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Letters to the Editor Issue 255

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 255 - June 2019

WHO Warns that Large Ebola Outbreaks "New Normal"  

The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently dealing with the second ever largest outbreak of Ebola that could take 2 years to control, just three years after the world's largest outbreak ended. There have been 2,025 cases of Ebola and 1,357 deaths from the virus during the current outbreak.
In fighting Ebola, researchers have found that early screening is the key to preventing the spread of the disease, but it’s a hard disease to diagnose based on the symptoms, which can be common to other diseases like malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. This screening is made more difficult by the logistics of transporting a laboratory setting to rural communities where outbreaks often occur. Although the vaccine for Ebola that now exists, and is being distributed, is highly effective – with a 97.5% rate of protection – consistent and repeated violence affecting the ability of response teams to immediately identify and create vaccination rings around all people at risk of contracting Ebola has limited its success. It is also hugely concerning to see that the disease seems to have made the jump into neighbouring Uganda as the disease continues to spread.

Another issue with diagnosis of Ebola is that it has similar symptoms to more common diseases, like Marburg and Lassa fevers. As the UN says about 25% of Ebola cases could be going undetected, leading to far more potential cases. Leading medical diagnosis firm - ANCON Medical - discuss what is needed to combat deadly outbreaks and  its CEO - Wesley Baker - discusses what can be done in the fight against Ebola:

“Once someone has the symptoms of Ebola, it’s already too late and that person can spread the disease. It’s crucial to find diseases like Ebola at its earliest point of infection, before they are showing the signs. However, once the body is infected, it will begin giving off the chemical ‘fingerprints’ of the disease, and a Nanoparticle Biomarker Tagging (NBT) device can find these chemical signals, even at their faintest concentrations.
“The incubation period for Ebola in humans is between two and 21 days, which is the time elapsed from infection until when symptoms begin to show. Ebola can't be spread until symptoms are shown, so discovering it early is vital for prevention efforts. Other early detection methods for Ebola require a blood sample, which takes specialised medical training, a laboratory environment and can expose health care workers to some risks. A portable NBT device can give public health officials an easy-to-use screening device that can be brought into a wide range of places, including airports, train stations, rural clinics and other vital locations where it is crucial to find potentially infected individuals before they can spread the disease.
“Screening for Ebola would be possible with the correct VOC Biomarkers in place, coupled with the ability to carry out this screening in the field, which is one of the aims of our technology, Ebola could be tackled in a much more effective way. Mobility is crucial.”

Further Information

For further information please contact ANCOM Medical on Tel: 01227 811705;



Proton Beam Therapy Significantly Lowers Risk Of Side Effects, Reveals Major Study

A groundbreaking study has revealed that cancer patients are at significantly lower risk of experiencing unwanted side effects when treated with proton beam therapy compared with conventional radiation therapy.

The study by the University of Pennsylvania - the first of its kind - evaluated data on 1,483 patients, 391 of whom received proton beam therapy and 1,092 who received photon (conventional radiation) treatment. Careful analysis of both patient groups revealed that the risk of side effects from toxicity to the body was two-thirds lower for proton beam therapy patients compared to conventional radiation therapies. Researchers leading the study also highlighted that overall survival rates were similar in both groups, indicating the reduced toxicity with proton beam therapy did not come at the cost of effectiveness.

Unlike conventional radiotherapy which delivers X-ray beams to attack a tumour site and leaves radiation deposits in surrounding tissues, Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) delivers heavily charged protons in a more targeted manner that can be controlled to stop at a defined point in the body, thereby reducing damage to peripheral tissue and organs.

While researchers say more study is needed, they stress that this is the largest and most significant study conducted to date on the effectiveness of proton beam therapy in reducing unwanted side effects for cancer patients.

The study comes as the UK saw the unveiling of its third proton beam therapy facility in Northumberland this week, marking a remarkable turnaround for UK cancer care which has gone from lagging behind European and North American countries when it comes to proton beam therapy provision to being at the forefront.

