Posts Tagged ‘cancer research’

Cancer cells as cross dressers

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-22-2011

While many scientists have espoused the theory that each type of cancer cell comes from a unique cancer stem cell, research out of the Broad Institute of MIT, Harvard and Whitehead Institute points to a much more decentralized society, with cancer cells able to interconvert between different types.

To characterize how cancer maintains cellular equilibrium, the researchers studied two different breast cancer cell lines and examined three different cell states that were similar to normal breast epithelial cell types, known as basal, luminal, and stem-like. The team sorted the different cell types from each other and then grew their relatively pure populations for six days. Remarkably, each of the three populations quickly returned to the same equilibrium – and populations of non-stem cells generated new stem-like cells.

Click here to read more.

Citation: Gupta PB et al. Stochastic state transitions give rise to phenotypic equilibrium in populations of cancer cells. Cell. August 19, 2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.07.026

Explaining Cancer Through Narrated Cartoons

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-16-2011

The New York Times has a great cartoon video explaining three predominant theories of how cancer progresses from a single cell into a metastatic tumor. The narrated video discusses:

  1. The microbe theory-whereby an otherwise symbiotic relationship between bacteria and their host is spoiled by miscommunication
  2. The Junk DNA theory
  3. The MicroRNA theory-whereby microRNA either prevents mRNA from reaching the ribosome or intercepts and changes the mRNA message

Click on the picture below to see the video on the NYT website.

Facebook Fans Finance Cancer Research

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 04-07-2011

The Kanzius Cancer Research Foundation (KCRF), which raises funds primarily through grass-roots fundraising, has recently added Facebook to its arsenal in the war against cancer.

According to All Facebook, an anonymous donor has agreed to contribute $1 to the Foundation for every new KCRF Facebook Fan. The company has already garnered 10,000 fans and needs 240,000 more fans to hit its goal of raising $250,000.

Kanzius non-invasive radio-wave cancer treatment is based on the delivery of antibody coated gold nanoparticles to tumor cells which are “cooked” by a dose of radio waves, thereby selectively killing tumor cells while leaving healthy tissue intact.

A basic “laymans” description of the treatment was featured in this Wired article a few years ago.

Research on the Kanzius treatment is currently being conducted by Dr. Stephen Curley at the Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and Dr. David Geller at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

To become a Facebook fan of KCRF visit the KCRF Facebook page.

Fighting Cancer from Within

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-01-2011

I recently saw the video below posted on the Punctuated Equilibrium blog and I decided to share it with the our esteemed readers.

In this TED presentation, scientist Danny Hill explains a fundamental difference between infectious diseases and cancer and why physicians need to change their method of treating both of them in a similar manner. According to Hill, infectious disease is an external attack on one’s body which can be defended against by a wide array of treatments (such as antibiotics). Cancer, on the other hand, is something that occurs naturally in every individual but spins out of control when naturally-occurring protection mechanisms fail. Hill proposes that we begin thinking of cancer as a verb and recognize that while everyone is “cancering” certain individuals have aberrant defense mechanisms which results in “cancer” related symptoms.

While the presentation was intended for a lay audience, seasoned scientists will appreciate Hill’s demonstration of how 2D Gel Electrophoresis can be used to identify differences in protein expression between healthy and diseased individuals. Automated analysis of serum protein is the most efficient way to diagnose patients and is what Hill’s company Applied Proteomics focuses on.

Grrl Scientist commented that she is skeptical that proteomic analysis of blood proteins can be used to track solid tumor progression. However, a quick pubmed search reveals thousands of articles written on tumor biomarkers found in serum, indicating that certain tumors either directly or indirectly secrete biomarkers into the blood which may eventually be used to detect tumor progression.

Where Omics and Oncology Convene

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 09-28-2010

I read an interesting article recently on large-scale genome/cancer projects geared towards driving therapeutic discovery through “omics” based research.

Below is an excerpt of the article from Drug Discovery News.

Oncology researchers looking for new and better ways to treat cancer recently got what may be some of their best early ‘omics news since the Human Genome Project published initial results in 2000, with the announcement this summer that the largest study correlating genetics with cancer treatments released its first results.

The cross-Atlantic collaboration, dubbed the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer project, is driven primarily by the U.S.-based Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the U.K-based Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. In mid-July, the researchers described their initial data set regarding the responses of 350 cancer samples to 18 anticancer therapeutics, publishing the information for free on the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer website in the hopes that it will aid oncology researchers worldwide in better understanding cancer genetics and improving treatment regimens.

For more information see the original post in Drug Discovery News