Understanding When Eating Soy Might Help or Harm in Breast Cancer Treatment

Excerpt:

“Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have used animal models to reveal new information about the impact – positive and negative – that soy consumption could have on a common breast cancer treatment.

“The scientists have uncovered the biological pathways in rats by which longtime soy consumption improves effectiveness of tamoxifen and reduces recurrence. But they also show why eating or drinking soy-based foods for the first time while being treated with tamoxifen can, conversely, reduce effectiveness of the drug, and promote recurrence.

“The study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, uncovers the molecular biology behind how soy consumption, especially its most active isoflavone, genistein, affects tamoxifen—both positively and negatively.”

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Attacking Glioblastoma by Combining Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors with Gene Therapy Looks Promising

Excerpt:

“Attacking an aggressive brain tumor with immunostimulatory gene therapy while enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight it with immune checkpoint inhibitors might be a promising approach to treat patients with glioblastoma multiforme, a brain tumor currently associated with a very poor prognosis.

“The findings from the study, “Immunosuppressive Myeloid Cells’ Blockade in the Glioma Microenvironment Enhances the Efficacy of Immune-Stimulatory Gene Therapy,” published in Molecular Therapy, revealed that combining both these approaches in glioblastoma mice models significantly extended their survival, compared to either treatment alone.”

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Melanoma Mutation Likes Fat for Fuel

Excerpt:

“Cancer cells love glucose, the simple sugar the body uses for energy, so a high-fat, low-carb diet should starve them, right?

“Not so fast. Research in mice suggests that melanomas and other cancers driven by a particular mutation (BRAF V600E) will grow faster in response to a high-fat diet. In addition, lipid-lowering agents such as statins curb these cancers’ growth, even in the context of a more normal diet.”

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Popular Antioxidant Seems to Spread Skin Cancer Cells in Mouse Research

“A man-made antioxidant appears to accelerate the spread of skin cancer in mice, raising questions about its safety in humans, researchers say.

“The antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, is used to relieve mucus production in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), said study senior author Martin Bergo, a professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

“It also is used as a supplement by people who believe that the antioxidant can help reduce exercise-related muscle damage, burn fat and prevent fatigue, Bergo added.

“But water laced with N-acetylcysteine appeared to speed up the spread of melanoma, the potentially deadly skin cancer, in lab mice, researchers found.”


Testosterone Promotes Prostate Cancer in Rats

“A researcher who found that testosterone raised the risk of prostate tumors and exacerbated the effects of carcinogenic chemical exposure in rats is urging caution in prescribing testosterone therapy to men who have not been diagnosed with hypogonadism, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.

“Testosterone use has soared in the last decade among older men seeking to boost energy and feel younger. One study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that the number of American men who started testosterone therapy has nearly quadrupled since 2000, despite concerns about potential cardiovascular risks.

“The Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guidelines on testosterone therapy in adult men recommend prescribing testosterone only to men who have unequivocally low levels of the hormone and decreased libido, erectile dysfunction or other symptoms of hypogonadism, a condition that results from low testosterone, and can be found online at: http://www.endocrine.org/~/media/endosociety/Files/Publications/Clinical%20Practice%20Guidelines/FINAL-Androgens-in-Men-Standalone.pdf

” ‘This research demonstrates that testosterone on its own is a weak carcinogen in male rats,’ said the study’s author, Maarten C. Bosland, DVSc, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago. ‘When it is combined with cancer-causing chemicals, testosterone creates a hospitable environment for tumors to develop. If these same findings hold true in humans, there is serious cause for public health concern.’ “


FDA Grants Orphan Drug Status to Cannabidiol for Glioblastoma Multiforme

Editor’s note: When a newly developed drug for a rare (“orphan”) disease seems particularly promising for patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may choose to grant it “orphan drug designation.” The designation removes certain barriers that might otherwise keep a drug company from being able to successfully develop and profit from the drug in the U.S. A new drug called cannabidiol has just received an orphan drug designation for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.

