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News digest – targeted ‘lava lamp’ treatment, skin cancer biopsies and the iKnife

by PA Media Group | Analysis

20 June 2020

1 comment 1 comment

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. 

‘Lavalamp’ effect could make cancer drugs more powerful

A new study published in Science has revealed how drug molecules are organised when they enter a cell, and how this information could be used to make certain drugs hit their targets more effectively. Research found that cancer drug compounds become concentrated in certain spots within cells – like blobs in a lava lamp. Whilst scientists hope that a better understanding of this phenomenon could lead to more targeted cancer treatments, others think that other mechanisms should be explored. Find out more at Nature 

Swansea skin cancer patients receive pioneering procedure

Skin cancer patients in Swansea have become first in the world to receive complex biopsies while awake. Sentinel lymph node biopsies allow doctors to detect whether melanoma has spread in skin cancer patients, but the procedure was suspended due to Covid-19 restrictions on general anaesthetic. A team of plastic surgeons and anaesthetists at Sancta Maria Hospital are now the first to carry out the procedure without anaesthetic. So far nine patients have had the test. More on this at BBC.

Scientist uncover new mechanism driving colorectal cancer

MedicalXpress reports on a collaborative study that has revealed a new mechanism causing colorectal cancer. Research by VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research and Ghent University found that abnormal expression of the protein Zeb2 could allow harmful bacteria into the intestinal wall, causing inflammation and driving cancer progression. Scientists have now demonstrated how manipulating the immune system could prevent this development and potentially lead to new cancer treatments.  

Searching for novel connections in cancer metabolism

Dr George Poulogiannis is one of our scientists investigating the relationship between cellular metabolism, cancer and diet. In our blog post, we spoke to him about how his team have been investigating connections in metabolism by utilising a unique tool known as the iKnife, used in cancer surgery, in order to open the door to a better understanding of individual cancers. Whilst the team have uncovered new features of breast cancer biology linked to metabolism and diet, and have shown that a dietary fat restriction plays a major role in therapy response, some headlines were quick to jump to a ‘potential cancer cure.  

And finally 

A technique known as a liquid biopsy is allowing doctors to find out more about a patient’s cancer without the need for surgery. The technique analyses a patient’s blood, monitoring the DNA tumours release into the blood stream. By analysing the individual genetic makeup of a tumour, liquid biopsies can focus on a specific set of mutations and use them as a starting point to monitor the progression of cancer. Find the full story on our blog. 

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group


  • Harvey Lee
    24 November 2020

    What a great post! I really like the tips you shared. I love your advice and such a helpful post. Thanks for sharing.


  • Harvey Lee
    24 November 2020

    What a great post! I really like the tips you shared. I love your advice and such a helpful post. Thanks for sharing.