New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

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Post by kenobewan » Sat Aug 18, 2012 7:21 am

Pyruvate kinase M2 fuels tumor growth by influencing H3 histone protein

A metabolic protein that nourishes cancer cells also activates tumor-promoting genes by loosening part of the packaging that entwines DNA to make up chromosomes, a team led by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reports in the Aug. 16 issue of Cell.

Working in cell lines and mouse models of glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal form of brain tumor, senior author Zhimin Lu, Ph.D., associate professor of Neuro-Oncology at MD Anderson, and colleagues show that pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) fuels tumor growth by influencing a histone protein.

DNA is packaged in and spooled around histone proteins. The researchers found that PKM2 tags histone H3 with a phosphate group (one atom of phosphorous, four of oxygen) in a specific location called T11.

'No phosphorylation of H3, no tumor'

This phosphorylation leads to activation of the tumor-promoting genes, increased tumor cell reproduction and formation of tumors, Lu said. "If there's no phosphorylation of H3, there's no tumor. It's that crucial to glioblastoma formation."

An analysis of 85 human glioblastomas indicated that higher levels of PKM2 expression in the cell nucleus and of H3 phosphorylation are correlated with shorter survival. A separate analysis showed higher levels of H3 phosphorylation associated with higher grade tumors in a comparison of 30 low-grade tumor samples and 45 high grade glioblastomas.

"Histone 3-T11 phosphorylation has great potential to serve as both a prognostic marker and a guide for the use of PKM2-inhibiting therapies once they are developed," Lu said.

PKM2 has long been known for its well-established role in aerobic glycolysis - the processing of glucose into energy that solid tumors, glioblastomas in particular, rely on heavily to survive and grow. Lu and colleagues have been teasing out the mechanisms of PKM2's other role - the transcription and activation of genes.

It all starts with EGFR

When the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on the cell's membrane is activated by a growth factor, the PKM2 protein moves into the cell nucleus, where it binds to the promoter regions of genes. Other proteins called transcription factors attach to a gene's promoter region to activate it.

Cancer cells have high levels of EGFR on the cell surface, relaying growth signals from outside the cell inside. EGFR is itself a target of some cancer drugs.

A series of experiments by the research team uncovered the following molecular steps:

* After EGFR activation, PKM2 binds to histone H3 and attaches a phosphate group at T11. ... otein.aspx

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:45 am

New insight into why glioblastoma multiforme recurs in adults

A study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers published online today in Nature reveals new insight into why the most common, deadly kind of brain tumor in adults recurs and identifies a potential target for future therapies.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) currently is considered incurable. Despite responding to initial therapy, the cancer almost always returns. GBM is a fast-growing, malignant brain tumor that occurred in 15 percent of the estimated 22,000 Americans diagnosed with brain and nervous system tumors in 2010. The median survival rate is about 15 months, according to the National Cancer Institute.

"We identified a subset of brain tumor cells that are slower growing or remain at rest, and appear to be the source of cancer recurrence after standard therapy in which the drug temozolomide is given to stop the tumor's growth," said Dr. Luis Parada, chairman of developmental biology and director of the Kent Waldrep Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration. "Current therapy targets fast-growing tumor cells but not those responsible for new tumors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first identification of a cancer stem-like cell in a spontaneously forming tumor inside a mammal."

Using a genetically engineered mouse model of GBM, the researchers found that the resting tumor cells act more like stem cells - the non-cancerous cells the body uses to repair and replenish itself - which exist in a resting state until needed, he explained.

The existence of cancer stem cells in solid tumors remains controversial, Dr. Parada said, with some scientists in the field taking the concept for granted and others rejecting it outright. In addition, the definition of a cancer stem cell is a moving target, hence the use of the term stem-like cell in this study, he said.

"We are trying to better understand these cells. The important point is that we now are faced with technical obstacles, not conceptual ones," said Dr. Parada. ... dults.aspx

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:12 am

New therapies offer hope for patients with deadly brain tumors

With most of her hair shaved off and a long scar down the back of her head, Olivia Mitchell sat in an exam room at Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center awaiting the results of an MRI that would determine the next course of her life.

“We have good news,” said Dr. Olivier Rixe, her neuro-oncologist and director of the experimental therapeutics program in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. “The MRI looks great.”

“That’s a great scan,” said Dr. John Vender, her neurosurgeon and the vice chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery.

