November 6, 2007

Brain Stem Cells Against Cancer?

Gliomas are a group of brain tumors where the most common type is also the most aggressive one. Chemotherapy and radiation have little effect on malignant gliomas, and patients survive only about a year after being diagnosed. But research at Lund University in Sweden provides hope that it may be possible in the future to develop stem cells from the brain into a new way to treat gliomas.

Neural stem cells have been shown to have the ability to recognize signals from tumor cells in the brain and migrate there. If stem cells are injected into a part of the brain in laboratory animals with a glioma in another part of their brain, the stem cells migrate over to the tumor area.

This has spawned the idea of having stem cells transport drugs or immune stimulants to the tumor. This was the principle the Lund scientists wanted to test. But as it turned out, no extra assistance was needed: the stem cells themselves had the ability to combat the tumor.

"We were truly amazed when we saw this effect! To be sure about the phenomenon, we ran several experiments with other stem cells, and it was confirmed that certain neural stem cells actually have an anti-tumor effect," says Karin Staflin. She is describing the findings in her dissertation, which she will soon defend.

It is as yet unknown just why this happens. One plausible reason is that both normal neural stem cells and glioma cells are immature, not fully mature cells. They are therefore more like each other than any other types of cells in the brain, which may enable them to 'speak' to each other and influence each other. The research team at Lund has also shown that stem cells can cure colon cancer in lab animals.

"Cells in aggressive malignant cancer forms are often characterized as being more immature than their environment. This may be what enables neural stem cells to affect intestinal cancer cells," says Karin Staflin.

Many years of research remain before the newly discovered principle is ready to be tested on humans. First, researchers need to learn to understand the mechanisms better and identify the factors in neural cells which make them so effective. The notion is still new, but it does provide a glimmer of hope for a cure for a thus far incurable disease.

The dissertation is titled Neural progenitor cells in malignancy and injury of the brain: A Trojan horse for gliomas?

The Swedish Research Council

The Swedish Research Council bears national responsibility for developing the country's basic research towards attainment of a strong international position. The Council has three main tasks: research funding, science communication and research policy. Research is the foundation for the development of knowledge in society, and the basis of high-quality education. Research is also crucial as a means of enhancing welfare through economic, social and cultural development.

May 7, 2007

Brain Stem Cells Against Cancer?

Gliomas are a group of brain tumors where the most common type is also the most aggressive one. Chemotherapy and radiation have little effect on malignant gliomas, and patients survive only about a year after being diagnosed. But research at Lund University in Sweden provides hope that it may be possible in the future to develop stem cells from the brain into a new way to treat gliomas.

Neural stem cells have been shown to have the ability to recognize signals from tumor cells in the brain and migrate there. If stem cells are injected into a part of the brain in laboratory animals with a glioma in another part of their brain, the stem cells migrate over to the tumor area.

This has spawned the idea of having stem cells transport drugs or immune stimulants to the tumor. This was the principle the Lund scientists wanted to test. But as it turned out, no extra assistance was needed: the stem cells themselves had the ability to combat the tumor.

"We were truly amazed when we saw this effect! To be sure about the phenomenon, we ran several experiments with other stem cells, and it was confirmed that certain neural stem cells actually have an anti-tumor effect," says Karin Staflin. She is describing the findings in her dissertation, which she will soon defend.

It is as yet unknown just why this happens. One plausible reason is that both normal neural stem cells and glioma cells are immature, not fully mature cells. They are therefore more like each other than any other types of cells in the brain, which may enable them to 'speak' to each other and influence each other. The research team at Lund has also shown that stem cells can cure colon cancer in lab animals.

"Cells in aggressive malignant cancer forms are often characterized as being more immature than their environment. This may be what enables neural stem cells to affect intestinal cancer cells," says Karin Staflin.

Many years of research remain before the newly discovered principle is ready to be tested on humans. First, researchers need to learn to understand the mechanisms better and identify the factors in neural cells which make them so effective. The notion is still new, but it does provide a glimmer of hope for a cure for a thus far incurable disease.

The dissertation is titled Neural progenitor cells in malignancy and injury of the brain: A Trojan horse for gliomas?

The Swedish Research Council

The Swedish Research Council bears national responsibility for developing the country's basic research towards attainment of a strong international position. The Council has three main tasks: research funding, science communication and research policy. Research is the foundation for the development of knowledge in society, and the basis of high-quality education. Research is also crucial as a means of enhancing welfare through economic, social and cultural development.

Researchers Urge Monitoring Of Bone Health During Chemotherapy

In laboratory tests on mice, researchers found that a medication often used to reduce toxic side effects of chemotherapy induced bone loss and helped tumors grow in bone. So the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are recommending increased awareness of bone health during cancer treatments.

The medication studied is a growth factor commonly used to help cancer patients recover healthy blood counts after chemotherapy, which can destroy white blood cells. Low levels of white blood cells leave patients susceptible to infection.

"This growth factor encourages bone breakdown, and any therapy that decreases bone density could potentially enhance tumor growth in bone," says senior author Katherine Weilbaecher, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology. "But there are things that can be done to counteract this. Physicians should carefully monitor their cancer patient's bone health with regular bone density scans (DEXA) and prescribe medications to prevent bone loss when needed. And patients should consume enough calcium and vitamin D and get sufficient exercise to maintain strong bones."

Weilbaecher and her colleagues found that when they gave mice an eight-day course of the growth factor, called granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), the mice lost bone mass and experienced increased bone tumor growth when injected with cancer cells. Their study will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Blood and is now available online.

G-CSF is known by the trade names Neupogen, Neulasta and Granocyte. Clinical use of G-CSF has recently increased because by speeding blood cell regrowth it allows patients to undergo more intensive chemotherapy regimens in which anticancer agents are given at more frequent intervals. Studies have suggested these dose-dense therapies could prolong survival in women with breast cancer.

"We are not at all advocating ending G-CSF use," says Weilbaecher, an oncologist with the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "G-CSF seems to have significant benefits for some cancer patients."

Although G-CSF had a strong effect on bone metastasis in the experimental mice, early clinical trials in humans using G-CSF with chemotherapy have so far shown no adverse effects on survival and no increase in bone metastasis. In fact, breast-cancer patients undergoing dose-dense chemotherapy with G-CSF support tend to have a longer disease-free period than those getting standard dosing without G-CSF.

"It's possible that women on G-CSF-supported chemotherapy could do even better if we paid more attention to skeletal health," says lead author Angela Hirbe, an M.D./Ph.D. student in Weilbaecher's lab. "Strengthening the skeleton would not only help prevent osteoporosis and fractures but also might give patients a survival advantage."

In the laboratory mice studied, G-CSF increased the number and activity of bone cells called osteoclasts, which resorb bone material as part of the normal process of bone turnover. The resulting loss of bone density created a favorable environment for bone tumor growth.

When the researchers injected melanoma or breast cancer cells into mice, those getting G-CSF developed a two-fold increase in tumor burden, a measure of the size and severity of tumors, compared to those that did not receive G-CSF.

Interestingly, mice treated with a bisphosphonate, an anti-osteoporosis agent that inhibits osteoclasts, were resistant to the effects of G-CSF on bone tumor growth. Weilbaecher is currently investigating bisphosphonates as a means to prevent tumor metastasis to bone in breast cancer patients.

"We used G-CSF as a tool to understand the implications for tumor growth when osteoclast activity is revved up," Weilbaecher says. "But G-CSF isn't unique in its effect. For example, antihormone therapies used to treat breast and prostate cancer also can decrease bone mineral density. We would like to see clinical trials instigated to study the effects of such cancer therapies on bone health and tumor metastasis."

Hirbe AC, Uluçkan -, Morgan EA, Eagleton MC, Prior JL, Piwnica-Worms D, Trinkaus K, Apicelli A, Weilbaecher K. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor enhances bone tumor growth in mice in an osteoclast-dependent manner. Blood Dec 27, 2006 (advance online publication).

Funding from the National Cancer Institute supported this research.

Washington University School of Medicine's full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare. Siteman Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. Siteman Cancer Center is composed of the combined cancer research and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Washington University in St. Louis
One Brookings Dr., Campus Box 1070
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

High-Power MRI Helps Surgical Team Predict Outcomes In Unusual Tumor Cases

A Mayo Clinic surgical team has found that using a 3-Tesla MRI in surgical decision making provides a new level of capability to predict surgical outcomes that improves patient care by minimizing the potential for unsuccessful tumor-removal surgeries. The Mayo Clinic report appears in the December issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

In their report, Mayo physicians describe a case study of five patients. Four had neurofibromatosis, a condition with a predisposition to nerve-related tumors. All patients suffered from growths called "sciatic notch dumbbell-shaped" tumors. The tumors were benign, but resulted in neurologic dysfunction and disabling pain.

"In the past, if surgeons couldn't tell prior to surgery where the exact location of the large tumor was in relation to the sciatic nerve, it meant they couldn't predict in which cases surgery could be performed safely," explains Robert Spinner, M.D., the lead neurosurgeon on the Mayo Clinic team.

