Afterschool program making a difference

Parents experience peace of mind with top-rated non-profit The Youth Center’s After School Program (ASP) in Los Alamitos, which has been making a difference in the local community for school age children for the last 64 years. Children ages 5 to 17 years old have a home away from home once school is out for homework help and activities including indoor/outdoor basketball, arts & crafts, pool, air hockey, foosball, games and Snack Shackall while under the watchful eyes of The Youth Center staff. “It makes me happy that Ryan has a safe and secure place to go to after school and I have complete peace of mind knowing that he is in very good hands for the time he is there,” said Lidia Ziedins, of her 7-year-old son,who attends the Youth Center After School Program. She continued to say that Ryan has made a lot of friends and likes spending time with them playing games, doing crafts or other various projects under the supervision of attentive and friendly staff members. “The Youth Center provides a safe place for kids to come and enjoy themselves, hang out with their friends and have homework assistance,” said Youth Center After School Program Director Judy Nunez. “It’s a safe environment where parents don’t have to worry about the well-being of their kids and can instead focus on their own daily tasks. Parents share they are very happy with our program.” “The Youth Center is able to keep the cost as low as $25 per month for this program because of the generosity of our community. Their strong belief in investing in youth and in The Youth Center’s ability to create positive and life-changing results for kids and their families is why we can keep costs low for all of our programs,” shared Lina Lumme, Executive Director. To register your child in the program, please contact The Youth Center at 562-493-4043 or go online at theyouthcenter.org. The Youth Center is located at 10909 Oak St., in Los Alamitos and is open Monday through Friday after school until 6 p.m.

Youth Center raises thousands in second week of fundraiser

It’s anchors away for the Youth Center’s nautical themed Community Support Campaign’s four team fundraising captains who reported raising $55,695 in their first week of the fundraiser on April 7 at the El Dorado Bar and Grill in Long Beach. The non-profit based in Los Alamitos is off to a solid start in their goal of raising $125,000 by the end of April.“We’re off to a great start,” said campaign chairman and "Captain" Scott Newton. “In one week, we’ve done a really good job.”Newton reported on the four teams of "cruise" executive officers. The team headed by Los Alamitos City Council Member and Youth Center Board of Director’s President Shelley Hasselbrink brought in $7,998. Another campaign team headed by board member Karen Frankenberg brought in $5,614.Of the campaign in general, her husband Eric said, “This starts our season of raising money, funding the programs the Youth Center provides for the community.”The team of Board Member Brandon Peterson of Ganahl Lumber brought in $8,600, and the team of ‘Legend’ Arnie Fine brought in $8,484.Retired Principal Newt Hart who is also on the board of directors said he got started campaigning after former Youth Center Executive Director Tom Stretz encouraged him take on an active role. “The Youth Center is a very valuable part of our community,” he said. Hart is now "paying it forward" to Stretz and current Youth Center Executive Director Lina Lumme by campaigning since his own kids were active in the organization while they were young and in high school.Yet another board member Heather Cronan said she’s campaigning because she wants “to support the After School and Music Programs.” “The Youth Center is far more important (in the community) than people realize,” continued Cronan. “We sometimes go unnoticed, but we really do an amazing number of things.”Besides the programs she mentioned, the Youth Center also offers Summer Day and Teen Camps, Leadership Academy and Every 15 Minutes, a drunk driving determent program.To honor and acknowledge all the Youth Center does with their programs, others came to the Community Support Campaign to lend their support including first time campaigner and volunteer Ron Stevens who said, “I came tonight to the mixer to celebrate and recognize all the work (the Youth Center) does.”Another recognizing the role of the Youth Center is John Osborn of Alamitos Eye Care who said he came out because the Youth Center “fills a necessary role in the community,” and that “we have great people in the community who are committed to the Youth Center.”The Youth Center’s Presidential Round Table donors who have thus far given at least $1,000 each include Alamitos Eye Care, Alandale Insurance, Arnie and Lynda Fine, Beth Piburn, Bolsa Chica Self Storage, Brandon Petersen, Cypress Courtyard by Marriott, Cypress Forest Lawn, Dan Schwartz, Debbie Kent, Ganahl Lumber in Los Alamitos, Hans and Lina Lumme, Joe’s Premium Painting, Laura Herzog, Mr. Snowman, Newt and Carol Hart, Raindrops on Roses, Ron Stevens, Sir Speedy of Los Alamitos, Tom and Tammy Barclay, Trend Offset Printing, and Xenet.One of many local businesses committed to the Youth Center is Braithwaite Chiropractic of Seal Beach. They are fundraising during the month of April by offering 100 percent of proceeds for all new patient exams to go to the Youth Center.Other individuals from around the community are donating items towards the Youth Center’s annual Garage Sale. This year it will be held on Saturday, April 25 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 2971 Copa de Oro in Rossmoor.Anyone can bring items to the Youth Center at 10909 Oak St. in Los Alamitos Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.The public is invited to come and learn more about the Youth Center at their next Community Support Campaign mixer on April 14 at 6:15 p.m. at Thailusion restaurant in Los Alamitos. For more information on how to donate or campaign for the Youth Center, please call Lina Lumme or office manager Julie Rubin at 562-493-4043.

