Pulse 131: New Cancer Treatment Achieves Spectacular Results

9 December 2019
Giulio Prisco

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness

A new treatment developed by Tel Aviv University induced the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells in mice (see below), and could work in humans, Jerusalem Post reports.

"The mice were treated with a molecule called PJ34, which is permeable in the cell membrane but affects human cancer cells exclusively," explained research leader Malka Cohen-Armon. "This molecule causes an anomaly during the duplication of human cancer cells, provoking their rapid cell death. Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells."

A month after being injected with PJ34 daily for 14 days, the pancreatic cancer cells in the tumors of the treated mice experienced a relative drop of 90 percent. In one mouse, the tumor completely disappeared.

"It is important to note that no adverse effects were observed, and there were no changes in the weight gain of the mice, nor in their behavior," added Cohen-Armon.

According to a Tel Aviv University press release, this mechanism acts efficiently in other types of cancer resistant to current therapies. The molecule PJ34 is being tested in pre-clinical trials, according to FDA regulations, before clinical trials begin.

Moving from mice trials to human trials would take "at least two years on the condition that we get enough funding," Cohen-Armon told Jerusalem Post. "I am optimistic," she concluded.

A cure for cancer covered in Jerusalem Post rings a bell. In fact, in Pulse 96, I wrote about another rumored cure for cancer covered in Jerusalem Post, and a hatchet job (with evident political motivations) lamentably published in Wired. There’s no direct relation, but I can’t help thinking that the new Tel Aviv University results confirm that, sometimes, medical research results in spectacular advances.

Pancreatic Cancer Reduced by 90 Percent in Mice

Scientists led by Tel Aviv University have found that a small molecule has the ability to induce the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells.

The research was conducted with xenografts. They are transplantations of human pancreatic cancer into mice with an impaired immune system.

A research paper published in Oncotarget reports that treatment with a molecule called PJ34 reduced the number of cancer cells in tumors. The reduction reached 90 percent a month after being administered.

Artificial Neurons Mimic Real Neurons

Researchers at Universities of Bath, Bristol, Zurich, and Auckland have developed artificial neurons that successfully reproduced the electrical properties of biological neurons onto semiconductor chips.

A study published in Nature Communications describes how the researchers designed silicon neurons that precisely mimicked real living neurons, responding to a range of stimulations. The researchers accurately replicated the complete dynamics of hippocampal neurons and respiratory neurons from rats, under a wide range of stimuli.

The research results are believed to have “enormous scope” for medical devices. They may enable cures for chronic diseases such as heart failure, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases of neuronal degeneration.

Genetically Modified Immune Cells Boost Cancer Immunotherapy

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new approach to programming cancer-fighting immune cells called CAR-T cells.

A paper published in Nature shows that genetically modified CAR-T cells stay active for a longer time and are more effective against human cancer cells grown in the laboratory and in mice. Mice injected with human leukemia and bone cancer cells lived longer when treated with the modified CAR-T cells than with the regular CAR-T cells.

The researchers are hopeful that their findings will lead to the next generation of CAR-T cells. That could make a significant difference for people with many types of cancers.

We Can Control Alpha Waves in Our Brains and Be More Attentive

MIT researchers have found that people can enhance their attention by controlling their own alpha brain waves. They did this based on neurofeedback that they received as they performed a particular task.

Brain waves are oscillations generated by the combined electrical signals of neurons in the brain. Alpha waves, brain waves in a special frequency range, are believed to play a role in filtering out distracting sensory information.

A study published in Neuron shows that participants were really able to control their alpha waves and be more attentive. And they were able to do this even though they didn't have any clear understanding of how they were doing it.

Bioprinting Life-Like Human Tissues for Regenerative Medicine

Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have used bioprinting to print a tracheal tissue construct comprised of multiple functional materials.

As reported in a study published in Biofabrication, the scientists used a biodegradable polyester material and hydrogels containing human mesenchymal stem cells. And they printed different designs of smooth muscle and cartilage regions in artificial tracheal substitutes, showing similar mechanical properties to human tracheal tissue.

According to the scientists, the study shows that bioprinting could someday enable regenerative medicine treatments.

High Energy Light May Treat Cancer

Researchers at UC Riverside and UT Austin have achieved photon up-conversion. This is the emission of light with energy higher than the one that excites the material. They did this using carefully designed structures containing silicon nanocrystals and specialized organic molecules.

The accomplishment is described in a paper published in Nature Chemistry. It brings scientists one step closer to developing minimally invasive treatments for cancer.

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