Machine Learning Identifies Potential Anti-Cancer Molecules in Food

The internet is rife with myths and articles making dubious claims about certain foods and their anti-cancer properties. We have all seen the articles of questionable scientific merit gracing social media suggesting that such-and-such foods can cure cancer, the majority of which are highly questionable. A new study offers a unique kind of insight into the potential true effectiveness of food in fighting cancer.

Investigating molecules in food with machine learning

There is no doubt that there are many foods that contain a myriad of active molecules, and perhaps some of these food myths may have a grain of truth to them. A team of researchers decided to do some real myth-busting and put a variety of bioactive molecules found in foods to the test to see if they might potentially help to combat cancer.

The research team chose to use the power of machine learning to help assess a total of 7,962 biologically active compounds encountered in dietary sources. These molecules were compiled into a database and fed into a machine learning algorithm, which determined that of these compounds, there were 110 molecules that appeared to have anti-cancer properties.

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Source: Life Extension Advocacy Foundation


Key Mechanism in Cancer Metastasis Identified Offering Potential for Therapy

Body.Disease.Cancer4A new study from the research group of Dr. John Lewis at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB) and the Lawson Health Research Institute (London, ON) has confirmed that “invadopodia” play a key role in the spread of cancer. The study, published in Cell Reports, shows preventing these tentacle-like structures from forming can stop the spread of cancer entirely.

Thanks to advances in medical research and care, cancer can often be treated with high success if detected early. However, after it spreads, cancer becomes much more difficult to treat.

To spread, or “metastasize,” cancer cells must enter the blood stream or lymph system, travel through its channels, and then exit to another area or organ in the body. This final exit is the least understood part of the metastatic process. Previous research has shown cancer cells are capable of producing “invadopodia,” a type of extension that cells use to probe and change their environment. However, their significance in the escape of cancer cells from the bloodstream has been unclear.

The study findings confirm invadopodia play a key role in the spread of cancer. Most importantly, they suggest an important new target for therapy. If a drug can be developed to prevent invadopodia from forming, it could potentially stop the spread of cancer.

“The spread of cancer works a lot like plane travel,” says lead author Dr. Hon Leong, now a Scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University. “Just as a person boards an airplane and travels to their destination, tumor cells enter the bloodstream and travel to distant organs like the liver, lungs, or brain. The hard part is getting past border control and airport security, or the vessels, when they arrive. We knew that cancer cells were somehow able to get past these barriers and spread into the organs. Now, for the first time, we know how.”

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Source: Medical News Today

Fast, Low-Cost Technique ‘Makes Effective Anti-Cancer Molecules’

Body.Disease.Cancer2Researchers have developed what they say is a fast and inexpensive method to create artificial molecules that mimic the body’s natural defenses against cancer. This is according to a new study published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Lead author Prof. Peter Scott, of the University of Warwick in the UK, and colleagues say the newly created artificial molecules imitate the cancer- and infection-fighting properties of peptides that a healthy body produces naturally.

They have already proven successful against colon cancer cells in laboratory tests, according to the team.

Past research has looked at the use of artificial peptides for cancer treatment, but the team notes there have been some challenges. Artificial peptides have been difficult and expensive to produce in large numbers, for example. Furthermore, when delivered to the body in drug form, they have been quickly neutralized by the body’s biochemical defenses before they have a chance to work.

But in this latest study, Prof. Scott and colleagues detail a new technique that they say can create effective artificial peptides in minutes without the use of expensive equipment.

“The beauty is that these big molecules assemble themselves,” says Prof. Scott. “Nature uses this kind of self-assembly to make complex asymmetric molecules like proteins all the time, but doing it artificially is a major challenge.”

Although the triplexes have proven effective against colon cancer cells, the team says more research is warranted before they can be applied to patients in clinical trials.

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Source: Medical News Today

Could a ‘Universal’ Blood Test for Cancer Be on the Horizon?

Body.Disease.Cancer3When it comes to saving lives from cancer, the earlier the diagnosis, the better. But early diagnosis or identification of certain cancers – including melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer – is often quite difficult. Now, researchers in the UK have developed a simple blood test that could identify which patients have cancer.

The researchers say their test could help doctors in ruling out cancer for patients who present with certain symptoms, which could save time and money, and help to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, including colonoscopies and biopsies. Additionally, the test could help with patients who are suspected of having a cancer that is difficult to diagnose.

The test, called the Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test, examines white blood cells and measures the damage done to their DNA when blasted with different levels of ultraviolet light (UVA). The team explains this type of light damages DNA.

“White blood cells are part of the body’s natural defense system,” says lead researcher Prof. Diana Anderson, from the university’s School of Life Sciences.

“We know that they are under stress when they are fighting cancer or other diseases, so I wondered whether anything measurable could be seen if we put them under further stress with UVA light,” she adds. “We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA – the genome – in a cell.”

Overall, the team says their results show a clear difference in the damage to the white blood cells of patients with cancer, patients with pre-cancerous conditions and those who are healthy.

“This is just in its early stages,” said Prof. Anderson, “but it shows a lot of promise.”

