patrick mcgowanDrugs made using unusual metals could form an effective treatment against colon and ovarian cancer, including cancerous cells that have developed immunity to other drugs, according to research at the University of Warwick and the University of Leeds.

The study, published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, showed that a range of compounds containing the two transition metals Ruthenium and Osmium, which are found in the same part of the periodic table as precious metals like platinum and gold, cause significant cell death in ovarian and colon cancer cells.

Researchers have identified a gene that may play a role in the growth and spread of a childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma, which develops in the body's soft tissues. The finding has revealed a potential new target for the treatment of this disease. The study, by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, components of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues at The Children's Hospital in Westmead, Australia, and the Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, was published online Oct. 5, 2009, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

A small RNA molecule, known as a microRNA, may help physicians identify liver cancer patients who, in spite of their poor prognosis, could respond well to treatment with a biological agent called interferon. The finding, by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their partners at Fudan University, Shanghai, and the University of Hong Kong in China and at Ohio State University, Columbus, appeared in the Oct. 8, 2009, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

 

"Interferon is an experimental therapeutic agent that has been used for many years to treat cancer patients, but with modest benefit," said study first author Junfang Ji, Ph.D., of the Liver Carcinogenesis Section at NCI's Center for Cancer Research.

Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have developed a new way to deliver drugs into cancer cells by exposing them briefly to a non-harmful laser. Their results are published in a recent article in ACS NANO, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

"This entirely novel tool will allow biologists to investigate how genes function by providing them with temporal and spatial control over when a gene is turned on or off," explained Norbert Reich, senior author and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCSB. "In a nutshell, what we describe is the ability to control genes in cells –– and we are working on doing this in animals –– simply by briefly exposing them to a non-harmful laser."

Researchers use novel stem-cell method to discover chemical with potency against breast tumors in mice

A team of researchers led by the Whitehead and Broad Institutes has discovered a chemical that works in mice to kill the rare but aggressive cells within breast cancers that have the ability to seed new tumors.

These cells, known as cancer stem cells, are thought to enable cancers to spread - and to re-emerge after seemingly successful treatment. Although further work is needed to determine whether this specific chemical holds therapeutic promise for humans, the study shows that it is possible to find chemicals that selectively kill cancer stem cells. The scientists' findings appear in the Aug. 13 advance online issue of Cell.

by Laura Beil

In a traditional scientific study, the drug that saved Elizabeth Alexander’s life would have been deemed a failure. An associate professor of history at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Alexander was diagnosed with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer in 2000. She took Herceptin (trastuzumab), a drug that targets the HER2 molecule overproduced in about 20 percent of breast cancers.

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