Lund University cancer researchers have discovered the path used by exosomes to enter cancer cells

Source: Healthcare

Cancer cells’ communication path blocked

Lund University cancer researchers have discovered the path used by exosomes to enter cancer cells, where they stimulate malignant tumour development. They have also succeeded in blocking the uptake route in experimental model systems, preventing the exosomes from activating cancer cells.

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The Lund University research team has looked at how cancer cells communicate with surrounding cells and how this encourages the development of malignant tumours. The idea is to try and inhibit tumours by disrupting this communication. The focus of their research is ‘exosomes’, small virus-like particles that serve as ‘transport packages’ for genetic material and proteins transmitted between cells.
The importance of exosomes in the tumour microenvironment has been demonstrated within the field in recent years, as it has been shown that tumour development is halted if the production of exosomes inside the cancer cell is stopped.

“However, it is very difficult to achieve this in a clinical situation with patients. A major question in the field recently has therefore been the uptake path into the cell. How do the exosomes get into the recipient cells? That is what our discovery is about”, says Mattias Belting, research group leader and Professor of Clinical Oncology at Lund University.

The Lund researchers’ discovery is the exosomes’ journey from the sender cell to the receiver cell and how the receiver cell captures and internalizes the exosomes. They have also found a way to block the path to uptake in the receiver cell.

“When we block the path into the cell, we also block the functional effects of the exosomes. This means that the entry route now appears to be a very interesting focus point for future cancer treatments”, says Mattias Belting.
In the current study, the Lund researchers have shown that heparan sulfate proteoglycans – proteins with one or several long sugar chains connected to them – serve as receptors of exosomes and carry them into the cell. It is the proteoglycans’ sugar chains, heparan sulfate, that capture the exosomes at the surface of the cell.
“Previous studies have shown that heparan sulfate plays a role in the cells’ uptake of different viruses, such as HIV and the herpes simplex virus. In this way, the mechanism by which exosomes enter cells resembles the spread of viral infections”, says Helena Christianson, doctoral student in Belting’s research team and first author of the study.

Earlier this year, Mattias Belting and his colleagues published an article in PNAS that showed how they had managed to isolate exosomes in a blood sample from brain tumour patients. The analysis suggested that the content of the exosomes closely reflected the properties of the tumour in a unique way.

“Research on exosomes is exciting and relatively new. There is significant potential for exosomes as biomarkers and treatment targets of various cancers as we learn more about them”, says Mattias Belting.

Study:
Cancer cell exosomes depend on cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans for their internalization and functional activity

Authors: Helena C. Christianson, Katrin J. Svensson, Toin H. van Kuppevelt, Jin-Ping Li and Mattias Belting
PNAS

Contact:
Mattias Belting, Professor of Clinical Oncology at Lund University, consultant at Skåne University Hospital
+46 733 507473

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities

Source: NickXenophon

Qantas chairman must step aside pending investigations Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority (UK), the US Department of Justice and the US Securities Exchange Commission, have completed their investigations into the activities of Barclays Plc, at the time Mr Clifford was a director.

Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, has called on Qantas Chairman Leigh Clifford to step aside until overseas authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority (UK), the US Department of Justice and the US Securities Exchange Commission, have completed their investigations into the activities of Barclays Plc, at the time Mr Clifford was a director.

Barclays, and a number of its officers, are being investigated for an ‘advisory fee’ of $500 million that was allegedly paid to facilitate a transaction with Qatar Holding LLC for a £9.2 billion injection of capital in 2008. Mr Clifford was a director of Barclays at the time the alleged payments occurred, as reported in the Australian Financial Review today.

The US investigations are examining whether payments made by Barclays to third parties have breached the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Last year, Qantas non-executive director Corinne Namblard resigned, as a result of a corruption investigation in Italy relating to allegations of bid rigging and document fraud for a company of which she was an officer.

“When Ms Namblard stood down, Mr Clifford said the Qantas board ‘appreciated her sentiments’ that she did not want the media coverage of the Italian investigation to impact on Qantas,” Nick said. “Perhaps Mr Clifford should consider these very comments in light of his own circumstances.”

“Mr Clifford needs to explain to Qantas shareholders what he knew about those ‘advisory payments’ and explain what involvement, if any, he had in authorising them,” Nick said.

“The duties of a director in the UK are as onerous in the UK as they are in Australia,” Nick said. “As a director of Barclays, Mr Clifford should have known about all the payments associated with the Qatar capital raising.”

As reported in the Australian Financial Review, the UK Financial Conduct Authority fined Barclays $84 million just last month for not disclosing the secret fees.

“If the ‘advisory fees’ were above board, why weren’t they disclosed to Barclays shareholders?” Nick asked. “They should have been disclosed as relevant information.”

“The question also needs to be asked if the transaction would have been facilitated if not for these ‘advisory fees’.”

“What did Mr Clifford actually know about this murky deal?”

Mr Clifford is due to face Qantas shareholders at its AGM in Brisbane this Friday.

‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ redux? Ancient golden tablet owned by Holocaust survivor from LI sparks international battle

Source: newsday

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Ostensibly, it’s a run-of-the-mill family dispute over a father’s will.

