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Combo therapy cures pancreatic cancer; new light on carbon monoxide poisoning

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Combo therapy cures pancreatic cancer; new light on carbon monoxide poisoning

This is a recurring column on early-stage research in animals or other laboratory models that has not entered the clinic yet but could have implications for future research and development of human medicines.

Combo treatment cures pancreatic cancer, boosts immune system

SNL Image

A combination of radiation therapy and immunotherapy cures pancreatic cancer and enhances the immune system, a study shows.
Source: Pixabay

Research by the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester showed a pancreatic cancer treatment combining radiation therapy with immunotherapy not only cured cancer in mice, but also enhanced their immune systems.

The study showed that after receiving a high dose of radiation within a short period and taking cancer drug interleukin-12, or IL-12, the mice showed no signs of cancer and their immune systems improved. The combination therapy activates T cells and converts immune-suppressing cells into fighters, the study found.

Researchers said the combination also destroyed cancer cells that had spread to the liver, a common sign the disease had advanced.

Pancreatic cancer is considered one of the hard-to-treat cancers, and 80% of patients diagnosed with the disease are already in the late stage, when surgery is no longer an option and chemotherapy is usually ineffective.

The research team received a $2 million National Cancer Institute grant in July to continue the research, including moving the study to human clinical trials.

Viagra helps with faster stem cell collection

SNL Image

A Viagra combo may accelerate the process of collecting stem cells, which can help bone marrow transplant surgery.
Source: Pixabay

Viagra, usually used to treat erectile dysfunction, may help accelerate the process of collecting stem cells from the body for bone marrow transplant surgery, according to a study by researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz.

With one dose of Viagra and a single injection of Plerixafor, stem cells can be mobilized from the bone marrow into the bloodstream in about two hours. Plerixafor is a drug used for mobilizing stem cells, but it is not very effective on its own.

The study showed when blood vessels are dilated with Viagra, the cells mobilized by Plerixafor are better able to get into the blood stream.

The mobilization allows doctors to collect donor stem cells directly from blood, instead of drilling into the hip bone and using a special needle to remove cells from the bone marrow, according to the study published Oct. 10 in Stem Cell Reports.

Another way to enable collection of stem cells via the bloodstream is through injections of growth factor GCSF. However, the procedure usually requires four to six days of GCSF injections before stem cells can be collected and the procedure is not always successful. The procedure can also cause bone pain and other side effects, and cannot be tolerated by some patients such as those with sickle-cell disease.

The Viagra-Plerixafor combination, however, can correct the sickle-cell mutation and make bone marrow transplant possible, the study showed.

Light therapy counteracts carbon monoxide poisoning

A light-based therapy could offer a new way to treat carbon monoxide-poisoned patients, according to a study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a type of toxic gas produced by cars, fires and explosions that can lead to airway and lung damage as the gas reduces the blood's capacity to carry oxygen. The antidote for CO poisoning is usually pure oxygen, but it can be ineffective and even dangerous.

In a study on mice, researchers found a device that combines phototherapy with an artificial membrane may be able to remove CO from the body and encourage oxygenation. Phototherapy is a light-based treatment that is usually used for skin diseases.

The device was able to double the rate of CO elimination in CO-poisoned rats with normal lungs, as well as increase the CO removal rate by threefold in those with lung injury, compared to ventilation with pure oxygen.

"Although additional studies are required, in the future, soldiers, firefighters, and civilians exposed to CO may benefit from early treatment with CO removal and phototherapy, in particular those individuals with concurrent lung injury," Luca Zazzeron, a clinical fellow in anesthesia at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a release discussing the study's findings.

In the U.S., there are more than 50,000 admissions to emergency rooms due to CO poisoning every year.