Category: Cancer

Norepinephrine could hasten the progression of certain blood cancers

From an Ohio State University Press Release
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/yangvegf.htm

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Researchers here have shown that in cell cultures, the stress hormone norepinephrine appears to promote the biochemical signals that stimulate certain tumor cells to grow and spread.

The finding, if verified, may suggest a way of slowing the progression and spread of some cancers enough so that conventional chemotherapeutic treatments would have a better chance to work. Eric Yang Ronald Glaser

The study also showed that stress hormones may play a completely different role in cancer development than researchers had once thought.

The results appear in the current issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.

“We would not be surprised if we see similar effects of norepinephrine on tumor progression in several different forms of cancer,” explained Eric Yang, first author of the paper and a research scientist with the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research (IBMR) at Ohio State University.

Yang and colleague Ron Glaser, a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, last year showed that the stress hormone norepinephrine was able to increase the production of proteins in cultures of nasopharyngeal carcinoma tumor cells that can foster the aggressive spread of the disease, a process known as metastasis. Glaser is director of the IBMR and a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State.

In this latest study, the researchers looked at a different type of cancer – multiple myeloma. One of several types of cancers of the blood, multiple myeloma strikes nearly 20,000 Americans each year, killing at least half that many annually. Patients diagnosed with this disease normally survive only three to four years with conventional treatments.

Yang and Glaser focused on three multiple myeloma tumor cell lines, each representing a different stage in the life of the disease, for their experiments. While all three tumor cell lines reacted to the presence of norepinephrine, only one, a cell line known as FLAM-76, responded strongly to the hormone. “The fact that this one cell line, of the three multiple myeloma cell lines studied, closely represents the early stages of the tumor, and that this is where we see the biggest effect, is what makes this work more clinically relevant.”

The norepinephrine binds to receptors on the surface of the cells, sending a signal to the nucleus to produce a compound known as VEGF — vascular endothelial growth factor – that is key to the formation of new blood vessels, which the tumor must have to grow.

The FLAM-76 cell line was prepared from multiple myeloma tumor cells taken from a patient whose disease had not yet progressed too far from its original site in the bone marrow where blood cells are formed.

“It turns out that FLAM-76 tumor cells more closely represent the earlier stages of the disease when blood vessel formation, a process called angiogenesis, is needed for disease progression,” Yang said.

“The fact that this one cell line, of the three multiple myeloma cell lines studied, closely represents the early stages of the tumor, and that this is where we see the biggest effect, is what makes this work more clinically relevant,” Glaser said.

The researchers believe that blocking these receptors would slow the process of the growth of more blood vessel to the tumor, delaying disease progression and perhaps allowing treatments to be more effective. Widely used “beta-blocker” drugs now prescribed for high blood pressure work by blocking these same particular cell surface receptors, Yang said.

“This approach wouldn’t kill the tumor cells but it would diminish the blood supply to the tumor cells and slow them down, and that could translate into a longer and better quality of life for the patient,” Glaser said.

The researchers and their colleagues are now working with other forms of cancer to test the effects of stress hormones like norepinephrine on their growth.

Glaser added that these kinds of results may change the way scientists are looking at a link between stress and the development and spread of cancer. In the past, he said, the focus was on how stress hormones weakened the immune system, allowing certain tumors to evade the body’s defenses.

“Now we have these stress hormones, not only affecting the immune response, but also acting directly on the tumor cells and inducing changes in the molecules made by those same tumor cells,” Glaser said.

“This has important implications for the spread of the tumor and metastasis.”

Elise Donovan, a researcher with the IBMR, and Don Benson, a researcher with Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, also worked on the project. The research was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.

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Contact: Eric Yang, (614) 292-0364; yang.3@osu.edu or Ron Glaser, (614) 292-5526; glaser.1@osu.edu.

Written by Earle Holland, (614) 292-8384; Holland.8@osu.edu.

Hickman Catheter

Bard Hickman Catheter
Hickman double lumen catheter

This is a picture of the Hickman catheter that was installed in my chest for the stem cell collection and SCT during the summer. You can see a picture of the insertion site here.  I got the idea of taking a picture from Eric Vogt, who photographed his from tandem SCTs.

You can see a picture of the Neostar triple lumen catheter here. That’s what I had inserted at Wake Forest prior to chemo and stem cell collection.

Below is a diagram I found which depicts the insertion of the catheter. Click on the image to view full size.

Insertion of the Hickman catheter
Insertion of the Hickman catheter

The IMF and cast of Everybody Loves Raymond honor Peter Boyle

This is from Access Hollywood. Way to go, IMF!

Hollywood Radar: November 12, 2007
All Access
The cast of “Everybody Loves Raymond” honored the late Peter Boyle at the International Myeloma Foundation Event to benefit the Peter Boyle Memorial Fund. And, Jerry Seinfeld’s “Bee Movie,” which open in second place last week, moved up to number on with $26 million.

To see a short video, click here.

To make a contribution to the International Myeloma Foundation, click here.

Long car ride

On Sunday I drove a friend to Rocky Mount, NC to visit some friends. It was 2 hours each way, with a few hours in between. By the time I got home, my feet felt as though they were in flames and someone was beating on the soles with a hammer.  From the knees down felt numb.  This happens to me when I have to sit for too long.  This is a result of treatment with thalidomide and Velcade.  Luckily, the pain and discomfort goes away by the next morning and I’m left with the numbness in just my feet.

What is it that makes the PN so much worse while sitting?

New hat

This is a new hat brought to me from New Mexico by Sharon. Isn’t it beautiful?

Here in NC, we’re under voluntary water restrictions due to extreme drought conditions. Some of the people in my neighborhood are ignoring it though. I’ve noticed a few people washing cars at dusk, so as not to attract attention to themselves. I think we should have mandatory restrictions statewide. Some cities are fining people for car washing and watering lawns.

My hate from New Mexico

Test results

I got the results of the tests done last week at Duke. The report states, “Compared to 8/3/07, no significant change in previously characterized IgA lambda components from 0.28 to 0.19 and 0.12 to 0.18 g/dL.” The PA let me know that it’s possible for the m-spike(s) to drop more in the next few months. One good thing is that my IgG is normal for the first time in five years (probably a few more). It was 223 in February, 2003, for example.

Immunoglobulin Profile
IgG 709 mg/dL Reference: 588-1573
IgA 374 mg/dL Reference: 46-287
IgM 29 mg/dL Reference: 57-237
IgE 12 mg/dL Reference: 4-269

People are living longer with some cancers

According to a recent report that will soon appear in Cancer Journal, in men, myeloma, kidney and liver cancers have been rising. In women, lymphoma, melanoma and thyroid cancer continue to increase. The National Institutes Of Health says more people are living beyond five years of their cancer diagnosis.  That’s what they mean when they say cancer deaths are declining.  Probably what they should say is that more people are living longer with cancer.  What science needs to do is work on cancer prevention just as much as cancer treatment.  Finding the causes of cancer is an important factor, according to Devra Davis, the author of The Secret History of the War on Cancer.

You can hear an interview with Davis here.  Just click on “Listen.”

Uncle Fester

I think I look like Uncle Fester. All I need is an ankle length black coat with a (faux) fur collar. If you run across anything like this, let me know. I need one for my wardrobe.

You probably think I’m just joking!

It seems like little bits of hair are starting to grow. I predict that I’ll have what could be thought of as a normal amount of hair by spring. I can’t remember what happened last year. It seemed as though I had a short curly head of hair by spring.

This is what my head looks like now.