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  The Magnesium Project - Forms of Cancer

Processes and Diseases of Cell Growth

Cancer describes a situation in which the normal processes of cell growth, multiplication and differentiation have gone awry. In recent years it has also come to be understood that the normal cell cycle includes a process to bring about cell death (apoptosis).  We have further learned that tissue / tumor growth is generally accompanied by growth in supporting tissues such as development of blood vessels (angiogenesis) that provide the necessary nutrients and oxygen to sustain the new cells. We also understand that most cells respond to certain so-called growth hormones such as the estrogens. Thus, there are a number of different areas of active research seeking ways to control the growth of cancer cells. The spread of cancer (metastasis) beyond the original tissue is another area of active research.

The major approaches to curing cancer have been directed to ways of killing the cancer cells.  Unfortunately, the ways most frequently used are ways to destroy cells in general - cancer and normal alike.  Under this approach fall radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.  Classic examples of the side effects of these methods are hair loss, compromised immune system and disturbed gastro-intestinal functions.  These are the areas in which there is high growth and turnover of normal cells.  

While there are many types of cancer, they generally have common features and common treatments as outlined above. IPRS has chosen to focus on one type of cancer to look for innovative ways to further the research and to help the patient in the meantime with treatment choices.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is characteristic of most types of cancer in that it is multi-focal.  There may be a number of genes involved and many different proteins and regulatory pathways involved.  Included are apoptosis, angiogenesis, metastasis and other disruptions in the normal cell cycle. 

There are a number of studies that have shown that Mg is an important factor in a number of cancers.  This is not surprising since many of the biochemical pathways that become high jacked by the cancer cell are dependent upon enzymes and reactions that are Mg activated.  Foremost among these are the various kinases.  For more details see webpage on Prostate Cancer.

See below for two IPRS initiatives on Prostate Cancer.

IPRS Initiative in Developing a Guide to Decision Making in
Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

The typical person who has just been diagnosed with cancer is faced with many treatment options ranging from doing nothing (watchful waiting or surveillance) to having radical surgery with many choices in between these two extremes.  Often the choices that are made are dependent upon which specialist they are directed to whether it be an oncological surgeon or physician, a radiology specialists or an advocate of chemotherapy.  The benefits of each may be skewed depending upon one's personal preferences and experience and the risks of each may be minimized.  If the patient talks to friends and neighbors, other health care providers and searches the Internet, they can become even more confused about which options are best for them.  There is a need for a tool that provides a framework for decision making and risk assessment that is not biased by a particular specialty's point of view.

The decision flow charts that would be appropriate for a person recently diagnosed with prostate cancer are available here: Decision Options.

IPRS Initiative in Developing a Primer on Prostate Cancer Research

Every year there are hundreds of scientific review panels called together by major cancer funding agencies (both governmental and private non-profits) with the purpose of reviewing thousands of proposals each claiming to be important in finding a cure and treatment for cancer.  Billions of dollars are at stake as scientists and clinicians seek support for their favorite research program.  Some agencies (notably CDMRP administered by the U.S. Army) spend considerable time and resources in developing strategic plans and setting funding priorities based upon collective inputs from the scientific and user community.  Others however too often have little resources and receive guidance from a small set of “scientific advisors” with the result that research gets funded that is based more on who has an inside track or who has the appropriate affiliation and less on the potential impact or value towards furthering our knowledge of cancer biology and toward the development of innovative means to alleviate suffering and death.

Even in programs that spend considerable effort in seeking innovative and high impact research topics, there is the problem of then finding sufficient number of reviewers who have the breadth of understanding of the whole field to conduct meaningful evaluations of specific proposals.  Most researchers have their own narrow fields of expertise and narrow circle of contacts as to who are the best people with the best available resources to most likely meet the research objectives proposed.

While there is often great care in selecting panel members to review a given set of proposals, the persons with the most expertise often have conflicts of interests (they are collaborators or colleagues with the principal investigator for example).  Or, the persons most able to judge the merits of a proposal are unavailable or uninterested in taking time to review proposals.  Thus review panels may be comprised of persons who are not as familiar with the methodology, the area of research, the state of the art, the literature or the institution’s or investigator’s reputation.

There is therefore a need to provide training to the reviewers of technical proposals.  This training is different from the training often provided regarding the scoring criteria and processes.  The training that is needed and lacking should provide some basic information including a glossary of terms, to make it easy to understand what is being proposed.  Beyond this would be an overview of the state of the art and understanding of current views of causes and treatments of the disease.  This would include an overview of detection and diagnostic tools, biomarkers, methodologies, treatment options and maintenance and after-care.  It would also include a high level overview of study methodologies including statistical analysis, design of experiments and determining levels of confidence in outcomes.  It might also include a discussion of tools ranging from the molecular level, in silico, in vitro, in vivo, animal models and clinical protocols.

See Glossary of terms in cancer research.

Bibliography for Cancer Research - Available to donors by request.

Breast Cancer

There are a number of similarities between prostate cancer and breast cancer.  They are both cancers of  glandular tissues.  They both have a strong inherited aspect and they both take a significant toll on the population. There are common areas of overlap between treatments and root causes.  For more details see the following web page on Breast Cancer.



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