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Researchers Identify Genetic 'Signatures' of Cancer Development

All cancers are driven by genetic mutations that develop in a person's body cells over her or his lifetime. However, what causes these mutations is still largely unknown. Now, researchers have released the findings of a large-scale study that sheds light on these processes. Investigators analyzed the genetic makeup of 30 common cancers in thousands of patients and identified 21 patterns of mutation, or 'signatures,' underlying cancer development. All cancer types had at least two signatures, and some had up to six, reflecting the multiple influences that contribute to cancer. The researchers also uncovered the biological processes behind many of these signatures, such as aging or enzymes involved in fighting off virus infections.

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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Reuters | Aug 14, 2013

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Survival Hope for Melanoma Patients Thanks to New Vaccine

Survival Hope for Melanoma Patients Thanks to New Vaccine | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"University of Adelaide researchers have discovered that a new trial vaccine offers the most promising treatment to date for melanoma that has spread, with increased patient survival rates and improved ability to stop or reverse the cancer.


"The vaccine, known as vaccinia melanoma cell lysate (VMCL), was given regularly as a treatment to 54 South Australian patients with advanced, inoperable melanoma over a 10-year period."


Editor's note: The cancer vaccine VMCL is a type of immunotherapy, which means it boosts a patient's own immune system to fight cancer.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 17, 2014

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Sentinel-Node Biopsy Improved DFS, Staging in Melanoma

Sentinel-Node Biopsy Improved DFS, Staging in Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

Sentinel lymph node biopsy after wide excision improved DFS compared with wide excision alone among patients with intermediate and thick melanomas, according to final results of the MSLT-1 trial presented at the HemOnc Today Melanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies meeting in New York.


“ 'We found that performing sentinel lymph node biopsy is very accurate and improves staging in order to determine whether additional treatments are needed, such as additional surgery or adjuvant systemic therapy,' Robert H.I. Andtbacka, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC, associate professor of surgery at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, said during a presentation. 'It also forms a basis for us to perform all the subsequent studies that we do in melanoma to make sure patients we have for our clinical trials are well balanced.' "


Editor's note: DFS stands for disease-free survival.

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ASCO Releases First Three Guidelines on Cancer Survivorship Care

"The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today issued three evidence-based clinical practice guidelines on the prevention and management of symptoms that affect many cancer survivors—neuropathy, fatigue and depression, and anxiety. The guidelines are the first three in a planned series of guidelines on survivorship care. The recommendations reinforce the need to care for the both physical and psychological needs of cancer survivors."


"The release of these guidelines come at a time when the number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million today. Despite these important gains, cancer survivors still face a range of long-term challenges from their disease and its treatment.  Cancer survivors face an increased risk for other health problems, premature mortality and side-effects from treatment.  The transition from active treatment to post-treatment care is critical to optimal long-term health. If care is not planned and coordinated, cancer survivors are left without knowledge of their heightened risks and a follow-up plan of action.


"In addition to the guidelines, Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website, has updated information for survivors that is based on ASCO’s latest recommendations."

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ASCO  |  Apr 14, 2014

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Great.  More guidelines.  How much money is spent on research, writing, studies and more to get to the finding that there is a, "need to care for the both physical and psychological needs of cancer survivors."  At some point, information must be turned into action - and many recommendations in survivorship these days come with mandates but no resources to implement or processes by which to initiate.


Cancer survivorship needs more funding and more insurance coverage, not more recommendations  - most of which have already been well documented and published for over a decade.  

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Mobile Technologies Expected to Change Paradigm in Melanoma Detection

Mobile Technologies Expected to Change Paradigm in Melanoma Detection | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"In this video, Allan C. Halpern, MD, illustrates how mobile technologies are expected to play a larger role in melanoma detection due to increased access and ease of use. However, he notes that a lack of oversight and quality assurance remain formidable challenges.


"While more than 50 iPhone apps are available to evaluate images of lesions, rashes and other abnormalities to help diagnose melanoma, the apps nevertheless use preexisting iPhone on-camera processing. Many inherent camera features attempt to improve the asthetic appearance of the skin, removing features that are critical to diagnosing a skin lesion."

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Cancer ‘Miracle’ Patients Studied Anew for Disease Clues

Cancer ‘Miracle’ Patients Studied Anew for Disease Clues | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The history of oncology is rife with reports of patients with advanced cancer who staged miraculous recoveries.