Then Mitchell wants to know the bigger question she faces battling her glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor: How long does she have? “It could be a year,” Rixe said. “It could be five years.”

Particularly in light of some clinical trials and new drugs in the pipeline that could offer hope to patients such as Mitchell.

“We see now patients at years three, four, five, six,” Rixe said. “That’s a totally new story.”

Dr. Rixe has been brought in to help lead the multidisciplinary neuro-oncology program at the cancer center but also to help bring in new clinical trials for tough-to-treat cancers such as glioblastoma.

“One of my No. 1 missions is to bring innovation here in town,” Rixe said. “We want all of the patients to have top, cutting-edge, innovative clinical research, clinical trials here in town.”

Rixe has been in on the development of several new drugs, the latest being Zaltrap, which was approved last month by the Food and Drug Administration to treat metastatic colorectal cancer. Rixe is trying to bring to the cancer center a glioblastoma vaccine clinical trial that he participated in elsewhere.

“The results are so promising,” he said.

He also participated in early clinical trials of a therapy that uses a monoclonal antibody to target a receptor on the outside of the glioblastoma tumor cells and then deliver a dose of toxins.

“We deliver the toxin to the tumor, not to the normal tissue,” Rixe said. “That’s another generation of molecular-targeted therapies. I have 10 examples like that.”

For decades, treatment of these brain tumors involved surgery, radiation and one chemotherapy drug, but that is changing quickly, he said.

“Now, during the next five years, it is going to be a total revolution,” Rixe said. “We have new tools. The goal is really to improve the survival.”

For Mitchell, the goal is to figure out what has changed and how to cope with it. Her last clear memory before the diagnosis was her mother’s 94th birthday in April. Then, after she returned home from hernia surgery, she began to have problems. Her son-in-law, who lives on the floor below her, became alarmed when he heard her complaining that she didn’t know where she was.

“He got my daughter up there, and I didn’t know her,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t know what was going on, if I had a stroke or a heart attack. I was out of it.”

It turned out to be a massive tumor stretching from the back upper left part of her brain toward the middle, Vender said.

“It was extremely large, and you had the hemorrhage,” he told her.

For now, the plan is to keep Mitchell on a chemotherapy drug and do an MRI every three months. If that changes, the cancer center is doing a genetic profile of her tumor to see what kinds of new therapies will work best, Rixe said.

“That’s the beauty of a comprehensive cancer center,” he said. “Because we get the (genetic) markers, we get the new trials and we can move to the next step.”

Mitchell might receive treatments that people used to leave Augusta and Georgia to get, Rixe said.

“We need to bring this kind of innovation,” he said. “That’s our mission. That’s why we are here.” ... ain-tumors

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:38 am

Potential Drug Discovered for Brain Tumor

A group of scientists have identified a biomarker of the most lethal form of brain tumors in adults, Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research said on Tuesday.

The biomarker is found in cancer stem cells. The discovery of the biomarker could potentially prevent the progression and relapse of the brain tumor, known as glioblastoma multiforme, it said.

The biomarker was discovered by scientists at the Institute of Medical Biology, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, in collaboration with scientists from the agency's Bioinformatics Institute and clinical collaborators from the Medical University of Graz, Austria, and the National University of Singapore.

When the scientists depleted the biomarker with a potential drug, the cancer cells were completely destroyed, the researchers said.

The agency said this is an important breakthrough as current therapies such as gamma radiation and surgical methods proved to be inadequate in treating these brain tumours, which tend to re- grow from cancer stem cells and become extremely lethal.

Glioblastoma multiforme accounts for 60 percent of the estimated 17,000 primary brain tumors diagnosed in the United States each year. Patients diagnosed typically do not live longer than 12 to 14 months.

The findings will "facilitate the translation of basic research into clinical applications such as targeted drug design to treat brain cancer," said David Lane, chief scientist at the agency.

The research findings were published in the scientific journal Cell Reports from Cell Press in August.

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:49 pm

Green chemistry: Cancer research yields nylon?

Cancer researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., have been studying the DNA in tumors called glioblastomas — hoping, ultimately, to help find a cure for the disease.

They haven’t found that yet, but they may have come across something else scientists are seeking: an enzyme that could help companies make nylon without depending on fossil fuels.

Duke researcher Zachary Reitman and colleagues reported Sunday in the journal Nature Chemical Biology that inserting glioblastoma genes into yeast allowed them to make an enzyme called 2-hydroxyadipate dehydrogenase — a molecule chemists need to make adipic acid, a key ingredient in nylon, from sugar.

