Pitt researchers receive patent for new head and neck cancer treatment

Source: www.healthcanal.com Author: staff Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have been awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the development of a new DNA therapy for head and neck cancers. The therapy targets the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein found on the surface of many types of cancer cells that causes them to multiply. Standard treatments for head and neck cancers often are ineffective and tend to have debilitating side effects, explained Jennifer R. Grandis, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology at Pitt and director of the Head and Neck Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). “We set out to develop an alternative approach that is safe and effective for these cancers,” she said. The new treatment is based on a form of genetic therapy called “antisense,” or AS, in which a synthesized strand of DNA or RNA targets the EGFR genes within a head and neck tumor. The therapy blocks the production of a protein produced by the gene. According to Dr. Grandis, expectations were exceeded in a phase I study of the therapy that was designed primarily to determine the safety and potential toxicity of EGFR AS injections in patients with advanced head and neck cancers. “Not only were the AS injections well-tolerated, but tumors disappeared or shrank considerably in 29 percent of the patients,” said Dr. Grandis. “These results show that EGFR AS therapy has great potential as a safe, effective treatment.” A phase [...]

Photodynamic therapy linked to oral cancer benefit

Source: www.modernmedicine.com Author: staff Photodynamic therapy (PDT) appears useful in treating early-stage cancer of the mouth or oropharynx, either as a primary treatment or as an addition to unsuccessful surgery or radiation, according to research published in the January issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Vanessa Gayl Schweitzer, M.D., and Melissa L. Somers, M.D., of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, discuss the outcomes of 30 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, stage Tis-T2N0M0, in the mouth or oropharynx. Most had undergone prior surgery or radiation, in combination or alone. All received intravenous porfimer sodium followed by photoactivation. Over an average follow-up of two years, the researchers found that 80 percent had complete remission. Twenty percent of patients were partial responders and had recurrences at points ranging from three to 26 months. Five patients -- four of whom were among the complete responders -- developed new primary head and neck tumors. "PDT is a promising additional local surgical oncologic modality for primary treatment of selective superficial carcinomas of the oral cavity and oropharynx with low risk for nodal metastases," the authors conclude. "The development of new and more tumor-specific photosensitizing agents with longer wave-length activation and deeper tissue penetration with shorter skin photosensitivity post-drug administration will expand the application of PDT for the treatment of superficial head and neck cancers."

Drinkers underestimate harm from alcohol

Source: www.onmedica.com Author: OnMedica staff More than half (55%) of people in England who drink alcohol wrongly believe that alcohol only damages your health if you regularly get drunk or binge drink, a poll by YouGov has shown. YouGov questioned more than 2,000 adults and found that 83% of those who regularly drink more than the NHS recommended limits – 2-3 units a day for women and 3-4 units a day for men – don’t realise that their drinking is risking their long-term health. An estimated 10 million adults in England are drinking above the recommended limits, so about 8.3 million people are potentially unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing. Although 86% of drinkers surveyed said they knew that drinking alcohol is related to liver disease, far fewer realised it is also linked with breast cancer (7%), throat cancer (25%), mouth cancer (28%), stroke (37%) and heart disease (56%), along with other serious conditions. The government has funded a £6 million campaign, backed by charities Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and the Stroke Association, to warn drinkers of the unseen health damage caused by regularly drinking more than the NHS advises. Billboard, press and TV adverts will show drinkers the damage that is being done to their organs while they are drinking, whether in a pub or at home. More than 9,000 people in the UK die from alcohol-related causes each year. The World Health Organisation estimates that 20% of alcohol-related deaths are from cancer, [...]

