Doctors have known for years that the incidence of deadly liver cancer is on the rise, but what is causing that trend has remained a mystery. Two recent Mayo Clinic studies published in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings offer a clearer picture of the rise of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver cancer, which has tripled in the U.S. in the last three decades and has a 10 to 12 percent five-year survival rate when detected in later stages. "The studies illuminate the importance of identifying people with risk factors in certain populations to help catch the disease in its early, treatable stages, " said W. Ray Kim, M.D., a specialist in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and principal investigator of one study. Dr. Kim's research group looked at several decades of records in the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a database that accounts for an entire county's inpatient and outpatient care.
Viral diseases are still one of the biggest challenges to medical science. Thanks to thousands of years of co-evolution with humans, their ability to harness the biology of their human hosts to survive and thrive makes them very difficult to target with medical treatment. Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, working with colleagues from the University of Colorado, have shown for the first time how a small RNA molecule that regulates gene expression in human liver cells has been hijacked by the hepatitis C virus to ensure its own survival - helping medical scientists understand why a new antiviral drug appears to be effective against the virus. MicroRNAs are involved in regulating the expression of genes in cells, usually by blocking the production of key proteins or by destabilizing the messenger RNAs that encode the cell's proteins as it grows and divides.
Two recent studies by Van Andel Research Institute scientists are providing a foundation for a more complete understanding of distinct kidney cancer subtypes, which could pave the way for better treatments. In a study published in Cancer Cell led by Kyle Furge, Ph.D. and Aikseng Ooi, Ph.D., researchers provide a more complete understanding of the biology of Type 2 papillary renal cell carcinoma (PRCC2), an aggressive type of kidney cancer with no effective treatment, which lays the foundation for the development of effective treatment strategies. Despite obvious morphological, genetic, and clinical differences, hereditary PRCC2 is thought to share similar pathway deregulation due to genetic mutation with its counterpart, clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC), a subtype that accounts for 75% of all kidney cancers and that, unlike PRCC2, responds favorably to drugs targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signal protein produced by cells that stimulate blood vessel formation.
With the start of a new year, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute experts are encouraging people to ring in new healthy habits and offer a number of free and low-cost strategies to help people maintain good health and possibly reduce various cancer risks. Get moving! Staying fit and healthy can be as simple as lacing up a pair of sneakers and going for a walk. Moderate to intensive aerobic exercise, according to studies, can reduce the risk of recurrence of several cancers, including colon and breast. "You don't have to be a marathon runner, but the more you exercise, typically the greater the beneficial effect, " says Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, a Dana-Farber gastrointestinal cancer specialist. Here are some inexpensive ways to workout, but consult a doctor first. -- Using the stairs rather than an elevator.
Scientists at the BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, and the University of British Columbia are excited over a discovery made while studying rare tumour types. Dr. David Huntsman, genetic pathologist and director of the Ovarian Cancer Program of BC at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Dr. Gregg Morin, a lead scientist from the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer Agency, led a team who found mutations in rare, seemingly unrelated cancers were all linked to the same gene, known as DICER. The research team set about sequencing rare ovarian, uterine, and testicular tumours, expecting to find that their genomes would be distinct with specific, differing abnormalities. They were amazed to discover the same fundamental mutation in the DICER gene showed up as the common process underlying all of the different cancers they examined.