But the case, listed as Matter of Flamenbaum, Deceased, mixes elements of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with the Holocaust, sibling rivalry, ancient Assyrian history and obscure legal concepts.

The seven judges of New York’s highest court heard arguments in the case Tuesday, trying to make sense of who rightfully owns a credit-card-sized piece of gold that had been missing for decades and now could be worth millions of dollars.

The estate of Holocaust survivor Riven Flamenbaum of Great Neck is appealing an order requiring it to return an ancient gold tablet to the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin.

The 9.5-ounce, inscribed tablet was excavated about 100 years ago by German archaeologists who found it in the foundation of the Ishtar Temple, a ziggurat in the Assyrian city of Ashtur, in what is now northern Iraq. Court documents said the tablet dates to the reign of King Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria (1243-1207 BC), making it more than 3,200 years old. The inscription describes the building of the temple complex.

It was put on display in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin in 1934. But when the museum’s artifacts were inventoried in 1945, at the end of World War II, the tablet was missing.

Flamenbaum died in 2003; in 2006, amid a dispute about the estate, his son, Israel Flamenbaum, informed the museum that the estate had possession of the gold tablet. The museum filed suit to regain possession and the case has been in court since.

A lower court found for the estate, but a midlevel court overturned it, ruling for the museum. The Court of Appeals typically takes four to six weeks to decide a case.

Hannah Flamenbaum, one of Riven’s daughters and the executor of the estate, said her father, an Auschwitz survivor, traded Red Cross packages for silver and gold pieces with Russian soldiers at the end of the war.

“It was either for two packs of cigarettes or a piece of salami,” Hannah Flamenbaum said outside the courtroom Tuesday, repeating what she called the family lore. “My father, in his nature, probably traded for it. He was a peddler.”

Riven Flamenbaum, a native of Poland, moved to New York around 1949 and ran a liquor store. He kept what he called his “coin collection” either on a mantel or in a little red wallet. Hannah said he brought the tablet to Christie’s, the famed auction house, in 1954, but they told him he had a forgery. She said they never thought much about it until Riven died at age 92. Israel Flamenbaum filed objections to Hannah’s accounting of the estate and notified the Berlin museum about the tablet, according to court documents.

Hannah and a sister maintain that the museum’s claim on the artifact is barred by a legal doctrine known as laches. Plainly stated, it means that the museum gave up its claim to the tablet because it “failed to exercise reasonable diligence to locate” it for more than six decades.

Steven Schlesinger, the lawyer representing the estate, said any claim by the museum is complicated by the passage of so much time and Riven Flamenbaum’s death. Schlesinger said the tablet, which is being held in a safe-deposit box, has been said to be worth $10 million, but no one knows the true value.

Raymond Dowd, attorney for the museum, countered that until Vorderasiatisches received Israel Flamenbaum’s letter, it had no idea of the tablet’s whereabouts.”Did the museum have an obligation to seek it out,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman asked.

“No,” Dowd replied.

“Is it really fair for your client to sit around 60 years and wait until [Riven Flamenbaum] is dead, and then come in and sue?” Judge Robert Smith probed at another point.

Dowd said many scholars had written about the missing piece, so it was known in the research world.

“Obviously, Israel Flamenbaum knew about it,” Dowd said. “He wrote the museum and said item VA994 is in my family’s possession.

An international group of scientists from Australia and Canada are getting closer to a new treatment for prostate cancer

Source: ACRF

Cancer researchers find prostate cancer “Achilles Heel” and move closer to a new treatment.

An international group of scientists from Australia and Canada are getting closer to a new treatment for prostate cancer that works by starving tumours of an essential nutrient.

Dr Jeff Holst from Sydney’s Centenary Institute, and his colleagues from Adelaide, Brisbane and Vancouver have shown they can slow the growth of prostate cancer by stopping the protein ‘leucine’ from being pumped into tumour cells.

Leucine is involved in cell division and making proteins. It ‘feeds’ cell growth by being pumped through ‘protein pumps’ on the surface of our cells.

In 2011, Dr Holst and his colleagues showed that prostate cancer cells have more ‘protein pumps’ on their surface compared with normal cells. These pumps are allowing the cancer cell to take in more leucine, thereby stimulating overactive cell division.

In a follow-up study, recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr Holst and his team were able to successfully block the leucine pumps with targeted chemical compounds. As a result, they inhibited the activity of more than 100 genes which contribute to prostate cancer growth and spread.

“There are currently no drugs that target these leucine nutrient pumps, but we are working on that.” Said Dr Holst.

“We are confident we will have new compounds available for testing in the clinic in the next few years.”

Interestingly, our bodies can’t make leucine. It is an essential nutrient which comes from our diet and is transported into cells by these specialised protein pumps.

Dr Holst said, “A lot of cancers, such as prostate cancer, are actually western diseases. Really there are very low incidence rates in Asia and Africa. But when Asian or African men migrate to the US, studies have shown that they get prostate cancer at the same rate as the Caucasian American population.”

“Western diets, high in red meat and dairy products, are correlated with prostate cancer. Interestingly these foods are also high in leucine. So we are looking at how changing diet affects how cancer cells grow—and we can now investigate this impact right down to the genetic and molecular level.”