The Northumberland centre – called the Rutherford Cancer Centre North East, has started assessing patients for PBT and will begin treatment within weeks. Its sister centre, in Newport, South Wales, was the first to treat patients with proton beam therapy in the UK and the NHS opened its own clinic at the Christie in Manchester last year.

The Rutherford Cancer Centres already have a relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, who advise the centres on patient screening for proton beam therapy. Proton Partners International – who operate the Rutherford Centres – hope to make proton beam therapy available within a 90-minute drive of at least 75% of the population, and will be presenting a proton therapy factsheet to Parliament next month to inform policy makers of the critical importance of the treatment for the future of UK cancer care.

Proton Partners will also be presenting at the Particle Therapy Cognitive Group (PTCOG) in Manchester next month on how best to determine the number of proton facilities the UK needs for optimal cancer care and a model on rapid comparisons between proton and photon treatment for individual patients

Full details of the study can be found here:

About the Rutherford Cancer Centres

There are more than 90,000 cancer patients in the UK every year who are treated with radical radiotherapy. Proton Partners International believes around 10% of patients treated with radical radiotherapy – the figure observed in other European countries - could be better treated with proton beam therapy.

The Rutherford Cancer Centres are at the forefront of providing advanced cancer care and creating a better future for cancer patients. With their commitment to excellence, the centres will provide an all-encompassing cancer service, delivering world-class imaging, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and proton beam therapy treatment.

The Rutherford Cancer Centres feature the most advanced technologies and Proton Partners International has formed a partnership with IBA (Ion Beam Applications), the world’s leading provider of proton beam therapy solutions and Philips, a leader in health technology.

All centres offer proton beam therapy to medically-insured private patients, self-paying patients and NHS patients where the Rutherford is commissioned to provide these services.

Further Information

For more information on the Rutherford Cancer Centres, please visit:  Twitter: @therutherford_c


Ibrahim Khalil, Consultant  Media House International Ltd

Tel: 0207 710 0020 |

Mob: 07943 759 042 | | @mediahouseint



Antibiotic Cocktail Stops Cancer Cells From 'Motoring'

Scientists in Salford, UK have found a way to make cancer stem cells reproduce defectively “like cars without engines”. Professor Michael Lisanti, of the University of Salford, said his team had successfully trialled a method of tricking the cells into manufacturing new cells with no power source.

“They can’t generate any energy, so they can’t proliferate” he said likening the process to “creating a factory recall on a grand scale.”

They achieved the result using cheap, FDA-approved drugs and a common vitamin.

A ‘triple combination’ of Vitamin C and two standard antibiotics – Doxycycline and Azithromycin - was sufficient to reduce stem cell growth by more than 90% in laboratory tests.

Scientists Stunned

The scientists said they were stunned by the results which are published in the journal Aging 19 April 2019.[1] Cancer stem-like cells are thought to be the root cause of chemotherapy resistance, leading to treatment failure in patients with advanced disease and the trigger of tumour recurrence and metastasis (regrowth and secondary cancer).

The University of Salford team’s research focuses on the energetics of cancer stem cells - the processes which allow the cells to live and thrive – with a view to disrupting their metabolism.

Lisanti with Professor Federica Sotgia carried out trials in 2018 of the antibiotic Doxycycline on cancer reoccurrence in hospital patients resulting in a 40% reduction in cancer stem cells in patients, with a near 90% response rate. Professor Lisanti, chair of translational medicine, said: “A 40% average reduction encouraging but we were interested in the other 60%, so we’re interested in new drug combinations to maximise the effects of the Doxycycline.

“Once we saw Doxycycline was effective at targeting mitochondria within stem cells, the challenge was on to find an even more effective combination which we believe we have found with Azithromycin.”

Sabotage Fuel

In laboratory tests, they found the two antibiotics could be used to target the production of 13 key mitochondrial proteins which cuts off the fuel supply in the stem cells. And they found that Vitamin C, acting as a mild pro-oxidant, amplifies the effects.

