Cancer Research

Researchers say they have discovered the gene that regulates stem cell ability to self-renew and to differentiate into highly specialized types. This means they could program stem cells to become certain cells or do repair automatically.

“You could call this a ‘theory-of-everything’ for stem cells,” said senior author Dr. Michael Rudnicki, Senior Scientist and Professor at the Ottawa Health Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, referring to the often-cited theory of everything for physics.

For more than 25 years, stem cells have been defined based on what they can become: more of themselves, as well as multiple different specialized cell types.

The significance of pleiotrophin (PTN) expression in breast cancer has not been clearly established but researchers at Scripps sau they have done it in a new study.

University of Tennessee professor Alan Solomon, director of the Human Immunology and Cancer/Alzheimer’s Disease and Amyloid-Related Disorders Research Program, led a team that discovered a link between foie gras prepared from goose or duck liver and the type of amyloid found in rheumatoid arthritis or tuberculosis.

Their experimental data has provided the first evidence that a food product can hasten amyloid development.

Amyloidosis is a disease process involving the deposit of normal or mutated proteins that have become misfolded. In this unstable state, such proteins form hair-like fibers, or fibrils, that are deposited into vital organs like the heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and brain. This process leads to organ failure and, eventually, death.

Genes account for only 2.5 percent of DNA in the human genetic blueprint, yet diseases can result not only from mutant genes but from mutations of other DNA that controls genes.

With a technology transfer agreement announced today, the first compact proton therapy system – one that would fit in any major cancer center and cost a fifth as much as a full-scale machine – is one step closer to reality.

Proton therapy is considered the most advanced form of radiation therapy available, but size and cost have limited the technology’s use to only six cancer centers nationwide.

Compact proton radiotherapy treatment concept
Illustration by Steven Hawkins


Using a new computational method called NetworKIN, researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital, MIT and EMBL can now use biological networks to better identify relationships between molecules, including regulation of protein networks that will ultimately help to target human disease.

“Our method works a bit like getting a recommendation from Amazon,” says Dr. Peer Bork, group leader at EMBL. “The fact that certain books have been bought by the same customers tells you that they have something in common. In the same way biological networks tell us about shared features between different proteins. These help us predicting which kinases are likely to act on them.”

A new Mayo Clinic study provides evidence that DNA variations largely explain why some persons get Parkinson’s disease while others don’t, and even predict with great accuracy at what age people might develop their first symptoms.

“This represents a major paradigm shift from single gene studies to genomic pathway studies of complex diseases,” says Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., the Mayo Clinic neurologist and Parkinson’s disease specialist who led the study.

Goodness-of-Fit of Final Model Using Axon Guidance Genes to Predict Susceptibility to PD


Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have successfully cultured human hematopoietic stem cells from fat tissue, suggesting another important source of cells for patients undergoing radiation therapy for blood cancers.

Adipose tissue has the ability to rapidly expand or contract in accordance with nutritional constraints. In so doing, it requires rapid adjustment in its blood supply and supporting connective tissue, or stroma.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shown that hormone therapy can extend life in ovarian cancer patients, giving women a new alternative to chemotherapy.

The study has proved for the first time that the targeted use of an anti-oestrogen drug could prolong the life of some patients by up to three years, and delay the use of chemotherapy in others.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAs) have received a lot of media attention in the last several months as various research groups have released over a half-dozen such studies, all focused on some of the most widespread Western diseases, including heart disease, type II diabetes, and breast cancer.