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Chemo drug may hike tumor immunity

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          HEALTH TIPS - Wednesday, February 21, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"

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              Scientists identify yeast protein

BALTIMORE, -- U.S. scientists studying how yeast makes 
cholesterol have identified a protein whose human counter-
part controls cholesterol production and metabolism. The 
collaborative study was conducted by investigators at 
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt 
University, Indiana University and the Eli Lilly Co. "Dap1 
controls the activity of a clinically important class of 
enzymes required for cholesterol synthesis and drug metab-
olism," said Johns Hopkins Assistant Professor Peter 
Espenshade. "We're excited because, although we originally 
identified this protein in yeast, humans not only have the 
same protein, but it works the same way." The search for 
Dap1 began with the hunt for factors that influence the 
actions of a large family of enzymes called cytochrome 
P450. Those enzymes control many life-sustaining chemical 
reactions in humans and other animals. "Understanding the 
molecular underpinnings of so-called pharmacogenetic 
variation will have a big impact on the future of 
medicine," Espenshade said. The research appears in the 
February issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.

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            Chemo drug may hike tumor immunity

NEW YORK, -- U.S. scientists have discovered a chemotherapy 
drug might enhance patients' immunity to tumors, helping 
them to more effectively fight the disease. Rockefeller 
University researchers have found that a chemotherapy drug 
called bortezomib can kill multiple myeloma cells -- cancer 
in immune cells in bone marrow -- in culture in such a way 
that it elicits a response by memory and killer T cells.
Until recently it's been thought radiation therapy and 
various forms of chemotherapy were separate but equal 
treatments. Now, however, new research is beginning to 
show it's not just killing the cancer cells that matters 
-- it's also important as to how they are killed. A study 
by Associate Rockefeller University Professor Madhav 
Dhodapkar, postgraduate fellow Radek Spisek and col-
leagues shows bortezomib kills tumor cells in such a way 
that it might allow the immune system to recognize them.
The study is detailed online in the journal Blood.

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         New drugs show promise for prostate cancer

LOS ANGELES, -- U.S. oncologists say a new class of target-
ed anti-cancer drugs shows promise in prolonging the lives 
of patients with recurrent prostate cancer. The research by 
scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles 
show a molecular targeted compound called pertuzumab blocks 
the human epidermal growth factor receptor family by bind-
ing to and inhibiting the function of HER2 receptors, 
interrupting a key pathway that leads to cancer growth.
"Advanced prostate cancer is difficult to treat and the 
drug therapies currently available to these patients have 
not been very effective, especially in patients whose 
disease has progressed after chemotherapy treatment," said 
Dr. David Agus, principal investigator of the study. Agus 
said the theory is that by significantly slowing pro-
gression of the cancer, patients will experience a good 
quality of life for a longer period of time. "Ultimately,
we hope drugs like pertuzumab will help us reach the point
where cancer can be viewed as a lifetime disease to be 
managed much like AIDS is looked at now," he added. "This 
would be major shift from the current paradigm for cancer
treatment, and is a promising area of research." The 
study appears in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
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