Friday, June 06, 2008

Cancer Research Carnival #10

Welcome to the latest edition of the Cancer Carnival: Your monthly carnival of news cancer care, treatment and latest research. Thanks to Ben for the logo design.

Giovanna di Sauro gets us started off with a compound that's been in the news lately: Bisphenol A. She provides a nice literature review about the xenoestrogen and it's potential role as a carcinogen. She writes:
Do you remember the recent studies published in the journal Cancer Research, which received strong media attention? One showed that BPA induces changes in gene expression in breast cancer cell lines coherent with those of high-grade lesions; the other suggested that BPA is also able to alter the epigenetic profile in the progeny of BPA-treated epithelial cells.
Is BPA a cancer concern? Is it just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of xenoestrogens? Check out her post Who's afraid of Bisphenol A (part 2). (Check out part 1 as well).

Giovanna follows that up with a review of a TED talk by Eva Vertes, a Princeton sophomore. 'Is cancer a cure?' explores the idea that cancer is part of a natural response to tissue damage. Wound repair gone awry. What follows is a discussion of that idea and why it may be overly simplistic.

But if cancer is the result of over-active stem cells recruited to wound areas, how do they get there? Alexey at Hematopoeisis answers the question: What mediates stem cell tropism to tumors?
CXCR4-SDF-1 interaction is also well known like an axis for tumor metastasis. Also some adult stem cells, neural and mesenchymal for instance, were shown to specifically migrate to tumor site. This ability has been exploited to selectively deliver a therapeutic gene to metastatic solid tumors.
He also reports on two molecules recently shown to mediate stem cell migration to tumor sites: Urokinase Plasminogen Activator (uPA) and its receptor, uPAR. As the repertoire of molecules involved in pathotropism expands, specific targeting of cell-based therapies becomes more of a reality.

Sticking with a stem cell theme, Alexey tells of new research that shows the potential for targeting quiescence of cancer stem cells. Why is this important?
Because the majority of anti-cancer drugs target actively-dividing (cycling) cells, quiescent CSC stayed alive and caused relapses and progression of disease. It would be cool to target CSC precisely based on their unique qualities and eradicate cancer. Quiescence could be the new potential target for anticancer therapy.
The paper, published in Nature, targets PML to impair quiescence and make leukemia cells more sensitive to standard treatment. Read more about it at Hematopoeisis.

On the cancer detection side of things, Walter at Highlight Health, reminds us of the importance of regular check-ups.
Consider these statistics: when CRC [colorectal cancer] is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 90%. If the cancer has spread locally, the 5-year survival rate decreases to 68%. For patients with advanced CRC that has metastasized, the 5-year survival rate is 10%
To this end, he describes a new blood test for colorectal cancer based on 6 biomarkers that is being developed for laboratory use.

From a dietary perspective, flavonoids are the molecule-du-jour. Research out of UCLA published in a recent issue of Cancer suggests that certain flavonoids found in fruits, vegetables and tea may be protective against smoking-induced lung cancer. ThinkGene has more:
Researchers found that study participants who ate foods containing certain flavonoids seemed to be protected from developing lung cancer. Zhang said the flavonoids that appeared to be the most protective included catechin, found in strawberries and green and black teas, kaempferol, found in Brussels sprouts and apples, and quercetin, found in beans, onions and apples.
Of course, the article also reminds us that for smokers the best course of action is quitting.

Finally, Rob reports from the recent Canadian Gene Therapy and Vaccines Symposium about using IL-24 as a cancer therapeutic. Rob writes:
IL-24 is a potentially useful agent for differentiation therapy for cancer treatment. Dr. Fisher reported, both at the conference and in publications, that ectopic expression of IL-24 has antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in cancer cell lines but not in normal cells.
No 'magic bullet' is without controversy though, and Rob discusses some of the issues surrounding IL-24 even as it heads to Phase III clinical trials.

That concludes the 10th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. If you'd like to host in the future, send an email to bayblab[at] and submit posts to future editions here.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for including my TED post...and I guess you liked the BPA ones too!

I will be on the move in the next few days, but I promise I will help you host the Carnival someday soon ;)

Anonymous said...

This was a great edition, kamel!

Kamel said...


People looking to submit articles may find the site has listed us as 'discontinued' (probably due to not having updated our listing there in a while). The carnival is still alive, and we're sorting it out. If you have a submission in the meantime, emailing it to us is your best bet.

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