Can vitamin A turn back the clock on breast cancer?

A derivative of vitamin A, known as retinoic acid, found abundantly in sweet potato and carrots, helps turn pre-cancer cells back to normal healthy breast cells, according to research published this month in the International Journal of Oncology. The research could help explain why some clinical studies have been unable to see a benefit of vitamin A on cancer: the vitamin doesn’t appear to change the course of full-blown cancer, only pre-cancerous cells, and only works at a very narrow dose.Because cells undergo many changes before they become fully aggressive and metastatic, Sandra V. Fernandez, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, and colleagues, used a model of breast cancer progression composed of four types of cells each one representing a different stage of breast cancer: normal, pre-cancerous, cancerous and a fully aggressive model.When the researchers exposed the four breast cell types to different concentrations of retinoic acid – one of the chemicals that the body converts vitamin A into – they noticed a strong change in the pre-cancerous cells. Not only did the pre-cancerous cells begin to look more like normal cells in terms of their shape, they also changed their genetic signature back to normal. Dr. Fernandez’s pre-cancerous cells had 443 genes that were either up or downregulated on their way to becoming cancerous. All of these genes returned to normal levels after treatment with retinoic acid. “It looks like retinoic acid exerts effects on cancer cells in part via the modulation of the epigenome,” says Fernandez.“We were able to see this effect of retinoic acid because we were looking at four distinct stages of breast cancer,” says Dr. Fernandez. “It will be interesting to see if these results can be applied to patients.”Interestingly, the cells that were considered fully cancerous did not respond at all to retinoic acid, suggesting that there may be a small window of opportunity for retinoic acid to be helpful in preventing cancer progression. …

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Laparoscopic Cytoreductive Surgery Followed by HIPEC Offers Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma Shorter Recovery Time with Fewer Complications

The standard treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma patients eligible for surgery is cytoreductive surgery (CRS) followed immediately by heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).Traditional surgery involves a large incision made in the abdomen in order to remove as much cancer as possible.Astudypublished in the European Journal of Surgical Oncology shows that patients suffering from peritoneal surface malignancy from mesothelioma and other cancers may benefit from less invasive laparoscopic surgical procedures. Laparoscopic procedures require a much smaller incision than traditional surgery and utilize a fiber optic camera so that surgeons may perform the procedure viewing a monitor.Researchers at the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France compared two groups of patients who underwent CRS followed by HIPEC. Patients in the first group underwent the laparoscopic CRS procedure and experienced …

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Human and canine lymphomas share molecular similarities, first large-scale comparison shows

June 25, 2013 — Humans and their pet dogs are close, so close that they both develop a type of cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. In humans it’s the most common lymphoma subtype while in dogs, it’s one of the most common cancers in veterinary oncology.A team of scientists from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Duke University have conducted one of the first studies to directly compare canine and human B-cell lymphoma by examining molecular similarities and differences between the two species.The study was published June 19, 2013 online in the journal Cancer Research.Kristy Richards, MD, PhD, corresponding author, said, “Comparing the molecular similarities of lymphomas across species has allowed us to see what parts of lymphoma development and growth are evolutionarily conserved. This teaches us more about what components of human lymphoma biology are most fundamental and critical. The canine lymphoma work is now informing research on human lymphomas.” Dr. Richards is an assistant professor of medicine and a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.”Pet dogs get cancer the same way humans do: at similar rates, and for unknown reasons. Like humans, dogs’ tumors are spontaneously occurring, rather than genetically created as they are in mice, so canine tumors may more accurately mimic the situation in human cancer patients. Dogs are good models to study, because it will also be possible to study shared risk factors, in the environment, for example, that might predispose both humans and dogs to get lymphoma. Our knowledge helps dogs and humans with lymphoma.”Veterinarians treating dogs for lymphoma can offer clinical trials to their owners. Clinical trials in dogs are similar to those done in humans, with safety protections in place to minimize harm.”What we have learned in our study could facilitate faster, more efficient new drug development, allowing new therapies to get to cancer patients faster and with a higher likelihood of success.”Molecular analyses of canine and human tumors were completed at NCSU and at UNC Lineberger. The team used gene expression profiling and found that canine B-cell lymphoma expression profiles were similar in many ways to human B-cell lymphoma, thus paving the way for future studies, including therapeutic clinical trials in dogs and humans.Senior study author is Dr. …

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