Vaccines may make war on cancer personal

In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at the School of Medicine including senior author Robert Schreiber, PhD, has brought the approach one step closer to reality.

Unusual skin cancer linked to chronic allergy from metal orthopedic implant

In rare cases, patients with allergies to metals such as nickel develop persistent skin rashes after metal devices are implanted near the skin. New research suggests these patients may be at increased risk of an unusual and aggressive form of skin cancer  from the inflammatory cells and molecules that gather at the site.

New clue to aggressive brain tumors

Scientists at the School of Medicine have identified a biological marker that may help predict overall survival of people with deadly brain tumors. The marker is made by noncancerous cells known as monocytes (pictured in brown).

Tumors disable immune cells by using up sugar

Cancer cells’ appetite for sugar may have serious consequences for immune cell function. Scientists have shown that in low-sugar environments immune T cells start using energy-making structures known as mitochondria (highlighted in this image in yellow and orange). This switch can prevent T cells from making an inflammatory compound important for fighting cancers and some infections.

DNA sequencing helps identify cancer cells for immune system attack

DNA sequences from tumor cells can be used to direct the immune system to attack cancer, according to Robert Schreiber, PhD, the Alumni Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The research, in mice, appears online Feb. 8 in Nature.

Finding may help prevent vision loss in tumor disorder

Nerve cells in the body and brain react in opposite ways to the loss of a protein linked to a childhood tumor syndrome, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found. The finding could be important to efforts to preserve the vision of patients with neurofibromatosis 1, a genetic condition that increases risk of benign and malignant brain tumors.

Researchers hone technique to KO pediatric brain tumors

WooleyAn interdisciplinary team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, led by Karen L. Wooley, Ph.D., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Arts & Sciences, is a step closer to delivering cancer-killing drugs to pediatric brain tumors, similar to the tumor that Senator Ted Kennedy is suffering from. Such tumors are often difficult to completely remove surgically; frequently, cancerous cells remain following surgery and the tumor returns. Chemotherapy, while effective at treating tumors, often harms healthy cells as well, leading to severe side effects especially in young children that are still developing their brain functions. In an effort to solve this problem, the Wooley lab has developed polymeric nanoparticles that can entrap doxorubicin, a drug commonly used in chemotherapy, and slowly release the drug over an extended time period.

Breast cancer patients’ treatment response may help reveal cancer genes

Courtesy of the National Cancer InstituteBreast cancer cells stained brown using an antibody that recognizes malignant cellsClinical studies are proving that the genetic profile of a tumor can greatly influence its response to anticancer treatments. WUSM physician Matthew Ellis is conducting research that aims to use the genetic profile of breast tumors to guide breast cancer therapy and ultimately to find new drugs for treating the disease.
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