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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:58 am 
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A Biotech Billionaire And His Radical DNA Drug That Kills Cancer From Within

Billionaire Randal Kirk is taking a stake in Ziopharm Oncology, a maverick company developing less toxic chemotherapy drugs, to push forward a novel DNA therapy that he thinks will be far bigger than cancer vaccines. As part of a deal, Kirk’s synthetic biology company Intrexon will get a 12.5% stake in Ziopharm for $11.6 million. That stake could increase to almost 20% If Ziopharm brings any drug based on Intrexon’s DNA therapeutics into a second-stage trial.

As cancer costs explode, Ziopharm is one of a handful of biotech companies focusing on lower cost cancer drugs by coming up with less toxic versions of neglected old chemotherapy drugs. Ziopharm chief executive Jon Lewis, an outspoken former surgeon from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, says companies need to be able to make affordable cancer drugs that don’t cost patients $100,000 a year. “Innovation must be fostered, but how does one do that in a way that costs don’t keep spiralling?” says Lewis. “If there was a more efficient way of developing drugs they could be priced cheaper.”

One way to do that is to increase the effectiveness of old chemotherapy drugs by reducing toxic side effects. The company’s lead drug palifosfamide is a new version an existing chemo drug ifosfamide that is potent but too toxic to use on many people. That drug causes releases several toxic chemicals as it is broken down to its active form in the body. The new drug consists of just the active portion of that drug to eliminate toxic side effects such as bowel inflammation. In an initial trial last year, the drug delayed growth of sarcoma by about three months versus standard treatment. Final stages trials in sarcoma could yield results in 2012, while a small trial in lung cancer just started.

Kirk, who owns a majority stake in Intrexon, stands to make a bundle if the sarcoma drug works. But he says he didn’t even bother to do due diligence on the sarcoma drug. His real interest is in pushing forward a new type of cancer treatment from Intrexon that uses synthetic biology to come up with new DNA based drugs trigger cells to produce powerful cancer killing chemicals just where they are needed inside the body. This could have far fewer side effects than injecting cancer killing immune proteins directly into patients. One such protein, IL-2, was once touted as a miracle drug but is so toxic it is not able to be used much. The new technology could provide a safer way treat patients with powerful immune-stimulating proteins.

“This technology is considerably more powerful and considerably broader” than cancer vaccine technology behind such products as Dendreon’s prostate cancer vaccine, says Kirk, who made his $1.7 billion fortune largely through New River Pharmaceuticals, which he sold to Shire in 2007 for $2.6 billion. “This is by far the best thing I have ever seen” as an biotech investor. He predicts the Intrexon technology will be “world-changing.”

Essentially, the Intrexon treatment is a form a gene therapy, a treatment modality that has considerable promise but has had all sorts of safety and efficacy problems in delivering on its promise. Little about it has been published, so it is hard to evaluate the promise. Intrexon’s treatment doesn’t try to introduce new genes into cells permanently, which has led to safety problems in the past, but uses new synthetic DNA molecules that are injected locally near a tumor to trigger the release of powerful immune system proteins that can kill cancer cells. The DNA is not activated until a patient takes a pill, giving further control of how much of the protein is released at what time.

Thanks to the synthetic biology technology, the new DNA drugs from Intrexon, Kirk claims, are 100s of times more potent than previous gene therapy or DNA vaccine approaches that couldn’t get enough DNA into cells to have much of a therapeutic effect. The lead treatment, now in phase 1 trials, aims to produce a potent immune boosting protein called IL-12 inside tumors, while avoiding healthy tissues. One possibility would be to use it as an alternative to surgery for difficult to operate-on tumors.

Kirk says he found the Intrexon technology 12 years ago when he met Intrexon’s founder Thomas Reed, who had a small company pioneering new ways to made synthetic DNA. Kirk says he has been talking to lots of drug and biotech companies about the Intrexon technology, and first approached Lewis last May because of his expertise in cancer drug development. If Intrexon’s new DNA treatment method works, Ziopharm’s current lead sarcoma drug “will be a rounding error” in the company’s future valuation, Kirk says. The company’s would split the profits on any DNA therapeutic that results.

http://blogs.forbes.com/robertlangreth/ ... gelighttop


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 4:08 pm 
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Family of dead chemotherapy drug trial participant seeking justice

(NaturalNews) Twenty-seven-year-old Gary Foster of Essex, U.K., recently died after participating in a government-funded drug trial that involved multiple double-doses of toxic chemotherapy. And while his family has since received the equivalent of nearly half a million dollars as a settlement -- or perhaps hush money, depending on how you look at it -- they are still calling on health safety officials to further investigate the case because they say Foster was "slowly poisoned to death."

Foster first tested positive for testicular cancer, upon which doctors told him that his chances of survival would improve if he participated in the trial. But a mere five months later, he ended up dead instead, which led his loved ones to seek answers. As of yet, however, Foster's parents have not been heard, and can only conclude that Dr. Stephen Harland, the doctor who oversaw Foster's care during the trial, carelessly killed their son without consequence.

And Foster was not the only study participant that died. According to a report in the U.K. Daily Mail, 39-year-old Gareth Kingdon, father of a seven-month-old baby boy, was also killed as a result of taking the deadly chemotherapy drug bleomycin. In Kingdon's case, autopsy reports revealed that doctors severely overdosed him on the drug, which led to fatal lung damage.

