Researchers develop novel nanoparticle that efficiently and selectively kills cancer cells

by Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

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The amorphous nanoparticles dissolve very efficiently in the cell. Credit: von Schirnding et al., Chem 2020

Many chemotherapeutic agents used to treat cancers are associated with side-effects of varying severity, because they are toxic to normal cells as well as malignant tumors. This has motivated the search for effective alternatives to the synthetic pharmaceuticals with which most cancers are currently treated. The use of calcium phosphate and citrate for this purpose has been under discussion for some years now, since they lead to cell death when delivered directly into cells, while their presence in the circulation has little or no toxic effect. The problem consists in finding ways to overcome the mechanisms that control the uptake of these compounds into cells, and ensuring that the compounds act selectively on the cells one wishes to eliminate. Researchers in the Department of Chemistry at LMU, led by Dr. Constantin von Schirnding, Dr. Hanna Engelke and Prof. Thomas Bein, now report the development of a class of novel amorphous nanoparticles made up of calcium and citrate, which are capable of breaching the barriers to uptake, and killing tumor cells in a targeted fashion.

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Revolutionary CRISPR-based Genome Editing System Destroys Cancer Cells ‘Permanently’ in Lab

By Good News Network – Nov 29, 2020

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Cancer cell during cell division (Credit-National Institutes of Health)

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have demonstrated that the CRISPR genome editing system is very effective in treating metastatic cancers, a significant step on the way to finding a cure for cancer.

In a paper published this week, the researchers demonstrated a novel lipid nanoparticle-based delivery system that specifically targets cancer cells—and co-author Prof. Dan Peer said it’s the first study in the world to prove that the CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to treat cancer effectively in a living animal. “It must be emphasized that this is not chemotherapy. There are no side effects, and a cancer cell treated in this way will never become active again,” said Peer, the VP for R&D and Head of the Laboratory of Precision Nanomedicine at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research. “The CRISPR genome editing technology, capable of identifying and altering any genetic segment, has revolutionized our ability to disrupt, repair or even replace genes in a personalized manner.

”Peer’s team that includes researchers from an Iowa company, Integrated DNA Technologies, and Harvard Medical School, chose two of the deadliest cancers: glioblastoma and metastatic ovarian cancer to examine the system’s feasibility. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of brain cancer, with a life expectancy of 15 months after diagnosis and a five-year survival rate of only 3%.

The researchers demonstrated that a single treatment with CRISPR-LNPs doubled the average life expectancy of mice with glioblastoma tumors, improving their overall survival rate by about 30%.Ovarian cancer is a major cause of death among women and the most lethal cancer of the female reproductive system. Despite progress in recent years, only a third of the patients survive this disease—but treatment with CRISPR-LNPs in mice with metastatic ovarian cancer boosted the overall survival rate of by a whopping 80%.

“Despite its extensive use in research, clinical implementation is still in its infancy because an effective delivery system is needed to safely and accurately deliver the CRISPR to its target cells,” Peer told Tel Aviv Universitynews. “The delivery system we developed targets the DNA responsible for the cancer cells’ survival. This is an innovative treatment for aggressive cancers that have no effective treatments today.”

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Nanobiologic approach trains the innate immune system to eliminate tumor cells

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A groundbreaking new type of cancer immunotherapy developed at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai trains the innate immune system to help it eliminate tumor cells through the use of nanobiologics, tiny materials bioengineered from natural molecules that are paired with a therapeutic component, according to a study published in Cell in October.

This nanobiologic immunotherapy targets the bone marrow, where part of the immune system is formed, and activates a process called trained immunity. This process reprograms bone marrow progenitor cells to produce “trained” innate immune cells that halt the growth of cancer, which is normally able to protect itself from the immune system with the help of other types of cells, called immunosuppressive cells.

This work for the first time demonstrates that trained immunity can be successfully and safely induced for the treatment of cancer. The research was performed in animal models, including a mouse model with melanoma, and the researchers said it is being developed for clinical testing.

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Determining if tumor gene testing can select efficacious precision cancer treatment

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NCI-MATCH is a precision medicine cancer trial that seeks to determine whether matching certain drugs or drug combinations in adults whose tumors have specific gene abnormalities will effectively treat their cancer, regardless of their cancer type. Such discoveries could be eligible to move on to larger, more definitive trials. The trial is led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group. Credit: ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group

Five years ago, the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, jointly launched a very different kind of cancer study. NCI-Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice (NCI-MATCH or EAY131), the largest precision medicine cancer trial to date, sought to match genetic abnormalities driving patients’ tumors with approved or experimental drugs targeting those defects. The type of cancer did not matter. Nearly 6000 cancer patients quickly joined the trial and contributed their tumor specimens for genomic testing. Now, the Journal of Clinical Oncology is publishing an in-depth look into the tumor gene make-up of these patients. It is the largest data set ever compiled on patients with tumors that have progressed on one or more standard treatments, or with rare cancers for which there is no standard treatment. The information contains significant discoveries that tell physicians and patients more about how to use genomic testing to select the best treatments.

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Researchers create hand-held device for patients to read levels of cancer biomarker in their own blood

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Newswise: Researchers create hand-held device for patients to read levels of cancer biomarker in their own blood

Newswise — HAMILTON, ON, Oct. 8, 2020 — Researchers at McMaster and Brock universities have created the prototype for a hand-held device to measure a biomarker for cancer, paving the way for home-based cancer monitoring and to improve access to diagnostic testing.

The device works much like the monitors that diabetics use to test their blood-sugar levels and could be used in a medical clinic or at home, all without lab work, greatly simplifying the process for testing blood for cancer’s signature.

