Mubarak Labaran Liman has overcome the death of his father and a scarcity of resources to develop a thriving career in his native Nigeria, studying the role of African ethno-medicine in the management, prevention, and control of cancer and diabetes.
Liman is one of five recipients of the 2017 AACR African Cancer Researchers Travel Awards (ACRTA). These travel awards provide financial assistance to meritorious early-career African cancer researchers who wish to attend and present their research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in the United States.
Intended to enhance the education and training of African researchers engaged in all fields of cancer research, the ACRTA are also designed to encourage cross-cultural collaborations and learning.
“Receiving this award is an honour for me and for my whole family,” says Liman, who presented his work on the potential of African sweet detar, a plant used in West African cooking, to prevent colon cancer.
In an effort to improve outcomes for patients with some of the deadliest Childhood Cancers, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have created the world’s largest collection of Childhood solid tumour samples, drug-sensitivity data and related information and have made the resource available at no charge to the global scientific community.
St. Jude and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute collaborated to create the resource, known as the Childhood Solid Tumour Network (CSTN), which was launched in 2013.
“Survival rates for children with recurrent solid tumours have not improved significantly in more than 20 years and remain below 30 %,” said corresponding author Michael Dyer, Ph.D., Chair of the St. Jude Department of Developmental Neurobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “This research will change that by promoting scientific collaboration to leverage the efforts of researchers worldwide to advance understanding and ultimately treatment of Childhood solid tumours.”
In another case regarding Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and its possible link to ovarian cancer, in which a Californian woman alleged that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based Baby Powder led to her ovarian cancer, the jury has just ordered J&J to pay Eva Echeverria, 63, from Los Angeles, a whopping $417 million in what may be the largest award yet concerning the product.
Eva was too ill to testify during the trial, but instead sent a video deposition stating that she had used the company’s talc-based powder for decades, even after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. When she found out about the product’s potential risks last year, she stopped using it.
Echeverria’s legal team arrived armed with studies dating back to 1971, when a group of researchers from Wales first discovered a correlation between talcum powder and cervical and ovarian tumours.
Johnson & Johnson maintains that the product is safe.
“We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson representative said in a statement after the verdict. “Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease.”
When Deborah Mayer, PH.D., RN, AOCN, FAAN, was a young oncology nurse, she met a patient with sarcoma who clearly expressed her expectations for care.
“I expect my doctor to try to cure me,” the patient told Mayer, who is now a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor in the School of Nursing at UNC Chapel Hill. “But if nobody has asked me how I slept or when I last moved my bowels, then the time you’re buying me is not worth living.”
Mayer took that conversation as a call to action, never forgetting the importance of symptom management.
Recently, she relied on her passion for and knowledge about the subject when she sat on former Vice President Joe Biden’s Blue Ribbon Panel that helped shape the Moonshot initiative, a national endeavour to make 10 years’ worth of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment within half that time. The panel helped inform Biden’s task force and the National Cancer Advisory Board about what should be included in the Moonshot.
Jennifer Kranz was diagnosed with an especially aggressive form of a deadly childhood brain tumour, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), on her 6th birthday in 2013, and died less than four months after being diagnosed.
Jennifer’s parents heard about the work of Stanford paediatric neuro-oncologist Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, who studies donated DIPG tumour tissue to understand how its biology might be targeted with new treatments during Jennifer’s illness, and during their final appointment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the Kranzes asked if they could donate their daughter’s tumour for this research after her death.
“They said ‘Yes, here is the paperwork,’ and we signed it,” Libby said. Then she realized the donation form asked only for consent to study the tumour on Jennifer’s brainstem, making no mention of the metastases that had spread to the frontal lobe of her brain and down her spine.
“But we want to donate all of it,” Libby, Jennifer’s mom told Sonia Partap, MD, Jennifer’s oncologist. The Stanford team made the arrangements, and Libby also asked Monje to try to figure out how Jennifer’s tumour had spread so fast.