The team used an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system performed on a 3-Tesla magnet to help identify suitable candidates for a difficult tumor-removal surgery. A Tesla is a unit of magnet strength. A 3-Tesla is one of the strongest commercially available.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Case Study

A standardized surgical approach for safe and complete removal of sciatic notch dumbbell-shaped tumors has been problematic for at least three reasons. These tumors are:

-- relatively rare and therefore hard to study

-- anatomically difficult to reach and remove without injuring the main sciatic nerve

-- difficult to visualize before surgery with enough detail to distinguish tumor boundaries from nerve

The current Mayo Clinic report begins to change this situation by documenting a new multidisciplinary approach for obtaining the desired favorable surgical outcomes.

Surgeons need an accurate picture of how and whether they can remove a tumor while protecting a nerve. Otherwise, patients may be exposed to the risks of surgery without achieving surgical benefits if the tumor is inoperable because complete removal would damage a nerve. "Our experience demonstrates the advantages of predictive imaging at the outset," says Dr. Spinner. "With an integrated team of surgeons from three specialties, and an experienced radiologist specializing in advanced peripheral nerve imaging using the 3-Tesla MRI, we have devised an approach that minimizes unsuccessful tumor-removal surgeries."

About the Study

With the 3-Tesla MRI images, Mayo Clinic surgeons from three specialties -- neurosurgery, colorectal and orthopedic surgery -- obtained sufficiently detailed pictures of the tumor and nerve relationship before surgery in all five cases to accurately predict which patients would benefit from surgery. In three cases the tumor was predicted to be distinct from the main sciatic nerve, and the tumor was safely removed. All three patients experienced relief from pain and had no recurrent growth one year after surgery. In the other two cases, the tumor was predicted to be so entwined in the nerve that surgery would have damaged the nerve. Those patients did not undergo surgery.

Dr. Spinner said the team will continue to refine the approach to improve the care that these patients receive. "This new technology allows a multidisciplinary approach to be performed safely in these rare tumors that were once considered unresectable," he says. "In addition, the same techniques that we have developed have tremendous applications to many patients who have peripheral nerve tumors in more common locations."


Other members of the Mayo Clinic team included: Toshiki Endo, M.D.; Kimberly Amrami, M.D.; Eric Dozois, M.D.; Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, M.D.; and Franklin Sim, M.D.

Mayo Clinic
200 First St. SW
Rochester, MN 55902
United States

Blog Carnival Edit

Cancer blogs carnival

Vahid Chaychi presents Coping with Depression When You Have Cancer posted at Cancer and Health Topics.

Andrea Dickson presents The Cost of Tanning posted at Wise Bread - Living large on a small budget.

Vahid Chaychi presents HPV (cause of cervical cancer) Vaccine Causes Controversy posted at

See the top online resources for prostate... posted at Prostate cancer treatment

Newly Released Prisoners At High Risk For Death

Prisoners who have been recently released from prison have a high death rate, especially in the first two weeks after release, a new study finds. The findings will be published in the Jan. 11 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study was conducted by Ingrid Binswanger, MD, of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center's School of Medicine, Marc Stern, MD, health services director of the Washington State Department of Corrections, and other researchers at the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Binswanger conducted the research while taking part in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at the University of Washington and the VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

In the first study of its kind in the U.S., Binswanger analyzed data from 30,237 inmates released from prison between 1999 and 2003 in Washington state. The sample represented almost all prisoners released during that time. Of those individuals, 443 died during an average follow-up time of 1.9 years.

The death rates of the released prisoners were compared to the death rates of other Washington residents of the same age, gender, and race. The study found that newly released prisoners were 12.7 times as likely to die in the two weeks following their release compared to other state residents in the same demographic groups. Over the whole study, the former inmates were 3.5 times more likely to die than other state residents. The death rate among former inmates was considerably higher than the death rate among inmates in prison.

"These striking findings suggest that former inmates are at high risk for death following their release from prison," said Binswanger. "These results, along with findings from studies done in other countries, underscore the need for novel programs to reduce the risk of death in former inmates."

The leading causes of death were drug overdose, cardiovascular disease, homicide and suicide. Nearly one quarter of the deaths were a result of drug overdose, and half of these deaths resulted from cocaine. After cocaine, most overdose deaths were caused by methamphetamine and opiates like heroin. Lung cancer represented half of all the cancer deaths in this population.

Younger individuals tended to die from overdose, homicide and suicide, whereas older individuals tended to die from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Binswanger recommends programs targeted by age to address this difference.

"The U.S. has exceptionally high rates of incarceration," said Binswanger. "When a released prisoner dies, it may have an impact beyond his own life, affecting families and communities. These findings suggest that we need programs and policies targeted at decreasing the risk of death as former inmates transition back into their communities."

Binswanger is a physician researcher and an assistant professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCDHSC's School of Medicine. Her research focuses on health, the criminal justice system, and vulnerable populations.

The School of Medicine faculty work to advance science and improve care as the physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children's Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Medical and Research Center and the Veterans Administration Medical Center. The School is part of the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. For more information, visit the Web site at or the UCDHSC Newsroom at

University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Mail Stop F-413 PO Box 6508
Aurora, CO 80045-0508
United States

April 16, 2007

Study Shows Potential Of Targeted Microbubbles Using Peregrine's VTA Technology To Identify Which Cancer Patients Would Benefit

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPHM), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing targeted therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, today announced publication of a study demonstrating that microbubbles targeted to tumor blood vessels can be used to monitor patient response to anti-angiogenesis therapy, identifying at an early stage which cancer patients are benefiting from the treatment. This information could allow oncologists to modify patient treatment regimens soon after starting therapy, so that non-responders could be switched to other therapies that might be more effective for them. The potential of the approach is enhanced by the fact that the targeted microbubbles are "read" using ultrasound technology, which is widely available in most physicians' offices and is minimally invasive, safe and cost-effective.

The research, the results of which appear in the January 1, 2007 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, was conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and funded by Peregrine. The published article demonstrates the potential of Peregrine's Vascular Targeting Agent (VTA) technology platform for imaging and diagnosis of solid tumors using agents targeted to tumor blood vessels. Patents covering Peregrine's VTA technology platform have been exclusively licensed from the UT Southwestern Medical Center. The "personalized medicine" made feasible by this approach has the potential to increase the efficacy of cancer regimens, reduce side effects from ineffective treatments and improve the overall cost effectiveness of cancer therapy.

Anti-angiogenesis agents such as Avastin(R) treat cancer by preventing the formation of tumor blood vessels, thereby "starving" tumors. They are increasingly being used in combination with chemotherapy agents as cornerstones of cancer therapy, yet not all patients actually respond to the approach (the patient response rate in two recent studies ranged from 26% to 35%). The ability to determine which cancer patients are responding to anti-angiogenesis treatment early in the process could enable oncologists to ensure that each patient was receiving the therapy that is most effective for their specific condition, while reducing the risk of side effects from ineffective treatments and also enabling the health care system to avoid large expenditures on regimens that ultimately produce little therapeutic benefit.

"We believe this study demonstrating the potential utility of targeted microbubbles could be a breakthrough in developing cost-effective methods for monitoring the effectiveness of anti-angiogenesis therapies which may have great clinical and commercial significance," said Steven W. King, president and CEO of Peregrine. "This technology could have potential not only for evaluating the effectiveness of currently approved agents such as Avastin(R) but also for assessing new anti-angiogenesis approaches currently in clinical development, and eventually for evaluating the effectiveness of anti-angiogenic agent cocktails, which are likely to be developed as more products in this class are approved. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the researchers at UT Southwestern to advance this technology toward human clinical studies in order to fully evaluate its potential."

The UT Southwestern researchers, led by Dr. Rolf Brekken, tested the targeted microbubble approach in several mouse models of pancreatic cancer, a particularly aggressive and lethal disease. The microbubbles are tiny lipid or albumin shells filled with an inert gas that have a well-established safety record as contrast agents for ultrasound imaging applications, and they are currently widely used in cardiovascular medicine.

In the reported studies, Dr. Brekken and his colleagues linked the microbubbles to antibodies that target them to specific markers on tumor blood vessels. The microbubbles were then administered to tumor-bearing animals and ultrasound images of the tumor were recorded. The ultrasound images identified the number of tumor blood vessel markers that were present before and after treatment with several anti-angiogenic agents, including Avastin and 2C3, a novel anti-angiogenic antibody in preclinical development by Peregrine. A decrease in the number of tumor blood vessel markers indicated that the treatment was working as intended. The researchers determined that measurements of tumor blood vessel markers made using the microbubble approach correlated well with measurements made using conventional invasive techniques.

"These encouraging results indicate that targeted microbubble contrast agents could be a robust and accessible method for increasing the utility and cost-effectiveness of anti-angiogenic cancer treatments," said Dr. Brekken, assistant professor of surgery and pharmacology, a researcher at the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research and Effie Marie Cain Research Scholar in Angiogenesis Research at UT Southwestern. "The ability to rapidly monitor and modify therapy would be valuable for patients, physicians and the larger healthcare system. The clinical development of contrast agents is typically faster than for therapeutics, and clinical trials of this approach could be feasible within 12 to 18 months. We look forward to working with Peregrine to advance this potentially important new approach."

