From eyedrops to potential leukaemia treatment

University of Nottingham | December 2018 | From eye drops to potential leukaemia treatment

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have found eye drops  have the potential to be used in treatment for an aggressive form of  blood cancer: acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).  Nottingham staff collaborated on research led by experts at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge, and other scientists which led to the discovery that a compound identified in eye drops, being developed  to treat a form of eye disease, has shown promise for treating AML.The active ingredient in eye drops has the potential to treat AML, as it targets leukaemic blood cells without harming non-leukemic  blood cells. 

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Full details of the research are available from:

University of Nottingham [press release]

Wellcome Sanger Institute [press release]

Abstract 

We recently identified the splicing kinase gene SRPK1 as a genetic vulnerability of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, we show that genetic or pharmacological inhibition of SRPK1 leads to cell cycle arrest, leukemic cell differentiation and prolonged survival of mice transplanted with MLL-rearranged AML. RNA-seq analysis demonstrates that SRPK1 inhibition leads to altered isoform levels of many genes including several with established roles in leukemogenesis such as MYBBRD4 and MED24. We focus on BRD4 as its main isoforms have distinct molecular properties and find that SRPK1 inhibition produces a significant switch from the short to the long isoform at the mRNA and protein levels. This was associated with BRD4 eviction from genomic loci involved in leukemogenesis including BCL2 and MYC. We go on to show that this switch mediates at least part of the anti-leukemic effects of SRPK1 inhibition. Our findings reveal that SRPK1 represents a plausible new therapeutic target against AML.

The full article is available to read from Nature Communications

First children with cancer to begin treatment with revolutionary CAR-T therapy

The first children to receive a game-changing personalised therapy for cancer will start treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London this week | via NHS England

CAR-T is a highly complex new type of immunotherapy which involves collecting and using the patients’ own immune cells to target their cancer in a process which is completed over a number of weeks.

The start of this treatment marks the beginning of a new era of personalised medicine, and forms part of the upgrade in cancer services which will be set out shortly NHS’s long term plan.

In September, NHS England struck the first full access deal in Europe on tisagenlecleucel, which can potentially cure some children with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) where other treatments have failed, enabling NICE to recommend the treatment for entry into the reformed NHS Cancer Drugs Fund last week.

The landmark deal with Novartis came less than 10 days after the treatment was granted its European marketing licence and represents one of the fastest funding approvals in the 70 year history of the NHS.

Full story at NHS England

Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

OnMedica | November 2018 | Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

One of the most common childhood cancers- neuroblastoma –  has been found by researchers investigating treatments for the condition in animals. Neuroblastoma is the leading single cause of cancer in under 5s. Currently, despite using intensive treatment regimens, children with the most aggressive forms of neuroblastoma have a less than 50% survival rate.  Although researchers in Australia have studied the effects of using this treatment on mice, a combination of two drugs was found to be more effective than other treatments (via OnMedica).

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The research team have recently presented their findings at the 30th EORTC-NI-AACR Symposium, an event that unites academics, scientists and pharmaceutical industry representatives from across the world to discuss the latest advances and the impact of new discoveries in molecular biology. (Full story from OnMedica)

OnMedica Hope for non-toxic treatment for child cancer

Combination of new drug and chemotherapy used to treat patients with advanced ovarian and lung cancer

ICR | August 2018 | Drug combination gives ‘exciting’ results in ovarian and lung cancer in early trial

The results of an early clinical trial suggest that a combination of chemotherapy and a new drug could be used to provide treatment for patients with advanced ovarian and lung cancer, where other treatments had failed. 

Scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, decided to test vistusertib, which inhibits the activation of a specific molecule in ovarian cancer cells, to determine if the drug combination was safe for patients, the dosage and its efficacy.  The combination of targeted drug vistusertib along with paclitaxel chemotherapy caused tumours of over 50 per cent of patients with ovarian cancer and over 33 % with lung cancer to shrink, and stopped patients’ cancers from growing for almost six months.

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This far exceeds what is expected with standard treatments in patients with advanced disease who have already had, and have now become resistant to, standard treatment (Source: ICR).

Read the full news release from The Institute for Cancer Research Drug combination gives ‘exciting’ results in ovarian and lung cancer in early trial

In the news:

BBC News Drug cocktail can ‘shrink cancer tumours’

The Times Cancer drug Vistusertib gives hope for terminal patients

NHS70: spotlight on cancer

NHS England |August 2018 |NHS70: spotlight on cancer

More people are surviving cancer than ever before. As we continue to celebrate 70 years of the NHS, we shine the spotlight on some of the key milestones that improved cancer diagnosis, treatment and care over the decades, as well as looking to the future on NHS cancer care.

NHS England will also explore some of the work of the National Cancer Programme, as the NHS implements an ambitious. They have produced a timeline of cancer care improvements in cancer prevention, treatment and care (Source: NHS England).

You can watch the video here:

 

The NHS has played a major role in advancing cancer treatment and care locally, nationally and globally. In this video, we acknowledge some of the key milestones that marked huge improvements in cancer prevention, treatment and care.

 

Full details are available from NHS England 

Data shows that patients diagnosed through screening, GP referral or 2-week referrals are more likely to have more treatment options

Public Health England | August 2018 | New data links route to cancer diagnosis and treatment

 Public Health England (PHE) have released new data which  illustrates how the way that cancer patients are diagnosed may affect their treatment options.

The national data links individual patients’ route to diagnosis, including screening, GP referrals, and emergency presentations, with the treatment patients go on to receive.

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Those diagnosed through screening were likely to have the most treatment options available and receive treatments aimed at curing the cancer, in particular surgery to completely remove the tumour. This strongly supports the benefits of screening as a way of diagnosing cancer early, which evidence suggests leads to better patient outcomes, ultimately saving lives (Source: PHE).

Full news story at PHE

Advancing Care, Advancing Years: Improving Cancer Treatment and Care for an Ageing Population 

Cancer Research UK | June 2018 | Advancing Care, Advancing Years: Improving Cancer Treatment and Care for an Ageing Population 

A new report presents the findings of  research commissioned by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and conducted by the University of Birmingham’s Health Services Management Centre and ICF International, which sought to understand the specific needs of older patients, and to explore the process of clinical decision-making for older people with cancer across the UK.

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This research involved a literature review, clinical observations at eight case study sites, interviews with 15 national decision-makers and 80 health professionals, and three UK-wide surveys (of primary care professionals, secondary care professionals and older people affected by cancer). The direction of the research was also informed by engagement with a group of older people affected by cancer, and by extensive engagement and interviews with national policymakers.

This research involved a literature review, clinical observations at eight case study sites, interviews with 15 national decision-makers and 80 health professionals, and three UK-wide surveys (of primary care professionals, secondary care professionals and older people affected by cancer). The direction of the research was also informed by engagement with a group of older people affected by cancer, and by extensive engagement and interviews with national policymakers.

The report is available from CRUK