News digest – targeted treatment approval, prostate cancer deaths and antlers?


Scientists have discovered that the genes in the antlers of deer, which help them to rapidly grow, are very similar to genes found in some cancer cells. Credit: Photo by Edward Taylor, Unsplash

With news about the coronavirus pandemic developing daily, we want to make sure everyone affected by cancer gets the information they need during this time.

We’re pulling together the latest government and NHS health updates from across the UK in a separate blog post, which we’re updating regularly. 

Innovative new cancer treatment available on NHS in England 

A new targeted cancer treatment has been approved for NHS use in England. Larotrectinib (Vitrakvi), which is designed to target specific changes in cancer cells’ DNA rather than where cancer is growing in the body, is the first treatment of its kind to be available on the NHS. Our blog post outlines what the latest decision means.  

Prostate cancer death rates predicted to fall 

Scientists have predicted a fall in prostate cancer death rates in the UK in 2020 compared with 2015. Greater awareness, improved diagnosis and better treatments are thought to be behind this forecasted decrease. Mail Online has this one. 

Zooming in on tumour biology 

Scientific American speaks to the scientists using RNA sequencing technology to reveal a whole new dimension of cancer cell behaviour.

And finally 

National Geographic explores a surprising link between cancer and red deer antlers – the genes they use to grow. Red deer have some of the fastest growing antlers in the animal kingdom, using genes more similar to those used by osteosarcoma than healthy bone tissue to facilitate their rapid growth. Despite this connection, deer have much lower cancer rates than other mammals, which scientists are hoping to explore further.  

Scarlett Sangster is a writer for PA Media Group

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