A “Trojan Horse” New Cancer Treatment

From The Independent:

‘Trojan horse’ cancer drug can extend survival where other treatments fail, trials show

Ovarian cancer among the types which responded to tisotumab vedotin treatment, though best effects in bowel and cervical forms
Ovarian cancer among the types which responded to tisotumab vedotin treatment, though best effects in bowel and cervical forms ( WikiMedia )

A cancer drug which uses an unprecedented “Trojan horse” approach to destroy tumours from the inside has shown promising results across six different forms of the disease.

UK researchers have hailed the results from early human tests of the drug, known as tisotumab vedotin (TV), after it stopped or shrank tumours in patients with no other options left.

The treatment combines a cancer-killing chemotherapy agent with an antibody, a biological molecule which binds to markers on the surface of cancer cells and causes the drug to be drawn inside.

Brexit Jitters Hit the Stalled Housing Market

The government’s own declared target is to build 300 000 new homes a year – but instead of building more, the number of new housing starts is down on last year. The number of new homes registered by housebuilders with the National House Building Council (NHBC), representing 80% of the national total, was just 159 617: not much more than half the annual target.

From the Guardian:

Brexit jitters hit London housing market as newbuilds decline sharply

Housebuilding in the UK was down slightly in 2018 on the 2017 figure, from 160,396 to 159,617.
 Housebuilding in the UK was down slightly in 2018 on the 2017 figure, from 160,396 to 159,617. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Housebuilding declined sharply in London and the Midlands last year as political and economic uncertainty around the shape of Brexit hit the housing market, according to industry figures.

The number of new homes in London registered by housebuilders with the National House Building Council (NHBC) in 2018 fell 10% from the previous year to 16,069, the biggest annual drop since 2016. In the east Midlands and West Midlands, registrations were also down 10%, to 13,447 and 13,087 respectively following two strong years.

Source: Brexit jitters hit London housing market as newbuilds decline sharply | Business | The Guardian

The Myth of “Cancer”: Big Fleas, and Littler Fleas.

Big fleas have little fleas
upon their backs to bite ’em.
And little fleas have littler fleas
… and so, ad infinitum

-Ogden Nash

This is not to suggest that “cancer” does not exist – obviously it does, as I know very well from personal experience. However, it is a myth that “cancer” exists as a single syndrome.  A few weeks ago, I read a newspaper opinion piece by Simon Jenkins, arguing precisely this point: we should stop talking about “cancer” as a generic, and instead speak of a particular cancer.

The more I learn about cancer, with particular reference to my own variant, a GIST (GastroIintestinal Stromal Tumour), the more I am reminded of the above verse by Ogden Nash. Just as “big fleas” have “little fleas”, so “cancer” is an umbrella term for a range of sub-types: carcinomas, lymphomas, and more. Then just as “little fleas” have “littler fleas”, so these divisions in turn have smaller sub-divisions: sarcomas for instance, which I know best, include GISTs, but also bone sarcomas and other soft-tissue sarcomas.  As for “ad infinitum”, GISTs too have a range of variants, based on the specific mutations, such as the c-kit mutations Exon 11 (mine), Exon 9, Exon 13, Exon 17.  In addition, there are a range of mutations to the PDGFRA gene, collectively known as “wild type”, because they are not so easily classified, But this term is itself misleading, because “wild type” is not a single GIST type, but an umbrella term of its own.

“…… and so, ad infinitum”.

Can we now stop thinking in terms of “cancer”, and be more specific with our language?

 

 

 

Revolutionary New Cancer Treatment?

From “The Conversation”:

Cancer growth in the body could originate from a single cell – target it to revolutionise treatment

Cancer remains a frightening and largely incurable disease. The toxic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation make the cure often seem as bad as the ailment, and there is also the threat of recurrence and tumour spread.Cancer treatment still follows a practically medieval method of cut, burn or poison. If the growth can’t be cut out through surgery, it may be burnt away with radiation or poisoned by chemotherapy. As a result, cancer therapy remains a daunting diagnosis for patients and treatment option

Source: The Conversation

 “Wealth Taxes”: Not Easy, but Possible.

