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Archive - Nov 23, 2012

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Progress in Worldwide Study of New Drug Combination for Pancreatic Cancer

A new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to those receiving standard treatment, according to results of a Phase III clinical trial led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Physicians at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare were first to design a clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) in combination with the standard drug gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Results of that multicenter study chaired by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff were encouraging enough that it led to one of the largest international studies ever done in pancreatic cancer, with 861 patients. Full results are expected to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium January 24-26, 2013 in San Francisco. "This is a great example of rapid bench-to-bedside development of new treatments for cancer. We're ecstatic that we will have a new treatment for patients with late stage pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Von Hoff, international lead investigator and Chief Scientific Officer for the Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen's Physician-in-Chief. The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars. Advanced pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is a difficult to diagnose and treat cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types.

How the Black Dahlia Gets Its Distinctive Color

The molecular mechanisms whereby a spectrum of dahlias, from white to yellow to red to purple, get their color are already well known, but the black dahliahas hitherto remained a mystery. Now, a study published November 23, 2012 in BioMed Central's open-access journal BMC Plant Biology reveals for the first time that the distinctive black-red coloring is based on an increased accumulation of anthocyanins as a result of drastically reduced concentrations of flavones. Dahlia variabilis hort. is a popular garden flower. Continuous dahlia breeding worldwide has led to the availability of a huge number of cultivars – 20,000 varieties – many of them showing red hues. However, black hues of dahlia flowers occur rarely, in comparison. Flower color in dahlias is exclusively based on the accumulation of a group of metabolites called flavonoids, for example anthocyanins, flavones, and flavonols. It's known that red tones arise from anthocyanins, whilst white and yellow tones lack anthocyanins but contain large amounts of flavones and chalcones respectively. Flavones and flavonoids are colorless, but they influence flower coloration by acting as co-pigments, interacting with anthocyanins to stabilize their structures. It is assumed that flavones rather than flavonols are the predominant co-pigments present in dahlias because all cultivars show high flavone synthase II (FNS) enzyme activity and low flavonol synthase activity. To examine the biochemical basis for the distinctive dark coloring of the black dahlia, the research team from the Vienna University of Technology in Austria used pigment, enzyme, and gene expression analyses. They determined that the majority of black cultivars have very low concentrations of flavones, as confirmed by low FNS II expression.