Science Interviews


Sun, 4th Oct 2009

The National Cancer Research Institute Annual Conference

Dr Kat Arney

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Catching Up with Cancer Research

Kat -  Well this is a conference thatís organized by the National Cancer Research Institute, the NCRI, which is kind of a virtual institute.  They're an umbrella that brings together all the funders of cancer research in the UK.  So organizations like Cancer Research UK, Leukaemia Research, some pharmaceutical companies, basically to make sure that everyone is doing cancer research in a good way, not missing any areas and not duplicating too much work.  So itís really Ė it was setup a few years ago to address the fact that people didnít really know what was going on in other labs.  So basically, this is a conference where cancer researchers from all over the UK, from all over the world, get together to talk about the latest results to discuss collaborations.  And it's not only scientists here, but thereís doctors, nurses and also patient groups here as well.  So, itís a really diverse range of people.

NCRI Cancer ConferenceChris -   Now every year, when you go to the NCRI conference, you come back with some new hot kid on the biological block.  So, what are the hot topics in cancer research this year?

Kat -   Well, thereís just been a talk this afternoon and by a chap called Larry Norton whoís from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York and it was really, really interesting.  When you think about cancer that starts to spread, thereís this idea that thereís a starting tumour and cancer cells go off around the body and find new places to go, such as the lungs, the liver, and they start new tumours.  His idea is while that cancer is growing, stem cells; spreading cells, they go off, they travel around the body and then they come back to the original tumour, and they start growing there, so this idea of self-seeding.  And what heís proposing is that, say, you treat this original tumour, you get rid of it with surgery, with radiotherapy, with chemotherapy.  There are still these cells, out travelling in the body like the prodigal son, and they try to come back, but thereís no original tumour there and they think, ďWell, I should go somewhere elseĒ and then they go and start growing in the lungs, in the liver and in the brain.

Chris -   So by chopping out the cancer paradoxically, the primary tumour, we could be encouraging the process to spread?

Cancer Research UKKat -   Well, thatís basically the idea and his ideas are really very new and at the moment, heís only got research in mouse models that might support this.  But itís certainly an intriguing idea and heís got all sorts of ideas of how he might use this to treat cancer for example.  So basically, the idea that the original tumour is acting like a kind of a sponge absorbing back in these cancer cells.  So, it could be, we make some kind of fake sponge that would then mop up the cells that have started spreading?  Can we find out the signals that they're giving out and try and mimic them or block them that might stop cancer cells spreading?  And heís designing some  cancer intuitive regimes of different drugs you might give that would actually help to stop this process and treat cancer more effectively.  So, thereís some really exciting work to be done in the future there, I think.

Chris -   Okay.  Well Kat, thank you very much.

You can keep up with the latest news and videos from the NCRI conference on the Cancer Research UK Blog.


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