From Resolution Foundation:

How wealth taxes can raise billions more without scaring any horses

Raising taxes is never easy. Raising taxes with the government’s slim parliamentary majority is harder still. Raising taxes on wealth in those circumstances, given our diverging senses of fairness is…  not a walk in the park. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need doing, and the good news is that significant progress can be made despite these constraints.

Source: How wealth taxes can raise billions more without scaring any horses – Resolution Foundation

Labour Members Back People’s Vote & Remain

From the Guardian

Most Labour members believe Corbyn should back second Brexit vote

Nearly 90% of party members would opt to stay in the EU in a ‘people’s vote’, finds survey

Jeremy Corbyn is facing pressure from within the party to support a second referendum.
 Jeremy Corbyn is facing pressure from within the party to support a second referendum. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Labour members are significantly more opposed to Brexit than Jeremy Corbyn is, with 72% of them thinking their leader should fully support a second referendum, according to a study of attitudes in the party.

The polling, part of an ongoing wider academic study into attitudes in various parties, found that only 18% opposed Labour campaigning for a second referendum, while 88% would then opt for remain if such a vote was held.

Source: The Guardian

Labour’s Brexit Failure

From the New Statesman:

Labour’s refusal to oppose Brexit is becoming a historic error

There are some in the FBPE (Follow Back, Pro-EU) community who claim that Brexit could have been stopped if the Labour leadership had abandoned Brexit. This is either arguable if applied to 2016 or just simply wrong since 2016. But in the turmoil that is likely to follow the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in January, the Labour leadership will play a crucial role. This post is about what happens if Labour enable Brexit in any way. I am not suggesting they will (and hope they do not), but right now this is a significant enough possibility to be worth writing about

Source: Labour’s refusal to oppose Brexit is becoming a historic error

Residents Protest Surrey CC Cuts

From Haslemere Herald:

Save Haslemere children’s centre protest

HASLEMERE and Hindhead-based protesters joined Saturday’s Save Our Services in Surrey ‘Austerity Kills’ march and rally in Woking.

Objectors to Surrey County Council (SCC) proposals to close 31 children’s centres included Claire Matthes, who works at Haslemere’s Tennyson’s children’s centre, which supports 880 families but has been earmarked for closure.

Claire said: “Haslemere, like much of Surrey, is a beautiful, leafy area of the country, which belies the fact many families and individuals struggle with the issues of daily life.

Source: | News | Haslemere Herald

The Value of Integrity in Politics 

From the Washington Monthly :

Most activists who focus on elections can remember their first campaign training seminar, the time and place they first learned the rules for success in electoral politics. No matter the organization, the basic messages are almost always the same: maintain strict message discipline. Speak in general terms about values. Stay silent on issues about which you don’t know all the details. When in doubt, redirect the conversation to your own talking points.Don’t make unforced mistakes, because a single error can doom your whole campaign. Whenever possible, speak in media-friendly soundbites using the 27-9-3 rule: 27 words, 9 seconds to say, 3 main ideas. Be cautious and circumspect.This is fine advice under normal circumstances. But after an entire generation of candidates got elected following these rules designed for 20th century media, a strange thing happened: no matter which party they belonged to, every politician started to sound oddly the same regardless of party or ideology. Like a restaurant with a menu dozens of items long but where every dish has the same distinctly bland flavor and texture, Washington started to sound less like a debating ground for the people’s representatives and more like an endless parade of obfuscators speaking a language foreign to the public and playing by arcane rules none recognize. If you didn’t play the game, you weren’t taken seriously because you didn’t “know how Washington works.”

The phenomenal rise to stardom of newly elected representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez must be understood in this light.

Source: Washington Monthly | Ocasio-Cortez’s Secret Weapon: Fierce Values and Rule-Defying Authenticity

Labour set to include pilot of radical basic income policy in next manifesto, John McDonnell says | The Independent

Labour is set to include a plan for the radical policy of a universal basic income in its next manifesto for a general election, John McDonnell has told The Independent.

The shadow chancellor – one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies in Westminster – said a Labour-commissioned review into the policy, which aims to transform the welfare state, is expected to be published in the autumn.

Source: The Independent