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Cancer Research News Roundup: April 16-21

Every week, we round up articles from reputable sources, linking you to the latest news and commentary related to recent discoveries, new trends in cancer research, government policy and more.

This week’s roundup includes the following and more:

Federal cancer research is ‘at a breaking point,’ IOM study finds - Kaiser Health News
“The government’s cancer research network is ‘approaching a state of crisis’ as waste and inefficiency cause 40 percent of late-stage trials it funds to be abandoned before completion, according to a report released yesterday.”

Licenses drive gene debate - Wall Street Journal
“Genetic research holds the promise of pinpointing a person’s risks for diseases. But Duke University researchers, in a study published Wednesday, said the practice of granting exclusive licenses on individual genes could slow down or even derail that promise.”

Study: Two good choices to prevent breast cancer - Associated Press via New York Times
“Older women at higher risk for breast cancer now have two good drug options for preventing the disease, but they will have to weigh the trade-offs, a major study shows.”

Hope for targeted lung-cancer treatment - Wall Street Journal
“An unusual clinical trial involving four different drugs offered promise that guiding treatment based on the molecular traits of a tumor can improve survival from lung cancer. ”

> Read the full roundup


Cancer Research News Roundup: April 22-28

Every week, we round up articles from reputable sources, linking you to the latest news and commentary related to recent discoveries, new trends in cancer research, government policy and more.

This week’s roundup includes the following and more:

Editorial: Faltering cancer trials - New York Times
“The nation’s most important system for judging the clinical effectiveness of cancer treatments is approaching “a state of crisis.””

A cancer field ‘conundrum’: comparative effectiveness research - Wall Street Journal  Health Blog
“A Duke oncologist is warning that the emphasis on comparative effectiveness studies may present obstacles for the field of cancer research, Scientific American’s Observations blog reports.”

Doctor groups set new policy to curb industry sway - Associated Press via New York Times
Dozens of leading medical groups announced a new ethics code Wednesday “aimed at limiting the influence that drug and device makers have over patient care. It’s the most sweeping move ever taken by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies to curb conflict of interest.”

5-minute colon cancer test could save thousands - Associated Press via New York Times
“A five-minute colon cancer test could reduce the number of deaths from the disease by about 40 percent, a new study says.”

> Read the full roundup


New Marker for Breast Cancer Identified

Calling it “a really important player in human health,” Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD, a former Damon Runyon Scholar, and colleagues have discovered that the presence of HOTAIR, a non-coding RNA, may be useful in predicting metastasis and survival in some breast cancer patients. 

The study, conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine in collaboration with researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, showed that breast cancer tumors had 100 times the HOTAIR levels of normal breast tissue, while metastatic tumors had up to 2,000 times the normal levels. 

> Read the whole post: New Marker for Severe Breast Cancer Identified


Board Member, Stem Cell Leader Featured in NY Times Q & A

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Board Member Elaine FuchsElaine V. Fuchs, PhD, a former Damon Runyon Fellow and current Board Member, was recently named president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research.  She sat down last week with The New York Times for a fascinating Q & A about her research and career.  Below are a few excerpts:

Q. Over the years, what has been the discovery you are most proud of?

A. We pioneered an unconventional approach to solving the genetic basis of human disease. In the past when geneticists were researching an inherited disease — cystic fibrosis, breast cancer —they would systematically study large families where it occurred and then search the DNA to find the defective gene. Eventually, they’d identify the culprit, let’s say BRCA1. But this didn’t tell them how encoded mutant proteins contributed to a person getting breast cancer.

In the early 1990s, in my lab, we took a reverse direction by studying what the proteins did and then figuring out what diseases they caused when defective. Our first breakthrough came while we were studying a rare inherited blistering skin disorder. Because it is rare, there were no large families to study. You couldn’t use the conventional methods to identify it.

What we did was to begin by studying keratins, the major proteins of the skin. When we engineered mice to express mutant keratins, we discovered that their skin blistered. Moreover, we were able to show how the mutation caused the blistering. So the next step was to compare the skin pathology of the mice to all the known blistering skin diseases in humans. We teamed with dermatologists to study skin samples from patients. This led us to the genetic basis of this inherited blistering disorder in humans. Since, our method has become a paradigm for guiding scientists to the genetic basis of other human diseases.

> Read the whole post: Board Member Elaine Fuchs Featured in New York Times Q & A


New Therapy Dramatically Improves Breast Cancer Survival

Decades of research have had an incredible impact on breast cancer. Today, many forms of the disease can be treated successfully when detected early. Once a tumor spreads, however, the likelihood of survival begins to plummet.  That troubling reality is starting to change thanks to former Damon Runyon Fellow David E. Lebwohl, MD, and a recent Phase III clinical trial in which survival time was doubled for its participants.

> Read the whole post: “New Therapy Dramatically Improves Breast Cancer Survival”



Damon Runyon News is where we post extended versions of our Damon Runyon eNewsletter stories, featuring new trends and discoveries in cancer research. more...

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