Category Archives: Health & Lifestyle


An Antidote to Aging


I recently read an article touching on the subject of coffee being the latest antidote to aging, written by Alice Park and appearing in the Time publication. Other articles are reflecting some similar details but this one delved more fully into the issue.

They are finding growing evidence that the daily jolt of java might be a health habit, because of its ability to keep heart vessels clear and lower the risk of Type 3 diabetes.  It is also known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants. Well, now coffee appears to help combat “aging”!

A new study was conducted that focused on the cells of coffee drinkers and those who were non-coffee drinkers.  It was found that the older people who consumed more caffeine tended to have lower levels of inflammation, which is a culprit behind a number of chronic diseases associated with aging that includes certain cancers, joint disorders and even Alzheimer’s.  The individuals who drank five or more cups of coffee a day showed very low levels of inflammatory factors in their blood. After studying their gene activity, the scientists found that genes linked to inflammation were less active than the same genes in people who didn’t drink as much.

Caffeine turns off the pathway to inflammation nearly altogether.  When combatting cellular aging, that’s especially beneficial because inflammation isn’t regulated as well as it is in a younger body.  In aging, something is breaking down, and we are less effective at managing this inflammation, according to Mark Davis, director of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at Stanford University and one of the study’s primary authors. At that time caffeine seems to undo some of the disruption caused by aging.

The researchers believe the key will be to figure out when the inflammatory response starts to spiral out of control.  Then they may be able to get ahead of it sans coffee. They are also currently conducting another study that may help by hoping to analyze the immune systems of 1,000 people.  A reference range of inflammation at various life stages could tell people their risk of developing chronic conditions and then they might consider adding or keeping up with their coffee habit.

But, that second cup of java certainly can’t hurt now. That seems to be the number one trick to revving the embolism and getting us going in the morning. Now you can enjoy that cup (or two) of coffee without any more guilt! But please, no more than two cups. And oh, did I mention you should leave out the sugar? Try Stevia instead.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Body Scan Meditation & Cancer


Many people turn to stress-reduction techniques like relaxation breathing, guided imagery, meditation, aromatherapy and the body scan meditation practice, because having to deal with cancer is so stressful. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and body scan meditation is recommended to be done together by therapists, wellness counselors and stress reduction teachers to help keep muscle tension low, minimize pain signaling, decrease worry and alleviate some fatigue.  However, this may not be the right stress-reduction method for everyone.

Body scan meditation involves the person lying flat on the floor on their back and in a quiet space.  While closing your eyes you focus on breathing in a slow, steady fashion with the voice of a therapist or teacher guiding your attention to parts of your body from your head to your toes.  When you are directed to tighten the muscles of your face and with an exhale of breath slowly releasing the tension, it is the PMR part that comes into the therapy. You would then tighten the shoulder muscles, bring your shoulders to your ears, exhale your breath, and then release the tension.  You will continue this until reaching the muscles of your feet, curling up your toes, then releasing the tension with an exhale of breath. Progressively tightening and releasing the muscle groups while breathing in a controlled fashion is the goal so that your whole body can become fully relaxed.  This is sometimes called fully relaxing into the ground and is to feel comforting to your body and mind.

woman_lying_downIf this works for you it’s great, but some people with a cancer diagnosis may find the body scan meditation actually worsens their anxiety.  Stress from cancer originates with the body and by turning your attention to the body, your mind may hyper-focus on every single ache, twinge, tingle or other type of pain.  When this happens, the mind may get trapped into thinking about everything that is wrong with the body and may increase worry about where the cancer cells currently are, or if the cancer will come back to one body part or another.  Having a quiet room might actually magnify the worry about cancer because there are no distractions from thinking about your body that either has, or used to have, cancer.

It is possible to make this relaxation technique of body scan and progressive muscle relaxation work even while dealing with cancer by actively thinking about what is working in your body.  If you can take in a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth, pull your shoulders down out of your ears, stretch your neck and make circles with your wrists and ankles while exhaling to release the tension in the joints, your body might still be able to use this technique.  Things that your body is still able to do while reminding yourself of that regularly, may be helpful for your mental well-being.

