News digest – red and processed meat, DNA ‘fingerprints’, targeted leukaemia drugs and CRISPR

news-digest-–-red-and-processed-meat,-dna-‘fingerprints’,-targeted-leukaemia-drugs-and-crispr

Even moderate consumption of red and processed meat increases bowel cancer risk

Processed and red meat hit headlines this week as our research linked moderate consumption to an increased risk of developing bowel cancer. Our scientists in Oxford found that for every 10,000 people who ate 21g of red and processed meat a day, 40 were diagnosed with bowel cancer. Eating 76g of processed or red meat a day caused 8 extra bowel cancer cases. Follow this Twitter thread for more info.

Causes of cancer may leave ‘fingerprints’ on DNA

Scientists in Cambridge say they have catalogued the tell-tale damage that environmental triggers of cancer, like tobacco smoke, leave in cells’ DNA. The team told the Guardian that their lab technique allowed them to treat cancer DNA “like a crime scene” and pieced together “forensic evidence” to suggest what causes might be behind a developing tumour.

Experimental blood analysis might pick up early signs of breast cancer relapse

The Mail Online reports on a small study that tested using breast cancer patients’ blood samples as a possible way to detect if they’re at risk of their cancer coming back. In the study of 49 people, researchers say their experimental test spotted these signs of relapse before standard scans could. The team now need to test their experimental blood analysis on a larger group of people.

Three new cancer drugs available for NHS patients in Scotland

We reported that three cancer drugs have been approved for patients on the NHS in Scotland. This includes a drug for some patients with advanced liver cancer, and two drugs that can now be used for children with leukaemia.

Gene editing uncovers potential drug targets for aggressive brain tumours

A new gene editing study could help prioritise drug target research for an aggressive type of brain tumour called glioblastoma. The US team used the DNA editing tool CRISPR to uncover multiple potential weak spots in lab-grown brain tumour cells that could be used in the future as potential targets for drug development. We covered this one.

Alternative treatment option could spare some leukaemia patients chemo

Early results from a clinical trial suggest that two targeted cancer drugs could be a good treatment option for some people with a type of leukaemia called chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Taking these drugs may mean patients wouldn’t have to receive chemo, which could spare them from side effects. PharmaTimes has the details.

Twitter account highlights what’s often missing from science headlines

A new Twitter account is calling out misleading science reporting with the help of just two words, reports STAT News. @justsaysinmice is tweeting out links to news stories or press releases along with the words “IN MICE”, to highlight where headlines fail to mention the stage research is at. The scientist behind the account, James Heathers, hopes to raise awareness that findings from early lab research in mice doesn’t mean the same effects will be seen in people, which headlines often suggest.

And finally

Early research suggests one of the building blocks of proteins may have a hand in breast cancer treatment resistance. Researchers at Harvard Medical School in the US found a link between the resistance of breast cancer cells in the lab to the drug tamoxifen and an amino acid called leucine, which we have to get from our food because our bodies can’t make it. When they increased the amount of leucine around breast cancer cells in a dish, it helped them grow. The cancer cells were also unaffected by the drug tamoxifen. Although important early work, patients shouldn’t be altering their diet just yet as the researchers haven’t yet shown that the same happens in people with breast cancer.

Gabi

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