Topic: Health Conditions

Boomers

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, represent a huge demographic bulge in the American population. It is a generation that has been provided with — some might say bombarded with — extensive health and fitness information. And yet when we take a careful look at its characteristics, we find widespread obesity.

A recent survey shows that boomers are more obese than the members of either the generation preceding or following them. Whereas about one-fourth of both younger and older Americans are obese, about one-third of boomers are, according to the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll. While not classified as obese, another 36 percent of boomers are overweight.

Concern arises because overweight and obesity can cause unhealthy senior years, increasing the risk for arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. With America’s 77 million baby boomers now beginning to turn 65, Medicare costs could be badly affected.

However, there is still some cause for cautious optimism. Most boomers report performing a little aerobic exercise at least once a week. They just aren’t doing nearly enough. Meanwhile, 37 percent do no strength training at all. Approximately 60 percent report that they are on weight-loss diets. Many say they are cutting down on dietary cholesterol and salt, and increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables.

As a group, boomers need to find and follow the proper combination of good nutrition and effective exercise. Senior fitness professionals, your work is cut out for you!

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The Immune System

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Cancer patients, as well as many others with suppressed immune systems, often have extra trouble fighting off life-threatening infections. Now there is new hope for improving the immune response of these patients, thanks to recent research findings described in this University of Florida news release:

University of Florida researchers have identified two key steps required to activate the body’s innate immune system, its first line of defense against infection.

The discoveries offer insight into why some trauma patients survive their initial injuries but die from seemingly less serious causes soon afterward.

“We’re able to bring them through the trauma with an 80 percent or higher success rate, and then after a few weeks in the hospital they succumb to secondary infections, like pneumonia and urinary tract infections,” said Matthew Delano, M.D., Ph.D., a UF surgical resident.

Researchers, including Delano and Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., a professor and vice chairman of research in UF’s department of surgery, say understanding the chemical signals that help direct immunity may lead to improved therapies for patients with suppressed immune systems, such as those with critical injuries, HIV and cancer, who need extra help fighting infections.

In an article published in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the scientists describe how B cells, a specific type of white blood cell, release a chemical called CXCL10 to trigger inflammation and the deployment of cells designed to fight any pathogens or foreign matter.

Previously, B cells were thought to be involved only in the body’s adaptive immune response, which recognizes invaders, proliferates and responds more effectively to subsequent encounters. The innate immune response is more generic and wasn’t thought to convey any long-lasting immunity to specific threats.

“What we showed, which is actually quite revolutionary, is that B cells modulate the early innate immune response,” Moldawer said.

A review of the paper appeared in the August issue of Nature Reviews Immunology.

In a separate study published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, researchers identified a protein called stromal cell-derived factor 1, known as SDF-1, that directs the release of neutrophils, another type of white blood cell, from the bone marrow to the site of infection. Neutrophils will attack any pathogen and are one of the body’s first weapons used to fight infection.

Bone marrow usually makes SDF-1, but stops production when an infection begins. Tissues at the infection site start making the protein instead, and neutrophils migrate to the areas with the highest concentrations of SDF-1. Once there, they battle the invading pathogens.

“If we block this increase (in SDF-1 in the infected area), then we don’t see a mobilization,” Moldawer said. “The neutrophils are not recruited to the site of infection and the infection can’t be controlled.”

Moldawer said SDF-1 also speeds neutrophils’ development from stem cells and increases their “bacteria-killing properties.”

The identification of SDF-1 and of CXCL10 in activating the body’s innate immune response could pave the way for medicines that stimulate innate immunity in immune-suppressed patients.

Scientists from the University of California,-Los Angeles, Yale University, Duke University Medical Center, Osaka University, Merck Research Laboratories and the University of Virginia also helped with the studies.

“The next step is to ask whether giving SDF-1 can improve outcomes in patients that have reduced numbers of inflammatory cells due to chemotherapy, malnutrition, etc.,” Moldawer said.

The researchers will ask the same question about CXCL10.

Richard Hotchkiss, M.D., a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, applauded the researchers’ efforts to find new approaches to fighting infection and preventing and battling sepsis. Sepsis is a serious complication of infection in which the immune system becomes overactive and disrupts normal blood flow. The condition can lead to organ failure. Hotchkiss was not involved in the research.

