BBC News | October 2018 | Nobel prize for medicine goes to cancer therapy
Two immunologists, Prof Allison, of the University of Texas, and Prof Honjo, of Kyoto University, as the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine. The pair will share the Nobel prize approximately $1.01 million or £775,000. The scientists have been awarded the prize in recognition of their discovery of how to fight cancer using the body’s immune system. Their award is significant as it is the first time in the prize’s history that the development of a cancer therapy has been recognised with a Nobel prize.
Accepting the prize, Tasuku Honjo told reporters: “I want to continue my research … so that this immune therapy will save more cancer patients than ever.”
Prof Allison said: “It’s a great, emotional privilege to meet cancer patients who’ve been successfully treated with immune checkpoint blockade. They are living proof of the power of basic science, of following our urge to learn and to understand how things work.”(Source:BBC News).
The Guardian James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo win Nobel prize for medicine
Financial Times Cancer researchers win Nobel Medicine Prize
Reuters Nobel Prize in medicine awarded for groundbreaking cancer research
University of Warwick| May 2018 |Oral drug treatment helps protect cancer patients from potentially deadly DVT and pulmonary embolism
Patients with a diagnosis of cancer are at high risk of developing blood clots. 20 per cent of cancer patients will develop venous thromboembolism (VTE) – either deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). This is due to a number of factors including immobility (if in bed poorly), pancreatic and gastric tumours, and chemotherapy. Because VTE can be life-threatening, blood thinners are used to shrink existing clots and prevent others from forming.
Currently, international guidelines recommend cancer patients are injected with an anticoagulant (a low molecular weight heparin) to treat and prevent recurrence of VTE. Now scientists from the University of Warwick suggest that taking a tablet a day can help treat cancer patients for a potentially deadly condition. The results of a large trial run at the University’s Medical School called ‘select-d’ indicate that a daily tablet could be a beneficial alternative for treating VTE in selected patients, and that prescribing the oral drug rivaroxaban (Xarelto) significantly reduced venous thromboembolism recurrence among patients with cancer and VTE
Lead researcher Professor Annie Young said,
“Clinicians were already adopting the oral drug into practice for non-cancer patients and now they have data from this study to indicate that this form of treatment is an alternative option for many cancer patients who have a clot.” ( Source: University of Warwick).
The full, unedited press release is available from University of Warwick
University of Leeds | April 2018 |Women at increased cancer risk shun preventative tamoxifen therapy
A study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment shows that only 1 in 7 women who were offered Tamoxifen due to a familial history of cancer decided to take it. This new research sought to highlight that women eligible to take the drug were electing not to, it also aimed to explore the reasons behind such decisions. Researchers also found that patients consulted informal networks such as friends and family before making a decision about whether to take Tamoxifen (via University of Leeds) .
Whether the participants had children also had an impact on the decision, the scientists found those with children were more likely to take the drug. One participant explained that taking the drug might affect her ability to care for her children and parents, so decided not to take it.
The study was conducted in collaboration with scientists at the University Hospitals Southampton, University College London, Queen Mary University, University of Leeds and Northwestern University. The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Purpose Uptake of preventive therapy for women at increased breast cancer risk in England is unknown following the introduction of UK clinical guidelines in 2013. Preventive therapy could create socioeconomic inequalities in cancer incidence if it is more readily accepted by particular socio-demographic groups. In this multicentre study, we investigated uptake of tamoxifen and evaluated socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with initiation. We explored women’s experiences of treatment decision-making using qualitative interview data.
Methods Between September 2015 and December 2016, women (n=732) attending an appointment at one of 20 centres in England to discuss breast cancer risk were approached to complete a survey containing socio-demographic details and nul-
liparity. Of the baseline survey respondents (n equal to 408/732, 55.7% response rate), self-reported uptake of tamoxifen at 3-month follow-up was reported in 258 (63.2%). Sixteen women participated in semi-structured interviews.
Results One in seven (38/258=14.7%) women initiated tamoxifen. Women who had children were more likely to report use of tamoxifen than those without children (OR=5.26; 95%CI: 1.13–24.49, p=0.035). Interview data suggested that women weigh up risks and benefits of tamoxifen within the context of familial commitments, with exposure to significant other’s beliefs and experiences of cancer and medication a basis for their decision.
