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Posts Tagged ‘American Association for Cancer Research’


Recent Breakthroughs in Cancer Research at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology- 2015

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Below are recent advances which occurred in 2015 on Cancer at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

including:

  • role of proteosome, metabolomics, cell signaling and ubiquitin system in cancer progression
  • partnerships with pharma and academic centers around the globe
  • development of early detection kits and novel therapeutic strategies including nanoparticle drug delivery systems

 

At: http://www.technion.ac.il/en/2015/04/breakthrough-in-cancer-research/

 

The ubiquitin system produces a protein that greatly restricts the development of cancerous tumors.

A new study by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could hold one key to control cancer cell growth and development. In a paper published in the April 9, 2015 edition of CELL, the team reports on the discovery of two cancer-suppressing proteins.

Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover. Photographer: Dan Porges

Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover. Photographer: Dan Porges

The research was conducted in the laboratory of Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover, of the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team was led by research associate Dr. Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv and , included additional research students and colleagues, as well as physicians from the Rambam, Carmel and Hadassah Medical Centers, who are studying tumors and their treatment.

The heretofore-undiscovered proteins were found during ongoing research on the ubiquitin system, an important and vital pathway in the life of the cell, which is responsible for the degradation of defective proteins that could damage the cell if not removed. The ubiquitin system tags these proteins and sends them for destruction in the cellular complex known as the proteasome.  The system also removes functional and healthy proteins that are not needed anymore, thereby regulating the processes that these proteins control.

Usually, the proteins that reach the proteasome are completely broken down, but there are some exceptions, and the current line of research examined p105, a long precursor of a key regulator in the cell called NF-κB. It turns out that p105 can be broken down completely in certain cases following its tagging by ubiquitin,  but in other cases it is only cut and shortened and becomes a protein called p50.

NF-κB has been identified as a link between inflammation and cancer. The hypothesis of the connection between inflammatory processes and cancer was first suggested in 1863 by German pathologist Rudolph Virchow, and has been confirmed over the years in a long series of studies. Ever since the discovery (nearly 30 years ago) of NF-κB, numerous articles have been published linking it to malignant transformation. It is involved in tumors of various organs (prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, large intestine, brain, etc.) in several parallel ways, including: inhibition of apoptosis (programmed cell death) normally eliminates transformed cells; acceleration of uncontrolled division of cancer cells; formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which are vital to tumor growth; and increased resistance of cancerous cells to irradiation and chemotherapy.

The dramatic effect of these proteins on cancer growth: above the two tumors in the foreground (the control group) are tumors that express high levels of the proteins

The dramatic effect of these proteins on cancer growth: above the two tumors in the foreground (the control group) are tumors that express high levels of the proteins

As noted, the precursor p105 is “handled” by the ubiquitin system in one of two parallel and equally prevalent ways. It is either destroyed completely, or shortened and transformed to p50. The current research deciphers the decision-making mechanism that determines which process will be applied to the protein: when a ubiquitin system component called KPC1 is involved in the process and attaches ubiquitin to p105, the protein is shortened to become p50. When ubiquitination is mediated by another component of the system (and without KPC1), p105 is degraded.

The ubiquitin molecule within all living cells

The ubiquitin molecule within all living cells

The decision between these two options has significant implications on the cell, as the presence of high levels of KPC1 (which generates p50) and p50 (the product of the process) – with the accompanying disruption of the normal ratios between the processes – suppresses the malignant growth and apparently protects the healthy tissue. The current research was conducted on models of human tumors grown in mice, as well as on samples of human tumors, and a strong connection was discovered between the suppression of malignancy and the level of the two proteins, clearly indicating that the increased presence of KPC1 and/or p50 in the tissue can protect it from cancerous tumors.

Professor Ciechanover, who is also the president of the Israel Cancer Society, notes that many more years are required “to establish the research and gain a solid understanding of the mechanisms behind the suppression of the tumors. The development of a drug based on this discovery is a possibility, although not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple.”

Professor Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004 (jointly with Professors Avram Hershko – also from the Technion – and Irwin Rose, of the Fox Chase Cancer Center) for the discovery of the ubiquitin system. The current line of research is a continuation of that discovery.

Indian generic drugmaker giant Sun Pharma to work with Technion to explore new ways to fight tumors

By David Shamah April 17, 2015, 3:09 pm 10

President Reuven Rivlin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, March 29, 2015 (photo credit: Courtesty Tomer Reichmann)

President Reuven Rivlin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, March 29, 2015 (photo credit: Courtesty Tomer Reichmann)
President Reuven Rivlin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, March 29, 2015 (photo credit: Courtesty Tomer Reichmann)

 

Days after the Technion announced that a team led by Nobel Prize laureate Professor Aaron Ciechanover had discovered how proteins could be used to suppress cancer and control tumor growth and development, the institute revealed that it had entered into an exclusive agreement with India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals — the world’s fifth-largest specialty generic pharmaceutical company and India’s top pharmaceutical company.

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Under the agreement, researchers from the Technion and Sun will conduct studies on how high concentrations of two proteins can protect tissue from tumors. A study published in the medical journal Cell this week discussed how the proteins can suppress malignancies.

Along with Ciechanover, the research team included Dr. Gila Maor and Professor Ofer Binah. In a statement, Ciechanover said that the research held a great deal of promise of an effective drug for treating cancer, “although this is not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple.”

The deal with Sun is just one of several R&D ventures between Israel and India, on both the business and government levels. So far, the two countries have signed seven bilateral economic and R&D agreements, including one that fosters joint projects on space travel and satellite development.

 

NYU and Technion to forge ‘groundbreaking’ partnership in cancer research

On Wednesday night, they announced a $9 million gift from philanthropists Laura and Isaac Perlmutter that will fund two major, joint research endeavors with potentially far-reaching impact in advancing cancer research. The joint program aims at attracting additional, world-class support from institutions and individuals who are dedicated to eradicating cancer through focused and efficient research, they said in a joint statement.

The first $3 million of the grant will finance six cancer-focused research projects to be conducted by teams spearheaded by co-investigators from both NYU and the Technion. The remaining $6 million will be used to establish a state-of-the-art research facility on Technion’s campus that will support these and other research projects and focus mainly on the emerging field of cancer metabolomics.

“NYU Langone and the Technion have a shared, longstanding commitment to advancing cancer research,” said Dr. Dafna Bar-Sagi, senior vice president and vice dean for science at the New York hospital, chief science officer at NYU School of Medicine and a principal architect of the NYU Langone-Technion partnership.  “We are now at a great moment in our institutions’ illustrious histories, a point from which we can jointly leverage the talent and creativity of our researchers toward accelerating breakthroughs. The foresight and the generosity of the Perlmutters, particularly at this time of financial challenge in funding for basic research, will have tremendous impact.”

“Bringing together the unique expertise of researchers from both NYU and the Technion will hopefully enable us to overcome some of the most difficult challenges in treating cancer patients,” said Technion Prof.  Aaron Ciechanover, the 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry and Distinguished Research Professor and head of the David and Janet Polak Cancer and Vascular Biology Research Center at the Technion Faculty of Medicine.

Renowned cancer biologist Dr. Benjamin Neel, an expert in the field of cell signal transduction, recently joined the Langone faculty as director of the Perlmutter Cancer Center, and Dr. Eyal Gottlieb, a world leader in cancer metabolism, has been recruited to lead the new research facility at the Technion funded by the Perlmutter gift. Neel will work closely with Ciechanover to lead the collaborative cancer research effort between the two institutions, they said.

In addition, Neel will oversee at NYU the building of world-class translational programs in immunotherapy, cancer genetics/targeted therapies and epigenetics, imaging, as well as expanded programs in clinical care, community outreach and supportive oncology.

New technology for early detection of stomach cancer

The innovative method, developed at the Technion, identifies persons at risk for developing stomach cancer and for detecting tumors at an earlier stage. The prestigious journal Gut, which published the research, notes that the detection method is quick, simple, inexpensive and non-invasive.

