Stress Linked to Cancer Recurrence, Lung Cancer Metastasis Management and More

  • Stress can re-ignite dormant tumor cells to cause cancer recurrence months or years after completing of successful treatment. A mixed animal and human study by an international group of researchers established that norepinephrine and cortisol, stress hormones released into the bloodstream when the level of stress is elevated, start a chain of biochemical events ultimately leading to reactivating the tumor cells. One of the findings in the human part of the study was the beta-blocker’ class of drugs ability to inhibit stress hormone signaling which prevented the reactivation of cancer cells. This finding opens up the possibility of beta-blockers use for cancer recurrence prevention. The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.
  • Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) used an unconventional approach to managing hard to treat lung metastases. They delivered immune system stimulating chemicals directly into the lung metastasis via drug-filled nanoparticles attached to red blood cells thus sparing the healthy lung tissues otherwise damaged by chemotherapy. The scientists also established that this method could halt further lung cancer growth and also prevent cancer recurrence. This animal research paves the way to new therapeutic options for metastatic cancers. The study was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
  • Another team from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School for Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) developed a vaccine that combines chemo and immunotherapy in one injection. This animal research shows some promise even in difficult to treat cancers. The study was published in Nature Communications.
  • Researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona and Columbia University in New York City found a way to produce more hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) – self-renewing stem cells crucial for treating cancer, as well as other serious diseases. The scarcity of such cells has always presented a problem. While these cells are typically derived from bone marrow and circulating and cord blood this research established another way of getting them – by reprogramming other blood stem cells. The researchers used a special algorithm to identify a gene capable of reprogramming blood stem cells to acquire hematopoietic stem cell properties. This research boosts the opportunity for more patients to benefit from hematopoietic stem cell treatments. The study was published in Cell Reports.