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  • Fishing for cancer cures: our new Cancer Research UK-MedImmune Alliance Laboratory - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    Many more potentially life saving therapies are trapped inside a tiny tube like this all we need to do is fish them out And in order to do so we ve set up an exciting new lab in partnership with the Cambridge based research company MedImmune Antibodies on display The newly opened Cancer Research UK MedImmune CRUK MEDI Alliance Laboratory will specialise in a type of technology called phage display allowing researchers to quickly scan through millions upon millions of randomly generated antibodies to find ones that recognise important molecules involved in cancer or other diseases First developed in the 1980s by Cambridge scientists phage display is an immensely powerful research tool that has already led to the discovery of a groundbreaking treatment for auto immune conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn s disease called adalimumab Humira The technique relies on the innate ability of our immune systems to generate a huge diversity of different antibodies so that we can cope with whatever the world throws at us and it works like this First researchers take samples of antibody producing immune cells called B cells from a number of healthy volunteers These samples contain millions and millions of cells and each one contains individual unique genes encoding the instructions that make up the two main parts of an antibody known as the heavy and light chains Using simple lab techniques the scientists can copy all of these instructions to make billions of different combinations of heavy and light chains Next all these unique antibody genes are individually packaged up into viruses known as phages which normally infect and multiply inside bacteria Finally a hundred billion of these loaded phages are pooled together in a single tiny droplet of liquid referred to as a library Then comes the really clever bit Going fishing These human antibody genes can still work inside a phage meaning that each one makes a unique antibody hat to wear on its surface And in theory there should be antibodies within the phage library that recognise any biological target whether that s a molecule floating in the bloodstream that encourages tumours to grow a piece of the molecular Velcro that enables cancer cells to spread or anything else Using their chosen target as bait our Alliance team can then go fishing for phages Because the target molecules are coupled to tiny magnetic beads it s easy to pull them back out of the test tube using a magnet along with any phages whose antibody hats allow them to recognise and stick to the target This initial fishing trip pulls out many different phages each making a different antibody that recognises the target The next challenge is to find the one with that sticks to its target the strongest meaning that it s likely to be a potent and effective drug To whittle down this pool of potential antibody fish to one big catch the researchers repeat the selection process several times each time using more stringent procedures

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/09/11/fishing-for-cancer-cures/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Imaging - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    Awards Career Development Fellowship Grand Challenge award View all schemes and deadlines Applying for funding Start your application online Guide to filling in your application form How to make a successful application Funding committees Manage your research grant Manage your grant online Guide to managing a grant online Notify us of new publications Update your profile How we deliver research Our research strategy Our institutes Our centres Our research partnerships More Drug discovery and development Recently funded awards Researcher case studies ABOUT US What we do We beat cancer We fundraise We develop policy Our organisation Our strategy Our Trustees CEO and Executive Board Annual report and accounts Annual review Current jobs Graduates and interns Your development Benefits Cancer news Science blog Latest press releases Latest news reports Search all news More Contact Us Press office Publications HOME ABOUT CANCER SUPPORT US NEWS RESOURCES FUNDING RESEARCH ABOUT US You are here Home border 0 Support us Home About us Cancer news Science blog Topic Imaging Topic Imaging Grand Challenge five build a Google Street View for cancer Category Science blog January 20 2016 Nick Peel This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Grand Challenge We home in on the fifth of our Grand Challenges and ask the experts about what it will take to build a Google Street View for cancer Read More Lab work one day caring for patients the next the life of a clinician scientist Category Science blog December 23 2015 Cancer Research UK One of our clinician scientists explains what it s like balancing lab work and caring for patients Read More Getting the full picture better imaging makes brain cancer easier to see Category Science blog November 3 2015 Misha Gajewski Scientists have found a way to make brain tumours easier to see according to new research presented at the NCRI conference Read More Dr Giles Maskell waiting a month or more for scan results is shocking Category Science blog September 6 2015 Cancer Research UK President of the Royal College of Radiologists Dr Giles Maskell shares his reaction to our new report on medical imaging services Read More To Test Cancer Sooner we need the Government to invest in the NHS Category Science blog September 1 2015 Katy Ashford Find out why we re campaigning for the Government to invest more in diagnosing cancer earlier and sign our petition to make sure our voice is heard Read More Crowdfunding cancer research our latest experiment and how you can help Category Science blog November 14 2014 Nick Peel We ve launched three exciting crowdfunding projects with our researchers Will they receive the money they need Only you can decide Read More A chemical breadcrumb trail helps melanoma spread Category Science blog October 14 2014 Nick Peel Our scientists have found that melanoma cells follow the trail of a naturally occurring molecule in the body encouraging them to spread Read More Older Posts Newer Posts Popular posts Most read today Most discussed Don