Innovative gastric cancer-detection technology

Innovative gastric cancer-detection technology

Innovative gastric cancer-detection technology developed by the Technion can be used for the early detection of stomach cancer and for identifying persons at risk for developing the disease. The new detection method, based on breath analysis, has significant advantages over the existing detection technology: Gut reports that the new method is quick, simple, inexpensive and non-invasive.

Gastric cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer and in most cases, its diagnosis involves an endoscopy (the insertion of a tube into the esophagus, requiring that the patient fast and receive an intravenous sedative). Treatment is aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and the full or partial removal of the stomach. The disease develops in a series of well-defined steps, but there’s currently no effective, reliable, and non-invasive screening test for picking up these changes early on. Thus, many people succumb to stomach cancer only because it was not diagnosed in time.

The new technology, developed by Prof. Hossam Haick of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, can be used to detect premalignant lesions at the earliest stage, when healthy cells start becoming cancerous.

The research, published in Gut as part of the doctoral thesis of Mr. Haitham Amal, was conducted in conjunction with a Latvian research group headed by Prof. Marcis Leja, based on the largest population sample ever in a trial of this type. 484 people participated in the trial, 99 of whom had already been diagnosed with stomach cancer. All the participants were tested for Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium known to increase the risk for stomach cancer, and two breath samples were taken from each person.

The first sample from each participant was analyzed using the GCMS technique, which measures volatile organic substances in exhaled breath. The researchers noted that GCMS technology cannot be used to detect stomach cancer because the testing is very expensive and requires lengthy processing times and considerable expertise to operate the equipment.

The second breath sample was tested using nanoarray analysis, the unique technology developed by Prof. Haick, combined with a pattern recognition algorithm.

The findings:

  1. Based on the concentrations of 8 specific substances (out of 130) in the oral cavity, the new technology can distinguish between three groups: gastric cancer patients, persons who have precancerous stomach lesions, and healthy individuals.
  2. The new technology accurately distinguishes between the various pre-malignant stages.
  3. The new technology can be used to identify persons at risk for developing gastric cancer.
  4. The diagnosis is accurate, regardless of other factors such as age, sex, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and the use of anti-oxidant drugs.

In short, the nano-array analysis method developed by Prof. Haick is accurate, sensitive technology that provides a simple and inexpensive alternative to existing tests (such as GCMS). This new technology offers early, effective detection of persons at risk for developing stomach cancer, without unnecessary invasive tests (endoscopy). In order to assess the accuracy and effectiveness of the new, a wide-scale clinical trial is currently under way in Europe, with thousands of participants who have cancerous or pre-cancerous tumors.

About Prof. Hossam Haick

Prof. Hossam Haick, who joined the senior staff at the Technion Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering in 2006, has been working since that year on the development of innovative, non-invasive technology for detecting cancer and other diseases. This technology is based on an “electronic nose” – an apparatus capable of detecting illnesses by analyzing a patient’s exhaled breath.

Prof. Haick, a native of Nazareth, completed his Ph.D. studies at the Technion by the time he was 27 and went to the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and Caltech Institute of Technology in California. He returned to the Technion in 2006 and his research group was awarded one million euros in grants by the European Union, which was very impressed by his research into artificial olfactory systems. Today he heads a consortium that includes Siemens and several universities, research institutes and companies in Germany, Austria, Finland, Ireland, Latvia and Israel. Since joining the senior faculty in the Chemical Engineering Department in 2006, Prof. Haick has won dozens of awards, grants and international honors. These include the Marie Curie Excellence Grant, European Research Council (ERC) grant and the Bill & Melinda Gates Award. Prof. Haick was nominated to MIT’s list of the 35 leading young scientists worldwide, received the Knight of the Order of Academic Palms, from the French Government and won the Hershel Rich Technion Innovation Award (twice), as well as the Tenne Prize for Excellence in the Science of Nanotechnology. He has also been recognized for his outstanding teaching skills and is the recipient of the Yanai Prize for Academic Excellence. In 2014, at the initiative of the president of the Technion, Prof. Haick headed an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in nanotechnology and nano-sensors that had an enrollment of 42,000.

meta

Early Warning of Cancer Metastasis

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Israel and around the world. Innovative technology developed at the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering will enable the prediction of cancer metastasis after the appearance of breast cancer. The technology, whose efficacy has been proven in preliminary laboratory-trials, is entering into advanced testing using cells from patients undergoing surgery.

In contrast to benign cells (right), metastatic cells (left) penetrate into the gel and disappear inside it, thanks to their unique characteristics
In contrast to benign cells (right), metastatic cells (left) penetrate into the gel and disappear inside it, thanks to their unique characteristics

Assistant Professor Daphne Weihs recently achieved a research breakthrough: the unique technology that she developed – a biomechanical method for early detection of metastatic cancer – was approved by the Ethics Committee. This means that the technology that was found to be effective in tests on cell lines will advance to trials with tumor cells collected directly after surgery, in cooperation with Rambam Healthcare Campus.

According to Assistant Professor Weihs, the practical concept is that “during or immediately after a biopsy or surgery on a malignant tumor, the system will enable the medical team to quantitatively evaluate the likelihood of the presence or development of tumor metastases in other organs, and to propose which organ or organs are involved. Such knowledge will make it possible to act at a very early stage to identify and curb these metastases and, moreover, to prevent the primary tumor from metastasizing further.

Cancer is a general name for a wide family of diseases – more than 200 – whose common denominator is that the cell division rate becomes uncontrolled and the cells become immortal. In other words, the cancer mechanism disrupts the normal cell division process and converts it into “wild” and rapid division. Since the cells do not age and do not die, the original, primary tumor expands, invades and takes over more and more nearby tissue. In addition, apart from spreading to its immediate vicinity, a tumor that has become very aggressive “knows” how to send metastases to more distant tissues through the lymph and circulatory systems. Metastases (secondary tumors) are usually more dangerous than the primary tumor because it is difficult to identify them at their inception. When they are detected at an advanced stage, treating them medically is more complicated and the medical prognosis is typically not good.

“In fact, most cancer-related deaths are caused by metastases rather than by the primary tumor, and therefore vast resources are invested in developing methods for early detection of metastases,” explains Assistant Professor Daphne Weihs. “Early detection means timely and more effective treatment. The new approach that we are developing will enable early prediction of the likelihood of the formation of metastases and where in the body their development is probable. This prediction is based on identifying the biomechanics of the primary tumor cells, and does not require us to know the specific genetic makeup of the tumor.”

Mobile SniffPhone will detect cancer on a user’s breath

Diagnostic system developed by Technion professor is to pair with tiny smell-sensitive sensor that can go anywhere
By David Shamah February 3, 2015, 2:05 pm

A patient uses the NaNose breathalyzer (Photo credit: Courtesy Technion)

Writers
David Shamah

An innovative early disease detection system that uses the sense of smell is going mobile.

 

The NaNose breathalyzer technology developed by Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion will soon be installed in a mobile phone – to be called, appropriately, the SniffPhone. A tiny smell-sensitive sensor will be installed onto a phone add-on, and using specially designed software, the phone will be able to “smell” users’ breath to determine if they have cancer, among other serious diseases.

By identifying the special “odor” emitted by cancer cells, the NaNose system can detect the presence of tumors, both benign and malignant, more quickly, efficiently and cheaply than previously possible, said Haick.

“Current cancer diagnosis techniques are ineffective and impractical,” he said. NaNose technology, he said, “could facilitate faster therapeutic intervention, replacing expensive and time-consuming clinical follow-up that would eventually lead to the same intervention.”

According to research done by Haick’s team, the NaNose system has a 90 percent accuracy rate.

The smartphone device is just a vehicle to implement the NaNose technology that can be taken anywhere and used in any circumstances, including in rural areas of the developing world where bringing in sophisticated testing equipment is impossible.

