Eye Doctor

St. Jude Leading The Way In Eye Cancer Research

It appears scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are leading the way in eye cancer research. Recently scientists working with the hospital discovered a topical treatment for the eye that may reduce the size of cancerous tumors without the side effects often associated with invasive procedures including chemotherapy. Also see Childrens Eye Care

This treatment may also help those with other forms of cancer including prostate cancer, lung, breast and colon cancer. This treatment may be useful for treating tumors throughout the world.

Retinoblastoma or eye cancer is common among young children, affecting roughly 5,000 young children throughout the world ever year. This cancer forms in the immature retina of the eye, so the patient may not notice light and color.

If left untreated, retinoblastoma may prove fatal. This new treatment holds much hope for those with cancer for a simple and effective treatment without most of the side effects normally associated with cancer treatment. Current treatments include complex therapies, surgery and chemotherapy to remove tumors and treat the underlying cancer.

Previously, eye cancer researchers believed a process called "Cell Suicide" or apoptosis occurred in patients with eye cancer. The mechanism underlying this process was thought to be the p53 pathway. Thanks to new research however, scientists now know the p53 pathway is activated in early eye cancer, but by exposing the p53 to high levels of a molecule called MDMX may prevent cell suicide from progressing. What all this means is less tumors. The new treatment interrupts the tumor forming process. All the researchers must do is apply the topical agent to the affected area.

Impact Of New Treatments On Cancer
The success of this research is notable. This is the first time researchers have developed a customizable therapy for children that has the potential to knock out a growing cancer cell instead of providing systemic treatment (which targets the entire body). The result may mean fewer side effects and faster recovery times, and possibly less risk for redevelopment of the cancer.

Scientists also believe the new treatment may be able to preserve vision in children with eye cancer by removing the tumor and by preventing the spread of extra tumors or cancer to other areas of the eye or body.

The same may prove true of other cancers prone to tumors, including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. Each of these cancers also result from large amounts of MDMX in the cells of the patient. If the doctors can knock out the MDMX it is likely tumors residing in these patients can be easily eradicated and removed using topical agents or less invasive treatments. Patients undergoing the new procedure may never have to undergo systemic treatment for their illness.

While most of the research conducted has focused on retinoblastoma, this new research provides hope for the millions of people suffering from other types of cancer as well. More research is necessary before this treatment becomes widely available. This treatment alternative may also be an alternative for children in less developed countries, as it would be less costly than current treatments.

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