Medical News Today: Could the common cold ‘revolutionize’ bladder cancer treatment?

Current treatment for some forms of cancer does not work as well as researchers had initially hoped. But a new virus-based treatment has shown promising results.
woman sneezing
New research suggests that the common cold virus can help scientists devise the next treatment for a widespread form of bladder cancer.

Using viruses to treat cancer has long been of interest to medical researchers. One type of virus in particular — oncolytic viruses — can kill tumor cells.

But so far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one of these: a genetically modified form of herpes to treat melanoma.

The reason that viruses can target tumors is pretty simple. Cancerous tumors are invisible to the immune system, allowing them to grow and spread.

But when a virus enters a cancerous cell and replicates itself, this allows the cancer to be seen, prompting the immune system to treat the disease as it would a common cold.

Melanoma is not the only type of cancer that viruses can affect. Researchers have recently tested a similar treatment on brain tumors.

A new study has found promising results in a form of bladder cancer.

Researchers, many of whom are from the University of Surrey, in the United Kingdom, have investigated the impact of a strain of the common cold virus on non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). Their findings appear in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Current bladder cancer treatments

Bladder cancer is the seventh most common cancer among males and the seventeenth most common among females. Between 70% and 80% of bladder cancer diagnoses fall into the NMIBC category at the time of diagnosis.

“[NMIBC] is a highly prevalent illness that requires an intrusive and often lengthy treatment plan,” says Hardev Pandha, Ph.D., lead study investigator and a professor of medical oncology at the University of Surrey.

“Current treatment is ineffective and toxic in a proportion of patients, and there is an urgent need for new therapies,” he explains.

One treatment that removes any visible tumors has a high tumor recurrence rate (between 50% and 70%) and a high progression rate (between 10% and 20%) over the course of 2–5 years.

Immunotherapy is another option, but this has no effect on one-third of patients and can cause serious side effects in another third.

Replicate and attack

For the present study, the U.K.-based team decided to look to a strain of the common cold called coxsackievirus, or CVA21, for short.

The researchers gave 15 patients who had been diagnosed with NMIBC a dose of CVA21 one week before surgery to remove their tumors.

Nine received the CVA21 alone, via a catheter into the bladder, while the final six received CVA21 combined with a low dose of a chemotherapy drug called mitomycin C.

Each patient gave urine samples on alternate days and the researchers obtained tissue samples after the surgery.

The urine samples showed that the virus was able to copy itself and attack and kill cancer cells in the majority of patients. The tissue samples indicated that the virus was only successful in attacking cancerous cells, rather than healthy ones.

“Reduction of tumor burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients,” Prof. Pandha notes. The researchers believe that the virus was able to inflame the bladder tumor, kickstarting the work of the immune system.

What was most surprising was that, during surgery, one patient exhibited no sign of NMIBC. An additional positive result was that “No significant side effects were observed in any patient.”

The study may have only used a small number of participants, but its results could pave the way for future research into the CVA21 virus and cancer.

According to Prof. Pandha, the common cold strain “could help revolutionize treatment for this type of cancer.”

Nicole Annels, Ph.D., who is the first author of the paper and a research fellow at the University of Surrey, adds that “Oncolytic viruses such as the coxsackievirus could transform the way we treat cancer” overall.

She notes that the therapy could even “signal a move away from more established treatments such as chemotherapy.”

Medical News Today: How does tumor size relate to breast cancer stage?

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Medical News Today: House dust microbes degrade cancer-causing chemical

New research finds that household dust hosts microbes that can break down cancer-causing environmental chemicals. However, the byproducts of this degradation may also harm health.
man cleaning dust in kitchen
The microbes in our household dust can fight off cancer-causing chemicals, but at what cost?

Our households are riddled with all kinds of microbe, some of which are good and some of which are dangerous. From our dishwashing sponges to our toothbrush holders, there are plenty of places in our homes where these tiny microorganisms can hide.

In particular, the dust that settles on our furniture and other surfaces contains a wide variety of fungi, as well as bacteria from the Staphylococcus and Streptococcus families.

Although such bacteria may harm our health — particularly if we have a weak immune system — new research finds that the microbes present in household dust also have an additional role: They help break down harmful environmental chemicals.

Specifically, a new study found that these dust bacteria can degrade phthalates, which belong to a class of chemicals that research has linked with cancer and other conditions.

Ashleigh Bope, a doctoral researcher in environmental science at The Ohio State University in Columbus, is the first author of the paper, which appears in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts.

