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Cancer Research Blog Carnival #17

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Welcome to the 17th edition of the Cancer Research Blog Carnival. This is my first time hosting it and it has been a fun time reading the submissions and learning a little bit what are the new things in cancer research. The subject hasn’t been present in my blog even though I have close contact with oncologists and cancer researchers. For those that usually stop by, the Cancer Research Blog Carnival is a monthly collection of cancer-related blogging. Personally, I don’t work directly with Cancer but I have done work that was used in cancer research applications.

So let’s start the new year and check what has been submitted. Enjoy!

First we have a submission from Walter Jessen who presents Gene Expression Can Predict the Survival of Lymphoma Patients posted at Highlight HEALTH. The study deals with the use of DNA microarrays in order to determine expression profiles of genes that influence chemotherapy treatments of Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Such profiles can help define the ideal treatment and as Walter points out in the prognosis of the malignancy.

This study exemplifies how gene expression can be used as a clinical prognostic factor. Indeed, such studies herald the future of genomic medicine. Specifically for DLBCL, this study suggests that only a subgroup of patients whose tumors are characterized by high relative expression of the stromal-2 signature may benefit from drugs that inhibit angiogenesis.

The second link comes from Orna Ross that brings us Good Things I’ve Gained from Having Cancer #2 posted at Orna Ross. Everyone that has had cancer or have a relative with cancer can relate to the sentiments that Orna writes in her post. Just find the bigger importance to what is really important.

I still love plans and to-dos but cancer has heightened my awareness of what I’ve always known. That everything dies and that, meantime, this is it.

Miracle cures? is what Kat Arney presents “Cancer cured for good?” – Gc-MAF and the miracle cure posted at Cancer Research UK – Science Update. As Kat writes, I really thought that it was too good to be true from the start. The original study reviewed in the post states that injections of Gc macrophage activating factor (Gc-MAF), what theoretically can induce macrophages to fight cancer. And why don’t macrophages fighter cancer to begin with? Because Gc-MAF is not naturally produced by the body when some types of tumours are present, as they release the Nagalase (alpha-N-acetylgalactosaminidase) enzyme.

Our conclusioon – it’s interesting work, but certainly not the “100% cure” that is being promoted in some quarters. This post has got a lot of traffic – people are obviously searching for it – but we haven’t found a considered scientific analysis of the work anywhere else on the web. It’s also prompted a bit of debate, as you might expect.

Our fourth submission of the month is brought by Kevin Beck: The spontaneous regression of breast cancer? posted at Respectful Insolence. It’s a long post, that reviews some interesting findings on breast cancer that may spontaneously regress or increased significantly after a mammography. As any complex disease with many variables involved it’s quite hard to understand which variables are actually working on keeping the disease alive or killing it. Also it’s difficult to know how would be the progression of the different tumours and which ones would progress and which ones will regress.

Moreover, it is quite possible that a significant proportion of breast cancers detected by mammography (although, I hasten to add, not cancers detected as palpable masses) may indeed regress. The problem is that we do not yet know enough to identify which tumors will progress and which may not.

Next, we have a submission from Orac presenting Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge : Prozac, the anti-cancer drug? posted at Dr. Joan Bushwell’s Chimpanzee Refuge. This post deals with the prescription of antidepressant drugs to cancer patients. It has been discovered that Prozac can increase the effectiveness of doxorubicin, an anti-cancer agent.

In animal models, a mild doxorubicin-fluoxetine treatment combination slowed down tumor progression significantly. These results suggest that pairing Prozac with chemotherapeutic drugs to curb drug resistance warrants further clinical study, says Dr. Peer.

Moving on, Alexey Bersenev presents Cancer stem cells – how mouse model can change the concept posted at Hematopoiesis. This post shows a short review of what has been published and discovered about Cancer Stem Cells and their models for different tumour types. So, are these models useful for all types of cancer or is it a more complex problem? Alexey also brings us Validity of the cancer stem cell concept under discussion posted at Hematopoiesis. Continuing on the cancer stem cell theme, this post gets different opinions and comments of researchers of this controversial topic. It’s a hot topic and surely getting a lot of steam recently with new research findings and papers published.

This week, everyone is talking about cancer stem cells (CSC), everywhere on the web. I wrote about this a half year ago and it has been finally materialized in the paper. Basically the main reason for a new boom is a Nature report from Sean Morrison’s lab which shows that cancer stem cell concept doesn’t apply for human melanoma.

Last, but not least, Kamel presents Bayblab: Early Detection and Cancer Survival posted at Bayblab. This entry ponders about a recent Wired magazine article about cancer detection and survival. Is a take on the mainstream media and the (mis)conceptions of some cancer related topics. Should we ban cancer treatment and focus on cancer detection?

The article argues, based on cancer survival statistics, that “scientists should stop trying to cure cancer and start focusing on finding it early.” The author notes that in the case of ovarian cancer, for example, discovery at stage I or II the 10-year survival rate is almost 90%, while the survival if diagnosis occurs later – at stage III or IV – drops dramatically to 20%.

And this is the carnival for the first month of the new year. I would like to thank Walter and the guys at Bayblab (you should contact them at bayblab[at]gmail[dot]com if you want to host) for the opportunity and I hope to host the carnival later in the year.

A last minute announcement from Walter Jessen regarding the new subscription options for the carnival. The Cancer Research Blog Carnival now has subscription options; you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available.

Happy New Year everyone!

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