Nanoparticles, electro gene therapy, pancreatic cancer vaccine among subjects
PHILADELPHIA– Critical innovations and new knowledge are now emerging from the laboratories of universities, medical centers and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, offering the prospect of a new generation of drugs capable of destroying cancer cells with pinpoint accuracy, without damaging adjacent normal cells. Each year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), jointly with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), brings together scientists and other professionals from around the world seeking to share the latest information in this field, otherwise known as molecular targets of cancer. More than 3,000 scientists and clinicians – including top executives and researchers from hundreds of pharmaceutical and biotech companies – are gathering in Philadelphia next week at the annual AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics to present, discuss and hear about such promising discoveries as:
A novel pancreatic vaccine appears to be nudging survival rates higher for this often-fatal disease. Researchers are reporting a significant bump over historical survival statistics in patients following surgery. The vaccine is designed to boost the patient's immune response to pancreatic cancer cells that may still exist despite surgery and chemo-radiation treatment.
Cancer-fighting nanoparticles are undergoing their first patient tests in a clinical study at Georgetown University Medical Center. The tiny structure – measuring a millionth of an inch across – resembles a virus particle that can penetrate deeply into the tumor and move efficiently into cells. Once inside, the nanoparticle, is delivering a deadly payload – a p53 gene whose protein helps to signal cells to self-destruct. In this case, the "immunolipoplex" is targeting advanced solid cancers.
Attacking the cancer cell's powerhouse represents a potential new way to destroy tumors, by sapping their energy. The new approach is based on the notion that cancer cells are unusually hungry cells, since they require large amounts of energy to duplicate and proliferate. That intense hunger may provide a key to their demise. Interestingly, several drugs already exist that inhibit these pathways, according to a researcher at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
Electric pulses that can deliver genes to tumor cells may provide a novel approach to the treatment of melanoma. Researchers are about half-way through a clinical trial that uses pulses of electricity to deliver a gene for a powerful immune system stimulant to tumor cells. This patient study is the first to test "electroporation," or electrical stimulation, to deliver to humans a plasmid that contains all the genetic material necessary to tell a cancer cell to produce this immune system stimulant.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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