Monday, August 22, 2011

Omega-3 Possible weapon against tumors in children

In a newly published study, Swedish and American scientists show how the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA can serve as both sword and shield in the fight against certain forms of cancer. The new findings on the mechanisms behind this two-sided effect give hope of one day using DHA as a complement to cytostatics in the treatment of children with neural cancer.

Neural cancer (neuroblastoma) in young children is the most common solid tumour form in this age group. The prognosis is very poor and some 40 per cent of patients die of the disease. However, it is known that fatty acids can protect healthy nerve cells from dying, and at the same time kill several types of cancer cells. In the current study, the scientists were interested in exploring what happens to DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found mainly in oily fish (e.g. salmon and mackerel), inside the cancer cell.

Using an advanced method called liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry, the researchers looked at the products that were formed on the breakdown of DHA and which of them have a lethal effect on the cancer cell. They also tried to identify the enzymes involved in the breakdown process.

"We observed that DHA forms hydroperoxy fatty acids and hydroxy fatty acids inside the cancer cell," says Helena Gleissman, researcher at Karolinska Institutet and the study´s principal author. "These fatty acids are oxidised through the agency of enzymes called 5- and 15-lipoxygenase, but they can also be oxidised spontaneously. Hydroperoxy fatty acids are particularly involved in apoptosis."

DHA can be converted into these cell-killing oxidised fatty acids in healthy neurons, but they are then converted further into substances called resolvins and protectins, thus avoiding the accumulation of cytolethal oxidised fatty acids in the cell. Protectins are particularly effective at protecting nerve cells from dying, which from a future treatment perspective makes it especially interesting that neither resolvins nor protectins are formed in neuroblastoma cells.

"While DHA kills cancer cells in the nervous system via hydroperoxy fatty acids, it protects healthy nerve cells from dying via protectins," says Dr Gleissman. "If we can find a way of controlling this process, there is a good chance that DHA can serve as both sword and shield in neuroblastoma patients and act as a complement to cytostatic therapy."

The study was based on a collaboration between Professor Per Kogner´s research group at Karolinska Institutet and Professor Charles N Serhan´s group at Harvard Medical School. The researchers will now be looking into how DHA can be applied most effectively in the treatment of cancer. The research was funded by the Swedish Children´s Cancer Foundation, Swedish Research Council, Swedish Cancer Society, Erik and Edith Fernström´s Foundation for Medical Research, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and NIH.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Facts about Neuroblastoma

Facts about Neuroblastoma
􀁸 There are approximately 12,500 children suffering from some form of pediatric cancer.
􀁸 Neuroblastoma is an extremely rare childhood cancer, affecting 10 children in every million, usually
before the age of 5.
􀁸 In the U.S., approximately 650 new cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each year.
􀁸 Originating from neural crest cells called neuroblasts in the sympathetic nervous system where nervous
system tissue is present, neuroblastoma is a solid tumor cancer most commonly found near the adrenal
glands (located on top of the kidneys and in the chest).
􀁸 The term neuro indicates "nerves," while blastoma refers to a cancer that affects immature or
developing cells.
􀁸 The cause of neuroblastoma is unknown. Studies have shown that genetics and environmental factors
are not involved.
􀁸 40 percent of neuroblastoma patients are younger than 1 year when diagnosed, 35 percent are aged 1-2
years, and 25 percent are older than 2 years when diagnosed.
􀁸 In 70-80 percent of patients with neuroblastoma, the disease is not diagnosed until it has already
metastasized (spread) to lymph nodes, liver, bone, bone marrow and/or skin. These cases are
categorized as stage IV and have a less than 40 percent chance of surviving long-term, classified as
more than three years. Less than half of these patients survive. i
􀁸 No drugs or treatments are available today designed to specifically treat neuroblastoma.
Treatment often requires a combination of surgery, chemotherapy drugs designed for different types of
adult cancers, bone marrow transplants and radiation therapy.
􀁸 The five-year survival rate for high-risk cases of neuroblastoma is less than 40 percent. ii
􀁸 There is a zero percent chance of survival for patients who relapse.
􀁸 Males have a slightly higher incidence of neuroblastoma than females. More than 40 percent of fully
insured families with a child with neuroblastoma declare bankruptcy due to the high costs of treatment,
often considered to be experimental.

Who gets Neuroblastoma?

Neuroblastoma is almost always found in children.

Nearly 90% of the cases of Neuroblastoma are diagnosed before the age of 6.

Of all childhood cancers, Neuroblastoma accounts for approximately 7% of the cases diagnosed.

The Neuroblastoma Children's Cancer Society reports that 500 to 1,000 children are diagnosed each year in the United States.

ySlightl more cases of Neuroblastoma are seen in boys than in girls.