"Now scientists are starting to use sophisticated DNA sequencing technology to determine if these “exceptional responders” carry gene variations that can lead to new treatment approaches, better targeted therapies or even the re-emergence of experimental drugs once deemed failures.


"The mystery surrounding Jan Crisitello, a 70-year-old grandmother of four, is a case in point. Five years ago, 29 patients with advanced melanoma enrolled in a trial of a drug under development by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Only one, Crisitello, came away with her cancer in remission. Now, she is being studied to see how her unique genome may have interacted with the drug to spur her recovery."


Editor's note: To learn more about personalized medicine, click here.

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Bloomberg  |  Apr 10, 2014

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Bloomberg  |  Apr 10, 2014

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A Bad Penny: Cancer's Thirst for Copper Can be Targeted

A Bad Penny: Cancer's Thirst for Copper Can be Targeted | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Drugs used to block copper absorption for a rare genetic condition may find an additional use as a treatment for certain types of cancer, researchers at Duke Medicine report.


"The researchers found that cancers with a mutation in the BRAF gene require copper to promote tumor growth. These tumors include melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer that kills an estimated 10,000 people in the United States a year, according to the National Cancer Institute...


"Already, a clinical trial has been approved at Duke to test the copper-reducing drugs in patients with melanoma, although enrollment has not yet begun."


Editor's note: The scientists hypothesize that copper-reducing drugs might help fight melanoma tumors with BRAF mutations, as detected by molecular testing.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 9, 2014

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Experimental Drug Shows Early Promise for Some Cases of Advanced Melanoma

Experimental Drug Shows Early Promise for Some Cases of Advanced Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"An experimental cancer drug that activates the immune system has shown early promise for advanced cases of melanoma skin cancer, researchers report.


"The findings come from an early stage trial of just 31 patients. But experts were cautiously optimistic about what the study showed: The drug's side effects were manageable, and four patients saw their tumors shrink.


"That's a small number, but a trial like this is largely aimed at seeing whether a drug is safe and finding a tolerable dose."


Editor's note: This story is about a new melanoma drug called IMCgp100 that is being tested in patients. Learn more about immunotherapy drugs and clinical trials for melanoma here.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 8, 2014

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New Antibody-drug Conjugate Shows Early Promise Against All Forms of Melanoma

New Antibody-drug Conjugate Shows Early Promise Against All Forms of Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The investigational drug DEDN6526A, which is a new member of a class of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates, was safe, tolerable, and showed hints of activity against different forms of melanoma—cutaneous, mucosal, and ocular—according to results of a first-in-human phase I clinical trial presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, April 5-9.


"Antibody-drug conjugates consist of an antibody attached to a toxic chemotherapy by a special linker that keeps the chemotherapy inactive. In the case of DEDN6526A, the antibody recognizes the protein endothelin B receptor (ETBR) and the toxic chemotherapy is monomethyl auristatin (MMAE). Infante explained that when administered to the patient, the antibody portion of DEDN6526A recognizes and attaches to ETBR, which is often present at elevated levels on the surface of tumor cells in patients with melanoma. The whole antibody-drug conjugate is then taken up by the cells and MMAE is released from the linker to become active, killing the melanoma cells."

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AACR  |  Apr 7, 2014

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Cancer Patients Face Treatment Disruptions Come June; Immediate and Severe Funding Cuts May Curtail Access to Cancer Clinical Trials

"The nation’s cancer clinical trial network, which provides care to thousands of patients across the United States, may have no choice but to abandon life-saving and life-extending research studies, including support for patients participating in those studies, due to crippling proposed budget cuts. For decades, federally-supported clinical trials have produced critical advances in the fight against cancer, representing one of the greatest returns on research investment anywhere. But this progress could soon grind to a halt due to far-reaching—and largely unnoticed—budgeting decisions that are happening in plain sight."


Editor's note: Clinical trials are not only important for testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs; they also provide an avenue for patients who cannot benefit from standard treatment options to access new, cutting-edge treatments that could help them. In fact, our founder's life was saved by his involvement in a clinical trial.

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ASCO  |  Apr 4, 2014

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Multimodal Approach Appears Promising for Treatment of Cancer Cachexia

Multimodal Approach Appears Promising for Treatment of Cancer Cachexia | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Cancer cachexia is a complex, multifactorial metabolic syndrome characterized by weight and muscle loss with or without loss of fat mass.


