Posts Tagged ‘case’

Novel immunotherapy vaccine decreases recurrence in HER2 positive breast cancer patients

One of only a few vaccines of its kind in development, GP2 has been shown to be safe and effective for breast cancer patients, reducing recurrence rates by 57%. Further, women with the highest overexpression of HER2 (known as HER2 +3) had no cancer recurrences when they were administered the vaccine after completing trastuzumab (Herceptin), a type of immunotherapy drug known as a monoclonal antibody. HER2 is an oncoprotein that promotes tumor growth and is expressed to some extent in 75-80% of breast cancers.

“This is an important and different avenue in immunotherapy research, in that we are investigating ways to prevent cancer recurrence by stimulating the immune system to treat cancer,” says principal investigator Elizabeth Mittendorf, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Surgical Oncology. “The ultimate goal is to develop a preventative tool that will minimize the risk of recurrence in women who have already had breast cancer and for whom standard therapies have failed.”

The findings are the result of a phase II randomized trial that paired the GP2 vaccine, designed to stimulate the CD8+ cells, commonly known as “killer” or “toxic” T cells, with an immune stimulant known as granulocyte/macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The trial included 190 patients with varying levels of HER2; 89 women received the GP2 vaccine with a GM-CSF adjuvant and a control group of 91 patients received GM-CSF alone. Eight patients experienced early recurrence or developed a second malignancy and did not complete the vaccine trial. The vaccine is injected subcutaneously and the initial series consisted of monthly inoculations for six months, followed by four cycles of booster shots administered every six months thereafter. The patients were monitored for nearly three years.

For all 190 patients, including those who did not complete the trial, the disease-free survival (DFS) rate was 88% among those who received the vaccine and 81% in the control group — representing a 37% reduction in recurrence. Excluding the patients who did not complete the vaccine series, the results are higher — 94% DFS rate versus 85% who did not get GP2 — a 57% risk reduction.

Women with HER2 +3 who were administered trastuzumab as part of the standard of care prior to receiving the vaccine experienced no cases of cancer recurrence. According to Mittendorf, trastuzumab may act like a primer for the vaccine. Trastuzumab stimulates CD4+ T cells to release substances that fight cancer cells and initiates an antibody response. Thus, it may prepare the immune system, making the vaccine even more effective. MD Anderson is now testing this combination of immunotherapies in other clinical trials.

Personalized Immunotherapy

The GP2 study supports previous MD Anderson research on similar breast cancer vaccines, such as AE37, which showed a significant immune response and improved recurrence rates in triple-negative breast cancer patients. Another candidate, E75, known as NeuVax or nelipepimut-S, showed a 50% recurrence decrease in high-risk patients. Currently, NeuVax is being tested internationally in a phase III clinical trial.

“We believe many more patients will benefit in some way from immunotherapy,” says Mittendorf. “The challenge will be identifying the right immunotherapeutic approach for each individual patient. When doctors are able to do that, cancer therapy, and immunotherapy specifically, will follow a more personalized approach.”

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140905122717.htm

New tool to probe cancer’s molecular make-up

Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute based at The University of Manchester — part of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre — and the Institute of Cancer Research, London, looked at protein kinases, molecules that control various aspects of cellular function.

The study, funded by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)/Pfizer CASE studentship and CRUK,was published in Nature Methods this week (24 August).

Earlier work has shown that mutations or increases in a range of protein kinases are linked to tumour growth, and for several decades researchers have looked to develop drugs that target and prevent this activity in order to kill cancer cells. Ten types of drugs which reduce the activity have so far been approved for cancer treatment in patients.

Dr Claus Jørgensen, who led the study as team leader in the Division of Cancer Biology at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, before taking up a new post as head of the Systems Oncology group at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, said: “Protein kinases regulate how cells communicate. When these molecules are deregulated it corresponds to cells “hearing voices” with a resulting change in their behaviour. Doctors need a way to spot changes in kinase levels in individual tumours so they can see how they respond to treatments and match patients to the treatment that works best for them.”

The team investigated the make-up of over 200 protein kinases. They used a technique known as mass spectrometry to develop a method that can both identify and measure the amount of various kinases in a biological sample — for example from a part of a tumour removed in surgery. “Our new method can correctly measure the amount of protein kinases in a sample. It means we can monitor cancer cell behaviour and also how tumours respond to different therapy in cancer patients,” added Dr Jørgensen.

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140826085853.htm

Navigation system used by cancer, nerve cells, uncovered by scientists

The cells, which were studied in nematode worms, are able to break through normal tissue boundaries and burrow into other tissues and organs — a crucial step in many normal developmental processes, ranging from embryonic development and wound-healing to the formation of new blood vessels.

But sometimes the process goes awry. Such is the case with metastatic cancer, in which cancer cells spread unchecked from where they originated and form tumors in other parts of the body.

“Cell invasion is one of the most clinically relevant yet least understood aspects of cancer progression,” said David Sherwood, an associate professor of biology at Duke.

Sherwood is leading a team that is investigating the molecular mechanisms that control cell invasion in both normal development and cancer, using a one-millimeter worm known as C. elegans.

At one point in C. elegans development, a specialized cell called the anchor cell breaches the dense, sheet-like membrane that separate the worm’s uterus from its vulva, opening up the worm’s reproductive tract.

Anchor cells can’t see, so they need some kind of signal to tell them where to break through. In a 2009 study, Sherwood and colleagues discovered that an extracellular cue called netrin orients the anchor cell so that it invades in the right direction.

In a new study appearing Aug. 25 in the Journal of Cell Biology, the team shows how receptors on the invasive cells essentially rove around the cell membrane “hunting” for the missing netrin signal that will guide the cell to the correct location.

The researchers used a video camera attached to a powerful microscope to take time-lapse movies of the slow movement of the C. elegans anchor cell during its invasion.

Their time-lapse analyses reveal that when netrin production is blocked, netrin receptors on the surface of the anchor cell periodically cluster, disperse and reassemble in a different region of the cell membrane. The receptors cluster alongside patches of actin filaments — thin flexible fibers that help cells change shape and form invasive protrusions — that pop up in each new spot.

“It’s kind of like a missile detection system,” Sherwood said.

Rather than the whole cell having to move around, its receptors move around on the outside of the cell until they get a signal. Once the receptors locate the netrin signal, they stabilize in the region of the cell membrane that is closest to the source of the signal.

The findings redefine decades-old ideas about how the cell’s navigation system works. “Cells don’t just passively respond to the netrin signal — they’re actively searching for it,” Sherwood said.

Given that netrin has been found to promote cell invasion in some of the most lethal cancers, the findings could lead to new treatment strategies. Disrupting the cell’s netrin detection system, for example, could prevent cancer cells from finding their way to the bloodstream or the lymphatic system and stop them from metastasizing, or becoming invasive and spreading throughout the body.

“One of the things we’re gearing up to do next are drug screens with our collaborators to see if we can block this detection system during invasion,” Sherwood said.

Scientists have also known for years that netrin plays a key role in wiring the brain and nervous system by guiding developing nerve cells as they grow and form connections.

This means the results could also point to new ways of treating neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and ALS and recovering from spinal cord injuries.

Tinkering with the cell’s netrin detection machinery, for example, may make it possible to encourage damaged cells in the central nervous system — which normally have limited ability to regenerate — to regrow.

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825100135.htm