Tag Archives: tumours

Cancer’s ‘Internal Wiring’ Predicts Relapse Risk

The “internal wiring” of breast cancer can predict which women are more likely to survive or relapse, say researchers. The study shows that breast cancer is 11 separate diseases that each has a different risk of coming back. The hope is that the findings, in the journal Nature, could identify people needing closer monitoring and reassure others at low risk of recurrence.

Cancer Research UK said that the work was “incredibly encouraging” but was not yet ready for widespread use. The scientists, at the University of Cambridge and Stanford University, looked in incredible detail at nearly 2,000 women’s breast cancers. They went far beyond considering all breast cancers as a single disease and beyond modern medicine’s way of classifying the tumours.

Doctors currently classify breast cancers based on whether they respond to the hormone oestrogen or targeted therapies like Herceptin. The research team analysed the genetic mutations inside the tumour to create a new way of classifying them.

By following women for 20 years, they are now able to show which types of breast cancer are more likely to come back.  “This is really biology-driven, it’s the molecular wiring of your tumour, said Prof Carlos Caldas. Once and for all we need to stop talking about breast cancer as one disease, it’s a constellation of 11 diseases. “This is a very significant step to more precision-type medicine.”

Source: https://www.bbc.com/

‘Epigenetic’ Gene Tweaks Could Trigger Cancer

You could be forgiven for thinking of cancer as a genetic disease. Sure, we know it can be triggered by things you do – smoking being the classic example – but most of us probably assume that we get cancer because of a genetic mutation – a glitch in our DNA. It turns out that this is not quite the end of the story.

We now have the first direct evidence that switching off certain genes – something that can be caused by our lifestyle or the environment we live in – can trigger tumours, without mutating the DNA itself. The good news is that these changes are, in theory, reversible.

All cells contain the same DNA, but individual genes in any cell can be switched on or off by the addition or subtraction of a methyl group – a process known as epigenetic methylation.

For years, researchers have known that mutations to our DNA – either those passed on at birth or those acquired as a result of exposure to radiation, for example – can cause cancer. But epigenetic changes have also been implicated in cancer because abnormal patterns of gene methylation are seen in virtually all types of human tumours.

For example, a gene called MLH1 produces a protein that repairs DNA damage. It is often mutated in colon cancer tumours, but in some tumour samples the gene is healthy, but appears to have been silenced by methylationThe problem is that it has been difficult to test whether abnormal methylation occurs as a result of a tumour or is a cause of its growth.

In genetics you can easily delete a gene and see what the consequence is, but it’s much harder to direct methylation to specific regions of the genome,” says Lanlan Shen of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

To get round this problem, Shen and her colleagues used a naturally occurring sequence of DNA, which draws in methyl groups to methylate nearby genes. They call it their “methylation magnet”.

The team inserted this sequence next to the tumour suppressor gene, p16, in mouse embryonic stem cells. These embryos then developed into mice that carry the “methylation magnet” in all of their cells. The team focused on methylating p16 because it is abnormally methylated in numerous cancers.

They monitored the rodents for 18 months – until they reached the mouse equivalent of middle age. Over this time, 30 per cent of the mice developed tumours around their body, including in their liver, colon, lungs and spleen. None of a control group of genetically identical mice developed tumours.

Some tissues showed faster methylation than others, for example in the liver, colon and spleen, and that’s exactly where we saw the tumours grow,” says Shen. “It seems like methylation predisposed the tissue to tumour development.” She reckons that methylation silences p16, which lifts the break that it normally places on any abnormal cell division.

Source: https://www.newscientist.com/

How To Eradicate Breast Tumors In 11 Days

Despite unbelievable advances in medical science in recent decades, breast cancer kills. Approximately 1 in 8 American women will develop breast cancer cells during the course of their lifetime.

Finding a cure is imperative, and as such, fervent research continues. At the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, scientists presented a pair of drugs with an astounding claim: this treatment can eradicate some types of breast cancer in only 11 days, eliminating the need for chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy, whilst an amazing feat of medical-scientific engineering, is known for its uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating side effects. Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment may lose their hair, suffer extreme fatigue, and even loss of cognitive functionCancers may also recur after long, painful months of chemotherapy treatment.

The new trial, raising hopes across the medical community, is focused upon two drugs: Herceptin and Lapatinib. The drugs, in tandem, target a protein known as HER2, which is instrumental in stimulating the growth of certain cancer cells.

A pair of drugs can dramatically shrink and eliminate some breast cancers in just 11 days, UK doctors have shown.

They both target HER2 – a protein that fuels the growth of some women’s breast cancersHerceptin works on the surface of cancerous cells while lapatinib is able to penetrate inside the cell to disable HER2.

The study, which also took place at NHS hospitals in Manchester, gave the treatment to women with tumours measuring between 1 and 3cm. But Prof Bliss believes the findings could eventually mean some women do not need chemotherapy.

In less than two weeks of treatment, the cancer disappeared entirely in 11% of cases, and in a further 17% they were smaller than 5mm.

Current therapy for HER2 positive breast cancers is surgery, followed by chemotherapy and Herceptin. But Prof Bliss believes the findings could eventually mean some women do not need chemotherapy.

Source: https://www.bbc.com