April 2011 Archives

After years of failure in the treatment of advanced melanoma, two new drugs have emerged that help patients with one of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat cancers.

The experimental drug PLX4032 targets a specific genetic mutation found in the tumors of about half of all patients.  Ipilimumab,  an antibody that stimulates an immune system attack on melanoma, recently was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of the disease.
Thumbnail image for Gu.Blackburn.JPGLike the plastic tips on shoelaces, telomeres sit at the end of chromosomes, protecting them from unraveling telomeres are protective, preventing harmful damage to DNA on the chromosome and inappropriate fusion with other chromosomes. 

These caps grow shorter over time and as that occurs, they become associated with diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke and some cancers.

Evidence has indicated that there's an inherited factor that helps determine telomere length and that short telomere length is a risk factor for cancer. No one had ever connected the two, until now.

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