Monthly Archives: February 2016

Costa Rican Receives Patent For Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine

Christian Marin-Muller, molecular biologist and business manager with a PhD in molecular virology, is the 33 year old Costa Rican that has what few scientists achieve in life: a patent for a vaccine.

From his laboratory at Baylor College of Medecine in Texas, MarĂ­n paved the way for a vaccine against pancreatic cancer.

The vaccine is not preventive, rather it is a therapeutic vaccine that is applied in order to reduce or control the tumor.

Working on the vaccine with Marin-Muller were Qizhi Yao and Changyi Chen .

The key to stop the growth and spread of pancreatic cancer could be found in a microRNA called MiR-198, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears online in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Their findings reveal a treatment target that, when modulated in the lab setting, reduces tumors and makes them more susceptible to chemotherapy.

Before this vaccine is approved, it requires human clinical trials.

Clinical trials have three phases: in the first the safety of the vaccine (side effects) is tested, in the second efficacy ( as served) and the third will confirm the two previous phases.

This process takes about 10 years, but being that pancreatic cancer is a very aggressive cancer for which no treatment is accurate, it could take only three years.

The process is expensive , costing about US$ 1 billion.

However, Marin told La Nacion in an interview, he is hopeful that there are companies interested and materialize his dream of helping in the treatment of one of the most aggressive and deadly tumors.

(to be taken to this article, click here)

*credit verbatim via http://qcostarica.com and Rico*

Pancreatic cancer may be treatable with tree extract

With no effective treatments currently available, there is an urgent and important need to develop new drugs to treat pancreatic cancer. After carrying out tests in lab cells and mice, researchers propose that nimbolide, a natural extract from the leaves of the neem tree, could meet such a need.

In the journal Scientific Reports, a team of biomedical scientists at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) reports how nimbolide can stop pancreatic cancer growing and spreading without harming normal, healthy cells.

Senior and corresponding author Rajkumar Lakshmanaswamy, an associate professor in TTUHSC El Paso’s Center of Emphasis in Cancer, says:

“The promise nimbolide has shown is amazing, and the specificity of the treatment towards cancer cells over normal cells is very intriguing.”

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death in the US and is projected to become the second leading cause by 2020. It is the only major cancer, note the authors, where fewer than 6 out of every 100 patients survive more than 5 years after diagnosis.

The main reason pancreatic cancer is so deadly is because it is very difficult to diagnose in the early stages, before it has started to spread and invade surrounding tissue and other organs, which it does very fast.

Consequently, most patients with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when the disease is in an advanced stage. For them, surgery is rarely an option, underscoring the importance of finding new therapies.

Nimbolide boosts production of reactive oxygen species:

Nimbolide is a natural extract derived from the leaves and flowers of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) that is widely used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of human ailments.

Previous studies of nimbolide’s effect in lab cells and animals reveal that nimbolide has a number of anti-cancer properties. The compound interferes with cancer cell signaling pathways that are linked to inflammation, survival, growth, invasion, development of tumor blood vessels and cancer spread, or metastasis.

The new study, which tests nimbolide specifically on pancreatic cancer cell lines and mice, finds the compound is effective in inhibiting cancer growth and metastasis.

The researchers found that nimbolide boosts the production of a group of molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which is known to regulate cell death by apoptosis (self-killing) and autophagy (self-eating).

Further experiments in the pancreatic cancer cell lines revealed that ROS generation by nimbolide curbed proliferation of cells and reduced their ability to migrate, invade and form colonies.

However, the authors note that an area that needs to be researched further is the complex interplay between apoptosis and autophagy resulting from the nimbolide-induced boost in ROS. In this study, the anti-cancer effect of nimbolide seems to be via apoptosis, and not via autophagy, which other studies suggest may actually increase cancer cell survival.

Nimbolide ‘attacks pancreatic cancer from all angles’:

The results show that nimbolide reduced the size and number of pancreatic cancer cell colonies by 80% and curbed their migration and invasion capabilities by 70%.

