February 2023 Notable News
February shines a light on the importance of human experience as well as science in the fight against cancer. Patient navigators, people sharing experience and knowledge with cancer patients, have an important impact on their outcome. In studying the process of the cellular genome, scientists have discovered a vulnerability that can help treat cancer. Scientists are also studying cancerous tumors to use the body’s immune system to destroy the cancer. The more discoveries scientists make about how cancer survives; the more cancer treatments are developed to fight it.
Cancer Treatment is a Minefield of Bills, Meds, and Jargon. Patient Navigators Can Help People of Color Find a Path to Better Care
“Patient navigation,” is individualized assistance designed to help patients, often from disadvantaged populations, overcome barriers in the health care system reports Sahan Journal. Patient navigators are used for patients with organ transplants, HIV, infertility issues, as well as cancer. The navigators have training in the medical field and often personal experience with their area of expertise. The job of the patient navigator is to help the patient get access to screening tests, treatments, follow up care, and financial assistance. They can also explain about clinical trials and make sure the patient understands everything involved with their care. Using this specialty to assist patients has been shown to increase survival rates for cancer patients, especially those in marginalized communities. The navigator can help bridge the cultural differences between the patient and the physician. The patient feels less alone and overwhelmed with a navigator to help them through a difficult time. Click to read the full story.
Newly Identified Pathway Could Boost the Power of Cancer Drugs
Damage to cellular genomes is what results in cancer. It is known that radiation and toxic molecules, such as cancer drugs, can damage this cancer-causing DNA. Scientists have discovered that genomes are more vulnerable during the replication phase. A new signaling pathway used by cells to protect their DNA during replication has been uncovered by researchers at Washington School of Medicine reports SciTechDaily. If scientists can block this pathway, it can also inhibit the cancer cells from being protected from the stress of the replicating phase. The finding of this pathway can help cancer drugs become more effective. Researchers found eight protein factors in the genome protection pathway and are developing inhibitors to block those proteins. This is an exciting advance to opening another pathway to treating cancer. Click to read the full story.
Harnessing the Immune System to Fight Cancer
Antibodies are proteins in the blood created to recognize specific molecules, called antigens, that are unique to a pathogen or other threat to the body. Part of Oni’s research focuses on understanding how antibodies may be used to disarm cancer cells reports MedicalXpress. Immune cells make signals so they are not destroyed by macrophages, which are white blood cells that kill microorganisms. Cancer cells make these signals to evade macrophages as well. Scientists are studying the structure of the tumor, particularly the proteins on the tumor surface, to understand why cancer isn’t destroyed by the immune system. One such surface protein is glycosyltransferase, found on the surface of pancreatic cancer tumors. If this protein is removed from the surface of the tumor, the tumor is destroyed. Scientists can target proteins on the surface of cancerous tumors, increasing immune response to destroy the cancer. With these findings, drugs are being developed to cause macrophages to destroy cancer cells. Click to read the full story.
Dana Kaiser is a professional writer and a strong patient advocate, learning from experience during her 22-year career as a nurse.