In essence, DNA operates like a computer. Just as all digital data relies on various configurations of a two-component code, DNA uses different arrangements of a four-component code to determine which proteins need to be manufactured.
This similarity has given rise to a field called DNA computing. A research team at the University of Delaware recently engineered DNA strands with a code to create circuits programmed to open and close based on a specific logic.
Leveraging DNA Code
The next step was to make and purify the proteins that the scientists wanted to use. Once the custom-made DNA strands were received from the manufacturer, the proteins were attached to form protein-DNA conjugates.
When the DNA circuits were tested on both E. coli bacteria and human cells, the target proteins went through a series of stages just as they had been programmed to do.
Applications for Cancer Treatment
Once the DNA circuits proved to be successful, the UD team tested them with cancer prodrugs, which are inert until they’re metabolized into therapeutic form. The scientist designed DNA circuits to control the protein that triggers metabolism of the prodrug. Professor Wilfred Chen, lead author of the study, anticipates a future of “plug-and-play” DNA circuits.
A new potential cervical cancer treatment is making waves. After decades of the same, largely unchanged treatment protocol, there may be a new hope on the horizon. A study conducted on mice by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has uncovered that cervical tumors that don’t respond to radiation are vulnerable to therapies that cut off cancer’s energy supply at the source.
Turning Cervical Cancer ‘Off’
The mice used in the study, implanted with human cervical cancer cells, provided some interesting data. When treated with a combination of radiation and 3 drugs designed to slow tumor metabolism, cancer’s ability to burn glucose and protect itself was shut down, thwarting cancer cell survival attempts.
The Sugar-Zapping Theory
Cancer cells take up glucose in larger amounts than normal tissues. Researchers in the study observed that tumors resisting treatment were those that took up a large deal of glucose prior to radiation therapy. On the hypothesis that sugar strengthens tumor resistance, they decided to delve closer into what would happen if that sugar uptake was inhibited.
With glucose eliminated as a food source, cancer cells must scavenge for sustenance. In typical treatment modalities, cancer will rally by hitting the cells’ metabolic pathways in two more ways simultaneously, making tumors vulnerable to their own self-created toxic stew.
Free radical toxicity escalates, eventually devastating the cancer cells. As healthy cells don’t rely on this fuel production pathway, no obvious negative side-effects were revealed. Future studies will explore this cancer treatment’s potential in HPV-induced cervical cancer.
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Scientists are optimistic about attacking cancer cells with the poisonous venoms most of us desperately try to avoid. Dr. Dipanjan Pan led a team at the University of Illinois that has successfully and safely targeted breast cancer and melanoma cells in a lab.
While being able to kill cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying is good news by itself, another important breakthrough is Dr Pan’s success at concentrating the focus of scorpion, snake, and bee venom on the cancer cells without destroying healthy cells and ultimately harming the patient.
Dr. Pan and his team were able to “camouflage” the venom in a tiny particle. This takes the venom directly to the targeted cancer cells without allowing it to leak into the bloodstream of patients and damage the heart, nerve cells, or other healthy tissue.
The researchers discovered that venom from snakes, scorpions, and bees contain peptides and proteins that will attach to cancer cell walls. They also verified that bee venom contains a substance called melittin that prevents cancer cells from spreading. Bees produce such a small amount of venom that extracting a sufficient amount of the substance from them for laboratory testing or clinical use is impractical. The team developed a way to synthesize the melittin.
Dr. Pan stressed that, while the venom from snakes and scorpions can be deadly, his team is able to control the potency and utilize them as a possible cancer treatment. The positive results from cloaking these venoms in nanoparticles could lead to human trials in then next three to five years.
For decades, cancer patients have been limited to a trio of treatment options. While surgery, chemotherapy and radiation have their effectiveness, they also have serious drawbacks that can compromise quality of life. Continued research in the area of immunotherapy is uncovering its power to fight cancer naturally while preserving the body’s healthy cells.
One of the biggest breakthroughs came in a 2013 study conducted by Bristol-Myers Squibb. A group of 52 melanoma patients was treated with one approved and one experimental drug. Nearly one-third experienced rapid and deep tumor regression. As study leader Dr. Jedd Wolchok observed, “We have spent several decades in cancer research learning better ways to treat the tumor. Now we are learning how to treat the patient.”
Dr. David Maloney has been working on targeted cancer therapies since he was a student at Stanford in the early 1980s. He’s currently focused on a procedure wherein a patient is infused with his own T-cells that have been harvested and genetically re-engineered to become better cancer “drones”. He cites the benefit of immunotherapy as a move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to customized treatments.
For more than 60 years, Issels has been on the forefront of integrative immuno-oncology treatments. Visit our website to read and hear first-hand testimonials from our patients.
In several research studies that employed a cancer patient’s own immune cells against her cancer, news reports have called the results “unprecedented” and “miraculous.” If researchers seem surprised by the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, it is because the mainstream Western cancer community has only recently begun to recognize and harness the considerable cancer-fighting benefits of alternative cancer treatments such as immunotherapy.
Called a “game-changer,” immunotherapy is producing some truly amazing results:
Her tumors “melted away.”A woman with a deadly form of cancer that had metastasized to her bile duct, liver and lungs despite traditional treatment saw her tumors “melt away” after immunotherapy. Researchers identified tumor-invading T cells in her immune system that would attack a critical mutation in her cancer cells. Billions of these T cells were manufactured in the lab and infused into her bloodstream. While the woman’s cancer has not disappeared, her tumors are shrinking at an amazing rate and she is hopeful for the first time in years.
Cancer-free in 5 months.Another woman whose body was riddled with tumors from metastasized cervical cancer now appears to be cancer-free after a similar immunotherapy treatment. After isolating the immune system cells that were attacking her tumors, researchers multiplied the cells in the lab and infused billions of them back into her body. Just five months after treatment, the woman’s cancer scans started coming back clean and have remained cancer-free for 17 months and counting.
Study of the cancer genome, a field of research called genomics, has been instrumental in helping researchers unlock cancer’s mysteries. Research into cancer’s genetic code is allowing scientists to explore and experiment with cancer’s most basic building blocks. The result has been phenomenal growth in the area of personalized cancer treatment and advanced targeted cancer therapies.
Now researchers are exploring the use of genomic technology to accelerate patient trials of new cancer drugs designed to target the specific molecular profiles of individual tumors. Set to undergo its first major clinical trial in 2014, the genomic trial model is being heralded by some scientists as the possible beginning of a new era of advanced personalized cancer treatment.
The clinical trial will match new lung cancer drugs to the unique molecular profile of each patient’s tumor and test treatment effectiveness. “If successful, the trial could help bring cancer genome-targeted medicines to patients more quickly than has been possible to date,” an article in MIT Technology Reviewexplained; adding, “One of the great promises of genomic medicine is that doctors will be able to tailor treatments to an individual patient’s disease.”
With our colleagues in the U.S. cancer community we will await the results of this new trial model with great interest. At Issels alternative cancer treatment centers, we have been practicing individualized, targeted cancer therapies for decades with remarkable success. We also found it interesting that the new trial will test immunotherapy drugs designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. We have been leaders in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer for more than 60 years.