Plant Extract May Be Effective Against

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Science (July 11, 2010) — A South Dakota State University scientist’s research shows an extract made from a food plant in the Brassica family was effective in alleviating signs of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition, in mice.


The ongoing study by associate professor Moul Dey in SDSU’s Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences — funded by the National Institutes of Health — moves on now to examine the potential use of the plant extract against colon cancer.

“There is an established link between ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. People who have ulcerative colitis are at significantly higher risk to have colon cancer,” Dey said. “Whether this plant extract might help with colon cancer symptoms directly or perhaps delay the onset of colon cancer in ulcerative colitis patients, we don’t know the answers to those questions, but it is something we would like to look into.”

Dey and her team will carry out that research over the next two and a half years as she continues her work on a Pathway to Independence award for promising young scientists. That National Institutes of Health grant of nearly $900,000 over five years was awarded to Dey for work she began as a researcher at Rutgers University.

As a researcher at Rutgers starting in 2004, Dey developed a mammalian cell-based screening platform and screened nearly 3,000 plant extracts for potential anti-inflammatory activity. A plant-derived compound called Phenethylisothiocyanate, or PEITC, was one among others that showed potential anti-inflammatory activities. The NIH funded Dey’s proposal to study it further.

PEITC is found in the Brassica genus of plants, which includes cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and broccoli. Barbarea verna, also known as upland cress or early wintercress, a herb that is used in salads, soups, and garnishes, is one of the richest sources of dietary PEITC in Dey’s study.

Scientists had already studied the compound for its anticarcinogenic properties prior to Dey’s investigation on its anti-inflammatory activities.

“I tested this substance in a mouse model that is already established and widely used. What we found is that it not only alleviates several clinical signs of ulcerative colitis — for example, it attenuates the damage that occurs in the colon tissues and colon epithelium, as well as the clinical signs like diarrhea and blood in stool. The weight loss is a major sign in colitis and that was alleviated, too.” However, she noted that although mammalian animal models are routinely used for an initial test of biological effects of compounds targeted for potential human use, obtained results may not always repeat in humans.

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a set of chronic and relapsing inflammatory disorders of the intestine that affects an estimated 2 million people annually in the United States. Two common forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

When Dey and her colleagues looked into the mechanism by which the compound might be working against IBD, they found that it downregulates many of the genes that are known to be upregulated in human patients with colitis. That means the compound acts on cells to decrease the quantity of cellular components such as specific proteins that are produced abundantly in colitis patients. One such protein is a novel transcription factor. Transcription factors are one of the groups of proteins that read and interpret the genetic “blueprint” in the DNA.

“We are excited about these findings and our next step would be to see how this plant and the compounds from this plant may be effective against colon cancer, alleviating colon cancer or preventing the onset of colon cancer,” Dey said.

“I am not a cancer biologist per se. My interests are really in cellular mechanisms of inflammatory diseases. The only reason we are going to study colon cancer in this particular project is because ulcerative colitis is very closely linked to colon cancer.”

Colon carcinogenesis is highly preventable, yet colon cancer has one of the highest death rates among all cancers due to typical late diagnosis.

Since people already eat vegetables containing PEITC, there is a long history of human consumption with no adverse effects.

“Obviously the dose we are testing is significantly higher than what we eat in a vegetable, but we have done multiple safety tests and found that this dose is safe in animals,” Dey said.

Dey has no plans to test the extract in humans as part of the current project, but said additional tests would be required if the extract leads to new drugs or treatments in humans.

Dey’s co-authors are Peter Kuhn of Phytomedics Inc., of Jamesburg, N.J.; David Ribnicky, Kenneth Reuhl and Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University, and VummidiGiridhar Premkumar, who is currently at University of Cincinnati

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


OPTICAL MOLECULAR

IMAGING:

In vivo commercial systems

heighten appeal of molecular

imaging

brain-scan-pic-in-colour

Last November, the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH) ranked an optical molecular imaging system as one of the year’s top ten medical innovations. “We believe this technology to be a game changer,” said Jennifer Hunt, the clinic’s head of surgical pathology. “When we’re talking about tumors, we’re talking about what information we can gain about that tumor to guide and direct therapy, prognosis, and diagnostics,” she said, referring to the clinic’s use of the Nuance system by Cambridge Research & Instrumentation, Inc. (CRi; Woburn, MA). “Being able to analyze multiple markers in a single cell to understand the behavior of signaling pathways will significantly aid in disease diagnosis and therapy development.”