Both Foster and Kingdon clearly died as a result of the poisonous drugs they were given by supposed licensed professionals, which in any other life sector would be considered murder. But because the deaths took place within the auspices of mainstream medicine, the victims' families are actually having to put considerable effort into spurring a proper investigation -- one that may never actually happen.

University College London Hospitals (UCLH), the network of hospitals that conducted the trial, has admitted responsibility for the errors, but at the same time has denied responsibility for what it says were "accidental" deaths.

http://www.naturalnews.com/030966_chemo ... wsuit.html


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:31 am 
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Preventing Heart Failure and Increasing Survival Rates in Cancer Patients

ScienceDaily (Feb. 10, 2011) — A breakthrough by scientists at Queen's University Belfast could help reduce heart failure in cancer patients around the world, and ultimately increase survival rates.

Scientists at Queen's Centre for Vision and Vascular Science have discovered the role of an enzyme which, when a patient receives chemotherapy, can cause life-threatening damage to the heart. This has, until now, restricted the amount of chemotherapy doses a patient can receive; but while protecting the heart, this dilutes the chemotherapy's effectiveness in destroying cancerous tumours.

By identifying the role of the enzyme -- NADPH oxidase -- work can now go ahead into making chemotherapy treatments more effective and reduce the toxic effects of cancer treatment on the heart.

Dr David Grieve, jointly leading on the research at Queen's School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences said: "While chemotherapy drugs are highly effective in treating a wide range of tumours, they can also cause irreversible damage to the heart. This means that doctors are restricted in the doses they can administer to patients. In recent years, scientists have been searching for new drugs to prevent these side-effects.

"Although we have known about the NADPH oxidase enzyme for many years, until now, we were not aware of its crucial role in causing heart damage associated with chemotherapy. Our research findings hold clear potential for the creation of new drugs to block the action of the enzyme, which could significantly reduce heart damage in cancer patients.

"Ultimately, this could allow for the safer use of higher doses of chemotherapy drugs and make the treatment more effective against tumours. Despite improved treatments, cancer is currently responsible for 25 per cent of all mortality in the western world. By reducing the risk of heart failure associated with chemotherapy, patient survival rates could be significantly increased."

Scientists at Queen's are now concentrating their efforts on further studies to define the precise role of NADPH oxidase in the development of heart failure associated with cancer therapies. It is hoped that these may lead to the development of a drug which would have the potential to save lives among cancer patients.

The research by Dr David Grieve and Professor Barbara McDermott was funded by the British Heart Foundation in Northern Ireland and published in journal, Cancer Research.

Background information

Enzymes are proteins that catalyse (increase or decrease the rates of) chemical reactions.

Around 7 per cent of cancer patients treated with the upper limit dosage of chemotherapy agent Doxorubicin currently develop heart failure. Doxorubicin is commonly used in the treatment of a wide range of cancers. Its most serious adverse effect is life-threatening heart damage. The drug is administered intravenously, in the form of hydrochloride salt. The drug was originally isolated in the 1950s from bacteria found in soil samples taken from Castel del Monte, an Italian castle.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 080247.htm


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:28 am 
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Immune System Genes Associated With Increased Risk of Mental Illness, New Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (Feb. 10, 2011) — Genes linked to the immune system can affect healthy people's personality traits as well as the risk of developing mental illness and suicidal behaviour, reveals a thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Inflammation is part of the immune system and is responsible for defending humans against infection as well as fascilitating the healing of injuries, and is therefore vital for our survival. Research has demonstrated that inflammatory processes also have other roles to play as inflammatory substances produced by the body influence mechanisms in the brain involving learning and memory.

Inflammatory substances produced in moderate quantities in the brain can be beneficial during the formation of new brain cells, for example. However, an increase in the levels of these substances as is the case during illness, can result in damage to the brain.

"Previous studies have shown that individuals suffering from various mental illnesses have an increased peripheral inflammation, but the reason behind this increase is not known," says Petra Suchankova Karlsson, who wrote the thesis. "It has been suggested that the stress that goes with mental illness activates the body's immune system, but it is also possible that inflammation in the body affects the brain, which in turn results in mental illness."

Previous studies have focused on how environmental and psychological factors affect the immune system's impact on the brain. Suchankova's thesis presents, for the first time, results that suggest that several different genes linked to the immune system are associated with healthy people's personality traits. It also demonstrates that some of these genes are associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia or suicidal behaviour.

"One of the things we studied was a gene variant that increases impulsiveness in people who carry it," says Suchankova. "We already knew that the risk of attempting suicide is higher in impulsive people and therefore analysed this gene variant in a group of patients who had attempted to take their life. We found that these patients more often carried the particular gene variant when compared to the general population which meant that this variant was not only associated with increased impulsiveness in healthy individuals but also with increased risk of suicidal behaviour."

The change in the levels of inflammatory substances in the blood of patients suffering from a mental illness as previously noted may have been caused by inflammation-related genes affecting the risk of mental illness, rather than the illness itself leading to a change in levels, as is traditionally believed.