The article, "Monitoring Response to Anticancer Therapy by Targeting Microbubbles to Tumor Vasculature," is published in Clinical Cancer Research 2006:12(23) January 1, 2007.

About Peregrine Pharmaceuticals

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company with a portfolio of innovative product candidates in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The company is pursuing five separate clinical trials in cancer and HCV infection in the U.S. and India with its lead product candidates bavituximab and Cotara(R). Peregrine also has in-house manufacturing capabilities through its wholly owned subsidiary Avid Bioservices, Inc. (, which provides development and bio-manufacturing services for both Peregrine and outside customers. Additional information about Peregrine can be found at

Safe Harbor Statement:

Statements in this press release which are not purely historical, including statements regarding Peregrine Pharmaceuticals' intentions, hopes, beliefs, expectations, representations, projections, plans or predictions of the future are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, the risk that use of targeted microbubbles to monitor patient response to anti-angiogenesis therapy may not be as effective when used in connection with human patients. It is important to note that the company's actual results could differ materially from those in any such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially include, but are not limited to, uncertainties associated with completing preclinical and clinical trials for our technologies; the early stage of product development; the significant costs to develop our products as all of our products are currently in development, preclinical studies or clinical trials; obtaining additional financing to support our operations and the development of our products; obtaining regulatory approval for our technologies; anticipated timing of regulatory filings and the potential success in gaining regulatory approval and complying with governmental regulations applicable to our business. Our business could be affected by a number of other factors, including the risk factors listed from time to time in the Company's SEC reports including, but not limited to, the annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended April 30, 2006, and the quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended October 31, 2006. The Company cautions investors not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this press release. Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. disclaims any obligation, and does not undertake to update or revise any forward-looking statements in this press release.

Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Aida Pharmaceuticals Receives Approval And Commences Phase II Trials Of Potential Cancer Treatment

Aida Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: AIDA), one of mainland China's leading pharmaceutical companies, today announced that the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) of China has officially approved the commencement of Phase II clinical trials of the genetic cancer treatment Rh-Apo2L,the Category A biopharmaceutical currently in development phase by the Company's subsidiary Shanghai Qiaer Biotechnology Co., Ltd.

Aida Pharmaceuticals previously announced its plans to begin Phase II trials throughout mainland China this year. These trials will take place in approximately 20 hospitals in major metropolitan candidate areas including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Fuzhou, Hefei, Jinan, Chengdu, Changsha, Wuhan, Dalian and Guangzhou. The Phase II trials will analyze the effect of Rh-Apo2L on two types of tumors chosen from the following cancers: advanced inert lymphoma, malignant melanoma, soft tissue sarcoma, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer. The trials will analyze the specific efficacy of Rh-Apo2L in approximately 100 patients. Additionally, the Company will continue to analyze the dosage and effectiveness of the drug as well as other drugs' interactions with Rh-Apo2L.

Chairman of Aida Pharmaceuticals, Jin Biao stated, "This approval will allow us to contiguously move forward with our development plans for Rh-Apo2L. This potentially revolutionary cancer treatment has received a great deal of attention this year including awards and grants from the state and federal governments. Last quarter, Aida announced plans to build a GMP certified manufacturing facility for Rh-Apo2L. The facility will be built in the Jianggan Hi-Tech development zone in Hangzhou, China. We remain on track to break ground on the project early this year and we anticipate the phase I construction to be completed by year-end 2007. This facility will have the final capacity to produce up to eight million doses of Rh-Apo2L. We believe that we have the resources and man power to finish Phase II and Phase III trials in order to bring Rh-Apo2L to market by 2008. In its first year of production, pending all necessary approvals and allowances, we believe Rh-Apo2L will generate potential EBITDA of $50 million on potential sales of $75 million."

About Rh-Apo2L:

Rh-Apo2L is Category A, anti-tumor biological agent researched and developed by Shanghai Qiaer Biotechnology Co., Ltd., a newly acquired subsidiary of Aida Pharmaceuticals. Rh-Apo2L is a broad spectrum genetic cell apoptosis (cell- killing) agent, which the Company expects to be used for the treatment of a variety of cancerous tumors. Research and Development of Rh-Apo2L is sponsored and supported by several national and municipal funds. One patent of Rh-Apo2L has been granted by Chinese Patent Bureau, two additional patents are currently in process.

About Aida Pharmaceuticals:

Aida Pharmaceuticals is a product-focused pharmaceuticals company engaged in the formulation, clinical testing, registration, manufacture, sales and marketing of advanced pharmaceutical and genetic products in mainland China. The Company's mission is to discover, develop and market meaningful new therapies that improve human health. Aida Pharmaceuticals, in operation since March 1999, is headquartered in Hangzhou, China with manufacturing, distribution and sales points throughout mainland China. Aida is GMP certified in China and ISO9002 certified for quality assurance and ISO14000 certified for ecologically-friendly practices. Aida is now producing and marketing a patented prescription drug in China: Etimicin Sulfate. It is the first antibiotic developed in China and is regarded as a category "A" drug by the State Food and Drug Administration of China.

Safe Harbor Statement:

Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: This press release includes certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on Aida Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s management's current expectations and are subject to risks and uncertainties and changes in circumstances. All forward-looking statements included in this press release are based upon information available to Aida Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as of the date of the press release, and it assumes no obligation to update or alter its forward looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. These forward-looking statements may relate to, among other things, plans and timing for the introduction or enhancement of our services and products, clinical trial results, statements about future market conditions, supply and demand conditions, and other expectations, intentions and plans contained in this press release that are not historical fact. Further information on risks or other factors that could affect Aida Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s results of operations is detailed in its filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission available at

Aida Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Curing Kids' Cancer Announces 2006 Pediatric Cancer Research Grants

The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been named the primary recipient of the 2006 grants from Curing Kids' Cancer, the charity that raises money for leading edge pediatric cancer research through kids' sports teams and school children.

A $100,000 grant was given to Johns Hopkins for research into new targeted therapies for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. The project, led by Dr. Curt Civin, is part of the combined efforts at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute.

"We are thrilled to help fund this promising research at Johns Hopkins," said Grainne Owen, co-founder of Curing Kids' Cancer. "We are determined to help the doctors find cures for childhood cancers -- turning it from a killer disease into just another curable childhood illness -- in our lifetime."

"We're honored to receive this grant from Curing Kids' Cancer," said Dr. Civin. "We're especially honored because the money was raised by children who want to help other children diagnosed with cancer."

The Aflac Cancer Center & Blood Disorders Service of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was awarded a $20,000 grant to fund pediatric clinical trials and research to get new drugs "from the bench to the bedside."

Curing Kids' Cancer also awarded a $10,000 grant to Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children's Cancer Center to support Dr. Jason's Shohet's research towards developing novel treatments for neuroblastoma at Texas Children's hospital. Neuroblastoma is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in nerve tissue of the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. Neuroblastoma most often begins during early childhood, usually in children younger than 5 years old. The average five-year survival rate for children with neuroblastoma is 30 percent.

Smaller grants were also awarded to Palmetto Heath Children's Hospital, Columbia, SC, and Los Angeles Children's Hospital to fund clinical trials of new drugs, conduct research and develop innovative treatment options for pediatric cancer patients.

Curing Kids' Cancer has two national grassroots programs -- Coaches Curing Kids' Cancer and Teachers Curing Kids' Cancer. Both programs urge parents and children to donate money to pediatric cancer research in the name of their coach or teacher rather than buying gifts. Details of the programs are available at

The grant to Johns Hopkins was made by Curing Kids' Cancer based on the advice and recommendations of the charity's Medical Advisory Board, consisting of 14 top pediatric oncologists and researchers from the United States and Canada. Members of the board who applied for a grant did not review the grant applications or vote for the awards.

About Curing Kids' Cancer

Inspired by nine-year-old Killian Owen's battle with leukemia, Curing Kids' Cancer Inc. is a unique, national grassroots movement which aims to raise both awareness and money to find cures for all types of childhood cancer. Our programs fund the development of cutting edge therapies which will revolutionize childhood cancer treatment by replacing traditional chemotherapy. Our objective is to turn this killer disease into a curable one in our lifetime. Details are available at

Curing Kids' Cancer

New Treatment For Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia)

A significant reduction in parasite burden and pathology by a vinyl sulfone cysteine protease inhibitor suggests a new direction for chemotherapy of human schistosomiasis.

Citation: Abdulla M, Lim KC, Sajid M, McKerrow JH, Caffrey CR (2007) Schistosomiasis mansoni: Novel chemotherapy using a cysteine protease inhibitor. PLoS Med 4(1): e14.




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About PLoS Medicine

PLoS Medicine is an open access, freely available international medical journal. It publishes original research that enhances our understanding of human health and disease, together with commentary and analysis of important global health issues. For more information, visit

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit CONTACTS:

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Andrew Hyde
Public Library of Science

Non-prescription Compound Found In Chillies Destroys Cancer Tumours Safely

UK scientists have shown that capsaicin, the chemical that burns your mouth when you eat chillies and an active ingredient of over the counter drugs, can kill cancer cells with little or no harmful side-effects.

