Your local newsagent might stock the latest Scientific American, Special Edition called “New Answers for Cancer”, if they do, then you should pick up a copy. You can also download a digital copy online, but if you’re anything like me there is something satisfying in having a glossy magazine and a screen full of pixels just isn’t the same.
Scientific American is aimed at a “general” audience, this means you don’t need a biology degree to understand it (although sometimes that helps!). They write about the latest scientific research and they always have great diagrams. I wish the diagrams in scientific journals were as good.
As the name suggests, the magazine is produced in the US, so don’t expect all the treatments mentioned to be available on the NHS. “Mapping the Cancer Genome” and is well worth a read, if you have a couple of hours to spare. Mapping the Cancer Genome describes the work being done at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, where they are making a list of all the gene mutations that can cause cancer. It’s a long list. For this information to be useful, we need to develop treatments aimed at each gene and that is hard to do. There are some available now, e.g. Avastin is used to treat colon cancer it targets VEGF. Whether the NHS will fund these drugs remains to be seen. (to read more about NHS funding of Avastin, click here)