Health Briefs - New Treatment for Fighting Cancer Cells

January 24, 2009

Study shows new “decoy” cells effective in fighting cancer cells

Study shows new "decoy" cells effective in fighting cancer cells

There's good news in the fight against cancer. A new study published in Clinical Cancer Research reports on the success of French researchers using a molecular "decoy" to trick cancer cells into self-destruction.

Cancer patients typically undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy (radiotherapy) treatments to kill cancerous cells and tumors. But in harder-to-treat cases, some cancer cells survive and repair themselves. The research breakthrough may lead to new treatments for cancers that are more difficult to treat with existing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The research team created tiny DNA fragments (called "Dbaits") intended to trick cancer cells into "believing" that they were much more damaged than they really were, causing them to self-destruct. The Dbaits were injected into cancerous lab rodents a few hours before they were given radiation therapy. The results showed that 75 to 100 percent of the cancer cells were destroyed in rodents receiving the Dbait injection followed by radiation therapy, while only 30 to 50 percent of cells were destroyed using radiation therapy only.

Researchers hope to follow the successful result with clinical trials on cancer patients by the end of next year.

Hepatitis C increases risk of liver cancer

People with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have a higher risk of developing two types of liver cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. That's the finding of a large-scale U.S. research study published in the journal Hepatology.

A research team tracked the health of more than 700,000 adults for an average of more than two years. About 146,000 of the adults were HCV-infected, while the remaining 572,000 were uninfected. After the tracking period, researchers found that the HCV-infected adults were more than twice as likely to develop intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma(ICC), and even more likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), as compared with the uninfected group.

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that infects the liver. It is usually transmitted through contact with the blood of an infectedperson and can eventually cause liver cancer, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Few people experience any symptoms at the time they become infected; most people only find out about their infection years or decades later.

The study further reinforces the importance of early intervention and continuous periodic monitoring of HCV patients so that any potential health threats can be identified earlier, when treatment is more successful and less traumatic.

New study finds a genetic link to lung cancer risk

Science has clearly proven that smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer. But finding out why some smokers develop lung cancer while other smokers don't has proven more challenging - until now.

A new study published in Nature Genetics uncovered two genetic variations that make some smokers even more likely than other smokers to get lung cancer.

The study was conducted by researchers from the U.S. and U.K. looking for possible gene-based lung cancer risk factors. After evaluating genetic tests of nearly 9,000 adults - including smokers, non-smokers, and former smokers - the researchers found two variations present in some smokers' chromosome 15, a chromosome that is associated with an increased likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Smokers who had one or both of the variations were found to have a lung cancer risk of 28 to 81 percent higher than smokers with no variations. The variations were found even in light smokers and those who had been smoking for just a few years.

No amount of smoking is considered safe; all smokers have a higher lung cancer risk than people who've never smoked. So if you're still smoking, talk to your doctor to learn about the many resources available to help kick the habit.
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