Archive: March 2017

Stimulating The Bodys Defenses To Fight Ovarian Cancer

Comediennes such as Gilda Radner and Madeline Kahn, Oscar-winning actresses like Loretta Young and Sandy Dennis, singers Laura Nyro and Dinah Shore, actor Pierce Brosnans wife Cassandra Harris, actress Jessica Tandy, former Connecticut governor Ella Grasso, and Martin Luther Kings wife Coretta Scott King all died of ovarian cancer. Its not just celebrities, politicians or movie stars, who are stricken with ovarian cancer. One in every 55 U.S. women is at risk for ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates about 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed. More than 16,000 women will die because the symptoms are often subtle, and her doctor did not recognize the symptoms soon enough. It is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancies, and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

Silent and undetected, this cancer often spreads beyond the ovary or ovaries into the abdominal cavity, or by the final stage, into other body organs such as the liver or lungs. Family doctors often fail to properly diagnose The Silent Killer until it is too late. Last August, University of California Davis researchers reported 40 percent of women told their doctors about their symptoms for as long as a year before they were correctly diagnosed. A British survey discovered 75 percent of family doctors believed symptoms are only present during the advanced stages of the cancer. By the time women are diagnosed for ovarian cancer, 40 to 50 percent of the patients are in the advanced stage, where there is little hope for survival.

Less than one-half the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will live five years. About 10 to 14 percent live beyond five years after their diagnosis. Their choices have been limited, mainly reserved to variations of chemotherapy drugs or a new way to delivery the drug. The general public is often unaware of the side effects ovarian cancer patients suffer during chemotherapy. In mid March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration criticized the safety profile of Eli Lillys Gemzar for ovarian cancer patients, saying the 2.8 months increased survival seen in studies of patients taking the drug wasnt enough to offset the treatments increased toxicity which included anemia, neutropenia (a blood disorder) and thrombocytopenia (reduced platelets in the blood). Presently used first-line treatments for ovarian cancer patients include Cisplatin, with associated side effects such as nerve, kidney and/or ear damage, Carboplatin (side effects: nerve damage in the arms and/or legs, joint pain, and/or thrombocytopenia), Paclitaxel (neurotoxicity), or Melphalan, with side effects which include irreversible bone marrow failure, bone marrow suppression).

A woman stricken with ovarian cancer faces first surgery, then chemotherapy. Recent widespread press heralding a new development in treating ovarian cancer, intra-abdominal or intraperitoneal chemotherapy, is just that: more chemotherapy. The belly bath, as it has been nicknamed by some television reporters, it has been highly praised because the treatment can extend life by about 16 months more than regular chemotherapy. The results were first published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in December 2005. Most news reports failed to mention that only 40 percent of the women treated with the belly bath were able to complete all six cycles. Why? The therapy relies upon infusions of Paclitaxel and Cisplatin (see side effects in the previous paragraph). According to Dr. Robert Edwards, research director of the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer in Pittsburgh, Many women dont feel well enough to work for the duration of the intra-abdominal (therapy). Some patients, such as Cindy Pakalnis of Marshall (Pennsylvania) have called the treatments grueling.

The unsolved problem of chemotherapy is the reduction in the quality of life. While some life extension has been proven, the patients life deteriorates. Many patients struggle with balancing the loss in quality of life with the rigors of the therapy. Researchers are actively pursuing new directions that may some day provide new hope for the ovarian cancer patient. A University of Minnesota research study has suggested the use of thalidomide, which would be used in conjunction with chemotherapy, as a prospective means of increasing the likelihood of remission. Minnesota cancer researcher Dr. Levi Downs explained, It prevents the tumor from making new blood vessels. Without new blood vessels, the tumor cant sufficiently feed new cells, so the cancer cant grow. His randomized trial was small with only 65 patients (only 28 took thalidomide), and more testing will certainly be required.

New Hope for Ovarian Cancer Patients?

