Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Natural Weapon Against Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Something so simple.... nature healing nature.... Will this be the answer like mold was to penicillin?

Oncolytic Virus Kills Tumor in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
Caroline Helwick, Medscape

October 25, 2011 (San Francisco, California) — Laboratory studies conducted at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City suggest that triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) might respond to treatment with an oncolytic agent.

The findings were reported here at the American College of Surgeons 97th Annual Clinical Congress.

"We found that [the mutant herpes virus] NV1066 is an effective oncolytic agent against triple- negative breast cancer in vitro and in vivo," said Sepideh Gholami, MD, a research fellow in the laboratory of Yuman Fong, MD, which is considered to be at the forefront in oncolytic viral therapy

"Oncolytic viruses are attractive therapeutic agents that destroy tumor cells without the accompanying destruction of normal cells," she said. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)signaling pathway is known to be important in TNBC, and activated (phosphorylated) MAPK signaling has been shown to mediate efficient replication of NV1066 through the deletion of the delta gamma(1)34.5 gene.

In other words, she said, TNBC cells have high levels of phosphorylated MAPK, a protein that promotes tumor growth and contributes to resistance to current therapies. The herpes virus specifically targets cells that overexpress this protein, which is the rationale for this approach. The study aimed to determine whether NV1066 could kill TNBC cells effectively. The researchers also examined the functional effects of NV1066 on the MAPK signal transduction pathway during viral infection.

Dr. Gholami and colleagues infected 5 different TNBC cell lines with the NV1066 herpes simplex virus. After treatment with the virus, the most sensitive cell lines demonstrated a 90% cell kill rate within 1 week; the less sensitive lines demonstrated a 70% cell kill rate.

In addition, sensitive cell lines expressed higher baseline levels of phosphorylated MAPK than resistant cell lines, and viral infection caused the downregulation of phosphorylated MAPK by 48 hours, she reported.

"TNBC cells support efficient viral replication, with over 1 million copy numbers observed, which is more than a 1000-fold increase," she said.

"Since baseline phosphorylated MAPK levels positively correlated with sensitivity to NV1066, they might therefore be used as a clinical marker for selecting patients for viral therapy," she suggested.

Tumor Regression Almost Complete
The researchers created flank tumors and injected them with NV1066 or a control compound. Within 5 days, tumor volume significantly decreased in the experimental group; within 3 weeks, they observed "near-complete tumor regression," Dr. Gholami reported.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Femara Beats Tamoxifen

Aromatase Inhibitor, Letrozole (Femara)

FRIDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The breast cancer drug letrozole, marketed as Femara, may be more effective than tamoxifen at preventing the return of breast cancer and improving survival among older women with hormone-sensitive breast cancers, a new study reports.

In the study, published online Oct. 21 in The Lancet Oncology, the researchers updated data from an ongoing study of about 8,000 women, which compares the two drugs alone as well as the use of both Femara and tamoxifen sequentially.

Femara outperformed tamoxifen in terms of breast cancer recurrence and survival, the study found. Moreover, giving Femara alone to women was more effective than giving it sequentially following tamoxifen. The new study was partially funded by Novartis, the drug company that makes Femara.

The hormone estrogen feeds hormone-sensitive cancers, and blocking it may help stave off a recurrence. Femara is part of a class of breast cancer drugs known as aromatase inhibitors. These drugs block the body's production of estrogen via the enzyme aromatase. Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator, which means that it acts like estrogen in certain tissues, but not in others, namely the breast. Aromatase inhibitors are given alone or in combination with tamoxifen.

After an average eight years of follow-up, the team of researchers from the United States, Europe and Australia found that women who took Femara for five years after breast cancer treatment had a "20 percent reduced risk of their breast cancer coming back and were 21 percent less likely to die, compared with women given tamoxifen alone," one of the lead authors of the study, Meredith Regan of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, explained in a journal news release.

Neither sequential treatment of tamoxifen followed by Femara, or in the reverse order, significantly decreased the likelihood of relapse or death compared to Femara alone, the team reported.

"Femara alone is the best way to go," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "The hope was that the combination would improve survival, but this was not the case," said Bernik, who was not involved with the study.

Breast cancer survivors who are being treated with tamoxifen should discuss their options with their doctor. "Talk to your doctor about switching to an aromatase inhibitor," Bernik said. "Tamoxifen is still an excellent drug, but the aromatase inhibitors are better. If the plan was to switch drugs, you may want to talk to [your] doctor about going straight to the aromatase inhibitor," she added.

