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Epigenomic changes play an important role during the progression of melanoma

Human DNA contains genetic information that makes our cells functional entities within a larger whole. The stream of information from DNA to function happens in the form of proteins that anchor themselves to various locations in the DNA and transcribe genetic information into functional cell parts. This process is strictly regulated and is thus very sensitive to change by external factors…

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Human neural stem cells restore cognitive functions impaired by chemotherapy

In preclinical studies using rodents, they found that stem cells transplanted one week after the completion of a series of chemotherapy sessions restored a range of cognitive functions, as measured one month later using a comprehensive platform of behavioral testing. In contrast, rats not treated with stem cells showed significant learning and memory impairment. The frequent use of chemotherapy to combat multiple cancers can produce severe cognitive dysfunction, often referred to as “chemobrain,” which can persist and manifest in many ways long after the end of treatments in as many as 75 percent of survivors — a problem of particular concern with pediatric patients. “Our findings provide the first solid evidence that transplantation of human neural stem cells can be used to reverse chemotherapeutic-induced damage of healthy tissue in the brain,” said Charles Limoli, a UCI professor of radiation oncology…

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New look at complex head and neck tumor behavior

An increasing number of head and neck cancers are caused by a virus, the human papilloma virus (HPV). Using tissue from HPV-positive and HPV-negative (largely linked to smoking) HNSCC tumors, researchers from institutions around the country referenced The Cancer Genome Atlas to develop a comprehensive assessment of alterations, or oncogenes, that could play a role in how the tumors develop and metastasize, said Wendell Yarbrough, M.D., section chief of otolaryngology at Yale School of Medicine and Clinical Program Leader of the Head & Neck Cancer Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. “To make the progress we envision with personalized medicine, we first have to understand what’s driving these tumors, and this is one of the first studies to do this,” said Yarbrough, an author on the study. …

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Human stem cells repair damage caused by radiation therapy for brain cancer in rats

During radiation therapy for brain cancer, progenitor cells that later mature to produce the protective myelin coating around neurons are lost or significantly depleted, and there is no treatment available to restore them. These myelinating cells–called oligodendrocytes–are critical for shielding and repairing the brain’s neurons throughout life. …

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Parkinson’s gene linked to lung cancer

The findings are published in American Journal of Human Genetics. Through whole exome sequencing, researchers identified a link between a mutation in PARK2, a gene associated with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and familial lung cancer. The researchers sequenced the exomes (protein coding region of the genome) of individuals from a family with multiple cases of lung cancer. They then studied the PARK2 gene in additional families affected by lung cancer…

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Using power of computers to harness human genome may provide clues into Ebola virus

In an article titled “Ebola-Associated Genes in the Human Genome: Implications for Novel Targets,” published in the current MedCrave Online Journal of Proteomics and Bioinformatics, Narayanan describes how key genes that are present in our cells could be used to develop drugs for this disease. “Bioinformatics is a powerful tool to help us understand biological data,” said Narayanan whose research has focused in this field for more than a decade. “We are mining the human genome for Ebola virus association to develop an understanding of the human proteins involved in this disease for subsequent research and development, and to potentially create a pipeline of targets that we can test and evaluate.” Ebola virus disease is a major healthcare challenge facing the globe today and if left unchecked could become a pandemic. A limited knowledgebase exists about the Ebola virus and companies are hastening to develop vaccines and other forms to treat and cure the virus…

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Proteins drive cancer cells to change states

Biologists have previously found that this kind of transformation, which often occurs in cancer cells as well as during embryonic development, is controlled by transcription factors — proteins that turn genes on and off. However, the new MIT research reveals that RNA-binding proteins also play an important role. Human cells have about 500 different RNA-binding proteins, which influence gene expression by regulating messenger RNA, the molecule that carries DNA’s instructions to the rest of the cell. “Recent discoveries show that there’s a lot of RNA-processing that happens in human cells and mammalian cells in general,” says Yarden Katz, a recent MIT PhD recipient and one of the lead authors of the new paper…

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Signaling mechanism could be target for survival, growth of tumor cells in brain cancer

Researchers found that this mechanism — a type of signaling termed constitutive or non-canonical epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling — is highly active in glioblastomas, the most common type of adult brain cancer and a devastating disease with a poor prognosis. When activated in cancer cells, it protects the tumor cells, making them more resistant to chemotherapy treatment. The pathway may also have implications for other types of lung and breast cancers where overexpression of EGFR is a factor. “Abnormal EGFR signaling, a common and key feature of human cancer, is of considerable interest both for a role in the growth of malignant cells and as a target for treatment,” said Dr…

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Immune checkpoint blockade: Powerful cancer therapy influence by genetics

“The genetic signature we have found will be invaluable to understanding the biological mechanisms that drive therapeutic responses to immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma,” says Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, director of the Ludwig Collaborative Laboratory and associate director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSK, who co-led the study with Timothy Chan, MD, PhD, of MSK’s Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program. “Further, our strategy can now be applied to determine the genetic signatures associated with the efficacy of a number of other immunotherapies and cancers.” Few approaches to treating cancer have generated as much excitement as immunotherapy, in which the immune system is engaged to destroy malignancies. One class of such treatments targets CTLA-4, a molecule expressed on the surface of killer T cells that ordinarily blocks their proliferation…

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Researchers pioneer new approach to treating HPV-related cervical cancer

Cidofovir is an anti-viral drug that is effective against several viruses, including the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is implicated in the onset of cervical cancer. It targets the cancer-causing proteins (oncoproteins) produced by HPV. These oncoproteins interfere with the action of other proteins that control genome stability and cell death, and so, when cells are infected with HPV they become resistant to dying. …

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