January 2017 - Life Credit Company

Viruses May Offer Assistance for Cancer Patients

Many of us were taught from an early age how important it is to avoid viruses — lots of hand washing! However, a new method could offer assistance for cancer patients who are being introduced to viruses in an effort to promote their health. The Institute for Cancer Research in London has unveiled a new approach to cancer treatment that involves injecting specialized viruses directly into the bloodstreams of cancer patients. The virus activates the patient’s immune system and is followed up with an immunotherapy drug; the virus and drug work in tandem to energize the immune system to attack cancer cells. The virus approach is also being used alongside radiotherapy to enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer. Another beneficial byproduct of the virus method, researchers say, is that it can counteract the weakening of the immune system by steroids found in most cancer-fighting treatments. Like many efforts to offer innovative assistance for cancer patients, the approach still must meet layers of regulations before it can be incorporated into common cancer treatments. So far, the only method that has gotten full approval is one in which the virus is injected into a tumor, not into a patient’s bloodstream — an approach that isn’t effective if the cancer has spread. To support the effort to advance this potentially life-saving treatment, the Institute for Cancer Research launched Stand Up To Cancer, which has raised more than $25 million in the last four years. “We hope that our approach of adapting and then injecting the body with immune-activating viruses that seek out and target the cancer could bring effective immunotherapies to...

Struggle in Financial Resources for Cancer Patients Can Impact Treatment

We’ve all likely felt the scourge of financial stress. Money worries can impact our mental and emotional health and, according to new research, can also affect our physical health. What the research says  Researchers in Italy found a direct link between financial burden and worsening physical health among cancer patients. The National Cancer Institute surveyed more than 3,500 patients suffering from lung, breast or ovarian cancer on an array of issues, including financial struggles relating to their disease. More than a quarter of the patients reported a financial burden, and they were about 30-percent more likely than those without financial stress to have a poor quality of life. When a patient’s financial situation worsened on follow-up surveys — a trend researchers termed “financial toxicity” and which occurred in nearly a quarter of participants — patients faced a 20-percent-greater risk of death. Though the study was limited to Italy, researchers said the results mirror similar data from the United Stats and other countries. Among the big takeaways from the study was the importance of the development of financial resources for cancer patients.  Creating financial resources for cancer patients  There are many reasons financial struggles can impact a patient’s health. Stress has been proven to negatively impact health, so worrying about making ends meet with medical bills can itself cause a patient to go downhill. Patients who lack financial resources may also not be connected to the best possible care or could face difficulty keeping up with treatments or medications because of cost, which too can be a detriment. Dr. Francesco Perrone said that, apart from monitoring their patients’ physical health,...

Could DNA Provide Help for Cancer Patients?

In recent years, DNA — the material that makes each of us tick — has increasingly been studied to reveal everything from ancestry to our risk for certain medical conditions. Now, scientists are exploring our genetic makeup in their quest for innovative ways to develop help for cancer patients. When cancer cells attack our bodies, they do so in part through an enzyme called polymerase, which can help the cells survive DNA damage. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland have proposed a new cancer treatment using a combination of the drugs talazoparib and 5-azacytidine, which together attack the enzyme and prevent cancer cells from flourishing. According to their study, tumors in mice who were given the drug combo were half the size of those in mice that received just one of the two drugs. The therapy also had similar effects in preventing the spread of leukemia. Researchers are forging ahead to make this new help for cancer patients a reality; talazoparib hasn’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration but but a similar drug targeting breast- and ovarian-cancer DNA enzymes is quickly moving forward. Drug therapy isn’t the only area where DNA is being explored. The National Institutes of Health is in the midst of recruiting 1 million Americans to participate in a comprehensive, pioneering study about the role of genetics and life style in health. The effort is part of the federal government’s “precision medicine” plan, which refers to tailoring medical treatments according to a person’s genetic makeup, with a special focus on cancer treatment. White House Office of Science and Technology Police associate...