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Radiation Safely and Effectively Stored in Nontoxic Molecule to Treat …

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According to a recent study, microscopic "bubbles" developed at the Kansas State University are safe and effective storage spaces for harmful isotopes that emit ionizing radiation for treating tumors. “The findings can benefit patient health and advance radiation therapy used to treat cancer and other diseases,” said professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics who is affiliated with the university's Johnson Cancer Research Center, John M. Tomich. Tomich carried out the study in collaboration with Ekaterina Dadachova, a radiochemistry specialist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, along with researchers from his group at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, Jikei University School of Medicine in Japan and the Institute for Transuranium Elements in Germany. The team has recently published their findings in the study "Branched Amphiphilic Peptide Capsules: Cellular Uptake and Retention of Encapsulated Solutes," which is featured in the scientific journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. The study examines the ability of nontoxic molecules to store and deliver potentially harmful alpha emitting radioisotopes, which is one of the most effective forms of radiation therapy. In 2012, Tomich and his research lab team merged two related sequences of amino acids to form a very small, hollow nanocapsule similar to a bubble. "We found that the two sequences come together to form a thin membrane that assembled into little spheres, which we call capsules. While other vesicles have been created from lipids, most are much less stable and break down. Ours are like stones, though. They're incredibly stable and are not destroyed by cells in the body,” he said. The ability of the capsules to remain intact with the isotope inside and go undetected by the body's clearance systems prompted Tomich to investigate using the capsules as unbreakable storage containers that can be used for biomedical research, particularly in radiation therapies. "The problem with current alpha-particle radiation therapies used to treat cancer is that they lead to the release of nontargeted radioactive daughter ions into the body. Radioactive atoms break down to form new atoms, called daughter ions, with the release of some form of energy or energetic particles. Alpha emitters give off an energetic particle that comes off at nearly the speed of light,” explained Tomich. “These particles are like a car careening on ice. They are very powerful but can only travel a short distance. On collision, the alpha particle destroys DNA and whatever vital cellular components are in its path. Similarly, the daughter ions recoil with high energy on ejection of the alpha particle, similar to how a gun recoils as it is fired. The daughter ions have enough energy to escape the targeting and containment molecules that currently are in use. Once freed, the daughter isotopes can end up in places you don't want them, like bone marrow, which can then lead to leukemia and new challenges. We don't want any stray isotopes because they can harm the body. The trick is to get the radioactive isotopes into and contained in just diseases cells where they can work their magic,” he added. The radioactive compound that the team works with is 225Actinium, which on putrefy releases four alpha particles and several daughter ions. Tomich and Dadachova have tested the retention and biodistribution of alpha-emitting particles locked inside the peptide capsules in cells. The capsules readily enter cells. Once inside, they journey to a position alongside the nucleus, where the DNA is. Tomich and Dadachova also discovered that as the alpha particle-emitting isotopes decomposed, the recoiled daughter ion rams with the capsule walls and basically bounces off them and remains trapped inside the capsule. According to Tomich this completely blocked the release of the daughter ions, which prevented uptake in certain nontarget tissues and protected the subject from harmful radiation that would have otherwise have been releases into the body. Tomich notes that more studies are required to add target molecules to the surface of the capsules. He expects that this new technique will bring about a safer option for treating tumors with radiation therapy by significantly decreasing the amount of radioisotope needed for eradicating the cancer cells and reducing the side effects caused by off-target accumulation of the radioisotopes. "These capsules are easy to make and easy to work with. I think we're just scratching the surface of what we can do with them to improve human health and nanomaterials," said ... Read more

