At the cellular level, aging and cancer are two sides of the same coin. The mechanism that limits a cell’s lifespan can be slowed down, but that can turn them cancerous, as they divide unchecked.
Cancer is one of our most persistent enemies, but while we now have advanced immune systems to fight the good fight, how did early multicellular life manage to stave it off? A genetic “kill switch” seems to have been the original weapon of choice, and now researchers at Northwestern University believe they’ve discovered a way to trigger that mechanism. This knowledge could potentially pave the way to a therapy where cancer cells commit suicide, which would be impossible for cancer cells to adapt a resistance to.
The cure for cancer might have been inside us all along – our own immune system. The trick is to give it a boost to find and destroy those rogue cells, and that’s the focus of the field of immunotherapy. To that end, a new hydrogel has been developed that can be injected directly to the site of a tumor, where it stays to slowly release its payload of immunotherapy drugs for longer.
Wearable technology that can predict cancerous growths ‘several months’ before they form are just around the corner, according to one technology expert.
Nokia’s chief says the firm is working on a scanning device that will pick up on biomarkers that indicate the conditions needed for abnormal cell growth to happen.
A number of other medical innovations have also been envisaged that will make use of ultra-fast 5G mobile internet networks in the future.
That includes remote surgery conducted from across the world, as well as ambulances that are able to transmit data to a hospital ahead of its arrival.
Tiny magnetic beads coated in sugar could help doctors to check if a cancer has spread. Once injected into the patient, the beads can be detected using a handheld magnetic wand — similar to a metal detector — and are used to identify the lymph nodes nearest to the cancer.
The lymph nodes form part of the lymphatic system, which drains fluid from tissues all over the body back into the bloodstream. If cancerous cells get into this system, the disease can then spread to other parts of the body.
The key to determining if cancer has spread is identifying the sentinel node — the lymph node that is nearest the tumour.
New drug being developed using compound found in red wine ‘could help humans live until they are 150
Drugs that could combat aging and help people to live to 150-years-old may be available within five years, following landmark research.
The new drugs are synthetic versions of resveratrol which is found in red wine and is believed to have an anti-ageing effect as it boosts activity of a protein called SIRT1.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been testing the medications on patients suffering with medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
The work proves that a single anti-ageing enzyme in the body can be targeted, with the potential to prevent age-related diseases and extend lifespans.
As each of the 117 drugs tested work on the single enzyme through a common mechanism, it means that a whole new class of anti-aging drugs is now viable, which could ultimately prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
Genetics professor David Sinclair, based at Harvard University, said: ‘Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others.
‘In effect, they would slow ageing.’
The target enzyme, SIRT1, is switched on naturally by calorie restriction and exercise, but it can also be enhanced through activators.
The most common naturally-occurring activator is resveratrol, which is found in small quantities in red wine, but synthetic activators with much stronger activity are already being developed.
Although research surrounding resveratrol has been going on for a decade, until now the basic science had been contested.
Despite this, there have already been promising results in some trials with implications for cancer, cardiovascular disease and cardiac failure, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, fatty liver disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, sleep disorders and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and colitis.
Professor Sinclair said: ‘In the history of pharmaceuticals, there has never been a drug that tweaks an enzyme to make it run faster.’
The technology was sold to GlaxoSmithKline in 2008.
Four thousand synthetic activators, which are 100 times as potent as a single glass of red wine, have been developed – with the best three being used in human trials.
Writing in the journal Science, Professor Sinclair, who suggests the first therapeutic to be marketed will be for diabetes, said: ‘Our drugs can mimic the benefits of diet and exercise, but there is no impact on weight.’
Limited trials have been carried out in people with type 2 diabetes and the skin inflammatory disease, psoriasis.
Scientists found that there were benefits to the metabolism in the first group and a reduction in skin redness in the second.
The drugs can be administered orally, or topically.
So far, there have been no drugs developed to target ageing skin, but one major skin care range has developed a creme with resveratrol in it.
While any drug would be strictly prescribed for certain conditions, Professor Sinclair suggests that one day, they could be taken orally as a preventative.
They could therefore be used in the same way as statin drugs are commonly prescribed to prevent, instead of simply treating, cardiovascular disease.
In animal models, overweight mice given synthetic resveratrol were able to run twice as far as slim mice and they lived 15 per cent longer.
Professor Sinclair added: ‘Now we are looking at whether there are benefits for those who are already healthy.
‘Things there are also looking promising. We’re finding that aging isn’t the irreversible affliction that we thought it was.
‘Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research.’
Attribution: Lucy Crossley, Daily Mail
No, it’s not the name of a rap artist.
Scientists have created cells capable of killing cancer for the first time.
The dramatic breakthrough was made by researchers in Japan who created cancer-specific killer T cells.
They say the development paves the way for the cells being directly injected into cancer patients for therapy.
Scientists have created cells capable of killing cancer for the first time. Pictured: microscopic cells being cultured to kill cancer
The cells naturally occur in small numbers, but it is hoped injecting huge quantities back into a patient could turbo-charge the immune system.
Researchers at the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology revealed they have succeeded for the first time in creating cancer-specific, immune system cells called killer T lymphocytes.
To create these, the team first had to reprogram T lymphocytes specialized in killing a certain type of cancer, into another type of cell called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).
These lymphocytes regenerated from iPS cells could potentially serve as cancer therapy in the future.
Previous research has shown that killer T lymphocytes produced in the lab using conventional methods are inefficient in killing cancer cells mainly because they have a very short life-span, which limits their use as treatment for cancer.
To overcome the problems, the Japanese researchers, led by Hiroshi Kawamoto reprogrammed mature human killer T lymphocytes into iPS cells and investigated how these cells differentiate.
The team induced killer T lymphocytes specific for a certain type of skin cancer to reprogram into iPS cells by exposing the lymphocytes to the ‘Yamanaka factors’ – a group of compounds that induce cells to revert back to a non-specialized, stage.
Japanese researchers who created cancer-specific killer T cells (pictured) say the development paves the way for the cells being directly injected into cancer patients for therapy
The iPS cells obtained were then grown in the lab and induced to differentiate into killer T lymphocytes again. This new batch of T lymphocytes was shown to be specific for the same type of skin cancer as the original lymphocytes.
They maintained the genetic reorganisation, enabling them to express the cancer-specific receptor on their surface. The new T lymphocytes were also shown to be active and to produce an anti-tumor compound.
Doctor Kawamoto said: ‘We have succeeded in the expansion of antigen-specific T cells by making iPS cells and differentiating them back into functional T cells.
‘The next step will be to test whether these T cells can selectively kill tumor cells but not other cells in the body. If they do, these cells might be directly injected into patients for therapy. This could be realized in the not-so-distant future.’
The findings were published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
Dr Dusko Ilic, Senior Lecturer in Stem Cell Science, King’s College London, said: ‘The study tackled a novel, quite interesting approach to cell based therapy, something that we do not usually hear about.
‘Although this approach requires further verification and a lot of work needs to be done before we can think about clinical trials, the initial data are promising.
‘This pioneering work definitely provides a strong foundation to build and expand our knowledge about new opportunities in cell based therapy and personalized medicine.’
Attribution: Daily Mail