While many types of cancers have had improved survival outcomes over recent years due to new drugs and other clinical innovations, there are certain cancers that have not progressed appreciably in their survival rates or in developing new methodologies and drug protocols for decades.
Unfortunately, these cancers primarily affect children and young adults. Since the number of patients diagnosed with these deadly diseases annually is small compared to other types of cancers such as breast, prostate and colon cancer, they are treated as “orphan” diseases which translate into less emphasis by the drug companies and medical establishment in finding treatments and cures for these forms of cancer.
It is therefore up to dedicated researchers and grassroots support groups to “pick up the slack” and help those children afflicted with these deadly diseases by finding new drug protocols and techniques to stop the cancers from metastasising at worst or to stop the cancer cells from developing at best.
Herbs and plants were the original treatments for many illnesses and injuries people faced. As such, cannabis or marijuana use dates back centuries. It popped up in Western medicine in the 19th century as a means of relieving pain, inflammation, and spasms.
Today, marijuana use can spark some serious debate, even when considered for medical use only. But regardless of how you feel about its use, more cancer patients are turning to marijuana for a number of reasons.
Marijuana is not legal for use everywhere and researchers have their own concerns about potential side effects. For some patients, however, the benefits can be invaluable as they go through treatment.
These days, walking into any major cancer centre looks rather different to a few years ago, because you are likely to see not only ordinary examination rooms, equipment, and chemotherapy suites, but also massage rooms, yoga mats, and possibly even a music therapy room.
This is the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. More and more recent research now supports complementary treatments such as Acupuncture, Yoga, and some diet supplements as good ways to relieve some of the side-effects of Chemotherapy Treatments.
Treatment centres that offer complementary options, as well as the amount of individuals taking advantage of them, have increased dramatically across the globe in recent years, with some studies showing that around 50% of all people undergoing cancer treatment use some kind of complementary option.
Most of the complementary treatments recommended by medical doctors have few or no side-effects, according to the director of medical content at the American Cancer Society, Ted Gansler, MD, who states that it is fine to try Music Therapy or Meditation, for example, while you follow your standard treatment plan.
Stem cell transplantation has drastically evolved, not only moving into different types of haematologic malignancies, but also into patient populations of different ethnicities, according to associate director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Tsiporah B. Shore, M.D.
We live in a very multi-ethnic world, and it is more and more vital that all ethnic and racial groups needs can be accommodated.
With the addition of novel approaches such as haplo-cord and haploidentical transplants, an increasing number of patients are able to receive this necessary treatment.
Stem cell transplantation is a very important procedure that should be available for everyone. Looking at the unrelated registry, or even within families, there are very limited donors for many ethnic populations. It is vital that something is done about that so that transplants are available to everyone, even when donors are not available in the registry.
Shore’s centre has pioneered a new method called the haplo-cord transplant and also do cord transplantations and haploidentical transplantations – options which are fairly new and different to what was available five years ago thus enabling the entre to find donors for almost everyone.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Launches OncoKids – A Comprehensive DNA and RNA Paediatric Cancer Panel
A team of investigators at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles recently launched OncoKidsSM, a next-generation sequencing-based panel specifically designed for paediatric cancers.
The Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) OncoKidsSM cancer panel is a primer-based target enrichment, next-generation sequencing assay designed to detect diagnostic, prognostic and biologic markers for targeted therapy across the spectrum of pediatric cancers. These cancers include leukaemias, sarcomas, brain tumours and embryonal tumours. OncoKidsSM is a targeted gene panel intended to guide the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pediatric patients based on the genomic alterations specific to their tumor.
The OncoKidsSM panel was developed by a team comprised of laboratory geneticists, oncologists and pathologists.
In contrast to adult cancers, which may contain hundreds of sequence alterations, paediatric malignancies may develop from a very small number of mutations, only some of which overlap with the types of mutations seen in adult cancers.