Lung cancer patients with moderate to severe depression are 2 to 3 times more likely to have inflammation levels that predict poor survival rates, a new study found.
The results may help explain why a substantial portion of lung cancer patients fail to respond to new immunotherapy and targeted treatments that have led to significantly longer survival for many people with the disease.
Inspired by the foam on top of lattes, as well as gummy bears and Pop Rocks candies, researchers at the University of Iowa are creating new, biocompatible materials that may improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation for treating cancers.
The new materials are known as gas-entrapping materials, or GeMs, which can be formulated as foams, solids, or hydrogels, and are designed to carry high concentrations of a variety of therapeutic gases directly into tissues, including tumors.
In a new study, published Feb. 2 in the journal Advanced Science, researchers led by James Byrne, MD, PhD, and Jianling Bi, PhD, at the UI, used GeMs to deliver high levels of oxygen directly into tumors. The study showed that this improved the effectiveness of standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments in mouse models of prostate cancer and a type of sarcoma.
In addition to Byrne, Bi and their colleagues at the UI, the study was a multi-institutional effort involving researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School.
“We’ve known for a long time that if you increase the amount of oxygen within a tumor you can make it more responsive to radiation, certain chemotherapies, and even potentially immunotherapies,” says Byrne, UI assistant professor of radiation oncology and a member of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI. “However, the challenge has been how to deliver an effective dose of oxygen in a safe, controlled fashion.”
The new study shows that GeMs can significantly increase oxygen levels within solid tumors and render the cancer cells more vulnerable to radiation or chemotherapy. The increased oxygen levels also appeared to improve immune reactivity, which is key to generating a response to immunotherapy.
Predictive Model Allows Researchers to Encode Commands for Cells to Carry Out
Using new machine learning techniques, researchers at UC San Francisco (UCSF), in collaboration with a team at IBM Research, have developed a virtual molecular library of thousands of “command sentences” for cells, based on combinations of “words” that guided engineered immune cells to seek out and tirelessly kill cancer cells.
The work, published online Dec. 8, 2022, in Science, represents the first time such sophisticated computational approaches have been applied to a field that, until now, has progressed largely through ad hoc tinkering and engineering cells with existing, rather than synthesized, molecules.
The advance allows scientists to predict which elements – natural or synthesized – they should include in a cell to give it the precise behaviors required to respond effectively to complex diseases.
“This is a vital shift for the field,” said Wendell Lim, PhD, the Byers Distinguished Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, who directs the UCSF Cell Design Institute and led the study. “Only by having that power of prediction can we get to a place where we can rapidly design new cellular therapies that carry out the desired activities.”
Meet the Molecular Words That Make Cellular Command Sentences
Much of therapeutic cell engineering involves choosing or creating receptors that, when added to the cell, will enable it to carry out a new function. Receptors are molecules that bridge the cell membrane to sense the outside environment and provide the cell with instructions on how to respond to environmental conditions.
While working with other researchers, Prof. Carmit Levy, Ph.D., associate professor of human molecular genetics and biochemistry at Tel Aviv University, became interested in how muscle is resistant to metastatic cancer.
That work led to a new study from Tel Aviv University, recently published in Cancer Research, which suggests people may be able to reduce their risk of developing metastatic cancer by regularly engaging in high intensity aerobic exercise.
“From [being curious] about the muscle, we ended up investigating physical activity,” Prof. Levy told Medical News Today. (MNT). “We said, ‘OK, there’s something about the activity of the muscle that maybe protects this organ from being a common site for metastasis for all types of cancers.’”
With their work, the researchers identified the mechanism behind the preventive effect of exercise. They found that physical activity increases glucose consumption by internal organs, which meansless energy available to the tumor.