"It occurs in 30% to 80% of patients with cancer, and it is identified as an independent predictor of shorter survival and increased risk for treatment failure and toxicity...


"Due to the lack of selectivity of anabolic androgens, a need for more selective anabolic agents has emerged, resulting in the development of nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). These agents have the potential to elicit beneficial anabolic effects while avoiding many of the side effects observed with steroidal agents."

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Healio  |  Mar 10, 2014

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Biomarker Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Respond to Immunotherapy MK-3475

Biomarker Identifies Melanoma Patients Who May Respond to Immunotherapy MK-3475 | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Among melanoma patients treated with the PD-1 inhibitor MK-3475, those whose tumors had the protein PD-L1 had better immune responses and higher survival rates, according to results presented here at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, April 5-9.


"When the protein PD-L1, which is present on some melanoma tumors, binds to PD-1, a protein present on T cells, "brakes" are applied on these T cells, preventing them from attacking the cancer cells. The immunotherapy MK-3475 blocks PD-1, releasing the brakes on T cells and enabling them to attack the cancer cells."


Editor's note: This story is about a drug called MK-3475 (aka lambrolizumab), which boosts a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. It has shown promising results in clinical trials. Learn more about MK-3475 in this blog post.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 7, 2014

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Genetic Testing Beneficial in Melanoma Treatment

Genetic Testing Beneficial in Melanoma Treatment | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Genetic screening of cancer can help doctors customize treatments so that patients with melanoma have the best chance of beating it, according to the results of a clinical trial by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), a partner with UPMC CancerCenter.


"The trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will be presented Monday at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2014. It showed that the cancer immune therapy drug ipilimumab appears most likely to prevent recurrence in patients whose cancer shows high expression of immune-related genes."


Editor's note: To learn more about genetic screening and personalized approaches to melanoma treatment, read our Melanoma Basics.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 4, 2014

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Racial Disparities in Cancer Survival Persisted Over 20-Year Period

Racial Disparities in Cancer Survival Persisted Over 20-Year Period | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Race-based differences in cancer survival have not changed over time, and the disparities among black patients persist independent of treatment and disease stage, study results showed.


"Ayal A. Aizer, MD, MHS, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues used the SEER database to identify 2.7 million patients diagnosed with lung, breast, prostate or colorectal cancers between 1988 and 2007. The final analysis included more than 1 million patients."

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Healio  |  Apr 2, 2014

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Genius High School Students Use Crowdsourcing to Find a Cure for Melanoma

"In a groundbreaking effort, 3,500 of the country's top high school students will build the world's largest wiki on melanoma research — and work toward finding that needle in a haystack to cure melanoma.


"The effort is led by www.SaveJordan.org, which will use crowdsourcing to drive user-generated content related to melanoma cancer research to a wiki site. 'The idea is to bypass mainstream medicine and medical research and compile fresh ideas,' saidJordan Guernsey, the 29-year-old father of two and Stage IV cancer survivor who is the force behind SaveJordan.org."

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PR Newswire  |  Apr 15, 2014

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New Cancer Vaccine Approach Directly Targets Dendritic Cells

New Cancer Vaccine Approach Directly Targets Dendritic Cells | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Celldex Therapeutics announced today that final data from its Phase 1 study of CDX-1401 in solid tumors, including long-term patient follow-up, have been published inScience Translational Medicine. The data demonstrate robust antibody and T cell responses and evidence of clinical benefit in patients with very advanced cancers and suggest that CDX-1401 may predispose patients to better outcomes on subsequent therapy with checkpoint inhibitors. CDX-1401 is an off-the-shelf vaccine consisting of a fully human monoclonal antibody with specificity for the dendritic cell receptor DEC-205 linked to the NY-ESO-1 tumor antigen. The vaccine is designed to activate the patient's immune system against cancers that express the tumor marker NY-ESO-1. While the function of NY-ESO-1 continues to be explored, references in the literature suggest that its expression might reflect the acquisition of properties that cancers find useful, such as immortality, self-renewal, migratory ability and the capacity to invade."


Editor's note: Cancer vaccines like CDX-1401 are a type of immunotherapy, meaning that they boost a patient's own immune system to fight cancer. CDX-1401 is able to attack tumor cells because the tumor cells have a molecule called NY-ESO-1 that CDX-1401 recognizes. We recently published a story about another treatment that is meant for patients whose tumors have NY-ESO-1. To learn more about how patients can use molecular testing to see if particular treatments might work for them, click here.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 16, 2014

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Viagra Use Linked With Increased Risk for Melanoma

Viagra Use Linked With Increased Risk for Melanoma | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Men who used the phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitor sildenafil (Viagra) had an 84% increased risk for developing melanoma even after adjusting for known risk factors, according to the results of a prospective study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine.