The plan calls for a chip with NaNose technology to be installed in a device that is attached to a smartphone, and for an app to read the sensor data, analyzing it on the device or uploading it to the cloud for processing.

NaNose technology will be especially useful in battling lung cancer, said Haick. According to US government statistics, lung cancer kills more Americans annually than the next three most common cancers — colon, breast, and pancreatic — combined. The reason, doctors say, is because lung cancer is so difficult to detect. Currently, the only way to detect early-stage lung cancer is through an extensive process involving blood tests, biopsies, CT scans, ultrasound tests, and other procedures — and even then, detection is difficult.

“Mostly the patient arrives for diagnosis when the symptoms of the sickness have already begun to appear,” said Haick, describing the drawbacks in current detection protocols. “Months pass before a real analysis in completed. And the process requires complicated and expensive equipment such as CT and mammography imaging devices. Each machine costs millions of dollars, and ends up delivering rough, inaccurate results.”

Dr. Hossam Haick (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Dr. Hossam Haick (Photo credit: Courtesy)

 

The NaNose-based system, on the other hand, doesn’t require anything more than a patient’s breathing into the device in order to come up with an initial diagnosis. Lung cancer tumors produce chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which easily evaporate into the air and produce a discernible scent profile. Haick’s NaNose chip detects the unique “signature” of VOCs in exhaled breath. In four out of five cases, the device differentiated between benign and malignant lung lesions and even different cancer subtypes.

The project is being funded by the European Commission, which has given the consortium developing it a six million euro grant. The developers include universities and research institutes from Germany, Austria, Finland, Ireland and Latvia, as well as Irish cell biology research firm Cellix, with the NaNose system the centerpiece of the technology. That Israeli-developed component will be delivered by an Israeli start-up called NanoVation-GS, a spinoff of the Technion. Professor Haick serves as the start-up’s Chief Science Officer.

“The SniffPhone is a winning solution. It will be made tinier and cheaper than disease detection solutions currently, consume little power, and most importantly, it will enable immediate and early diagnosis that is both accurate and non-invasive,” said Haick. “Early diagnosis can save lives, particularly in life-threatening diseases such as cancer.”

 

Nanotech Drug Delivery Method For Cancer Could Replace Conventional Chemotherapy

By NoCamels Team March 03, 2015 5 Comments

at http://nocamels.com/2015/03/nanotech-drug-delivery-method-cancer-replace-chemotherapy-eliminate-side-effects/

Anyone who knows a person in the midst of chemotherapy is aware that anti-cancer drugs often take a very harsh toll on the body. This is one reason scientists have been trying to develop improved means of drug delivery for years. Now, a Technion research team discovered a way to improve drug delivery to tumors using Nanostructured Porous Silicon (PSi) particles (instead of an IV drip), a method that’s emerging as a promising new platform for drug delivery. In the future, PSi could be used in cancer treatments, potentially offering an alternative to traditional chemotherapy, which is notorious for its agonizing side effects.

The silicon “carriers” used in this study to deliver chemotherapy drugs behave differently in cancerous tumors than they do in healthy tissues. Therefore, the findings could help scientists to design nano-carriers that deliver drugs to tumors, instead of treating patients with traditional, intravenous chemotherapy. However, it would take years to develop and apply this new type of drug delivery method, which would potentially be taken orally.

     SEE ALSO: Study: How To Make Chemotherapy Side-Effects Less Deadly

So far, these nano-silicon “containers” have been studied in vitro – outside of a living organism – rather than in an environment that behaves more closely to that of a tumor in a cancer patient’s body. The Technion research team looked at what happens to PSi particles when they’re injected into the area around the tumor in mice. The significant differences in the area around a cancerous growth and regular healthy tissue have been widely described and studied; however, the effect on these porous silicon “containers,” or carriers, was unknown until now.

Prof. Ester Segal of the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, who led this joint study with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Harvard Medical School, said the team has “shown for the first time that bio-materials in general, and Nanostructured Porous Silicon in particular, behave differently when they are injected (or implanted) at the tumor micro-environment.”

Revolutionizing cancer treatments

Silicon materials could revolutionize treatments in a way that no existing drug delivery does. Prof. Segal tells NoCamels that the silicon containers “could deliver drugs over a long period of time – weeks or even months”, something no existing chemotherapeutic delivery mechanism can do currently.

cancer cells

Cancer cells

The special properties of these porous nano-silicon carriers lie in their large surface area, which can ferry many or large drug molecules. Additionally, due to their biodegradability they’re able to break down into harmless silicic acid, which is expelled through urination. They are also biocompatible, so they do not stimulate any inflammation or clotting. Another benefit to these nano-silicon containers is their versatility. They can be ingested, injected or implanted, and they can be designed to carry a wide range of dosage sizes. In the process of their study, lab members also developed an approach to determining how biomaterials will react in settings more similar to their eventual clinical purpose – treating cancer, for example.

     SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Create ‘Trojan Horse’ Of Chemotherapy

In a separate study, Tel Aviv University scientists recently found a strategy that would stop brain tumor cell proliferation with similar nano-particles. “It is a basic, elegant mechanism and much less toxic than chemotherapy,” TAU’s Prof. Dan Peer said in a statement.

These works underline the importance of such studies in successfully developing bio-delivery materials that will have therapeutic benefits in the near future.

The ‘Magic Bullet’ of Chemotherapy

http://www.technion.ac.il/en/2015/03/the-magic-bullet-of-chemotherapy/

“Nano-skeletons’ (in red) delivered to human tissue infected by prostate cancer. The infected cells are colored in blue (PIP) and green (cytoplasmic); it is possible to see how the ‘nano-skeletons’ reach them

“Nano-skeletons’ (in red) delivered to human tissue infected by prostate cancer. The infected cells are colored in blue (PIP) and green (cytoplasmic); it is possible to see how the ‘nano-skeletons’ reach them

Florida native Dr. Beth Schoen, is part of a team developing a novel platform for delivering anti-cancerous drugs directly to its mark as part of her postdoctoral research at the Technion

Beth Schoen, born in Hollywood Florida, came to the Technion to conduct her postdoctoral research at age 26. In her very limited spare time she plays soccer for the leading all women’s soccer team – Maccabi Hadera – and studies Hebrew. “The Hebrew thing is no simple matter,” she confesses, “but I’m willing to make the effort, because it’s clear to me that Israel is where I want to live.”

Dr. Beth Schoen completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida, and her doctorate at Michigan State University in chemical engineering. “My doctoral studies focused on synthetic organic chemistry, particularly on the development of polymers with unique thermodynamic attributes especially resistant to high temperatures. These types of materials are used in part for the production of jet engine parts, body armor and Nomex (used for making fire-resistant gloves and overalls). One of our tasks was to create soft sheets that were not brittle, to be worn to be both bulletproof and fire resistant. It was a theoretical study, but as part of the process I also produced some of these polymers and tested them.”

Dr. Schoen planned to come to the Technion as part of her doctoral studies, but, she adds, “It didn’t work out, so I started to check where I could best fit in here in my future studies.” She decided to join Prof. Marcelle Machluf’s laboratory, at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, “I was eager to move from chemistry to biology and pursue cancer research in particular. I was very glad for the tremendous opportunity that Marcelle gave me in taking me on – perhaps it was because of my experience in nanomaterials and polymers.”

Prof. Marcelle Machluf’s research team consists of 17 female and 3 males students, researchers and technicians working on two main projects: (1) the development of scaffolds to rehabilitate damaged heart-tissue, and (2) the development of new technology to deliver drug treatment to damaged (sick) tissue (specifically related to cancer therapy). In an interview with her she focused on the second project.

“The current treatment for cancer involves radiotherapy and chemotherapy usually administered through intravenous infusion. The cancer drugs available are extremely effective, yet the way they are put to use in present day treatment, they also cause damage to healthy tissues. These are very potent drugs – they are intended to kill cancer cells – and on their way they also end up killing healthy ones.”

