Kimmel Researchers Develop Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine

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Global Cancer News: 23 June 2014

Kimmel Cancer Center Researchers Develop Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine
Published: 23 June 2014

Johns Hopkins University Kimmel Cancer Center’s Researchers have developed a vaccine that “reprograms” pancreatic tumor cells to mount an immune response against the tumor.

The vaccine – GVAX was tested in tandem with cyclophosphamide, it utilizes tumor cells treated with irradiation. Researchers found that GVAX gave rise to structures known as tertiary lymphoid aggregates within the pancreatic tumors. According to Lei Zheng, MD , the aggregates were well organized and atypical of such tumors, this suggests that there has been significant reprogramming of lymphocyte structures within the tumor.

By activating immune cells and suppressing regulatory T-cells (Tregs), such structures could alter the environment of a tumor in favor of fighting the cancer. According to the researchers this reprogramming technology also can be used to combat other types of cancer by optimizing tumor responses to immunotherapy. A combination of GVAX and an antibody to PD-1 in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas will be investigated next by the research team.

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Young indoor Tanning Increases Early Risk of Skin Cancer
Published: 23 June 2014

Dartmouth researchers reported in “Early-Onset Basal Cell Carcinoma and Indoor Tanning: A Population-Based Study,” that early exposure to the ultraviolet radiation lamps used for indoor tanning is related to an increased risk of developing basal cell carcinomas (BCC) the most common form of skin cancer at a young age.

The Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth collected data on 657 participants in the New Hampshire Skin Cancer Study (all under 50) who had newly diagnosed cases of BCC and 452 controls. A higher proportion of patients with early-onset BCC reported indoor tanning with a tanning lamp compared to controls, and this association was present for all types of indoor tanning devices.

Participants with early-onset BCC were more likely to burn rather than tan during the first hour of sun exposure in summer as compared to controls, according to the researchers. In about 40% of cases BCCs were located on the torso and the association with indoor tanning was stronger for tumors occurring in these places.

The study notes that indoor tanning products can produce 10 to 15 times as much UV radiation as the midday sun, and supports the recommendation of medical groups to minimize ultraviolet exposure, including from indoor tanning.
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Women with Breast Cancer Genes More Likely to Choose Extensive Surgery
Published: 23 June 2014

A study published in the Journal Gynecological Oncology found that women with breast cancer who test positive for gene mutations linked with breast and ovarian cancer are more likely to choose extensive surgery than those without the mutations. Genetic testing is recommended before surgery on breast cancer patients who are at higher risk of having mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These mutations are associated with a substantial risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in the future.

Before making a decision about their surgery, all the 302 women in the study met National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for genetic testing. 32 were found to have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. 23 or 72% changed their surgical plans.

31% chose lumpectomies — a procedure that just removes the tumor and some surrounding tissue while 59% of women without the mutations chose this option. Nearly 60% of women with BRCA genes chose double mastectomy — a procedure that removes both breasts while 21% without BRCA genes chose mastectomy. About 12% of women with the mutations chose ovary removal versus none of the women without the mutations.

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