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News digest – pregnancy and breast cancer, reducing organ transplant rejection, malaria drugs and glass robots

by PA Media Group | Analysis

30 May 2020

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White blood cell. Credit: EM Unit

With news about the coronavirus pandemic developing daily, we want to make sure everyone affected by cancer gets the information they need during this time.

We’re pulling together the latest government and NHS health updates from across the UK in a separate blog post, which we’re updating regularly. 

Malaria drug used to treat glioblastoma 

One of the most aggressive types of brain cancer could be treated with an already approved malaria drug. Lumefantrine has been proposed in combination with the current  care/treatments – to treat patients with glioblastoma.  This type of brain cancer has a poor survival rate, and it is hoped that lumefantrine will boost the effectiveness of existing treatments. Read more on this at New Atlas 

Scientists unlock potential to reduce transplant rejection 

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has reported a key molecule that could be responsible for the slow decay of transplanted tissue. The molecules, called HLA antigens, almost always differ between patients (except in the case of identical twins) and are known targets for antibodies which can cause the body to launch an immune response against the foreign tissue. By inhibiting the molecule, scientists believe they could reduce the likelihood of organ rejection in transplant patients. Yale News has the full story.    

Microscopic robots rush against blood to target cancer cells 

The Evening Standard reports on an experimental trial using microscopic glass robots to detect cancerous tissue and deliver chemotherapy drugs to target cancer cells. The tiny spherical devices can move against the flow of blood, allowing them to reach “hard-to-access regions” inside the human body. Tests using mouse blood and artificial blood vessels showed that the robots to effectively target cancer cells in the presence of healthy cells. Read more at New Scientist. 

Younger pregnancy linked to lower risk of breast cancer 

Scientists have found a connection between a lower  risk of breast cancer and the reduced expression of a potent cancer gene in pregnant mice. According to research, breast cells are able to protect themselves from cancer after pregnancy by tucking a potent cancer gene (known as cMYC) away where it cannot cause harm. Breast cells are also able to suspend potential cancer cells in a ‘pre-senescence’ state between living, dying and developing into cancer. More on this at PR Newswire. 

And finally 

An investigation into the early development of high-grade serous ovarian cancer has found the cells of the oviduct in mice (similar to the fallopian tubes in humans) to be more prone to developing tumours than cells in the outer layers of the ovaries.  Further study into the development and progress of this type of cancer in organoid models is hoped to provide a better understanding of how the disease develops. Read more at News Medical. 

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group