NCRI 2016: Sunday highlights - hear from the NCRI bloggers
Headlines, hype and hope: How should we talk about cancer research?
Kat Arney, Freelance science writer and science broadcaster, London, UK
Stories focused on "causes and cures" or "hopes and fears" make the best news stories, and are those that we most commonly see in the media. But do these stories just create hype and confusion? Kat Arney explored what makes a good cancer story and how cancer news can even affect funding and public perception.
Kat's sure that cancer stories can highly influence the public - coverage of specific cancers give the impression that the cancer is common regardless of the facts, and the knock on effect can be that it receives greater attention, even from funders. So cancer news is
important, but some of it isn't up to scratch - analyses of cancer coverage shows there are stories out there telling us that water causes cancer, and this can be hot cold or from a shower! Kat admits she doesn't have the answers to how we redress the balance, but she is sure that more researchers need to engage with the media to support better cancer research coverage. Be brave, be honest, work with your press offices and let's start having a more sophisticated way to start these cancer conversations with the public, she says.
Debate: New tricks for old drugs? This house believes research into repurposing existing medications and optimising use of current breast cancer treatments should be prioritised above research into developing novel agents
Sponsored by Breast Cancer Now
Professor Rob Coleman and Professor David Dodwell, speaking for the motion, pointed to the fragmented process and high cost of the drug discovery, which can make many new drugs unaffordable. Repurposing drugs could be the answer.
Opposing the motion, Professor Paul Workman and Dr Susan Galbraith reminded the audience that new drugs need to be developed and innovation brings optimism and transformational improvements in outcomes which then allow for further development.
Both sides agreed that supportive policy changes in the drug approvals pathway and more research would help. The audience was narrowly swayed (58-46) in favour of prioritising new drug development over repurposing.
Yeast cell cycle, what has this taught us?
Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, UK
n the final plenary talk of the day Iain Hagan from the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute posed the question "What has the yeast cell cycle taught us?". Iain took us through the rationale for why yeast is such a good model for studying the cell cycle, the historical context of what we've learned from studying the yeast cell cycle and the potential they offer for the future of cancer research.
He drew on the work of Leland Hartwell, Paul Nurse, Yoshio Masui, Tim Hunt and others to demonstrate how, collectively, their studies came together to define the cycling dependant kinase complex. He then discussed the translation of this to humans and the potential that studying yeast holds for cancer research today through understanding phosphorylation, spatial control and environmental control. Iain concluded by stating that yeast have pointed the way in many areas of cancer research.
Consumer session: What is cancer? A 21st century answer
Martin Christlieb, University of Oxford, UK
Martin Christlieb used sloths and koalas as an analogy for cancer cells that he noted exhibit 10 hallmarks allowing them to survive within the body (see figure).
Cancer cells need to escape the 'predators' of the immune system.
He also described how cancers might adapt to an individual and use different strategies to outwit the host immune system. In some cases where a treatment kills some or all tumour cells, the cells that
survive can grow and become resistant to treatment.
Martin's interactive approach really brought the concepts of cancer cell growth to life.