Cancer Research

Garlic has been hailed a wonder drug for centuries and has been used to prevent gangrene, treat high blood pressure, ward off common colds and is even believed by some to have cancer-fighting properties.

Now, scientists at The University of Nottingham are leading a new pilot study to see if the pungent bulb could also hold the key to preventing cystic fibrosis patients from falling foul of a potentially-fatal infection.

The research will look at whether taking garlic capsules can disrupt the communication system of the pathogen Pseudomonas to prevent illness from taking hold.

A breast cancer treatment based on MIT research originally intended for detecting missiles is documented in a new book by Alan J. Fenn, an MIT researcher and inventor of the technique.


Image at left shows process of detecting and destroying an enemy missile using MIT targeted radar. Microwave energy is fixed on a missile while simultaneously nullifying enemy jammers. On right, microwave energy is aimed at a cancerous tumor with a deep focused beam while simultaneously nullifying any energy that would overheat surrounding healthy tissue. (Image courtesy of Lincoln Laboratory_

What do red grapes, white onions, green and black teas and blackeye cowpeas all have in common? In addition to vitamins and minerals, these plant foods are rich in a class of chemical compounds called flavonoids.

The first update of the USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods, Release 2, is now available. The new release provides analytical values for 26 selected flavonoid compounds in 393 foods.

For the update, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) analyzed the flavonoids in nearly 60 representative fruits, nuts and vegetables taken from a nationwide sampling.

Second-hand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke or ETS, is clearly associated with cancer, respiratory and cardiovascular disease in humans. Several studies have shown that up to 20 different carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke can be inhaled by non-smoking bystanders.

Dr. Timothy Fan, veterinary oncologist at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, explains that although associations between ETS and diseases in animals have not been as extensively researched, a handful of studies show a correlation between ETS and certain forms of cancer in pets.

The secret to the ability of a molecule critical for cell division to throw off the protein yoke that restrains its activity is the yoke itself--a disorderly molecule that seems to have a mind of its own, say investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Innsbruck Medical University (Austria) and Max Planck Institute (Martinsried, Germany).

The researchers showed that the disorderly protein yoke, called p27, participates in its own destruction by swinging the end of its long arm up into a key side pocket of the cell division molecule called CDK2. After the end of p27 slips into the pocket, CDK2 marks p27 for destruction by tagging it with a molecule called phosphate.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have developed two strategies to reactivate the p53 gene in mice, causing blood, bone and liver tumors to self destruct. The p53 protein is called the "guardian of the genome" because it triggers the suicide of cells with damaged DNA.

Inactivation of p53 can set the stage for the development of different types of cancer. The researchers' findings show for the first time that inactivating the p53 gene is necessary for maintaining tumors. While the researchers caution that cancers can mutate to circumvent p53 reactivation, they believe their findings offer ideas for new approaches to cancer therapy.

A team led by biochemists at the University of California, San Diego has found what could be a long-elusive mechanism through which inflammation can promote cancer. The findings may provide a new approach for developing cancer therapies.

The study, published in the January 26 issue of the journal Cell, shows that what scientists thought were two distinct processes in cells—the cells’ normal development and the cells’ response to dangers such as invading organisms—are actually linked.

A provocative new model proposed by molecular biologist John Tower of the University of Southern California may help answer an enduring scientific question: Why do women tend to live longer than men?

That tendency holds true in humans and many other mammals as well as in the much-studied fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

In genetic studies of Drosophila, Tower and his team have shown that genes known to increase longevity always affect male and female flies differently.

"For a long time, we only did experiments in one sex or the other, depending on what was convenient," said Tower, an associate professor of biological sciences in the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences who has studied the genetics of aging in Drosophila for the last two decades.