Tag Archives: Cancer Research

Possible new treatment for prostate cancer

New blood test results reveal potential of liquid biopsies to deliver precision medicine for prostate cancer.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research have created a powerful new three-in-one blood test, which could help doctors monitor whether a treatment is working and how a man’s cancer is responding. We examine the results and find out why it’s another step in the creation of targeted treatments for prostate cancer.

A new blood test has revealed the potential for liquid biopsies to help select patients for treatment and monitor their response for early signs of treatment resistance.

Professor Johann de Bono [pictured above] and his team at the Institute of Cancer Research have unveiled the results of blood sample analysis from men with hormone resistant prostate cancer, who were taking part in a clinical trial of a drug called olaparibThis work, published today in the journal Cancer Discovery and funded in part by Prostate Cancer UK, revealed that changes in the amount of cancer DNA circulating freely in the men’s blood was closely linked to how well the treatment was working for them.

After eight weeks, the total concentration of cancer DNA in the blood had dropped by nearly 50 per cent in men for whom the treatment worked, while it increased by around two per cent in men who did not respond to treatment. This in turn corresponded to the men’s survival time. Those whose levels of circulating tumour DNA dropped after eight weeks survived an average of seven months longer than the men whose levels didn’t fall.

A potentially powerful three-in-one test

What this all suggests is that a blood test – or liquid biopsy – could routinely be used in the future to tell how well a man is responding to treatment much earlier than is currently possible, so he can make a timely switch to a treatment that might work better.

“Our study identifies, for the first time, genetic changes that allow prostate cancer cells to become resistant to the precision medicine olaparib,” says Professor Johann de Bono, who led the research. “From these findings, we were able to develop a powerful, three-in-one test that could, in future, be used to help doctors select treatment, check whether it is working and monitor the cancer in the longer term.

“We think it could be used to make clinical decisions about whether such PARP-inhibitor drugs, like olaparib, are working within as little as four to eight weeks of starting therapy. Not only could the test have a major impact on treatment of prostate cancer, but it could also be adapted to open up the possibility of precision medicine to patients with other types of cancer as well.”

Creating targeted treatments to save more men’s lives

The researchers also did a more detailed analysis of the DNA to look at what had changed at the point that the men’s cancer progressed. They found a number of new genetic changes, including mutations in some cases that directly cancelled out the effect of the drug. This sort of in-depth analysis could not only help tell researchers when the disease stops responding to treatment, but more importantly why it is no longer responding. In turn, the identification of new gene alterations could suggest new treatments that might work better.

“To greatly improve the survival chances of the 47,000 men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, it’s clear that we need to move away from the current one-size-fits-all approach to much more targeted treatment methods,” says Dr Matthew Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK. “The results from this study and others like it are crucial, as they give an important understanding of the factors that drive certain prostate cancers or make them vulnerable to specific treatments.

“However, there is still much more to understand before the potentially huge benefits of widespread precision treatment for prostate cancer will reach men in clinics across the UK. That is why Prostate Cancer UK is investing so heavily in this area, including supporting this research released today. We can only do this, and continue to fund the next steps of research like this, through the hard work and generosity of our supporters.”

Cancer and the No Make-Up Selfie

There’s a phenomena sweeping Facebook at the moment – the ‘No Make-Up Selfie’. Taken, it transpires, for cancer. On Wednesday morning when I woke up to a Facebook feed full of barefaced ladies telling me they were ‘selfie-ing for cancer’ I sort of lost my shit a little bit and had a mega rant . Like many, I’ve lost loved ones to cancer, had a few who survived it and have two very dear to me who are living with cancer right now. Seeing a bunch of seemingly vapid pictures with no fundraising links or self-check guides made me snap.

24 hours later and the only thing I’m retracting was my statement that taking a selfie raised no more awareness of cancer than ‘OMFG CANCER’. Not long after the rant posted by myself (and many other people) I started to see more selfies with a message about how to send a text donation to Cancer Research UK, and today a news story broke that the last 24 hours saw Cancer Research raise £1 million.

Clearly the trend did do something BUT like all flash in the pan ‘slactivist‘ trends it’s going to tail off and lead to not a lot else. So  I just want to highlight other ways to raise awareness of Cancer, and also of other charities. Cancer Research seem to hog almost all of the cancer donations out there. There’s no doubt they’re doing good work, along with mesothelioma lawyers, among others, – but there are other charities to spare a thought too and The Wyrd Ways Rock Show is always going to shout very loudly about our friends at The Headbangers Balls who work every year to put on a series of awesome gigs to fundraise for the Teenage Cancer Trust. You can go and give them money here, and if you can get to a Ball this year you should. Awesome line-ups and all for a good cause. Win-Win.

If you would like to raise awareness of/help beat cancer please try the following things:

1) Be aware of the signs of cancer. Tell your friends

2) Regularly check your boobs/ balls/ moles. Tell your friends

3) Participate in fundraising activities for the cancer charity/ research organisation/ hospice of your choice. Tell your friends

4) Attend fundraising events. Tell your friends

5) Volunteer for your local hospice/hospital/ research organisation/ cancer charity. Tell your friends 

If you’d like to support people going through cancer and their families with some of your hard-earned cash then  please look up The Moonwalk,  Testicular Cancer , Little Princess Trust, Macmillan, Prostate Cancer UK and lastly the hospice that cared for my ex Father in Law when he was dying of Lung Cancer- Sobell House. These are some of the charities I try to support in the small ways I can. Feel free to add others in the comments.

Cancer is a fucker of a disease. It doesn’t care who you are, how old you are, what your financial status is or whether you’re a nice person. Cancer doesn’t give a shit. I say Balls to Cancer. And if you’re going to selfie for cancer- make sure you give some cash and tell your friends how to do it too. Or I’ll set my Evil Twin on you.

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