Monthly Archives: February 2015

Australian Researcher’s Map of Pancreatic Cancer will Refine Treatment

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Tumours are a lot like earthquakes. No two are the same, and just as quakes occur mostly along fault lines, scientists have discovered that tumours also have unstable regions hidden inside their genomes.

An Australian-led research group has conducted the most thorough analysis of pancreatic cancers, identifying four subgroups that differentiate tumours by their gene arrangements.

The discovery promises to improve the treatment of at least one group, about one in four patients, after the researchers noticed an existing class of chemotherapy drugs used to treat some breast cancers may also work on pancreas patients whose tumours have “unstable” genomes.

Their hunch appeared correct when they discovered four out of five study patients with this genetic signature responded to DNA-damaging drugs.

“Two of them had an exceptional response, which happens very, very rarely in pancreatic cancer. Their tumours went away completely,” said the co-leader of the group, Andrew Biankin, who conducted the work at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

The results, published in the science journal Nature, represent one of most significant advances in pancreatic cancer – the fourth most common cause of cancer death – in 50 years

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*credit verbatim via The Sydney Morning Herald  and Nicky Phillips*

Pancreatic Cancer Action Income increased by 141 %

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Pancreatic Cancer Action increased its income by 141 per cent as a result of its “I wish I had breast cancer” campaign, despite not asking for money, its chief executive told an audience of fundraising experts last week.

The charity faced criticism in February last year after it ran a series of shocking images of people with pancreatic cancer as part of the campaign, against slogans such as “I wish I had breast cancer”, in order to highlight the seriousness of the disease and the low chances of survival.

Ali Stunt, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action, told the Fundraising Live conference, run by Fundraising magazine and Civil Society Media, that monthly donations to the charity increased substantially, even though the charity decided before they launched the campaign that they would not ask for money.

“We couldn’t go out with such a strong strapline and ask for money at the same time,” she said. “So we decided that we were going to disconnect the fundraising from that campaign.”

But despite that, in the twelve months after the campaigns income rose by 141 per cent.

She said: “So it worked for us, but we didn’t ask for money.”

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*credit verbatim via Alice Sharman and civilsociety.co.uk

Electric Fields Carrying Chemo Could Destroy Intractable Tumors

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There’s no “good” cancer, but some are certainly worse than others when it comes to prognosis. Pancreatic cancer, for example, has a dismal survival rate. It’s inoperable in many cases, and in general it’s hard to deliver chemo to the tumor because its internal pressure keeps drugs at bay.

Researchers have been devising strategies to concentrate chemo in the most recalcitrant tumors, from injecting drugs directly into tumors themselves to directing chemo-coated magnetic particles to the site. The latest takes some of these ideas a step further while using existing drugs, a time-saving step. It comes in the form of a device that stores chemo and produces electric fields that carry the drugs directly into the tumor. Because many existing drugs are polar molecules, they are carried along with the electric current.

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*Credit verbatim via PBS.org and Tim DeChant*

Potential Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Could Increase Life Expectancy

Pancreatic cancer cells are notorious for being protected by a fortress of tissue, making it difficult to deliver drugs to either shrink the tumor or stop its growth. Now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a device that could change all that: By using electric fields, the device can drive chemotherapy drugs directly into tumor tissue, preventing their growth and in some cases, shrinking them.

The work, published Feb. 4 in Science Translational Medicine, opens the possibility of dramatically increasing the number of people who are eligible for life-saving surgeries. It represents a fundamentally new treatment approach for pancreatic cancer, which has a 75 percent mortality rate within a year of diagnosis – a statistic that has not changed in more than 40 years.

“Surgery to remove a tumor currently provides the best chance to cure pancreatic cancer,” said Joseph DeSimone, Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at UNC and William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at NC State University. “However, often a diagnosis comes too late for a patient to be eligible for surgery due to the tendency of the tumors to become intertwined with major organs and blood vessels.”

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*credit verbatim via UNC.edu*

Cell Mechanism Discovered That May Cause Pancreatic Cancer

*credit verbatim via ScienceDaily.com and University of Utah Health Sciences*

Researchers have found that defects in how cells are squeezed out of overcrowded tissue to die, a process called extrusion, may be a mechanism by which pancreatic cancer begins. From these findings, they may have identified an effective way to reverse the defective extrusion’s effects without destroying normal tissues nearby.

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*credit verbatim via ScienceDaily.com and University of Utah Health Sciences*

Loss of Loved Ones Drives a Family to Eradicate Cancer

*credit verbatim via eurekalert.org and University of Hawaii Cancer Center*

Alison Brown-Carvalho lost her husband William Brown to pancreatic cancer in 2009, after 16 years of marriage. A few years later she lost her mother, Janet (Ikeda) Shitabata, to stomach cancer.

As a result, Brown-Carvalho made a career change and joined the University of Hawai’i Foundation in the Development Office at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, determined to do her part to eradicate cancer. She raised $50,000 from family members and donated it for pancreatic cancer research at the UH Cancer Center.

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*credit verbatim via eurekalert.org and University of Hawaii Cancer Center*