One promising technology that has been developed over the past decade is OvaRex MAb. It was developed by ViRexx Medical Corp., an Edmonton-based company, which trades on the American Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: REX) and on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: VIR). Now licensed to Unither Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR), OvaRex MAb is currently undergoing two identical Phase III trials at about 64 research centers across the United States. One trial has completed enrollment, according to a mid December news release issued by ViRexx Medical Corp.

We spoke with ViRexx Medical Corps Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tyrrell who was the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta and the Director of the Glaxo Heritage Research Institute. OvaRex MAb is our lead candidate for the treatment of ovarian cancer, and is an intravenous infusion of a monoclonal antibody, he said. Monoclonal antibodies are a new breed of biotech drugs that are extremely specific; that is, each antibody binds to only one particular antigen. In the case of OvaRex MAb, it is a monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to the CA-125 antigen. Dr. Tyrrell added, The treatment doesnt take long, and is given every 4 weeks for the first 3 injections, and then once every 3 months until the patient relapses.

Dr. Tyrrell talked about the current Phase III studies, The trials are ongoing. All of the patients have successfully completed their surgery and front-line chemotherapy and are now in what we call the watchful waiting period. It is in this phase that we treat the patients with OvaRex MAb with the hopes of increasing the time to disease relapse. He explained the recurrence rate is very high in the stage III / IV late forms of ovarian cancer, with a time to relapse of about 10.4 months. Patients who have turned to OvaRex hope to delay that relapse. Tyrrell noted, In the original study, the average time to relapse was delayed by about 14 months. If we can achieve that difference or better in the current Phase III trials, it would be a major advance for the treatment of ovarian cancer. He expects an analysis of the current OvaRex MAb studies to be completed by the second or third quarter of 2007.

What makes OvaRex MAb different from other immunotherapeutic treatments is, instead of attacking the bodys cancerous cells directly, the monoclonal antibody targets the cancerous antigen in circulation. Some believe it helps retrain the bodys immune system to fight the ovarian cancer cells. The mechanism that reportedly has made OvaRex MAb effective is how it alerts the body to recognize and fight the CA-125.

ViRexx has addressed the tolerance problem a body suffers when it has become inflicted with a malignant tumor. The hypothesis behind the tolerance issue is that the body fails to recognize the CA-125 antigen as harmful. Introducing a foreign antibody, in this case the mouse antibody against CA125, the bodys defense systems are awakened to the ovarian cancer cells. This begins a chain reaction alerting the immune system to battle the invading antibody CA125 complex. The bodys defense systems are reprogrammed to attack the CA-125 antigen and seek to destroy it. Along with that destruction comes the attempt of the immune response to eliminate the cancerous cells from the body.

As with many pioneering scientific breakthroughs, serendipity is what lies behind the OvaRex MAb story. As one technology was being developed, another the murine monoclonal antibody treatment for ovarian cancer came about by accident. We talked to its inventor, Dr. Antoine Noujaim, about the biotech drugs roots. It came out of the imaging technology, the Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta explained. In the early 1980s, biotech companies, such as Immunomedics and Cytomedics were researching tumors and using antibodies to image the tumors so they could be evaluated in a cancer patients body. I worked with Dr. Mike Longenecker and we established a company called Biomira (Toronto: BRA) in 1984, Dr. Noujaim recalled. We had a number of targets and then needed to make specific antibodies. Part of his effort was to target certain cancers, such as prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.

We developed antibodies against a mucin, which is really a glycopeptide, explained Dr. Noujaim. Its a peptide that has a lot of sugars on it present in the ascitis fluid from ovarian cancer patients. That is how Dr. Noujaim and his team developed the very early antibody which is now used for OvaRex MAb. We sent some of these antibodies to Professor Richard Baum in Germany for imaging of ovarian cancer patients, Noujaim remembered. Dr. Baum phoned back, after some time, and told me, The patients I was imaging here had advanced ovarian cancer and some of them seem to have done quite well after we gave them a couple of shots (of the B43.13 antibody, the clinical name for OvaRex MAb) to image the tumor. I thought he was joking with me.