Erica Rees-PuniaTrusted Source, Ph.D., MPH, a senior principal scientist in epidemiology and behavioral research at the American Cancer Society, not involved in the study, described the underlying mechanism to MNT:
“Simply put, exercise ‘reprograms’ our organs to require more nutrients. At the same time, healthy organs of exercisers are more easily able to out-compete cancer cells (specifically melanoma cells, in the case of this study) for nutrients. This leaves fewer nutrients available for the tumor to use to grow.”
They looked at 2,734 men and women selected from the Israeli general population who were originally cancer free and between the ages of 25 and 64 who were examined before and after running.
Participants responded to two physical activity questionnaires about vigorous and moderate activity that lasted for 10 minutes. They were followed over a 20-year period.
Additionally, researchers recruited 14 male and female runners ages 25 to 45.
Participants were excluded for being smokers, taking prescribed medications, or having a history of chronic pulmonary, cardiac, metabolic, or orthopedic conditions.
They were also asked to avoid caffeine for 12 hours, food for 3 hours, and strenuous physical activity for at least 24 hours before arriving at the laboratory for testing.
Participants ran for 30 minutes on a treadmill at the highest speed they could manage for the entire duration.
Next, researchers collected ventilator and metabolic measurements using breath-by-breath analysis and monitored the heart rate of participants using a chest strap. They collected blood from the participants before and after they exercised.
In another study, the researchers used an animal model where mice were subjected to exercise regimens.
One group of mice was used as a control. The other was subjected to an exercise training protocol on a treadmill. Mice exercised every other day. Gradually, the researchers increased the duration and intensity of the exercise. This went on for 8 weeks.
They selected female mice because they’ve shown an increased metabolic response to exercise compared with males.
Some of the mice were then injected with melanoma cells. After 4 days of recovery, researchers again subjected these mice to regular exercise on the treadmill for 4 additional weeks.
Later, researchers harvested the lungs, lymph nodes, livers, and skeletal muscles of both sedentary mice and mice subjected to exercise for proteomicTrusted Source and ex vivo metabolic capacity analyses.
“We took organs that usually host metastasis,” Levy told MNT.
“And we said, ‘Let’s dissect those organs and see how these organs behave after long-term physical activity.”
Proteomic analysis of the blood of the routinely active participants showed increased carbohydrate usage after exercise.
Data from the prospective study showed that exercise prior to developing cancer had a modest impact on diagnoses of slow-growing cancer.
However, exercise “significantly reduced the likelihood of highly metastatic cancer,” according to the researchers.
Among the participants studied, those who reported regular aerobic exercise at high intensity had 72% less metastatic cancer than sedentary participants.
In the mouse study, researchers found that mice subjected to exercise prior to being injected with cancer cells were “significantly protected” against metastases in distant organs.
Proteomic and ex vivo metabolic capacity analyses of the mice organs showed that exercise induces catabolic processes, glucose uptake, mitochondrial activity, and GLUT expression.
When researchers looked at the mice organs, they discovered that long-term physical activity changes muscles (increasing muscle mass) and changes organs.
“We discovered that internal organs like lymph nodes, like lung, like liver, those organs that are usually hosting cancer [are] changing when there is chronic physical activity,” Levy told MNT.
“They change in [the] sense that they become super metabolic. And when I say super metabolic, I mean their demand for glucose and demand for their mitochondria is increasing [and] their glucose uptake is increasing. They’re becoming like superhero organs.”
When cancer attempts to attack these organs, it loses the fight, the researchers believe.
Dr. Adrian Cristian, chief of cancer rehabilitation at Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida, explained to MNT that with this study, the researchers demonstrated “that exercise induces changes in the micro-environment of cancer cells that make it inhospitable for them to grow when they are out-competed by non-cancer cells for nutrients.”
I last wrote about my cancer situation on November 18 in Booking my biopsy That was the last you heard about my experience with lung cancer. Sorry if I have kept you in the dark, but the fact is that I am also in the dark. I had the biopsy on November 28, but that seemed to only confirm that I, indeed, have cancer. They were able to give me no further details on my condition. Instead, I now have an appointment with an oncologist on December 20.
