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November 5, 2013

Genomics News
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» Prostate cancer aggression test ‘may avoid needless ops’

According to the BBC Health News today, a prostate cancer test, which predicts how aggressive a tumour is, could spare men unnecessary operations, researchers suggest. Early data, presented at the National Cancer Research Institute conference, suggests a genetic test can tell … Continue reading

August 3, 2010

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» A new approach to cancer treatment

A ‘completely different approach’ to cancer treatment BBC news by Alex Hudson

“Up until very recently, all patients with breast cancer were basically given the same therapy.

“We now clearly know that’s not the right way to do things.”

Professor Peter Rigby, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, believes that recently the way treatments for cancer are being researched has completely changed.

And this, he thinks, is because of great strides made on how scientists are able to understand the genetic code.

In 2003, the Human Genome Project succeeded in sequencing the human genome to 99.9% accuracy, allowing scientists to “read” human DNA. Since then, researchers have been using this so-called roadmap to find a correlation between certain genomes and cancer.

This means that, in theory at least, cancer could be treated on a molecular level rather than using current therapies – such as chemotherapy or surgery – which damage many healthy cells along with those which are cancerous.

The full story can be found here

November 23, 2009

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» Genetic clue to glioma brain cancer growth

Scientists have pinpointed a mutated gene as key to the development of some types of glioma brain tumour report BBC’s health news today. The mutation leads to hugely increased levels of a chemical in the brain, which seems to feed the cancer. The Nature study suggests that detecting higher levels of the chemical could provide doctors with a useful diagnostic tool. It also raises hopes that blocking production of the chemical might prevent the cancer getting worse.

People with particular brain tumours, such as lower-grade gliomas, often carry a mutated version of a gene that controls production of an enzyme called IDH1. The latest study shows that these mutations change the way the enzyme works and result in the build-up of high levels of a chemical called 2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) in the brain. Researchers found malignant glioma samples with IDH1 mutations had 100 times more 2HG than similar samples from patients without the mutation. They said measuring 2HG levels could be used to help identify patients with IDH1 mutant brain tumours.

Writing in the journal, the researchers said: “This will be important for prognosis as patients with IDH1 mutations live longer than patients with gliomas characterised by other mutations. “In addition, patients with lower-grade gliomas may benefit by the therapeutic inhibition of 2HG production.”

Dr Laura Bell, of the charity Cancer Research UK, said: “This study has brought exciting new information to light which could eventually help doctors understand more about how certain brain tumours are likely to progress – and how best to treat them. “But there is still some way to go before this new information could be used to help treat people with cancer.”

October 14, 2009

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» Some cancer cells may pass from mother to unborn child

Net Doctor News

Scientists have discovered that certain cancer cells are able to cross the placenta and pass from a mother to her unborn child. The advance helps to explain a number of cases in which a mother and her child have developed the same form of leukaemia or melanoma.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) investigated a mother-infant pair and found that both patients’ leukaemia cells carried an identical mutated cancer gene called BCR-ABL1. However, the infant did not inherit this gene, showing that the disease could not have developed in isolation. The cancer cells were able to survive in the child because they lacked certain molecules that would have made brought them to the attention of her immune system.

Lead researcher Professor Mel Greaves, whose team collaborated with scientists in Japan, commented: ‘It appears that in this and, we presume, other cases of mother to offspring cancer, the maternal cancer cells did cross the placenta into the developing foetus and succeeded in implanting because they were invisible to the immune system.’ However, the professor emphasised that this occurrence is ‘exceedingly rare’ and that the chances of a pregnant woman with cancer passing the disease on to their child are ‘remote’.

Professor Peter Johnson, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, described the research as ‘really important’. He advised: ‘Women needing cancer treatment around the time of having a baby who are worried about this research should speak to the specialists looking after them for advice.’

August 14, 2009

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» Cancer gene complexity revealed

Recent news from the BBC website reports that scientists have shown just how mind-bogglingly complex are the genetics underpinning the development of cancer . For the second time, a team from Washington University has decoded the complete DNA of a patient with a form of leukaemia. The study, which is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that the suite of key genetic mutations they found were completely different from those uncovered following analysis of their first patient last year. The latest study does reveal some potentially significant findings. One of the new mutations found in the second patient was also found in samples taken from 15 other patients with the same disease, acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The same mutation is also thought to play a role in the development of a type of brain tumour called a glioma. A second new mutation was also found in another AML patient. By using a state-of-art gene sequencing technique, the Washington team became the first to decode the entire genome of a cancer patient last year. Once they have the full menu of DNA from cancer cells, the researchers can compare it with DNA from healthy cells to pinpoint genetic mutations which probably play a key role in the development of the disease. The hope is that armed with this information, scientists will be able to develop new drugs to target cancer.

May 5, 2009

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» Baby born free of the breast cancer gene

The first baby in the UK tested before implantation for a genetic form of breast cancer has been born. http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/1/hi/health/7819651.stm