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Biotech Science

Researchers Use 'Decoy' Molecule to Treat Cancer 40

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the as-good-as-the-real-thing dept.
Jerry Rivers writes "The Globe and Mail is reporting that scientists in British Columbia have successfully used a 'decoy' molecule to shrink advanced prostate tumors. Citing a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the the Globe story explains how the researchers are the first to find a way to block the process of androgen reception in cells and prevent, a key trigger in the onset of prostate cancer."
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Researchers Use 'Decoy' Molecule to Treat Cancer

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  • by SteveAstro (209000) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:16AM (#17872892)
    I lost a couple of close relatives to prostate cancer, from whom I learned a lot and who always had time for me.

    These things are always too late for someone we loved, but hopefully in time for others.

    Steve
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      These things are always too late for someone we loved, but hopefully in time for others.

      This, alas, is so.

      It is said that not the first victim in a war is the most tragical one; it is the last one.

      It is the same with illnesses: the most futile death seems that of someone who died days before a medicine is found.

    • by ShawnX (260531)
      My dad is in his late stages of prostate cancer. If only they'd just try them on our loved ones with their consent. :(
  • Only problem is.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:28AM (#17872960)
    Sad thing is that *if* a treatment ever makes it to the market, it won't be until 5 or 10 years from now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Teun (17872)

      Sad thing is that *if* a treatment ever makes it to the market, it won't be until 5 or 10 years from now.

      All too true, litigation after (sometimes perceived) errors by scientists and drug companies has caused reluctance to make new medicines rapidly available.

      But in cases of terminal illness such reluctance has more than once been overruled as a potentially failed treatment is never worse than the alternative.
      From TFA:

      But Dr. Sadar said the researchers are confident that their findings will quickly lead to a human drug that, while it might initially be used to treat advanced prostate cancer patients, might eventually be developed for use at earlier stages, to avoid prostate surgery.

      "I don't think we're years and years away from it," she said of the creation of a drug. "Now that the paper has just come out there will certainly be pharmaceutical companies that will be jumping on this. I believe this is a paper, or work, that will cascade, to have very rapid screening against this therapeutic target," she said.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wilson_6500 (896824)
        .... litigation after (sometimes perceived) errors by scientists and drug companies has caused reluctance to make new medicines rapidly available.

        And then people complain that doctors have some kind of conspiracy to hold back new medications. It's a sad, vicious cycle.

        (Please note: I'm not accusing anyone in this discussion of this. I'm speaking only of majority or vocal minority opinion. It's only understandable to wish that a cure had come just a few years sooner.)
  • by Sunburnt (890890) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:46AM (#17873090)
    This seems to be a trend; the most exciting [ualberta.ca] oncology news I've recently seen came out of Alberta.

    Is cancer research a major industry in Canada, or is this an abnormally productive period for their universities? It seems like a lot of recent discoveries in that field have come from my Frozen Northern Neighbor.
    • by ringm000 (878375)
      Terry Fox [wikipedia.org]?
    • by ozbird (127571)
      Is cancer research a major industry in Canada, or is this an abnormally productive period for their universities?

      Perhaps the real question is why are American universities apparently less productive than their Frozen Northern Neighbours?
      • by tsotha (720379)
        Well, I expect Canadian scientists are pretty darn productive in the winter. When it takes a half hour to bundle up for lunch, you probably eat at your desk a lot more :)
  • by BladeMelbourne (518866) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:53AM (#17873136)
    "the the Globe story explains"

    I thought it was impossible to stutter when typing. Once again, Slashdot has taught me something new.
  • Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Step Child (216708) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:57AM (#17873158) Homepage
    Here's a link to the abstract from the original paper:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/4/133 1 [pnas.org]
  • by blankoboy (719577) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @10:59AM (#17873170)
    that seems to be the word uttered in many of these 'cure' articles. I really wish they wouldn't build up false hopes for those suffering from these horrible diseases. If you want venture capital support, surely there's got to be a better way to go about getting it.