The study is published in the journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.

The team that conducted the research came from the Universities of Nottingham in England and Cardiff, in Wales, and was led by Dr Timothy Bates, who is a member of the Medical Research Council (MRC) College of Experts.

The researchers believe that capsaicin, and other similar compounds, attack the mitochondria of cancerous cells, causing them to "switch off" and die (apoptosis, or cell death) without harming surrounding tissue. Mitochondria are organelles (tiny granules of tissue with their own DNA) that live inside the cells of our bodies and convert nutrients into ATP - the chemical fuel that feeds our cells with energy.

Dr Bates, who is an international expert in anti-cancer drug development and mitochondrial research in particular, said this discovery might explain the low incidence of cancer in countries where they eat a lot of chillies like Mexico and India.

From a development view this discovery is exciting for two reasons. First, because capsaicin and related compounds already exist in food that is eaten regularly, they are already safe, readily available and not unknown. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly as far as development costs and timescales go, these compounds have already been approved for use in a range of drugs such as skin ointments to treat psoriasis and neuralgia. Converting their use to treat cancer would be much cheaper and quicker compared to starting from scratch with a new compound.

Dr Bates and his colleagues tested the capsaicin on H460 human lung cancer cells, which is recognised as the "gold standard" for new anti-cancer drugs. However, they also tested similar compounds on pancreatic cancer cells and found the same effect - the tumour cells died off leaving the surrounding tissue intact. This is a very exciting result because pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of less than one per cent and is currently one of the most stubborn cancers to treat.

The study that led to this discovery is the first to emerge from a newly formed Nottingham UK-China Collaboration on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NUKCAM). The collaboration has members from the University of Nottingham and the Chinese National Academy of Sciences, for example Professor De-An Guo, who is head of the Shanghai Research Centre for the Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Prof Guo is working with Dr Bates to discover why traditional Chinese medicines are successful in treating cancer and other diseases.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is considered an alternative medicine in the west. But in China it is an important part of the public health care system.

The last twenty or so years have seen an increasing interest on the part of the West and China to come together and explore this wealth of knowledge that dates back thousands of years. The main thrust of joint projects, like this one, is to examine the theories and uses of TCM using western scientific methods and tools.

Another important milestone in this East-West collaboration will be when The World Health Organization's (WHO) initiative to to standardize TCM nomenclature reaches conclusion. It is said to be in its final phases, and there is a paper on this by Tony Reid in the The Journal of Chinese Medicine.

As lovers of Sichuan food and dishes will know, chillies do feature prominently in the Chinese diet, and apart from adding fire and flavour are believed by local followers of Chinese medicine to help ward off the ills caused by their damp and muggy climate.

University of Nottingham, UK

English version of The Journal of Chinese Medicine.

Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today

AstraZeneca Announces Recentin(R) As Global Trademark For Novel Cancer Treatment, AZD2171

AstraZeneca today announced RECENTIN™ as the global trademark for AZD2171, its oral, highly potent and selective vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signalling inhibitor. AZD2171 is currently in Phase II/III development for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and advanced colorectal cancer (CRC) - as well as a wide-ranging signal search programme in other tumours.

Ian Triggs, Global Brand Strategy Director for AZD2171 commented:
"The announcement of a brand name represents a key milestone in the development of AZD2171"

Dr Nick Botwood, Global Medical Director for AZD2171, added:
"Pre-clinical data shows this compound is a potent suppressor of angiogenesis - an established approach in anti-cancer treatment. More importantly, early clinical trial data has also shown encouraging anti-tumour activity with AZD2171 and a side effect profile that appears to be predictable and manageable. The ongoing trial programme will be important to establish how AZD2171 may add to the treatment options currently available to patients."

VEGF is a key driver of angiogenesis - the formation of new blood vessels. By inhibiting VEGF receptors, AZD2171 hinders angiogenesis, thus preventing the blood supply that tumours need to grow and spread. There are three VEGF receptors involved in tumour angiogenesis, (VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, VEGFR-3).

AZD2171 inhibits all three,1 in particular VEGFR-2, the predominant receptor through which VEGF exerts its effect on angiogenesis.

RECENTIN™ is a trademark of the AstraZeneca group of Companies.

Ongoing clinical trials with AZD2171

The anti-tumour efficacy of AZD2171 is being evaluated in an extensive ongoing clinical development programme including studies in lung and colorectal cancer.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer remains the biggest cause of cancer death worldwide. Over 1.35 million new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed every year and nearly 1.2 million people die as a result of this disease - more than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.2 A Phase II/III study, BR-24, being coordinated by the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC), is comparing the efficacy of AZD2171 plus 'doublet' chemotherapy (paclitaxel and carboplatin) to 'doublet' chemotherapy alone in patients with advanced NSCLC.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly reported cancer worldwide, with around 945,000 new cases and 492,000 deaths annually.3 It is ranked second in terms of both incidence and mortality in more developed countries.3

The Horizon Study Programme is ongoing to evaluate AZD2171 in patients with advanced colorectal cancer.

-- Horizon III is a Phase II/III randomised, double-blind, international multi-centre investigation of AZD2171 in combination with FOLFOX compared to bevacizumab (Avastin(R)) in combination with FOLFOX, in patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer.

-- Horizon II, a randomised, double-blind Phase III study will compare AZD2171 plus standard chemotherapy with standard chemotherapy alone in patients with first line advanced colorectal cancer.

-- Horizon I, a Phase II study, will evaluate AZD2171 in combination with FOLFOX compared to bevacizumab in combination with FOLFOX, in the second-line treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

About AZD2171

AZD2171 is a once-daily, orally available, highly potent and selective VEGF signalling inhibitor that inhibits all three VEGF receptors.1 The preclinical profile of AZD2171 indicates that it has the potential to be the 'best in class' VEGF signalling inhibitor.1

AZD2171 has shown encouraging signs of anti-tumour activity in a clinical development programme, which has included over 700 patients to date. Phase I data indicate that AZD2171 is generally well tolerated, with the most common dose related adverse events being diarrhoea, hoarseness, headache and hypertension.4

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of $23.95 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.


1 - Wedge SR, Kendrew J, Hennequin LF, Valentine PJ, Barry ST, Brave SR, Smith NR, James NH, Dukes M, Curwen JO, Chester R, Jackson JA, Boffey SJ, Kilburn LL, Barnett S, Richmond GH, Wadsworth PF, Walker M, Bigley AL, Taylor ST, Cooper L, Beck S, Jurgensmeier JM, Ogilvie DJ. Cancer Research 2005, 65: 4389-4400.

2 - Ferlay J, Bray F, Pisani P, et al. GLOBOCAN 2002: Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide IARC CancerBase No. 5. version 2.0, IARCPress, Lyon, 2004.

3 - Stewart BW and Kleihues P (Eds): World Cancer Report. IARCPress. Lyon. 2003.

4 - Drevs J, Medinger M, Mross K, Zirrgiebel U, Strecker R, Unger C, Puchalski TA, Fernandes N, Roberston J, Siegert P. Proceedings from ASCO 2005, Abs 3002.

Young Single Men Are More Likely To Bank Sperm Before Testicular Cancer Treatment

A quarter of men with testicular cancer banked their sperm before treatment, but only six per cent of those actually used the sperm to father a child, according to a study published in the January issue of the urology journal BJU International.

Researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville, USA, surveyed 129 males treated at the institution over a ten-year period.

They discovered that 31 of the men (24 per cent) chose to bank their sperm before treatment, at an average cost of US $358. Maintenance fees added an average of US $243.86 a year.

Despite the cost, only two of the men use their banked sperm to father a child, one said he might use it in the future and a further 12 had children naturally.

Men who banked their sperm had an average age of 26 - ten years younger than those who didn't. They were less likely to have children at the time of diagnosis and more likely to have children after treatment.

And single men were twice as likely to bank their sperm (44 per cent) as married men (21 per cent).

The most common reasons given for not banking sperm were that they didn't want to have children, or more children, that they or their partner were infertile or they had already had a vasectomy.

38 per cent of all the men who took part in the survey hadn't had children at the time of diagnosis. 45 per cent of the men who had banked their sperm had children after treatment, compared with 14 per cent of the men who hadn't banked their sperm.

"As most men treated for testicular cancer are young and the survival rate exceeds 90 per cent, the issue of after-treatment fertility is important" says lead author Christopher R Girasole.

"Revolutionary techniques such as in vitro fertilisation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection make pregnancy possible with even the lowest quality of sperm.

"However, up to a quarter of men don't produce usable sperm after treatment.

"These factors probably explain why most urologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists offer sperm banking before therapy for testicular cancer.

"However, our survey shows that sperm banking costs are relatively high and usage is relatively low. We feel that patients should be counselled on both the costs and benefits of sperm banking before they receive treatment for testicular cancer."

The males who took part in the survey ranged from 14 to 76 years of age. The youngest man to bank his sperm was 18 and the oldest was 43.