While the first big application for in-vivo optical molecular imaging was infectious disease, oncology has been an important next step according to Caliper Life Sciences’ (Hopkinton, MA) Stephen Oldfield PhD. Indeed, Carestream Health Molecular Imaging (Rochester, NY) reports a surge of interest from oncologists just in the past couple of years. William McLaughlin, Director of Research and Advanced Applications for Carestream, says that at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting two years ago, he saw significantly more interest in analytical techniques such as gel documentation and western blotting–but in 2008 noticed that more people were asking about the newer technology. Then at this year’s AACR meeting (April 18-22, Denver, CO), the majority of leads were for in vivo imaging, he said.

“The products have reached a point where they provide a lot of benefit to researchers,” McLaughlin explained, noting that in the past year or so he’s seen a shift in percentages: Previously most of Carestream’s molecular imaging customers were hard core imaging people; now, more customers are in application areas.

State-of-the-art optical molecular imaging systems enable noninvasive visualization of biological processes in vivo, enabling researchers to watch disease progression over time in the same animal. They use multiple fluorochromes to selectively target biological processes, and visualize small groups of cells (usually 50 is sufficient for research needs, though Oldfield says Caliper has followed tumors composed of just five cells–to demonstrate the technology’s capability). They enable testing at intervals to illustrate how tumors develop and respond to drugs, and their output can be co-registered with images produced by other modalities such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems.

Moving up for drug discovery

For drug discovery, Oldfield says the technology has been used mainly at the end of the process, but is now being pushed much further upstream, to help determine which cell signaling pathways are affected by a drug. Previously the pathways were studied in vitro and millions of compounds were screened, he explains, but the newer approach lets researchers narrow down their work to perhaps 10 or 20 compounds, look at the pathways, learn what triggers this or that enzyme, and focus on compound optimization and drug efficacy. Oldfield says in vivo systems enable researchers to “fail faster” by getting the compounds into animals sooner so they can learn more quickly and accelerate the whole screening process. Observing disease progression in a live animal can provide all kinds of other information as well, he says.


(Courtesy Caliper Life Sciences)

Pharmaceutical companies don’t publish much (and are typically tight lipped about the technologies that help them get ahead), but Oldfield says he has just begun to see publications from the pharma labs demonstrating correlation between the upstream and downstream ends of the process.

In addition to this, in-vivo imaging is moving closer to clinical trials to enable testing of dosing levels. McLaughlin and Oldfield note that the approach has proven attractive for imaging of inflammation and for stem cell research. Explaining its use for imaging the inflammation that accompanies heart disease, McLaughlin explains that “vulnerable plaques have certain signatures of inflammation that indicate whether they are benign or active.” Oldfield points to observation of inflammation associated with asthma, arthritis, and stroke. A slideshow on Caliper’s website explains that all of the most commonly employed optical reporter labeling strategies have been used to generate light-producing stem cells; Oldfield explains that these can be seen tracking to the heart following cardiovascular damage.

The latest technology progress relates to 3D imaging for more precise pinpointing and quantification. Oldfield says Caliper has done much to improve software to enable this and make it easily accessible. And Carestream is working on a multimodal animal rotation system designed to eventually enable 3D visualization. The idea is to enable change of modalities (optical and x-ray) without moving the animal or focal plane–and register the imagery with precision. McLaughlin says the system will find the optimal angle for the optical signal and keep track of the rotation angle to enable tracking of changes over time.–Barbara G. Goode

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Oct 2009

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Provenge helps in fighting prostate cancer

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SEATTLE (UPI) — U.S. scientists have determined sipuleucel-T, a prostate cancer immunotherapy drug, significantly prolongs survival in men with advanced prostate cancer.

A Phase 3 trial showed sipuleucel-T (Provenge) improved survival in men with metastatic disease. The Seattle-based Dendreon Corp., manufacturer of the drug, said compared with placebo, sipuleucel-T extended median survival by 4.1 months and improved three-year survival by 38 percent.

The researchers said Sipuleucel-T successfully exceeded the pre-specified level of statistical significance defined by the study’s design and reduced the overall risk of death by 22.5 percent, as compared with placebo. More than 500 patients took part in the multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

“The ability to boost survival for patients is the gold standard endpoint in prostate cancer clinical trials,” said AUA spokesman Dr. Ira Sharlip, MD. “The ability to give these patients both increased survival and possibly, improved quality of life, is very important.”

