Posted tagged ‘cancer’

RNAi May Work in Humans

March 23, 2010
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A paper recently published in Nature offers evidence from a new study that nanotechnology may be successfully used in humans to target proteins associated with cancer, deliver medication, and turn off those proteins.  This study, using a mechanism called RNA interference (RNAi), is the first to use humans as subjects.  By targeting cancer at this level and avoiding healthy cells, negative side-effects as seen in chemotherapy would be significantly reduced.

At-Home Sensors May Detect Cancer In The Future

February 18, 2010

An engineering professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia is developing a tiny sensor, smaller than a human hair, that can detect cancer, including breast and prostate cancers, by testing bodily fluids.  Providing instant results and being non-invasive, this sensor could revolutionize testing for cancer and other diseases.

Origin of Cancer in Tasmanian Devil Identified

January 4, 2010

Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, Taranna, Tasmania. Image credit: Wayne McLean

The origins of a facial cancer that has killed 60% of the Tasmanian Devil population since 1996 have been discovered by researchers working to save the species.  Know as devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) the tumors were initially assumed to be caused by a virus that was spread through bites.  But, researchers were unable to identify a virus.  A 2007 study found that the cancer cells from different animals shared genetic markers that were otherwise not found in the animals themselves.   The current study builds on this research, tracing the origins of these shared genetic markers.  The new research indicated that a single Schwann cell, a type of nerve cell, in a single animal was the origin of DFTD.

“Man’s Best Friend” Advances Cancer Research

October 15, 2009
Shteland Sheepdog.  Image credit:  Angela Bolte

Shetland Sheepdog. Image credit: Angela Bolte

An article published in this week’s edition of PLoS Medicine discusses the important role dogs play in cancer research in the United States.  There are approximately one million new cancer cases in dogs in the United States each year.  These cancers are treated in much the same fashion as cancer in humans, with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.  Dogs also have human-like reactions to cancer.  For example, they experience a wide variety of cancers and tend to have relapses, just like humans.  These qualities, in addition to the fact that they are not treated in a research facility, but in a home setting like humans, makes them better subjects for study than mice or rats.  What this means for dogs is that they have access to the most advanced experimental cancer treatments long before humans.  Some owners embrace these treatments not only for their potential to save a beloved pet, but for their role in advancing medicine.  For more information, see the New Scientist.

Cancer Threatens Wildlife

July 27, 2009
Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) with fibropapillomatosis.  Photo: © Ursula Keuper-Bennett/Peter Bennett.  Click photo for copyright information.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) with fibropapillomatosis. Photo: © Ursula Keuper-Bennett/Peter Bennett. Click photo for copyright information.

A new study published in the July Nature Reviews Cancer suggests cancer is as much of a threat to wildlife as it is to humans and that some species are threatened by extinction due to cancer.  The Tasmanian devil is at risk of extinction due to a cancer known as devil facial tumor disease.  Animal life in areas polluted by humans is also at risk for cancer.  For example, beluga whales in the St. Lawrence River system have a very high rate of intestinal cancer.  One common pollutant there is a known carcinogen in humans.  In other known cases, virus-induced cancers threaten wildlife.   Fibropapillomatosis,  common in green sea turtles, causes skin and internal organ tumors and is thought to be caused by a virus.  For more information, see ScienceDaily.

New Drug Fights Cancer in Dogs

June 4, 2009

collieThe FDA recently approved a the first drug to fight cancer in dogs.  Focusing on a fast-growing type of cancer, canine cutaneous mast cell tumors, the new drug offers a potential new lease on life for man’s best friend.  Mast cell tumors are very dangerous with the potential to double in size literally overnight.  The drug is scheduled to be available in 2010.  For more information on this drug, see ABC.

Down Syndrome Works Against Cancer

May 29, 2009

DNAPeople born with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21 which causes the genetic aberrations associated with the condition.  But chromosome 21 carries 231 genes, including some that may well suppress cancer. In a new study, researchers offered findings that the protein encoded by the RCAN1 gene helps to control the rampant blood vessel growth that tumors need.  Scientists speculate that, by having an extra copy of the gene, more protein is be made, adding to an anticancer effect.  For more information on this study, see here.