Advances in Cancer Treatment

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology | April 2019 | Advances in Cancer Treatment

The latest POSTnote from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology gives an overview of recent advances in cancer treatment, the potential benefits and risks, and considers the opportunities and challenges to using new technologies in the NHS.

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Image source: researchbriefings.parliament.uk

Overview

  • New cancer treatment technologies have shown promising results in clinical trials, particularly for difficult-to-treat cancers.
  • Significant progress has been made in cancer immunotherapies for specific cancers and patient populations. Research into the use of these therapies for other cancers and patients is ongoing.
  • Advances in radiotherapy include improved imaging and precision, proton beam therapy and molecular radiotherapy, all of which have also shown positive clinical results.
  • Combination therapies, which combine different types of immunotherapy, or drug and radiotherapies, are a priority for current and future research.
  • New therapies require specialised knowledge and resources; stakeholders agree that they should be delivered as part of a comprehensive multidisciplinary care package.

POSTnote Advances in Cancer Treatment

How NHS investment in proton beam therapy is coming to fruition

Limb, M. | 2019| How NHS investment in proton beam therapy is coming to fruition | BMJ|364|l313 | https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l313

Winter 2019 will be a landmark for the National Health Service, as it will mark the opening of the NHS’s first high energy proton beam therapy unit, at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. Adrian Crellin, NHS England clinical lead for proton beam therapy says: “It is a confirmation that radiation oncology is absolutely a key part of modern cancer treatment.” 

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The two new £125m (€140m; $160m) centres will each treat up to 750 patients a year. “Many of the patients we’ll be treating will be children, young people, and those with what could loosely be termed as rarer tumours,” says Ed Smith, who heads the Christie unit.

Research has advanced since the NHS announced investment in the two national proton beam centres in 2012. Smith, a consultant clinical oncologist, says protons now have “an increasingly proved role in the indications we will treat” and suggests the evidence is “beginning to firm up” for the reduction of long term toxicities.

Conventional radiotherapy uses x rays from multiple directions; a modern variant is high precision, intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which aims to maximise the dose to the tumour while minimising the dose to the surrounding tissue (Source: The BMJ).

Read the full story at the BMJ 

The full article is available to staff via NHS Athens, alternatively contact the Library for a copy

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