Landmark Prostate Study, Gene Therapy (Abstract Science: Sept. 12-16)
Gene therapy gets a rewrite, landmark study on early prostate cancer and the evolution in thyroid cancer therapies.
(STAT, 9/14/16, Sharon Begley)
Findings reported this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that men diagnosed with early prostate cancer can safely choose active monitoring as opposed to radiation or surgery. The study, conducted in 1,643 men diagnosed (via blood test) with localized prostate cancer, is not the first to reach this conclusion. But it is the most definitive ever to test that premise and the first to compare modern forms of active monitoring not only to surgery but also to radiation — the two treatments available for early, localized prostate cancer. The study, led by Oxford University, found that men who received active monitoring had the same minuscule risk of dying of prostate cancer over the following 10 years — barely 1 percent — as men who underwent surgery to remove the prostate or radiation.
(GEN, 9/15/16, MaryAnn Labant)
Gene therapy is due for a second draft. With CRISPR/Cas9 and other gene-editing technologies, gene therapy is gaining the ability to rewrite the genome at will, correcting bits of DNA where they reside in the genome, bits as small as a single base pair. But despite its capacity for DNA wordsmithing, gene editing won't rewrite gene therapy all at once. Each organ system presents unique challenges that need to be overcome, and in some circumstances, conventional gene therapy will remain the superior therapeutic option.
(DNA Science Blog, 9/15/16, Ricki Lewis)
Findings this week on recent progress leading to new treatments for thyroid cancer prompted this interesting commentary by blogger Ricki Lewis about how much things have changed since she was diagnosed with the disease in 1993. Among the interesting details that she learned from reading the NEJM article is the trend toward active surveillance for some of the indolent, non-invasive forms of thyroid cancers, and the driver mutations behind the various guises of thyroid cancer.
—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina McEnery