Natural Lemon Extract is Cytotoxic to Breast Cancer Cells

A new study has shown for the first time how limonoids, natural compounds present in lemons and other citrus fruit, impede both ER+ and ER- breast cancer cell growth. This sheds new light on the importance of citrus fruit for breast cancer prevention and supports past studies which showed fruit Continue reading

Short-Term Stress Boosts Anti-Tumor Activity

PALO ALTO – In a study on laboratory mice, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown that bouts of relatively short-term stress can boost the immune system and protect against one type of cancer.

The researchers also said that the beneficial effects of this occasional angst could last for weeks after the stressful situation has ended.

The finding is surprising because chronic stress has the opposite effect-taxing the immune system and increasing susceptibility to disease.

“This is the first evidence that this type of short-lived stress may enhance anti-tumor activity. This is a promising new way of thinking that calls for more research. We hope that it will eventually lead to applications that help us to care for those who are ill, by maximally harnessing the body’s natural defenses while also using other medical treatments,” said Dr. Firdaus Dhabhar.

The researchers studied a particular type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma that is known to be vulnerable to attack by the immune system.

Certain types of stress, such as the so-called fight-or-flight response to an immediate but temporary threat, has been shown to increase the recruitment of immune cells to the surface of the skin and the surrounding lymph nodes-presumably in preparation for imminent injury.

“Acute stress galvanizes an organism’s protective systems. But although it’s one of nature’s fundamental survival systems, thus far it’s been rather underappreciated,” said Dhabhar.

The researchers focused on understanding the physiological effects of both acute and chronic stress.

They investigated the effect of short-term, or acute, stress on 30 laboratory mice exposed for 10 weeks to thrice-weekly doses of cancer-causing ultraviolet light.

They found that fewer of the mice that had been acutely stressed developed skin cancer during weeks 11 through 21, and that those that did exhibited a lower total amount of tumors (a measurement called tumor burden) than the non-stressed mice.

The stressed mice weren’t protected indefinitely-almost 90 percent of the mice in both groups developed cancer after week 22, though the stressed group continued to have fewer tumors until week 26.

“It’s possible that the pre-tumor cells were eliminated more efficiently in the group that was stressed.

There may also have been a longer-term enhancement of immunity as we have seen in our non-cancer-related studies. However, acute stress did not lower tumor burden beyond week 26. We are in the process of determining why,” said Dhabhar.

However, other stress-induced changes lingered for weeks.

The researchers found that, during the same time period, the skin of the stressed mice had higher levels of immune-activating genes than did the control group, almost as if the mice were preparing for battle.

He compared the effect to how drug-makers often increase the potency of vaccines by including generic immune-activating molecules called adjuvants.

But he is convinced that acute stress may be better for us than most of us think, and that bio-behavioral interventions are worth investigating.

The study will be published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

New Drug Kills Cancer Like a Stealth Slayer

TEL-AVIV –  Scientists at Tel Aviv University have developed a novel drug that delivers anti-cancer compounds straight to the tumor.

Lead researcher Dr. Ronit Satchi-Fainaro believes that the new invention may alleviate particularly malicious forms of cancers like osteosarcomas and bone metastases and combat resistance to anti-cancer drugs like Taxol, keeping other normal healthy cells around the tumor safe.

Most of us have small tumors in our body at all times. They start the size of a pinhead and usually remain at that size as dormant and asymptomatic tumors. Then, at some point, cancer cells proliferate and the tumor grows in mass.

At that point the tumor cells migrate to the bones and start recruiting blood vessels using a chemical attractant in order to draw blood for their continued growth in a process called angiogenesis.

The researchers looked into the chemical that causes the blood, or endothelial cells, to gravitate to the activated, newly malignant cancer cells.

According to Satchi-Fainaro, the innovative drug delivery system delivers compounds like Taxol known to stop blood vessel growth to cancerous tumors.

She bound existing cancer drugs to an inert polymer that doesn’t react with the immune system.

“Like a stealth airplane,” she says, the polymer passes through the body’s defense system unnoticed.

Then, programmed to find the tumour using the bisphosphonate drug Alendronate, a drug that binds to bones, the carrier delivers its cancer-killing payload.

The study conducted over animal models, found that the researchers were able to reverse the growth of bone cancer tumors.

In a second study, she found that loading her polymer with the anti-cancer drug Taxol could inhibit tumor growth by 50pct, compared to a Taxol dose that had no effect on tumor growth at all.

The study is published is published in prestigious journals Angewandte Chemie and PLoS One.