Serum prognostic markers in head and neck cancer

Source: Clincancerres François Meyer1, Élodie Samson1,2, Pierre Douville1, Thierry Duchesne2, Geoffrey Liu3 and Isabelle Bairati1 Authors' Affiliations:1Laval University Cancer Research Center and 2Département de Mathématiques et Statistique, Laval University, Quebec, Quebec and 3Medical Biophysics Department, Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Corresponding Author:François Meyer, Cancer Research Center, Laval University, CHUQ, HDQ, 11, Cote Du Palais, Quebec, Quebec, G1R 2J6 Canada. Phone: 418-525-4444-15581; Fax: 1-418-691-2970; E-mail: francois.meyer@chuq.qc.ca. Abstract Purpose: Recognized prognostic factors do not adequately predict outcomes of head and neck cancer (HNC) patients after their initial treatment. We identified from the literature nine potential serum prognostic markers and assessed whether they improve outcome prediction. Experimental Design: A pretreatment serum sample was obtained from 527 of the 540 HNC patients who participated in a randomized controlled trial. During follow-up, 115 had a HNC recurrence, 110 had a second primary cancer (SPC), and 216 died. We measured nine potential serum prognostic markers: prolactin, soluble interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptor-α, vascular endothelial growth factor, IL-6, squamous cell carcinoma antigen, free β-human choriogonadotropin, insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, and soluble epidermal growth factor receptor. Cox regression was used to identify a reference predictive model for (a) HNC recurrence, (b) SPC incidence, and (c) overall mortality. Each serum marker was added in turn to these reference models to determine by the likelihood ratio test whether it significantly improved outcome prediction. We controlled for the false discovery rate that results from multiple testing. Results: IL-6 was the only serum marker that significantly improved outcome prediction. Higher [...]

2010-01-29T19:47:27-07:00January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

HPV vaccine could help prevent other cancers, too: studies

Source: www.vancouversun.com Author: Tom Spears, Canwest News Service Cancer doctors are starting to believe that the human papilloma — or HPV — HPV, intended to prevent cervical cancer, will likely prevent other cancers as well — and in men as well as women. Recent research is linking the HPV virus to a variety of cancers in the head and neck, and the urinary-genital tract, says Dr. Glenn Bauman, chairman of oncology at the University of Western Ontario faculty of medicine and a radiation oncologist at the London Health Sciences Centre. If so, the vaccine usually given to girls at the beginning of their teenage years could also benefit boys. Boys so far have not been offered HPV vaccine, although some experts argue both sexes should be vaccinated to slow the spread of papilloma. The virus is estimated to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and 90 per cent of genital warts. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer for Canadian women aged 20 to 44. A variety of recent studies has been finding the DNA from the common virus inside cancer tumours. “I think the tip of the iceberg is this whole HPV connection with cancer,” Bauman said. “What’s interesting is that we’re finding — and we’ve known this for a while, but we’re beginning to appreciate it — that HPV plays a role in other ‘mucosal’ cancers.” This means a variety of cancer types in the head and neck, and also the urinary tract and genital region; [...]

Radiation was the cure, and the killer

Source: nytimes.com Author: Walt Bogdanich As Scott Jerome-Parks lay dying, he clung to this wish: that his fatal radiation overdose -- which left him deaf, struggling to see, unable to swallow, burned, with his teeth falling out, with ulcers in his mouth and throat, nauseated, in severe pain and finally unable to breathe -- be studied and talked about publicly so that others might not have to live his nightmare. Sensing death was near, Jerome-Parks summoned his family for a final Christmas. His friends sent two buckets of sand from the beach where they had played as children so he could touch it, feel it and remember better days. Jerome-Parks died several weeks later in 2007. He was 43. A New York City hospital treating him for tongue cancer had failed to detect a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but on three consecutive days. Jerome-Parks experienced the wonders and the brutality of radiation. It helped diagnose and treat his disease. It also inflicted unspeakable pain. Yet while Jerome-Parks had hoped that others might learn from his misfortune, the details of his case have until now been shielded from public view by the government, doctors and the hospital. Americans today receive far more medical radiation than ever before. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, and more than half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy. Without a doubt, radiation [...]

E-Cigarette company faces legal fights on multiple fronts

Source: www.legalnewsline.com Author: Chris Rizo Officials in California are making a strong push against one of the largest electronic cigarette retailers in the United States. It seems that the manufacturer -- Smoking Everywhere LLC -- is facing attack on at least two fronts in the Golden State: from the attorney general and a leading state lawmaker. State Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is suing Smoking Everywhere, alleging that the Sunrise, Fla.-based company is targeting minors in its marketing and making "misleading and irresponsible" claims that its tar-free alternatives to traditional cigarettes are safe. "Smoking Everywhere launched a misleading and irresponsible advertising campaign targeting minors and claiming that electronic cigarettes do not contain harmful chemicals," Brown said. "We are asking the Court to take these cigarettes off the market until the company has proven the products are safe." For its part, Smoking Everywhere claims that their products, which come in a range of flavors including mint, strawberry and chocolate, are designed to replicate smoking without some of the harmful side-effects of a traditional cigarette. The electronic cigarette functions by vaporizing a liquid nicotine mixture that is derived naturally from tobacco plants. The user inhales vapor without the fire, flame, tar, carbon monoxide, ash or smell of traditional cigarettes. In his lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Brown is seeking to bar Smoking Everywhere from doing business in California until the company can prove that its products are safe and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A similar [...]

