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Hi-tech ‘Trojan Horse’ Can Kill Cancer Cells

Australian researchers are set to begin human trials of a tiny nano-cell that acts as a “Trojan horse” against cancer cells; a breakthrough they say may curb the need for debilitating chemotherapy.

The technology could eventually allow cancer sufferers to receive treatment as outpatients, rather than being hospitalised for lengthy bouts of chemotherapy, according to the researchers.

Himanshu Brahmbhatt from Sydney-based biotechnology company EnGeneIC said the research — outlined in the journal Nature Biotechnology — had the potential to reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment and make it cheaper.

Brahmbhatt said the technology allowed medics to target cancer cells without damaging healthy tissue, a major problem with existing chemotherapy treatments.

“Essentially you need to get the drug directly inside the cancer cell and not slug the body,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

While researchers have been working on using nano-cells against cancer for at least five years, Brahmbhatt said the latest version had proved 100% effective treating cancers in mice which were resistant to conventional chemotherapy.

The cells were loaded with anti-cancer medications and deployed in “waves” to combat cancers, he said.

“The first wave of Trojan horses goes in there and disables the resistance mechanisms inside the cancer cell,” he said.

“Interestingly, these cancer cells are totally receptive to repeated waves of these Trojan horses.

“We can send in these nano-cells again and again and each time we can load them up with different types of armaments against cancer.”

The cells will be tested on long-term cancer patients at three Melbourne hospitals later this year.

Brahmbhatt said the nano-cells used less drugs than conventional treatments, making them cheaper to administer.

The targeted treatment also means they have less side-effects than chemotherapy, he said.

“(Cancer treatment) effectively can change to literally an outpatient therapy, where the patient simply comes in once or twice a week,” Brahmbhatt said.

“You can receive the treatment in a very short period of time and you can go about your normal life and not have any of these horrific toxic side effects.”

Source: The Times Of India

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Purple Tomato that Fights Cancer

A purple tomato genetically engineered to contain nutrients more commonly seen in dark berries helped prevent cancer in mice, British researchers said on Sunday.

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The finding, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, bolsters the idea that plants can be genetically modified to make people healthier.

Cancer-prone mice fed the modified fruit lived significantly longer than animals fed a standard diet with and without regular tomatoes, Cathie Martin and colleagues at the government-funded John Innes Centre in Britain reported.

“The effect was much bigger than we had expected,” said Martin, a plant biologist.

The study focused on anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant found in berries such as blackberries and blackcurrants that have been shown to lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.

While an easy health boost, many people do not eat enough of these fruits, the researchers said.

Using genes that help colour the snapdragon flower, the researchers discovered they could get the tomatoes to make anthocyanins — turning the tomato purple in the process.

Mice genetically engineered to develop cancer lived an average of 182 days when they were fed the purple tomatoes, compared to 142 days for animals on the standard diet.

“It is enormously encouraging to believe that by changing diet, or specific components in the diet, you can improve health in animals and possibly humans,” Martin said in a telephone interview.

The researchers cautioned that trials in humans are a long way off and the next step is to investigate how the antioxidants actually affect the tumours to promote better health.

But the findings do bolster research suggesting that people can significantly improve their health by making simple changes to the daily diet, other researchers said.

“It’s exciting to see new techniques that could potentially make healthy foods even better for us,” said Dr. Lara Bennett, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.

“But it’s too early to say whether anthocyanins obtained through diet could help to reduce the risk of cancer.”

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Sources: The Times Of India

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