A newly discovered type of T-cell receptor (TCR) appears to be able to distinguish between cancerous and healthy cells, potentially leading to a “one-size-fits-all” cancer therapy, researchers say.
A study outlining the breakthrough, which could revolutionize how cancer is treated, was published Monday in the journal Nature Immunology.
T-cell therapy has exploded onto the cancer treatment scene in recent years through the increasingly popular CAR-T treatments. In CAR-T, T-cells are removed from a patient’s blood, modified to recognize cancer cells, and returned to the body to kill the cancer.
Researchers say the newly detected TCR could improve this process because it is able to recognize MR1, a molecule that is universally present in both cancerous and benign cells, but somehow only kill the malignant versions of it.
CAR-T, by contrast, scans for specific parts of proteins that can vary wildly from person to person, meaning each treatment must be specifically targeted to each patient – and scientists have yet to find effective CAR-T treatments for many common cancers, including solid tumours.
“We hope this new TCR may provide us with a different route to target and destroy a wide range of cancers in all individuals,” lead author Andrew Sewell said in a press release.
The work was led by Sewell’s team from Cardiff University in the U.K. but also involved American, Australian and Danish researchers.
They say lab tests have shown that therapy involving the new TCR can destroy cells associated with cancer of the lung, skin, blood, colon, breast, bone, prostate, ovaries, kidney and cervix, while bypassing healthy cells that contain the same MR1 molecule. These tests were conducted on mice with human cancers and human immune systems – the same scenario that led to the widespread acceptance of CAR-T therapy.
There are still questions to be answered, including exactly how these TCRs are able to distinguish between cancerous cells and benign ones. Still, Sewell described it as “an exciting new frontier” for cancer treatment and said it might only be a few years before human patients can be treated in this way.
“It raises the prospect of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ cancer treatment; a single type of T-cell that could be capable of destroying many different types of cancers across the population,” he said.
“Previously nobody believed this could be possible.”
First 'Presumptive Positive' Case of Coronavirus Found in Ontario – AM800 (iHeartRadio)
The first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus has been found in Ontario.
Ontario’s chief medical officer announced the patient tested positive at Sunnybrook Hospital.
More than 1,200 people have been infected with the deadly virus that has killed 41.
Two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Australia and the US. Malaysia reported their first cases of the virus Saturday and Japan confirmed a third case.
France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe.
Information on the virus can be found at www.ontario.ca /coronavirus.
— with files from CTV News and The Canadian Press.
First presumptive case of coronavirus in GTA worries schools, parents – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com
Published Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:22PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 26, 2020 7:37PM EST
Residents across the Greater Toronto Area are expressing concern after learning that a man in a Toronto hospital has been diagnosed with Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus.
Health officials confirmed the first “presumptive positive” case of coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, at Sunnybrook Hospital on Saturday. The patient, a man in his 50s, had recently travelled to Wuhan, China and returned to Toronto on Jan. 22.
He was admitted to the hospital the following day, where he remains in stable condition.
After hearing the news, some GTA schools issued notices to parents calling for caution and asking families to stay home if necessary.
The principal of Somerset Academy, a private school in Markham, sent a letter home to parents this weekend saying that families who have travelled to Asia should stay home for a minimum of 15 days.
“To avoid any member of our Somerset Academy family from getting sick with this illness, we are asking that all families who are currently away from school and are in Asia or are planning to go to Asia,to understand that you will not be permitted back into Somerset Academy or Yips until you and your family have been home from your travels a minimum of 15 days from the date you have landed back in Canada,” the letter reads.
“As proof of this, you will be asked to provide and show us your boarding pass(es) and/or stamped documents that states the date of your return from your trip.”
The letter urged parents of children with flu-like symptoms that have developed within the last 12 hours to stay home and rest.
“We are taking this illness, along with other sicknesses, very seriously and no exceptions or excuses will be accepted,” the letter said. “The health of our families is extremely important to us and you are only putting our students, along with our teachers and staff, health at risk. It is better to be safer now than sorry later.”
More than 6,000 people sign online petition in York
A petition has also started to circulate titled “stop the potential spreading of the novel coronavirus in schools of York Region.”
The author of the petition claims to be representing parents from various schools and calls for caution following Saturday’s Chinese New Year.
“Traditionally large amounts of people travel nationwide or even internationally during this period to meet families and friends, which tremendously increases the chance of infection,” the petition said.
“Meanwhile, in the next few weeks, families went to China will travel back to Canada. It will definitely bring the virus into our country, and makes next two to four weeks being the peak time of this infectious disease transmission.”
The petition recommends that schools keep track of students who recently travelled to China and asks those families to stay isolated for a minimum of 17 days.
Meanwhile, Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Neil Rau said that people need to listen to world health experts and stop creating an “epidemic of fear.”
“We don’t need people going rogue, deciding to do their own form of quarantine where they tell people to stay home for two weeks after they came back from China,” he told CTV News Toronto. “No one is telling anyone to do that at this time. It is incredibly disruptive, it has economic consequences, it is inconvenient for parents, it’s bad for kids’ education if schools do this.”
The last statement released by the Toronto District School Board about the coronavirus was on Jan. 24.
Toronto public health urging people to contact officials
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health said that officials are “actively following up” with anyone who may have been on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311, which arrived at Pearson airport on Jan. 22 from Guangzhou.
“We are informing these people that they may have been exposed to a potential health risk, what signs and symptoms they should look out for, and when and what type of medical treatment should be sought out, if that becomes necessary,” Dr. Eileen de Villa said in a statement said. “This work is part of routine public health follow-up of a case of an infectious disease.”
De Villa also said that local hospitals have reported that people are coming to emergency departments without symptoms of the virus.
