Skip to main content

Together we are beating cancer

Donate now
  • Science & Technology
  • Health & Medicine

News digest – cataloguing cancer genomes, gene-edited immune cells and NHS finances

by PA Media Group | Analysis

8 February 2020

0 comments 0 comments

Global study reveals cancer clues can appear years before diagnosis

Scientists from around the world have teamed up to provide the most detailed insight into cancer genetics to date. The staggering international effort involved reading the DNA code of more than 2,500 tumours spanning 38 cancer types and revealed that cancer clues could appear years or even decades before someone is diagnosed. BBC News and The Guardian have this one.

CRISPR gene-edited immunotherapy found to be safe in new trial

The genome editing tool CRISPR burst onto the scene a few years ago, with many excited by its potential to do everything from cure disease and revive woolly mammoths. And while a more cautious realism has since set in, there was real excitement this week as scientists have injected CRISPR gene-edited immune cells into 3 people with advanced cancer without serious side effects. While it’s an exciting step in the first US trial to test this type of therapy, the researchers said technology had already moved on since the treatment was first developed in 2016. The New Scientist goes into more detail.

Promising early trial results from a new cellular immunotherapy

Most cellular immunotherapies are based on particular part of our immune system, known as killer T cells. But they’re not the only cell scientists are interested in. Researchers in the US engineered a different type of immune cell – called a natural killer cell – to target a particular protein found on blood cancer cells. And in a small clinical trial, 8 of the 11 patients responded to the treatment. Read more at Forbes.

New steps could save millions of lives from cancer worldwide, says WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a 60% increase in cancer cases over the next 20 years if current trends continue. They’ve outlined new steps that could help tackle cancer deaths in low-income countries, including improving cancer screening, controlling tobacco use, and as rolling out vaccination programmes for HPV and hepatitis B – linked to most cases of cervical as well as liver cancer in developing countries. More at the Mail Online and WHO.

Some NHS trusts are in serious financial difficulties

The Guardian reports that parts of the NHS are building up debts they’ll struggle to repay. And extra money from the government doesn’t seem to have helped balance the books, according to the latest report from the National Audit Office.

And finally…

New Scientist put concerns over the rising number of non-smoking teenagers taking up vaping into perspective, as new figures reveal less than 1% of those who vape regularly in the US had never smoked tobacco before.

Scarlett Sangster is a writer at PA Media Group