Category Archives: Cancer Treatment

Fevers Boost the Immune Response – New Study Focuses on the Cancer Connection

Most people just want to crawl back into bed when they’re running a fever. Who would have thought there may be a positive aspect to feeling so bad? Incredibly, a published study indicates there may be a connection between fever and cancer immunotherapy.

What Is a Fever?

Infectious fever is one of the immune system responses to foreign organisms. When bacteria known as exogenous pyrogens enter the body, it triggers the immune system to produce endogenous pyrogens, or mediators, to fight them. This begins a chain of events that culminates in a rising temperature.

Endogenous mediators include cytokines, such as interleukins and interferons. During a fever, these mediators redirect metabolic substrates and energy, resulting in a higher range of immune effectors. One such effector is lymphocytes that express gd T cells.

How a Fever Affects the Immune System

A fever generates large numbers of gamma delta T cells. These cells are valuable in fighting infection that initiates the fever response. They also have potent anti-tumor properties, which may have applications for cancer immunotherapy methods. This process indicates that a high incidence of fevers may actually reduce the risk of cancer.

Past research has largely involved alpha beta T cells. While the connection between the fever response and cancer is still largely anecdotal, researchers now have a foundation to expand studies on the topic along with possible clinical benefits. This specific study, based on patient accounts documented over several decades, was first published in Quarterly Review of Biology.

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Cancer Risks with Alcohol Use

Doctors have long cautioned against poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking, that increase the risk of cancer. In a study that may hold implications related to immunotherapy for cancer, scientists have discovered how alcohol use causes DNA damage in cells.

Harmful Effects of Alcohol on DNA

Cancer Research UK partially funded a study conducted by a research team at Cambridge. After mice were given diluted alcohol, also known as ethanol, they experienced genetic damage as a result of acetaldehyde that forms when the body processes alcohol.

Using chromosome analysis and DNA sequencing, the researchers found that acetaldehyde causes DNA within blood stem cells to break. Once the chromosomes rearrange, the DNA sequences are permanently changed.

According to Professor Ketan Patel, lead author of the study, DNA-damaged stem cells can lead to the development of cancer. This damage is sometimes random, but consumption of alcohol increases the risk.

Can Alcohol-Related DNA Damage Be Prevented?

The body uses enzymes called ALDH as well as DNA repair systems to protect against alcohol-related damage. In the study, mice who lacked essential ALDH suffered four times the amount of DNA damage as mice with the enzyme, indicating that faulty defense mechanisms increase the risk.

Professor Patel warned that even intact alcohol defenses are no guarantee against developing cancer. In addition, Professor Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK pointed out that alcohol contributes to more than 12,000 cancer cases in the UK each year.

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T-cell Senescence & Exhaustion Causing Immune Suppression Are Studied for Potential Therapy

Did you know that cells can become “tired?” Researchers explain why new discoveries on this topic have implications for improving the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapy.

When T-Cells Lose Their Effectiveness

T-cells, which play a vital role in the immune system’s response to cancer, can reach a dysfunctional state known as senescence and exhaustion. Much as in humans, T-cells may get to this point naturally, simply as a result of aging. Tumors and tumor microenvironments can also trigger this process.

Not surprisingly, T-cell exhaustion results in vulnerability to infection, as the immune system loses the strength to fight off foreign organisms. Preventive vaccines become less effective, as does the T-cell response to tumor antigens.

Can T-Cell Exhaustion Be Reversed?

Recent research regarding T-cell exhaustion was reviewed by a team of researchers from Jinan University in Guangzhou, China. Yangqiu Li, MD, is lead author of the report, which was published in the Journal of Hematology & Oncology.

The good news, according to Dr. Li’s team, is that scientists have identified candidate biomarkers for T-cell exhaustion, making it easier to conduct targeted research. Eventually, the goal is to discover methods of restoring weakened T-cells to the point where they can again battle tumors with the aid of cancer immunotherapy.

One promising avenue involves the thymus, which is the gland in the lymphatic system that produces T-cells. In studies involving older adult mice, bioengineered thymus organoids and combination-cytokine techniques have demonstrated the ability to improve T-cell function.

