14. Fifty shades of Brown!

Mt Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius

On Sunday the earth or mole hill moved for me and gave way to that other bane of a cancer patient’s life – diarrhoea! It’s Wednesday and it’s safe to say that Mount Vesuvius has finally calmed itself and I am returning to ‘normality’. Not good! Most of my food intake, though improving, is a variation on a theme – pureed-type versions of beef, lamb and potatoes, carrots, gravy and baked-beans (alongside – you’ve guessed – Readybrek with added Weetabix!). Can you imagine the colour scheme on my plate – after discharge from the Nutribullet blender? Yes, fifty shades of brown! Just like the final product of digestion and excretion.

(No graphic image required!).

We put Richard on his train at Cupar to return to Newcastle at 4:00pm this afternoon (Tuesday). Great to see him, even for a few days, though he worked on laptops (yeah, only uncool people have only one these days), as well as his i-phone, our landline and his boss’ conference calls at (Akzo-Nobel International) to get the end-of-quarter update statistics on the company’s performance. Did they meet or exceed projected Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and if so, why; and if not, why not? All stuff that brings back my memories flooded with such ‘business-speak’ in Deakin University’s academic setting (Melbourne, Australia) that seems now (and then, actually!) quite incongruous! But hey, I’m retired now, am I bovvered?

I’m not mucking about today – text mainly! I’ll build on yesterday’s blog entry (chemotherapy and trials) and say a little more about the latest developments in Cancer Research, especially focusing on promising avenues for treatment.

Speaking of avenues, did you see the recently Knighted Sir George (I)Van Morrison’s celebration of his 70th birthday (b.1945), “Up on Cyprus Avenue”, in Belfast; and the “Astral Weeks” album, featuring “Astral Weeks”, “Cyprus Avenue”, “Madam George”, amongst other great tracks, and many more gems at the BBC4 concert, I did? (Nah, nah, nah-nah, nah!).

Astral Weeks

Astral Weeks” (1968). Van Morrison

 Van Morrison in concert (BBC4) in Belfast 2015 “Up on Cyprus Avenue”.

Van Morrison Montage

He was in pretty good form – actually talking to the crowd for a change. We (Elaine, Ellen and Richard and I) saw him at Stirling Castle a few years ago. Expensive, great music, no persona on show, and I could have bought at least 20 CDs for the whole family investment we shelled out for tickets!

Anyway – on to more technical stuff.

This brief look to the future comprises only two new pieces of technical information about a new biotherapy involving a virus vaccine and a modified radiotherapy technique.

My dear friend Roger (Ash) from Bradford has sent me a note about a potential new treatment that has been approved in the USA by their FDA.

“Patients Treated With IMLYGIC Achieved a

Significant Increase in Durable Response Rate in Pivotal Study”.

Herpes Simplex Montage

A cold sore (Herpes) and the virus (Herpes Simplex) images from the News Article in the Sunday Express, referred to below.

“The new jab can intelligently target cancer cells while leaving healthy ones alone, while simultaneously stimulating the immune system to fight the cancer itself. It works by introducing a specially modified form of the herpes virus by injection directly into a tumour. Although the drug has yet to be passed by British authorities, experts are expecting it will soon be approved for use both in the UK and on the continent after it was recently approved in America and also given a favourable vote by the European drug authorities”.

[THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Oct. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Biologics License Application for IMLYGIC™ (talimogene laherparepvec), a genetically modified oncolytic viral therapy indicated for the local treatment of unresectable cutaneous, subcutaneous and nodal lesions in patients with melanoma recurrent after initial surgery. IMLYGIC has not been shown to improve overall survival or have an effect on visceral metastases. IMLYGIC is the first oncolytic viral therapy approved by the FDA based on therapeutic benefit demonstrated in a pivotal study

IMLYGIC is a genetically modified herpes simplex virus type 1 designed to replicate within tumors and produce an immunostimulatory protein called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). IMLYGIC causes cell lysis, or death, which ruptures tumors, releasing tumor-derived antigens, which along with GM-CSF, may promote an anti-tumor immune response. However, the exact mechanism of action is unknown.