    We had X-Prize for getting into space. Can we not get C-Prize started to find a cure for cancer? With all the hacking skills in the tech world I am certain we could nip cancer in the bud if that talent was applied to hacking the disease.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Joebert (946227)

      I really wish they wouldn't build up false hopes for those suffering from these horrible diseases.

      This from someone with advertisements for a pocket pussy on the site in their signature !
      Thanks, that's the funniest thing I've seen in quite awhile.

      With all the hacking skills in the tech world I am certain we could nip cancer in the bud if that talent was applied to hacking the disease.

      All that lacks is a leadership plan. ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by blankoboy (719577)

        This from someone with advertisements for a pocket pussy on the site in their signature ! Thanks, that's the funniest thing I've seen in quite awhile.
        I have yet to hear of anyone contracting and STD or cancer from a pocket vagina ;)

        All that lacks is a leadership plan. ;)
        Indeed. Bill & Melinda get on it post haste!
        • by tloh (451585)

          I have yet to hear of anyone contracting and STD or cancer from a pocket vagina ;)

          ...but something close, perhaps?

          the 1996 Ig Nobel Prize for public health [wikipedia.org] goes to....

          Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll." [Published in "Genitourinary Medicine," vol. 69, no. 4, Aug. 1993, p. 322.]

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We had X-Prize for getting into space. Can we not get C-Prize started to find a cure for cancer? With all the hacking skills in the tech world I am certain we could nip cancer in the bud if that talent was applied to hacking the disease.

      Cancer is a group of diseases with different genetic causes, so it's highly unlikely that there will ever be a single cure. There might be a breakthrough in the distant future with regard to gene therapy, but cancer "cures" will have to be tailored to each type of cancer.

    • by LesPaul75 (571752)

      We had X-Prize for getting into space. Can we not get C-Prize started to find a cure for cancer?

      Maybe, but "C-Prize [geocities.com]" is already taken by the artificial intelligence guys. I think the problem with a contest like that is that curing cancer isn't really something that can be done by the average Joe, barring some amazing accidental discovery like Penicillin. Granted, launching a scpacecraft to win the X-Prize isn't something most people can do in their back yard, but at least it's something tangible. You ca

      • by tloh (451585)
        I think you have the right idea, but there is another angle that is perhaps a bit more salient. Like lots of folks here on slashdot, I was trained in technology of the hardware/software variety (BSEE). But I'm also in the process of completing a couple of certificates in Bio-technology. What I wasn't aware of before as purely an electrical engineer is the contrast in the amount of regulatory red-tape involved between bio-science and IT/electronic-science. Aside from the FCC, we hardware guys don't reall
  • A little more info (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrKyle (818035) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:12PM (#17873654)
    They used a truncated portion of the steroid receptor that makes the cells divide, it would competitively inhibit the real receptors from triggering cell division.

    They managed to test against human tumors which had been xenografted into mice, they packaged their new therapeutic transgene into a modified lentivirus then injected the virus directly into the tumor site.

    While this result is promising, it suffers from the same drawbacks as many gene therapies: we can figure out what to put into the cell to fix it, but the big problem is finding a very effective vehicle (virus) to target a high proportion of the required cells.
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Saturday February 03, 2007 @01:37PM (#17874360) Journal
      And as always, it is a great time to be a mouse with cancer.

      The real irony is when we succeed in wiping out cancer in mice a full decade before we do it for people.
    • Furthermore, this experiment was performed on SCID (Severe Combined ImmunoDeficiency) mice, who have no adaptive immune system whatsoever. In such animals, it's relatively easy to perform gene therapy using viruses as vehicles because they don't have any immune response to the viruses.