* Sperm banking: use and outcomes in patients treated for testicular cancer. Girasole et al. BJU International. Volume 99, pages 33-36 (January 2007).

* Established in 1929, BJU International is published 12 times a year by Blackwell Publishing and edited by Professor John Fitzpatrick from University College Dublin, Ireland. It provides its international readership with invaluable practical information on all aspects of urology, including original and investigative articles and illustrated surgery.

Contact: Annette Whibley

Tracing Agent, Ultrasound Combo Helps Test Cancer Therapy's Effectiveness

An inexpensive tracing agent used in combination with ultrasound can pinpoint how effectively drugs targeting pancreatic cancer work, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have demonstrated for the first time.

The study, involving human pancreatic tumor cells implanted in mice, opens a new avenue for real-time imaging of a patient's response to cancer therapies. It appears in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

The UT Southwestern research team focused on pancreatic cancer because it is one of the deadliest cancers, characterized by extensive local invasion and metastasis to the liver, said Dr. Rolf Brekken, assistant professor of surgery and pharmacology and the study's senior author. The five-year survival rate ranges from only 1 percent to 4 percent for patients diagnosed with the most severe form of cancer of the pancreas called pancreatic andenocarcinoma.

"The current best therapy - including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy - has done little to alter cancer-related deaths of these patients, emphasizing the need for more effective treatment," said Dr. Brekken, a researcher at the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Therapeutic Oncology Research at UT Southwestern.

The research team examined how pancreatic tumor cells respond to an experimental anti-cancer agent that targets vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a protein responsible for triggering the development of blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen to tumors, enabling them to grow and spread. Drugs that target VEGF are in a class called anti-angiogenic agents that are designed to choke tumor growth by reducing the number of blood vessels feeding the cancer.

"In general, it has been difficult to assess whether anti-angiogenic drugs are having an impact on tumors in human patients," said Dr. Brekken. "The sooner we can measure the effectiveness of the treatment, the earlier we can intervene to change anti-cancer agents if a particular drug has no effect. This could be a lifesaving approach in patients with rapidly fatal disease."

To find the answer, the UT Southwestern team resorted to an inexpensive and commonly used contrast, or tracing agent, called microbubbles. Each tiny bubble measures about one to two microns in diameter - about a hundredth the width of a human hair - and consists of albumin, sugar and an inert gas. Microbubbles are used routinely in echocardiography, for example, allowing cardiologists to see how efficiently and how much blood the heart pumps.

UT Southwestern researchers linked the microbubbles to a targeting agent that delivered the imaging agent to proteins or protein complexes on the surface of tumor blood vessels. They found that the ultrasound signal from the microbubbles decreased in mice that received therapy. The harmless microbubbles remained in the bloodstream and allowed researchers to use ultrasound to get a crisp picture of what was occurring on blood vessels inside the tumor, Dr. Brekken said.

In one of the studies reported, the researchers observed that blocking VEGF activity achieved a 40-percent reduction in mean tumor size after four treatments over a two-week period, a significant controlling of tumor growth, Dr. Brekken said. Importantly, the reduction in tumor size was predicted by the decrease in signal observed non-invasively with the targeted microbubbles.

"Ultrasound is a safe technology and most physicians have an ultrasound machine in their office," Dr. Brekken said. "In addition, this monitoring technology would neither require radiation nor the injection of toxic substances for imaging purposes.

"We are the first group to show that this technique can be used to monitor the effectiveness of an anti-cancer agent," he said.

The monitoring method developed by Dr. Brekken and his colleagues would need to obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it could be used in humans. Microbubbles will have to be engineered for human patients and these microbubbles will need to be linked to anti-cancer agents using chemicals acceptable to the FDA for use in humans.


The research was supported by a grant from Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc, a biopharmaceutical company that has an exclusive license from the University of Texas System for the anti-VEGF agent that Dr. Brekken and other UT Southwestern researchers developed and are testing in several preclinical studies. Dr. Brekken also is a consultant to and has equity interest in the company.

Other UT Southwestern researchers contributing to the study included Juliet Carbon, a senior research associate at the Hamon Center; lead author Dr. Grzegorz "Greg" Korpanty, formerly a researcher at the Hamon Center and now a resident in internal medicine at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland; and Dr. Jason Fleming, former associate professor of surgery at UT Southwestern and now a surgical oncologist at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. A researcher from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas also participated.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its more than 1,400 full-time faculty members - including four active Nobel Prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world - are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 89,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.

The UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center combines the highest standards of individual care with innovative programs for cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention based on UT Southwestern's internationally recognized research coupled with the most sophisticated equipment and advanced technologies available. The expertise of the physicians in the Simmons Cancer Center extends to virtually every cancer in every age group, from breast, urologic, gynecologic, lung, gastrointestinal, head and neck, brain, and skin to lymphomas, leukemia, and bone marrow transplantation.

Contact: Toni Heinzl
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Turning Green Gunk To Anti-Cancer Gold

Combining synthetic chemistry techniques with a knowledge of the properties and actions of enzymes, scientists have been able to produce an exciting class of anti-cancer drugs originally isolated from blue-green algae.

This accomplishment is expected to make it possible to produce enough of the promising drugs for use in clinical trials.

In a study featured on the cover of the January issue of the journal ACS Chemical Biology, a scientific team lead by University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute Research Professor David H. Sherman and researcher Zachary Q. Beck found the trick to turning the green gunk into gold - cancer fighting gold.

"It was simply too difficult to use the native blue-green algae for high-level production using traditional fermentation approaches," said Sherman. But the compound, called cryptophycin 1, held so much promise as an anti-cancer drug that organic chemists got busy trying to find ways to make a synthetic form of the compound in large enough quantities for clinical trials.

Developing an efficient synthetic route to natural product compounds and their analogs is often an essential step in drug development. With drugs such as penicillin and tetracycline, it can easily be done, but cryptophycins present more of a challenge. Sherman's team realized that with all cryptophycins, the most difficult step came very late in the synthesis, at the point at which a key part called an epoxide - a highly strained, three-membered ring oxygen-containing group, crucial for the drug's anti-cancer activity - becomes attached to the molecule.

The epoxide group can be attached in two configurations, designated as alpha and beta. Scientists have known for several years that the beta configuration was absolutely required for the anti-cancer properties of the drug, but were unable to devise efficient synthetic strategies that favored that configuration.

Sherman's team accomplished this by isolating the entire set of biosynthetic genes and key enzymes and developing a new, efficient method to manufacture the broad class of cryptophycin natural products, including important analogs with clinical potential. This included characterization of an enzyme, cytochrome P450, that always introduces the epoxide in the desired beta configuration.

Sherman, who is also the John G. Searle Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy, believes that this approach will allow effective new cryptophycin analogs with low levels of side effects to be created for clinical trials.

"This issue represented an exciting target that offered not only an interesting scientific problem, but the potential to do something of practical importance in creating a promising anti-cancer drug," he said.

"Biosynthetic Characterization and Chemoenzymatic Assembly of the Cryptophycins. Potent Anticancer Agents from Nostoc Cyanobionts" by Magarvey N. A.; Beck Z. Q.; Golakoti T. ; Ding Y. ; Huber U. ; Hemscheidt T. K.; Abelson D. ; Moore R. E.; Sherman D. H. appeared online Dec.15 and is the cover story in the print version of ACS Chemical Biology January, 2007.

Related Links:

ACS chemical biology

U-M Life Sciences institute

Contact: Robin Stephenson
University of Michigan

Homing Nanoparticles Pack Multiple Assault On Tumors

A collaborative team led by Erkki Ruoslahti, M.D., Ph.D., of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research at UC Santa Barbara (Burnham) has developed nanoparticles that seek out tumors and bind to their blood vessels, and then attract more nanoparticles to the tumor target. Using this system the team demonstrated that the homing nanoparticle could be used to deliver a "payload" of an imaging compound, and in the process act as a clotting agent, obstructing as much as 20% of the tumor blood vessels. These findings are pending publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and will be made available at the journal's website during the week of January 8, 2007.

The promise of nanomedicine is based on the fact that a particle can perform more functions than a drug. Multifuncionality is demonstrated in the current study, in which researchers from Burnham, UC San Diego, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed a nanoparticle that combined tumor-homing, self-amplification of the homing, obstructing tumor blood flow, and imaging.

Using a screening technique developed previously in Ruoslahti's laboratory, the group identified a peptide that homed to the blood vessels, or vasculature, inside breast cancer tumors growing in mice. The peptide was comprised of five amino acids: Cysteine-Arginine-Glutamic acid-Lysine-Alanine, abbreviated CREKA.

The researchers then demonstrated that the CREKA peptide recognizes clotted blood, which is present in the lining of tumor vessels but not in vessels of normal tissues. They used a special mouse strain that lacks fibrinogen, the main protein component of blood clots, to show this: tumors growing in these fibrinogen-deficient mice did not attract the CREKA peptide, whereas the peptide was detected in the tumors of a control group of normal littermates.

