General Science Bullet – All you need to know about Cancers – Capsule 3

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Current developments regarding cancers:

1. Supreme Court rejected international pharmaceutical company, Bayer’s appeal to stop Hyderabad-based counterpart Natco from producing a generic version of Bayer’s patented drug for kidney cancer (named Nexavar). This decision has increased availability and accessibility of cheaper versions of cancer drugs against its expensive counterparts.

2. Journal of Science by scientists at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Centre at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that ‘only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions and that the majority is due to ‘bad luck,’ i.e. random mutations arising during DNA replication of normal, non-cancerous stem cells.” Cancer is thus a multifactorial disease that depends on many factors. It is not essentially due to hereditary factors and chance mutations.

3. A potential drug to treat cancer- 6-thio-2′-deoxyguanosine (6-thiodG) – has been developed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US. It is a molecule that can stop growth of cancer cells by resetting their biological clock. When tested on telomeres (distinctive structures found at the end of the DNA strand) these compounds caused the tumour cells to shrink. This could be a great alternative to treatment methods like surgery and chemotherapy.

4. WHO predicts cancer death rates to rise by 70% in the next 20 years as death of cancer patients is increasing every year. WHO stresses on vaccination against Human Papilloma virus (HPV), Hepatitis-B and reduced exposure to non-ionized sunlight radiation. This is said to result in a 25 per cent drop in deaths due to non-communicable diseases by 2025.

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