Sipuleucel-T is an investigational therapy for men with androgen-independent prostate cancer. It is an active cellular immunotherapy designed to use live human cells to boost a patient’s immune system to elicit a long-lasting response against cancer.

The trial’s results were presented last week in Chicago during the American Urological Association’s annual scientific meeting.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 11th May 2009

Glaxo’s cervical cancer vaccine

faces US battle

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New studies show the vaccine Cervarix blocks the virus that causes cervical cancer, but if it wins approval for U.S. sales, it will face an uphill battle against Gardasil, which has owned the market  for three years.

Cervarix, Glaxo’s vaccine against human papilloma virus or HPV, already is approved in more than 90 other countries, but has been held up by delays in the United States. Several years ago, the British drugmaker was in a neck-and-neck race with rival Merck & Co., Gardasil’s maker, to be first on the U.S. market, but it lost when Gardasil got approved in June 2006.

Late in 2007, U.S. regulators said they wouldn’t approve Cervarix without additional data. from n extensive  study still in progress at the time.

Final results from that 18,000-women study and two others are being presented this weekend at a conference in Sweden on papillomavirus. The data was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration on March 30, and FDA is expected to decide whether to approve Cervarix within several months.

If it does, analyst Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan‘s Ross School of Business, said doctors who have prescribed Gardasil for a few years may see no reason to switch – unless GlaxoSmithKline convinces them its product is much more effective or has fewer side effects.

Both vaccines target the two types of HPV that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers, types 16 and 18, and data indicate both are about 98 percent effective. But Merck also has data showing Gardasil blocks two other HPV types that cause most cases of genital warts that Cervarix does not target.

That will be a key factor for doctors, experts said.

“All else being equal, it’s a no-brainer for the doctor, (who) wants to give the most efficacious treatment,” Gordon said.

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Despite Merck owning the U.S. market, Gardasil racked up only $262 million in global sales in the most recent quarter, versus $320 million for Cervarix, which has won more contracts from government health programs in other countries.

Partial results of the new Cervarix studies released to The Associated Press indicate it also offers good protection against 12 other HPV types.

One of the studies, which looked at looked at levels of antibodies to some HPV types after study participants were vaccinated with Cervarix or Gardasil, found higher antibody levels induced by Cervarix. But Dr. Gary Dubin, head of one of Glaxo’s clinical development centers, said that doesn’t prove Cervarix is more effective.

New data will be presented at the same conference on Gardasil, indicating it blocks HPV 16 for at least 9 1/2 years, according to Merck. Glaxo has followed women for up to 7 1/2 years and continues to test some to see if they develop cervical lesions or cancer.

Dr. Cynthia Rand, a researcher, pediatrician and associate professor at the University of Rochester Medical School, said Cervarix appears to be effective. But she said the higher antibody levels triggered by Cervarix, compared with Gardasil, might be meaningless. She said doctors don’t know if they will have to give booster shots years from now for either vaccine.

“It won’t change my practice” of giving Gardasil and likely won’t do so for other doctors, said Rand, whose university has patent claims and receives some royalties related to both vaccines. “Pediatricians prefer in general to also protect against genital warts.

Associated Press

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th May 2009

Genetic marker may ID head, throat cancer

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CORVALLIS, Ore. (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have discovered a genetic regulator that might help lead physicians to an earlier diagnosis of head and neck cancers.

Pharmacy researchers at Oregon State University said the genetic regulator is expressed at higher levels in the most aggressive types of head and neck cancers and might even offer a new therapy at some point in the future.

The “transcriptional regulator” is called CTIP2, and in recent research it’s been demonstrated to be a master regulator that has important roles in many biological functions. But in the study, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the “poorly differentiated” tumor cells that cause the most deadly types of squamous cell carcinomas in the larynx, throat, tongue and other parts of the head. They discovered a high correlation between greater CTIP2 expression and the aggressive nature of the cancer.

“Serious head and throat cancer is pretty common, and mortality rates from it haven’t improved much in 20 years, despite new types of treatments,” said Assistant Professor Gitali Indra. “With these new findings, we believe it should be possible to create an early screening and diagnostic tool to spot these cancers earlier, tell physicians which ones need the most aggressive treatments and which are most apt to recur.”

The study appears in the online journal PLoS One.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th May 2009

3-D used to study prostate cancer spread

dbleye

BRISBANE, Queensland Australia

(UPI) — Australian scientists say they

are studying the spread of

prostate cancer to the bones

using a three-dimensional model

of tissue-engineered bone.