“What this combination does is speed up the production of new mitochondria but at the same time makes them functionally inactive. So, new mitochondria are unable to generate ATP, the currency of the cell,” explained Prof Sotgia.

“It’s like making thousands of new cars without the necessary engine parts. They don't work.”

The team emphasize that their combination is cheap, and readily and because the dosages of antibiotics are vanishingly small (1 μM), the method avoids the potential problem of antibiotic resistance.


1. Marco Fiorillo 1, 2, Fanni Tóth 1,Federica Sotgia 1, Michael P. Lisanti 1. Doxycycline, Azithromycin and Vitamin C (DAV): A potent combination therapy for targeting mitochondria and eradicating cancer stem cells (CSCs). Aging. 19 April 2019.

  • 1. Translational Medicine, School of Environment and Life Sciences, Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), University of Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, United Kingdom
  • 2 The Department of Pharmacy, Health and Nutritional Sciences, The University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy

Further Information

Please contact Gareth Hollyman, Press Officer, University of Salford, Tel: +44 (0)161 295 6895;


Progress In The Fight Against Metastatic Breast Cancer – The Aurora International Academic Research Programme 

About one in three breast cancers will develop metastases, which means that the disease will spread to other organs and parts of the body. This advanced form of the disease, responsible for 90% of breast cancer deaths, is more difficult to treat and remains incurable. Like a navigation device tracing the route to be followed, an ambitious research programme by BIG baptised AURORA, aims to map the path taken by cancer cells by analysing their abnormalities in a wide range of genes and at different time points during the evolution of the disease. If we can anticipate the paths taken, we will be able to block (with highly targeted drugs) and therefore slow down the metastatic process. If we know how to block the progression of cancer cells, we will be able to delay the process and possibly stop it completely. The initial results of this AURORA programme were unveiled today in Berlin. Read on to find out more about this academic research project, also called “The Metastatic Breast Cancer GPS”, involving more than 60 hospitals in 12 European countries.

AURORA: Better Understanding of Metastatic Breast Cancer

The AURORA research programme aims to better understand the molecular characteristics and evolution of recurrent or metastatic breast cancer, in the hope of treating more effectively, and possibly blocking the disease in the future.

The initial results of AURORA were announced at the ESMO Breast Cancer Congress held on 2-4 May 2019 in Berlin, Germany, by Dr Philippe Aftimos, Co-Principal Investigator of the programme and Clinical Trials Development Leader at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium. He presented the results for the first 381 patients included out of a planned total of 1,000. The researchers have identified molecular alterations present in excess in metastases that may be correlated with the spread of cancer and increased resistance to standard treatments.

In addition, the researchers estimate that in almost 50% of cases the genomic alterations identified could provide treating oncologists with additional information useful for patients (for example: patients could be considered for clinical trials testing new drugs targeting specific molecular alterations).

“Liquid biopsies” (blood samples) were also analyzed. This technique could have an important role in characterizing and monitoring the disease, since, in some patients, analysis of tumour DNA fragments present in the blood (circulating tumour DNA) revealed genetic alterations not observed in the biopsy of the tumour lesion. Analyses of the tumour immune environment are also underway and will be presented at future congresses.

“The various teams taking part in this European research programme are proud to be contributing to the future development of more personalised medicine, while building a biobank and database that will be used to find better treatments,” explained Dr Philippe Aftimos.

The patients have clearly understood the importance of this research programme. They are enthusiastic about taking part in the study and are contributing generously by providing samples and accepting to be monitored regularly over a ten-year period. Virtually no-one has refused to take part and we are very grateful to all our patients,” said Dr Mafalda Oliveira, Co-Principal Investigator of AURORA and Clinical Investigator at the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain.