Join the Cause!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Neuroblastoma Awareness: Only the good die young

I know there are many children battling this disease and that we need to stop it, It is to often that I hear of somebody dying from any kind of cancer, not just Neuroblastoma. Last a friend of the families son died from non-hodgkins lymphona, now I only met the kid a few times but he was a real down to earth person. He was only 20 years old when he sadly passed away. It just hit me how much his death hit everybody as I'm writing this about a year and a half later. Only the Good die young. As a reader of this blog, please forward it to everybody in your contact's list on your email or cell phone and make sure they reforward it as well so we can continue to raise awareness.

Neuroblastoma Awareness: International Neuroblastoma Week

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Neuroblastoma Awareness: Trial Drug helps children with deadly Neuroblastoma Cancer

An experimental drug, available only through a clinical trial, helps prevent relapses in children with a rare cancer called neuroblastoma.
Children with high-risk neuroblastoma, which grows in nerve cells in the neck, chest and abdomen, desperately need better treatments, experts say.

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A new, man-made antibody may save some of them, says Alice Yu, a professor at the Moores University of California-San Diego Cancer Center.

In a study of 226 children, Yu found that combining the antibody with other immune therapies cuts the risk of relapse by 20%.

Two years after getting the new therapy, 66% of kids were relapse-free, compared to 46% of kids randomly assigned to receive a standard therapy called retinoic acid, according to a study released Thursday, in advance of the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which begins in two weeks in Orlando.

Because most relapses occur in the first two years after a bone marrow transplant, Yu says these kids are likely to have been cured. About 86% of those who got the antibody were alive after two years, compared to 75% who got standard therapy.

That's a big improvement for such a stubborn disease, says Nai-Kong Cheung, head of the neuroblastoma program at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who was not involved in the new study. Neuroblastoma causes 15% of all deaths from pediatric cancer.

Cheung says the study is a "landmark," not only because the drug seems so helpful, but because of the difficulty of conducting a definitive trial in a disease with so few patients.

"This is a major, major event," says Cheung, who says this is the first new therapy for high-risk neuroblastoma in about 10 years.

Most children with the disease are toddlers under age 5. About 40% of the 650 kids diagnosed each year have aggressive tumors. Of those, only about 30% survive, in spite of intense and painful therapies, that include surgery, heavy chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplants.

"We basically throw the book at them," Yu says.

Now, antibody therapy will become the new standard of care, she says.

Yet Cheung notes that doctors will have to wait many years to know if children were truly cured. And he notes that the antibody therapy is not easy to take.

More than 20% of children treated with the antibody suffered significant pain during the five to 10 hours that it takes to receive the intravenous drug, Yu says. Children receive the drug four days a month for five months.

About 7% of children also developed leaky blood vessels and another 7% developed allergic reactions, the study shows.

"It's a very tough treatment," Yu says. "But if we can achieve a cure for another 20% of kids, then it's worth it."

Older therapies pose their own risks. The heavy chemo that children receive early on their therapy can damage the heart and kidneys and even cause sterility or new cancers, Cheung says.

Cheung notes that doctors have been trying to spare as many children as possible from these toxic side effects, even as they struggle to save them from an aggressive disease. Doctors now try to reserve the harshest therapies for children with genetic markers indicating their tumors put them at high risk, he says. Children with low-risk neuroblastoma get a lighter type of chemotherapy, which causes fewer long-term side effects, Cheung says.

Families who are interested in the antibody for their children can still join the study, Yu says. Researchers will continue to monitor the drug's safety in order to apply for approval with the Food and Drug Administration, Yu says.

Yet the drug's future remains uncertain.

Cancers such as neuroblastoma are considered "orphan" diseases, because drugmakers are reluctant to invest heavily in such a small market, Cheung says. The National Cancer Institute provided the antibodies used in the trial because there were no drug companies willing to manufacture it. Although several companies have shown interest in the drug, none have yet committed to making it, Yu says."Now that we've discovered that this drug is useful, it's cruel not to be able to give it to someone," Cheung says. "Someone will have to maintain the supply."

Neuroblastoma Awareness: Magnets Against Cancer

A new cancer treatment that combines conventional chemotherapy with the use of magnetic particles to separate healthy from diseased cells has been tested at a London hospital. Two patients underwent the treatment for the often-fatal cancer called neuroblastoma, which affects the bone marrow, and were reported to be in good postoperative condition.

According to an announcement by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a sponsor of the basic research, the microspheres, beads of polystyrene surrounding a magnetic core, are coated with an antibody that will recognize and attach itself to the antibodies on the cancer cells, ignoring healthy cells. Bone marrow samples are removed from a patient and passed through a container surrounded by magnets, which attract the beads and hold the tumor cells against the sides of the wall, while the normal marrow cells pass through.

Only a fraction of the marrow can be removed safely. The patient is given chemotherapy or radiation or both to kill the malignant cells in the marrow that is left behind. Then the purified marrow is returned to the bone to resume its function as the foundation of the body's immune system until the rest of the marrow, damaged by the chemotherapy used to kill the cancer cells, can regenerate. In tests, 99.9 percent of tumor cells were removed from marrow samples.

Source :

Saturday, August 6, 2011