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News digest – radioactive bacteria, plain tobacco packs, gene patenting and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

27 April 2013

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A pile of newspapers
The latest cancer news

Catch up on the latest cancer news

  • For those who don’t know why we want the Government to legislate for plain standardised tobacco packaging, read this excellent Lancet Oncology article.
  • We want to give children one less reason to start smoking but interestingly, our research this week showed that standardising cigarette packs also makes them less appealing to existing smokers (press release).
  • Some Welsh cancer patients aren’t starting their treatment within government target times. The BBC has more detail.
  • The Telegraph published an interesting article about using computers to choose cancer treatments. It’s not the stuff of science fiction, as doctors already use computer programmes to help identify the most suitable treatments for their patients.
  • In another sci-fi-like story, US scientists have used radioactive bacteria to treat mice with pancreatic cancer. It’s intriguing work but as this Nature article says, there are several crucial questions that need answering before this research could be harnessed for humans.
  • A small but interesting study we funded showed that women are often surprised that breast screening can lead to ‘overdiagnosis’ of cancer, but would rather go for screening than take the risk of missing a cancer that could be treated. Here’s our press release.
  • The ‘breast cancer’ drug, Herceptin, could be effective in around two per cent of lung cancers, according to preliminary research reported here.
  • An innovative drug development fund, provided in part by our commercial company Cancer Research Technology, backed its first major project this week. Here’s our press release, and we wrote in more detail about the science behind the promising compounds being developed – ‘MPS1 inhibitors’.
  • According to a new analysis, rising cancer rates are threatening to ‘overwhelm’ Latin American countries. The BBC has this take.
  • The Guardian wrote a fascinating piece about gene patenting and what they describe as “the last-ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA”.
  • And the New York Times had a great article about how whole genome DNA sequencing will one day become the norm across health care, and the current “arms race” between US institutions to invest in DNA sequencing technologies.

And finally

  • We recently described how a new blood test could track tumours as they grow and evolve in the body. Picking up this theme, our blogger Dr Kat Arney has looked into this exciting new area in more depth in an Opinion piece for Al Jazeera English.