This is serendipity at work as Dr. Noujaim explained to us. Richard was imaging patients that were in the last stages of the disease, he pointed out. Monoclonal antibodies can be used as diagnostic agents in oncology, when they are radiolabeled with a marker that can be imaged by external detectors. These patients had maybe four or five months to live. All of a sudden, a year later and theyre still around. Baum urged Noujaim to investigate this further. Dr. Noujaim recalls him saying, Something is happening here. Ive seen hundreds of patients, but nothing like this. From this encouragement, Noujaim began formulating the potential mechanism of how this monoclonal antibody would work. His sharp mind chased the puzzling questions raised by Dr. Baums observations.

At this point of his recollections, Noujaim got excited, Through sheer serendipity, we were using murine antibodies, not humanized antibodies. We were using foreign antibodies, a small amount of foreign antibodies. How in the world did Noujaim know to use murine (mouse) antibodies? Because that was the easiest way to do the imaging at the time, he replied. Before you make a chimeric (something derived from two different animal species) antibody, you start with a murine one. If that one works, you humanize the antibody. From this research, Noujaim founded a company called AltaRex, which was taken public in 1995. We raised about $30 million and expanded the program.

The serious effort to develop the antibodies began in 1996. Having conducted trials in Canada and Europe, it was a massive undertaking Noujaim told us. We had over 500 patients injected with the murine monoclonal antibody. He extrapolated beyond OvaRex MAb, saying, Weve proven completely the mechanism of action on this, how it works. It is so unique it may apply to all of the other antibodies we have. Noujaim believes it can apply to breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Indeed, BrevaRex MAb for breast cancer and multiple myeloma patients has completed Phase 1 trials, and ProstaRex MAb for prostate cancer patients is at the pre-clinical stage.

Our studies to date may show that vaccines may slow the growth of the tumor with a very good safety profile, concluded Dr. Noujaim. Then he added something which bears investigating further, There is the very original (ovarian cancer) patient who was injected in 1987. Shes in Germany, and according to Dr. Baum she was still alive a year ago. Thats nearly nine years later! Its a matter of great pride for me that some people who received OvaRex MAb are alive today, he said.

While the company has licensed, under a royalty agreement, the OvaRex MAb technology to United Therapeutics, through that companys subsidiary, Unither Pharmaceuticals, ViRexx has retained rights to most member nations of the European Union and certain other countries. Key ones include France, the United Kingdom and the Benelux countries. ViRexx has also established strategic relationships with Domp Farmaceutici, Medison Pharma, Ltd. and Genesis Pharma S.A. for certain European and Middle-East Countries.

Prostate Cancer Basics

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate grow out of control and they form tumors. When the prostate has many small tumors formed from these abnormal out of control cells, prostate cancer is diagnosed.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be 192,280 new cases if prostate cancer and 27,360 deaths from prostate cancer in 2009 in the United States. Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer (just behind lung cancer) in men and 1 in 6 of men will be diagnosed with this type of cancer. Currently, it is estimated that 2 million men in the United States currently have prostate cancer.

Most men in the early stages of prostate cancer do not have any symptoms, however; when the disease progresses the following symptoms may appear:
A need to urinate frequently, especially at night;
Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine;
Weak or interrupted flow of urine;
Painful or burning urination;
Blood in urine or semen; or
Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Due to the fact that these symptoms may also be signs of other diseases, a comprehensive work up from your family physician is vital.

The National Cancer Institutes has developed a chart which gives age ranges of men and the probability of a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Age Range Probability of Prostate Cancer

Under age 40 1 in 19,299
Age 40 59 1 in 45
Age 60-79 1 in 7

So what does this chart really mean? It means that the men in your lives need to be tested regularly for prostate cancer. Additionally, men of African decent have a 60% risk higher than Caucasian men which are the second highest racial group.

The Mayo Clinic says that there really is not much proven to reduce the risk of prostate cancer, but recommends the following MIGHT help. 1) Don’t overeat. 2) Avoid high-fat foods. 3).Make healthy choices. 4) Drink alcohol in moderation. 5) Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. 6) Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 7) Eat soy products and legumes. 8) Drink green tea.