HSE apologises over diagnosis

Source: Irishtimes Author: Mary Carolan The HSE has apologised to the family of a deceased 59 year old man after admitting a two year delay in diagnosing his cancer and is also to pay over some €102,000 under a settlement of High Court proceedings. John McNeive, Logalisheen, Ballindine, Co Mayo, died in August 2005 four months after he was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth. Proceedings for mental distress and trauma arising from his death were brought on behalf of the family by his widow Eileen. Liability in the case was admitted by the HSE. The court heard Mr McNeive had been referred to University College Hospital Galway in April 2003, where he underwent a number of tests, after attending his GP with a headache. Despite the concerns of his wife, family and his GP, it was not until April 2005 that a biopsy revealed he had extensive cancer. By that stage, the cancer had spread to his spleen and he died on August 13th of that year. Yesterday, in a statement read before Mr Justice John Quirke, Patrick Hanratty SC for the HSE said his clients “acknowledged that there was a delay in the diagnosis of Mr McNeive”. The HSE wished to apologise to the family of Mr McNeive for what had occurred and for all the hurt and distress caused to them, the statement added. “The HSE acknowledges that his family could have done no more to help him,” added counsel. Eoin McCullough SC, for the family, said [...]

2010-01-22T13:00:38-07:00January, 2010|Oral Cancer News|

Idera obtains clinical milestone under collaboration with Merck

Source: www.tradingmarkets.com Author: staff Idera Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company, has achieved a milestone under its worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The milestone was achieved upon initiation of a Phase II trial by Merck KGaA of EMD 1201081, a novel agonist of toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), in combination with cetuximab in second-line cetuximab-naive patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Under the terms of the agreement, the company is entitled to receive a payment of E3 million from Merck KGaA during the first quarter of 2010. The clinical trial is being conducted in eight countries, including the US. Idera Pharmaceuticals entered into a worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in December 2007 for the research, development and commercialization of Idera's TLR9 agonists, including IMO-2055, for the potential treatment of certain cancers. In addition to the clinical study announced today, under the company's collaboration with Merck KGaA, EMD 1201081 is currently being evaluated in a Phase Ib clinical trial in combination with Tarceva and Avastin in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer and in a Phase Ib clinical trial in combination with Erbitux and an irinotecan-containing treatment regimen in patients with colorectal cancer. Alice Bexon, vice president of clinical development at Idera, said: "We are very pleased with Merck KGaA's initiation of this randomized Phase II clinical trial of EMD 1201081 in combination with cetuximab in patients with head and neck cancer. "Under our collaboration with [...]

Helping cancer patients with their self image

Source: www.wkowtv.com Author: staff Thirty-four-year-old Angela Gass has difficulty swallowing and speaking. She lost part of her tongue and jawbone to a 12-year battle with cancer. "They reconstructed all of it using other parts of my body," says Angela. The fight to survive the cancer and the numerous surgeries eventually took more than just a physical toll. "I was depressed. I was embarrassed and I didn't want to leave my house," says Angie. She enrolled in the pilot phase of a body image therapy program underway at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston. "Patients don't feel at times comfortable talking with their doctor or healthcare providers about these issues," says Michelle Fingeret, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist Issues like feeling guilty about appearance-related concerns and dealing with social situations. "A lot of times a patient will just start crying to me right away and saying you know no one's ever talked to me about this before and I don't feel, I feel so vain or I feel ashamed or guilty about bringing this up when I should just be happy I'm getting my cancer treated and I'm surviving cancer right now." "It kind of took weight off of me knowing it was okay to feel that way." A counselor initially meets with patients in person but also counsels them by phone for convenience. She discusses their concerns, helps them set goals and celebrates milestones with them. "I think my first assignment was to go to the grocery store and not cover my [...]

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