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/topic/diagnosing-cancer/tests/imaging/ (2016-02-11)
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  • ‘Will you be finding a cure for my child?’ – Watch our Google Hangout on tackling cancer in kids and teens - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    finding a cure for my child Watch our Google Hangout on tackling cancer in kids and teens Will you be finding a cure for my child Watch our Google Hangout on tackling cancer in kids and teens Category Science blog October 8 2015 Kat Arney This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Google Hangouts Following the success of our last Google Hangout in partnership with Science on Google we re thrilled to be able to bring you another fascinating discussion This time in honour of Children s Cancer Awareness Month in September we hosted two of the UK s leading experts on cancer in kids and teens Professor Pam Kearns who heads our Children s Cancer Trials Team at the University of Birmingham and Professor Richard Gilbertson newly arrived at our Cambridge Institute from St Jude s Children s Hospital in the US More than three quarters of children diagnosed with cancer today will survive compared with just a quarter back in the 1970s But as Pam points out this impressive progress hides two important facts If you do the calculation that still means 300 children a year in this country don t survive cancer and it s still the commonest cause of death from disease in children And the second thing is that it s a spectrum It s not just one disease in children it s a lot of different diseases For some of those diseases such as a type of leukaemia called acute lymphoblastic leukaemia we have very good treatment and survival with cure rates well into 90 per cent But there are other diseases importantly a large group of brain tumours Ewing sarcoma and bone tumours where we haven t made the progress we really need to During our half hour chat Pam and Richard discuss some of the ways they re working to change this picture They talk about the key differences between childhood and adult cancers and what researchers working on each of them can learn from each other as well as the scientific and logistical challenges of delivering more effective kinder treatments to kids teens and young adults through international clinical trials We also discuss the promise of using drugs designed for other diseases to treat children s cancers and the particular issues faced by teenagers with cancer Finally we hear their personal stories about why they chose a career in children s cancer research For Pam it was the last patient she saw as a doctor just before starting a stint in lab based research As she explains The mum took my hand looked me straight in the eye and said Will you be finding a cure for my child It was so heartfelt and it made me realise that every single piece of work we do as researchers isn t just about academic interest it actually has to make a difference to patients in the clinic She s absolutely right We re not going to stop until we

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/08/will-you-be-finding-a-cure-for-my-child-watch-our-google-hangout-on-tackling-cancer-in-kids-and-teens/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Science Snaps: bridging the gap between nerve repair and cancer spread - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    to migrate across the gap left when a nerve is damaged And it looks as though some cancer cells may also go on the move in the same way Laying down tracks When a nerve is cut a number of different types of cells including immune cells and repair cells known as fibroblasts flood into the resulting gap creating a kind of biological mush As we described in this post from 2011 special helper cells called Schwann cells are some of the first pioneers to make their way across this morass forming solid ropes on which the delicate strands of the nerve cells axons can grow But these helper cells need a helping hand themselves Although tests in the lab show that Schwann cells have the capacity to move around they don t know which direction to grow through the molecular mush So they end up stuck unable to go anywhere Clearly something must be creating a path to help the Schwann cells find their way across the divide But what The solution to this sticky situation as Lloyd has now discovered comes in the form of oxygen sensing immune cells called macrophages Publishing their findings in the journal Cell she and her team found that macrophages could detect low levels of oxygen in the tissues on the far side of the nerve damage sending out signals that attract new blood vessels to grow across the gap Like tracks for a train these blood vessels act as guides for the Schwann cells providing a smooth path across the mushy mess And like a locomotive pulling along its carriages the Schwann cells carry the nerve cells with them repairing the