“The greatest damage is caused to rapidly dividing cells, which are similar to cancer cells. Hair follicle cells, for example, are a type of rapidly dividing cells and they damage easily from these types of treatment, which explains the hair loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Other side-effects include nausea and hearing loss, sometimes even leading to deafness. The drug Cisplatin for example, is a type of chemo drug used to treat various types of lung and breast cancers; some of its side-effects include damage to renal and immune system functioning, putting patients at risk to infections and diseases.”

These impediments are what fuel Prof. Machluf’s drive to develop a new drug delivery platforms capable of delivering anti-cancer drugs directly to the tumor without damaging healthy tissues on its way. “This is the top priority of cancer treatment: to develop a ‘magic bullet’ that target cancer cells,” explains Prof. Machluf. “And our new platform may be the solution to this great challenge.”

The new platform is based on ‘depleting’ specific cells – mesenchymal stem cells – so that there is nothing left of them save for the membrane. This membrane, called a ghost cells can be down sized to nano-vesicles, termed nano-ghosts, which can be loaded with any drug and delivered by injection directly into the blood stream. The immune system falls for the trap and does not recognize the ‘intruder,’ instead it treats these cells as if they were naturally part of the system and sends them to the afflicted area. On the way to their target they do not release the drug they are carrying and therefore do not do any damage to healthy tissues. Only upon reaching the malignant tissue, which they know how to identify, do they break down and secrete their contents at the site of the tumor cells.

This original idea was tested in a long series of experiments, and the results are very impressive: these nano-ghosts are in fact tumor selective, no matter the type of tumor. They ‘dash’ straight to the malignant tissue without emitting their drug on the way and without damaging healthy cells. Moreover, this unique ‘parcel’ increases the effectiveness of the treatment by ten-fold. Animal studies have shown that the employment of nano-ghosts for anti-cancer drug delivery have led to an 80% delay of prostate cancer – an unprecedented rate.

Still, there is a lot of work ahead, as Prof. Machluf’s research team works on improving the mechanism of this novel new platform: some of them are focusing on compatibility with specific drugs while others, like Dr. Beth Schoen, are concentrating on improving the nano-ghosts “This platform must be very precise,” explains Schoen. “It must be able to endure travelling through the entire human body, and release its contents only inside the tumor.”

The research is being carried out in collaboration with the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.

For a Full Report From the President of Technion on all Innovations Occurring at Technion during 2015 please click below

http://pard.technion.ac.il/view-the-report/

Other Resources

http://www.technioncancer.co.il/ResearchGroups.php
http://www.ats.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_research_cancer
http://www.technioncancer.co.il/lab.php?id=3

http://www.rappaport.org.il/Rappaport/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DBID=1&TMID=610&FID=77&PID=0&IID=1268 

Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks at Zuckerman Scholars Program in STEM Leadership

Other related articles on Cancer Research @Technion were published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal, including the following:

Medical Breakthrough: Israeli Researcher Predicts Where Cancer Will Spread

Pancreatic Cancer at the Crossroads of Metabolism

Next-generation Universal Cell Immunotherapy startup Adicet Bio, Menlo Park, CA is launched with $51M Funding by OrbiMed

Solutions for Multiple Myeloma – a cancer formed by Malignant Plasma Cells: Collaboration of NYU and Technion Integrative Cancer Center

List of Breakthroughs in Cancer Research and Oncology Drug Development by Awardees of The Israel Cancer Research Fund

Biomarkers of Cancer detected by BreathAnalyzer – An Collaborative effort of three Universities

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Will President Obama’ s Cancer Immunotherapy Colloquium (dubbed Moonshot) mean Government is Fully Behind the War on Cancer or have we heard this before?

 

UPDATED on 12/13/2016

Greg Simon, White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force: Interview Q&A

Dec 12, 2016 | AnnouncementsQ&ASpeaker spotlights |

The following is an interview recently conducted by PMWC with Greg Simon, Executive Director at the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force. The discussion focused on the future of the Cancer Moonshot with the upcoming change of administration.

A status update on the Cancer Moonshot will be presented at the upcoming Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) 2017 Silicon Valley. To registerclick here.

http://www.pmwcintl.com/greg-simon-qa/

 

SOURCE:

From: Tal Behar <talb=pmwcintl.com@mail61.atl161.mcsv.net> on behalf of Tal Behar <talb@pmwcintl.com>

Reply-To: Tal Behar <talb@pmwcintl.com>

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:40 PM

To: Aviva Lev-Ari <AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu>

Subject: PMWC News – Late Breaking Interview – The White House Cancer Moonshot in Limbo

 

 

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D

potusmoonshotannouncementsotus

President Obama announces a “Moonshot” Program to create collaborations aimed at developing immunotherapies to cure cancer by 2020 at his last State of the Union Address. Vice President Biden will lead the effort.

 

From Cancer Letters

  • Obama Announces Moonshot to Cure Cancer
  • When Moonshots Collide
  • Soon-Shiong Says FDA & NCI are Onboard For His Moonshot; Feds Deny Involvement

Obama Announces Moonshot to Cure Cancer

President Barack Obama announced a moonshot aimed at curing cancer, a project to be led by Vice President Joe Biden.

The United States can do “so much more,” Obama said in his seventh and final State of the Union address Jan. 12. “Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had over a decade.

“Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of mission control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save—let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

  When Moonshots Collide

Did Patrick Soon-Shiong attempt to scoop President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

Several days before Obama announced the federal government’s moonshot to cure cancer, Soon-Shiong put out a draft press release, claiming that the White House, NIH, FDA and pharmaceutical companies have united in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” an immunotherapy clinical trials program he devised.

Soon-Shiong, founder and CEO of NantWorks and the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute of Molecular Medicine, ultimately announced his moonshot on Jan. 11, a day before Obama announced his.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Soon-Shiong Says FDA & NCI are Onboard For His Moonshot; Feds Deny Involvement

Government agencies said the biotechnology billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong had overstated the extent of their involvement in “Cancer MoonShot 2020,” the immunotherapy clinical trials program he put together.

In an in-depth conversation with Matthew Bin Han Ong, a reporter with The Cancer Letter, Soon-Shiong said that while his program doesn’t seek federal funds, it has the support of NCI and FDA officials.

Soon-Shiong said he and Vice President Joe Biden met to discuss their interlocking missions and are now pursuing them.

 

From the AACR website

AACR Thanks President Obama and Vice President Biden for Their Strong Commitment to Cancer Research and Biomedical Science in State of the Union Address

1/12/2016

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) applauds and commends President Obama and Vice President Biden for their dedication in the fight against cancer discussed during tonight’s State of the Union address.

The AACR looks forward to working with the administration and Congress to make faster progress against cancer so that we might achieve the goal that Vice President Biden outlined during his speech in the Rose Garden Oct. 21, 2015, specifically that now is the time to make an “absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today.”

“We have indeed reached an inflection point, where the number of discoveries that are being made at such an accelerated pace are saving lives and bringing enormous hope for cancer patients, even those with advanced disease,” said AACR President José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Now is the time for a major new initiative in cancer science that supports and builds upon our basic science foundation while translating these exciting scientific discoveries into improved treatments for cancer patients, such as in the areas of genomics, precision medicine, and immuno-oncology. Tonight’s State of the Union address underscores the importance of collaborations if we are to achieve the vision that President Obama has outlined.”

To that end, on Jan. 8, a group of 15 AACR members, led by Baselga and comprising a number of AACR Board Members, and other AACR leaders from nine states and 10 of the top cancer centers and medical institutions in the U.S., met with Vice President Biden’s senior staff to discuss the state of cancer research, as well as Vice President Biden’s commitment to leading in this important issue.

