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  • Editor's Note

    Medical breakthroughs come with a human cost

    Medical innovations can be risky, as this issue’s cover story on new CAR-T cell therapies for cancer reveals. The treatments, which tailor a patient’s own immune system cells to attack cancer, can be astonishingly successful. But CAR-T therapy can also be an untamed beast, unleashing a ferocious immune response that indiscriminately attacks the body. The challenge scientists face now...
    06/27/2018 - 07:00 Health, Cancer, History of Science
  • News

    Poliovirus treatment helped patients with deadly brain tumors live longer

    Few treatment options are available to people facing a second battle with a particularly fatal type of brain tumor called glioblastoma. But dosing the tumor with a genetically modified poliovirus — one that doesn’t cause the eponymous, devastating disease — may give these patients more time, a small clinical study suggests.

    Of 61 people with recurring glioblastoma who were treated with...

    06/26/2018 - 17:50 Cancer, Clinical Trials
  • News in Brief

    Experts advise: Start colorectal screening at 45, not 50

    Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 45 rather than 50, according to new guidelines released May 30 by the American Cancer Society. The recommendation is a response to the steady rise over decades in the colorectal cancer rate in younger Americans (SN: 4/1/17, p. 5).

    For people at average risk for colorectal cancer — those without a personal or family history of the disease...

    05/31/2018 - 10:50 Health, Cancer
  • 50 years ago, starving tumors of oxygen proposed as weapon in cancer fight

    Starve the tumor, not the cell

    Animal experiments demonstrate for the first time that transplanted tumors release a chemical into the host’s bloodstream that causes the host to produce blood vessels to supply the tumor.… If such a factor can be identified in human cancers … it might be possible to prevent the vascularization of tumors. Since tumors above a certain small size require...

    05/04/2018 - 11:00 Cancer, Biomedicine, Cells
  • News

    An enzyme involved in cancer and aging gets a close-up

    Like a genetic handyman, an elusive enzyme deep inside certain cells repairs the tips of chromosomes, which fray as cells divide. It’s prized by rapidly dividing cells – like stem cells and tumor cells – and by scientists on the hunt for cancer and other disease therapies.

    Now researchers have the best picture yet of this enzyme, called telomerase. Using cryo-electron microscopy,...

    05/04/2018 - 10:00 Health, Cells, Cancer
  • News

    The science behind cancer warnings on coffee is murky at best

    Californians will soon be taking their coffee with cream and a cancer warning, after a court ruled that the state’s retailers must label coffee as containing a carcinogen. The decision followed an eight-year legal battle, which boiled down to a question that has plagued coffee drinkers and scientists alike: Is drinking coffee healthy, or not?

    The judge’s ruling, issued Wednesday, says...

    03/30/2018 - 17:23 Cancer
  • News

    Human skin bacteria have cancer-fighting powers

    Certain skin-dwelling microbes may be anticancer superheroes, reining in uncontrolled cell growth. This surprise discovery could one day lead to drugs that treat or maybe even prevent skin cancer.

    The bacteria’s secret weapon is a chemical compound that stops DNA formation in its tracks. Mice slathered with one strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis that makes the compound developed fewer...

    02/28/2018 - 15:49 Health, Cancer, Microbiology
  • Year in Review

    Approval of gene therapies for two blood cancers led to an ‘explosion of interest’ in 2017

    This year, gene therapy finally became a clinical reality. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two personalized treatments that engineer a patient’s own immune system to hunt down and kill cancer cells. The treatments, the first gene therapies ever approved by the FDA, work in people with certain blood cancers, even patients whose cancers haven’t responded to other treatments...

    12/13/2017 - 08:27 Cancer, Immune Science
  • News in Brief

    When tumors fuse with blood vessels, clumps of breast cancer cells can spread

    PHILADELPHIA — If you want to beat them, join them. Some breast cancer tumors may follow that strategy to spread through the body.

    Breast cancer tumors can fuse with blood vessel cells, allowing clumps of cancer cells to break away from the main tumor and ride the bloodstream to other locations in the body, suggests preliminary research. Cell biologist Vanesa Silvestri of Johns Hopkins...

    12/08/2017 - 11:42 Cancer, Cells
  • News in Brief

    Microbes hobble a widely used chemo drug

    Some bacteria may shield tumor cells against a common chemotherapy drug.

    Certain types of bacteria make an enzyme that inactivates the drug gemcitabine, researchers report in the Sept. 15 Science. Gemcitabine is used to treat patients with pancreatic, lung, breast and bladder cancers.

    Bacteria that produce the enzyme cytidine deaminase converted the drug to an inactive form. That...

    09/14/2017 - 14:00 Cancer, Microbiology