Dust microbes fight off harmful chemicals

The primary purpose of phthalates is to soften plastic and vinyl to make it more flexible. There are phthalates in almost every household and consumer product, from blinds, wallpaper, and shower curtains to plastic toys, detergents, and food packaging.

Researchers do not yet fully understand the health impact of phthalates, but existing studies have suggested that these chemicals disrupt the endocrine system.

Experts believe that one particular phthalate, called Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), causes cancer.

Bope explains the motivation for the new study, saying, “[W]e know that [phthalates] can be degraded in other systems — like aquatic systems and soils — but we have high exposure to them indoors, so it was important for us to see if biodegradation was actually occurring in the indoor environment.”

To find out, the researchers analyzed a piece of carpet from a randomly chosen household in Massachusetts, other pieces of carpet from three households in Ohio, and dust samples that they collected from the vacuum cleaners of the same homes.

Lab analyses revealed phthalates and microbes, as expected. Specifically, the researchers found the cancer-causing DEHP in higher concentrations than other phthalates.

Then, the researchers stored the pieces of carpet at different humidity levels to examine the interaction between the microbes and the phthalates.

They found that higher humidity levels helped the dust microbes multiply, noting that the higher the humidity and the number of microbes, the more phthalates these microbes degraded. However, breaking down the otherwise harmful phthalates may cause more health hazards, explain the researchers.

“We could see that the phthalates were degrading, but the byproducts of that degradation could be even more harmful,” reports study co-author Sarah Haines.

“We really need to look at that more, especially at those elevated relative humidity conditions. It’s not recommended to maintain a high relative humidity in your home due to increased potential for microbial growth.”

The humidity levels that the team used in this research were almost double those of a typical home. When humidity is too high, microbes multiply exponentially, along with fungi and mold.

‘The bigger picture’

Study co-author Karen Dannemiller, who is also the director of the Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory at The Ohio State University, comments on the significance of the findings.

“Previously, people thought there really wasn’t a lot of microbial activity happening in the indoor environment,” she says. “We knew microbes were shed from human skin or tracked in from outdoors, and we thought they sat there and didn’t do anything. This study shows that is not always the case.”

“The big picture is that understanding these interactions can eventually lead to better building design to prevent exposure to some of these harmful compounds,” adds Dannemiller.

“We know that both chemicals and microbes are there, so how can we create the healthiest buildings that we possibly can?”

Medical News Today: Cancer: Scientists find 129 ‘jumping genes’ that drive tumor growth

In cancer research, scientists usually look for cancer genes by scouring the genome for altered sequences — or mutations — in DNA. But a new study has now revealed that jumping genes, which customary sequencing overlooks, are also important drivers of tumor growth.
DNA color coded sequence
Researchers have uncovered 129 jumping genes that may drive cancer.

Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, found that jumping genes are widespread in cancer and promote tumor growth by forcing cancer genes to remain switched on.

They analyzed 7,769 tumor samples from 15 different types of cancer and found 129 jumping genes that can drive tumor growth through their influence on 106 different cancer genes.

The jumping genes were functioning as “stealthy on-switches” in 3,864 of the tumors that the team analyzed. These tumors came from breast, colon, lung, skin, prostate, brain, and other types of cancer.

A recent Nature Genetics paper gives a full account of the study.

By identifying jumping genes as potential genetic targets, the findings break new ground in the quest for novel cancer treatments.

“If you,” says Ting Wang, who is a professor of medicine in the Department of Genetics, “perform typical genome sequencing, looking for genetic mutations driving cancer, you’re not going to find jumping genes.”

A disease of many genetic facets

Cancer develops when the genetic instructions that govern how cells function, particularly how they mature and divide, undergo certain changes.

Some of the genetic changes that cause cancer alter the body’s natural curbs on cell growth; others might disrupt the structure and function of proteins that carry out the work of cells and keep them in good repair.

Genetic changes with the potential to cause cancer can pass on from parent to child. They can also arise during a person’s lifetime, such as during cell division, or in response to ultraviolet radiation, carcinogens in tobacco smoke, or other environmental factors.

There are different types of genetic changes. Some affect just a single building block of DNA, while others can duplicate, omit, or rearrange long sequences of building blocks.

Another way that genetic changes can lead to cancer does not alter the DNA itself but changes its ability to express its instructions. This type of change is called epigenetic. One way that it happens is through chemical tags that attach to the DNA.

It is normal for cells, even healthy ones, to have genetic alterations, but cancer cells tend to have many more of these. Each person’s cancer will have its own pattern of genetic changes, and even in the same tumor, different cells could have different genetic fingerprints.

