Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘cancer’

Turning cancer against itself

Posted by Richard on July 12, 2018

If we can manage to keep the Luddites who fret about “Frankenfoods” and “designer babies” at bay, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology will enable us all to live longer, healthier lives. The latest example of its potential involves modifying cancer cells so that they attack their own kind:

Cancer cells circulating in the bloodstream have something of a homing instinct, able to find and return to the tumor where they originated. To capitalize on that ability, researchers engineered these roving tumor cells to secrete a protein that triggers a death switch in resident tumor cells they encounter. The cancer-fighting cancer cells also have a built-in suicide switch — so the weaponized cells self-destruct before they can start tumors of their own, the team reports in the July 11 Science Translational Medicine.

The new study isn’t the first attempt to fight cancer with cancer. Previous research has used circulating tumor cells to deliver cancer-killing viruses to noncirculating tumor cells, for example. But the new approach uses a gene-editing technology called CRISPR/Cas9 to manipulate the offensive-line cancer cells and give them more sophisticated properties, such as the ability to self-destruct once no longer needed.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, “Faster, please!”

HT: Fark

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Best wishes, Bert

Posted by Richard on February 27, 2007

Bert Wiener is a very smart and funny man who never blogged enough, but did it well when he did. He just posted again after a five-month hiatus. I’m really, really sorry he did — well, what I mean is I’m sorry that this was the reason:

What I thought was a back problem since October turns out to be a return of my leukemia. It manifested as soft tumors on my spine. Just finished the first course of chemo, will have some more, and then a marrow transplant. With success I’ll be completely cured within 12 to 18 months. I’m staying optimistic and seeing this as a series of tasks to complete. That’s all for now.

That really sucks. I certainly wish Bert the best, and I’m sure he’ll get through this. He’s always struck me as a pretty tough guy, and he’s got a couple of things going for him. For one thing, he’s got a good attitude, and that’s so important. For another, he’s already bald. 😉
 

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Tell her it’s for her own good

Posted by Richard on January 2, 2007

Men, if you have a wife or female significant other, pay attention. In fact, you might want to print out a few copies of this. Stick one on the fridge. Keep one handy for the next time she nags you to help more with the housework. Tell her you’re leaving the housework for her because you care about her and want to safeguard her health. Tell her you’re willing to lie on the couch while she dusts and vacuums if it will help protect her from breast cancer. According to a just-published study, it will (emphasis added):

Doing housework can cut substantially a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, according to researchers.

A study comparing the beneficial effects of different types of exercise found that moderate housework had the biggest obvious effect.

The researchers analysed data from 218,169 women from nine European countries, with an age range of 20 to 80 years.

They followed the women for an average of 6.4 years, during which time there were 3,423 cases of breast cancer. The average age at which the disease developed in the participants was 47.6 years for pre-menopausal women and 65.6 years for post-menopausal.

All forms of activity combined was found to reduce the risk in the post-menopausal women participants, but had no obvious effect in the pre-menopausal women.

But the researchers found that all women, both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal, who undertook housework had a “significantly” reduced risk of getting the disease.

The research, published in the January edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, concluded: “In this large cohort of women , . . increased non-occupational physical activity and, in particular, increased household activity, were significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk, independent of other potential risk factors.

“Our results . . . provide additional evidence that moderate forms of physical activity, such as household activity, may be more important than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk in European women.”

I’m thinking of contacting the Susan G. Komen Foundation and offering to make my house available for women who suffer from a shortage of housework. I think my dump lovely home could meet the housework needs of a significant number of women for quite some time. I wouldn’t even charge them anything — it would be my contribution to a good cause.
 

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Hops for health

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2006

As you contemplate whether to join us for next Saturday’s "Get Dr. Cutter Drunk" Mini Blogger Bash, be sure to factor in the possible health ramifications of attending. For instance, if you’re a male, you might want to consider that drinking lots of good, hoppy beer (like India Pale Ale or Pilsner) can protect you from both prostate enlargement and prostate cancer, according to Oregon State University researchers:

The research, published in a recent issue of Cancer Letters, shows that xanthohumol, a compound found in hops, inhibits NF-kappaB protein in cells along the surface of the prostate gland, said Emily Ho, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise sciences in OSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences and a researcher with OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute. The protein acts like a signal switch that turns on a variety of animal and human malignancies, including prostate cancer.