From Philly.com

Biden to open effort to fight cancer Friday at Penn

 

011316_Biden-SOTU

US Vice President Biden will meet with University of Pennsylvania researchers to discuss the new Moonshot program to eliminate cancer. Photo from http://www.philly.com

 

Jonathan Tamari

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 4:14 PM

image: http://media.philly.com/designimages/partnerIcon-Inquirer-2014.jpg

WASHINGTON – Vice President Biden will launch his effort to find a cure for cancer Friday in Philadelphia, with a visit to Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center at the school’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Biden announced the visit in an online post Tuesday night, when the call to cure the disease was one of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

“It’s personal for me. But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world,” said Biden’s post on Medium. The vice president’s son Beau died of brain cancer at the age of 46 last year.

Biden compared the effort to President Kennedy’s call to go to the moon.

“From my own personal experience, I’ve learned that research and therapies are on the cusp of incredible breakthroughs,” Biden wrote. “The goal of this initiative — this “Moonshot” — is to seize this moment.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/capitolinq/Biden-to-open-effort-to-fight-cancer-Friday-at-Penn.html#sQFbeebwSDM17S0d.99

 

Biden to tour labs, meet cancer researchers at Penn

 

Vice President Biden is scheduled to spend part of Friday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, the first stop on his quest for the United States to cure cancer. President Obama announced the new “Moon Shot” mission during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, comparing it with John F. Kennedy’s 1961 declaration to Congress that the nation would land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.Biden’s 3 p.m. visit includes a tour of laboratories and a roundtable discussion with researchers at the Smilow Center for Translational Research and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, both 3400 Civic Center Blvd. The events are not open to the public but are likely to cause some disruption.

In an internal e-mail Thursday afternoon, Garry Scheib, CEO of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, told employees that parts of the building would be emptied for security reasons from 11 a.m. through evening. “In addition, the Secret Service will temporarily close roadways near our campus to allow for secure transport of the Vice President,” Scheib wrote.

– Don Sapatkin
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20160115_Biden_to_visit_Penn_cancer_center_Friday_afternoon.html#vCpr4Hfu2AGYLSoX.99

 

Billionaire pulls together drugmakers, IBX for cancer collaboration

A billionaire medical entrepreneur has pulled together several drugmakers and Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross to speed development of what researchers hope could be a powerful weapon against cancers – potent combinations of new drugs that harness the body’s immune system.

So-called immunotherapies help disease-fighting cells attack tumors. Yet researchers believe they may work best when two, three, or more of the drugs are used together – overwhelming a tumor’s cellular defenses with attacks from all sides.

The group – called the National Immunotherapy Coalition – brought together by Patrick Soon-Shiong calls itself Moon Shot 2020. The name spun out of conversations Soon-Shiong had last year with Vice President Biden, whose son Beau died of cancer in May. In his October announcement that he was not running for president, Biden suggested a project of moon-shot proportions would be needed to defeat cancer.

A controversial figure in oncology research circles because of his self-promotion, Soon-Shiong made his fortune by inventing the cancer drug Abraxane in the early 1990s. California-based Amgen and New Jersey-based Celgene have joined the effort. Early reports suggested Pfizer, Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline might participate, but other reports indicated they had not as of Monday.

Independence Blue Cross said in a statement Monday that it entered into an agreement with NantHealth, one of Soon-Shiong’s companies, to cover next-generation whole genome sequencing, which is a test designed to detect gene mutations that may serve as markers to help doctors choose cancer treatment.

Independence said its agreement with NantHealth involves a “very specific and complex lab study” related to certain types of cancer. The test will be covered for members with “specific conditions including rare cancers, tumors in children, metastatic cancer of unknown primary, primary brain cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and metastatic cancer where conventional therapies have been exhausted and patients remain candidates for further therapy. Coverage for the testing will be available to eligible members of Independence commercial plans in March 2016.”

As for the National Immunotherapy Coalition, Independence said members referred by their oncologist for participation in one of the approved Moon Shot 2020 clinical trials will be eligible for coverage for the routine patient care costs related to the trial. The coverage includes all routine services required for the patient – such as blood tests, supportive medications, and surgical interventions.

“Independence Blue Cross is committed to bringing state-of-the-art advances in oncology to our members and making care accessible and affordable,” Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO, Independence Blue Cross, said in the statement. “Decisions around cancer care are complex and personal. We’re focused on supporting Independence members and their oncologists by offering coverage for this innovative approach to treating cancer. Whole genome sequencing is one more option to help inform a personalized, effective treatment plan.”
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160112_Billionaire_pulls_together_drugmakers__IBX_for_cancer_collaboration.html#XuXeFCydClgRsX0W.99

 

This is a Great Announcement But What is the History of the Government and THE WAR on CANCER? (Have we heard this before?)

 

The War on Cancer (launced by US President Nixon in the early 1970’s) has been discussed on this site from a historical perspective

2013 Perspective on “War on Cancer” on December 23, 1971

 

as well as the further needs the cancer field needs from this governmental effort

War on Cancer Needs to Refocus to Stay Ahead of Disease Says Cancer Expert

World facing cancer ‘tidal wave’, warns WHO

 

A summation of these efforts would say we have achieved great results in reducing the burden of cancer (through smoking cessation, early screening programs, better education, as well as therapeutic advances) however as the worldwide populace ages we are, and will see, a “rising tidal wave” of cancer incidence across the globe, and cancer researchers are feeling we are at an important precipice on this war, one which could be lost.

And the program which both President Obama and Vice President Biden are suggesting, the power would be a massive collaboration between government, academia, industry, and patient advocacy will certainly produce positive results.

However these efforts have been ongoing as with the University of Pennsylvania-Novartis deal to work together on CAR-T therapies for leukemias as well as other cancers

New Facility Poised to Accelerate the Research and Development of Personalized Cellular Cancer Therapies

 

as well as other academic-industry partnerships in immuno-oncology.

There have been other such announcements in recent years (mainly to draw in research $ or assist in forming academia-industry partnerships) such as:

NCI sets goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by 2015.

 

In 2003 then NCI president Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach announced, after discussions with leaders in the field, that

“I have proposed a challenge goal for the field of cancer research- to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer by 2015. I issued this challenge because I believe we are at a ‘strategic inflection’ in oncology…”

Later in early decade of 2010 another program began to help make a push to recoup some of the government research $ lost to budgetary constraints on the NIH

STAND UP TO CANCER

stand-up-2-cancer

This program has met much success in raising money, awareness, and clinical trial enrollment (following shows current stats from the organization site)

Founded: May 28, 2008
Funds Pledged since inception: Over $370 Million
Number of scientists participating in SU2C-funded research: Over 1000
Clinical Trails funded by SU2C planned, initiated or completed: Over 160
Patients enrolled in SU2C supported Clinical Trials: Over 6,000 patients
Number of institutions joining in SU2C’s collaborative mission: 129

However, although it has grown the cancer research world encompasses a greater number than they can provide for.

 

In short, there has been no government effort much like Nixon’s War on Cancer, which took an obscure disease at the time and not only put it in the limelight but probably the most powerful result was the creation of the National Cancer Institute, thereby developing a framework to promote cancer research for the next century. President Obama should be applauded for this effort yet the real test for the Moonshot program will be to create, much like the NCI did, a self-perpetuating system by which continued further advancement can be made.

 

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Loss of Gene Islands May Promote a Cancer Cell’s Survival, Proliferation and Evolution: A new Hypothesis (and second paper validating model) on Oncogenesis from the Elledge Laboratory

Writer, Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

It is well established that a critical event in the transformation of a cell to the malignant state involves the mutation of hosts of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, which in turn, confer on a cell the inability to properly control its proliferation.    On a genomic scale, these mutations can result in gene amplifications, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), and epigenetic changes resulting in tumorigenesis.  The “two hit hypothesis”, proposed by Dr. Al Knudson of Fox Chase Cancer Center[1], proposes that two mutations in the same gene are required for tumorigenesis, initially proposed to explain the progression of retinoblastoma in children, indicating a recessive disease.