"It could well be that some variants of the genes play a role in the development of mental illness by controlling how the brain is formed, perhaps during the embryonic stage, or by affecting the transfer of signal substances," says Suchankova.

The results of this thesis support the proposed role of the immune system in mental illness, and could be used as a basis for further studies that, it is hoped, will lead to the development of new treatment methods.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 112537.htm

[comment - inflammation has a lot to do with side effects of cancer treatment. There is growing evidence that schizophrenia is an autoimmune disease. It is also stated that the effects of this disease can be reversed in a book I am currently reading. Either way, I see a growing relationship between chronic disease, mental illness and nutrition. It may be a tenuous link at present but the question remains - can a no grain diet prevent inflammation and treat mental illness and chronic diseases?]


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:19 pm 
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Deanna's Discovery: Chemo brain

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Every day, nearly 90 Hoosiers learn they have cancer. And for many, treatment will involve chemotherapy. While you may be familiar with some of chemo's side effects — hair loss, fatigue, nausea — there's another that you may know nothing about. As 24-Hour News 8 anchor Deanna Dewberry faces her own battle with breast cancer, she discovers chemo often steals more than your hair.

When cancer patients forget things, we all call it chemo brain. Is it a convenient excuse, or is it one of the actual side effects of chemotherapy? I interviewed the Greising family and a leading cancer researcher to find out.

For the Greising foursome, fighting breast cancer is a family affair. As mom Leslie gets one of many tests to learn whether her cancer has spread to lymph nodes and distant organs, her kids Luke and Erin beat the socks of Dad Darrell in Uno. The IU Simon Cancer Center has become a second home of sorts during Leslie's five-year battle against late stage inflammatory breast cancer. And the psychologist and tenured college professor is also battling something else — memory loss.

"I'd just have thoughts that would escape my mind. I'd be chatting with somebody and it would be like, what's that word, and couldn't recall it," said Leslie Greising.

Patients call it chemo brain — words, phrases and memory seemingly stolen by the toxic drugs meant to save our lives. I've noticed it too. But is that short-term memory loss actually caused by chemotherapy? That's the question Leslie's 10-year old daughter Erin decided to explore with her school science project.

"I had 15 people with cancer treatment and 15 people without cancer treatment," Erin Greising explained while showing me her science project.

Using simple words, she tested the memories of those receiving chemotherapy and the control group. She then recorded the results.

"I found out that chemo brain is real," said Erin.

She found that patients who'd had chemotherapy had significant memory loss - 14 percent greater than those who didn’t have chemo. The project has projected the precocious fourth graders to the state competition, having snagged top honors at her school, city and regional science fairs.

And her findings are validated by scientists at IU who have been studying chemo brain for more than a decade. They've scanned patients' brains and seen structural changes in the frontal and temporal lobe following chemotherapy.

"It affects things like not being able to multi-task, not remembering things as easily, and not completing tasks as quickly," said Brenna McDonald, an IU researcher studying the effects of chemotherapy on memory.

McDonald has found the brain improves about a year after treatment is complete. But it doesn't return completely to normal. Researchers at IU are also studying which patients are more likely to develop chemo brain and why.

For Leslie, treatment never ended. She's gotten chemo for five years and can no longer work. But she concentrates not on what she's lost, but instead on all that cancer has brought so clearly into focus — her friends, her faith and her family.

Her daughter Erin says she'd like to be a scientist when she grows up. Asked if she'd like to see her daughter become a cancer researcher, Leslie responded, "I'd like to see her grow up."

That's the hope. And as researchers study ways for patients to retain memory, the Greising family will continue making memories, celebrating each day with mom.

http://www.wishtv.com/dpp/health/chemo- ... -or-excuse


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:26 am 
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Researchers Implicate Oncogene in Cancer Cells' Resistance to Chemotherapy

The c-Myc oncoprotein has been found toplay a role in how cancer cells acquire resistance to DNA-damaging therpeutics. Researchers from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) say that iInhibition of oncogenic c-MYC may provide an attractive strategy for cancer therapy in combination with DNA-damaging agents.

While scientists have known that cancer cells can acquire resistance to DNA-damaging therapeutics, the genetic mechanisms through which this occurs have remained unclear until now. A paper detailing at least some of those mechanisms will be published in the March 29 issue of Science Signaling.

The researchers studied resistance to the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. They found that the c-MYC oncoprotein decreases production of BIN1, a c-MYC inhibitor. BIN1 usually suppresses an enzyme essential for DNA repair. Thus the sensitivity of cancer cells to cisplatin depends upon BIN1 abundance. Overproducing the c-MYC oncoprotein repressed BIN1, blocking its life-saving action.

"Inhibition of oncogenic c-MYC may provide an attractive strategy for cancer therapy in combination with DNA-damaging agents,” says research team leader Daitoku Sakamuro, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at LSUHSC New Orleans and the LSUHSC Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center.

He and the research team add that analyzing the levels of the c-MYC and BIN1 proteins or their mutational status may also serve as a prognostic marker to determine whether a cancer will respond to an aggressive dose of therapeutic agents.Additionally, Dr. Sakarmuro will continue research to determine how malignant cancer cells can be resensitized to conventional DNA-damaging therapeutic agents.

