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Trinity study discovers genetic mutation behind incurable childhood cancer

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Scientists in Trinity College Dublin have discovered how a specific genetic mutation causes an incurable childhood cancer, and have successfully reversed its effects by slowing cancer cell growth in laboratory conditions.

The treatment for diffuse midline glioma (DMG) is so effective using drugs already used on other cancers that they have called for immediate clinical trials in humans with a view to developing a new drug targeting the disease.

Their work on the mutation, known as H3K27M, sets out how “a new understanding of the genetics of DMG progression indicates [that] a highly promising, therapeutic approach may be realisable, offering significant hope of improved treatments in the future”.

There are five to 10 DMG cases in Ireland every year; with eight already this year. Brain tumours of various types affect 45-50 children annually.

The DMG findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics on Thursday – the research is supported by Worldwide Cancer Research and the Brain Tumour Charity.

The scientists called for trials to begin on the already approved class of drugs called EZH2 inhibitors. These target the same key biological pathway involved in DMG, as they do successfully in lymphomas and sarcomas – two cancers common in adults.

“We’ve taken a huge step forward in our study of DMG tumours and hope that the insights will help us design and implement precision oncology-based treatment approaches in DMG patients in the future,” said Prof Adrian Bracken of the TCD School of Genetics and Microbiology, who led the research.

Crucially, EZH2 inhibitors have already received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of two types of adult cancer.

“We propose these drugs could be impactful for children with DMG and, as a result, call for clinical trials to begin next.”

The successful targeting of the DMG tumour was achieved on human neural stem cells.

“Ultimately, we hope that our work – together with that of others focused in this area – will lead to curative clinical approaches for what is a truly terrible disease that can devastate families and for which there are currently no therapeutic options,” Prof Bracken added.

Challenge to treat

Paediatric gliomas like DMG are among the most devastating of childhood cancers. Tumours typically arise in the brain and are very challenging to treat, with prognosis extremely poor.

“As such, effective therapeutic options are urgently needed,” he underlined.

Dr Jane Pears, paediatric consultant oncologist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, who treats children with this disease, said these tumours were a devastating diagnosis for children and their families.

“The best treatment we can currently offer may extend survival for a few months but is not curative. We are now entering an exciting era of expansion of our knowledge of this disease at a molecular level which, in turn, will lead us towards more targeted treatments,” she said.

Through collaboration between researchers and doctors in clinical settings, “this will hopefully lead to the improved outcomes that we all so dearly wish to see”, she said.

Maeve Lowery, professor of translational cancer medicine at Trinity and academic director of Trinity St James’s Cancer Institute, said: “This pivotal work illustrates the success of a precision oncology approach – where understanding how cancers develop on a genomic level can accelerate the development of more effective treatments with less side effects.”

The research programme led by Prof Bracken would build on this success to continue to develop new and innovative treatment strategies for adult and childhood cancers, she predicted.

Dr Becky Birch, head of research at the Brain Tumour Charity, hoped this “really promising discovery” would pave the way for new and targeted treatments to be developed for children with DMGs.

“With average survival still heartbreakingly short at less than 12 months, we urgently need to find new options to help slow the growth of this rare and often-inoperable cancer and give children diagnosed more time to live.”

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Homes near Elizabeth Line see asking prices double in a decade

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Asking prices for properties for sale near stations on London‘s new Elizabeth Line have more than doubled in a decade, new research has revealed.

Many areas near stations on the capital’s new high-speed line were previously less well connected to key commuter hubs, such as Liverpool Street or Paddington stations.

But they have seen a surge in property asking prices amid new interest from homebuyers and tenants due to the better transport links that the Elizabeth Line provides.

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

REVEALED: The asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London's Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

Elizabeth Line hotspots: This two-bed flat in London’s Windmill lane is o.2 miles from Maryland station and is for sale for £395,000 via Filtons estate agents

The new figures from Rightmove revealed the extent to which asking prices have risen in local areas around Maryland, Abbey Wood and Stratford stations.

Maryland Station in Newham, which provides an additional option for those commuting near well-connected Stratford, has seen the biggest jump in asking prices.

They have more than doubled compared to ten years ago, rising 108 per cent from £233,480 to £486,235.

