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  • Building the evidence for innovative radiotherapy - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    Support us Home About us Cancer news Science blog Building the evidence for innovative radiotherapy Building the evidence for innovative radiotherapy Category Science blog August 26 2014 Emlyn Samuel We recently funded some exciting clinical trials using an advanced type of radiotherapy called Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy or SABR for short This is pioneering research which we hope could lead to even better treatment options for patients with a range of hard to treat cancers Although we re providing the direct funding to run these trials they also like all trials have indirect costs too So we need support from the NHS and an organisation called the National Institute for Health NIHR Clinical Research Network to make sure they happen So we were really happy to see that the Government has pledged to support these trials taking place The potential of SABR in treating cancer is exciting but these are early stages for this research and so we thought we should tell you a bit more about these trials and what it means for cancer patients But firstly what exactly is SABR SABR is a newer type of radiotherapy that uses specialist equipment and imaging to precisely target x rays to kill cancers which has made headlines in the pas t The very precise nature of this type of treatment means it is given in very high doses but fewer times or fractions For example a patient getting SABR might only receive 5 8 fractions to treat their tumour rather than something like between 15 40 fractions with standard radiotherapy But at the moment SABR is only routinely used in the NHS to treat non small cell lung cancer This is because this is currently the only cancer type where there s strong evidence that it is effective enough for routine use It has also been used to treat other types of cancer on a case by case basis but critically there s no strong evidence for it to be routinely used on other cancer types This is why we need clinical trials to build the evidence base so that if it is proved effective the NHS can make it available to patients on a routine basis The trials themselves We are funding 4 clinical trials using SABR one to treat pancreatic cancer one to treat biliary tract cancer and two to treat lung cancer that has started to spread These trials are at different stages or phases of development and so while some will be looking at what dose of radiotherapy to give others will be looking at whether they increase survival rates from cancer In any case they will be a really promising development in our understanding of how SABR could treat a wider range of cancers in the future Why do we need government support We ve blogged before about need for the NHS to support research and this is no different The money announced at the weekend will provide the treatment costs for the trials to run

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/08/26/building-the-evidence-for-innovative-radiotherapy/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Reading the code: Professor Tony Kouzarides - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    same amino acid building block a molecule called leucine But what was it doing It took two years for him to prove that these repeated leucine blocks were important for helping FOS to stick to a protein made by another oncogene called JUN His findings provided solid evidence that FOS and JUN could work together to turn on genes We now know that they play an important role in driving cells to multiply both in healthy cells where growth is tightly controlled and in cancer where cells run amok Running the risk Pursuing my ideas about FOS was risky says Tony As many people didn t believe that such a weak similarity could be important If I hadn t got the results I did my scientific career would have been over But I ve always believed it s important to take risks in my research rather than play it safe and it s something I still do now The gamble paid off Shortly after publishing his results he received a phone call from a scientist named Ron Laskey Ron had secured funding from The Cancer Research Campaign a precursor of Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust to set up a new research institute in Cambridge bringing together top cancer researchers with the best people working in developmental biology Would Tony like to come back to the UK and set up a lab in the new building Tony recalls Ron had put together some amazing people He came over to New York and we walked around Central Park talking about it Coming back to Cambridge had seemed like an impossible dream but he offered me the best job I could imagine As a result Tony became one of the first members of the new institute in fact the first two people he hired Andy Bannister and Alistair Cook are still with him today Now known as the Gurdon Institute it s still funded by Cancer Research UK and the Wellcome Trust and boasts two Nobel prizewinners John Gurdon himself and Martin Evans Members of Tony s team at the Gurdon Institute at a recent lab retreat From cancer genes to epigenetics Originally brought in by Ron Laskey to work on cancer genes and how they get switched on and off Tony s focus started to shift towards more fundamental questions about the mechanisms by which all our genes are controlled An important breakthrough came in 1996 when Andy Bannister in his lab made an intriguing discovery A protein called CBP appeared to be able to stick little chemical tags called acetylation onto the histone proteins that package DNA It may not seem like much of a big deal but it changed everything Tony told us We already knew that CBP was involved in turning genes on and we already knew that histones carried acetylation tags but nobody had made the link between the two Our work showed that CBP turned genes on by acetylating histones and that this was a fundamental principle underpinning gene activation The discovery along with the findings that other researchers around the world were making ignited the field of molecular epigenetics the tags and markers on our DNA and the proteins that package it which make sure that genes are switched on and off at the right time and in the right place But how does it work Since their first major result in histone acetylation Tony and his team have gone on to discover other types of tags that help to control gene activity dubbed by some as the histone code But it wasn t enough just to catalogue the different marks he wanted to understand what they do Another crucial step forward came in the late 1990s when they discovered that there were specific proteins that recognise and stick to a type of histone tag called methylation which is added to the histones that package genes needing to be switched off The discovery was truly exciting as it provided an explanation for how these chemical marks get interpreted by the cell and influence gene activity And it also had implications for cancer as Tony explains When Andy found that CBP could add acetylation to histones I wondered if it was important in cancer as we knew that it was often found stuck to a protein called E1A which was involved in driving cancer To find out if there was a link with disease Tony teamed up with Carlos Caldas now at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute Together they looked at tumour samples and found faults in a CBP related protein p300 in many types of cancer To Tony the implication was clear understanding these modifying proteins and the molecules that read the histone code could lead to vital new insights into the underlying biology of cancer cells And he thought perhaps interfering with them could be an entirely new way to treat the disease From blunderbuss to sniper rifle Right from the start Tony has hoped that his work would lead towards the development of more effective treatments for patients But as is so often the case with such fundamental biological research it s taken a while to get there One problem with drugs that target histone modifications is that they are relatively un specific although there are several in clinical trials with two approved for wider use Histone marks are used throughout our entire genome to control gene activity even though there may only be relatively few genes that are actually driving the cancer Attacking them all is like using a pellet scattering blunderbuss rather than a precision sniper rifle to hit a target sure you ll hit it but you ll cause a lot of collateral damage too Another important discovery came when Tony and his team revealed that a rogue protein found in a certain type of leukaemia called MLL specifically recognises the histone marks on just a handful of genes some of which are responsible for driving the cancer

