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Archive - Mar 10, 2016


Important Biological Differences Between Male & Female Breast Cancer

Male breast cancer (Male BC) has important biological differences that distinguish it from female breast cancer, but to date these have been little studied and Male BC patients have been excluded from many clinical trials in breast cancer. Male patients are also usually diagnosed later when their cancers are more advanced, leading to a worse outcome. New research has now uncovered some of the differences between the two types of breast cancer, and the researchers hope that this will help doctors to make better treatment choices for Male BC patients. Speaking at the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-10) today (Thursday, March 10, 2016), Dr Carolien van Deurzen, MD, a pathologist specializing in breast cancer at the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, reported results from a study of the relationship between the pathology of different types of Male BC and their prognosis. (Abstract no. 7, "Pathologic prognostic factors of male breast cancer: results of the EORTC 10085/TBCRC/BIG/NABG International Male Breast Cancer Program", Thursday 11.00 hrs). The study forms part of the International Male Breast Cancer Program, led by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) in Europe and the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) in the USA. The team of researchers examined 1203 tumor samples from Male BC patients who made up part of the largest series of this disease ever collected linked to outcome data -- 1483 patients from 23 centres in nine countries.

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Researchers Build Molecule That Could Significantly Reduce Brain Damage in Stroke Victims

Research teams separated by 9,000 miles have collaborated to advance prospective treatment for stroke, the world's second-leading cause of death. University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) chemists partnered with medical researchers from the National University of Singapore to develop a molecule that can inhibit an enzyme linked with the onset of stroke. Most strokes occur when a disruption of blood flow prevents oxygen and glucose from reaching brain tissue, ultimately killing neurons and other cells. The team found that its molecule, known as 6S, reduced the death of brain tissue by as much as 66 percent when administered to the cerebrum of a rat that had recently suffered a stroke. It also appeared to reduce the inflammation that typically accompanies stroke, which the World Health Organization has estimated kills more than 6 million people annually. "The fact that this inhibitor remained effective when given as post-stroke treatment ... is encouraging, as this is the norm in the treatment of acute stroke," the researchers reported in a study published on March 9, 2016 in the journal ACS Central Science. The open-access article is titled “’Zipped Synthesis’ by Cross-Metathesis Provides a Cystathionine β-Synthase Inhibitor that Attenuates Cellular H2S Levels and Reduces Neuronal Infarction in a Rat Ischemic Stroke Model.” The inhibitor works by binding to cystathionine beta-synthase, (CBS) - an enzyme that normally helps regulate cellular function but can also trigger production of toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide in the brain. Though hydrogen sulfide is an important signaling molecule at normal concentrations, stroke patients exhibit elevated concentrations believed to initiate the brain damage they often suffer.

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Cancer Cells Can Consume Exosomes from Microenvironment for Nourishment

Cancer cells are well-known as voracious energy consumers, but even veteran cancer-metabolism researcher Dr. Deepak Nagrath was surprised by their latest exploit: Experiments in his lab at Rice University show that some cancer cells get 30-60 percent of their fuel from consuming their neighbors' exosomes. "Our original hypothesis was that cancer cells were modifying their metabolism based on communications they were receiving from cells in the microenvironment near the tumor," said Dr. Nagrath, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice and co-author of a new study describing the research published online on February 27, 2016 in the open-access journal eLife. "None of us expected to find that they were converting the signals directly into energy." The article is titled “Tumor Microenvironment Derived Exosomes Pleiotropically Modulate Cancer Cell Metabolism.” The results were part of a four-year study by Dr. Nagrath, his students and collaborators at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and other institutions about the role of exosomes in cancer metabolism. Exosomes are tiny packets of proteins, microRNA and nucleic acids that cells emit into their environment to both communicate with neighboring cells and influence their behavior. Dr. Nagrath, who directs Rice's Laboratory for Systems Biology of Human Diseases, found that some cancer cells are capable of using these information packets as a source of energy to fuel tumor growth. Dr. Nagrath's team specializes in analyzing the unique metabolic profiles of various types of cancer. His work is the latest in a series of discoveries about cancer metabolism that date to German chemist Otto Warburg's 1924 discovery that cancer cells produce far more energy from the metabolic process known as glycolysis than do normal cells.

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