This compares to the London average increase over the past ten years of 55 per cent.

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

About half a mile from Abbey Wood station is this two-bed flat for sale for £235,000 via Your Move estate agents

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified the asking price hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Meanwhile, Rightmove revealed that total buyer demand has risen the most in western areas, while prices and competition has risen most in eastern areas.

Twyford, at the end of the western section of the line and the next stop along from Reading, has seen the biggest jump in the number of buyers contracting estate agents.

Numbers have more than tripled compared to 10 years ago, up 245 per cent.

Those looking to buy near Abbey Wood station, at the end of the South East section of the line, face the stiffest competition from other buyers.

Competition in that area has soared more than nine times and is up 869 per cent.

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

Rightmove has identified buyer demand hotspots around the new Elizabeth Line stations

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

The increase in buyer competition compared to ten years ago around the new Elizabeth Line has been revealed

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

Near Custom House station: This two-bed house is for rent for £1,700 a month via Outlook lettings agents

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

The rental hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line station have been revealed

It is a similar story along the Elizabeth line for tenants as many look to balance their commute into London with where they can afford to rent.

Average rents in London have reached a new record of £2,195 a month, up 14 per cent compared to this time last year.

Southall has seen the biggest increase in the number of tenants contacting letting agents compared to ten years ago, more than quadrupling, up 372 per cent.

However, asking rents near Southall station are lower than nearby Hanwell or Ealing.

Asking rents have increased the most in western stations Slough, up 44 per cent, and Burnham, up 43 per cent, while those looking to rent near Custom House station face the most competition from other tenants.

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

Slough is among the asking rent hotspots along the new Elizabeth Line stations, with the average asking rent up 44 per cent during the past ten years

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line - Custom House - has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

One of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line – Custom House – has seen competition increase 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago

Custom House, one of the new stations built for the Elizabeth Line and benefitting from significantly lower travel times into Central London, has seen competition increase by a staggering 33 times, up 3270 per cent compared to ten years ago.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘As the Elizabeth Line opens, it does so with a backdrop of record rents in London, a rising cost of living and a shortage of available homes.

‘Areas further out from central London that have lower asking prices or rents, but are now more easily commutable will be attractive to new buyers and tenants in search of somewhere affordable to live near the capital.

‘Not only this, but new working from home patterns since the pandemic started two years ago will have many people weighing up whether they are prepared to commute from further away if they need to do so less often.’

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National Maternity Hospital decision is a welcome sign of the Government’s backbone

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The Government’s decision to proceed with the building of the new National Maternity Hospital is a welcome sign that the Taoiseach and his Ministers are willing to face up to the Opposition, the social media mob and assorted objectors on an issue of major national importance.

One of the weaknesses of the Coalition since it took office in June 2020 has been a tendency to run scared in the face of contrived outrage, usually fomented by a combination of Opposition politicians and vested interests, often mistakenly portrayed as representing public opinion.

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URW rolls out Westfield brand to three new destinations

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Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) unveiled plans to rebrand three flagship centres, rolling out the Westfield brand to Parquesur in Madrid, Taby Centrum in Stockholm, and Galeria Mokotow in Warsaw this fall. The rebranding continues the expansion of the Westfield brand in Europe as the company drives new revenues through media advertising and brand experiences, turning its huge footfall of 550 million visits across its European assets into a qualified audience, while also leveraging the Westfield brand’s significant value to retailers, who see over 20%2 higher sales at URW’s centres even when compared to other A-category malls.

 

The flagship destinations share a number of characteristics in addition to being among the most important retail centres in their respective markets: they are set in excellent locations with unrivalled transport options, have distinctive architectural and design features and a best-in-class approach in terms of customer experience, community engagement, and sustainability practices. To celebrate the launch of the Westfield brand at these assets, each destination will host festive consumer events which will be announced later this year.

 

Caroline Puechoultres, Chief Customer Officer of URW, said: “The rebranding of these centres continues our strategy to expand Westfield to Flagship European destinations in the wealthiest cities and catchment areas. The significant opportunity afforded to both retailers and brands by this increasingly digitally linked network of destinations is unparalleled – through Westfield our partners can reach tens of millions of European consumers, driving new possibilities in advertising, brand marketing and retail.”

 

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