In the past several months quite a few breakthroughs were achieved and we already talked about some of them last week. 2018 so far seems to be a year full of exciting healthcare discoveries. We just can’t wait to find out about the next big thing entering clinical trials or becoming commercially available for all of you to have access to.

We quite enjoy giving you the ‘tea’ about what’s up and coming in healthcare because it makes us all the more enthusiastic about our job.

So we decided to begin October, a month recognized worldwide as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, by bringing you up to date with the most recent discoveries in cancer research. We’re talking as recently as papers and reports from last summer.

From immunotherapy, using cancer cells’ mechanisms against the cells themselves, the impact of alkaline and acidic environment on cancer to truly original new ideas like putting cancer cells to sleep, the world of medical advancements is buzzing. If you’re interested in finding out what the future of cancer treatment might hold, read on.

 

Immunotherapy from a new angle

 

In a phase II clinical trial, led by Steven A. Rosenberg, M.D. from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a new approach to immunotherapy showed promising results and the study findings were published in June of this year. 

This new approach takes a spin on ACT, adoptive cell transfer, which is a process of transferring cells into a patient. In the case of cancer treatment, often the cells come from the patient – the process includes T cells extraction, subsequent modification and then an infusion into the patient’s organism.

This new angle that researchers are now focusing is much more based on mutations, however, rather than the type of cancer the patient has. In the study, the team is using tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) to target mutations in the tumor cells in order to shrink the tumors that ACT hasn’t been all that effective at treating.

The case that illustrates the new approach being developed is that of a metastatic breast cancer patient who came to the trial after trying everything else. The team sequenced DNA and RNA from her tumor and from healthy tissue to find out which unique to her case mutations they needed to target. Then they checked which of her TILs would recognize the mutated proteins.

Long story short, the right TILs were multiplied and infused back into her. Her tumor disappeared and she’s been tumor-free for more than 22 months afterward.

Mutation-targeted TILs have a long way to go before their potential is confirmed in a larger study but so far the results from this one make us hopeful for the future of cancer treatment.  

 

Self-destruct cancer

 

Can we cause cancer to self-destruct and how? This is the question that interests part of the medical research world nowadays.

A new study done in mice suggests that we can. Researchers found a chemical compound that cut off the energy supply of cancer cells. KHS101, the compound in question, prevented the mitochondria, which all of you know from high school as ‘the powerhouse of the cell’, from turning nutrients into energy, which in turn destroyed the malignant cells.

The mice in the study led by Heiko Wurdak, from the University of Leeds responded well to the new compound with a 50% decrease in their cancerous cells, which answered the researchers’ question of whether KHS101 could cross the blood-brain barrier – an important concern when developing potential drug treatments. Also, the healthy tissue surrounding the tumors remained intact.  

Wurdak remains cautiously optimistic by saying that the new compound has a long way to go before being verified as a viable treatment option, but this study has nevertheless ‘paved the way for drug developers’.

 

What is the role of acidity?

 

Weakening cancer cells can depend on their environment, according to a new Spanish-American study on conditions that play a role in the metabolic pathways of cancer cells. 

Turns out, the metabolism of cancer cells is impaired by an acidic internal environment and there are enzymes that depend on a more alkaline environment to promote cancer growth. But don’t turn to fad diets and herbs that promise to shift your internal pH too quickly – we’re talking ‘environment’ on a cellular level here.

The team notes they are still far from finding a solution by saying that “This work is still very academic”, which in translation means ‘some years away from producing an effective method of treatment that can be further researched’.

Such research, however, is very important overall in understanding how cancer cells grow and multiply. We already talked about the different types of clinical trials and their significance, and gaining more information about a disease is a huge step towards finding better treatments.

 

Nighty-night cancer

 

Preventing cancer cells from performing optimally seems to be a theme in cancer research these days. Probably because destroying cancer cells up until now came with a lot of severe side effects.

A new study from the Eliza Hall Institute in Parkville, Australia found a way to put cancer cells ‘to sleep’, blocking them permanently – for now – with no apparent side effects. They came to this results by looking into ways to inhibit the activity of two proteins related to cancer – KAT6A and KAT6B.

The team developed new compounds in the process that suppressed the progression of blood and liver cancer without causing damage in the DNA of the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer cells. These new compounds don’t directly destroy the tumors, they simply stop their growth by preventing cancer cells from dividing.

This new class of drugs is far from ready to enter a clinical trial with human subjects. However, such findings are a significant breakthrough as the proteins the new compounds target have long been deemed ‘undruggable’.   

If what you read sounds as exciting to you as it does to us, don’t miss out on the opportunity to take part in medical research by participating in a clinical trial. Check out FindMeCure to be among the first patients to have access to novel treatments and therapies and help the medical world provide better healthcare along the way.

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