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News digest – vasectomies and prostate cancer, fishing for cells, brain tumour epilepsy and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

12 July 2014

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  • US scientists have been fishing for cells and have refined a method for purifying and cultivating rogue tumour cells found in patient blood samples. Read more in our news report.
  • New research on an aggressive form of bladder cancer found that a particular faulty cell process may make a good target for drugs to treat the disease. We covered the study on our news feed.
  • French scientists may have discovered why some people with glioma – a type of brain tumour – experience epileptic seizures. Take a look at our news story for more details.
  • Scientists found that men who have had a vasectomy have a small increased chance of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Future research, combining the results of this study with other similar studies, will be needed to confirm the findings, and work out why this occurs. The Telegraph had this on their front page, and the Independent also covered the research.
  • STVNews interviewed Professor Jeff Evans from our Beatson Institute and pancreatic cancer patient, Andrew Luck, on the need for more research on pancreatic cancer.
  • Welsh researchers, part funded by Cancer Research UK, are developing a new genetic test that could one day be used to predict how a particular type of leukaemia will progress. The BBC has more.
  • Scientists from Manchester revealed new findings, which (important caveat) are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, on memory-related side effects in young cancer patients following chemotherapy. The BBC covered this.
  • Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio wrote to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on the issue of getting radiotherapy on the NHS. If you have a subscription to the Sunday Times you can read the story here, and it also appeared in the Guardian and the Mail Online.
  • The Mail Online took a misleading angle on a new study on time spent cycling and prostate cancer. But this kind of research doesn’t prove that lots of time in the saddle causes prostate cancer. For a thorough breakdown of the research, and some more balanced conclusions, read this from NHS Choices or this on BuzzFeed.
  • A huge US network of scientists published their latest findings showing how faulty processes in lung cancer may be triggering a key network of cell growth signals to become active. Bloomberg and MedicalXpress have more on this.
  • US researchers discovered that a protein – called TARBP2 – may be involved in the spread of breast cancer by controlling how different protein messages are produced. The Mail Online covered this, but the research is still in its early stages and has so far only been tested in cells in the lab and in mice.
  • New research found that bowel cancer patients with high levels of vitamin D in their blood were more likely to survive. The researchers point out that although interesting, a lot more research is needed to understand their early findings before people need to start taking a “Daily vitamin D dose” as the Express implies.
  • Our Citizen Science projects – where we invite the public to tackle research challenges – attracted some attention this week picking up a couple of awards. And Research had this article featuring our Cell Slider and Genes in Space projects.
  • We often have to deal with media stories about ‘simple blood tests’ for cancer (such as this one, and this one). But this week the news was full of reports of an apparent blood test for Alzheimers. So we thought it worth highlighting this excellent ‘Behind the Headlines’ article by NHS Choices, looking at how, despite the hype, in reality the ‘test’ is “no better than a coin toss”.

And finally

  • Despite what the Mail Online report, a new study out this week isn’t the ‘first time’ scientists have published research on how cancer cells move – so claiming that “scientists discover how cells spread for the first time” is a bit misleading. It is an interesting study though, but has so far only been shown in cells from frog embryos so we’re afraid it’s a case of “more research needed” for this one.