Posts Tagged cancer

Immunotherapy, Bioinformatics, Devices: EPPICon 2017 Preview


 

One of the latest most talked about buzzwords in cancer treatment is “immunotherapy” where body’s immune system is used to wage a war against the cancer cells. Cancer cells divide rapidly than ordinary cells and manage to evade the immune system. The focus of a range of immunotherapies is to put body’s immune system on high alert so it can easily locate and destroy cancer cells.

Image result for immunotherapy, bioinformaticsThis year, EPPICon (annual flagship conference at eppicglobal at www.eppicon.org) will focus on Immunotherapy, Bioinformatics, and Devices. Another recent buzzword, “bioinformatics” focuses on harnessing technological advances for management and analysis of data, for cancer immunology and immunotherapy.  The hope is that more reliable and comprehensive picture can emerge of tumor genomics landscape and that can point a way towards more effective personalized medicine.

Immunotherapy often involves delivery of a cocktail of immune drugs to awaken the body’s immune system and put it in a “ready” mode to get rid of the cancer cells. Implantable devices can be used to provide regular dosages of medication for several days or everyday for a few weeks and can be used to make localized delivery.  This convergence of technologies makes it an interesting time for treatment of cancer and other diseases.  

EPPICon, EPPIC’s all day conference will be held on Saturday, March, 25th at Crowne Plaza, Burlingame, CA and has a fabulous lineup of keynotes, speakers, and panels.

Image result for Ira Mellman, genentechMorning keynote, Ira Mellman is VP of Cancer Immunology at Genentech and has an illustrious career in solving most profound health problems with strong research, grounded in science.  He spent 20 years at Yale University School of Medicine, prior to joining Genentech in 2007.  After the keynote, the conference program will continue with excellent speakers and panels with a special speed pitch session thrown in, where startups looking for funding will have an opportunity to pitch to a panel of investors and receive critical feedback, in real time. At the end of the day, 2017 “EPPIC Eleven” awards will be given out to chosen startups, from around the globe.

To register for the conference, please go to www.eppicon.org .

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“The Dog Lived and So Will I” by Teresa J. Rhyne — Book Review


“I was hideous.  Hideous.  In preparing for chemo I’d thought about the hair loss, of course, and concentrated on the fact that it would grow back.  I thought about losing my eyelashes and decided eye shadow and liner would work miracles.  I knew of the bloating weight gain the steroids could cause but told myself that was better than nausea and again it was temporary; after all, Seamus (dog) had gained 20 percent of his body weight and just as quickly was back in fighting shape.  Menopause would come, sure, but it was going to do that sooner or later anyway, and before it happened I was no more aware than anyone else of the true meaning of hot flashes and how you burn from the inside out, so that hadn’t bothered me either.  Somehow I had overlooked skin rashes as a side effect and never, never had I given thought to what these side effects would all be like together.  Not until that moment, face to mirrored face.  …….. How does one recover from this? Impossible. ……. I can’t do this.  I can’t”.

Heaven forbid and if one ever has to go through cancer treatment, having read this book not only would help one navigate the morass of health care system, but also giver clear hope that not only “it too shall pass” but it is worth waiting for the “cookie moment”.

Teresa poured her heart and soul (not to mention her hard earned money) to take her beagle, Seamus, survive through an aggressive form of cancer.  She cried buckets of tears, took him for his biopsy and chemo appointments, rushed him to the hospital when his white blood count dropped dangerously low, and stood up to the neglectful veterinarians, to get him the care he needed.  However, in one of life’s cruel ironies, before long she discovered that she had a lump in her breast and the biopsy showed it to be the one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, a triple negative breast cancer.   How does one survive such traumas?  The answer is “love”.

Some may consider this a story of surviving cancer, but this is a story about the rock, the glue, and the toast.  After being divorced twice, Teresa had a new boyfriend Chris, ten years younger, smart, funny, wise, and infinitely kind.  Little did they know that he would be the rock (the pack leader) on whom she would need to lean during both Seamus’s and her own illness and treatment.  When Teresa is completely dejected and feels she can’t do this anymore, he bakes her cookies at four in the morning, drives her to all her medical appointments, tries out wigs with her, and in solidarity as she looses her hair, he grows his hair, making a deal that he would only cut when she needed a cut, after the regrowth of her hair.