“Insys Therapeutics recently announced that the FDA has granted orphan drug designation to a pharmaceutical cannabidiol for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme.

“The FDA based its decision in part on preclinical research that indicates the ability of cannabidiol to condition glioblastoma multiforme to current standard of care chemotherapy treatment.

“Besides receiving orphan drug designation, Insys recently entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) to license its patent rights related to the usage of cannabinoids for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, according to the release.”


C. noyvi-NT Shrinks Tumors When Injected into Rats, Dogs and Humans

Editor’s note: This interesting article describes new research in which a type of bacteria called C. novyi was modified by researchers and injected into a soft tissue cancer patient to shrink a metastatic tumor in her arm. Ongoing research aims to determine which other kinds of cancer patients might benefit from the new treatment.

“A modified version of the Clostridium novyi (C. noyvi-NT) bacterium can produce a strong and precisely targeted anti-tumor response in rats, dogs and now humans, according to a new report from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers.

“In its natural form, C. novyi is found in the soil and, in certain cases, can cause tissue-damaging infection in cattle, sheep and humans. The microbe thrives only in oxygen-poor environments, which makes it a targeted means of destroying oxygen-starved cells in tumors that are difficult to treat with chemotherapy and radiation. The Johns Hopkins team removed one of the bacteria’s toxin-producing genes to make it safer for therapeutic use.

“For the study, the researchers tested direct-tumor injection of the C. noyvi-NT spores in 16 pet dogs that were being treated for naturally occurring tumors. Six of the dogs had an anti-tumor response 21 days after their first treatment. Three of the six showed complete eradication of their tumors, and the length of the longest diameter of the tumor shrunk by at least 30 percent in the three other dogs.”


Resistance to Lung Cancer Targeted Therapy Can be Reversed, Study Suggests

“Up to 40 percent of lung cancer patients do not respond to a targeted therapy designed to block tumor growth—a puzzling clinical setback that researchers have long tried to solve. Now, scientists at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute have discovered why that intrinsic resistance occurs—and they pinpoint a drug they say could potentially reverse it.”

“Their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that over-expression of the growth protein Cripto-1 makes lung cancer cells resistant to the drug erlotinib (Tarceva®). Experiments in cell lines and in animals demonstrated that blocking Cripto-1 signaling transduction restored sensitivity to the drug, one of a number of EGFR inhibitors used in non-small cell lung carcinoma and other cancers.”

Editor’s note: Lung cancer patients who try the targeted therapy drug erlotinib (brand name Tarceva) may be intrinsically resistant to it; it has no effect on their tumor growth. Researchers have now found that abnormalities involving a gene called Cripto-1 can make a tumor resistant to Tarceva, and that drugs that block Cripto-1’s role in tumor cells can restore sensitivity to Tarceva. These studies were done on human cancer cells in the lab and in animals, but a new clinical trial with volunteer patients will test whether a drug called AZD0424 might undo Tarceva resistance in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), allowing them to benefit from Tarceva treatment.


Potential Lung Cancer Vaccine Shows Renewed Promise

“Researchers at UC Davis have found that the investigational cancer vaccine tecemotide, when administered with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin, boosted immune response and reduced the number of tumors in mice with lung cancer. The study also found that radiation treatments did not significantly impair the immune response. The paper was published on March 10 in the journal Cancer Immunology Research, an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) publication.

“Though tecemotide, also known as Stimuvax, has shown great potential at times, the recent Phase III trial found no overall survival benefit for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, further analysis showed one group of patients, who received concurrent chemotherapy and radiation followed by tecemotide, did benefit from the vaccine. As a result, tecemotide’s manufacturer, Merck KGaA, is sponsoring additional post-clinical animal and human studies, so far with good results.”

Editor’s note: Cancer vaccines are meant to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer. Stimuvax is a cancer vaccine that was found to have no overall survival benefit for patients in a recent clinical trial. But closer analysis of the trial data and the mouse study mentioned above have raised hopes that the vaccine might work with some combination of chemo and radiation treatment.