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News digest – Brexit, viral treatments, alcohol, and… prostate cancer screening?

by Michael Walsh | Analysis

9 September 2017

1 comment 1 comment

  • Brexit means… what for science? This week the Government set out its aims for science when the UK leaves the EU in a new report. It was light on detail, but recognised how important funding programmes and a relationship with EU regulatory bodies are. We reported on this one, as did the Independent.
  • Zika virus has been used to treat aggressive brain tumours in mice, reports BBC News. The virus targets glioblastoma cells that have similar properties to the stem cells that the virus attacks, causing serious brain defects in new born babies. Our news report has more details, and check out this blog post to see how we’re also funding research in this area.

  • Viruses injected into tumours could boost immunotherapy treatments. Tumours have evolved mechanisms to evade immune recognition, whereas viruses are well recognised by the immune system. Work done in mice and cells in a dish used viruses to draw the attention of the immune system to the cancer, making an immunotherapy more effective. Check out our news report for more.
  • A handheld device can distinguish between tumour and healthy tissue in early tests, according to BBC News. Scientists at the University of Texas have tested the device on tumour samples in the lab, finding it could identify cancerous tissue in 10 seconds. If it works the same way in patients then it could guide surgeons to help them see if they’ve removed all of a tumour. We also covered this story.
  • Keyhole surgery for oesophageal cancer is as good as more invasive surgery in terms of survival, according to unpublished clinical trial results. We reported that the smaller-scale surgery had better survival and fewer complications than standard ‘open’ surgery.

Number of the week


Out of 10 shoppers experience ‘up-selling’ each week

  • Eating plenty of wholegrains cuts your risk of bowel cancer, according to a new report by the World Cancer Research Fund. The Express and Mail Online covered the findings that showed every 90g of wholegrains a day reduces the risk of bowel cancer by 17%. But what’s a wholegrain and how do they help? Find out in our blog post.
  • The obesity crisis is being worsened by promotions that push unhealthy food and larger portions onto shoppers, according to a report. The Royal Society for Public Health poll says that 8 in 10 people experience upselling each week – where upgrades are offered to larger, typically less healthy options. BBC News and the Guardian had this story, and The Scotsman reported that this was backed up by a survey of Scottish shoppers that we carried out.
  • Alcohol increases the risk of 7 types of cancer. But firms who make alcoholic drinks are downplaying these links and misleading the public, according to the Daily Mail and Guardian. A report said that alcohol manufacturers are using ‘denying’ and ‘distraction’ tactics to distort the evidence linking alcohol to cancer.
  • Finding a cancer is hard enough, but predicting whether it’ll cause harm is even harder – not every cancer will. The New Yorker had an excellent feature on the challenges research is facing in this area, and what can be done about it.
  • A targeted drug could help keep some advanced ovarian cancers at bay, according to unpublished clinical trial results. We reported that the drug, a type of PARP inhibitor, exploits genetic weaknesses in cancer cells, and can delay some advanced ovarian cancers from getting worse.
  • And another type of PARP inhibitor, the breast cancer drug olaparib, could also be used to treat prostate cancer, according to Mail Online and the Express. The early stage study adds to the growing evidence that some men with prostate cancer could benefit from these drugs.
  • New unpublished results from the STAMPEDE trial that we fund suggest that men with prostate cancer that has spread who are starting long-term hormone therapy may benefit from either of two additional treatments. You can find our more in our news report.

And finally

  • Across the pond, a new study claiming prostate cancer screening significantly reduces deaths from the disease received a mixed reception from experts. STAT News had a great summary of the reanalysis of two studies, which led to claims that the PSA screening test for prostate cancer could cut deaths from the disease by 20%. The Telegraph said the findings call into question the NHS position that screening causes more harm than good. But they don’t. The new analysis doesn’t acknowledge the problem of overdiagnosis, and a previous gold-standard review of these papers plus others showed prostate cancer screening doesn’t save lives and comes with harms.



  • Alaina Albert
    14 October 2017

    Nice blogging! You have shared latest news and stats about various issues. Thanks for sharing it!


  • Alaina Albert
    14 October 2017

    Nice blogging! You have shared latest news and stats about various issues. Thanks for sharing it!