Conclusions Uptake of tamoxifen is low in clinical practice. There were no socio-demographic differences in uptake, suggesting that the introduction of breast cancer preventive therapy is unlikely to create socioeconomic inequalities in cancer incidence. Women’s decision-making was influenced by familial priorities, particularly having children.
The full article can be downloaded here
Oxford University | April 2018 | Weight loss is an important predictor of cancer
A team of scientists from Oxford and Essex Universities conducted a systematic review and meta- analysis to examine all the literature on the association between weight loss and cancer in primary care. This robust study, the first of its kind in this area, demonstrates that unintentional weight loss is the second highest risk factor for colorectal, lung, pancreatic and renal cancers (via Oxford University).
Their analysis of 25 studies, over 11.5 million patients -predominantly in primary care 22 of the studies or 92% – used data coded by clinicians in primary care. Four-fifths of these data defined weight loss as a physician’s coding of the symptom; the remainder collected data directly. An association was identified with weight loss linked with 10 cancer sites: prostate, colorectal, lung, gastro-oesophageal, pancreatic, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian, myeloma, renal tract, and biliary tree.
This also showed that people aged over 60 with unexpected weight loss have more than 3% chance of having cancer in one of the 10 cancer sites. In females in this age group, the average risk across all sites involved was estimated to be up to 6.7%, and in males up to 14.2%.
The authors of the study conclude that a a primary care clinician’s decision to code for weight loss is highly predictive of cancer.
The article has been published in the British Journal of General Practice online ahead of print.
Liu, J., et al | 2018 | An Integrated TCGA Pan-Cancer Clinical Data Resource to Drive High-Quality Survival Outcome Analytics | Cell | 73 | Vol. 2| P. 400-416| e11 | Doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.02.052.
Researchers in the US argue that based on the findings of a study that looked at 33 cancer types in more than 10,000 patients, cancers should in future be categorised according to similarities in tumour types; rather than where they are first formed. The researchers suggest they could reclassified into clusters that shared molecules.
For a decade, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program collected clinicopathologic annotation data along with multi-platform molecular profiles of more than 11,000 human tumors across 33 different cancer types. TCGA clinical data contain key features representing the democratized nature of the data collection process. To ensure proper use of this large clinical dataset associated with genomic features, we developed a standardized dataset named the TCGA Pan-Cancer Clinical Data Resource (TCGA-CDR), which includes four major clinical outcome endpoints. In addition to detailing major challenges and statistical limitations encountered during the effort of integrating the acquired clinical data, we present a summary that includes endpoint usage recommendations for each cancer type. These TCGA-CDR findings appear to be consistent with cancer genomics studies independent of the TCGA effort and provide opportunities for investigating cancer biology using clinical correlates at an unprecedented scale.
- Generation of TCGA Clinical Data Resource for 11,160 patients over 33 cancer types
- Analysis of clinical outcome endpoints with usage recommendations for each cancer
- Demonstration of data validity and utility for large-scale translational research
In the media: BBC News Reclassify cancers to improve treatment, researchers say
The full article is available from The Cell
Department of Health and Social Care | 2018| Report of the Task and Finish
Working Group on Brain Tumour Research
The conclusions of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) task and finish working group on brain tumour research have been published. The working group comprised clinicians, charities, a patient carer and officials to discuss how to increase the level and impact of research into brain tumours, removing barriers to research and how to generate high-quality research. It is the first time that research funders have joined together to look at how this area can be developed (DHSC).
Following such a prolonged period of under-funding, the Working Group identified the of fundable research applications currently being received as a principal issue,
which occurs for many reasons and needs to be tackled systematically. Therefore, they focused on identifying opportunities for removing barriers and generating additional high quality research applications. (DHSC)
The full report can be read here
A new way to slow cancer cell growth. | University of Rochester Medical Center | ScienceDaily
Researchers have identified a new way to potentially slow the fast-growing cells that characterize all types of cancer. By removing a specific protein from cells, they were able to slow the cell cycle, which is out of control in cancer.
The findings, reported in the journal Science were made in kidney and cervical cancer cells and are a long way from being applied in people, but could be the basis of a treatment option in the future.
Researchers identified a protein called Tudor-SN that is important in the “preparatory” phase of the cell cycle – the period when the cell gets ready to divide. When scientists eliminated this protein from cells, using the gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, cells took longer to gear up for division. The loss of Tudor-SN slowed the cell cycle.
More on this story: ScienceDaily
University of Rochester Medical Center