Dr Holst and his team have suggested that other solid cancers, such as melanoma and breast cancer may well be amenable to the same approach.

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Discovery of a lifetime: giant 5-metre, serpent-like oarfish found by snorkeller

Source: SMH

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The silvery fish was found in the waters of Toyon Bay. The oarfish is the longest bony fish in the ocean. Photo: AP

A marine science instructor snorkelling off the southern California coast spotted something out of a fantasy novel: the silvery carcass of an 18-foot-long (five metre), serpent-like oarfish.

Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute needed more than 15 helpers to drag the giant sea creature with eyes the size of half dollars to shore on Sunday.

Staffers at the institute are calling it the discovery of a lifetime.

“We’ve never seen a fish this big,” said Mark Waddington, senior captain of the Tole Mour, CIMI’s sail training ship. “The last oarfish we saw was three feet (90 centimetres) long.”

Because oarfish dive more than 3000 feet deep (914 metres), sightings of the creatures are rare and they are largely unstudied, according to CIMI.

The obscure fish apparently died of natural causes. Tissue samples and video footage were sent to be studied by biologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Santana spotted something shimmering about 30 feet deep (nine metres) while snorkelling during a staff trip in Toyon Bay at Santa Catalina Island, about two dozen miles from the mainland.

“She said, ‘I have to drag this thing out of here or nobody will believe me,'” Waddington said.

After she dragged the carcass by the tail for more than 75 feet (23 metres), staffers waded in and helped her bring it to shore.

The carcass was on display on Tuesday for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students studying at CIMI. It will be buried in the sand until it decomposes and then its skeleton will be reconstituted for display, Waddington said.

The oarfish, which can grow to more than 50 feet (15 metres), is a deep-water pelagic fish — the longest bony fish in the world, according to CIMI.
They are likely responsible for sea serpent legends throughout history.

Rogue kangarooo on the hop at Melbourne Airport

Source: News

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A rogue kangaroo has hopped into a chemist at Melbourne Airport.

The bizarre customer was discovered in the domestic terminal – much to the amusement of travellers.

Police are on site.

It is not the first time airport staff have been caught off guard by a wayward kangaroo.

One sneaked into the multi-storey car park of the airport in January this year. A similar incident occurred in October last year.

More to come.

Charities are turning away more than 10,000 people seeking food parcels and free meals every month in NSW

Source: SMH

Charities are turning away more than 10,000 people seeking food parcels and free meals every month in NSW – nearly half the hungry mouths being children – because of depleted food stocks, a national report shows.

Foodbank, Australia’s largest food relief charity, released its End Hunger report on Wednesday, which revealed demand for food rose 8 per cent in the past year. Eighty-five per cent of charities said they had insufficient food to meet requirements. Among people who obtained food assistance, three-quarters did not receive all they required and remained hungry.

Foodbank, which rescues blemished fruit and vegetables, food in damaged packaging and products from discontinued lines, supplied 556 charities across the state in the past year. Each month it helped charities serve 670,000 nutritious meals to 80,000 people in need.

Doing better: Cameron Morgan has relied on the Salvation Army’s Surry Hills “supermarket” to fill his pantry and fridge. Photo: Ben Rushton
Chief executive of Foodbank NSW Gerry Andersen believes they can close the gap by building a larger warehouse which requires a one-off $2 million grant from the federal government.

”To end hunger in Australia, Foodbank has a national target to distribute 50 million kilograms of food in Australia by 2020. This year we sent 26 million kilograms,” he said. ”It’s an achievable target.”

He said more efficient supply chains made sourcing surplus food harder in recent years, forcing Foodbank to create new methods. Its new collaborative scheme to boost supplies of food with long shelf life such as pasta and rice requires farmers and other labourers to donate their time, and companies to donate equipment, packaging and transport.

The report, with results analysed by Deloitte Access Economics, revealed the types of people requiring food relief shifted from the homeless and those with mental health issues, to low-income and single-parent families.
”The situations for many people are quite dire. There’s housing affordability issues, but for those on government income support like Newstart, there’s just been no movement in that allowance for years and years,” said the Salvation Army’s social director, Major Paul Moulds. ”They are falling further behind.”

Melody Pascoe, a welfare worker at the Salvation Army, said a third of her clients now comprised single parents – shifted to the Newstart allowance under government changes – who could barely cover basic living costs. ”We give them vouchers they can spend at our supermarket here, so they don’t have to worry about food costs and focus on the other bills,” she said, referring to the charity’s in-house mini supermarket in Surry Hills stocked with goods such as $1 cereal boxes and $1 soup mix bags supplied by Foodbank.

Cameron Morgan, 49, who lives in public housing in Waterloo, has relied on the Salvation Army’s supermarket for five years to fill up his fridge and pantry, after surviving a period of crisis where he regularly sacrificed eating food.
Each week Mr Morgan, who has a disability, stocks up on cut-price bread, biscuits, peanut butter and diet soda that are covered by his monthly welfare payment. ”I’m doing much better now. The food is very good, it’s wonderful.”