Monday 25 February 2013

New model developed for predicting colorectal cancer therapy response

A newly-developed mathematical model could help to predict how patients will respond to chemotherapy treatment for colorectal cancer.

According to a paper published in the medical journal Cancer Research, scientists have created a tool that incorporates patient-specific molecular data sets and can calculate the amount of stress required for a cancer cell to die without harming healthy tissue.

Dubbed DR_MOMP, the model was shown to be able to accurately predict treatment responses in patients with colon cancer, leading the researchers to state that the tool could be used similarly in other cancers.

Dr Jochen Prehn, director of the Centre for Systems Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, said: "We need to develop easy and accessible protein profiling and modeling platforms that enable the implementation of this new technology in clinical trials and in pathology laboratories."

Colorectal cancer is also known as bowel cancer and is is the third most common type of cancer in England, with the majority of cases developing among people aged 65 and over.ADNFCR-8000103-ID-801524143-ADNFCR

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Exercise tied to better colon cancer survival odds

People with colon cancer who spend more time walking and fewer hours on the couch are less likely to die over the seven to eight years after being diagnosed, a new study suggests.

The findings don't prove exercise itself boosts a person's survival chances, researchers said. But the pattern held even after the study team took into account how advanced patients' cancers were, their age and other aspects of their diet, lifestyle and health.

"Any activity is better than none," including walking, stretching and gardening, said Peter Campbell, the lead researcher on the study from the American Cancer Society.

"Five to ten minutes at a time is fine, and the type of activity we're talking about here, this isn't marathon running or climbing the Alps."

Campbell's analysis included about 2,300 people who developed colon cancer out of an initial pool of 184,000 volunteers in a cancer prevention and nutrition study launched in 1992.

Over an average of eight years after their diagnosis, 846 people with colon cancer died - including 379 from cancer.

The researchers found that study participants who exercised the most - equal to two and half hours of walking per week or more - both before and after being diagnosed were 28 to 42 percent less likely to die during the follow-up period than those who barely exercised at all.

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Monday 18 February 2013

Hospitals in new cancer drugs postcode lottery amid fears some doctors prefer to stick with tried and trusted treatments

  • Forty-fold variation found between hospitals offering most and least drugs
  • Charities warn patients are at the mercy of 'unjustifiable postcode lottery'
  • Big gap may be down to some doctors preferring drugs used for years

  • Hospitals are denying patients the latest cancer drugs, a report reveals today.
    Many are refusing to give patients life-extending new treatments approved by NHS rationing body NICE.

    Research has uncovered a 40-fold variation between hospitals offering the highest numbers of drugs and those providing the least. 

    Charities warn that patients are at the mercy of an ‘unjustifiable postcode lottery’, with their chance dependent on where they live.

    There is also concern that hospitals are deliberately holding back highly effective treatments because they are more expensive than ones they already use.

    The stark variation may also be partly due to doctors in some hospitals preferring to give patients drugs they have used for years, rather than trying new treatments. 

    Research by the Rarer Cancers Foundation analysed NHS figures showing how often hospitals were prescribing new cancer drugs approved by NICE.

    Oxford researchers locate high-risk genes for bowel cancer

    Research carried out by Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Centre and Cancer Research UK has linked two faulty genes with the development of bowel cancer within families.

    Oxford University researchers have located two genetic faults which increase the risk of individuals with a history of bowel cancer in the family developing it themselves.

    The research was carried out by the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford and Cancer Research UK, and established a high correlation between bowel cancer development and mutations in two specific genes, POLE and POLD1, which are involved in the DNA repairing processes.

    The research found that defects in these genes can cause an accumulation of DNA damage in the body that may contribute to bowel cancer.

    The Cancer Research UK-funded project selected twenty people as study subjects, eight of which had previously been diagnosed with bowel cancer whilst the rest had a first-degree relative who developed the illness. After sequencing the genomes of the 20 participants, the scientists found both of the faulty genes in all subjects with bowel cancer or malignant tumours in the bowel.

    To further consolidate the result, the research team broadened their inspection base to 4000 people with bowel cancer and a control group of 6700 without the disease. Not a single case of genetic deficiencies in POLE or POLD1 was found in the control group, while the researchers found 12 people with POLE fault and one person with POLD1 fault in the bowel cancer group.

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    Wednesday 13 February 2013

    World Cancer Day: Are we killing cancer?

    Are oncologists right to hail a new era in which cancer is a chronic disease rather than a death sentence?

    A new DNA database means patients will have their tumour's DNA decoded and then be matched with the right drugs to keep the disease at bay 

    This is not the end, warned Winston Churchill in 1942. “It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” How apt his words seem this morning, on World Cancer Day, when applied to our long battle against the disease. There is, indeed, new cause for hope. Last week Prof Alan Ashworth, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, launched a £3 million DNA database, the Tumour Profiling Unit, to identify genes responsible for cancers that will become targets for new therapies.
    This means patients will have their tumour’s DNA decoded, and then be matched precisely with the right drugs to keep the disease at bay. Prof Ashworth explained that this is a crucial step towards transforming some types of cancer into a manageable disease rather than a death sentence. “We should be aspiring to cure cancer, but for people with advanced disease, it will be a question of managing them better so they survive for much longer, turning cancer into a chronic disease.”

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    New study by Southampton researchers to help cancer survivors after treatment

    SOUTHAMPTON researchers have celebrated the first phase of a radical new study that aims to improve life for the millions of people living with cancer.

    Until now the needs of those patients who have completed their treatment have been neglected, with the focus on discovering pioneering new drugs and boosting survival rates.

    But the Macmillan Survivorship Research Group at the University of Southampton is changing all that, with this study that will give survivors the opportunity to get the best out of life and teach doctors how to boost a patient’s recovery.

    This week survivors like Susan Restorick-Banks, from Totton, celebrated the pioneering step at the premier of a film about what the study is all about.

    Susan was diagnosed with a tumour in her colon in 2011, enduring intense treatments, but she is now one of 1,000 patients taking part in the ColoREctal Wellbeing (CREW) study to help future cancer survivors.


    Thursday 7 February 2013

    Roche's Avastin shows benefits among older bowel cancer patients

    Roche has highlighted data from a new study showing the benefits offered by its drug Avastin for elderly patients suffering from advanced bowel cancer.

    Results from the phase III Avex study have showed that Avastin - in combination with Xeloda - can significantly improve progression-free survival rates among people aged over 70 compared to Xeloda alone.

    The data showed that Avastin can help this patient group just as much as it can with younger subjects, while it was also proven that older recipients can tolerate Avastin as an initial treatment after diagnosis without experiencing any new side effects.

    Study leader Professor David Cunningham, head of the gastrointestinal unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital, said: "Improving outcomes in older patients with cancer is a high priority for clinicians and the Avex trial provides solid evidence that such trials are feasible and impact on patient care."

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