Having confirmed clotted blood as the binding site for CREKA, the team constructed nanoparticles from superparamagnetic amino dextran-coated iron oxide (SPIO); such particles are used in the clinic to enhance MRI imaging. They coupled the CREKA peptide to the SPIO particles to give the particles a tumor-homing function and programmed an additional enhanced imaging functionality into their nanoparticle by making it fluorescent.

Initially, CREKA-SPIO's tumor homing ability was impeded by a natural defense response, which activates the reticuloendothelial system (RES)--white blood cells which together with the liver and spleen comprise a protective screening network in mice (and humans). The investigators devised "decoy" molecules of liposomes coated with nickel, which diverted the RES response that would have otherwise been directed toward CREKA-SPIO. The use of decoy molecules extended the half-life of CREKA-SPIO in circulating blood five-fold, which greatly increased the nanoparticle's ability to home to tumors.

The CREKA-SPIO that accumulated in the tumor enhanced blood clotting in tumor vessels, creating additional binding sites for the nanoparticles. This "self amplification" of the tumor homing greatly enhanced the investigators' ability to image the tumors. It also contributed to blocking as much as 20% of the blood vessels in the tumor. While occluding 20% of tumor vessels was not sufficient to reduce the rate of tumor growth, it is a promising target for future studies.

"Having identified the principle of self-amplification, we are now optimizing the process, hoping to obtain a more complete shut-down of blood flow into the tumor to strangle it," says Ruoslahti. "We are also in the process of adding a drug delivery function to the particles. These two approaches are synergistic; the more particles we bring into the tumor, the greater the obstruction of the blood flow and more of the drug is delivered into the tumor."


Co-authors on this publication include: Dimitri Simberg, Tasmia Duza, Markus Essler, Jan Pilch, Lianglin Zhang, Austin Derfus, contributing from Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti's laboratories at Burnham Institute for Medical Research and Burnham Institute for Medical Research at UC Santa Barbara; Michael Sailor, Ji Ho Park, Austin Derfus, and Robert Hoffman, from University of California, San Diego; Sangeeta Bhatia, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Meng Yang and Robert Hoffman from AntiCancer, Inc., San Diego, California.

This work was supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti is Distinguished Professor and former President and CEO at Burnham. He recently founded the "Vascular Mapping Center" at Burnham-UC Santa Barbara, which aims at developing applications for vascular "zip codes, molecular signatures in blood and lymphatic vessels ("vasculature") that are specific to individual tissues and disease sites.

Burnham-UCSB, was established in 2006 through a collaborative effort of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, based in La Jolla, California, and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Burnham Institute for Medical Research is an independent non-profit research institution dedicated to advancing the frontiers of scientific knowledge in the life sciences and medicine, and providing the foundation for tomorrow's innovative therapies. The Institute is home to three major centers: the National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, the Del E. Webb Center for Neuroscience and Aging Research, and the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center. Established in 1976 in La Jolla, California, Burnham today employs over 750 people and ranks consistently among the world's top 20 research institutes in independent surveys conducted by the Institute for Scientific Information. Burnham recently announced plans to open a campus in Orlando, Florida that will extend the Institute's capabilities in drug discovery and genomics, as well as expand its research to cover more types of diseases. For additional information about Burnham and to learn about ways to support its research, visit

Contact: Nancy Beddingfield
Burnham Institute

Jefferson Scientists Find Guardian Gene's Choices Crucial To Stopping Cancer Process

Scientists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have uncovered a novel pathway by which the anti-cancer gene p53 springs into action, protecting a damaged cell from becoming cancer. The gene can either halt the cell's growth or send it spiraling toward certain death. How this choice is made, the researchers say, could have implications for future strategies in chemotherapy drug development.

According to Steven McMahon, Ph.D., associate professor of cancer biology at Jefferson Medical College, who led the work, the p53 gene's - or rather its protein's - ability to direct a damaged cell to either stop growing or commit suicide depends on turning on separate groups of target genes. He and his co-workers have found that after a cell's DNA is damaged, the p53 protein's ability to bind to the DNA can be affected. Two enzymes, hMOF and TIP60, can chemically alter an amino acid, lysine 120, at the binding site, in turn influencing p53's decision on which target genes to turn on. The alteration can short-circuit p53's ability to cause the damaged cell to commit suicide, though it can still stop cell growth, suggesting that this change may help explain a mechanism behind p53's choice. They report their findings in the journal Molecular Cell.

"It's been known that p53 can induce cell cycle arrest or apoptosis (programmed cell death) as a way of eliminating developing cancer cells in response to cell damage, but no one has known how the choice is made," says Dr. McMahon. "This work narrows how the decision is made."

The findings could have implications for future drug development strategies. "Most chemotherapy strategies are aimed at getting cancer cells to die," Dr. McMahon says. "Figuring out what pathways p53 uses to cause that versus cell cycle arrest is important. It looks like this new modification that we have identified helps p53 make that decision."

"p53 is such an important player in the cancerous process - it's nearly always mutated or inactivated in cancer - that continuing to understand more about how it works will likely have significant implications for cancer research," says Dr. McMahon. "We wouldlike to understand the interplay between this newly identified pathway and others involved in p53 and cancer.

"Since p53 can make this decision, this might give some insight into which function of p53 is more important in which tissues," says co-author Stephen Sykes, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. "For example, K120 (lysine 120) mutations cause tumors in the prostate, but are not so much involved in causing immune system cancers such as lymphomas. That could suggest that p53's potential to cause cell death could be more important in certain tissues than in others. In the future, if someone could develop therapies that could specifically activate p53's potential to drive programmed cell death versus the cell cycle arrest potential, it might influence how a doctor might choose to treat a certain type of cancer.

"This may potentially enable the development of a cancer drug that would stimulate the enzymes to promote this modification driving p53 to apoptosis."


Contact: Steve Benowitz
Thomas Jefferson University

The Prognostic Significance Of Perineural Invasion In Prostatic Cancer Biopsies Whether perineural invasion (PNI) identified in prostate cancer (CaP) biopsies is associated with disease recurrence is unclear from the literature. In an attempt to resolve this uncertainty, a systematic review was performed by Dr. Patricia Hamden and colleagues in the UK and published in the online edition of Cancer. What they found was that variable study design, execution and reporting excluded a definitive meta-analysis, but evidence suggests that PNI in biopsies was a significant prognostic indicator.

The authors' strategy used 128 search terms to identify articles published between 1990 and 2005. A total of 41,295 titles were reviewed by at least 2 reviewers and 128 articles identified for close evaluation. Ultimately, 10 surgical and 11 radiotherapy articles on PNI in biopsies as it related to patient outcomes were used in the report. Data items specific to biopsy PNI in CaP included biopsy procedure (amount of cores, number of nerves present and identification of PNI), histological slide preparation and pathological interpretation (consistency of identification, inclusion of information if no nerves were present).

No study reported on all data items and incomplete items ranged from 18% to 61% with a median of 39%. Exclusion criteria were variable, but included a history of prior treatment, unavailability of biopsies for review or the failure to obtain at least 4 biopsies. Only 1 surgical and 1 radiotherapy article was prospective. In surgical patients details on nerve sparing was generally lacking. In 12 studies, biopsies were reviewed for the presence of PNI and in 1 study 60% of biopsies were reviewed for this. In 5 studies the slides were not reviewed but the diagnosis was taken from the original report and in 3 articles the information was not provided. Only 2 articles reported blinded pathologic review. Individual patient data was sufficient in 5 articles to permit reanalysis.

The proportion of patients with PNI varied between 7% and 12% (median 9%) when the diagnosis was obtained form the original report and between 7% and 43% (median 23%) when slides were reviewed to identify PNI. Most studies had short (<6 months) of clinical follow-up. Overall, 6 of 10 surgical and 5 of 11 radiotherapy studies identified PNI as a prognostic factor in univariate analysis. Surgical articles that included a larger number of patients with less patient exclusion reported that PNI was independently prognostic in multivariate analysis with PSA and biopsy Gleason score. More than two-thirds of external radiotherapy studies but no brachytherapy study showed prognostic significance for perineural invasion. The highest incidence of PNI was found in locally-advanced disease.

Surprising to the authors were that none of the articles considered that the presence of nerves in the biopsies was a prerequisite for patient inclusion and no article provided data on the reproducibility of the PNI diagnosis. The authors conclude that the importance of PNI was likely to have been underestimated by the inclusion of uninformative test results (biopsies with no nerves in the specimens) and that despite this, the majority of studies including those performing multivariate analysis found prognostic significance to PNI. The weight of evidence supports PNI as of prognostic significance.

Patricia Harnden, Michael D. Shelley, Hayley Clements, Bernadette Coles, R. Sandy Tyndale-Biscoe, Brian Naylor, Malcolm D. Mason

Cancer 2006
Published Online: 22 Nov 2006

DOI: 10.1002/cncr.22388

Reviewed by Contributing Editor Christopher P. Evans, M.D.

UroToday - the only urology website with original content written by global urology key opinion leaders actively engaged in clinical practice.

