Spotlight on research

Spotlight on research

Battling blood cancer

A new treatment regimen can help some patients who have blood cancer to live disease-free longer, UF researchers and colleagues have found. Low doses of a drug called lenalidomide can help hold off the return of multiple myeloma after bone marrow transplantation. Patients who took the drug to maintain health also lived longer than those who did not take the drug. “In choosing maintenance therapy we look at a few things,” said study co-author Jan S. Moreb, M.D., clinical director of hematologic malignancies in the UF College of Medicine and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “One is quality of life, the other is, does it prolong remission? And the bottom line is, do patients have longer survival? — this drug fits the bill.” The findings were published May 10 in The New England Journal of Medicine. Two other international trials in the same issue of the journal also support lenalidomide use for maximizing the duration of cancer remission. — Czerne M. Reid

Bacteria vs. colon cancer

A mutant form of a meek microbe deals a gutsy blow to colon cancer, UF scientists have discovered. Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that the special bacteria halted abnormal inflammation, reduced precancerous growths and reversed progression of severe cancerous lesions in the large intestines of mice. Uncontrolled inflammation in the large intestine can result in various diseases, including colon cancer and inflammatory bowel diseases. Led by Mansour Mohamadzadeh, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the new study focused on understanding how to curb immune system processes in the gut that lead to harmful inflammation. Resulting treatments could work not just for diseases of the digestive tract, but also for other conditions such as diabetes and Sjögrens syndrome, in which inflammation plays a major role. — Lindy Brounley

Diabetes, in reverse

UF Type 1 diabetes experts Brian Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., and Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., teamed with colleagues at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., to devise a new combination therapy that reverses established Type 1 diabetes in mice. The findings, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, set the stage for the development of a new human therapy for Type 1 diabetes that is effective over the long term. The two-step regimen involves bone marrow transplantation and substances that promote the growth of cells that produce insulin, the sugar-regulating hormone that is missing in people who have Type 1 diabetes. The research team also demonstrated that insulin-producing cells can come from other types of cells altogether. — Czerne M. Reid