Cancer Research

More than two decades have passed, but Erika Archer Lewis clearly recalls the fear, uncertainty and struggle required to bring her 42-year-old mother back from the edge of stage 4 breast cancer. Lewis, a senior studying at the University of Texas when her mother was diagnosed, shuttled between Austin and Houston, supporting her through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and, later, reconstructive procedures.

“It was a four-year ordeal,” Lewis recounts, sitting beside her husband one autumn morning in a sandwich shop north of Houston.

Scientists have mapped the human genes triggered by the phytonutrients in soy, revealing the complex role the legume plays in both preventing and advancing breast cancer.

Researchers have developed a mouse model of brain-metastatic breast cancer and found the potential of stem-cell-based therapy to eliminate metastatic cells from the brain and prolong survival is strong.

The research team developed a mouse model that closely mimics what is seen in patients. They found that injecting into the carotid artery breast cancer cells that express markers allowing them to enter the brain - cells labeled with bioluminescent and fluorescent markers to enable tracking by imaging technologies - resulted in the formation of many metastatic tumors throughout the brain, mimicking what is seen in advanced breast cancer patients. Current therapeutic options for such patients are limited, particularly when there are many metastases. 

A team of researchers have found 38 genes and molecules that most likely cause HER2+ cancer cells to spread.

The HER2+ subtype accounts for 20 to 30 percent of early-stage breast cancer diagnoses, which are around 200,000 new diagnoses each year in the United States, leading to approximately 40,000 deaths annually. Several cancer chemotherapy drugs do work well at early stages of the disease, destroying 95 to 98 percent of the cancer cells in HER2+ tumors, but patients can develop resistance and the tumors begin to grow again. 

Turmeric, the familiar yellow spice common in Indian and Asian cooking, may play a therapeutic role in oral cancers associated with human papillomavirus, according to new research published in ecancermedicalscience. One of the herb's key active ingredients - an antioxidant called curcumin - appears to have a quelling effect on the activity of human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is a virus that promotes the development of cervical and oral cancer. There is no cure, but curcumin may offer a means of future control.

"Turmeric has established antiviral and anti-cancer properties," says corresponding author Dr. Alok Mishra of Emory University. "And according to our new findings, we could say that it's good for oral health too."

Chemotherapy has been linked to excessive mind wandering and an inability to concentrate. The condition, colloquially called 'chemo-brain,' has long been suspected.

A new University of British Columbia study says it is the first to explain why patients have difficulty paying attention. Breast cancer survivors were asked to complete a set of tasks while researchers in the Departments of Psychology and Physical Therapy monitored their brain activity. What they found is that the minds of people with chemo-brain lack the ability for sustained focused thought.

A new study has discovered the trigger behind the most severe forms of cancer pain. Released in top journal Pain this month, the study points to TMPRSS2 as the culprit: a gene that is also responsible for some of the most aggressive forms of androgen-fueled cancers.

The work focused on cancers of the head and neck, which affect more than 550,000 people worldwide each year. Studies have shown that these types of cancers are the most painful, with sufferers experiencing pain that is immediate and localized, while pain treatment options are limited to opioid-family pharmaceuticals such as morphine.

Since the majority of head and neck cancer patients are men, the team investigate a genetic marker with a known correlation to prostate cancer - TMPRSS2. 

Human tumors grown in mouse models have long been used to test promising anti-cancer therapies. However, when a human tumor is transplanted into a mouse, the mouse immune system must be knocked down so that it doesn't attack the foreign tumor tissue, thus allowing the tumor to grow. A University of Colorado Cancer Center study describes a new model, XactMice, in which human blood stem cells are used to grow a "humanized" mouse immune system prior to tumor transplantation.

What makes triple negative breast cancer more lethal in African-American women than European-American ("White") women? A new study reveals specific genetic alterations that appears to impact their prognosis and ultimately survival rates.

Much of what we know about cancer and many modern medicines that treat it grow from experiments on cancer cells but it is difficult to maintain the integrity of cell lines due to contamination or simple mistakes such as mislabeling.

Later generations of a cell line may bear no resemblance to the original sample, potentially invalidating results of research performed on mistaken cells. For this reason, the National Cancer Institute maintains a library of 60 authenticated human cancer cell lines for the purposes of research, called the NCI-60.