Cancer Research

More time at the beach? It's hard to tell, but research in the British Journal of Dermatology says there is a correlation between skin cancer and income.

Skin cancer rates are up, based on their studies of trends in Northern Ireland. Analzying official cancer statistics for nearly 23,000 patients over a 12-year period, they reported a 20 percent increase in patients and a 62 percent increase in skin cancer samples processed by pathology laboratories.

Being wealthy didn't protect anyone. Women living in affluent areas were 29 percent more likely than people living in disadvantaged areas to suffer from basal cell carcinoma and nearly two and a half times more likely to suffer from malignant melanoma.

Men displayed a similar pattern.

A gene implicated in the development of cancer cells can be switched on using drugs, report researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. The finding could lead to a new class of targeted cancer therapies with potential to benefit many different cancer types.

Popular new drugs such as Herceptin and Gleevec more effectively treat cancer by targeting genetic mutations that express themselves in large amounts, causing cancer to develop. But cancers also arise because genes that control growth are turned off. While researchers can use these turned-off genes to identify or monitor cancer, currently no treatments actually target these genes.

When the activity of individual genes it is longer required, there are two main mechanisms responsible for the “switching off”, mainly DNA methylation and the Polycomb protein complex.

Sometimes, these mechanisms lose their efficiency and some of the genes that should be “switched off” remain active. This, in turn, could lead to uncontrolled cellular proliferation, and tumorigenesis. These mechanisms, present both in lower organisms as well as in mammals, have always been thought to be separated and independent.

Johns Hopkins researchers have found a way to directly observe cell migration -- in real time and in living tissue. The scientists say their advance could lead to strategies for controlling both normal growth and the spread of cancer, processes that depend on the programmed, organized movement of cells across space.


By uncovering how one breast cancer drug protects the heart and another does not, Duke University Medical Center researchers believe they may have opened up a new way to screen drugs for possible heart-related side effects and to develop new drugs.

The Duke researches compared the actions of two breast cancer drugs in experiments involving human cells and rats. The drugs in question were the older drug trastuzumab, whose trade name is Herceptin, and the newer drug lapatinib, whose trade name is Tykerb.

Breast cancer survivors who eat a healthy diet and exercise moderately can reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by half, regardless of their weight, suggests a new longitudinal study from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Previous studies have looked at the impact of diet or physical activity on breast cancer survival, with mixed results. This study is the first to look at a combination of both in breast cancer.

Researchers at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute of the University of Pennsylvania have found that deleting a gene important in embryo development leads to premature aging and loss of stem cell reservoirs in adult mice. This gene, ATR, is essential for the body’s response to damaged DNA, and mutations in proteins in the DNA damage response underlie certain types of cancer and other disorders in humans.

ATR deletion leads to trabecular (left; the spongy inner cavity of long bones) and cortical (right; dense surface areas) bone loss. Credit: Ruzankina et al., University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Cell Stem Cell


Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center say they are moving closer to understanding why the most lethal form of human malaria has become resistant to drug treatment in the past three decades. They have been able to artificially construct, and then express in yeast, a protozoan gene that contributes to such resistance. And it was no small feat.

The gene they laboriously constructed over a two-year period is believed to be the largest synthetic one ever built, and it successfully produces large quantities of the encoded protein, whose function can now be easily studied.

European Molecular Biology Organization


Talcum powder has been used for generations to soothe babies’ diaper rash and freshen women’s faces. But University of Florida researchers report the household product has an additional healing power: The ability to stunt cancer growth by cutting the flow of blood to metastatic lung tumors.

The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal in April, reveals that talc stimulates healthy cells to produce endostatin, a hormone considered the magic bullet for treating metastatic lung cancer. The UF researchers say talc is an exciting new therapeutic agent for a cancer largely considered incurable.


Researchers at UCLA have successfully manipulated nanomaterials to create a new drug-delivery system that promises to solve the challenge of the poor water solubility of today’s most promising anticancer drugs and thereby increase their effectiveness.

The poor solubility of anticancer drugs is one of the major problems in cancer therapy because the drugs require the addition of solvents in order to be easily absorbed into cancer cells. Unfortunately, these solvents not only dilute the potency of the drugs but create toxicity as well.