The one positive occurrence seems to be that I am booked for two scans, brain and body, to determine the extent of the cancer. So, it seems that they will finally be able to ascertain the extent of my lung cancer. My scans are booked for Monday, December 12.
Now you know everything I do about my cancerous condition. Sadly, not very much and not very positive.
I asked the surgeon who did the biopsy if the fact that I have been living an active, healthy life with a lot of physical exercise worked for me in this situation. She said that my healthy condition would make it possible for them to attack the cancer more aggressively.
That is the extent of what I know as of right now – more than a month after first learning that I was likely carrying a cancerous mass in my left lung.
As they used to say on the radio when I was a kid … stay tuned.
Last week I wrote about the unpleasant news that after a chest X Ray and a CT Scan, I likely have some form of lung cancer. If you want details, you can read that post here.
It has now been a week of dark shadowy uncertainty. When we got my CT Scan results, my doctor told me that they would call me to book a biopsy of my tumor. I waited for the call. The weekend came … and went. No call the following week. I finally sent a message on MyChart to my doctor that I hadn’t heard anything and was I supposed to have done something to get the biopsy scheduled. I received a message back with the phone number for the Radiational Intervention Department. Progress!
I phoned immediately and, of course, got a machine to answer. I recited my name and medical data along with my phone number with the message that I was calling to schedule a biopsy and they had my CT Scan. The machine assured me that my call was important and that someone would get back to me. The machine lied.
The next day, I phoned the department again and caught the same recorded message. I repeated my information. There was no call back.
At this point I was approaching seven days since my CT Scan with no ‘closure’ as far as finding out that nature of my likely cancerous affliction. I phoned my doctor and left a message that I had tried twice calling Radiational Intervention with no response.
Two hours later, Radiational Intervention called me. The nearest date for a biopsy is November 28. I booked it. They explained that I needed to get a COVID test with 72 hours of my procedure. So I booked that, too. I will be there at 1:00 p.m. for the procedure. They said that it would take about an hour to get into it and then I needed to stay there under observation for an additional two hours.
So, I may know on Tuesday, November 29, the condition of the likely cancerous mass on my left lung. Stay tuned ….
As I wrote last week in My unpleasant health news , I very likely have some form of lung cancer. I am currently waiting to hear from the hospital to schedule my biopsy to get further information on my condition. As I am a committed non-smoker, you can imagine my surprise at this news. On further reflection, however, I have had skin cancer three times (see the Page on which I discussed that here.)
Most people are surprised to learn that early signs of serious medical conditions affecting your body can be detected in the eyes. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, and even Alzheimer’s disease can be detected in the eye. That’s because the blood vessels and nerves in our eyes are reflective of the state of the rest of the body. A routine eye exam can do more than save your eyesight, it can also save your life.
Take for example Barbara Krupar, a 65-year-old retiree from Ohio who went to her ophthalmologist after experiencing some disturbing changes in her vision. When Nicole Bajic, MD, examined her, she detected possible early warning signs of a stroke, and recommended Barbara go to the emergency room immediately to have her head and neck imaged. The ER physician determined that the carotid artery in her neck was 85 percent blocked. She was at imminent risk of suffering a stroke. The exam likely saved her life.
“There are chemotherapies that can damage the heart, and radiation to the chest can also affect the heart,” said lead researcher Dr. Roberta Florido, director of cardio-oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “So it’s possible that these therapies, in the long run, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Researchers used gene editing to turn off a specific molecule in the plant’s genome which increased provitamin D3 in both the fruit and leaves of tomato plants. It was then converted to vitamin D3 through exposure to UVB light.