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How to Starve Cancer Getting Fuel from Fat Cells

Cancer research is now going beyond the genetic aspect to explore how the disease interacts with the body’s systems. Recent studies of the relationship between cancer and fat cells may have implications concerning immunotherapy for cancer.

Feeding the Growth of Cancer Cells

While the precise causes are not yet known, obesity has been identified as a risk factor for prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men. As a result, research into the link between cancer and fat cells has focused on this form of the disease.

Previous tests involved mice who were fed a high-fat diet. In contrast, researchers at Sanford Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego conducted a study using mice who lacked a protein called p62, causing them to become obese on a normal diet.

According to co-author Dr. Jorge Moscat, this control was necessary to get a clear understanding of the communication pathways between cancer and fat cells. The team discovered that p62 suppresses another protein known as mTORC1, which in turn inhibits energy use by fat cells.

Can Cancer Cells Be “Starved” to Death?

With metabolism halted in fat cells, nutrients are then available to fuel development of tumor cells. Lack of p62 also triggers production of proteins found at high levels in particularly aggressive forms of prostate cancer.

As explained by Dr. Moscat, these findings can help identify specific substances to be targeted by immunotherapy for cancer treatments with the goal of “starving” cancer cells.

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Results in Clinical Trials May Not Represent Results in Real Life Treatment

For patients who choose to undergo immunotherapy for cancer, new medications are often available more quickly than usual. In fact, a new study found that new medications used in immunotherapy start being used faster than the standard practice for other new medical treatments. Some of this is due to the results of clinical trials, but there are a few potential problems to consider.

Age of Clinical Trial Participants

One of the most notable differences between clinical trial participants and cancer patients is age. Those who took part in clinical trials for immunotherapy treatments tended to be younger than those treated in clinical practice. Clinical trial participants were mainly in their late 50s or early 60s, while cancer patients treated clinically were 65 and older. Knowing more about how real world populations respond to newly adopted medications for cancer involves doing more research.

Early vs. Later Clinical Trials

Another problem with beginning the use of immunotherapy medications more quickly than usual is the risk of having later clinical trials show different results compared to early trials. Fast approval is often based on the findings of early clinical trials, but there is a risk of having later trials find that medications are harmful or not as effective.

Recommendations for Rapid Adoption

Experts recommend running clinical trials that include participants who are similar to real world populations of cancer patients. Doing this should help provide findings that better reflect results for real world populations. Other recommendations include avoiding basing approval on small studies, the use of atypical patient populations, and studies that don’t compare the treatment with current alternative options that are available.

For more information on immunotherapy for cancer, please contact Issels® today. We can provide additional information on this type of cancer treatment.

Steer Clear of These Foods While in Traditional Cancer Treatment

Herbs and other supplements can provide an added boost for patients with cancer. In many cases, alternative cancer therapies can succeed where standard therapies have failed.

However, in some cases, complementary medicines that are recommended for some patients can actually have adverse effects on certain other patients. An herb may be excellent for one form of cancer and hazardous for another. In all cases, patients should confirm recommendations with a doctor before taking supplements.

These products may not be prescription drugs, but they do have a powerful ability to interact with chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and anti-cancer medicines.

Below are common supplements with anti-cancer properties that may also cause serious problems if taken during other treatments. Consult the American Cancer Society website or other trusted sources for a helpful guide to vitamins, minerals, and herbal medicines.

1. Fish oil: May induce bleeding if you have a low platelet count.

2. Ginger: Also may induce bleeding.

3. Turmeric: Could decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy — or increase the effects, with toxic results.

4. Coenzyme Q10: Antioxidant properties may interfere with chemotherapy and radiation.

5. Milk thistle: May affect estrogen levels, which could pose an issue for breast or ovarian cancer.

6. Licorice: Also may affect estrogen levels.

7. Green tea: Negates the benefits of certain anti-cancer drugs.

8. Reishi mushroom: May interfere with certain drugs or chemotherapy.

9. Astragalus: May interfere with certain immunosuppressants.

10. Acidophilus: May cause infections or other problems if taken during chemotherapy.

Despite the risks for some patients, these substances do have successful results for many people. Issels® Integrative Immuno-Oncology can always help with information about alternative cancer treatment.