Today, adipic acid, which is produced in vast quantities, is made using petroleum products.

Scientists would prefer to produce it by inserting genes into microbes that allow the organisms to turn sugars they consume into chemicals, explained Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer and biochemist at Caltech who was not involved in the Duke study.

Researchers had already figured out a way to use microbes to make adipic acid using 2-hydroxyadipate dehydrogenase, but the enzyme had proved hard to find. It was known, however, that human brain cancers made something similar to it. The Duke team tested a hypothesis that versions of genes associated with the glioblastomas could be used in yeast to make the chemical they sought. They found that they could.

“This is an example of how these things happen,” Arnold said.

But she stressed that the paper marked “an incremental advance” among many that would be required to make large amounts of adipic acid through green chemistry. Chemists will need to introduce many optimized genes into microbes to make the whole chain of enzymes needed to convert sugars into the chemical, she said.

“Each little brick in the building has to be shaped and honed and discovered. This is one of those bricks, but it’s not a building,” she said.

Companies already use microbial processes to produce chemicals like lactic acid and isobutanol, she said, but compared with adipic acid, those are simple to make. What’s more, industry would need to spend hundreds of millions to get production up to scale.

“It’s hard to compete with carbon, because it’s cheap,” Arnold said.

But she noted that adipic acid was a "big-scale chemical ... if we could make it from microbes rather than fossil fuels, that would be great." ... ?track=rss

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Sep 29, 2012 5:36 am

Bend woman keeps running despite brain tumor

BEND — In the cool of a red-sun morning, Johanna Olson ran effortlessly through Farewell Bend Park, legs floating as if unshackled from gravity.

The Bend resident stopped, all lean limbs and toothy grin. She drew laughs by announcing in mock diva-style that any photos had better show off her best side. Then she chatted brightly about all she’s been up to — a 21-mile run for her marathon training, a five-day camp in California where she learned to surf.

Out here is where Olson, 33, feels her best. Here it’s just the rhythm of her breath, her mind unburdened by what’s happening in her head.

“It sounds so cheesy,” she said, “but running is the one thing in my life that’s always there and always good.”

A tenacious tumor lurks inside Olson’s brain, a shadow that has stalked her since she was 18 years old.

It first made itself known when Olson was in her first season as a star cross country runner at Luther College in Iowa. Over the course of two years, she had a brain surgery and a round of radiation treatments.

Her good health returned, Olson quickly racked up cross country accolades such as league MVP, seven-time All-American and, finally in 2000, NCAA Division III women’s individual cross country champion. After college, she twice competed in the U.S. Olympic trials.

But in 2009, after more than a decade of quiet, Olson’s annual CT scan showed the tumor had returned.

Since then it’s been a journey of treatments and surgery and doctors. She regularly feels tired, her once muscular body now so thin. She will find out in mid-October if the latest treatment — a drug meant to arrest the tumor’s growth — is working, and what comes next.

Not that all of this is Olson’s focus. Instead, she’s looking ahead to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 7 in Minnesota.

Olson and her sister, Marney, grew up in Wadena, Minn., a town of fewer than 5,000 people. Her parents were runners, and her father, Terry Olson, was her cross country and track coach.

Olson recalls that she just loved to run. She did her first 5K at age 8. During summer tennis lessons, she would get bored. ... ck_check=1

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:35 am

Drug used to treat alcohol addiction could destroy deadly brain tumours

A drug used to treat alcohol addiction could help destroy deadly brain tumours, research has shown.

For more than 60 years, disulfiram has been used as part of therapy to wean people off alcohol.

It makes the body acutely sensitive to alcohol, producing an unpleasant reaction.

Now scientists believe the drug could offer new hope to patients with glioblastoma, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer.

Unlike most drugs, disulfiram is able to penetrate the 'blood-brain barrier' - a physical and molecular wall that keeps toxic substances out of the brain.

Laboratory tests have shown that the drug is effective at killing cultured glioblastoma cells.

This is especially true when disulfiram is combined with gemcitabine, one of the few chemotherapy drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

Each year around 5,000 people in the UK develop malignant brain tumours.

Only around 27 per cent of patients in England diagnosed with glioblastoma survive for a year or more.

Because disulfiram is already a licensed drug with a known safety record, it could have a fast passage to clinical trials as a brain cancer treatment.

