Tuesday 17 June 2014

The LDN Research Trust - Q & A Linda Elsegood

The LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone) Research Trust is at the forefront of raising awareness of the potential of low dose naltrexone as a treatment in auto-immune diseases and cancer. Not just in the UK, the LDN Research Trust has done an outstanding job on the international as well as the national stage. At the heart of this hive of activity – with multiple projects on-going at any one time – is Linda Elsegood, who founded the Trust in February 2004. Ahead of a busy schedule in organising the 2014 LDN Research conference, Linda was kind enough to answer a few questions on LDN and cancer.

Pan: There seems to have been a real rise in the level of interest in LDN and cancer, what’s driving that?

Linda: It’s been incredible really, there is so much interest coming from all areas now – not just in this country but internationally too. Social media has made a huge difference to this. People can access information much more easily than when we started more than 10 years ago. And it’s not just from patients. We get a lot more interest from doctors too. People want to know. And we’re really busy at the LDN Research Trust. We’ve got seven projects on the go at the moment, including the filming of a documentary, there’s the conference which we really want to live stream to everyone for free, to achieve this we have to raise the money. Again, social media is making the difference to this sort of thing.

Pan: In terms of this level of interest, how much is it driven directly by doctors, and how much is it doctors pushed to find out by their patients?

Friday 6 June 2014

Osteosarcoma - A Proposal for Reducing the Relapse Rate

As has been mentioned on this site before, there has been little progress in the treatment osteosarcoma – the disease that killed my son,George – in the last twenty-five to thirty years. The actual figures vary by country, but generally the five year disease free survival is around 60% - 70%, though in the UK the last published figures were an absolutely appalling 43%. But these figures mask what’s really going – osteosarcoma of the extremities (the long bones in the arms and legs) has a much higher disease free survival rate than osteosarcoma at other sites. So the figures for England show that the rate is 48% for osteosarcoma of the extremities and only 16% for other sites. And, regardless of site, the prognosis for relapsed disease (whether it’s a local recurrence or a distant metastasis) is truly grim.

Looking at the patterns of relapse however shows us something really interesting and, hopefully, significant. The vast majority of relapses occur within 18 months of surgical resection (and in osteosarcoma the only way for definitive cure is to surgically remove the tumour). What is more, most of these relapses take the form of distant metastases, the majority appearing as new tumours in the lungs. This begs the question as to why this pattern? It suggests that there’s something systemic going on – and it’s a similar pattern to the relapse/recurrence of breast, lung, head and neck and other cancers. 

One possible mechanism involves the surgery itself. The body responds to the trauma of surgery by releasing different growth factors, cytokines and other inflammatory responses. This is necessary for wound healing, but it also creates an environment that is conducive to cancer growth – there are pro-angiogenic growth signals, immune suppression and so on. It all adds up to an environment that gives any microscopic pockets of cancer cells the chance to expand and grow into new tumours, particularly in the lungs.