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News digest – cancer’s family tree, a melanoma ‘safe haven’, misleading reports about a blood test and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

18 April 2015

1 comment 1 comment

A melanoma cell.
  • Our scientists are penning the first pages of the evolutionary rule book of cancer, in fascinating new research published this week. Here’s our press release, and this blog post digs deeper into the study and what the research could lead to for patients.
  • We jointly launched a new £5m project with the Medical Research Council, to help personalise bowel cancer treatment. Our press release has the details on the project, which aims to match patients to the most effective therapies.
  • In an intriguing finding, our scientists found that the network of cells around a melanoma may help foster resistance to new ‘targeted’ treatments. Here’s our press release, and we blogged about the research too (the photo will amaze you).
  • UK researchers – who we part fund – have developed an experimental treatment to try to overcome drug resistance in patients with certain blood cancers. It’s now set to enter clinical trials.
  • Research on cannabis and cannabinoids was back in the news again this week. But as is often the case, the articles weren’t too quick to highlight how early stage the research is. Here’s our up-to-date review of all the evidence.
  • A YouGov poll found that just under one in five women diagnosed with breast cancer had waited more than a month before visiting their GP after noticing symptoms. The Guardian and the Mail Online have more on this.

Number of the week:


The number of tumour samples that make up the genetic database our scientists analysed to help understand cancer’s family tree.

  • And in response to the poll, a breast cancer survivor wrote this piece in the Guardian about her experience of being diagnosed.
  • This powerful and thought-provoking article in the Guardian explores the challenges doctors face when deciding what treatments to offer people with cancer.
  • An interesting piece of new technology could one day turn smartphones into cancer-detecting cameras. New Scientist explores.
  • A small study proposed a possible link between muscle-building supplements and testicular cancer, but its findings are far from conclusive and more research will be needed to ascertain whether the link is real. The Mail Online has more.
  • An analysis of data from two surveys of Welsh schoolchildren found that only a minority of teenagers who try e-cigarettes go on to become regular vapers. The BBC, Independent and Mail Online covered this, and here’s our news report.
  • GP Online covered research questioning how useful rating systems for GPs are when it comes to diagnosing cancer.
  • A couple of articles picked up on new research looking at the challenges of personalising cancer treatment with genetic tests.
  • This interesting article from Popular Science looks at how using 3D models of tumour cells could help understand the best ways to use treatments.
  • UK researchers discovered a brand new protein that could help boost how the immune system responds to cancer. It’s exciting, but very early days – so it was a shame to see over-the-top headlines claiming this is “key to ‘turbo-charging’ immune system to kill all cancers”.
  • This in-depth article in Nature looks at how scientists are rejuvenating their efforts to try and develop drugs to target one of the most important cancer-causing proteins ever discovered – Ras.
  • ‘Simple test’, part 1: The Mail Online got a bit carried away reporting on some very early stage research showing that a particular protein could help prostate cancer cells grow and spread. But the findings are a long way off becoming a ‘test’ for aggressive forms of the disease.
  • ‘Simple test’, part 2: Dogs. Again. This time, sniffing out prostate cancer.
  • ‘Simple test’, part 3: And in more research on detecting chemicals given off by cancer cells, an early stage study found that stomach cancer cells may produce a ‘breath signature’ that could one day be used as a test. The BBC was among the many media outlets to cover this, and NHS Choices took an in-depth look at the findings.

And finally

  • And here’s ‘simple test’, part 4: Yet another ‘simple blood test’ that’s neither simple, nor a blood test – this time aiming to identify women at high risk of breast cancer. This was all over the media, but here’s our blog post putting things in context.



  • Diana
    19 April 2015

    Please find a cure or test for pancreatic cancer.


  • Diana
    19 April 2015

    Please find a cure or test for pancreatic cancer.