Category Archives: Cancer

Eliminating sugar slows cancer growth


Old but important news: Eliminating sugar can slow cancer growth.

Researchers were aware that all cancer cells are attracted to sugar, grabbing it from the blood before using it to fuel their growth.  In breast cancer the process involves binding proteins called CtBPs together to form pairs known as dimers. These in turn help the cells to multiply and proliferate.  Dr Jeremy Blaydes of the University of Southampton found that chemicals called cyclic peptide inhibitors can block CtBPs and prevent the dimers forming.  The most successful of CtBP blocker, known as CP61, is now being developed as a potential new breast cancer drug.

This concept was put forth in the lecture given by Otto Warburg at his Nobel ceremony in 1931.  The short story: cancerous cells rely more on sugar for their energy consumption than normal cells.

In related news, a new technique for detecting cancer by imaging the consumption of sugar with MRI  has been unveiled by University College London scientists.

Real-time MRI guided gene therapy for brain cancer


Neurosurgeons at the University of California San Diego School and Moores Cancer Center utilize MRI navigational technology to guide the delivery of investigational gene therapy Toca 511, or vocimagene amiretrorepvec, precisely into a brain malignancy in an attempt to make it more susceptible to chemotherapy.

Sound waves detect disease related changes in red blood cell shape


Ryerson University investigators used photoacoustics to create detailed images to detect changing shapes of red blood cells associated with diseases including maria, sickle cell anemia and certain types of cancer.

A drop of blood is placed under a microscope that picks up sounds produced by the cells. Researchers then focus a laser beam on the samples. As the blood cells absorb energy from the laser pulse, they release some of it in the form of sound waves, enabling scientists to understand details about the shape of the cell.

Nanotube sensor detects skin cancer


A study from the Monell Center and the University of Pennsylvania suggests that non-invasive odor analysis may be a valuable technique in the detection and early diagnosis of human melanoma.  The researchers used sophisticated sampling and analytical techniques to identify VOCs from melanoma cells at three stages of the disease, as well as from normal melanocytes. All the cells were grown in culture.  They then examined VOCs from normal melanocytes and melanoma cells using a sensor constructed of nano-sized carbon tubes coated with strands of DNA and bioengineered to recognize a wide variety of targets, including specific odor molecules.

DNA “nanotrain” for targeted cancer drug delivery


The nanotrain cost-effectively delivers high doses of drugs to precisely targeted cancers and other medical maladies without leaving behind toxic nano-clutter.

“The beauty of the nanotrain is that by using different disease biomarkers you can hitch different types of DNA probes as the train’s ‘locomotive’ to recognize and target different types of cancers,” said Weihong Tan of the University of Florida. “We’ve precisely targeted leukemia, lung and liver cancer cells, and because the DNA probes are so precise in targeting only specific types of cancer cells we’ve seen dramatic reduction in drug toxicity in comparison to standard chemotherapies, which don’t discriminate well between cancerous and healthy cells.”

Chip could individualize prostate cancer treatment


A research team jointly led by scientists from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the University of California, Los Angeles, have enhanced a device they developed to identify and “grab” circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, that break away from cancers and enter the blood, often leading to the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

If more studies confirm the technology’s effectiveness, the NanoVelcro Chip device could enable doctors to access and identify cancerous cells in the bloodstream, which would provide the diagnostic information needed to create individually tailored treatments for patients with prostate cancer.

With the new system, a patient’s blood is pumped through the NanoVelcro Chip — the microvilli protruding from the cancer cells will stick to the nanofiber structures on the device’s surface, much like Velcro. This phenomenon facilitates the capture of rare CTCs in the blood stream. Next, laser capture microdissection technology allows the scientists to selectively cut out and pick up the CTCs from the NanoVelcro Chip, virtually eliminating any trace of any contamination from white blood cells, which can complicate analysis. Finally, the isolated and purified CTCs are subjected to single cell “next-generation” sequencing, which reveals mutations in the genetic material of the cells and may help doctors personalize therapies to a patient’s unique cancer.

“To date, CTC capture technologies have been able to do little more than count the number of CTCs, which is informative but not very useful from a treatment planning perspective. It is a scientific breakthrough to have the ability to isolate pure CTCs and maintain their integrity for sophisticated genomic and behavioral analyses,” said Hsian-Rong Tseng, PhD, associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA and the inventor of the NanoVelcro Chip concept and device.