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Science Makes Inroads Against Prostate, Other Cancers
Date:4/19/2009

In studies, an immune boost fights prostate tumors, and better drugs outwit brain, pancreatic malignancies

SUNDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Harnessing cutting-edge techniques, a variety of human, animal and laboratory studies are suggesting innovative new ways to beat cancer.

Brain, prostate, and pancreatic cancer are some of the specific targets of the new research described Sunday in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"This is an extremely exciting time in cancer research," observed Dr. David Carbone, director of the thoracic oncology center at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville. "Even in the kinds of cancers that traditionally have been very resistant to therapy, we're starting to see clues of amazing responses and clinical benefits for patients."

Carbone, himself a cancer survivor, was not engaged in any of the investigations under discussion in Denver.

One of the studies involved a clinical trial into a new therapy for prostate cancer. That study's lead author, Dr. Richard Junghans, described his team's effort as an attempt "to find a cure for patients who will ultimately die, because standard therapies don't really work".

"Prostate cancer kills about 3,000 [men] every month," observed Junghans, an associate professor in the department of surgery and medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, as well as chief of the division of surgical research at Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, R.I. "Chemotherapy doesn't work, and hormone treatment can keep the prostate under control for one to two and maybe even three years. But after that, there's very little left. So almost all patients who've had their cancer spread to the bones will die, and it can be a miserable way to go."

"So, what we've done is to go in a radical new direction to develop a therapy that is not a chemical, not an inert drug, not a hormone,"
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