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Scientists discover potential approaches to enhance existing cancer therapies

Scientists today reported exciting discoveries to optimize existing cancer treatments. One set of studies demonstrated that the cell-killing effects of either radiation or standard chemotherapy drugs were enhanced when tumor cells such as melanoma were grown in dishes containing PABA, an ingredient in some sunscreens. In a separate study, researchers presented an advanced imaging technique that may help physicians select which recurrent breast cancer patients are most likely to respond to hormonal therapy. The studies were presented today at the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics organized by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), National Cancer Institute (NCI) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) in Boston.

In vitro and in vivo radiosensitization by p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Abstract 1005

A research team from New York University School of Medicine analyzed the effects of PABA and radiation alone and together on several cancer cell lines grown in laboratory dishes, as well as on implanted tumors in mice and chick embryos. In each of the experiments, they discovered that when PABA and radiation were administered together, tumor growth was substantially reduced compared to treatment with either radiation or PABA alone. In another set of experiments, they evaluated the ability of PABA to improve the effects of certain chemotherapy drugs. Again, the addition of PABA significantly improved the anti-tumor effects of drugs such as Taxol.

"These early findings suggest that PABA may optimize current cancer treatments by making tumor cells more vulnerable to certain chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation," says Peter Brooks, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology and cell biology at NYU School of Medicine, who presented the results today. "We will continue to assess the cellular basis for PABA's effects."

Although it isn't yet clear how PABA
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Contact: Warren Froelich
froelich@aacr.org
215-440-9300
American Association for Cancer Research
19-Nov-2003


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