Friday, June 4, 2010

Making the big "C" a thing of the past

New blood test to spot cancer before it's development

Topnews-UK: A new testing method can be used to detect accurately the indications sent out by an individual's immune system to be something as cancerous.

Early research is of the suggestion that the indications can be detected up to five years prior to a tumor is spotted, offering doctors and patients a fundamental headstart in treating the sickness.

The test, which has been developed by clinicians in Nottingham and Kansas over a period of 15 years, is to be introduced in America in the later part of this month.

It initially had been devised, in order to detect lung cancer and is put in usage alongside conventional screening.

The technology had been developed by scientists at the University of Nottingham and Oncimmune, a medical research corporation.

The test works by recognising how the immune system reacts to the first molecular signs of cancer development.

Cancerous cells generate little amounts of protein material named as antigens, which prompts the immune system to generate great amounts of auto-antibodies.

Professor John Robertson, a Breast Cancer Specialist who led the research, said that the earliest cancer that has been seen by him and his team has been detected and yet biologically, that proved to be quite late in the road of cancer development.


Researchers develop nanorobots to detect and kill cancer cells

Eureka-UK: Researchers are developing a molecular sized 'DNA robot' to detect disease markers on a cell, diagnose it and deliver a 'cargo of cancer killing drugs'.

Prof Milan Stojanovic at Columbia University, New York, developed the molecular sized robot to resemble a spider, with the ability to use its 'tentacles' for self propulsion. During its early development, it was capable of 'walking' though a field of DNA molecule, cutting and bonding with them to propel itself. By programming the environment with 'breadcrumbs', the robot was able to follow an established trail.

At such tiny scales, proteins like the DNA itself remained the best bet for creating such a trail. The team found the material it needed in the work of CalTech Prof Paul Rothemund, who had invented what he named DNA origami. Using 'sequence-recognition in base pairs', DNA origami are 'folded' from a long single strand of DNA, with several shorter helper strands that 'staple' the long strand into the desired shape.

Stojanovic's team made its own DNA origami bread crumbs, each measuring 2nm thick and 100nm long, programmed with a specific instruction to any walker that happens by. Together, the DNA origami bread crumbs were formed into a path that allowed Stojanovic's team to lead their DNA robots to a goal.

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OUHSC scientists seek vaccine that may prevent HIV, cancer

Oklahoma Daily: Examining different parts of the immune system, OU Health Sciences Center and Washington University in St. Louis researchers are creating a new vaccine using a protein instead of creating antibodies.

Using T-cells in the immune system, the T-cell vaccine can potentially treat and prevent applications for cancer, tuberculosis, HIV and several other viral diseases, according to a press release from OUHSC.

“No one has ever done this with a T-cell vaccine, so we’re learning; but now we are starting to get some traction. We are finding that a T-cell vaccine can work,” said William Hildebrand, the lead researcher on the project and microbiology and immunology professor.

Until now, vaccines have focused on generating antibodies in the immune system to prevent illness. Over time, the dependence on antibodies has prompted some viruses to evolve past the antibody immunity, lessening the effective of the vaccine to some viruses, according to the press release.

To develop the vaccine, Hildebrand and his team began by determining how the immune system distinguishes between a virus-infected or cancerous cell and a healthy cell.

“What are T-cells using to discriminate the healthy cell from a diseased cell? That is what we want to know in my lab,” he said.

Unlike antibody vaccines, a T-cell vaccine would be able to activate another arm of the immune system to target a specific virus in the body and kill it, as they are responsible with killing virus-infected cells in the body and can kill cells that become cancerous.

The goal is to create viable targets for vaccines that activate T-cells in the immune system, said Hildebrand.

“In the past, vaccine development hasn’t been extremely systematic or well-defined,” he said. “Vaccines have worked to raise protective T-cells but we don’t know how.”

Researchers started working with West Nile virus affect on the immune system since it doesn’t change like the flu or develop resistance like cancer or HIV. After developing the target, researchers at the HSC worked with colleagues at Washington University to create a vaccine, the release stated.

“We found a target, we put it into a vaccine and we got protection,” Hildebrand said. “Is it going to save everybody from West Nile Virus? No, but it saves maybe half the people.”

The process is now being repeated in other areas, such as cancer, where activating T-cells can be difficult.

“Now that we have demonstrated the feasibility of developing a T-cell-specific vaccine, we intend to use the same process to discover other reliable targets, validate them and develop additional vaccines,” Hildebrand said.

Hildebrand said there is still a lot of room to grow in this research area.

“I think it’s still version 1.0,” he said. “The final version will be version five or six.”

The research appears in the latest issue of The Journal of Immunology and is funded by grants and contracts totaling $15 million from the National Institutes of Health, according to the release.


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