“ 'Our study cannot prove cause and effect. A longer follow-up and more detailed assessment of the dose and frequency of sildenafil use at multiple times in the Health Professionals’ Follow-Up Study would be necessary for future studies,' wrote researchers, led by Wen-Qing Li, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 'Our results should be interpreted cautiously and are insufficient to alter current clinical recommendations.' "


Editor's note: As stated above, this study does NOT show that using viagra increases risk of melanoma. The scientists merely found a connection between the two. It may be that there is an underlying factor responsible for the link. However, physicians may choose to perform basic skin checks for patients who are prescribed Viagra.

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Cancer Network  |  Apr 15, 2014

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Age, Preoperative Size May Predict Subclinical Spread of Melanoma in situ

Age, Preoperative Size May Predict Subclinical Spread of Melanoma in situ | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"A patient’s age and the preoperative size of lesions may help predict subclinical spread of melanoma in situ treated with Mohs’ micrographic surgery, according to study results presented at the HemOnc Today Melanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies meeting.


"Patients with melanoma in situ who undergo conventional excision may have residual disease, increasing the likelihood of recurrence and the need for additional surgery. Mohs’ micrographic surgery (MMS) enables improved detection and excision of subclinical microscopic spread, reducing the likelihood of local recurrence and the need for additional surgery, according to background information provided by researchers."

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Healio  |  Apr 13, 2014

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Using a Person's Own Immune System to Fight Cancer: Phase I Clinical Trial of New Immunotherapy Beginning

Using a Person's Own Immune System to Fight Cancer: Phase I Clinical Trial of New Immunotherapy Beginning | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Moffitt Cancer Center has initiated a phase I clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug, ID-G305, made by Immune Design. Immunotherapy is a treatment option that uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer. It has several advantages over standard cancer therapies, including fewer side effects and an overall better tolerability. It tends to be most effective in patients who have smaller, localized tumors that have not spread to distant sites."


Editor's note: This treatment looks for and targets cells that have the protein NY-ESO-1. Only 10-15% of tumors have NY-ESO-1, and patients' tumors must test positive for NY-ESO-1 in order for the patients to enroll in the trial. Learn more about immunotherapy and clinical trials here.

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ScienceDaily  |  Apr 10, 2014

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Sidestepping the Biopsy With New Tools to Spot Cancer

Sidestepping the Biopsy With New Tools to Spot Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"For people with cancer or suspected cancer, the biopsy is a necessary evil — an uncomfortable and somewhat risky procedure to extract tissue for diagnosis or analysis.


"Lynn Lewis, a breast cancer patient in Brooklyn, has had her cancer analyzed an easier way: simple blood tests that are being called 'liquid biopsies.'


"Telltale traces of a tumor are often present in the blood. These traces — either intact cancer cells or fragments of tumor DNA — are present in minuscule amounts, but numerous companies are now coming to market with sophisticated tests that can detect and analyze them."

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The New York Times  |  Apr 7, 2014

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Conference Abstract - MAP Kinase Pathway Alterations in BRAF-Mutant Melanoma Patients With Acquired Resistance to Combined RAF/MEK Inhibition

Conference Abstract - MAP Kinase Pathway Alterations in BRAF-Mutant Melanoma Patients With Acquired Resistance to Combined RAF/MEK Inhibition | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Treatment of BRAF-mutant melanoma with combined dabrafenib and trametinib, which target RAF and the downstream MAP–ERK kinase (MEK)1 and MEK2 kinases, respectively, improves progression-free survival and response rates compared with dabrafenib monotherapy. Mechanisms of clinical resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition are unknown. This study represents an initial clinical genomic study of acquired resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition in BRAF-mutant melanoma, using WES and RNA-seq. The presence of diverse resistance mechanisms suggests that serial biopsies and genomic/molecular profiling at the time of resistance may ultimately improve the care of patients with resistant BRAF-mutant melanoma by specifying tailored targeted combinations to overcome specific resistance mechanisms."


