- News Releases
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 31, 2012. A potentially powerful new approach to treating two lethal metastatic cancers — triple negative breast cancer and clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer — has been discovered by researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. In the online issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, they report that two drugs, romidepsin and decitabine, work cooperatively to activate a potent tumor suppressor gene that is silenced in these cancers. Once the gene, secreted frizzled related protein one or sFRP1, went to work after the drugs were used, the laboratory tumor cells stopped growing and died. Both drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat blood cancer and are being tested individually in numerous solid cancers in which sFRP1 is disabled. This study was the first to test the use of both in these metastatic cancers linked to sFRP1, and the results are very encouraging, says senior investigator John Copland, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist. "We now have the basis for a clinical trial aimed at providing effective therapy for two drug-resistant cancers and perhaps many more tumor types in the future," Dr. Copland says. In addition to breast and kidney cancer, sFRP1 is disabled in colon, ovarian, lung, liver and other tumor types. Dr. Copland and his colleagues earlier discovered that sFRP1 was silenced in certain cancers. This new work demonstrates that its expression can be restored by romidepsin, which is a histone deacetylase inhibitor, and decitabine, a methyltranferase inhibitor. Both are epigenetic drugs, modifying genes in a way that affects whether they are turned on or off. "Individually, each drug did not induce any form of cell death but, together, they killed all of the different cell lines of kidney and triple negative breast cancer that we tested in the laboratory," says lead investigator Simon Cooper, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular biologist who specializes in renal cancer. The two cancers affect up to 80,000 Americans each year and therapies to treat both, especially when they are advanced, have been very limited, says co-author Edith Perez, M.D., deputy director of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. "But now, not only do we have a very promising lead on future therapy, but if this combination treatment works as we hope it does, we will have a biomarker to be able to test which patients might benefit the most," she says. "In other words, a biopsy test could identify patients whose tumors had lost sFRP1 function." The approach to finding this potential new treatment strategy is novel, adds oncologist Michael Menefee, M.D., who is also a study co-author.
VIDEO ALERT: Audio and video resources available on Mayo Clinic's YouTube Channel. Jacksonville, Fla. — July 18, 2012. As sports training season gets underway, Florida parents, particularly those of youth athletes, should be aware of a new law that goes into effect on Sunday pertaining to concussions and the ability of student athletes to return to play if they suffer a head injury. With the adoption of HB 291, Florida's youth athlete concussion bill, which goes into effect on Sunday, July 1, Florida joins more than 30 states that have adopted concussion guidelines for youth sports. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Ron "Doc" Renuart, R- Ponte Vedra, mandates that any athlete suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury be immediately removed from practice or competition until the athlete receives written medical clearance to return from an appropriate health care practitioner. "There are over 300,000 head injuries reported annually in high school athletics and over 90 percent are concussions, so it's important that coaches, parents and sports officials be aware of the pervasiveness of concussions, the signs and symptoms, and the fact that returning to play too soon after sustaining an injury could have detrimental effects," says Mayo Clinic family and sports medicine physician Jennifer Roth Maynard, M.D., who is also chair of the Northeast Florida Regional Sports Concussion Task Force. After a concussion, if an athlete continues to play or returns to play too early, there is a significant risk of experiencing another concussion, Dr. Maynard says. "Repeat concussions may take longer to resolve and come with a risk of permanent neurological damage or, rarely, death." Children, adolescents and female athletes appear to be at a higher risk for concussions, and may also take longer to recover. With the new law, there is no same-day return to play. Rather, the ruling specifies a graduated return to exercise protocol (light aerobic activity, moderate aerobic activity, sport specific drills, full contact practice) that must be supervised and approved by a responsible adult or athletic trainer before a physician will give the final clearance to safely return to sport. "Since each person may present concussion differently, the diagnosis of a concussion, assessment of its severity and knowing when an athlete can return to physical activity, competition, work or school is not always clear. Mayo Clinic advocates for having a computerized baseline concussion assessment for each athlete to assist in identifying and quantifying changes in brain function should a concussion occur," says Dr. Maynard. Baseline computerized neurocognitive testing is used to help establish the normal brain function of an athlete with respect to memory, reaction time, speed and concentration. When compared to a post-injury test, this is a helpful tool for a physician to determine when the brain has returned to normal and it is safe for an athlete to begin a return to play protocol. This non-invasive test is set up in "video-game" type format and takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida began providing baseline assessments earlier this year and is offering screening opportunities at a flat rate of $20 per athlete, regardless of insurance coverage.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 12, 2012. Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida has received an "A" rating for excellence in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, ...
Note: Funding information at the end of the news release has been updated. JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — July 10, 2012. Cellular change thought to happen only in late-stage cancers to help tumors spread also occurs in early-stage lung cancer as a way to bypass growth controls, say researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The finding, reported in the July 11 issue of Science Translational Medicine, represents a new understanding of the extent of transformation that lung cancer — and likely many other tumor types — undergo early in disease development, the scientists say. They add that the discovery also points to a potential strategy to halt this process, known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition, or EMT. "Our study points to EMT as a key step in lung cancer progression during the earliest stages of cancer development," says lead investigator and cancer biologist Derek Radisky, Ph.D. "Normal cells recognize when they are dividing too rapidly, and turn on programs that block inappropriate cell division. Here we found that early-stage lung cancer cells switch on EMT in order to bypass these controls," he says. The discovery could offer a new way to prevent progression to late-stage lung cancer, possibly by inhibiting a particular molecule from functioning, Dr. Radisky says. Because EMT is a well-recognized late-stage transition that occurs in all sorts of solid tumors, the researchers say they believe that the same early-stage use of EMT they found in lung cancer is likely occurring in other cancers. EMT is a biological process used in embryonic development to allow body development, which requires the ability of cells and tissues to morph from one type to another, and develop in an orchestrated fashion. Late-stage cancer uses EMT to change tumor cells into a form that can migrate through blood. "The gaps in our knowledge of lung cancer have not allowed us to develop more effective targeted therapies," Dr. Radisky says. "This study offers us great new clues for a new approach to treating lung and possibly other cancers as early as possible."