damage and restoring nerve function It s this process that can be seen in the picture above created by layering together many images taken using a confocal microscope the blood vessels are coloured blue the Schwann cells are green while the fragile nerve axons are red So how does this relate to cancer Clues to cancer spread Professor Lloyd s results are shedding light on the ways in which all these different types of cells work together to repair nerve damage And their research could lead to the development of better blood vessel based patches to help reconnect severed nerves But they also have relevance to the way that some cancers spread through the body For a start this latest study could explain how tumours that originate from Schwann cells principally Schwannomas and neurofibromas start to spread Under the microscope these tumours look a bit like unrepaired nerve damage containing a mess of fibroblasts blood vessels and immune cells So understanding more about how Schwann cells go on the move both in normal tissue and in tumours might point towards new ways to treat these diseases in the future Then there s the more general angle It s commonly believed that most cancers spread via the intricate network of blood vessels weaving their way around the body But there are intriguing

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/08/21/science-snaps-bridging-the-gap-between-nerve-repair-and-cancer-spread/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Science Snaps - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    your application form How to make a successful application Funding committees Manage your research grant Manage your grant online Guide to managing a grant online Notify us of new publications Update your profile How we deliver research Our research strategy Our institutes Our centres Our research partnerships More Drug discovery and development Recently funded awards Researcher case studies ABOUT US What we do We beat cancer We fundraise We develop policy Our organisation Our strategy Our Trustees CEO and Executive Board Annual report and accounts Annual review Current jobs Graduates and interns Your development Benefits Cancer news Science blog Latest press releases Latest news reports Search all news More Contact Us Press office Publications HOME ABOUT CANCER SUPPORT US NEWS RESOURCES FUNDING RESEARCH ABOUT US You are here Home border 0 Support us Home About us Cancer news Science blog Series Science Snaps Series Science Snaps Science Snaps prioritising the gene faults behind bowel cancer Category Science blog September 7 2015 Nick Peel This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Science Snaps Step behind the microscope and find out how this image is helping our scientists understand more about how bowel cancer develops Read More Science Snaps bridging the gap between nerve repair and cancer spread Category Science blog August 21 2015 Kat Arney This entry is part 13 of 14 in the series Science Snaps Our researchers have made an unexpected connection between the biological processes involved in nerve repair and the way some cancers spread Read More Science Snaps divide by two Category Science blog June 22 2015 Kat Arney This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Science Snaps We home in on tiny cellular structures called centrosomes exploring new research on cancer cell division with implications for drug development Read More Science Snaps exposing melanoma s safe haven to help tackle drug resistance Category Science blog April 13 2015 Nick Peel This entry is part 11 of 14 in the series Science Snaps We explore new research showing how healthy cells surrounding a melanoma may help the cancer cells become resistant to targeted cancer drugs Read More Science Snaps the art and science of cancer the universe and everything Category Science blog March 18 2015 Kat Arney This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Science Snaps A new exhibition at the Cambridge Science Festival showcases artworks inspired by the work of Cancer Research UK scientists Read More Science Snaps Sir Henry Morris and the anonymous Gentleman Category Science blog January 6 2015 Nick Peel This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series Science Snaps We explore the fascinating story of how an anonymous letter sparked a new approach for researching cancer in the UK Read More Science Snaps peering inside an expanding lymph node Category Science blog October 22 2014 Nick Peel This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Science Snaps Our scientists have shown for the first time how lymph nodes swell

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/series/science-snaps/ (2016-02-11)
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  • ‘Wake up and smell the coffee!’ Watch our Google Hangout on immunotherapy - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    make a successful application Funding committees Manage your research grant Manage your grant online Guide to managing a grant online Notify us of new publications Update your profile How we deliver research Our research strategy Our institutes Our centres Our research partnerships More Drug discovery and development Recently funded awards Researcher case studies ABOUT US What we do We beat cancer We fundraise We develop policy Our organisation Our strategy Our Trustees CEO and Executive Board Annual report and accounts Annual review Current jobs Graduates and interns Your development Benefits Cancer news Science blog Latest press releases Latest news reports Search all news More Contact Us Press office Publications HOME ABOUT CANCER SUPPORT US NEWS RESOURCES FUNDING RESEARCH ABOUT