Here’s some hopeful news for cancer researchers:
Professor Ramaswamy Govindan, of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, USA, who worked on two of the studies, said that the research gives scientists ‘a penthouse panoramic view’ of lung cancer, whereas before they had been only ‘looking through a keyhole’.
The papers – the first in an expected wave of ‘cataloguing studies’ – reveal a complex series of genetic changes across the genome, and identify lung cancer as a highly diverse or ‘heterogenous’ disease. New mutations discovered include those that allow tumours unrestricted growth, or that enable them to evade the body’s immune responses. Other mutations have been unearthed in genes involved in DNA repair mechanisms.
I don’t know where you stand on Obamacare and all that, and I don’t really want to know or even to get into it. But this story is a reminder that we all need to stay vigilant when it comes to our health care and our insurance.
Now, I don’t mean to get too dramatic with the title of this post, and I don’t mean to say that insurance companies are against you. It’s just that they’re looking out for themselves and their own bottom lines. The article in question is about a Vermont state representative undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and his insurance provider declining to pay for some of his treatments because they weren’t sure they were necessary. Even though his oncologist had ordered them! This man was able to call the chairman of the state house’s health committee, who was able to call the chief lobbyist of the insurance provider, who was presumably able to call someone at the company, who was able to take care of the payment for service.
But it shouldn’t have to come to all that, should it have? And the state rep. rightly points out that people who don’t have his connections would’ve been out of luck. I don’t know what the answer is, but there’s got to be some better way than this.
This is interesting and potentially scary. New research indicates genetically modified food can damage the internal organs of rats. In a finding directly contradicting what companies like Monsanto have said, this research definitely gives one pause about the entire industry.
Says the study’s author:
“Our study contradicts Monsanto conclusions because Monsanto systematically neglects significant health effects in mammals that are different in males and females eating GMOs, or not proportional to the dose. This is a very serious mistake, dramatic for public health. This is the major conclusion revealed by our work, the only careful reanalysis of Monsanto crude statistical data.”
I don’t even really know what a proton accelerator is, but a doctor in St. Louis does, and he’s hoping to use one to get rid of tumors.
With traditional therapies like X-ray, a patient’s healthy tissues are often hit by radiation. This machine is so precise that doctors can hit tumors with higher doses–without damaging surrounding organs.
“For a tumor that’s near the eye, you don’t want to spray it with excess radiation,” said Dr. Bradley.
Until now, proton beam facilities in the United States would cost more than 150 million dollars and require the space of a football field. This machine cost 75 percent less and fits into a single room. While it could cost up to 20 percent more than traditional treatments, for some patients it could be worth it.
It sounds amazing, but I especially like the talk of how much smaller this one is than previous versions, when it still weighs 50 tons and takes up an entire room. It sounds so much like stuff you see about what people in the 1970s and 1980s were saying about computers that seem gargantuan to us compared to our smart phones.
Johnson & Johnson is paying Pharmacyclics $50 million in what is called a milestone payment as the small drug researcher works on a new drug to combat mantel cell lymphoma, one of the more rare forms of NHL.
Apparently the drug giant is doing this thing more and more, as it allows the large company to benefit from innovation and advanced research without taking on the high risks that come with such work. It also, of course, gives funding to smaller companies in desperate need for the money. All in all, it sounds like a great plan to me.
The important thing of course, is that the research looks promising. Here’s hoping!
The two companies, which partnered up at the end of last year, are working to develop a novel kinase inhibitor known as ibrutinib as a medicine for patients who have suffered a relapse of mantel cell lymphoma, one of the rarest forms of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas or cancers of the body’s B cells.
The drug candidate is also being studied as a treatment for patients who have developed a resistence to other medicines.
Pharmacyclics, which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said it is eligible to receive up to $725 million more in funding as it advances work on the drug.
This is very good news. After all, you can’t find a cure for a disease until you know what causes it, can you? Dr. Sandrine Sander and Professor Klaus Rajewsky in Berlin have figured out the cause of Burkitt Lymphoma, an extremely fast growing form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.
According to Dr. Sandrine Sander and Professor Klaus Rajewsky, Burkitt lymphoma originates from germinal centers of the lymphoid organs (Peyer’s patches in the small intestine, spleen and lymph nodes). The reaction by the germinal center is triggered by the B cells when antigens are detected. Once the reaction occurs, the B cells alter their DNA causing a highly specific antibody response against the antigen.
The B cell receptor (BCR) plays a vital role in the reaction process. In order to fully recognize the antigen and trigger an appropriate immune response, the DNA segments encoding the antibody must be altered and rearranged. During this complicated process, DNA breaks may occur and error-prone repair mechanisms may result in genetic mutations linked with cancer development.
Very well done. Which means that now they can get started on finding a cure for it. Let’s hope that they do.
Here’s an interesting bit of research from England. The charitable foundation Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has funded a new research project designed to combat NHL specifically in children:
Dr Vikki Rand was awarded a prestigious ‘Bennett Fellowship’ by the charity to establish a research team at Newcastle University. They will use cutting-edge technology to scan the entire genome of an aggressive set of cancers known as B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas, in order to identify underlying genetic abnormalities within the cancer cells.
Lymphoma is the third most common cancer of children in the UK, but the clinical relevance of differences between the two main types of lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, has still not been defined. Treatment is the same for both groups.