Vitamin D is created in our bodies after skin’s exposure to UVB light, but the major source is food. This new bio-fortified crop could help millions of people with vitamin D insufficiency, a growing issue linked to higher risk of cancer, dementia, and many leading causes of mortality. Studies have also shown that vitamin D insufficiency is linked to increased severity of infection by Covid-19.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to poor dietary choices and lack of exercise. So what should we eat, and what should we avoid? News outlets and the internet are full of (sometimes conflicting) reports claiming links between specific foods or nutrients and cancer. Many of these claims are based on a limited number of studies. But when researchers analyze all of the research on cancer and nutrition together, it becomes clear that increasing intake of individual foods or popping dietary supplements doesn’t work. Overall dietary pattern, however, can make an important and significant difference.
Diet and Cancer: “There is a clear link between diet and cancer,” says Jerold Mande, MPH, who worked on cancer policy for two Presidential administrations and the Yale Cancer Center before joining Tufts’ faculty. “In fact, trend lines indicate that dietary issues could surpass cigarette smoking as the greatest cancer-causing threat.”
When I was growing up there was a funny saying, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” Supposedly, that was a typical doctor’s advice. Now, it like the aspirin might be a good idea.
Among adults at high risk of liver cancer, those who took low-dose aspirin were less likely to develop the disease or to die from liver-related causes. The findings come from an analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by a team led by investigators at the Karolinska Institutet, in Sweden, and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“Rates of liver cancer and of mortality from liver disease are rising at an alarming pace in U.S. and European countries. Despite this, there remain no established treatments to prevent the development of liver cancer, or to reduce the risk of liver-related death,” said lead author Tracey Simon, MD, MPH, investigator in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at MGH. Continue reading →
Eat less; move more; live longer. Where have I heard that before? Nice to see the National Institutes of Health adding this aspect of positive results from exercise.
Exercise can work wonders for your health, including strengthening muscles and bones, and boosting metabolism, mood, and memory skills. Now comes word that staying active may also help to lower your odds of developing cancer.
After reviewing the scientific evidence, a panel of experts recently concluded that physical activity is associated with reduced risks for seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, kidney, endometrial, bladder, stomach, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. What’s more, the experts found that exercise—both before and after a cancer diagnosis—was linked to improved survival among people with breast, colorectal, or prostate cancers. Continue reading →
People who increased their daily servings of red meat over an eight-year period were more likely to die during the subsequent eight years compared to people who did not increase their red meat consumption, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The study also found that decreasing red meat and simultaneously increasing healthy alternative food choices over time was associated with lower mortality.
The study was published online June 12, 2019 in BMJ.
A large body of evidence has shown that higher consumption of red meat, especially processed red meat, is associated with higher risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers including those of the colon and rectum, and premature death. This is the first longitudinal study to examine how changes in red meat consumption over time may influence risk of early death. Continue reading →
For the most part I opt for natural remedies over drugs for my own personal health. But, there are times when a doctor’s recommendations may differ from my wishes. So I was fascinated to learn that sometimes medical practitioners may not be totally objective in their appraisals of our health.
Dr. Sunita Sah practiced general medicine for several years in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. When she came to the United States, she noticed something strange.
The U.K. guidelines for tests such as mammograms and colon cancer screenings drastically differed from those in the U.S. – even though they were based on the same medical evidence.
“Having colonoscopy at the age of 50 – that struck me as rather odd when I moved to the U.S., because you don’t really hear about people having colonoscopies as a screening procedure in the U.K.,” said Sah. “It’s much less invasive to test for blood in the stool. It’s also less costly and doesn’t have the risks of undertaking a colonoscopy.”
The more sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) people consumed, the greater their risk of premature death—particularly death from cardiovascular disease, and to a lesser extent from cancer, according to a large long-term study of U.S. men and women. The risk of early death linked with drinking SSBs was more pronounced among women.
The study, led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, also found that drinking one artificially sweetened beverage (ASB) per day instead of a sugary one lowered the risk of premature death. But drinking four or more ASBs per day was associated with increased risk of mortality in women.
The study was published in the journal Circulation.
“Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity,” said Vasanti Malik, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition and lead author of the study. Continue reading →