorectal tumors and 8 percent of other solid tumors, caused tumor shrinkage and extended progression-free survival among patients during a recent Phase 1 clinical trial. Igor Puzanov, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, and Jeffrey Sosman, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, led Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's participation in the multi-center study. Puzanov delivered the initial findings during a poster session at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Orlando, Fla. Puzanov and Sosman were among nearly a dozen VICC cancer investigators who were invited to give oral or poster presentations on their latest research findings during the ASCO conference. PLX4032 is a novel, highly selective drug that targets the BRAFV600E cancer-causing genetic mutation. In addition to tumor shrinkage and delay in tumor progression, some patients reported clinical improvement in symptoms. “The BRAFV600E mutation activates the MAP kinase signaling pathway, causing cells to proliferate. One of the hallmarks of cancer is this uncontrolled, unregulated cell proliferation,” said Puzanov. “The new drug is a very selective inhibitor which appears to target only this mutation, and it blocks the unregulated cell growth and causes cell death.” In patients without the mutation, no clinical response to treatment was observed and progression-free survival was less than two months, consistent with historical data. “This is personalized medicine at its best,” said Sosman. “If continued trials confirm [...]

Zila enters into merger agreement with Tolmar

Source: Author: press release Zila, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Tolmar Holding, Inc., a privately held, pharmaceutical research, development, manufacturing and commercial operations company. Under terms of the agreement, Tolmar will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Zila for a cash purchase price of $0.38 per share, representing an approximate premium of 18% over the closing price of Zila’s shares on June 24, 2009. Total consideration paid by Tolmar includes the purchase of Zila’s existing $12 million senior secured convertible debt at a discount. The proposed merger transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Zila’s stockholders, but is not subject to any financing contingency. David Bethune, Zila’s chairman and CEO, stated, “We are fortunate to have entered into this merger agreement with Tolmar, given Zila’s current financial condition and our inability to access the financial markets. The Board of Directors conducted a substantial and exhaustive review of Zila’s available alternatives, before concluding that this transaction was fair to and in the best interest of the company and its stockholders. I am gratified that we have found a way to both satisfy our debt obligations and provide value for our shareholders. This merger will provide the resources and platform for Zila’s dedicated employees to realize the true worldwide potential of Zila’s oral cancer screening and periodontal products." About Zila, Inc. Zila, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a diagnostic company dedicated to the prevention, detection and treatment of [...]

Detecting subtle changes in cancer cells with nanofluidic biopsy

Source: Author: staff By taking two standard laboratory techniques—capillary electrophoresis and antibody-based protein detection—and shrinking them to the nanoscale, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have created a new method for detecting miniscule changes in the levels of proteins associated with cancer. In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, the investigators used their new device to analyze whether individual cancer-associated proteins were present in the tiny samples and even whether modifications of the proteins varied in response to cancer treatments. Although the study focuses on blood cancers, the hope is that the technique also might provide a faster, less invasive way to track solid tumors. “Currently, we don’t know what’s going on in a patient’s tumor cells when a treatment is given,” said Alice C. Fan, M.D., who along with Dean W. Felsher, M.D., headed the team that developed this nanofluidic proteomic immunoassay (NIA) system. “The standard way we measure whether a treatment is working is to wait several weeks to see if the tumor mass shrinks. It would be a leap forward if we could detect what is happening at a cellular level.” Dr. Felsher, who is a member of the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Focused on Therapy Response based at Stanford University, added, “This technology allows us to analyze cancer-associated proteins on a very small scale. “Not only can we detect picogram levels—one-trillionth of a gram—of protein, but we also can see very subtle changes in the ways the protein is modified.” [...]

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