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Dean Pomerleau

New Treatment May Effectively Target 9 Out of 10 Cancers

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[Here is another one for the future "Non-CR Health & Longevity" Forum...]

 

This is pretty preliminary, but looks extremely promising for the treatment of many types of cancer. Here is a popular press article on the breakthrough, and the press release from the University of Copenhagen where the research has been done.  Here is original published study [1] these stories are in reference to, but please don't try to understand the abstract unless you are a cancer researcher!

 

Here are some highlights of the research, in plain English from the pop press articles:

 

In the hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women, scientists have discovered that certain malaria proteins can be used to attack the majority of tumour types [at least in mice - DP].
 
The carbohydrate that the malaria parasite attaches itself to in the placenta in pregnant women is identical to a carbohydrate found in cancer cells.
 
In the laboratory, scientists have created the protein that the malaria parasite uses to adhere to the placenta and added a toxin.
 
The malaria protein and toxin combination seeks out the cancer cells [and not other, healthy cells - DP] and is absorbed. The toxin is released inside the cancer cells and then kills them.
 
The University of Copenhagen collaborated with researchers from the University of British Columbia to test thousands of samples from brain tumours to leukemias [also including prostate, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and bone cancer - DP].
 
They believe the malaria protein is able to attack more than 90% of all types of tumours.

 

So far, trials have only been conducted on mice. Researchers aim to begin human trials within four years.

 

Looks pretty promising!

 

--Dean

 

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[1] Cancer Cell. 2015 Oct 12;28(4):500-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2015.09.003.

Targeting Human Cancer by a Glycosaminoglycan Binding Malaria Protein.

Salanti A(1), Clausen TM(2), Agerbæk MØ(3), Al Nakouzi N(4), Dahlbäck M(5), Oo
HZ(4), Lee S(6), Gustavsson T(5), Rich JR(7), Hedberg BJ(7), Mao Y(8), Barington
L(5), Pereira MA(5), LoBello J(9), Endo M(10), Fazli L(6), Soden J(11), Wang
CK(6), Sander AF(5), Dagil R(5), Thrane S(5), Holst PJ(5), Meng L(8), Favero
F(12), Weiss GJ(13), Nielsen MA(5), Freeth J(11), Nielsen TO(14), Zaia J(8), Tran
NL(9), Trent J(9), Babcook JS(7), Theander TG(5), Sorensen PH(15), Daugaard
M(16).

Plasmodium falciparum engineer infected erythrocytes to present the malarial
protein, VAR2CSA, which binds a distinct type chondroitin sulfate (CS)
exclusively expressed in the placenta. Here, we show that the same CS
modification is present on a high proportion of malignant cells and that it can
be specifically targeted by recombinant VAR2CSA (rVAR2). In tumors,
placental-like CS chains are linked to a limited repertoire of cancer-associated
proteoglycans including CD44 and CSPG4. The rVAR2 protein localizes to tumors
in vivo and rVAR2 fused to diphtheria toxin or conjugated to hemiasterlin
compounds strongly inhibits in vivo tumor cell growth and metastasis. Our data
demonstrate how an evolutionarily refined parasite-derived protein can be
exploited to target a common, but complex, malignancy-associated
glycosaminoglycan modification.

PMID: 26461094

 

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Update:

 

Here is an article that advises caution about reading too much into the study discussed above, for many of the reasons I outlined - i.e. it was only done in vitro, using a mice model of cancers, and only tested a limited number of cancer types.

 

It is encouraging, but still a long way from an effective human cancer treatment.

 

--Dean

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