A user would mix a droplet of blood in a vial of reactive liquid, then place the mixture onto a strip and insert it into a reader. In minutes, the device would measure an antigen that indicates the degree to which cancer is present.

The prototype has been designed to monitor prostate specific antigen (PSA) and the technology can readily be adapted to measure other markers, depending on the form of cancer or other chronic disease.

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Biochip innovation combines AI and nanoparticles to analyze tumors

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Electrical engineers, computer scientists and biomedical engineers at the University of California, Irvine have created a new lab-on-a-chip that can help study tumor heterogeneity to reduce resistance to cancer therapies.

In a paper published today in Advanced Biosystems, the researchers describe how they combined artificial intelligence, microfluidics and nanoparticle inkjet printing in a device that enables the examination and differentiation of cancers and healthy tissues at the single-cell level.

“Cancer cell and tumor heterogeneity can lead to increased therapeutic resistance and inconsistent outcomes for different patients,” said lead author Kushal Joshi, a former UCI graduate student in biomedical engineering. The team’s novel biochip addresses this problem by allowing precise characterization of a variety of cancer cells from a sample.

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New cancer vaccine ready for human trials

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Scientists are ready to trial a new cancer vaccine in humans following the successful outcome of their preclinical studies.

The new vaccine was developed by a Mater Research team based at The Translational Research Institute in collaboration with The University of Queensland.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Kristen Radford says the vaccine has the potential to treat a variety of blood cancers and malignancies and is a major breakthrough for cancer vaccinations.

“We are hoping this vaccine could be used to treat blood cancers, such as myeloid leukaemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and paediatric leukaemias, plus solid malignancies including breast, lung, renal, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers, and glioblastoma,” she said.

“Our new vaccine is comprised of human antibodies fused with tumour-specific protein, and we are investigating its capacity to target human cells while activating the memory of the tumour cells.”

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Study demonstrates feasibility of hologram technology in liver tumor ablation

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Data from one of the first clinical uses of augmented reality guidance with electromagnetically tracked tools shows that the technology may help doctors quickly, safely, and accurately deliver targeted liver cancer treatments, according to a research abstract presented during a virtual session of the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting on June 14. The technology provides a three-dimensional holographic view inside a patient’s body, allowing interventional radiologists to accurately burn away tumors while navigating to avoid organs and other critical structures.

“Converting traditional two-dimensional imaging into three-dimensional holograms which we can then utilize for guidance using augmented reality helps us to better view a patient’s internal structures as we navigate our way to the point of treatment,” said Gaurav Gadodia, MD, lead author of the study and radiology resident at Cleveland Clinic. “While conventional imaging like ultrasound and CT is safe, effective, and remains the gold-standard of care, augmented reality potentially improves the visualization of the tumor and surrounding structures, increasing the speed of localization and improving the treating-physician’s confidence.”

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New technology enables fast protein synthesis

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MIT chemists have developed a protocol to rapidly produce protein chains up to 164 amino acids long. The flow-based technology could speed up drug development and allow scientists to design novel protein variants incorporating amino acids that don’t occur naturally in cells. The automatic tabletop machine, pictured here, is nicknamed the “Amidator” by the research team. Credit: MIT

Many proteins are useful as drugs for disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Synthesizing artificial versions of these proteins is a time-consuming process that requires genetically engineering microbes or other cells to produce the desired protein.

MIT chemists have devised a protocol to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to generate synthetic proteins. Their tabletop automated flow synthesis machine can string together hundreds of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, within hours. The researchers believe their new technology could speed up the manufacturing of on-demand therapies and the development of new drugs, and allow scientists to design artificial proteins by incorporating amino acids that don’t exist in cells.

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Cancer study stumbles onto potential way to regenerate heart cells

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New research could lead to a gene therapy treatment for heart disease

 Unfortunately for heart attack patients, heart cells don’t naturally replenish, so this vital organ stays permanently damaged. But now, Cambridge researchers have stumbled onto a gene that appears to trigger heart cell regeneration – and they did so by accident, while researching cancer treatments.

After a heart attack, the human heart will patch itself up with scar tissue. That helps keep the organ together, but this tissue doesn’t beat like healthy heart cells do. Over time, this leads to further attacks, heart failure and often death.

Scientists have been experimenting with ways to replenish heart cells, and promising leads so far include bioengineered scaffolds, placental stem cells, and boosting other cells around the heart.

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No, the coronavirus is not the leading cause of death in the US, CDC says

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US coronavirus deaths pass 14,000, but future projections are better than expected

(CNN)Even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to take lives across the United States, Covid-19 has not become the leading cause of death in the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed to CNN.

“There are no data to support that theory,” Jeff Lancashire, a spokesperson for the National Center for Health Statistics, said in an email on Friday.

False claims declaring that coronavirus has become the leading cause of death in the US have swirled as the US leads the world in coronavirus cases. Those claims are made by some experts comparing how many people die of coronavirus daily with the estimate of how many people may die daily on average of each leading cause of death, using CDC data.

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Potentially the biggest medical breakthrough since penicillin

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“Immunotherapy is the biggest breakthrough in medicine in our generation”: Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia.

If there is reason to have faith in the scientists, immunologists, virologists and oncologists racing to develop a vaccine for coronavirus, it is the stunning progress they are having in reducing deaths from what is called “Australia’s cancer”.

A decade ago, a diagnosis of advanced or stage four melanoma was effectively a death sentence within six to nine months.

But a leading medical oncologist, Associate Professor Alex Menzies from Melanoma Institute Australia, believes immunotherapy treatments – using the body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells – mean 50 per cent of these patients are surviving long enough to be considered cured.

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