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News digest – new drugs approved for lung cancer, wine glasses getting bigger, World No Tobacco Day and… cancer-causing shampoo?

by Gabriella Beer | Analysis

3 June 2017

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Wine glasses
  • The NHS can now give a new immunotherapy drug to lung cancer patients in the late stages of the disease, as reported by several media outlets. Pembrolizumab was approved as a treatment for people with incurable non-small cell lung cancer, as it’s shown to increase survival without as many side effects compared to previous treatments.
  • Collaborations between the UK and EU medical researchers have increased the value of research, says the Pharma Times and OnMedica. We teamed up with seven research organisations to write the report that focuses on the UK’s contribution to EU medical research. Here’s our press release for the details.
  • Bigger wine glasses might make us drink too much, according to reports in the Guardian and Huffington Post. A group of scientists at Cambridge University looked at the size of a variety of wine glasses from as far back as the 18th Century, and compared them to some types of glassware on sale today. On average, today’s wine glasses were much bigger. The researchers suggest this might be encouraging us to drink more.

Number of the week

7 million

The number of people killed by smoking worldwide each year.

  • CRISPR crept into the headlines once again with New Scientist announcing that 20 new trials using the gene editing tool are ready and raring to go. But The Independent warned that experts need to do more work to understand the many possible effects of editing people’s DNA.
  • Wednesday was World No Tobacco Day. The event received lots of international coverage, with the World Health Organisation saying that smoking kills around 7 million people a year, worldwide. We also blogged about this.
  • Scientists working with mice have found a new molecule that could be responsible for treatment not working in breast cancer that’s spread to the brain. If the results are confirmed in people this could explain why survival in this group of patients remains low. Read our news report for more.
  • Tumours grow in harsh environments, and only the fittest tumour cells survive. Unfortunately, these are usually the ones that are resistant to treatment. The Independent reported how scientists are tackling these stubborn tumour cells, by developing personalised medicines.

    And finally

  •  The Sun and The Independent featured stories about the risk of cancer from common household items like shampoo and furniture.  Experts were quick to call the study ‘misleading’, pointing out that while many things may contain carcinogenic chemicals, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re at high enough levels to cause harm. And, importantly, this study looked at the effect of these chemicals on cells in the lab, so we can’t be sure that the same results would be seen in humans.