Radiotherapy Kills Cancer Cells, Makes Immunotherapy …

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According to a recent study, radiation therapy fights off cancers in more than just one way. It not only kills cancer cells, but also demonstrates the capacity to activate the immune system to turn on and attack tumor cells. Such an activation can be utilize to enhance current immunotherapies, such as anti-tumor vaccines, to produce better clinical results. What is less clear, however, is precisely how to merge the two therapies to get the optimal effect. In order to address such an inquiry and possbily provide an answer, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University tested an experimental cancer vaccine in accordance with radiation therapy in mice with colorectal cancer. In data research published online in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, the researchers showed that the vaccine was most effective when tumors were irradiated first and then vaccinated a week later. "Prior to these experiments, we didn't appreciate the impact that sequencing of these treatments had on their combined ability to generate immune and clinical responses. Remarkably, immune activation and tumor regression only occurred when radiation was given prior to vaccination," said Thomas Jefferson University radiation oncologist and first author of the study, Matthew Witek M.D. When mice were administered either treatment on its own, the researchers observed that only a slight reduction in tumor size occured. However, when radiation was administrated first, the researchers noticed a six-fold increase in cancer-fighting immune cells, and impressively, complete remission of the majority of tumors. “Although the work will need to be reproduced in humans to determine if the same holds true for cancer patients, the finding is exciting. In a patient population that will undergo radiation therapy as standard treatment, these results provide a roadmap to amplifying the effects of immunotherapies like the one we're developing for colon cancer,” said lead researcher and instructor in the department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Adam Snook, ... Read more

MRI Helps Diagnose Prostate Cancer more Accurately…

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Being of the first of its kind, an Australian clinical trial has revealed that a biopsy guided by MRI can considerably improve the diagnosis of life-threatening prostate cancer and reduce the over-diagnosis of non-life-threatening cases, consequently avoiding the sometimes difficult side effects of needless treatment. Presently, to determine if a patient has prostate cancer, they follow a test that shows whether or not the patient has raised prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a man has to undergo a painful procedure called transrectal ultrasound guided biopsy (TRUSGB) that involves taking up to 30 random needle biopsies of his prostate through the rectum. Yet with the new MRI-guided system, doctors first perform an MRI scan and get a better understanding of where a tumor might be located in the prostate and what course of action best to take. Then, if the scan points out a need for it, they take two needle samples of that area, sparing the need for several biopsies. The new system employs a technique called multi-parametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI). "This is a significant improvement in terms of accuracy and in reducing discomfort for patients and spares many men the burden of multiple prostate biopsies. This latest mpMRI imaging technique will reduce over-treatment of men with non-life-threatening prostate cancer, avoiding the possible side-effects of treatment," said Urologist Dr. Les Thompson, who led the 2-year clinical trial at Brisbane's Wesley Hospital. Thompson and his colleagues report, in the journal European Urology, how the trial showed that use of mpMRI: -Halved (reduced by 51%) the number of men needing prostate biopsies -Showed a 92% sensitivity in diagnosing life-threatening disease (compared with the current leading method TRUSGB, which has only a 70% sensitivity in diagnosing life-threatening prostate cancer) -Cut the problem of over-diagnosis of non-life-threatening prostate cancer by around 90%. The trial had registered 223 patients with raised PSA levels. All of the patients underwent both diagnostic procedures: the standard TRUSGB, and the new method where an mpMRI scan is performed first, and then only those patients whose MRI image points to high-risk prostate cancer undergo MRI-guided biopsy. Co-investigator Dr. Rob Parkinson, a specialist radiologist at the hospital, notes that mpMRI uses three parameters when scanning the prostate. "Diffusion-weighted imaging, one of these three parameters, assesses movement of water molecules within tissues. An imaging map is mathematically generated from this information, and prostate cancer is evident as a dark area." “In TRUSGB, which utilizes ultrasound to help guide biopsy sampling, the core samples are random and taken from all areas of the prostate, but, when biopsies are done following a prostate mpMRI you know where the tumour is located and thus where to direct the biopsy needle," he added. One of the issues that is certain to be raised in deciding how to proceed with the new system as a diagnostic tool is the higher costs linked with MRI. According to a report in The Austrailian news channel, Thompson says he is working to get it listed as a medicare item like mammograms for breast screening. He vehemently advocates that the cost is small when compared to the social and emotional costs of misdiagnoses that occur with the current method. According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men, approximately 6 in 10 cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 and over. Around 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his ... Read more