Editor's note: We previously covered the benefits of a dabrafenib/trametinib combo for advanced-stage melanoma. However, some patients' tumors become resistant to this drug combination and new treatment routes need to be considered. This study is exploring how molecular testing of specific genetic mutations in patients' tumors might be used to help guide treatment decisions after they become resistant to the dabrafenib/trametinib combo.

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UPDATE 1-Amgen Melanoma Drug Fails to Improve Overall Survival Rates

"Amgen Inc said its experimental drug to treat a deadly form of skin cancer did not significantly improve overall survival rates in patients enrolled in a late-stage study.


"The company said the drug met the study's main goal of shrinking tumors, as it had previously reported, but did not meet the secondary goal of improving overall survival in patients with melanoma."


Editor's note: Earlier results from this trial showed that the drug (called T-Vec) improved "progression free survival," which refers to the length of time before a patient's tumor begins growing again. Now, T-Vec has been shown not to affect overall survival times.

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Reuters  |  Apr 4, 2014

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Sorrento Announces Presentation of Data from Clinical Study of Resiniferatoxin for Intractable Cancer Pain at ASRA Meeting - San Francisco Business Times

Sorrento Announces Presentation of Data from Clinical Study of Resiniferatoxin for Intractable Cancer Pain at ASRA Meeting - San Francisco Business Times | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE; Sorrento) a late-stage clinical oncology company developing new treatments for cancer and its associated pain, today announced that investigators from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) presented data highlighting results from the first two dosing cohorts of the Phase I/II trial of resiniferatoxin (RTX) for the treatment of intractable cancer pain. The data were presented at the 39th Annual Regional Anesthesia and Acute Pain Meeting, organized by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA), in Chicago on April 3, 2014.


"Data from six patients with advanced cancer and severe refractory pain, who received either 13 or 26 mcg injection of RTX into the intrathecal space, showed a clinically meaningful improvement in quality of life following the single injection."

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San Francisco Business Times  |  Apr 4, 2014

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Quick, Simple Blood Test for Solid Cancers Looks Feasible

Quick, Simple Blood Test for Solid Cancers Looks Feasible | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"The idea of a general, quick and simple blood test for a diverse range of cancers just came closer to reality with news of a new study published in Nature Medicine.


"Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have devised an ultra-sensitive method for finding DNA from cancertumors in the bloodstream.


"Previous research has already shown circulating tumor DNA holds promise as a biomarker for cancer, but existing methods for detecting it are not sufficiently sensitive and do not cover a diverse range of cancers.


"Ways to increase the sensitivity and coverage of such tests exist, but these are cumbersome and time-consuming, and need lots of steps to customize for individual patients, so they are not feasible for use in clinics.


"The new approach promises to change that. It is highly sensitive and specific and should be broadly applicable to a range of cancers, say the researchers."

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Medical News Today  |  Apr 7, 2014

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Induction of Systemic Immunity Following Treatment of Tumors with PV-10 Reported by Moffitt Cancer Center Researchers at American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting

"Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCQB: PVCT, http://www.pvct.com), a development-stage oncology and dermatology biopharmaceutical company, announced today that a poster presentation detailing significant decrease in melanoma cells in patients' injected tumors 7-14 days after intralesional PV-10 treatment that was accompanied by similar decrease in uninjected bystander tumors was presented April 6 by researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. These clinical and pathologic changes were accompanied by increases in important immune cell populations detected in the patients' peripheral blood."


Editor's note: This story is about a new treatment called PV-10 that is injected directly into melanoma tumors. A clinical trial to test the drug in people with melanoma has shown promising results. The manufacturers of the drug have submitted an application for "breakthrough therapy" designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expedite the FDA-approval process and rapidly make the drug available to many more melanoma patients in the U.S.

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Provectus Biopharmaceuticals  |  Apr 7, 2014

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New General Concept for the Treatment of Cancer

New General Concept for the Treatment of Cancer | Melanoma Dispatch | Scoop.it

"A team of researchers from five Swedish universities, led by Karolinska Institutet and the Science for Life Laboratory, have identified a new way of treating cancer. The concept is presented in the journal Nature and is based on inhibiting a specific enzyme called MTH1, which cancer cells, unlike normal cells, require for survival. Without this enzyme, oxidized nucleotides are incorporated into DNA, resulting in lethal DNA double-strand breaks in cancer cells."


Editor's note: As stated in the article, it will be a couple of years before this treatment becomes available to patients in clinical trials. Other "targeted therapies" are already being used to treat cancer.

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Medical Xpress  |  Apr 2, 2014

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