|Fall 2009-Research Briefs|
UAB Wins Breast Cancer Grant
The funds will be used to research experimental therapies for triple negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease that is more common in young African-American and Hispanic women and particularly difficult to treat. Triple negative tumors are often resistant to cancer drugs such as Herceptin®, and this grant will enable scientists to investigate methods to determine which therapies will be most effective for these patients.
Led by Cancer Center senior scientist Andres Forero, M.D., the research will be a collaboration among UAB, the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. This project grew out of experiments funded by the Birmingham-based Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.
Cottonseed-Based Drug Shows Promise for Treating Brain Cancer
In the study, led by UAB radiation oncologist and Cancer Center associate scientist John Fiveash, M.D., 56 patients whose brain tumors had begun to grow again despite prior treatment were given a daily dose of the pill, known as AT-101, for three weeks. In many of the patients, tumor growth was halted for many months.
Dr. Fiveash believes that AT-101 will most likely work best in combination with chemotherapy and radiation to increase anti-tumor response in those treatments. Further research is under way to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from AT-101.
Ginger Helps Reduce Nausea
Funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Community Clinical Oncology Program, the trial followed 644 patients who were receiving chemotherapy for breast, digestive, lung or other cancers. Participants received either a placebo or small doses of ginger for six days, along with traditional anti-nausea drugs both before and after chemotherapy treatment.
Results showed that each dose of ginger was more effective at preventing nausea than the placebo, particularly when taken during the first day of chemotherapy.
Ovarian Cancer Screening Not Catching Early Disease
Dr. Partridge is the lead author of a nationwide study that involved more than 72,000 women, ages 55 to 74, and looked at a screening regimen that combined ultrasound and a blood test for CA-125, a common marker for ovarian cancer.
Results showed that when ovarian cancer was detected by the combination screening, 70 percent of cases were in the later stages, when effective treatment options are limited. This data suggests that a more effective screening tool is needed to detect ovarian cancer earlier, Dr. Partridge says. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as a “silent killer” because early symptoms are vague and often mistaken for other, less serious health conditions.
Colorectal Cancer Rising in People under 50
According to the study, the biggest increase—of more than 5 percent—occurs among those aged 20 to 29. Potential reasons for this increase include higher obesity rates and unhealthy diets heavy in red and processed meats. In addition, most of these adults do not undergo screening, meaning the cancers often have reached later stages of development when finally detected.
Researchers recommend routine screenings beginning at age 50. People younger than 50 are encouraged to begin regular screenings if they have genetic risk factors or a family history of the disease.