AstraZeneca steps up push into cancer immunotherapy

A man walks past a sign at an AstraZeneca site in MacclesfieldBy Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca is accelerating its push into cancer immunotherapy, with plans to test a key experimental drug in new tumor types. The company is seen as No. 4 in a race to develop the first drug in a new class that fights cancer by unleashing the body's immune system, behind rivals Roche, Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb. AstraZeneca said on Thursday it would launch a pivotal clinical trial program with MEDI4736 in head and neck cancer this year, in addition to ongoing tests in lung cancer, and was also looking at expanding tests into other cancer types.

Hungarian scientists aim for prototype of cancer surgery device

Inventor of the Intelligent Knife Zoltan Takats speaks to the media at St Mary's Hospital in LondonBy Krisztina Than BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian scientists are aiming for the first prototype of a new device in two years that will help surgeons distinguish between healthy tissue and tumors in a split-second as they operate and remove cancerous tissue precisely. Hungarian chemist Zoltan Takats started to work on the technology in 2002 in the United States and from 2004 onwards at the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University in cooperation with the Imperial College London, where he works now. Last week, U.S.-based Waters Corporation acquired the technology - called Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) - from Hungarian start-up firm MediMass Ltd. Waters said in a July 22 statement on its website that the technology could be used to create the "Intelligent Knife" or "iKnife," a device "in the conceptual stages of development that could potentially be used for real-time diagnostics in surgery".

Book Talk: Paull's 'The Bees' looks at life inside the hive

Laline Paull reads from her book "The Bees" during a meeting of Vanguard Readings in LondonBy Verity Watkins LONDON (Reuters) - Three years ago playwright Laline Paull began to notice bees in her garden in Sussex, southeast England. Her interest was inspired by the death of a beekeeping friend. “Angie had breast cancer, and she wasn’t going to make it. I was awed at her graciousness in the face of her terror and when she died, in order to keep that feeling of how wonderful she was, I started reading about bees. She was gone but the bees were not gone.” The more Paull read the more inspired she was. ...

J&J withdraws fibroid treatment device from market
Johnson & Johnson is asking surgeons not to use a line of devices for removing growths from the uterus amid regulators' growing concern that the electronic surgical tools raise the risk of spreading cancer ...

J&J seeks return of device seen as possibly raising cancer risk
(Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson said on Wednesday it plans to ask doctors to return its power morcellators, a controversial surgical device that may inadvertently spread cancer in women being treated for uterine growths called fibroids. J&J's Ethicon unit in April suspended sales and distribution of the devices while their role in treating symptomatic fibroid disease is reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the medical community. The FDA had advised doctors not to use the devices pending further review. On Thursday, J&J will take the further step of reaching out to customers to ask them to return the devices they have already purchased in what it is calling "a worldwide market withdrawal" of all Ethicon morcellation devices that remain on the market, an Ethicon spokesman said.

Navigators can help guide breast cancer patients through care
By Ronnie Cohen NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Patient navigators may be able to help steer women with breast cancer through what can be a daunting treatment process, a new study suggests. Breast cancer kills a disproportionate share of low-income and African-American women, researchers note, and employing patient navigators is thought to be a potential way to assist underserved patients. We’re really hoping that patient navigation is the solution,” said Dr. Naomi Ko, who led the study at Boston University School of Medicine. She and her team examined the records of 1,288 racially diverse women diagnosed with breast cancer at eight centers across the U.S. Roughly half of the women were assigned navigators and the rest were not.

Meat Is Murder: America's Deadly Beef Obsession
This works out to more than a half-pound of meat-based protein per day, which doesn't include protein from non-meat sources. "Americans are eating 57 pounds more meat than they were in 1950s," says Dean Ornish, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. Much of the disease risk comes not just from red meat, but from processed meat, such as hot dogs, bacon and lunch meats, which contain nitrates, says Jennifer Weddig, a registered dietitian and associate professor of nutrition at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. "Those meats have been shown to increase your risk of death from all causes, especially cancer and heart disease," Weddig says.

The Surgeon General Seriously Wants You to Stop Tanning

The Surgeon General Seriously Wants You to Stop TanningThe United States surgeon general, in an unprecedented move, issued a call to action Tuesday for Americans to apply sun protection to prevent skin cancer. "We have to change the social norms about tanning... Tanned skin is damaged skin, and we need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health." Skin cancer has been on the rise, the call to action notes, with nearly 5 million people treated for all skin cancers combined each year in the U.S. The rates of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has increased more than 200 percent from 1973 to 2011. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set several major goals for communities to decrease the risk of skin cancer, Lushniak wrote in the report: 

AstraZeneca buys Almirall lung drugs for up to $2.1 billion

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in MacclesfieldBy Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca took a major step to build up its respiratory medicine business on Wednesday by striking a deal worth up to $2.1 billion for the rights to Spanish group Almirall's lung drugs. The British drugmaker, which resisted a $118 billion takeover attempt by Pfizer in May, said it would pay an initial $875 million and up to $1.22 billion more if the drugs meet development and sales targets. The tie-up boosts a key therapeutic area for AstraZeneca, whose Chief Executive Pascal Soriot is determined to show his company has a strong independent future. Soriot also struck a clinical trial collaboration with Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin for a study that will evaluate a combination of the two companies' drugs in cancer - another important field for AstraZeneca.

South American leaders rally behind Argentina over debt
By Diego Ore and Deisy Buitrago CARACAS (Reuters) - Various South American leaders have rallied behind Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who is locked in a legal battle with holdout investors that could trigger a debt default this week. Argentina has until late Wednesday to either pay out or reach a deal with the hedge funds that are suing for full payment on their bonds to avert a second default in little over a decade in Latin America's No. 3 economy. While Fernandez was in Venezuela on Tuesday, Argentine debt negotiators met in New York with a court-appointed mediator for last-gasp negotiations to cut a deal "We have ratified all our militant solidarity with the Republic of Argentina, with the struggle the president is leading against the attempt, through so-called vulture funds, to cause damage via financial speculation," Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro told the forum. "It's not just damage to Argentina, it's damage to all the countries of the south," added the socialist Maduro, who replaced Hugo Chavez after his death from cancer last year.

Watch That Sun! How Sunscreen Can Help You Protect Yourself
Surgeon General warns of skin cancer as major public health problem

Wall Street to rise on earnings, data weighs

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the market's opening in New YorkBy Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were set to rise slightly at the open on Tuesday following better-than-expected results from companies such as Pfizer and Merck and ahead of data on consumer sentiment. Merck reported better-than-expected quarterly results as new drugs offset declining sales of ones facing generic competition. Pfizer's higher-than-expected second-quarter earnings were helped by growing sales of its cancer medicines. Merck was up 1 percent in premarket, while Pfizer gained 0.6 percent.

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