Posts tagged ‘chemotherapy’

Researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) have identified a new enzyme that affects radiation response in patients suffering from head and neck cancer. PMH researchers have made a discovery that may be significant in controlling the side effects for cancer patients. They have discovered that targeting an enzyme called Uroporphyrinogen Decarboxylase (UROD) can sensitize diseased tissue to radiation and chemotherapy.

UROD has been identified as a key ingredient in human cancers and the study suggests that targeting UROD can selectively enhance the effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in cancerous tumors of head and neck while minimizing toxicity to normal tissues. These findings have been published in Science Translational Medicine.

Chief investigator, Dr. Fei-Fei Liu (Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto and PMH, and Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute and The Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute) states that analysis of patient biopsies disclosed that UROD levels were higher in tumor tissues than in the normal ones. UROD can be used to make a general prediction of how will a patient respond to radiation therapy since the cancer patients with lower UROD levels prior to radiation treatment had improved clinical outcome.

Dr. Emma states that lower doses of radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs could be administered to cancer patients without affecting the treatment efficacy. Dr. Liu says that UROD is an enzyme that participates in production of a molecule called heme that is vital to all body organs. Targeting UROD creates an opportunity to exploit the heme synthesis pathway that disrupts the equilibrium of iron and free radical levels in cells which thereby kills cancer cells.


Many patients who are diagnosed with cancer and thereafter treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy become infertile i.e. their reproductive abilities are often affected. 10 percent of the 1.5 million people diagnosed with cancer in 2009 were still in their reproductive age.

However, an article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings (January issue) states that fertility preservation has seen some advancement of late and new options are now available to the cancer patients.

Mayo researchers have studied both long-standing and emerging fertility preservation technologies and though freezing sperm cell is a technique that is reliable, much advancement has been made in the past 5 years involving freezing eggs from women. In fact, Dr. Jensen states that thousands of babies have been born globally from frozen eggs since 2004.

Freezing of embryos is another familiar approach that a cancer patient may adopt. Embryos’ survival power in the freezing and thawing process is better than individual eggs. Hence, freezing of embryos is better suited to a successful pregnancy. However, this approach is better suited to a married patient than to a young cancer patient.

Currently, work is under way to cultivate and store sperm and egg tissue from prepubescent cancer patients and there is hope and promise that the tissue could be used later in the patients’ lives to create pregnancies.

However, Dr. Jensen throws a hint of caution citing that timing is of essence in the process. It is difficult to inform the patient of the fertility options at the time when they are facing cancer treatment. Study shows that only half of the oncologists refer patients to reproductive specialists.

Hence, increase in awareness is an essential step forward so that cancer patients can lead as normal a life as possible.


A new study from the ‘University of Michigan, Comprehensive Cancer Center’ finds that Patients who have complications after colorectal cancer surgery are less likely to get chemotherapy, even when it is undoubtedly recommended for their diagnosis.

“Surgical complications are typically thought to be short-term problems, but our study suggests there is a clear link between downstream cancer care and complications that occur during surgery. This is critical because chemotherapy in this subset of colorectal cancer patients has clear lifesaving benefit,” says lead study author Samantha Hendren, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School.

The December issue of the journal ‘Diseases of the Colon & Rectum’ published the study report of 17,108 patients, who had surgery for stage three colorectal cancer. The researchers analyzed the ‘Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare database’. The study recommends Chemotherapy for all stage three colorectal cancer patients as it improves the chances of survival as much as 16 percent after five years.

But oncologists are typically reluctant to give chemotherapy to frail patients as chemotherapy stresses the body and slows the process of healing. The researchers have urged hospitals to adopt quality measures to reduce complications in surgery.

According to the American Cancer Society, almost 142,570 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and 51,370 will die from the disease.

Source link:

Scientists engaged in medical research have found that blocking an active gene in liver cancer cells can actually halt the process of chemotherapy resistance thereby increasing the chances of survival. A synthetic molecule designed by a team of scientists has been found to stop the activation of such oncogenes. The cancerous liver cells can then respond to the chemotherapy.

The oncogene STAT3 when blocked can impair the protective functions of a particular protein  making the liver cells respond to treatment by chemotherapy.