Unique wheat passes the test

Scientists from the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Aarhus University, have developed and patented the new type of wheat. Following years of research and development, the wheat then needed prove its worth in the tough environment of the digestive system — and it succeeded.

Phosphorus is tied up

It all started with a single wheat plant. The scientists were on the lookout for certain cereal genes that affect the availability of vital minerals in feed and foods. Minerals such as phosphorus are often tightly bound in phytate. The enzyme phytase helps to break down phytate, thus increasing mineral availability.

Monogastrics such as pigs and poultry are unable to produce phytase. Cereals contain genes that code for phytase activity but the activity is not sufficient to break down all phytate compounds in the feed. Therefore, enzymes are added to the feed in conventional farming to help the animals utilize phosphorus. Adding enzymes to organic feed is not an option.

If the animals do not utilize phosphorus optimally, it can affect their growth and health. In addition, the non-digested surplus is excreted and ends up in the environment.

Scientists demonstrated phytase genes

The scientists succeeded in finding the genes controlling phytase activity, which in itself was an important step. Next, they looked for a mutant wheat plant. This was the beginning of something big.

“We found the specific genes that are important to phytase activity in cereals. Then we found a mutant in which the phytase genes are expressed more powerfully than in ordinary cereals, resulting in increased phytase activity,” explains Associate Professor Henrik Brinch-Pedersen, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Guideline for treating low bone density or osteoporosis to prevent fractures

“Physicians should prescribe generic drugs to treat patients with osteoporosis whenever possible and they should discuss the importance of medication adherence, especially for bisphosphonates,” said Jack Ende, MD, MACP, president, ACP.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has endorsed ACP’s guideline.

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease characterized by decreasing bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue that leads to an increased risk for bone fragility and fracture, especially in the hip, spine, and wrist. An estimated 54 million men and women in the United States have low bone density or osteoporosis. About 50 percent of Americans older than 50 are at risk for osteoporotic fracture.

ACP’s guideline focuses on the comparative benefits and risks of short- and long-term drug treatments for low bone density or osteoporosis, including prescriptions, calcium, vitamin D, and estrogen.

The evidence suggests that physicians should treat women with osteoporosis with drug therapy for five years. Continuing treatment after the initial five years may be beneficial for some patients and may be appropriate after reassessing the risks and benefits of continuing therapy.

ACP recommends against bone density monitoring during the five-year treatment period because the evidence does not show any benefit for monitoring during treatment. ACP also recommends against using menopausal estrogen therapy or menopausal estrogen plus progestin therapy or raloxifene for the treatment of osteoporosis in women. Estrogen treatment is associated with serious harms such as increased risk for cerebrovascular accidents and venous thromboembolic events that outweigh the potential benefits.

Pregnancy after breast cancer does not increase chance of recurrence

Findings from a retrospective study of 1,200 women provide reassurance to breast cancer survivors who are contemplating pregnancy. In the study, women who became pregnant after an early breast cancer diagnosis, including those with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors, did not have a higher chance of cancer recurrence and death than those who did not become pregnant.

The study will be featured in a press briefing today and presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of reproductive age. Taking into account current trends toward delaying childbearing, breast cancer in young women may occur before the completion of reproductive plans. Although half of young women with newly diagnosed breast cancer report interest in having children, less than 10% become pregnant after treatment.1 In fact, of all cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors are the least likely to have a baby after diagnosis.

Doctors and patients have long been concerned that pregnancy could increase the chance of breast cancer recurrence, particularly for women with ER-positive disease. Because ER-positive breast cancer is fueled by estrogen, the fear is that hormone levels during pregnancy could coax any occult cancer cells — those that may remain in the body after treatment — to grow.

