Friday, September 02, 2011

Cancer Carnival #49

Welcome to the Cancer Research Blog Carnival #49. The carnival hits the big 5-0 next month, and we have a new host lined up as well, so be sure to get your posts in! But first, this month's edition:

Recently, Canadians across the country were affected by the disease when Jack Layton, federal National Democratic Party leader and Leader of the Official Opposition died of cancer. His family released letter to Canadians, or you can read an excerpt at Confessions of a Science Librarian. The public outpouring of support was tremendous. In the wake of his passing, the Globe and Mail published an article challenging the current language equating the illness with a war or a battle.
But to those touched directly by cancer, equating the illness with a war against the enemy, fighting an adversary, or suffering in order to survive can diminish understanding of the challenges and complexities faced by patients and their families.
In other recent news friends and colleagues recently published in Nature describing the results of a recent clinical trial of oncolytic poxvirus.
Here we show in a clinical trial that JX-594 selectively infects, replicates and expresses transgene products in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion, in a dose-related fashion. Normal tissues were not affected clinically. This platform technology opens up the possibility of multifunctional products that selectively express high concentrations of several complementary therapeutic and imaging molecules in metastatic solid tumours in humans.
This paper has received a lot of attention in the press, though surprisingly not much in the blogosphere.

But since this is a blog carnival, we should get to the posts written our readers. First up, and sticking with the virus theme, is ERV with a post about measles and cancer.
So some kinds of measles can use PVRL4 to infect cells... and well, measles kills the cells it infects... including the tumor cells! Especially adenocarcinomas, apparently! Its not that we could use measles to deliver an anti-cancer drug or gene to tell the tumor to commit suicide or something-- measles is naturally lytic, thus 'naturally' oncolytic! It just kills the cancer, all on its own.
Still at Scienceblogs, Orac has a two-part post on the complexity of cancer and how quacks take advantage
Johnson's article has been used as the basis of an argument that, because our understanding of cancer has changed significantly over the last decade, "conventional" scientists don't understand cancer, the implication being that the quacks do. Today, in part I of what will be a two-part post, I'll discuss the NYT article, its good, its bad, and its indifferent, hopefully in the process illuminating how complex cancer is. Tomorrow or Thursday, I'll lay some not-so-Respectful Insolence on a quack who uses this article as a jumping off point to argue for cancer quackery, particularly his hilarious criticisms of the article's "shortcomings."
Next up is a post about recent research into using dogs as cancer detectors. This is something we've written about on the Bayblab before. From the post:
However, the fact that the sniffer dogs were able to detect lung cancer, even in the presence of interference from other conditions such as COPD as well as tobacco smoke, points to the presence of a stable marker for lung cancer that may eventually be isolated. Researchers told WebMD that the dogs' accuracy surpassed even that of combined CT scan and bronchoscopy.
Our friend Walter at HighlightHEALTH has a similar post up.

That's it for this month's Cancer Research Blog Carnival. Stay tuned for an announcement of next month's host. For older editions, visit the Carnival Homepage. Don't forget, the CRBC has subscription options; you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available. For a broader collection of science-related blog carnivals, sign up for the Science, Medicine, Environment and Nature Blog Carnival Twitter Feed.