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Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (CTI) Files For Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) With FDA For XYOTAX Lung Cancer Trial In Women

Cell Therapeutics, Inc. (CTI) (Nasdaq: CTIC; MTAX) today announced it has filed for a Special Protocol Assessment (SPA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the design of its phase III trial of XYOTAX for women with advanced lung cancer. The trial, PGT306, will focus exclusively on women with normal estrogen levels, the subset where XYOTAX demonstrated the greatest survival advantage in the STELLAR trials. The trial is expected to enroll 300 poor performance status (PS2) women who have advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and have not received prior chemotherapy. Only women with normal estrogen levels either as a result of pre-menopausal age or hormone replacement therapy will be randomized in the follow-on study to the PIONEER trial.

"Through our clinical studies in 2006, we have gained important insights into the best lung cancer patient population to target our XYOTAX pivotal trial effort in order to minimize end-of-trial surprises while maximizing the probability of success. We look forward to feedback and guidance from the FDA on our phase III trial," said James A. Bianco, M.D., President and CEO of CTI. "Lung cancer continues to be the number one cancer killer of women. Better treatments are needed to combat this disease that will kill more than 70,000 women this year."

In addition, Bianco reviewed CTI accomplishments for 2006 and identified important Company milestones for 2007:

-- "In 2006 the Company made significant progress in positioning XYOTAX, if approved, for successful commercialization," said Bianco. "A major development was the establishment of a potential $285 million commercial and development partnership for XYOTAX with Novartis, providing the global expertise and resources of one of the leading multi-national oncology companies."

-- In addition the Company received positive advice and agreement from the EMEA's Scientific Advice Working Party (SAWP) to switch from the superiority endpoint in the STELLAR 4 trial to a non-inferiority endpoint for XYOTAX. CTI plans to file a marketing authorization application (MAA) in Europe in 2007 for XYOTAX as a single agent for first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in men and women PS2 patients. "Given the recent article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showing the economic toll of the hours lost to cancer care, we believe the SAWP agreement recognizes this important and often overlooked reality," said Bianco.

"For our other phase III product, pixantrone, we recently presented positive clinical data at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting showing high overall responses from two pixantrone studies. In addition, based on interim data from the first 40 patients on the EXTEND trial, a randomized phase III study of pixantrone for patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the Data Monitoring Committee recommended the study continue," Bianco added.

"2006 was a rebuilding year for the Company, establishing an important partnership while advancing our two lead drug candidates toward market. With two key regulatory events for XYOTAX and pixantrone, 2007 promises to be a pivotal transition for the Company and its products."

Key Target Milestones for 2007

-- Reach Special Protocol Assessment agreement with FDA on PGT306 pivotal trial for XYOTAX in women with lung cancer and initiate enrollment at approximately 200 centers worldwide

-- Reach Special Protocol Assessment agreement with FDA on PIX303 pivotal trial for pixantrone in first-line and second-line indolent NHL and initiate enrollment at more than 100 centers worldwide

-- File a marketing authorization application (MAA) in Europe in 2007 for XYOTAX as a single agent for first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in PS2 patients

-- Conduct interim analysis on phase III pixantrone clinical trial in relapsed aggressive NHL (EXTEND trial) and if compelling, meet with FDA to discuss potential registration strategy

-- Maintain burn rate at 2006 level, continue to strengthen and de-leverage balance sheet

About Cell Therapeutics, Inc.

Headquartered in Seattle, CTI is a biopharmaceutical company committed to developing an integrated portfolio of oncology products aimed at making cancer more treatable. For additional information, please visit

This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, the outcome of which could materially and/or adversely affect actual future results. Specifically, the risks and uncertainties that could affect the development of XYOTAX and pixantrone include risks associated with preclinical and clinical developments in the biopharmaceutical industry in general and with XYOTAX and pixantrone in particular including, without limitation, the potential failure of XYOTAX and pixantrone to prove safe and effective for treatment of non -small cell lung cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, determinations by regulatory, patent and administrative governmental authorities, competitive factors, technological developments, costs of developing, producing and selling XYOTAX and pixantrone, and the risk factors listed or described from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including, without limitation, the Company's most recent filings on Forms 10-K, 8-K, and 10-Q. Except as may be required by Italian law, CTI is under no obligation to (and expressly disclaims any such obligation to) update or alter its forward- looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Cell Therapeutics, Inc.

Texas Legislature To Consider Requiring Gardasil For Sixth Grade Girls, New Hampshire Begins To Distribute Gardasil

The Texas Legislature in the new session that begins on Tuesday will consider two bills (SB 110, HB 215) that would require girls entering the sixth grade to receive Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil, KENS 5 Eyewitness News/San Antonio Express-News reports (Rigby, KENS 5 Eyewitness News/San Antonio Express-News, 1/4). Gardasil in clinical trials has been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases. FDA in July 2006 approved the vaccine for sale and marketing to girls and women ages nine to 26, and CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices later that month voted unanimously to recommend that girls ages 11 and 12 receive the vaccine (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 1/5). The measure would allow parents to apply for an exemption if they do not want their daughters to receive Gardasil. State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D) plans to sponsor the Senate version of the measure, and state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D) plans to sponsor the legislation in the House (KENS 5 Eyewitness News/San Antonio Express-News, 1/4).

New Hampshire To Begin Distributing Gardasil to Physicians
New Hampshire this week plans to begin distributing Gardasil to doctors in the state as part of a plan to provide Gardasil at no cost to some girls as part of a state program that offers immunizations to minors, the Concord Monitor reports (Sanger-Katz, Concord Monitor, 1/7). New Hampshire's program, announced in November 2006 by the state Department of Health and Human Services, plans to provide the vaccine to girls and women ages 11 to 18. The program, which is funded by the federal government and private insurers, has budgeted $4.8 million for Gardasil and is scheduled to begin immunizations this month. Insurance companies will pay about $3.6 million, or 75% of the estimated cost of the program. The state health department estimates that about 17,000 girls will receive Gardasil next year, which is about 25% of those eligible (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 12/1/06). According to the Monitor, some doctors in the state have waiting lists of patients who want to receive Gardasil. Some doctors will offer the vaccine on a first-come, first-serve basis and others will honor waiting lists. State officials said there will not be a long-term shortage of the vaccine. "Because it's such a new vaccine, that's one of the challenges we have, is balancing what the need is with what the uptake will be," Mary Ann Cooney, the state's public health director, said, adding, "We don't want to purchase too much and have it go to waste" (Concord Monitor, 1/7).

"Reprinted with permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Tumor-Suppressor Gene Critical For Placenta Development

An important cancer-related gene may play a critical role in the development of the placenta, the organ that controls nutrient and oxygen exchange between a mother and her fetus during pregnancy, and perhaps in miscarriages.

Those conclusions come from a new study of the retinoblastoma (Rb) gene in mice. In humans, this gene, when mutated, raises the risk of a rare cancer of the eye called retinoblastoma. Two decades ago, it was identified as the first tumor-suppressor gene, a class of genes that protects cells from becoming cancerous. It has since been shown to be inactivated in many cancers.

In this study, researchers shut off the Rb gene in stem cells that give rise to most of the placenta, resulting in an abnormal placenta and death of the embryos.

The findings provide new insights into development of the placenta and into how the Rb gene blocks tumor growth.

They also raise the possibility that this important tumor-suppressor gene might play a role in miscarriages.

The study, led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, is published in the January 2007 issue of the journal Genes and Development.

"Our findings strongly suggest that the Rb gene is important in the development of the placenta, but they have other important implications, as well," says principal investigator Gustavo Leone, assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics and a researcher with Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center and human cancer genetics program.

"People born with one mutated Rb gene have a higher risk of developing retinoblastoma. But are they also predisposed to miscarriage? Do Rb-related defects in the placenta cause learning or physical abnormalities? We are investigating these questions now."

Scientists know that the protein encoded by the Rb gene, the Rb protein, plays an important role in regulating how cells grow. But exactly how it does this - the molecule interacts with 110 other proteins - remains unknown.

In 2003, Leone and a group of collaborators discovered that loss of the Rb gene caused abnormalities in the placenta, especially where it contacts the uterus. They published that research in the journal Nature.

"This was the first evidence that Rb had an important role in the placenta," says Pamela Wenzel, a graduate student in Leone's laboratory and first author of the new paper.

For this study, Wenzel developed a transgenic mouse that makes an enzyme that deletes DNA. Specifically, it removes the DNA that lies between two gene markers. She then used a second transgenic mouse in which the gene markers were placed in the Rb gene.

When she crossed the two strains of mice, the resulting embryos had the DNA-destroying enzyme and the gene markers in their placenta stem cells. The enzyme removed the DNA between the two markers, leaving the embryos without a working Rb gene in the placental progenitor cells.

These stem cells divided far too often. They gave rise to too many cells and formed a defective placenta, especially where the placenta interacts with the uterus.

These embryos died about 15 days after fertilization, a time at which placenta function becomes critical for survival (the gestation period for mice is 19 days).

Interestingly, the researchers also produced some mice in which the Rb gene was present in the placenta stem cells but destroyed in cells produced by them. These cells formed a normal-looking placenta and the embryos survived.