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/10/25/reading-the-code-professor-tony-kouzarides/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Do you think that’s air you’re breathing? How cancer cells corrupt the matrix - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    body and it s all do to with the matrix and oxygen levels Down the rabbit hole The discovery centres on a particular type of cell called a cancer associated fibroblast or CAF for short These are cells that tumours recruit to support them as they grow and spread They release signals into the world around a tumour that help shape and stiffen the stringy networks of proteins and sugar molecules that cancer cells use as support when they spread By bending the rules of the matrix in this way the fibroblasts can tunnel through the surrounding tissue allowing the cancer cells to follow them down the rabbit hole to other parts of the body The effects are striking as shown in this video of lab grown cells Watch how fibroblasts help breast cancer cells spread Breathe Neo For their latest study Sahai s team homed in on a crucial chemical balance that can affect how tumours grow oxygen levels Tumours are notorious for containing pockets of low oxygen a situation called hypoxia and it s been known for some time that this can trigger signals inside cancer cells that can help them survive and even prompt the development of a new blood supply But how does hypoxia affect the cells and matrix that surrounds a tumour When the team took fibroblasts from tumours and grew them in an artificial matrix they found that a drop in oxygen deactivated the fibroblasts And when the fibroblasts were exposed to low oxygen for long periods of time and then mixed with cancer cells these deactivated fibroblasts were no longer able to help the cancer cells move through the artificial matrix In other words the fibroblasts ability to change the matrix and help the cancer cells spread seemed to be sensitive to changes in oxygen levels A glitch in the matrix To explore this further Sahai s team turned to experimental drugs known to be able to mimic the effect of hypoxia on cells These drugs target a group of molecules called prolyl hydroxylase domain proteins or PHDs which act as molecular switches inside cells allowing them respond to changes in oxygen levels When the team tested this they found that as predicted the drugs softened the matrix around breast tumours in mice And crucially this limited the tumour s ability to spread What this shows is that prolonged hypoxia switches fibroblasts off reducing their ability to help cancer cells spread Professor Ali Tavassoli Next the team switched off a form of PHD called PHD2 inside lab grown CAFs and mixed these with breast cancer cells When the cancer cells formed tumours in mice the team saw that fibroblasts lacking PHD2 were unable to help the cancer cells spread This is a really interesting finding says Professor Ali Tavassoli an expert in hypoxia and cancer from the University of Southampton What this shows is that prolonged hypoxia switches fibroblasts off reducing their ability to help cancer cells spread And according to Tavassoli the

