Healthy Lifestyle May Cut Colorectal Cancer Risk

Following a healthy lifestyle, which means exercising, eating healthfully, keeping the waistline trim, limiting alcohol intake, and avoiding smoking, could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 23%, according to a study from Denmark.

via Healthy Lifestyle May Cut Colorectal Cancer Risk.

First Human Liver Grown in Lab

For the first time, human cells have been used to create a lab-grown liver.

It’s a milestone on the way to creating a new source of livers for transplant, Wake Forest University (WFU) researchers say.

Last June, a different research team reported growing a liver from animal cells. But if the goal is human transplants, fully human livers are likely to be safer and more effective, suggests project director Shay Soker, PhD, professor of regenerative medicine at WFU.

“We have focused on the clinical aspect of this by using human cells,” Soker tells WebMD. “We believe that the use of human cells will provide patients with the best solution for liver disease, compared with those that have used animal cells which are less safe.”

via First Human Liver Grown in Lab.

New virus ‘jumps’ from monkey to scientist

A never-before detected strain of virus that killed more than one-third of a monkey colony at a U.S. lab appears to have ‘jumped’ from the animals to sicken a human scientist, researchers report.

Although it’s an unusual move for that type of virus and does warrant further monitoring, the researchers stress there is no cause for alarm at this time. There is no evidence the virus has spread beyond the single scientist — who recovered from her illness — nor is there even proof that the virus would be transmissible between humans.

via Study: New virus ‘jumps’ from monkey to scientist –

Cancer Drug Zeroes In on a Genetic Mistake

At some point in Karen Pihl’s life, one of her lung cells made a potentially fatal misstep. As the cell duplicated its DNA in preparation to divide, part of the gene for one protein became erroneously attached to part of the gene for another. The genetic malfunction bestowed the cell with the ability to grow out of control, ultimately creating lung cancer.

Today, Pihl is part of a clinical trial, being published in the New England Journal of Medicine, of an experimental lung cancer drug that specifically blocks the effects of that mutation. According to the findings, the drug, called crizotinib and developed by Pfizer, shrank tumors in half of patients whose cancers carried a similar genetic mistake. The drug suppressed tumor growth in another third.

via Cancer Drug Zeroes In on a Genetic Mistake – Technology Review.

Cancer’s hiding spots revealed

After receiving chemotherapy, many cancer patients go into a remission that can last months or years. But in some of those cases, tumors eventually grow back, and when they do, they are frequently resistant to the drugs that initially worked.

Now, in a study of mice with lymphoma, MIT biologists have discovered that a small number of cancer cells escape chemotherapy by hiding out in the thymus, an organ where immune cells mature. Within the thymus, the cancer cells are bathed in growth factors that protect them from the drugs’ effects. Those cells are likely the source of relapsed tumors, said Michael Hemann, MIT assistant professor of biology, who led the study.

via Cancer’s hiding spots revealed.

Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids may lower the incidence of gum disease

Periodontitis, a common inflammatory disease in which gum tissue separates from teeth, leads to accumulation of bacteria and potential bone and tooth loss. Although traditional treatments concentrate on the bacterial infection, more recent strategies target the inflammatory response. In an article in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like fish oil, known to have anti-inflammatory properties, shows promise for the effective treatment and prevention of periodontitis. Continue reading “Consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids may lower the incidence of gum disease”

Gene Therapy for Treating Depression

For decades, medications for depression have acted pretty much the same way–by manipulating levels of serotonin and other chemical messengers in the brain. New drugs have offered only modest changes from the old ones.

Now a team of researchers, led by Michael Kaplitt, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, has proposed a different way to attack depression: by using gene therapy to boost levels of a protein called p11 in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

via Technology Review: Gene Therapy for Treating Depression.