In a study Harvard study the team of investigators found that men who ate more than 10 servings of tomato-based foods daily (such as cooked tomatoes and tomato sauce, V8 juice) had a 35 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

My recipe for a great source of lycopene:

Mary Favorite Pasta Sauce
1 can low-sodium (or no sodium) tomato sauce
1 can low-sodium (or no sodium) tomato paste
1 small onion (optional)
2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
to tsp no sodium Cajun spice
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
tsp sugar (optional but really helps cut the acid taste)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 can/bottle regular not light beer of your choice (can substitute 1 cup wine or 3 cups water)
Dash of parmesan cheese for topping
Splash of olive oil
1 lb ground turkey, beef or Boca Crumbles (soy product)
Your choice of noodles (spaghetti, angle hair, etc)

Add a splash of olive oil to a pan, heat and add chopped onion and garlic.

Saut until onions are clear. Remove from pan and set aside. Add your ground turkey or beef to pan and saut until brown. Drain off all the fat from the pan that you can.

Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, spices, beer, sugar, onion/garlic to pan (add Boca Crumbles if you are making the veggie version of this recipe). Add water if sauce is too thick. Turn to low and simmer for at least one hour or longer if possible.

Boil water with a dash of salt and olive oil (I like to add the olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together, but I know a lot of people do not) add noodles and cook according to directions.

Serve noodles with sauce and sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese. Serve with a side of veggies (your choice) and/or good whole grain bread.

Feel free to jazz up this recipe by adding squash, bell peppers or any other veggie to the sauce. Remember to saut your added veggies with the onion and garlic.

For dessert serve lycopene rich fruits such as watermelon, papaya, apricots, or pink guava.

Sources of lycopene

Fruits/Veggies Tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits, apricots, pink guavas, red bell peppers, baked beans, Asparagus

Condiments Catsup, bbq sauce, salsa, tomato soup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, V8 Juice, Salad dressing, Thousand Island dressing, Salad dressing, Russian dressing, Salad dressing, French dressing

Caution!!! Commercially prepared condiments may contain high amounts of sodium and sugar!! Read your labels carefully if your elder has to watch their sodium and glucose intake.

Domperidone Medicine – An Overview

This medication increases movement through the digestive system. It is used to treat symptoms of stomach disorders. It may also be used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by certain medications. Due to safety concerns, this medication is not to be used by breast-feeding women to increase production of breast milk. Domperidone is used to speed up the time it takes for food to move through your stomach and intestines after eating. Domperidone helps the stomach to empty more quickly in people where this is a problem. It helps to reduce reflux (stomach acid coming back up) and the sensation of fullness. Domperidone is also used to prevent stomach problems associated with the use of certain medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Your doctor may choose to use a medication for conditions other than the ones listed in these drug information articles. If you’re unsure why you are taking this medication, contact your doctor.

Domperidone 5mg tablets are taken with a full glass of water, usually 15 to 30 minutes before meals, and at bedtime.

Using Domperidone.

After starting Domperidone 5mg, it may take three or four days before you notice any effect, though sometimes mothers notice an effect within 24 hours. It appears to take two to three weeks to get a maximum effect, but some mothers have noted effects only after 4 or more weeks. It is reasonable to give domperidone a trial of at least four, and better, six weeks before saying it doesn’t work.

Precautions:

– Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

– Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications.

– Tell your doctor if you have problems with internal bleeding, or any other stomach or intestinal problems.

– If you are taking any antacids, H2-blockers or proton pump inhibitors, they should be taken at least 2 hours before or after the domperidone is taken

Side Effects

The following side effects may go away as your body becomes used to the medicine; check with your doctor if they continue or become bothersome.

Less common:

– breast milk flowing from the nipple – ry mouth – swelling of the breast (males) – headache – hives – hot flashes – itching of skin – itching, redness, pain, or swelling of eye – menstrual irregularities – pain in the breast

Overdose: If overdose is suspected, contact your doctor or your local poison control centre or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, twitching, muscle rigidity, and irregular heartbeat.

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