Credit: Total shape

  • Scientists at the Cancer Research UK Radiation Research Centre in Oxford showed that the anti-malaria drug atovaquone could help radiotherapy destroy tumours. This research shows that by slowing down the rate at which cancer cells use oxygen, atovaquone creates an environment within tumours that makes them easier to destroy with radiotherapy.

    Pharma Times, the Mirror and the Daily Mail were some of the outlets to cover the story.

  • The BBC reported on a new clinical trial that’s just started at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, testing a new treatment vaccine for liver cancer. The vaccine is designed to help the body’s immune system target and kill cancer cells, and would be given alongside chemotherapy. Around 70 patients will be involved in the clinical trial, with half receiving the vaccine/chemotherapy combination, and the other receiving just chemotherapy. The aim is to determine if the vaccine / chemotherapy combination is better than chemotherapy on its own.
  • The Independent reported that at a recent breast cancer conference, scientists revealed that breast cancer tumours with mistakes in the ESR1 gene were more likely to stop responding to hormone treatment. Future research will determine if mistakes in ESR1 can accurately predict which patients will become resistant to treatment, and in turn be used to guide breast cancer treatment.
  • We caught up with our new Chief Scientist, Professor Karen Vousden, to get a sneak peek at what her new role at Cancer Research UK will involve, and what she sees as the hot topics for future research. Read more on our blog.
  • In Wales, patients about to undergo chemotherapy can now speak to cancer experts to help prepare them for the treatment. As the BBC reports, the pilot scheme will run for 3 months and allows patients – either on their own or with friends or family – to speak to professionals about any fears they have about chemotherapy. The scheme is being run by Betsi Cadwaladr health board and charity Tenovus at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan, Denbighshire.
  • A drug being tested in clinical trials in Europe as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease might also be able to stop lung cancer from spreading, according reports from the Daily Mail and the Herald Sun. The study, carried out by researchers in Melbourne, is still in the early stages, and so far has only been tested in animals.
  • The debate about e-cigarettes rages on as new research shows that they contain glycidol, a chemical designated by the World Health Organisation as a ‘probable carcinogen’. However the consensus in the UK is that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes. We’ve written extensively about e-cigarettes on our blog.
  • A new approach to assessing new cancer drugs given to patients on the NHS began today. We hope it will help give more certainty to patients, help them get promising new drugs faster, and make it easier to manage NHS budgets. It’s crucial that patients don’t miss out on the best treatments, so Cancer Research UK will closely monitor any reforms that are implemented. Importantly, patients currently receiving drugs from the Cancer Drugs Fund will continue to do so. You can read more about the cancer drug fund in this blog post.
  • The Daily Mail suggested that rosemary and thyme can act as natural painkillers. But it’s not quite as promising as it sounds. The study was carried out in human cells and mouse cells in the lab, and the results haven’t been confirmed in people. It’s also important to remember that just because a plant or herb contains a chemical that can reduce pain, it doesn’t mean the herb itself is a painkiller – or that you should eat loads of it.

    And finally…..

  • The Telegraph and the National Geographic reported on the earliest known case of cancer which was detected in a fossil from an early human ancestor dating back 1.7 million years. The discovery was made by British and South African scientists, and confirms that cancer has been around for millions of years, contradicting the school of thought that it’s a ‘modern’ disease.