"We’ve shown that the addition of xanthohumol in a cell culture blocks the signal of NF-KappaB protein and works to slow down the growth of benign prostatic hyperplasia and malignant prostate cancer cells," Ho said.

Xanthohumol, which belongs to a group of plant compounds called flavonoids, can also trigger programmed cell death, which plays a role in cancer prevention, as uncontrolled cell reproduction is a cause of cancer.

But don’t rush out to stock the refrigerator. Xanthohumol, is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to consume the same amount found effective in the study, Ho said.

I don’t get Ho’s cautionary note. Beers vary by more than an order of magnitude in how much hops — and therefore xanthohumol — they contain, so I’m not sure how meaningful the number 17 is. If that’s 17 Buds or Millers, then you could replace them with 3 or 4 American IPAs — or maybe 1 or 2 double IPAs. Besides, what’s the problem with drinking more than 17 beers? I mean, Ho didn’t specify a time constraint. 🙂

You say you’re not into beer? Well, fear not — according to researchers in Seattle (what is it about scientists in the Pacific Northwest and alcohol research?), you can protect your prostate with some red wine instead:

Drinking a glass of red wine a day may cut a man’s risk of prostate cancer in half, and the protective effect appears to be strongest against the most aggressive forms of the disease, according to a new study led by investigators at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

"We found that men who consumed four or more glasses of red wine per week reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 50 percent," Stanford said. "Among men who consumed four or more 4-ounce glasses of red wine per week, we saw about a 60 percent lower incidence of the more aggressive types of prostate cancer," said Stanford, senior author of the study. "The more clinically aggressive prostate cancer is where the strongest reduction in risk was observed."

As for those of you of the female persuasion, you can benefit from the xanthohumol in beer and the resveratrol in red wine, too:

In more news from the Experimental Biology 2004 meeting, held April 17 to 21 in Washington, DC, S. Pinheiro-Silva, I. Azevedo, and C. Calhau from the Universidade do Porto, in Portugal have shown that the phenolic phytochemicals epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), xanthohumol, and resveratrol slow breast cancer growth in human cell cultures. The compounds are found in tea, beer, and wine respectively, a fact that appears to contradict the results of previous research that established an association between alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer in women. …

It was discovered that all of the compounds possessed an inhibitory effect on breast cancer cell growth, with xanthohumol eliciting an antiproliferative effect more rapidly and at a lower concentration than the other compounds.

Of course, alcohol does have negative health consequences, too. So you may want to order some of this. Then, drink up — to your health!

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Cancer immunity

Posted by Richard on May 11, 2006

Three years ago, researchers at Wake Forest University stumbled upon a mouse that was extremely resistant to cancer. They subsequently bred a highly cancer-resistant strain of mice. In their latest study, they injected white blood cells from the cancer-resistant mice into mice susceptible to cancer. None of the susceptible mice got cancer:

"We were surprised," said Dr. Zheng Cui, a co-investigator of the new finding that appears today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "The powerful resistance was transferred through the animal’s white blood cells," which are immune system cells. Cui, Dr. Mark Willingham and colleagues found that the animal’s innate immune system turns on to protect against cancer or to kill cancer that already exists.
. . .

Dr. Alan Houghton, a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, observed that the research "nails it down to a cell of the immune system, and that is mediating this resistance. It may not get you closer to a gene, but it gets you closer to the mechanism."

The Wake Forest researchers are working with their university to make the novel mouse strain available to other scientists.

"The observation needs to be replicated and confirmed," Cui said. "If this turns out to be what we hope it is, it will be a gift to mankind."

No kidding. The cancer-resistant mice have already been shared with researchers at Scripps Research Institute in California, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis. If someone figures out the mechanism by which white blood cells are switched into cancer-killing mode — well, can you imagine a time when you add cancer to the list of standard childhood immunizations? When the nurse asks you, "How long has it been since your last tetanus and cancer booster?"

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News you can use

Posted by Richard on May 13, 2005

I almost missed this important post at PolySciFi Blog:

Drinking whisky protects you from cancer. (h/t Daily Pundit)

The effect appears to be similar to the one provided by red wine, but better. So drink up!

Other Recent Panglossian News
Drinking beer induces neuron growth
Being a little overweight (by BMI) is good for your health (statistically)
Mastrubation fights prostate cancer

Jeez, I’ve been living a healthier life than I realized.

UPDATE: For the benefit of those who want to explore their cancer protection options, this site should help.

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