“IMLYGIC is the first clinical and regulatory validation of an oncolytic virus as a therapy, which Amgen is proud to bring to patients with a serious form of skin cancer. Not all melanoma patients currently benefit from available therapies, and IMLYGIC represents an important new option that can provide meaningful durable responses for patients with this aggressive and complex disease,” said Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. “Immunotherapy is an exciting area for cancer research, and we are currently studying IMLYGIC in combination with other immunotherapies in advanced melanoma and other solid tumors.”]

This was clearly only applicable to melanoma (a skin cancer) and a British newspaper (Sunday Express) article below refers to other possibilities in future (that word again!).

[A news article about this new drug, Imlygic, appeared in the Sunday Express on Monday 30 November, by Lucy Johnson, “EXCLUSIVE: Cold sores are KEY to destroying cancer tumours”. It will be the first tumour-busting virus and experts believe it will be a game changer in cancer treatment. They predict the technique, invented by Imperial College researchers in London, will save thousands of lives. The drug will also spare patients the brutal side effects of existing options such as chemotherapy. The drug has so far shown positive results in melanoma, one of the deadliest cancers.]

Imperial College London

Professor Kevin Harrington, cancer specialist at the Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research, said: “Some of the results have been staggering. “Patients with very extensive tumours around the body have gone into remission. Some had no other treatment options and a limited life-span.” He added that the drug was likely to be used for a range of other cancers once trials had been completed. He said: “This is a completely new way of treating cancer and could transform the way we treat many patients. “I am very optimistic we will see this particular vaccine licensed for other cancers such as breast and bowel. It has so much potential.”

Now this is the sort of Future I like!

Finally, I did ask Dr P about a relatively new treatment, Cyberknife Radiotherapy treatment.

[“CyberKnife has been hailed as a ground-breaking piece of radiotherapy equipment: it minimises the side effects of radiotherapy treatment and offers a significant advance in how radiotherapy is delivered. It was first used at The Royal Marsden’s hospital in Chelsea on 18 July 2011. – See more at: http://www.royalmarsden.org/cyberknife?gclid=CjwKEAiAhPCyBRCtwMDS5tzT03gSJADZ8VjR2s2lOYcf6KOy62tcVKoCCuTLiqQB7x2U8CMl0V-S1hoC_qbw_wcB#sthash.t1phzJhL.dpuf”]

Worldwide trial

The Royal Marsden is leading international clinical research into the benefits of CyberKnife treatment for cancer contained in the prostate (localised prostate cancer).

The Prostate Advances in Comparative Evidence (PACE) study is a randomised clinical trial that compares CyberKnife treatment to the current standard treatments of surgery and radiotherapy.

Following the PACE study, we hope to have produced data that shows CyberKnife can offer men with localised prostate cancer equivalent, or even better, outcomes compared to standard treatments. We also hope to demonstrate that CyberKnife treatment is effective over a shorter period of time and creates fewer side effects that impact on a patient’s quality of life.

– See more at: http://www.royalmarsden.org/cyberknife?gclid=CjwKEAiAhPCyBRCtwMDS5tzT03gSJADZ8VjR2s2lOYcf6KOy62tcVKoCCuTLiqQB7x2U8CMl0V-S1hoC_qbw_wcB#sthash.t1phzJhL.dpuf ]

Again this treatment focuses on a different cancer type, prostatic and not gastric. Boo, hoo, hoo! When I met with him, he did explain how this would not be relevant for my gastric cancer – damn it!  So where am? I am getting top treatment and support, for sure. Any chance of a new or better treatment – maybe, in future!

I’m off now, CYA again tomorrow. In case you are losing track here, tomorrow in my UK GMT calendar is Thursday.

Bye for now.



















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