Camry the beagle

Camry the beagle (Photo credit: laRuth)

Teresa for her part is the glue that holds their family together.  She leans on him but gives him space.  She is infinitely grateful and brings her and Chris’s family into the fold, eventually bringing them to meet each other.  Seamus who loves toast, steals people’s hearts with his cuteness.  He brings much needed joyful respites to their little family.

I cry easily but this book did not make me cry.  I teared up often reading this touching tender story, but I also laughed a lot.  Deep grief is wrapped in smart, witty, humorous, funny anecdotes.  And then there is treasure trove of information about little questions that are hard to get answered.  Is it painful for the radioactive tracer to be injected in order to locate the tumor for a biopsy, how long it takes for a chemo treatment, how long does it take for radiation, and more.

And while majority of the health care personnel and physicians are compassionate, committed, and are deeply dedicated to the welfare of their patients, there are some who are clearly uninterested, detached, and neglectful.  Teresa stands up (unfortunately not always succeeding) for her right as a patient to get timely information and reasonable care.  One of the physicians who rarely sees her patients, leaving actual care in the hands of the nurses, assures Teresa (about her dangerous white blood count crash), these side effects are very common, and the nurses know how to deal with them.  We deal with this stuff all the time.”  Teresa points out, that the nurse did not have the answers on how to deal with them and says, “it’s not common to me.  I don’t deal with it all the time”.  Contrarily, she is enormously grateful and highly appreciative of the compassionate and thorough care she received at the UCLA cancer center and particularly Dr. Amer Karam.

This is an engaging, funny, sweet, uplifting, heartwarming story.  After all, who would not like to read about a cute dog’s hilarious antics?

 

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Role of Lipid Mediators in Metabolic Diseases & Malignant Tissue Growth – Two Distinct Diseases, One Common Denominator


Dr. Ayala Luria, scientist in the Department of Urology and Institute for Regenerative Cures at UC Davis Medical Center, and a Consultant in a startup company, Adipocyte Therapeutics, discussed about the role of lipid mediators in various diseases, at www.bio2devicegroup.org event.

Diabetes is a disease of glucose homeostasis.  We need glucose for brain activity, energy for muscles etc.  But too much glucose can cause osmosis and affect the vessels and organs.  Under normal circumstance, the body can balance the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood with the amount of glucose that the cells need for fuel. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, helps transport the glucose into the cells.  However, under diabetic conditions, the insulin secretion is not sufficient or is not working properly.  There is a strong correlation between obesity, particularly abdominal fat and diabetes.   Adipose tissue is implicated in the development of a systemic inflammatory state that contributes to obesity-associated coronary heart disease.

Dr. Luria’s research project relies on the concept of small lipid mediator, the autacoids that are metabolites of arachidonic acid. About 40% of the drugs in the market targeted towards treatment of inflammatory diseases, asthma and allergy are based on the a class of chemical compounds or small molecules of the archidonic acid pathway.  This small molecule can be diverted to prostaglandins and thromboxanes to treat inflammation and blood clothing.  It can also be diverted to leukotrienes to target asthma, allergies and so on.  There is however, yet another pathway through epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs).  Luria’s research indicated that increasing EETs either pharmacologically or through genetically modified animals, helped obese mice regulate glucose levels.

Luria then discussed her work in angiogenesis.  Angiogenesis refers to the formation of growth of blood vessels, which is at the core of sustaining life.  Without blood, without oxygen, we cannot survive.  In diabetics, impaired wound healing, retinopathy etc. are caused due to impaired angiogenesis.  Insufficient angiogenesis also is considered to be one of the causes in stroke, CHS and so on.  Whereas in cancer, excessive angiogenesis causes malignant tumor growth and many drugs on the market are targeted towards killing angiogenesis.    Luria’s collaboration research indicated that (EETs) stimulate angiogenesis, although the mechanisms involved are not entirely understood.  She tried to use angiogenesis as a vehicle for chemotherapy drugs in low doses.  Combining EETs with inhibitors, led to stark decline in tumors.  She arrived at the conclusion that it might be interesting to target diabetes treatment as benign tumor growth by inhibiting angiogenesis and further use angiogenesis as a vehicle to target tissue growth.

This interesting talk generated lot of response and was followed by Q&A.

Please join us on this Tuesday, April 21, 2013 for continuing discussion on metabolic diseases.  Next week’s talk is titled “Obesity 360” and panelists include – Dr. Darshana Nadkarni, Dr. Alex Nedvetsky, and Mr. Nat Bowditch –  http://bit.ly/ZExFfQ

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