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Cancer: Breakthrough treatments to target drug resistance

The world's first drugs designed to stop cancer cells becoming resistant to treatment could be ..

The world's first drugs designed to stop cancer cells becoming resistant to treatment could be available within the next decade, scientists have said.

A £75m investment to develop the drugs has been announced by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

Chief executive Prof Paul Workman said cancer's ability to adapt to drugs is the biggest challenge in treatment.

The new drugs could make cancer a "manageable" disease in the long term and "more often curable", he said.

Researchers say existing treatments such as chemotherapy sometimes fail because the deadliest cancer cells adapt and survive, causing the patient to relapse.

Prof Workman said: "Cancer's ability to adapt, evolve and become drug resistant was the cause of the vast majority of deaths from the disease and the biggest challenge we face in overcoming it."

He said the institute was "changing the entire way we think about cancer" to focus on anticipating the way cancer cells will evolve to prevent them from becoming resistant to drugs.

The ICR aims to attract a further £15m of funding for its new Centre for Drug Discovery at its campus in Sutton, south London, which is intended to bring together almost 300 scientists from different fields.

Analysis

By James Gallagher, health and science correspondent, BBC News

All cancers are constantly evolving and that is a major problem because patients relapse if their cancer develops resistance to therapy.

The approach by the Institute of Cancer Research is to harness the process of evolution, to turn to the theories of Charles Darwin in the hunt for new therapies.

One idea is to develop drugs that limit a cancer's ability to evolve.

Another is "evolutionary herding" that guides a cancer's development into a state that makes it more vulnerable to drugs.

Or combinations of therapies could present an impossible hurdle for cancer to overcome.

Early-stage experiments using these ideas have had promising results, but any changes to the way patients are treated are at least a decade away.

Scientists aim to use new approaches including multidrug combination treatments and artificial intelligence to predict and influence the evolution of cancer cells, creating weaknesses that treatments can exploit.

'Patients can live longer'

Dr Andrea Sottoriva, deputy director of cancer evolutionRead More – Source

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I lost my arms and legs – stop it happening to others

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his fac..

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis for NHS staff.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly.

There were delays in spotting Tom Ray's sepsis.

He says a commitment is needed to avoid more tragedies.

Tom's story

Tom Ray was fit and healthy and living in Rutland in the East Midlands before he contracted sepsis at the age of 38 in 1999.

He had had a successful career in corporate banking and was in the process of setting up a business with his pregnant wife, Nic, when he fell ill.

His sepsis – thought to be caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection – came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

But it took five hours at the hospital he was admitted to before the condition was diagnosed.

He spent months in a coma, during which time his wife Nic gave birth to their second child, Freddy.

His recovery has been a long and gruelling process, involving years of plastic surgery. (more…)

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Health

I lost my arms and legs – stop it happening to others

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his fac..

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis for NHS staff.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly.

There were delays in spotting Tom Ray's sepsis.

He says a commitment is needed to avoid more tragedies.

Tom's story

Tom Ray was fit and healthy and living in Rutland in the East Midlands before he contracted sepsis at the age of 38 in 1999.

He had had a successful career in corporate banking and was in the process of setting up a business with his pregnant wife, Nic, when he fell ill.

His sepsis – thought to be caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection – came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

But it took five hours at the hospital he was admitted to before the condition was diagnosed.

He spent months in a coma, during which time his wife Nic gave birth to their second child, Freddy.

His recovery has been a long and gruelling process, involving years of plastic surgery. (more…)

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Health

NHS ‘should not prescribe acne drug’

The parents of young people who have killed themselves and patients unable to have sex are calling f..

The parents of young people who have killed themselves and patients unable to have sex are calling for the NHS to stop prescribing acne drug Roaccutane.

Ed Henthorn said it had caused him erectile dysfunction, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

And one man who believes his son killed himself after taking the drug said the risks "are just too high".

Manufacturer Roche said "millions of patients worldwide have benefited from taking the drug".

The majority of those who take the drug have a positive experience.

'Pretty overwhelming'

"I used to think about girls… but my feelings, thoughts, just faded away," Ed Henthorn told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

He was 19 when he took Roaccutane. He describes his acne as mild but bad enough to want to treat.

After three weeks he started to experience side-effects, including reduced energy and sex drive.

Then he experienced erectile dysfunction.

"That was why I decided to stop taking it," he said. (more…)

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