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/01/do-you-think-thats-air-youre-breathing-how-cancer-cells-corrupt-the-matrix/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Marianne Baker | Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    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 Author Marianne Baker Author Marianne Baker Sticky cells blood vessels and cancer the paradox of Claudin 14 Category Science blog June 14 2013 Marianne Baker How do our bodies form new blood vessels This is a key question in cancer research as tumours need to develop a new blood supply to grow Last summer Dr Mari Read More Getting to the root of tumour blood vessels Category Science blog January 18 2013 Marianne Baker This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentIn the first of this series we explained how the neighbourhood or microenvironment around a can Read More Getting to know the neighbours the tumour microenvironment Category Science blog January 11 2013 Marianne Baker This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentDespite the huge progress that has been made over recent decades more than 150 000 people lose their li Read More

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/author/mariannebaker/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Microenvironment - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    cancer subject New treatments Cancer biology Cancer drugs All cancer subjects Near you Belfast Cardiff Edinburgh All locations By Researcher Professor Duncan Baird Professor Fran Balkwill Professor Andrew Biankin See all researchers More Our research history Our research strategy FUNDING FOR RESEARCHERS Our funding schemes Biomarker Project 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 Series Microenvironment Series Microenvironment A home from home how cancer cells spread to new organs Category Science blog June 4 2013 Safia Danovi This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentIn our previous post in this series we talked about how the tumour microenvironment helps tumour cells Read More I want to break free the microenvironment and metastasis Category Science blog February 11 2013 Safia Danovi This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentNo man is an island and the same can be said of tumour cells Previous posts in our microenvironment Read More Feeling the heat the link between inflammation and cancer Category Science blog February 1 2013 Safia Danovi This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentRegular readers will know that the infrastructure supporting a tumour its microenvironment Read More Getting to the root of tumour blood vessels Category Science blog January 18 2013 Marianne Baker This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentIn the first of this series we explained how the neighbourhood or microenvironment around a can Read More Getting to know the neighbours the tumour microenvironment Category Science blog January 11 2013 Marianne Baker This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series MicroenvironmentDespite the huge progress that has been made over recent decades more than 150 000 people lose their li Read More Older Posts Newer Posts Popular posts Most read today Most discussed Don t believe the hype 10 persistent cancer myths debunked How does alcohol cause cancer Processed meat and cancer what you need to know How does alcohol cause cancer Headlines about e cigarettes don t mean they re not safer than tobacco A message of love and

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/series/microenvironment/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Getting to know the neighbours – the tumour microenvironment - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    that has been made over recent decades more than 150 000 people lose their lives to cancer every year in the UK usually because the disease has spread through their body Understanding why this happens and how we can treat tumours once they have spread is crucial if we are to beat cancer Cancer is not just one but hundreds of different diseases depending on where in the body it started and the underlying molecular faults that drive it Over the years many researchers have poured their efforts into understanding individual types of cancer such as the recent work from Cancer Research UK s Professor Carlos Caldas showing that breast cancer can be divided into ten distinct types as well as searching for the fundamental characteristics of cancer cells for example our very own Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Tim Hunt s Nobel prize winning work on understanding how all cells divide Much of the effort in developing new cancer treatments has focused on identifying and targeting specific molecules in cancer cells good examples of this approach in action are revolutionary targeted drugs like breast cancer drug trastuzumab better known as Herceptin and leukaemia drug imatinib also called Glivec But as well as this focus on cancer cells themselves it s becoming increasingly clear that tumours are more than just collections of rogue cells Blood vessels immune cells and other healthy tissues are hijacked to support a tumour helping it grow spread and resist treatment Researchers are increasingly turning their attention to this bad neighbourhood around a around a tumour to understand how it can be brought back under control to treat cancer more effectively There s more to cancer than cancer cells Solid tumours cancers excluding those affecting the blood can be thought of as being a bit like a rogue organ in the body rather than a growing cluster of identical cancer cells So modern day cancer research often involves studying this whole system in order to further our understanding of cancer and tackle it effectively All the different types of cells within tumours the proteins that surround them and the conditions they create together are referred to by scientists as the tumour microenvironment This neighbourhood includes blood vessels and lymphatic vessels which carry a fluid called lymph containing many of the components of our immune system There are also cells and molecules from the immune system itself and wound healing cells called fibroblasts as well as a sticky protein glue known as the matrix that supports all of the cells and stops them from drifting apart when they need to be held together Can we target the microenvironment to treat cancer All of the different parts of the microenvironment play their own roles in helping tumours to grow and while their importance is still to be fully understood research is going strong in this area Through looking in greater detail at the tumour microenvironment we ll be able to understand more about how tumours grow and spread