Symptoms not a Barrier to Success for Nonsurgical …

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According to research being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 39th Annual Scientific Meeting, shrinking the prostate without surgery can lead to long-term relief in men with this common condition which results in irritating symptoms such as frequent urination. In fact, 72 percent of men experienced improvement three years after having a new, minimally invasive, image-guided treatment performed by interventional radiologists called prostate artery embolization (PAE). "The results of prostate artery embolization (PAE) are similar to surgery but with fewer complications. Patients are discharged three to six hours after the treatment with most of the individuals we've treated noting almost immediate symptom relief. I believe PAE could eventually become standard treatment for enlarged prostate," said lead author of the study and director of radiology at Saint Louis Hospital, Lisbon, Portugal, Martins Pisco, M.D., Ph.D. As men age, their prostate gland slowly begins to enlarge and may press on the urethra, causing the flow of urine to be slower and less forceful. Enlarged prostates cause urinary frequency, urgency, passing urine more often (particularly at night), weakened stream, and incomplete bladder emptying. "Such symptoms can have significant negative impact in quality of life, leading many men to seek treatment," said Pisco, citing that this condition affects more than half of men by age 60. “The standard treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, which is the medical name for enlarged prostate, is surgery, which requires general anesthesia and can cause complications, such as urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, impotence and retrograde ejaculation, in which semen enters into the bladder. PAE, which can be performed under local anesthesia, involves temporarily blocking blood flow to the arteries that supply the prostate, a treatment called embolization. Our study confirmed that PAE does not cause sexual dysfunction and preserves fertility,” explained Pisco. Pisco also indicated that such a study was the largest of its kind. “In fact, 148 (31.6 percent) of our treated patients reported improved sexual function. We also found that the larger the prostate and the more severe the symptoms are, the better the results of PAE," noted Pisco. Success rates in 469 patients (ages 45-89) treated with PAE were as follows: 87.2 percent at three months, 80.2 percent at 18 months and 72.3 percent at three years. One patient suffered from lack of blood flow to the bladder wall that was then corrected by surgery, and one patient had pain that lasted three months. In cases where the problem recurred, it often could be re-treated with PAE. With PAE, an interventional radiologist makes a small incision in the groin and directs a catheter to the prostate artery. Microscopic beads are released into the artery, where they lodge and temporarily block blood flow to the prostate, causing it to shrink. PAE currently is the focus of several U.S. trials. "These results are very promising for American men," said SIR President-elect James B. Spies, M.D., MPH, FSIR. Spies acts as a principal investigator on one the ongoing U.S. PAE trials, noted that this treatment is an advanced embolization procedure requiring meticulous training and a detailed knowledge of the prostate anatomy and surrounding vessels. "Interventional radiologists are leaders in bringing forth new treatments such as these responsibly," said Spies, who also serves as chair of the radiology department at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital and professor of radiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Spies concludes that additional study is called for to further establish the safety, efficacy, and durability of this particular treatment before it becomes widely available in clinical ... Read more

