News Summary: 2018 predictions, reovirus immunotherapy, alcohol and cancer

A brief summary of a few recent news items in cancer research

precision medicine 2018
Credit: AACR

Experts Forecast Cancer Research and Treatment Advances in 2018

The AACR asked experts in the fields of immunotherapy, precision medicine, and prevention and disparities research where the cancer research community is headed next and what major accomplishments we might expect in 2018 to take us closer to conquering cancer.

Credit: Cancer Research UK

EACR Board member Caroline Dive honoured by the Queen in New Year’s Honours 2018

The New Year’s Honours list is a list of awards made by the UK government and presented by the Queen. The honours system recognises people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to making life better for other people and being outstanding at what they do.

In the 2018 New Year’s Honours list EACR Board member Professor Caroline Dive has been named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Professor Dive is a senior group leader at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, and her team works alongside the Christie Hospital in developing ‘liquid biopsies’ to hunt cancer cells that have broken free from tumours and are circulating in the bloodstream.

Credit: NIAID

Virus could treat brain tumours by boosting immune system

A virus injected directly into the bloodstream could be used to treat people with aggressive brain tumours, a major new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

Researchers at the University of Leeds and The Institute of Cancer Research, London have found that the reovirus could cross the blood-brain barrier to reach tumours, where it replicates and kills the cancer cells. The virus was able to ‘switch-on’ the body’s own defence systems to attack the brain tumours in humans, and to boost the effectiveness of the current wave of exciting immune therapy drugs in mice.

The study authors believe reovirus therapy could be used in conjunction with other cancer therapies to make them more potent – and clinical trials are currently underway. Because the virus infects cancer cells and leaves healthy cells alone, patients receiving the treatment reported only mild flu-like side effects.

Credit: Cancer Research UK

Alcohol and cancer: how alcohol damages DNA inside cells

In honour of the New Year, Cancer Research UK have published a blog post on the process of how alcohol can cause cancer. It focuses in particular on a new paper published in the journal Nature,  ‘Alcohol-derived and endogenous aldehydes damage chromosomes and mutate stem cells.’

Alcohol is broken down via a strict process and converted into energy. And it’s acetaldehyde, at the centre of this chain, that’s the weakest link. If acetaldehyde isn’t broken down further it builds up in cells, where it damages DNA in a way that could cause cancer.