“Using drugs which can up- or downregulate host immunity would be a nice accompanying approach to sepsis,” he said. “Rather than just focusing on antibiotics, we should be focusing on drugs which can improve patient immunity and their ability to fight off new, secondary infections.”

The University of Florida Health Science Center – the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast – is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville offering graduate education programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Patient care activities, under the banner UF&Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals; and affiliations with community-based health-care facilities stretching from Hialeah and Miami to the Florida Panhandle.

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Stroke Prevention

Friday, September 30th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Here’s more important news on the subject of avoiding stroke: Researchers have discovered that aggressive medical therapy could help prevent stroke, perhaps even more effectively than surgery involving balloon angioplasty and stent insertion. For details, see the following news release from the University of Florida Health Science Center in Gainesville.

To prevent a common type of stroke, intensive medical therapy could be better by itself than in combination with surgery that props open affected arteries. But it remains to be seen whether the apparent advantage will prove true over the long term.

The findings, from a national clinical trial conducted by University of Florida researchers and colleagues, were published online in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Against expectations, the short-term risk of stroke and related death was twice as high in some cases for patients whose diseased arteries were widened via balloon angioplasty and stent insertion, compared with patients who received medical therapy alone. Although the 30-day risk of stroke for the stenting patients is concerning, long-term results could be more favorable, the researchers said.

“Five years from now, who will be doing better — the patients who are being medically managed, or those who received a stent?” said study co-author Michael F. Waters, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Shands at UF Stroke Program, who along with Brian L. Hoh, M.D., the William Merz associate professor of neurological surgery in the College of Medicine, led the UF portion of the trial.

The study will have a substantial impact on clinical practice and research, the researchers said, because it is the first randomized stroke trial to pit stenting against nonsurgical treatment for symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis, a type of stroke caused by artery blockage in the brain. Early results clearly show that intensive medical management is key to improving health, the researchers said.

“This study provides an answer to a longstanding question by physicians — what to do to prevent a devastating second stroke in a high-risk population. Although technological advances have brought intracranial stenting into practice, we have now learned that when tested in a large group this particular device did not lead to a better health outcome,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which funded the clinical trial.
Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Almost 800,000 people a year have a new or recurring stroke, according to the American Heart Association. With higher than average rates of stroke and related deaths, parts of the southeastern U.S. are together termed the “Stroke Belt.”

Patients with the type of stroke known as symptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis do not respond well to existing treatments. One-quarter of those patients have another stroke within 12 months, and the risk of additional strokes continues in subsequent years. Doctors are unsure what the best course of treatment is.
To find out, the UF researchers and colleagues launched a clinical trial, nicknamed SAMMPRIS, at 50 sites around the country, including at the Medical University of South Carolina, the lead site. The study recruited 451 participants age 30 to 80 who had at least 70 percent narrowing in the arteries in the brain, and had experienced symptoms within the previous 30 days. UF recruited the second-highest number of patients among all sites, through its stroke program, which has been designated a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Patients in one group were randomly assigned to receive intensive management involving smoking cessation and medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and blood-clot prevention. A second group of patients had that same medical treatment but also had balloon angioplasty and stent implantation into the affected brain artery to improve blood flow.

Almost 15 percent of patients who received stents had a stroke or died within 30 days of enrolling in the study, compared with just under 6 percent of patients in the medical therapy group. The stark difference between the groups persisted almost a year, by which time about 21 percent of patients who had received stents had had negative effects, compared with 12 percent in the medical group.

The researchers initially thought that patients who received stents would have fared better, given the successful use of similar procedures in clinical practice at the Shands at UF Stroke Program and other medical centers.

But the striking difference between the two patient groups prompted the study’s independent safety monitoring body to call off new recruitment. The researchers will, however, continue to monitor previously enrolled patients for the next two years.

It’s not unusual for surgical patients to have more complications at first, the researchers said. That’s because the invasiveness of surgery poses an inherent risk regardless of the illness being treated.

“The real question is, is there a benefit to patients over the long term,” said study co-author and co-principal investigator Hoh, who is an associate professor of radiology and neuroscience in the UF College of Medicine. “If you think about it, when people are concerned about stroke, it’s not just their first month that matters, so we’re waiting to see what the longer-term results will be.”

