A new genetically engineered mouse model appears promising as an effective tool for preclinical testing of novel therapies for ovarian cancer, which tends to be diagnosed in late stage. There are few effective treatments for the disease.

Part of the challenge in developing new therapies for ovarian cancer is the lack of an accurate animal model to aid in preclinical testing of candidate drugs. Some genetically engineered mouse models do exist; however, these mice have not been optimized for preclinical studies, leading to high failure rates during subsequent human trials.

In a research milestone reported in the June 20 issue of the journal Science, scientists have developed a minimally modified version of HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS in infected humans, that is capable of causing progressive infection and AIDS in monkeys. The advance should help create more authentic animal models of the disease and provide a potentially invaluable approach for faster and better preclinical evaluation of new drugs and vaccines.

Humans play host to trillions of microorganisms that help our bodies perform basic functions, like digestion, growth, and fighting disease. In fact, bacterial cells outnumber the human cells in our bodies by 10 to 1.1

The tens of trillions of microorganisms thriving in our intestines are known as gut microbiota, and those that are not harmful to us are referred to as commensal microbiota. In a recent paper in Science, NCI scientists described their discovery that, in mice, the presence of commensal microbiota is needed for successful response to cancer therapy.

Cancer immunotherapy is a type of treatment in which the body’s own immune system is used to attack and kill cancer cells or keep them from spreading. To date, the immunotherapy agent interleukin-2 (IL-2) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating certain types of melanoma and kidney cancer.1

A single dose of the cancer-fighting human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix™ appears to induce an immune response that remains stable in the blood four years after vaccination. This may be enough to protect women from two strains of HPV and, ultimately, from cervical cancer.

Scientists at NCI and Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) are partnering with the Lustgarten Foundation to test whether a vitamin D derivative will make a difference when combined with a conventional anticancer drug in treating tumors of the pancreas.

Scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University and the AIDS and Cancer Virus Program of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research have used a novel vaccine approach to achieve a “functional cure” and apparent eradication of infection with a monkey version of the AIDS virus.

In a paper published online in Nature, the group reported success with an experimental vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), an AIDS-inducing virus that infects rhesus macaques and is so similar to HIV that it is a widely used model for AIDS studies in monkeys.

The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL) is collaborating with the Army to develop a candidate vaccine against botulism.

Under a collaboration agreement between the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), NCL scientists will produce nanoparticle formulations for four compounds that block the activity of botulism-causing nerve toxins, which are among the most lethal of all poisons.

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