Oncopig Cancer Model: A New Approach in Cancer Research for Humans
By Ramadhani Chambuso
Oncopig Cancer Model is a novel transgenic swine model that recapitulates human cancer through the development of site and cell specific tumors. For decades, cancer research progress has been markedly hampered by the lack of a phenotypically, genotypically, anatomically, and physiologically relevant large animal models.
On the other hand, small animal models, such as mouse models, have played a major role in our understanding of the genetic basis of cancer and the role of specific genes and gene mutations in the development and progression of cancer. However, due to vast differences between humans and rodents or zebrafish for example, the ability to model complex diseases such as cancer and translate results into clinical practice is quite limited
In a nutshell, large animal models of cancer comprise a smaller portion of cancer models than small animal cancer models. Therefore, these large animal models recapitulate transcriptional hallmarks of the human disease while also exhibiting clinically relevant histologic and genotypic tumor phenotypes.
Breast Cancer Screening with Mammography in Women Aged 40-49 Years is Still Controversial
By Ramadhani Chambuso
The incidence and mortality rates from breast cancer are expected to rise as a result of the ageing population. To reduce the burden of this disease, many countries have implemented mammography screening for early detection and treatment of breast cancer for all women aged from 50 years for every 2 years. However, there is a debate about whether breast cancer screening should be extended to younger women (i.e., 40–49 years). Generally, for effective cancer screening programme, the benefits should outweigh the harms. Some negative effects of breast cancer screening include radiation exposure from mammography, pain during the mammography procedure, consequences of false positive and false negative tests, and the occurrence of over-diagnosis. Therefore, based on the current evidence from randomised trials, extending mammography screening to younger age groups cannot be recommended.
The Breast Interest Group of Southern Africa (BIGOSA) was formed in 2011 by a group of medical professionals who realised there was a need for standardisation in breast healthcare in Southern Africa. One way of delivering on our primary objective is to empower all practitioners with appropriate skills through training and scientific meetings where breast healthcare progress and problems of interest to all clinicians and non-clinicians are presented.
The BIGOSA 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting takes place at The River Club, Observatory, Cape Town on 21 October under the over arching theme “Young women and breast cancer”.
Since the gut is the largest immunological organ in the body, research has found that certain anticancer drugs work better with prior or concomitant modulation of specific gut microbiome to optimize maximum therapeutic outcome in the treatment of skin and lung cancer in mice. However, this strong interrelationship between the immune system and the host gut microbiota which can determine responses to cancer therapies has not yet been demonstrated in humans, although efforts are made to have ethical clearance to conduct further clinical trials.
UNESCO Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will be held in Mauritius with the aim to empower Women and Youth in Research under the patronage of the Head of State of The Republic of Mauritius H.E. Ameenah Gurib Fakim.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit- MARS aims to bring together researchers from across Africa to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in Africa’s development as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation.UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit – MARS 2017 will have scientific support from UNESCO (United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization), African Union Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AU-STRC), the University of Cambridge, UK, University of Rome, and Merck.The annual Summit aims to contribute to building research capacity in the African research community, with special focus on “The Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenge in Africa”. The Summit will also showcase innovative research taking place in projects, programs and initiatives across African universities, and by the wider African research community. The summit is a unique opportunity for Africa’s young and talented scientists to share their research output and findings with the top echelon of scientists from Africa and abroad. It is also an opportunity for networking and career development. The Summit willpresents a platform where young scientists will be able to discuss the enabling environment for better research among others.On other note the organizing committee will launch the “Best Young African Researcher Award” and the “Best African Woman Researcher Award” to recognize the outstanding contribution of African female scientist with aim to promote women in research and advance their contribution to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
The annual Summit – UNESCO-MARS will address the vital role of research in the improvement and sustainable development of population health with specific emphasis on how to translate knowledge into action – the ‘know-do gap’ – to improve health and make an impact on society.
Abstracts are invited from final year African PhD students and young investigators involved in research related to both Cancer specially in Women and Vaccines Development. All should be primarily based at African research institutes and Universities, although collaboration within Africa as well as outside is encouraged.
All abstracts will be peer reviewed and 100 winners will be eligible for Sponsorship. First three winners will be eligible for further number of Research Awards. Further Research Award will be dedicated for Best African Women ResearchersStay tuned..
Special forum: Biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences
Join the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics for a panel discussion on the need and future of biostatistics support in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Submissions are welcome – please email: email@example.com.
All are welcome to the seminar.
Where: Seminar Room 2, Falmouth Building, Entrance 5, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Health Sciences Campus, UCT.
AORTIC Cancer Network Directory (ACND) 2nd Edition
At AORTIC, we are currently developing the second edition of our Cancer Network Directory, which aims to map out the resources that are available in Africa in order to help understand the cancer landscape in Africa and promote collaboration in cancer work.
If you would like to be included in this directory, please provide us with your contact information by filling out the information card below.
We would also appreciate it if you could either forward along this information card or give us the contact information for anyone else who would benefit from being listed.
Thank you for your cooperation!