Study leader Dr Weiguang Wang, from the University of Wolverhampton, said: 'We’ve been studying the cancer-fighting properties of disulfiram for over a decade, so it’s very exciting to have reached a stage where clinical trials may be possible.

'These latest findings suggest that the drug may work by transporting copper into the cancer cells, generating destructive free-radicals that build up and kill the cell.

The drug could help fight brain tumours (pictured) as it can penetrate the 'blood-brain barrier' and overload the cancer cells with copper, which helps kills them

'Glioblastoma cells tend to have much higher levels of copper than normal tissues, meaning additional copper may tip them over the edge while sparing normal tissues.

'The idea of using copper to tackle cancer was first suggested by UK scientists in the 1920s.

'But this is the first time that scientists have found a way of successfully transporting excess copper into cancer cells and shown how this can be combined with conventional chemotherapy treatment to help kill glioblastoma cells.

'We’re now working on the best way to deliver dilsulfiram and hope to begin clinical trials in cancer patients as soon as funding can be secured.'

The research is published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Dr Julie Sharp, from Cancer Research UK, which owns the journal, said: 'One of the big challenges in cancer treatment is how to successfully kill tumour cells without harming the surrounding tissues.

'Drugs like this one, which can both penetrate the blood brain barrier and increase the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy, could play an important role in overcoming the problem of resistance to help improve the outlook for people with brain tumours.'

Sarah Lindsell, head of The Brain Tumour Charity, which funded the research, said: 'We see first-hand the devastating effects that glioblastomas have on patients and their families and this research could be a foundation to improve treatment and extend life expectancy.

'It is only through funding much-needed research that we can offer real hope to people who are diagnosed with a glioblastoma in the future.' ... mours.html

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Fri Nov 09, 2012 6:24 am

Repeated surgeries may improve survival for patients with glioblastomas

People who undergo repeated surgeries to remove glioblastomas - the most aggressive and deadliest type of brain tumors - may survive longer than those who have just a one-time operation, new Johns Hopkins research suggests.

Glioblastoma, the brain cancer that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy, inevitably returns after tumor-removal surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation. The median survival time after diagnosis is only 14 months. With recurrence a near certainty, experts say, many have questioned the value of performing second, third or even fourth operations, especially given the dangers of brain surgery, including the risk of neurological injury or death.

"We are reluctant to operate on patients with brain cancer multiple times as we are afraid to incur new neurological deficits or poor wound healing, and many times we are pessimistic about the survival chances of these patients," says Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, M.D., a professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leader of the study published recently in the Journal of Neurosurgery. "But this study tells us that the more we operate, the longer they may survive. We should not give up on these patients."

For the study, Quinones-Hinojosa and his team reviewed the records of 578 patients who underwent surgery to remove a glioblastoma between 1997 and 2007 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. At the last follow-up, 354 patients had one surgery, 168 had two resections, and 41 and 15 patients had three and four operations, respectively. The median survival for patients who underwent one, two, three and four operations was 6.8 months, 15.5 months, 22.4 months and 26.6 months, respectively.

Quinones-Hinojosa cautions that his analysis may overestimate the value of multiple surgeries based on patient selection, and that it's possible that the patients who did better had tumors with a biology that predisposed them to live longer. Further research will need to confirm his more positive conclusion. ... tomas.aspx

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:33 am

Drug offers brain cancer victims extra weeks of normal life

Patients with incurable brain tumours could be given new hope thanks to a drug currently used on bowel cancer, a study suggests.

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) kills more people under 40 than any other cancer. Each year in the UK, around 3,000 are diagnosed with the disease, the most common and most dangerous of brain tumours.

Unlike other cancers, which are more likely to strike as patients get older, GBM is just as prevalent in patients who are young and healthy.

Unfortunately, the average sufferer will only survive for 14 months after diagnosis and 2,500 die from their tumours annually.

However, a new trial published yesterday shows patients can be given an extra four-and-a-half months without their condition worsening if they also receive the drug Avastin.

The trial on 911 men and women suggests Avastin can slow the growth of the tumour, giving patients a few more months of relatively normal life before the tumour grows so big that it starts to destroy their ability to speak, their behaviour, their memory and their movement.

Normally, a patient with GBM will have around six months between diagnosis and treatment, and when they relapse and their condition deteriorates. The new trial suggests Avastin could boost that to around ten months.

