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News digest – cancer is a ‘perfect storm’, obesity, unbalanced cells and… mind control?

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by Cancer Research UK | Analysis

27 August 2016

1 comment 1 comment

Toxoplasma gondii inside brain cells.
  • For the first time our scientists uncovered the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions needed for cancer to develop. Their work, which has been 10 years in the making, showed that genetic faults in ‘sleeping’ stem cells won’t cause cancer, but if they are present in replicating stem cells, this could lead to cancer. You can read more about the research on our blog, and here’s the press release.
  • Women taking combined hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – an effective treatment for the symptoms of the menopause – have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to a detailed new study. The findings, covered by a variety of news outlets, add to evidence from previous research. NHS Choices took an in-depth look at the findings, and you can read more about this topic on our website.
  • A new report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reinforced the links between obesity and cancer. The Daily Mail and The Sun covered this, and NHS Choices gave the results a thorough review. Check out our website for more info on bodyweight and cancer risk.
  • A potential new drug combination could slow down lung cancer cell growth, according to a study we funded. So far, these drugs have only been tested in the lab, but it lays the foundation for further research into the drug combination.

Number of the week


The number of cells that a single one of our immune system’s soldiers a T cell can wipe out, according to STAT News.

  • Not all breast cancer patients benefit from chemotherapy after surgery and radiotherapy, and identifying these patients is a problem. But a test called MammaPrint has been used in one of our trials where it looked at the genes in patients’ tumour cells, as the Telegraph and The New York Times reported.
  • Out-of-balance cell division, rather than rapid cell growth, might be behind the formation of some oesophageal cancers, according to a new study in mice. Partly funded by us, the research found that pre-cancerous cells produced slightly more cells that went on to divide more than their normal counterparts, leading to tumours.
  • A ‘Frankensteininan’ cancer treatment has been reported on this week by STAT News. CAR-T therapy is an exciting new treatment that takes a patient’s own immune cells from their body, and modifies them to target cancer cells before putting them back into the patient. The report follows one patient through her treatment, and highlights the cost and risk of the therapy. We’ve previously blogged about this treatment here.

And finally…

  • Toxoplasma gondii – a tiny parasite commonly found in mammals and birds – has fascinated scientists because of its potential ability to control the behaviour of rodents, making them more daring. And now researchers are turning to this quirky, mind-manipulating micro-organism to fight cancer. Working with mice, a team in the US has found that the microbe produces molecules that can kick the rodent’s immune system into action against ovarian tumour cells. While it’s early days, it might be possible to turn this knowledge into new treatments for this type of cancer. Read The Conversation’s piece to find out more.


  • Dr Yoga
    3 September 2016

    It is encouraging to see that new cancer treatments approaches like CAR T cell therapy are being developed by leading scientists.


  • Dr Yoga
    3 September 2016

    It is encouraging to see that new cancer treatments approaches like CAR T cell therapy are being developed by leading scientists.