Jumping genes — a new type of driver

Jumping genes, which scientists call transposable elements, are sequences of DNA that can move around in a genome. They “come in many different forms and shapes,” and scientists need specialized tools to analyze them.

Thanks to improved and powerful techniques, scientists are realizing that jumping genes are very active in the genome and that perhaps “they should no longer be marginalized.”

How jumping genes made their way into the human genome during evolution is a hot question. Some people have argued that viral infection has been a common route.

Previous studies have shown that specific elements within jumping genes can influence the expression of cancer genes. However, these have not investigated such events in much detail or explored how common they might be in different cancers.

So, Prof. Wang and his team decided to address these points by using tumor samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas program.

They discovered that jumping genes are a feature of many cancers with accelerated tumor growth.

It appears that in these more aggressive cancers, the jumping genes behave as “cryptic switches” that switch on cancer-related genes that are usually silent — and keep them switched on.

Jumping genes vary among cancer types

A critical finding of the study is that while jumping genes appear to be widespread in cancer, their pattern of presence and influence varies across cancer types.

The team found, for instance, that 12 percent of glioma brain cancers had at least one jumping gene, whereas this figure was 87 percent for a type of lung cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

“Jumping genes are more important in some cancer types versus others, but on average, we found at least one of them activating a cancer gene in about half of all the tumors we studied,” Prof. Wang explains.

He suggests that giving doctors this type of information could help them decide whether to treat particular cancers “more aggressively.”

“It also provides new targets to study for future cancer therapies,” he adds.

Another important finding was that jumping genes operating as stealthy on-switches were more prevalent in cancers whose DNA shape was more open. The genome typically keeps DNA tightly closed. Open-shaped DNA is more likely to lose some of its function.

A lot of what transposable elements are doing in our genome is still a mystery. This study is the first detailed outline of their important roles in cancer.”

Prof. Ting Wang

Medical News Today: Cancer: Does mental health influence a person’s outlook?

New research that now appears in the British Journal of Cancer suggests that a person’s history of mental health issues may raise their risk of dying from cancer following diagnosis.
cancer survivor checking her phone
Mental health can play a key role in the outlook of someone who has just received a cancer diagnosis.

Though the cancer mortality rates in the United States have “declined steadily” during the past 20 years, it remains the second leading cause of death, both in the U.S. and globally.

Worldwide, about 1 in 6 deaths are attributable to cancer; in the U.S., cancer caused almost 600,000 deaths in 2016.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that almost a third of cancer-related deaths are due to modifiable risk factors or behaviors.

These behaviors include not exercising enough, smoking, drinking, or not eating enough fruits and vegetables. However, new research adds another critical factor to the list of things that may influence a person’s outlook once they receive a cancer diagnosis: mental health.

Researchers led by Zachary Klaassen, who is an assistant professor and urologic oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Center in Augusta, set out to examine whether a formal psychiatric diagnosis influences cancer survival rates.

Raising cancer death risk by 73 percent

Klaassen and colleagues examined the records of more than 675,000 people who had received a cancer diagnosis. The participants were all adults and received their diagnoses between 1997 and 2014.

Specifically, the study participants had received a diagnosis of one of the 10 most common types of cancer: prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma, endometrial cancer, thyroid cancer, or oral cancer.

Almost 50 percent of these people underwent a psychiatric evaluation as an outpatient, around 7,900 of them received urgent psychiatric help, and over 4,000 were admitted into the hospital because of a mental health problem in the 5 years leading up to their cancer diagnosis.

The study found that the risk of cancer-related death increased along with the level of psychiatric help these people needed and received. More specifically:

  • Those who consulted their primary care physician about a mental health issue had a 5 percent higher chance of dying from cancer.
  • Those whose mental health problems doctors treated as an emergency were 36 percent more likely to die from cancer.
  • Also, being hospitalized for mental health issues raised the likelihood of cancer-related death by 73 percent.

The study was observational, so it cannot establish causality. However, the lead author weighs in on some of the potential mechanisms that may underlie the findings.

Klaassen thinks that the psychological stress that often accompanies mental health conditions can affect the body’s natural defense mechanisms. “We think this means mental health may play a larger role in cancer outcomes than previously thought,” he says.

Major depression and stress may affect our body’s immune surveillance systems, effectively hampering the ability to detect and fight cancer.”

Zachary Klaassen

“A recent psychiatric history should be a red flag to all doctors and nurses treating cancer patients,” adds Klaassen. “It’s essential we keep a close eye on these patients to make sure they’re receiving the best possible care and are followed up if and when cancer appointments are missed.”