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-high ... /81244879/


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:26 am 
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Cancer has not beaten Cindy Yorgason

SALT LAKE CITY — Cindy Yorgason can no longer enjoy the freedom of riding for hours on a bicycle.

Chemotherapy helped her rid her body of breast cancer, but it also left her with neuropathy. The painful condition is caused by nerve damage and, while it may eventually go away, it has made cycling extremely difficult.

The pain in her feet has not, however, forced her to give up cycling altogether.

Just because she can't ride doesn't mean she isn't still part of the cycling family.

And as part of that family, the 53-year-old Ogden woman participates in other ways. She remains an active race official, or commissaire, with a long list of races she'll work this year.

In two weeks, she will oversee the Salt Lake Marathon's Bike Tour — something she's done since the event began in the marathon's second year.

The Ohio native happened on cycling quite by accident. She was swimming when a friend mentioned he and another man were going to participate in a 100-mile bike ride. She did it — on a Schwinn 10-speed — with him riding behind her to encourage her the last 20 miles.

"Two weeks later I did a double century," Yorgason said, "and then the following year I rode 4,000 miles with a (cycling) club. I was caught hook, line and sinker into cycling."

Yorgason enjoyed the freedom a bicycle offered — but also the social connection it offered, especially on long bike rides or tours.

"I think mostly the ability to just get on your bike and ride," she said. "You can ride in a group or on your own. I've always been an outdoor person, and bike tours or racing, just getting out there, especially that second year when I rode 4,000 miles. It was a great way to get out and ride with people, be competitive if you want and just stay in shape. It's a family. It's always been a family. And when I got sick, it was the cycling family that helped me through it."

Yorgason dabbled in racing, but it was officiating that really lured her deep into the sport. She had just returned from working the collegiate road nationals in Wisconsin last May when she had her annual mammogram.

"I went in on a Thursday and got a call back on Friday," she said. She wasn't at all worried until she saw the radiologist's face. "I took one look at the radiologists' eyes and I knew I was in trouble."

It turned out she has stage two breast cancer, which included tumors in both breasts and cancer in her lymph nodes. Within four weeks of that mammogram, she was starting chemotherapy in hopes of shrinking the tumors before having them removed.

"I was shocked," she said. "How could this be happening to me? The automatic comment is that there is no breast cancer in my family. But it doesn't matter. It has nothing to do with family history."

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/7001 ... gason.html

[comment - it is interest that when you have chemo, I don't recall neuropathy every being discussed]


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:32 pm 
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Chemo crisis: Cancer patients devastated

Dubai: Cancer sufferers appealed for compassion after learning about Dubai Health Authority's (DHA) plan to charge about Dh15,000 for each chemotherapy session from May 3.

"To put it mildly, this came as quite a bombshell," said Charles Anthony Forester-Bennett, 51, a Briton battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) for the last three years. "I cannot afford it," added the father of two.

Chemotherapy prevents cancer cells from reproducing and is administered in a series, typically with a three-week "rest period" to allow healthy cells to reproduce.

Catch 22 situation

Bennett, a Dubai resident for the last 10 years, who lives in The Springs, said he lost insurance cover as he changed jobs a year ago during which he declared his "pre-existing" condition to his insurer.

To get free treatment from Britain's National Health Service (NHS), it would mean giving up his Dubai job to become a permanent UK resident again and missing chemotherapy sessions due to the paperwork involved.

"That is not an option for me. If I give up my job here, that also means I will be unable to send my two daughters to university in the UK," said the divorcee, who now lives on a diet of fish and green leafy vegetables.

Bennett is hoping the DHA would not apply the changes to sufferers who already started their chemotherapy sessions in Dubai.

"It is common sense, surely, that changes in policy like this should not come into effect until those who have started a course of treatment can complete their course."

In March 2011, his oncologist informed him that his situation had deteriorated to the extent that he needed to start chemotherapy. He had his first of eight sessions on March 17 and the last of eight will be in mid-August 2011.

While Bennett said he is "incredibly impressed" with the quality of care received at the hands of the staff of Dubai Hospital, he added: "Cancer is a disease that none of us chose to get, but for which we are certainly paying a high price."

The situation of Bur Dubai resident Abraham Samuel, a 49-year-old Indian, is no different.

Samuel, diagnosed with lung cancer in March 16, 2010, said he does not know where to find the money for his next chemotherapy session scheduled for the first week of May. The stationery salesman said his treatment had already eaten up their family savings of about Dh45,000.

"This new rule means that for me to complete the treatment, I will need to raise an extra Dh60,000… which we can't afford," said Samuel, from Kochi, Kerala.

He and his wife are raising two of their children in Dubai, one of whom is a special child. "Cancer is not pneumonia or any other disease. It's beyond my affordability. I'm asking for compassion to complete my chemotherapy course. I'm hoping the DHA reverses its decision," he said.

Tanzanian breast cancer sufferer since 2008 Asya Aziz Al Balooshi, 60, said: "I worked for 16 years for Dubai Civil Aviation. Since April 2009, I've had about 20 free chemotherapy cycles to treat my breast cancer and started radiation therapy from February 2011. I'm on the way to recovery. My thoughts go to those who need to undergo chemotherapy here and can't afford it."