In Practice

First, clinical data and blood and tumour tissue samples are collected from all patients participating in the AURORA programme. These samples gathered by different hospitals in various countries, are sent systematically and as soon as they are collected to a single central laboratory. It is here that their genetic information (DNA) is screened using the latest sequencing techniques. Researchers will be focusing on 411 specific genes in order to detect possible alterations. A multidisciplinary group of experts in breast cancer and genetics are interpreting the results with the aim of identifying genetic abnormalities present in the samples that could have contributed to the progression from primary tumour to metastatic cancer.

Another unique aspect of the AURORA programme is that genetic analyses are performed both on samples taken when the breast cancer is first diagnosed (primary tumour), and on metastasis samples taken following recurrence of the disease. In addition, blood samples are collected from patients every six months for up to ten years. This will allow researchers to effectively monitor the evolution of the disease and identify any changes in cancer cells.

A Wealth of Data

This research programme will last ten years, during which time AURORA will accumulate some 30,000 blood and tumour samples and generate thousands of clinical and genetic data to improve our understanding of metastatic breast cancer.

All genetic analyses will be carried out in the same laboratory throughout the study, ensuring consistency of analysis and avoiding differences in interpretation. An IT platform has been created for AURORA, allowing the doctors and researchers involved to not only record clinical data about their patients but also consult the genetic analysis reports sent by the central laboratory in real time. This complex logistical system was set up in collaboration with the members of the BIG network.

The researchers hope their findings will pave the way for new clinical studies in order to develop more targeted and appropriate treatments for people with metastatic breast cancer, essential for giving hope to the thousands of women and men affected by the disease.

International Collaboration

With already 20 years of research experience, Breast International Group (BIG) is the largest network of academic research groups dedicated exclusively to breast cancer.

The AURORA programme is being led by BIG in collaboration with the Clinical Trials Support Unit of the Jules Bordet Institute and the Frontier Science Technology & Research Foundation.

It is a purely academic programme made possible by generous contributions from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation®, Fondation Cancer (Luxembourg), the Belgium National Lottery, Fondation NIF, the Webb family and individual donors.

Some Figures

AURORA: Metastatic Breast Cancer GPS

  • 30% of breast cancers progress to an advanced stage/become metastatic;
  • 1,000 women and men with advanced (metastatic) breast cancer will be enrolled for the purposes of the study;
  • 30,000 blood and tumour tissue samples will be collected in total;
  • +700 patients have already been included (as of 15 March 2019);
  • 411 genes will be analysed in primary tumours and in metastatic tumours;   
  • 12 countries will take part (Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Austria);
  • +60 hospitals are participating in the study.

As BIG against breast cancer is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, there’s no better time than now to spread our message of hope and progress. To mark this occasion, we have produced a short, animated video. Please click here to view and share it:

About BIG against breast cancer (BIG = Breast International Group)

The Breast International Group (BIG) is an international not-for-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Global collaboration is crucial to make significant advances in breast cancer research, reduce unnecessary duplication of effort, share data, contribute to the faster development of better treatments, and increase the likelihood of cures for patients. Therefore, BIG facilitates breast cancer research at international level, by stimulating cooperation between its members and other academic networks, and collaborating with, but working independently from, the pharmaceutical industry.

Founded by leading European opinion leaders in 1999, BIG now constitutes a network of 59 collaborative groups from Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australasia. These entities are tied to several thousand specialised hospitals and research centres worldwide. More than 30 clinical trials are run or are under development under the BIG umbrella at any one time. BIG also works closely with the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the North American Breast Cancer Groups (NABCG), so that together they act as a strong integrating force in the breast cancer research arena.

Further Information

Please contact Breast International Group on Tel: +32 2 486 16 10;   


Can Natural Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients Contribute to Arthritis Relief?

Defined as chronic inflammation of the joints - arthritis is an auto-immune disease that affects more than ten million people in the UK; treating arthritis has long been a challenge as the pharmaceutical industry has yet to come up with any answers to cure this disease.