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, almost 1 in 5 U.S. adults (44.7 million people) are currently living with a mental health condition.

Medical News Today: Colon cancer: Could exercise halt tumor growth?

New research, appearing in the Journal of Physiology, suggests that short bursts of intense, physical activity may reduce the growth of colorectal tumor cells.
two men exercising
Could short bursts of high-intensity exercise immediately reduce the growth of colorectal cancer cells?

According to the American Cancer Society, doctors will diagnose more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and in excess of 44,000 cases of rectal cancer in 2019.

Colorectal cancer may also cause over 50,000 deaths this year, researchers predict. Treatment options for colorectal cancer vary from localized therapies to systemic, drug-based treatments.

However, new research suggests there is an additional factor that may contribute to reducing colorectal cancer growth and improving patient outcomes: high-intensity exercise.

James Devin, from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, is the lead author of a team of scientists who set out to investigate the effects of a short burst of exercise on colon cancer cells.

As Devin and colleagues explain, previous research has pointed out that repeatedly exercising over a long period of time may help fight off cancer, but the new study suggests that even short bursts may have a similarly positive effect.

Additionally, while some studies have found associations between exercise and “significant reductions in colorectal cancer mortality,” the mechanism behind this potentially therapeutic effect of exercise remains unclear.

High-intensity exercise has immediate effects

To elucidate these mechanisms, Devin and team recruited individuals with colorectal cancer and asked them to complete either an acute session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or 12 sessions of HIIT over a 4-week period.

HIIT is a training method that aims to make the person who exercises do more physical work at a high intensity, during a single session, by “alternating high-intensity exercise intervals with low-intensity exercise or rest intervals.”

In the acute session group, the researchers collected blood serum samples from the participants at baseline, immediately after finishing the HIIT session, and 120 minutes after the workout. In the 4-week group, the scientists collected and analyzed blood serum before the intervention and 4 weeks after.

The “[s]erum obtained immediately following [HIIT], but not 120 minutes post‐[HIIT], significantly reduced colon cancer cell number,” report the researchers.

Specifically, the scientists found “significant increases” in certain cytokines — that is, in signaling proteins that help modulate the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. These cytokines were interleukin‐6, interleukin‐8, and the tumor necrosis factor‐alpha.

“The acute effects of [HIIT] and the cytokine flux may be important mediators of reducing colon cancer cell progression,” the researchers conclude, adding, “Repetitive exposure to these acute effects may contribute to the relationship between exercise and improved colorectal cancer survival.”

Devin further comments on the findings, saying, “After an acute bout of HIIT there were specific increases in inflammation immediately after exercise, which are hypothesized to be involved in reducing the number of cancer cells.”

“This suggests that a physically active lifestyle may be important in tackling human colorectal tumors,” the lead author adds.

We have shown that exercise may play a role in inhibiting the growth of colon cancer cells.”

James Devin

However, the researchers caution that the method they used to study colon cancer in the lab differs vastly from how these cells grow in the human body. So, they need to do more research to explore the effects of HIIT on human colorectal tumors.

Devin says, “We would now like to look at how these changes in growth occur and understand the mechanisms by which biomarkers in the blood can impact cell growth.”

Top 10 Cancer Treatment Institute / Hospital / Medical Center (P

Top 10 Cancer Treatment Institute / Hospital / Medical Center Watch PART 1 Here: Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to manage, however, there are many hospitals in the world that can provide patients with the latest,…