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Source: Medical News Today

How Cancer May Be Avoidable in the Future

Body.Disease.Cancer1Is cancer an inevitable consequence of aging?

Although it is widely thought that cancer is an inevitable consequence of aging, the risk of developing several common cancers decreases with age.

Researchers have long been puzzled by the apparent decrease with age in the risk of developing certain adult cancers.

A possible solution to this puzzle was presented in a recent paper published in Biophysical Reviews and Letters by Professor James P. Brody of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

Most cancers have a characteristic age at which they occur. Testicular cancers mostly occur from age 25-40, bone sarcomas in the teens. Beyond the characteristic age, the incidence of these cancers decreases. Several common cancers appear to have a characteristic age greater than the typical lifespan. Observations of these cancers have led to the belief that the incidence of these cancer increases without limit.

One possible explanation is that many cancers originate early in life, possibly before birth. This is called the developmental origin of disease hypothesis. If true, this suggests that a test could be developed that would determine whether a person might develop a specific form of cancer decades before they actually develop it.

Ultimately this test would lead to earlier diagnosis and preventing many forms of cancer from ever developing to the life threatening stage.

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Source: Medical News Today


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Anti-Cancer Mechanism of Green Tea Revealed

Food.Tea.GreenLactate dehydrogenase A (LDHA) is an enzyme that is elevated in several human cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Wai-Nang Lee, MD, from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed; California, USA), and colleagues observe that epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the active biologic constituent in green tea, changes the metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells by suppressing LDHA expression.

The researchers also found an enzyme inhibitor, oxamate, which is known to reduce LDHA activity, operated in the same manner: It also disrupted the pancreatic cancer cells metabolic system. The study authors submit that: “These results suggest that phytochemical [epigallocatechin gallate] and LDHA inhibitor oxamate confer their anti-cancer activities by disrupting the balance of flux throughout the cellular metabolic network.”

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Source: MedicineNet.


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Four in 10 Pancreatic Cancers Could Be Prevented by Lifestyle Changes

Body.Disease.Cancer3Almost 40 per cent of pancreatic cancers – one of the deadliest forms of cancer – could be avoided through maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking according to research, in a call to arms against the disease. While more research is needed to find better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease, there is evidence to suggest that some pancreatic cancers are linked to being overweight and to smoking – and almost four in 10 could be prevented by lifestyle changes to address this.

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Source: Cancer Research UK. “Four in 10 pancreatic cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2014.

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Indoor Tanning Leads to Early Skin Cancer, Study Says

Body.Disease.Cancer4Teens and young adults who engage in indoor tanning risk developing skin cancer at an early age, a new study finds.

Once thought safer than outdoor sunbathing, indoor tanning can produce 10 to 15 times as much ultraviolet (UV) radiation as the midday sun, the study authors noted.

“Our findings suggest that children and young adults who seek indoor tanning may be especially vulnerable to developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, at a young age,” said lead researcher Margaret Karagas, professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H.

The study looked at people aged 50 and younger who were diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer. While usually treatable, this type of skin cancer can be highly disfiguring if not caught early, and basal cell tumors have a high rate of recurrence. Until recently, basal cell skin cancer was considered a cancer of later life, the researchers said.

The investigators found that indoor tanning was associated with developing skin cancer at an early age. Moreover, the strongest link was seen among those whose first exposure to indoor tanning occurred when they were teens or young adults.

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Source: MedicineNet.

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Vitamin D May Play an Important Role in Cancer Prognosis

Support.Vitamin.DThe main source of vitamin D is its production in skin thanks to the sun. Women are more prone to low vitamin D than men – and due to differing weather conditions, concentrations vary in populations across the world.

Vitamin D deficiency is especially common among the elderly who often have less sun exposure, but it is unclear what effect the production of vitamin D has on death.

So researchers investigated the association of vitamin D with deaths from all-causes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. They paid particular attention to differences between countries, sexes and age groups.

Results show that there was no clear trend of vitamin D by age, but average levels were consistently lower among women than men. Average levels increased with education, were lowest in obese individuals and higher among subjects who exercised.

An association was found between those with the lowest levels of vitamin D and death from cardiovascular disease – in people with and without a history of the disease- and deaths from cancer in those with a history of the disease. No association was found between low vitamin D levels and deaths from cancer in those without a history of the disease.

The researchers say that death from all causes as a result of low vitamin D has “high public health relevance” and should be given high priority. They also ask whether levels of vitamin D in specific countries, different sexes and seasons “should be considered for defining vitamin D deficiency” due to its varying levels.

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Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal. “Vitamin D may play an important role in cancer prognosis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2014.

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Sneaking Drugs Into Cancer Cells Before Triggering Release

Body.Disease.Cancer3Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell.

“This is an efficient, fast-acting way of delivering drugs to cancer cells and triggering cell death,” says Dr. Ran Mo, lead author of a paper on the work and a postdoctoral researcher in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We also used lipid-based nanocapsules that are already in use for clinical applications, making it closer to use in the real world.”

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Source: North Carolina State University. “Sneaking drugs into cancer cells before triggering release.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2014.

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