Dr Kirsten Hopkins, a consultant clinical oncologist at the Bristol Oncology Centre who was in charge of the UK branch of the trial, said that although the benefit might sound small, a few weeks would be extremely important for patients.

‘These patients are often young and this disease is devastating. Everyone I speak to in the medical world feels that if they were the ones diagnosed, they would want to be themselves for as long as possible,’ she says.

‘This is a time when patients need to be able to talk to their family, do things with loved ones, discuss the future and what their wishes are for when they have passed away.

‘Giving them a few extra months to do that before they deteriorate and cannot speak is important. This is an endpoint in itself, even if this drug does not improve overall survival rates.’

The results of the AvAglio trial, presented at the Society for Neuro-Oncology annual meeting in Washington, do not reveal whether patients who took Avastin also survived for longer, but this set of data is due to be published early next year.

At the moment, patients diagnosed with GBM are usually offered surgery to remove the tumour, followed by cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For most, however, relapse is inevitable and half will have died from the disease within 14 months. Around 25 per cent will manage to survive for two years, while fewer than ten per cent live for five years.

Avastin, which is made by the pharmaceutical giant Roche, works by reducing blood supply to the tumour and slowing its growth. It is already used to treat colorectal, breast and ovarian cancers.

Some patients in the UK already receive Avastin to treat recurrent forms of brain cancer, but most have had to apply through the Cancer Drugs Fund because it is not yet approved for this use on the NHS.

Charities welcomed the news but said they wanted to know more about any possible side-effects of taking Avastin, as well as ensure it was given to patients before they deteriorated. They pointed out that at the moment only 0.7 per cent of total NHS cancer funding is spent on brain tumours.

Colin Speirs, founder of the charity Headcase, lost his wife Becky to GBM when she was only 40. She was diagnosed in 2009 and died 14 months later, leaving three young children.

‘In principle, anything that slows the progression of GBM has to be a good thing,’ he said.

‘But this disease is such a minefield and it’s important to remember different patients are affected differently, depending on which side of the brain the tumour is found.

‘My wife was climbing mountains after she was diagnosed but then the tumour progressed and it was on the left of her brain, so it affected movement, personality and memory.

‘I would want any new drug to ensure it gives patients four more months when they can climb mountains and not four more when the disease has already robbed them of their speech and memory.’

It currently takes the average GP three months to diagnose GBM.

This is because symptoms include severe headaches, vomiting and blurred vision, which can be attributed to other conditions such as migraine. Sufferers may also experience an itchy head and feel as if something is running across their scalp.

Figures suggest that in the next few years, about 20,000 Britons will be diagnosed with brain tumours.

Three in every four will be the result of cancers in other parts of the body spreading to the brain. ... ctims.html

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:04 am

Mick Gatto raises $600,000 to fight brain cancer

UNDERWORLD figure Mick Gatto has taken on one of his biggest fights to date, raising more than $600,000 in the fight against brain cancer.

The colourful identity is no stranger to fundraising but said the fight against the disease that had touched so many people was one of his most important.

At a gala dinner last night Gatto handed over a cheque for $673,263 to reknowned Sydney brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo.

Gatto said more than 1200 people at the dinner had helped to raise more than $1 million and said some of the money had been used to fund four other charities.

"Charlie Teo is an unbelievable human being, and I am incredibly proud of what we've been able to do together," he told the Herald Sun today.

"It is an unbelievable cause and hopefully we can help to try and find a cure for cancer," he said.

"A lot of people good friends of mine have been touched by cancer, so it's a cause I am happy to support."

Gatto said he met Dr Teo after he was approached by a man who asked him if he could help him reach the high-profile doctor.

"His mum had cancer and I didn’t know his mum, I didn't even know him, but I had some contacts in Sydney and we were able to reach Charlie," he said.

After Dr Teo saved the woman’s life, he and Gatto came up with a way to raise funds for his Cure For Life Foundation.

The pairing hasn’t been without criticism but Gatto says he doesn't care.

"It's not about me, it’s about the cause and raising money. That’s the focus," he said.

In 2010 Gatto teamed up with Hollywood icon Jerry Lewis to raise money to help sufferers of muscular dystrophy.

Lewis approached him after he was told about Gatto's efforts raising more than $1 million to support Black Saturday survivors. ... 6522907759

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:22 am

New 'waterbed' treatment gives cancer patient hope

After months of regular scans, so common they barely rated a mention, it was the sight of a miniscule blood vessel which turned Rome Torti’s world back upside down.