US You are here Home border 0 Support us Home About us Cancer news Science blog Wake up and smell the coffee Watch our Google Hangout on immunotherapy Wake up and smell the coffee Watch our Google Hangout on immunotherapy Category Science blog August 4 2015 Kat Arney This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Google Hangouts As a research based organisation we like to experiment Not just in the lab but also in the ways we communicate our research to our supporters who fund it as well as the wider public You can see the result of our latest trial in the Youtube video above our first Google Hangout on Air in partnership with Science on Google It s a live web chat featuring Professor Fran Balkwill from the Barts Cancer Institute Professor Ben Willcox from Birmingham University and our own hosts Buddhini Samarasinghe and Kat Arney Over 25 minutes or so we tackle the basics of the immune system and how it does and doesn t recognise cancer cells as well as the role of chronic inflammation in fuelling cancer growth We take a look at the latest immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors according to Fran they work by making immune cells wake up and smell the coffee kicking them into action to destroy tumours We also explore a few exciting new ideas such as engineered immune cells and combinations of immunotherapies Finally we address the popular but misguided idea that it s possible to boost the immune system with certain foods As Ben puts it Our immune systems are pretty resilient I would caution people against believing those kinds of promises My advice would be that if you have some money and want to boost the immune system to fight cancer you re better off supporting a cancer immunologist than buying yoghurt Watch the Hangout on Youtube read a full transcript here and please do fill in our short survey to tell us what you think Kat Next in series Google Hangouts Wake up and smell the coffee Watch our Google Hangout on immunotherapy Will you be finding a cure for my child Watch our Google Hangout on tackling cancer in kids and teens Watch our Google Hangout about meat and cancer risk Share

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/08/04/wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-watch-our-google-hangout-on-immunotherapy-the-immune-system-and-cancer/ (2016-02-11)
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  • NCRI cancer conference day 3: radiotherapy, lifestyle… and a pill to prevent cancer? - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    apt for one of the lead scientists behind that study Dr Marco Gerlinger to host a session on how the genetic roots and branches of tumours change as they grow A fascinating talk from Dr Ultan McDermott showed how tumour evolution can lead to resistance to treatments Here he made a very important point that simply saying resistance is happening isn t good enough we need to find ways of using this information to develop the clinical trials that will actually stop resistance And he then showed some promising results on how combining two treatments might help overcome resistance to one of those drugs Dr David Kent closed the session with the fascinating story of how the order in which blood cells pick up two particular genetic faults can change how resulting cancer cells behave If the faults appeared in one order this meant the disease developed earlier and was potentially more aggressive showing how important spotting these changes in tests might be in the future A pill to prevent cancer We all know the old mantra prevention is better than cure But as with most things it s easier said than done especially when it comes to a complex set of diseases like cancer Today we heard about some of the hot topics in cancer prevention and naturally aspirin was top of the list It s a drug we ve written about regularly and CRUK is helping fund some cutting edge research in the field There are still lots of questions to be answered including how the drug actually helps prevent cancer and how much should be given to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks We also heard some interesting ideas about how to find people whose genes mean they could benefit the most from taking aspirin Professor Karen Brown then summarised her current work into resveratrol a compound found in grapes and red wine that could one day be used in a purified form to help prevent some cancers But as always she was quick to point out this isn t the same as drinking a glass of red wine and many studies on resveratrol in the lab use much higher levels than would be safe in the bloodstream so the results should be interpreted with caution Professor Jack Cuzick rounded off the session with a timely reminder of how far we ve come in breast cancer prevention And he emphasised that prevention studies need decades of follow up saying prevention is a long game even with 20 years of follow up we still don t have all the data yet It was a fascinating session on a controversial topic that had a lot of people talking afterwards Lifestyle behaviour In a packed afternoon session we heard some excellent summaries of the most recent evidence on how alcohol diet and physical activity affect our risk of cancer Given that many of the audience had been to the conference drinks reception the night before the sobering statistics on

