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News digest – neuroblastoma trial, standardised packaging vote, whole-body ‘snapshot’ and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

1 February 2014

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  • We announced a new trial using a form of molecular radiotherapy to treat children with neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest childhood cancers. The treatment is effective in adults with other types of cancer but this is the first time it has been tried in children with neuroblastoma – our press release has more details.
  • Our Women of Influence Initiative launched this week linking up a network of successful business women with our exceptional young female scientists and clinicians to support them as they move up the career ladder. The Mail Online covered the announcement and Chairwoman of the Women of Influence board, Tamara Box, gave her thoughts on the pioneering initiative.
  • Key backing from the House of Lords provided further support for the introduction of plain, standardised packaging for cigarettes in the UK. See our news story for more info.
  • And more than a third of a million more people tried to quit smoking during the 2012 Stoptober campaign compared to other months that year. See our news story for more details.
  • A new type of scan that takes a whole-body ‘snapshot’ could be used to pinpoint tumours in bones and monitor how patients with myeloma respond to their treatment. Our news story has more info.
  • This BBC Radio 4 piece – featuring our Chief Clinician Professor Peter Johnson – covered the emerging idea of cancer evolution and how cancer cells change over time to make tumours complicated and diverse.
  • This coincides with coverage of the newly established Centre for Evolution and Cancer – set up by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London. You can read more about the centre in this blog post from the Chief Executive of the ICR, Professor Alan Ashworth.
  • A large-scale analysis of the genetic changes linked to bladder cancer revealed important clues that could point to new ways to target the disease. News-Medical has more info.
  • New research showed that antioxidant supplements enhance lung cancer growth in mice. New Scientist and the Mail Online covered the research, but as we’ve written before, the science behind antioxidants and cancer is complex, and the disease-busting benefits of these alleged superheroes of good health are highly debatable. Our advice is to stick to a healthy, balanced diet, which should provide all the nutrients most people need without taking supplements.
  • This interesting article from Discover Magazine covers citizen science – including our own Cell Slider project – and how harnessing the power of the public can help speed up research by outsourcing the analysis of vast quantities of data to even bigger numbers of people.
  • People with heart failure may be at greater risk of cancer, according to US researchers. But as this excellent breakdown from NHS Choices points out, more research will be needed to confirm these early findings and take into account important factors such as diet and alcohol.
  • Research from the US showed that an altered sleep pattern accelerates the growth of tumours in mice. It’s important to remember that this is early lab research where mice had their sleep disrupted in a controlled way so it’s too early to claim that a “bad night’s sleep” can speed up the growth of cancer.

And finally

  • Any media coverage that increases awareness of the known links between alcohol consumption and cancer is important. But some of this week’s headlines linking alcohol and the most serious form of skin cancer – malignant melanoma – were misleading. We took an in depth look at the findings to clear up why it’s too soon to be making these claims.