Walking practice, if you are able, is another way to enjoy the relaxation benefits of body scan meditation or PMR.  Take advantage of the wind, birds, trees, grass and squirrels while taking a walk to distract your mind from cancer thoughts.  Just moving the body is a distraction, so pay attention to it from head to toe and think about walking tall with good posture. Notice the movements of your arms and feet as they make contact with the ground.  Breathe slowly with purposeful inhales through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

Stress is not easy to manage when you have cancer and it may take multiple activities to get the benefits you are reaching for.  Just feeling a little less stressed is something worth working for, especially when dealing with cancer.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Statins & Diabetes


Most older women are prescribed statins that have high levels of blood cholesterol, but the effects of the drug have not been well-studied in this group as it seems was done in other groups.  There is currently a new study from Australia that find older women taking statins to lower cholesterol may have a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes. This research was conducted by a team at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, Australia and is published in the journal Drugs & Aging.

More than 8,000 women aged 75 and over and taking statins had a 33% higher chance of being diagnosed with new-onset diabetes in the study.  Dr. Mark Jones, the lead author of the UQ School of Public Health says that statins are highly prescribed for this age group and there are few clinical trials studying how they actually affect these older women.  The majority of research is on 40 to 70 year old men and not the women.

This class of drug is designed to lower blood cholesterol, which is mostly made in the liver.  By reducing liver production of cholesterol is also helps the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood.  The body does need cholesterol, but if there is too much of it in the blood it can lead to a buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries that is a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. These are the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States.

To reduce or prevent unhealthy cholesterol levels we should start with changing our diet and increasing physical activity.  Dietary and lifestyle changes may be enough to keep some people’s cholesterol levels in check, but medication may be needed for others, especially if they have other risk factors for heart disease.  Several medications to lower cholesterol in the blood are available, but the ones most recommended as a cholesterol lowering drug linked to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke are the statins.

There was a 10-fold increase in statin use by people aged 45 and over in the U.S. from 1988-1994 to 2005-2008.  There was also a corresponding drop in people with high cholesterol over this period, which may or may not be due to increased use of statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.  In a 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it concludes that fewer than half of people in the U.S. that are eligible to take cholesterol-lowering medications, are actually taking them.

Dr. Jones and his colleagues analyzed data on 8,372 women born between 1921 and 1926 who took part in regular surveys as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.  They were free of diabetes at the start of 2003 and the team assessed statin exposure based on prescriptions dispensed between 2002 and 2013. Upon following 10 years, the team found that 49% of the women had filled prescriptions for statins and 5% had begun treatment for new-onset diabetes.  

It was revealed through statistical analysis that statin exposure was linked to a 33% higher risk of developing diabetes.  Up to 51% risk increase was shown for the highest dose of statin usage.

The team was most concerned to find this dose-response effect between statin use and risk of diabetes, as over the 10 years of study most of the women progressed to higher doses of statins.  Doctors and their elderly female patients should be aware of these findings and Dr. Jones urges those elderly women taking statins to be carefully and regularly monitored for increased blood glucose to ensure early detection and management of diabetes.  

Dr Fredda Branyon


Alcohol, Caffeine & A-fib!

Alcohol, Caffeine

And exactly how do alcohol and caffeine affect someone with A-fib?  Danielle Dresden published an article that was reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, CNE, COI, on this exact subject.  Those suffering from A-fib describe it as feeling like their heart could flop out of their chests while some feel about to pass out.  Still, others feel absolutely nothing at all.

The most common form of heart arrhythmia is called atrial fibrillation (A-fib), or irregular heartbeat that affects 2.7-6.1 million people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Appearing with a variety of symptoms, they do all have the same cause of irregular and rapid beating of the upper chambers of the heart. These episodes can be unsettling and uncomfortable but aren’t usually life-threatening. If untreated though, A-fib can lead to dangerous health conditions.

Those diagnosed with A-fib are about 5X more likely to have a stroke that can lead to permanent disability or death as it can weaken the heart muscles over time, which triples the risk of heart failure.  The risk of dementia also doubles.

Alcohol’s impact on the heart is a subject of ongoing discussion in the medical field.  Researchers believe it can have both positive and negative impacts. A positive with moderate drinking include raising levels of the “good” cholesterol, preventing platelets from forming blood clots and reducing the buildup of plaque in the circulatory system.

Negative effects of alcohol are high blood pressure, heart failure, weight gain leading to high blood pressure and enlarged heart.

