Cancer Research

Nearly one in four publicly sponsored cancer clinical trials fail to enroll enough participants, which means progress is impeded and a lot of time and money has been wasted.

What accounts for that? Patients grumble about cost - if you go to Stanford Medical for a consultation about a trial they are doing, you are likely to get a large bill just for the visit - and then there is the risk of side effects that get so much media attention. If real medicines that survived 12 years and $2 billion end up with lawsuits for harm, untested treatments or techniques are likely to be worse. And Big Pharma is evil, activists and the federal government routinely tell us.


This case-study suggests that a genetic predisposition, such as susceptibility to sunburn, can result in abnormal growth or “tumour” formation without proper sunscreen protection, as previously described in Science 2.0 [Sunburn with Sunscreen: A Case-Study - April 20, 2011].

One of the popular myths that lazy journalists like to "debunk" this time of year is that early cancer detection saves lives. That's because there is no way to really prove someone didn't die, any more than it is possible for a politician to claim that a giant pork stimulus packing for government union employees saved jobs.

A lazy narrative like 'early detection doesn't save lives' means people will think that about all things, and they may not go to a doctor until they have a giant tumor growing out of them.


Various groups selling 'miracle' prevention techniques, and various United Nations groups (such as IARC) insist that cancer is a lifestyle disease, and if you just pay them, they will either give you something to prevent it or get something banned to prevent it.


Aspirin has been linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer but the risk of side effects, including in some cases severe gastrointestinal bleeding, make it necessary to better understand the mechanisms by which aspirin acts before recommending it as a preventative. 


If a tumor is like a seed, the soil around it plays a significant role in its growth, according to a study which finds that the microenvironment of a tumor cell has significant impact on cancer metastasis. This discovery by Siyuan Zhang at the University of Notre Dame and a team at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has focused attention on fighting cancer in the tumor cell's microenvironment.


Cetuximab, marketed as Erbitux, is one of the key therapies for metastatic colorectal cancer, yet the cancer still returns in some patients, shortening overall survival. A new study may help explain why. Key proteins, known as epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR), are regulated, leading to resistance.

"Our study investigated the role of extracellular methylation in EGFR signaling, and unexpectedly discovered new information about how EGFR renders cancer cells resistant to cetuximab antibody therapy," said Mien Chie Hung, Ph.D., chair of Molecular and Cellular Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.


New and better drugs to treat diseases such as advanced breast cancer will have little effect on improving patient outcomes if a country does not have good healthcare structures in place, Professor Richard Sullivan told the Advanced Breast Cancer Third International Consensus Conference.

Without good systems, Prof Sullivan, of the Institute of Cancer Policy, King's Health Partners Comprehensive Cancer Centre, King's College London (UK), said there was little point in even discussing whether breast cancer drugs were affordable or not. "As things stand, I think many of the new molecular targeted agents are not affordable to many European countries, and this is only going to get worse."


Genetic sequencing of a single tumor reveals far greater genetic diversity among cancer cells than anticipated. Researchers from the University of Chicago and the Beijing Institute of Genomics estimate that the tumor, about 3.5 centimeters in diameter, contained more than 100 million distinct mutations within the coding regions of its genes--thousands of times more than expected. 


Colorectal cancer cells with certain mutations "handle" vitamin C differently than other cells, and this difference ultimately kills them, finds a new study.

The idea that vitamin C could be an effective therapy for human cancer holds great appeal, but its track record in this arena has been more claim than data, with most clinical studies finding no evidence. Several ongoing clinical studies are exploring whether a therapeutic effect may require a high plasma level of vitamin C that can be achieved only by intravenous, not oral, administration.

In the meantime, the molecular mechanism by which vitamin C might selectively kill cancer cells remains unclear.