Category Archives: Research
Brain tumours are hard to treat. But even this is a harrowing understatement for some forms of the disease.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is one such example. These rare brain tumours almost exclusively affect children, and they’re invariably fatal.
“Almost all children with DIPG sadly die within a couple of years of diagnosis,” says Professor Chris Jones from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, a Cancer Research UK-funded expert on the disease.
“There aren’t any effective treatments.”
One of the main reasons that the outlook for DIPG is so poor is down to where it grows in the brain. These tumours start in the brainstem, which lies at the base of the brain and hooks up the spinal cord with deeper brain regions. This crucial piece of machinery controls many of the body’s vital processes, such as breathing and our heart beat.
That means surgery – a cornerstone treatment for many cancers – is out of the question. Drugs are also notoriously ineffective for brain tumours, because most are shut out by the protective blood brain barrier.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumors found at the base of the brain. They are glial tumors, meaning they arise from the brain’s glial tissue—tissue made up of cells that help support and protect the brain’s neurons.
These tumors are found in an area of the brainstem (the lowest, stem-like part of the brain) called the pons, which controls many of the body’s most vital functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas account for 10% of all childhood central nervous system tumors.
While DIPGs are usually diagnosed when children are between the ages of 5 and 9, they can occur at any age in childhood. These tumors occur in boys and girls equally and do not generally appear in adults.
Medical advances in the past 40 years have greatly improved the survival rates for children diagnosed with most types of cancer, but these medical advances have done nothing for children with DIPG.
Brain tumors remain the most common cause of cancer-related death in children, and DIPG is the leading cause of death from paediatric brain tumours. A child diagnosed with DIPG today faces the same prognosis as a child diagnosed 40 years ago.
There is still no effective treatment and no chance of survival. Only 10% of children with DIPG survive for 2 years following their diagnosis, and less than 1% survive for 5 years. The median survival time is 9 months from diagnosis.
New research showcases an innovative method of delivering vaccines straight to our white blood cells, strengthening the immune system against cancer and serious infections.
Immunotherapy, which is a widely used form of treatment against cancer, boosts the body’s immune system in the fight against tumors.
Immunotherapy works primarily with T cells, which are a type of white blood cell, or lymphocyte.Largely, our immune systems rely on B lymphocytes, which are active in a variety of infections, and T lymphocytes which must be activated when combating cancer or more serious infections such as tuberculosis.
When cisplatin was first used to treat cancer in the late 70s, it made a big impact.
“It was the most extraordinary breakthrough treatment,” says Dr Penelope Brock, paediatric consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital. “It started as a treatment for testicular cancer, but it wasn’t long before we started using it to treat children’s cancers as well.”
Unfortunately, as well as killing cancer cells, the chemotherapy also killed cells in the inner ear. This left over 60% of children with hearing loss after treatment.
The unexpected side effect has been a focus of Brock’s research since it was first discovered. And now, almost 40 years later, a solution may have arrived.
New research, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows a drug called sodium thiosulphate can protect against hearing loss after cisplatin treatment.
“With sodium thiosulphate, we have a real opportunity to make children’s cancer treatment safer. The results have been a long time coming, and I’m so glad they’re finally here.”
Our modern germ-free life is the cause of the most common type of cancer in children, according to one of Britain’s most eminent scientists.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) affects one in 2,000 children.
Prof Mel Greaves, from the Institute of Cancer Research, has amassed 30 years of evidence to show the immune system can become cancerous if it does not “see” enough bugs early in life.
It means it may be possible to prevent the disease.
The type of blood cancer is more common in advanced, affluent societies, suggesting something about our modern lives might be causing the disease.
There have been wild claims linking power cables, electromagnetic waves and chemicals to the cancer.
That has been dismissed in this work published in Nature Reviews Cancer.
Instead, Prof Greaves – who has collaborated with researchers around the world – says there are three stages to the disease.
The first is a seemingly unstoppable genetic mutation that happens inside the womb. Then a lack of exposure to microbes in the first year of life fails to teach the immune system to deal with threats correctly.
This sets the stage for an infection to come along in childhood, cause an immune malfunction and leukaemia.
The Little Fighters Cancer Trust focuses on helping the Child with Cancer and the whole Family in a Holistic manner because we realise that the whole family is affected when a child has cancer.
Added to this, there are many vastly different belief paradigms in play as South Africa is such a diverse nation and thus it is important to treat every family according to its individual unique set-up, belief system, knowledge about childhood cancer, accessibility to the internet or other sources of information, accessibility to support, etc.
Many of our Little Fighters come from rural areas and when they get diagnosed with cancer, are immediately transferred to a hospital in a urban area where there is a Paediatric Oncology Ward – most of the time without even being able to go back home to collect any clothing or other basic necessities.
Many of the mothers end up sitting in the hospital beside their child’s bed without a change of clothing, toiletries, food, accommodation, or any kind of support base.
Below is an extract from a study conducted in 2016, most of which still remains relevant today – THIS IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!!! THIS is why we need ongoing funding….
Scientists might have found a way to activate the body’s “natural killer T cells” in the fight against cancer. The findings might lead to more effective treatments that stop cancer from spreading.
A new study, Dual Modifications of α-Galactosylceramide Synergize to Promote Activation of Human Invariant Natural Killer T Cells and Stimulate Anti-tumor Immunity which has recently been published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology — was led by chemistry professor Amy Howell, from the University of Connecticut in Mansfield.
Prof. Howell and her team sought a compound that would activate human immune cells called Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells for any years.
iNKT cells give our immune system crucial ammunition in the fight against infections but also against illnesses such as cancer, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.
Most of us know that fruit is good for us, and most of us even know that various berries contain certain compounds that are extra healthy, but could berries really help fight cancer?
Speak to any “health-nut” and they will say definitely, berries are the way to go for everything health-wise but it is not that clear-cut as to whether berries are as beneficial in combating cancer as one might think.
While nobody can dispute the fact that berries are extremely healthy, when it comes to cancer studies, some laboratory animal studies have offered hope, while observational studies in humans have not been so encouraging.
Let’s face it, a lovely colourful bowl full of berries is very pleasing to the eye, and to the palate too, and this is partially due to their pigments, or anthocyanins, which are particularly prevalent in blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackcurrants.
We are desperate for NEW winter footwear and clothing for our Little Fighters and unfortunately the response has been absolutely minimal so far.
We have close to 15 000 followers and a reach of over 50 000 people weekly!! If just 10% would purchase JUST ONE item each we would more than make our target 😥
Every year the Little Fighters Cancer Trust aims to provide around 2 000 Children with Cancer with warm clothing, scarves,gloves, mittens, socks and shoes before the winter cold sets in, and this is for a VERY good reason.
Most of our Childhood Cancer Families cannot afford to purchase new clothing and due to weight loss or gain as a result of the treatment it is often necessary. It is absolutely vital that a Child with cancer keep warm at all times because the cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy lower white blood cell count.
White blood cells are the body’s weapons against infection; having a low white blood cell count weakens the cancer patient’s immune system. If treatment has lowered your child’s white blood cell count, that may explain why they feel cold. Platelets are one of the three kinds of blood cells that circulate oxygen throughout the body. If one does not have enough of them, one’s body cannot get enough oxygen, which means one can develop anemia-which causes one to feel cold, among other things.