The researchers are now anticipating that the successful creation of the synthetic molecule based drug will help the patients overcome cancer. The clinical tests and animal experimentation are yet to be completed.

The molecule known as LLL12 has been used to block STAT3 successfully thereby killing of the cancerous cells in breast and pancreatic cancer as well.

The senior author of the study, Jiayuh Lin, stated that an intravenous drug based on this particular molecule can be manufactured easily. It would be inexpensive as well. Lin also serves as the associate professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University.

The researchers have also found evidence of STAT3 blockage by LLL12 having a downstream effect where it can successfully block other cancer inducing STAT3 regulated genes as well.  This particular molecule is currently believed to have tremendous potential in curing cancer.

The team of scientists working on the creation of LLL12 was led by Jiayuh Lin and reported their success earlier this year. The procedure of designing the molecule included the use of powerful computers as well as various computational methods.

The results of the study can be found in the most recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.


People who survive cancer often experience a fresh lease of life. But the long and exacting treatment takes its toll on the health and well being of the survivors too. Most of the cancer survivors have been heard complaining of their inability to concentrate. This particular condition had been attributed to chemotherapy so far but recent studies have revealed that the so called ‘chemo brain’ may not be limited to patients who had gone through chemotherapy only.

The data retrieved from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey included 9,819 adults all over the age of 40 with 1,305 of them being cancer survivors. All the participants were questioned in detail about their mental fogginess which included periods of confusion or having difficulty in remembering past incidents.

The study results revealed that 8% of the participants who had no brush with cancer before reported memory loss to some extent while the number shot up to 14% for people with a history of cancer.

The researchers came to the conclusion that the cancer patients were 40% more likely to have memory impairment problems compared to the people who had no history of cancer. The researchers made allowances for age, general health conditions as well as education before arriving at this conclusion.

The American Association for Cancer Research conference held in Miami saw the study results being presented. Pascal Jean-Pierre belonging to the University Of Miami Miller School Of Medicine presented the findings. He also stated that the brain chemistry might be altered during the course of cancer treatment particularly by chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal therapy.  Psychological disturbances can be a cause for impaired memory as well. Apart from the actual methods of treatment, the disease itself  can also be held responsible for changing the chemistry of the brain.

Dr. Jean-Pierre went on to add that it should be considered as a national problem which can be treated successfully by using antidepressant drugs along with  certain behavioral interventions.


Almost 90% of children diagnosed with the third most common form of cancer, neuroblastoma,  can survive even with drastically reduced chemotherapy. The research result published in the New England Journal Medicine found that almost 96% of the cancer affected children could survive for a period of three years with four to eight cycles of chemotherapy which meant a 40% -70% reduction in their normal doses.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines neuroblastoma as a cancer of the nerve tissue that initiates at the adrenal gland located in the neck, chest as well as the spinal cord.

Katherine Matthay, the leader of the research team, commented that the lowering of the amount of chemotherapy might help the children escape from long time side effects which includes secondary cancer, loss of hearing as well as fertility issues. The reduced amount does not affect the survival rate significantly, said Matthay, and remains almost the same when compared with the children given 10 cycles.

The study was conducted by keeping 479 children and infants under observation from 1997-2005. The effects of a reduced chemotherapy on the survival rate were then checked. The tumors in most of these cases had been located in the chest and abdomen. The patients were of the intermediate risk group. Some of them had tumors which were inoperable while others had cancer that had spread widely to the bones and even the bone marrow.

The researchers classified each of the tumors into groups of favorable and unfavorable on basis of a number of characteristics including the rapidity of tumor cell division. 98% of the children with favorable tumors were found to have a three year survival rate while it was 93% for those with unfavorable tumors. The study results also revealed that personalized treatment is mandatory for children with neuroblastoma depending on the nature of the tumors.

Matthay, the Chief of Pediatric Oncology at the Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco, said that they had been over treating the children so far. They need to reduce chemotherapy, she emphasized adding that the next round of studies would be conducted by decreasing the chemotherapy even further. She felt that there might be some children who would need almost no chemotherapy at all.