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New Tactics Promising for Prostate, Brain and Pancreatic Cancer

Thursday, July 02, 2009 at 06:10 PM EDT

At a recent American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Denver, several new studies were discussed that showed promise in fighting prostate, brain and pancreatic cancer.

One of the most impressive studies was based on finding a new tactic for fighting prostate cancer. Prostate cancer, which kills approximately 3,000 men each month, has been historically difficult to treat. Chemotherapy has a low rate of success and hormone therapy is only effective in staving off tumor growth for one to two years.

To combat these hurdles, a team of researchers led by Dr. Richard Junghans of the Boston University School of Medicine found a novel way to attack prostate tumor cells. Rather then using manufactured drugs or hormones, the team modified each patient’s own immune system to better fight off the disease.

To accomplish this, the team modified normal human T-cells to “trick” them into attacking the cancer. Using a very low dose of the new tactic resulted in a 50 to 75 percent reduction in prostate-specific antigens present in participants. Now, larger studies are planned to go forward with higher doses that are hoped to completely eliminate these antigens.

A new tactic for treating brain cancer has also reported. Studies performed at the University of Southern California show that a modified version of Celecoxib (Celebrex) reduces toxic side effects and effectively inhibit the growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor growth. Though proven promising for brain cancer, the new treatment may also be effective in breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

Two new agents have also shown promising results in the fight against pancreatic cancer. These two agents – a histone deacetylase inhibitor (LBH589) and a mTOR inhibitor (rapamycin) – have proven remarkably successful when used in combination. In the study, which was performed at the Mayo Clinic, cell death improved from 10 percent when rapamycin was used alone to 60 to 70 percent when used in combination.