Saturday February 23, 2019

Indian-origin scientist Ravi Majeti, turns cancer cells into harmless cells

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By Anurag Paul

An Indian-origin researcher at the Stanford University in the US has found a method that can cause dangerous leukemia cells to mature into harmless immune cells known as macrophages.

Assistant professor of medicine Ravi Majeti made the key observation after collecting leukemia cells from a patient and trying to keep the cells alive in a culture plate.

During the study, Majeti and post-doctoral scholar Scott McClellan found that some of the cancer cells in culture were changing shape and size into what looked like macrophages.

The team confirmed that the methods shown to have altered the destiny of the mouse progenitor cells years ago could be used to transform these human cancer cells into macrophages which can engulf and digest cancer cells and pathogens.

“We were giving everything at them to help them hold out,” said Majeti in a report that appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. B-cell leukemia cells are in many ways progenitor cells that are forced to stay in an immature state.

B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia with a variation called the Philadelphia chromosome is a especially aggressive cancer with poor results.

“So finding potential treatments is especially exciting,” Majeti added.

Majeti and his colleagues have some reason to hope that when the cancer cells become macrophages, they will not only be neutralized but may actually assist in fighting the cancer.

“Because the macrophage cells came from the cancer cells, they will already carry with them the chemical signals that will distinguish the cancer cells, causing an immune attack against the cancer more likely,” Majeti explained.

The researchers’ next steps would be to find out if they can discover a drug that will incite the same reaction and that could function as the groundwork for a therapy for the leukemia.

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HPV Vaccination May Bring An End To Cervical Cancer In India by 2070

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations. Pixabay

Human papillomavirus (HPV) screening and vaccination must be taken up on a war footing in countries like India to prevent 15 million cervical cancer deaths among women by 2050, a Lancet research said.

Causing the second-highest number of deaths among Indian women among cancer variants, cervical cancer, in a majority of cases, is caused by HPV, a group of more than 150 viruses.

The efforts might even result in cervical cancer being eliminated as a public health hazard in India by 2070-79, according to the study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS. Pixabay

If the high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening cannot be achieved globally, over 44 million women could be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the next 50 years with two-thirds of these cases and an additional estimated 15 million deaths, would occur in countries with low and medium levels of development.

“More than two thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria, and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening,” said lead author Professor Karen Canfell from the Cancer Council New South Wales in Australia.

However, large disparities exist in cervical screening and HPV vaccination coverage among countries.

“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS.

“While societal barriers prevent women from seeking medical help in advance, women are forced to come out at a later stage when the disease has reached an advanced stage,” she said.

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Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said. Pixabay

However, Canfell says that despite the enormity of the problem, their findings suggest that “global elimination is within reach with tools that are already available, provided that both high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can be achieved.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations.

Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said.

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“Diagnostic tests such as the pap smear are effective in identifying cancerous tendencies.

“However, these tests are available with a limited number of providers and largely within the cities. This makes screening sporadic and leaves out women who live in rural areas,” Aneja added. (IANS)