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From the people who brought you computers, moon landings, mars rovers, heart transplants and increased life expectancy (aka scientists), an amazing research report:

A nondisease-causing virus kills human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, creating opportunities for potential new cancer therapies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers who tested the virus on three different breast cancer types that represent the multiple stages of breast cancer development...

In tissue culture dishes in the laboratory, 100 percent of the cancer cells are destroyed by the virus within seven days, with the majority of the cell death proteins activated on the fifth day. In another study, a fourth breast cancer derived cell line, which is the most aggressive, required three weeks to undergo cell death.

One problem is no one knows (yet) how the virus is doing its good deed.

"We can see the virus is killing the cancer cells, but how is it doing it?... If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce those genes into a therapeutic. If we can determine which pathways the virus is triggering, we can then screen new drugs that target those pathways. Or we may simply be able to use the virus itself."

And another potential problem, this time with using the virus in humans directly:

AAV2 does not affect healthy cells. However, if AAV2 were used in humans, the potential exists that the body's immune system would fight to remove it from the body. Therefore, by learning how AAV2 targets the death pathways, researchers potentially can find ways to treat the cancer without using the actual virus.

But hey, whatever. This looks promising. Even if, as usual, treatment in humans is many years away.

But wait! There's more! For no additional funding, the Penn State researchers are also throwing in death for other cancer cells!

In ongoing studies, the Penn State researchers also have shown AAV2 can kill cells derived from prostate cancer, methoselioma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Screw the ginsu knives. Call Congress now and order you some more basic research.

Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 10:57 PM PT: Another cancer treatment development

An experimental drug from Germany's Bayer and Norwegian biotech Algeta that prolongs the lives of patients with advanced prostate cancer is a major step forward in treatment of the disease, cancer experts said on Saturday.

A late stage trial of Alpharadin, a new type of drug that delivers minute, highly-charged doses of radiation to secondary tumors in the bone, was halted early after researchers saw patients on the new treatment living almost three months longer on average than those on standard treatment plus placebo.

"It would have been unethical not to offer the active treatment to those taking placebo," Chris Parker, who led the trial at Britain's Royal Marsden Hospital, told delegates at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (EMCC) in Stockholm.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 10:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Healthcare Reform - We've Only Just Begun and SciTech.


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