Caffeine has many effects on the human body, according to the American Heart Association, but no links have been confirmed between caffeine intake and heart disease.  There is no link found between caffeine and arrhythmia, but reports indicate that drinking more than 5 cups of coffee each day can raise blood pressure. Many health experts believe there is a connection between caffeine, alcohol and A-fib that can trigger an attack.  Researchers are currently investigating the specific causes.

The thought is divided on whether or not people with A-fib can consume alcohol or caffeine safely.  The American Heart Association advises those with A-fib to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine.  A recommended general heart health guideline sets the limits of one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.  One drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 4 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, according to the American Heart Association.  Other risk factors are age, obesity, genetics, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and European ancestry. There is a closer connection between obstructive sleep apnea and A-fib than any other risk factor.  Further potential causes include: certain medical procedures, emotional stress, physical stress, dehydration, sleep, hormones and exercise.

A heart-healthy diet can help those with A-fib, such as eating a variety of fruits, veggies and whole grains, protein sources as legumes, fish and poultry, intake of omega-3 as salmon, herring or trout, reducing sodium, avoiding saturated fats and foods that contain them, limiting oil, avoiding sugary beverages and not smoking and/or being subjected to secondhand smoke. Exercising regularly is essential for a healthy heart function. A very basic level of activity as 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 5 days a week and muscle-strengthening activities twice a week is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Immune System Drugs for Multiple Myeloma


The immune system takes a real hit with multiple myeloma and makes it much harder to fight infections.  For this reason, your immune system is a focus in many of the mainstream treatments for multiple myeloma.  You might want to consult with your doctor to consider the different immune system drugs out there, what they do and how they work. You may also want to speak to an alternative physician to educate yourself on more natural ways to fight cancer.

Biologics are medicines that believed to help your immune system to control your myeloma. These drugs are made from living organisms and some can boost the immune system to help the body fight the disease.  Some suppress it to do the same thing and yet more destroy cancer cells directly or reduce the side effect of other treatments. We at New Hope Unlimited believe it is best to use your own biologicals to enhance the immune system.  But for the purpose of this article, I am reporting on what mainstream medicine is doing with a lot of synthetic drugs.

There are three medications taken as pills that is said to help your immune system point out and attack cancer cells.  They are also called immunomodulators or immune-modifying drugs.

These three are:

  • Thalidomide (Thalomid) that lowers the blood supply to cancers.  Prior to its use to treat myeloma in the late 1990’s, it was used as a sedative and nausea medication for pregnant women until it was found to cause birth defects.
  • Lenalidomide (Revlimid) is a stronger form of thalidomide and has fewer side effects, but it can still cause numbness, rashes and fatigue that thalidomide does.  They both have a risk of shortness of breath or seizures.
  • Pomalidomide (Pomalyst), the newest drug of this type, which was approved by the FDA for multiple myeloma, is similar to the others.  One big difference is that it has been found to be effect longer.

Common side effects of all three of these drugs include low blood counts, a “pins and needles” feeling or pain in the arms and legs and a higher risk of blood clots that can travel to the lungs from the leg.  There are even more side effects for each drug that your doctor will discuss with you.

Other drugs are:

  • The drug interferon boosts the immune system and encourages healthy cells to move toward the cancer cells to destroy them.  This drug is injected into the skin 2 to 3 times a week and you may feel flu-like symptoms after it’s given to you.
  • Monoclonal Antibodies are man-made and supposed to work on one type of target.  
  • Daratumumab (Darzalex) attaches to multiple myeloma cells and will kill them and signal your immune system to attack them. If one of the other treatments hasn’t worked, you will get this one.  There may be a reaction a few hours after getting the drug such as coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, runny nose, headache or rash. If any of these happen to you, your doctor may need to adjust your dose or add another medicine with it to lessen or stop your symptom.
  • Elotuzumab (Empliciti) works much in the same way as daratumumab with the same reactions and side effects.  More side effects are weakness or numbness in your hands and feet and respiratory tract infection.

