Thursday 13 September 2012

Fund-raising In George's Memory

Once your child is diagnosed with cancer your world changes forever. Aside from the immediate shock, you find yourself and your child immersed in a nightmarish environment of hospitals, treatments, stress and worry. Even the nature of time changes once you enter into treatment - days blur into each other in hospital, respites at home seem to fly by, and there's the endless waiting - for appointments, for drugs, for scans and for results (which is the worst of the waiting). After a while you learn to navigate through the ins and outs of the medical system, working out what you can and can't do, what services exist and where you can find them and so on.

Like a lot of families in that situation we found that there was one organisation that helped us found our way and that was the children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent. The help they offered was purely practical - finding out what we could do about schooling will George was having chemo, helping to sort out the endless paperwork that comes with the territory (and believe me, some of the forms we had to deal with would have been horrendous at the best of times, let alone when dealing with cancer), offering a shoulder to cry or helping us find the best person to deal with specific questions.

Maureen and the rest of the CLIC Sargent team at the Royal Marsden is Sutton were just fantastic. So when asked to nominate a charity for some fund-raising in George's name they were the first name to come to mind. If we had been further along in organising the George Pantziarka TP53 Trust the fund-raising by my colleagues at work would have been for that. But given where we are, there's no doubt that CLIC Sargent deserve your support.

So, please take a look at the ISG Clarendon Relay Marathon Team Challenge here: and help raise some funds for a very worthy cause.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Chemo, Radiotherapy and Fasting

A while back I wrote about some work by Valter Longo and his colleagues looking at the effects of short-term fasting on cancer progression (here: They showed that short term fasting can slow tumour progression in a range of different cancer types and can sensitise tumours to standard chemotherapy drugs. While this work was performed in mice, it was solid research that is already being followed up in a number of clinical trials.

In the latest update to their work, Dr Longo and his team report that short term fasting also helps to sensitise cells to radiotherapy. This time the work looked at gliomas - aggressive brain cancers - again in mice. This time they looked at how the standard treatments for gliomas, including glioblastoma multiforme, were improved by the adoption of short term fasting. Both chemotherapy (Temozolomide) and radiotherapy had improved responses in those mice subject to complete withdrawal of food for short periods (48 hours) compared to control groups.

These results are in mice, but again there is no reason why they should not apply to people. Though whether there is the same degree of response is an open question which can only be answered through clinical trials.

For the moment this is yet another small step forward and confirms once again that cancer is more than a disease of delinquent cells, and that disordered metabolism is a key feature with clinical significance.

For those wanting the full details of this new research, it has been published in the open access journal PLOS One:

The final word has to be this. If you're a cancer patient and want to try this out for yourself, make sure you talk to your oncology team to ensure you get the support you need.