Dr. Hannah Linden, a medical oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, said that many women don't want to take these drugs because of a fear of side effects or the desire to put breast cancer behind them. "The study stresses the importance of taking these medications," she said. This is not to say they don't have their share of side effects; they do, she noted.

Serious side effects seen with Femara include bone fractures and increases in cholesterol levels. Some research has suggested that aromatase inhibitors may also increase the risk for heart disease. Tamoxifen side effects may include blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer and cataracts.

Dr. Maura N. Dickler, a breast cancer medical oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said that aromatase inhibitors have been her go-to drugs for women with estrogen-positive breast cancers for a while.

Some women report joint pain and other nuisance side effects from aromatase inhibitors and have to go back to tamoxifen, Dickler said. "In these cases, getting in an aromatase inhibitor for some time is beneficial," she noted. "We can individualize treatment based on the side effects and the tolerability for each woman."

Cost may be an issue for some women, but the gap in price between the two drugs is narrowing, Dickler added. Femara is now available as a generic, which helps reduce its costs, but tamoxifen is still probably less expensive, she said.

Overall, "this is an exciting update with longer follow-up," Dickler said of the study. Since last results were reported in 2005, there was a 32 percent increase in the number of women who had a relapse. "These women can do well for a long time and still relapse many years later," she said. "It just reminds us that women relapse during year five through 10 as much as zero through five. Breast cancer is an indolent disease and you can remain disease free for a long time, but relapse can still happen."

To learn more about endocrine therapy post breast cancer treatment, read: No Surrender: Hormonal/Endocrine Therapy

Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Party

On October 1st we celebrated the Second Annual There and Back: A Celebration of Survival...
Here is the video on our main web page HERE

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not all vitamins are good for you

From New York Newsday

Vitamin-breast cancer link eyed in studies

October 10, 2011 by DELTHIA RICKS / delthia.ricks@newsday.com
Certain supplements may prove detrimental to women who've survived breast cancer, while older women may be at a slightly elevated risk from regular use of vitamin and mineral pills, medical investigators have found in two separate investigations.

In a study of 2,300 women, researchers at Columbia University in Manhattan found women treated for early stage breast cancer and who took vitamin A, lutein or beta-carotene, supplements known collectively as carotenoids, faced a greater risk of dying from recurrent cancer -- and virtually all other causes of death.

By contrast, those treated for early-stage breast cancer who routinely took vitamins C or E had a lower recurrence risk after five years than those who didn't take the vitamins. Vitamins C and E are known as antioxidants that protect cells.

"My main take home message here is that we're seeing antioxidant supplements working in one direction and the carotenoids working in another," said Dr. Heather Greenlee, who led the examination.
A second study in the Archives of Internal Medicine involving 38,000 women reported by researchers in Finland found U.S. women 75 and older who consumed any dietary supplements, including multivitamins, folic acid, iron and copper, had a 2.4 percent increased risk of death than those avoiding the pills. There was no risk associated with calcium and vitamin D. 

Greenlee said it's unclear why vitamins C and E appeared to have a beneficial effect on cancer survivors -- if they did at all. It is possible, Greenlee said, that it wasn't vitamins C and E thwarting a recurrence, but other healthy behaviors the women shared that helped them avoid a second bout with cancer.

She said her research tried to help physicians guide breast cancer patients about vitamin use.
"We are not referring to vitamin A consumed in foods," Greenlee added. "Here, we are referring to supplements."

She noted that neither the American Cancer Society nor the American Institute of Cancer Research recommend vitamin supplements as a way to avoid cancer. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests supplements can be dangerous, Greenlee said.

Leah Pasquarella, chief clinical dietitian at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, said the United States has evolved into a pill-popping culture where people think vitamins are beneficial without questioning how they affect the body. "I think we rely on them too much as a substitute for healthy foods and that's a problem," Pasquarella said.

Supplements, she added, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and potencies differ from one manufacturer to the next.

In Greenlee's research, findings were based on questionaires answered by women who had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. More than 80 percent said they took at least one supplement containing antioxidants, either as a multivitamins or as single pill within two years of diagnosis.
Women who said they took a single supplement of either vitamin C or vitamin E six to seven days a week had a lower risk of cancer recurrence. Greenlee's analysis is reported in the current issue of the journal Cancer.