Top 10 Cancer Treatment Institute / Hospital / Medical Center
Watch PART 1 Here:
Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to manage, however, there are many hospitals in the world that can provide patients with the latest, cutting-edge treatments in order to give the best chance to fight against it. Doctors and scientists are always searching for and discovering new ways to treat cancer. According to Insider Monkey, these are The 10 Best Cancer Treatment Hospitals In The World:
5. Roswell Park Cancer Institute, The US
The Roswell Park Cancer Institute is the country’s first cancer center. Founded in 1898, the center takes pride in its multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer. The institute was built on the vision of eminent surgeon Dr. Roswell Park who rightfully predicted that cancer would become the leading cause of death in the U.S. and around the world. The center is known for its Quality Improvement Program that aims to provide “high-quality, cost-effective patient care, while preserving and enhancing the dignity, humanity, and knowledge of the patients served.” The Institute is launching the first clinical trial in the U.S. for a lung cancer treatment called CIMAvax-EGF® vaccine.
4. Abramson Cancer Center, The US
Located at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, the Abramson Cancer Center is known for its innovation, cutting-edge technology, and translational medicine. It has one of the biggest clinical trial programs in the U.S. The Center has been named as “Translational Centers of Excellence” for lung, breast, blood, and pancreatic cancers. Translational medicine is the process of translating research-based medical discoveries into a cure. It was named a Comprehensive Cancer Center in by the National Cancer Institute in 1973 and has maintained that premier status ever since. The Abramson Cancer Center is home to over 400 basic, translational, and clinical scientists who work tirelessly to find out the pathogenesis of cancer. Some of its advanced technologies include HIV oncology program, bone marrow and stem cell transplant program, melanoma and pigmented lesion program, GI cancer program, cancer risk evaluation program, largest Proton Therapy Center, genitourinary cancer program, immunotherapy, and telegenic program.
3. Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, The US
Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, the Johns Hopkins Hospital Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of the premier cancer facilities in the U.S. It can accommodate more than 980 patients and has more than 46,600 admissions yearly. Johns Hopkins is synonymous with excellent patient care and research, and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center is a testament to that. Established in 1973, the center is a world leader in deciphering the mechanisms of cancer and discovering new ways to treat it. It was one of the first institutions to earn the status Comprehensive Cancer Center and recognized as a Center of Excellence. The center has a wide spectrum of specialty programs for adults and children with cancer. It has a Cancer Counselling Center, palliative care programs, and a patient-family suite for those traveling from different states or countries. The center is also known for its Art of Healing program, merging technology to heal the body and a nurturing environment to heal the human spirit. Among the hospital’s advanced treatments are cell cycle regulation, robot-assisted cancer surgeries, DNA repair, signal transduction, plasmapheresis, immunology, stem cell transplants, and melanoma vaccine research.
2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The US
Located in New York City, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is one of the leading cancer hospitals in the country. It can accommodate more than 470 patients with over 24,000 admissions yearly. It was established in 1884 and was then known as New York Cancer Hospital. Memorial Sloan is known as the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center, treating patients for over 130 years.
1. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The US
Recognized as the number one cancer hospital in the world, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has a laser-focused mission to eliminate cancer in Texas, the country, and the world. It was established in 1941 by Monroe Dunaway Anderson, a banker and cotton trader who left a substantial amount of money for healthcare.

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Recent Advancements for the Treatment of Liver Cancer

Josep M. Llovet, MD, PhD, founder and director of the Liver Cancer Program and professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, discusses the current treatment landscape for liver cancer and the advances seen over the…

Josep M. Llovet, MD, PhD, founder and director of the Liver Cancer Program and professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, discusses the current treatment landscape for liver cancer and the advances seen over the last decade at the 2018 International Liver Cancer Association Annual Conference.

In the last 12 years, Llovet says that there was only 1 effective drug, sorafenib (Nexavar) available for this patient population. There were many negative trials over the last several years looking for additional treatment options, until more recently.

Llovet says there has been a revolution in the treatment landscape of liver cancer. Three drugs are now available in the second-line setting, including regorafenib (Stivarga), cabozantinib (Cabometyx), and ramucirumab (Cyramza). In the frontline, lenvatinib (Lenvima) has also proven to be similar to sorafenib in trials with noninferiority design.

Moving forward, Llovet says the question to be answered is where are we going next? What will be the next steps in this treatment paradigm?

For more resources and information regarding ILCA:

Intro to Cancer Rehabilitation in Melanoma Dr. Eugene Chang, MD, FRCPC

Melanoma Network of Canada – Melanoma Information Session Toronto 2018 Presents: Dr. Eugene Chang, MD, FRCPC -UHN Physiatrist (Toronto Rehab Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre) -Medical Lead (Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program, Princess Margaret) -Clinician-Teacher, Faculty of Medicine, Division of…

Melanoma Network of Canada – Melanoma Information Session Toronto 2018 Presents: Dr. Eugene Chang, MD, FRCPC
-UHN Physiatrist (Toronto Rehab Institute, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre)
-Medical Lead (Cancer Rehabilitation & Survivorship Program, Princess Margaret)
-Clinician-Teacher, Faculty of Medicine, Division of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, University of Toronto
-Clinical Fellowship in Cancer Rehabilitation at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX (2012)

Dr. Eugene Chang is a Physiatrist, which is a doctor of Rehabilitation Medicine. He did a Cancer Rehabilitation Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston in 2012. He currently works at Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Rehab Institute, with a special interest in helping cancer patients recover from various physical impairments as a result of their disease or treatment.