Others, however are not that fortunate. Rita Ganem, a 48-year-old Lebanese breast cancer sufferer said: "Since my treatment started in 2006, both my breasts had been removed. Now, I still need to undergo chemotherapy because the cancer cells have spread to other parts of my body. I've been told the cost of one-month treatment may reach Dh25,000 to Dh30,000. My family has no money for this."

Other countries

In the US, a full chemotherapy course generally ranges from $8,000 (Dh29,000) to over $15,000 (Dh55,095), excluding the cost of drugs for the procedure, which can range from $100 (Dh367) to $30,000 (Dh110,190), depending on duration and dosage.

One in five patients is unable to get necessary cancer treatment in time or at all because of the high cost.

In Canada, UK and France, cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, is free.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/healt ... d-1.800132


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:13 am 
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Chemo Brain: It's Very Real

feel horrible this week. Yes, this is a chemo week – one week on and one week off, but the way I’m feeling now is the worst it has been. I am exhausted. I feel nauseous on and off. I have a constant headache and I spent a full day in bed. I really don’t want to answer the phone, and I had to force myself to go to work. That was tough. I kind of snapped out of it at work, but after about four hours, I was spent. How do so many women and men work a full day on chemo? Even after you have finished the chemo regimen, I imagine it takes many months to get your energy back.

I am on a lighter dose of chemotherapy than others, so I should be grateful that I’m not constantly throwing up. But I still feel like crap. Many have described their chemo experience as being at death’s door, which is hard to imagine. I’m not there yet, but damn, I wish they could come up with something other than poisoning patients to kill cancer cells. I do believe that day will be soon… but hurry up will ya… we’re dyin’ here!

Each week I feel more and more like my brain is being fried. When I was first diagnosed in 2001, no one in the medical community acknowledged the existence of chemo brain. When you told your physician about memory loss, inability to concentrate or focus, forgetfulness, etc., you were told that what you were experiencing was the normal aging process. I am here to tell you, that is not the case.

Around 2004, chemo brain was finally given some recognition. PET scans revealed that the frontal cortex of the brain was compromised in patients who received chemotherapy. Here are a few of the suggestions offered to deal with the symptoms of chemo brain:

- Crossword puzzles. Now that’s something we all want to do when we feel horrible… just grab The New York Times and doodle away.

- Exercise. I can barely get myself dressed to go to work and sit in a chair all day. I doubt I’ll be doing much spinning.

- Omega-3 oils. OK, this I can do. I can swallow a pill. (Sorry for the sarcasm. Illness brings that out sometimes).

Well it is what it is, right? Like I say, cancer is not for sissies. Next week I will be off chemo and I am hopeful that I will be feeling better. Hope I have some happy thoughts to share with you then.

Please join me in this fight by joining Men for Women Now. We will send you updates on upcoming events, relevant news and ways that you can help. It will allow me to stay in touch with more of you so that together we can make a meaningful difference.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/04/2 ... test=faces


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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 4:59 pm 
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Most Patients Recover from 'Chemo-Brain' by 5 Years After Stem Cell Transplant

ScienceDaily (May 3, 2011) — Many patients who undergo bone marrow or blood stem cell transplantation to treat blood cancers or a "pre-leukemic" condition called myelodysplasia experience a decline in mental and fine motor skills due to the toll of their disease and its treatment.

A new study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published in the May 2, 2011 online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that overall, these effects are largely temporary and that most patients can expect a return to normal motor and memory function within five years. However, the study also found that deficits in fine motor skills and verbal memory remained for a significant percentage of patients and warrant more attention by health care providers.

It has been widely documented that powerful chemotherapy drugs that leukemia and lymphoma patients receive prior to hematopoietic transplantation (HCT) -- as well as medicines to combat graft-versus-host disease -- can impact motor and memory skills. The purpose of the new study, led by Karen Syrjala, Ph.D., director of Biobehavioral Sciences at the Hutchinson Center, was to determine whether patients recover from these neurocognitive deficits within five years of transplant.

For the study, Syrjala and colleagues identified 92 patients who had received an allogeneic (cells from a donor other than themselves) bone marrow or stem cell transplant for chronic myeloid leukemia, acute leukemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome, an umbrella term for several "pre-cancerous" diseases in which the bone marrow does not function normally.

For comparison purposes, the patients were asked to nominate a case-matched control, such as a sibling or friend of the same gender and similar age who had neither received a transplant nor were in active cancer treatment. The transplant patients and control subjects were then given a battery of tests -- all by the same test giver -- to assess their memory and motor skills.

The tests included immediate and delayed recall of a list of words, saying out loud as many words as possible that begin with specific letters, the ability to sequentially link letters and numbers on paper, learning to match numbers and symbols and write the symbols on paper to match random numbers, and putting toothpick-sized pegs into holes as fast as possible.

Analysis of the tests results showed that most patients made substantial improvements in neurocognitive function over the five years after their transplant. "However, contrary to expectations, neither motor dexterity nor verbal learning and retention improved between one and five years," the authors wrote. "Deficits were most notable in motor speed and dexterity."

Described as mostly mild, the neurocognitive dysfunctions remained at five years for twice as many long-term survivors (41.5 percent) versus controls (19.7 percent).

