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B cells can deliver potentially therapeutic bits of modified RNA
NCI Cancer Center News
(Posted: 11/26/2013) - Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine (home of the Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center) have successfully targeted T lymphocytes – which play a central role in the body’s immune response – with another type of white blood cell engineered to synthesize and deliver bits of non-coding RNA or microRNA (miRNA). The achievement in mice studies, published in this week’s online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be the first step toward using genetically modified miRNA for therapeutic purposes, perhaps most notably in vaccines and cancer treatments.

Cancer researchers translate new laboratory findings to enhance melanoma treatment
NCI Cancer Center News
- Translational researchers from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) have published results of two back-to-back studies in the journal Cancer Discovery that provide critical insights into two key areas of how tumors resist BRAF inhibitors: the key cell-signaling pathways BRAF-mutant melanoma cells use to learn how to become resistant to inhibitor drugs, and how the limited focus of BRAF inhibitors allows melanoma cells to evolve and develop drug resistance.

Two human proteins found to affect how 'jumping gene' gets around
NCI Cancer Center News
- Using a new method to catch elusive "jumping genes" in the act, researchers from Johns Hopkins (home of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center) have found two human proteins that are used by one type of DNA to replicate itself and move from place to place. The discovery, described in the Nov. 21 issue of Cell, breaks new ground, they say, in understanding the arms race between a jumping gene driven to colonize new areas of the human genome and cells working to limit the risk posed by such volatile bits of DNA.

Targets of anticancer drugs have broader functions than what their name suggests
NCI Cancer Center News
- Drugs that inhibit the activity of enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs) are being widely developed for treating cancer and other diseases, with two already on the market. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (home to the Abramson Cancer Center), show that a major HDAC still functions in mice even when its enzyme activity is abolished, suggesting that the beneficial effects of HDAC inhibitors may not actually be through inhibiting HDAC activity, and thus warranting the reassessment of the molecular targets of this class of drugs.

New technique improves accuracy, ease of cancer diagnosis
NCI Cancer Center News
- A team of researchers from UCLA (home of the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center) and Harvard University (a component of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) have demonstrated a technique that, by measuring the physical properties of individual cells in body fluids, can diagnose cancer with a high degree of accuracy. The technique, which uses a deformability cytometer to analyze individual cells, could reduce the need for more cumbersome diagnostic procedures and the associated costs, while improving accuracy over current methods. The initial clinical study, which analyzed pleural fluid samples from more than 100 patients, was published in the current issue of peer-reviewed journal Science Translational Medicine.

Drug strategy blocks a leading driver of cancer
NCI Cancer Center News
- Using a new strategy, researchers from UC San Francisco (home of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center) have succeeded in making small molecules that irreversibly target a mutant form of the protein RAS, without binding to the normal form. This feature distinguishes the molecules from all other targeted drug treatments in cancer, according to the researchers. When tested on human lung cancer cells grown in culture, the molecules efficiently killed the RAS-driven cancer cells.

Large study links nut consumption to reduced death rate
NCI Cancer Center News
- In the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period than were those who didn’t consume nuts, say scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, contains further good news. The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate the widespread worry that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.

NIH mouse study finds gut microorganisms may determine cancer treatment outcome
NCI Press Release
(Posted: 11/21/2013) - An intact gut commensal microbiota, which is a population of microorganisms living in the intestine, is required for optimal response to cancer therapy, according to a mouse study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Duke study shows that oral drug may improve survival in men with metastatic prostate cancer
NCI Cancer Center News
- An investigational prostate cancer treatment slows the disease’s progression and may increase survival, especially among men whose cancer has spread to the bones, according an analysis led by the Duke Cancer Institute.

Worldwide trends show oropharyngeal cancer rates increasing
NCI News Note
(Posted: 11/20/2013) - NCI scientists report that the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer significantly increased during the period 1983-2002 among people in countries that are economically developed. Oropharyngeal cancer occurs primarily in the middle part of the throat behind the mouth, including the base of the tongue, the side and back walls of the throat, and the tonsils.

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