Over time, improvement of stent design and honing of surgical techniques could help improve outcomes for patients.
“This is certainly not the final say on managing this disease,” Waters said. “This is another piece of the puzzle that helps to guide our hand.”

The University of Florida Health Science Center – the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast – is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville offering graduate education programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Patient care activities, under the banner UF&Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals; and affiliations with community-based health-care facilities stretching from Hialeah and Miami to the Florida Panhandle.

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Research and Practical Health Care

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The great universities of the world produce important research findings and provide practical medical care as well. Below are three current news releases from the University of Florida that demonstrate such centers’ value — and that will be of great interest to those involved in older adult health and fitness.

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Listen to the Quiet Protein

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

As noted in the article below, lung cancer strikes both cigarette smokers and nonsmokers. For new hope in the fight against this form of cancer, read on:

When a movie character says, “It’s too quiet,” that’s usually a sign something bad may happen.

Now, University of Florida researchers have discovered that when variations of a certain protein in our cells are too quiet, it may add to the risk that someone will develop lung cancer. When scientists restored the protein to its normal, active self, its cancer-inhibiting properties reappeared.

These discoveries, published in two reports in the online version of Oncogene, provide evidence that drugs can potentially suppress tumor growth by restoring cellular processes rather than inhibiting cancer-causing genes known as oncogenes.

“It’s a well-accepted fact that you can inhibit things, particularly oncogenes,
that drive cancer. Oncogenes are the cancer’s gas pedal,” said principal investigator David Reisman, M.D., Ph.D., a UF associate professor of medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “What we’ve done is demonstrate the feasibility of reconstituting the cancer brake.”

The protein, known as Brahma, or BRM, is involved in the regulation of cellular functions like gene expression, DNA repair, cell adhesion and telling cells whether to divide and grow or stop dividing and die. Other studies have found
“silenced” BRM is present in 10 to 20 percent of all solid tumors. Reisman knew from his own research in mouse models that silencing the BRM gene alone did not cause tumor growth, but when carcinogens were introduced, 10 times as many tumors appeared compared with mice with normal BRM expression.

“The gene was not a tumor suppressor in the classical definition but a tumor susceptibility gene, and when the expression is lost, it primes you to other events that potentiate the development of tumors, such as tobacco carcinogens,” Reisman said.

More people die of lung cancer every year than of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate or lymphoma combined, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, only 10 percent of smokers develop lung cancer and as many as 15 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.

Reisman’s work suggests the presence of two variations within the BRM gene — known as polymorphisms — could potentially be biomarkers for lung cancer and assist doctors in identifying individuals at higher risk, which could lead to more cost-effective screening practices and lifesaving early detection.

Study investigators sequenced the genes of 160 people and learned that roughly 20 percent carry the gene variants. With collaborator Geoffrey Liu, M.D., a research scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute at the University of Toronto,
the team then verified the presence of the silenced BRM variants in human lung tumors.

Reisman and Lui also conducted case control studies on 1,199 people who were
matched for age, gender and smoking history but in whom 484 individuals had lung cancer and 715 were healthy and cancer free.

“We found these polymorphic sites were greatly enriched in the population that had developed lung cancer,” Reisman said. “The chance that you would develop lung cancer if you had both polymorphic sites was 220 percent higher. Our analysis demonstrated those odds to be independent of smoking history, sex, race and cancer type.”

Reisman’s team also studied whether it would be possible to restore the normal expression of the BRM protein. Certain compounds, called histone deacetylase — or HDAC — inhibitors, had been demonstrated by other researchers to reactivate the BRM gene, but did not restore the normal, cancer-suppressing function of the BRM protein.

By introducing the healthy protein alongside the reactivated gene, the researchers were able to stop the growth of cancer cells. That makes the process a potential target for drug therapies to use in suppressing many tumor types.

“We know there are a lot of genes that are silenced in cancer, and it’s believed that gene silencing is necessary in order for the cancer to grow and thrive. This research demonstrates — and is really the first example of — an approach that’s led to the reactivation of a specific tumor-suppressing gene,” said Aubrey Thompson, Ph.D., a professor of cancer biology at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Fla., who was not involved in the research.