Shirly Sieh, a doctoral student at the Queensland University

of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation

said she is studying the way cancer cells escape from the

prostate through the bloodstream to form tumor colonies,

most often in the spine and long bones.

“It is an innovative study which uses a tissue engineering

platform technology developed by IHBI’s Professor

Dietmar Hutmacher

in order to investigate the interaction between bones

and cancer cells,” Sieh said. “Tissue-engineered bone

provides the 3D architecture for the cancer cells (that)

more closely resemble bone metastasis instead of growing

the cancer cells and bone cells on a flat Petrie dish.”

She said it is still not clear how bones and cancer cells interact,

so she is growing prostate cancer cells on the tissue-engineered

bone to observe those interactions.

Sieh said scientists want to understand why prostate cancer cells

are attracted to bone sites.

vertebral_column_thumb

She and doctoral student Amy Lubik,

who is supervised by

Professor Colleen Nelson,

are also studying the effect

the cancer cells in the bones

have on male hormone production,

particularly on the hormone androgen.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International
Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th May 2009


The Newest cancer treament?

Robert Langreth, 04.23.09, 05:00 PM EDT
Forbes Magazine dated May 11, 2009

image

Novartis’ David Epstein is testing a new cancer drug in all sorts of different tumors.

Novartis has ambitious plans for its new kidney cancer drug.

Novartis hit a $3.7 billion (annual sales) home run with its leukemia drug Gleevec, launched in 2001. Now it hopes Afinitor will be its next cancer bestseller, says David Epstein, who leads Novartis’ cancer drug business. It was approved in March for patients with advanced kidney cancer who failed other treatments. Afinitor will share the kidney cancer market with three other new drugs, including Pfizer’s Sutent.

But Novartis ( NVS news people ) has bigger plans for this drug. In an unusual move, it plans to test Afinitor simultaneously on five other tumor types, including stomach, breast and neuroendocrine tumors (the type Apple ( AAPL news people )’s Steve Jobs has suffered from). The eight trials–some under way and others scheduled to start later this year–will involve 5,000 patients in 35 countries. It’s a risky business move for Novartis, too. The drug’s science is obscure. Racing against Novartis are such competitors as Merck ( MRK news people ) and Wyeth ( WYE news people ).

Afinitor delayed disease progression in patients with kidney cancer by a modest three months in a 416-patient trial led by Robert Motzer, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. But some patients get long-lasting benefits. Marketing executive Nicholas Passariello of Denville, New Jersey started taking Afinitor in early 2007 after his kidney cancer came roaring back inside his left lung and liver following surgery. His tumors shriveled 20% and haven’t grown back. He hasn’t missed a single day of work. “It is just amazing” how few side effects there are, says Passariello, who is married with two grown kids. (Common side effects include mouth sores and infections.) “If I hadn’t had this, I would be dead by now.”

A cancer drug that delays progression by a few months can be a big moneymaker, especially if it has fewer side effects than the classic cancer drugs that attack all cells, cancerous and normal. Prices can be $50,000 per year or more for new cancer drugs. Afinitor costs $5,500 per month. Roche ( RHHBY.PK news people )’s Avastin, which starves tumors of their blood supply, has sales of $4.8 billion. Yet it extends survival in colon and lung cancers by just a few months; in breast cancer it slows disease progression without clearly extending survival.

Novartis hopes it can pull off something similar with Afinitor, if on a smaller scale. “This will be an important drug,” swears Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella. Doing so many trials at once is a big bet, he says, but it is a rational bet, given the promising early results. One encouraging area for Afinitor is stomach cancer, which afflicts 21,000 patients in the U.S. (and is more prevalent in Asia, where salty foods are common). In a 54-patient trial in Japan, Afinitor temporarily halted tumor growth in 55% of patients, according to results presented at a meeting of cancer specialists in January.

The Novartis drug suppresses a protein called MTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), which receives incoming growth signals from the surface of the cell and directs them to grow fatter, a necessary step before cell division. In many tumors this process appears to go into hyperdrive. “One way or another, most cancers activate it,” says Whitehead Institute researcher David Sabatini. When he started studying MTOR 15 years ago, it was so obscure that colleagues asked him why he bothered to work on it. Now “the field is going crazy. There is a huge amount of excitement.”