Syrjala said the researchers were surprised by the evidence of continued impairment.

"We really thought the rates would be lower," Syrjala said. "We were thrilled to see that people recovered substantially, but we also were surprised that so many people did continue to have measurable deficits in some areas even after five years."

Syrjala said the reasons for persistent deficits are unknown and more research is needed to examine the causes. One theory is that some cancers, especially leukemia and lymphoma, are "whole-body" cancers because blood circulates throughout the body and these diseases may cause their own neurocognitive impacts, in addition to what chemotherapy may contribute.

"The major clinical implication of this research is to assure HCT recipients and their health care providers that further progress will occur in their information processing capacity between one and five years after treatment," the authors wrote. "However, it is equally important to validate for long-term survivors that not all HCT recipients fully recover neurocognitive function by five years. These results provide further indication of the need for cognitive rehabilitation strategies after one year for those residual deficits."

The investigation is the first to prospectively follow the same group of patients for five years for any cancer, according to the authors. The study builds upon previous findings by Syrjala and colleagues, published in 2004, which followed the same group of patients to one year after transplant. That study also found that neurocognitive impacts of transplantation are largely temporary.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 133052.htm


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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 2:40 pm 
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Chemo Brain May Last 5 Years or More

“Chemo brain,” the foggy thinking and forgetfulness that cancer patients often complain about after treatment, may last for five years or more for a sizable percentage of patients, new research shows.

The findings, based on a study of 92 cancer patients at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, suggest that the cognitive losses that seem to follow many cancer treatments are far more pronounced and longer-lasting than commonly believed.

The study, published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology, is a vindication of sorts for many cancer patients, whose complaints about thinking and memory problems are often dismissed by doctors who lay blame for the symptoms on normal aging or the fatigue of illness.

“It’s clearly established now that chemo brain does exist and can continue long-term,” said Karen L. Syrjala, co-director of the Survivorship Program at Fred Hutchinson and the study’s lead author. “The real issue here is that recovery from cancer treatment is not a one-year process but a two- to five-year process. People need to understand the extent to which the cells in their bodies have really been compromised by not only the cancer, but also the treatment.”

The 92 patients in the study had all undergone chemotherapy as part of bone marrow or stem cell transplants to treat blood cancers. Although the range of effects of different cancers and treatments probably varies, researchers said the finding that cognitive recovery can take five years or more is likely to apply to breast cancer patients and patients who have undergone chemotherapy for other types of cancer.

The patients in the study were compared with a case-matched control, like a friend or sibling of the same age and gender who had never undergone cancer treatment. Both groups were given a battery of tests to assess memory and motor skills. The tests included a number of memory and word tests, like trying to recall a list of words or coming up with as many words as possible that all start with the same letter. Tests to match numbers and symbols and timed dexterity tests, in which thin pegs were to be placed into holes, were also included.

Comparing the test results of the cancer patients with those of the matched controls, the researchers found that among cancer survivors, most of the cognitive problems are largely temporary but may persist for five years or longer. Patient recovery generally followed a bell curve, with some showing improvement after a year, while others took two, three or more years to recover.

Dr. Syrjala said the good news is that information processing, multitasking and executive function skills all seemed to recover within five years.

“One of the things people complain a lot about during treatment is word finding, where you know the word, it’s a tip-of-the-tongue experience, but they can’t come up with it,” said Dr. Syrjala. “We hear that so frequently during treatment. The happy news in this data is that that piece of cognitive function does recover, but it usually takes longer than a year.”

However, verbal memory and motor skill problems continued after five years among a large group of patients. Although some neurocognitive deficits are expected to occur with natural aging, the percentage of cancer patients who still had cognitive and dexterity problems at five years was 41.5 percent, twice as high as the 19.7 percent reported in the control group.

Although the news of long-term cognitive problems may be disheartening to patients, it’s important for families and patients to know that recovery can take a while. More important, patient treatment plans should include the teaching of coping skills to compensate for potential cognitive losses.

“The first step is to set realistic expectations for people,” said Dr. Syrjala. “It’s not just patients, but their families and employers who need to realize that their brains aren’t processing as rapidly.”

Many of the cognitive deficits were relatively mild and easily addressed with coping skills like note taking or strategies to improve focus.

“We all lose memory with time and learn to compensate,” Dr. Syrjala said. “These patients just have to recognize that their brains are perhaps not as finely tuned as they were before they were diagnosed with their cancers, but they can compensate very effectively.”

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/0 ... ss&emc=rss


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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:33 am 
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Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Medication: An Author's Middle of the Night Musings

Thanks to the steroid dexamethasone, I am up again in the middle of the night and I thought I'd offload some of the random, nonsensical musings in my nutty, spinning, mushy brain.

As you may recall, dexamethasone is taken the day before chemotherapy, the day of chemotherapy and the day after chemotherapy. Yes, it's A LOT. Dexamethasone is used:

To treat or prevent (potential) allergic reactions to chemotherapy.
To treat nausea and vomiting associated with some chemotherapy drugs.
To stimulate appetite.

However, some of the unsavory side effects are:
Headache (Got it.)
Dizziness (Yep. Either that or the walls are jumping out and hitting me.)
Insomnia (DUH.)
Restlnessness (Ahem, YES!)
Anxiety (Uh huh.)
Acne (No. C'mon. Really? Is there no dignity whatsoever?)

