Stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current is a safe and effective treatment for depression and could have other surprise benefits for the body and mind, a major Australian study of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has found. Medical researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Black Dog Institute have carried out the largest and most definitive study of tDCS and found up to half of depressed participants experienced substantial improvements after receiving the treatment. A non-invasive form of brain stimulation, tDCS passes a weak depolarising electrical current into the front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. Patients remain awake and alert during the procedure. "We are excited about these results. This is the largest randomised controlled trial of transcranial direct current stimulation ever undertaken and, while the results need to be replicated, they confirm previous reports of significant antidepressant effects, " said trial leader, Professor Colleen Loo, from UNSW's School of Psychiatry.
Pancreas cancer tumors spread quickly and are notoriously resistant to treatment, making them among the deadliest of malignancies. Their resistance to chemotherapy stems in part from a unique biological barrier the tumor builds around itself. Now scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a way to break through that defense, and their research represents a potential breakthrough in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. In a paper to be published in the March 20 issue of Cancer Cell, senior author Sunil Hingorani, M.D., Ph.D., an associate member of the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences divisions, and colleagues describe the biological mechanisms of how the tumor barrier is formed and detail a newly discovered way to break it down. Their research significantly increased the length of survival in a genetically engineered mouse model of the disease.
The first therapeutic cancer vaccine has now been approved by the FDA, and a diverse range of therapeutic cancer vaccines directed against a spectrum of tumor-associated antigens are currently being evaluated in clinical trials, according to a review published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The tumor microenvironment and other immunosuppressive entities can potentially limit the efficacy of vaccines. To counteract this, the use of vaccines with immune checkpoint inhibitors, certain chemotherapeutics and small-molecule targeted therapies, and radiation is being evaluated both in preclinical and clinical studies. A detailed review by Jeffrey Schlom, Ph.D., of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute, outlines the diverse vaccine platforms currently being evaluated preclinically and in randomized phase II and phase III clinical trials.
A small clinical trial led by researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VA San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) found that patients with advanced heart failure and type 2 diabetes showed improved mitochondrial structure after three months of treatment with epicatechin-enriched cocoa. Epicatechin is a flavonoid found in dark chocolate. The results of this initial study has led to the implementation of larger, placebo-controlled clinical trial at UC San Diego School of Medicine and VASDHS to assess if patients with heart failure and diabetes show improvement in their exercise capacity when treated with epicatechin-rich cocoa. The study published this week by the journal Clinical and Translational Science looked at five profoundly ill patients with major damage to skeletal muscle mitochondria.
A study from Karolinska Institutet shows that a new drug for Huntington's disease - pridopidine or dopamine stabiliser ACR16 - might operate via previously unknown mechanisms of action. Researchers have found that at very low concentrations, ACR16 binds to the sigma-1 receptor, a protein in the brain important to neuronal function and survival. This new knowledge can be used to develop future treatments for schizophrenia, involuntary Parkinsonian tremors and neurodegenerative diseases. "It's conceivable that some of the beneficial effects of dopamine stabilisers are mediated via the sigma-1 receptor, " says principal investigator Daniel Marcellino of the Department of Neuroscience. "Our results suggest a formerly overlooked aspect of dopamine stabiliser pharmacology." Dopamine stabilisers are a new class of drug substance originally developed by Swedish Nobel laureate Professor Arvid Carlsson.