      As it stands, this therapy - as interesting as it is - cannot brought to bear on humans (or even normal mice) due to the primary roadblock inherant in the current state of gene therapy technology: the target will resist the
  • by hey (83763)
    There's lots of cancer research coming out of Canada.
    I wonder if its because of Terry Fox [wikipedia.org].
  • In Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RonBurk (543988) on Saturday February 03, 2007 @12:39PM (#17873894) Homepage Journal

    All new methods of interfering with cancer are welcome news; only the significance varies.

    a) This is a mouse study. A required early step for a cancer treatment, but by no means indicative of significance. We have many, many treatments that cure cancer pretty well in lab mice.

    b) The line of attack here is interfering with a growth factor. Unfortunately, cancer is generally good at mutating and "learning about" new growth factors. Hence, the saying "prostate cancer doesn't kill people -- prostate cancer metastasis kills people." It would be unsurprising if this technique joined the (already swollen) ranks of treatments that can successfully lower PSA without actually significantly reducing the number of patients who die, or significantly extending their lives.

    c) On the plus side, keep in mind that prostate cancer is a rather indolent cancer (compared to, say, breast cancer). If you ain't got it, the tedious and ancient prescription of eating your vegetables, exercising, and not getting fat are a really good bet for decreasing the odds you'll ever die from it. We now overdetect prostate cancer (find/treat lots of cases that were never going to actually kill anyone), so don't get too anxious about the statistics that say you're pretty likely to get it in your lifetime. You're way more likely to get thyroid cancer -- without ever knowing it or suffering any ill effects from it.

    • You're way more likely to get thyroid cancer -- without ever knowing it or suffering any ill effects from it.

      Until you die of course. By then I don't think you'll mind too much though.

    • by nanoakron (234907)
      One slight critique:

      You're way more likely to get thyroid cancer -- without ever knowing it or suffering any ill effects from it

      Where's you pull that statistic from?
    • by fmackay (23605)

      The line of attack here is interfering with a growth factor. Unfortunately, cancer is generally good at mutating and "learning about" new growth factors. Hence, the saying "prostate cancer doesn't kill people -- prostate cancer metastasis kills people."

      s/prostate//

      It would be unsurprising if this technique joined the (already swollen) ranks of treatments that can successfully lower PSA without actually significantly reducing the number of patients who die, or significantly extending their lives.

      Such as?

    • by bobscealy (830639)

      a) This is a mouse study. A required early step for a cancer treatment, but by no means indicative of significance. We have many, many treatments that cure cancer pretty well in lab mice.
      I recently went through a course of chemo, and at the very start when my doctor was talking me through the whole process he said "We are actually getting really good at treating cancer - it is just a shame you aren't a mouse."
  • I'll be flamed for this but I like how it is prostate cancer.
    Usually it is breast cancer. That isn't bad but it seems like all the research are on that and "men's" types are ignored.
    I wonder what the ratio of breast cancer funds to prostate is? I'd guess more that 1 to 1, quite a bit more.

    As a half-corillary I think it is better than AIDS treatments.
    Most of that is completely preventable. Just don't have sex, not a problem of /.ers, or use protection, and don't share needles.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xilmaril (573709)

      As a half-corillary I think it is better than AIDS treatments. Most of that is completely preventable. Just don't have sex, not a problem of /.ers, or use protection, and don't share needles.
      unless you were born with it, or you have no real sex education. (see major portions of africa)

      I know you mean that it's completely avoidable for slashdotters and people in wealthy societies, and I agree, but I just had to throw that out there.
  • http://www.fitpod.com/node/692 [fitpod.com] :) You won't go blind, either!
  • http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/1 7/1913210 [slashdot.org]

    Slashdot already covered Dichloroacetate an easily synthesizable
    compound and FDA authorized drug that "restarts" the deactivated mitochondria in cancer cells which in turn "recognize" the cell as malfunctioning and trigger the cell destruction mechanism.

    The only major drawback of DCA is of course that it is priced way too low for the occasion (people desperate for their lives) and is probably even easier to make than aspirin. Oh and it isn't paten
  • There are many chemotherapy drugs which interfere with androgen reception and production; however, the problem is that prostate cancers can enter into an 'androgen refractory' state where these treatments become ineffective. I don't see anything in this article which suggests a method that would not be affected by this.

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