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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Experimental cancer treatment destroys cancer cells without using any drugs

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One of the latest methods pioneered by scientists to treat cancer uses a Trojan horse sneak attack to prompt cancer cells to self-destruct – all without using any drugs.

Key to the technique is the use of a nanoparticle coated in a specific amino acid called L-phenylalanine, one of several such acids that cancer cells rely on to grow. L-phenylalanine isn’t made by the body, but absorbed from meat and dairy products.

In tests on mice, the nanoparticle – called Nano-pPAAM or Nanoscopic phenylalanine Porous Amino Acid Mimic – killed cancer cells specifically and effectively, posing as a friendly amino acid before causing the cells to destroy themselves.

The self-destruction mode is triggered as the nanoparticle puts production of certain chemicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) into overdrive. It’s enough to bring down the cancer cells while leaving neighbouring, healthy cells intact.

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Breast milk compound found to dissolve tumors in human trials

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Hamlet Pharma Labs researching a breast milk compound which kills cancer

Swedish scientists from the University of Lund have found promising results from researching the effects of a compound found in breast milk – a substance nicknamed Hamlet (Human Alpha-Lactalbumin Made LEthal To Tumor Cells) – on bladder cancer patients. In the early trials, those injected with the compound began to shed dead tumor cells through their urine within days. The best part is, the Hamlet targeted the cancer cells alone, thus offering an alternative to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments which damage both healthy and cancerous cells in the body.

The early trial involved 40 patients with hard-to-treat bladder cancer. All 20 who were given the drug rather than placebo, in six infusions over 22 days, excreted whole tumor fragments in their urine. Then, there was another human trial involving nine bladder cancer patients. These participants were administered five daily doses in the week before surgery to remove their tumor. Eight of them started passing tumor cells in their urine just two hours after being given the drug, and their tumors reduced in size or aggression. None of them suffered any damage to surrounding tissue. The trial was overseen by scientists from Lund University in Sweden and carried out at Motol University Hospital in Prague.

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Engineer finds way to pull diseases from blood using magnets

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“IN THEORY, YOU CAN GO AFTER ALMOST ANYTHING. POISONS, PATHOGENS, VIRUSES, BACTERIA…”

A British engineer has found a way to filter unwanted cells from blood using magnets — and his tool could be used in clinical trials as soon as next year.

Thanks to existing research, biochemical scientist George Frodsham knew it was possible to force magnetic nanoparticles to bind to specific cells in the body. But while other researchers did so primarily to make those cells show up in images, he wondered whether the same technique might allow doctors to remove unwanted cells from the blood.

“When someone has a tumour you cut it out,” he told The Telegraph. “Blood cancer is a tumour in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way?”

To that end, he created MediSieve, a treatment technology that works similarly to dialysis, by removing a patient’s blood and infusing it with magnetic nanoparticles designed to bind to a specific disease. It then uses magnets to draw out and trap those cells before pumping the filtered blood back into the patient.

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How scientists built a ‘living drug’ to beat cancer

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IN 2010, EMILY Whitehead was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of certain cells in the immune system.

THIS IS THE most common form of childhood cancer, her parents were told, and Emily had a good chance to beat it with chemotherapy. Remission rates for the most common variety were around 85 percent.

It would be 20 months before they’d understand the shadow behind that sunny statistic, and the chilling prospect of volunteering their daughter as patient zero for the world’s first living drug.

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Advance in CAR T-cell therapy eliminates severe side effects

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An advance in the breakthrough cancer treatment known as CAR T-cell therapy appears to eliminate its severe side effects, making the treatment safer and potentially available in outpatient settings, a new USC study shows.

“This is a major improvement,” said Si-Yi Chen of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and senior author of the study appearing online April 22 in Nature Medicine. “We’ve made a new CAR molecule that’s just as efficient at killing cancer cells, but it works more slowly and with less toxicity.”

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Magnetic ‘metal seed’ that destroys brain tumours in ten minutes invented by British scientists

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Deadly brain tumours could be heated up by MRI scanners until they die in groundbreaking treatment

Deadly brain tumours could be removed in just ten minutes with a groundbreaking new treatment which uses MRI scanners to heat up cancer cells until they die.

The new therapy, developed by University College London, involves injecting a tiny magnetic metal ‘seed’ into the bloodstream and directing it to the site of the cancer.

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Same cancer, worse results and twice the cost in the US

Monthly spending on certain cancer patients in Washington was $12,345 vs. $6,195 in British Columbia

Despite paying double, Americans died slightly faster than Canadians in the study

(CNN)Americans paid twice as much as Canadians for health care, but they didn’t get twice the benefit, according to a new study of patients with advanced colorectal cancer who lived, in some cases, mere miles from each other.

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Micro Bubbles May Help Treat Cancer

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Philips is on the verge of developing a new ultrasound-based drug delivery technology that will surely help people suffering from various types of cancers. The company is planning to introduce micro bubbles which contain drugs that treat cancerous growths. They can be tracked with the help of an ultrasound and later allowed to release the drugs the micro bubbles contain. This would help reduce the effects of chemotherapy, as the drug would be released only when the micro bubbles reach the cancerous part and the rest of the body wouldn’t be affected by the strong drugs.

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