I slept for a couple of hours, deep enough to dream -- which was a silver lining in and of itself. I dreamed that I was playing with my tennis coach, who happens to be pregnant and at the beginning of her pregnancy referred to herself as "Puke Face," thanks to her nausea. I can relate. Way too well.

I also dreamed about a Burger King Double Whopper Cheeseburger. How on earth could I, living in In-N-Out territory, dream about a Whopper? Sacrilegious! Oh and combine that with the fact that I don't eat meat -- except for maybe once a year. Bizzaro.

So, upon waking -- motivated by my dream about tennis -- our beloved dog, Buzz, and I headed out to the family room to watch the Tennis Channel.

Truth be told, he stumbled out to loyally and lovingly follow me and my insomnia. I was the one who really wanted to watch the Tennis Channel. I love watching tennis almost as much as I love playing it. Love. Love. Love. Old Tournaments. Current Tournaments. Grand Slams. Weird multi-colored doubles competitions. Doesn't matter as long as a ball keeps going back and forth across the net (as in my happy dream).

To my utter chagrin, I turned on the tennis channel to find an infomercial about the NINJA KS Blender. The what? Yes, the NINJA KS Blender. It makes peanut butter cookies AND vegetable juice. At the same time? What do I know? It's 2:00 in the morning. WTF -- dexamethasone seems to prompt a lot of f-bombs.

All I want to do is watch some Tennis. But no ...

Ok ... the NINJA KS infomercial is over (and I've ordered one, of course), but now some guy (who has had way too much Botox and even worse eyebrow shaping) is encouraging me to "make a fortune from today's down real estate market" .... all of this while he is DRIVING his f-bomb CAR. Really? REALLY?? Yes, I'm still on the "Tennis Channel" but haven't seen a lick of tennis.

All I wanted to do was watch tennis, but now I feel even crazier!

Buzz is happily snoring right next to me, but I'm feeling even more cuckoo than I did when I got up.

Why don't I read a book, you ask? Well, that would imply putting words together ... in a row ... to make a story. Perhaps it's now time to channel surf and see what else I can find.

Thank you, dexamethasone, for keeping allergic reactions at bay, but NO THANK YOU to the side effects, including this middle of the night madness!

Sweet dreams and silver linings to you all!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hollye-ha ... 59354.html


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 5:53 pm 
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Staring Down Cancer

I just completed my second eight week block of chemotherapy, which means PET scan time again. When this time comes, a weird psychological arc takes place beginning a few days before the scan, and extending until the day after.

I cope with my cancer by not acknowledging it until it's time for a scan. Before chemotherapy, I would have a bone scan every four months and a CT of my organs every six months. A couple of days before “scan day” – reality slaps me in the face and I begin the psychological roller coaster ride. My stomach begins churning.

Will I buy more time from the grim reaper, or will I find out that the cancer is back and my days are numbered?

When I get to the hospital, I try to soothe my nerves by repeating the mantra, "everything is going to be OK." Then while I'm alone in the machine, the tears come. It's like a pressure cooker building up steam and then finally blowing. I guess I cry for two reasons. One is the release of nerves and the other is that I'm in the machine and no one can see me.

Cancer is a heavy, heavy burden to carry on your shoulders. When I get home, I get into bed and usually stay there for 24 hours to recuperate from the emotional drain. The day after, I get up, get dressed, go to work and move through the day like a person without cancer, whose job it is to raise money for cancer research.

Am I weird or what?

Now that my four month window has been reduced to eight weeks, it’s making room for twice the anxiety. Fortunately, I have the results from this second PET scan and the news is good – I’m all clear for now.

So I'm getting out of bed now, getting dressed and moving on for eight more weeks.

Please join me in this fight by joining Men for Women Now. We will send you updates on upcoming events, relevant news and ways that you can help. It will allow me to stay in touch with more of you so that together we can make a meaningful difference.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/05/1 ... ncrements/


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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 9:44 am 
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Discrimination Against Breast Cancer Survivors

In Durham, North Carolina, Alaina Giordano a young mother of two, with Stage 4 breast cancer, has been told to give up her children to her ex-husband. Her health and finances were cited as one reason for the judge's decision.

On the coast in Seattle, Korean Airlines turned away Mimi Kim, a metastatic breast cancer patient, who only wanted to return to her birthplace to spend her final months among family. Mrs. Kim looked too frail to survive the flight, according to Korean Air. Delta Airlines looked over her doctor's note and upgraded Mrs. Kim to first class and flew her home.

Ruth Ann Swenson, a soprano formerly with the Metropolitan Opera, was passed over for leading roles after her early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. When she recovered her stamina, Ms. Swenson toured Europe and America, showing no loss of quality in her voice.

In the windy city of Chicago, Mary Ellen Hintz went to renew her apartment lease and was told by her landlord that because she has terminal breast cancer, she may have a lease agreement for only one month at a time. Ms. Hintz's landlord said he thought her treatments caused such severe chemobrain that she might not be lucid enough to sign contracts or pay her bills.

