Posts Tagged ‘university’

New blood test could offer more tailored treatment of ovarian cancer

Researchers from The University of Manchester and The Christie NHS Foundation Trust — both part of Manchester Cancer Research Centre — say the test could be developed and used in hospitals within the next few years.

It would mean medics could see which patients could benefit from blood vessel-targeting drugs — such as bevacizumab — in addition to conventional therapy. Meanwhilehile others who are not going to benefit would be spared the time and side effects associated with having the drug.

The test would also help to reduce the cost to the NHS. Ovarian cancer has seen little increase in survival rates over the last few decades and scientists are seeking new treatment strategies to improve the standard approach of surgery and chemotherapy.

A recent advance has been to target the development of new blood vessels within the tumor — preventing the cancer from receiving the nutrients it needs to grow. Bevacizumab, one of the blood vessel-targeting drugs, has shown significant but modest improvements in patient survival so doctors are seeking ways to predict which patients are most likely to gain an advantage from this type of drug.

The research team looked at blood samples from patients enrolled in an international trial of bevacizumab. These patients received either standard chemotherapy treatment alone or chemotherapy plus the blood vessel-targeting drug.

Professor Gordon Jayson, Professor of Medical Oncology at The University of Manchester and Honorary Consultant at The Christie who jointly led the study, said: “We are keen to identify predictive biomarkers — measures that can indicate how well a patient will respond to treatment — so we can better target these drugs to patients most likely to benefit.”We investigated levels of a range of proteins in patients’ pre-treatment blood samples to see if any were associated with improved survival.”

The findings, published recently in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, show that two particular proteins — Ang1 and Tie2 — could be used in combination to predict patient response. Patients with high levels of Ang1 and low levels of Tie2 were most likely to benefit from bevacizumab.

Both these proteins are involved in controlling the formation of new blood vessels. Conversely, they found that patients with high levels of both proteins did not benefit from the additional drug.

Study co-author Professor Caroline Dive, from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute based at The University of Manchester, added: “We will now look to further explore the potential of using a blood test to personalise treatment for ovarian cancer patients.

Moving towards a more individualized treatment plan specific for each patient and their particular tumor is key to improving outcomes for patients while sparing those unlikely to benefit from potential side effects of therapy.”

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140905090419.htm

Disparities persist in early-stage breast cancer treatment

The study, to be presented at the 2014 Breast Cancer Symposium, finds that those barriers that still exist are socio-economic, rather than medically-influenced. Meeghan Lautner, M.D., formerly a fellow at MD Anderson, now at The University of Texas San Antonio, will present the findings.

BCT for early stage breast cancer includes breast conserving surgery, followed by six weeks of radiation. It has been the accepted standard of care for early stage breast cancer since 1990 when randomized, prospective clinical trials confirmed its efficacy — leading to the National Institute of Health issuing a consensus statement. Yet, a number of patients still opt for a mastectomy. In hopes of ultimately democratizing care, it was important to look at surgical choices made by women and their association with disparities, explains Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., associate professor, Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson.

“What’s particularly novel and most meaningful about our study is that we looked at how the landscape has changed over time,” says Bedrosian, the study’s senior author. “We hope this will help us understand where we are and are not making progress, as well as identify the barriers we need to overcome to create equity in the delivery of care for our patients.”

For the retrospective, population-based study, the MD Anderson team used the National Cancer Database, a nation-wide outcomes registry of the American College of Surgeons, the American Cancer Society and the Commission on Cancer that captures approximately 70 percent of newly-diagnosed cases of cancer in the country. They identified 727,927 women with early-stage breast cancer, all of whom were diagnosed between 1998 and 2011 and had undergone either BCT or a mastectomy.

Overall, the researchers found that BCT rates increased from 54 percent in 1998 to 59 percent in 2006, and stabilized since then. Adjusting for demographic and clinical characteristics, BCT use was more common in women: age 52-61 compared to younger or older patients; with a higher education level and median income; with private insurance, compared to those uninsured; and who were treated at an academic medical center versus a community medical center.

Geographically, BCT rates were higher in the Northeast than in the South, and in those women who lived within 17 miles of a treatment facility compared to those who lived further away.

An important question to then ask, says Bedrosian, was to compare barriers for women receiving BCT in 1998 to 2011 — and understand how have those barriers changed. The researchers found that, overall, usage of BCT has dramatically increased across all demographic and clinical characteristics, however, significant disparities related to insurance, income and distance to a treatment facility still exist.

Bedrosian is gratified to see that in the areas where physicians and the medical field can make a direct impact — such as geographic distribution and practice type — disparities have equalized over time. However, she notes that factors outside the influence of the medical field, such as insurance type, income and education, still remain. Of great interest is the insurance disparity, says Bedrosian.

“Now with healthcare exchanges providing new insurance coverage options, will we rectify the disparity and overall increase BCT use? We will have wait to see,” she says.

Bedrosian hopes that health policy makers will take note of the findings and barriers related to women receiving BCT and make appropriate changes to democratize care.

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140904103338.htm

Enzyme controlling metastasis of breast cancer identified

“The take-home message of the study is that we have found a way to target breast cancer metastasis through a pathway regulated by an enzyme,” said lead author Xuefeng Wu, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at UC San Diego.

The enzyme, called UBC13, was found to be present in breast cancer cells at two to three times the levels of normal healthy cells. Although the enzyme’s role in regulating normal cell growth and healthy immune system function is well-documented, the study is among the first to show a link to the spread of breast cancer.

Specifically, Wu and colleagues with the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center found that the enzyme regulates cancer cells’ ability to transmit signals that stimulate cell growth and survival by regulating the activity of a protein called p38 which when “knocked down” prevents metastasis. Of clinical note, the researchers said a compound that inhibits the activation of p38 is already being tested for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

In their experiments, scientists took human breast cancer cell lines and used a lentivirus to silence the expression of both the UBC13 and p38 proteins. These altered cancer cells were then injected into the mammary tissues of mice. Although the primary tumors grew in these mice, their cancers did not spread.

“Primary tumors are not normally lethal,” Wu said. “The real danger is cancer cells that have successfully left the primary site, escaped through the blood vessels and invaded new organs. It may be only a few cells that escape, but they are aggressive. Our study shows we may be able to block these cells and save lives.”

Researchers have also defined a metastasis gene signature that can be used to evaluate clinical responses to cancer therapies that target the metastasis pathway.

source : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140902205145.htm