While there might be no way to completely cure or prevent arthritis, there are natural supplements you can use to relieve pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that Curcumin - an active component of the common spice turmeric - possesses numerous antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit people suffering from inflammation and pain.

The importance of curcumin seems to hinge on its anti-inflammatory health benefits with research published by the Arthritis Foundation[1] and the British Journal of Pharmacology[2] finding a potential link between the anti-inflammatory treatment curcumin can relieve, and the chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the whole body.

A clinical trial in 2012 found BCM-95 (Biocurcumax), a highly bioavailable curcumin provided the same amount of benefits for rheumatoid arthritis - a common form of arthritis and chronic systemic inflammatory disorder – provided the same amount of benefits of Diclofenac, a rheumatoid arthritis drug had that was available on prescription.[3] When tested, BCM-95 curcumin had the highest impact for reducing disease symptoms, followed by BCM-95 curcumin with Diclofenac sodium, with the Diclofenac sodium-alone group third.

With numerous studies showing curcumin contributes to alleviating pain inflammation, Suphil Philipose the UK representative of BioTurm’s BCM-95 is pushing for more research into evidencing its true potential.

“While working in the health industry, I realized that prevention of diseases will the future of mainstream medicine, and the main focus.” says Philipose. “My sole goal was to invest in significant research and to educate as many people as possible about evidence based natural solutions in its most powerful form. “

Already backed with over 25 years of trusted research and clinical trials, Biocurcumax or BCM-95 as it is popularly known is the world’s most preferred turmeric extract, but Philipose is hoping curcumin has a higher purpose than being a widely known cleansing agent.

As Philipose notes, “It’s time we did justice to natural evidence based medicine because science should not be partisan. As the first step to achieve this goal, we’ve focused on the rich legacy of Ayurveda that has primarily focused on prevention and has benefited humanity for thousands of years. “

With over 25 years of worldwide trust, Biocurcumax or BCM-95 as it is popularly known, has the reputation to be the world’s most preferred turmeric extract because BCM 95 extract stays active in your blood for over 8-10 hours, and is 700% more bio-available than natural curcumin. Philipose is confident that more research will reveal curcumin and Biocurcumax’s true potential.

As Suphil describes, “Considering the US food and drug administration has already approved BCM-95 for investigational Alzheimer’s research, it’s really interesting to discover that Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and the University of Oxford have confirmed that Arthritis drugs could halve the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a solution that is without any adverse effects both in sync with nature and yet effective. “

About Curcumin And Turmeric

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb. This naturally occurring substance is well-known for possessing anti-inflammatory properties related to alleviating arthritis, and also thought to have stroke, depression and cancer-preventing properties.

About Biocurcumax

Biocurcumax enhances the bio-availability of active unconjugated curcumin in the blood for more than eight hours. It is taken by millions of people in over fifty countries and has been the subject of over 50 successful medical studies across the globe. Biocurcumax is a patented food supplement approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and distributed by BioTurm UK Ltd. Biocurcumax contains 100% purified turmeric extract Curcugreen TM, a curcuminoid complex with the essential oil of turmeric root, a patented product of Arjuna Natural Ltd.

The British Journal of Nutrition noted that “in order for curcumin to elicit a greater nutraceutical benefit, it is critical that more of it is able to enter the bloodstream.” and that “unmodified curcumin is reported to be retained in the blood for 2-5 hours in humans.” It found that whilst “multiple over-the-counter brands are available” which “claim increased bio-availability compared with unformulated curcumin” but that “independent comparative analysis is essential.” It concluded that “two formulations BCM-95 (Biocurcumax) and Longvida currently have the strongest independent data available in human trials” and that “retention of a modified form of curcumin, BCM-95 (Biocurcumax) is reported as exceeding eight hours.” To find out more about turmeric, curcumin or BCM-95/Biocurcumax visit





Further Information

To find out more about turmeric, curcumin or BCM-95/Biocurcumax visit


Please contact Thomas Gabbidon - Kin Communications on Tel: 020 3958 7175;  


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