“That’s a really big deal,” he said. “It’s an approach that is widely applicable to a lot of genes and a lot of different types of cancer. I think it’s going to be met with a great deal of enthusiasm and interest from researchers in human cancer therapy.”

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Hip Hip Hooray!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Today we celebrate an outstanding leader in the field of older adult fitness and take a revealing look at his most recent book-length publication, which is entitled the Healthy Hips Handbook: Exercises for Treating and Preventing Common Hip Joint Injuries. In the book’s introduction, author Karl Knopf states that it "is designed to help prevent a hip problem for some and, for those of you with existing hip problems, provide post-rehabilitation exercises that you and your health-care provider can select to best meet your needs."

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The Healthy Hips Handbook

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA president Janie Clark has this to say about Karl Knopf as an older adult fitness author: "I have always loved Karl’s style because it is so clear, so practical, and so to-the-point. This is very true of his newest contribution, the Healthy Hips Handbook, which I am delighted to recommend for both senior fitness professionals and mature adult laypersons alike."

The book, released in 2010 by Ulysses Press, is a reader-friendly manual that outlines causes and solutions for common hip problems. The publisher notes that millions of people suffer from debilitating hip conditions each year and that Knopf’s book offers easy-to-follow exercises to:

Build strength,

Improve flexibility,

Hasten recovery, and

Avoid future injury.

It also features specially designed programs to help prevent common hip issues and to condition the body for successful participation in everyday activities, as well as in popular sports activities.

The Healthy Hips Handbook begins with an overview and an illustrated discussion of the anatomy and functions of the hip joint. It moves on to describe the symptoms, usual causes, and treatment options regarding a number of prevalent hip-related concerns, including:

  • Groin strain,
  • Bursitis,
  • Snapping hip,
  • Iliotibial band fascitis,
  • Sciatic pain,
  • Hip dislocation,
  • Hip pointers,
  • Osteitis pubis,
  • Degenerative joint disease, and
  • Pelvic girdle fractures.
  • One useful and interesting provision in the manual is its section on self-massage. The author explains that massage can relax a muscle or, in some cases, invigorate it. Often massage will increase blood flow to the area and can release tension, prepare a joint for motion, or provide relief following an exercise/therapy session.

    The physical exercises presented by the handbook are divided into six categories, as follows:

  • Stretches
  • Standing activities,
  • Seated activities,
  • Floor activities,
  • Ball activities, and
  • Sports-ready activities.
  • There are more than 300 excellent step-by-step photographs of the exercises, all of which are accompanied by clear and concise written instructions. The physical exercise recommendations are augmented by helpful discussions of pertinent subjects, such as:

  • Hip replacement,
  • Micro versus macro trauma injuries,
  • Healthy hips lifestyle tips,
  • Healthy hips training tips, and a
  • Proper posture checklist.
  • Dr. Knopf is singularly qualified to provide exercise guidance to older adults and disabled persons. SFA president Janie Clark says, "In addition to his impressive academic credentials and professional achievements, Karl also has life experience that enhances and distinguishes his work." Once a college
    wrestler and triathlete, Dr. Knopf subsequently injured his back while lifting a patient out of a wheelchair. At that point, he adjusted his exercise routine to revolve around swimming and the use of a recumbent bicycle.

    "I learned from this experience what it is like to live with daily pain," he has said, adding with a touch of humor: "I think this makes me a better teacher because I feel worse than most of my students. I also know that if I don’t exercise I’ll feel even worse!" Indeed, he hasn’t let the injury slow him down very much, but has always remained active in every sense of the word.

    Regarding his work with older adult fitness participants, Dr. Knopf told SFA many years ago: "My philosophy is that I like for people to set themselves up to win." This approach shines through in the following short excerpt from the Healthy Hips Handbook. In the author’s own words:

    "It helps to know the areas of the body that are vulnerable to injury. Besides the hips, the knees, neck, low back, shoulders, and ankles are high-risk. Pay special attention when performing exercises that involve these areas, and follow these rules:

  • "Don’t allow your legs to spread too wide or too far forward or back.
  • "Always perform exercises with proper execution.
  • "Don’t neglect the small supporting actors of your hip joint (most of us focus on the ‘show’ muscles and forget the importance of these smaller muscles).
  • "Pay attention to how your head, upper back, and legs are positioned during activities of daily living and in the workplace."
  • The Healthy Hips Handbook contains 135 pages and retails for $14.95. Retail orders are shipped free of charge. California residents must include sales tax. For further information or to order the book, here’s how to contact the publisher:

  • Call 800-377-2542 or 510-601-8301,
  • Fax 510-601-8307,
  • Email ulysses@ulyssespress.com, or
  • Write to Ulysses Press, P.O. Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703.
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    Progress on the Cancer Front

    Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Senior health-fitness professionals routinely work with older adults for whom breakthroughs in cancer research may be of vital interest. Therefore, we are pleased to present the following news releases on advances in breast, colon, and lung cancer treatments describing important new initiatives under way at a major US health science center.

    Located in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida (UF) Health Science Center — the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast — is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care, and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville, Florida, offering graduate education programs. Patient care activities, under the banner of UF & Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental, and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals and affiliations with numerous community-based health-care facilities.

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    News on Breast Cancer

    Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    With the snip of scissors during a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the University of Florida Cancer & Genetics Research Complex, a new era in the treatment of breast cancer in Florida began.

    The ceremony debued the Intrabeam system at Shands at UF medical center, an intraoperative radiation technology available at fewer than 20 treatment centers nationwide and the only Intrabeam system in the state of Florida. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a breast cancer survivor and ardent advocate for women with breast cancer, helped cut the orange, blue and pink ribbon.

    The great benefit of Intrabeam irradiation for patients is that it reduces or even eliminates the need for weeks of external radiation treatment following surgery for early stage breast cancers.

    “The Intrabeam will dramatically shorten the duration of radiation treatment for many of our patients,” sai Stephen Grobmyer, M.D., a UF associate professor of surgery and director of the UF Breast Center. “Radiation therapy that would normally require three to six weeks of treatments can now be accomplished in 20 to 25 minutes during the surgery.”

    Twenty years in the making, the Intrabeam system is a mobile irradiation device that can be used in the operating room to deliver precise doses of radiation directly to the tumor site. Because it uses low energy X-rays to deliver the radiation dose, it does not require a specialized, shielded room, as do standard, high-powered radiation technologies. Radiation using Intrabeam is delivered from a rod with a spherical tip, which is placed in the cavity left in the breast tissue following removal of the tumor. The tumor bed is then irradiated for a period of 20 to 30 minutes while the patient is under general anesthesia.

    The FDA-approved Intrabeam procedure, known as targeted intraoperative radiotherapy, was shown as effective as whole breast radiotherapy but with fewer complications in a clinical trial known as TARGIT-A, launched in 2000.

    “The TARGIT-A trial, which is a randomization of standard radiation compared to a one-time dose in the operative theater using Intrabeam, has demonstrated, after four years follow up, that the two are equivalent in their ability to prevent the breast cancer from coming back in the breast,” said Michael Alvarado, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at the University of California at San Francisco and TARGIT-A investigator. “Not only is the one-time dose of radiation using Intrabeam just as effective as a full course of external radiation, it is more convenient for the patient and there is less risk involved in terms of damage to the heart, the lungs and the skin.”

    Studies have shown that 70 percent of women with invasive breast cancer require radiation therapy to destroy remaining cancer cells. Grobmyer, who is a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center, estimates the majority of patients undergoing lumpectomy, a breast conserving surgery that removes the tumor but leaves healthy breast tissue intact, would be potential candidates for treatment with Intrabeam. With the Intrabeam technology, Grobmyer said many lumpectomy patients at the UF Breast Center will now complete their entire course of radiation during surgery, eliminating the need to undergo weeks of external radiation treatments.

    “Studies suggest that the farther a woman lives from a treatment facility, the less likely she will be to receive radiation treatments,” Grobmyer said. “Some women will choose to have a mastectomy rather than breast conserving surgery because they aren’t able to commit to three to six weeks of radiation treatments, either because of physical disability or because they live too far away from the treatment facility. Intrabeam now makes lumpectomy a more viable option for many of these patients.”

    While Intrabeam irradiation has been shown to be just as effective as external radiation therapy in preventing the recurrence of cancer at the tumor site, it may have an added cancer killing effect that external radiation can’t offer.

