Activated Immune Cells Attack Tumors

A new approach to cancer treatment that replaces a patient’s immune system with cancer-fighting cells can lead to tumor shrinkage. A recent study demonstrated that immune cells, activated in the laboratory against patients’ tumors and then administered to those patients, can attack cancer cells in the body. The experimental technique, known as adoptive transfer, has shown promising results in patients with metastic melanoma who have not responded to standard treatment. With further research, scientists hope this approach may have applications to many cancer types, as well as infectious diseases such as AIDS.

In the study, 13 patients with metastic melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer) who had not responded to standard treatments were treated with immune cells produced in the laboratory specifically to destroy their tumors. The treatment resulted in at least 50% tumor shrinkage in six of the patients, with no growth or appearance of new tumors. Four additional patients had some cancer growths disappear.

Source: National Cancer Institute 9-19-16

Stress Hormone Related to Memory Loss

The stress hormone cortisol may affect memory in the elderly, according to a recent Canadian study. Researchers from McGill University’s Douglas Hospital Research Center in Verdun, Quebec found that they could induce temporary changes in memory by manipulating levels of cortisol. In previous studies, higher levels of cortisol in the blood related to greater memory impairment.

But the scientists involved in this study were surprised to discover that the extent to which cortisol levels affected memory loss depended upon each individual’s initial cortisol levels. In fact, test subjects who had moderate cortisol levels before the study experienced greater memory loss when those levels were reduced. Test subjects who initially had high levels of cortisol experienced no benefit when cortisol levels were reduced, but they experienced even greater memory impairment when their high cortisol levels were restored.

While this study did not reveal any possible treatments for memory impairment in the elderly, it did prove that manipulating hormone levels can affect memory loss.

Cancer Cells Don’t Like It Hot

Not only do chilies burn your mouth, they can also kill cancer, according to researchers at the University of Texas. Previous studies have suggested that spicy foods can help beat cancer, but this is the first to reveal specific compounds found in chili pepper that can cause cancer cells to self-destruct.

The experiments involved skin cancer cells. The cells were exposed to capsaicin and resiniferatoxin, two major components of chili peppers. Most of the cancer cells died, destroying themselves because of oxygen deprivation. The researchers theorized that the compounds cause a profound loss of oxygen consumption in the cells. Whether or not this could lead to an effective treatment remains to be seen, but in the meantime, pass the jalapeƱos.

Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute 9-4-15