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2013/01/11/getting-to-know-the-neighbours-the-tumour-microenvironment/ (2016-02-11)
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  • When muscle turns to bone – clues for treating deadly childhood brain tumours - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    for short From bones to brains Dr Chris Jones and his team are finding the key gene faults driving childhood cancers Dr Chris Jones and his team at the ICR are scanning reams of genetic data that could provide new ways to target a variety of childhood cancers Among these is DIPG which affects between 20 and 30 children in the UK each year It develops from early precursor cells that during normal development would go on to form specialised brain cells called glial cells Due to their location in the brain these tumours cannot be removed by surgery meaning the outlook for patients with DIPG is poor On average children with DIPG survive for less than a year and there are no effective treatments to target the disease That s why Dr Jones and his team are focussed on learning more about DIPG and translating this into potential new ways to treat it Their latest study which is part of our Genomics Initiative and is funded through our Catalyst Club a pioneering venture to raise 10 million to aid research into personalising cancer treatment is starting to piece together the genetic puzzle of DIPG By finding the key gene faults driving the disease Dr Jones hopes to lay the foundations for future cures A surprising genetic crossover The team scoured the DNA code of 26 unique samples from children with DIPG Finding that the same few spelling mistakes are shared between two rare and drastically different diseases is remarkable Dr Chris Jones They found that in just over a quarter of these samples a cluster of genetic faults were cropping up in a precise portion of a particular gene that had not previously been linked to DIPG In fact when they ran these faults through a vast database of known cancer linked errors they saw that no other tumour type carried these faults with the same high frequency This was a striking result Less than one per cent of the many thousands of samples present in the database matched the faults we saw so frequently in these DIPG patients said Dr Jones It really shows how important these faults could be in pinpointing a subset of patients that could benefit from treatments in the future he added But even more striking was the discovery that these same genetic faults matched those responsible for FOP When you think that the human genome the complete set of genetic information found in our cells is over 3 billion letters in length finding that the same few spelling mistakes are shared between two rare and drastically different diseases is remarkable Dr Jones said Turning stone into treatments From reams of genetic data a surprising link emerges The gene Dr Jones and his team identified is known as ACVR1 and it produces a key protein in cells called ALK2 If the faulty gene is present in all cells at birth then that child will develop FOP But it s extremely rare affecting just one

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/04/07/when-muscle-turns-to-bone-clues-for-treating-deadly-childhood-brain-tumours/ (2016-02-11)
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  • 13 things that shaped our campaign for standardised cigarette packaging - Cancer Research UK - Science blog
    Minister he was making a mistake At the same time the role of Government strategist Lynton Crosby in this decision who had worked on behalf of the tobacco industry in Australia featured in the headlines 7 Plan B Over the next four months we went back to the drawing board rekindling interest in the campaign using channels like our social media communities and Mumsnet to name a few Our Ambassadors campaigned outside the Labour Lib Dem and Conservative Party conferences braving all weathers distributing thousands of leaflets and asking delegates to end the packetracket Behind the scenes our policy experts worked with partners in the Smokefree Action Coalition SFAC and Peers from across the House of Lords to add standard packs as an amendment to the Children Families Bill And our Ambassadors wrote to 240 Peers in the Lords to spread the word The Government responded by launching an Independent Review of the growing evidence for standard packs chaired by paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler At the same time we unveiled another hard hitting video this time highlighting tobacco industry tactics to recruit new smokers Watch the video on YouTube 8 Back on track Great news in February 2014 a majority of 429 MPs voted in favour of the tobacco control amendments to the Children Families Bill This gave the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt powers to put standard packs back on the table We were well and truly back on track 9 Chantler Review backs standard packs The results were in and the Independent Chantler Review concluded in April 2014 that it s highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking We heard the welcome news that following the review the Public Health Minister Jane Ellison confirmed that the Government was minded to proceed with standard packs After the announcement over 4 000 CRUK supporters emailed their MPs to tell the Government to act fast and introduce the regulations 10 Aussie evidence In June 2014 the Government launched a nother consultation this time on the latest draft regulations for standardised packaging The next month more than 100 of our Ambassadors descended on Westminster again to meet with their MPs ahead of the Election They were armed with the latest evidence from Australia showing that following the introduction of standard packs smoking rates had fallen to a record low 11 Running out of time Special delivery from Australia As 2014 was drawing to a close the Government offered further assurances that it wanted to move ahead with standard packs but kept its cards close to its chest stating that it had not made a final decision The anxiety across the health community was that Parliament might run out of time before the General Election By December 2014 Australia was marking two years since it pioneered the measure and a postcard from Stan Pack gave a timely reminder to the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister 12 Cross party public support Great

    Original URL path: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/03/17/13-things-that-shaped-our-campaign-for-standardised-cigarette-packaging/ (2016-02-11)
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