Some biologics are in development in clinical trials.  Your doctor might suggest you join in one of these to try.  They are adoptive T-cell transfers, which use the body’s T cells (white blood cells that help fight disease) to destroy the cancer.  Vaccines would work like more-common vaccines to jump-start the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Wouldn’t there possibly be a natural alternative treatment to build the immune system? Consult with your doctor as to the best drug that will fit for you. There are many options for edications listed above.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Financial Dangers of Cancer

Money is something that no one likes to talk about and it becomes even more stressful when you’re sick. When cancer comes our way, the financial challenges are too big for us to ignore. Survivors are nearly 3X more likely to file for bankruptcy than those without a cancer history, so it’s important to face our financial considerations up front.


Those facing cancer are usually so stressed out and fuzzy minded that they find it difficult to work.  After serious thought it might even be wise to consider doing a financial downsizing on your obligations to help you through the days ahead.  Some choices might seem humiliating, but by downsizing it might make your life simpler and even less space to have to deal with keeping clean and updated.  This may not be what you want, but it might help keep you financially afloat until you are able to return to work.

One of the most important things you can do is to anticipate your financial challenges when you learn you have cancer.  Some of the potential issues you will probably face are the need to take at least some time off work. You will still have co-payments even with health insurance, as some things just aren’t covered under most plans.  Those supplements and other complementary treatments that will help with side effects are most likely all out-of-pocket expenses and the experimental treatments that might be suggested aren’t covered by your insurance.

More help might be required for keeping your household going such as walking your dog and help with house cleaning and childcare.  If the facility for your cancer center is far from your home, you will need to factor in travel costs and possibly hotel rooms along with parking at the hospital and/or other places during your stay.

You can look for help at the following places:

  • Some of the big pharmaceutical companies will help with drug costs.  Get paperwork started before you start treatment. Ask the medical team about this right off.
  • Many non-profits are there to help cancer patients where you can get help with housing, transportation, housework, buying wigs, food, exercise coaching and complimentary therapies like massage and yoga.  Ask your medical team what’s available in your area. Use all options available to you.
  • Financial navigation coaches are provided at most large cancer centers that will help you pick your way through the confusing landscape of cancer care.
  • Help with drug costs can be utilized through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance at
  • Financial Treatment Project has just begun pilot programs in Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Washington and Tufts University in Massachusetts.
  • The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition brings many organizations together than help cancer patients.  Search by zip code to find things near you.
  • The CancerCare Copayment Assistance Foundation at helps with co-payments as also groups at and

If you still hate to talk about money try One Study at, where it found that cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy had a higher mortality rate than patients who did not.  Face your finances – it’s good for your health! Less stressed is important!

Dr Fredda Branyon


Where You Live Affects Dying of Cancer


There is a new study that finds where you live may determine your likelihood of dying from cancer.  This study of Americans dying from cancers varies dramatically by where they live. It is said that currently lung cancer kills more people in the U.S. than any other cancer and the death rates are also more than 20X higher in some parts of the country than others.  The highest death rate in the nation from lung cancer in 2014 was in Union County, Florida where there were 231 deaths per 100,000 residents. Summit County, Colorado had the lowest death rate with only 11 deaths per 100,000 people. Now, think about it, 2004 was 14 years ago. I’m sure its more than that now since the death rate of cancer has gone up.

There appeared to be similar differences across cancers among more than 3,000 counties and cities in the U.S.  Dr. Ali Mokdad, lead author on the study and Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle believes that these significant disparities among US counties are unacceptable.  The study,” Trends and patterns of disparities in cancer mortality among US counties, 1980-2014” examined 29 different types of cancers and analyzed the mortality rates and how they have changed. These findings were published in JAMA.

More than 19.5 million Americans died of cancer in the 35 years examined.  The combined national mortality rate from all cancers combined fell by 20%.  However, 160 counties did show increases in all-cancer death rates over the same period, raising questions concerning the access to care, prevention efforts, treatment and other issues.  So the question is, what is causing cancer to be so much more fatal in one part of the country than in other parts?

County level trends in the study included:

  • Liver cancer where mortality increased in nearly every county.  Large increases were also found in California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Texas.
  • Even though fewer Americans now smoke than in previous decades, parts of the South and many rural areas still show high rates of this deadly habit.  High rates of lung cancer were shown in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and rural Alaska.
  • Most counties had decreases in breast cancer death rates since 1980, but high mortality rates along the Mississippi River had the lowest rates in parts of the West, Midwest and Northeast.
  • High rates of prostate cancer were shown in counties in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • The highest death rates from kidney cancer were identified along the Mississippi River as well as in Oklahoma and Texas along with certain areas in Alaska and the Dakotas with the larger Native American populations showing rates higher than the national average.