(Excerpts from a great article explaining the two-hit-hypothesis is given at the end of this post).

And, although many tumor genomes display haploinsufficeint tumor suppressor genes, and fit the two hit model quite nicely, recent data show that most tumors display hemizygous recurrent deletions within their genomes.  Tumors display numerous recurrent hemizygous focal deletions that seem to contain no known tumor suppressor genes. For instance a recent analysis of over three thousand tumors including breast, bladder, pancreatic, ovarian and gastric cancers averaged greater than 10 deletions/tumor and 82 regions of recurrent focal deletions,

It has been proposed these great number of hemizygous deletions may be a result of:

  • a recessive tumor suppressor gene requiring mutation or silencing of second allele
  • the mutation may recur as they are located in fragile sites (unstable genomic regions)
  • single-copy loss may provide selective advantage regardless of the other allele

Note: some definitions of hemizygosity are given below.  In general at any locus, each parental chromosome can have 3 deletion states:

  1. wild type
  2. large deletion
  3. small deletion

Hemizygous deletions only involve one allele, not both alleles which is unlike the classic tumor suppressor like TP53

To see if it is possible that only one mutated allele of a tumor suppressor gene may be a casual event for tumorigenesis, Dr. Nicole Solimini and colleagues, from Dr. Stephen Elledge’s lab at Harvard, proposed a hypothesis they termed the cancer gene island model, after analyzing the regions of these hemizygous deletions for cancer related genes[2].  Dr. Soliin and colleagues analyzed whole-genome sequence data for 526 tumors in the COSMIC database comparing to a list generated from the Cancer Gene Census for homozygous loss-of-function mutations (mutations which result in a termination codon or frame-shift mutation: {this produces a premature stop in the protein or an altered sequence leading to a nonfunctional protein}.

Results of this analysis revealed:

  1. although tumors have a wide range of deletions per tumor (most epithelial high grade like ovarian, bladder, pancreatic, and esophageal adenocarcinomas had 10-14 deletions per tumor
  2. and although tumors exhibited a wide range (2- 16 ) loss of function mutations
  3. ONLY 14 of 82 recurrent deletions contained a known tumor suppressor gene and was a low frequency event
  4. Most recurrent cancer deletions do not contain putative tumor suppressor genes.

Therefore, as the authors suggest, an alternate method to the two-hit hypothesis may account for a selective growth advantage for these types of deletions, defining these low frequency hemizygous mutations in two general classes

  1. STOP genes: suppressors of tumor growth and proliferation
  2. GO genes: growth enhancers and oncogenes

Identifying potential STOP genes

To identify the STOP and GO genes the authors performed a primary screen of an shRNA library in telomerase (hTERT) immortalized human mammary epithelial cells using increased PROLIFERATION as a screening endpoint to determine STOP genes and decreased proliferation and lethality (essential genes) to determine possible GO genes. An initial screen identified 3582 possible STOP genes.  Using further screens and higher stringency criteria which focused on:

  • Only genes which increased proliferation in independent triplicate screens
  • Validated by competition assays
  • Were enriched more than four fold in three independent shRNA screens

the authors were able to focus on and validate 878 genes to determine the molecular pathways involved in proliferation.

These genes were involved in cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, and autophagy (which will be discussed in further posts).

To further validate that these putative STOP genes are relevant in human cancer, the list of validated STOP genes found in the screen was compared to the list of loss-of-function mutations in the 526 tumors in the COSMIC databaseSurprisingly, the validated STOP gene list were significantly enriched for known and possibly NOVEL tumor suppressor genes and especially loss of function and deletion mutations but also clustered in gene deletions in cancer.  This not only validated the authors’ model system and method but suggests that hemizygous deletions in multiple STOP genes may contribute to tumorigenesis

as the function of the majority of STOP genes is to restrain tumorigenesis

A few key conclusions from this study offer strength to an alternative view of oncogenesis NAMELY:

  • Loss of multiple STOP genes per deletion optimize a cancer cell’s proliferative capacity
  • Cancer cells display an insignificant loss of GO genes, minimizing negative impacts on cellular fitness
  • Haploinsufficiency in multiple STOP genes can result in similar alteration of function similar to complete loss of both alleles of
  • Cancer evolution may result from selection of hemizygous loss of high number of STOP and low number of GO genes
  • Leads to a CANCER GENE ISLAND model where there is a clonal evolution of transformed cells due to selective pressures

A link to the supplemental data containing STOP and GO genes found in validation screens and KEGG analysis can be found at the following link:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6090/104/suppl/DC1#

A link to an interview with the authors, originally posted on Harvard’s site can be found here.

Cumulative Haploinsufficiency and Triplosensitivity Drive Aneuploidy Patterns and Shape the Cancer Genome; a new paper from the Elledge group in the journal Cell

http://www.cell.com/retrieve/pii/S0092867413012877

A concern of the authors was the extent to which gene silencing could have on their model in tumors.  The validation of the model was performed in cancer cell lines and compared to tumor genome sequence in publicly available databases however a followup paper by the same group shows that haploinsufficiency contributes a greater impact on the cancer genome than these studies have suggested.

In a follow-up paper by the Elledge group in the journal Cell[3], Theresa Davoli and colleagues, after analyzing 8,200 tumor-normal pairs, show there are many more cancer driver genes than once had been predicted.  In addition, the distribution and potency of STOP genes, oncogenes, and essential genes (GO) contribute to the complex picture of aneuploidy seen in many sporadic tumors.  The authors proposed that, together with these and their previous findings, that haploinsufficiency plays a crucial role in shaping the cancer genome.

Hemizygosity and Haploinsufficiency

Below are a few definitions from Wikipedia:

Zygosity is the degree of similarity of the alleles for a trait in an organism.

Most eukaryotes have two matching sets of chromosomes; that is, they are diploid. Diploid organisms have the same loci on each of their two sets of homologous chromosomes, except that the sequences at these loci may differ between the two chromosomes in a matching pair and that a few chromosomes may be mismatched as part of a chromosomal sex-determination system. If both alleles of a diploid organism are the same, the organism is homozygous at that locus. If they are different, the organism is heterozygous at that locus. If one allele is missing, it is hemizygous, and, if both alleles are missing, it is nullizygous.

Haploinsufficiency occurs when a diploid organism has only a single functional copy of a gene (with the other copy inactivated by mutation) and the single functional copy does not produce enough of a gene product (typically a protein) to bring about a wild-type condition, leading to an abnormal or diseased state. It is responsible for some but not all autosomal dominant disorders.

Al Knudsen and The “Two-Hit Hypothesis” of Cancer

Excerpt from a Scientist article by Eugene Russo about Dr. Knudson’s Two hit Hypothesis;

for full article please follow the link http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/19649/title/-Two-Hit–Hypothesis/

The “two-hit” hypothesis was, according to many, among the more significant milestones in that rapid evolution of biomedical science. The theory explains the relationship between the hereditary and nonhereditary, or sporadic, forms of retinoblastoma, a rare cancer affecting one in 20,000 children. Years prior to the age of gene cloning, Knudson’s 1971 paper proposed that individuals will develop cancer of the retina if they either inherit one mutated retinoblastoma (Rb) gene and incur a second mutation (possibly environmentally induced) after conception, or if they incur two mutations or hits after conception.3 If only one Rb gene functions normally, the cancer is suppressed. Knudson dubbed these preventive genes anti-oncogenes; other scientists renamed them tumor suppressors.

When first introduced, the “two-hit” hypothesis garnered more interest from geneticists than from cancer researchers. Cancer researchers thought “even if it’s right, it may not have much significance for the world of cancer,” Knudson recalls. “But I had been taught from the early days that very often we learn fundamental things from unusual cases.” Knudson’s initial motivation for the model: a desire to understand the relationship between nonhereditary forms of cancer and the much rarer hereditary forms. He also hoped to elucidate the mechanism by which common cancers, such as those of the breast, stomach, and colon, become more prevalent with age.