    “Surgeons expect most, if not all, of the tumor can be removed, but in some cases microscopic parts of the tumor may remain within the tumor bed or attached to structures such as arteries or nerves that cannot be removed. Even under the best conditions, too often residual disease near the margin of the tumor resection remains,” said Paul Okunieff, M.D., chair of the UF department of radiation oncology and director of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “Historically, we would offer radiation after the patient has had time to heal from surgery, but with the Intrabeam system, with little to no added toxicity, radiation can be immediately delivered to the exactly correct location. Any remaining tumor cells are sterilized and have no time to regrow.”

    Okunieff said the Intrabeam system has been proven to be effective in the treatment of brain and breast tumors, and it holds promise for the treatment of many other cancer types where the tumor may be attached to sensitive tissues that cannot be removed, such as in the treatment of head and neck, pancreatic and rectal tumors. Okunieff was one of the researchers who participated in the early design and engineering of the Intrabeam device, and he was the first to use it in patients during clinical trials to treat brain tumors.

    A $346,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helped pay for the technology. The grant was intended to broaden treatment options for Floridians, which will be even further expanded by UF’s participation in ongoing clinical trials of the Intrabeam to explore its effectiveness in treating more advanced and aggressive breast cancers.

    “Being involved with studies with Intrabeam is an important part of what we do because it allows us to continually assess and refine the uses of the Intrabeam system,” Grobmyer said. “We’re in the era of personalized cancer therapy, tailored to the type and stage of cancer presented by each patient. The Intrabeam system is an important tool in this effort, and it provides excellent results, reduces side effects, and dramatically shortens the duration of treatment.”

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    News on Colon Cancer

    Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A chemical compound made from a type of bacteria discovered in the Florida Keys by a University of Florida pharmacy researcher has shown effectiveness in fighting colon cancer in preclinical experiments.

    Writing online in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, scientists say the compound — known as largazole because it was first found near Key Largo — inhibits human cancer cell growth in cultures and rodent models by attacking a class of enzymes involved in the packaging and structure of DNA.

    More study is needed, but scientists hope that the discovery will lead to new treatments for the roughly 50,000 people struck with colorectal cancer each year in the United States. Researchers are enthusiastic because in addition to having the marine bacteria as a natural source of the chemical, they have been able to synthetically produce the active chemical compound extracted from the bacteria.

    “It is challenging to develop natural marine products into drug therapies due to what is termed the ‘the supply problem,’” said Hendrik Luesch, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the UF College of Pharmacy. “We have solved the supply problem for largazole because it has a relatively simple structure, which has made it easy to reproduce in the lab.”

    The Luesch lab discovered largazole while investigating samples of bacteria from the Florida Keys, publishing the finding in 2008.

    Known as cyanobacteria, the microbes have evolved to fend off predators or cope with harsh conditions in a marine environment, employing toxins to aid their own survival. The toxins are the compounds chemists such as Luesch wish to isolate and understand in a quest to create drugs that similarly fend off invading cancers in the body.

    Since the discovery, Luesch’s lab determined the compound inhibits enzymes known as histone deacetylases, or HDACs, which are linked to many diseases and are increasingly viewed as promising for cancer therapy.

    Jiyong Hong, Ph.D., an assistant professor of chemistry at Duke University, teamed with the UF researchers to chemically reproduce the compound for further preclinical testing, which indicates it is a potent inhibitor of cancer cells that has the right properties to reach its intended target without the toxic side effects of many cancer drugs.

    “Knowing HDAC is the target that makes largazole effective means we can predict good drug properties because there are already two anticancer products on the market that work this way,” said Luesch, who is a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center.

    Three important aspects make this marine compound more promising than other natural products as an effective cancer-fighting drug, Luesch said — availability of supply, knowing its mode of action and the fact that its cellular target is already a proven anticancer target known to result in the necessary selectivity for cancer cells over normal cells.

    Luesch presented the findings Sept. 9 at the Marine Drug Discovery Symposium in Pohang, South Korea, and in mid-October at the Marine Natural Products Symposium in Phuket, Thailand. The research was featured on the cover of November’s Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

    He completed his initial preclinical studies that demonstrated largazole’s effectiveness in inhibiting the growth of more than one type of colon cancer cell through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding from the National Cancer Institute.

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