Notable News August 2020

Just when you think science can’t get any cooler, researchers figure out a way to learn more about cancer from dinosaurs. Yes, dinosaurs! Researchers have also found that fewer people are dying from lung cancer, and that the more they learn about immunotherapy the better. There is also a new study warning of a potential cancer risk for older adults.

The study pertains to adults 65 and older and indicates that taking aspirin every day could make cancer worse for older adults, reports medicalnewstoday.com. While past studies have shown that a daily dose of aspirin could protect older adults from cardiovascular issues, and clinical trials have shown that aspirin may reduce the risk of developing cancer in middle-aged adults, a recent study showed that daily aspirin intake may actually increase the risk of being diagnosed with advanced cancer in older adults. There was a 19 percent higher risk of metastatic cancer and a 22 percent higher risk of an advanced cancer diagnosis. People who are already taking a daily dose of aspirin should not stop doing so and should consult their healthcare providers with any concerns about the study before making any changes to their daily aspirin regimen. Learn more about the results of the study here.

Researchers may have discovered why immunotherapy isn’t effective for some patients, says sciencedaily.com. The treatment, which uses a person’s own immune systems to target cancer cells, doesn’t seem to work so well for young and female patients. A study shows that immunotherapy is less effective in young and female patients because they tend to have strong immune systems that are better at getting rid of tumor cells. That sounds like a good thing, but cancer cells that the immune system can’t easily recognize and get rid of often remain in the body, so immunotherapies are less effective at targeting those cells. Now that researchers know why immunotherapy doesn’t work for some patients, they can use the information to determine how to make treatments more effective for every patient. Find more information about the study here.

Researchers have also been looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapies to treat blood cancers, says technologynetworks.com. By combining two types of immunotherapies, researchers found that they become more effective in treating blood cancers such as leukemia. There is also evidence that the new combination of therapies could be a safer option. The researchers are using similar technology used in the immunotherapy known as CAR-T therapy in which T cells are modified. In the new combined therapy, instead of modifying T cells, cells known as natural killer (NK) cells are modified. The CAR cells are also modified to help the NK cells find the tumor cells. The process utilizes the benefits of modifying both types of cells and may reduce the potentially life-threatening side effects of the CAR-T cell therapy which would greatly improve immunotherapy treatments. Read more about the combination of the two immunotherapies here.

Improved therapies are also having an impact on lung cancer mortality rates, reports cancer.gov. A new study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute shows that deaths from non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, have dropped in the United States. The death rates are dropping faster than the cancer is occurring and the extra decline is attributed to therapies, approved in the last ten years, that target the cancer. Find out more about the NSCLC mortality rates here.

We are learning more and more about treating cancer all the time, and sometimes information comes from the most unlikely places, such as dinosaurs, says technologynetworks.com. Researchers have found the malignant bone cancer, osteosarcoma, in the lower leg bone of a Centrosaurus apertus, a plant eating, horned dinosaur that lived in large herds approximately 76 million years ago. The damage to the dinosaur’s bone was first thought to be a fracture, but upon further examination, the cancer was found. Using similar methods to diagnose cancer in humans, researchers discovered that the adult dinosaur had an advanced stage of the cancer and that it may have spread to other parts of the body. However, it is not believed that the cancer is what killed the dinosaur, as evidence showed it died as part of a herd in a flood. Researchers hope that they will be able to better understand diseases today if they are able to understand how they have evolved from the past. Learn more about how the dinosaur’s cancer was diagnosed here. You can even watch a short video about it. It’s super cool!