According to the then-accepted somatic mutation theory, the more mutations, the greater the risk of cancer. But this didn’t jibe with Knudson’s own studies on childhood cancers, which suggested that, in the case of cancers such as retinoblastoma, disease onset peaks in early childhood. Knudson set out to determine the smallest number of cancer-inducing events necessary to cause cancer and the role of these events in hereditary vs. nonhereditary cancers. Based on existing data on cancer cases and some mathematical deduction, Knudson came up with the “two-hit” hypothesis.

Not until 1986, when researchers at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., cloned the Rb gene, would there be solid evidence to back up Knudson’s pathogenesis paradigm.4 “Even with the cloning of the gene, it wasn’t clear how general it would be,” says Knudson. There are, it turns out, several two-hit lesions, including polyposis, neurofibromitosis, and basal cell carcinoma syndrome. Other cancers show only some correspondence with the two-hit model. In the case of Wilm’s tumor, for example, the model accounts for about 15 percent of the cancer incidence; the remaining cases seem to be more complicated.

knudsonTwoHit1600

His seminal paper on the two-hit hypothesis[1]

A.G. Knudson, “Mutation and cancer: statistical study of retinoblastoma,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 68:820-3, 1971.

The two hit hypothesis proposed by A.G. Knudson.  A description with video of Dr. Knudson talk at AACR can be found at the following link (photo creditied to A.G. Knudson and Fox Chase Cancer Center at the following link:http://www.fccc.edu/research/research-awards/knudson/index.html

Sources

1.            Knudson AG, Jr.: Mutation and cancer: statistical study of retinoblastoma. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 1971, 68(4):820-823.

2.            Solimini NL, Xu Q, Mermel CH, Liang AC, Schlabach MR, Luo J, Burrows AE, Anselmo AN, Bredemeyer AL, Li MZ et al: Recurrent hemizygous deletions in cancers may optimize proliferative potential. Science 2012, 337(6090):104-109.

3.            Davoli T, Xu Andrew W, Mengwasser Kristen E, Sack Laura M, Yoon John C, Park Peter J, Elledge Stephen J: Cumulative Haploinsufficiency and Triplosensitivity Drive Aneuploidy Patterns and Shape the Cancer Genome. Cell 2013, 155(4):948-962.

Other papers on this site on CANCER and MUTATION include:

Cancer Mutations Across the Landscape

Salivary Gland Cancer – Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma: Mutation Patterns: Exome- and Genome-Sequencing @ Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Whole exome somatic mutations analysis of malignant melanoma contributes to the development of personalized cancer therapy for this disease

Breast Cancer and Mitochondrial Mutations

Winning Over Cancer Progression: New Oncology Drugs to Suppress Passengers Mutations vs. Driver Mutations

Hold on. Mutations in Cancer do good.

Rewriting the Mathematics of Tumor Growth; Teams Use Math Models to Sort Drivers from Passengers

How mobile elements in “Junk” DNA promote cancer. Part 1: Transposon-mediated tumorigenesis.

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AACR announces AACR Progress Report 2013

Stephen J. Williams: Curator

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presented a webinar of the highlights of their yearly progress report (released yesterday and available on the AACR website) on the recent advances and current status of cancer research and cancer research’s impact on health outcomes in the United States.  This report, compiled by staff of AACR, with special thanks to the efforts of Dr. Karen Honey, Ph.D, reports on the current achievements in cancer research including developments in immunotherapies, new drug approvals, health outcomes, newly approved imaging modalities, and the current state of affairs of funding for cancer research and clinical trials.  The report also describes the impact and timeline of discoveries leading to the use of genomics and personalized medicine in cancer treatment.  The last portion of the report is an “AACR Call to Action”, imploring cancer patient activists, scientists, and citizens to write their representatives in Washington for increased funding for cancer research and clinical trials.  The report and presentation will be given to lawmakers on Capital Hill on Spetmeber 19, 2013 as part of Hill Day’s Rally for Medical Research.

The presentation, given on September 18, 2013 at the National Press Club in Washington DC) was headed by AACR CEO Dr. Marge Foti, M.D., Ph.D. with presentations given by

  • Dr. Charles Sawyers, M.D. (Memorial Sloan Kettering)
  • Dr. Drew M. Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D. (Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins)
  • 3 cancer survivors

Below is a brief summary of each of their talks.  The downloadable AACR Progress Report 2013 can be found here and a link to the video can also be found at the AACR website.

Marge Foti, M.D., Ph.D. (Chief Executive Officer, American Association Cancer Research)

Although Dr. Foti mentioned the grim statistic in the US 580,000 this year will die of cancer, she gave multiple statistics on the great progress the US has achieved since staring the “War on Cancer” in 1971 and the future progress which lies ahead.  Notably (from the report)

  • From 1990 to 2012 over 1 million cancer patients lives have been saved
  • There are over 13 million cancer survivors today
  • For the year 2012-2013 FDA has approved
  1. 11 new cancer drugs
  2. 3 new uses of previously approved drugs
  3. 3 new imaging modalities and protocols for cancer detection

However Dr. Foti also stressed the speed of progress is being pressured by diminishing federal funds for cancer research and clinical trials.  Dr. Foti noted:

  • In mid 90’s there was a doubling of federal funds to the NCI
  • Since 2003 however funding has not kept up with “biomedical inflation” (not risen adjusted for current inflation)
  • Sequester has been a big pressure on biomedical and cancer research capacity
  • Funding cuts also decrease the number of patients that can enroll in clinical trials

Charles Sawyers, M.D. (Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Director at Memorial Sloan-Lettering Cancer Center)

Dr. Sawyers’s research work involves the signaling pathways involved in conferring growth advantage to cancerous cells.  His work led to the development of numerous targeted therapies such as imatinib (Gleevec) for CML (chronic myeloid leukemia).  He referred to these therapies as “precision medicine” and noted there were only 5 such therapies 10 years ago but now 17 such precision medicines five years ago for cancer, “ a complex host of diseases”.

Dr. Sawyers reflected this is the “most serious funding crisis in decades” and we are “already losing momentum” due to the current funding crisis.

Drew M. Pardoll, M.D. Ph.D. (Professor, Co-Director Division Immunology, Johns Hopkins)

Dr. Pardoll is a leader in the fielod of immunotherapy for cancer and his work is pioneering a new clas of immunotherapies, such as PD1 inhibitors, which supports the cancer patient’s own immune system to fight and kill the patient’s own cancer cells.  Dr. Pardoll had mentioned early work on immunotherapy had revealed its potential but researchers are now realize this is the “5th pillar of cancer therapy”.  Because of research done in the early 2000’s, cancer researchers such as Dr. Pardoll figured out mechanisms how to make these immunotherapies more reproducible in clinical trials.  This led to the discovery of CTLA4 and PD1 as major regulators of the immune tolerance to cancer cells (see post Combined anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1 immunotherapy shows promising results against advanced melanoma).

Dr. Pardoll also mentioned how he, and others, noticed that the pharmaceutical industry is now looking to academia to keep driving the science and that patient advocates are very important partner in the discovery process.

Moving presentation were also given by three cancer survivors (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and  childhood leukemia) which all attested that without ground-breaking clinical research they might not have survived their deadly cancer.

Please see the following website below about the Rally for Medical Research to see how you can get involved in supporting cancer research in the US, and contacting your representative.

Rally for Medical Research Hill Day

September 18, 2013

Federal funding for medical research is in jeopardy, threatening the health of Americans. On September 18, 2013, a broad coalition of groups from the medical research advocacy community will meet with House and Senate offices in Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to invest in the National Institutes of Health for the health and economic security of our nation.

Sponsoring organizations will join the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day to raise awareness during a critical time about the urgent need for a sustained investment in the NIH to improve health, spur more progress, inspire more hope and save more lives.