Novartis has little choice but to move fast. Wyeth’s MTOR drug Torisel was approved in 2007 for certain kidney tumors. Merck and Ariad Pharmaceuticals hope to complete by next year their final-stage trials of the MTOR blocker deforolimus against sarcoma (cancer of the connective tissues);

Earlier trials are under way in breast, lung, prostate and endometrial cancers.

Afinitor, Torisel and other MTOR drugs are the product of a four-decade research odyssey. They are chemical variants of an antibiotic called rapamycin, which Wyeth researchers found in soil samples from Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean in the late 1960s. Wyeth scientists originally hoped rapamycin could become an antifungal drug. Then they found that rapamycin suppresses the immune system. It was approved for treating kidney-transplant patients in 1999.

theatre-surgery

Researchers noticed early on that rapamycin slowed the growth of cancer cells in the test tube. But the mechanism was totally unclear. A clue came in the mid-1990s, when Sabatini, as well as biologist Robert Abraham (then at the Mayo Clinic and now at Wyeth) and Harvard researchers, showed that rapamycin worked by binding and disrupting a chain of 2,500 amino acids called MTOR. Over the next few years researchers discovered that this protein is a growth regulator in organisms from fruit flies to humans. “Before it divides, a cell has to grow large enough and duplicate all its machinery,” says University of Cincinnati cancer researcher George Thomas.

In 2001 researchers at Columbia University and ucla showed in mouse experiments that MTOR drugs compensated for the loss of a protein mutated in prostate and brain cancers. In 2004 scientists at Johns Hopkins discovered that a second protein linked to MTOR is frequently mutated in colon, stomach and brain tumors.

Drug companies think they may discover more uses for MTOR blockers by combining them with other drugs. Several small trials hint that Afinitor may help restore the effects of Roche’s breast cancer drug Herceptin in tumors that have become resistant to it. Emory University oncologist Ruth O’Regan, who did one of the trials, calls the results “very impressive” and uncommon in advanced cases.

Some researchers are disappointed that the results aren’t better. In many cases MTOR drugs don’t shrink tumors much but merely blunt their growth. Wyeth’s Torisel didn’t help small-cell lung cancer patients in a 2007 trial. Researchers at Wyeth and elsewhere are working on second-generation versions of the drugs, which more directly block MTOR and could be more potent.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Motzer looks at the big picture. A few years ago patients with inoperable kidney cancer had few options. Now they have four targeted drugs to try. Each one may only add months, but “the overall effect is patients live considerably longer.”

TUMOR SLOWER

Novartis’ Afinitor (in orange) is one of a new class of drugs that turn down the volume on a crucial growth-promoting protein called MTOR (blue). MTOR receives growth signals and tells cells to grow when sufficient nutrients are present. Most cancers activate it. The drugs block MTOR by forming a complex with another protein, FKBP12 (white).

Will this be enough to stop cancer? Trials will tell.
Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 3rd May 2009

Cancer Drug Winners And Losers

Cancer

Cancer

Matthew Herper and Robert Langreth 06.02.08, 1:09 PM ET

Chicago – Every year, drug companies big and small make their way to the annual meeting of the American College of Clinical Oncology, a showplace for new cancer medicines.

The data presented at ASCO can have a huge impact both on the share prices of drug firms and on the long-term sales of their medicines. Here’s a roundup of the most important drug studies from the meeting and a look at how they will affect the companies involved.

Winner: Novartis (nyse: NVS news people )

The pharmaceutical giant stole the show. Zometa, a drug already approved to treat weakening bones in cancer patients,

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slashed the recurrence of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women by about 35% in an 1,800-person trial, when combined with standard treatment. It’s not clear why, but it may prevent tumors from spreading

(see “Novartis Steals The Show”).

Novartis’ kidney cancer treatment RAD001 delayed tumor growth by two months in patients who had failed Pfizer’s (nyse: PFE news people )

kidneys

Sutent. The drug would compete with Nexavar, from Onyx Pharmaceuticals (nasdaq: ONXX news people ) and Bayer (nyse: BAY news people ), and Torisel, from Wyeth (nyse: WYE news people ), but could benefit from a clinical trial designed that tested it specifically as an option in Sutent failures. The other drugs are approved as first choices, and compete with Sutent, which has the lion’s share. Novartis shares are up 2.3% to $53.50.

Novartis has 13 cancer drugs in development, more than any company but Pfizer, AstraZeneca (nyse: AZN news people ) and Genentech (nyse: DNA news people ). It expects to soon rank second in oncology sales after Genentech.

