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Medicine Science

New Treatment Kills Metastatic Cancer Cells 55

robert2cane points out a promising study from Cornell University about controlling the spread of cancer. There are many treatments for an isolated tumor, but once cancer cells reach the bloodstream and start spreading through the body, it's much more difficult to control. The new research (PDF), led by Michael King, developed a compound that is able to target and eliminate cancer cells in the blood of mice. "When attempting to develop a treatment for metastases, King faced two problems: targeting moving cancer cells and ensuring cell death could be activated once they were located. To handle both issues, he built fat-based nanoparticles that were one thousand times smaller than a human hair and attached two proteins to them. One is E-selectin, which selectively binds to white blood cells, and the other is TRAIL. He chose to stick the nanoparticles to white blood cells because it would keep the body from excreting them easily. This means the nanoparticles, made from fat molecules, remain in the blood longer and thus have a greater chance of bumping into freely moving cancer cells. There is an added advantage. Red blood cells tend to travel in the center of a blood vessel, and white blood cells stick to the edges. This is because red blood cells are lower density and can be easily deformed to slide around obstacles. Cancer cells have a similar density to white blood cells and remain close to the walls, too. As a result, these nanoparticles are more likely to bump into cancer cells and bind their TRAIL receptors."
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New Treatment Kills Metastatic Cancer Cells

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  • Better headline (Score:4, Informative)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @10:54AM (#45926093) Homepage

    "New treatment kills some but not all metastatic cancer cells in mice, but only while they're traversing the bloodstream and so far only when the cells are injected into the mice in the first place".

    • Re:Better headline (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [eilrigyag]> on Saturday January 11, 2014 @11:04AM (#45926137) Homepage

      "New treatment kills some but not all metastatic cancer cells in mice, but only while they're traversing the bloodstream

      A situation that is very dangerous and often leads to untreatable, fatal cancerous growth.

      and so far only when the cells are injected into the mice in the first place".

      That is also explained rather well in the article: there is no good way of predicting when or if a cancerous growth would ever become metastatic and enter the bloodstream, so the only way of actually testing the treatment is to inject the cells there. I mean, they can't really just sit on their thumbs hoping for the cancer to enter the bloodstream when it could be anything between 1 week to 10 years of waiting or it could simply not happen at all, now can they? The cells entering the bloodstream via ordinary methods or via an injection, however, don't change the results of the treatment -- the delivery method of the cells inside the body and the effects of them remain the same.

    • Perhaps one day it leads to a vaccine for metastasis. I'd love that, my dad lays dying now from a failing liver while the actual tumor can't even be found.
  • http://www.collective-evolution.com/2012/04/21/cancer-industry-exposed-as-fraud-the-science-is-false/

    "Recent news has shown that the majority of studies geared towards cancer research are inaccurate and likely fraudulent by nature. Findings published in the journal Nature show that 88% of major studies on cancer that have been published in reputable journals over the years can not be reproduced to show their accuracy. This means that the research findings published are not based on accurate results."


  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 11, 2014 @11:37AM (#45926289)

    Physicist Lowell Wood in a brainstorming meeting: a question for everyone. You have a tumor, and the tumor becomes metastatic, and it sheds metastatic cancer cells. How long do those circulate in the bloodstream before they land?’ And we all said, ‘We don’t know. Ten times?’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘As many as a million times.’ Isn’t that amazing? If you had no time, you’d be screwed. But it turns out that these cells are in your blood for as long as a year before they land somewhere. What that says is that you’ve got a chance to intercept them.”
    How did Wood come to this conclusion? He had run across a stray fact in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. “It was an article that talked about, at one point, the number of cancer cells per millilitre of blood,” he said. “And I looked at that figure and said, ‘Something’s wrong here. That can’t possibly be true.’ The number was incredibly high. Too high. It has to be one cell in a hundred litres, not what they were saying—one cell in a millilitre. Yet they spoke of it so confidently. I clicked through to the references. It was a commonplace. There really were that many cancer cells.”
    Wood did some arithmetic. He knew that human beings have only about five litres of blood. He knew that the heart pumps close to a hundred millilitres of blood per beat, which means that all of our blood circulates through our bloodstream in a matter of minutes. The New England Journal article was about metastatic breast cancer, and it seemed to Wood that when women die of metastatic breast cancer they don’t die with thousands of tumors. The vast majority of circulating cancer cells don’t do anything.
    “It turns out that some small per cent of tumor cells are actually the deadly ones,” he went on. “Tumor stem cells are what really initiate metastases. And isn’t it astonishing that they have to turn over at least ten thousand times before they can find a happy home? You naïvely think it’s once or twice or three times. Maybe five times at most. It isn’t. In other words, metastatic cancer—the brand of cancer that kills us—is an amazingly hard thing to initiate. Which strongly suggests that if you tip things just a little bit you essentially turn off the process.”

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Forgot to attribute the above to the New Yorker Magazine (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/12/080512fa_fact_gladwell/?currentPage=all)

    • Would it be possible to replace or filter a patient's blood after excision of the tumor?
      • by Rolgar ( 556636 )

        I've read that eating enough green plant matter (leaves) will remove waste from the blood. I've read in several places that people have used vegan diets to control cancer (although I think it's more about eating more leaves, and not about rejecting protein).

        I've heard/read that people that live a more primative lifestyle without our grain based diets don't have cancer, presumably because they eat more leaves.

        • http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/gbombs.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
          G-BOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds

          Fasting sometimes can help too (consult a specialist in it like Dr. Fuhrman to see what is reasonable to expect in various situations). People are always getting (pre)cancer cells and the immune system destroys them usually. Generally cancer is best prevented by diet and lifestyle (including avoiding carcinogens including browned and burned foods with acrylamides) with a healthy immune system. But once y

    • This is what I love about physicists: They love sanity checks, and they do the math.

      I'm in bioinformatics, and where I work we were discussing how large a value for differential gene expression could get and still be considered credible. Well, it turned out that if a single molecule of a typical RNA transcript is present in a reference sample, the value that was under consideration would require several thousand metric tons of it in the comparison sample. This was deemed to be "unphysical", as they say...

    • has been available to block e-selectin in people with colon cancer for 20+ years, available at Walmart etc for about 11 cents per day. E-selectin is what often makes colon cancer metastasize and recur. Funny, no advertisements on TV about it.
  • by zerosomething ( 1353609 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @11:53AM (#45926367) Homepage

    ...nanoparticles that were one thousand times smaller than a human hair and attached two proteins to them...

    What do you say, lets start a campaign to get the standards and measures people to make human hair an actual measurement standard.

  • by hackus ( 159037 ) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @05:09PM (#45928081) Homepage

    If this is the case, then cancer diagnostic exams should remove these cells from your blood stream, firstly.

    Secondly, if you require surgery or treatment, cells in your blood stream after removal of the primary cancer should then be removed.

    Which makes a lot of sense, because cancer sometimes comes back to reinfect the patient.

    So this would suggest, that part of the protocols for cancer treatment would require the patient to undego some sort of immuno therapy for blood work to complete the treatment.


    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Well, here's a thought. Say the original cancer is killed off. So far so good. But the loose cells are still cruising the bloodstream, and they're still looking for that happy-home location. Maybe it's that much easier for them to reinfect (so to speak) the original site... so the cancer "comes back". Rinse and repeat until the patient is worn out and dies.

      If that's how it works, then killing off the circulating cells is just as critical as killing off the original cancer.

  • I do not get it. They says the TRAIL receptor triggers apoptosis, but that cancer cells inactivate it. How can they use it, then? And how can they avoid to activate TRAIL in non-cancerous cells?

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10