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According to a recent study, an antibody drug which makes a wide range of cancers more vulnerable to the body’s immune system is “exciting” and may mark a new era.

The new drug strips cancer cells of the “camouflage” they use to evade attack by the immune system.

In the most detailed study, published in Nature, some patients completely recovered from terminal bladder cancer.

The immune system is in delicate balance with some chemicals in the body encouraging a strong vigorous response, while others try to dampen it down.

Tumors can hijack this system to hide from the immune system.

One trick which tumors use is a protein called PD-L1 which is normally used to prevent autoimmune diseases.

An international team of scientists has been trialing a drug to block PD-L1, produced by the company Roche, on 68 people with advanced bladder cancer.

All the patients had tried chemotherapy and had been given six-to-eight months to live.

More than half the patients, whose tumors were using PD-L1 to hide from the immune system, showed signs of recovery.

In two patients there were no signs of cancer after the treatment.

One in ten patients responded to the experimental therapy even if PD-L1 was not present in the tumor.

Dr. Tom Powles, an oncologist at the Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London and part of the research team, said: “There have been no new drugs for bladder cancer for 30 years.

“The tumors have developed a camouflage layer, PD-L1, and by removing the camouflage the tumor becomes identifiable.

“A subgroup of patients seems to do exceptionally well.”

Dr. Tom Powles is funded by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and receives no money from Roche.

The drug has been given “breakthrough therapy” status in the US and could be used widely by patients there at the end of 2015, if a larger trial shows the same results.

Much larger randomized clinical trials would be needed in order for the experimental therapy to be used in Europe.

A similar set of trials to boost the immune attack revealed at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago in June, showed similar therapies could improve survival in advanced skin cancer.

In a trial of 411 patients evaluating a drug, pembrolizumab – 69% of patients survived at least a year.

Those results were described as having the “potential to be a paradigm shift for cancer therapy”.

A separate study of 175 patients, led by Yale University in the US, showed responses to the drug in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, renal cell carcinoma and other cancers.


Actress Eileen Brennan, best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Goldie Hawn’s tormentor in 1980 army comedy Private Benjamin, has died aged 80.

Eileen Brennan’s managers said she died on Sunday at her home in Burbank, Los Angeles after suffering from bladder cancer.

Eileen Brennan, who also appeared in The Last Picture Show and Clue, was known for her husky voice and spiky demeanor.

“Our world has lost a rare human,” said Goldie Hawn in a statement in which she paid tribute to her “old friend”.

“Eileen was a brilliant comedian, a powerful dramatic actress and had the voice of an angel.”

Eileen Brennan earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role as US Army Captain Doreen Lewis in Private Benjamin.

She reprised the role in an adapted TV series from 1981 to 1983, winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe in the process.

Born Verla Eileen Regina Brennan in September 1932, the actress began her career on the New York stage before heading to Hollywood in the late 1960s.

Eileen Brennan was best known for her Oscar-nominated role in 1980 army comedy Private Benjamin

Eileen Brennan was best known for her Oscar-nominated role in 1980 army comedy Private Benjamin

After appearing alongside Goldie Hawn in the first series of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, she was singled out for praise and a BAFTA nomination, for her role as careworn waitress Genevieve in The Last Picture Show.

Eileen Brennan continued her association with its director, Peter Bogdanovich, by appearing in his films Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love.

She was also seen in comic roles in Murder By Death and The Cheap Detective, appearing in both alongside the late Peter Falk.

Eileen Brennan was seriously injured in 1982 when she was hit by a car after a dinner with Goldie Hawn in Los Angeles.

The actress became dependent on painkillers as a result and later entered the Betty Ford clinic to cure her addiction.

She returned to the screen in 1985’s Clue, a murder spoof inspired by a board game.

In later life Eileen Brennan gave supporting turns in such films as Jeepers Creepers, Miss Congeniality 2 and TV’s Will and Grace.

“I love meanies… because they have no sense of humor,” Eileen Brennan told the Associated Press in 1988.

“If we can’t laugh at ourselves and the human condition, we’re going to be mean.”

Eileen Brennan is survived by her ex-husband, David John Lampson, and their two sons, Patrick and Sam.

In a statement, Eileen Brennan’s family remembered her as “funny and caring and truly one of a kind”.

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British researchers have made a device that can “smell” bladder cancer in urine samples.

The device uses a sensor to detect gaseous chemicals that are given off if cancer cells are present.

Early trials show the tests gives accurate results more than nine times in 10, its inventors told PLoS One journal.

However, experts say more studies are needed to perfect the test before it can become widely available.

British researchers have made a device that can "smell" bladder cancer in urine samples

British researchers have made a device that can “smell” bladder cancer in urine samples

Doctors have been searching for ways to spot this cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable.

And many have been interested in odors in urine, since past work suggests dogs can be trained to recognize the scent of cancer.

Prof. Chris Probert, from Liverpool University, and Prof. Norman Ratcliffe, of the University of the West of England, say their new device can read cancer smells.

“It reads the gases that chemicals in the urine can give off when the sample is heated,” said Prof. Norman Ratcliffe.

To test their device, they used 98 samples of urine – 24 from men known to have bladder cancer and 74 from men with bladder-related problems but no cancer.

Prof. Chris Probert said the results were very encouraging but added: “We now need to look at larger samples of patients to test the device further before it can be used in hospitals.”