"This suggests that Rb is important in maintaining placental stems cells, and that it plays a smaller or different role in the cells they give rise to," Leone says.

Lastly, the researchers produced transgenic mice that lacked both the Rb gene and a second gene, E2f3. The Rb protein normally couples with, or binds to, the protein encoded by the E2f3 gene. Embryos missing both genes lived three days longer than the embryos missing Rb only, but all died before birth.

"This showed that the interaction of these two proteins is definitely important," Leone says. "It strongly suggests that E2f3 is a key player in mediating Rb function in stem cells and possibly in its role as a tumor suppressor."

Next, Leone and his colleagues want to know if the Rb gene is important in miscarriages.

"Miscarriages have never been linked to a gene defect, but understanding the genetic basis of miscarriage would be a hugely important," Leone says. "It would be the first link between a gene mutation, placental function and development."

Funding from the National Cancer Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supported this research.


Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Ohio State University

Pancreatic Cancer Surgery Five-Year Survivors 65 And Up Live Nearly As Long As Anyone

A new study shows that pancreatic cancer patients 65 or older who live at least five years after surgery have nearly as good a chance as anyone else to live another five years.

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia reviewed the records of 890 patients with pancreatic cancer who underwent the standard pancreaticoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure, which entails the removal of the gallbladder, common bile duct, part of the duodenum, and the head of the pancreas, between 1970 and 1999 at Johns Hopkins University. They identified those who lived for five years, and compared those who lived for at least an additional five years to the "actuarial" - or estimated - survival of the general population beginning at age 70.

Reporting in the journal Surgery, they found that 201 patients (23 percent) lived five years after surgery, at least half of whom were 65 years old or older at the time of surgery. Of those five-year survivors, an estimated 65 percent lived at least an additional five years. In the general population, roughly 87 percent of the same age group live another five years.

The study has an important message, says Charles Yeo, M.D., Samuel Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College, who led the work. "A decade ago, many clinicians thought that there was little reason to operate on patients with pancreatic ductal cancer, that surgery does little to extend life and improve the quality of life," says Dr. Yeo. "Not too long ago, few lived for five years after diagnosis. Today that's not true. There's been a paradigm shift in the way we treat and think about this disease."

While only approximately 25 percent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who undergo successful surgical "resection" of their disease live at least five years, overall, of those who live for five years after resection, some 55 percent will be alive at least another five years.

"The public hears 'pancreatic cancer' and thinks there's little hope and there isn't much to do. The good news is, with new imaging techniques, better early detection, improved screening of high-risk groups, and new therapies on the horizon, we're actually making great progress when it comes to pancreatic cancer. It's no longer a death sentence."

Pancreatic cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death in this country, takes some 30,000 lives a year. It remains one of the deadliest cancers; only approximately 5 percent of all those with pancreatic cancer live one year after diagnosis, and only 1 percent are alive five years later.

Contact: Steve Benowitz
Thomas Jefferson University

Genetic Factors Associated With Head And Neck Cancer Examined By Study

Preliminary research indicates that several specific genetic alterations are associated with the development of smoking-related head and neck skin cancers, according to a report in the January 10 issue of JAMA.

Despite its slowly declining incidence rate and a modest improvement in 5-year survival, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC; a type of cancer similar to the common form of skin cancer) of the head and neck continues to be a clinical challenge. With a worldwide prevalence of more than 1.6 million, it is estimated that in 2006, about 30,990 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States. Even with the use of modern therapeutic options that include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapeutic intervention, 50 percent of all patients will ultimately die of this disease, with more than 7,400 deaths projected for 2006 in the United States, according to background information in the article.

Charis Eng, M.D., Ph.D., of the Genomic Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, and colleagues conducted a study to determine the extent of genomic alterations in the stroma (connective tissue) of head and neck SCC. Tumor epithelium (the cancer itself) and surrounding stroma were isolated from 122 patients with oral cavity and oropharyngeal (relating to the mouth and pharynx) or hypopharyngeal (bottom part of throat) SCC and these tissues were subjected to whole genome analysis.

Tumor-associated stroma of head and neck SCC from smokers were found to have a high degree of genomic alterations. A correlation between tumor aggressiveness could be found for a specific set of 5 loci. Three stroma-specific loci were associated with tumor size and regional nodal (small mass) metastases. Also, 2 specific genomic alterations (markers termed "hot spots") were positively correlated with node metastases and clinical stage.

"Stroma-specific genetic alterations are associated with smoking-related head and neck SCC genesis," the authors write. "We hope that our genomic observations, which point to genomic regions that may harbor many genes, will guide future in-depth functional and mechanistic studies. Nevertheless, our current observations can be used to identify new biomarkers for prediction of clinical outcome and potentially novel compartments for targeted therapy and prevention."


(JAMA. 2007;297:187-195)

This study was funded in part by a grant from the state of Ohio and the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award. Cleveland Clinic Innovations has submitted a provisional patent application based on these observations. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Contact: Molly Johnson
JAMA and Archives Journals

Black Women Of Faith And Medicine: Working Together To Eradicate Cervical Cancer

100% Preventable. Spread the Word. Save a Sister. This is the new public education campaign message from the Balm In Gilead's 2007 ISIS Project (Intimate Sessions for Informed Sexuality). National Spokesperson Estelle H. Whitney, MD; Anafidelia Tavares, MD, MPH along with 20 African-American female clinicians came together at a press conference today at the Four Seasons Hotel to support the campaign and to announce the Balm In Gilead's new component of the ISIS Project: Black Women of Faith and Medicine: Working Together to Eradicate Cervical Cancer. The Balm In Gilead also announced its new public education program for this year's ISIS Project, the goal of which is to inform and educate African-American women about cervical cancer and to encourage them to take the HPV test and to become knowledgeable about the HPV vaccine. The ISIS Project encourages African-American women between the ages of 30 and 70 years old to become empowered to safeguard their health by learning about HPV, cervical cancer and the need for regular screening with the Pap test and HPV test.

The medical data speaks for itself:

-- African-American women are at least 50% more likely to die from cervical cancer than white women.

-- Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infection with an extremely common and contagious virus, the human papillomavirus (HPV); although there are approximately 15 cancer-causing HPV types, types 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers worldwide.

-- Many women are not aware that cervical cancer is preventable and that new technologies like the HPV test are an important weapon in the fight against cervical cancer.

-- African-American women are not aware of the vaccine against the disease that is available for women under 26 years of age.

-- Almost one third of all women in the U.S. had no health insurance in 2005, and some cannot pay for routine screenings like Pap tests or the HPV test or the now available vaccine.

-- New technologies including HPV testing for screening women and HPV vaccination for girls offer new opportunities to prevent cervical cancer among African-American women.

The ISIS Project was initially launched in March 2005 with the partnership of the women's societies of three major African-American religious denominations (African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and Christian Methodist Episcopal) with a potential reach of 7 million African-Americans. "The addition of the expertise of African American female clinicians to the ISIS Project makes it a complete program that targets the heart and soul of Black women across our nation," states Pernessa Seele, Founder/CEO of the Balm In Gilead. She further states, "Due to the centrality of the church in African-American life, this program will be able to reach those who frequently under use cancer screening services and the underinsured."

Ten markets across the country will benefit from educational training program on cervical cancer -- The District of Columbia, Miami, Houston, Montgomery, Oakland, Chicago, Greensboro, St. Louis, Greenville and Pittsburgh.

Estelle H. Whitney, MD specializes in Obstetrics & Gynecology in Newark, Delaware. She is a graduate of the Howard University School of Medicine. Anafidelia Tavares, MD, MPH is Director of Women's Health at the Balm In Gilead, where she oversees the ISIS Project. She received her medical degree at the Boston University School of Medicine and completed a Masters of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The ISIS Project will employ a peer educator strategy in each city. Drs. Whitney and Tavares will conduct 2-day training sessions with 15 women recruited to become peer educators per market. These trainees will become Balm In Gilead Certified Cervical Cancer Peer Educators. After the training sessions, the peer educators will go into the community and deliver five educational sessions within a six month period. These sessions will include information on HPV and cervical cancer, screenings and available vaccines, and how to discuss these issues with health care professionals (role playing scenarios will be used). Grass roots marketing materials (church event listings, flyers, pamphlets and other handouts) will be utilized to solicit community participants to attend the sessions.

In addition, the 20 African-American clinicians will serve as expert media spokespersons in their respective markets regarding the overall medical issues of cervical cancer.

With the launch of the ISIS project in 2005, the Balm In Gilead is dedicated to educating women about cervical cancer and empowering them to get their annual Pap test and HPV test if they are over 30 years of age. The campaign also wants women to become knowledgeable about the vaccine.

The Balm In Gilead is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve the health status of people of the African Diaspora by building the capacity of faith communities to address life- threatening diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.

Over the past 18 years, The Balm In Gilead has earned worldwide recognition as the leading organization in the United States dedicated to empowering and mobilizing faith institutions to address life-threatening diseases, especially HIV/AIDS within the African-American community and on the continent of Africa.

For additional information about the Balm In Gilead, visit our website at

Support for the ISIS Project is made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Digene and Merck Corporations.

The ISIS Project