The latest highlights in cancer and breast cancer, from Google Alerts, for the week ending 14 November 2014.
Dr Carl June explains his experimental cancer treatment
1. Doctors cure father of leukemia by injecting him with HIV in experimental trial
- Marshall Jensen was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2012 and has spent the last two years searching for an effective treatment
- He found a solution at Penn Medicine, where he was accepted into a trial to receive an experimental new gene therapy
- The treatment involved implanting white blood cells with deactivated HIV and injecting them back in the body to fight off cancer
- Of the 30 patients involved in the trial, 23 are still alive and 19 are in remission – like Jensen
- The connection between leukemia and HIV was first discovered in 2006, when an HIV-positive man named Timothy Ray Brown was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After receiving a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation, Brown’s cancer went into remission and the HIV disappeared from his system making him the first man to ever be fully cured of the virus.
- Dr June and his team are now looking at using the HIV treatment to attack other forms of cancers, and will be starting trials this summer for pancreatic cancer patients.
For more information: Leukemia Patients Remain in Remission More Than Two Years After Receiving Genetically Engineered T Cell Therapy. Patients seeking information about this trial may visit http://www.penncancer.org/Tcelltherapy/.
2. Canadian cat receives experimental breast cancer therapy
- For cats, a breast cancer diagnosis is usually a death sentence.
- But Maci, a furry senior from Toronto, just may beat the odds as she undergoes an experimental treatment scientists hope to one day use on humans.
- Researchers at McMaster University and the Ontario Veterinary College have teamed up to give two dozen cats a new vaccine that, in conjunction with surgery, could reduce the incidence of relapse.
- Called oncolytic virus therapy, the vaccine consists of two injections: an immune system booster and a dose of a virus named Maraba, which attacks tumours.
- “We infuse (Maraba) into the bloodstreams of animals, and soon enough people with cancer, and it can find tumours wherever they are and infect them.”.
- “When it does this … it kills the tumour.”
- Cats with breast cancer are at very high risk of relapse, with the cancer coming back within a year of surgery in most cases.
- Genetically, the type of cancer found in cats is similar to one of the most aggressive types of breast cancers in women: triple negative.
3. How breast cancer cells transform normal cells into tumoral ones
- Researchers have participated in an international study hat describes how exosomes secreted by tumor cells contain protein and microRNA molecules capable of transform neighboring cells into tumoral cells promoting tumor growth.
- Exosomes are small vesicles which are secreted by all cells and contain proteins and messenger RNAs and microRNAs.
- At first it was thought that only functioned as cellular debris warehouses but in recent years has been that could have an important role as a messenger between cells of the body and now many groups focus their research on the role that could be played exosomes in various diseases, including cancer.
- “This finding opens the door to developing new biomarkers and new therapeutic strategies exploiting these characteristics of exosomes in breast tumors, and other tumors such as ovarian and endometrial cancer among others.”
For more information: Cancer Cell, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/ j.ccell.2014.09.005, Cancer Exosomes Perform Cell-Independent MicroRNA Biogenesis and Promote Tumorigenesis
4. Study finds tai chi reduces inflammation in breast cancer survivors
- UCLA researchers have discovered that the Chinese practice of tai chi can reduce inflammation in people who have had breast cancer, thereby reducing a risk factor for the recurrence of the cancer.