It is Dr. Christopher Murray’s (Director of IHME) belief that state and local health officials and other health policy decision-makers and cancer advocates take note and act on this important evidence to save more lives in their communities.  Five counties with the highest mortality rates from lung cancer in 2014 are Union County in Florida, Powell, Perry, McCreary and Breathitt Counties in Kentucky. Five counties with the lowest mortality rates are Summit, Eagle and Pitkin Counties in Colorado, Cache County in Utah and Presidio County in Texas.  From breast cancer the highest mortality rates were in Madison, Holmes, and Coahoma Counties in Mississippi, and Madison and East Carroll Parish in Louisiana. Five counties with the lowest mortality rates were in Summit, Pitkin and Eagle counties in Colorado, Aleutians East Borough in Alaska and Presidio County in Texas.

Counties with the highest mortality rates from prostate cancer were Madison County in Mississippi, Macon, Wilcox and Perry counties in Alabama and Phillips County in Arkansas.  The lowest mortality rates were in Summit and Pitkin Counties in Colorado, Aleutians East Borough in Alaska, Presidio County in Texas and Noble County in Ohio.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Poison In Toys


Those simple plastic toys our children are playing with every day might be posing a danger to their health and wellness. Chemicals found in toys may also inhabit your floors, kitchen storage, shower curtains and laundry detergents. Some are actually so dangerous they have been banned from use in consumer products and others are banned from their use just in children’s products.

In spite of the danger, one of the world’s largest chemical companies is fighting to continue the use of phthalates. This is a chemical with known endocrine disrupting effects, and children whose neurological and endocrine systems are still developing, are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of phthalates.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil has spent years prioritizing corporate interests over those of consumers and the environment. In a recent report it is demonstrated that the petroleum company understood the link between fossil fuel use and warming climate as early as 1977. The company has tried to refute the idea, protecting their interest in the oil industry. Over 25% of their $16 billion net profit in 2015 resulted from the sales of other petroleum-based products that include plastics, batteries, synthetic fibers, household detergents and tires. One of the chemicals is the family of phthalates and is used to make plastic pliables.

These health risks from exposure to phthalates are significant and Congress limited or banned the use of several of these phthalates in 2008 and investigated if more should be removed from children’s products. Eight phthalates were recommended to be banned from children’s toys in a final report in 2014, but the CPSA has yet to finalize their ban. ExxonMobil continues to insist the product produces no harm and is working hard to reverse the committee decision.

Phthalates are plasticizers and added to plastics to make them more pliable. Most have a half-life of 24 to 48 hours but recent studies have detected a toxic load of phthalates in urine, blood and breast milk. A higher level is evident in those who eat from fast food restaurants as the food is packaged in plastic and/or non-stick wrappers. Small children are exposed through teething toys, plastic toys, breathing household dust and through the use of medical devices. Constant exposure to products made with phthalates guarantees the chemicals remain in the body and stored in the fat cells. When released, they contribute to the level of phthalates found in the urine.

These phthalates are known endocrine disruptors, otherwise known as chemicals that interfere with the function of your body’s endocrine system. Some changes in wildlife that have been traced to endocrine-disrupting chemicals include Baltic seal population reduction, eggshell thinning in birds of prey, alligator population decrease in a polluted lake, frog population decrease, male sex organs on female marine animals such as whelks and snails and negative effects on fish reproduction and development.

They are also linked to male reproductive problems. A study evaluated immature eggs from 50 couples undergoing in vitro fertilization. There were 761 oocytes, or immature eggs, and only 184 developed well enough to be transferred to the prospective mother. There was an inverse association between men who had high levels of phthalates in their urine and the development of high-quality blastocysts.