After defeating an insidious tumour the size of an orange, which had forced it’s way into the left temporal lobe of his brain, the 30-year-old was feeling the best he had in years.

Surgery soon after the tumour was discovered in May 2009 reduced it to the size of a golf ball, and despite the sympathetic looks and conversations peppered with the phrases "time left" and "all we can do" from doctors, a combination of conventional and natural therapies reduced the rest of the tumour to mere scar tissue three years later.

However, sitting in a radiographers room in September 2012, just weeks after Rome began a new job and was entertaining the idea of driving again - and just months after marrying Rachel, the love of his life and mother of this two-and-a-half year-old son Ryder - doctors discovered blood vessels were once again feeding the tumour.

It was back, this time the size of a pea but so deep within his brain tissue that an operation would prove fruitless.

Doctors again started with the sympathetic looks, but the Gold Coast photographer wanted none of it.

“I was just thinking, ‘I am not ready for this, I have plans’. There is still so much I want to do that I haven’t done yet, so no," he said.

“So this time, it’s like, ‘OK, what can we do?'”

Rachel immediately switched the family to a “clean” diet, filled with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and one that cut out sugars and bad fats, which appears to have helped restrict the tumour’s growth.

Chemotherapy was once again offered, but doctors were unsure how much of an impact it would have and radiation was considered too dangerous this time around.

Then the family’s naturopath suggested hyperthermia treatment, a course of treatment popular in Germany and other parts of Europe and Asia, but little known in Australia.

Friends of the couple, including Aaron Morrison of Morrison Media, immediately launched fundraisers to help pay for “whatever Rome needed, wherever” and while investigating options, they discovered the new Oncothermia Clinic based at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital in Sydney.

Rachel contacted them and after a tense wait and consultation, Rome was accepted.

The clinic, just opened for a month after years of fundraising and campaigning by Jenny Barlow, a New South Wales woman who discovered the treatment option after losing her husband to cancer in 2006, has already treated five patients.

Rome will be one of the first brain tumour patients to undergo the procedure in Australia later this month.

Dr Michael Jackson, a radiation oncologist consultant with the clinic, described his hopes for oncothermia treatment as “cautiously optimistic”.

“It’s a form of hyperthermia or heat treatment, and the rationale is that [if] cancers are resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, heating them, at least in the lab and in experimental animals, makes those cancer cells more sensitive to radiation without causing the more normal cells to be sensitive. So hopefully you get more tumour shrinkage without any increase in side effects,” he said.

Patients are placed in what looks like “a large water bed, which has water heated to 30 degrees, so it’s nice and comfortable,” Dr Jackson said.

“That acts as one of the electrodes and the other is a paddle which is about 30-40 cm across, which you put over the part of the body where the tumour is and the electric field then runs between the water bed and the paddle.

“Then you just lie there for an hour.”

Dr Jackson said there had not been a lot of published studies completed on the effects of oncothermia, which he hoped the Australian clinic could change.

“Once we have experience using it [the oncothermia machine] we intend to, set up a formal trial,” he said.

“The neurosurgeon, Charlie Teo, [also based at the Prince of Wales hospital] who treats a lot of patients who are in fairly desperate straits, has sent patients to Germany for a similar technique and he had had some good results with some of his patients, so we thought there was enough evidence, not hard evidence, but enough suggestive evidence to make it worth trialing this treatment here in Australia.”

That treatment won’t come cheap – the clinic hasn’t worked out the final figures, but each treatment is expected to cost between $3000 and $4000.

“We are trying to select patients who have a reasonable chance of benefit, so people like Rome are very good, because while they have a tumour which is dangerous to them, they are quite well at the moment. So they are in a position where if they do benefit, if the tumour does shrink with the oncothermia, they can take advantage of that.

“This treatment, it is potentially valuable but it is still experimental…we hope it will work, we still have to prove that and if it does, it will mostly be as an adjunct to other treatments. It can work on its own, but we think it will get its best results combined with chemotherapy or radiotherapy or possibly both.”

For Rome and his family, who for their son are treating their three week stay in Sydney as a “holiday where dad just has to go to the hospital every second day”, it’s a chance.

The couple have chosen to focus on staying positive and happy, an attitude which has helped them through some of the darkest times.

“We have always had fun the whole way through it,” Rachel said.

