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Cancer

A new study has pointed to a chink in the armor of skin cancer cells, suggesting that they can be overpowered by the body's own system with help from a pioneering approach known as viral therapy. A clinical trial has demonstrated that a genetically engineered herpes virus can not only plant itself in the cancer cells and kill them off, but activate the body's own immune system to stave off harmful tumors.

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A drug long-used to counter the negative effects of chemotherapy has won US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in treating the nasty effects of exposure to radiation following a nuclear disaster. Known commercially as Neupogen, the drug has been shown to work by shielding the body's white blood cells to heighten a patient's chances of survival.

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A research team at Lund University in Sweden has conducted a study to test the effectiveness of tomosynthesis breast screening against more conventional mammograms. The results are promising, showing the new technique to be better at detecting tumors, as well as being a more comfortable experience for the patient.

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A key battleground in the fight against cancer has been the development of vaccines to stop tumors taking hold. These are intended to kick the body's own immune system into action to fend off the cancerous cells, with immunotherapy drugs for melanomas, prostate and lung cancer all emerging in recent years. But one hurdle oncologists are yet to tackle with any great success is a vaccine for breast cancer. New research now suggests this mightn't be all that far away, with the discovery that loading cancer antigens into silicon microparticles serves to greatly boost the immune response.

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Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed and tested a molecule that has the ability to disrupt the body's regulation of cancer cells, causing the cells to self-destructing rather than multiply. The method was found to be effective when tackling dormant brain cancer cells that existing treatments are ineffective at eradicating.

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Though a range of cancers can cause pain for sufferers, studies have shown tumors in the head, neck and prostate to cause the most discomfort. New research has shed more light on the source of this pain, identifying a certain gene as the trigger and giving scientists hope of developing better targeted pain relief therapies. Read More
While there are a large number of approved cancer treatments, identifying which drugs are best suited to individual patients is extremely difficult for doctors. A team of MIT researchers has developed a small, implantable device that aims to change this by allowing scientists to measure the effectiveness of different drugs, on a patient-by-patient basis. Read More
Scientists working in the area of pancreatic cancer research have uncovered a technique that sees cancerous cells transform back into normal healthy cells. The method relies in the introduction of a protein called E47, which bonds with particular DNA sequences and reverts the cells back to their original state. Read More
One of the body's defenses against deadly cancer cells may have just received a much-needed boost. Researchers at Imperial College London have happened upon a previously unknown protein that ramps up the presence of all-important cytotoxic T cells, which destroy virus-infected and cancerous cells. Read More
Though generally a bacteria we'd associate with a severe bout of food poisoning, previous research has suggested that Salmonella needn't always bring bad news and stomach cramps. Certain strains have been shown to kill off cancer cells, but to use them as a form of treatment for humans without inducing any nasty side effects has so far proven difficult. But now, researchers have developed genetically modified salmonella that turns toxic only after it enters a tumor. Read More
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