Tag Archives: grand

Prognostic role found for miR-21 expression in triple-negative breast cancer — ScienceDaily

TNBC accounts for 15% to 20% of breast cancer cases, and patients have shorter recurrence-free survival (RFS) and breast cancer-specific survival (CSS) relative to other major subgroups. It is likely that different subtypes of TNBCs exist, and the heterogeneity may be responsible for a wide variation in response to treatment. “Predictive biomarkers for therapeutic response prediction and novel therapeutic targets that address distinct biological features of TNBC subgroups are needed for these patients,” says Lorenzo F. Sempere, PhD, head of the Laboratory of microRNA Diagnostics and Therapeutics at Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, MI. …

Tide is turning in skin cancer battle

Now it seems each week yields important new discoveries about the deadly skin cancer. "I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and now is by any measure the most exciting time for melanoma research," said Brian Nickoloff, director of the Nicholas V. Perricone, M.D., Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Sciences at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. …

Cancer is a result of a default cellular ‘safe mode,’ physicist proposes

In this month’s special issue of Physics World devoted to the "physics of cancer," Paul Davies, principal investigator at Arizona State University’s Center for Convergence of Physical Sciences and Cancer Biology, explains his radical new theory. Davies was brought in to lead the centre in 2009 having almost no experience in cancer research whatsoever. …

Tai chi: Getting there more slowly, but gracefully and intact

For modern, harried lifestyles focused on getting and spending, fitness experts say tai chi, the ancient Chinese slow-moving exercise, can be an ideal way for anyone to stay fit. A staple in senior citizen centers and a common dawn sighting in public parks, the practice can offer long-term benefits for all age groups. “In this high-tech world that's all about speed, greed and instant gratification, tai chi is the antidote to bring us back to balanced health,” according to Arthur Rosenfeld, a tai chi master and the author of a new book called “Tai Chi — The Perfect Exercise: Finding Health, Happiness, Balance, and Strength.” “It doesn't mean you can win the marathon or clean and jerk 750 pounds or win a cycle sprint,” said the South Florida resident, 56. “It's not about getting there sooner.” Tai chi is more about how the body works than how it looks, and is about aging gracefully and “with less drama.” “The last time I looked, there were some 500 studies about the various physical benefits of tai chi, from improving balance and attention span to boosting the immune system to beating back the symptoms of arthritis, asthma and insomnia,” said Rosenfeld. An estimated 2.3 million U.S. adults have done tai chi in the past 12 months, according to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey. The practice is not perfect. Tai chi “does not supply the cardiovascular component that we'd be looking for in a well-rounded routine,” said Jessica Matthews, a San Diego, California-based exercise physiologist. “The exertion level, while challenging, is not going to increase your heart rate.” 'Grand ultimate motion' T'ai chi ch'uan, as it is formally known, derives from a form of Chinese martial arts. Explaining the slow, circular movement of the practice, Rosenfeld said tai chi is a philosophical term that means the harmonious interplay of opposing forces. When nature encounters a strong force, the way it answers that force to maintain harmony in the world is with a spiral, he said. “Astronomers see galaxies moving in spirals, water goes down the drain in a spiral, tornados form as a spiral. We spiral in tai chi because the most effective way to move fluid through solid is a spiral.” Hawaii-based personal and group-fitness trainer Jordan Forth, who has studied tai chi since 2006, said one translation of tai chi is “grand ultimate motion.” “I recommend it to everybody,” said Forth. “It teaches people to move well in multiple planes of motion with a state of awareness not cultivated in everyday fitness. Most people check out on a treadmill or during high-intensity activity.” Forth said tai chi improves mobility, movement and flexibility and can be even more dynamic than yoga, which the 35-year-old has studied since he was a teenager. “With tai chi you're grounded the entire time,” he said. “For me, (it) translates more into functional everyday movement.” Matthews, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise, said because tai chi is slow motion and low impact, many assume it's just for older people or not a viable means of exercise. Not so, she said: Research studies have found that the practice increased mineral bone density, boosted endurance, strengthened the lower body, and eased depression.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/06/17/tai-chi-getting-there-more-slowly-but-gracefully-and-intact/

