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News digest – DNA ‘blind spots’, monster chromosomes, the Cancer Drugs Fund and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

15 November 2014

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Cancer drugs
  • Our researchers discovered that a majority of obese people in Britain would not describe themselves as “obese,” raising questions about how to get important health messaging out to the right people. The Guardian and the Mail Online have more on this.
  • Over 400 DNA ‘blind spots’ have been uncovered by a team of our scientists in Manchester. Here’s our press release for the details.
  • UK researchers found that switching off a molecule that helps blood vessels grow shrank prostate tumours in mice. NHS Choices takes an in-depth look, but it’s very early days, so the calls of ‘breakthrough’ from the Telegraph and the Mail Online are a little premature.
  • NHS England announced a number of big changes to the way the Cancer Drugs Fund will work in future. The BBC and the Guardian were among the many media outlets to cover this latest discussion around the Fund, and we published this blog post giving an overview of what might happen next.
  • What is a monster chromosome? And how might studying them help scientists understand cancer better? New Scientist investigates.
  • As we’ve said before, doctor’s aren’t injecting people with HIV to cure leukaemia – despite what the Independent and the Mail Online report. But they are producing some fascinating early results using a modified version of the virus in an experimental immunotherapy.
  • The first National Prostate Cancer Audit – covered by the Telegraph and the Mail Online – found that thousands of men with prostate cancer in England and Wales are missing out on the best care.
  • A ‘chronic’ shortage of radiologists is causing wide variation in waiting times for x-ray and scan results, experts claim. The Guardian have more on this.
  • Chemicals extracted from cannabis were in the news again as this article from the Conversation covered very early new research in mice. It’s too soon to say from this study that these chemicals could be used to treat people with brain tumours.
  • More than 100 leading researchers and doctors signed a letter, published in The Times, opposing the Medical Innovation Bill (aka the ‘Saatchi Bill’).
  • This thoughtful article in the Guardian looks at the challenges of recovery following cancer treatment.
  • Experts raised concerns over the impact the recent widespread coverage of young cancer patient Ashya King might have on parents choosing treatment for their children.
  • One of our Women of Influence fellows has won an award to recognise her research into early detection of cancers. Dr Sarah Bohndiek, based at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, won the Women In Science and Engineering Research Award at a ceremony hosted by HRH The Princess Royal.
  • NHS Choices explored the long-standing discussion around mobile phones and brain tumours.
  • We continued our series of guest blog posts from MPs with the Lib Dem’s Dr Julian Huppert discussing what he thinks it will take to make UK science great.
  • After another tobacco company was found to have breached advertising rules, we launched a new campaign asking young people to use social media to send a message to the tobacco industry using the hashtag #smokethis. Read our press release for more info.
  • And we covered new figures showing that Australian smokers have warmed to measures that placed tobacco products in plain, standardised packaging.

And finally

  • It’s not cancer related, but scientists were high-fiving across the globe this week as European space experts landed a probe on a comet for the first time EVER. A pretty amazing achievement for science. Naturally, some conspiracy theories followed.