Scientists have also linked phthalate exposure to attention deficit disorder, breast cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, lowered IQ, autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, reduced male fertility, asthma, altered thyroid function, imbalanced growth hormone, liver cancer, miscarriage and suspected carcinogen. Priority should be to reduce our exposure to phthalates to our families. Avoiding plastic food containers, plastic toys, reading labels, buying goods in glass containers, don’t microwave plastic containers or wraps, using natural cleaning products, avoiding fabric softeners and checking your tap water for contaminants are just a few of the precautions we should all be using. It’s up to us to keep our family healthy.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Unknown Facts About Cancer Can Kill You

Robert Preidt, a HealthDay Reporter, reveals from a new survey that cancer isn’t inevitable, but many don’t know that several lifestyle factors affect their risk of developing the disease. In fact, just 1 in 2 Americans is aware that obesity can raise the risk of cancer and less than half understand that alcohol, inactivity, processed meat, eating lots of red meat and low consumption of fruits and veggies are linked to cancer risks.

There is a crisis in the awareness of cancer prevention, according to Alice Bender, head of nutrition programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research. More of a percentage of Americans believe that stress, fatty diets and other unproven factors are linked with cancer. This information comes from the institute’s 2017 Cancer Risk Awareness Survey.

It’s a real concern that people don’t recognize alcohol and processed meats increase our cancer risk. The established factors that do affect cancer risks are confused with headlines where the research is unclear or inconclusive. Some highlights of the survey findings are:

❖ Fewer than 40% of Americans know that alcohol affects cancer risk.
❖ Only 40% know that processed meats are associated with cancer risk.
❖ 50% of Americans are aware that being overweight spurs cancer risk, which is up
from 35% in 2001.

In the U.S. nearly 1/3 of common cancers could be prevented through diet, weight management and physical activity, which equates to ½ when factors like not smoking and avoiding sun damage are added. Alcohol has been linked to at least six cancers. These include colon, breast, liver and esophageal. Bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats may raise the risk of colon and stomach cancers. Only ½ of Americans know that obesity increases the risk of several cancers and a healthy weight is the second most important way, after NOT smoking, to reduce the cancer risk.

It seems it’s easier to worry about genes or uncontrollable things rather than your everyday choices in preventing cancer. Being physically active, staying a healthy weight and eating a plant-based diet has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of cancer cases each year. We all need to do our part in these simple eating habits to combat our cancer risks. Healthy eating each day may not prevent cancer, but it will certainly lessen our risks.

Let’s all do our part in protecting our family with offering the healthy and safe foods while avoiding the previously mentioned cancer causing foods.

–Dr Fredda Branyon

New Cancer Drug Delivery Method

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) from the Florida campus have developed a new drug delivery method that produces strong results in treating cancers in animal models that includes some hard-to-treat solid and liquid tumors. TSRI Associate Professor Christoph Rader led the study, and the article was published online in the journal Cell Chemical Biology.

A class of pharmaceuticals known as antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) includes some of the most promising next-generation antibody therapeutics for cancer. A cytotoxic payload can be delivered in a way that is tumor-selective and 3 of the ADCs have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but are not attached to a defined site on the antibody as yet. They have been working on this technology for some time and it is based on the rarely used natural amino acid selenocysteine that we insert into our antibodies. The engineered antibodies are referred to as selenomabs.

Antibodies are large immune system proteins that recognize unique molecular markers on tumor cells called antigens. Antibodies, on their own, are usually not potent enough to eradicate cancer, but their high specificity for antigens makes them ideal for drug delivery straight to tumor cells.

For the first time it has been shown that selenomab-drug conjugates (ADCs that utilize the unique reactivity of selenocysteine for drug attachment) are highly precise, stable and potent compositions and promise broad utility for cancer therapy. The ADC’s stability is critical to its effectiveness and researchers found that their new ADCs showed excellent stability in human blood in vitro and in circulating blood in animal models. Also, the new ADCs were highly effective against HER2 breast cancer and against multiple myeloma. The ADCs did not harm healthy cells and tissues.

The drug significantly inhibited the growth of an aggressive breast cancer and four of the five mice tested were tumor-free at the end of the experiment which was a full six weeks after their last treatment.

They plan to investigate similar ADCs in the future. Rader and TSRI Professor Ben Shen were awarded $3.3 million from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health to test highly cytotoxic natural products discovered in the Shen lab using selenomabs as drug delivery vehicles.

Both Rader and Li are authors of the study, “Stable and Potent Selenomab-Drug Conjugates” along with several others of the National Cancer Institute and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center. The National Institutes of Health, the Intramural Research Program of the National Cancer Institute, the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the Klorfine Foundation and the Holm Charitable Trust, supported the study.

Dr Fredda Branyon