Pfizer takes its shot at a vaccine for evasive MRSA superbug

Kathrin Jansen is a microbiologist with at least two breakthrough vaccines to her name: she brought the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to market for Merck and helped develop the $4 billion a year pneumonia and meningitis vaccine Prevnar 13 for Pfizer. Jansen's next vaccine success could come by taming the superbug MRSA, a drug-resistant bacterium that she has seen ravage a healthy man up close and personally. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infects an estimated 53 million people globally and costs more than $20 billion a year to treat. In the United States alone, MRSA kills 20,000 Americans each year, exceeding annual deaths from AIDS. Jansen watched the infection unfold two years ago when visiting her stepfather, who was in the hospital for a hip replacement. The man in the bed next door died soon after MRSA attacked the vascular graft in his leg. “He went in healthy and died very quickly,” recalls Jansen, senior vice president of vaccine research and early development at Pfizer Inc, the world's largest drug maker. She says the experience steeled her resolve to develop an effective vaccine that could prevent such deaths. But Staphylococcus aureus has proven a tenacious adversary. In the past decade, vaccine candidates by Nabi Biopharmaceuticals and Merck & Co Inc failed in costly, late-stage clinical trials. Now, led by Jansen, Pfizer is taking a shot. Competitors, including vaccine giants GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi, are, too. And while the race could lead to a viable vaccine, potentially worth billions in sales, critics say companies may be risking costly failure with so much work on a bacterium that is still barely understood. 'Bag of trouble' Staph has been living in and on its human hosts for centuries. At any given time, 25 to 35 percent of individuals will test positive for staph, often with no symptoms. But the bacterium can cause a range of diseases from boils and impetigo to raging blood infections and deadly bacterial pneumonia. The discovery of penicillin in 1928 gave doctors a way to defeat staph infections, but overuse and misuse gave rise to drug-resistant staph. Methicillin was developed to overcome drug-resistance, but by the 1960s, staph evolved new defenses to overcome this more powerful version of penicillin. Thus began the decades-long battle against methicillin-resistant staph, now the most common cause of hospital-acquired infections that is increasingly spreading into army barracks, prisons and daycare centers. Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president who led clinical trials for Prevnar 13 and is running the company's Staph aureus trials, thinks of the bacterium as “a little bag of trouble.” “Basically, it has a number of different toxins and defenses to try to defeat you.” That may explain why vaccines from Nabi and Merck failed. Both tried to defeat this bug by attacking on just one front. The vaccine by Nabi, now Biota Pharmaceuticals, focused only on the sugar capsule the bacteria make to hide from the immune system, while Merck's focused on a single protein that helps staph gets its nutrition. Neither lived up to expectations. “We've learned that just focusing on one target of Staph aureus might not be sufficient,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University. It takes stamina Jansen has been working on a Staph aureus vaccine for the past decade, first at Merck, then at Wyeth, and now at Pfizer. The East German-born scientist - who fled to the West in 1960 and earned her PhD in biology at Philipps University in Marburg - says it takes stamina to develop a successful vaccine, a process that can take 15 years or more. With the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, which had 2012 sales of $1.6 billion, it took 14 years from lab bench to government approval. “That's actually a fast development program,” she said. With Staph aureus, it took eight years from the first experiments to human safety trials. Now, it could take another seven to 10 years to wind up clinical trials, putting the team about midway through the process. Pfizer's initial vaccine targeted three mechanisms key to staph's survival and ability to cause disease. Two of those focused on sugar capsules. The third attacks a mechanism called “clumping factor,” which allows bacteria to stick to proteins when they enter the body. But Jansen's team wanted one more point of attack. They added a fourth antigen, a protein that allows the bacterium to steal manganese - a key nutrient - from host cells. The result is a four-antigen vaccine that generates antibody responses at distinct points of the life cycle of the bug. The company is testing this in Phase 1/Phase 2 trials in healthy adults in the United States. If Pfizer gets the results they hope for, likely later this year, the company expects to meet with regulators to iron out a plan for larger trials involving thousands of individuals. Initially, the vaccine would be aimed at preventing infections in millions of people globally who need elective procedures such as a hip replacement. Ultimately, it could be used to protect people at risk in the broader community. Rival vaccines Pfizer is furthest along, but the large, untapped market, estimated to be worth $3 billion to $4 billion a year, has drawn interest from several companies. GlaxoSmithKline has been quiet about its approach. The drugmaker had been partnering with Nabi's failed StaphVax candidate, and in 2009 bought another Nabi candidate called PentaStaph for $46 million. Company researchers declined to discuss their program, but Glaxo spokeswoman Melinda Stubbee confirmed the company has a four-component vaccine in Phase 1 development. “We are still evaluating the data and haven't yet announced plans to present the data or to pursue further development,” she said. NovaDigm Therapeutics, a private company based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, is developing a single-antigen vaccine that targets both staph and yeast infections caused by the fungus Candida. Other rivals with early-stage programs include Novartis, which has a vaccine in Phase 1 trials, and Sanofi, which is partnering with privately held biotech Syntiron. Although academic researchers applaud these efforts, they say companies may be rushing into trials too soon, especially when so much is unknown about how staph interacts with people. “Our development of Staphylococcal vaccines has predated an adequate understanding of the human response to infection,” Creech said. For instance, it is still not clear whether a Staph aureus vaccine that protects against skin infections will also protect individuals from bloodstream infections. It may be that instead of preventing infection, some vaccines will merely blunt infection. Dr. Robert Daum, who leads the MRSA Research Center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, doubts any of the current candidates will make it into widespread use. “I am convinced we need a vaccine. I'm just not sure anyone knows how to make one yet.” Jansen, who knows Daum, said she understands his skepticism. “I'm a microbiologist. I know bacteria pretty well. They are very potent adversaries.” She says there's a reason the company was not the first out of the gate. “We wanted to make sure that we looked under all the rocks and found what we needed to find.” Tests in animals and people suggest the vaccine induces production of antibodies that defeat staph's defenses and kill the bacteria. “To our knowledge, we are the only ones who have demonstrated very, very robust killing responses.” That was enough for Jansen. “We essentially said, 'That's it. We put it together as best as we know how. Now is the time to test it.'”source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/23/pfizer-takes-its-shot-at-vaccine-for-evasive-mrsa-superbug/