Best of Breast: news for week ending 16 May 2014

A round-up of the latest medical developments, from Google Alerts, for Breast Cancer and Cancer, for the week ending 16 May 2014.

The top story is a woman with incurable multiple myeloma, who was NED after measles virus treatment.  Oncolytic virotherapy is not something new.  The researchers in this trial had written a paper as far back in 2009 the measles virus and cancer.   There was also a reported case of a boy with Burkitt’s lymphoma whose tumour regressed after he caught measles.  Just in case you were wondering, in this study, the measles vaccine was re-engineered, so that one of the side-effects was NOT measles!

1.  Women’s cancer killed by measles virus in trial

  • For years, the 50-year-old mom from Pequot Lakes, Minn., battled myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow. She had few options left.
  • She had been through chemotherapy treatments and two stem cell transplants. But it wasn’t enough. Soon, scans showed she had tumors growing all over her body.
  • One grew on her forehead, destroying a bone in her skull and pushing on her brain. Cancer had infiltrated her bone marrow.
  • So, as part of a two-patient clinical trial, doctors at the Mayo Clinic injected Erholtz with 100 billion units of the measles virus – enough to inoculate 10 million people.
  • Five minutes into the hour-long process, Erholtz got a terrible headache. Two hours later, she started shaking and vomiting. Her temperature hit 105 degrees.
  • Over the next several weeks, the tumor on her forehead disappeared completely and, over time, the other tumors in her body did, too.
  • The virus had been engineered to make it more suitable for cancer therapy. And, after just one dose of it, Erholtz’s cancer went into remission. She has been completely cleared of the disease (Mayo Clinic Proceedings).
  • Though, in this trial, the treatments were successful on only one of the two patients.

According the clinic’s statement released Wednesday:

In a proof of principle clinical trial, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that virotherapy — destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues — can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma. …

Oncolytic virotherapy — using re-engineered viruses to fight cancer — has a history dating back to the 1950s. Thousands of cancer patients have been treated with oncolytic viruses from many different virus families (herpes viruses, pox viruses, common cold viruses, etc.). However, this study provides the first well-documented case of a patient with disseminated cancer having a complete remission at all disease sites after virus administration.

  • Russell said the treatment worked in Erholtz, whose tumors were mostly in her bone marrow. However, it was unsuccessful in the other patient, whose tumors were mainly in her leg muscles.
  • “I think we succeeded because we pushed the dose higher than others have pushed it,” Russell said. “And I think that is critical. The amount of virus that’s in the bloodstream really is the driver of how much gets into the tumors.”

  • He said more research is needed to know how the nature of the tumor affects the virus.

See also:  Microbiol Immunol. 2009; 330: 213–241, Measles virus for cancer therapy, for more articles on oncolytic virotherapy:

 2.  Gasoline and chemicals formed by combustion are biggest ‘mammary carcinogens’

  •  A new study has identified 17 “high-priority” chemicals women should avoid in order to reduce such risk and demonstrates how their presence can be detected.
  • According to the research team, only 5-10% of breast cancers are a result of high-risk inherited genes. Furthermore, they note that around 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are the first in their family to develop the disease. Such figures, the researchers say, are evidence that breast cancer is caused by additional factors.
  • Firstly, the researchers identified 216 chemicals that have been associated with mammary tumors in rodents, before identifying 102 that women were most likely to be exposed to.
  • The greatest sources of breast cancer carcinogens in the environment were found to be gasoline and chemicals created by combustion, such as benzene and butadiene.
  • Such chemicals are present in vehicle fuel, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke and burned or charred food.
  • Solvents including methylene chloride and other halogenated organic solvents – often found in industrial degreasers, speciality cleaners and spot removers – were found to be other breast cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Other mammary carcinogens include chemicals found in flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, hormone replacement therapy and drinking water disinfection byproducts.
  • Scientists from the Silent Spring Institute in Massachusetts say their findings, recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives – a journal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – significantly advance breast cancer prevention efforts.

– Steps you can take to reduce exposure to mammary carcinogens

Researchers say there are a number of things women can do to reduce their risk of exposure to mammary carcinogens, including:

  • Limiting exposure to fumes from gasoline
  • Limiting exposure to exhaust from diesel and other fuel combustion, such as from vehicles or generators
  • Use electric instead of gas-powered lawn mowers
  • Use a ventilation fan when cooking and reduce consumption of charred or burned food
  • Avoid stain-resistant rugs, fabrics and furniture
  • Use a solid carbon block drinking water filter
  • Remove shoes at the door, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and clean with wet rags and mops to reduce exposure to chemicals in house dust.

For more information: and Environmental Health Perspectives,  DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307455, New Exposure Biomarkers as Tools For Breast Cancer Epidemiology, Biomonitoring, and Prevention: A Systematic Approach Based on Animal Evidence”

3.  Researchers test genomic sequencing for women with triple negative breast cancer

  • Indiana University cancer researchers are testing whether therapy incorporating advanced genomic technology will provide better outcomes than current treatments for triple-negative breast cancer.
  • “This trial takes a group of patients who have received standard chemotherapy but haven’t had the response one would hope,” said Dr. Schneider, who is also the Vera Bradley Investigator in Oncology, associate professor of medical and molecular genetics, and associate director of the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine.
  • In partnership with Paradigm, a nonprofit genomic sequencing and molecular information company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Phoenix, the researchers will analyze the DNA and RNA (the cancer cell’s blueprint genomic landscape) from the tumors that remain after standard chemotherapy.
  • They will then search for any known therapies that might help eliminate the cancer.
  • After the sequencing is completed, the IU Simon Cancer Center researchers will evaluate and discuss each patient’s results. Each woman in the sequencing group will then be assigned a drug that has been selected to best treat her particular form of triple negative breast cancer based on her individual results.
  • This form of therapeutic individualization that uses the unique genetic blueprint of each tumor to guide therapy is a departure from the “one-size-fits-all” approach that has been commonly used in cancer care.

For more information about this trial, contact Jessica Sollars, R.N., at 317-278-5117, Watch a video about this trial at

4.  New software aids breast cancer risk assessment

  • Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València, in collaboration with the Instituto de Salud Carlos III and the Foundation for the Health and Biomedical Research of the Comunitat Valenciana, have developed DMScan, new software to aid breast cancer risk assessment.
  • From the images obtained in mammograms, the software objectively quantifies breast density, a value directly related to the risk of this pathology.
  • According to the study of the researchers from the UPV, FISABIO and ISCIII, “women with denser breasts have more breast cancer risk. However, it must be taken into account that breast density decreases with age and with the body mass index, two factors also related to the probability of having breast cancer and that have been taken into account in this work”.
  •  “The breast is basically composed of adipose tissue and fibroglandular tissue; the density is the proportion of the latter to the breast size.
  • “Our software quantifies this value, distinguishing dense tissue from fat tissue. It offers a continuous and much more objective measurement than the doctors give today, based on a visual inspection. This is therefore a new aid to breast cancer diagnosis,” says Rafael Llobet, researcher at the Computer Technology Institute (ITI, in Spanish) of the Universitat Politècnica de València.
For more information:  “Semi-automated and fully automated mammographic density measurement and breast cancer risk prediction.” Computer Methods and Programs in BiomedicineDOI: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2014.01.021

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