Experiments in live mice also showed that nimbolide is effective in inhibiting pancreatic cancer growth and metastasis, note the authors.

“Nimbolide seems to attack pancreatic cancer from all angles,” says Prof. Lakshmanaswamy.

An important finding of the study is that nimbolide did not appear to harm healthy cells – either in the lab cultures or in the live mice.

As many people in India eat neem and do not appear to experience harmful side effects, the authors suggest using nimbolide for pancreatic cancer would be unlikely to produce the side effects typically seen with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

However, while this fact and the study findings all sound promising, Prof. Lakshmanaswamy points out there is still a long way to go before nimbolide is ready for treating pancreatic cancer in humans.

The team is continuing their research into the anti-cancer properties of nimbolide and also plans to investigate how best to administer it to maximize its effect on pancreatic cancer.

Meanwhile, Medical News Today recently learned how researchers have found a way to hit pancreatic cancer hard with a device that uses an electric field to drive a deadly combination of four chemo drugs directly into the tumor while limiting side effects to the rest of the body.

(to be taken to this article, click here)

*credit verbatim via http://www.medicalnewstoday.com and Catharine Paddock PhD*

Device delivers toxic chemo cocktail to pancan tumor, spares body

Researchers have found a way to hit pancreatic cancer hard with a drug-delivery device that puts a lethal combination of four chemo drugs directly into the tumor while limiting the impact on the rest of the body.

Pancreatic cancer is a killer, and to attack a killer you sometimes need to hit it with a highly toxic drug cocktail. However, doing this through the bloodstream only works in a few patients because of the widespread damage to the rest of the body.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill describes how they tested the implantable “iontophoretic device” in mice.

The researchers found that using the iontophoretic device to deliver a particularly toxic mix of four chemotherapy drugs stopped pancreatic tumors in the mice from growing – and in some cases even shrank them – while sparing the rest of the body.

Senior author Jen Jen Yeh, an associate professor of surgery and pharmacology in the UNC School of Medicine, says:

“It’s an exciting approach because there is so little systemic toxicity that it leaves room to administer additional drugs against cancer cells that may have spread in the rest of the body.”

In their study, the team found that compared with intravenous delivery, the iontophoretic device “resulted in better tumor response and tolerability,” when used to attack pancreatic tumors in mice with FOLFIRINOX – a combination of the chemotherapy drugs folinic acid (leucovorin), fluorouracil, irinotecan and oxaliplatin.

Helping more patients qualify for surgery

FOLFIRINOX is a first-line treatment for pancreatic cancer and has been shown to halt or shrink tumors in nearly a third of patients. However, because it is so toxic to the rest of the body, there are many patients who cannot tolerate it when it is delivered through the bloodstream.

The implantable device uses an electric field to drive the chemotherapy drugs directly into the tumor.

The new study follows another published a year ago where the team showed the first successful use of the iontophoretic device in treating human pancreatic tumors grafted into mice and dogs.

Pancreatic cancer is the cause of 7% of all cancer deaths and ranks fourth as a cause of cancer death in both men and women every year in the US, where rates of the disease have been rising by 1.2% a year over the last 10 years.

Early stage pancreatic cancer usually has no symptoms and spreads quickly to the rest of the body, making it difficult to detect and harder to treat when it is found in its later stages.

Consequently, only one in four patients survive more than a year after diagnosis – a statistic that has not changed in over 40 years.

Surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor is currently the best chance of cure, but unfortunately only 15% of patients have operable tumors.

The hope is that the new device will halt and potentially shrink tumors so that more patients with localized and locally advanced pancreatic cancer qualify for surgery.

The team is planning to get the device into clinical trials in the next few years.

(click here to be taken to this article)

*credit verbatim via Catharine Paddock PhD and http://www.medicalnewstoday.com *