To Treat Brain Cancer Scientists Taking Polio’s Help

The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned

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A radiologist examines the brain X-rays of a patient. In a small study, patients with brain tumors were given genetically modified poliovirus, which helped their bodies attack the cancer. VOA

There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. The result is a longer life for patients whose brain cancer returned. All had glioblastoma, an aggressive and lethal type of brain cancer. Of the 61 patients in the study, 21 percent who got this new treatment had were alive three years later.

While that number is low, the survival rate for glioblastoma is normally even lower, usually, a year and a half after diagnosis. The researchers compared the study group to a group of patients drawn from historical cases at Duke. Only four percent of these patients survived three years after treatment.

Dr. Annick Desjardins, one of the authors, said not all patients respond, but if they do, they often become long-term survivors. Desjardins said, “The big question is, how can we make sure that everybody responds?”

Stephanie Hopper was the first patient in the Duke study. She was diagnosed with glioblastoma eight years ago. She had the tumor removed, but two years later, it returned. The modified virus is directly injected into the brain during surgery. After treatment, Hopper’s tumor shrunk to the point where it’s barely noticeable in her brain scans, and the tumor is continuing to shrink.

Dr. Darell Bigner is the senior author of the study which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He explained that by modifying the virus, it destroyed its ability to infect nerve cells and cause polio, but the virus retained the ability to kill cancer cells. In fact, the modified virus targeted the tumor cells.

Prior to the study, the researchers decided they needed a different approach to treating glioblastomas which is why they looked at experimenting with the polio virus.

There's an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies
There’s an exciting new breakthrough in treating some types of deadly brain tumors, that uses, of all things, a polio virus. Doctors at Duke Health in North Carolina genetically altered the virus because it produces such a strong immune response in our bodies. Flickr

One of the goals of a phase one trial is to find a dose that is safe. In some patients, the therapy caused their brains to swell and they experienced seizures and other bad side effects so the dose was lowered. Study participants were selected according to the size of their recurring tumor, its location in the brain and other factors designed for patient protection.

For five of the 61 patients in the trial, the cancer returned. They were treated a second time and Bigner says, “Those that we’ve been able to follow long enough have responded to the treatment the second time. That’s extremely important.” Combining the polio virus with other approved therapies is one approach already being tested at Duke to improve survival.

Also read: A One-Shot Nanoparticle Vaccine for Polio is Developed by MIT scientists

The researchers are continuing their work on treating glioblastomas and planning other studies as well. They want to test the therapy on children’s brain tumors. The therapy may also expand beyond brain tumors to include breast cancer and melanoma patient as well. (VOA)

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COVID-19 Makes it Difficult to Manage Cancer Care: Oncologist

Dr Abhishek Shankar said that coronavirus has made it difficult to manage the cancer care delivery system

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Coronavirus outbreak has made it difficult to manage cancer care. Pixabay

By Dr. Abhishek Shankar

A recent report– ‘Cancer Care Delivery Challenges Amidst Coronavirus Disease – 19 (COVID-19) Outbreak’ published in the journal of Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention has pointed out that cancer patients are more susceptible to coronavirus than individuals without cancer as they are in an immunosuppressive state because of the malignancy and anticancer treatment. Oncologists should be more attentive to detect coronavirus infection early, as any type of advanced cancer is at much higher risk for unfavorable outcomes.

Author, Dr Abhishek Shankar, assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at Lady Hardinge Medical College said that coronavirus has made it difficult to manage the cancer care delivery system.

“As we are having a lockdown in the whole country, patients can’t travel from one place to another. About 95 percent of the cancer care services are restricted to the urban areas but we also know that 70 percent of the people live in rural areas. So, there is a lot of disparity in cancer care. For cancer patients, stress is more disturbing for the patient rather than cancer itself,” Dr Shankar told ANI.

Cancer care
Dr. Shankar added that in this situation, it is very difficult to manage these people as they are unable to come to the hospital as we are running only emergency services. Pixabay

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He added that in this situation, it is very difficult to manage these people as they are unable to come to the hospital as we are running only emergency services.

Talking about the report, Dr Shankar said, “We have published the paper on cancer care delivery, although guidance is that you shouldn’t delay and you should continue with the treatment. But there are many challenges that are coming right now. We have also advised cancer patients about the precautions they should take. Also, patients need to verify social media messages coming in from a credible source like the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and WHO.”Furthermore, he suggests that persons suffering from cancer should get treated from nearby hospitals and try avoiding the delay.

The cancer specialist remarked that it is a dilemma for healthcare professionals as well as patients because there is an issue regarding what to follow and what not to. “To date, there is no scientific guideline regarding the management of cancer patients in the backdrop of coronavirus outbreak,” Dr Shankar informed.

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Lungs of Deceased COVID-19 Patients Show Distinctive Features

Patients with COVID-19 showed widespread blood clotting

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a team of international researchers examined seven lungs obtained during autopsy from patients who died of Covid-19. Pixabay

To help create the vaccine for the novel coronavirus infection, a team of researchers has described the clinical features of the lungs of deceased Covid-19 patients according to Coronavirus Vaccine News.

According to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Steven J Mentzer, a thoracic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a team of international researchers examined seven lungs obtained during autopsy from patients who died of Covid-19.

They compared this group to seven autopsied lungs obtained from patients who died of acute respiratory distress syndrome secondary to influenza A (H1N1) infection as well as to 10 age-matched uninfected control lungs.

Both Covid-19 and influenza are the same category of virus and both infect the respiratory tract.

While the lungs shared some common features, there were distinctive features related to blood vessels seen in the lungs of patients who had died of Covid-19.

The research team observed that COVID-19 damaged the endothelial cells (vascular lining cells), causing severe endothelial injury.

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Covid-19 infects the respiratory tract. Pixabay

Patients with COVID-19 showed widespread blood clotting as well as new vessel growth — the latter likely a result of the body’s response to the virus.

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he team saw signs of a distinctive pattern of pulmonary vascular disease progression in some cases of COVID-19 compared to that of equally severe influenza virus infection.

Some of the key points from the study are: the damage to vascular cells helps explain the serious blot clotting observed in patients and a unique response, intussusceptive angiogenesis (IA), is the way the body compensates for the thrombosis and blood vessel damage.

This study shows the need for more research on angiogenesis and the vascular effects of Covid-19. (IANS)

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Scientists Identify Antibodies With Potential to Block COVID-19 Virus

Journal Science published the study of antibodies that could potentially block the virus

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Coronavirus
Scientists have found a pair of antibodies which could pottentially block the COVID-19 virus. Pixabay

From a patient who recovered from COVID-19, scientists have isolated a pair of neutralising antibodies that could potentially block the virus responsible for the pandemic from entering into host cells.

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that a “cocktail” containing both antibodies could provide direct therapeutic benefits for COVID-19 patients.

The new information detailed in the study could also aid the development of small molecule antivirals and vaccine candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.

The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4.

The study by Yan Wu from Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues found that the two antibodies bind to the glycoprotein spike of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and thereby block the entry of the virus into host cells.

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The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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Preliminary tests of the two antibodies in a mouse model resulted in a reduction of virus titers, suggesting that the antibodies may offer therapeutic benefits.

The researchers found that the antibodies can each bind simultaneously to different epitopes on the spike’s receptor binding domain (RBD), such that both antibodies together may confer a stronger neutralising effect than either antibody on its own — a prediction supported by in vitro experiments.

This feature also means that, should one of the viral epitopes mutate in a way that prevents the binding of one of the two antibodies, the other antibody may yet retain its neutralising activity. (IANS)