“While we appreciate that people may have concerns, and that people may worry about their health, we encourage people who were on this flight and who do not have signs of illness to continue with their routine activities and we ask that these people do not present to the healthcare system,” she said.
“The risk to our community remains low.”
The illness was first reported in Wuhan, China in late December. As of Sunday, there were nearly 2,000 diagnosed cases around the world.
More than 55 people have died as a result of the virus in China.
Markham mayor calls for enhanced screening at airports
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti released a statement Sunday evening calling on the federal government to implement additional screening and detection measures at Canadian airports.
“The current measures introduced are less stringent than at other major airports in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles that involve passengers from China being screened for symptoms,” he said.
“With a first presumptive confirmed case of the novel coronavirus now in the Toronto area, there is heightened concern and anxiety in the community. These screening measures as an ounce of prevention would provide greater public confidence that more is being done to reduce risk and exposure to the virus.”
Earlier this month, major airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal increased security measures as a result of the coronavirus. An additional health screening question was also added to electronic custom kiosks.
Travellers are also being asked to inform border services officers if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Janice Golding
One day, four overdose deaths: Ontario city struggles as opioid crisis marches on – The Globe and Mail
One was a burger-joint chef who loved to skateboard when he was growing up. One was a big truck driver with striking blue eyes. Another was the father of four kids. Another was famous for his devotion to his dog, Rocco.
These four men all died of drug overdoses on a grey Friday this month in Brantford, the small city in Southwestern Ontario where Wayne Gretzky was raised. It is the most overdose deaths the city has had in one day, the equivalent – when compared to the size of its population – to 120 deaths in one day in Toronto.
Like other Ontario cities that have seen overdose rates rise as the opioid crisis moves from west to east across the country, Brantford is struggling with the loss. Mayor Kevin Davis had to pause to get control of his emotions when asked about the impact on his city. “It’s tragic, it’s devastating,” he said. “You feel almost a sense of hopelessness.” It is easy to “categorize and stigmatize” drug users, he said, but “these are real people.”
Just a year ago, the community of 100,000 seemed to be making some modest progress in its fight to prevent drug overdoses. A new addiction-medicine clinic had just opened up. Authorities were implementing a new drug strategy that aimed to spread the word about the dangers of drug use and get the overdose-reversing drug naloxone onto the streets.
But the area had 35 fatal overdoses last year, preliminary figures show. That is up from 22 in 2018 and 25 in 2017. Visits to the hospital emergency department for overdoses were also up in 2019, though the number of overdoses that emergency services were called to was down slightly. Now this – four deaths in a single day.
The deaths are part of a wave of overdoses that hit the community at the start of the new decade. A special alert from the Brant County Health Unit said that, including the four fatal ones, there were 17 in the first 12 days of January, more than in an average full month in 2019.
Other Ontario cities are also seeing higher numbers as the overdose epidemic that crested first in British Columbia and Alberta rolls through Canada’s most populous province. Public Health Ontario reports that 435 people died from overdoses in the first quarter of last year, an increase of 42 per cent from the same period in 2018.
“It’s been a bad couple of months,” said Stephanie Rochon, co-ordinator of Brantford’s addiction medicine clinic. She said testing of patients is showing stronger strains of fentanyl, as well as the even more potent carfentanil and other fentanyl analogs. Users often don’t know what drugs they are using, she said, putting them at high risk of getting a bad dose.
The four men in Brantford died on Friday, Jan. 10. The youngest was 26, the oldest 38. Police aren’t saying what drugs they may have used or where and how they died, pending the results of post mortems and further investigation. But Justine Radcliffe, a cousin of one of the men, Grant York, said she saw authorities removing two bodies from a house next to her place on Murray Street, a few minutes from the city core.
Ms. Radcliffe said her cousin’s wasn’t one of them. He died at home, she said. She called him a quiet person who cooked at the Works Gourmet Burger Bistro. The restaurant closed its doors for that evening, saying on Facebook that it had just received “some devastating news.”
Staff at the head shop next door, Crazy Bill’s, said Mr. York was a “sweet guy” who often came in for cigarettes or energy drinks. To help prevent more deaths, they have given away dozens of drug-testing kits since the overdoses this month.
A death notice called Mr. York an “amazing soul” whose “humour, laughter, loyalty, love for life and impact on others will be missed.” His mother, Jennifer York, posted on a local news social-media page that “he was not an addict, purely recreational.” She warned others to know their neighbours and learn to recognize drug houses, with lots of people coming and going and expensive vehicles outside. “Watch your surroundings. I can not stress this enough!” she said.
Two of the other men, Kevin Waring and Richie Britton, were good friends. Mr. Waring was a long-haul trucker. His Facebook feed includes pictures of a gleaming white transport truck and a sign that reads, “Beer is the perfection of water.” His nickname was Bundy, after the gargantuan professional wrestler King Kong Bundy.
His pal, Mr. Britton, liked soccer and played pool in a league that had weekly games at local bars. His “fur baby,” Rocco, a boxer, was like family to him, friends said.
One friend, Cody Henry, organized drinks at a downtown pub to mark the passing of the two men. He said they were “the type of guys who, if they were your friends, would do anything for you. There should have been more people in the world like them.” Mr. Britton was always helping friends move. Mr. Waring was supposed to give Mr. Henry some tips on driving a truck for a living the day that he died.
Mr. Henry’s girlfriend, Kristen Ferguson, said Mr. Britton would hang out with her when Mr. Henry was away on motorcycle trips. The two would talk and watch videos on YouTube. “I lost a brother” when he died, she said, wiping away tears as she stood outside the pub.
The fourth man, Cody Annis, was remembered in his death notice as the “beloved dad of Aliyah, Shyvon, James ‘Devon’ and Zayden.” The notice said, “Cody was happiest when he was outdoors and in nature, fishing pole in hand and kids beside him.”
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