Biomakers Determine Efficiency of Radiation Treatments …

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According to a recent study by a team of international researchers led by Beaumont Health System's Jan Akervall, M.D., Ph.D., examined biomarkers to determine their overall effectiveness in radiation treatments for patients with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. They recognized two markers that were good at predicting a patient's resistance to radiation therapy. The study’s findings were eventually published in a recent issue of the European Journal of Cancer. "Radiation therapy is a common treatment for people with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. However, it's not always well-tolerated. It can take two months, resulting in lots of side effects. Some of these complications are permanent. Before my patient goes down that path, I really want to know if their tumors are going to respond to radiation. That's where the patient's biomarkers can shed some light. If not, we can look at other treatment options - saving time, possible risk for complications and expense,” explained Akervall, who also serves as co-director, Head and Neck Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, and clinical director of Beaumont's BioBank. A biomarker is a gene or a set of genes or its derivatives, RNA, and proteins, that researchers use to predict an important clinical issue such as diagnosis, prognosis, and response to treatment, choice of treatment or recurrence. Biomarker studies can offer a bridge between the gap made by emerging molecular information and clinical treatment. Biomarkers may also lead to personalized treatment, in contrast to protocol-based medicine of today. "Personalized treatment decisions based on biomarkers go beyond traditional cancer staging classifications. Individualized treatment plans could reduce morbidity and potentially improve survival by avoiding treatment failures.There is reason to believe that a better understanding of the biological properties of these tumors, as measured in the patient's pre-treatment biopsies, may lead us to predict the response to radiation therapy and concurrent chemoradiation, thus allowing for tailored patient-specific treatment strategies,” said Akervall. The study followed and observed two groups of patients. Within the first cohort of patients, researchers screened 18,000 genes and identified five distinct markers. The second cohort was much larger and verified these findings (two of them in particular). Two markers had a high propensity at predicting whether or not radiation-based therapy would be effective. "While our findings are encouraging, and a step toward personalized medicine, we hope to do more of this research with a larger, randomized trial,” said Akervall.According to the National Cancer Institute, most cancers of the head and neck usually begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces of the mouth, nose and throat. Three risk factors identified with squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck include; tobacco and alcohol use, as well as infection with cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus or ... Read more

Video Glasses Help Ease Patients during Procedures…

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According to a recent study, patients watched television shows or movies through specialized video glasses while undergoing a biopsy or any other minimally invasive medical procedure. The study’s findings are set to be presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 39th Annual Scientific Meeting. And while interventional radiology treatments provide less risk, less pain, and less recovery time as opposed to open surgery, patients can still be nervous about them and their possible results. Researchers have rationed out strategies and plans other than medication in order to diminish anxiety, including having the patient listen to music or undergo hypnosis; however, these methods only have slight and minor benefits at best. "Interventional radiologists are focused on innovation and creativity by applying novel devices to variable situations. Our study, which is the first of its kind for interventional radiology treatments, puts a spin on using modern technology to provide a safe, potentially cost-effective strategy of reducing anxiety, which can help and improve patient care," said lead author of the study and professor and chair of the department of imaging sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., David L. Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., FSIR. "Whether they were watching a children's movie or a nature show, patients wearing video glasses were successful at tuning out their surroundings," he noted. "It's an effective distraction technique that helps focus the individual's attention away from the treatment," Waldman added. The study involved 49 patients (33 men and 16 women, ages 18-87) who were receiving an outpatient interventional radiology treatment, such as a biopsy or placement of a catheter in the arm or chest to receive medication for treating cancer or infection. Twenty-five of the 49 patients put on video glasses prior to undergoing the treatment while 24 did not. Patients chose from a selection of 20 videos, none of which were violent in content. All filled out a standard 20-question test called the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y before and after the procedure to evaluate their level of anxiety. Patients who wore video glasses were 18.1 percent less anxious following treatment than they were prior to treatment, while those who didn't wear video glasses were only 7.5 percent less anxious following treatment. “The presence of the video glasses did not bother either the patient or the doctor. There was no significant effect on blood pressure heart rate, respiratory rate, pain, procedure time, or amount of sedation or pain medication,” noted Waldman. "Patients told us the video glasses really helped calm them down and took their mind off the treatment, and we now offer video glasses to help distract patients from medical treatment going on mere inches away. It is really comforting for patients, especially the ones who tend to be more nervous," he ... Read more

Significant Reduction in use of Cardiac Imaging …

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According to a study recently published in the journal JAMA, there has been a steppe decrease since 2006 in the use of nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI; an imaging procedure used to determine areas of the heart with decreased blood flow), ... Read more

Neighboring Cells Modified to Protect Themselves…

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According to a recent study, cells normally self-destruct when permanent glitches take place in their DNA. Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, helps insure that cells with damaged DNA do not grow and duplicate to produce more mutated cells. ... Read more

New Minimal-invasive Treatment, Y-90 Safer for …

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Based on research that was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 39th Annual Scientific Meeting, minimally invasive treatment that delivers cancer-killing radiation directly to tumors shows major promise in treating breast cancer ... Read more

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