"It seems so stupid, but we would just put on funny music on the way to treatment, we are always smiling and happy where ever we go, because that’s just Rome’s disposition and that is the only way I felt we could get through it

“Everyone else is so sad in the waiting rooms and I do feel guilty, because we are always smiling in there.

“But you either laugh or cry and that has always been our theory. And we choose to laugh.”

Rome added: “It’s not really me to try and be anything other than as happy as I can be and I have a lot to be really, really happy about.

“So to keep that, I am not going to say no to anything. I suppose it is what anyone would do. You can be angry and think, ‘why is God or whoever doing this to me’, or you can just pick yourself up and stand up and do what ever it is you have to do.

"And I am just going to keep making that choice to stand up.” ... ope/?cs=12

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:52 am

Ministers part ways in $475m health row

FEDERAL Labor's Victorian health funding woes worsened yesterday when it failed to negotiate a settlement with the Baillieu government over $475 million in cuts.

Talks between Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and her Victorian counterpart David Davis collapsed when Ms Plibersek refused to give ground. This is despite deep concerns in the ALP that the dispute will cost the party any chance of holding on to four key marginal seats at the September federal election.

The Baillieu government insists the Gillard government is ripping $475m out of the health budget over four years by basing calculations on flawed Treasury population estimates. It says the population fell by 11,111 last year.

The federal government blames $616m worth of state budget cuts for the crisis.

Ms Plibersek left Melbourne yesterday describing Mr Davis as incompetent.

"There's almost $300m available as GST windfall and the Health Minister has said he's not prepared to ask his cabinet to spend that money on health," she said. "I've also pointed out to him there's almost $300m available over the next four years in extra funding from the commonwealth where he basically just has to get his paperwork right."

Mr Davis later travelled to the Heidelberg Repatriation Centre at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne's northeast to join Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin to open a commonwealth-funded surgery centre. Last week, the funding impasse forced the hospital to announce it would have to take 800 elective surgery patients off its waiting list. Ms Macklin declined to comment on the basis health was not her portfolio.

Mr Davis said federal contributions to the Victorian health funding pool had fallen by $15.3m each month since November while state contributions had been maintained.

"We will continue to push the case for Victorian hospitals and patients," Mr Davis said. "I don't think (Ms Plibersek) understood the complexity of the Treasury calculations and how flawed they are, and I don't think she has sincerely engaged with that.

"I asked her to review all of those matters, to look at the working documents and actually understand that, and she refused point blank."

Austin Health chief executive Brendan Murphy declined to apportion blame for the funding cuts, but admitted they had caused headaches for hospitals across Victoria. "The biggest challenge we face is that this is happening in the middle of a financial year, with very short notice, and we don't, as a system, adapt very well to a sudden reduction in funding," he said.

The Australian Nursing Federation will tomorrow hold a rally in Melbourne's Treasury Gardens calling for both levels of government to reach a compromise. ... 6567119107

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:02 am

Mom Stuns Doctors, Beats Deadliest Brain Cancer

Heather Knies was given a death sentence at the age of 24. She battled not one, but two brain tumors -- one of them a grade 4 glioblastoma, the same kind of cancer that killed Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2010.

But today, six years later, she is cancer-free, and her doctors at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona cannot explain it. Her latest MRI is clean, and she is neurologically intact.

The now-32-year-old Knies has not only outlived her life expectancy, she has married and become a mother. Her successful parenthood is remarkable, as intense radiation and chemotherapy can render cancer patients infertile.

Knies's daughter, Zoe, who is 7 months old, celebrated her first Christmas in December.

Knies's doctors say that in rare instances, a patient can break the "biological rules." But most often in those cases, the initial pathology of the tumor was suspect.

In her case, the pathology was "not controversial," according to her surgeon, Dr. Robert Spetzler, director of the Barrow Neurological Institute at Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

In his 35 years as a neurosurgeon in the United States, Spetzler said he has never seen such a triumph against a stage 4 glioblastoma.

"It's one of the most malignant tumors there is," he said. "Invariably it will come back and pop up somewhere else in the brain and it's uniformly fatal."

"It's not unheard of that that a few survive -- it's a bell curve and there are outliers," he said. "But in her case, not only has she survived, but she is perfectly normal and there is absolutely no evidence of a tumor on her MRI scan."

Knies has a few of her own theories for why she is still alive today.

"One, being God had a plan for me," said Knies. "I also had a great team of doctors and wonderful family and friends with a positive attitude."