Another concern regarding pregnancy in women with ER-positive cancer is the need to interrupt adjuvant (post-surgery) hormone therapy before trying to achieve a pregnancy. Such hormone therapy helps prevent cancer recurrence, and it is recommended that women receive it for at least 5 years and in some cases up to 10 years. “Our findings confirm that pregnancy after breast cancer should not be discouraged, even for women with ER-positive cancer,” said lead study author Matteo Lambertini, MD, a medical oncologist and ESMO fellow at the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels, Belgium. “However, when deciding how long to wait before becoming pregnant, patients and doctors should consider each woman’s personal risk for recurrence, particularly for women who need adjuvant hormone therapy.”

Risk factors for prostate cancer aren’t what we think, study shows

Investigators from SWOG, the cancer clinical trials network funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), found widespread detection bias after a fresh examination of data from the two largest prostate cancer prevention trials ever conducted in the United States. SWOG Biostatistician Catherine Tangen, Dr.P.H., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and her team reviewed data from over 17,000 men, including more than 2,200 diagnosed with prostate cancer over the course of the two landmark trials. The subject of an upcoming Nov. 7 JCO editorial, the research is the first systematic review of bias in prostate cancer biopsy patterns. The results surprised Tangen.

“We assumed that prostate cancers are diagnosed uniformly, but that’s not true,” said Tangen, the lead author of the JCO article. “We found a lot of variation in who got a biopsy. Risk and reality often didn’t line up. As a public health researcher, this concerns me. Bias can warp our understanding of the prostate cancer disease process — and misdirect our efforts to test new risk factors and prevention strategies in future research.”

Tangen and her team arrived at their findings by examining data from the placebo arms of two major SWOG prevention trials. One is the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT), which had the unique design feature of an end-of-study biopsy for all men — regardless of the results of their annual prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level test. This uniform biopsy provided unbiased data on cancer risk and could be considered the gold standard. The other trial was the Selenium and Vitamin E Chemoprevention Trial (SELECT). In SELECT, men received PSA testing and a digital rectal exam — and any ensuing biopsy recommendations — at the discretion of their doctor and based on their own preferences. These results reflect practices found in the general population.

Targeted photodynamic therapy shown highly effective against prostate cancer

“Coupling the photosensitizer to an imaging agent that targets PSMA on the tumor surface makes it possible to selectively and effectively destroy prostate tumor remnants and micrometastases while surrounding healthy tissues remain unaffected,” said Susanne Lütje, MD, PhD, lead author of the study from the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and the Clinic for Nuclear Medicine at University Hospital Essen, Germany.

This technique optimizes prostate cancer care by allowing visualization of tumors prior to surgery, by providing real-time guidance to surgeons in the operating room, and by priming tumors for photodynamic therapy when surgery isn’t enough or risks damage to sensitive structures.

A gamma probe is used to detect PSMA-expressing tumor cells. Photosensitizers can then be activated with light in the near-infrared wavelength, which causes them to emit fluorescence, or oxygen radicals, that damage PSMA over-expressing tumor tissues.

Study results showed effective localization of the drug at the site of tumors, as well as effective imaging and photodynamic therapy via near-infrared exposure in mice. Further study in humans is needed before this procedure could be made available for prostate cancer patients.

“In the future, this novel approach to prostate cancer could significantly improve the effectiveness of treatment, reduce recurrent disease and ultimately prolong survival and protect quality of life for patients,” said Lütje.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men, apart from skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. About 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer are estimated for 2017, and 26,730 men in the U.S. are expected to die from the disease.

New research reveals link between molecular mechanisms in prostate cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma

The results of the study, reported in the journal Cell Reports, suggest that the molecular mechanism that triggers the rare disease Ewing’s sarcoma could act as a potential new direction for the treatment of more than half of patients with prostate cancer.

A form of bone and soft tissue cancer that affects about one in 1 million children and young adults age 10 to 19, Ewing’s sarcoma is terminal in 44 percent of teens age 15 to 19 and 30 percent of children. Over 100,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the U.S, with more than 99 percent of cases occurring after age 50.

“This research shows that the molecular mechanism involved in the development of most prostate cancers is very similar to the molecular mechanism known to cause Ewing’s sarcoma,” said Peter Hollenhorst, an associate professor in the Medical Sciences Program at IU Bloomington, a part of the IU School of Medicine. “It also suggests that this mechanism might be used to explore a common treatment for both diseases, one of which is not often pursued by drug companies due to its rarity.”

Hollenhorst is also a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis.

Other authors on the paper include Vivekananda Kedage, a graduate student in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, and Travis J. Jerde, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Kedage is the first author on the study.