Information to be completed:
Name of institution/Nom de l’établissement:
Cancer specialty/focus area /Spécialité/Domained’intervention:
Full address/ Adresse:
Email address/ Adresse e-mail :
Web address/ Adresse web :
Work tel no/Numéro de téléphone :
Mobile no/ Pas de portable :
It may be of interest to you that AORTIC is hosting its biannual conference this November in Kigali, Rwanda 7-10 November 2017.
The conference will be a great opportunity for multidisciplinary specialists from the global cancer community to present their research, learn about relevant case studies, gain practical skills through workshops, broaden their network connections, and much more.
Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI) Opens Door to New Postgraduates!
On behalf of Prof. Jennifer Moodley, we would like to extend a cheerful welcome to the new members who have joined the Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative (CRI). As you are aware, this group was founded in 2015 as “Cancer PhD Mentorship Group” and was only for PhD students. This year, after much discussion, we extended the invitation and membership to MSc students doing cancer-related projects; hence, the name “Postgraduate Cancer Research Initiative”. Therefore, we are delighted to have all the new postgraduate members from different divisions and departments join our group.
Our main goal is to offer mentorship to postgraduate students, identifying and assisting them in their areas of need in academics and research. It also provides students with the opportunity to share exciting ideas in cancer research. This is not limited to policy implementation, translational research, and any opportunities in the discipline.
Thanks to all the old and new members who made a huge effort to participate in our first two meetings (7th and 27th July 2017 chaired by Prof. Jennifer Moodley and Dr. Ramadhani Chambuso, respectively). To those that were unable to attend, it is our pleasure to welcome you!
Photographs courtesy of Fleury A. N. Biteghe and Harris Onywera.
Cancer policies and key role players in cancer research
The Cancer Research Initiative hosted a seminar for the members of the PhD mentorship group to provide an overview of cancer policies, key organisations and role players in cancer research.
Dr Henry Adeola began his presentation by discussing the urgent need for cancer control policies in Africa. The burden of cancer on the continent is set to exponentially increasing due to industrialisation and the ageing population and cancer control needs to be prioritised according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In South Africa, only two policies including the HPV vaccination in school girls and the Tobacco Products Control Act in 1993 have been approved and implemented by the government. A draft National Cancer control and prevention document has been developed and is currently undergoing revisions. However, the anticipated date of the final policy is yet to be released. It is clear that the first steps towards a comprehensive cancer control policy have been put into place but more needs to be done to hasten the implementation of an integrated and practical cancer control policy.
Vedantha Singh provided an outline of the key role players in cancer research and how students can make use of the available resources to supplement their own research. International organisations such as the WHO’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) and their cancer surveillance data website, GLOBOCAN provide important epidemiological and population based statistics on the global burden of cancer. Role players in cancer research within Africa including the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) and the African Cancer Registry Network (AFCRN). South African role players in cancer research including the policy makers (Department of Health), advocacy groups/NGOs, academic/research institutions and cancer registries were then described. The key message was that each of the role players needs to be engaged in integrative, collaborative efforts to control, prevent and overcome cancer.
Colleen Marco (CANSA) concluded the seminar by emphasising that cancer control and prevention efforts need to be practical and implementable in the South African setting. The major problem is lack of urgency to act and limited political will. The topic of cancer is still taboo in our communities and this needs to be addressed (perhaps through research) in order to ensure that cancer prevention is taken seriously.
Students in attendance engaged in a discussion surrounding the importance of policies to be developed using evidence based research. The need to engage all stakeholders throughout the research process was also discussed. The general consensus of the group was to drive political will and change through research that is derived from integrated and translatable research questions.
Please share your opinion on how we can drive cancer control in South Africa?
16th IUBMB Young Scientist Program and Conference (14-21 July 2016, Vancouver, Canada)
By Tamara Stelma (STLTAM001@myuct.ac.za)
The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB) Young Scientist Program gave 42 PhD students or postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to travel to Vancouver, Canada, and attend an inspiring academic program at the University of British Columbia. I was privileged to be a part of the young scientist group that represented 26 different countries around the world. We each got the opportunity to do an oral presentation on our research as well as a poster presentation which facilitated useful and interesting discussions around our work. We were also taken on a tour of the Michael Smith Genome Science Centre where we got to experience
the workings of the world’s first Personalised Oncogenomics Project (POG project). The program provided a great opportunity for young scientists to network with each other as well as leading researchers in their respective fields.
The international conference on biochemistry and molecular biology followed the young scientist program and was held at Vancouver’s East Convention Centre. The conference brought delegates together from all corners of the globe to discuss signaling pathways in development, disease and aging. Exceptional science was presented by leading researchers in their fields including two Nobel and 5 Gairdner prize winners. The plenary sessions covered a diverse range of topics including; cell death and aging, cancer causes and progression, circadian rhythms, regulation of RNA and proteins as well as membrane proteins and channels.
The next IUBMB conference will be held in Seoul, South Korea, 4-8 June 2018. I recommend all future PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows to apply for the Young Scientist program as it is an opportunity not to be missed.
Photos: Courtesy Tamara Stelma