"The mind is so much more powerful than anyone can imagine," she said. "People believe that when they get cancer, it will kill them. But I never once thought that."

Spetzler said Knies was "on the young side" for a glioblastoma, but it can occur at any age, "even in infants."

It all began in 2005, when Knies had the first symptom that something was wrong. She had just started a new job as a receptionist at a doctor's office and was driving home from work.

"Suddenly, I didn't understand what the dashed white line meant in the road," said Knies. "I had been driving since I was 15, so I started panicking and called my Mom. She asked, 'Did you take something?'"

Knies could see, but couldn't understand what she was seeing.

"I was only 24 and I was having visual problems," she said. "I can't even describe them."

Her boss, a dermatologist, insisted she see a specialist, and an MRI showed a low-grade tumor that was pressing on the visual reception cord in her brain.

"I had just moved to Phoenix from Missouri. I was just out of college and felt like I had the whole world waiting there for me," said Knies, ever the optimist. "Looking back, it probably grounded me a bit."

She underwent surgery at another institution, and she enrolled in a drug trial for an oral chemotherapy at Duke University, repeating MRIs every three months.

She says doctors told her to, "Go live your life."

But in less than a year one of the scans showed the white flairs of tumor growth. ... d=18135106

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:49 am

Modern Diet Ruining Our Teeth

A study of the evolution of our teeth over the last 7,500 years shows that humans today have less diverse oral bacteria than historic populations, which scientists believe have contributed to chronic oral diseases in post-industrial lifestyles.

The researchers, from the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD), the University of Aberdeen (Dept of Archeology), Scotland, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, England, published their study in Nature Genetics.

The authors say that analyzing the DNA of calcified bacteria on the teeth of humans throughout modern and ancient history "has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behavior from the Stone Age to modern day".

The scientists explained that there were negative changes in oral bacteria as our diets altered when we moved from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. Further changes were observed when humans started manufacturing food during the Industrial Revolution.

Study leader Professor Alan Cooper, ACAD Director, said:

"This is the first record of how our evolution over the last 7500 years has impacted the bacteria we carry with us, and the important health consequences.

Oral bacteria in modern man are markedly less diverse than historic populations and this is thought to contribute to chronic oral and other disease in post-industrial lifestyles."

The scientists extracted DNA from calcified dental plaque (tartar) from 34 prehistoric human skeletons from northern Europe. They examined the changes in the nature of oral bacteria that were first present in prehistoric hunter-gatherers, through to the Bronze Age when farming became established, then to Medieval times and finally to the Industrial Revolution and later.

Dr Christina Adler, lead author, who was a PhD student at the University of Adelaide during the study, said "Genetic analysis of plaque can create a powerful new record of dietary impacts, health changes and oral pathogen genomic evolution, deep into the past." Dr. Adler now works at the University of Sydney.

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Re: New therapies improving survival in patients with GBM

Post by kenobewan » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:13 pm

Sydney scientists target cancer genes

THE carpet-bombing style of cancer treatment is being replaced by smart medicines that target specific genes with patient-specific drugs.

A team of Sydney doctors and scientists are working on a project that makes unprecedentedly accurate diagnoses they hope will more than double the number of patients who can be helped with new smart drugs.

"We are looking at DNA changes in a patient's tumours to see what drug they can be given to specifically target that change," says pathologist Associate Professor Sandra O'Toole, a member of the team at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Smart drugs, which have been used successfully against breast cancer, are showing promising results for melanoma, lung cancer and colon cancer, she says.

"What we do is look for the specific gene or genes that the cancer relies on and use targeted treatments to shut them down," she told AAP on Monday.

"As a result, we are currently seeing stunning results for some cancer patients, although many patients eventually become resistant to the new treatment."

It is thought about half of Australia's patients with the most common types of cancer could eventually benefit.

Conventional genetic testing is focused on a specific gene and usually fails to pinpoint the cause of the cancer. "What we are doing is looking at lots of genes at one time on one sample.

"We look at 238 mutations in 19 genes, so we have a much bigger chance of finding a treatable gene."

"Smart drugs tend to have fewer side effects than chemotherapy because they are targeted," Prof O'Toole says.

"Mostly patients take the drugs by mouth and for significant periods have really good results."

The team has so far tested 500 patients.

"It is a very exciting time to be in this area of medicine, particularly for melanoma, lung, colon and breast cancer." ... 6585287024

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