New radiotracer could make diagnosing prostate cancer faster and easier

Prostate cancer is the fifth leading cause of death worldwide and is especially difficult to diagnose. While prostate cancer is relatively easy to treat in its early stages, it is prone to metastasis and can quickly become deadly. In order to plan how aggressively they should treat the cancer, it is important for doctors to know how far the cancer has progressed. Currently, doctors use a variety of imaging techniques and tests to diagnose and monitor prostate cancer including PSA blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and computerized tomography (CT) scans. Each method has strengths and weaknesses, but there is no single method that is able to successfully identify and monitor primary tumors, metastatic lymph nodes, and bone lesions.

Xiaoyuan Chen, Ph.D., Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Imaging and Nanomedicine at NIBIB, and his team attempted to solve this problem by developing a radiotracer that could identify prostate cancer at all stages. Radiotracers are made up of carrier molecules that are bonded tightly to a radioactive atom. Like a key fitting into a lock, the carrier molecules bind to certain receptors or biomarkers and the radioactive atoms enable PET or SPECT scanners to image areas where the tracers have collected in large numbers. This new tracer targets two biomarkers, gastrin-releasing peptide receptor (GRPR) and integrin αvβ3, that often indicate prostate cancer. Previous tracers have targeted GRPR but this new tracer is one of the first dual-receptor target tracers, or tracers that target more than one biomarker, to be studied in humans.

The tracer was able to successfully identify 3 out of 4 primary tumors, all 14 metastatic lymph nodes and, significantly, was able to identity all 20 of the bone lesions in the patients. The current method of identifying bone lesions is to use the radiotracer MDP with a SPECT scanner. While this method is consistently able to identify bone lesions, it often comes up with false positives and is not able to identify primary tumors. This can cause the patient to undergo unnecessary treatments or painful biopsies.

“We are far from finding one method to diagnose and monitor prostate cancer, but this is a step in that direction,” says Chen. “Targeting multiple biomarkers could potentially allow us to identify prostate cancer at its early stages as well as after metastasis in one scan.”

Chen believes that dual-receptor targeting tracers could one day be the primary method for diagnosing and monitoring prostate cancer reducing the amount of medical scans a patient would be forced to undergo and streamlining the diagnostic and therapeutic process.

Switch from observation only to active treatment by prostate cancer patients varies by race/ethnicity

“A primary reason that we examined whether sociodemographic and clinical factors predicted switching to active treatment was that studies have primarily been performed in non-ethnically diverse populations,” explained co-principal investigator Scott P. Kelly, PhD, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC. “We wanted to determine whether observational management like active surveillance is underused in minority populations, particularly within the framework of an equal access health care system. This is one of the few groups studied with sufficient sample sizes to examine whether the associations of clinical triggers for beginning active treatment varied by sociodemographic factors.”

The study included patients who had been diagnosed with low risk prostate cancer between 2004 and 2012 at Kaiser Permanente Northern California. They did not receive any treatment within the first year of diagnosis and had at least two years of followup. “Because Kaiser Permanente Northern California is a large, integrated health system covering a diverse population, it was possible to independently assess ethnic and economic influences on treatment choices,” said Stephen Van Den Eeden, PhD, co-principal investigator for the study and lead researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA. “Over 31% of patients studied were from minority populations.”

Non-Hispanic black men were slightly more likely to begin active treatment than non-Hispanic white men, independent of their status at the beginning of the study and followup clinical measures. Among men who remained on observation, non-Hispanic black men were re-biopsied within 24 months of diagnosis at a slightly lower rate than non-Hispanic white men.

Despite nonclinical factors like race and ethnicity, Gleason score progression (a measure of tumor aggressiveness) and results of prostate specific antigen testing were the primary clinical triggers that prompted active treatment in men on active surveillance. Other reasons may include lack of patient awareness of active surveillance, patient anxiety, physician anxiety about whether deferred treatment could result in poorer long-term outcomes, and the societal inclinations for treating all cancers.

While the results were only marginally significant, they suggest that race may be a factor for switching to active treatment even among men on active surveillance. “These results are important as clinicians may be increasingly hesitant to require men to undergo serial re-biopsies due to complications, yet black men are known to have a greater likelihood of prostate cancer progression, which suggests that clinicians should be particularly vigilant in the surveillance of black men on active surveillance,” noted Dr. Kelly.

Commenting on the study, David F. Penson, MD, MPH, of the Department of Urologic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Nashville, TN, noted that the current study “underscores the need to develop patient navigation tools for prostate cancer that are racially and culturally tailored to individual patients. All men who elect to go on active surveillance should have similar close followup regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.”