More articles on Progress on the War on Cancer from this site include:

2013 Perspective on “War on Cancer” on December 23, 1971

2013 American Cancer Research Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research: Professor Alexander Levitzki

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Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Ca Prevention: Calcium May Protect Colon

Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

WASHINGTON — Increasing calcium intake may lower the risk of colorectal adenomas in people who are at increased risk of the precancerous lesions due to variations in two genes, researchers reported here.

In a two-phase, case-control study of nearly 6,000 subjects, high calcium intake was associated with a significantly reduced risk of adenoma among those who carried variants in the KCNJ and SLC12A1 genes.

High calcium intake was not associated with a reduced risk of colorectal adenoma among those with no variants in KCNJ and SLC12A1, both of which are essential to calcium reabsorption in the kidney, reported Xiangzhu Zhu, MD, of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting here.

The two-phase study was undertaken to explore whether 14 genes involved in calcium homeostasis are associated with the risk for colorectal adenoma. The researchers also wanted to determine whether intake of calcium and magnesium modified any such risks.

To do so, they utilized data from 1,818 cases and 3,992 controls enrolled in the Tennessee Colorectal Polyp Study. Of the 14 genes,KCNJ and SLC12A1 were found to modify the risk between calcium intake and adenomas.

Among the findings:

  • 52% of participants had a variant allele in one of the two genes, and 13% carried variant alleles in both genes.
  • In people with both gene variants, those the top tertile of calcium intake – consuming 1,300 mg a day or more – had a 69% lower risk of adenoma than people in the lowest tertile, who consumed less than 1,000 mg a day (for trend=0.039).
  • In patients who had one gene variant, there was a 39% reduction in adenomas for those in the highest tertile compared with those in the lowest tertile (for trend=0.046).

The risk for advanced or multiple adenomas were reduced by 89% among those with variants in both genes (for trend=.01).

If confirmed, the findings suggest that patients who carry one or both variants should increase their calcium intake to at least 1,300 mg per day, either through diet or supplementation, Zhu said.

The findings may also “provide one possible explanation for the inconsistency in previous studies on calcium intake and colorectal abnormalities,” she said.

Further study will be needed to confirm the findings, commented Susan T. Mayne, PhD, of Yale University School of Public Health.

Mayne said the study emphasizes that “one size does not always fit all” when it comes to optimal nutrient intakes.

James R. Marshall, PhD, senior vice president of cancer prevention and population sciences at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., agreed, pointing out that studies like this are needed to find biomarkers that can pinpoint those patients most likely to benefit from prevention strategies.

“Case-control studies raise possibilities that help to define which patients to include in future trials,” Marshall said.

Kathleen Struck, MedPage Today Senior Editor, contributed to this article.

The possibility that a supplement such as calcium may prove to be a useful chemoprevention agent is intriguing, but a single study is just a single study — worthy of more investigation. Share your thoughts and read what your colleagues are saying about calcium and colon cancer by clicking the Add Your Knowledge link at the bottom of this article. — Sanjay Gupta, MD

The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.

Mayne and Marshall reported no relevant financial disclosures.

Primary source: American Association for Cancer Research

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Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Professor Alexander Levitzki Chosen for American Cancer Research Association Award

April 7, 2013

Jerusalem — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has chosen Professor Alexander Levitzki of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem as the winner of its 2013 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research.

The AACR is currently holding its annual meeting through Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Alexander Levitzki, professor of biological chemistry at Hebrew University’Professor Alexander Levitzkis Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, will deliver his award lecture there on Tuesday afternoon on “Eradicating Tumors by Targeting Nonviral Vectors Carrying PolyIC.”

The AACR said that Professor Levitzki was chosen for the honor in recognition of his contributions to signal transduction therapy and his work on the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors as effective agents against cancer. 

Professor Levitzki’s concept of targeted cancer therapy using protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors is extensively used by the pharmaceutical industry worldwide to develop anticancer drugs. His studies formed the basis for the development of drugs like imatinib, crizotinib and lapatinib, used for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, lung cancer and breast cancer, respectively. Currently there are more than 200 such inhibitors at various stages of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process.

His method of large-scale screening of synthetic compounds tested against a large spectrum of protein kinases for specificity, followed by systematic testing in cell lines and animal studies, became the standard procedure in most of the laboratories working in that field.

Professor Levitzki has received numerous awards throughout his career, including

  • Israel Prize in Biochemistry, the
  • Wolf Prize for Medicine, the
  • Hamilton-Fairley Award from the European Society of Medical Oncology, the
  • Rothschild Prize in Biology and
  • two Prostate Cancer Foundation Research Awards. Last year he received the
  • Nauta Award in Pharmacochemistry, which is the highest award from the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry.

He is a

He served as

  • President and vice president of the Federation of Israeli Societies of Experimental Biology and received an
  • honorary Ph.D. from Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

Professor Levitzki was a member of the scientific advisory board of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and has served on the editorial board of several journals, including

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Reporter: Prabodh Kandala, PhD

According to a new study, children exposed to high levels of the common air pollutant naphthalene are at increased risk for chromosomal aberrations (CAs), which have been previously associated with cancer. These include chromosomal translocations, a potentially more harmful and long-lasting subtype of CAs.

Researchers from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report the new findings in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Naphthalene is found in both outdoor and indoor urban air. It is present in automotive exhaust, tobacco smoke, and is the primary component of household mothball fumes. Classified as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Cancer Research, naphthalene belongs to a class of air pollutants called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Prior research at the CCCEH has established a link between prenatal exposure to PAH and increased risk for childhood obesity, IQ deficits, and CAs. The new study is the first to present evidence in humans of CAs, including translocations, associated with exposure to one specific PAH — naphthalene — during childhood.

The researchers followed 113 children, age 5, who are part of a larger cohort study in New York City. They assessed the children’s exposure to naphthalene; a CDC laboratory measured levels of its metabolites — 1- and 2-naphthol — in urine samples. (Metabolites are products of the body’s metabolism, and can serve as marker for the presence of a chemical.) Researchers also measured CAs in the children’s white blood cells using a technique called fluorescent in situ hybridization. Chromosomal aberrations were present in 30 children; of these, 11 had translocations. With every doubling of levels of 1- and 2-naphthol, translocations were 1.55 and 1.92 times more likely, respectively, to occur.

CAs have been associated with increased cancer risk in adults. Translocations are of special concern as they result in a portion of one chromosome being juxtaposed to a portion of another chromosome, potentially scrambling the genetic script. “Translocations can persist for years after exposure. Some accumulated damage will be repaired, but not everyone’s repair capacity is the same. Previous studies have suggested that chromosomal breaks can double an adult’s lifetime risk for cancer, though implications for children are unknown,” says first author Manuela A. Orjuela, MD, ScM, assistant professor of clinical environmental health sciences and pediatrics (oncology) at Columbia University Medical Center and a pediatric oncologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

To obtain a better sense of the long-term consequences of naphthalene exposure, Dr. Orjuela and other CCCEH investigators are following some of the children in the study as they reach fourth grade. While they expect to see further translocations, they do not expect to see any signs of cancer in the white blood cells. “So far, the translocations seem to be random, and there has been no evidence of the specific translocations that are known to be associated with leukemia. This is entirely expected; leukemia is very rare.” Frederica Perera, DrPH, senior author on the paper, adds that “the findings provide yet more evidence of the vulnerability of the young child to carcinogenic air pollutants.”

The researchers hypothesized that naphthalene exposure was primarily from mothballs, which can release high levels of the chemical. Furthermore, according to previous research, some Caribbean immigrant families use mothballs as an air freshener. Other important sources of naphthalene in indoor air are tobacco smoke, paint fumes, cooking, and heating. The new findings have implications beyond the urban environment as elevated levels of naphthalene metabolites have been documented in rural communities using biomass-burning stoves (coal, wood) — another source of PAH exposure.

 Ref:

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