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News digest – self-destructing cells, sex and prostate cancer, nanoparticles and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

1 November 2014

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  • Our researchers found a drug combination that can trigger the self-destruct process in lung cancer cells – paving the way for new treatments, according to research that will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool next week. The Express covered this story; here’s the NCRI press release.
  • US researchers have engineered stem cells to produce cancer-killing toxins in mice, while sparing normal healthy cells. The BBC has more on this interesting (but early stage) research.
  • People aren’t always given sufficient information about the risks of screening for chronic diseases such as cancer, according to an influential group of MPs. Here’s the BBC and Guardian for more info.
  • Cancer survival rates in England have improved considerably in recent years, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics. The BBC has the details.
  • We’ve teamed up with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to test experimental drugs for patients with blood cancers. Our press release has the details.
  • Off the back of this article in Mosaic, there was a lot of discussion around new ways to fund clinical trials. While we agree that there is need for innovative new ways to fund research, we were a little concerned about some of these proposals as you can hear from this interview we did on BBC radio (28 minutes in).
  • Should we add arsenic to tap-water to prevent breast cancer deaths, ask the Mail Online. Unsurprisingly, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. Arsenic-contaminated drinking water is known to cause lung and bladder cancer, as well as a host of other health problems. The study behind the headline was actually suggesting arsenic as an interesting avenue for future research into cancer drugs.
  • The Cancer Drugs Fund came under the spotlight again this week, as NHS England closes its consultation on how to improve its process of assessing which drugs the Fund should cover. We’ve given them our thoughts – we want NHS England, the Government, NICE and others to come up with a long-term strategy to address this issue by the time the Fund comes to end in 2016.
  • Google announced plans to develop a ‘nanoparticle tool’ that may one day be able to detect the early warning signs of cancer and other diseases. This obviously attracted a lot of media attention, the majority of which leaned towards overhyping what is still an early stage technology with many challenges and years of development ahead of it.
  • We were pleased to see that the Be Clear on Cancer campaigns won a silver medal at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising awards.
  • This touching article from The New York Times explores the challenges around end-of-life care.

And finally

  • Could having multiple sexual partners really reduce a man’s risk of prostate cancer? The findings of a new study on prostate cancer and sexual activity were too good an opportunity to miss for some media outlets, but their coverage was misleading. For an in-depth and balanced look at the findings read this article from NHS choices.