DNA-BASED CANCER VACCINE TRIGGERS IMMUNE ATTACK ON TUMORS

BY JIM GOODWIN-WUSTL

“We think this is the first report of the use of a neoantigen DNA vaccine in a human, and our monitoring confirms the vaccine was successful in prompting an immune response that targeted specific neoantigens in the patient’s tumor,” William Gillanders says.

Researchers have shown that personalized cancer vaccines made using DNA can program the immune system to attack malignant tumors, including breast and pancreatic cancers.

The researchers conducted the study in mice with breast cancer and one patient with late-stage pancreatic cancer.

The COVID-19 vaccines—designed using bits of genetic information that prime our immune systems to recognize and fight off viral infections—have become lifesavers in the global fight to end the pandemic.

Now, the new research has shown that a similar vaccine approach can be used to create personalized vaccines that program the immune system to attack malignant tumors, including breast and pancreatic cancers.

The tailor-made vaccines are designed to target mutated proteins called neoantigens that are unique to a patient’s tumors. Unlike the COVID-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech that rely on genetic material called mRNA, the personalized cancer vaccines are made using DNA.

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Innovative technique developed to destroy cancerous kidney cells

Figure 1 Cathepsin S (CS) protein expression levels are induced through the -1048 promoter fragment from the CTTS gene upon Paclitaxel or hydrogen peroxide stimulation. HEK293 and 769P cells were stimulated with increasing doses of Paclitaxel (Pac) and hydrogen peroxide (HP) and soluble lysates prepared after 24 h and equal volumes analyzed by Western blotting for cathepsin S (CS), BAX and actin expression (Panel A). Similarly, total RNA was isolated from cells stimulated for 24 h with increasing doses of Pac or HP and equal quantities of template cDNA analyzed for transcriptional expression of CS, BAX and Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAP-DH, Panel B). Promoter fragments, derived from the transcriptional start site of the CTTS gene to -1048 and -564, were PCR cloned and fused to a promoter-less GFP encoding plasmid (Panel C) and evaluated for GFP expression in equal volumes of HEK293 and 769P cleared whole cell lysates (WCLs) under Pac (10 μg/mL and 5 μg/mL, respectively) or HP (5 μM) stimulatory conditions. GFP expression was also quantified, standardized and corrected against GFP expression from cells stimulated with carrier alone and is shown as a fold change over basal GFP expression (Panel D). HEK293 cells transfected with pCS-1048 or pCS-564 and stimulated with Pac (5 μg/mL) for 24 h were also fixed and visualized for GFP expression using laser scanning confocal microscopy (Panel E). The red bar indicates 1 micron. Quantified data are presented as the mean ± SEM and its significance (where p < 0.05) determined, using a two-way Student’s t-test (* p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01 and *** p < 0.001).

An innovative new technique that encourages cancer cells in the kidneys to self-destruct could revolutionize the treatment of the disease, a new study in the journal Pharmaceutics reports.

During this unique study, researchers from the University of Surrey and Sechenov First Moscow State Medical Universityin Russia investigatedwhethercertain naturally occurring proteins within the body can be used treat cancer.

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HARVARD SCIENTISTS EXCITED BY RESULTS ON NEW CANCER VACCINE

A RECENT STUDY OF PERSONALIZED CANCER VACCINES SHOWED “VERY REWARDING” RESULTS.

By VICTOR TANGERMANN

A team of researchers say they’ve designed a personalized cancer vaccine capable of inducing an immune response that fights off melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, that lasts for several years.

In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine back in January, the scientists examined eight subjects who previously had their melanoma surgically removed, but were still at a high risk of recurrence.

All eight were injected with the experimental vaccine called NeoVax. The results were promising: the researchers found a vaccine-induced immune response in all patients that can “persist over years,” according to the paper.

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Engineered Immune Cells Deliver Anticancer Signal, Prevent Cancer From Spreading

By  U.S. National Institutes of Health

Scientists have genetically engineered immune cells, called myeloid cells, to precisely deliver an anticancer signal to organs where cancer may spread. In a study of mice, treatment with the engineered cells shrank tumors and prevented the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. The study, led by scientists at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Cancer Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, was published March 24, 2021, in Cell.

“This is a novel approach to immunotherapy that appears to have promise as a potential treatment for metastatic cancer,” said the study’s leader, Rosandra Kaplan, M.D., of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research.

Metastatic cancer — cancer that has spread from its original location to other parts of the body — is notoriously difficult to treat. Dr. Kaplan’s team has been exploring another approach: Preventing cancer from spreading in the first place.

Before cancer spreads, it sends out signals that get distant sites ready for the cancer’s arrival — like calling ahead to have the pillows fluffed in your hotel room prior to arrival. These “primed and ready” sites, discovered by Dr. Kaplan in 2005, are called premetastatic niches.

In the new study, the NCI team explored the behavior of immune cells in the premetastatic niche. Because Dr. Kaplan is a pediatric oncologist, the team mainly studied mice implanted with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in the muscles of children and often spreads to their lungs.

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TINY ROBOTS CAN NOW SMUGGLE DRUGS INTO BRAIN TUMORS

The future of cancer treatment may be robot-delivered.

By Jay Sprogell

THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE is going to be hand-delivered — but not by mail carriers. Instead, life-saving drugs will be parceled, smuggled, and transported in the body via tiny, self-propelled microbots.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics, a research team in China designed a new kind of bio-hybrid microbot that uses clever biological disguises to get even closer to the source of disease in the body in order to provide the most targeted (and effective) treatment.

The target of choice? Hard to treat illness epicenters like brain tumors.

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Tiny swallowable cameras will check for cancer in ‘sci-fi’ development

The disposable device take more than 57,000 pictures as it works its way through the digestive tract, replacing uncomfortable endoscopies

By Henry Bodkin

Swallowable cameras the size of capsules will be given to NHS patients in a “sci-fi” bid to check for cancer.

Taking more than 57,000 pictures as they work through the digestive system, the disposable devices are intended to replace complicated and uncomfortable endoscopies.

They will be handed out initially to 11,000 patients in more than 40 locations in England.

NHS leaders hope the revolutionary devices will help turn the tide of missed and late cancer diagnoses caused by disruption from the pandemic.

Users will wear an accompanying shoulder bag containing a data recorder, meaning they can carry on their lives as normal while the camera is at work. Known as colon camera endoscopy, the technology can provide a diagnosis within hours.

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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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