- More than 60 years ago, a young American woman called Henrietta died of cervical cancer. Her cells – taken without her consent – went on to become a valuable resource for researchers. This week, after decades of controversy, her family made an agreement with the US National Institutes of Health about how the genetic information in Henrietta’s cells can be used in future. It’s a fascinating story that highlights the tension between scientific research, patient consent and individual privacy. The New York Times has more info, and Nature published this excellent feature article.
- (And if you haven’t read the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, you should. It’s fab.)
- On a similar note, Dr Len from the American Cancer Society wrote this week about the “promise and the peril” of big data.
- And Nature published this interesting researcher perspective on sharing data.
- Breast cancer patients could be spared repeat surgery by a NICE-approved test that shows whether the disease has spread. The Telegraph and NHS Choices covered the research.
- Cutting edge gene sequencing has proved that a potent carcinogen lurks within a traditional Chinese medicine called birthwort. The Scientist has more info.
- Last week’s digest linked to a story about ‘redefining’ certain types of cancer. We spotted this letter in the New York Times that disagreed with the proposal.
- Researchers studying how tumours grow new blood vessels made an exciting discovery about how the immune system could help overcome resistance to drugs that target this process. The San Diego Union-Tribune had this excellent description of the research.
- We enjoyed this engrossing talk by Radio Four’s Andrew Graystone about his relationship with his cancer. We thought his take on the language of cancer was particularly interesting – “I’m the battleground, not the fighter”.