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/11/04/ncri-cancer-conference-day-3-radiotherapy-lifestyle-and-a-pill-to-prevent-cancer/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Expert Opinion – Professor Peter Johnson on cancer immunotherapy - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    Enough to keep us plugging on What was the moment you first thought hang on this is actually going to work It really only was when we saw the responses of patients with melanoma given a drug that targets CTLA 4 now known as ipilimumab Yervoy that people started to think that it might work The real turning point was the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 where we started to see dramatic responses in a substantial minority of patients Most cancer doctors work along pretty simple lines you treat your patients and if the tumour really shrinks you think this is good Now we ve got a few new drugs collectively called checkpoint blockers that are rapidly coming through the system for melanoma lung cancer and several other cancers And there are more in the pipeline Watch an animation showing how some of these drugs work Why have these cancers been the focus of so much of the recent work This is for three reasons First because these cancers especially kidney cancer and melanoma seem to be able to lie dormant for a long time you remove patients primary tumours but then the disease can come back years later Where have those cancer cells been all that time They must have been around but being held at bay by the immune system So this was a big clue The next clue was spontaneous remission people who get better despite having not had active treatment and these seem to be more common in people with melanoma and kidney cancers The third is the more recent knowledge that you can find immune cells in the circulation of people with melanoma that can recognise molecules on their tumour So there were bits of circumstantial evidence but it was only that And then the other reason of course is the fact that for many patients with these cancers conventional treatments chemotherapy and radiotherapy were largely ineffective These were patients who really needed something new On the flipside are there cancer types where you suspect immunotherapy will be less effective It seems that the genetically more scrambled tumours respond better so it s looking likely that the cancer types that tend to have fewer genetic faults children s cancers certain types of brain tumour may be difficult to treat with immunotherapy There are some other cancers where we are still not sure such as prostate and breast cancer What about side effects The principal problem with immunotherapy is that the immune system can attack a patient s own tissues an autoimmune response During the early days of cancer immunotherapy when nothing seemed to work critics would say to us and another thing you will get autoimmunity To which our response was always we ll worry about that when it happens if we get autoimmunity we ll know something is working During the early days of cancer immunotherapy when nothing seemed to work critics would say to us and another thing you will get autoimmunity But with these new drugs it has happened because they are working In a proportion of cases we see two important things pneumonitis where the immune system attacks the lungs or colitis in the bowels There are also less common side effects for example skin rashes or where the pituitary or thyroid glands are affected so that s manageable because you can replace the hormones they produce provided you make the diagnosis quickly And as time has gone on we ve got much better at anticipating and managing side effects so now if we see autoimmunity starting up we give steroids very quickly to switch it off and we know that we ve got other treatments in reserve if the steroids aren t enough There s been a lot of enthusiastic coverage of these new drugs Can we use the word cure yet I think it s legitimate to say that if someone with very advanced melanoma had a treatment a decade ago and there s still no sign of it then there s a reasonable chance they may be cured And this is the case for one in five people who took part in the early ipilimumab studies With the combinations of ipilimumab and the newer checkpoint drugs which target a molecule called PD1 it s a bit too early to say the trials haven t been followed up for long enough yet but the early indications are very promising What do we know about who to give these drugs to And how s this view evolving This is an area of intense research and it s a moving target There s a bit of evidence that if certain molecules are present in high levels on either a patient s tumour cells or their immune cells then this can help predict who will respond But this isn t perfect we see responses in people who don t have these molecules and there are also people who do have them but who aren t responding Personally I think the key to understanding all this will be unravelling how three things interact first the genes that are faulty and activated in the tumour itself second the molecules released by the cells into the tumour s immediate environment and third the state of activation of immune cells in and around the tumour It s basically a three way Mexican stand off between these three things and we need to understand what s going on Fortunately the latest technology is allowing us to do that and things are really progressing quickly What about cost of these drugs Can the NHS afford them Despite some of the headlines I m actually more optimistic about the cost of these antibodies than I am about some new cancer treatments we see Because the actual process of making them is not especially complex our PhD students can learn how to make a new antibody in a couple of months Despite some of

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/09/17/expert-opinion-professor-peter-johnson-on-cancer-immunotherapy/ (2016-02-11)
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