Loser: ImClone Systems (nasdaq: IMCL news people )

ImClone and its partners, Bristol-Myers Squibb (nyse: BMY news people ) and Merck (nyse: MRK news people ) KgAA disclosed last September that its Erbitux had extended survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer in a clinical trial. But the final results–a five-week extension of life for the average patient–were barely statistically significant. That will allow ImClone and its partners to grab sales in the lung cancer market, especially in those patients who can’t take Avastin.

But it may not make up another result: clear proof that a gene test can help predict whether Erbitux is going to help colon cancer patients. Patients with a mutant version of a gene called KRAS comprise 40% of the people getting Erbitux, and they’ve been getting no benefit at all. As Forbes reported two weeks ago, this could lead to a sales slump. ImClone shares dropped 6% in early morning trading to $40.

(See: ImClone’s Gene Test Battle.)

Winner: Genentech

Genentech’s Avastin won’t face as much competition as many feared from ImClone’s Erbitux in non-small cell lung cancer, but new data also supported Avastin’s use in breast cancer.

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Shares are up 3.4% to $73.

Winners: Infinity Pharmaceuticals (nasdaq: INFI news people ) and Exelixis (nasdaq: EXEL news people )

On Saturday, Infinity announced it was skipping mid-stage trials and going directly from early-stage safety and efficacy tests into a study designed to get its IPI-504 approved as a treatment for patients with stomach tumors who are no longer being helped by Novartis’ Gleevec or Pfizer’s Sutent. It’s a small market, but it could result in a speedy approval.

Sunday Exelixis also said it is jumping directly into an approval trial, known as a Phase III study, from very early stage tests of its cancer drug XL184 in medullary thyroid cancer. It will be the first of Exelixis’ drugs to enter phase III. Fifty-three percent of patients taking the drug saw their tumors shrink. Infinity shares jumped 11% to $8.13, and Exelixis shares slipped 2% to $6.20.

Winner: Avant Immunotherapeutics nasdaq: AVAN news people

Avant is developing an immunotherapy, or cancer vaccine, for brain tumors with Pfizer. The vaccine is targeted against a mutated protein that only occurs in brain cancer cells. In a phase II trial, the average patient with glioblastoma who received the therapy, known as CDX-110, lived 33 months, twice as long as expected. Avant shares are up 36% to $19.20.

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“When we look at our patients they live at least twice as long” as would be expected, says Duke University neurosurgeon John Sampson. “We have a number of patients three or four years out with

no evidence of tumors.

Sourced and published by HenrySapiecha 3rd May 2009

Nanoparticles boost cancer treatment

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SEATTLE (UPI) — U.S. researchers say combining nanoparticles with a scorpion venom compound can cut the spread of cancerous brain tumor cells by 98 percent.

The University of Washington said the nanoparticles more than double the effectiveness of chlorotoxin, a small peptide isolated from scorpion venom.
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“People talk about the treatment being more effective with nanoparticles but they don’t know how much, maybe 5 percent or 10 percent,” Miqin Zhang, professor of materials science and engineering, said Friday in a release. “This was quite a surprise to us.”

The findings are published in the journal Small.

Researchers said adding nanoparticles can improve a therapy by increasing the length of time the combination lasts in the body. Nanoparticles also boost effectiveness of treatment compounds because therapeutic molecules tend to clump around each nanoparticle, the report said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 22nd April 2009

Study seeks to hike leukemia drug efficacy

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PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — U.S. and British scientists say they’ve identified a class of drugs that may enhance the effectiveness of medications used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.

People with chronic myeloid leukemia are usually first treated with a drug known as imatinib mesylate. Although very effective at first, the body often becomes resistant to the drug as the disease progresses. Now a team of researchers from Britain’s University of Leicester and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia has identified a class of drugs that might enhance the therapeutic effects of imatinib mesylate and other drugs that target the same molecule.

Researches, led by Paolo Salomoni and Bruno Calabretta, observed that in several different CML cell lines and primary cells, although imatinib mesylate killed the majority of cells, a marked proportion underwent a process known as autophagy, destroying themselves.

The scientists determined suppression of autophagy by using either drugs or RNA interference enhanced imatinib mesylate and also induced death of CML cell lines.

The researchers suggest inhibitors of autophagy might be used with imatinib mesylate or other drugs that target the same molecule to enhance their therapeutic benefits.

The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Investigations and is available online at https://www.the-jci.org/article.php?id=35660.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009