Sometimes, when discrimination looks like it's really about money, it may be primarily about fear. Modern society doesn't have good ways of dealing with Cancerophobia. Even with cancer rates as high as they are, sometimes it seems like the average person doesn't know how to react or support a friend or coworker or even a spouse recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Some women feel shunned by their friends, as if they've suddenly become contagious, or done something immoral that resulted in cancer.

I think it comes down to the ultimate: fear of death. Despite decades of awareness-raising, patient education, improved treatments, and higher survival rates, there seems to be this persistent perception that a breast cancer diagnosis is an automatic death sentence. And that may be linked to the misconception that all breast cancers are alike (they aren't) and all treatments are severe and disabling (it varies).

We as educated patients and breast cancer survivors have to face our prognosis daily. We deal with our fears, our possible outcomes, our side effects, finances, and relationships every day. Landlords, airline agents, divorce lawyers, and opera managers seem to have other priorities. Breast cancer survivors - no matter what stage they have - should not have to fight for rights and privileges that are freely given to people who appear healthier. We should not have to lawyer up and battle back against uneducated cancerphobes.

So be sure to know your rights as a person and as an empowered cancer patient and survivor. You can't be fired for having breast cancer. If you have health insurance, you don't have to lose it; and you can apply for assistance. If you're going to travel during treatment, prepare notes from your doctor and bring those along. Mimi Kim knew what she wanted - and she knew it was within her reach. Cancer wasn't going to reduce her to less than a full person, denied the civility and respect that should be routine. Mrs. Kim went home first class, and was greeted with cheers. Now that's my idea of respect and proper treatment!

http://breastcancer.about.com/b/2011/05 ... vivors.htm


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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:59 am 
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British woman develops allergy to electricity following chemotherapy treatment

(NaturalNews) British woman Janice Tunnicliffe cannot watch TV, keeps her washing machine in a concrete outhouse and cannot have neighbors with wireless internet because she is "allergic" to electricity. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolo...)

The problems began following chemotherapy treatment for bowel cancer. The cancer had not spread but it was decided that she should have chemotherapy after her surgery as a precautionary measure. Shortly afterward her unusual problem started, she began to feel ill whenever she was near electrical and wireless devices in her home. What could the rare condition, called electrosensitivity, say about chemotherapy or about the electrical and wireless devices that abound in our lives?

Tunnicliffe, 55, cannot bear to be anywhere near electromagnetic fields of any kind. She even had to cover her windows with a special metallic material to deflect any electromagnetic waves coming in.

Her condition, which requires her to avoid cell phones, radios, kitchen appliances, computers, and wireless internet, among other things, has left her completely isolated from the world filled to the brim with these devices that the rest of us live in.

She suffers constant headaches, chest pains, nausea and tingling in her arms and legs whenever she is near electrical devices or items that emit a signal.

The chemo connection

The medical profession has been slow to recognize electrosensitivity as an illness, according to Graham Lamburn, technical manager at the independent organization Powerwatch, which promotes safer environments, and the causes are still unknown.

But the timing of the Chemotherapy and the onset of her illness seals the deal for Tunnicliffe.

"Personally, I think there must be a link with the chemotherapy and the ES," she said. "But no one is going to admit that."

Toxicity of chemotherapy

In recent years more studies and more experts are beginning to acknowledge the toxic impact chemotherapy has on the human body even for the workers who only handle chemotherapy agents.

A 10-year study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released in 2010 confirmed that chemotherapy agents continue to contaminate workspaces, and are still being found in the urine of those who handle them. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3811458...)

"If cancer specialists were to admit publicly that chemotherapy is of limited usefulness and is often dangerous, the public might demand a radical change in direction," wrote Ralph W. Moss in his book "The Cancer Industry".

A 2010 study from Indiana University adds to the growing list of harmful side effects caused by chemotherapy. According to scientists, the chemical cancer treatment destroys gray matter in the brain associated with cognitive function and memory. (http://www.naturalnews.com/029996_c...)

A 2006 study published in the online edition of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that chemotherapy might change the way the brain works, causing mild forgetfulness and brain fog in some cancer survivors, often described as "chemobrain". (http://www.naturalnews.com/020665.h...)

Canary in the coal mine?

Aside from the dangers of chemotherapy, what about the dangers of electromagnetic radiation?

Canaries were often used in coal mines as a warning system because toxic gases would kill the bird before they would affect the miners. Could Ms. Tunnicliffe, made extra sensitive by illness, be the canary of the electrical world?

Possibly so, according to a new report by the Council of Europe's Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs.

Last week, the powerful European body ruled that immediate action to protect children was required after examining evidence that cell phones and wireless networks have "potentially harmful" effects on humans. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technolo...)

It is crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes made when public health officials were slow to recognize the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol, according to the report.

The report also pointed to potential health risks from cordless phones and baby monitors, which use similar technology.

"Mobile phone technology is clearly incredibly beneficial and useful," said Professor Paul Elliot of Imperial College in London and lead researcher in an international study of the long-term effects of mobile phone use on 200,000 people. "But we have to weigh up those potential health effects, so it is responsible to do research on that. In children, that research has not yet really been done, so we need more research in this area. In the meantime the advice is not to be excessive in use."

http://www.naturalnews.com/032486_elect ... erapy.html


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